Mystical Hope

November 30th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Mystical Hope
Friday, November 30, 2018

Cynthia Bourgeault, one of our core faculty members at the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes about the unshakable depths of hope:

Must we be whiplashed incessantly between joy and sorrow, expectation and disappointment? Is it not possible to live from a place of greater equilibrium, to find a deeper and steadier current?

The good news is that this deeper current does exist and you actually can find it. . . . For me the journey to the source of hope is ultimately a theological journey: up and over the mountain to the sources of hope in the headwaters of the Christian Mystery. This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange.

The journey to the wellsprings of hope is really a journey toward the center, toward the innermost ground of our being where we meet and are met by God.

Meditation, more than any other spiritual practice, nurtures the latent capacities within us that can perceive and respond to divine hope. In the classic language of our tradition, these capacities are known as the “spiritual senses.”

Deeper than our sense of separateness and isolation is another level of awareness in us, another whole way of knowing. Thomas Keating, in his teachings on centering prayer, calls this our “spiritual awareness” and contrasts it with the “ordinary awareness” of our usual, egoic thinking. The simplest way of describing this other kind of awareness is that while the self-reflexive ego thinks by means of noting differences and drawing distinctions, spiritual awareness “thinks” by an innate perception of kinship, of belonging to the whole.

The only thing blocking the emergence of this whole and wondrous other way of knowing is your over-reliance on your ordinary thinking. If you can just turn that off for a while, then the other will begin to take shape in you, become a reality you can actually experience. And as it does, you will know . . . your absolute belonging and place in the heart of God, and that you are a part of this heart forever and cannot possibly fall out of it, no matter what may happen.

[I]n the contemplative journey, as we swim down into those deeper waters toward the wellsprings of hope, we begin to experience and trust what it means to lay down self, to let go of ordinary awareness and surrender ourselves to the mercy of God. And as hope . . . flows out from the center, filling us with the fullness of God’s own purpose living itself into action, then we discover within ourselves the mysterious plenitude to live into action what our ordinary hearts and minds could not possibly sustain.

Joy and Hope; Mystical Hope

November 30th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr
Joy and Hope
Mystical Hope
Friday, November 30, 2018

Cynthia Bourgeault, one of our core faculty members at the Center for Action and Contemplation, writes about the unshakable depths of hope:
Must we be whiplashed incessantly between joy and sorrow, expectation and disappointment? Is it not possible to live from a place of greater equilibrium, to find a deeper and steadier current?
The good news is that this deeper current does exist and you actually can find it. . . . For me the journey to the source of hope is ultimately a theological journey: up and over the mountain to the sources of hope in the headwaters of the Christian Mystery. This journey to the wellsprings of hope is not something that will change your life in the short range, in the externals. Rather, it is something that will change your innermost way of seeing. From there, inevitably, the externals will rearrange.
The journey to the wellsprings of hope is really a journey toward the center, toward the innermost ground of our being where we meet and are met by God.
Meditation, more than any other spiritual practice, nurtures the latent capacities within us that can perceive and respond to divine hope. In the classic language of our tradition, these capacities are known as the “spiritual senses.”
Deeper than our sense of separateness and isolation is another level of awareness in us, another whole way of knowing. Thomas Keating, in his teachings on centering prayer, calls this our “spiritual awareness” and contrasts it with the “ordinary awareness” of our usual, egoic thinking. The simplest way of describing this other kind of awareness is that while the self-reflexive ego thinks by means of noting differences and drawing distinctions, spiritual awareness “thinks” by an innate perception of kinship, of belonging to the whole.
The only thing blocking the emergence of this whole and wondrous other way of knowing is your over-reliance on your ordinary thinking. If you can just turn that off for a while, then the other will begin to take shape in you, become a reality you can actually experience. And as it does, you will know . . . your absolute belonging and place in the heart of God, and that you are a part of this heart forever and cannot possibly fall out of it, no matter what may happen.
[I]n the contemplative journey, as we swim down into those deeper waters toward the wellsprings of hope, we begin to experience and trust what it means to lay down self, to let go of ordinary awareness and surrender ourselves to the mercy of God. And as hope . . . flows out from the center, filling us with the fullness of God’s own purpose living itself into action, then we discover within ourselves the mysterious plenitude to live into action what our ordinary hearts and minds could not possibly sustain.

