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Category: Spiritual Musings

We need each other

We need each other

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The truth is that we shall only understand the balance of severity and confidence, of the strenuous and the relaxed, in the context of the common life.

Every believer must have an urgent concern for the relation of the neighbour to Christ, a desire and willingness to be the means by which Christ’s relation with the neighbour becomes actual and transforming. But that urgent concern arises from the sense in myself of the cost and grief involved in separation from life in God, the self- awareness of frailties and failures that I cannot overcome for and by myself. I have, by God’s grace, learned as a member of the Christian community what is the nature of God’s mercy, which does not leave me to overcome my sin by my own effort; so I have something to say to the fellow-sufferer who does not know where to look for hope.

And what I have to say depends utterly on my willingness not to let go of that awareness of myself that reminds me where I start each day – not as a finished saint but as a needy person still struggling to grow.

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes

8, The tomb of Bishop Lancelot Andrewes, who helped translate the Authorised Version of the Bible[1]

 

A prayer of Lancelot Andrewes

 

 

Guard Thou my soul,

Strengthen my body,

elevate my senses,

direct my course,

order my habits,

shape my character,

bless my actions,

fulfil my prayers,

inspire holy thoughts,

pardon the past,

correct the present,

prevent the future ……

 

AMEN

Compassion ?

Compassion ?

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compassion

 

A friend told me of visiting the Dalai Lama in India and asking him for a succinct definition of compassion. She prefaced her question by describing how heart-stricken she’d felt when, earlier that day, she’d seen a man in the street beating a mangy stray dog with a stick. “Compassion,” the Dalai Lama told her, “is when you feel as sorry for the man as you do for the dog.”

 

Marc Barasch

 

Learning from Self !

Learning from Self !

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There is a famous story that Gandhi  told of himself and the girl who was addicted to eating sweet foods.

The story goes that a troubled mother one day came to Gandhi along with her daughter and explained to Gandhi that her daughter was in the habit of eating far more sweet food than was good for her. Please, she asked, would Gandhi speak to the girl and persuade her to give up this harmful habit? Gandhi sat for a while in silence and then said, ‘Bring your daughter back in three weeks’ time, and then I will speak to her.’ The mother went away as she was told and came back after three weeks. This time Gandhi quietly took the daughter aside and in a few simple words pointed out to her the harmful effects of indulging in sweet food; he urged her to abandon the habit.

Thanking Gandhi for giving her daughter such good advice the mother then said to him in a puzzled voice, ‘Still, I would like to know, Gandhi, why you did not just say those words to my daughter three weeks ago when I first brought her to you?’

‘But’, explained Gandhi in reply, ‘Three weeks ago I myself was still addicted to eating sweet foods!’

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Where do we look for God?

Where do we look for God?

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And so it is with the glory of God expressed in human creation. It is not only in the ardent lover, the faithful friend, the wise counsellor, the trusting child that we see God’s glory. There is glory also in the anger of the oppressed, the pain of the wounded and the loneliness of the despised. It is the glory of God that puts such as these first in the Kingdom of Heaven, and makes us all interdependent – as much as part of the delicate and complex structure of relationship as the plants and animals that need the trees in the forest to survive.

The Church that has lost its sense of injustice is in danger of losing its heart

Discovery

Discovery

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Learn to get in touch with the silence within yourself, and know that everything in life has purpose.

There are no mistakes, no coincidences, all events are blessings given to us to learn from.

 

Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

In the End – our choice for Love ?

In the End – our choice for Love ?

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You see, only love can move across boundaries and across cultures. Love is a very real energy a spiritual life force that is much more powerful than ideas or mere thoughts. Love is endlessly alive, always flowing toward the lower place, and thus life-giving for all, like a great river and water itself.

When you die, you are precisely the capacity you have developed to give and to receive love. Your recognition of this is your own “final judgment” of yourself which means you become responsible for what you now see (not shamed or even rewarded, but just responsible).

If you have not received or will not give this gift of love to others, your soul remains tied to a small, earthly, empty world which is probably what we mean by hell. (God can only give love to those who want it.)

If you still need to grow in love and increase your capacity to trust Love, God makes room for immense growth surrounding the death experience itself, which is probably what we mean by purgatory. (Time is a mental construct of humans. Why would growth be limited to this part of our lives? God and the soul live in an eternal now.)

