223 – Gratitude – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

I think it would be good as we approach Thanksgiving Day to have a chance over the next several weeks to exercise our “thankfulness” muscles.

Let’s take time this week to hear Albert Schweitzer,

At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.

Who has “rekindled” the flame for you?

When has there been a time someone was able to give you what you needed to see the light again, or to take on a task you did not have the energy for, or just to have hope for journey?

Who were they?  Did you express your “deep gratitude”?  Should you?

Take some time over the next days to let the Spirit call to your memory who has been there for you.

Charles

{ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est}

Follow all the posts at Commonplacebook.discipleswalk.org on Thanksgiving 2014

 

 

222 – Offering – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Over the last two weeks we listened first to St Teresa and then to St Ignatius speak to us of what we offer to God.  Today let’s listen to these words from the Wesley Covenant Prayer,

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will;
put me to doing, put me to suffering;
let me be employed for you, or laid aside for you,
exalted for you, or brought low for you;
let me be full,
let me be empty,
let me have all things,
let me have nothing:
I freely and wholeheartedly yield all things
to your pleasure and disposal.

Do these words echo the same spirit St Teresa and St Ignatius encouraged?

Where do the words find you today?  Are you encouraged or are you put off?

Does this point to an attitude you desire or an attitude that is uncomfortable?

Maybe you can spend some time with this prayer and the prayers of the last two weeks and consider what draws you and what challenges you?

221 – Submission – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Oct 22 (1 day ago)

Last week I shared a prayer of St Teresa of Avila under the heading “abandonment.”

I would like to continue the same line of thought this week with a few words from St Ignatius of Loyola,

Take, Lord, and receive all my liberty,
my memory, my understanding
and my entire will,
All I have and call my own.

You have given all to me.
To you, Lord, I return it.

Everything is yours; do with it what you will.
Give me only your love and your grace.
That is enough for me.”

What strikes me about these two quotes is how counter-cultural they are. Both speak to us of giving all to another. Does that fit well with our culture which seems so often concerned with getting more, holding what we have and and never having enough?

Ignatius found what was “enough” for him.

Is there hope we can likewise be satisfied?

 

220 – Abandonment – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Today, October 15, is the Feast Day of St Teresa of Avila.  In keeping with my practice of the past few years, I will offer today a quote from St Teresa’s writings.  I came across this while reading  Dwight H. Judy’s Embracing God: Praying with Teresa of Avila, (p 19).

In Your Hand
I place my heart,
Body, life and soul,
Deep feelings, and affections mine,
Spouse – Redeemer sweet,
Myself offered now to you,
What do you want of me?
 
Give me death, give me life,
Health or sickness,
Honor or shame,
War or swelling peace,
Weakness or full strength,
Yes, to these I say,
What do you want of me?
 
(From “In the Hands of God” (Vol 3, pp 377-378, “The Collected Works of St. Teresa of Avila.”)

Are these words that only the religious professionals, the clergy, the monks, the nuns, those in “full-time” christian vocations utter, or are they in part or in whole for all of us who call ourselves disciples of Jesus?

Have you and I asked ourselves the question Teresa asked, “What do you want of me?”

 

219 – Confession – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Let’s follow up on our thinking about “walls” with this from M. Scott Peck (found in The Different Drum),

Community requires the confession of brokenness. But how remarkable it is that in our culture brokenness must be “confessed.” We think of confession as an act that should be carried out in secret, in the darkness of the confessional, with the guarantee of professional priestly or psychiatric confidentiality. Yet the reality is that every human being is broken and vulnerable. How strange that we should ordinarily feel compelled to hide our wounds when we are all wounded!  Community requires the ability to expose our wounds and weaknesses to our fellow creatures. It also requires the ability to be affected by the wounds of others. But even more important is the love that arises among us when we share, both ways, our woundedness. With remorse, confession becomes a joy.

Do Peck’s words give any insight into how we find ways of moving beyond the walls we create?

When we “hide our wounds” are we building walls?  Does a need to appear “strong” contribute to our separateness from those around us?

But what about confession without the “ability to be affected by the wounds of others”?  Can confession, at times, only be a way to appear strong and yet maintain walls so we are unaffected by the wounds and hurts and pains of those around us?

Walls – Confession – Community

How do you see this relationship?  What gives us the desire and willingness to move closer to one another?

