Tag Archives: letting go

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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Still Not Enough? ~ Redux

Not enough time, not enough energy, not enough hope, not enough money, not enough jobs, not enough room, not enough love, not enough peace …

not enuf nuthin !

So goes the lie.

As the holiday season of plenty, hope, and generosity opens its arms to us, some of us brace ourselves, suspicious of the season’s glittering wares. The family, who lost their home to foreclosure, the unemployed factory worker, and other despairing and heartsick souls may feel plenty is beyond their reach and scarcity their new normal.

The media depictions of holiday cheer play on our insecurity and sense of lack. They insinuate that no matter how much we have, we do not have the latest and greatest. Advertisers lure us with promises of more. We may find ourselves stumbling after ghostly phantoms in the desperate hope that this year we might find that illusive wholeness we are seeking.

How does one feel whole and fulfilled, when one is more aware of scarcity in one’s life? Perhaps abundance in the midst of scarcity occurs for us as it did for Jesus, when he fed five thousand people with five barley loaves and two small fish.

We welcome what we have,
however meager.
We give thanks,
and watch it multiply.

Practice a Miracle: The Welcoming Prayer

Here is a simple, yet demanding, exercise to practice such a miracle in your own life. It is called The Welcoming Prayer. It was developed by Mary Mrozowski, one of Thomas Keating‘s closest associates and a prime mover in the development of centering prayer. She based the Welcoming Prayer on the 17th-century French spiritual classic Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean-Pierre de Caussade as well as Fr. Keating’s teachings and her own lived experience of transformation with its underlying attitude of surrender. There are a number of variations on this prayer. Here is one.

FOCUS AND SINK IN:

  • Become aware of what is troubling you or occupying your mind. For example, your sadness, anger, or fear regarding scarcity of some kind in your life. Focus on your feelings, both cognitively and physically, noting how and where the feeling affects your body.

  • Instead of resisting, or feeling ashamed or denying, welcome the truth of what is troubling you. Welcome the feelings with curiosity and compassion.

LET GO: (Here is the hard part)

  • Let go of your desire for power and control over the situation. Release your desire to be “right.”
  • Let go of your desire for affection and esteem from others.
  • Let go of your desire for survival and security.
  • Let go of your desire to change the way things are.

REST :

  • Allow yourself to sink into the abundant flowing love of this moment.

The present is ever filled with infinite treasure; it contains more than you have capacity to hold. … The will of God is at each moment before us like an immense, inexhaustible ocean that no human heart can fathom; but none can receive from it more than he has capacity to contain, it is necessary to enlarge this capacity by faith, confidence, and love…French priest, Jeanne Pierre de Caussade

You may find the letting go section of the prayer difficult to do. One or two of the desires may be harder to release than others. Think of this as useful information about what things, other than God, are of primary importance in your life. Notice which desires might be getting in the way of your freedom in Christ. If you find you cannot release one of these, you might simply pray that God give you the desire to desire to let go.

The Welcoming Prayer invites us to trust in God’s presence and providence and to discover the infinite wealth of God available to us in each moment. “The divine will is a deep abyss of which the present moment is the entrance. If you plunge into this abyss you will find it infinitely more vast than your desires,” writes de Caussade.

I believe this is absolutely true. Over and over in the midst of distress, I have wrung my hands about there not being enough of one thing or another in my life. Yet as I have focused and welcomed the feelings and my present reality, let go of my ego’s desires, and rested in God, my need has been supplied with an abundant depth and power that swept away all my grasping and anxiety.

I heard the geese honking at dawn last week. My dog halted at the door and cocked his head and we listened together in wonder. I love the sound of them moving over head, giving themselves to the skies. Trusting in their ancient faith they make their way.

In spite of all appearances to the contrary, I believe there is enough.

The Wild Geese

Abandon, as in love or sleep,
Holds them to their way
clear in the ancient faith:
what we need is here.
And we pray not for new earth or heaven,
but to be quiet in heart
and in eye clear.
What we need is here.       Wendell Berry

I trust in you, O Lord. You are my God.
My times are in your hands. Psalm 30:1

 

This post is a lightly edited version of a previous post. May this season fill your cup with overflowing goodness and a steady supply of all that you need!

Midsummer Tragedies

In the midst of life we are in death.
Earth to earth, ashes to ashes, dust to dust.
Book of Common Prayer, Burial Service

He carried the news gently in his mouth. I took the gift from between his soft lips and mourned. The black retriever had scooped the lifeless, winged thing from under the bird feeder. 