If you are already at home in love, you will easily and quicklv go to the home of love which is surely what we mean by heaven. There the growth never stops and the wonder never ceases. (If life is always change and growth, eternal life must be infinite possibility and growth!)

So by all means, every day, and in every way, we must choose to live in love—it is mostly a decision—and even be eager to learn the ever deeper ways of love—which is the unearned grace that follows from the decision!

Richard Rohr Eager to Love

 

Compassion and Patience

Compassion and Patience

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Compassion and patience are the absolutely unique characteristics of true spiritual authority, and without any doubt are the way both Francis and Clare led their communities.

They led not from above, and not even from below, but mostly from within, by walking with their brothers and sisters, or “smelling like the sheep, as Pope Francis puts it. A spiritual leader who lacks basic human compas­sion has almost no power to change other people, because people intui­tively know he or she does not represent the Divine or Big Truth.

Such leaders have to rely upon role, laws, and enforcement powers to effect any change in others. Such change does not go deep, nor does it last.

In fact, it is not really change at all.

 

Richard Rohr Eager to Love

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the endless knot

 

The endless knot is one of the eight fortunate symbols in Tibetan Buddhism. It has many meanings.

It is a pattern that is closed in on itself with no gaps, signifying the interrelatedness of everything.

It shows that the apparent disharmony and contradictoriness of the world we see is, seen properly, an illusion, disguising a world that is balanced, complete, and utterly interconnected.

In particular, it signifies the union of compassion and wisdom: that they are two aspects of the same thing.

When given as a gift, it indicates a deep karmic connection between giver and receiver, but in the context of a universe in which, seen with the eye of enlightement, all the scattered and disparate components are similarly, intricately, linked.

At the level of giver and receiver, it says “I love you.” At the level of the consciousness of the Buddha mind, it says “love.”

 

with thanks to Tom Davis

Dressing Up?

Dressing Up?

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We all have an ambiguous relationship with Authority or power  and so we should as Christians.

I wonder when you last felt powerless? To be powerless is something we all fear briefly clothed, but God laughs when we take it too, so we anxiously remind ourselves of all our virtues and capabilities. Our instinct as human beings is to build our sense of worth, our self-confidence and value on our past achieve­ments, looks, wealth, status, job or family. In other words to build it upon something for which we can claim credit, some power or ability that we possess.

We tend to come before God dressed in our acquired prowess, our moral victories or life’s successes.

Yet before God, none of these counts for anything. The truth is that we do not do God a favour by signing up to this cause. A realistic embrace of our humanity with all its  realities of powerlessness is part of building up a picture of ourselves that God and others recognise and value.

 

Surprise

Surprise

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surprise

 

Expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.
become a stranger
To need of pity
Or, if compassion be freely
Given out
Take only enough
Stop short of urge to plead
Then purge away the need.

Wish for nothing larger
Than your own small heart
Or greater than a star;
Tame wild disappointment
With caress unmoved and cold
Make of it a parka
For your soul.

Discover the reason why
So tiny human midget
Exists at all
So scared unwise
But expect nothing. Live frugally
On surprise.

Alice Walker, Expect nothing

water !

water !

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water

If I were called in
To construct a religion
I should make use of water.

Going to church
Would entail a fording
To dry, different clothes;

My litany would employ
Images of sousing,
A furious devout drench,

And I should raise in the east
A glass of water
Where any-angled light
Would congregate endlessly.

Philip Larkin

 

Don't tame me !

Don't tame me !

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the shout

The spotted hawk swoops by and accuses me, he complains
of my gab and my loitering.
I too am not a bit tamed, I too am untranslatable,
I sound my barbaric yawp over the roofs of the world.

from Walt Whitman, Song of myself

Love …………..

Love …………..

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in a glass darkly

Though I spake with the tongues of men and angels and yet had no love, I were even as sounding brass: or as tinkling cymbal.

And though I could prophesy and understood all secrets and all knowledge: yea if I had all faith so that I could move mountains out of their places and yet had no love, I were nothing.

And though I bestowed all my goods to feed the poor, and though I gave my body, even that I burned, and yet had no love, it profiteth me nothing.

Love suffereth long, and is courteous. Love envieth not. Love doth not frowardly, swelleth not, dealeth not dishonestly, seeketh not her own, is not provoked to anger, thinketh not evil, rejoiceth not in iniquity; but rejoiceth in the truth, suffereth all things, believeth all things, endureth all things.

