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A Path for Warriors

I commented I finished Margaret Wheatley‘s book, So Far From Home. She concluded with a beautiful poem. It reminded how importance quiet and mindful moments are. I was less rushed these last couple of days and it was like a digital sabbath.

Thomas Merton, the Trappist monk, wrote: “The rush and pressure of modern life are a form, perhaps the most common form, of its innate violence. To allow oneself to be carried away by a multitude of conflicting concerns, to surrender to too many demands, to commit oneself to too many projects, to want to help everyone in everything is to succumb to violence. More than that, it is cooperation in violence. The frenzy of the activist…destroys his own inner capacity for peace. It destroys the fruitfulness of his own work, because it kills the root of inner wisdom which makes work fruitful.”

My mother used to teach us about being Soldiers of Christ. We walk in the “same steps as Christ” (2 Corinthians 12:18, 1 Peter 2:21). We “[pray] always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit” (Ephesians 6:18), and “open your mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel” (Ephesians 6:19). Soldiers, in this context, seek peace from within and quiet the mind so their actions and words parallel each other.

We are grateful to discover our right work and happy to be engaged in it.

We embody values and practices that offer us meaningful lives now.

We let go of needing to impact the future.

We refrain from adding to the aggression, fear and confusion of this time.

We welcome every opportunity to practice our skills of compassion and insight, even very challenging ones.

We resist seeking the illusory comfort of certainty and stability.

We delight when our work achieves good results yet let go of needing others to adopt our successes.

We know that all problems have complex causes. We do not place blame on any one person or cause, including ourselves and colleagues.

 We are vigilant with our relationships, mindful to counteract the polarizing dynamics of this time.

Our actions embody our confidence that humans can get through anything as long as we’re together.

We stay present to the world as it is with open minds and hearts, knowing this nourishes our gentleness, decency and bravery.

We care for ourselves as tenderly as we care for others, taking time for rest, reflection and renewal.

We are richly blessed with moments of delight, humor, grace and joy.

We are grateful for these.

About ivonprefontaine

I have been an educator for almost 20 years. Prior to that, I worked in private industry for 15 years, then returned to university to earn my education degree. For the past 11 years, I have been a co-creator of learning in a unique, progressive, alternative educational school of choice. Currently, I am engaged in a doctoral program at Gonzaga University in Spokane. A main theme in my learning there has been the roles of systems thinking, complexity theory, and organizational theory, and how they apply to education generally and the learning environment I share with students, parents, and colleagues.

39 responses »

  1. Wonderful post! Just what I need to hear today…thank you!

    Reply
  2. My own journey to Christ started as I wondered around the living room of a young lady who had brought me to her home from a bar where we had both been drinking and getting high. I picked up a book lying beside the bed and casually asked, “Hey, what is this about?” With a quick glance she replied, “Oh that is a book about a guy who left everything in this world to become a Trappist monk in Kentucky.”

    Flash forward 20 years, the girl is long gone, but my life was a train wreck. All I knew about Christianity was that people went to church on Sunday…which was something I wasn’t interested in doing…except I knew I couldn’t go on the way I was…something had to give. I remembered this book that I had seen on a a bedside table. Even after 20 years I could still recall the title and the author, “The Seven Story Mountain” by Thomas Merton.

    Although I am not a Trappist monk, that book was instrumental in bringing me to Christ.

    Even more years later I discovered a very devout and holy Orthodox Coptic monk named Fr. Lazarus who resides in the St. Anthony monastery in Egypt. He has a fascinating story about how he came to from being a successful business man and an avowed atheist to a monk living in the desert.

    It starts with him going to the hospital in Australia where his mother, whom he had loved dearly, died. He wanted to see the room where she had passed. The nurses told him that was impossible at the moment because someone was currently in that room receiving medical attention. They encouraged him to go downstairs to the library and wait. They would call him when he could come and view the room.

    So he goes to the library and roams around looking at all the books. He finally stops and picks up a book and begins to read. What he finds is a fascinating story about how a man left everything and become a Trappist monk. The book, as you can probably already surmise, was “The Seven Story Mountain” by Thomas Merton.

    This book had such a profound impact on him that he eventually surrendered all to Christ and took up the cross of monastic life.

    God does indeed work in mysterious ways.

    Blessings to you and your family.

    Be encouraged!

    Reply
    • What a great example of the little hints we get along the way. I’ve referred to my own coming to spirituality as a window opening but not wanting to look through it. But I caught glimpses here and there for sure. For me it was a Deepak Chopra book that started it all. Thanks for sharing Stephen, you always have a way of touching me- even when it’s just commenting on someone else’s post!

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      • I am grateful the Spirit that moves me, moves you…I continue to be in awe of how the universe works and flows…and maybe that is how it is supposed to be…like little kids we just gape at the Majesty…be encouraged!

    • Thank you for the wonderful story Stephen. I have Seven Story Mountain on my shelf, but have not yet ready it completely. There are several other Thomas Merton books in my library and return to read them in part or full at various times.

      He has made quite an impression on me and gave me an understanding it was OK to be radical in my beliefs. Similar to you, I had to come back to this place and Thomas Merton helped me immensely.

      Take care and thank you for the wonderful closing. I hope your day has gone well and been blessed.

      Ivon

      Reply
  3. Lovely. :-)
    Made my day.
    Thank you.

    Reply
  4. How nice that you reminded us of the words of Thomas Merton.