______________________________________________________

Sarah Young

Jesus Calling

November 30, 2018

Psalms 32:8; I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Luke 10:41-42; Martha, Martha,” the LORD answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, 42but few things are needed-or indeed only one. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

Philippians 3:20-21; But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the LORD Jesus Christ, 21who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body.

Joy and Hope: Generosity of Spirit

November 29th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Joy and Hope
Generosity of Spirit
Thursday, November 29, 2018

For a week in April 2015, Archbishop Desmond Tutu visited His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his residence in exile in India. Their dialogue and interactions, facilitated by Douglas Abrams, became The Book of Joy. I’d like to share some of their hard-won wisdom with you today.
Suffering is inevitable, they said, but how we respond to that suffering is our choice. Not even oppression or occupation can take away this freedom to choose our response.
As our dialogue progressed, we converged on eight pillars of joy. Four were qualities of the mind: perspective, humility, humor, and acceptance. Four were qualities of the heart: forgiveness, gratitude, compassion, and generosity.
[Archbishop Tutu said:] “Our human nature has been distorted, . . . I mean, we are actually quite remarkable creatures. In our religions I am created in the image of God. I am a God carrier. It’s fantastic. I have to be growing in godlikeness, in caring for the other. I know that each time I have acted compassionately, I have experienced a joy in me that I find in nothing else.”
When we practice a generosity of spirit, we are in many ways practicing all the other pillars of joy. In generosity, there is a wider perspective [italics mine], in which we see our connection to all others. There is a humility that recognizes our place in the world and acknowledges that at another time we could be the one in need, whether that need is material, emotional, or spiritual. There is a sense of humor and an ability to laugh at ourselves so that we do not take ourselves too seriously. There is an acceptance of life, in which we do not force life to be other than what it is. There is a forgiveness of others and a release of what otherwise might have been. There is a gratitude for all that we have been given. Finally, we see others with a deep compassion and a desire to help those who are in need. And from this comes a generosity that is “wise selfish,” a generosity that recognizes helping others as helping ourselves. As the Dalai Lama put it, “In fact, taking care of others, helping others, ultimately is the way to discover your own joy and to have a happy life.”
[Near the end of their time together, Archbishop Tutu offered this blessing:]
“Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disappeared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter—and joy.
“God, who is forever pouring out God’s whole being from all eternity, wants you to flourish. God wants you to be filled with joy and excitement and ever longing to be able to find what is so beautiful in God’s creation: the compassion of so many, the caring, the sharing. And God says, Please, my child, help me. Help me to spread love and laughter and joy and compassion. And you know what, my child? As you do this—hey, presto—you discover joy. Joy, which you had not sought, comes as the gift, as almost the reward for this non-self-regarding caring for others.”

____________________________________________

John 14:27; Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.

Isaiah 58:11; The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden,

Isaiah 40:11; He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.

PEACE

Young, Sarah. Jesus Calling Morning and Evening Devotional (Jesus Calling®) (Kindle Location 8057). Thomas Nelson. Kindle Edition.

Joy in Contemplation

November 28th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Joy in Contemplation
Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Joy proceeds from the inner realization of union with God, which descends upon us at ever deeper levels as we walk our faith journey. This deepening is the goal of Christian contemplation and is the heart of perennial wisdom from every faith. This is how contemplatives “know” things: The soul itself is an image of God, to which God is so present that the soul can actually grasp God, and, as Bonaventure wrote, “is capable of possessing [God] and of being a partaker in [God].” [1] Ironically, it is in letting go that we most truly “possess” God and participate in God’s fullness.

Jesus modeled and taught contemplative prayer. He invited us to “go to your inner room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret” (Matthew 6:6). Our beloved Father Thomas Keating (1923–2018), who recently passed away, explained how such prayer helps us access the joy of experiential union with God:

In Jesus’ formula for waking up to who we are, he suggests entering this inner room. Then he says shut the door, meaning stop the interior dialogue. Get free or detached from our over-identifications with our thoughts, experiences, past life, future hopes. It doesn’t mean leaving anything behind, but changing your attitude to everything, so it’s a non-possessive attitude, which is the nature of [God] or the Beloved, or the Ultimate Reality. . . .

[We are] in the process of awakening to the divine image within us, the supernatural organism where faith, hope, and charity, the divine indwelling, and the fruits and the gifts of the Spirit are sitting, so to speak, in our ontological unconscious, gathering dust, waiting to be used. And they can’t come into full action until our over-identification with the false self and its programs for happiness that can’t possibly work have been reduced.

