Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Labor Day 2017 - The Graced Labor of Presence

1 Corinthians 3: 7-9, 16
Field of Soul, Mary Ann Wakeley

So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. The one who plants and the one who waters have one purpose, and they will each be rewarded according to their own labor. For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building…

16 Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst?

Today I labored, but it was not work. Today I labored, but nothing tangible can be seen. Today I labored, but in love. I labored to be a vessel of the Divine expression of love and peace in this world. It was not work. It was graced. It felt like a well of gratitude into which the felt presence of others invited the Spirit to flow from the depths of my “Yes” back out to their hearts.  

This morning I was honored to join a friends family, as Chaplain, for the committal of their beloved father and husband. We shared the Spirit of Ervin under the bright morning sun on a quiet hill, with Ervin’s breath all around us, whispering assurance on the breeze and singing alleluias with birdsong. This was not work. It was grace in action. It was all the receivers open and receiving the blessing and magnitude of Life: chaos and order, sorrow and joy, all present in the moment of Ervin.

Do you know that one meaning for the latin, “labore” is to plow? This morning we showed up. We let the silence of nature and the penetrating ritual of the flag folding remind us of all that was planted and watered through Ervin’s being. And as we opened our hearts to God’s grace, the rain filled our deep wells of gratitude and we shared Life and Love.
Field of Love, Mary Ann Wakeley


This afternoon I lead meditation. It was quiet time to relax and attune the mind to the body, to open us to peace and invite the Spirit to sculpt us in ways yet to be realized. It’s not work. Its surrender. It’s more receptive than active. It’s the waiting part of the planting and watering. It’s the art of becoming present to the process of grace and gratitude; learning to access to the underground spring from which blessing flows. It’s the way we invoke grace, even if we use clinical language like, integrating the mind-body. Make no mistake, meditation is the age-old method of offering up our labor, our planting and watering, to communion with the Holy. The body and the blood, in such posture of consent, remember they are the temple.

This day is Labor Day. It’s set aside for us to celebrate the fruits of our faithfulness to something. Some are faithful to projects and processes, others to leading, still others to loved ones. Most of us put our faith in many things. But none that are not wondrously overshadowed by our faithfulness to this day: the rising sun, the turning earth, blowing winds and flowing tides. Before we even put a foot on the floor, we labor without work. We plow the field of Divine communion within, by acknowledging the wonder of Life. In this way, we can consciously invoke the grace that grows all our daily expressions into plowshares of gratitude, openness to the needs of others, and generous care. These behind the scenes labors of love, “the eucharists of the ordinary” create each sacred day.

No one says this better than Irish poet, John O’Donohue: The Inner History of a Day

No one knew the name of this day;
Born quietly from deepest night,
It hid its face in light,
Demanded nothing for itself,
Opened out to offer each of us
A field of brightness that traveled ahead,
Providing in time, ground to hold our footsteps
And the light of thought to show the way.
Mary Ann Wakeley

The mind of the day draws no attention;
It dwells within the silence with elegance
To create a space for all our words,
Drawing us to listen inward and outward.

We seldom notice how each day is a holy place
Where the eucharist of the ordinary happens,
Transforming our broken fragments
Into an eternal continuity that keeps us.

Somewhere in us a dignity presides
That is more gracious than the smallness
That fuels us with fear and force,
A dignity that trusts the form a day takes.

So at the end of this day, we give thanks
For being betrothed to the unknown
And for the secret work
Through which the mind of the day
And wisdom of the soul become one.

As you labor through this sacred life, may you remember to plow the field of your soul, early and often. And water frequently with self-care, that workless labor of love that invokes the Divine mystery of who you are, and wonderously grows you into a loving being of peace and compassion, whose fragrance drifts over the day inviting all souls to communion.

Peace, Peggy
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Friday, May 26, 2017

But We Have the Mind of Christ

Artwork by Jennifer Baird
The Christ we seek is within us,
In our inmost self,
Is our inmost self,
And yet infinitely transcends ourselves.
Christ himself is in us
as unknown and unseen.
We follow Him,
We find Him,
And then He must vanish,
And we must go along without Him at our side.
Why?
Because He is
even closer than that.
He is ourself.

~ Fr Thomas Merton, Trappist Monk

In the Christian tradition, illumination (also called enlightenment or awareness) is named, “being made in the Image of Christ.” The Apostle Paul called this having the Mind of Christ.

