Autumn Meditation: Letting Go …

Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.
— F. Scott Fitzgerald from The Great Gatsby

The Work of Autumn

In autumn we learn more about ourselves, perhaps, than in any other season. Having provided the harvest, Nature now makes everything bare. In this season Nature lets go of its abundant creation of the past year in a grand final display. Autumn marks the end of the growing season – a turning inward, a falling away of outer-directed energy. Leaves turn color and drop. The old leaves go back to the earth, enriching it to promote the coming of new leaves, a new harvest. Continue reading “Autumn Meditation: Letting Go …”

Desert Day 35: Humility And Contemplation …

Abba Xanthias said, “A dog is better than I am because a dog also has love but, unlike I myself, the dog does not pass judgment.”

Abba Sarmatas said: “I prefer a person who has sinned if he knows that he sinned and has repented, over a person who has not sinned and considers himself to be righteous.”

Humility and contemplation are the invisible twins of the spiritual life. One without the other is impossible. In the first place, there is no such thing as a contemplative life without the humility that takes us beyond the myth of our own grandeur to the cosmic grandeur of God.  In the second, once we really know the grandeur of God we get the rest of life – ourselves included – in perspective.  Reaching the moon told us how really insignificant we were in the universe.  We begin to rethink all our dearly held notions of human consequence.  Humility leads directly to contemplation. Continue reading “Desert Day 35: Humility And Contemplation …”

Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …

But there is this too. Respite. Rest. Letting the desert be the desert, without feeling compelled to bulldoze our way through it.

I think of a long stretch when I found myself in a soul struggle that had caught me entirely by surprise. Consumed by the wrestling and working and searching, I felt exhausted. After a time, my spiritual director, Maru, gave me this phrase: holy absence.

There are times, she said, sometimes seasons, for removing ourselves from the struggle. Time for sabbath. Time for rest. Continue reading “Desert Day 34: Holy Absence …”

Desert Day 33: Forgiveness Is Letting Go …

 

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
— 2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Forgiveness is simply the religious word for letting go. To forgive reality is to let go of the negative story line, the painful story line that you’ve created for it. If that story line has become your identity, if you are choosing to live in a victim state, an abused consciousness, it gives you a false kind of power and makes you feel morally superior to others. But let me tell you, it will also destroy you. It will make you smaller and smaller as you get older. You will find that you have fewer and fewer people you can trust, fewer and fewer people, if any, that you can love. Life itself becomes a threat. Your comfort zone becomes tinier and tinier. Continue reading “Desert Day 33: Forgiveness Is Letting Go …”

Desert Day 32: To Forgive Others Is To Forgive Ourselves …

To forgive our brother is to forgive
Ourselves —
We abandon our revenge;
Our lives have seen suffering enough.
We are tired and worn out with
Ourselves —

If we take revenge, it will be the cause;
The effect will follow me into my next life.
Look into the mirror; see the compassion
in your heart.
Avoid all resentment and hatred for Mankind.
— Le Ly Hayslip from A Grateful Heart

 

“Time heals,” people often say. This is not true when it means that we will eventually forget the wounds inflicted on us and be able to live on as if nothing happened. That is not really healing; it is simply ignoring reality. But when the expression “time heals” means that faithfulness in a difficult relationship can lead us to a deeper understanding of the ways we have hurt each other, then there is much truth in it. “Time heals” implies not passively waiting but actively working with our pain and trusting in the possibility of forgiveness and reconciliation. Continue reading “Desert Day 32: To Forgive Others Is To Forgive Ourselves …”

Desert Day 31: Love Your Enemies …

“The effect of righteousness will be peace, and the result of righteousness, quietness and trust.” —Isaiah 32:17

Loving Your Enemies

Probably no admonition of Jesus has been more difficult to follow than the command to “love your enemies.” Some men have sincerely felt that its actual practice is not possible. It is easy, they say, to love those who love you, but how can one love those who openly and insidiously seek to defeat you? Others, like the philosopher Nietzsche, contend that Jesus’ exhortation to love one’s enemies is testimony to the fact that the Christian ethic is designed for the weak and cowardly, and not for the strong and courageous. Jesus, they say, was an impractical idealist. Continue reading “Desert Day 31: Love Your Enemies …”