So life, then, is constant death and resurrection at every moment. We die to our own will and enter the present moment by consenting to whatever it is, either by accepting it or doing something that the Spirit suggests to improve the situation. This divine enlightening process sometimes gives us an Aha! experience. It’s still on the egoic level, so it’s penetrated with some misunderstandings, but nonetheless, this is what Alleluia means. “Aahh”—this is the primordial sound that that you hear in Allah or in Alleluia or in Aum [Om] as the Hindus put it. It’s waking up!

. . . Everybody has personal, unique relationship with God and capacity to manifest something of that infinite goodness that is a torrent that simply moves from relationship to relationship in the Trinity in a kind of moving ocean of infinite love that is reaching out and drawing everybody back through the unspeakable groanings of the Spirit that dwells even in matter [see Romans 8:22-23], but especially in our inmost being and conscience, calling us into freedom, into peace, into joy, which we already possess at the hidden level. That’s why we need to find out who we are!

We are already all these things. We just think we aren’t. Stop thinking, and you’ll find out. [2]

Universal Belonging

November 27th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Richard Rohr

Joy and Hope
Universal Belonging
Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bonaventure’s “vision logic,” as Ken Wilber would call it, and the lovely symmetry of his theology, can be summarized in what Bonaventure named the three great truths that for him hold everything together. He summarizes all his teaching in these three movements:
Emanation: We come forth from God bearing the divine image; our very DNA is found in God.
Exemplarism: Everything in creation is an example and illustration of the one God mystery in space and time, by reason of its “origin, magnitude, multitude, beauty, fulness, activity, and order.” [1]
Consummation: We return to the Source from which we came; the Omega is the same as the Alpha and this is God’s supreme and final victory.
What a positive, coherent, and meaning-filled world this describes! Note that Bonaventure’s theology is clearly not the later reward/punishment frame that took over when people did not experience God, but merely believed propositions. Many people today are not sure where we came from, who we are, and where we are going, and many do not even seem to care about the questions. What if we could recover a view of the world and God that was infused with Bonaventure’s teaching? It would provide a foundation that we lack in our often aimless and adrift age. It could hold our lives together during times of despair and cynicism.
Bonaventure described the Great Chain of Being both in a historical and linear way—but also in terms of cosmic connectedness along the way! He was following Paul in Colossians: “In his body lives the fullness of divinity, and in him you will find your own fulfillment” (2:9–10), or “There is only Christ: He is everything and he is in everything” (3:11). We were created in unity, proceed forward insofar as we are in unity, and return to God’s full gift of final unity. It is grace before, during, and after.
For Bonaventure, creation is quite simply the mirror and image of God; he uses metaphors like footprint and fingerprint (vestigia Dei), effigy, likeness. Francis, Bonaventure, and Teilhard give me the confidence to believe and teach that “everything belongs.” They describe and defend the universal belonging of all creation and show us that such a cosmic divine victory makes the fear-based preoccupations of later exclusionary and punitive Christianity seem small and unnecessary.
There is neither denial nor resentment in Bonaventure. His heart was never stingy, but always generous and eager to love. Bonaventure’s “tree of life,” his “coincidence of opposites,” his “journey of the soul to God,” his Great Chain of Being . . . each made joyful room for everything in one divine circle of life. God for him is “the one whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere.” [2]
And now you know that all things, including you, live safely and happily inside of that one good circle.

The Franciscan Vision

November 26th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

The Joy of the Gospel
Sunday, November 25, 2018

I believe that St. Francis is the example par excellence of care for the vulnerable and of an integral ecology lived out joyfully and authentically. . . . [He] was deeply loved for his joy, his generous self-giving, his open-heartedness. —Pope Francis [1]

Just as Pope Francis has exercised a worldwide and major imaginal change, Francis and Clare of Assisi are still having a profound impact in the Christian world, eight hundred years later. They told us by their lives that Christianity could be joyful, simple, sweet, and beautiful.

