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My blog on blogger has been hacked. The Apple technician, with a tendinitis, cannot help me at the moment. So I will attempt to post here and see how it goes.

Paul and I are just back from six weeks in Manresa, Spain, where we were invited to go deeper into Ignatius’ autobiography and spiritual diaries, the sources of his Spiritual Exercises and how they developed over his lifetime; some of his letters; the origins and foundation of the Society of Jesus; its first Companions; its voluminous archives (Monumenta); its Constitutions; and, finally, Ignatian spirituality for today. Add to this daily morning prayers and evening masses, an eight-day silent retreat the second week, and a walking tour of Manresa where Ignatius lived nine months in 1522-23 (there he prayed, fasted, worked, meditated, had visions, and fell sick…), and trips to Montserrat, Loyola, Javier, and Barcelona.

We were thirty-five participants from fourteen different countries (with large contingents from India, the Philippines, Australia, and the U.S.). Our youngest member turned 32 during the Course and the older participant was 76. A majority of men and Jesuits, some religious sisters, a few laypeople and just one couple, Paul and me.

The Course was made of seven modules, the second one being the silent retreat, with one transition day in-between each. Those days were meant to help us process all that had been given to us (e.g. the medieval origins of the Autobiography, connecting the Spiritual Exercises with mysteries in our faith; the personalities of Ignatius’ first companions; the importance of Juan de Polanco in the creation of the Society of Jesus, his importance as well in the writing of the Constitutions and Ignatius’ very unique style of participative management. Finally, the new cosmic theology and new ways of looking at Jesus’ teachings (e.g. table fellowship, inclusiveness and openness to sinners and marginalized folks).

Our lecturers are all University teachers, whether at the University of Barcelona, Javier Melloni SJ (a scholar and writer of many books, involved in inter-denominational dialogues); Jose García de Castro, from Comillas University in Madrid, with an insatiable love for archives and books, able to pass on his passion for old papers and the first Jesuits; Carlos Coupeau, SJ, from both Boston U. and the Gregorian University in Rome, who helped us understand the composition and intent of the Constitutions; and finally George Pattery SJ, from Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth in Pune, India, who introduced us to a cosmic vision of the Spiritual Exercises, bringing together Ignatius’s cosmic experience on the banks of the river Cardoner with Teilhard de Chardin’s very own understanding.

This time out-of-time was made possible thanks to the support and care of Josep Sugranyes SJ, the Director of the Course, Joachi Salord SJ a wonderful patient and ever smiling shepherd to us all, and Asun Puche, the Course’s feminine smile and intelligent presence.

Dear to everyone of us, as well,  were the women in the kitchen who fixed three meals a day and two snacks, making sure we could sustain those brains of ours so heavily taxed at times. Teams of us worked along them, clearing and setting tables, and drying dishes. Our Spanish improved at their side; we even caught a couple of Catalan words.

I come back with my head filled with images of young noble men giving up their wealth and station in life to walk thousands of miles across Europe, begging on the way, their hearts filled with love for Godde and her creation. Finding Godde in all things…

I think of the many women who helped Ignatius all throughout his life, the very first persons who were guided by him through his Spiritual Exercises, those who cared for him when he was on death’s doorsteps, who paid for his studies and his many journeys, many of these women asking him to become a Jesuit themselves.

My heart is filled with the graces of many moments, looking out to the mountains of Montserrat, inspired with a Spirit of openness, adventure, and longing. I catch myself humming songs sung every day or for special moments. I remember holding Ignatius’ begging bowl…

We drove home with boxes of books to read and a list of more to buy, papers and lectures to process and digest, a longing for prayer, quiet times, long walks, and notes to write.

Many times in Manresa I wondered what I had done to deserve such a blessing and grace to be there in the very place where he had prayed, met Mary and Jesus or understood the Trinity. I hope to share some insights received here, because I cannot stand the idea of keeping all this to myself.

Blessings and joy.

