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The Illusion of Separation

November 14th, 2018

The Illusion of Separation
Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Hopefully we begin life as “holy innocents” in the Garden, with a conscious connection to Being. The gaze of loving, caring parents can mirror us as the beloved and gives us a primal experience of life as union. But sooner or later we all have to leave the Garden. We can’t stay there. We begin the process of individuation, which includes at least four major splits, ways of forgetting our inherent oneness and creating an illusion of separation.

The first split is very understandable. We split ourselves from other selves. We see mom and dad and other family members over there, and we’re over here. We start looking out at life with ourselves as the center point. It’s the beginning of egocentricity. My ego is the center; what I like, what I want, what I need is what matters. Please know that the ego is not bad; it is just not all. The development of a healthy, strong ego is important to human growth.

The second split divides life from death. It comes when we first experience the death of someone we know, perhaps a beloved pet or grandparent. The ego begins differentiating those who are alive and those who are gone. We may then spend our whole life trying to avoid any kind of death, including anything that’s negative, uncomfortable, difficult, unfamiliar, dangerous, or demanding. But at some point, we’ll discover that life and death, negative and positive, are part of the same unavoidable reality. Everything is living and dying simultaneously.

The third split separates mind from body and soul. In the West, we typically give the mind priority and come to identify strongly with our thoughts. As Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.” By the age of seven most of us “think we are our thinking” and it’s our thinking that largely defines us. This is the lie that meditation helps us unravel.

The fourth split is the acceptable self from the unacceptable self. We split from our shadow self and pretend to be our idealized self, or what others say we should be. The shadow self contains not only the qualities of which we’re ashamed but also the positive and beautiful traits we’ve forgotten or fear (our “golden” shadow, as some call it).

Splitting is a coping mechanism, a way of surviving. But as we grow, find healing for trauma, and develop mature emotional and spiritual practices, we become able to incorporate that which we have denied and from which we’ve split. Each of these four illusions must—and will—be overcome, either in this world, in our last days and hours, or afterward. That is “resurrection”!

Each of these splits from reality makes any experience of God or our True Self largely impossible. Spiritual practices and the process of dying are both about overcoming these four splits. Kathleen Dowling Singh observed:

The Path of Return involves the healing of previously created dualities [or splits]—in reverse order. . . . The mental ego is humblingly and disturbingly divested of its false sense of being and stripped of its illusions. The sense of self, quite often kicking and screaming, begins its return to the underlying Ground of Being, its own Essential Nature. [1]

——————–

BASK IN THE LUXURY of being fully understood and unconditionally loved. Dare to see yourself as I see you: radiant in My righteousness, cleansed by My blood. I view you as the one I created you to be, the one you will be in actuality when heaven becomes your home. It is My Life within you that is changing you from glory to glory. Rejoice in this mysterious miracle! Thank Me continually for the amazing gift of My Spirit within you.
Try to depend on the help of the Spirit as you go through this day of life. Pause briefly from time to time so you can consult with this Holy One inside you. He will not force you to do His bidding, but He will guide you as you give Him space in your life. Walk along this wondrous way of collaboration with My Spirit.

PSALM 34: 5; Those who look to him are radiant,
and their faces shall never be ashamed.

2 CORINTHIANS 5: 21; For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 CORINTHIANS 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

GALATIANS 5: 25 If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit.

Discovering Our Story; Friday, November 13, 2015

November 13th, 2018

Science: Week 2

Discovering Our Story
Friday, November 13, 2015

Today we are realizing that “science and religion are long lost dance partners,” to use Rob Bell’s words. Ilia Delio writes, “Raimon Panikkar said that when theology is divorced from cosmology, we no longer have a living God, but an idea of God. God then becomes a thought that can be accepted or rejected rather than the experience of divine ultimacy. Because theology has not developed in tandem with science (or science in tandem with theology) since the Middle Ages, we have an enormous gap between the transcendent dimension of human existence (the religious dimension) and the meaning of physical reality as science understands it (the material dimension). This gap underlies our global problems today, from the environmental crisis to economic disparity and the denigration of women.” [1]

Stephen Hawking, a theoretical physicist and cosmologist, believes humans have an innate drive to make sense of the world. But, he says,

Up to now, most scientists have been too occupied with the development of new theories that describe what the universe is to ask why. On the other hand, the people whose business it is to ask why, the philosophers [and, I would add, theologians] have not been able to keep up with the advance of scientific theory. . . . If we do discover a complete theory [of the universe], it should in time be understandable in broad principle by everyone, not just a few scientists. Then we shall all, philosophers, scientists, and just ordinary people, be able to take part in the discussion of the question of why it is that we and the universe exist. If we find the answer to that, it would be the ultimate triumph of human reason—for then we would know the mind of God. [2]

Mary Evelyn Tucker and Brian Swimme have helped our generation rediscover our common narrative, our shared cosmology. They write:

