“It ís those between-places, the closing of one door and the indistinct threshold of you-know-not-what-yet that stir up debris usually settled along the dusty path of consciousness.” Susan Guthrie
Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. A. Einstein
There have been so many references to thresholds lately in my reading and thoughts that I wanted to comment briefly on the threshold of the darkness of suffering. The illusion we have is that dark corners of understanding, the dark places of suffering from whatever it may be, tell us that we are without hope; we are not fully advanced as a “human being.” It is during those very dark predicaments of life wherein the “dust” or debris of past illusions can get swept up into our limited focus we have at the time.
St. John of the Cross explained how light is really darkness. It is in a dark room when some light is entered that we see not light but dust and debris floating round in the mist. The unseen light reveals the debris, the dust. As light of understanding emerges ever so slightly in our dark moments of understanding or times of suffering, we don’t recognize the light at all rather we begin to see the dust and debris the illusions of our thinking, the illusions of our ill founded faith in the belief that we are to become more human. The belief that being a true “human being” is the ultimate goal of the journey of life. It is this belief that humanity at its best is the ultimate reality. This idea that we are on a journey to become “human,” or ” perfectly human,” has been generated by many theologians.
I see this is as an illusionary faith. St. Peter was expressed this kind of faith in his fellow mankind, when he refused to think or accept the fact that his great all powerful and wise Teacher would be put to death by the authorities especially the church authorities. His All Wise Teacher tells him his faith was ill placed! He calls this kind of thinking as being associated with “Satan!” The opposite of Life giving thinking. He is pointing to Peter telling him it isn’t in being more humanly kind, or in trusting in human kindness, wisdom, or justice, rather one’s faith is to be placed in the “unknown” the dark light of following the steps into suffering from the humanity to find the true Life eternal. This is so obtuse to human thinking and still is today! A completer reversal of our modern prosperity, live to find happiness, et cetera.
This is place of darkness is a threshold we all are brought to many times over in our journey of living among our fellow humanity and world existence. Do we let the True Light reveal the “dust’ of our illusionary faith and then repent? Are willing to turn and let the suffering, the disgrace of following the kindness, the true justice of our Teacher be our guide? Can the debris be cleansed and removed? Jesus says Yes! Follow him to the cross carrying our own cross.
This is so against my humanity. Only can God give me the Spirit to follow Him. Come and get me oh True Light, reveal the debris in my life, let me follow into the night, but help me!
On a morning daily walk with Suzi, my Shih Tzu doggie, here in The Shores, we crossed paths with a young mother pushing a stroller along with her little son who was my guess about four. The little boy lifted up his hand holding a little bright yellow toy semi-truck smiling and saying…”see?” I commented “isn’t that a beauty!” As they continued walking closer he stopped and held it up again. I smiled. Then surprising both me and his mother who looked astonished, he took two steps toward me and slowly put his arms all around me and then just held me tight! It was amazingly tender! His mother’s mouth dropped and then smiled proudly and I was smiling as our eyes met in the joyful wonder of it all. He held me for a full minute at least pressing his head next to me. I was SO loved! His mother smiled and then urged him to move along. He skipped along and looked back smiling and holding up his truck again. I was in love!
This week I was on a daily long fitness walk with Suzi on the Bay Walk just next to The Shores where we live, when an elder woman with her sit-down stroller was sitting on the parapet resting I presumed. She commented immediately on how Suzi was so beautiful and began to ask me questions of her age, breed etc. Which most often people do if they aren’t running or on a walking sprint. After answering the general questions and expecting to move on our walk this woman began sharing more personal things about herself; she was from Portland, lived in a rest home, and went on talking about that a bit, at which point I decided I better sit down with her on the parapet and listen. She continued by telling me she had been diagnosed with MS several years ago but she is now 86 and she believes healed. She explained she was a “charismatic” and continued with information that she was here visiting her daughter who lived just over the way-she pointed about half mile up the walk-and proudly that she was the senior vice president of management operations at Kaiser Permanente. She continued telling me of her “charismatic” life experiences. To her great dismay she has found people who are adamantly against the Catholic religion. She told me a story where four Catholic priests (one her priest) came to her unit/home to ask her to pray in tongues over each one of them. She was very moved and did so as they sat in pray among her many icons in her prayer corner of her living room. She spent more time telling me the details of her experience seeing a boy who had scoliosis healed right before her eyes. After those stories she moved closer to me to ask me to hold her hand then gave a beautiful prayer for me and then I for her. She said, “did you feel the electricity in our hands?” I nodded and said I did! I did. I often have this sensation in my hands while praying with someone. It is a small thing but a reminder of the power of love and kindness to say the least of the mystery of how God works in our lives. We were both moved and pleased that among the many we had this little visit next to the Bay. It was a blessing for us both.
That was my first experience in both cases of a total stranger and in odd or unlikely circumstances giving a me a gift of such heart-felt love. I am truly blessed!
