Last night I went to a talk by James Finley who is a former trappist monk, a psychotherapist, scholar, spiritual director and a retreat leader. This weekend there he is leading a retreat at First Community Church but I was only able to attend this Friday night offering.
As we arrived there, they had this message on the screen:
Find your practice and practice it
Find your teaching and follow it
Find your community and enter it
His talk was about both the Vision and the Path. The vision "bears witness to how we see." The Path is a way of life in which one comes to see the path of transformation.
He started out by sharing four thoughts with us
1.The contemplative way is about bearing witness to the already perfectly holy presence of God. Not just at inception but moment by moment by moment by moment. living so that we see life through awakened eyes.
2. It is a way of reflecting on the moments that we taste. This is true. Surely we are tasting the holiness of life.
3. Inviting us to be aware of how we tend to forget them.
4. Carefully consider how we are in these cherished moments compared to the rest of our life - "the root of all sorrow is estrangement from the contemplative self" We can live "strangely exiled from what I know is the presence of God" And our exile from what i know is the presence of God is the source of all fear and confusion.
I hope I am stating this right- I cannot in writing express how deeply his words went through me.
He talked about the decision to be a person of "Good Will." Asking ourselves always
"What is the most loving thing I can do for myself and for this community?"
He also said that the momsnt of awakenging is experiencing what i already know.
And he talked about being radical in our search for that radical childlike yearning.
Mystics are men and women who bear witness to the possibility of abiding consciousness.
He said that when we have awakened eyes we see God in a mother or a prostitute, a flower or a bird.
"We are the manifestation of what we are looking for. God is here - as the ongoing origine of our existence. God is smitten by us - hopelessly in love with us.
And the consummation is the reciprocity of love as we give ourselves to the one who loves us.
And he said that the moments of awakening are subtle, subtle, subtle. It comes as it comes, it is given as it is given.
Thomas Merton was his spiritual directory when he was in the monastery as a young man and he would ask these questions:
1. How's it going? What is it like being you here in this place?
2. How's it going with respect to your surrender to the mystery?
3. How's it going in discovering the intimacy of this love percolating up through you?
His two final comments were
- Merton bears witness to the mystical heritage of the Christian tradition
- Contemplation leads to social justice. In solitude we may experience God's love and our preciousness to God. And in our awakened state we see the preciousness of everyone else.
At the end of this talk we sat in silence for 5 minutes and prayed the Lord's prayer together. It was so holy and amazing.
I know that my writing is inadequate expression of a very holy evening. All I know is that God invites us always to stop, look, listen, open ourselves
My Mantra is: "I am here to be with YOU"
And this was a wonderful experience of being with God and makes me hungry for more..