Just as we are realizing the vast expanse of time that distinguishes the evolution of the universe over some 13.7 billion years, we are recognizing how late is our arrival in this stupendous process. Just as we are becoming conscious that Earth took more than 4 billion years to bring forth this abundance of life, it is dawning on us how quickly we are foreshortening its future flourishing. We need, then, to step back, to assimilate our cosmological context. If scientific cosmology gives us an understanding of the origins and unfolding of the universe, philosophical reflection on scientific cosmology gives us a sense of our place in the universe. [3]

I regret to say that there has been a massive loss of hope in Western history, a hope still so grandly evident in people like Julian of Norwich, Francis of Assisi, and Bonaventure. (Are not the World Wars of Christian countries a clear sign of this loss? Genocides are surely a symptom of deep self-loathing and fear.) Bonaventure’s God was so much bigger and more glorious than someone to be afraid of, or the one who punished bad guys—because his cosmos was itself huge, benevolent, and coherent. Did his big God beget an equally big and generous cosmos? Or did his big cosmos imply a very big God? You can start on either side. For many in our time, an initial reverence for the universe leads them to reverence whoever created this infinity of Mystery and Beauty. [4] We must now admit that it did not work very well the other way around. Those focused primarily on talking about God somehow couldn’t see a universe as holy, as big, and as good as the one who supposedly created it.

May this awe and reverence lead us to care for each other and our common home quickly, before we run out of time.

Most Recent Post

Friend,

When I founded the Center for Action and Contemplation in 1987—and even when we began sending my Daily Meditations in 2007—I never imagined how this work would evolve and grow. Over the years, our readers’ generosity has made so much possible! As I witness how hearts and minds have changed, I’m convinced that the CAC’s mission is still important.

Twice a year we pause the Daily Meditations to ask for your support. Even with all the suffering in the world and my own experiences of heart attack and cancer, I trust that God is healing and transforming all pain. In the time I have left, I have a renewed passion to help others recognize the divine image in themselves and every other created being. I believe this divine seeing will help reconcile our differences and change the way we live. These are the eyes that have taught me everything important.

I hope the CAC’s contemplative teachings awaken Love within each person. If you’ve been impacted by this work, please consider donating. Even a few dollars make a big difference!

We are committed to keeping the Daily Meditations free. As our online community grows, both our joy and our costs increase. But donations keep the daily emails going—day in and day out. Donations also fund scholarships and the creation of other programs that bring this critical, prophetic wisdom to new light.

Take a moment to read our Executive Director Michael’s note below about how you can help and the special gift we’d like to share. Tomorrow the Daily Meditations will continue exploring the surprising places in which God’s “image and likeness” is found—even in loss and dying.

Together let’s continue cultivating the likeness of God in ourselves and in our world.

Fr. Richard Rohr, O.F.M. signature


Sarah Young

Jesus Calling

November 13, 2018

I AM CHRIST IN YOU, the hope of Glory. The One who walks beside you, holding you by your hand, is the same One who lives within you. This is a deep, unfathomable mystery. You and I are intertwined in an intimacy involving every fiber of your being. The Light of My Presence shines within you, as well as upon you. I am in you, and you are in Me; therefore nothing in heaven or on earth can separate you from Me!

As you sit quietly in My Presence, your awareness of My Life within you is heightened. This produces the Joy of the Lord, which is your strength. I, the God of hope, fill you with all Joy and Peace as you trust in Me, so that you may bubble over with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

COLOSSIANS 1: 27; To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

ISAIAH 42: 6;  I the Lord have called thee in righteousness, and will hold thine hand, and will keep thee, and give thee for a covenant …

NEHEMIAH 8: 10; Then he said unto them, Go your way, eat the fat, and drink the sweet, and send portions unto them for whom nothing is prepared: for this day is holy.

ROMANS 15: 13 AMP;  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will.

 

 

The Ground of Being

November 12th, 2018

The Ground of Being
Sunday, November 11, 2018

The fact that life and death are “not two” is extremely difficult to grasp, not because it is so complex, but because it is so simple. —Ken Wilber [1]

We miss the unity of life and death at the very point where our ordinary mind begins to think about it. —Kathleen Dowling Singh [2]

To accept death is to accept God. —Thomas Keating [3]

It is no surprise that we humans would deny death’s coming, fight it, and seek to avoid the demise of the only self we have ever known. As hospice worker and psychotherapist Kathleen Dowling Singh put it, “[Death] is the experience of ‘no exit,’ a recognition of the fact that the situation is inescapable, that one is utterly at the mercy of the power of the Ground of Being. . . . It is absurd and monstrous.” [4]

“The Ground of Being,” a commanding phrase that theologian Paul Tillich (1886–1965) used, is an excellent metaphor for what most of us would call God (Acts 17:28). For Singh, it is the source and goal that we deeply desire and desperately fear. It is the Mysterium Tremendum of Rudolf Otto (1869–1937), which is alluring and frightful at the same time. Both God and death feel like “engulfment,” as when you first gave yourself totally to another person. It is the very union that will liberate us, yet we resist, retrench, and run. This is why historic male initiation rites invited the young man to face God and death head on—ahead of time—so he could know for himself that it could do his True Self no harm—but in fact would reveal it. Though we may resist dying at first, afterward we can ask ourselves, “What did I ever lose by dying?”

