July-August 2017 (Vol. XXX, No. 7)

Dear Friends ~ Far too many people in today's world seem intent on defining what they believe everyone must have faith in as if they alone had captured The Truth. One's faith must pass their litmus test in order to be real or valid or redeemed. Looking back through history at the inquisition, the crusades, the Pharisees and Romans, the suppression of the Sufis and countless other persecutions reminds me that it has often been this way. Yet if God is truly holy, then taking off our shoes and bending in awe might be a better response than looking from side to side to take inventory of who's there and who's not. I find it hard enough to have faith without people co-opting and abusing it in the name of their own fundamental righteousness. What is faith if not hope in the unseen? And if unseen, then how can we lock down The Truth as if we know it? It is human nature to fear uncertainty, confine paradox, and hammer away at ambiguity with our doctrines and creeds.

There is no progress in prayer without progress in faith

There is no progress in prayer without progress in faith, a purification of faith. And this entails the removal of all the props which depend on human endeavor, human reasoning, signs and the rest. It is the naked faith which is a terrifying experience and yet is the meeting point ultimately between God and ourselves in the depth of our being. This experience of the purification of faith is not normally one which comes early in the spiritual life. We must learn to wait.

~ Basil Hume

Don't worry about what is reality

...don't worry about what is reality,
or what is plain, or what is mysterious.
If you were there, it was all those things.
If you can imagine it, it is all those things.
Eat, drink, be happy.
Accept the miracle.
Accept, too, each spoken word
spoken with love.

~ from "Logos" by Mary Oliver, in WHY I WAKE EARLY

The getting up and going

Sometimes I wondered if
I had any faith.
I sat down and thought about it.
And when I had had enough
of that I got up
and went on my way.
And that—the getting up
and going—was faith.

~ from YES, WORLD by Mary Jean Irion, as reprinted in AN ALMANAC FOR THE SOUL by Marv and Nancy Hiles

The faithful moments

There are mountaintop experiences for some, and thin places for very many. But underlying them—and making them possible—are the faithful moments, the faithful hours, and the faithful days which make up a lifetime of actively seeking to allow God's love to live in us and through us.

~ in "Thin Places" - newsletter of the Westminster Presbyterian Church

Faith is the fountain of spiritual discipline

Though it may seem as though faith is absent more often than it is present, it is possible to strengthen this quality through silence and meditation. Like the sun and the stars, faith is a natural part of our soul life—we have only to learn to put our trust in this intuitive sense to begin to feel its healing effects. Faith is the fountain of spiritual discipline...an inner sense that allows us to bear with patience our doubts and despair, as well as the dry, depressing passages of life, knowing that somehow, some way, we are being led forward in the right direction.

~ from SOUL SISTERS by Pythia Peay

How we live

Faith is not about how we feel; it's about how we live. 
~ Anne Lamott

Faith, optimism, and hope

One becomes an active participant in the world when he or she believes in something. Faith, optimism, and hope—we have to have those things as human beings; otherwise, life is unbearable because there is nothing that we can see beyond ourselves.

~ Gabriel Byrne

Simple faith

I have over the years dismissed simple faith, viewing it as either ignorant or stagnant. Only lately have I begun to recognize a profound quality of simple faith and the dynamism and struggle involved. It is easy to complicate one's faith. The real challenge is to maintain faith in all its simplicity! Simple faith clearly is a leap across the chasm of unanswered questions. That is the beauty of it.

~ from "The Gift of Simple Faith" by Richard B. Patterson in Spiritual Life, Spring '98

Real faith is rooted in a basic unknowing

Real faith is rooted in a basic unknowing about ultimate things, and religion helps us to be in relation to that mystery. This kind of unknowing can offer calm or create anxiety, depending on a person's faith. Often people fill in this emptiness by insisting that they possess the truth. The fragility of their faith is betrayed by their strident insistence on being right and by their efforts to force their views on others. They seem afraid of the very things that define religion: mystery and trust.

~ from THE SOUL'S RELIGION by Thomas More

Faith is only found when needed

Faith is only found when needed,
only real when used.
Until then it is a seed
waiting to burst forth into
living hope.

~ Judith A. Hartley

Our spiritual food

...Consider this then: That there is a level of truth, vitally important to human beings, which lies beyond the explainable, demonstrable natural world. In fact, this truth is often more important and sustaining to human beings because it is an eternal truth, not changeable, never at the mercy of different historical theories, or the whims of the scientist, or the observer of heavenly bodies. This truth, in a sense, is our spiritual food.

~ from THE MESSIAH STONES by Irving Benig
The Messiah Stones
By Irving Benig

Take the first step in faith

Take the first step in faith, you don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

The great truth

The small truth has words that are clear; the great truth has great silence.
~ Rabindranath Tagore
Rabindranath Tagore: An Anthology
By Rabindranath Tagore

The function of fatih

The function of faith is not to reduce mystery to rational clarity, but to integrate the unknown and the known together in a living whole, in which we are more and more able to transcend the limitations of our external self.

