Tag Archives: desire

Love – In Small Doses #11

 

Bite apple2

 The Education of Desire

The woman stared at the fruit. It looked beautiful and tasty. She wanted the wisdom that it would give her, and she ate some of the fruit. Her husband was there with her, so she gave some to him, and he ate it too. Genesis 3:6 (CEV)

Loud, the crash and feral
thrashing of a heart
wedged in desire’s thorns

no exertion heals
the festering wound

at length
mind wears down
bows stiffly
folds into sheer being
draws up soft
sheets of silence

 ___________________

How is it for you to sit still with your conflicted heart, enmeshed and torn by desire and longing for things  you do not have?

Can you stay with your wounded heart until your mind stops trying to analyze and understand? Can you trust as you surrender into the silence?  Will you discover tender compassion for yourself in your own suffering?

Will you hold still while unseen hands place a poultice,
warm and moist, where you hurt the most?

maryjesushands

_____________________________________

Central Academy Lent 2015
1248 SW Buchanan
Topeka, Ks
Each Wednesday from Feb 25 to March 25
5:30 Gather for Soup
6:00 – 7:30 Class

 It is not too late to join us. Don’t worry. You will fit right in!

Call or email to let us know you are coming so we have enough cookies.
Contact Central Congregational Church
(785) 235-2376; centralucc@yahoo.com

I am teaching a five week class on contemplation, Prayer of the Yearning Heart.  It is a great help to practice contemplation in a group. Come sit with us a spell and let peace creep into your heart.

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Consider the Maple Keys

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow;
they toil not, neither do they spin.
The helicopters have landed. I returned home last week to find them scattered across my lawn, piled in drifts along the curbs, and clogging the gutters.
Maple keys are on an exuberant mission of fertility. Formed after the early spring flowers bloom on the maple’s branches, they hang in thick green clusters. As the fruit ripens, the color drains out of the wings. They thin to paper husks and release themselves, sailing off in dizzy circles.
These single winged wonders propel themselves by the auto gyrating principle of flight. The wing, which reminds me of a tiny squirrel tail, is counterbalanced by the weight of the seed or fruit.
Helicopters in the backyard, grass growing like weeds, a new crop of bunnies down the alley … Life wants to live, to express its live-li-ness. It cannot help itself. What Dylan Thomas called “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower” is at work here in Kansas. What sucked Jesus up from that cold slab and put him back on his feet, trotting down to Galilee, is loose in the world propagating itself in heedless prodigality.
Lately I have been noticing that how I evaluate, or interpret my experience and people is less and less important. Oh, my thoughts may be of riveting interest to me. Those closely held opinions, my ego defining and enhancing assessments about how things ought to be can enthrall me.
But now, really, am I not merely one maple key turning, floating lazy in one of millions of backyards? Am I not, too, heading for some crack in the sidewalk to insert myself into this good earth? Will I not lie resting, as my skin dries and peels away, as my seed splits and a tiny root weaves down into the substance of things hoped for?
What interests me more than my opinions is the seed – being itself, that hidden fuse in the mortal soul, which has amazing resilience and determination to express itself, to live.
I see this life in others more and more. I hear it in the subtext of conversation, hidden beneath the skin of things. It murmurs, like leaves whispering in a breeze. The ache and thrust to live, to sink into some welcoming soil, to be seen, heard, and received is an awesome power encased in the fragile, tissue thin, vulnerability of humankind.
As a species we seem always to be wanting things or not wanting things, or being angry or hurt, or disappointed, when our desires are frustrated or denied. Sometimes as rampant anxiety, sometimes as a yearning that tears and consumes, sometimes as a sigh at the end of the day, the seed strains against its waxy membrane, splitting its boundary with the need to grow and endure, sending out seeking tendrils asking: Am I all right? Will things be okay? Am I doing what I am supposed to? Will I get what I want?
When I see this collective longing buried under our anger, cynicism, cruelty, and fear, my criticism turn to compassion, my fretting to trust, and my impatience to surrender to the wind.
Life possesses us. And it will live through us. Do not believe for a moment that you can stop it. Not oil spills, economic downturns, illness, failure, not even death, not even death can stop it. For life owns death, makes it bow before it, and will reclaim all losses.
Consider the maple keys, loose in the skies. Catch a ride. And for God’s sake, for all our sakes, allow the life in your unique and splendid aerodynamic design live.
Read more about prayer at
www.fromholyground.org, www.theprayinglife.wordpress.com
Tracking Holiness – Newsletter
Contact Loretta at
lross@fromholyground.org, www.fbook.me/sanctuary
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Holy Spirit Contracting

 Demolition, Alterations, Renovations, Disaster Reconstruction

His delight is not in the strength of the horse,
nor his pleasure in the speed of a runner;
but the Lord takes pleasure in those who fear him,
in those who hope in his steadfast love.   Psalm 147: 10-11

j0432555I have been freaking out. Jesus is in my interior space and he is rearranging the furniture. He pushes a couch across the room. What! Are you going to put that over there? He opens a closet door and starts sorting through things I had hidden away. He is making piles of stuff to haul to the landfill and take to Good Will. Wait, Jesus! I might need that!  The place is a mess.  I hope nobody stops by unannounced.