Photo: Statue of in Loyola, Ignatius wounded in the Battle of Pamplona, 

30 May 1521.

 

For the authentic meaning of “Election” in the process and dynamics of the Ignatian Exercises is a becoming aware in growing inner freedom of God’s personal design or plan for me, so that I can accept it profoundly in my life to live it out faithfully and generously. And what, I ask, is most radically — even more radically than my state of life — God’s personal plan and design for me if not my God-given uniqueness, my deepest and truest self, my personal vocation

Herbert Alphonso, SJ, Discovering Your Personal Vocation, the Search for Meaning through the Spiritual Exercises, Kindle, 76.

Early in this book, the author helps a Jesuit father whose prayer life has gone dry. He helps him discover that that his prayer life returns whenever he prays about the “goodness of God”, the very reason of his vocation. The personal vocation of this priest is in fact “the goodness of God.”

This story caught my attention because the word ‘vocation’ suddenly no longer meant what I thought it did. What could be “my Godde-given uniqueness, my deepest and truest self, my personal vocation”? My mind drew a huge blank and I wondered whether I would ever find out.

A year passed since I read those lines. A few days ago, the idea of my vocation came back and I had an intuition. This weekend, during our Ignatian retreat in Barranquitas I went for spiritual direction with Sr. María Milagros and asked her: “Do you think my vocation might be to love Godde?” “Yes, certainly,” she answered, as if surprised that I would ask the question.

For years now, I have been asking to love Godde with all my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind and with all my strength. I remember thirty years ago visiting an astrologer in Old Delhi and asking him whether I would ever be One with Godde. “The mere fact that you’re asking this question,” he replied, “shows that you’re already on your way.”

María Milagros pointed out that this becoming One with Godde was not for now, and that’s fine with me. That it will come is enough for me.

The idea that loving Godde is my vocation fills my heart with an incredible peace and a profound joy, even though I am not sure yet how to love Godde in a way pleasing to her. In todo amar y servir, wrote Ignatius. In all things, to love and to serve.

Last night, I had a DUH moment, when I remembered that in his Principle and Foundation, Ignatius wrote that “Man [and woman] is created to praise, reverence, and serve God our Lord, and by this means save our soul”… Or, as David Fleming, SJ, paraphrased it:

The Goal of our life is to live with God forever. God, who loves us, gave us life. Our own response of love allows God’s life to flow into us without limit…

Godde’s life to flow into me without limit… I have experienced this a couple of times.

Everyone of us receives the call to love Godde — to praise, reverence, and serve Her. What might sound trite to most folks echoes in my heart and spreads joy throughout my being.

Feeling called to love Godde in my daily life fills me with gratitude and hope, the hope that every little thing I may do in my day will be pleasing to the One who has created me. This love connection between Godde and me just enchants me.

Who would have thought? Life’s mysterious ways never fail to dazzle me.

Photo: Santosh Kumar Panday, Ghat in Varanasi (Do check his blog)

When we face a serious choice, we will try not to have made our minds up before we have to. We will be alert to having deep-seated prejudices and to making implied or even overt demands on God that the Lord crown our own self-originated choice with grace and happiness. On the contrary we set ourselves to live this way: We will wait when alternatives are emerging. We will try not to favor one over the others until we are clear whether God is telling us something.

Joseph Tetlow, SJ, Choosing Christ in the World

An Ignatian Book of Days, Jim Manney, 279

Last week, I received two books from Loyola Press, the one mentioned above and Charged with Grandeur, also by Jim Manney. I started reading them and am finding them both to be great Ignatian resources. I know they will be valuable companions on my journey.

The quote given here is the entry for September 28, about the time I received this book. It brings up the topic of discernment, which often befuddles my brain, because I tend to make decisions based on instinct rather than reflection.

Discernment, however, is the reason why, twenty years ago I signed for three weekends of Ignatian Discernment at the Cenacle in Geneva, Switzerland. I was putting the cart before the horse, wanting to find out about discernment without knowing first about Ignatian Spiritual Exercises. But I was driven to those weekends out of fear toward a looming possible future which I really did not want.

I wanted to find out about discernment to know how to look at a situation, see all its angles, and hopefully understand and reign in my fears (and, undoubtedly, avoid the final outcome).

A Jesuit father and a woman collaborator led us through three weekends of discernment, taking us through the main points and steps that Ignatius had discovered and elaborated upon.

