A sketch in time…

September 27, 2010 § Leave a comment

This post will be like a sketch.  Lines in ink, which hint at the pregnant spaces between them.  For topics I’ve been mentally circling.  Which I could never adequately address.  But before I move on, or until I can deal with them in greater depth, it seems necessary to leave an outline:

Somehow, to me, there are important connections between the following:  the foot-washing of John’s Gospel; the burning bush (God’s SELF-revelation) in Exodus; the three angelic visitors in Genesis; the appearance of Jesus to the disciples on the road to Emmaus in Luke’s Gospel; and this inner priesthood we are immersed in from our Baptism.  Plunged into Divine Life as partakers of Christ’s Incarnation.   That’s the sketch in its briefest form – like a kind of koan: If we meditate on this long enough, we’ll be enlightened.

But to flesh it out just a bit more.  I’ve become convinced that the foot-washing makes sense as a kind of midrash on parts of Deuteronomy and Joshua, specifically as a means of calling for unity (not excluding being a parable on God as both hospitable and humble as part of that calling).   And what clued me into that was Peter’s initial refusal to have his feet washed and Jesus’ enigmatic answer that,  “Unless I wash you, you have no share with me.”

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Workers Needed in the Vineyard

September 23, 2010 § 1 Comment

You might actually be working  in the vineyard already.  All it takes is an open heart.  A heart open to wonder.   A heart open to suffering:  One’s own suffering and the suffering of others.  A grateful heart.

This blog is pondering the priesthood of the faithful.  The inner priesthood which was already in evidence in the psalms.

Where does your heart abide?

Nailed to the Sacrament of the Present Moment

September 18, 2010 § 3 Comments

This blog is following allusions.  Taking side turns to consider turns of phrase and words that provided linkages from one thing to another, thus gradually deepening understanding of all of them.  Thus the circuitous route I am taking in tackling these subjects here.

Allusions to the title above:   I got the idea for this title from Pima Chödrön because of a comment by another trope, which was very helpful.  So I took the book off my shelf and started to read.  Pretty soon she mentioned, with regard to insight meditation (being aware of one’s thoughts and feelings, while accepting them), the words: “nailed to the present moment”.  That set off a lot of thoughts for me:  One blog.  Now this one.  Nailed, of course, made me think of Jesus.  The cross.  Suffering.  Redemption.  Lifting up, as prayer.  And the words “present moment” reminded me of a French spiritual writer, a very helpful one actually, whose book, published long after his death I think, is called:  Sacrament of the Present Moment. That title relates to the genesis of this blog and the reason for this post.  Sacrament.  Priesthood of the Faithful.  Our task in order to grow into that priesthood.

First, let me say right here and now how much I love Buddhism.   And how much I revere the Buddha.  Eastern traditions, and that includes the Orthodox, have long delved into the psychology of the spiritual path.  They’ve nailed it!  In my book.  Indeed the part of the early church that most interests me is the church that developed in northwestern Iraq.  Yes!  Where East meets West.  Lots of similarities in some ways between insight meditation and what the Orthodox call “guarding the heart”.  It’s practically the same thing – to me.  Though I find the word “guarding” to be a mistranslation.  Or maybe I’ve been too much influenced by Buddhism.  To be honest my interest in Buddhism seems never to have dissuaded God from radically breaking into my life.  So I take that as a comfort.  Unless the inbreakings have some other meaning… which I am missing.

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Lift up your heart!

September 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

Lifting up one’s heart is a priestly act.  It is prayer.  Today is the Feast of the Lifting up of the Cross.

Whether your heart is full of suffering or full of joy.

Whether you are aware of it or not.

Whenever you lift up your heart and soul, you too are participating in an inner Liturgy prayed by the Holy Spirit in the depths of each heart.

In the Vineyard of the Lord

September 6, 2010 § 2 Comments

I once wrote a story for a patient called The Garden. It was really a story about therapy – about doing therapy.  About wanting each person to grow according to their inner heart.  But now it strikes me that the Priesthood of our Baptism is like that too.  That we are planted in the Vineyard.  With no uniform blueprint for growth.  (…though many long for it…) But that our God is like the Gardener in my story.  Trying to help each of us – individually, uniquely – to recover from woes and sins we have either endured or inflicted.  That the Garden or the Vineyard, the Kingdom of God, is a place of healing, a place to find the Compassion of God and the Heart of our (Be)longing.

Like the words of St. John Chrysostom, which so struck me when I first read them at my new parish.  Which, indeed, called to me and taught me of Orthodoxy:

Enter into the church and wash away your sins.  For here there is a hospital and not a court of law.  Do not be ashamed again to enter the church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent.

Hospital. And that makes me think of Hospitality. Which makes me think of the Rublev Icon of the Trinity.  Of Abraham offering hospitality.  Of God’s love being so great he created a world and progressively revealed The Divine Life animating all that is and has been and will be.  And in this Hospital – this place of healing and mutual service – we are invited to become not just co-workers grafted into Christ but Partakers of Divine Life itself.

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The Whole Earth ~ Is Our Hospital

September 5, 2010 § Leave a comment

The earth is the Lord’s

The whole earth is our hospital
Endowed by the ruined millionaire,
Wherein, if we do well, we shall
Die of the absolute paternal care
That will not leave us, but prevents us everywhere.
T.S. Eliot, “Four Quartets

bear fruit

‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-grower.
2He removes every branch in me that bears no fruit. Every branch that bears fruit he prunes* to make it bear more fruit.

To the Last Speck of Dust…

September 3, 2010 § 4 Comments

from Psalm 102

12 But you, O Lord, are enthroned for ever;
your name endures to all generations.
13 You will rise up and have compassion on Zion,
for it is time to favour it;
the appointed time has come.
14 For your servants hold its stones dear,
and have pity on its dust.
15 The nations will fear the name of the Lord,
and all the kings of the earth your glory.
16 For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
17 He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.

And what is this prayer?  Our sacred task?

Implore God for the renewal of your hearts and minds; invoke His grace for the salvation of every human person, even – and especially – the least of our brothers and sisters (Mt 25:45); and pray fervently for the transfiguration of the whole world, to the last speck of dust.

[Ecumenical Patriarch]

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