The title Christ is derived from the Greek term Khristós meaning "the anointed one." The symbolism of anointing in this sense is recognition of something spiritual, sacred and Godly. Khristós is also related to Keres, associated with anointing to purify or heal the body or rid the self of negative influence. Thus, as is the case in Paul’s writings, anointing can be understood as a state of mind (and body) in which both negative influences are dispelled and sacred Godliness is assumed; or in the context of re-ligare or reconnecting (the origin of the word, "religion"), to perceive with an illuminated or enlightened awareness. The notion of awakened mind or anointed perception was understood across sacred traditions preceding the first century. Thus, the Christ-mind may be called Buddha-nature (“buddha” literally means, “awakened one”) or bodhi in Buddhism or moksha in Hinduism. Enlightenment is the threshold of nondual awareness, a singular or ongoing perception of unified thought, in which subject and object are not opposites, but one and the same. Enlightened, nondual awareness reconciles opposites and is a benefit of contemplation.


This enlightened/aware/Christ mind is one that thinks conceptually, intuits and feels with appropriate balance between the three. Richard of St Victor  (12th century mystic) wrote that humanity was given three sets of eyes: the eye of the flesh (for seeing without), the eye of reason (for thinking and judging) and the eye of true understanding (for creating wisdom by using seeing, thinking and intuiting simultaneously).[1] The third eye as enlightened consciousness is an ancient concept predating Christianity.[2] The New Testament authors use this language all the time, Let he who has eyes see. Let she who has ears hear. (Matthew 13:9-16; Mark 8:18, Revelation 7, 11, 17, 29, for example) Everyone has all three eyes, but we don’t all use them to their capacity. Contemplative practice (meditation) can cultivate the use of these in balance. 

for, "Who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ. 1 Corinthians 2:16

May you quiet your thinking long enough to realize the amazing openness and expansiveness that lives within you; so that you may “see” with your third eye and that you may express yourself as an authentic “Imitation of Christ.”




[1] David Berreby, Us and Them: The Science of Identity (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2005). 
[2] Richard Cavendish, Man, Myth and Magic – Volume 19. (New York, NY: Marshall Cavendish, 1994), 2606.

Friday, February 17, 2017

This Rose Called Love

123.


A droplet of the dew on the face of this rose
called Love
fell on that dust which was, in the beginning,
to bring forth this clay doll we call our body.
The Love-tempered blade of existence tore
into the spirit,
bleeding a drop of light, which we call our heart,
Suns blazed,
worlds sang,
the grandest feat of creation was achieved.


~Nobody, Son of Nobody, Poems of Shaikh Abu-Saeed Abil-Kheir

Gaye Abbott

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Listening.... Brings the Balance (Obedience and Justice)

In his wonderful book, The Music of Silence, Br David Steindl-Rast explains the word and its action, "obedience." 

"Obedience is 'intensive listening' (to the word of God which comes to us every moment - our inner voice- if you will), the opposite is absurdity, which means being deaf to life's challenges and meaning." -also inside of us... 

Steindl-Rast suggests that the next time we say "This is absurd," we ask ourselves, "To what am I deaf here?"

The etymology of the word, obedience is this:


from Latin oboedientia (nominative oboediens), present participle of Latin oboedire 'to listen.' late 13c., from O.Fr. obeir, from L. oboedire "obey, pay attention to, give ear," lit. "listen to," from ob "to" + audire "listen, hear."


Perhaps we can interpret all words, which are actually symbols, in an active or passive sense. For it seems to me that our commonly held notion of obedience is that of actively following a rule and rules are created, as law, to provide justice. And justice is about order in equity, balance, which is why the image of justice holds a balanced scales. So in a more passive sense, justice is more about finding the balance than it is, right and wrong. It is about right and right. It is about reconciliation, which is to return to the balance. Of course, this can take action...Law and Order! ;-)



So with obedience, if we are listening to God's voice, we will bring the balance of justice, inner first, and then outer action. How? Because we are made in the Image of the God of Life. Within each of us is the enlightened Mind of Christ, the Logos, what the Stoics called the ordering principle of the universe, and what scientists call [the Holiness of] Natural Order. And this Sacred and wonderful Natural Order always seeks the balance, always finds the balance, is always listening.

May you  find within yourself the deep stillness from which obedience expresses  justice. May that inner quietude allow the voice of God, the Logos to keep your heart and mind aligned with the universal balance of the Natural Order, its justice and its peace. In the end, Peace through Natural Order prevails. Be the peace. Bring the Peace.

