Tag: meditation

Peace

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It is your innerness

that is revealed

.

As the ripples of action

cease

.

The silence irradiates

a new mystery

.

And the spirit knows

peace.

peace spiritknows SFS

Spiritual Reflection: Delight, and Meditate

Spiritual Reflection: Delight, and Meditate

 

Learning to read in a meditative way is a skill, an art, and a way of spiritual growth.

It used to be called “Lectio Divina” – a way of pondering a short text to allow all of its secrets to be open gently to the meditating mind.

We are so used to skim reading today – news, images, websites, emails – that there is a great danger we skim read life

We can skim and skate on the surface and never get to the heart of things.  We can completely miss the depths.

But blessed are those who delight and meditate.

Gerard Hughes in “God of Surprises” says meditative reading is like sucking a sweet. Let the tastes go round your mouth. Don’t rush it, crunch the sweet and swallow it quickly.  Take your time.  Let your mind dream and spin out ideas starting from the phrase.  If it goes too far away, bring it back to the phrase.  Start by making yourself do it for 30 seconds, then a minute, then maybe a bit more.

Start with some favourite or well known phrases:

“Our Father”

“The Lord is my shepherd”

“God is love”

You could try meditating on a short phrase in the morning, and sometimes one in the evening, too.  You may find that the phrase comes back to you during the day, or during the next day, and then you find yourself thinking some more, and seeing still further depths you had not noticed before…

If you try meditative reading, I hope that you will find delight, you will be able to meditate, and that you will learn about the depths that our lives and this universe has to offer.

 

The Spiritualities of Christianity – Lectio Divina

“Lectio Divina” is a method of transcending “paralysis by analysis”, and it can be very exciting for people today to discover a totally new way of reading a spiritual text.

“Lectio” used to be practised by monks hundreds of years ago, and was a method of prayerfully reading the Bible.

It is not skimming, or scanning, the way we often read email and websites.

It is deals with text in short “bite-sized chunks”.

But the real genius of lectio is that we are advised and guided to focus our minds on a short piece of text in a kind of meditation.

A section in “God of Surprises” by Gerard Hughes, explains it:

The process is analogous to sucking a boiled sweet…Often a phrase will catch the attention of the subconscious mind’s needs long before our conscious mind is aware of the reason for the attraction…remain with the phrase for as long as possible without trying to analyse it.”

Practically speaking, I have found that a good way of doing this is to try to “learn” a phrase that I have come across, by repeating it several times.

I then let my mind freely associate, play with, and wonder about the phrase.

I will try to give an example in my next post…

The Stepping Stones to Eternity

This sequence was inspired by St. Bonaventure’s work, ‘Journey of the Mind to God’.

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I came upon his words

and set my mind to understanding

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how the world could teach me

the mystery of God…

steppingstones toeternity JTG1

I had heard of nature

as the book of God

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But never had the notion

rooted deep in my mind

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Now I was confronted

by the words of a saint

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For whom this was a grace

to be received

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A journey to God

through the vestiges

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Of his glory

in the living universe…

gloryliving universe JTG1

So let us begin

with the beginning

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The source of all

from whom streams all

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Energy

matter

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Being

all of creation

allenergy JTG1

The Father

of lights

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From whom is every good

and perfect gift

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We pray to the Father

the invisible one

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to enlighten our mind

in the ways of peace

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which surpass

all humankind

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We pray

to the God

.

of beginnings

and the Father of all

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That from eternity

somehow our understanding

.

even if slowly

perhaps imperceptibly

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As our eyes adjust

gradually

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to the dawning light

will grow

We do not know

who else may be praying

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for us at this time

perhaps many people

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perhaps no-one on earth

but heaven may be inclining

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even now

and whispering in the ear

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Remember Francis

who greeted in peace

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Announced peace before all

prayed in ecstasy for peace

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Following the man of peace

we worship

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Whose honour was

nailed to a post

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in spite of all the love

and the healing he gave

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For Francis, grace came

in a revelation

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of meaning

of vision

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For me it is gleaned

from these words

.

in another tongue

in the soaring of contemplation

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to be still

silent

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attentive

pondering over and over

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to consider and take to heart

a truth for today

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To escape

the merely active life

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And dwell

in imagination

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Allowing God

to brush the spirit

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with the Spirit

of Consolation

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His call is to pass beyond

to peace

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Through the most ardent love

of the crucified

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Like Paul

who was raised

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to the highest heaven

yet nailed to the cross

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the heart of Christ

beating within

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Francis bore the signs

of the passion

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On his body

in his soul

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For us to follow

devote ourselves

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To the suffering saviour

so spurned today

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In prayer

I throw my heart

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at his feet

and wonder why

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it must be this way

Heaven is silent

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yet images of crucifixion

linger in the mind

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I realise the hidden faith

of love giving himself

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again and again

stretching out

.

