this tiny plot of land

When money is the goal, everything that cannot be translated into its terms gets squeezed out. The same happens with war, of course, and with any campaign toward a grand unitary goal. If you have ever been a crusader to save the world, you may have noticed how the little things that make life rich get deprioritized and squeezed out….

Environmentalism is reduced to a numbers game. We as a society are comfortable with that, but I think the shift we must make is deeper. We need to come into a direct, caring, sensuous relationship with this forest, this mountain, this river, this tiny plot of land, and protect them for their own sake rather than for an ulterior end. That is not to deny the dangers of greenhouse gases, but ultimately our salvation must come from recovering a direct relationship to what’s alive in front of us.

  • Charles Eisenstein, The Beautiful World Our Hearts Know Is Possible

the star that blazes in you

[There is a tradition of celebrating Epiphany as “Women’s Christmas.” Here is the ending of a poem by Jan Richardson for the occasion:]

… Do not expect
to return
by the same road.
Home is always
by another way,

And you will know it
not by the light
that waits for you

but by the star
that blazes inside you,
telling you
where you are
is holy
and you are welcome
here.

being present to life

It seems to me that spirit has something to do with the energy of our lives, the life-force that keeps us active and dynamic. Will has more to do with personal intention and how we decide to use our energies. Spirit, for me, has a quality of connecting us with each other, with the world around us, and with the mysterious Source of all. In contrast, will has qualities of independence, of personal freedom, and of decision making.

Sometimes it seems that will moves easily with the natural flow of spirit, and at such times we feel grounded, centered, and responsive to the needs of the world as they are presented to us. This may happen in times of great crisis, when we forget about our personal agendas and strivings and work in true concert with ourselves and others. Or it may happen quietly, with a spontaneous sense of being fully, actively, responsively present to life. At such times, it is indeed as if something in us had said yes. Then, at least for a moment, we are whole.

There are other times when will seems to pull away from spirit, trying to chart its own course. This may happen when we feel self-conscious or when we are judging ourselves harshly. Or it may occur when we are afraid or desirous of something. At such times, we may feel fragmented, contrived, artificial. Our movements and responses may become forced and unnatural, or we may try to avoid the situation by imposing an arbitrary passivity upon ourselves. At such times something deep within us is saying no, something is struggling against the truth of who we really are and what we are really called to do.

  • Gerald May, Will and Spirit: A Contemplative Psychology

no safe place

[a couple of Advent pieces from a church service this morning seemed worth sharing – don’t miss the song after the reading!]

So there’s no safe place. God, it seems,
might insert himself into any conversation,
any century. Might settle in – any old place,
as he quintessentially did in the West Bank,
Palestine, small town called Bethlehem.
The story is – God breathed himself
into the womb of a woman, turning himself
over to her umbilical care, folding himself
into fetal position, pressing and turning
inside Mary, ‘til she, breathing hard, bore down.
Mary’s womb turned inside out – amniotic
water, gasping infant, placenta spilling
into the night, messy and miraculous
as any birth anywhere and not a safe place.
Did he know – he must have – when he took on
flesh and fingernail and bone marrow,
he would be at our mercy?

For us too, no safe place. For you see what
he’s done – given notice how he, at any time,
might break into our conversation, West Bank,
West Coast, Bethlehem, Vancouver. There’s no place
safe from his radical willingness to be among us.

the landscape of the heart

[Leonard Cohen, when asked a question about Christianity:]

As I understand it, into the heart of every Christian, Christ comes, and Christ goes. When, by his Grace, the landscape of the heart becomes vast and deep and limitless, then Christ makes His abode in that graceful heart, and His Will prevails. The experience is recognized as Peace. In the absence of this experience much activity arises, divisions of every sort. Outside of the organizational enterprise, which some applaud and some mistrust, stands the figure of Jesus, nailed to a human predicament, summoning the heart to comprehend its own suffering by dissolving itself in a radical confession of hospitality.