whole and entire

Our meditation teaches us how fully every part of us has to be involved in the radical conversion of our life. It teaches us that we have to put our whole heart into this work of the Spirit if we are genuinely to respond to the call to leave the shallows and enter into the deep, direct knowledge that marks a life lived in the mystery of God. Then everything in our life acquires this depth dimension of divine Presence. We are foolish to look for “signs” on the way – it is a form of spiritual materialism that Jesus rebuked – because if we are on the way, which means in the Mystery, in the bright cloud of God’s presence, then all things are signs. Everything mediates the love of God….

The “heart” is that focal point in our being where we can simply be in the Mystery without trying to explain or dissect it. A mystery analyzed becomes merely another problem. It must be apprehended whole and entire. And that is why we, who are called to apprehend it, must ourselves be one in mind and heart.

  • John Main, Selected Writings

generous space

[We’ve just benefited from the wisdom and experience of Wendy VanderWal-Gritter as she visited SSU. This is from her new ebook, which you can get from the link below]

If the goal of generous space is to nurture a positive relational experience of unity in the midst of difference, then we do well to test how the theology that undergirds the four core values of generous space serves to promote such unity. Humility calls us to live as incarnational people, willing to strip ourselves of privilege and status. Humility shapes us and prepares us to prefer the other over ourselves as we commit to listen deeply, suspending our desire to persuade and convince. Humility chooses to embrace God’s strategy of powerlessness to overcome systems of evil and injustice. Humility allows us to truly see the other….

Hospitality embraces the reality of difference with the anticipation of a richer and deeper sense of grace and truth as we travel together. When we
live in hospitable communities we ask, “Whose voices are missing?”

Mutuality challenges us to learn to divest and share power. It invites us to learn the grace of “power-with” instead of “power-over”….

We enlarge our vision of justice in the longing for all to flourish in the recognition that if, “I diminish you, I diminish myself.” Justice calls us to live out our interconnectedness. It invites us to cooperate with others to dismantle the barriers that prevent others from flourishing.

if I do not see…

[John Terpstra, poet and woodworker, visits SSU this week.]

Love your enemy, he said.
Do good to those who hurt you, he said.
Unreal, what he said. Fantasy. An offence.

If I do not see the face of the Maker in each face;
If I do not see the body of the one who won us over in all who suffer, and in the ones who out of their own suffering cause others to suffer;
If I do not see the spirit that animates all life breathing in and through each living human being;Then, what’s the point?

– John Terpstra, Skin Boat (2009)

limbs of one body

All men and women are to each other
the limbs of a single body, each of us drawn
from life’s shimmering essence, God’s perfect pearl;
and when this life we share wounds one of us,
all share the hurt as if it were our own.
You, who will not feel another’s pain,
you forfeit the right to be called human.

 

– Saadi Shirazi (Persian poet, 13th century – trans. by R. Newman)

keeping perspective

We shouldn’t seek the ideal community. It is a question of loving those whom God has set beside us today. They are signs from God. We might have chosen different people, people who were more cheerful or intelligent. But these are the ones God has given us, the ones He has chosen for us. It is with them that we are called to create unity and live in covenant.

It is difficult to make people understand that the ideal community doesn’t exist and that the equilibrium and harmony they imagine possible are things that come only after years of struggle, and that even then come only as flashes of grace and peace.

– Jean Vanier