Death—whether one of many deaths to the false self or our physical dying—is simply returning to our spacious Ground of Being, to our foundation in Love. Kathleen Singh again:

Love is the natural condition of our being, revealed when all else is relinquished, when one has already moved into transpersonal levels of identification and awareness. Love is simply an open state with no boundaries and, as such, is a most inclusive level of consciousness. Love is a quality of the Ground of Being itself. In this regard and at this juncture in the dying process, love can be seen as the final element of life-in-form and the gateway to the formless. [5]

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Nearing Death
Monday, November 12, 2018

Yesterday I introduced Kathleen Dowling Singh (1946–2017), a hospice worker and psychotherapist who accompanied many people at death’s threshold. She was a dear friend and someone whose wisdom I greatly respect. Last year Singh made her own journey passing from life through death and into greater life. In her remarkable book, The Grace in Dying, Singh described what she called the “Nearing Death Experience” that she observed time and again:

I realized that what I had been witnessing in the process of dying was grace, all around, shimmering and penetrating. I began, with newly opened eyes, to observe the subtlety of this grace and to observe the qualities of grace in those nearing death. I became aware that all of the observed qualities of the Nearing Death Experience point to the fact that there is profound psychoalchemy occurring here, a passage to deeper being. As I worked with dying people from all walks of life and at many different levels of spiritual evolution, normative patterns of change, of transformations in consciousness, became apparent.

There appears to be a universal, sequential progression into deeper, subtler, and more enveloping dimensions of awareness, identity, and being as we begin to die—a movement from the periphery into the Center. Further, I realized that the transformation I was observing in people who were nearing death was the same psychoalchemy—in a greatly accelerated mode—that I had noticed in myself through two and a half decades of practicing contemplative disciplines and in the people with whom I had worked as a psychospiritual counselor.

I have come to believe that the time of dying effects a transformation from perceived tragedy to experienced grace. Beyond that, I think this transformation is a universal process. Although relatively unexamined, the Nearing Death Experience has profound implications. Dying offers the possibility of entering the radiance, the vastness, of our Essential Nature, at least for a few precious moments. . . .

The Nearing Death Experience implies a natural and conscious remerging with the Ground of Being from which we have all once unconsciously emerged. A transformation occurs from the point of terror at the contemplation of the loss of our separate, personal self to a merging into the deep, nurturing, ineffable experience of Unity.

My experience is that most people who are dying have no conscious desire for transcendence; most of us do not live at the level of depth where such a longing is a conscious priority. And, yet, everyone does seem to enter a transcendent and transformed level of consciousness in the Nearing Death Experience. . . . It is rather profound and encouraging to contemplate these indications that the life and death of a human being is so exquisitely calibrated as to automatically produce union with Spirit.

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THIS IS A TIME OF ABUNDANCE in your life. Your cup runneth over with blessings. After plodding uphill for many weeks, you are now traipsing through lush meadows drenched in warm sunshine. I want you to enjoy to the full this time of ease and refreshment. I delight in providing it for you. Sometimes My children hesitate to receive My good gifts with open hands. Feelings of false guilt creep in, telling them they don’t deserve to be so richly blessed. This is nonsense-thinking because no one deserves anything from Me. My kingdom is not about earning and deserving; it’s about believing and receiving. When a child of Mine balks at accepting My gifts, I am deeply grieved. When you receive My abundant blessings with a grateful heart, I rejoice. My pleasure in giving and your pleasure in receiving flow together in joyous harmony.

PSALM 23: 5 KJV;
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.

JOHN 3: 16;
“For God loved the world in this way:[a] He gave His One and Only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.

LUKE 11: 9– 10;
“So I say to you, keep asking,[a] and it will be given to you. Keep searching,[b] and you will find. Keep knocking,[c] and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

ROMANS 8: 32
“So I say to you, keep asking, and it will be given to you. Keep searching, and you will find. Keep knocking,[c] and the door will be opened to you. 10 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who searches finds, and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.

The Meaning of Spiritual Love

November 7th, 2018

The Meaning of Spiritual Love
Wednesday, November 7, 2018

When you looked at me
Your eyes imprinted your grace in me;
For this you loved me ardently;
And thus my eyes deserved
To adore what they behold in you.
. . . And let us go forth to behold ourselves in your beauty.
—John of the Cross [1]

When we read poetry as beautiful and profound as this verse, we can see why John of the Cross (1542–1591) was far ahead of his time in the spiritual and psychological understanding of how love works and how it changes us at a deep level. He consistently speaks of divine love as the template and model for all human love, and human love as the necessary school and preparation for any transcendent encounter.

