March 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 3)

Dear Friends ~ The year after my first child was born could have been called A Crash Course in the Contemplative Life. Overnight my daily landscape shifted from the external and the social, to the internal and the domestic. My driving need for productivity and efficiency made no sense in a newborn's routine. I faced rhythmic but unscheduled days with swaths of quiet time. A part of me panicked without the markers of purpose and meaning I had always used to define myself, but the new pulse of our home and the simple yet powerful needs of my baby created a steady familiarity with silence.

God has made a home in us

God who loves us knows us. We long to be known, not only from the outside but from within. We feel that if others knew us as we really are, with our hopes, dreams and struggles to be whole, they would have a compassionate and tolerant love for us. Conversely, were we to live for an hour within the mind of another, even that of a social outcast, we would come away humbled and more understanding. We cannot know people from within, only from without and with difficulty despite our love. Not so with God. The Spirit of God has been poured out on us. God has made a home in us.

~ by Sean Caulfield in THE GOD OF ORDINARY PEOPLE

The warmth of encouragement when we need to unfold

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens not through striving and trying but by recognizing and receiving the people and places and practices that offer us the warmth of encouragement when we need to unfold?
How would this shape the choices you make about how to spend today?

~ Oriah Mountain Dreamer from Prelude to "The Dance"

Your true home

Let go into the clear light, trust it, merge with it,
and enter the Silence, your true home.

The more light you allow within you, the brighter the world you live in will be.
~ Shakti Gawain

The forest that always surrounded us

I love you, gentlest of Ways...

You, the great homesickness we could never shake off,
you, the forest that always surrounded us...

~ by Rainer Maria Rilke from "Ich Liebe dich, du sanftestes Gesetz", translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macy

Home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep

Once we begin to see our lives within our own families as opportunities for spiritual development, the possibility of inner growth is unlimited. Home is no longer just a place to eat and sleep, but a school for our souls and spirits. Each day yields its lesson, and our children and partners become our teachers. We find our rhythm and learn to harmonize. We learn how to cherish and care for one another and how to care for our own souls as well. We learn to dance together, how to lead and when to follow. In so doing, we bring about changes both large and small, for our children, nurtured by rhythm, may ultimately heal and restore the rhythm of the world.
~ by Katrina Kenison in MITTEN STRINGS FOR GOD

The stars up in the bright sky

The stars up in the bright sky
When it's nighttime.
The people eating inside.
The animals eating outside.
Amen.
~ The prayer of a 3-year-old

When someone deeply listens to you

When someone deeply listens to you it is like holding out a dented cup you've had since childhood and watching it fill up with cold, fresh water. When it balances on top of the brim, you are understood. When it overflows and touches your skin, You are loved... When someone deeply listens to you, your bare feet are on the earth and a beloved land that seemed distant is now at home within you.
~ by John Fox in FINDING WHAT YOU DIDN'T LOSE

The house of my soul is narrow

...the house of my soul is narrow; enlarge it that thou mayest enter in.
~ St. Augustine

I belong to the wide wind

Because this bird is singing to me,
I belong to the wide wind,
The people far away who share
The air and the clouds.
Together we are looking up
Into all we do not own
And we are listening.
~ by Naomi Shihab Nye from "Messages from Everywhere"

This room and everything in it

And one day, when I need
to tell myself something intelligent
about love,

I'll close my eyes
and recall this room and everything in it...
~ by Li-Young Lee from "This Room and Everything in It"

The house we live in

What we speak becomes the house we live in.

~ Hafiz, translated by Daniel Ladinsky

The bright home in which I live

This is the bright home
In which I live,
This is where
I ask
My friends
To come,
This is where I want to love all the things
It has taken me so long
To learn to love.

~ by David Whyte from "The House of Belonging"

February 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 2)

Dear Friends ~ Many years ago, I asked Fr. Aiden, the abbot at St. Anselm's Benedictine Monastery in Washington D.C., "What do you do at the monastery?" Aiden's reply has stayed with me: "We fall and get up. We fall and get up. We fall and get up again." That has also been my experience with trying to establish a daily practice of "centering prayer." For many years, silence was NOT a friend to me: it was a daily humiliation of seeing and bearing the dispersion of my own inner being. Daily sitting was like taking a daily bath in the waters of my own inadequacy and inner contradictions. My working definition of "waking up" was seeing my sleep. I may still be the world's worst contemplative, but gradually I began to soften to this lawful falling away from myself and getting back up, not just while sitting on the morning chair, but as I went throughout the day.