Love and Peace,
_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

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Monday, November 28, 2016

Happiness and Meaning

Claudia Tremblay
“Happiness is “human flourishing,” which is a translation of the Greek word eudaimonia. The usual translation is “genuine happiness,” but “flourishing” is more accurate. Like the Buddhist notion of sukkha, and ananda—bliss, joy in the Hindu tradition—flourishing is a sense of happiness that’s beyond the momentary vicissitudes of our emotional state.  

And what brings this about? A meaningful life.”
~Alan Watts in Tricycle


How do we find meaning? It is not found through strict sensing, logic, or rational intelligence. Meaning is imparted through whole body experience. Whole body experience incorporates intuition, and often empathic, awareness into what is sensed and rationalized, leading to a greater "presence" of being. It is common for those with intuitive or mystical bias to do this automatically and frequently. One of the hallmarks of an intuitively biased person is that they often subliminally query their circumstances with, “What does that mean?” The first bullet under “Intuitive perception” on the Myers-Briggs web page is this: 

I remember events by what I read "between the lines" about their meaning. 

This becomes significant when we ask how to cultivate happiness through finding meaning. The answer is to be more present with our circumstances and to be more aware of how we relate to them experientially with our whole being. We accomplish this through meditation and other contemplative practices. Meditative and reflective practices deepen our intuitive and empathic capabilities. With a deeper appreciation of our circumstances, we also find ourselves more content. And to be content with self and circumstances is to flourish.

"...See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Matthew 6:25-34

Joy is to behold the Divine in everything. ~Julian of Norwich, 14th century Christian Mystic

_/\_Peggy
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Thursday, November 24, 2016

Eucharist, Giving Thanks for the Good Gift

Alexander Coosemans
The word, eucharist is derived from the Greek eu-meaning “well” or “good” and charisomai, meaning “to grant or give.” Eucharist literally means, “good gift.” In the Christian tradition, the eucharist celebrates our intimacy with Jesus, as we symbolically assume his person, his character in body and in blood. The potential to be Jesus-like or Christ-like is God’s good gift to the world.

The ceremony of eucharist or thanksgiving long preceded Christianity. The Hebrew verb “barak” is used to express thanksgiving to God for being held in God’s provision and grace. When the ancient Israelite warriors and providers returned from long absences from home, a community dinner, complete with sacrificial lamb, was prepared to celebrate their safe return. Barak was offered as a blessing before the meal. This became the tradition of the Jewish Passover meal; the meal that commemorated freedom from hardship and safe keeping in community. This was the meal that Jesus shared with his disciples the night that he was arrested, at which he offered barak/thanksgiving and radically, assumed the role of the sacrifice – the good gift.

Gratitude is the ascending reflection of descending grace."~ Beverly Novak

Assuming a thankful state of mind and heart creates within us, a space, like a cornucopia or a chalice, to be filled with the goodness of Life, the grace of God. Often, to create ourselves as a receptacle of grace requires the "sacrifice" of our personal time, money, need and/or certainty of thought. Gratitude is a receptive posture, a mindful way of opening to our place in a larger story and feeling blessed just to be alive where we are. One comes into full Presence in gratefulness, with all the best of who she is eclipsing defenses, resentments and fears that can keep her from being her true, loving self.

May you be ever open to the glory of your most expansive being. May the cornucopia of your heart stand ready to be filled with the good graces of the universe, the fruits of the spirit. May worries and old defenses give way to love and forgiveness as you offer barak, “a blessing” for the eucharist, the “good gift,” of this perfect day.

Thanksgiving Blessings!

_/\_Peggy @ Ecumenicus

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Hagia Sophia by Thomas Merton

The Expression of the Divine Feminine.

I. Dawn. The Hour of Lauds.

There is in all visible things an invisible fecundity, a dimmed light, a meek namelessness, a hidden whole-ness. This mysterious Unity and Integrity is Wisdom,the Mother of all, Natura naturans. There is in all things an inexhaustible sweetness and purity, a silence that is a fount of action and joy. It rises up in word-less gentleness and flows out to me from the unseen roots of all created being, welcoming me tenderly, saluting me with indescribable humility. This is at once my own being, my own nature, and the Gift of my Creator's Thought and Art within me, speaking as Hagia Sophia, speaking as my sister, Wisdom.

I am awakened, I am born again at the voice of this, 
my Sister, sent to me from the depths of the divine 
fecundity.


Let us suppose I am a man lying asleep in a hospital.
I am indeed this man lying asleep. It is July the second,
the Feast of Our Lady's Visitation. A Feast of Wisdom.


