When we arrived from work, Annie and I took a short walk. I whistled with the birds, imagining that I am communicating with them. They seemed to answer to my whistling. I saw yellow and white wildflowers starting to close as they prepare for the night. And I put my nose to a fragrant clump of flowers by the sidewalk. God is all around! Ahhh. The truckload of dung was cleaned up tonight. I hear laughter now. And clarity and understanding and peace fill our hearts. The soul is floating like a hot air balloon on a late Sunday summer afternoon. Excuse me while I kiss the sky...
The picture above was drawn by St Placid Sister Dorothy's granddaughter. The drawing captures the high associated with the prayer of consolation. One of the movements of lectio is resting in God. Look at that image. Feel that child's total surrender and trust in that loving God. Feel that longing in your heart to be with the One who loves you madly. What will top that? Not Warren Buffet's billions!
How about you? What is your bliss? When are you most happy? What activity takes you to that space where you and the Divine are blissfully one?
Oremus/Let us pray:
Sit quietly and as you breathe in,
spread your arms and fingers as wide as you can.
Feel the heart open,
like a daffodil inhaling the sun... and say a few times:
He led me to open spaces -
He was my deliverance,
Yes, indeed. Jung is dead on. Today was my first book release party at St Placid Priory. The nuns, my Sisters, set up the signing table with flowers and a bunch of balloons. Before the 11 am Mass, Sister Monika announced that there's a 'celebrity' in the congregation and will sign books after Mass. She asked me to wave. It was a joyful moment.
Oblate friends, some of the Sisters, and a few attendees from past workshops, purchased books and asked me to sign them. I generally wrote: "May all your days be filled with prayers, rejoicing, and thanksgiving always and in all ways." Because that is the main message of my book. That it is possible to pray, rejoice, and give thanks always.
Of course this 'happiness' is balanced by the 'truckload of dung' mentioned in my post 'The Guest House Stinks!' Ah. God always brings you down to earth, teaching us humility. Reminding us Who is in control.
How about you? How do you strive to live a balanced life? How is your exterior life in relation with your interior life?
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
Tomorrow, at 12-1pm, I will be signing my books at St Placid Priory. Do you know how weird it is to say "my book"? Me? A published author? An English-as-a-Second-Language guy, types 12 words a minute, and a big-picture guy who shrinks from details and who'd rather delegate finishing the job to someone else? But yes, I did it. With God. In God. Through God.
As I told my wife today when we were at the Tulip Festival in Skagit County, I didn't ask for this. Like that truckload of dung that was delivered on my doorstep this week, this book was dropped onto my lap without me asking for it. Okay. Maybe I asked for it with a small shy voice. But I believe this is supposed to happen, at this time. And for what reason? I'll let time answer that for me.
What's more important is to follow through, to finish this job myself. I think that my ministry, through this book, is to show folks that it is possible to pray, i.e., to be with God, always, in all ways.
How about you? What do you feel is your ministry on earth? What are you called to do to glorify God?
I offer this meditation for you:
Sitting quietly, begin to be aware of your inhale and exhale. Keeping your back straight, your shoulders relaxed, lift up your heart, and feel the chest expand on your inhales and your belly compress on your exhales. Feel the Divine Presence around you. Where do you feel the Divine is right now? In front of you? Behind? To your right, or left? Or deep inside you? Doesn't matter if you can't tell for sure. As long as you believe the Divine is here with you, right now.
Now, come back to your breath, and on your inhales, say inwardly, "Not my will..." and on your exhales, say "but Thy Will Be Done." Do this as many times as you want. Then for a few moments, simply sit in silence with the Divine Presence.
Close with a short prayer of thanks.
THE GUEST HOUSE
This being human is a guest house.
Every morning 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 are a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.
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 whatever comes.
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.
-- Jelaluddin Rumi,
translation by Coleman Barks
this guest house is a bit messy.
A truck load of dung
was delivered on my doorstep
Now I have to work on being grateful
though my visitor is stinking up the whole house.
What present, what gift do you bring, O visitor?
What have you come to deliver?
Ahh. You don't feel like talking.
So be it, o stinky one.
Make yourself comfortable.
Make yourself at home.
You know where the door is.
Meanwhile, I must attend to my Landlord.
I want to be present to my Beloved, my God.
The Breath of fresh air in this house,
The Light when it is my dark night,
The Song that reassures and rests my heart.
The Hand that upholds me always.
Excuse me while I kiss the sky!
Rabbouni, it is Thee!
Yes, Mary. I Am.
