When strengthening our nervous systems, there is both effort and letting go required. We do need to work with our attention, not simply allowing it to focus on all that is negative or seemingly wrong in the circumstances of our lives. But we are not meant to rely on our efforts alone. There is help. I love this quote from Abba Macarius “There is no need to make long discourses; it is enough to stretch out one’s hands and say, ‘Lord, as you will and as you know, have mercy.’ And as the conflict grows fiercer, say, ‘Lord, help!’” I know many people have trouble with the name Lord because of past negative associations with it. If this is the case for you, I encourage you to reclaim this name as a title of reverence and respect and re-engage using it. If it is still too tied to those negative meanings, you may try using one of the words from earlier languages. For example, in Aramaic Lord could be ‘Marya’ or ‘Rebbonai,’ in Greek ‘Kurios,’ or in Hebrew Lord or my Lord could be ‘Adon’ or ‘Adonee.’ Again, mercy is not condescending and in fact carries so many ways of understanding which we have explored this past year and a half. This week I draw from the ‘New International Dictionary of Old Testament Theology and Exegesis’ which looks at the etymology of the Hebrew word for mercy, ‘reHem,’ and draws a connection between the belly, body, womb and compassion. The root of the word belongs to “the realm of grace and hope” and “the ‘womb’ carries with it a picture of the tender care bestowed on an infant when it is most vulnerable.” When we are in a paradigm shift, when we are in free fall, we are most vulnerable and it is good to remember the tender care bestowed on us without any of our own effort required. “Lord, have mercy” is a recognition of our vulnerability and fragility as well as an acknowledgment of the compassion and care so abundantly given to us for our unfolding. I return here to James Finley’s words lest we be confused about what that compassion and care is experienced as. He says, “God protects us from nothing but somehow unexplainably sustains us in all things.” We may not be protected from what we think we should be protected from but we will be sustained in all things. May we come to see that compassion and care enwomb us, Heather
A Couple of Readings from this week's pauses: “The mind is incessantly looking not only for food for thought; it is looking for food for its identity, its sense of self. This is how the ego comes into existence and continuously re-creates itself. . . . When you think or speak about yourself, when you say, ‘I,’ What you usually refer to is ‘me and my story.’ This is the ‘I’ of your likes and dislikes, fears and desire, the ‘I’ that is never satisfied for long. It is a mind-made sense of who you are, conditioned by the past and seeking to find its fulfillment in the future. Can you see that this ;I’ is fleeting, a temporary formation, like a wave pattern on the surface of the water? Who is it that sees this? Who is it that is aware of the fleeting ness of your physical and psychological form? I Am. This is the deeper ‘I’ that has noting to do with past and future.” — Eckhart Tolle, ‘Stillness Speaks’ The Way of Love "If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, but when the perfect comes, the partial will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love." — 1 Corinthians 13 “But that God ‘out there,’ the God of scholasticism and of a Newtonian universe, is precisely what is countermanded by the contemplative experience itself. I enter the cave of the heart and discover there that God is alive and interpenetrating, in, of and around, illumining and enslaving all. My own heart is a hologram of the divine triune heart, love in motion, and the finite and infinite realms are connected by an unbreakable bond of mutual yearning. This ‘in here’ vision of God is not only closer to the vision of Jesus and the mystifies; it is also increasingly confirmed by the discoveries of contemporary scientific understanding.” — Cynthia Bourgeault, “Centering Prayer & Inner Awakening” This is the voice of Mercy from Rumi: "I've come to drag you by the ear to make you selfless and crazy, to take you inside your heart and soul. I've come to you, My lovely rose, to be with you like spring, to hold you beside Me and to pour some wine for you. I've come to reveal your beauty, and just as the vows of lovers promise, to take you above the sky. Who is this rose, but you yourself? The power to command, sovereignty, is with you. Even if no-one else knows you, once you are Me, I recognize you. You are My Spirit and My Soul. . . And I will call you in my heart. You are my catch even though you try to run from My trap! Come, return to the trap again or I will drive you towards it. There's no escape…. Why are you running around Me? I will rip right through you! Or embrace your wounds and charge forward with the Shield of Holy Courage! Don't listen to anyone else! I will give you all the arrows you need. From the dust of the threshold to the Perfection of Being Human there are a thousand abodes. From city to city, moment by moment, I will show you every step of the way. Say nothing! Don't take the lid off the pot. Simmer well and be patient while I cook you. Don't you know that in essence you are a fearless lion, veiled by the body of a deer? And I will take that veil away."