Keep within.


Springtime and Eastertide are upon us as the world continues to open up from 'stay at home' dictates in fits and starts. Wisdom is here to aid us if we are open to listen to the still small voice within. If it wasn’t clear already, this year has revealed that we mustn't rely so heavily on external authority to have it figured out and offer us the ‘right’ answers. Don't mistake me to be saying not to listen to those specialists who understand matters that we do not. We must be prudent and make good choices but I'm speaking of something deeper.

The wisdom tradition reminds us that we often look outside of ourselves for someone to tell us what to do or what the right way to live is. Traditionally in religion this has been pastors, priests, gurus, etc. These guides can be helpful and indeed necessary at times for perspective and council. But at some point, our looking only outside of ourselves for how to live becomes a limitation and a negation of responsibility.

We have a responsibility to cultivate what Teilhard de Chardin calls our "within." There is an ongoing imperative to fine tune our hearts, as spiritual beacons, and to trust what we hear. This is not about listening to the small self with its passing desires but rather sinking down into the rock of our Being and knowing what we know from there. 'Keeping within' as the Quaker saying goes and taking our cues from the inside. The saying by Quaker George Fox (1652) is "Keep within. And when they say, ‘Look here or look there is Christ, go not forth, for Christ is within you. And those who try to draw your minds away from the teaching inside you, are opposed to Christ. For the measure’s within, and the light of God is within, and the pearl is within, though hidden." Paulette Meier has turned this into a beautiful chant that you can find here.

When we listen to God within, we can be sure that our choices and action will include a recognition of the impact on the Whole and not just the part. We mustn’t delude ourselves in thinking that we do hear clearly all the time and yet our call is to see and hear that which is hidden in plain sight. And so we continue to lean into the practices that support this ‘knowing.’

Again, I will not be physically present with you in the pauses this week but I will remain in our Eastertide vigil with you and will keep you in my heart. You will continue to see Joy, Catherine, Faye and Ali lovingly facilitating the pauses.

May your mind be open, heart be wide, body be at ease.

May you re-collect and re-member yourself.

May you stand firm and awake.

May your heart be full of grace, your soul fueled by love.

With fierce love,

Heather

Here are a some of the readings from this week:

“For most of us, most of the time, this notion of the mystical body of Christ surrounding and sustaining all remains an abstract concept. It’s like staring into one of those maddening dot matrix pictures, trying to see the flower hidden in the dots. Most of the time the flower remains frustratingly elusive. We don’t often see that body of Christ hidden in the dots of our everyday, ordinary lives. But every so often, if you let it, it will come to meet you; and with the patient opening of the eye of your heart it can become more and more an abiding state of your own being. 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.”

“But one last clarification before we begin. You may have the impression when I talk about “going deeper into your heart to discover the living Christ” that I mean a subjective emotional experience. I don’t. The wisdom tradition has always taught that the subjective (what we call “subjective” anyway) is really introduced by your personality, sustained by the binary operating system. When you go deeper than that, when you tunnel beneath it to the still waters, you are actually able to mirror a truth that is in a final sense objective, hence recognizable as truth to all hearts that are open at that same level. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.” Remember that beatitude? The demand for purification is real, of course, and revelation gets abused when people simply download celestial insights into their own untamed egos. This is largely the reason that the church became afraid of wisdom in the first place and opted instead for simple, concrete creeds and practices that might not have yielded great mystical insight, but at least protected the system from rampant abuse.

But we must not throw the baby out with the bathwater. Real singleness of heart is hard to come by. It takes much patient practice and purification. But Jesus himself does promise that the spirit of truth lies within you, and it connects with reality, not just your subjective meanderings.”

— Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus talking about this Pascal Season

“… Christ is alive in the center of our being as a tiny light with the power to spread through every faculty until our entire being is filled with light, and then through us to set the divine fire of love aflame everywhere in the world … Christ is becoming all in all, loving … in us and pouring into us and into the world the power of Resurrection.”

— Thomas Keating, Reawakenings

“Marsh Hawk" The marsh hawk doesn't, as other hawks do, work his wings like soft hinges to make progress over the morning marsh, but merely or so it seems, lays his breast upon the air and the air, as if understanding, floats him along with his wings open, and raised, just a little beyond the horizontal-in thanks, perhaps, to the great crystal carrier of leaves and clouds- of everything. And even though his shadow follows exactly his every tilt and flow, and even though he must know that hunger will win, he doesn't hurry, but floats in wide circles as he gazes into the marshes below his hard beak and the hooks of his feet, as though wanting something more lasting than meat. At noon he's still there above the brambles, the grass, the flat water, where, in their almost stately disengagement, the incredible dampness and darkness shine.

— Mary Oliver

“We awaken in Christ’s body”

We awaken in Christ’s body, As Christ awakens our bodies There I look down and my poor hand is Christ, He enters my foot and is infinitely me. I move my hand and wonderfully My hand becomes Christ, Becomes all of Him. I move my foot and at once He appears in a flash of lightning. Do my words seem blasphemous to you? —Then open your heart to him. And let yourself receive the one Who is opening to you so deeply. For if we genuinely love Him, We wake up inside Christ’s body Where all our body all over, Every most hidden part of it, Is realized in joy as Him, And He makes us utterly real. And everything that is hurt, everything That seemed to us dark, harsh, shameful, Maimed, ugly, irreparably damaged Is in Him transformed. And in Him, recognized as whole, as lovely, And radiant in His light, We awaken as the beloved In every last part of our body.

— Saint Symeon the New Theologian



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