At five-thirty in the morning I am dreaming in a very 
quiet room when a soft voice awakens me from my 
dream. I am like all mankind awakening from all the 
dreams that ever were dreamed in all the nights of the
world. It is like the One Christ awakening in all the 
separate selves that ever were separate and isolated 
and alone in all the lands of the earth. It is like all minds 
coming back together into awareness from all distractions,
cross-purposes and confusions, into unity of love. It is like 
the first morning of the world (when Adam, at the sweet voice 
of Wisdom awoke from nonentity and knew her), and like the Last 
Morning of the world when all the fragments of Adam will return from
death at the voice of Hagia Sophia, and will know where they stand.


Such is the awakening of one man, one morning, at 
the voice of a nurse in the hospital. Awakening out 
of languor and darkness, out of helplessness, out of 
sleep, newly confronting reality and finding it to be 
gentleness.


It is like being awakened by Eve. It is like being 
awakened by the Blessed Virgin. It is like coming 
forth from primordial nothingness and standing in 
clarity, in Paradise.


In the cool hand of the nurse there is the touch of all 
life, the touch of Spirit.


Thus Wisdom cries out to all who will hear (Sapientia
clamitat in plateis
) and she cries out particularly 
to the little, to the ignorant and the helpless.


Who is more little, who is more poor than the helpless 
man who lies asleep in his bed without awareness and 
without defense? Who is more trusting than 
he who must entrust himself each night to sleep?
What is the reward of his trust? Gentleness comes to 
him when he is most helpless and awakens him, 
refreshed, beginning to be made whole. Love takes him
by the hand, and opens to him the doors of another 
life, another day.


(But he who has defended himself, fought for himself 
in sickness, planned for himself, guarded himself, loved 
himself alone and watched over his own life all night, is 
killed at last by exhaustion. For him there is no newness. 
Everything is stale and old.)


When the helpless one awakens strong as the voice of 
mercy, it is as if Life his Sister, as if the Blessed Virgin, 
(his own flesh, his own sister), as if Nature made wise
by God's Art and Incarnation were to stand over him and 
invite him with unutterable sweetness to be awake and to 
live. This is what it means to recognize Hagia Sophia.


II. Early Morning. The Hour of Prime.

O blessed, silent one, who speaks everywhere!

We do not hear the soft voice, the gentle voice, the 
merciful and feminine.


We do not hear mercy, or yielding love, or non-resistance, 
or non-reprisal. In her there are no reasons and no answers. 
Yet she is the candor of God's light, the expression of His 
simplicity.


We do not hear the uncomplaining pardon that bows
down the innocent visages of flowers to the dewy 
earth. We do not see the Child who is prisoner in all 
the people, and who says nothing. She smiles, for 
though they have bound her, she cannot be a prisoner. 
Not that she is strong, or clever, but simply that 
she does not understand imprisonment.


The helpless one, abandoned to sweet sleep, him the 
gentle one will awake: Sophia.


All that is sweet in her tenderness will speak to him
on all sides in everything, without ceasing, and he
will never be the same again. He will have awakened 
not to conquest and dark pleasure but to the impeccable 
pure simplicity of One consciousness in all and through all:
one Wisdom, one Child, one Meaning, one Sister.


The stars rejoice in their setting, and in the rising of 
the Sun. The heavenly lights rejoice in the going
forth of one man to make a new world in the morning, 
because he has come out of the confused primordial dark 
night into consciousness. He has expressed the clear silence 
of Sophia in his own heart. He has become eternal.


III. High Morning. The Hour of Tierce.

The Sun burns in the sky like the Face of God, but 
we do not know his countenance as terrible. His light 
is diffused in the air and the light of God is diffused 
by Hagia Sophia.


We do not see the Blinding One in black emptiness. 
He speaks to us gently in ten thousand things, in
which His light is one fullness and one Wisdom.
Thus He shines not on them but from within them.
Such is the loving-kindness of Wisdom.


All the perfections of created things are also in God;
and therefore He is at once Father and Mother. As 
Father He stands in solitary might surrounded by 
darkness. As Mother His shining is diffused, embracing 
all His creatures with merciful tenderness and light. 
The Diffuse Shining of God is Hagia Sophia. 
We call her His "glory." In Sophia His power is 
experienced only as mercy and as love.


(When the recluses of fourteenth-century England
heard their Church Bells and looked out upon the 
wolds and fens under a kind sky, they spoke in their
hearts to "Jesus our Mother." It was Sophia that had 
awakened in their childlike hearts.)