In the inspired passage above, John describes the very process of love at its best. Here is my paraphrase:

You give a piece of yourself to the other.
You see a piece of yourself in the other (usually unconsciously).
This allows the other to do the same in return.
You do not need or demand anything back from them,
because you know that you are both participating
in a single, Bigger Gazing and Loving—
one that fully satisfies and creates an immense Inner Aliveness.
Simply to love is its own reward.

You accept being accepted—for no reason and by no criteria whatsoever! This is the key that unlocks everything in me, for others, and toward God. So much so that we call it “salvation”!

To put it another way, what I let God see and accept in me also becomes what I can see and accept in myself. And even more, it becomes that whereby I see everything else. This is why it is crucial to allow God and at least one other person to see us in our imperfection and even in our nakedness, as we are—rather than as we ideally wish to be. It is also why we must give others this same experience of being looked upon in their imperfection; otherwise, they will never know the essential and utterly transformative mystery of grace. This is the glue that binds the universe of persons together.

Such utterly free and gratuitous love is the only love that validates, transforms, and changes us at the deepest levels of consciousness. It is what we all desire and what we were created for. Once we allow it for ourselves, we will almost naturally become a conduit of the same for others. In fact, nothing else will attract us anymore or even make much sense.

Can you let God “look upon you in your lowliness,” as Mary put it (Luke 1:48), without waiting for some future moment when you believe you are worthy? Simply love what God sees in you. Many of us never go there, because to be loved in this way is to live in the naked now, and it is indeed a very naked moment.

——————-

WORSHIP ME in the beauty of holiness. All true beauty reflects some of who I AM. I am working My ways in you: the divine Artist creating loveliness within your being. My main work is to clear out debris and clutter, making room for My Spirit to take full possession. Collaborate with Me in this effort by being willing to let go of anything I choose to take away. I know what you need, and I have promised to provide all of that— abundantly!
Your sense of security must not rest in your possessions or in things going your way. I am training you to depend on Me alone, finding fulfillment in My Presence. This entails being satisfied with much or with little, accepting either as My will for the moment. Instead of grasping and controlling, you are learning to release and receive. Cultivate this receptive stance by trusting Me in every situation.

PSALM 29: 2 NKJV;
Give unto the Lord the glory due to His name;
Worship the Lord in the beauty of holiness.

PSALM 27: 4;
One thing have I asked of the Lord,
that will I seek after:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord
and to inquire[a] in his temple.

PSALM 52: 8
But I am like a green olive tree
in the house of God.
I trust in the steadfast love of God
forever and ever.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning

Seeing with God’s Eyes

November 6th, 2018

Richard Rohr
Seeing with God’s Eyes
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Love [people] even in [their] sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on earth. Love all God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand in it. Love every leaf, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you have perceived it, you will begin to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love. —Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov [1]
God refuses to be known in the way we usually know other objects; God can only be known by loving God. Yet much of religion has tried to know God by words, theories, doctrines, and dogmas. Belief systems have their place; they provide a necessary and structured beginning point, just as the dualistic mind is good as far as it goes. But then we need the nondual or mystical mind to love and fully experience limited ordinary things and to peek through the cloud to glimpse infinite and seemingly invisible things. This is the contemplative mind that can “know spiritual things in a spiritual way,” as Paul says (1 Corinthians 2:13).
What does it mean when Jesus tells us to love God with our whole heart, soul, mind (not just our dualistic mind), and strength (Luke 10:27)? What does it mean, as the first commandment instructs us, to love God more than anything else? To love God is to love what God loves. To love God means to love everything . . . no exceptions.
Of course, that can only be done with divine love flowing through us. In this way, we can love things and people in themselves, for themselves—not for what they do for us. That’s when we begin to love our family, friends, and neighbors apart from what they can do for us or how they make us look. We love them as living images of God in themselves, despite their finiteness.
Now that takes work: constant detachment from ourselves—our conditioning, preferences, and knee-jerk reactions. We can only allow divine love to flow by way of contemplative consciousness, where we stop eliminating and choosing. This is the transformed mind (see Romans 12:2) that allows us to see God in everything and empowers our behavior to almost naturally change.
Religion, from the root religio, means to reconnect, to bind back together. I would describe mystical moments as those attention-grabbing experiences that overcome the gap between you and other people, events, or objects, and even God, where the illusion of separation disappears. The work of spirituality is to look with a different pair of nondual eyes, beyond what Thomas Merton calls “the shadow and the disguise” [2] of things until we can see them in their connectedness and wholeness. In a very real sense, the word “God” is just a synonym for everything. So if you do not want to get involved with everything, stay away from God.