The night before I stood on the glider and peered into the nest, hidden in the leaves. Two naked heads with open beaks peeped softly.

We discovered the nest, while trimming the trumpet vine, which covers the trellis around the patio. We put down our clippers and traded gardening for bird watching. For the past three weeks we delighted in the cardinal couple and their chirps and whistles. They took turns guarding and sitting on the nest and often perched on the trellis or on the glider under the vine.


What had happened? Mom and Dad had vanished and the other fledgling as well. The nest was vacant. The air was empty. Gone was purdy, purdy, purdy; chip, chip, chip; and the what-cheer, wheet, wheet, wheet, songs and calls.

We glowed under the blessing of their nearness. I wanted to see the youngsters learn to fly. Did a blackbird, blue jay, or that bold squirrel, who kept coming up close to the patio cause the tragedy?

I was going to write a blog about the fruitfulness of summer. Instead I buried the bird in the garden next to the zinnias and wondered where the cardinals had flown and how they were doing. I hope they begin again in a safer place than my backyard has proved to be.

It has been a tough week. A seventeen year boy was killed in a car accident. A family gathered to remove life support from their beloved. A woman, whose organs have begun to shut down, makes a last journey home to be with family. Twenty seven people die in an Afghan hospital when a bomb explodes. In Minot, North Dakota, the Souris River rises to snatch its prey – over 4000 homes flooded, eleven thousand residents have evacuated.

You know. You know. In the midst of life we are in the midst of death. A squirrel carrying off a bird is in the way of things. And so hearts, breaking from love and loss, are in that same way of things – life ending, people and things we love being destroyed, wearing out, wasting away.

So I say look while you can. Pour out the precious oil of your loving attention on what is before you. Allow yourself to be anointed ahead of time for the deaths you will witness and mourn, including your own. Hold your dear life close with open arms. You can always trim that trumpet vine later.

The Fullness of Emptiness

This day

my cup is

empty,

my page

blank,

my mouth absent

of speech.

Here – receive the fullness of this emptiness:

the bottom of a pail

falling,

the obscurity of a veil

lifting.

Stillness,
carrying you rapidly

down an endless river to nowhere. 

 

This is the best I will ever have to offer. 

 

Take a drink.

Be filled.


This is what it means to seek God perfectly: to withdraw from illusion and pleasure, from worldly anxieties and desires, from the works that God does not want, from a glory that is only human display; to keep my mind free from confusion in order that my liberty may be always at the disposal of his will; to entertain silence in my heart and listen for the voice of God. 

 

And then to wait in peace and emptiness and oblivion of all things.

Thomas Merton


The Sanctuary Foundation for Prayer
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How the Light Gets In

Weeping before the box, she lifts out the pieces and places them on the counter. All but one or two are broken.
Two weeks before when the boxes arrived, I had carried, heartsick, this one filled with the chink and clatter of broken pottery to the basement. Then I forgot all about the box of broken dreams, until I heard her carrying it up the stairs, shards rattling like a chest of huge coins.
She moves the pieces on the counter, sorting and fitting parts together.
In a distant city another young woman also picks out the ruins of herself from the broken jar of illusion.
So much is broken – plans, relationships, jobs, dreams – and rattles around inside us. We take out the pieces, hold them to the light, and try to fit them together. This confrontation with our fallibility and that nothing earthly lasts forever brings deep suffering. Loss is always more painful than the books can say, the scriptures convey, or the prophets of prosperity preach. We need a picture.
A man at the end of his own dance with mortality, hunched over on his knees in a dark garden, tears rolling down his face. He says to his father, the Heaven Dweller, “Take this cup from me.” And to his friends, “Can you not stay with me one hour in this agony?”
There may be something harder than watching one’s children suffer, but on this day I do not know what it is. The hardest thing I do in this work of ministry, prayer, and listening to souls in their journey to God is staying awake with others in their pain. This is to say, that the hardest thing is staying awake with Jesus as he suffers in others.
Some days I fail. I numb out. I fall asleep. I deny the suffering, blame the sufferer, quibble and become annoyed and irritated with how the person expresses her pain. The other day I thought of one family, “Always lots of drama in this family system.” I suppose, applying the same cynical criteria, one would have to say that Jesus was the all time drama queen.
Can’t you just stay with me in this torment? Can we just be there, trusting God and the soul to figure things out? Respecting the power and presence of the Holy Spirit in the awesome autonomy of an individual life, while lifting up the candles of faith, hope, and love seem to be my task.
I fidget. I want to fix things, pass out band aids. Leaning over her shattered treasures, she tries to wire one sculpture back together, fashioning a frame of cardboard.
“We need some glue. I’ll get some glue,” I say. “Let’s go to the store and get some good glue.”
She refuses.
Finally I stop.
Several days later I ask about the box of jumbled shards on the porch. “Oh, I don’t care what you do with it,” she tells me, as she heads off with her eyes on new heights.
To love, to know passion, and bliss is also to have our hearts broken. I know of no way to get around this and anyone who tries to tell you different is a liar. To live, we must die. To touch transcendence and eternity is also to gaze upon and weep over the box of our own finitude, our broken handiwork, our illusions, and limited understanding. “Forget your perfect offering. There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in,” sings Leonard Cohen.
The man in the dark garden gets up. It is time, he says, to be broken.
It is time
for us to be made whole.

