WE’RE THE POEM … the closing words of last evening’s post. Such thoughts lead on to other thoughts. And quite often – by means of what appear serendipitous connections – to the thoughts of others.
Mark Nepo says that “the search for authenticity is as basic as lungs needing air … there are a thousand openings to being real. No-one can name or master them all. But we don’t have to. We only have to find one, breathe deeply, and leap”. And he goes on:
That leap of authenticity is poetry. Sometimes it’s written. Sometimes it’s stitched in silence … And the poetry of authenticity can connect us to the Wholeness of humanity and the Universe at any time in any way.
It’s in the longing for what might be called a “poetry of connection”, for intimacy, sometimes tactile, sometimes written, and sometimes silent – that I begin to apprehend God – and quiet hints as to what we might hope will be eternal connections.
What a comfort, that when “lost” in wonder there’s a poem being wrought in that very “lostness”, the very yearning and reaching that constitutes the silence …
LOST FOR WORDS. Not something that pastors and preachers often have said about them. But words are like floodwater. There are times when words pour forth, sometimes for good – blessing, cleansing, healing, irrigating, quenching thirst; and sometimes for ill – damaging, inundating, pontificating, superior, sweeping aside.
And there are times, actually many times, when, achingly, one is simply lost for words – good or ill, from our genesis to revelation.
Poets frequently find themselves lost for words. Poetry is born out of silence – out of a sense of something lost that needs to be found. There’s pain to be borne in the bringing to birth of good poetry. There’s a reaching into the depths of things that’s required. And sometimes, in our religious attempts “to bind, or to make whole” we’ll feel ourselves quite overwhelmed.
How grateful I am to have found a godly reflection by the Unitarian minister Bill Darlison:
All religion is poetry, and the rules of poetry are not the rules of logic
And what marvellous and extraordinary poetry I was awed by in Friday evening’s sunset here – a poetic being lost for words; an invitation to trust that with or without my help evening’s rest will descend and a new day will dawn – until we recognise ourselves as so deeply loved, so deeply and eternally alive that we’re by now beyond either words or logic. Home. We’re the poem …
THANK GOD for Fr Richard Rohr, who writes in his Daily Meditations here (or click on the image)
The goal of all spirituality is to lead the “naked person” to stand trustfully before the naked God. The important thing is that we’re naked; in other words, that we come without title, merit, shame, or even demerit. All we can offer to God is who we really are, which to all of us never seems like enough. I am sure this is the way true lovers feel, too.
As you know, the act of lovemaking requires some degree of nakedness, and perhaps sacred silence to absorb the communion that is happening. The same is true in loving and being loved by God. We have to let go of our false self (as either superior or inferior) to allow God to choose us “in our lowliness” as Mary says (Luke 1:48). To do that, we have to be silent and wait. What a crucifixion this is sometimes!
Silence is the language of God, and the only language deep enough to absorb all the contradictions and failures that we are holding against ourselves. God loves us silently, because God has no case to make against us. Silent communion absorbs our self-hatred, as every lover knows.
Orthopraxy in much of Buddhism and Hinduism
Orthopraxy is usually distinguished from orthodoxy. Orthodoxy refers to doctrinal correctness, whereas orthopraxy refers to right practice. What we see in many of the Eastern religions is not an emphasis upon verbal orthodoxy, but instead upon practices and lifestyles that, if you do them (not think about them, but do them), end up changing your consciousness.
This was summed up in the Eighth Core Principle of the Center for Action and Contemplation: We don’t think ourselves into a new way of living; we live ourselves into a new way of thinking. I hope that can be a central building block of the Living School.
And – joyfully – today I’ve been chestily croaking ALLELUIA! upon reading today’s thoughts about the witness of art
Unique witness of mythology, poetry, and art
My earliest recordings often included mythological stories, poetry, or art to make the point. Many people are more right-brained learners than left-brained. When you bring in a story, or a poem, or refer to a piece of art, you can see people’s interest triple: “Wow, I’m with you!” Whereas, if you stay on the verbal level all the time, their eyes glaze over, they lose interest, they lose fascination and identification with the message.
I don’t think Western preachers and teachers have really understood the importance of art in general. Until people can “catch” the message with an inner image, it usually does not go deep. We’ve also been afraid of myths that weren’t Christian. In fact, we were afraid of the very word “myth.” We thought it meant something that wasn’t true when, in fact, it’s something that’s always true—if it’s a true myth. This will be a very important substratum of the Living School curriculum.
One of the things I most love and admire about Richard Rohr is his generosity of heart, mind, soul and body. He’s open to seeing the Divine all around us, open to contemplation and to receiving the Wisdom from traditions other – though as he shows us, not always so very “other” – from his own. I love that Fr Richard balances the importance of both orthodoxy and orthopraxy; that he both thinks deeply and feels profoundly. That, it seems to me, is what the call of Jesus Christ – and of other great spiritual masters and teachers – is really all about. As Richard has it, “living ourselves into a new way of thinking”. That’s something all of us can do, all of the time, with or without particular religious frameworks – though many, in the living, will thrive in the kind of religious environment that seeks – as the word religion intends (from Latin religare - ”to reconnect, to bind together”) – to bind up the whole.
