Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Ash Wednesday - Wilderness, Fasting, Humility

“But know this,” says YHWH: “Return to me with all your heart, with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Tear open your heart not your clothes!” Return to YHWH your God, who is gracious and deeply loving as a mother, quick to forgive, abundantly tender-hearted – and relents from inflicting disaster. Joel 2:12.

The Journey of Lent is a Wilderness journey and is associated with fasting. Some people fast from meat, or soda, or TV during Lent. Fasting is a long- practiced spiritual discipline designed to empty one’s self in order to be filled by the Spirit. The symbolism of fasting is that doing without your most basic needs, food and water, is an act of trust and submission. We submit our need for food in trust that God will provide, much like the ancient Israelites trusted God in the Wilderness to provide the manna needed to sustain life.

You are tender and compassionate, YHWH—slow to anger, and always loving; your indignation doesn’t endure forever and your anger lasts only for a short time. You never treat us as our sins deserve; you don’t repay us in kind for the injustices we do. For as high as heaven is above the earth, so great is your love for those who revere you. As far away as the east is from the west, that is how far you remove our sins from us! As tenderly as parents treat their children, that’s how tenderly you treat your worshipers, YHWEH! For you know what we are made of – you remember that we’re nothing but dust. Psalm 103:8-14

From a psychological standpoint, submission in trust is called humility. Psychologically, humility is to let go the idea that you are in ultimate control of what you think you need for comfort and happiness, be it material or intangible. We like to think we control our circumstances as well as our attitudes and perspectives, but very often we do not. And very often, the attitude we choose is not an attitude that reflects the benevolent love of God…either toward others or toward ourself.

In ecclesiastical language we call humility, or self emptying, kenosis. Fasting, a symbol of kenosis, or self emptying, is essentially the willingness to reduce your neediness – physiological and psychological – to humble yourself in a gesture of trust and prayer before God. It is no mistake that the root of humility is humus – dirt, soil (ashes) – the same root as human. It is in the Wilderness of humility that we accept our humanness – our inability to count on anything but God to provide everything we need.

This is the sort of fasting that pleases me: remove the chains of injustice! Undo the ropes of the yoke! Let those who are oppressed go free, and break every yoke you encounter! Share your bread with those who are hungry, and shelter homeless poor people! Clothe those who are naked and don’t hide from the needs of your own flesh and blood! Do this and your light will shine like the dawn- and healing will break forth like lightening! Your integrity will go before you and the glory of YHWEH will be your rearguard. Isaiah 58:6-9

May you go forth into this season of Lenten fasting and wilderness with complete trust. On this journey, may God surprise you and affirm you by the lengthening of the days and the greening of earth. May you see Gods promise of new life all around you and may it give you constant hope. May you walk with Jesus in humanity, in humility, in kenosis and approach with Him the great tests of Love along the way. May you remain committed to hold His hand in darkness all the way to the cross, knowing fully, faithfully, that God is here and always, always waiting for you with light and life.

The love and peace of Christ be yours, Peggy

© Peggy Beatty, Feb 2011

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Thursday Psalm - Thomas Merton

By ceasing to question the sun I have become light,
Bird and wind.
My leaves sing.
I am earth, earth

All these lighted thing
Grow from my heart

A tall spare pine
Stands like the initial of my first
Name when I had one.

When I had a spirit,
When I was on fire
When this valley was
Made out of fresh air
You spoke my name
In naming Your silence:
O sweet, irrational worship!
I am earth, earth

My heart's love
Bursts with hay and flowers.
I am a lake of blue air
In which my own appointed place
Field and valley
Stand reflected.

I am earth, earth

Out of my grass heart Rises the bobwhite.
Out of my nameless weeds His foolish worship.