I believe that the Gospel itself, and the Franciscan vision of the Gospel, is primarily communicated by highly symbolic human lives that operate as “Prime Attractors”: through actions visibly done in love; by a nonviolent, humble, and liberated lifestyle; and through identification with the edged out and the excluded of every system. The very presence of such Prime Attractors “gives others reasons for spiritual joy,” as St. Francis said. [2]

Both St. Francis and Pope Francis are simply following Jesus’ lead. In his apostolic exhortation The Joy of the Gospel, Pope Francis writes:

The Gospel . . . constantly invites us to rejoice. A few examples will suffice. “Rejoice!” is the angel’s greeting to Mary (Luke 1:28). Mary’s visit to Elizabeth makes John leap for joy in his mother’s womb (cf. Luke 1:41). In her song of praise, Mary proclaims: “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Luke 1:47). When Jesus begins his ministry, John cries out: “For this reason, my joy has been fulfilled” (John 3:29). Jesus himself “rejoiced in the Holy Spirit” (Luke 10:21). His message brings us joy: “I have said these things to you, so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete” (John 15:11). . . . He promises his disciples: “You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy” (John 16:20). He then goes on to say: “But I will see you again and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22). The disciples “rejoiced” (John 20:20) at the sight of the risen Christ. . . . Wherever the disciples went, “there was great joy” (Acts 8:8); even amid persecution they continued to be “filled with joy” (Acts 13:52). . . . Why should we not also enter into this great stream of joy? [3]
. . . I realize of course that joy is not expressed the same way at all times in life, especially at moments of great difficulty. Joy adapts and changes, but it always endures, even as a flicker of light born of our personal certainty that, when everything is said and done, we are infinitely loved. [4]

—————————–

The Franciscan Vision
Monday, November 26, 2018

St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio (1217–1274) took Francis and Clare’s practical lifestyle to the level of theology, philosophy, and worldview. Unlike many theologians of his time, Bonaventure paid little attention to fire and brimstone, sin, merit, justification, or atonement. His vision is positive, mystic, cosmic, intimately relational, and largely concerned with cleaning the lens of our perception and our intention so we can see and enjoy fully!

He starts very simply: “Unless we are able to view things in terms of how they originate, how they are to return to their end, and how God shines forth in them, we will not be able to understand.” [1] For Bonaventure, the perfection of God and God’s creation is a full circle, and to be perfect the circle must and will complete itself. He knows that Alpha and Omega are finally the same, and the lynchpin holding it all in unity is the “Christ Mystery,” or the essential unity of matter and spirit, humanity and divinity. The Christ Mystery is thus the template for all creation, and even more precisely the crucified Christ, who reveals the necessary cycle of loss and renewal that keeps all things moving toward ever further life. Now we know that the death and birth of every star and every atom is this same pattern of loss and renewal, yet this pattern is invariably hidden or denied, and therefore must be revealed by God—which is “the cross.”

Bonaventure’s theology is never about trying to placate a distant or angry God, earn forgiveness, or find some abstract theory of justification. He sees humanity as already being included in—and delighting in—an all-pervasive plan. As Paul’s school says, “Before the world was made, God chose us, chose us in Christ” (Ephesians 1:4). The problem is solved from the beginning. Rather than seeing history as a “fall from grace,” Bonaventure reveals a slow but real emergence and evolution into ever-greater consciousness of Love. He was the Teilhard de Chardin (1881–1955) of the 13th century.

One reason Bonaventure was so hopeful and positive is that he was profoundly Trinitarian. He saw love always and forever flowing between Father, Son, and Spirit and on to us. Bonaventure’s strong foundation in the Trinity gave him a nondual mind to deal with the ineffable mystery of God and creation. A dualistic mind closes down at any notion of Trinity or infinite love, because it cannot process it.

For Bonaventure, God, is not an offended monarch on a throne throwing down thunderbolts, but a “fountain fullness” that flows, overflows, and fills all things in one positive direction. Reality is thus in process and participatory; it is love itself, and not a mere Platonic world, an abstract idea, or a static impersonal principle. God as Trinitarian Flow is the blueprint and pattern for all relationships and thus all of creation, which we now know from contemporary science is exactly the case.

Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord
Thank you for these words today, And the messages I’ve been hearing recently. This life in the kingdom which is mystically apprehended has been the basic track that I’ve been on for a couple of years. But it’s off and on. It’s so easy to fall back into a rational and judgmental place. But it’s getting easier to recognize as is knowing the way back… as I get more sure of your love. Most recently I’ve been listening to and liking a Baptist pastor who we’ve visited. I was really surprised, he had a lot of stuff that seemed to resonate. And there were a lot of happy people at his place. But then I realized that the thing that I was liking was causing a dissonance in me. What I like and gravitate to is the formulaic way that he had things worked out and the way he presented them. Kind of a formula for becoming a Christian and then the formula for staying happily on the path. My brain really likes that kind of thing. … And it works… until it doesn’t. And it seems to conflict with the mystical, perhaps even shut it out. Like Calvin and Luther both decided, “no more mysticism” I’m loving Jesus and life and everyone more since I’ve started down the road of the mystic… and I’m not willing to give it up for formulas that make my left brain comfortable. I’m seeing trap of the Enlightenment and Rationalism. I’m seeing that a mystical, non-dual view is essential to living in your kingdom. Help me to live in the world but not be of the world, as Paul said. Bring your kingdom here. Thank you. I love you.