Though that prophesying fail, other tongues shall cease, or knowledge vanish away, yet love falleth never away. For our knowledge is unperfect and our prophesying is unperfect; but when that which is perfect is come, then that which is unperfect shall be done away.

When I was a child I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I imagined as a child. But as soon as I was a man I put away childishness. Now we see in a glass, even in a dark speaking: but then shall we see face to face. Now I know unperfectly: but then shall I know even as I am known.

Now abideth faith, hope, and love, even these three: but the chief of these is love.

St Paul’s first epistle to the Corinthians, ch. 13, in the translation of Thomas Tyndale, with spelling and punctuation lightly modernised.

Charity and Freeedom

Charity and Freeedom

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Charity and freedom are inseparable. Love must be free. Only charity is perfectly free. Love is loved for itself, not determined by anything else outside itself.

It is not drawn by the satisfaction of anything less than itself. Only in charity, that is disinterested love, is love perfectly spontaneous.

All love that is less than charity ends in some­thing less than itself. Perfect charity is its own end, and is therefore free, not determined by anything else. God alone is perfectly free, infinitely free. He is Love Loving Himself. Because He is absolutely free, His love can do whatever it likes.

We are constituted in His image by our freedom— which is not absolute, but contingent. That is, we are free in proportion as we share His freedom, which is absolute. We are free in the sense that no one de­termines our free choices: we are so much our own masters that we can even resist God, as we know to our sorrow! But we are also free to love for the sake of loving, to love God because He is Love, and to find ourselves in the perfect freedom of Love’s own giving of itself.

 

Merton

looking

looking

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white flower

 

He said, I am with you always.
That means, when you look for God
That God is the looking itself,
Yes, and the thought of looking
And the you that thinks the thought
Always, already, all of it;
There is no outside.

A white flower grows in the silence
Let your speech be that flower.

 

Rumi,

watchful

watchful

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watchful

 

If you value yourself

watch that self, carefully;

the wise should be watchful.

 

Self must govern self.

Who else would do this work?

If the self is well controlled

you have found a good master.

 

It is your self that does wrong

it is your self that suffers

it is your self that purifies;

no-one can do it for you.

 

the Buddha

 

Always Growing and Moving?

Always Growing and Moving?

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Generous orthodoxy is aware of the need to keep listening and learning in openness to the Spirit and to the world for the sake of the gospel, it seeks to keep conversations going and not to end them. Generous ortho­doxy does not so much specify a particular point or posi­tion as it establishes a spacious territory defined by certain distinct boundaries in which there is space to live, move, and breathe while exploring the wonders and mysteries of the faith. In this context ongoing conversation is nothing less than the gracious gift of God through the work of the Spirit in fulfillment of the promise to guide the church into the fullness of truth.

So let us  not covet the last word, let us be  honest about our presuppositions and potential blind spots, and honest about our passions  and even forthright in our convictions. To do this we should be  willing to engage with the many voices found in the church and in our culture.

Let the Church be a place for  conversation for the sake of the Way, the Truth, and the Life.

We might be encouraged  to keep in mind the words of Hans Frei, who once commented on the term he had coined: “Generosity without orthodoxy is nothing, but orthodoxy without generosity is worse than nothing.”

(with gratitude  to challenges heard after reading

A Generous Orthodoxy

by  Brian D McLaren )

HAPPINESS AND ITS DISCONTENTS

HAPPINESS AND ITS DISCONTENTS

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In our era, the idea that we should
lead happy, balanced lives carries the force of an
obligation: We are supposed to push aside our anxieties in order to enjoy our
lives, attain peace of mind, and maximize our productivity. The cult of “positive
thinking” even assures us that we can bring good things into our lives just by thinking about them…

There is something quite hollow about the ideal a life unruffled
by anxiety. It’s why I think that underneath our quest for vibrant health lurks a tragic kind of
discreet death: the demise of everything that is eccentric and messy about human life. Our society sells us the quick fix:

If you get a cold, take some decongestants; if you get depressed, take some antidepressants; and if you get
anxious, take those tranquilizers. But what are we supposed to take when we lose our character?”

From the Chronicle of Higher Education at:

http://chronicle.com/article/HappinessIts-Discontents/144019/