One very important point came out during a question and answer session: Godde wants us to be happy and would not expect us to elect a path that would make us feel miserable. Huge sigh of relief here. The discovery that Godde wants my happiness was an incredible revelation. It had never crossed my mind until then. This became a landmark in my journey of faith and it changed my relationship with Godde. From then on, I could trust Her. This was, and still is, truly a very big deal.

A second point has remained with me: to pray and weigh in my heart the ins and outs of a decision, to choose being the good and the better, and in the end lifting the final decision up to Godde. This has helped me over the years letting go of something I think I truly want to happen or to do. “I would like to be able to do this. If it is not possible, O Godde, give me the grace to accept whatever comes.”

I may sound like I now know how to discern. I am not sure. I do not feel this way. I certainly lift my desires, wishes, hopes up to Godde. Do I truly wait for an answer or don’t I rather take my hunch for Her will?… As I look back over my life, I see that I was led to the good things that I have done. As to the sins I have committed and still fall into: “What I do, I do not understand. For I do not do what I want, but I do what I hate.” (Rom 7:16).

Anyway, all these thoughts and memories because I have just received An Ignatian Book of Days

Art: Andy Warhol, The Scream (after Munch)

For some time now, I have entered quiet times. I could call them simply ‘silence’ but I am no expert in silence, an apprentice at best, a dilettante too often. I write this as I am facing one of my favorite places: the Atlantic Ocean and the vast expanse of the sky facing our patio in viejo San Juan. I have spent many happy hours here staring at my sisters the waves and and my brothers the clouds.

How can I talk of quiet times when in fact these are busy days when I can neither linger nor lounge the way I like to? Because my busyness comes wrapped in layers of inner silence, a silence in which I revel. By day and by night.

I have already written about this feeling of being called to silence. Well, this call seems to come ever stronger.

The silence of my blog is due more to my busyness than to silence itself. I have accepted the reality that, at this time, I usually do not have enough space in the day to be with my family, study the French highway code (quite a challenge), prepare for a retreat in Barranquitas, and spend time writing a blog.

Also, I am aware that in two months from now I will have started a thirty day retreat and will find myself unable to blog for a while. If I add my quiet times, the silence forever enticing me more, and the prospect of thirty days in Manresa, all my being truly wants to do, when it finds a quiet moment, is to sit and soak in the world around me.

It is a bit as if I were sitting in the palm of Godde’s hands, absorbing the warmth and love of Her presence, as She is watching me…

It does not mean that I don’t react to what I hear or read. I am still as judgmental and opinionated as before. The silence either muffles my reactions or makes them feel rather unimportant considering the well-being I am experiencing in the depth of my being.

Maybe I am just growing mellow in my old age. Maybe what really counts is the authenticity of love I encounter around me, among my family and friends, with simultaneously becoming aware of wanting to open my heart to the whole world in a quiet sort of way… Maybe it’s just the silence before a change, the gestation before a new birth…

Some of the books I have recently been reading:

Richard Rohr’s Immortal Diamond: The Search for Our True Self

Robert Sardello’s Silence, The Mystery of Wholeness

Franz Jalics SJ’s The Contemplative Way: Quietly Savoring God’s Presence

Richard Rohr’s Silent Compassion, Finding God in Contemplation

Photo: A Patio with a View

 

To my friend Christine, at Girl on Fire who is bringing to us Kintsugi Dance

Kintsugi (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. (Wikipedia)

… the very failures and radical insufficiency of our lives are what lead us into large life and love. … It is our mistakes that lead us to God. We come to divine union not by doing it right but by doing it wrong, as we all most surely do.

Richard Rohr, Immortal Diamond: the Search for Our True Self, Kindle loc. 2534.

A kintsugi pot usually looks like this:

 

The first time I heard of kintsugi was at Barefoot Toward the Light. Whatever I write today about kintsugi, therefore, is not original, but building onto thoughts I have already come across.

Christine’s new endeavor, a new dance class based on “emotionally and spiritually therapeutic movement art for all bodies”, drove me this morning to search Tumblr for additional pictures of kintsugi. When I came upon the one opening this post, I suddenly realized that this is the way everyone of us looks, whether we know it or not.

