As you have probably heard from many Contemplative, Wisdom, and Mystic Teachers, there exists within us all something of the Divine nature, a Divine spark, whether or not one is able to manifest that Divine nature (as James Finley says). For many years now the image related to this idea, that has landed in me is that of an ember. This ember which exists within all beings no matter how difficult it may be to see, no matter how buried and imperceptible to our ordinary perception, exists deep within though hidden. The eye of our clear heart, the organ of spiritual perceptivity (as Cynthia Bourgeault calls it), can see this and is naturally inspired to fan that ember by blowing on it, breathing life and oxygen onto and around it so as to set it to flame—to emblazon the fire of Divine Being within, further animating it, that it might spread. Not only within us but, to the best of our ability, in others as one of our tasks as contemplatives and students of Wisdom.
This image has a particular potency today, the day of Pentecost, when it is celebrated that the Holy Spirit came as a rushing wind and filled the students of Yeshua (Jesus' name in Hebrew) resting tongues of fire upon them. The rushing wind and resting fire seemed to enlarge the fire already within them—enabling a language understood by all around them regardless of their native tongue to flow through them—as if to set the ember in others aflame as well.
This morning in our Abide in the Mercy Wisdom Silent Retreat, in regard to this Holy day of Pentecost, Joy Andrews Hayter was sharing some of the words Yeshua spoke in what are known as the Farewell Discourses before Jesus was crucified. She highlighted "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love" (John 15:9), pointing out that in Yeshua's native language Aramaic the word translated as love (chav), can take on several meanings. It can be understood as kindle, to be set on fire, indicating a breathing upon or warming, a burning heat as raised by blowing. She said that it shares the same root as is in the story of Pentecost when "then there appeared to them tongues as of fire, which parted and came to rest on each one of them" (Luke 12:49) and suggested that God kindles us, blows on us, kindling the love in us, the fire that consumes us. And that Yeshua had been doing that throughout Eastertide as he nudged his students forward, reminding them that they already had everything they needed to keep on the path he had revealed. With the pre-existing fire already lit within them, they were suddenly fire within began to rage assisted by the Holy Spirit's rush of wind, enflaming them in such a way that others were drawn to what was happening and caught fire as well. Joy also tied this meaning into the following familiar Desert Father saying. "Abba Lot went to Abba Joseph and said to him, “Abba, as far as I can I say my little office, I fast a little, I pray and meditate, I live in peace and as far as I can, I purify my thoughts. What else can I do?” Then the old man stood up and stretched his hands towards heaven. His fingers became like ten lamps of fire and he said to him, “If you will, you can become all flame.”"
God is kindling us and if we will, we can allow the ember within to be blown on by God and participate in this fire and flow by breathing oxygen onto the ember in others. We can become all flame, our flame/fire abiding in the Flame/Fire like the bush burning that does not burn up (Exod. 3:1-3). And as we participate in this kindling both within ourselves and one another, we participate in God.
Bless you this fiery first day of the season of Pentecost,
From the Daily Contemplative Pauses
Monday with Heather
“I'd like to leave you with a wager, and "a wager" is exactly what I mean. A wager is not something that gets rammed down your throat; it's more that same kind of invitation Jesus issued two thousand years ago when his disciples said, "Master, where do you come from?" And he said, "Come and see." The wager is this: that Jesus, the living master, is real, alive, intimately and vibrantly enfolding you right now. He is more present, in fact, than even your breath and your heartbeat.
But to really know this presence you need to tune in on a different wavelength: to shift from your usual binary operating system to the heart frequency where this Jesus connection broad-casts. Wisdom Christianity is practice-driven. When you do the practices that nurture the heart, you will sense this connection as a living bond. Your being becomes receptive to the higher meaning. When the practices that sustain this encounter begin to drop out, you revert back to your usual operating system, and the connection fades.
In other words, you are the vessel, the instrument that receives the wisdom. As you attune and fine-tune your instrument, you will know. It's not knowing something more, like a new fact or piece of esoteric information; it's knowing deeper, knowing with more and more of your being engaged."
— Cynthia Bourgeault, Wisdom Jesus, p. 136-137
Tuesday with Heather
The Song of No Coming and No Going
These eyes are nor you,
you are not caught in these eyes, you are life without boundaries.
You have never been born and you have never died, look at the ocean
and the sky filled with stars:
manifestations of your wondrous mind.
Since before time you have been jree,
birth and death
are only doors through which we pass, sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a hide-and-seek game.
So laugh with me, hold my hand, let us say good-bye;
say good-bye to meet soon again.
We meet today, we will meet tomorrow, we shall meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.
— Rashina Rea
Wednesday with Heather
“The rewards of great living are not external things, withheld until the crowning hour of success arrives; they come by the way, - in the consciousness of growing power and worth, of duties nobly met, and work thoroughly done. ... working always in humility and sincerity, all life is a reward, and every day brings a deeper satisfaction. Joy and peace are by the way.”