 

218 – Walls – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Last week we heard Madeleine L’Engle warn us of the walls we can allow to be created between us and others.

In part she wrote,

“The house of God … is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.”  (From: “A Stone for a Pillow”)

What does this have to do with our ongoing concern with spiritual practices?

Think about church for a moment.  We hope church is a place in which we practice fellowship, community, support, love, encouragement, acceptance … (should I go on?).

How does the ongoing practice of fellowship and community lead us to a life of “vulnerably” and “interdependence”?  Do we lean to trust God more?  Do we learn to trust others more?  Do we gain a vision and strength that leads us to reach out to others, to be vulnerable to their pains, to share those pains and to offer them strength?

Does that lead to breaking down walls?

What wall do you see that you can help tear down?

 

217 – Walls – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Madeleine L’Engle has written,

“Sometimes the very walls of our churches separate us from God and each other. In our various naves and sanctuaries we are safely separated from those outside, from other denominations, other religions, separated from the poor, the ugly, the dying….The house of God is not a safe place. It is a cross where time and eternity meet, and where we are – or should be – challenged to live more vulnerably, more interdependently.”  (From: “A Stone for a Pillow”)

Are L’Engle’s words too harsh?

When have you found the church a “safe place” in the best sense of the word and when have you found it a hiding place?

What walls can you name that separate us from others as L’Engle describes?

How do we build those walls and how do we dismantle them?

 

216 – Compassion – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

How do we measure the value or worth of spiritual practices?  How do we know if “we are getting anyplace”?  Should we even ask if it is “working” for us?

Maybe some advice from the Desert Fathers and Mothers would be helpful,

“The virtue to which all spiritual work of the Desert Fathers and Mothers led was the supreme virtue of compassion; only increase in love for others is seen to be a reliable sign of spiritual growth. When John Main was asked, how we should prepare for meditation, he said “by many acts of kindness”. In the end the essence is not how well you meditate but how well you love.”

This sounds very similar to something St Teresa of Avila told us,

“The important thing is not to think much but to love much; and so do that which best stirs you to love.”

How do your spiritual practices “stir you to love”?

How does your church going, worship attending and generally all your activities “stir you to love?”

 

215 – Silence – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

Let me break the morning silence by bringing a few words from Thomas Merton,

“Music is pleasing not only because of the sound but because of the silence that is in it: without the alternation of sound and silence there would be no rhythm. If we strive to be happy by filling all the silences of life with sound, productive by turning all of life’s leisure into work, and real by turning all our being into doing, we will only succeed in producing a hell on earth.”

“If we have no silence, God is not heard in our music. If we have no rest, God does not bless our work. If we twist our lives out of shape in order to fill every corner of them with action and experience, God will silently withdraw from our hearts and leave us empty.” (From: No Man Is an Island)

Have you ever entertained that idea?  Without silence “there is not rhythm.”  Without silence there would be no meaningful words?  Without silence there is no place to hear God’s voice?

Be on the lookout today for the silences that are given you.  When the gift of silence comes, give thanks to God for it and wait for what can be heard.

 

214 – Poetry – Intention on the Spiritual Journey

I have a number of friends who enjoy the novels, essays, and poems of Wendell Berry.  I came across this poem recently –

How To Be a Poet – by Wendell Berry –
 
(to remind myself)
 
i
 
Make a place to sit down.
Sit down. Be quiet.
You must depend upon
affection, reading, knowledge,
skill–more of each
than you have–inspiration,
work, growing older, patience,
for patience joins time
to eternity. Any readers
who like your poems,
doubt their judgment.
 
ii
 
Breathe with unconditional breath
the unconditioned air.
Shun electric wire.
Communicate slowly. Live
a three-dimensioned life;
stay away from screens.
Stay away from anything
that obscures the place it is in.
There are no unsacred places;
there are only sacred places
and desecrated places.
 
iii
 
Accept what comes from silence.
Make the best you can of it.
Of the little words that come
out of the silence, like prayers
prayed back to the one who prays,
make a poem that does not disturb
the silence from which it came.
 
Source: Poetry (January 2001).

 

Does his poem offer you any hints on how to be a poet?

How to write?

How to nurture your spirit?

How to approach spiritual practices?

What silence offers?