Jesus doesn’t seem to mind the chaos he is making and pretty much ignores me. He pulls out something and holds it up. “Here take a look at this,” he says. Then I cringe, or weep, or shudder, or feel a tiny bit hopeful.

I asked for this. I prayed one of those reckless prayers which come upon us occasionally. Then I went and asked others to pray for me too. Really reckless. The prayer was to remove those things in me that blocked my receptivity to the Grace of God. What prompted the prayer was my need. You know – the frustration, weariness, sadness, loneliness, fear – it comes in many forms – that eats away at your peace and joy.

You start thinking, well if I could just get this thing changed, or add this or subtract that from Big Sale sign in red over white backgroundmy life – ah then I would feel so much better. As you know, this is the basic doctrine of The  Church of  Unholy Consumption, in which most of us are credit card carrying members. We get our daily devotions from TV commercials and the advertising that permeates every nook and cranny of our lives. We are reassured over and over that our problems may be solved by satisfying our desires. Figure out what you want and then go get it. You deserve it. Don’t know what you want? Well may we make a suggestion? We just got this new ratchet in today!

Of course we have desires and need to respect them and get them met appropriately. But desires may quickly become disordered and increasingly demanding. Ian Matthews (The Impact of God-Soundings from St. John of the Cross) writes, “When desire is out of order, it increasingly causes fatigue, anxiety, confusion, a sense of guilt, and finally an inability to do anything about it. It is a picture of addiction where the person’s dependence is killing him. … Disorder here, while it may bring gratification, ultimately kills joy.” (Page 41)

Jesus, no snake oil salesman of salvation, offers something radically different and – let’s be honest here – painful. John of the Cross writes about the process of deeper communion with Christ, “To come to what you know not, you must go by way of where you know not.”

To simply to be present to a need without having to blame someone, rush out and fill it, or feel ashamed is something people recovering from addictions understand very well. Iain Matthews continues: “Not filling the gap can feel like starving, but it allows the genuinely new to be disclosed. It allows one to live not as a consumer among objects, but as a person among persons fit for communion, for the love which can hold the other, and be held with open palms. That is the level of spirit: availability as a person for communion: the space for the gift of the Other. This is more than just a rearrangement of the pieces.” (pages 44-45)

Albert Einstein said, “No problem was ever solved by the same mind that created it.” Yet we think our problems will be resolved by a rearrangement of the pieces, that is, changing the organization of our lives, our relationships, our jobs, our life partners, our churches, our institutions. We think we can bring wholeness for ourselves by restructuring, redistribution, reimagining, and redesigning. We think strong horses and fast runners will solve our problems. Such thinking keeps us at the surface level and relying on ourselves – our intellect, creativity, and flexibility – for the answers. We refuse to tolerate the painful “gap” through which the genuinely new may be disclosed and Grace may emerge.

cyclone_hedgeshearwavyThere may come a time when you just get sick of it. You see the shallowness, the lack of freedom, the treadmill nature of operating our lives on the level of our senses. You are tired of watching the shadows of your ever shifting, ever insatiable surface desires. You may see a need for a deep down fundamental shift, a conversion of your heart. You may say, “Jesus, I want more than a rearrangement of the pieces. I want you.”

That’s Jesus’ cue. And he hops right to it. He sets to work, not on your external reality – the things you thought needed to be improved – but on reordering your desires themselves. He shifts your priorities, your values. He prunes runaway pride. He hacks out dead attitudes. He fires up a chainsaw and cuts away whole walls of rigid thinking. And friends, it is just as he told us. It feels terrible. It feels like you are dying, because you are.

Eugene Peterson paraphrases the verses from Psalm 147 above in this way: He’s not impressed with horsepower; the size of our muscles means little to him. Those who fear God, get God’s attention; they can depend on his strength. j0178928

Christ opens the gate on that pen of strong horses you had corralled and sets them free. He dismisses all the fast runners – the thinkers, the experts, the latest technologies. And you are left with your fear, your wonder, and your love for this God who cares enough about you to enter into you and create such a rumpus. There in the mess you untie your hope from your own efforts and strength and attach it to the strength of God. And little by little you begin to trust that something new and amazing is emerging, something which you could never think of or make happen in a thousand years.

Now tell me, who wouldn’t love a God like this?

 

More about prayer –
www.fromholyground.org

Contact Loretta –
lross@fromholyground.org, www.fbook.me/sanctuary

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Day of Prayer

deer at dawn

I woke surrounded by warm pink light. Dawn filled the room like a rosy fog and drew me outside to look at the eastern sky. Banks of darker clouds, edged in gold, piled above the rose glow. Within minutes the sky darkened. Thunder rumbled. Rain fell gently throughout the morning and afternoon.