Do not hold on to me
And stop your weeping.
Instead, tell my brothers and sisters
That I have risen as I promised.
That I triumphed against death and darkness.
That Love, the greatest of them all, endures all things.
Now instead of mourning, rejoice.
Instead of crying, give praise.
Instead of worrying, give thanks.
Always in all ways.
For I Am with you,
I never will leave you,
I always will be with you,
Here, now and forever.
My Lord Jesus is in the tomb.
But he said, On the third day I will rise.
I know he will rise.
Because he said so.
But I can't wait any longer.
Only a few more hours...
What will he look like?
Will I recognize him?
I want to touch him, be hugged by him.
I want to get lost in those loving eyes.
I want to hear the voice that can calm a storm.
I want to be embraced by his silence.
I want to kiss my Lord.
He died that we may live.
What needs to die in us for us to live more fully?
He died for the forgiveness of our sins.
What needs to die in us to be merciful as God is merciful?
He died that we may have complete joy.
What needs to die in us to be happy?
He died to conquer darkness and evil.
What needs to die in us to conquer our fears?
He died because he loved us as the Father loved him.
What needs to die in us to love as he loved us?
He died to show us what true friendship is.
What needs to die in us to be friends with ourselves
and with one another?
He died that the Advocate of truth may come.
What needs to die in us to be advocates
of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty.
He died to bring us his Peace.
Peace be with all beings.
But I am a worm, and not human;
scorned by others, and despised by the people.
All who see me mock at me;
they make mouths at me, they shake their heads;
‘Commit your cause to the Lord;
let him deliver—let him rescue the one in whom he delights!’
Yet it was you who took me from the womb;
you kept me safe on my mother’s breast.
On you I was cast from my birth,
and since my mother bore me you have been my God.
Do not be far from me, for trouble is near
and there is no one to help.
Many bulls encircle me,
strong bulls of Bashan surround me;
they open wide their mouths at me,
like a ravening and roaring lion.
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
my heart is like wax; it is melted within my breast;
my mouth is dried up like a potsherd,
and my tongue sticks to my jaws;
you lay me in the dust of death.
For dogs are all around me;
a company of evildoers encircles me.
My hands and feet have shrivelled;
I can count all my bones.
They stare and gloat over me;
they divide my clothes among themselves,
and for my clothing they cast lots.
But you, O Lord, do not be far away!
O my help, come quickly to my aid!
Maundy Thursday. At Lenten service, it was all about feet washing. (See MINDSIEVE for an excellent post about Maundy Thursday.) It was about Peter saying Uh-uh, no way, Lord, then changing his mind when Jesus said they won't be buds no more, Ok. Wash me all over.
What is it about feet? Last night at my yoga class, the feet topic was on my mind too. I invite you now to lie down and we'll do a feet awareness meditation.
Feel the breath move in and out of your lungs. Notice the belly move up and down with your breath. Do this a few times until you feel you are in your body and fully aware of the breath and the body position.
Now be aware of the soles of your feet. As if your nose was transplanted to the bottoms of your feet, breathe through your feet. Feel the soles relax and open. Then one by one, breathe through each of your toes. Relax each and every one of the numerous joints of your feet.
As you do this, begin thanking your feet. Imagine the proportion of your feet to your body. Those feet are small compared to the rest of your body, yet they carried you the whole day. As faithful as a servant, maybe without any complaints, they took you wherever you wished.
Slowly, come to a sitting position. Grab one of your foot, and gently massage the soles of your foot. Maybe with oil or foot lotion. Continue the dialogue with your feet. Continue thanking your feet.
Now for some reflection: Was I on the path of peace and love most of the time today? Did I step on other people's toes today? How much carbon footprint did I leave today in the environment?
Don't worry when you are not recognized,
but strive to be worthy of recognition.
A friend shared with me that 'VERY few people in my life had truly recognized me.' And I echo that. We all like and want recognition. Some are more overt in collecting recognition, some keep it to themselves. But that's not our concern here.
The question is: How often do I recognize others' accomplishments, contributions, good works, and other positive qualities? Because when we recognize others, we see their resemblance to ourselves. Because it takes one to know one. In a way, recognizing others serve us. Especially when we feel we are not being recognized. The Dalai Lama said: If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
So if you want recognition, recognize others!
But this week had been full of recognition for me. My books arrived from the publisher, and Amazon.com is finally delivering. A friend emailed me expressing her delight in receiving her copy! That's recognition!
