Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Lectio Divina One hundred and forty-four

Mary Oliver, New and Selected Poems (Boston: Beacon Press, 1992), 110.

Wild Geese

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things. 

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Lectio Divina One Hundred and Forty-Three

Richard Rohr, from A Teaching on Wondrous Encounters

The Bible is an invitation into the struggle itself—you are supposed to be bothered by some of the texts. Human beings come to consciousness by struggle, and most especially struggle with God and sacred texts. We largely remain unconscious if we avoid all conflicts, dilemmas, paradoxes, inconsistencies, or contradictions.  Some people reject religion altogether because they are so unable to come to terms with the Bible and the ideas of Christianity.  But we are supposed to be bothered by the Bible.  The life of faith is a struggle to reconcile ourselves with the paradoxes and problems we find there.  What do we find in ourselves that we know is deeply true that is in conflict with the Bible?  What does the Bible tell us that challenges us to go deeper into ourselves?  The truth is found neither by accepting all the religious ideas we are presented with nor by rejecting them.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Lectio Divina One Hundred and Forty-Two

David Frenette, The Path of Centering Prayer: Deepening Your Experience of God. Boulder, CO: Sounds True, 2012, p. 153.

Acting in gentleness shifts you out of the struggle to find God. Gentleness is necessary for the deepening of centering prayer. Your actions become more and more subtle in centering prayer as contemplation awakens in you. Actually, the sense that you have to achieve something, find some deeper depth, or go somewhere to discover God, other than where you are now, is an illusion. Let contemplation come effortlessly to you, as a continual gift out of the gifting nature of God. Contemplation is effortless in the same way that the falling of snow is effortless. It is effortless in the same way a light breeze blowing on your neck is effortless. It is effortless in the same way that the petals of a flower open into the sunlight. In receptive effortlessness, there is nowhere to go, nothing to deepen, not even any need to be gentle. The depth of contemplation is just being, effortlessly, in God.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Lectio Divina - One Hundred and Forty-One

Thomas Merton, from A Silent Action: Engagements with Thomas Merton, by Rowan Williams.  Fons Vitae 2011.

I can no longer see the ultimate meaning of a man’s life in terms of either “being a poet” or “being contemplative” or even in a certain sense “being a saint,” (although that is the only thing to be).  It must be something much more immediate than that.  I – and every other person in the world– must say “I have my own special peculiar destiny which no one else has had or ever will have.  There exists for me a particular goal, a fulfillment which must be all my own – nobody else’s– and it does not really identify that destiny to put it under some category – “poet,” “monk,” “hermit.”  Because my own individual destiny is a meeting, an encounter with God that He has destined for me alone.  His glory in me will be to receive from me something which He can never receive from anyone else.

Monday, September 3, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Forty

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #80.

If a country is governed wisely,

its inhabitants will be content.

They enjoy the labor of their hands

and don’t waste time inventing

labor-saving machines.

Since they dearly love their homes,

they aren’t interested in travel.

There may be a few wagons and boats,

but these don’t go anywhere.

There may be an arsenal of weapons,

but nobody ever uses them.

People enjoy their food,

take pleasure in being with their families,

spend weekends working in their gardens,

delight in the doings of the neighborhood.

And even though the next country is so close

that people can hear its roosters crowing and its dogs barking,

they are content to die of old age

without ever having gone to see it.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-nine

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #78.

Nothing in the world
is as soft and yielding as water.
Yet for dissolving the hard and inflexible,
nothing can surpass it.

The soft overcomes the hard;
the gentle overcomes the rigid.
Everyone knows this is true,
but few can put it into practice.

Therefore the Master remains
serene in the midst of sorrow.
Evil cannot enter his heart.
Because he has given up helping,
he is people’s greatest help.

True words seem paradoxical.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-eight

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #67.

Some say that my teaching is nonsense.

Others call it lofty but impractical.

But to those who have looked inside themselves,

this nonsense makes perfect sense.

And to those who put it into practice,

this loftiness has roots that go deep.

I have just three things to teach:

simplicity, patience, compassion.

These three are your greatest treasures.

Simple in actions and in thoughts,

you return to the source of being.

Patient with both friends and enemies,

you accord with the way things are.

Compassionate toward yourself,

you reconcile all beings in the world.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-seven

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #45.

True perfection seems imperfect,

yet it is perfectly itself.

True fullness seems empty,

yet it is fully present.

True straightness seems crooked.

True wisdom seems foolish.

True art seems artless.

The Master allows things to happen.

She shapes events as they come.

She steps out of the way

and lets the Tao speak for itself.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-six

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #36.

If you want to shrink something,

you must first allow it to expand.

If you want to get rid of something,

you must first allow it to flourish.

If you want to take something,

you must first allow it to be given.

This is called the subtle perception

of the way things are.

The soft overcomes the hard.

The slow overcomes the fast.

Let your workings remain a mystery.

Just show people the results.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-five

Acts 2:1-13

When the day of Pentecost had come, the disciples were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. . . And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, "Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? . . . All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, "What does this mean?" But others sneered and said, "They are filled with new wine."

Monday, May 14, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-four

Tao Te Ching, trans. Stephen Mitchell. New York: Harper Perennial, 1982, #20.

Stop thinking, and end your problems.

What difference between yes and no?

Must you value what others value,

avoid what others avoid?

How ridiculous!

Other people are excited,

as though they were at a parade.

I alone don’t care,

I alone am expressionless,

like an infant before it can smile.

Other people have what they need:

I alone possess nothing.