Each one of us has been wounded, has felt broken, has experienced self-hatred for dumb mistakes and dark sins, and possibly even dislikes one’s body because it does not look the way the media says it should look.

Until now, when I tried to imagine how Godde sees the people with whom I have problems and wondered how Godde sees us, I used to expect that each of us stands in the light, light ourselves, transfigured, resurrected like the One who came to show us the way. We are Her temple and unique work of art.

But the kintsugi image brings a more realistic image, conjuring the journey of our lifetime, our vulnerability, brokenness, the paths we lost, the wrong turns we took. Those golden strings are the marks of our humanity. St Ignatius says that we are ‘beloved sinners.’ And lovable, we are.

Possibly Godde’s love is the gold keeping me together… This love deep within, longing to love me and to be loved back.

I don’t think I will ever look at myself in a mirror, or at others in daily life, without remembering the young beautiful woman on the picture above. How different our world would be if we could all see one another as a kintsugi being…

May each one of us see our beauty in our brokenness…

Blessings.

Art: based on a a print by Hashiguchi Goyo (Wikipedia), found here.

     When we are not afraid to confess our own poverty, we will be able to be with other people in theirs.  The Christ who lives in our own poverty recognises the Christ who lives in other people’s.   Just as we are inclined to ignore our own poverty, we are inclined to ignore others’.  We prefer not to see people who are destitute, we do not like to look at people who are deformed or disabled, we avoid talking about people’s pains and sorrows, we stay away from brokenness, helplessness, and neediness.

     By this avoidance we might lose touch with the people through whom God is manifested to us.  But when we have discovered God in our own poverty, we will lose our fear of the poor and go to them to meet God.

Henri Nouwen

Two days ago, I circulated this quote to a group of friends. We had been discussing getting involved with homeless and very poor folks. Some of us felt strongly that we should only deal people of our own kind, people with a certain amount of means. Dealing with homeless or very poor people would be too much of a challenge.

Yesterday morning, Paul and I returned to viejo San Juan where we lived for many years and worked alongside homeless and drug-addicts at Las Duchas, in La Perla. We regularly come across ‘participants’ whom we have known and who are still around. We also notice new ‘clients’ but we are only passing through and rarely take the time to get to know them the way we did before.

Walking up from the parking lot of Doña Fela, we crossed Pedro, lost in his thoughts, miles away from where he was. We hailed him and exchanged a few words, but he obviously was on a quest and we walked on.

At the next intersection, in his wheelchair, talking with a man from the electrical company standing by the big white company truck, was Jorge, whom we have known as long as we have lived in viejo San Juan. His beard has gone grayer and longer (he must be twenty years younger than we are). He has grown thinner. He was the second person to take a shower that October morning in 2001, right after Padre Jimmy, the pastor of San Francisco church then, had taken his own. Since that day, thousands of showers have been taken at Las Duchas, and scores of folks have died, of an overdose, of drug abuse, having been killed by a human hand or an illness. But Jorge hangs in there. It is a miracle that he has not lost a leg, or both; he has been shooting heroin for as long as I have known him. I have helped the doctor clean his ulcers. We have thought several times that he was going to die. But he hasn’t.

He had his toothless smile when he saw us. We stopped for a few moments, joked with him and the electricity worker. A young man appeared of nowhere with a small plastic bag filled with clean clothes: he handed it to Jorge. The electricity truck had blocked the street for some repairs, so we could have spent more time with Jorge. We could have asked him how he was doing, or if we could help him get some breakfast. But I fled. I could not cope with the abyss of needs I saw in him. I fled, knowing right away that I was fleeing. Jesus would have stayed with Jorge. Jesus stays with me — always.

At the end of the morning, time came to return to the parking lot. On the small plaza facing Starbucks, we came across Wilfredo, an old blind man, bent forward at the waist, jiggling a few coins in his paper cup to attract the attention of passers-by. I walked up to him, gave him something, and told him who I was, where we had met (Las Duchas, of course). This is when he told me, Dios te bendiga. Godde bless you.

Each time someone from the street blesses me, I feel it is Jesus himself saying it to me, because He knows I know that the beggar and I are the same and He loves us both for it.

