Religion is fundamentally a sense of awe.
If you do not transform your pain, you will most assuredly transmit it.
It is beautiful, exciting, and surprising to live life open and receptive to the virginal newness of the present moment.
I love that description.
Every moment is pregnant with meaning, gift, and communication from our Creator. (The virginal newness of the present moment is pregnant…hmm)
But we miss it if we are not open and receptive to it, living in childlike expectancy of what it may bring and how we might be awed.
The same is true of people we encounter. There is so much they offer in the virginal newness of the present moment. We do our fellow person such a disservice, a dishonor, by meeting them in the present with our boring and extremely unfair relegations of the past. For no one is who they were even a month ago, let alone years ago.
Do you remember what we talked about concerning the brain memory stuff earlier in the year? (What a provocative question now that I think about it) Our brains are constantly updating information, experiences, memories, and making sense of them–formatting who we are and progressing in how we think. You ever read a book for a second time a couple of years after the first reading? You read it quite differently don’t you? Because you are a different you. Your brain is different. Heck your epidermis is completely different than the one you had just 30 days ago!
Unfortunately we are conditioned in this culture to be quite judgmental and to label someone for life based on one thing they said or did, or for a lifestyle they were living at one period. We define people by how they treated us in 1996 or how they voted in 2003. How sad. How pathetic. Each person is who they are right now. And you won’t be able to see that unless you see them for who they are right now. In the virginal newness of the present moment. Listening. Open. Receptive.
Think of all the thought and interaction that goes into one day of your life, heck even one hour. It’s incredible. How would like someone to define you by what you were like for one month back in ’07? You’re simply not that person anymore, are you? You think differently. You see differently.
May we see each person with openness and receptivity in the virginal newness of the present moment.
Scripture is not God, but a privileged place to meet God. However, one must pay attention to Scripture in the same way that in the contemplation of nature one has to pay attention to trees or sunsets or mountains. One must have a contemplative attitude toward Scripture, let the Scriptures be themselves, listen to them, and ask that God reveal self while we are listening.
-William Barry & William Connolly
Listen to the person who listens to God.
Child, you cannot have perfect freedom unless you wholly renounce yourself.
All those who are ruled by self-interest and self-love are chained by their own desires. They crave possessions; they are inquisitive and unsettled, always seeking their own ease and not the things of Jesus Christ; they are often planning and devising things that will not last.
For all that is not of God will come to nothing.
Take this brief and perfect word: Forsake all and you will find all, forsake desires of the flesh and you will find great rest.
Imprint well on your mind what I have said, for when you have put it in practice, you will fully understand.
Lord, this is not the work of one day, nor is it child’s play! Rather, in this short word is included the entire perfection of the Religious.
-Thomas a Kempis
How much defensiveness against discomfort underlies both the neglect of Sabbath keeping and the strict Sabbath keeping that dodges relationship by focusing on rules and prohibitions?
The LORD is my shepherd; I have all that I need.
Last week, I was with a couple of friends, sitting outside on that beautiful 74 degree November day, meditating on John 10:1-10 together. That is the passage where Jesus says, “I am the gate.”
It is a beautiful passage with very deep meaning, yet I drifted into La La Land as I sat back and looked up at the sky. I noticed the tree tops against the rich blue background swaying peacefully in the gentle breeze. And I became overwhelmed with a sense of God’s goodness and providence.
Do you ever have those moments when you stop, or are stopped, and it just hits you? The overwhelming reality of God?
This was one of those moments.
I’m looking at these trees and sky and realizing, “God made a beautiful world.” Everything He made is so good, and is a wonderful, gracious gift. Including the gift of our very lives. It is we who mess it up. It is on us when we do not enjoy what He has given, because we fail to love Him sincerely with our whole heart or we succeed at wronging our fellow human. We are unhappiest when we do not live according to God’s ways set out for us.
And this led me to, “We have everything we need.” I felt such peace and contentedness, seeing clearly what is real, what is true–we have everything we need at very moment.
Think about it. At any point of my day, I can ask myself, “What do I need right now that I do not have?” At any point when I’m feeling down, frustrated, angry, etc., I can stop, breathe, and ask myself, “What do I need right now to be happy?” If I’m honest with myself, the answer is “Nothing. You have all you need already.”
A few weeks back, sitting in the quiet, I heard Jesus say to me, “You have everything you need at every moment because you have Me.”
The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing.
So lately, I’ve been taking my thoughts captive whenever they start to wander somewhere unhealthy, and asking myself, “What do I need right now?” Or as a successful rugby coach trained his players to “W.I.N.” all the time, he had them stop and ask “What’s Important Now?” What do I most need to be doing (or thinking) right now? This keeps you in the NOW, as well as focused upon what is most important within it.
I think part of maturing is needing less and less in your day to go your way in order to have a good day. If we are constantly frustrated with things not going as we’d like, we are being like a child aren’t we? Isn’t this how children behave? Throwing a fit because something didn’t go as they wanted?
We have been given the gift of free will and power over our thoughts, but it must be exercised. You can stop and take your thoughts captive at any moment. It may take some practice due to old habits and conditioning, but it can be done. Everyday can be seen and experienced as gift….if you so choose.
To the extent that we do not take authority over our thoughts, something or someone else will.
My assumption would be that human beings attract other human beings to the same level of awareness–just by being, as St. Iranaeus puts it, “fully alive.” This inherent attraction, and not the self-promotion of my ideas versus your ideas, is how we must “fish” inside of religion.
It comes down to this: transformed people transform people.