Bob Sabath's blog

Finding in ourselves what we criticize in another

10-05-2018 | Bob Sabath

A suggestion for an inner work practice comes from Elizabeth O'Connor, Our Many Selves: A Handbook for Self-Discovery, "From Judgment to Empathy: Exercise Four", page 71:

"What you criticize in another, try to find in yourself. We want to discover our dark selves, not in order that they may be blamed and banished out of sight, but in order that we may have conversation with them and they may lead us to the light. This is the promise if we will attend to them."

"An added discipline for this week might be to say nothing negative about anyone else or about yourself. This will give you more energy for inner work on the subject. If you find it a difficult discipline to keep, do not be discouraged. A discipline is to help us learn, and there is often more learning in failure than in success."

Giving the Best Mat to Your Friend

11-19-2014 | Bob Sabath

Dear friends of Rolling Ridge:

I am so disappointed that I am not able to be with you on this important day in the life of the Rolling Ridge community. I'm in Albuquerque meeting with Richard Rohr and about 350 men from all over the world who are seeking to find ways to deepen the work of transformation in their own lives and in the lives of other men that they know. As many of you know, this search for inner transformation is a passion of mine – and sometimes has driven my best friends crazy. There is such a thing as "over search" – and I know that my intensity and seriousness and the search itself sometimes gets in the way of what I am trying to find.

Christmas Nativity 2013

12-25-2013 | Bob Sabath

O Holy Angel,
wide-winged stranger,
above a forgetful earth,
care for us, comfort us,
enfold us with your love,
and keep us safe from danger,
and not regretful,
and not forgetful
of our wonder-filled birth.

Adapted from poem by Edna St. Vincent Millay

This is a copy of a nativity set originally made over twenty-five years ago by Ginny Soley, Linda and Scot DeGraf for Sojourners and later Circle Church Christmas celebrations.  The original copy is now at Sojourners magazine where I now work.  About two weeks ago I traced them, brought a coping saw, and cut and painted three sets in time for Christmas!

Welcome O Life

08-22-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections on the Day by Stefan

Today and yesterday we have been together around Jesus words "I desire compassion/mercy and not sacrifice and religion." Startling words both then and now. It begins as always in the depths. It begins in the heart where compassion and mercy are born. Today we are reflecting around how this might happen through the powerful way of encounter. What capacity of heart is called for as we truly encounter another human being? What capacity of heart that brings us to a place of transfiguration?

May a slow wind work these words of love around you

08-21-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily reflection from Stefan

Today we spent the whole day working/playing with poetry and hearing the rhythm of the words and receiving the beauty and goodness of the sounds and the meanings. We introduced a new poem today. The poem is called Self Slaved and it is by the Irish poet Patrick Kavanaugh.

Intentionally we immersed ourselves in the inspiring poems that challenge us to go further, deeper, to descend, ascend, expand, retreat.

Hearing the poems read aloud by different people, pausing to breathe, to listen to what comes up, to share if we wish, to speak of what is, to listen to that voice within which is our soul, to be in the company of those who are able to walk with us, to drink more deeply from the Fountain before each other and to see in each others eyes the reflection of truer self. This is the gift we offered to one another in our ongoing Pilgrimage of Peace.

Wherever you are is called Here

08-20-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan

Today we gathered in small group to listen to one person tell the story of hearing their life's call. It was a story that has ripened and is ready to be told. As we listened to the struggles, the moments of clarity and confusion, the desire to live from the heart's deep longing and purpose, it was clear we were on holy ground. And our shoes came off. What a great privilege and honor it is to listen to another's life story.

The Fountain

08-19-2013 | Bob Sabath

Don't say, don't say there is no water
to solace the dryness at our hearts. I have seen

the fountain springing out of the rock wall and you drinking there. And I too
before your eyes

found footholds and climbed
to drink the cool water.

The woman of that place, shading her eyes,
frowned as she watched—but not because
she grudged the water,

only because she was waiting
to see we drank our fill and were
refreshed.

Don't say, don't say there is no water.
That fountain is there among its scalloped
green and gray stones,

it is still there and always there
with its quiet song and strange power
to spring in us,
up and out through the rock.

by Denise Levertov

There is a field

08-19-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan Waligur

My entry today is a slight shift from the verbal to the aural. I want to share just a few thoughts on an experience we shared last night and this morning at Pilgrimage of Peace.

There are so many "things that make for peace," aren't there? One of these has to do with the peace power, the healing power of voice as we share our voices together with and for each other. SO much can be communicated through our precious voices.

So, last night we began a little experiment/exploration. A small circle gathered round one person who expressed a desire/need for prayer. As the small circle encircled her they placed their hands upon her shoulders and head and began to sing/chant a simple sound of oh-chone. It's an approximation of an Irish sound used in laments.

With what vision do I enter the world?

08-18-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections on the Day by Stefan Andre Waligur

Today we looked at the creation account in Genesis and compared this with the story of Jesus' resurrection. Out of darkness and chaos comes light and creative call. We asked the question: With what vision do I enter the world? What goodness and beauty do I long to see? We held lightly the question: What is my passion/compassion? We imagined God creating the world with emotion and attitude. We saw Jesus rising from the dead in passion and compassion. All of this and more stirs us to do the work of soul. Where is my passion/compassion leading me?

The story of the sleeping King sparked some beautiful sharing of personal stories. All around the question: What genius, what nobility sleeps within waiting to be awakened?

Is it time to cross the threshold?

08-16-2013 | Bob Sabath

The theme of day was discernment. How do we know? How do we know the time? The time to cross a threshold? The time to stay where we are? The time to wait?

What is my song?

08-15-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily Reflections by Stefan

Today we welcomed a new group of pilgrims to the Pilgrimage of Peace and said farewell to others. So, we begin again.