Next time I go back to viejo San Juan, I will not flee when I meet Jorge. I will give him the time that Godde would give me, and when I leave him, it will be my turn to tell him, Dios te bendiga, because I am certainly a beggar too.

In His name.

Art: On the Run, Tracey Chan. Found here.

At once Jesus spoke to them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.”
Peter said to him in reply,
“Lord, if it is you, command me to come to you on the water.”
He said, “Come.”
Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water toward Jesus.
But when he saw how strong the wind was he became frightened;
and, beginning to sink, he cried out, “Lord, save me!”
Immediately Jesus stretched out his hand and caught Peter,
and said to him, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” 

Mt 14:22-33

 Before I address today’s gospel, I would like to share one of my very favorite stories of Anthony de Mello, entitled “We are three, you are three” (The Song of the Bird, 72-73).

It is about a bishop stopping…

at a remote island for a day… who comes across three fishermen who explain to him that centuries before they have been Christianized by missionaries…

The bishop was impressed. Did they know the Lord’s Prayer? They had never heard of it. The bishop was shocked.

What do you say then when you pray?

“We lift eyes in heaven. We pray, ‘We are three, we are three, have mercy on us.’ The bishop was appalled at the primitive, the downright heretical nature of their prayer. So he spent the whole day teaching them the Lord’s Prayer… Before he sailed away he had the satisfaction of hearing them going through the whole formula without a fault.

Months later, the bishop sailed by the same island and recalled with pleasure the three men on that distant island who were now able to pray thanks to his patient efforts… While he was lost in the thought, he happened to look up and noticed a spot in the east. 

The light kept approaching the ship and, as the bishop gazed in wonder, he saw three figures walking on the water. The captain stopped the boat and everyone leaned over the rails to see this sight.

When they were within speaking distance, the bishop recognized his three friends, the fishermen. “Bishop!” they exclaimed. “We hear your boat go past island and come hurry hurry meet you.”

“What is it you want want?” asked the awe-stricken bishop.

“Bishop,” they said, “we so, so sorry. We forget lovely prayer. We say, ‘Our Father in heaven, holy be your name, your kingdom come…’ then we forget. Please tell us prayer again.”

The bishop felt humbled. “Go back to your homes, my friends,” he said, and each time you pray, say ‘We are three, you are three, have mercy on us!'”

These three fishermen had perfected the art of walking on water. They felt no doubt, unlike Peter, their forefather.

As Paul and I were reading the gospel this morning, we each found a line that touched us more than any other. Paul was struck by the sinking of Peter; I noticed his call to Jesus, ‘if it is you, then command me…’ Peter had to make sure it was truly Jesus walking on the water and not just any ghost. Once he was certain, he began to walk and instead of keeping his eyes on Jesus, he looked at the raging see, got scared, and started sinking.

We all know the story. It caught our imagination the first time we heard it in catechism class. Since then, every time it is read, we are waiting to find out how the priest will spin the story to inspire us.

As we were reflecting on the passage, I suddenly realized how grateful I am to Peter for being so human, for my being so like him. Thank you, Peter, I exclaimed. I could see the waves, hear the wind, smell the salted air, feel the darkness all around. After all these years of having read it and heard it and prayed it, I was there with them on the boat. In illo tempore… Peter looked at me with a kind smile for thanking him. Truly, we are all in the same boat together. The two thousand years keeping us apart have been erased. We are indeed all part of Jesus’ followers. We belong to Him.

I don’t expect to ever achieve the art of walking on water. I wonder what’s the most difficult, to walk on water or to be kind to others, feed the hungry, clothe the naked…

In His name.

Illustration: Philipp Otto Runger, Christus auf dem Meere wandelnd, 1806-7

 

 

     Practicing gratitude increases our appreciation for life. It brings balance to those parts of the self that have cultivated attachment to our suffering, causing us to feel victimized by life, making God’s imagined dial tone all too appealing. Although we might suspect that gratitude would cause us to tarry, to grasp at more, it actually potentiates our letting go into life and death with an open heart.

Gratitude is the highest form of acceptance. Like patience, it is one of the catalytic agents, one of the alchemist’s secrets, for turning dross to gold, hell to heaven, death to life. Where there is gratitude we get the teaching. Where there is resistance we discover only that it keeps us painfully ignorant. Of course, if we had enough acceptance to explore our nonacceptance, if we learned nothing but that resistance amplified our suffering, we would be eternally grateful.

