Photo from the 2016 film 'Arrival'
It is…said that our time is the age of the decisive fight between freedom and tyranny. It is true that such a fight is going on. But it has always been fought and I don’t believe that I could justifiably be called a pessimist for expressing my belief that this fight will never be over. It will go on, generation after generation, as long as human beings are human beings. Furthermore, this is basically not a struggle between political systems and ideologies, but a struggle within and for the hearts of men (and women), including our own. There is a Swedish proverb which says that it is always easy to agree on fighting the devil when you have him painted on the wall. But we can never forget that the real devil may also be within ourselves and all the more dangerous for not being...
Over the last year I’ve worked closely with the sick and the dying in the context of hospice as a chaplain. Mostly though, I have sat with caregivers still often wrestling with the shock of being flung into their current circumstances, many of whom are either, completely overwhelmed at the prospect and realities of care, coupled with the incipient grief of imminent loss, or, completely overwhelmed with gratitude at the beauty and privilege of caring for their sick and dying loved ones, with its intimate, though at times terrible, experience of embodied wonder.
Typically, both poles of this spectrum are held at some level. The difference lies in who’s driving the vessel of the human being.
Either the ungrounded mind is driving, while imposing brakes on the moving and emotional center, or, the mind entrained in the heart is driving while the moving center follows in moment by moment trust, with the intellectual and the emotional centers hanging and balanced, like supportive wings for the flight of faith.
Today is not a new day, unless allowed to be…
Today is not a test to be passed, nor a threat to be survived.
Today is not a riddle to be figured out, nor a stage to be performed upon.
Today is not mine to protect, nor is it yours for the taking.
Recently the Center for Action and Contemplation shared portions of Cynthia Bourgeault's commentaries on Thomas Keating’s final book, The Secret Embrace-A collection of evocative poetry, and, a beautiful final gift of writing from his life. I recently took Cynthia’s online course through spiritualityandpractice.com on this work. I wanted to offer several of my own reflections from the course that seemed to come more through me, than from me.
In taking on the task to investigate Gebser and his work and lest, I, and we, fall into the trap of perspectival seeing itself in trying to attain seeing-getting the next new thing in our own personal spiritual development. Where the Imaginal realm, or citizenship in the Kingdom of Heaven is seen as better or higher than, instead of ontologically objective, given as a birthright to be unveiled and stabilized in us as a viewing platform of the heart. Here the Imaginal’s meaning only matters in relationship to the whole of Creation-and therefore to all worlds and all beings. I offer a word of caution and context for my sense of where many of us are being led and called to hold posts within our community, communities and world.
Chosenness and privilege, in the universal sense of being a pixel of consciousness as human being, is and always has been equal to the role of service; not a reward for being “virtuous” or “morally admired” (ie the best of World 48). It’s this perspectival confusion of equating chosenness with specialness that creates and comes out of the closed loops of self-reflective thinking. Just look at most of the forms of Christianity many of us grew up in. But even now, from this place we confer positive or negative qualities on ourselves and others-often justified by our “spiritual work and development.” The minute we begin to think, “they” need to do their “inner-work,” we’ve inevitably left doing our own.
I was reminded today that the words for breath and spirit in most every great spiritual tradition are the same.
We all, from the lowest to the highest forms of complex life, share in the one great breath. The breath is our bridge of exchange between the finite and infinite realms. Before we can cry or speak or make sound out of the womb we must first breathe.
Truly it is up to the cosmic creator to give and take breath away.
Jonathan lives in the Rio Grande Valley of south Texas with his wife, dogs and three children. His Wisdom work comes out of a blend of the Christian Contemplative tradition and 4th Way spirituality with a focus on companioning others from the unified and collective field accessed through the heart. He is a life-long seeker who offers private Spiritual Direction in person or by zoom, one-to-one or in groups.