Life-Death-Life

November 23rd, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Life-Death-Life
Friday, November 23, 2018

The whole process of living, dying, and then living again starts with YHWH “breathing into clay,” which becomes “a living being” called Adam (“of the earth”; see Genesis 2:7). Breath and what appears to be mere dirt become human (the word “human” comes from the Latin humus). Matter and spirit are bound together; divine and mortal interpenetrate and manifest one another. The Formless One forever takes on form as “Adam and Eve” (and in Jesus “the new Adam”), and then takes us back to the Formless One, once again, as each form painfully surrenders the small self that it has been for a while. Jesus says, “I am returning to take you with me, so that where I am you also may be” (John 14:3). Resurrection is simply incarnation taken to its logical conclusion: what starts in God ends in God—who is eternal.

Buddhists are looking at the same Mystery from a different angle when they say, “Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form,” and then all forms eventually return to formlessness (spirit or “emptiness”) once again. Christians call it incarnation > death > resurrection > ascension. This is about all of us, including all of creation—not just Jesus—coming forth as individuals and then going back to God, into the Ground of All Being. That cyclical wholeness should make us unafraid of death and thus able to fully appreciate life.

The Risen Christ represents the final and full state of every True Self: God-in-you who is able to see and honor God-everywhere-beyond-you too! In other words, Christ is more than anything else a “holon”—a scientific term for something that is simultaneously a whole by itself and yet a part of a larger whole, too. Jesus is telling us that we are all holons! We all participate in the one single life of God.

“To God, all people are in fact alive,” as Jesus put it (Luke 20:38…He is not the God of the dead, but of the living, for to him all are alive.”). We are just in different stages of that aliveness—one of which we experience as dying.

Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord
Pretty somber stuff this morning… Or not, If we really get that death is part of life and we are just going on to (back to) a better place. I seem to get that, and then lose it, and then get it again. I think it will take a while to totally replace decades of living with one paradigm with the new paradigm. Thanks for these reminders.

Flow with me. Daily and all day long, as much as you can. We’ll get there together.

Many things these days seem to have physical – spiritual connection. I see that there’s a connection, but I can’t discern exactly what it is. Like last night when I fixed the carburetor on the snow blower. I vacillated on having someone do it… as I knew nothing about it. But dove in and got it done… not the way any of the YouTubes suggested. So perhaps I got encouraged that I can do anything I set my hand to. A life long belief, but one that I’m questioning the value and appropriateness of, as the years go by and muscles grow weaker, eyes dim and memory becomes less reliable.

The belief is good. I put it in you. And everything belongs. It can be mis-used for sure. If you mix it with your Big Four, need to look good, and feel good, be right and be in control, that belief can surely run you amuck. So bring those things to the cross. I have a better replacement for each of those big four waiting for you. Keep the belief that you can do anything. It is rare and valuable. Your kids need it. Learn to live in Spirit and Truth and discover each of my Better Big Four. And let them live and lead your life.

Philippians 4:13 (NLT) For I can do everything through Christ,[a] who gives me strength.

John 14:12-14 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. 13 You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. 14 Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!

There are times when it will indeed be better to let others do things. You can still know that (with me) you could do those things… but don’t have to. Actually you only want to do the ones that I ordain for you. They will go down peacefully.

So did you ordain the gummed up carburetor?

You had more to do with that… by lack of maintenance. But I chose to bless you in the recovery. And we’re having this conversation.

Those alternative Big Four have my attention. Probably too simplistic to just ask what they are??

You can always ask me anything. But many times, most times, the answers don’t fit in small boxes. they lead to discussions and have nuances.

Isaiah 55:8-9
“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD.
“And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.
9For just as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so my ways are higher than your ways
and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

Like last nite for example. I was with you in it. But it was pretty brutal. You missed many turns and it could have been more elegant if you had been better tuned and hearing the Voice and Seeing the Next.

