Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Away for a bit of research and study last week. . .

I try to keep my written/teaching/preaching material current. Though I draw deeply from the wells of solitary work, I feel compelled to gather with others at certain intervals. Printed materials are helpful, of course, but conventional publishing is years behing what's really going on. Editors are usually the ones who tailor the final written text to a market niche and a place on the shelves at Barnes & Noble. Often important content is lost in the transition.

I've made a commitment to gather with others every few months as we explore the living edge of our own search. There are writers, teachers, psychotherapists, physicians and people from the arts community. Many of us have had great losses, deep depressions, addictions -- all the experiences that make us kind of "damaged goods" in the eyes of others. We all face what I call "disturbances of soul" that have no easy resolution. There is often no real welcome for us in religious circles if we are openly honest about ourselves.

So we find another way. Ours is the path of surrender. It's the way of the desert in Early Christianity, the medieval martyrs and of those who are currently part of a different narrative of salvation. I'm not usually happy being grouped with progressive Christians. I don't know what that means and I don't care about it. To surrender is to give up all knowing, all l labels, denominations, colors, genders, contests with wins and losses. It's the way where go with Moses into the terrifying place in the rock and hide there while the Divine passes. We want to feel the wholeness of that Presence and ourselves within It's embrace. Many of us remember our times dancing before the Golden Calf, an idol that left us exhausted, depressed and nearly dead.

Sunday, June 20, 2010 is a wonderful resource. . .

If you don't know her work, Mary Margaret Funk is a Benedictine nun living in Beech Grover, Indiana who writes and reads prolifically. I found her some years ago thanks to a Trappist friend who has been present when she did some teaching. Her approach, as is so true with women in general, is grounded and real. Right now she's taking her readers through A Day with Jesus written in the early '60's by someone identified only as a monk of the Eastern Church.

By the way, when I'm done with a book, I'll send it to the Raven's Bread library in NC for those who want to read it. I'm especially interested just now in articulating the spiritual/body connection that seems to have slipped the minds of most writers in the West up 'til recently.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

New book from Cyprian Consiglio.. . .

I signed up to review a book here and there and actually have one to offer tonight. (I do a lot of academic reading in scripture and theology but I'm not sure it's to every one's taste. If you think it might be, let me know and I'll share it with you as well.) This week I received Prayer in the Cave of the Heart: The Universal Call to Contemplation by Cyprian Consiglio, OSB Cam., published by Liturgical Press in Collegeville.

Consiglio is a student of Fr. Bede Griffiths whose work I admire greatly. He's part of the effort among contemplatives to find the intersection between East and West and to invite readers into prayer that makes them "present to the Spirit who is already present to us." I found the book readable and well-founded in strong patristic and biblical scholarship with a clear respect for other traditions outside traditional Christianity. I've been down many of these routes myself and can appreciate the kind of homework he's done for many years. Like Fr. Bede, he lists his address as an ashram in India.

Currently I'm reading Judy Cannato's Field of Compassion and will let you know what I find there later.

May have already mentioned this, but I'm been very interested in Jewish mysticism for the last couple of years. Currently reading two books by Rabbi Arthur Green and having email exchanges with him.

Periodically I take a few days in a seminary library to reflect and study. I regularly use a Roman Catholic seminary in Emmitsburg, MD, an Episcopal seminary in Alexandria, VA, where I have friends on the faculty and the Union Theological Seminary (Presbyterian) in nearby Richmond, VA. I've never spent time in a Hebrew seminary but would relish the opportunity.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

How are you holding those involved with the oil spill?

"Spill" is one of those euphemisms for disaster.I'm seeing this as just one more piece of the earth's path of transformation. It overwhelms me most of the time until I can get spiritual "feet" under me. How are you present to this?

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Early in the morning. . . .best intentions. . .

Like many of you, I arise early. My Bunn coffee maker is usually ready to roll about 0230 or so. The old Latin introit for Easter Mass used the words "Et valde mane . . ." to characterize the time when the women went to tomb to find it empty of Jesus' mortal body. "Valde mane" is a mythical moment in which the new day arrives in midst of darkness. It isn't a matter for clocks to measure. It is an activity that is part of the Mystery.

For me, a great work of music has an integrity and life of its own in performance. It shares in the mythical and emerges out of the duration of Eternity. True dawn is the perception of the soul's stirring into the coming day. Like the resistance and release of a beating heart or the awareness that comes between inhalation and exhalation of breath, the soul's purpose is renewed within the gift of Life itself.

Having said all that, I often sit down in the evening with the intention of doing something profound for my unseen "audience" out there in cyberland. It is there that I've discovered another mythical moment. It is the end of the day when my brain turns to mush and I'm falling asleep over the computer. Then I procrastinate and promise that "tomorrow will be better. . . I'll get a piece together for Silentium." And I do it again.

So I'm trying Saturday afternoon instead. Don't know if there's any more clarity than I might achieve in the evening but at least I haven't gone to sleep -- yet.