We shared the story of the woman at the well (Eugene Peterson's paraphrase called the Message) and Jesus from John's gospel. Peterson's paraphrase makes for lively imaginative reading/hearing. We appreciated the robust character of the conversation between them. Out of this edgy talk can come good learning.

We shared the poem called The Fountain by Denise Levertov hearing it once and then engaging in the poem with a kind of call and response form line by line, back and forth aloud. We noticed the connections between the gospel story and the poem.

We looked more closely at the first Beatitude: Blessed are those who possess nothing and no one. Blessed is your thirst. Blessed is your hunger.

Give back your heart to itself

08-14-2013 | Bob Sabath

Today we shared several stories from the Gospel of Matthew and some stories from the ancient Irish Celtic lore. Comparing them is a helpful practice. The Gospel passages are: Matthew 9:18f — the story of the woman in need of healing who touched Jesus' robe. "I will be well," she said. Good words for us too. And the story of Jesus taking the hand of a dead girl and raising her to life ("Arise, My Love...") in Matthew 15:21f — the story of Jesus and the Canaanite woman.

The Irish Celtic stories are: the story of the seal woman and the story of the fox woman. In both the Celtic stories the man in the story is faced with a decision. Although he shares Jesus' struggle in the moment, he responds in the end very differently from the Jesus in the Gospel story.

The Beatitude today was: "Blessed are the merciful for they will be shown mercy."

Awaken Your Spirit to Adventure

08-13-2013 | Bob Sabath

Brief Highlights for the Day by Janie Blakely

Today we looked at the fourth beatitude, "Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for Justice." The Beatitudes now begin to move into an active mode. Out of an acceptance of our shared poverty and grief we become more gentle and non-violent . Now we are ready to enter the world. Now we are able to enter the world with a hunger for justice.

We read together two stories from the Gospel of Matthew 15:29f. Jesus sees the hungry crowds. He says, "My heart goes out to the people." What follows is justice. The people receive what they need.

A question for us is:

It Acts Like Love: Music

08-12-2013 | Bob Sabath

Daily practice: might I suggest that we take some time to walk in nature and get reacquainted with this beauty and depth that surround us. We are part of this beauty and depth. We belong to the earth. And in a way that is new to me I am coming to see that all of nature desires to be in communion with us. Somewhere a poet says that "the truth depends upon a walk around the lake."

Day Four Reflections by Lindsay McLaughlin

Let's review the past few days. The beauty of being together for more than just a few hours or a weekend is what we have here: the opportunity to go deeper. So, we'll have some new material today, but we are interested in knowing what spoke to you most clearly, in the material we worked with over the past several days; what is the heart of the goodness for you?

How to Hear the Voice of Call

08-11-2013 | Bob Sabath

Today we focused on the question: How to hear the voice of Call, the voice of the Beloved? And how do we distinguish this voice from the other voices that Mary Oliver speaks of when she says, "those many voices with their bad advice."

Always the collective wisdom of the community gathered is helpful. Sharing of individual stories followed and personal insights emerged and were cherished.

Three threads were woven together:

  • the Gospel passage John 20:1-18, the story of Mary and Jesus post resurrection
  • the second beatitude in Matthew 5:4 — "Blessed are those who mourn"
  • the poem by Rainer Maria Rilke called The Swan

The song we shared at mid-day was Deep Within a Song is Heard.

The reflection questions for the day

Peace Pilgrimage Reflections -- August 11, 2013

08-11-2013 | Bob Sabath

Reflections from Janie Blakely
Shared Stories: Lights on the Path of Peace

As is usual on this journey of the spirit called "The Pilgrimage of Peace," this afternoon we gathered for lunch on the deck of Still Point cabin. It is a rare August day—clear, yet mild. As we sat atop a mountain above the Shenandoah; numerous butterflies and hummingbirds joined our gathering, supping on the flowers while we savored fresh veggies and pasta salad. We were also nurtured by sharing stories of our lives with one another.

Just as our bodies were replenished with food, our spirits were nourished by wondrous stories about an unexpected Appalachian blizzard in 2003. We marveled as we heard tell about two friends who trampled all day through 36 inches of snow to get to the only shop around for miles in order to pick up milk, rice and especially—dog food.

When I Listen to You

08-10-2013 | Bob Sabath

Notes from Stefan

Today we had conversation on the meanings of listening.

What happens in me when I listen to another? What inner dialogue goes on within as we attempt to listen? How do we listen? With the whole body? Why do we listen? Are we aware of the power of listening? Both for those who are listened to and for those who listen. And to whom do we listen? Really? Are we aware that this person is a wondrous mystery? And are we aware of the divinity we sit before in this other?

We are learning to listen without judgement and with compassion. May it be so.

When I listen to you,
When I hear your voice,
I hear the voice of God.

When I look in your eyes,
When I see your face,
I see the face of God.

When I open to you,
When I touch your heart,
We touch the heart of God.
We see the face of God.
We hear the voice of the God.

Don't Say There Is No Water

08-09-2013 | Bob Sabath

This whole Pilgrimage of Peace we will focus on Jesus' words: "If only you knew the things that make for peace."

We will look closely at the Beatitudes and integrate them with stories, and poetry and song. Our poetic questions will revolve around this theme of " the things that make for peace".

Tonight our first night we shared a poem by Denise Levertov called The Fountain: "Don't say, don't say there is no water to solace the dryness at our hearts. I have seen the fountain springing out of the rock wall. And you drinking there, and I too before your eyes..."

We introduced this little poem in the middle of song and silence as a kind of prayer. A prayer of hope and determined belief that the source of our lives -- the fountain -- may be difficult to see at times but it is there. "It is still there, and always there".

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