_______________________________________________

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

November 6, 2018

SEEK TO PLEASE ME above all else. As you journey through today, there will be many choice-points along your way. Most of the day’s decisions will be small ones you have to make quickly. You need some rule of thumb to help you make good choices. Many people’s decisions are a combination of their habitual responses and their desire to please themselves or others. This is not My way for you. Strive to please Me in everything, not just in major decisions. This is possible only to the extent that you are living in close communion with Me.

When My Presence is your deepest delight, you know almost instinctively what will please Me. A quick glance at Me is all you need to make the right choice. Delight yourself in Me more and more; seek My pleasure in all you do.

JOHN 8: 29; And he who sent me is with me. He has not left me alone, for I always do the things that are pleasing to him.”

HEBREWS 11: 5– 6; 5 By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God. 6 And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that …

PSALM 37: 4; Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart.

 

Our Holiness Is God’s Holiness

November 5th, 2018

Our Holiness Is God’s Holiness
Sunday, November 4, 2018

Self-hatred is also the hatred of God, because God and ourselves are united. —Thomas Keating [1]

There is only one thing you must definitely answer for yourself: “Who am I?” Or, restated, “Where do I abide?” If you can get that right, the rest largely takes care of itself. Paul answers the questions directly: “You are hidden with Christ in God, and Christ is your life” (Colossians 3:3-4). Every time you start hating yourself, ask, “Who am I?” The answer will come: “I am hidden with Christ in God” in every part of my life. I am bearing both the mystery of suffering humanity and the mystery of God’s glory, which is precisely the mystery of Christ. (Allow yourself to be shocked by the universality of Scriptures like 1 Corinthians 3:21-23, 15:22-28 or Colossians 1:15-20.)

God looks at us and always sees Christ, and God thus finds us always and entirely lovable. God fixes God’s gaze intently where we refuse to look, on our shared, divine nature as God’s children (1 John 3:2). And one day our gaze will match God’s gaze. We will find God entirely lovable and ourselves fully lovable in the same moment. Why? Because it is the same set of eyes that is doing the looking. “All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

All we have to do is receive God’s gaze and then return what we have received. We simply complete the divine circuit, “love returning love” as my father St. Francis put it. This is our spiritual agenda for our whole life.

We are saved by standing consciously and confidently inside the force field that is Christ, not by getting it right in our private selves. This is too big a truth for the small self to even imagine. We’re too tiny, too insecure, too ready to beat ourselves up. We do not need to be correct, but we can always try to remain connected to our Source. The great and, for some, disappointing surprise is that many people who are not at all correct are the most connected by reason of their intense need and desire.

All we can do is fall into the Eternal Mercy—into Love—which we can never really fall out of because “we belong to Christ and Christ belongs to God,” as Paul so beautifully stated (1 Corinthians 3:23). Eventually, we know that we are all saved by mercy in spite of ourselves. That must be the final humiliation to the ego.

Our holiness is first of all and really only God’s holiness, and that is why it’s certain and secure. It is a participation in love, a mutual indwelling, not an achievement or performance on our part. “If anyone wants to boast, let them boast in the Lord,” Paul shouts at the end of his long argument (1 Corinthians 1:31). Jeremiah said the same long before Paul: “Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise boast of their wisdom, nor the strong boast of their strength, nor the rich boast of their riches. But rather, let those who boast, boast of this, that they know me” (Jeremiah 9:22-23).

——————————

The Challenge and Opportunity in Relationship
Monday, November 5, 2018

I think most people are called to marriage because we need at least one other person to be like a mirror for us, to reflect our best self—and our worst self—in a way that we can receive. The interesting thing about a mirror is that it doesn’t change the image; it simply takes it in as it is. Our closest friends or life partner hold a mirror up to us, revealing our good side and our dark side and reminding us that we still haven’t really learned to love. That’s what every healthy relationship does. When we fall in love, we fall into an infinite mystery. That’s why Jesus gave what was symbolically an infinite number, “seventy times seven” (Matthew 18:22), as the number of times even good people will need to forgive each other.

Thankfully, the Gospel does give us a blessed assurance that we are operating inside of an abundant, limitless, infinite Love. So even though we will constantly fail, failure is not the final word. We also have hope that everything can be mended, healed, and restored. Where the welding takes place is normally the strongest place of all on a steel bar. It’s the breaking and the welding and the mending that creates the real beauty of relationship. This is the dance of intimacy: as we ask one another for forgiveness, as we confess to one another that once again we didn’t do it right. Don’t be surprised and don’t hate yourself for it (which we all do). Darn it, I didn’t love right again! How can I miss the point so many times?

It’s when we do it wrong that we are taught vulnerability. We finally realize we are falling ever-deeper into something we can never live up to—a sustained vulnerability, a continual risk. It’s not a vulnerability and an intimacy that we need just now and then. Eventually, it becomes second nature to apologize, to admit we are wrong, to ask for forgiveness but not to hate ourselves for it.