Thomas Merton, Book of Hours

Praise for the rising sun and the new day! May your day be filled with splendor and surprise. Breath deeply and take moments to Be.... part of unfolding Life. You are humus, made of the soil of the earth, enlivened by ruach, the breath of God, and sustained by the waters of Grace. Peace be with you, Peggy

Monday, February 13, 2012

My Dream - Peggy 2009

I approached the Creator and I told Her my dream, “I dreamed the world could be saved and I knew how to save it. I had to tell someone!

So I went to my Earth Friend and I told her of all the beauty and grace in the universe and how we humans bring that to each other. I showered her with images of you, Creator, and of your garden and I told her what is yours could also be hers.

     She looked at me sadly and said, 'I cannot hear you.'

Realizing that she could not interpret my words, I went to The Magistrate. And I told her that you, Creator, called to us through each other. I tried to explain that we must be silent and quiet in our hearts to hear your voice and to understand the ebb and flow of your grace.

     She said, 'Where did you learn these heresies?'

I confessed that I learned them from speaking with you.

     She said, 'I have never learned such things. What you say threatens us. You are a false prophet.'

Saddened at her response, I told my Spirit Friend of my concerns. Surely she would understand me. I explained that you, Creator, were speaking through all of us, through our friendships and our families, our relationships with the earth and with those like us across the globe. I told her that you informed us of these things in so many ways, but that sometimes we needed to affirm them among ourselves. I said that was what spirit friends did; they reflected the love and beauty of the Creator’s promise to each other and made light.

     She said, 'There is a time for that. And now is not that time. Now it is time to sleep.' And she turned out the lights and closed my bedroom door.

I did not want to sleep!

I lay in the dark night wondering if I misunderstood everything you have taught me. I wondered if perhaps your promises of love and grace and joy were promises to be kept only to myself. And yet, they were promises so lovely, so grand, so true and so life saving. And now they seemed so heavy, so burdensome, so alienating. The world was perishing, and your way was so simple and obvious. I had to try to tell them. But, alas, they could not hear me. They thought me a heretic and a fool. They left me in the dark to hold these insights all alone. In despair and self doubt, I closed my eyes and let my mind slip away so my heart could not feel the pain."

The Creator looked at me with gentle eyes and smiled. She drew me into her broad arms, and as I melted into her breast I could feel our hearts beating together in the very same rhythm. I lifted my eyes to hers and from our gaze emerged an ocean of tears that poured over us, cool and clear, settling around us in a peaceful tidepool. She breathed and we expanded together, her chest burgeoned, heaving above the waters like a breaching whale, then exhaled back to gentle calm. Misty breath surrounded me and drew me cell by cell into vapor. I knew this peace.

     Ever so calmly she assumed my discouragement into our eternal embrace and whispered assurance through me,
                                                           “I will talk to them.”

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Looking for Your Face - Rumi

From the beginning of my life
I have been looking for your face
but today I have seen it

Today I have seen
the charm, the beauty,
the unfathomable grace
of the face
that I was looking for

Today I have found you
and those who laughed
and scorned me yesterday
are sorry that they were not looking
as I did

I am bewildered by the magnificence
of your beauty
and wish to see you
with a hundred eyes

My heart has burned with passion
and has searched forever
for this wondrous beauty
that I now behold

I am ashamed
to call this love human
and afraid of God
to call it divine

Your fragrant breath
like the morning breeze
has come to the stillness of the garden
You have breathed new life into me
I have become your sunshine
and also your shadow

My soul is screaming in ecstasy
Every fiber of my being
is in love with you

Your effulgence
has lit a fire in my heart
for me
the earth and sky

My arrow of love
has arrived at the target
I am in the house of mercy
and my heart
is a place of prayer

May your prayer expand to the farthest edges of the universe. May your heart be open to receive the mystery. And may the Beloved breathe the fragrance of Love into your soul. Peggy

Jalāl ad-Dīn Muḥammad Rūmī  was probably born on 30 September 1207 in the province of Balkh in the district of Wakhsh in Khorasan (now in modern Afghanistan/Tajikistan). He died on 17 December 1273 in Konya in Seljuqid Rum (now modern Turkey). Rumi’s meeting with the dervish Shams-e Tabrizi on 15 November 1244 completely changed his life. From an accomplished teacher and jurist, Rumi was transformed into an ascetic.

