Saturday, September 20, 2014

Contemplatives know that the work they are doing in silence and stillness touches and affects the whole person. The wounding division between body and mind is gradually healed and the meaning of resurrection becomes clearer.

 Restored to ourselves, we find our right place in the world and accept our responsibilities in it. The ways of peace and justice are highlighted, and courage to bear witness is born of the new peace in the soul.

John Main once said, provocatively but truly, that 'imagination is the enemy of prayer.' He is pointing to what happens when the mind slips out of harmony with the body. It develops a deracinated, imaginary life that no longer serves reality. Our media-saturated culture of virtual reality illustrates the consequences on a global scale. . . .human woundedness is painfully and dangerously associated with daydreaming. Our basic human needs (physical, emotional, social, mental and spiritual) are rarely fully met all the time. When we first realize this the first innocence of life is over. The long journey towards the second innocence, the mature integration that is holiness, has to begin. To reach that goal, however, we have to understand the nature of desire. Unmet basic needs become wounds. To relieve the pain of wounds we imagine what would fulfill the need and that image crystallizes as desire. Consciousness moves from the wound to the desire; our attention is distracted and actions follow attention.

We have begun a life of desire. Day-dreaming, as Simone Weil says, is the root of all evil but also, she adds consolingly, the 'sole consolation of the afflicted.'  Its only problem is that it is unreal. Diadochus of Photike in the 5th century saw the same problem of desire with the same clarity and drew the same conclusion. He says that desire lingers as unreality in the mind until imagination gives it form. Then it takes on a false existence and when we act on it, trying to fulfill it, it unleashes, through its very unreality, the power of darkness. It is from this sequence leading to suffering and evil that contemplation saves us. We are restored to the real world. Sitting on this river-bank, walking through these trees. Welcomed to the wonders of the real world.

Meditation is the practice of contemplation. In daily life it develops our spiritual senses. It allows us to see the difference between needs and desires, to smell out reality from illusion, to feel the difference between the gravity of spirit, which is love, and the gravity of ego, which is fear. The aim of daily meditation. . .is simply to allow this sense of reality to become the standard way of seeing and responding to life.

--Laurence Freeman OSB, “Dearest Friends,” Christian Meditation Newsletter, Vol. 28, No. 2, May 2004, pp. 4-5.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

"For prayer is a living encounter with a living God.  In prayer we are seeking to achieve a continuous state of recollection of and wakefulness to the reality and presence of God.  Prayer then is closely linked with knowledge.  But this knowledge is not a cold, intellectual knowledge.  It is what the Greek Fathers called theoria: a passionate, contemplative insight, involving communion and sharing.  Prayer is closely linked with, and inseparable from, theology.  So Evagrius in the fourth century defines a theologian as 'one whose prayer is true.'  Growth in prayer and growth in theology always go together.  Prayer and theology are concerned with the experience of God, with the point at which time and eternity meet."

--Kenneth Leech, True Prayer: An Invitation to Christian Spirituality

Monday, September 15, 2014

"To clasp the hands in prayer is the beginning of an uprising against the disorder of the world." 

-- Karl Barth

Sunday, September 14, 2014

"[M]any people are looking for an ear that will listen.  They do not find it among Christians, because these Christians are talking where they should be listening.  He who can no longer listen to his brother will soon be no longer listening to God either; he will be doing nothing but prattle in the presence of God too.  This is the beginning of the death of the spiritual life, and in the end there is nothing left."

--Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Finally on my way to yes
I bump into
All the places
Where I said no
To my life.
All the unintended wounds
The red and purple scars
Those hieroglyphs of pain
Carved into my skin and bones,
Those coded messages
That sent 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

--Pesha Gerstler

Thursday, September 11, 2014

"Mysticism, according to its historical and psychological definitions, is the direct intuition or experience of God; and a mystic is a person who has, to a greater or less degree, such a direct experience -- one whose religion and life are centered, not merely on an accepted belief or practice, but on that which the person regards as first hand personal knowledge."

-Evelyn Underhill

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

"But over the past few years, as I’ve personally become even more charismatic in my practices and in my theology, I have found myself distancing myself from our broader family of charismatics, particularly our more public voices. I crave thoughtful voices, I crave hope and faith, and even, yes, a prophetic imagination. Even as my theology remains staunchly charismatic, I have found myself distancing from the culture of being a charismatic. ... Be afraid, the world tells us. And now, sadly, it seems many of our charismatic/Pentecostal media outlets and leaders are telling us the same thing. Be afraid. Be afraid of money, be afraid of losing “the fire”, be afraid of education, be afraid of theology, be afraid of growth and change, be afraid of gay and lesbian people, be afraid of art and science, be afraid of television, be afraid of artists, be afraid of reading books, be afraid of the news, be afraid of Islam, be afraid of the President, be afraid of the UN, be afraid of immigrant children, be afraid of other churches, be afraid of the Pope, be afraid of socialism, be afraid of the government, be afraid of the world, be afraid be afraid be afraid."

--Sarah Bessey