Don't go back to sleep

The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you
Don't go back to sleep
You must ask for what you really want.
Don't go back to sleep!
People are going back and forth
across the doorsill where the two worlds touch.
The door is round and open.
Don't go back to sleep!
~ Rumi

Clearing

Do not try to serve
the whole world
or do anything grandiose.
Instead, create
a clearing
in the dense forest
of your life
and wait there patiently,
until the song
that is yours alone to sing
falls into your open cupped hands
and you recognize and greet it.
Only then will you know
how to give yourself
to the world
so worthy of rescue.
~ Martha Postlethwaite

To arrive where you are

To arrive where you are, to get from where you are not,
You must go by a way wherein there is no ecstasy.
In order to arrive at what you do not know
You must go by a way which is the way of ignorance.
In order to possess what you do not possess
You must go by the way of dispossession.
In order to arrive at what you are not
You must go through the way in which you are not.
And what you do not know is the only thing you know
And what you own is what you do not own
And where you are is where you are not.
~ from FOUR QUARTETS (East Coker), by T. S. Eliot

To see and know my inattention

I believe I need to pay attention, when in fact I need to see and know my inattention.

As I am, I cannot keep from being lost in life. This is because I do not believe that I become lost and do not see that I like being taken. I do not know what it means "to be taken."

The first effort is to awake, in order to see ourselves as we are in our sleep. We believe that to awake is to enter into an entirely different life, which will have nothing in common with the one we lead. But, in fact, awaking means, above all, to awake to ourselves as we are, to see and feel our sleep.
~ from THE REALITY OF BEING by Jeanne de Salzmann

As soon as I finish this sentence

Why do I flee from you? My days and nights pour through me like complaints and become a story I forgot to tell. Help me. Even as I write these words I am planning to rise from the chair as soon as I finish this sentence.
~ from THE KINGDOM OF ORDINARY TIME by Marie Howe

At the center of our being

At the center of our being is a point of nothingness which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of God in us. It is so to speak God's name written in us, as our poverty, as our indigence, as our dependence. It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of heaven. It is in everybody, and if we could see it we would see these billions of points of light coming together in the face and blaze of a sun that would make all the darkness and cruelty of life vanish completely ... I have no program for this seeing. It is only given. But the gate of heaven is everywhere.
~ from CONJECTURES OF A GUILTY BYSTANDER by Thomas Merton

Poem to Myself

Sink down into the center of each flowering moment.
What if the moment does not flower?

Sink down into the center of the moment.
What if I can't find the center?

Sink down into the moment.
What if the moment is gone?

Sink down.
What if I can't sink down?

Then be still.

The moment will find you.
The center will surround you.
The flower will bloom within you.

~ from MOVING DAY, by Rob Soley

The Healing Time

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
all the places
where I said no
to my life

all the untended wounds
the red and purple scars
those hieroglyphs of pain
carved into my skin, my bones,

those coded messages
that send me down
the wrong street
again and again
where I find them
the old wounds
the old misdirections

and I lift them
one by one
close to my heart
and I say
holy
holy.
~ Pesha Joyce Gertler

Psalm 139

The darkness and the light are both alike to Thee.

~ Psalm 139

Our real work

It may be that when we no longer know what to do,
we have come to our real work
and when we no longer know which way to go,
we have begun our real journey.

The mind that is not baffled is not employed.
The impeded stream is the one that sings.

~ by Wendell Berry in Standing By Words

January 2020 (Vol. XXXIII, No. 1)

Dear Friends, We stand on a threshold, peering at a new year, "full of things that have never been" (Teilhard de Chardin); an in-between space, suspended between what we think we know and worlds we cannot see, the ringing now before what comes next. We come to thresholds like these hauling courage with trembling hands. Will we step through to peril? to transformation? Sages say both. Yet we are not bereft. We can catch light for the journey, provisions for the road.

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