I alone drift about,

like someone without a home.

I am like an idiot, my mind is so empty.

Other people are bright;

I alone am dark.

Other people are sharp;

I alone am dull.

Other people have a purpose;

I alone don’t know.

I drift like a wave on the ocean,

I blow as aimless as the wind.

I am different from ordinary people.

I drink from the Great Mother’s breasts.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-three

From a letter from Lou Andreas-Salomé to Rainer Maria Rilke in Rilke and Andreas-Salomé: A Love Story in Letters, New York: Norton, 2006, pp. 58-59.
That one “most real thing” which in your recent letter you said you wished you could cling to when inner fears drive everything away from you and seem to leave you abandoned to an alien world, — you already have it inside you, that one real thing, planted in there like a hidden seed and thus not yet present to you. You possess it now in this sense: you have become like a little plot of earth into which all that falls — and be it even things mangled and broken, things thrown away in disgust must enter an alchemy and become food to nourish the buried seed. No matter if at first it looks like a pile of sweepings thrown out over the soul: it all turns to loam, becomes you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-two

The Gospel of John 20:11-18

Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping?" She said to them, "They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him." When she had said this, she turned around and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, "Woman, why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?" Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, "Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away." Jesus said to her, "Mary!" She turned and said to him in Hebrew, "Rabbouni!" (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, "Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, `I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'" Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, "I have seen the Lord"; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty-one

Jane Hirshfield, “Each Moment a White Bull Steps Shining into the World” from The Lives of the Heart. New York: HarperPerennial, 1997, p. 71.

If the gods bring to you

a strange and frightening creature,

accept the gift

as if it were one you had chosen.

Say the accustomed prayers,

oil the hooves well,

caress the small ears with praise.

Have the new halter of woven silver

embedded with jewels.

Spare no expense, pay what is asked,

when a gift arrives from the sea.

Treat it as you yourself

would be treated,

brought speechless and naked

into the court of a king.

And when the request finally comes,

do not hesitate even an instant --

Stroke the white throat,

the heavy, trembling dewlaps

you’d come to believe were yours,

and plunge in the knife.

Not once

did you enter the pasture

without pause,

without yourself trembling.

That you came to love it, that was the gift.

Let the envious gods take back what they can.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and Thirty

Ram Dass, “Promises and Pitfalls of the Spiritual Path,” in Spiritual Emergency: When Personal Transformation Becomes a Crisis, ed. Stanislav Grof and Christina Grof, New York: Tarcher, 1989, p. 184.
One of our expectations was that the spiritual path would get us healthy psychologically. I was trained as a psychologist. I was in analysis for many years. I taught Freudian theory. I was a therapist. I took psychedelic drugs for six years intensively. I have a guru. I have meditated since 1970 regularly. I have taught Yoga and studied Sufism, plus many kinds of Buddhism. In all that time I have not gotten rid of one neurosis--not one. The only thing that has changed is that, whereas previously my neuroses were huge monsters, now they are like these little shmoos. “Oh, sexual perversity, I haven’t seen you in days, come and have some tea.” To me the product of the spiritual path is that I now have another contextual framework that makes me much less identified with my known neurosis, and with my own desires. If I do not get what I want, that is as interesting as when I get it. When you begin to recognize that suffering is grace, you cannot believe it. You think you are cheating.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and twenty-nine

Richard Rohr, adapted from Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, pp. 17-19.
How do we find what is supposedly already there? How do we awaken our deepest and most profound selves? By praying and meditating? By more silence, solitude, and sacraments? Yes to all of the above, but the most important way is to live and fully accept our reality. This solution sounds so simple and innocuous that most of us fabricate all kinds of religious trappings to avoid taking up our own inglorious, mundane, and ever-present cross.
Living and accepting our own reality will not feel very spiritual. It will feel like we are on the edges rather than dealing with the essence. Thus most run toward more esoteric and dramatic postures instead of bearing the mystery of God’s suffering and joy inside themselves. But the edges of our lives—fully experienced, suffered, and enjoyed—lead us back to the center and the essence.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and twenty-eight

Lal Ded, translated by Coleman Barks in Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, ed. Jane Hirshfield, Harper Perennial, 1995, p.121.
The soul, like the moon,
is new, and always new again.
And I have seen the ocean
continuously creating.
Since I scoured my mind
and my body, I too, Lalla,
am new, each moment new.
My teacher told me one thing,
Live in the soul.
When that was so,
I began to go naked,
and dance.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and twenty-seven

Lal Ded, translated by Coleman Barks in Women in Praise of the Sacred: 43 Centuries of Spiritual Poetry by Women, ed. Jane Hirshfield, Harper Perennial, 1995, p.126.

On the way to God the difficulties

feel like being ground by a millstone,

like night coming at noon, like

lightning through the clouds.

But don’t worry!

What must come, comes.

Face everything with love,

as your mind dissolves in God.

Sunday, January 1, 2012

Lectio Divina - One hundred and twenty-six

Thomas Keating and Contemplative Outreach, Intentions for the Coming Year

Led by Thomas Keating, we have set forth intentions for the coming year. These are the measures that we aspire to and will return to . . .

• To heed the call to be transformed and then to rely on God to enable us to pass on the mercy, forgiveness, compassion and love to all humanity that we have received.
• To create a context in which the transformation of humanity can take place.
• To make the practice of Centering Prayer and the conceptual background readily available.
• To see Christ as present in everything and everyone.
• To acknowledge that any good accomplished is the work of the Holy Spirit.