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Wisdom rhythms.

With Epiphany this past Friday, the same day as a full moon and shortly after the start of a new year, we are in a potent space of new beginnings. At the start of anything, we know it is often helpful to look at the rhythms we need in order to live out what is most important to us, experimenting with finding new rhythms or adjusting our current rhythms. When waking up in order to perceive and act in accordance with the kingdom of heaven as cosmic servants is what is most important to us, the rhythm we find and hone could be considered a wisdom rhythm. Similar kinds of rhythms are what we see lived out in monasteries and spiritual centers of all traditions. There are different components built in—practical work, mindful movement, reflection and learning, meditation practices, silence, solitude, etc.—all in service of remembering what is most important. Of course we do not live in monasteries but as has been said many times before we can allow our lives to be our monasteries. We can and do live a wisdom rhythm, that supports us in remembering and aligning with what is most important to us. Every piece of our lives, no matter how seemingly mundane or profane, is sacred and can be the grounds for remembering and awakening. . . to facilitate the cooperation between our egoic operating system and that deep "I Am" Self surrendered to God. In any moment, regardless of how significant or insignificant it may seem, we can offer ourselves as instruments, vessels, means by which worlds beyond can enter into this world, which has often been termed by several traditions mixtus orbis. Wisdom teacher Cynthia Bourgeault often reminds us that this world’s dense conditions are not a mistake but a place where the rough material of our lives can be mixed with spiritual substances and nutrients from beyond and in so doing, something essential is created. As we consider our wisdom rhythm, we do not have to add a slough of more disciplines to our lives. It may be a matter of making a few minor adjustments (like taking a few minutes each day to bring awareness to sensation, getting up five minutes earlier to read something nourishing, or replacing 10 minutes of screen time with time outside connecting with the more than human natural world). Or it may be a matter of recognizing that seeming obstacles in the way of our rhythm (like doing laundry, dishes, or taking care of a child or grandchild) can in fact be another way of bringing more of ourselves to what we already have in place. We find the wisdom rhythm that creates the most fertile conditions for us to participate in our role as cosmic servants and let go of the outcome. So as we consider what we are here for, let us steward our wisdom rhythm wisely. . . listening to what our wisdom way of knowing (knowing not more but knowing deeper) is telling us about our yeses and our nos. There are so many rich offerings all around us now. Rather than our struggle being to say no to what is unhelpful in order to say yes to the good, our struggle is to say no to the good in order to say yes to the better. Let us listen to the ancient wisdom rhythm beating within, without pushing ourselves too hard or not enough. With love, Heather


Readings from this week's pauses: Monday: The Master would insist that the final barrier to our attaining God was the word and concept of "God." This so infuriated the local priest that he came in a huff to argue the matter out with the Master. "But surely the word 'God' can lead us to God?" said the priest. "It can," said the Master calmly. "How can something help and be a barrier?" Said the Master, "The donkey that brings you to the door is not the means by which you enter the house." — Anthony de Mello, One Minute Wisdom, p.93 Tuesday: Contemplative traditions have a "constant affirmation that mystery can indeed be known without being solved. Mystery can be experienced, sensed, felt, appreciated, even loved, without being understood. This may not be easy; it requires a surrender of all willfulness, a risking of self-image, and a nurturing of intuition. Mystery, say the contemplatives, can be 'known' without being known. . . Once mystery is noticed in this way, as a substantial and vital part of life rather than as an esoteric concept, it becomes evident in and around us all the time. It can be found in all aspects of nature, in the feelings and actions of other human beings, in the silence of our own minds, in every bit of the universe. One need not even ask the ultimate questions in order to sense it. All that is needed is to become aware of the existence of one's own consciousness." — Gerald May, Will and Spirit, p.30 Wednesday: Thus, as Simeon the New Theologian observed, the time-honored strategy for “finding one’s way to the place where the heart is” –that is, the capacity to sustain witnessing presence from that inner center of gravity rather than from the mind—is simply to let go of identifying. Loose the bond and break the seals of the subject/object configuration of attention, and what emerges is a highly energized field of pure “free attention” that will eventually call to itself a new center of selfhood.” Bruteau describes this relationship: “When you are perfectly empty of all predicates—including the description of yourself as a “receiver”—then you are intensely full of pure “I am.” And just as this point is reached, it explodes into the creative outpouring energy…I call this energy spondic because it pours out like a sacred libation, and this perfect liberty I call “creative freedom.” — Cynthia Bourgeault, The Heart of Centering Prayer, p. 87 Thursday: Journey of the Magi by T.S. Eliot A cold coming we had of it, Just the worst time of the year For a journey, and such a long journey: The ways deep and the weather sharp, The very dead of winter.' And the camels galled, sorefooted, refractory, Lying down in the melting snow. There were times we regretted The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces, And the silken girls bringing sherbet. Then the camel men cursing and grumbling and running away, and wanting their liquor and women, And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters, And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly And the villages dirty and charging high prices: A hard time we had of it. At the end we preferred to travel all night, Sleeping in snatches, With the voices singing in our ears, saying That this was all folly. Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley, Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation; With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness, And three trees on the low sky, And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow. Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel, Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver, And feet kicking the empty wine-skins. But there was no information, and so we continued And arriving at evening, not a moment too soon Finding the place; it was (you might say) satisfactory. All this was a long time ago, I remember, And I would do it again, but set down This set down This: were we led all that way for Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death, But had thought they were different; this Birth was Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death. We returned to our places, these Kingdoms, But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation, With an alien people clutching their gods. I should be glad of another death. Friday: Wise Women Also Came by Jan Richardson Wise women also came. The fire burned in their wombs long before they saw the flaming star in the sky. They walked in shadows, trusting the path would open under the light of the moon. Wise women also came, seeking no directions, no permission from any king. They came by their own authority, their own desire, their own longing. They came in quiet, spreading no rumors, sparking no fears to lead to innocents’ slaughter, to their sister Rachel’s inconsolable lamentations. Wise women also came, and they brought useful gifts: water for labor’s washing, fire for warm illumination, a blanket for swaddling. Wise women also came, at least three of them, holding Mary in the labor, crying out with her in the birth pangs, breathing ancient blessings into her ear. Wise women also came, and they went, as wise women always do, home a different way. Saturday: EVERY GIVEN LIGHT A Blessing by Jan Richardson There are days we think only so much is given— a glint, a gleam, a light so small we could carry it in the palm of our hand, just enough to let us see the next step, perhaps, into the mystery. There are days grace comes but in shadow, days it gathers itself into the corners, days it seems to turn its gaze sidelong as if distracted, or pondering, or paused. Let it be said this is not that day. This is the day

when grace gives out its radiance, declaring itself to everything in sight. This is the day when every given light bears forth like a star, turning its face toward us with the brilliance that was there all along, that it had saved just for us, just for the joy of seeing us shine. Sunday: "This is not to say that meditative practice cannot be used as an escape. It often is, at least temporarily, by those who have yet to plumb its depths. But true contemplative silence, in which awareness is wide-awake and open, is a lousy place to try to escape. It confronts one with virtually every aspect of one's life, and as long as one stays awake there is no way of hiding from its revelations. Trances and other alterations of awareness can be escapes, for they create either anesthesia or their own fantasy worlds. But there is no way contemplation can be used to such ends. It inevitably forces one to deal with the demands of the world and the demise of self-image." — Gerald May, Will and Spirit, p.103


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