All posts filed under: Spirituality: Recent Highlights

Embracing the Shadows

“St. Teresa of Avila wrote: ‘All difficulties in prayer can be traced to one cause: praying as if God were absent.’ This is the conviction that we bring with us from early childhood and apply to everyday life and to our lives in general. It gets stronger as we grow up, unless we are touched by the Gospel and begin the spiritual journey. This journey is a process of dismantling the monumental illusion that God is distant or absent.” — Thomas Keating

Paths Along the Journey

Life presents us with many paths along our journey. Sometimes the pathways are lovely and make us feel good. Some paths are rugged and look hard to traverse; while others are just – well, ok. When we are presented with a new path, life asks us to make decisions. Do we proceed along the path we are currently treading or do we stop and take the new one being presented to us? It is always easier to go down the familiar road, but the fact that we are being presented with a new path means that we are up to the challenge of exploring a new journey, a new way of Being. The next time a new pathway appears before you, know that you are being presented with the prospect of a new journey – and that you have everything you need to face the challenges presented by the new path. Everything you need is within you. Photo courtesy of Morguefile

A Listening Walk

    This morning I took a Listening Walk. I love to take walks but this is the first time I paid attention to the sounds as I walked. I had always been a “visual” walker, and it was such a different experience to be an “auditory” walker. This Holy Week, I promised myself I would take a Listening Walk everyday until Easter. The idea for the Listening Walk came from a children’s book, The Listening Walk  by Paul Showers.  I Like to take walks, I take walks with my father and our dog. Our dog is called Major. He is an old dog and he does not walk very fast. We go down the street and we do not talk. My father puts his hands in his pockets and thinks. Major walks ahead and sniffs. I keep still and listen. I call this a Listening Walk. On a Listening Walk I do not talk. I listen to all the different sounds.  I hear many different sounds when I do not talk.     You can …

Writing and Silence

In a previous post I wrote, “The changing seasons seem to mirror the changes in my writing life. I am neither here nor there.There is a seeming tug of war within. And there is an unpredictability about it that I have not yet begun to understand.” The tug of war that I wrote about revolved around silence and writing. I was and am hearkening to the call to incorporate more silence into my life and I had no idea how silence would fit into my writing life. It was a conundrum that I faced daily since the beginning of the Lenten season,  a sort of Koan: How do I merge writing and silence? The answer came to me a few days ago: Write from the silence. It seems simple, but it will take a lifetime to explore this path. It was a surprise to find several websites that explore writing and silence. The International Association of Conscious and Writers featured an article on How to Strengthen Your Writing With Silence. In  Justen Ahren Demystifies his Monastic Approach to Writing, the poet …

BEing

Far from the turmoil that now hounds the earth is a state of BEing – a peaceful place available to everyone. It is far because people have distanced themselves from matters of Spirit. Life goes on as though the material world is all there is. Many have and continue to listen to the stirrings of Spirit, but they often find it difficult to reach higher levels of soul communication because of the trappings of the material world. It is when the spirit of Love pervades that one is able to successfully transcend the temptations of the material. Nowhere is there a place more perfect than this – the state of BEing.  — from Lights Along Our Path photo credit: Love to all my contacts* via photopin (license)

Dancing a Slow Dance

I feel like I’m dancing a slow dance. Priorities fall away one by one and I am left with one task at hand, and then another, and another. No multitasking, no running after time. It is a strange place, a landscape heretofore unknown. But I like being here, dancing to a slow tempo that allows the body to really feel life’s melody, and the spirit to relish every step. In this kind of life there is no need to rush, simplicity is the norm and wants and needs fall by the wayside. This is the life that Zen inspires. Many, many years ago I began to practice Zazen, which is basically the study of the self – a form of meditation that is very much at the heart of Zen practice. Zazen was life changing for me, and it has taken all these years to reach the pinnacle of this journey. And now the challenge is to find out how this new way of BEing can be applied to writing. In the Writing Life, Annie Dillard wrote: A …

Turning Aside

All monastic life centers around silence and solitude. These twin blessings are also the essence of a writer’s life. Writers need silence and solitude in huge chunks.  However, in an increasingly noisy world dominated by cell phones, mp3s, tablets and social media, we are barraged by constant stimulation. The renowned psychologist Wayne Edward Oates developed a technique called turning aside, which helps one find silence within even in the midst of turbulence. Turning aside means removing your focus from the chaos around you and shifting your focus upon a small object. Giving the small object your hundred percent attention trains the mind to shut off all the noise and chaos around you, and in time all that will matter to you will be the object of your focus. It is as though the noisy world simply recedes into the background. This exercise can be done anywhere and at anytime. It’s a great exercise for writers. I’ve practiced turning aside for many years. My brother taught me how to shut off the noise around me and fully focus on my intention or …

Simply Blossom

  The small, fragrant white blossom is the national flower of the Philippines. The sampaguita (jasminum sambac) is a hardy shrub with a multitude of blossoms at any given time.  As a young plant, the sampaguita is fragile and the blossoms oftentimes appear singly. A single, tiny flower the size of a big coin looks lonely. I couldn’t help but feel how we too, sometimes look lonely when we are alone.  When our size, color or lonesome state calls attention, we feel vulnerable and fragile. This tiny flower is so fragrant, that even if there is only one blossom, there’s a hint of its fragrance when the wind blows. We can be like that too, no matter how different we are from the rest, no matter how small we feel – or how alone we seem to be.  When we are true to ourselves and allow ourselves to be, we will simply blossom.

Meditation, Life and Tea

Drink your tea slowly and reverently, As if it is the axis on which the whole world revolves — Slowly, evenly, without rushing to the future. Live the actual moment. Only this moment is life. – Thich Nhat Hanh The best state of mind in which to drink tea is one of deep meditation. The second best is while looking at a beautiful landscape or listening to music. The third best is sharing a stimulating conversation. In all cases, it is necessary to aspire toward a quiet and tranquil frame of mind. – attributed to Chinese Zen Master Paichanng

Possibilities Often Missed

I almost missed seeing these fruits on a tree. I was walking a path that led to a tourist facility, and like everyone else, was focused on getting there. The sideshows presented by the trees went unnoticed.. My attention was drawn to these fruits only when three boys began to play beside the tree. Life dishes out so many opportunities that are ripe with possibilities – for peace, joy, comfort, solace…all the good things that could nourish the soul.  But we often miss seeing these opportunities because we are too caught up with the frivolities of the material world. Nature has so much to offer us, to teach us. May we all find more moments and images that would help us slow down and enjoy life in a more soulful way.