We cannot feign gratitude any more than we can pretend forgiveness. Gratitude is a way of seeing, of being. It is a response from our innate wisdom to our accumulated confusion. It is the luminous ground on which we plant our temporary feet.

Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to live this year as if it were your last. (94)

This past week, a good friend of mine tagged me on Facebook suggesting to post three things for which I am grateful for five days. I could have ignored the invitation, but in fact I liked it and did what was suggested. In the process, I found new reasons to be grateful, — for which I am grateful.

It seems that I need to experience my own inner poverty to be really able to recognize all that life gives to me. Not only life’s gifts, but also life’s wisdom: I am slowly coming to see how important the challenging times I went through have been; I’m nearly tempted to say that my bad times were a good thing in a way.

Take the book quoted above. I read it sixteen years ago when I sensed that breast cancer was hovering over me. It taught me the ABC of forgiveness and gratefulness. I say the ABC because I am a slow learner. I find it easier to be grateful than forgiving, as if a small devil inside of me had fun raking me over the coals of bitterness for some wrongs done to me decades ago.

Gratitude is a key to a door leading to parts of my psyche which would remain hidden to me otherwise. It is a grace then, a gift granted by Godde when I give up control over my life.

Today, while typing the quote, I sensed that it was also fitting be grateful “for me”, for what the life energy flowing through my body, this breath which I share with the Divine, allows me to experience, to live, to receive from and give back to the cosmos.

Continuing on the experiment I started five days ago, today I am grateful for the breath of Godde which sustains me, creating me anew every moment and keeping me alive, safe, well and surrounded with people I love and who love me.

Finally, I thank you, Jane, my FB friend, for having been such a channel of grace to me, — one more reason for which to be grateful!

 

Illustration: Ernest H. Shepherd for A.A. Milne

(Thanks to Mel for this information)

 

… My home, my husband, my children, my friends, my enemies, my background, my degrees, my career, my money, my car, my health, my stress, my hangups, my wounds, my sins, my fears, my travels, my journey, my hopes, my analyst, my spiritual director, my charities, my intelligence, my wisdom, my spiritual life, my Godde. Mine, mine, mine. All mine…

These thoughts have been weighing on my mind, “my mind”, more than usual, possibly because I have been reading this —

The truth that sets us free is knowing that we do not proceed from a whim coming out of nowhere, by chance or out of a necessity, but from a source of unspeakable love, constant and unending, which Jesus experienced as flowing from a depth which he called Abba. Knowing that we come from such an Origin opens us to a trust and freedom ever-ready to begin. From this truth flows freedom because it reveals to us that existence is a pure gift given for the sake of giving. What prevents us from being free is the fear of losing ourselves. We live clinging to everything without knowing it, in a state of shock. If we find out that life is a gift, we have nothing to lose, because we’ve never owned it. We are only its steward. To live this way frees us. But this truth, which is freedom, is elusive and is awaiting to unfold in a multitude of situations and nuances: in the complex entanglements with ourselves, in our relationships of domination over or dependence on others, in the meaning we give to our beliefs and codes of behavior that we have learned to restrain ourselves, creating both personal and collective identities in which we remain constricted. Frequently we remain caught up in all this instead of being the wings which give us the impulse to rise toward greater horizons.

Javier Melloni, El Cristo Interior, 65-66

Yesterday’s gospel was the treasure buried in a field (Mt 13:44-46). That treasure is Godde’s love for me, not even “my” love for Godde, this Origin of love and grace, gratuitous giving, this horizon calling the Godde hidden in me toward the everlasting Godde everywhere.

My stuff is in the way until I can give it all back to the One who has given it all to me.

Photo: found here.

Transformation through immersion and consciousness depends on our capacity to be penetrated by the Mystery of Christ. Our being, our substance, must be porous in order for the Mystery to enter, to penetrate. That is the crux of the matter. It is not enough simply to be immersed in… life. We must let ourselves be plowed so that the furrows of our person become deeper and deeper, so that our earth becomes softer and softer. This is something our being craves, but this plowing is kenosis [emptying, the death which must precede new life, rebirth] and kenosis is not easy. In the measure that our being becomes porous, open, grace can penetrate us. Depth is possible. Transformation is possible. Thus an ever deepening penetration by the Mystery can fill us with spiritual being.