The dynamics for divine intimacy and human intimacy are the same. I believe one is a school for the other. Most start with human intimacy and move from there to divine intimacy. But some begin with the divine ambush, first learning how to be vulnerable before God, and then passing it on to others.

The only people who change, who are transformed, are people who feel safe, who feel their dignity, and who feel loved. When you feel loved, when you feel safe, and when you know your dignity, you just keep growing! That’s what we do for one another as loving people—offer safe relationships in which we can change. This kind of love is far from sentimental; it has real power. In general, we need a judicious combination of safety and necessary conflict to keep moving forward in life.

—————

YOU CAN LIVE as close to Me as you choose. I set up no barriers between us; neither do I tear down barriers that you erect. People tend to think their circumstances determine the quality of their lives. So they pour their energy into trying to control those situations. They feel happy when things are going well and sad or frustrated when things don’t turn out as they’d hoped. They rarely question this correlation between their circumstances and feelings. Yet it is possible to be content in any and every situation. Put more energy into trusting Me and enjoying My Presence. Don’t let your well-being depend on your circumstances. Instead, connect your joy to My precious promises: I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go. I will meet all your needs according to My glorious riches. Nothing in all creation will be able to separate you from My Love.

PHILIPPIANS 4: 12
I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.

GENESIS 28:15 I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”

PHILIPPIANS 4:15 Moreover, as you Philippians know, in the early days of your acquaintance with the gospel, when I set out from Macedonia, not one church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving, except you only;

ROMANS 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[a] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Searching for Love

November 2nd, 2018

Searching for Love
Friday, November 2, 2018
All Souls’ Day

John of the Cross (1542-1591) is one of many Christian mystics who writes about being loved by God in an intimate way. My friend and fellow CAC faculty member James Finley reflects on John’s Dark Night of the Soul as a journey deeper into love:

John of the Cross says we get all tangled up in suffering, and we get all tangled up in searching for love. The root of suffering is the deprivation of love. Now in reality, there’s no such thing as the deprivation of love, because the infinite love of God invincibly pervades and gives itself endlessly to everyone and to all things everywhere. There is no such thing as a deprivation of love, but there is the deprivation of the capacity to experience the love that is never missing. Therefore, my spiritual practice is to look within for the places that are blocking my ability to experience the flow of an immense tenderness that is endlessly giving itself to me in all situations.

The Dark Night of the Soul as described by John of the Cross is actually a tender, merciful art form of love. It very mysteriously dislodges us from whatever is keeping us in the stuck places. Sometimes it is disarmingly joyful and sometimes it is disarmingly painful; but if we lean into it and move with its rhythm, love charts its own course and brings us to a deep understanding of God’s love.

Thomas Merton once said we spend most of our lives under water. Every so often our head clears the surface and we look around and get our bearings. Then blik, we go back under again. In the moments when we get our bearings, we realize, “Oh my God! Look how endlessly trustworthy life is! Look at the God-given, godly nature of simple things!”

John of the Cross says these touches of love go on and on until pretty soon there begins to grow in us a kind of homesickness or longing for a more daily abiding experience of the depths of love we have so fleetingly glimpsed.

What lovers would be content with chance passing encounters in the street? The more in love with each other they are, the more one with each other they want to be all the time. Likewise, there begins to grow in us a holy discontent for spending so many of our waking hours trapped on the outer circumference of the inner richness of the life that we are living. We long to stabilize ourselves in love throughout the rhythmic dance of life.

The more deeply we experience God’s love, the more elusive its consummation seems. There are flares of love, as we momentarily melt into God and God melts into us. Then, like glowing embers, we live in an underlying habitual state of love’s glow. And, in love’s glow, we come to an extraordinary realization: The absence of the Beloved is the Beloved, giving himself or herself to me as the experience of the Beloved.

Building on Finley’s insights, the Dark Night purifies us of our attachment to feelings of union and comfort. Christ lying in the tomb is still Christ—preparing for a resurrection that cannot even be imagined. Today, on All Souls’ Day, may we choose to live in union with all who are still in the dark tomb, faithfully waiting for a certain resurrection.

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Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

November 2, 2018

GROW STRONG in the Light of My Presence. Your weakness does not repel Me. On the contrary, it attracts My Power, which is always available to flow into a yielded heart. Do not condemn yourself for your constant need of help. Instead, come to Me with your gaping neediness; let the Light of My Love fill you. A yielded heart does not whine or rebel when the going gets rough. It musters the courage to thank Me even during hard times. Yielding yourself to My will is ultimately an act of trust. In quietness and trust is your strength.

PSALM 116: 5– 7; The Lord is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion. 6 The Lord protects the unwary;. when I was brought low, he saved me.