John 5:19 So Jesus explained, “I tell you the truth, the Son can do nothing by himself. He does only what he sees the Father doing. Whatever the Father does, the Son also does. 20For the Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. In fact, the Father will show him how to do even greater works than healing this man. Then you will truly be astonished.

Transition and Transformation

November 21st, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Transition and Transformation
Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Just as we have borne the image of the earthy one, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly one. . . . Behold, I tell you a mystery. We shall not all fall asleep, but we will all be changed, in an instant, in the blink of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For that which is corruptible must clothe itself with incorruptibility, and that which is mortal must clothe itself with immortality. —1 Corinthians 15:49, 51-53

Father Thomas Keating reflected on the process and meaning of death:

Death and resurrection, in the Christian perspective at least, can never be separated, and . . . in a very real sense, death is resurrection.

Death seems to be a process of transformation.

The idea that something is dying needs to be investigated to see what it is. It is not we who are really dying but only the false self that is experiencing the end of its illusory view of life—our personal, homemade self, which has been the object of our efforts and is secretly present in virtually all of our good deeds.

What’s dying is not the deepest self, but our dependence and over-identification with the mental ego and its projects, and our cultural conditioning and over-identification with it, including our roles in life.

From this perspective, the dying process is the culmination or the peak of the whole development of the spiritual journey, in which total surrender to God involves the gift of life itself, as we know it.

For that reason it’s not really death, but life reaching out to a fullness that we can’t imagine from this side of the dying process.

So death is . . . the final completion of this process of becoming fully alive and manifesting the triumph of the grace of God in us. [1]

Death could be looked upon as the birth canal into eternal life. A little confining and scary, maybe, yet it’s the passage into a vastly fuller life. Eternal life means perfect happiness without space or time limitations. It is spaciousness itself. You begin to taste it in deep contemplative prayer. You realize that you don’t give it to yourself; it’s already within you. [2]

Our new body will be spiritualized and not limited to its present physical presence and limitations. One aspect of creation is that, once you have been born into this world, you never die because, as the Hindu religions teach, each of us possesses deep within us an inalienable spark of divine love. [The Song of Songs says that love is stronger than death (8:6).] That spark is the same energy that created the Big Bang. . . . [3]

Nothing is more certain than death. It can’t simply be a disaster. It’s rather a transition like all the other transitions and developments of human consciousness all the way up to unity with Ultimate Reality. The latter involves freedom from the senses and our thinking processes; in other words, entering into the simplicity of the divine energy that pours itself out into the world through continuing creation. The divine energy sustains us with immense love and patience through all the stages of consciousness. [4]

Journal DJR
Good Morning Lord
Thank you, Thank you, Thank you. I am in a new phase and it’s like a kid in a candy store. It’s this freedom to let all people be who they are, (and me too) and the possibilities that this opens up. I’ve known this before, but evidently, only in my head. It’s now at a deeper level, so the possibilities are more expansive. Like I am marveling at the idea that I’m really considering leaving where I’ve been and start attending a Baptist church. Up until recently, that was the last place I thought I would find myself. What’s going on here anyway?

You are free. Truth sets you free. and you are gaining some truth in your studies and experiences. Freedom opens up options. You had blockages when you felt comfortable only with people who believed like you. Now that you are free from that and appreciating my diversity, you have more and richer options.

I do know myself, and I’ve previously run amuck with newfound freedoms.

Well, you know yourself. So don’t do that. But if you do, you know I love you, died for you and will be waiting for you to get back to me and take off another layer of blindness. Better yet, don’t ever leave, even if you leave. Take me with you if you go on a wild ride. I am with you, no matter what, just do your best to stay conscious. I like wild rides.

————-

Returning Home

November 20th, 2018 by Dave No comments »

Returning Home
Tuesday, November 20, 2018

I ask . . . that they may all be one; even as You, Father, are in Me and I in You. . . . I in them and You in Me, that they may be perfected in unity. . . . Father, I desire that they also, whom You have given Me, be with Me where I am. . . . —John 17:20-24

At present we see indistinctly, as in a mirror, but then face to face. At present I know partially; then I shall know fully, as I am fully known. —1 Corinthians 13:12

Two dear friends, Fathers Thomas Keating (1923–2018) and Joseph Boyle (1941–2018), lived many years in community at St. Benedict’s Monastery in Snowmass, Colorado, where they welcomed guests for contemplative retreats. A couple years ago, Lucette Verboven interviewed both of them. She asked Father Joseph if he expected at death to be transformed:

Yes, I expect death to be a transition. I think it is a movement into a space that is not limited by our body and our senses that are quite limited now. I like the phrase in St. Paul, that we will “see God face to face” [1 Corinthians 13:12] and we’ll relate to people and the beauty of who they are without the ego-agendas we have right now.

