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
Ecumenicus Facebook

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.
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 Yogic Sanskrit. 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


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