Shams had traveled throughout the Middle East searching and praying for someone who could "endure my company". A voice said to him, "What will you give in return?" Shams replied, "My head!" The voice then said, "The one you seek is Jalal ud-Din of Konya." On the night of 5 December 1248, as Rumi and Shams were talking, Shams was called to the back door. He went out, never to be seen again. It is rumored that Shams was murdered with the connivance of Rumi's son, 'Ala' ud-Din; if so, Shams indeed gave his head for the privilege of mystical friendship.

Rumi's love for, and his bereavement at the death of, Shams found their expression in an outpouring lyric poems. The general theme of Rumi's thought, like that of other mystic and Sufi poets of Persian literature, is essentially that of the concept of tawhīd – union with his beloved (the primal root) from which/whom he has been cut off and become aloof – and his longing and desire to restore it. Wikipedia 2.7.12

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Sea Lion ~ John Eldridge, From The Journey of Desire

Once upon a time here lived a sea lion who had lost the sea. He lived in a country known as the barren lands. High on a plateau, far from any coast, it was a place so dry and dusty that it could only be called a desert. A kind of course grass grew in patches here and there, and a few trees were scattered across the horizon. But mostly, it was dust. And sometimes the wind, which together made one very thirsty. Of course, it must seem strange to you that such a beautiful creature should wind up in a desert at all. He was, mind you, a sea lion. But things like this do happen.

How the sea lion came to the barren lands, no one could remember. It all seemed so very long ago, in fact, it appeared as though he had always been there. Not that he belonged in such an arid place. How could that be? He was, after all, a sea lion. But as you know, once you have lived so long in a certain spot, no matter how odd, you come to think of it as home.

There was a time, many years back, when the sea lion knew he was lost. In those days, he would stop every traveler he met to see if he might help him find his way back to the sea. But no one seemed to know the way.

On he searched, but never finding. After years without success, the sea lion took refuge beneath a solitary tree beside a very small water hole. The tree provided refuge from the burning rays of the sun., which was very fierce in that place. And the water hole, though small and muddy, was wet, in its own way. Here he settled down and got on as best he could. Had you journeyed in those days through the barren lands, you might have seen the sea lion for your self. Quite often in the evening, he would go and sit upon his favourite rock, a very large boulder, which lifted him off the burning sand and allowed him a view of the entire country.

There he would remain for hours into the night, silhouetted against the sky. And on the best of nights, when the wind shifted to the east, a faint smell of salt air would come to him on the breeze. Then he would close his eyes and imagine himself once more at the sea. When he lay himself down to sleep, he would dream of a vast, deep ocean. Twisting and turning, diving and twirling, he would swim and swim. When he woke, he thought he heard the sound of breakers.....

The sea was calling to him.

The sea lion loved his rock, and he even loved waiting night after night for the sea breezes that might come. Especially he loved the dreams those memories would stir. But as you well kn
ow, even the best of dreams cannot go on, and in the morning when the sea lion woke, he was still in the barren lands. Sometimes he would close his eyes and try to fall back asleep. It never seemed to work, for the sun was always very bright.

Eventually, it became too much for him to bear. he began to visit his rock only on occasion. "I have too much too do," he told himself. "I cannot waste my time just idling about." He really did not have so much to do. The truth of it was, waking so far from home was such a disappointment, he did not want to have those wonderful dreams anymore. The day finally came when he stopped going to his rock altogether, and he no longer lifted his nose to the wind when the sea breezes blew.