— Hamilton Wright Mabie
Thursday with Heather
Six gesture body prayer with words said aloud words by Joyce Rupp from her book Out of the Ordinary:
1. "I thank you, Holy One, for the gift of another day of life" (stretch your arms high and wide above your head): I offer the Creator praise and gratitude
2. "I reach out in compassion to my sisters and brothers throughout the universe" (hold arms out from your sides, a little below shoulder height. Pivot to the left and to the right with your arms stretching outward toward the cosmos): I intentionally become aware of my spiritual bond with all of creation
3. "I give to you all I am and all I have" (stretch your arms out straight in front of you, slightly apart, palms up): I offer my life to the Holy One
4. "I open my entire being to receive the gift that you have waiting for me in this new day" (pull your hands close together and cup them as container): I open to accept what the Holy One offers me this day
5. "I touch this planet, Earth, with awe, reverence, and gratitude, promising to care well for her today" (bend over, reach down, and touch the floor, or better yet, the ground, if you are outside): I will remember to be kind to our planet Earth
6. "May I be united with you throughout this day, aware of your love strengthening me and shining through me. Amen." (stand up, cross hands over your heart, and bow to the waist): I am aware of the indwelling presence of the Holy One
Saturday with Faye
"Because we know that life is an adventure involving both chaos and order we sometimes want desperately to control things. And whenever our fear grows too strong we become vulnerable to simplistic promises concerning the future. But no one knows what the future holds—all of that is hidden in the darkest night. The future is being created by all of us, and it is a messy and confusing process. What is needed is courage to live in the midst of the ambiguities of this moment without drawing back into fear and a compulsion to control.
Are there guarantees? No, non. But there are reasons for confidence.
When the universe was just quarks and leptons, could anyone have known that it was in the process of bringing forth stars and galaxies? Or later, when Earth emerged, and life existed in the form of tiny jiggling cells, could anyone have seen in them the possibilities of the bluefin tuna or a vast temperate rain forest? We find ourselves inside an amazing drama filled with danger and risk but also stunning creativity. This has happened many times in the past. Two billion years ago, when the atmosphere became so filled with oxygen, all of life was deteriorating. The only way for the life of that time to survive was to burrow deep into the mud at the bottom of the oceans. The future of Earth seemed bleak. And yet, in the midst of that crisis a new kind of cell emerged, one that was not destroyed by oxygen, but was in fact energized by it. Because of this miracle of creativity, life exploded with an exuberance never seen before.
It is the nature of the universe to move forward between great tensions, between dynamic opposing forces. If the creative energies in the heart of universe suc ceded so brilliantly in the past, we have reason to hope that such creativity will inspire us and guide us into the future. In this way, our own generativity becomes woven into the vibrant communities that constitute the vast symphony of the universe.
— Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Swimme, Journey of the Universe
Sunday with Faye
"The challenge of conscious self-awareness is unlike anything that has occurred for millions of years. We are finding ourselves in the midst of a vast transition. How are we to respond? For we sense we are in a dark night — we dwell in unknowing and yet grope forward. The path is still unclear. With what shall we navigate?
The path is uncertain because our sense of larger purpose and destiny is clouded. We are seeking patterns that connect us to a vaster destiny—a vital participation in Earth’s unfolding. There is nothing more mysterious than destiny—of a person, of our species, of our planet, or of the universe itself. But in the modern era the question was considered unimportant compared with the practical necessities of commerce and trade.
Our puzzlement regarding our destiny is especially poignant since everything else in the universe seems to have a role. The primeval fireball had the work of bringing forth stable matter. The stars had the work of creating the elements. The same is true on Earth. Each species has its unique role to play for the larger community. The phytoplankton in the oceans fill the air with oxygen and thus enable every animal to breathe. That is their great work, to fill each lung with nourishing breath.
But do we humans have such a role? With respect to the universe itself—is there a reason for our existence? Is there a great work required of us?
Throughout the modern period, we have often been dissatisfied with the traditional answers concerning human destiny. Maybe this restlessness reveals something significant in our deep nature. Other species found their biome and settled into it, but nothing has seemed to satisfy us fully. Every place we went we felt we were at home, yet not at home. Some urge carried us forward from place to place.
Perhaps our destiny has something to do with this desire to journey and to experience the depths of things. Perhaps that is why we are here—to drink so deeply of the powers of the universe we become the human form of the universe. Becoming not just nation-state people, but universe people. Becoming a form of human being that is as natural to the universe as the stars or the oceans; knowing how we belong and where we belong so that we enhance the flourishing of the Earth community.
Our human destiny is to become the heart of the universe that embraces the whole of the Earth community. We are just a speck in the universe, but we are beings with the capacity to feel comprehensive compassion in the midst of an ocean of intimacy. That is the direction of our becoming more fully human.
— Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Swimme, Journey of the Universe