I spent the whole day chasing after that rosy suffusion which called me to awareness. But the light had flown to some other window, some other sleeper. I was left with a soft kiss, a sweet promise, and an ache in my heart that burned like a flame.  

This day my prayer was bare and to the point: I want you – not my way, my plans, my hopes, my dreams. Not peace on earth, healing for the suffering, hope for the broken hearted, or justice for the oppressed. I want YOU- giver of dawn and rain and this yearning in my heart for something unnamable, but ever compelling and true.

“The soul is not thought, nor is the will controlled by thought. It would be a great misfortune if it were. The soul’s profit then consists not in thinking much, but in loving much,” advised Teresa of Avila. I would rather think, connive, plan, strategize, manipulate, control – anything, but love this Author of our Being. But love is the way, says Teresa, as well as a whole company of others, including the Beatles.

Little renders us more vulnerable than love. A desire, a longing for someone, something beyond my grasp requires me to recognize my need and my limits. To love is to esteem the freedom of the Beloved and bear the pain of the essential separation of oneself from what is other than oneself. Love asks us to suffer the anguish of the reality that we may never fully possess what we love. Love asks us to be poor and naked in our need and our dependence upon the mercy of our Beloved.

No wonder we try to satisfy our longing for love by attachments to things which appear at first glance to deliver more and ask less of us than the uncompromising call of Christ. No wonder we attempt to extract from people, possessions, and work what only the Source of Love can give us. However, we soon find ourselves enslaved to and sucked dry by the insatiable demands of such false lovers.

Today I am sick, sin-sick, of my attachment to the world and my ego with its endless unappeasable needs.  I am weary and sore from the brutality and violence of a drive to succeed, ignoring my limits, and trying to do too much and be too much. Who can save me from myself, this body of death?

Only Love, Vulnerable Love entering into our misery as Christ Jesus, summoning us from our sleep, whispering, “Let go. Let go of it all. Follow me. I am all you will ever need.”  

So this day my prayer is a famished stumbling after Love. It is holding out my heart saying, “Here take it. I am yours.” It is Peter telling Jesus, with that desperate hope, “Lord, there is no one else that we can go to! Your words give eternal life. (John 6:68 CEV)  

Today my prayer is bearing the pain of this mystery, this rosy dawn which woos and embraces us all.  Amen.

 deer at dawn small

More about prayer –
www.fromholyground.org, www.theprayinglife.wordpress.com

Contact Loretta –
lross@fromholyground.org, www.fbook.me/sanctuary

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The Beginning

I didn’t start out planning to give my life to prayer. The notion sort of snuck up on me. A series of collisions, near misses, and faltering steps toward love drew me into the lap of holiness. In the confusion there were some moments of clarity. Once driving with my friend, Wanda, through Kentucky countryside lush with the aching beauty of spring, I blurted out my passion. “I think I could just live in a hut somewhere and pray all the time, but I am married and want to have children, and besides I am a Presbyterian.” I was soon to graduate from three years of seminary preparation to be a minister. We were talking about what we planned to do with our lives. Wanda turned to me, mouth open and said, “Well my God, Loretta, if someone wanted to do something like that that bad, I think God would want them to too.”

It took me a while to figure out the logistics, but for the past twenty six years I have focused my life in prayer. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that prayer has focused my life. Prayer has clarified, refined, and made more visible for me my own being and the being of all things.

I spend a lot of my time chasing after the elusive lover of our souls, scrambling after crumbs and leavings on the path. Occasionally I kick up heart stopping showers of diamonds in the dust. Like most things we deeply desire and set out to do, it hasn’t been easy.

For example, there aren’t many models. It is not that people do not pray. Research shows that most of us do in one way or another. Research also shows that many of us do not care to talk to each other about it. The person who deliberately sets out to make a life project of prayer finds few persons outside a monastery who understand this calling. A life of prayer is such an antiquated notion that if you have heard of someone who has done this, it is quite likely they are dead.  I am not.

In fact there are more people than you may think, who have been stricken as I and are willing to live like beggars for love of God. I know quite a few who knock themselves out for the compelling beauty of the Holy One. They pine away for this Lover and feel lonely and afraid sometimes.  They wonder if anything good can come from being hidden away in prayer. They also have a marvelously good time walking on this earth. I believe they do an incredible amount of good for us all. There could be one living next door to you right now.

At this point you may be wondering – So what is prayer anyway?  Good question. We will get to that.  No rush though. We have eternity.

sanctuary-tree-tiny1 

 

To read more about people who pray a lot, see a new book called Consider the Ravens – On Contemporary Hermit Life by Paul and Karen Fredette. www.ravensbreadministries.com