I see [life after death] as infinite love, as if the whole atmosphere of heaven is filled with God as a kind of vibration going through us. I think that we are going to see and know each other in God, whatever that word means. It strikes me as a homecoming, us returning home to where we come from. . . and all of our brothers and sisters are coming home as well. . . . I certainly have a very deep hope that it is a transition into an incredible related life. [1]

Similarly, Keating wrote:

Death is only a part of the process of living. If the Communion of Saints has become real for us, then every funeral is a celebration of eternal life. That is the great insight of the Mass of the Resurrection, the new funeral rite. Death is not an occasion only for sorrow, but an occasion of rejoicing that our friends or relatives have moved to a deeper level of union and that we will be with them again. [2]

We are all always connected to God and each other and every living being. Most of us just don’t realize it. Jesus prays that we could see things in their unity and wholeness.

Either we learn how to live in communion with others, or, quite simply, we’re not ready for heaven and are already in hell. We have been invited—even now, even today, even this moment—to live in the Communion of Saints, in the Presence, in the Body, in the Life of the eternal and eternally Risen Christ.

There is only One Love that will lead and carry us across when we die. If we are already at home with Love here, we will quite readily move into heaven, Love’s eternal home. Death is not a changing of worlds, as most imagine, as much as the walls of this world infinitely expanding.

Journal DJR

Good Morning Lord,
It’s been a long time since I wrote out my perception of our dialogue together. It was previously rich for a season, but then it seemed to dry up ??? I have missed it. But many things are changing in my life and it seems like it may be time to be with You this way again.

I am always there for you and in you. (John 14:20) In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. But I don’t want you to develop dogma. You say, Blessed are the flexible and it’s true. I want my sons and daughters to be flexible and to experience my Love in many ways. Both giving and receiving. Stay flexible, and curious. My love will astound you.

It is. Like you have been showing JD and me… it is easiest and sometimes only seen in the rear view mirror. But as we dive deeper we are learning to walk in and feel your love and see it everywhere.

Good, keep on coming.

Some things you are showing me are deeper levels of what I’ve known before … Like that I can be OK just knowing and experiencing You… and that I don’t need to evangelize or convert those who don’t see things the same way. Everything belongs, Let it be, and all things work together… as Richard Rohr, the Beatles, and St Paul said. It is such a freedom. It opens up new possibilities. I feel so free, I didn’t realize the constriction I had been walking in. Wow! Thanks!

This is the freedom I want for all my kids. But don’t jump out there and start selling a new Freedom Pack. I’ve been teaching you what I had your elder brother Francis say… Preach the gospel always, but only if absolutely necessary, use words. So live free and walk with me. We’ll have a good time. And when you cross over, like Reba, we’ll have an even better time. And in a few cases, (Holy Spirit will let you know) I’ll have you share. If you’re really attentive, I’ll even give you the words.

Crossing over is easier if you’ve been walking close with me all along. Not just with obedience and checklists but heart to heart like you are learning.

Thanks for all the blessings. I have self identified as post-denominational and have enjoyed walking free of the the hierarchy and bureaucracy of denominations (and also political parties) Now my new opportunity, possibility is to walk in love and acceptance with people who see core issues differently than you’ve shown me. (Agree on the main things and agree to disagree on a few things and walk together sharing the Love)

You’ve said it well. Just go walk it out and my Spirit will lead you.

Death and Resurrection: Week 1

November 19th, 2018 by JDVaughn No comments »

