Today begins the second week of Advent in the Christian tradition, a season of quiet, slow, pregnant darkness. Last week, I invited all of us into a collective vigil, a period of "keeping awake,” to keep watch or pray, throughout the three weeks leading up to Christmas.
The first week of Advent we focused on what is true, this week we turn toward what is good, and next week on what is beautiful. Good can also be understood as what is kind, honest, generous, helpful, and that which is the beneficial or nourishing element of the food we ingest (Oxford Dictionary). If we look to the sacred Christian texts, many of our spiritual ancestors spoke of the good as God’s goodness which is always with us (Psalm 23:6) and fills our hungry souls with good things (Psalm 107:8-9). I suggest we linger with and meditate on these phrases in order that they may assist us in our being for, finding, and growing the good, kind, honest, generous, and helpful always with us and which can fill our hungry souls. As we do this, we can focus on the beneficial or nourishing element of what we ingest or offer which affects the ecosystems of our own and others hearts.
May we keep awake to all that is true, good and beautiful throughout this season of lavish winter darkness in a quiet, gestating way.
May we tend to that which is good, kind, honest, generous, helpful, and the beneficial or nourishing element of spiritual food this week,
Collective Contemplative Pause Readings
Tuesday, December 5th with Heather
"Jesus cuts through this jungle of "how-to's" with a sweeping karate chop. The only two "rules" he will offer are not only completely unquantifiable, they are completely subjective as well. They can be sensed and validated only from within, through an unflinching inner honesty. In the presence of that honesty, no further rules are needed. In the absence of that honesty, no further rules will help.
That same inner honesty is required of each of us…You'll crack the koan once you realize that Jesus is talking here about a state of inner transparency, not outward moral behaviors. Lying is fundamentally about lying to yourself -- i.e., allowing a more superficial or conditioned sense of self (sometimes called "the false self") to lead you away from your own deepest truth. "Do not do what you hate" is virtually the identical message. It's not about superficial ego choices (like washing the dishes or going to work every day), but about a pervasive sense of betraying your own authenticity."
— Cynthia Bourgeault
Wednesday, December 6th with Heather
"A generation ago Joseph Campbell gave the world that memorable dictum "Follow your bliss." Jesus is essentially saying the same thing here, but both statements require a sufficient depth of being in order to ring true. The bliss referred to here is not some superficial pleasure; it is a fundamental sense of being in "sync" with the rhythm and purpose of your own life. The reason this basic inner congruity is so important to the journey of transformation is pretty obvious, once you start to think about it. If you're not inhabiting your own being, there's nobody there to be transformed.
As we move through… Advent, presents may begin to accumulate beneath the Christmas tree, all with bright, shiny packaging. Those might correspond to the outer form of religious observances…But the real gift awaiting you, according to today's teaching, is on the inside. It is the gift of your own deepest integrity, born in the manger of your own heart."
— Cynthia Bourgeault