|Morning has broken|
photo of a Marina Bay dawn from Bill's iPhone
"In times of prayer we can be helped by others who have tried to put words on what is going on. Take the prayers of the Bengali Hindu poet mystic, Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941). His little collection, Gitanjali, Song Offerings to the Creator, has inspired many people and his songs have become Christian hymns in India. He celebrates the immense creating love of God: ‘You have made me endless, Lord, such is your pleasure. This frail vessel you empty out again and again, and fill it ever with fresh life. Your infinite gifts come to me only on these very small hands of mine. Ages pass, and still you pour, and still there is room to fill’. Elsewhere he prays:
" 'Give me the strength, Lord, lightly to bear my joys and sorrows. Give me the strength to make my love fruitful in service. Give me the strength never to disown the poor or bend my knees before insolent might’. One song in particular could stay with us in our prayer, celebrating the mysterious and endless coming of God into our empty hearts:
" 'Have you not heard his silent steps? He comes, comes, ever comes. Every moment and every age, every day and every night, he comes, comes, ever comes. In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes. In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart, and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine’."
from Sacred Space an online gem from the Irish Jesuits...(the web address below is a link)www.sacredspace.ie
I love my Irish Jesuits. Words so rich, no cheap grace or easy answers...just an invitation to the imitation of Christ. I start my day with their online guided meditation. I could do worse.
In addition to the reflection, the site offers meditation guides throughout the daily post. Note the first screen, for example, "Presence", with the corresponding "Guide" tab ("Awareness of the Presence of God", "Body Exercise", "Breathing Exercise", "Listening Exercise", "God’s Grandeur"). Each of these elements is critical to the full experience; all together, they create a sacred space. My sixty year old back has rebelled against a lifetime of abuse...sitting curled upside down in my grandmother’s overstuffed rocker reading Nancy Drew, toting babies on one hip while vacuuming, standing side-bent with all my weight on one leg. I’ll stop here but, trust me, the list of abuses is long. I practice this discipline and feel renewed in myriad ways.
The guide for the second screen, "Freedom", offers a prayer based on the spiritual practices of St. Ignatius:
Lord, I so wish to prepare well for this time.
I so want to make all of me ready and attentive and available to you.
Please help me to clarify and purify my intentions.
I have so many contradictory desires.
I get preoccupied with things that don't really matter or last.
I know that if I give you my heart, whatever I do will follow my new heart.
In all that I am today, all that I try to do, all my encounters, reflections...
even the frustrations and failings and especially in this time of prayer...
in all of this may I place my life in your hands.
Lord, I am yours.
Make of me what you will.
"Make of me what you will": not a passive wish list for some personal cosmic butler but a recognition of my petty, small, unbridled will. I walk with all who have gone before, as well as my constant companions, into an unknown future through accidental intersections. May I not pull against the love for and from others with selfish attempts to control.
The third screen, "Consciousness", offers a guide that I find life-changing: "What Is a Review of Consciousness?", "How to Do a Review of Consciousness", "Prayer". This step removes some of my self-imposed obstacles that block grace...a “get out your own way, Celeste” moment.
Thank you for your constant, gentle invitation to let you into my life.
Forgive me for the times I have refused that invitation and closed myself off from you.
Help me in the day to come
to recognize your presence in my life
to open myself to you
to let you work in me to your greater glory. Amen
(Prayer from Sacred Space)
The fourth screen, "The Word of God", offers not only a guide but a "Need Inspiration?" prompt. I need inspiration. Just as I need to visit the wisdom of the ages, not as a checklist or for fire insurance. I will never be good enough to deserve grace from the good God, from anyone. The journey of Christ, juxtaposed against the culture of his day and the ages...here lies my own. Donald Miller writes in a recent blog:
"...our drive to define God with a mathematical theology has become a false God rather than an arrow that points to the real God. Theology can become an idol, but it is more useful as guardrails on a road to the true God. Theology is very important, but it is not God, and knowing facts about God is not the same as knowing God." (read his blog here)
Relational, he says. The journey is relational. The journey is a verb. Actually a bunch of them: love, forgive, listen, respect, empathize, make amends, stand fast but move with the Lord of the Dance. To name a few.
Two more screens follow these and I will write about them in another blog. I share these and an invitation to avail other online resources that I will introduce later. They expand my limited horizons. But if you’re looking for that checklist, you’ve come to the wrong blog.
Thank you, Donald, for the words that follow (read his blog here) ...
Life cannot be understood flat on a page.
It has to be lived.
a person has to get out of his head,
has to fall in love,
has to memorize poems,
has to jump off bridges into rivers,
has to stand in an empty desert and whisper sonnets under his breath:
I’ll tell you how the sun rose:
A ribbon at a time . . .
from a poem by Emily Dickinson (full text in comment below)
my photo ... a walk through the woods beside the Cahaba River; Birmingham, AL
Every moment and every age, every day and every night, he comes, comes, ever comes.
In the fragrant days of sunny April through the forest path he comes, comes, ever comes.
In sorrow after sorrow it is his steps that press upon my heart,
and it is the golden touch of his feet that makes my joy to shine.
Chorus, Indian Hymn
Chorus, Indian Hymn