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Category Archives: Sabbath

Relative Sanity, Walls and Thomas Merton

via Relative Sanity, Walls and Thomas Merton

Bruce shared insights into how community is formed. He did this through the words of Thomas Merton.

I loved the first two words of the title of this post: relative sanity. Parker Palmer reminds me to be in relationship with others and the world I live in is always relative, but not relative where amoral is the norm.

It is relative based as it binds through common humanity we share with each other. We are related to and relate to each other. Cornel West suggests we are  brothers and sisters  in a genealogical line going back to times we do not remember, yet provides  memory.

Thomas Merton suggests when we fall in love, we are vulnerable and risk being hurt. Living in community comes with vulnerability and risk, as well.

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I took this picture several years ago and the waterfalls remind me of how the river has a memory of where it came from and. at the same time, it carves a new path forward. In carving its new path, it does so in concert with the rest of the world it flows through.

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Feel a River

via Feel a River

Eddie shares a quote from Rumi. It reminded joy flows like a river through life. It takes on meaning in ways I cannot anticipate.

Fraser River Near Headwaters

I took this picture of Kathy and the Fraser River in East Central British Columbia. Around the bend is a waterfall one can hear, but not see from this vantage. The river flows.

 

Merry Christmas

I have been lax with my blogging, particularly the writing part. I plan on being more with it in the New Year.

I posted this post several years ago. It speaks to what I feel about Christmas and what I feel we have lost as it has become more commodified each year.

I recall cold winter nights, almost minus 40 at night. My bedroom window was almost completely frosted over. On moonlit nights, the light kept me awake or that is what I told others.

To give you a sense of how sound travels in the cold, when we are at the farm during the winter, I hear the train (about a mile away) and it sounds like it is coming through the house.

Growing up in Northern Alberta, the Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) and Christmas were a big part of growing up and it was not just their light show. I heard and saw them, dancing and crackling in the night sky. I thought the sky talked to me.

During Advent, my mom and older brothers walked across the street for evening Mass. The younger ones, including me, went to bed. I did not fall asleep right away and watched out the window. I thought no one saw me, but my Mom would come up and tell me to go to bed.

Small children–

Breathlessly awaiting,

Peering through frosted window

Soaking it in.

Heavens rippling–

Lights undulating;

A celebratory fury

An indisputable guide.

This old house speaks;

Nature answers–

Heavens crackle

Sweet symphonic sounds shimmering.

Earth’s floor–

Blanketed in white

Celestial colours speaking

Capturing young senses.

A vivid winter scene,

A sensual, sensory palette,

Reminding us–

Christ’s Mass is here.

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this…is who we are

via this…is who we are

I read this post the other day on the blog Lead Our lives. It resonated with me.

When I see myself as somehow separate and distinct from the universe that envelops me, I mistake my place in the universe as that of an outsider, a visitor, and spectator.

When I think of myself in that way, I allow myself to believe and shape a universe I can somehow master. This is unrealistic and sets me up for failure.

Alan Watts and Parker Palmer write about faith and fidelity as opposed to belief. When I have faith and trust in what is to come, I set aside the idea that life is plannable. Yes, I need plans, but they are in flux, open to improvisation in each ensuing moment. When I form a rigid set of beliefs, I end up in a binary and polarizing place, where only my answers are right and certain. When I am follow with faith and fidelity, I seek answers in the diversity and flux of the universe.

In the post, there is a reference to Father Richard Rohr who used the quote from Rabbi Rami Shapiro in one of his daily meditations, which I also receive. Whatever I call God, it is intriguing how much diversity and beauty in that name.

Mount Robson is a place I drive by frequently on trips to and from British Columbia. It is magnificent and is a symbol of uncertainty. As often as I drive by it, I cannot know it completely. It stands as a deep mystery. Having said this, I have faith each time I drive in this direction it will be there. Its majesty is grounded in both mystery and certainty that come together.

Robson

What Have I Learned so Far?

I enjoy Mary Oliver and questions she asks in her poems. Living is a question, as I am uncertain what will happen, even in the next second, and how I will respond/react.

How we each live is the answer to a Mary Oliver question from The Summer Day: Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life? Do I sow seeds of kindness? Do I somehow make the world a better place, without understanding what that means in advance, perhaps ever?

As I rise from meditation and prayer, I do I move in a mindful way, more attentive to my words and acts. Meditation and prayer help make the world holy, more whole as I attend to it. We each live Living in our particular concrete and real world of human relationships with each other and the world.

Meditation is old and honorable, so why should I
not sit, every morning of my life, on the hillside,
looking into the shining world? Because, properly
attended to, delight, as well as havoc, is suggestion.
Can one be passionate about the just, the
ideal, the sublime, and the holy, and yet commit
to no labor in its cause? I don’t think so.

All summations have a beginning, all effect has a
story, all kindness begins with the sown seed.
Thought buds toward radiance. The gospel of
light is the crossroads of — indolence, or action.

Be ignited, or be gone.

From The Irony of American History

Although Reinhold Niebuhr his book The Irony of American History, I think it speaks to each person’s and each collective’s history.

As I read this and his autobiography, I wondered what it means to be a refugee, to seek refuge, and be an immigrant. My family traces its roots in Canada to the mid 1600’s and Kathy traces her’s to the latter part of the 1700’s. On both sides of our family, our ancestors could not expect what was to come for them and us.

Parker Palmer and Allan Watts speak of faith, which allows each of us to step into the future, without understanding what that brings. My ancestors, coming from France, did not know the risks and opportunities that lay ahead. They had faith in what was to come, without knowing what was to come.

What is to come in my life is emerging through the lives of each person that follows. Thich Nhat Hanh writes we are an amalgam of our ancestors. We are individuals that emerge within a collective that is both present and absent in our daily lives. Who we are is a result of product of virtue and love we receive from others. Who we are is not accomplished alone. It is an act of compassion and faith; an act of forgiveness that we will do what is proper.

Nothing that is worth doing can be achieved in our lifetime; therefore we must be saved by hope.
Nothing which is true or beautiful or good makes complete sense in any immediate context of history; therefore we must be saved by faith.
Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.
No virtuous act is quite as virtuous from the standpoint of our friend or foe as it is from our standpoint. Therefore we must be saved by the final form of love which is forgiveness.

The Prayer of St. Francis

Today, is our anniversary. We recited the Prayer of St. Francis at our wedding and have it displayed on a small and simple plaque. It reminds me of what it means to be human, in relationship with another person, and in relationship with God.

When I was in Spokane, I printed a copy and put it on the wall of the small room I stayed in. I refer to the room as my monastic cell and the Prayer of St. Francis seems a fitting complement to any monastic cell.

During challenging moments, I recite parts of the prayer to bring me peace and be present in the world.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace:
where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
where there is sadness, joy.

O divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console,
to be understood as to understand,
to be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive,
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned,
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Amen.

The picture is one I took several years ago of Kathy standing above a set of waterfalls close to the headwaters of the Fraser River.

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