It reminds me of Dame Julian’s famous comment, “Nothing is done by luck or by chance, but
everything by the foreseeing wisdom of God.” (Julian of Norwich)
And “All things shall be well, all things shall be well, all manner of things shall be well.” (Julian of Norwich)
Oh I know I’m a week late writing a post for the 3rd week of reflection, but I did post a series of thoughts on my other blog just today(also late).
Walking meditations are very insightful as Thich Nhat Hanh teaches or taught. His CD’s on Walking Mediation are still available. The walk done with mindful breathing brings one into a state of peace and calm. It’s like a retreat from the daily grind to another level of existence. The threshold of moving in slow rhythm with your breath brings ones mind into an ordered state of calm added to the deeper breathing that gives the brain and body more oxygen.
Clarity of a problem doesn’t need to be pondered over and hashed out with anxiety. A meditative walk with a mindful presence of one’s breath allows the inner unconscious part of your mind to order the details of a problem that may be perplexing. The state of deep breathing along with a slow or ordered walk releases the emotions from entanglement with the facts of what may be a disturbing situation or problem. One may find in the hours after the meditative walk, or in a day or two, that those situations that were a distress have dissolved from the flurry they were causing your emotions and the answer or direction is clearly discerned.
Now with all that said, it takes a decision at the beginning of the walk to do so in a slow and ordered way. I have to admit my walks are not always of this kind. I find my breathing does make a big difference and that I am alone (other than my doggie Suzi who is with me). The walk becomes a “room” or a “place apart” where I can relax my thoughts and be free from all the questions of life. In a way the questions of life that are haranguing (a long pompous speech) me seem to sift away and maybe I can look at one question a little more clearly; at least being isolated from the other thoughts I may see a direction or answer that might have taken me hours to arrive at otherwise.
I subscribe to Thinking Faith an online newsletter from the Jesuits in London. The article today is so right for the present times, that I felt I needed to pass it along.
Here is the Link: http://www.thinkingfaith.org/articles/20110321_1.htm This will take you to the Jesuit Newsletter and the article.
The following link
you the incentive of the author Australian Jesuit Richard Leonard. http://www.jesuit.org.uk/latest/101110a.htm
Just today I saw a clipping of a Japanese man crying out
“Where is God?” This author’s experience and wisdom helps provides a Christian perspective.
It certainly is a question about which many are asking or wondering.
I wanted to share this helpful reminder again this year from Irma Zaleski’s little book. It opens a perspective on repentance during this time of self-reflection. It is all part of our personal journey to greater righteousness.
“Repentance – conversion of the heart – does not mean being filled and tormented
by guilt. Instead, it means being ready to admit our responsibility for our actions
and our need for forgiveness, and having a firm wish to change our life: to turn
away from ourselves in prayer and in love. Repentance means, above all,
a constant, patient, growing in love. It means our willingness to open ourselves
to the work of the Spirit in us and to embrace fully the gift of our salvation.”
-Irma Zaleski The Way of Repentance 1999
I think I differ a bit with her statement when she says we are to “turn away from ourselves.” I think it may be semantics however for me, I understand the time we spend in our “closets for prayer and reflection” is allowing ourselves to listen, or a willingness to go into the depth of ourselves, not a turning away from ourselves. I see it as a time where we can take the nerve to face our inner foibles, or errant ways. I have found that when we rest in this kind of prayerful silence with a willingness to face the “boogeyman in ourselves,” as it were, we have given ourselves the chance to own up to those aspects of our attitudes and behavior that are unrighteous. The opportunity then we are allowing ourselves to take is to become more mature in our righteousness.
I do believe we cannot actually make this growth happen, but we can avail ourselves to the self-reflection, to that time of quiet introspection and allow what is out of sync with a pure conscience (knowing right from wrong) to occur. It is important that we must not quit, especially when the core reality of ourselves begins to emerge; as ugly as it may seem. Because that is the precise time when the “turning” happens as we, of course desiring to be good, recoil from seeing ourselves in that unrighteousness and move quickly to the Light.
Thus the repentance process, the turning process is active Grace, and will lead to our regeneration not to dejection or guilt or fear. The effort to stay in that light of knowing about ourselves in itself will help eradicate the wrongful behavior. Somehow, the mystery of transformation happens. Growth is slow but steady, just as when a bean seed grows under the earth before the healthy green shoots of leaf emerge into the open. I think this reflection can encourage us to continue in the process of “waiting and turning” as we sit in these moments, hours, of self-reflection.
Caution, it does take guts and discipline and trust in the Divine for Grace for change and the grace to accept oneself in the midst of the slow process. Forgiving ourselves may be the hardest thing to do ever.
The Vox company is closing their online blog business and I will now be entering my posts here. Mostly I share my thoughts, experiences and musing about my chaplain ministry. Keep checking in with me and please comment on my posts. It is nice to communicate with my readers. So will be adding more later.
I was able to import my past posts from vox. They can be found in archives by month.
Looking forward to sharing. Bye for now.