Death and Resurrection: Week 1
All Things New
Sunday, November 18, 2018
Behold, I make all things new. —Revelation 21:5
As I’ve recently faced my own mortality through cancer once again, I’ve been comforted by others who have experienced loss and aging with fearless grace. Over the next few days I’ll share some of their thoughts. Today, join me in reflecting on this passage from Quaker teacher and author Parker Palmer’s new book, On the Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity and Getting Old.
I’m a professional melancholic, and for years my delight in the autumn color show quickly morphed into sadness as I watched the beauty die. Focused on the browning of summer’s green growth, I allowed the prospect of death to eclipse all that’s life-giving about the fall and its sensuous delights.
Then I began to understand a simple fact: all the “falling” that’s going on out there is full of promise. Seeds are being planted and leaves are being composted as earth prepares for yet another uprising of green.
Today, as I weather the late autumn of my own life, I find nature a trustworthy guide. It’s easy to fixate on everything that goes to the ground as time goes by: the disintegration of a relationship, the disappearance of good work well done, the diminishment of a sense of purpose and meaning. But as I’ve come to understand that life “composts” and “seeds” us as autumn does the earth, I’ve seen how possibility gets planted in us even in the hardest of times.
Looking back, I see how the job I lost pushed me to find work that was mine to do, how the “Road Closed” sign turned me toward terrain that I’m glad I traveled, how losses that felt irredeemable forced me to find new sources of meaning. In each of these experiences, it felt as though something was dying, and so it was. Yet deep down, amid all the falling, the seeds of new life were always being silently and lavishly sown. . . .
Perhaps death possesses a grace that we who fear dying, who find it ugly and even obscene, cannot see. How shall we understand nature’s testimony that dying itself—as devastating as we know it can be—contains the hope of a certain beauty?
The closest I’ve ever come to answering that question begins with these words from Thomas Merton, . . . “There is in all visible things . . . a hidden wholeness.” [1]
In the visible world of nature, a great truth is concealed in plain sight. Diminishment and beauty, darkness and light, death and life are not opposites: they are held together in the paradox of the “hidden wholeness.” In a paradox, opposites do not negate each other—they cohabit and cocreate in mysterious unity at the heart of reality. Deeper still, they need each other for health, just as our well-being depends on breathing in and breathing out. . . .
When I give myself over to organic reality—to the endless interplay of darkness and light, falling and rising—the life I am given is as real and colorful, fruitful and whole as this graced and graceful world and the seasonal cycles that make it so. Though I still grieve as beauty goes to ground, autumn reminds me to celebrate the primal power that is forever making all things new in me, in us, and in the natural world.

—————-

The Abyss of Grief
Monday, November 19, 2018

My friend and brilliant translator of many mystics, Mirabai Starr, who lives nearby in Taos, New Mexico, has encountered numerous deaths and losses, each cultivating in her a deeper spiritual practice and longing for God. But the death of her fourteen-year-old daughter, Jenny, in a car crash was “an avalanche,” Starr writes, “annihilating everything in its path”:

Suddenly, the sacred fire I have been chasing all my life engulfed me. I was plunged into the abyss, instantaneously dropped into the vast stillness and pulsing silence at which all my favorite mystics hint. So shattered I could not see my own hand in front of my face, I was suspended in the invisible arms of a Love I had only dreamed of. Immolated, I found myself resting in fire. Drowning, I surrendered, and discovered I could breathe under water.

So this was the state of profound suchness I had been searching for during all those years of contemplative practice. This was the holy longing the saints had been talking about in poems that had broken my heart again and again. This was the sacred emptiness that put that small smile on the face of the great sages. And I hated it. I didn’t want vastness of being. I wanted my baby back.

But I discovered that there was nowhere to hide when radical sorrow unraveled the fabric of my life. I could rage against the terrible unknown—and I did, for I am human and have this vulnerable body, passionate heart, and complicated mind—or I could turn toward the cup, bow to the Cupbearer, and say, “Yes.”

I didn’t do it right away, nor was I able to sustain it when I did manage a breath of surrender. But gradually I learned to soften into the pain and yield to my suffering. In the process, compassion for all suffering beings began unexpectedly to swell in my heart. I became acutely aware of my connectedness to mothers everywhere who had lost children, who were, at this very moment, hearing the impossible news that their child had died. . . . .

Grief strips us. According to the mystics, this is good news. Because it is only when we are naked that we can have union with the Beloved. We can cultivate spiritual disciplines designed to dismantle our identity so that we have hope of merging with the Divine. Or someone we love very much may die, and we may find ourselves catapulted into the emptiness we had been striving for. Even as we cry out in the anguish of loss, the boundless love of the Holy One comes pouring into the shattered container of our hearts. This replenishing of our emptiness is a mystery, it is grace, and it is built into the human condition.

Few among us would ever opt for the narrow gate of grief, even if it were guaranteed to lead us to God. But if our most profound losses—the death of a loved one, the ending of a marriage or a career, catastrophic disease or alienation from community—bring us to our knees before that threshold, we might as well enter. The Beloved might be waiting in the next room.