At my yoga classes, folks come to me to say "I've been taking yoga forever and had been with lots of yoga teachers. But you and your classes are special because of the seamlessness of the flow with the reflective words you say with the poses." Tonight, a teacher-in-training observed and said the same thing. That's recognition!
Yes, I am on cloud 9 and I feel happy inside. But I know to be aware of the danger of recognition. I was brought down to earth by my divine office reading today from Hannah's prayer from 1 Samuel 2:
Do not pile boasting upon boasting:
Keep proud words far from your mouth,
For the Lord is the God of all knowledge,
And the judge of all actions.
All you need is love.
All you need is love.
All you need is love, love.
Love is all you need.
Today, in 2 separate events, I was told by long time yoga friends, where I am. At least in relation to yoga.
This morning, during brunch after I taught Blessed Movements at Yoga Barn, a friend (who I choose to keep anonymous) told me she considers me to be her teacher. She's been a teacher herself for quite a while, and is well-respected, and well-loved by her students. To be considered a teacher is an honor, although I shrink at the thought of it. I asked why she regards me as her teacher. One thing she said is my openness. Well. I strive to be open, as in warrior pose. To be open and vulnerable. I love saying that the practice is how to keep the heart open, even in hell.
Then at six in the afternoon, I met with another long time yoga acquaintance. She was in my prenatal yoga classes in my early days as teacher. She has gone to a lot of yoga classes of different styles. She's now exploring 'Street Yoga' and is going to a 5-day workshop with Sean Corn in California this month. She told me my 'style' is 'unusual' in a good way. That my 'style' speaks to her that no other style does. There's the seamless flow, she said, that felt natural. And the words I say during the poses are appropriately worded and seemed to address where she is at the moment. She asked me more questions how I got to where I am. The short answer is: teach what you know, teach what you practice, teach from the heart.
So where am I? I am comfortable with my 'style' whatever it is. I am happy that I connect to people's heart with that 'style'. But I don't know how that style developed. Except that I believe the Zen saying How you do anything is how you do everything. I believe that to live a simple life, one needs a simple philosophy. Mine happens to be: Love. Call it lovingkindness, or compassion. I just like to call it Love as taught by Jesus, the Buddha, and as the cornerstone of every major spiritual tradition.
Love is the main message and intention in all my classes and my book. It is the quality I hope I radiate and incarnate in my daily life.
How about you? What is your personal theology, your philosophy, that guides your life, your decision making, your speech, your actions?
Let us pray. Standing, feet shoulder width apart, open your arms, lift up your heart, and softly say with conviction:
I love you, O God,
with all my heart
with all my soul
with all my mind and
with all my strength.
Give me the strength,
the wisdom, and perseverance
to love my neighbors
as I love myself.
It was 7pm last night when I quit work. As I walked away from my cubicle, I looked at my right hand, and it has light on it. The light was coming from the setting sun streaming through my office window. I stopped for a few moments, looked at my hand, turning it this way, and that way, fascinated by it like a little kid.
A smile came to my face, and a thought, God is holding my hand. Like a little kid, I felt held by a loving parent as we walked home. Like those Emmaus dudes, my heart was on fire!
How about you? When did you last feel God's presence? When did one or all of your senses remind you, Hey, God is with you?
Let us walk
in the Light
of the Lord!
"If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples,
and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free."
It's April Fool's Day. Some folks will get punk'd by the pranksters in their lives. Some are harmless, some not so harmless. But how do we know if what we are experiencing is not a prank? How will we know the truth? Is it when someone announces, You were punk'd! or, You are on candid camera! So how do you know what is real, and what is not, if no one tells you which is which? And how do you know if the announcer of that truth is real?
"The truth will set you free." Pilate asked Jesus: What is Truth? Jesus just kept quiet. How will you answer that? What is truth?
John Keats said: Beauty is truth, truth beauty. That still doesn't answer it. Because, what is Beauty? It is easy to say, God is Truth, God is Beauty. Which brings us to, what is, who is God?
And if you believe your answer is the Truth, from what will it set you free? And for what will it set you free?
Lent helps us to search for and to be with the Holy One in our prayers, in our fasting to connect deeper with those in need and with God, and in our good deeds. Maybe, just maybe, Lent will create enough space within us to trust that our heart, with all hearts, are always overflowing with the unfathomable qualities of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty. Lent could free us from the chains that could fool us for the rest of our life.
O send out your light and your truth;
let them lead me;
let them bring me to your holy hill
and to your dwelling.
Then I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy;
and I will praise you with the harp,
O God, my God.