EPHESIANS 5: 20; Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;

ISAIAH 30: 15; This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength,

 

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Self-Giving

November 1st, 2018

Richard Rohr;  Love: Week 1
Self-Giving
Thursday, November 1, 2018
All Saints’ Day

Divine love is compassionate, tender, luminous, totally self-giving, seeking no reward, unifying everything. —Thomas Keating [1]
Every act of complete self-giving in the name of the fullness, even though you feel like you are isolated, ignored, unconnected, and meaningless, connects you immediately and becomes a sacrament of the manifestation of that dance of perichoresis [the circle dance of the Trinity], the fullness of love. That’s what happened in Jesus’ case, that’s what he is teaching. . . . Give yourself fully, hold nothing back because in this act of complete self-giving you make manifest what the kingdom of love looks like. —Cynthia Bourgeault [2]
It seems to me Christianity has put major emphasis on us loving God. But in the mystics, I consistently find an overwhelming experience of how God loves us! This comes through most of their writings: God is the initiator, God is the doer, God is the one who seduces us. It’s all about God’s initiative. Then we certainly want to love back the way we have been loved. As my father St. Francis (1181-1226) would often say, “Love is not loved! Love is not loved!” I want to love back the way I have been loved. But it’s not like I’ve got to prove my love for God by doing things. My job is simply to complete the circuit!
The mystics experience this full body blow of the Divine loving and accepting them, and the rest of their life is about trying to verbalize and embody that. They invariably find ways to give that love back through forms of service and worship; but it’s never earning the love, it’s always returning the love. Can you feel the difference? God’s love is almost a different language. It’s not based in fear, but in ecstasy.
God is always given, incarnate in every moment and present to those who know how to be present themselves. It is that simple and that difficult. To be present in prayer can be like the experience of being loved at a deep level. I hope you have felt such intimacy alone with God. I promise it is available to you. Maybe a lot of us just need to be told that this divine intimacy is what we should expect and seek. We’re afraid to ask for it; we’re afraid to seek it. It feels presumptuous. We can’t trust that such a love exists—and for us. But it does. And I just told you.
Often the imagery used to illustrate the human-divine relationship is erotic, because it is the only adequate language to describe the in-depth contemplative experience. I have often wondered why God would give us such a strong and constant fascination with one another’s image, form, and face. Why? I think it’s because all human loves are an increasingly demanding school preparing us for an infinite divine love.
Today we recognize this school as the only real training ground for “All the Saints,” and it can never be limited to those who have fully graduated. As the entire New Testament does, we must apply the word “saints” to all of us who are in kindergarten, primary school, middle school, high school, college, and doing graduate studies. Love is one shared reality, and our common name for that one shared reality is “God” (see 1 John 4:7-21). – NIV: Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.

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November ….And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. PHILIPPIANS 4: 19

Sarah Young, Jesus Calling

November 1, 2018

DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED by the difficulty of keeping your focus on Me. I know that your heart’s desire is to be aware of My Presence continually. This is a lofty goal; you aim toward it but never fully achieve it in this life. Don’t let feelings of failure weigh you down. Instead, try to see yourself as I see you. First of all, I am delighted by your deep desire to walk closely with Me through your life. I am pleased each time you initiate communication with Me. In addition, notice the progress you have made since you first resolved to live in My Presence.

When you realize that your mind has wandered away from Me, don’t be alarmed or surprised. You live in a world that has been rigged to distract you. Each time you plow your way through the massive distractions to communicate with Me, you achieve a victory. Rejoice in these tiny triumphs, and they will increasingly light up your days.

ROMANS 8: 33– 34; 3 Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is to condemn?

HEBREWS 4: 14– 16; Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. 15For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are-yet he did not sin. 16Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.

 

 

 

 

The Face of the Others

October 31st, 2018

The Face of the Others
Wednesday, October 31, 2018

In Jesus, God gave us a human heart we could love. While God can be described as a moral force, as consciousness, and as high vibrational energy, the truth is, we don’t (or can’t?) fall in love with abstractions. So God became a person “that we could hear, see with our eyes, look at, and touch with our hands” (1 John 1:1).

Jesus taught us what God is like through his words, his actions, his very being, making it clear that “God is love” (1 John 4:8,16). If God is Trinity and Jesus is the face of God, then it is indeed a benevolent universe—at its very core.

The brilliant Jewish philosopher, Emmanuel Lévinas (1906-1995), said the only thing that really converts people, the ultimate moral imperative, is “the face of the other.” He developed this concept at great length and with great persuasion. [1] When we receive and empathize with the face of the other (especially the suffering face), it leads to transformation of our whole being. It creates a moral demand on our heart that is far more compelling than the Ten Commandments. Just giving people commandments on tablets of stone doesn’t change the heart. It may steel the will, but it doesn’t soften the heart like a personal encounter can.

