meditation

Plunging into prayer

And how does one go chasing after a glimpse of the uncreated Light? The Hesychasts, high on Mount Athos, bowed their heads upon their breasts, took a deep breath, and plunged in. What they plunged into was prayer. It began with a tack with which to fix the attention. It became breath itself, an inlet for the universe to invade one's body until the entire cosmos, drawn in, heaved out, was transformed into prayer. The body's posture was important. The breathing was to be carefully controlled so as to keep time with the words. Eventually the prayer, breathed in, united with their very blood and heartbeat; breathed out, it blessed the world. And some monks claimed after a while to have indeed seen the Light of the Transfiguration, uncreated energy beheld by bodily eyes.

~ from AND THE TREES CLAP THEIR HANDS by Virginia Stem Owens

The purpose of meditation practice

The purpose of meditation practice is not enlightenment; it is to pay attention even at unextraordinary times, to be of the present, nothing-but-in-the-present, to bear this mindfulness of now into each event of ordinary life.

~ from THE SNOW LEOPARD by Peter Matthiessen

The accumulated wisdom of centuries

The accumulated wisdom of centuries teaches us that God speaks to the human heart most intimately only in silence. Silence and an inner emptiness or receptivity are the strange conditions for all our relationships. Without the ability to be silent, to wait, to be receptive, all our attempts at communion become manipulative and possessive. We become frustrated because we want instant gratification. We want all of who we are to be revealed. We want to know the end of the story. We find it difficult to wait. Waiting in the stillness, is, perhaps, the hardest of all human activities. It is not only hard; it is dangerous. The act of self-emptying leaves us open to attack from other quarters ... Yet it is only in silence that who we really are begins to appear. In the end, we need not fear, for it is our own best self struggling within, longing to be free.

~ from LIVING IN THE SPIRIT by Rachel Hosmer & Alan Jones
Living in the Spirit
By Rachel Hosmer, Alan Jones

A discipline to refine and deepen

Throughout the ages silence has been considered a way, a discipline, by which people could refine and deepen themselves. It is in silence that our reflective ability -- and our need to reflect -- is born. In silence we grow more aware: sounds, however distant, or the absence of them, bring out the hidden parts of our personality, triggering thoughts and various fleeting phenomena in our body and attention. In silence, we perceive the ineffable, that which cannot be verbalized, cannot be made concrete. In silence and solitude our individuality is affirmed. As we cease to speak, sitting or speaking quietly, within our own hearts and mind, we confront our past actions, aspirations, our most cherished dream figures.

~ from ORDINARY PEOPLE AS MONKS AND MYSTICS by Marilyn Sinetar with thanks to Abby Seixas

It is time to put up a love-swing!

It is time to put up a love-swing!
Tie the body and then tie the mind so that
they swing between the arms of the
Secret One you love.
Bring the water that falls from the clouds
to your eyes.
And cover yourself over entirely with the
shadow of the night.
Bring your face up close to Love's ear,
and then talk only about what you want
deeply to happen.
Kabir says: "Listen to me, friend, bring the face,
shape, and odor of the Holy One inside you."

~ from TRY TO LIVE TO SEE THIS! by Kabir - Versions by Robert Bly

July-August 1990 (Vol. III, No. 7)

PEACE and BLESSINGS be with you! As we bask in the joy of summer activities and have the leisure to relax and re-create ourselves, may we also partake in the blessings of spiritual communion that come in the Silence. And, as we listen to the deep silence of our innermost spirit, the divine Spirit within, we may hear the voice of the silence, the sound of heavenly music.

Simple prayer

Simple prayer is above all a response to God -- a response, not an initiative. Prayer is concerned not so much with me as with God. We are invited to surrender to God even when our instincts rebel. The essential act of prayer is to stand unprotected, vulnerable, before God. That God should take possession of us is the purpose of life. We know that we belong to God; we know, too, if we are honest, that almost despite ourselves, we keep a tight grip on our own autonomy. To truly belong to God means having nothing left for ourselves, to be bound to the will of Another. If you desire to stand surrendered before God, then you are standing there; it needs absolutely nothing else. Whether you are aware of God's presence or not does not matter. Know that God is in you and with you -- now and forever.

~ from SIMPLY PRAYER by Wendy Mary Beckett with thanks to Agnes Forsythe
Sister Wendy on Prayer
By Wendy Beckett
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