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Archive for the ‘meditation’ Category

the-son-of-god

Perhaps no statement sits more uneasily in our hearts and minds than the second phrase of the Nicene Creed:

We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten not made, of one being with the Father.

In our age, an ecumenical spirit continues to rise alongside of defensive orthodoxies. While many of our brothers and sisters embrace the stated belief completely, still others see the sacred light shining through many other manifestations in other traditions as well, as in the life and teaching of the Buddha, while still others cling to belief that they worship the “One True” God.

The Council arrived at a formula that members felt would establish the divinity of Christ in such a way as to set aside the many divergent views of who Jesus was at the time. This served the theo-political goal of cohesiveness under Constantine and the promulgation of a coherent guiding creed by which to define identity as a Christian.

How do we bring these words to life in our times while being respectful of the inspiration ( witting and unwitting) contained in what the Council fashioned?

I offer the following personal meditation:

I believe in Jesus of Nazareth, the teacher of righteousness, the Son of Man, from  whose life and words springs the truth of God’s Love and Presence.

In His example, I see God’s Presence lived fully and in walking with Him I open myself to die to who I think I am to be born as the one I really am.

I believe in the Cosmic Christ, inspired and expressed by the Source, Father-Mother of all, that was there before the beginning, at the beginning and is still the central archetype of the evolving Universe.

I believe that God is the light that pierces all the darkness and the love shown by Christ is the way to that Light.

There is an eternal unity that binds the children of the Light to the beating Heart that set all in motion and that draws all back home.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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nicene-creed

How do we interpret and reintegrate the concepts of the ancient Church in the 21st century? We can accept them as they are given I suppose but that strikes me as intellectually lazy leading only to formulaic thinking and all the attendant prejudice and superficially ritualistic exchanges. Or, we can toss it out altogether and find a new system of thought – drop the Nicene Creed, for example, from our Liturgies.

Yet, that amounts to throwing the baby out with the wash water. Just because something was written in pre-scientific times does not relegate it to the junk heap of history. Consider the genius of Plato and Aristotle, the pre-Socratics and the texts of the Wisdom traditions of the East. While post-modern hubris may direct many to discard what is old simply because of its age, this would be adolescent and the height of folly. As Hans Gadamer has said: ” Read nothing that isn’t at least 2000 years old.” Add to this, Alfred North Whiteheads comment: ” Everything is a footnote to Plato.”

I agree with Gadamer that all understanding is bounded by the perspectives shaped by language and  culture. Yet, wisdom transcends culture. When the early Fathers of the Church gathered in 352 AD for the First Council of Nicea they struggled with so-called heresy and, through dialogue, arrived at a consensus about what to belief about Jesus. While framed by pre-scientific thought, sincere communities in dialogue discover things that each person would not have. Often, communities of prayerful debate stumble upon rich metaphor that emerges from the intersection of different agenda and experiences that tap a deep well of Knowing.

Nonetheless, we cannot interpret through their eyes, though scholarship certainly places us in a better place to appreciate where they were coming from. We read mindful of history but of course within the context of our age, our experiences, our language and new forms of thought.  We must allow the words to soak in and find in them the wisdom that speaks to us. “What if it simply goes nowhere for me?” asks a sincere person struggling with the statements of the Creed for example. In this instance, one can do no better than focusing elsewhere on aspects of tradition that do speak to you and, failing that, to find a group that approaches the mysteries from a different vantage point altogether. I, for one, have chosen to stay put having spent two decades sampling many different approaches only to find something missing. So, with feet squarely planted on the ground in the Episcopal tradition, I struggle with the beauty and the sometimes incomprehensibility of antiquity. I choose to allow the words to rise out of history and live in whatever way they may in me as they forge new meaning especially through dialogue with others.

On this the Eve of Thanksgiving, I share a meditation in this vein on the first phrase of the Nicene Creed to be followed in subsequent posts with reflections on the remaining phrases:

” We believe in God the Father, the Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth, and of all that is, seen and unseen.”

Beyond all imagining, I embrace the timeless Beginning, the  matrix on which  the whole of Creation is shaped and is moving;  a Heart, a force of Love, that is ever present in this moment as in the first moments of the Big Bang, drawing all things forward toward their completion and fulfillment in a larger pattern unknown.

I believe in the “father” of time as the universe expands, the “mother” of life who inspires all becoming, the “spirit” driving patterns that ebb and flow according to unseen fields of force.

I believe that more is unseen than seen. I believe that all knowing has its roots in the Cosmic Knower who yearns for unity in diversity, and that all knowing is always personal. 

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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trinity

In playing the piano, pressing one key is hardly making music. Intoning one note does little to  inspire. Pressing two keys is not much better, offering a musically lean sound; an incompleteness. It is only the intoning of three, a full chord ( the 1st, 3rd and 5th), that we move  toward music. Interesting, too, is that the chord itself is made up of notes a third higher up to the perfect 7th.

With chords in mind, we then sequence them and orchestrate their intersection to form musical phrases. So, until we reach the triads, we are missing dimensionality and fullness. One thinks of Bach and the exquisite, complex interweaving and harmonics that leave us  amazed – all of it an evolving musical phrase with roots in the Law of Three.

This reference to the mathematics of music serves as an experiential anchor for understanding the Sacred Trinity. A flight to thinking reductionistically in terms of Unity alone, is the intellectual equivalent of intoning a single note. This arguably diminishes the natural experience of the tri-fold movement that is so essential to music and, in fact, to the very structure of the universe: (e.g., the attraction of atoms to form molecules and molecules to form the complex chemistry of life).