My friend Mimi is a generous contemplative - Between Night And Day; as is the marvellous Rebecca Koo - Heads or Tails; and Bill Wooten’s - The Present Moment brings a wonderful word from Thomas Merton – and a stunning photo; Francesca Zelnick is as special as her Today’s Special; David Herbert is one of my diocesan friends and I love his latest post (and we share affection for Parker Palmer); and Rachael Elizabeth’s been having a good time doing Christology and incense-sampling ( ! ) in Durham; James Fielden – always showing us “The Way Home” – meditates exquisitely upon Time; Ginny at “Chasing the Perfect Moment” writes about Re-creation; Ria Gandhi has been wondering about who and what’s Beautiful and has flagged up one answer here; Jenni has been Watching the Symphony here.
What are we looking at in all these human “works of art”. What do I see as I reflect upon the colours, upon the wide spectrum that arches over the whole of my life?
Sanctus, Sanctus, Sanctus
Holy, Holy, Holy
Multi-coloured and blessed sanctity – God’s art: whether we’re always aware of it – or not …
I OFTEN SPEAK about life’s being, for me, a colour-full affair. I’ve read on several occasions that some blind people can “see” in their dreams. This doesn’t surprise me.
adoration and awe,
dying, fear, joy,
Magnificat, meditation, mediation,
passion, poetry, prayer and prose,
sadness, sleepiness, silence, song
- any and all forms of worship – often translate for me into vivid and fluid colour. The movement is gentle and healing. And thankfully, for a minimalist like me, the colour sometimes involves shades of plain and lovely uncluttered white. Neither the movement nor the colours are loud or aggressive or overwhelming. But they are bright. And each represents someone, some emotion, or some thing. A bit of time spent with “Alleluia” above may reveal some faces and one or two particular spaces …
In common with many artists, pray-ers and writers I think of our ultimate Heaven as fullness of life expressed in colours hitherto beyond our wildest seeing and dreams, but utterly reminiscent, too, of experiences we’ve known throughout our incarnate lives, here, in “this world”. Our hymn book contains a (much too long) version of the Ascensiontide “Hail the day that sees him rise”. Printed service orders (our Sunday usage) allow for discreet pruning. Not so when we use the hymn book, as we did on Thursday. So lots and lots of alleluias! For me though the words sometimes become the means of transport to a different level of seeing and / or hearing.
This “Alleluia” developed whilst humming “Hail the day” on and off over a period of about 48 hours. Sometimes these paintings start out with canvas or paper, paint and brush, and are photographed and digitally developed later. For this one the “medium” has been entirely my miracle iPad with BoxWave stylus. Have a great Sunday-after-Ascension. And may your Alleluias be colour-full and joyful.
IT’S WELL NIGH impossible to describe the measure of “peace that passeth understanding” that is experienced here during our monthly gatherings for Monday Meditation. That, in part, must be due to the fact that meditation is really about letting go of thoughts and words and just being. I’m mindful this evening of the gospel account of the great storm that frightened Jesus’ disciples out of their wits. His words for them are words we do well to hear now:
Peace. Be still.
A core group of around 75 people are practising regularly in and around our parish church, and many tell me that the “peace” spoken of in the ancient prayers of the Church – but not always experienced - is becoming a deeper reality for them.
For all that Jesus calls us to rise up and follow him into action, (said one note this week) there’s no avoiding the message that he still speaks when we get caught in – or turn life into a storm. Always the same: ‘Peace. Be still.’
please click photo to enlarge
[Silence can] say what words cannot. It can express intimacy so deep that speech becomes superfluous. It can portray a love so close that voices become obsolete. That silence is not emptiness. It is filled with the ineffable. Some words are only placeholders for things too divine to explain.
FOR MONTHS I’ve noticed that the most often visited post on this blog is Silence and that email correspondence ex-blog is, more often than not, silence / retreat / prayer or meditation-related. And a feature in our parish life that binds people at every stage in life, from children to the very elderly, is our shared times of silence. Monthly Monday Meditation (half an hour’s shared silence for meditation with one simple spoken prayer for blessing before departure in silence) has been one of our biggest and most consistent growth points for more than 12 months in a row. Many, many people – writing from every corner of the globe – tell me of their desire to seek out ways of being more fully inclusive, to break down “walls that divide”, to find (or better to celebrate having found) a deeper communion. There’s an appetite, a hunger, all over the world, for silence. I love this photograph (Vega, Fuerteventura, Islas Canarias) because, years after making the image, I can “hear” the silence I encountered at the time. The only sound around in those mountains was the high-song of a tiny shrike.
please click photo to enlarge
Why is the world searching for silence? My blogging friend, Francesca Zelnick, Words/Love, with her tremendous gift for finding the right word even when her subject is no words, seems to me to have struck gold: [Silence] “is filled with the ineffable. Some words are only placeholders for things too divine to explain.”
Silence in the City video here
MONTH AFTER MONTH there’s a blessed gathering in the blurred and candlelit silence of our Monthly Monday Meditation. If Messy Church is important (and we absolutely believe it is) it is also of fundamental importance that we recognise the power of silence, of meditation, and of prayer, for the proper undergirding of our many and varied activities. No apologies for non-attendance are necessary or invited. This is not a numbers game. We don’t count. There’s nothing to do when we get there, except just be, in company with the “we” that makes up what the Quakers call a “circle of trust”. But, touchingly, beautifully, people send little notes or emails if they can’t make it sometimes. “I treasure this monthly gathering more than gold” said one such tonight. “And though I can’t be there in person you’ll know that I’m there in spirit”. And I do know, actually, that they’re “there”, even as I know that most of those who gather on these occasions couldn’t describe what happens either in the silence or in themselves. They / we are only able to say that it pulls us back, again and again. We just know, somehow, male and female, old and young, that it’s something necessary. Something important. Something of God.
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untrespassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
John Gillespie Magee | High Flight