Jean-Marie Howe, “Cistercian Monastic Life/Vows: A Vision”, 367 (7)

People’s Companion to the Breviary, 174

 As I read this excerpt the other night before going to sleep, I felt happy to come across the word kenosis once again. Those who pass through this blog may remember that I discovered this word during our six-week course in Manresa, Spain, last year. From then on, I have heard like a call to move toward that state of emptying.

I am not sure whether one ever develops “the capacity to be penetrated by the Mystery of Christ.” Or maybe I do by learning not to fight this penetration, a penetration which until not long ago came against my will.

Isn’t it odd that I am afraid of what will be good for me in the end?

I have been thinking a bit about this “plowing effect”. I can see now that all those times of suffering in my life, when I felt no control whatsoever on what was happening to me and wondered when, if ever, my heart would finally break from so many assaults against and ramming into it, those were not times when I was plowed so that my earth would become softer and gentler, kinder and more patient, letting go of that control which takes me nowhere.

Life is pure gift, write Javier Melloni in El Cristo Interior. We’ve never owned it, we are just stewards, so it should be easy to give it back. The Origin which gifted it to us is infinite, endless, constant… It labors within me, against my own will so often, toward this vision of complete embrace and surrender.

It is one thing to understand this with my mind, to long for it with my heart, while feeling an animal fear of it in every muscle of my being. I cannot make it happen. I can only open myself to it, every day, a little bit at a time, if at all, learning to welcome the fear, the unknown, the anticipated pain, all the while feeling the amused and loving gaze of the One who has all the time in the world.

Photo: On the way to Santiago some years back.

Those who are seized by the peace of Christ and who preserve peace in their hearts, radiate peace, give witness to peace and cooperate as much as possible in making peace attainable, are assured of great beatitude. “They shall be called sons and daughters of God” (Mt 5:9). They reveal themselves as genuine brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace. They find security and joy in God. For them it is happiness to lead people to God’s peace, and to peace among themselves. “The [Kindom] of heaven is theirs,” for the [kindom] of God is justice, peace, and joy, inspired by the Holy Spirit” (Rom 14:17).

Bernard Häring, The Healing Power of Peace and Nonviolence, 23, (1)

quoted in the People’s Companion to the Breviary, 150

I read this excerpt last night before I went to sleep and it made sense to me. It may be because I had just read a short chapter on Mt 6:33, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his justice” in Javier Melloni’s El Cristo Interior. There, Melloni wrote,

“A Kingdom, maluk, that the Jews identified as the Great Shalom, the arrival of a peace that encompasses various areas: the personal, the family, the community, the political and also the cosmic, where everything returns to its original innocence. Jesus announces the arrival of the Kingdom, but it requires a complete conversion. Because this Kingdom is not only the culmination of all longings, but their transformation. The Kingdom which he announces is a state of communion with humanity and nature, where the identity of each does not usurp that of the others, rather it makes it possible, and where each existence is a channel for the others because they know they all are part of the divine energy: a continuous creating and begetting, a constant impulse to be.” (55,56)

In a way then, the Kingdom, its peace, its Shalom is a state of mind, a presence of heart, a willingness to be open to the flow of life, whatever it may bring.

Peace is a relevant theme today. I noticed it in my friend Fran’s blog this morning. I feel particularly touched by the current struggle in Palestine, between Israel and Gaza. I have friends adamantly for each opposing side. The only thing I can do is to open my heart to the sad state of each party, breathing in war and breathing out peace.

Finally,  my inbox today had an e-mail with a quote from Joseph Campbell,

“Today the planet is the only proper “in-group”. Participate joyfully in the sorrows of the world. We cannot cure the world of sorrows, but we can choose to live in joy.”

Joy seems an ever-receding goal sometimes, but holding sorrows in my heart and allowing them to touch it and mold it and open it ever more will do for the time being. Until joy comes…

 

Art: Pablo Picasso, Peace Dove. Found here.

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