Dualism, conceiving things in dyads, adds more dynamism but operates only along a tense two-dimensional polar axis: right – wrong, heaven – hell, love – hatred, light- dark, etc. The tension has no hope of resolution until arrival of  the 3rd. Mother and father join to conceive a child and thus family is born. In this example, the family is the arising 4th made possible by the triad ( Father, Mother, & Child). At the molecular level, two elements join to form a new molecule that has characteristics different from either of its constituent parts. With greater and greater complexification, as reasoned by Pierre Teilhard De Chardin, whole systems emerge. Each triad gives rise to a new entity, the 4th. The Law of Three is also at the heart of the thinking of Russian Mystic Gurdjieff who founded an entire system on the idea. 

In matters of mystical theology, this idea has great import. Reference to the “Heavenly Father” alone marks a first monotheistic step in human thinking about the sacred. Yet, the Father was still “ein sof, the unknowable One”, “the Other” and often fearsomely distant. Through the mystery of the Incarnation, we came to see the Father in the Son – the epitome of love and compassion. That relationship gives rise to the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete, completing the sacred musical chord. Once complete, consciousness moves inexorably toward greater complexity and the grand orchestration of the musical spheres carries us toward inner experiences that reason can never manufacture. Reason sets the table for epiphany but then must be transcended if we are to have the true knowledge of the Heart.

Trinitarian thinking is concordant with nature itself. Anything less weakens the spiritual engine driving us toward true knowing.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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This week I had the privilege of joining with members of our parish bible study group on a pilgrimage to the Shrine of Our Lady by the Sea at Manorville NY.

Besides time in dialogue on the origins of the rosary and its many forms, the highlight for me was strolling on the sites’s “Rosary Walk”. This circular path begins at a statue of Our Lady and circles back around to the statue thus mirroring the structure of the traditional 5-decade configuration. Beads are physically simulated with bushes: larger ones for the cruciform beads at which we announce the mysteries, and smaller ones denoting the 10 Ave Marias between each.

The way the mysteries were laid out at the mystery stops that separate the sets of 10 was striking. Bronze markers presented each of 4 mysteries: one joyful, one sorrowful, one glorious and one luminous. This accommodates whichever set of mysteries any given pilgrim is reciting on a particular day. The traditional expectation is that one set of mysteries is in mind per round.

With 4 possible mysteries confronting me at each station, however, I found myself reflecting across all of those presented without regard for staying within any given set.

This had an interesting effect on me. I felt moved to see the intersections and interdependencies among them in a fresh way.

Much of our spiritual lives is paradox. In fact, Christianity is full of irony and paradox: a crucified god, a messiah born to poor circumstances, a soter focused on the laity and forgotten of society, and teachings that collide constantly with usual thinking. My walk became a meditation on living at the intersection of the mysteries and not appreciating them singularly.

In great art, the play of light and dark is what renders images striking. In like fashion, the sorrowful moments deepen our receptivity to light, the rare luminous epiphanies when we see so very clearly. The joyful mysteries ( Mary’s “yes” to God) foreshadows the deep sorrows to come in accepting what is unthinkable for any mother: the death of a son. Likewise, the glorious mysteries point to the way of seeing into and beyond the time of sorrows:

” Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice; you will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy.” ( Jn 16:20)

Carl Jung spoke of”shadow work” as crucial: examining our inner darkness, facing it, and working through it. Making conscious what is unconscious is spiritually essential or our spirituality remains at the surface and we miss the deeper dive.

In future, I will once again allow the full spectrum of mysteries to parade across my mind as I enter into the paradox filled mystical heart of the Rosary.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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With a rich and diverse history dating back to around 800 AD, the practice of saying the rosary (or a  place where roses grow) blossomed rapidly.

Over the centuries, many forms  emerged. It was St. Dominic who first referred to the practice of reciting  three bouquets of  fifty prayers each (prayers tracing back to the lay Medieval practice of prayer after  monastic chanting of each of the 150 Psalms of David).

The symbolism is deeply rooted in Western consciousness.

As most species of roses have five petals each, it came to represent the five wounds of Christ and became quickly associated with the Virgin Mary, Queen of Heaven. The rose is the national flower of England and the U.S. state flowers of New York, Georgia, North Dakota, and Iowa. It is the recognized flower of Valentine’s Day and is often associated with love. It’s fragrance too has come to connote transcendent self offering, humility, grace and peace.

A walk in a rose garden with a set of rosary beads in hand is a wonderful way to invite all of one’s senses to open to the sacred mysteries.

It is the very essence of simplicity: walk slowly through the garden, slow down your breathing. Stop on each bead and breath peace. Bathe in the silence. No need to use a lot of words or any in fact.

Simple, easy, open and thankful.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Gentle immensities:  bark-worn, branch- torn,  grey-green friars,
tell me in whispers to what one aspires.

No fear, nor pretense, without want or bold opinion,
the maple giants speak of Knowing and Dominion.

” But humble moments –  fleeting filaments of time and space,
we reach for the Sun, our eternal face.

The All runs in our veins as we move unmoved, through storms, and cuts, falls and cold,
Knowing that the end is but the beginning, and the new rests on the old.”

Wisdom rises in simple Presence that calls on me to know,
that only Angels see tomorrows and which way the winds will blow.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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with nothing owed me nor fever to gain,

I am as refreshed as after cool rain;

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no thought of purpose, no hungry ambition,

I am totally open to hear your commission;

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to hear you is to love,

to love you is to hear;

I open myself up so you can draw near.

© The Harried Mystic, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

 

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