Perhaps in a certain very primitive aspect Sophia is
the unknown, the dark, the nameless Ousia. Perhaps
she is even the Divine Nature, One in Father, Son, and 
Holy Ghost. And perhaps she is in infinite light unmanifest, 
not even waiting to be known as Light. This I do not know. 
Out of the silence Light is spoken. We do not hear it or see
it until it is spoken.


In the Nameless Beginning, without Beginning, was 
the Light. We have not seen this Beginning. I do not know 
where she is, in this Beginning. I do not speak of her as a 
Beginning, but as a manifestation.


Now the Wisdom of God, Sophia, comes forth, reaching
from "end to end mightily." She wills to be also 
the unseen pivot of all nature, the center and significance 
of all the light that is in all and for all. That which is poorest
and humblest, that which is most hidden in all things is 
nevertheless most obvious in them, and quite manifest, for it 
is their own self that stands before us, naked and without care.


Sophia, the feminine child, is playing in the world,
obvious and unseen, playing at all times before the Creator. 
Her delights are to be with the children of men. She is their sister.
The core of life that exists in all things is tenderness, mercy, virginity 
the Light, the Life considered as passive, as received, as given, as 
taken, as inexhaustibly renewed by the Gift of God. Sophia is
Gift, is Spirit, Donum Dei. She is God-given and God 
Himself as Gift. God as all, and God reduced to Nothing: 
inexhaustible nothingness. Exinanivit semetipsum. Humility as
the source of unfailing light.


Hagia Sophia in all things is the Divine Light reflected in them,
considered as a spontaneous participation, as their invitation 
to the Wedding Feast.


Sophia is God's sharing of Himself with creatures. His outporing,
and the Love by which He is given, and known, held and loved.


She is in all things like the air receiving the sunlight. In her 
they prosper. In her they glorigy God. In her they rejoice to reflect 
Him. In her they are united with him. She is the union between them. 
She is the Love that unites them. She is life as communion, life as 
thanksgiving, life as praise, life as festival, life as glory.


Because she receives perfectly there is in her no stain.
She is love without blemish, and gratitude without 
self-complacency. All things praise her by being themselves
and by sharing in the Wedding Feast. She is the Bride and the 
Feast and the Wedding.


The feminine principle in the world is the inexhaustible source 
of creative realizations of the Father's glory. She is His 
manifestation in radiant splendor! But she remains unseen,
glimpsed only by a few. Sometimes there are none who 
know her at all.


Sophia is the mercy of God in us. She is the tenderness 
with which the infinitely mysterious power of pardon 
turns the darkness of our sins into the light of grace. 
She is the inexhaustible fountain of kindness, and would 
almost seem to be, in herself, all mercy. So she does in us 
a greater work than that of Creation: the work of new being
in grace, the work of pardon, the work of transformation from
brightness to brightness tamquam a Domini Spiritu. She 
is in us the yielding and tender counterpart of the power, justice
and creative dynamism of the Father.


IV. Sunset. The Hour of Compline. Salve Regina.

Now the Blessed Virgin Mary is the one created being 
who enacts and shows forth in her life all that is hidden in Sophia. 
Because of this she can be said to be a personal manifestation
of Sophia, Who in God is Ousia rather than Person.


Natura in Mary becomes pure Mother. In her, Natura
is as she was from the origin from her divine birth. In Mary Natura
is all wise and is manifested as an all-prudent, all-loving, all-pure person:
not a Creator, and not a Redeemer, but perfect Creature, perfectly 
Redeemed, the fruit of all God's great power, the perfect expression
of wisdom in mercy.


It is she, it is Mary, Sophia, who in sadness and joy, with the full awareness
of what she is doing, sets upon the Second Person, the Logos, a crown
which is His Human Nature. Thus her consent opens the door of created
nature, of time, of history, to the Word of God.


God enters into His creation. Through her wise answer, through her obedient
understanding, through the sweet yielding consent of Sophia, God enters 
without publicity into the city of rapacious men.


She crowns Him not with what is glorious, but with
what is greater than glory: the one thing greater than
glory is weakness, nothingness, poverty.


She sends the infinitely Rich and Powerful One forth
as poor and helpless, in His mission of inexpressible
mercy, to die for us on the Cross.


The shadows fall. The stars appear. The birds begin to sleep.
Night embraces the silent half of the earth. A vagrant, a destitute
wanderer with dusty feet, finds his way down a new road. A 
homeless God, lost in the night, without papers, without 
identifications, without even a number, a frail expendable exile
lies down in desolation under the sweet stars of the world and 
entrusts Himself to sleep.

Amen! and Amen! _/\_Peggy 

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