Day by Day

It is my sincere pleasure to share with you some thoughts and ponderings from other Companions from our Selah community.  This month’s reflection comes from Mary Pandiani.

As a dispersed community of contemplative companions, we share a common set of values and commitments as we live into the way of Jesus through this common purpose:  To invite all people to pause and to nurture contemplative experiences with Jesus, leading to inner freedom and loving service.

One of my favorite songs in “Day by Day” from the musical Godspell.  The simplicity of the words speak to the kind of contemplative life I seek:  to see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, and follow thee more nearly, day by day.  With an ongoing hope for a growing and deepening life with Jesus, I desire to see more clearly with each new day.  I want to encounter God, to know the presence of the Holy One, and to see where God is at work in this world.  In seeing more clearly, I get a taste of the divine and holy.

With that desire, there’s a particular kind of seeing that challenges me.  It’s in the manner that Pierre Teilhard de Chardin offers:  “By virtue of Creation, and still more the Incarnation, nothing here below is profane for those who know how to see.”

In my effort to see, it means that I must also look at that which might offend, or repulse, or simply lack the beauty I associate with God’s presence.  Where is God in the ugly?  In the scenes I see on the news that grieve my heart?  Even more, where is God in the discord we’re experiencing in our country of polarization and heightened agitation?  In my desire to see more clearly, am I able to see God there?

As I wrestle with these questions and the state of our world, I recall that my longing for sight is accompanied by the desire to love more dearly and follow God more nearly.  Perhaps “seeing” does not have to accept that which is profane, but rather, I have an opportunity to love in the midst of the sadness, the anger, the pain of knowing all is not as it needs to be.  While creation is God’s good gift, the present condition reflects a distorted world that no longer recognizes the gift.  But perhaps all is not lost.  Through the Incarnation of God’s presence, we get to participate in turning the profane into a place of holy and sacred reconciliation as we love more dearly and follow God more nearly.  And fortunately, I don’t have to get too overwhelmed.  All I’m asked to do is see for this day, day by day by day by day.

Thank you Mary.

Peace and love to you all this good day,

John

 

Cosmic Play

It is my deep pleasure to share with you some thoughts and ponderings from other Companions from our Selah community.  This month’s Selah Reflection is from Michael DeFronzo:

As a dispersed community of contemplative companions, we share a common set of values and commitments as we live into the way of Jesus through this common purpose:  To invite all people to pause and to nurture contemplative experiences with Jesus, leading to inner freedom and loving service.

I’m on my second listening of “Following The Mystics Through The Narrow Gate” by the Center for Action and Contemplation (Richard Rohr).  The featured speaker is James Finley, who was a monk under Thomas Merton and an accomplished author.  My soul has been stirred by what I am hearing and has fueled my desire for intimacy with our Creator.  I hope that some of my thoughts, as well as from Finely, will fan your flames of desire to be one with the One Who gives life with every breath.

Believe Knowledge Be

Faith Know Oneness

To paraphrase Finley, what in God that appears to us as play are echoes of God’s cosmic game and dance.  A flock of birds descending or children, when they are being children, are glimpses of this cosmic dance.  These moments are fleeting, yet awaken something deep inside, and we stumble upon the holy nature of life — where nothing is missing and where everything joins in with Oneness and all things are expressed as love.

I try to be attentive to God’s presence, but I find that being spiritually awakened is more God’s doing (much like transformation) than my own.  Fortunately, God is relentless in awakening me and you.  She never gives up.  A flock of birds descending, a child being a child and it begins again.

Yesterday my grandson, as he was leaving our house with his Mom, yelled out “I love you.”  For a fleeting moment everything was in its place.  The world was right.  Love had put everything in order.  To be loved, to be a beloved.  I think God so much wants us to know and to experience this.  God will not rest until we are equal in and with Him as love (St. John of the Cross).

But how easily I forget and fall back on my fears and concerns — oh look! A flock of birds…

Inner Freedom Reflections

  I offered an invitation to some Selah companions to reflect on the phrase “inner freedom” and then lend their voice to these reflections for our consideration and encouragement.  Here is a reflection from Merrie Carson:   

As a dispersed community of contemplative companions, we share a common set of values and commitments as we live into the way of Jesus through this common purpose:  To invite all people to pause and to nurture contemplative experiences with Jesus, leading to inner freedom and loving service.

As I was reflecting on Selah’s mission statement and the experience of “inner freedom,” I asked myself what prevents me from experiencing the inner freedom Christ promises and what draws me towards it? Two phrases came to mind: “slavery to sin” (Romans 6) and “the beauty of holiness” (Psalms 29:2; 96:9). When I recognize that I am in slavery to sin of some sort, my experience is that my mind is in turmoil, gnawing away, trying to free itself from the frustration and pain that the sin is causing.  There is no inner freedom. If I ignore it, it seems to get worse, but if I take the time to be still, think, pray, and listen, clarity eventually comes and I begin to understand the root of my bondage.  Then I can ask Christ to free me from it and begin to make changes to deal with it.

But this isn’t enough. Being freed from bondage to sin, has to be followed by being filled with Christ. The danger is that I will become like the man possessed by an unclean spirit who, once it was cast out, finds that seven more plus the original spirit have moved back in to his life because his “house” was unoccupied (Matt 12:43-45). I’ve found that meditating on the “beauty of God’s holiness” draws me into the freedom and fullness of Christ that I seek. “The Beauty of holiness” is an odd phrase, because I don’t usually associate holiness with beauty.  Instead I connect it with law, duty, blinding light, and judgement.  But what if holiness really is beautiful, life-giving, and freeing? What if as I seek holiness I am truly seeking to be the authentic person God has created and destined me to be? As I look at Jesus in Scripture, I see a loving, truth-filled man of great internal personal beauty because he is holy, set-apart for God, and the beauty of his holiness draws me to follow him more closely and deeply. May we all be drawn more closely to the One who truly loves us and frees us from slavery to sin as we gaze upon and worship the beauty of his holiness.

Thank you Merrie. 

Peace and love to you all this good day,

John