“The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence.”(Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, Thomas Merton) I first read this quote several years ago in, of all places, a Yoga Journal article on the practice of ahimsa, or nonviolence. It blew me away because I had never before even considered that the busyness
I offer you this beautiful reflection by Ron Cole on the beauty of Creation: I think it makes a huge difference when you come out of your home in the morning, whether you believe on the one hand you're stepping into inert space, which is endless, or whether you're stepping into something that is animate and alive. And I really believe that landscape is alive. I think that one of the amazing things about humans is the way that we have usurped the notion of consciousness in almost an imperialistic way for ourselves. We in a sense have separated ourselves from creation.
Last Friday night I was with my women ministers’ circle, a wonderful place of support in my life. Our theme for the evening was sharing about our foremothers and telling stories about the women who came before us and showing pictures if we had them. It stirred in me several levels of revelation about the role of ancestral longings in my life. My maternal grandmother Faith was sadly a joyless and bitter woman. She died when I was 24 with my grandfather by her side, tending to all of her needs as pancreatic cancer ate away at her body. I
The phrase “apprentice to beauty” keeps coming up in my prayers and journaling time. I think that captures, at the very heart, this call to which I keep responding. Whether as writer, artist, spiritual director, teacher, dream-tender, wife, or friend, in crafting the art of my life I seek the wisdom and guidance of the Great Beauty of the world that beats through the heart of God. Beauty calls to us, wakes us out of our routine, surprises us, holds us in the present moment, fills us with awe, immerses us in the world of the senses, bridges us to
One of my favorite quotes comes from Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet: “There is only one thing you should do. Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question
When I first began my doctoral studies in Christian spirituality I had no real fondness for monasticism, I didn’t really get it at the time. Despite having always had a very contemplative nature, I did not understand how monastics make a difference in the world. It was while studying for my history exam that I started to think otherwise. I first fell in love with Hildegard of Bingen. How could I resist falling for a woman who was abbess, artist, musician, writer, poet, theologian, mystic, preacher, spiritual director, healer, and visionary (not necessarily in that order)? Oh, and she challenged
Maria Thompson’s comments on my post earlier about my koala dream and the playful nature of God, reminded me of the Hindu concept of lila (or someties leela) which means the playful creativity of God. It is a concept that Stephen Nachmanovitch discusses in his wonderful book titled Free Play: The Power of Improvisation in Life and the Arts. He explores the ways in which the delights of improvised art are doorways to the delights to be found in everyday life. He is essentially talking about the practice of play as essential to the Sacred Art of Living, with which
I was on retreat this weekend at St. Placid Priory, a wonderful Benedictine women’s community in Lacey where I am an Oblate. It was our annual oblate weekend retreat. The retreat theme was inspired by the feast of Pentecost which Christian churches celebrated yesterday. I had an interesting prayer experience connected to my previous post on dreaming. We opened on Friday night with a group praying of lectio divina with a passage from Joel. The line that stopped me was from 2:28: “and the old shall dream dreams.” I let myself be with that image for a while and the first