~ from NEW SEEDS OF CONTEMPLATION by Thomas Merton
New Seeds of Contemplation
By Thomas Merton

June 2017 (Vol. XXX, No. 6)

Dear Friends ~ Last month pondering soul transformation led toward contemplating the universality of the cosmic dance. Though inner work is deeply individual, it also confirms our interdependence and the connectedness at the heart of the universe. Sixty people trying to move in the unfamiliar patterns of Gurdjieff's movements with awareness in mind, body, and heart brings one face to face with one's own personal journey. Yet it also confirms the truth that being human means being part of a collective--a complex set of dynamic interactions--a consciousness beyond ourselves. Stepping into that kind of experience is both humbling and liberating--I am neither more nor less than a part of this whole. Whether one calls this the communion of saints or a beehive-like synergy of Gaia or participation in the Body of Christ, it bespeaks a belonging, a mystery of simultaneous differentiation and union.

The desire for oneness

Deep within us, amid our differentiations as individuals and nations and species, is the desire for oneness. This holy longing is found not only in the human soul but in the soul of the universe, at the heart of everything that has being. We are not an exception to the universe. We are an expression of the universe. Our longings are a unique manifestation of the universe's longings. In listening to the depths of life, within our lives and within every life, we will hear the longings of the One that are deeper than the fears that divide us...There is no such thing as ultimate separation between one part of the universe and an-other, between the well-being of the human species and earth's other species, between the life of one nation and the rest of the world. We and all people, we and those who have gone before us, we and all creatures, we and the universe are traveling together in one river of life. We carry each other within us. And the universe carries us within itself.

~ from A NEW HARMONY by John Philip Newell

Nature is part of our humanity

Observing the rhythms of nature and recurring cycles of the year, Henry Beston describes what he calls the "pilgrimages of the sun" across the sky, and at night, strolling the beach, "the dust of the stars" that fill "the night sky in all its divinity of beauty." For a moment of night, we have a glimpse of ourselves and of our world islanded in its stream of stars--pilgrims of mortality voyaging between horizons across eternal seas of space and time. Nature is a part of our humanity and without some awareness and experience of that divine mystery we cease to be human.

~ from PILGRIMAGE by Edward C. Sellner

I know I belong to this time

A great tenderness for myself and the world opens inside me, and I know I belong to this time, to these people, to this earth, and to something that is both within and larger than all of it, something that sustains and holds us all. I do not want to be anywhere else. I am filled with commitment...and compassion.

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer

All life is interrelated

It really boils down to this: that all life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied to a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

~ Martin Luther King, Jr.

We are part of the earth

We are part of the earth and it is part of us. We love this earth as a newborn loves its mother's heartbeat.
~ Chief Seattle

When the whole universe dances inside us

We all have moments in which we are jolted out of our habitual anxiety, when we surrender control and let go of self-conscious judgments In those moments we can just "be." We can feel refreshingly open, clear, and complete. Our mental clutter and confusions fall away, and we remember with great joy our oneness with all that is. At such moments the whole universe dances inside us!

~ from THE PATH OF BLESSING by Marcia Prager

The erasing of people

Of all the world's errors, Dr. Paul felt the most fundamental was the "erasing" of people, "the hiding away" of suffering. "My big struggle is how people can not care, not remember." I had wondered if there was room in his philosophy for anyone but the world's poor and people who campaigned on behalf of the poor...Embracing a continuity and interconnectedness that excluded no one seemed like another of Farmer's peculiar liberties. It came with a lot of burdens, yet it also freed him from the efforts that many people make to find refuge and distinction from their pasts, and from the mass of other human beings.

~ from MOUNTAINS BEYOND MOUNTAINS by Tracy Kidder

An awareness of our interdependence with others

Only as we begin to open to others in love can our isolated ego be transformed. An awareness of our interdependence with other human beings and with all of life provides the environment in which the seed of our souls can flourish.

~ from LIVING PRESENCE by Kabir Edmund Helminski

A single sacred community

It is my hope that all the children, the children of the deer and the wolf, the whale and other marine forms of life; the children of the osprey and the bluebird and the butterfly; the children of the oak and the pine and the dogwood; the children all together with the human children will go into the future in oneness "as a single sacred community." ... The human is less a being on the earth or in the universe than a dimension of the earth and indeed of the universe itself. We cannot discover ourselves without first discovering the universe, the earth, and the imperatives of our own being. Each of these has a creative power and a vision far beyond any rational thought or cultural creation of which we are capable. Nor do we think of these as isolated from our own individual being or from the human community. We have no existence except within the earth and within the universe.

~ from CREATIVE ENERGY by Thomas Berry
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