offering an open heart

which is lashed by an evil world

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No other way

has this man at the centre

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The crossroads

the X that marks

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the new beginning

the intersection

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of heaven

and humanity

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Incarnation

in a tortured death

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How strange

yet how universal

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There are stages of illumination

and they say

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We must very often return

to our beginning

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as we grow our wings

like the seraph Francis saw

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who pierced his soul so tenderly

there are stages of progression

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as we climb heavenwards in heart

from creation to Creator

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from nature to nothing

we can imagine

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And we enter by this door

to find pasture

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and the tree of life

it is by prayer

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that our desire is kindled

prayer and the mind

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turning intensely to God

who is our light

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So the first call

is to prayer

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and that through the crucified Christ

for the spiritual life

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does not consist merely

in study or meditation

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there must also be fervour and devotion

wonder

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joy

grace

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humility

and love

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To any who are disposed

to seek for grace in all humility

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To those with the desire

for wisdom

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Who wish to glorify

saviour God

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These words are meant

remembering that the soul herself

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Must first be cleansed

if the eyes are to see

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Beyond the window of the world

to look to God

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Exercise your heart

in reading these things

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as well as your mind

take your time

.

for these words

are the stepping stones

.

To

Eternity.

 

Contemplative Spirituality

What is contemplative spirituality?

It’s similar to meditation.  It can involve silence.  It involves stillness and waiting.

It is about the inner world but also the world around us.

It is also about what can’t be seen.

I first learnt about contemplative spirituality from reading The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila.  The describes the soul being like a diamond or like a castle.  Suddenly what was inside me had dignity and value.  What was inside me was worth exploring!

I learnt that sometimes we can experience an inner “consolation” – a feeling of comfort, of pleasure, of peace – though this is not always to expected, and is not to be sought for its own sake.

As I read more, I learnt how contemplative spirituality can involve prayer, and that this prayer can take place outside in the open air, in woods, in caves, anywhere.   I was reading The Little Flowers of St. Francis.

Then I learnt that contemplation is mysterious.  God both is and is not what we think.  I learnt about apophatic and kataphatic theology (I may post on these at another time).  I learnt about “the dark night” as I read St. John of the Cross.  I learnt of the trials and tribulations of contemplation as I read about some of the Desert Fathers and Mothers.

Coming up to the present day, I learnt about new movements.  “Julian Prayer” groups, named after Julian of Norwich, who meet to pray in silence.  I learnt about Quakers, whose silence is an essential part of their spirituality.  I learnt about “centring prayer”, a concept that developed from The Cloud of Unknowing.

Contemplation, contemplative prayer, and contemplative spirituality, is very much alive and of interest to all kinds of people today.  It has been an important tradition for Christians, as it has also been an important tradition for those of other faiths.

Today, silence is an important part of being human for me.  Without silence, my life lacks depth and meaning.

Silence enables me to think,

Silence helps me listen.

In silence, I sometimes worship.  And I can pray.

I wonder if contemplative spirituality is something that has ever interested you?

The Spiritualities of Christianity – Creation Spirituality

Serious challenges to faith in God today come from atheism (belief that no God exists) and secular materialism (belief that only material substance exists).  What I call “creation spirituality”, stands in opposition to these challenges for several reasons.

Firstly, atheism and secular materialism can create huge doubts in the minds of people about the purpose and meaning of their lives.  If human beings are merely the random outworkings of scientific principles, then what is the point of life? 

Yet a focus on the idea of creation makes me appreciate that life has a supernatural source, that the universe has a purpose and a meaning, and that every person who has ever lived, and who ever will live, has something unique about them  – we are all special “creations” – of our biological parents, of course, but even more importantly, of a supernatural parent whom I know as God.

And then there is the whole issue of nature, the world and the universe.  Is it a cold, unfeeling universe that we inhabit that cares nothing whether we continue in existence or are extinguished as a species?  What is the point of the birds, the trees, the flowers, the clouds, the hills, the mountains, the skies and the stars? Why do we respond to them the way that we do?

What I call “creation spirituality” answers these questions.  “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth”.  I respond to nature – to creation – because I, like creation, am created.  “God saw all that he had made and it was very good”.  The world around us can be dangerous and destructive of human life; but it is also a daily blessing, and we depend on our environment for survival, as we could not live without oxygen, water and food.

There is no one historical thread of spirituality we can identify as “creation spirituality” but for me, living today in our 21st century world, a spirituality that has a clear focus on human beings as significant creations, the earth as a unique creation and the universe as an awe-inspiring context for life, is essential for living with purpose, meaning and some daily joy.

Image by Filip Vincůrek from Pixabay