Our relationship with the earth involves something more than pragmatic use, academic understanding, or aesthetic appreciation. A truly human intimacy with the earth and with the entire natural world is needed. Our children should be properly introduced to the world in which they live.
On the last day of the 2014 Hearts on Fire retreat, “Tending the Tension Between Doing and Being”, participants were asked to share a word or phrase that summarized the retreat for them, something they would take away with them as they went back to their corners of the world. For the participants, these responses encapsulate their time apart. For others, these responses may simply be words and phrases. I would encourage you to use these responses as an opportunity to take a pause break. Read them slowly and reflectively. Whether you attended the retreat or not, maybe these are words and phrases that can help tend the tension between doing and being.
“Picturing God must precede any speaking about God, for our pictures accompany all our words and they continue long after we fall silent before God. Images – the language of the psyche – are the coin of life; they touch our emotions as well as our thoughts; they reach down into our bodies as well as toward our ideas. They arrive unbidden, startling, after our many years of effort to craft them.” -Ann Ulanov (from Picturing God, Daimon Verlag, 2002, pg. 164)
She cradles the babe so tenderly
in arms of love,
neck curving as she gazes down,
an arc of grace,
part of the circle created by two
merging into One.
treasuring moments of unity;
satisfied and content,
basking in mutual delight.
One day the sun admitted,
I am just a shadow.
I wish I could show you
The Infinite Incandescence
That has cast my brilliant image!
I wish I could show you,
When you are lonely or in darkness,
The Astonishing Light
Of your own Being!
(from I Heard God Laughing, trans. Daniel Ladinsky)
“A Sufi tells of the old, old woman who was on pilgrimage to the shrine at the top of the mountain at the height of the monsoon season. ‘You will never be able to climb that mountain in weather like this’, the innkeeper said on a dark, wet night. ‘Oh, my friend’, the old woman said, ‘that will be no problem at all. My heart has been there all my life. Now it is simply a matter of taking my body there as well.’ It is time now in religious history to form from pilgrimage; to ignore the storms around us and to press on, press on, press on to where our hearts await our bodies this very day.” —Joan Chittister OSB
Hannah Ward and Jennifer Wild, editors, The Monastic Way: Ancient Wisdom for Contemporary Living; A Book of daily readings, (Grand Rapids, Michgan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2006), p. 17.
If you are at manual labor in your room and it comes time to pray, do not say: ‘I will use up my supply of branches or finish weaving the little basket, and then I will rise,’ but rise immediately and render to God the prayer that is owed [God]. Otherwise, little by little you come to neglect your prayer and your duty habitually, and your soul will become a wasteland devoid of every spiritual and bodily work. For right at the beginning your will is apparent.
Hugh Feiss, Essential Monastic Wisdom: Writings on the Contemplative Life, (New York: HarperCollins Publishers Inc., 1999), p.40.
John Wesley’s common phrase “inward and outward holiness” emphasized the essential link between heart holiness and holy living. Referring to I Peter 1:15, Wesley writes, ”perfection is another name for universal holiness – inward and outward righteousness – holiness of life arising from holiness of heart.”
First Peter 1:15 instructs us, “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct.” No dimension of life, from our attitudes and sexuality to our use of money and care of the earth, falls outside the scope of holy living. We are to have the mind of Christ (Phil 2:5), walking just as Jesus walked (I John2:6).
The Wesley Study Bible, Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2009, Page 1506.
One of the elders said: Just as a bee, wherever she goes, makes honey, so a monk, wherever he goes, if he goes to do the will of God, can always produce the spiritual sweetness of good works.
Thomas Merton,The Wisdom of the Desert, Boston: Shambhala Library, 2004, Page 160.
fount of courage, life within life of all that has being!
O sacred breath O blazing love O savor in the breast and balm flooding the heart with the fragrance of good, O limpid mirror of God who leads wanderers home and hunts out the lost,
O current of power permeating all in the heights upon the earth and in all deeps: you bind and gather all people together.
A Prayer from Hildegard of Bingen, trans. by Barbara Newman, “Sequence for the Holy Spirit,” in Saint Hildegard of Bingen, “Symphonia”
(SAVE THE DATE)
July 30-August 2, 2018 at Trinity Retreat Center
Speaker: Jane Vennard
Topic: Tending the Soul: Spiritual Practices for Spiritual Directors and Retreat Leaders