Reflections

Category: Monastic Spirituality

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Radical Hospitality

This being human is a guest house. Every morning is a new arrival. A joy, a depression, a meanness, some momentary awareness comes as an unexpected visitor. Welcome and entertain them all! Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows, who violently sweep your house empty of its furniture, still, treat each guest honorably. [S]he may be clearing you out for some new delight. The dark thought, the shame, the malice, meet them at the door laughing, and invite them in. Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent as a guide from beyond. -Rumi I am very grateful

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Abbey Bookshelf: Ash Wednesday Edition

I love Ash Wednesday.  We have so few rituals that are quite so earthy.  Everyone is welcome to come and receive those ashes on the forehead, that reminder that we are from dust and to dust we shall return.  It doesn’t strike me as morbid in the least, but a compelling reminder of the preciousness of our days. In the Christian liturgical calendar Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the forty days of Lent, that season we so often associate with giving things up.  Last year I shared a reflection I gave at my church the year prior suggesting the need for lament

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Preparing for Autumn

The equinox is in a week, one of the two dates when the sun hovers above the equator and day and night are equal. In the solar calendar it is also the beginning of autumn.  Here in Seattle we are starting to get hints of autumn’s arrival — cooler days that are getting noticeably shorter from their wide expanse of summer, plants and leaves just beginning their process of decay and letting go in preparation for winter.  If I walk slowly and look closely I see the signs all around me. Autumn is a season of change, reminding us that

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A Visual Meditation

I have been tired today and not feeling all that well.  It has been a slow day.  So I make a simple offering tonight — go over to Anchors and Masts where Tess has created a beautiful video of images from Benedictine and Cistercian monasteries. It really is worth the click over (I am even too tired to figure out how to embed it here) and the four minutes of viewing time.  Turn up your volume and listen to the lovely song as well. Peace to you this day. -Christine Valters Paintner @ Abbey of the Arts

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Contemplative Living

A great reflection by Robert Toth at the Merton Insitute:  “Do you consider yourself a contemplative person? Would you say that you live contemplatively?” Having asked these questions of hundreds of people, we find that most people do not see themselves as contemplative or feel they are living contemplatively. Most defined contemplative living as leading a less busy, more quiet life or engaging in certain practices such as meditation, centering prayer or yoga. In the popular imagination contemplative living is still influenced by the close connection between contemplation and monks and nuns who leave “the world” and live in monasteries.

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Living Out the New Creation

I have a deep affinity for crows and ravens as they seem to connect two important parts of my life together.  Ravens and crows are a part of the same Corvidae or Crow family with ravens being larger and perferring wilder places. Saint Benedict (whose Feast Day is today) is often depicted with a raven by his side because legend has it that a raven saved him from eating poisoned bread. Special connections and relationships to animals were once a sign of holiness.  Thomas Merton wrote in one of his letters that this is what the monastic life is ideally all about: “the

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Measuring Time

         Before I left for Ireland I had a dream in which my husband and I return to our old apartment building in San Francisco which was going to be demolished and help to save an old clock tower that rests on top of it (the clock tower is not there in waking life).  I brought this dream to my spiritual director who pointed out that clock towers rest at the junction between chronos time and kairos time.  For those of you not familiar with those terms, chronos time refers to everyday time, the time we measure out

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