The birds they sang
at the break of day
Start again
I heard them say
Don’t dwell on what
has passed away
or what is yet to be.

Ah the wars they will
be fought again
The holy dove
She will be caught again
bought and sold
and bought again
the dove is never free.
Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in.
Leonard Cohen
Dear Hearts: Don’t give up. Don’t ever give up. For fun – A couple of video versions of Cohen’s Anthem.
You Tube: Cohen in concert singing Anthem
You Tube: Photo interpretation of Anthem
Read more about prayer at www.fromholyground.org
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Letting Go

leavesThe gold canopy outside my window has disappeared. For two weeks light, filtered and gilded by maple leaves, shed luster on the yellow carpet beneath. The luminous scene drew me into in a warm cocoon of whispering leaves. I listened to their stories of summer, their losses and gains, and their sweet good-byes.

Now stark branches make black scribbles on the wan blue sky. The dove perching with her head under her wing seems so exposed. The leaves on the ground curl like an old person’s hand, mottled and transparent. Only a few leaves remain on the branches, twisting in the wind, straining against their stems.

The season of letting go, of loosening one’s fastenings and sailing out into the unknown, comes round again. Too soon. A November nostalgia settles over me, that curious longing for lost opportunities and for what was, which, in retrospect, reveals those things, which were more important than you ever realized at the time. November – a time to disrobe, to remove what is no longer serviceable and send energy into the depths, the root of things.

Someone did something that really hurt my feelings. I have carried the wound for a week or two. It still smarts and brings tears when I take it out and look at it. I believe God is telling me to let it go, to have compassion for this person and her suffering. I don’t want to though. I wonder if there is something I need to listen to and learn from in the intensity of the pain. It is one of those situations where there is really little I can do, but move on with generosity and amnesia, until forgiveness moves in.

So, let’s turn back to the leaves. The word used to describe the process of a tree shedding its foliage is senescence – getting old. The eleventh month impresses upon us the reality of aging, of time running out, as the year winds down. As the days shorten, the green chlorophyll is destroyed and oranges and reds in the leaves are revealed. The tree is preparing for winter dormancy and draws all the nutrients in the leaves through the stems and down into the roots. The sugars and amino acids that are produced, instead of the chlorophyll dependent upon the sunlight, serve as a kind of antifreeze for the tree. leaves sky

At the place where a leaf stem fastens to a branch, there are two kinds of cells. The part of the stem attached to the branch contains waxy impermeable cells. These are called the bundle scar and contain the bud of next year’s leaf. The cells connected to the leaf itself are softer and snap easily in the wind and rain.

I watch a lone leaf near the top of my neighbor’s tree. It flutters, twists, turns in the wind, then releases itself and drops floating down through the huge dark limbs, finally settling lightly on the earth below like a sigh.

Oh to be drawn so gracefully by the tug of gravity into the arms of God’s providence. How glorious to ride the wind, to be tossed and blown. I think I should like to die in autumn or early winter, dropping like a late hanging leaf from a very tall tree. I am grateful to the leaves this year and their lesson to let go, to surrender, to fall, and come to rest at the foot of the tree of life. I am grateful, too, for bundle scars, that place that heals the wound of separation with the promise of new growth.

“Let go,” the leaves say as the wind sends them scuttling up the street under the moon. “Let go.”

Brown leaves

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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

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