Creative change begins in the heart

The Great Creator lives within each of us. All of us contain a divine, expressive spark, a creative candle intended to light our path and that of others. We are shiny, not tarnished; large, not small; beautiful, not damaged– although we may be ignorant of our grace, power, and dignity. The human being, by definition, is a creative being. Practicing our creativity is healing. The more we ground it and regularly access it, the better off we are. The "healthier" we are. Creative change begins in the heart. When we start within ourselves and move outward, expressing what we love and what we value, life gets better, we feel better, and the world gets healthier too.
~ from WALKING IN THE WORLD by Julia Cameron

Sacredness can emerge

When imagination is allowed to move to deep places, the sacred is revealed. The more different kinds of thoughts we experience around a thing and the deeper our reflections go as we are arrested by its artfulness, the more fully its sacredness can emerge.

~ from CARE OF THE SOUL by Thomas Moore

A spiritual vitality that lifts it above itself

Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. The mind that responds to the intellectual and spiritual values that lie hidden in a poem, a painting, or a piece of music, discovers a spiritual vitality that lifts it above itself, takes it out of itself, and makes it present to itself on a level of being that it did not know it could ever achieve.

~ Thomas Merton in A THOMAS MERTON READER ed. by Thomas P. McDonnell

Religious, sacred, or nothing

Any work of art is ultimately an entry-point into the transcendent, revelatory of not only subtle, but celestial beauty and power; and if the given work is not so, it cannot properly be called art at all...All works of art, in other words, are religious, sacred, or nothing.
~ from THE EGYPTIAN MYSTERIES BY Arthur Versluis
The Egyptian Mysteries
By Arthur Versluis

A work of art opens a void

A work of art opens a void, a moment of silence, a question without an answer, provokes a breach without reconciliation where the world is forced to question itself.
~ Michel Foucault, as quoted in ART AS A WAY OF LIFE ed. by Roderick MacIver
Art as a Way of Life
By Roderick MacIver

God's Moment

God's Moment
The desire
of your heart
awaits
The quiet
moment of
creative love.
With courage
step into
silence.

~ Mary Ellen Robertson

A way of awakening

A contemplative practice is any act, habitually entered into with your whole heart, as a way of awakening, deepening, and sustaining a contemplative experience of the inherent holiness of the present moment. The critical factor is not so much what the practice is in its externals as the extent to which the practice incarnates an utterly sincere stance of awakening and surrendering to the Godly nature of the present moment.

~ from THE CONTEMPLATIVE HEART by James Finley
The Contemplative Heart
By James Finley

May 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 5)

Dear Friends ~ I shall now expose myself for the fraud that I am—I know nothing about prayer, have no attention span, no disciplined prayer practice, and often struggle with depressing periods of doubt. I veer from "Here am I Lord. Forgive my unbelief," to queasy periods of anxiety or guilt when I think I should pray or fear not to pray, to longer spells of hurrying through life distracted and forgetful. Perhaps if I lived where I heard the muezzin call for prayer five times a day or where monastery bells rang to mark the hours—would that make a difference? It's a good thing that we are loved all the same. As Anne Lamott says, perhaps it is enough to say, "Help. Wow. Thanks." Just as flower blossoms emerge on tree limbs that were in winter stark and bare, so too can hearts try once again to open themselves toward Light. It's not too late...

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The inner connection of the heart

In our busy lives it is so easy to forget the Divine, to be immersed in our own problems and our own selves. The mystic knows that what really matters is the inner connection of the heart in which our heart opens and cries. It is something so simple and yet so easily overlooked. Prayer is a way to be with God.
~ Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee

A Hasidic saying

Do not think that the words of prayer as you say them arise to God. It is not the words themselves that ascend; it is the burning desire of your heart that rises like smoke toward heaven.
~ a Hasidic saying

A quite warm and tender place

Today my prayer consisted in simply going to my heart and remembering all the folks I've stored there. It is not cold storage. It is a quite warm and tender place.
~ Sr. Macrina Wiederkehr, OSB

Rest, my dears, in prayer

The sun hears the fields talking about effort
and the sun smiles,
and whispers to me, "Why don't the fields just rest, for
I am willing to do
everything
to help them grow?"
Rest, my dears, in prayer.