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  5. Reblogged this on Starfish Way and commented:
    “We welcome every opportunity to practice our skills of compassion and insight, even very challenging ones.”
    I am grateful for the opportunity to share this beautiful post!

    Reply
  6. I really like that Thomas Merton quote. It’s possibe I read it some time ago. But it is always good to be reminded of this.

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  7. The Thomas Merton quote was especially powerful for me (as I’m seeing it was for others as well). I’ll definitely need to pick up that book. Thanks for sharing.

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  8. Beautiful. Thank you. This was precisely the message I needed today:-)

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  9. I, like many of your readers, really needed to be reminded of this tonight. Interestingly, and perhaps ironically, I had just been considering writing a post about how I’ve lost my way a bit with my writing. I feel I’ve let myself be influenced of late by the notion of building an audience and writing about what seems to be more “popular.” No! I need to listen to Thomas Merton, of course. Thank you–for the inspiration and the comfort.

    Reply
    • You are welcome. I had to let go of the audience building and found the less I worry or fixate on it the less it is relevant. Writing and reflecting has become the more important aspect over the past few months.

      Reply
  10. Oh, this is a lovely post. I particularly found – ‘We resist seeking the illusory comfort of certainty and stability’, very though provoking. Thank you!

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  11. As you know from my last couple of posts I am struggling with the pace. Reading the quotation from Merton points out more than only not rushing. It points out to me that perception of what is vital in ones life needs to be re-evaluated once in a while as it is so easy to get pulled into the vortex even if that pull is toward goodness. Thanks Ivon

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  12. Very thought provoking post, Ivan. I grew up on hymns such as “Onward Christian Soldiers” “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” and the like — many references to Christian “soldiering.” From the Eastern side (or New Age side) I have come to think of myself as a Spiritual Warrior. Archangel Michael sometimes introduces himself as “I am Michael — Warrior of Truth, Warrior of Peace.” So this idea of soldiering for God, for Truth, for the Light is a prevalent idea that crosses cultures and religious ideologies.

    However, what I was reminded of when I read your post, speaking about the frenzy of activity promoted by our modern world was this. The BE-DO-HAVE cycle. Ideally, our BEingness connects us to our center, or Source/God, however we choose to name it. From the depths of our BEingness comes our action, our DOing. This DOing at some point produces its results which then takes us into the HAVing part of the cycle. If we then take time to be grateful and truly receive the blessings of those results, our HAVingness takes us naturally back into the BEing part of ourselves. Unfortunately, the violence of the system that you speak of keeps us so perpetually focused on the DOing part of the cycle than we have lost the other two parts. Our DOing is frantic and scattered because we act from outside of our BEing. Once we achieve the results (which are usually less than we’d hoped) we are so concerned about the next cycle of DOing that we forget to take time to enjoy and give thanks for the results of our labors.

    The guidelines that you have offered at the end of your post are all wonderful. I love that you begin and end with gratitude. What is missing for me is a direct reference to taking time for solitude and contemplation. Thomas Merton based his life in these inner pursuits. The actions that resulted came from his deep connection with Source/Creator and his personal relationship with Jesus the Christ. I invite you to add a guideline or two that would point us toward our BEingness, as a step toward bringing balance to a DOing-heavy society.

    Thank you for your insights — much appreciated, Alia

    Reply
  13. Great stuff Ivon. Very useful and effective reminder. Humility is not for the weak, but rather the warrior. The only way we can invite a larger force in to transform larger problems is to remain in tune with our limited understanding and seek in faith and in collaboration to expand and connect to something larger. The “work” will be done by us, and we as persons shall transform. The “transformation” of larger society will be done by the connection of transformed people and a the help of a larger creative spirit.

    Here is what I put on my Facebook sharing of your post: “Well constructed lesson for our time. Be a peaceful warrior, with courage to change, but stick to your faithful example and do to not get hung up on “making” the world do what you want. By focusing on creating new realities and possibilities, others can gather and gain strength. By insisting upon “my way,” others will simply see you as a another hungry heart to feed, and avoid you or lump you in with all the others offering perfect solutions.”

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    • Thank you very much Zeus. I appreciate the comments. It is important to find the peaceful path.

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      • We work together to help ourselves and others realize what works. They way of courage is the way of peace, knowing that light and goodness has more than enough power to transform injustice, if we let it transform us.

  14. Nice reading about you.

    Thanks. for visiting my blog Ajaytao2010@wordpress.com. Browse through the category sections, I feel you may definitely find something of your interest.

    Reply
  15. Ivan, I’ve thought of this post often since I first read it. And here I am back again. Very powerful and insightful… Thank you for this.

    Reply
  16. True!

    But sadly: si vis pacem parabellum

    Or, take a leaf from the seventies, “Turn on, tune in, drop out” . Which was all very nice at the time—so long as someone else was around to pick up your pieces. (Funny, you don’t see all that many old hippies …).

    There’s ‘nice’ and there’s ‘real’. Nice is a flower girl poking flowers down the barrels of the guns pointed at her, Reality was Kent State …

    A totally boring book that I strongly recommend is Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”. (Did she call it, or what?)

    Reply
    • I agree with the difference between nice and real. Equanimity is about living in the moment and meeting reality. It is a sense of knowing there could be consequences for my actions and words.

      Thank you for a great comment

      Reply
  17. JK Bevill - Lost Creek Publishing

    Reblogged this on lost creek publishing.

    Reply

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