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The Mystery of Incarnation.

As the season of Epiphanytide goes on, let us stay with the mystery of the incarnation, God taking human form and becoming flesh through Jesus. Jesus embraced God in, as, and through his human body and he invited us to embrace this reality for ourselves. He did not consider incarnation a privilege for himself alone. It is ironic that for an incarnational path, Christians in the West have been awfully disdainful of the human body. In fact, the rejection and hatred of the body seen as a seat of sinful self will doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense in light of Jesus’ message. Yes, just as we must learn that we are not our thoughts nor our emotions, we must also recognize we are not our bodies and all of our sensations. While paradoxically at the same time, we are not not our minds, feelings, and bodies which are essential for life on this earth and for holding our posts as participants in bringing forth the kingdom of heaven here now. Presence simultaneously in our minds, feelings, and bodies—which are actually seen as centers of intelligence: intellectual, emotional, body sensation/movement—is what allows us to perceive from the heart as our organ of spiritual sight allowing us to see and play our part in the revelation of God in our midst. None of this happens apart from the body. . . our ability to be present and to reveal God’s presence in and through us doesn’t happen other than in and through this physical body. If we stay with the invitation to reconsider the mystery of incarnation within our own bodies we can begin to see that our bodies are sacred. They carry intelligence and wisdom just as our feelings and thoughts have the capacity to do. Sensation, gesture, and posture offer a wealth of knowing and can often comprehend spiritual realities circumventing what thoughts and emotions have a difficult time grasping on their own. This week I invite you to befriend your body either for the first time or in an increasing way. . . to be grateful for all that it is and perhaps even remorseful for not having valued the intelligence which is held within it. . . to deepen your relationship with what is being revealed to you through sensation, posture, and gesture especially listening to truths that your mind and emotions have difficulty knowing. With love, Heather


From this week's Pauses: Monday (with Joy): "Wisdom practice has always known the deeper secret, beautifully expressed by Kabir Helminski in the following quotation: "Whoever makes all cares into a single care, the care for simply being present, will be relieved of all cares by that Presence, which is the creative power. With that realization, we penetrate right to the heart of the kenotic mystery, tingling in every cell of our body. It is not about giving up things we want or rolling over and playing dead. It is about connecting with an energy of sustenance so powerful and vibrant as it flows through our being from the infinite that all else pales in comparison. It not only flows through our being; it is our being.— Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus p. 181 Tuesday: When Jesus talks about this oneness, he is not speaking in an eastern sense about an equivalency of being, such that I am in and of myself divine. What he more has in mind is a complete, mutual indwelling: I am in God, God is in you, you are in God, we are in each other. His most beautiful symbol for this is the teaching in John 15 where he says, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Abide in me as I in you.” A few verses later he says, “as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Abide in my love.” While he does indeed claim that “the Father and I are one“ (John 10:30)—a statement so blasphemous to Jewish ears that it nearly gets him stoned—he does not see this as an exclusive privilege but as something shared by all human beings. There is no separation between humans and God because of this mutual interabiding which expresses the indivisible reality of divine love. We flow into God—and God into us—because it is the nature of love to flow. And as we give ourselves into one another in this fashion, the vine gives life and coherence to the branch while the branch makes visible what the vine is. (After all, a vine is merely an abstraction until there are actual branches to articulate its reality.) The whole and the part live together in mutual, loving reciprocity, each belonging to the other and dependent on the other to show for the fullness of love. That’s Jesus’s vision of no separation between human and Divine. — Cynthia Bourgeault, The Wisdom Jesus, p. 31 Wednesday: “A friend of Joseph’s came to visit him after returning from a long journey. “What have you brought me?” Joseph asked. “What could I bring you,” his friend replied, “that you don’t already have?But,” he added, “because you are so beautiful, and nothing exists in all the worlds more beautiful than you, I have brought you a mirror, so you can know the joy at every moment of seeing your own face.” Is there anything that God does not have already that you could give? Is there anything that God could need that you could possibly provide? All you are here for, and the entire meaning of the Path of Love, is to bring before God a heart bright as a mirror, so God can contemplate the divine face within it.” — Rumi Thursday (with Ali): “Whether or not you use words, or what words you choose to use when you pray is unimportant. What matters is that you do not squander your moments of silence and solitude, measuring your words or busying yourself analyzing and evaluating them. Try not to bring with you your stored-up notions of what you are or what God is. Prayer is a time for entering into the presence of God stripped of everything but our very existence for simply being in the presence of God who is. Let God be who God is. Do not for the sake of your comfort try to make God otherwise. Don’t go probing into God’s being but be content to rest your prayer on simple faith, stripped of ideas, empty of everything but your own existence and the existence of God. Only then can God through God’s grace, let you know and experience him as he really is, let you know and experience yourself as you really are.” — Where Only Love Can Grow: The Cloud of Unknowing (ave Maria Press). Friday & Saturday: Body prayer by Joyce Rupp from her book Out of the Ordinary: Each morning when I arise I begin the day with these six gestures. I join spirit and body in praising the Holy One and offering my thanks for life. As I do the gestures I say a one line prayer and then remain in that posture for a brief time. 1.Offering the Creator praise and gratitude: Stretch your arms high and wide above your head. I thank you, Holy One, for the gift of another day of life. 2. Intentionally being aware of my spiritual bond with all of creation: Hold arms out from your sides, a little below shoulder height. Move (pivot) to the left and to the right with your arms stretching outward toward the cosmos. I reach out in compassion to my sisters and brothers throughout the universe. 3. Offering my life to the Holy One: Stretch your arms out straight in front of you, slightly apart, palms up. I give to you all I am and all I have. 4. Opening to accept what the Holy One offers me this day: Pull your hands close together and cup them as container. I open my entire being to receive the gift that you have waiting for me in this new day. 5. Remembering to be kind to our planet Earth: Bend over, reach down, and touch the floor, or better yet, the ground, if you are outside. I touch this planet, Earth, with awe, reverence, and gratitude, promising to care well for her today. 6. Awareness of the indwelling presence of the Holy One: Stand up, cross hands over your heart, and bow to the waist. May I be united with you throughout this day, aware of your love strengthening me and shining through me. Amen. Sunday with Joy: "Let me propose another image now. It is the image of the Beloved Disciple, who "reclined on the breast of Jesus" at the Last Supper. Whatever that may have meant historically, I want to envision it a certain way in order to make a point about our interior attitude. I want to suppose [the Beloved Disciple]* positioned with their back to Jesus. Jesus is behind [them], not face to face with [them]. Therefore, when [the Beloved Disciple] wished to move closer to Jesus, for instance to ask him a question, [they] just leaned back toward him. We do a somewhat similar thing in our consciousness--at least this is one way of describing it; it can, of course, be represented by all sorts of images and similes. In order to move closer to the heart of Jesus, we "lean back toward" him by sinking back into the depth of our own consciousness, sinking down toward the center of our being... Each deeper level that we sink to, position our sense of "I" in, brings us closer to the heart or center of Jesus, because it is bringing us closer to our own center. It is as though we begin from the surface of a sphere and retract along a radius toward the center. At the center all the radii meet. As we move back and down and in toward our center, we are overlapping, so to speak, with the reality of Jesus more and more, as we come to corresponding levels of his being. That is to say, he and we are sharing more: more outlooks and attitudes, more feelings, judgments, desires and will, more self-realization. As we regress toward the center, we share more and more. We are backing up into each other.” — Beatrice Bruteau, Radical Optimism p. 97-98 *Pronouns were changed. Beatrice referred to St. John and he/him


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