~ St. Catherine of Siena
Catherine of Siena
By Sigrid Undset

The art of communion

The human heart is a capacity for God. Prayer, then, is the development of the art of communion. We are called to develop the disciplines required for loving and open communion with God, the world, others, and ourselves. We need to recover the art of communion and so recover the universe as God's, and rediscover our roots in God, in the world, in one another, and in our inner selves.
~ Rachel Hosmer and Alan Jones

I draw prayer round me

I draw prayer round me like a dark protective wall, withdraw inside it as one might into a convent cell and then step outside again, calmer and stronger and more collected again.
~ Etty Hillsum

The prayer of the heart

Real prayer penetrates to the marrow of our soul and leaves nothing untouched. The prayer of the heart is prayer that does not allow us to limit our relationship with God to interesting words or pious emotion...the prayer of the heart is the prayer of truth.
~ Henri J. M. Nouwen

The function of prayer

The function of prayer is not to establish a routine; it is to establish a relationship with God who is in relationship with us always... The function of prayer is to bring us into touch with ourselves, as well. To the ancients, "tears of compunction" were the sign of a soul that knew its limits, faced its sins, accepted its needs, and lived in hope.
~ Joan Chittister

The superior rhythm

"Only those who obey a rhythm superior to their own are free," wrote Kazantzakis. The superior rhythm is the one made by God and whispered into us at the time that we were whispered into being. It is a rhythm based on the light and darkness of the day itself...a rhythm that supports all of our lives— prayer, rest, community and work. We are called to live lives that are shaped and nurtured and wrestled with until they become a prayer that is prayed without ceasing. To do that will require a rule of some sort, even if it is The Rule of Saint Whatever-Your-Name-Is.
~ Robert Benson

Prayer is sitting in the silence

Prayer is sitting in the silence until it silences us, choosing gratitude until we are grateful, praising God until we ourselves are a constant act of praise.

~ Richard Rohr

The empty garden is full

We meditate in the library's garden, desolate in winter. We shiver but aren't in a hurry... After a while I feel more rested, and strangely fortified, too, as though by a company of unseen helpers, wise ones who know what it means to live with a heart as open as a clear blue sky, as passionate as the summer sun, as patient as rain on rock. How I want to live that way. A Zen saying burrows into my quiet, becomes a prayer: "May I walk hand in hand with you, ancestors, the hair of my eyebrows entangled with yours." The empty garden is full.
~ Phyllis Cole-Dai & James Murray

Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God

Prayer is not asking. Prayer is putting oneself in the hands of God, at God's disposition, and listening for Love's voice in the depths of our hearts.
~ Mother Teresa

Prayer with devotion

Better a little prayer with devotion than much prayer without devotion.
~ the Talmud

To the quiet mind all things are possible

The most powerful prayer, one well nigh omnipotent, and the worthiest work of all is the outcome of a quiet mind. The quieter the mind, the more powerful, the worthier, the deeper, the more telling and more
perfect the prayer is. To the quiet mind all things are possible.
~ Meister Eckhart

April 2018 (Vol. XXXI, No. 4)

Dear Friends ~ I recently participated in a conversation in which dissatisfaction or dissonance was a recurring theme poignantly and piercingly captured in a line quoted from a Mary Oliver poem:

I am so distant from the hope of myself,
in which I have goodness, and discernment...

Fire

This morning, on the opposite shore of the river
I watch a man burning his own house.
It is a cold day, and the man wears thick gloves
and a fur hat that gives him a Russian look.
I envy his energy, since I am still on the veranda
in my robe, with morning coffee, my day not
even begun, while my neighbor has already piled
spruce boughs against his house and poured
flammable liquids over them to send a finger
of black smoke into the air, a column surrounded
by herring gulls, who think he's having a barbecue
or has founded a new dump. I hadn't known what labor
it took to burn something. Now the man is working
at such speed, he's like the criminal in a silent
movie, as if he had a deadline, as if he had
to get his house burned by a certain time, or it
would be all over. I see his kids helping, bringing
him matches and kindling, and I'd like to help out
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