So many Christian mystics talk about seeing the divine face or falling in love with the face of Jesus. I think that’s why Clare of Assisi (1194-1253) often used the image of “mirroring” in her writings. We are mirrored not by concepts, but by faces delighting in us, giving us the face we can’t give to ourselves. And, of course, the ultimate and perfect mirror is the face of God.

The early mirroring we receive from our parents is particularly important. Neuroscience now shows that the gaze between a newborn and his or her loving caretaker creates “mirror neurons” that help a person become compassionate and have empathy for others. Moreover, although none of us can demand or expect absolutely unconditional divine love from another human being, we can experience very real aspects of it. This helps us be able to imagine what God’s love is like and keeps us open to God’s love.

James Finley offers a fitting poetic image for this idea:

When God eases us out of God’s heart into the earthly plane, God searches for the place that is most like paradise, and it’s the mother’s gaze. In the mother’s gaze, she transparently sacramentalizes God’s infinite gaze of love, looking into the eyes of the infant. And when the infant looks into her eyes it is looking into God’s eyes, incarnate as her loving eyes.

When caregivers and infants gaze at each other, their brain activity increases; parts of their brains literally light up. Similarly, Finley says:

When God gazes at us and we gaze at God, both of us light up. God lights up in the sense of the joy of being recognized by the one that God created in his own image and likeness for the very sake of this recognition. For us it’s a moment of visceral, intimate communion or oneness that feels like homecoming. [2]

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LEARN TO LISTEN TO ME even while you are listening to other people. As they open their souls to your scrutiny, you are on holy ground. You need the help of My Spirit to respond appropriately. Ask Him to think through you, live through you, love through you. My own Being is alive within you in the Person of the Holy Spirit. If you respond to others’ needs through your unaided thought processes, you offer them dry crumbs. When the Spirit empowers your listening and speaking, My streams of living water flow through you to other people. Be a channel of My Love, Joy, and Peace by listening to Me as you listen to others.

EXODUS 3: 5;
“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.”

1 CORINTHIANS 6: 19;
Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,

JOHN 7: 38– 39
Whoever believes in me, as[a] the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.’” 39 Now this he said about the Spirit, whom those who believed in him were to receive, for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling

Becoming Pure in Heart

October 30th, 2018

Richard Rohr

Love: Week 1
Becoming Pure in Heart
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We can’t risk walking around with a negative, resentful, gossipy, critical mind, because then we won’t be in our true force field. We won’t be usable instruments for God. That’s why Jesus commanded us to love. It’s that urgent. It’s that crucial.
True religion is radical; it cuts to the root (radix is Latin for root). It moves us beyond our “private I” and into the full reality of we. Jesus seems to be saying in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7) that our inner attitudes and states are the real sources of our problems. We need to root out the problems at that deepest interior level. Jesus says not only that we must not kill, but that we must not even harbor hateful anger. He clearly begins with the necessity of a “pure heart” (Matthew 5:8) and knows that the outer behavior will follow. Too often we force the outward response, while the inward intent remains like a cancer.
If we walk around with hatred all day, morally we’re just as much killers as the one who pulls the trigger. We can’t live that way and not be destroyed from within. Yet, for some reason, many Christians have thought it acceptable to think and feel hatred, negativity, and fear. The evil and genocide of both World War I and World War II were the result of decades of negative, resentful, and paranoid thinking and feeling among even good Christian people.
Jesus tells us not to harbor hateful anger or call people names in our hearts like “fool” or “worthless person” (Matthew 5:22). If we’re walking around all day thinking, “What idiots!” we’re living out of death, not life. If that’s what we think and feel, that’s what we will be—death energy instead of life force. We cannot afford even inner disconnection from love. How we live in our hearts is our real and deepest truth.
In Matthew 5:44, Jesus insists that we love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us. Once we recognize that whatever we do in conscious, loving union with Reality is prayer, we can better understand what Paul means when he says, “Pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If prayer is merely words or recitations, such constant prayer is impossible in any practical sense.

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Sarah Young

Jesus Calling, October 30, 2018

I AM WITH YOU. I am with you. I am with you. Heaven’s bells continually peal with that promise of My Presence. Some people never hear those bells because their minds are earthbound and their hearts are closed to Me. Others hear the bells only once or twice in their lifetimes, in rare moments of seeking Me above all else. My desire is that My “sheep” hear My voice continually, for I am the ever-present Shepherd.

Quietness is the classroom where you learn to hear My voice. Beginners need a quiet place in order to still their minds. As you advance in this discipline, you gradually learn to carry the stillness with you wherever you go. When you step back into the mainstream of life, strain to hear those glorious bells: I am with you. I am with you. I am with you.

ISAIAH 41: 10 NKJV; Fear not, for I am with you; Be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, Yes, I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

JEREMIAH 29: 12– 13; 2 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

JOHN 10: 14, 27– 28; I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me—My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.