Monday, January 31, 2011

Lectio Divina - One hundred and one

Arthur Green, Your Word Is Fire. New York: Schocken Books, 1977, pp.15-16.

Any teaching that places such great emphasis on total concentration in prayer must . . . deal with the question of distraction. What is a person to do when alien thoughts enter his mind and lead him away from prayer? . . . The Ba’al Shem Tov . . . spoke against the attempts of his contemporaries to . . . do battle with distracting thoughts . . . He taught that each distraction may become a ladder by which one may ascend to a new level of devotion . . . God is present in that moment of distraction! And only he who truly knows that God is present in all things, including those thoughts he seeks to flee, can be a leader of prayer.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Lectio Divina - One hundred

From President Barack Obama’s Tucson Memorial Speech, January 12, 2011

For the truth is that none of us can know exactly what triggered this vicious attack. None of us can know with any certainty what might have stopped those shots from being fired, or what thoughts lurked in the inner recesses of a violent man's mind.

So yes, we must examine all the facts behind this tragedy. We cannot and will not be passive in the face of such violence. We should be willing to challenge old assumptions in order to lessen the prospects of violence in the future.

But what we can't do is use this tragedy as one more occasion to turn on one another. As we discuss these issues, let each of us do so with a good dose of humility. Rather than pointing fingers or assigning blame, let us use this occasion to expand our moral imaginations, to listen to each other more carefully, to sharpen our instincts for empathy, and remind ourselves of all the ways our hopes and dreams are bound together.

After all, that's what most of us do when we lose someone in our family - especially if the loss is unexpected. We're shaken from our routines, and forced to look inward. We reflect on the past. Did we spend enough time with an aging parent, we wonder. Did we express our gratitude for all the sacrifices they made for us? Did we tell a spouse just how desperately we loved them, not just once in awhile but every single day?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Lectio Divina - Ninety-nine

Francis Vaughn and Roger Walsh, “Technology of Transcendence,” in Inner Knowing, ed. Helen Palmer. New York: Tarcher, 1998, p.

The sixth quality cultivated by the technology of transcendence is wisdom, which is something significantly more than knowledge. Whereas knowledge is something we have, wisdom is something we become. Developing it requires self-transformation. This transformation is fostered by opening defenselessly to the reality of “things as they are,” including the enormous extent of suffering in the world. In the words of the psalms, this is the recognition that we are “as dust . . . our lives are but toil and trouble, they are soon gone, they come to an end like a sigh’ (Psalm 90); “what man can live and never see death?” (Psalm 89)