The sea lion was not entirely alone in those parts. for it was there he met the tortoise. Now this tortoise was an ancient creature, so weathered by his life in the barren lands that at first, the sea lion mistook him for a rock. He told the tortoise of his plight, hoping that this wise one might be able to help him. "Perhaps," the tortoise mused, "this is the sea." His eyes appeared to be shut against the bright sun, but he was watching the sea lion very closely. The sea lion swept his flippers once against his side, gliding to end of the water hole and back. "I don't know," he said. "it isn't very deep." "Isn't it?" "Somehow, I thought the sea would be broader , deeper. At least, I hoped so."

"You must learn to be happy here," the tortoise told him one day. "For it is unlikely you shall ever find this sea of yours." Deep in his old shriveled heart, the tortoise envied the sea lion and his sea. “But I belong the sea. We are made for each other."

"Perhaps. But you have been gone so long now, the sea has probably forgotten you."This thought had never occurred to the sea lion. But it was true, he had been gone for a long, long time. "If this is not my home, how can I ever feel at home here?" the sea lion asked. "You will, in time." The tortoise appeared to be squinting, his eyes a thin slit. "I have seen the sea, and it is no better than what you have found here." "You have seen the sea!" "yes. Come closer," whispered the tortoise, "and I will tel you a secret. I am not a tortoise. I am a sea turtle. But I left the sea of my own accord, many years ago, in search of better things. If you stay with me, I will tell you stories of my adventures."

The stories of the ancient tortoise were enchanting and soon cast their spell upon the sea lion. As weeks passed into months, his memory of the sea faded. "The desert," whispered the tortoise, "is all that is, or was, or will ever be." When the sun grew fierce and burned his skin, the sea lion would hide in the shade of the tree, listening to the tales woven by the tortoise. When the dry winds cracked his flippers and filled his eyes with dust, the sea lion would retreat to the water hole. And so the sea lion remained, living his days between water hole and tree.

The sea no longer filled his dreams.

I was that May that the winds began to blow. The sea lion had grown used to the wind, and at first he did mot pay much heed at all. Years of desert life had taught him to turn his back in the direction from which the wind came and cover his eyes with his flippers, so that the dust would not get in. Eventually the winds would always pass. But not this time. Day and night it came, howling across the barren lands. There was nothing to stop its fury, nothing to even slow it down. For forty days and forty nights the wind blew. And then, just as suddenly as it begun, it stopped. The sea lion lifted himself to have a look around. He could hardly believe his eyes.

Every single leaf had been stripped from his tree. The branches that had remained, with only a twig or two upon them, looked like an old scarecrow. And I do not need to tell you that there was no longer any shade in which to hide. But worse than this, much worse indeed, was what the sea lion saw next. The water hole was completely dry.

Three weeks after the wind ceased to blow, the sea lion had a dream. Now, as I told you before, there were nights in which he had dreamed of the sea. But those were long ago and nearly forgotten. Even still, the ocean that filled his dreams this night was so beautiful and clear, so vast and deep, it was as if he was seeing it for the very first time. The sunlight glittered on its surface, and as he dived, the waters all around him shone like an emerald. I he swam quite deep, it turned to jade, cool dark and mysterious. But he was never frightened, not at all. For I must tell you that in all his dreams of the sea, he had never before found himself in the company of other sea lions. This night there were many, round about him, diving and turning, spinning and twirling. They were playing.

Oh, how he hated to wake from that wonderful dream. The tears running down his face were the first wet thing he had felt in three weeks. But he did not pause even to wipe them away, he did not pause, in fact, for anything at all. He set his face to the east, and began to walk the best a sea lion can.

"Where are you going?" asked the tortoise.

"I am going to find the sea!"

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.
From the Four Quartets, by TS Elliott

Listen to your heart's longing. Get your head out of the way! You long for the True, The Real, the One Life that begets the universe. You know who you are. Your heart reminds you, not your head. Be still! And know that I Am. Be Still! Let the voice of your True speak truth to you - Namaste, Peggy