Thursday, July 11, 2013

Spiritual Rhythms and Medievalists...

I have always enjoyed and benefited from the wisdom and the sharing of resources of Christine Sine's blog, Godspace.  Her most recent entry is on spiritual rhythms that create resilience.  I commend it to you, dear readers, as it reminds me that I need to recreate my sacred space which I have had to move due to changes in the domestic rhythm of Sequoia House [the name given to this house that had a giant sequoia planted in its' backyard in 1947 by the original owners and is not more, since 1999].  These are very wonderful and happy changes, but still there is a need to maintain one's center.  This article regarding spiritual practice and how such practice helps us to bounce back to a holy balance no matter the changes going on in one's life.   To read it all, please click on the link above to Godspace.  Here is an excerpt from the article:

The response to my post Enhance Your Spiritual Resilience – Five Practices that Make a Difference made me realize that this is a topic that needs to be fleshed out in more detail. This post is designed to help flesh out some of the practices. It draws from my book Godspace which specifically addresses some of these issues.

According to Christian anthropologist Paul Hiebert there are two types of rituals, habits or practices we need in our lives, what he calls rituals of restoration and rituals of transformation.

Rituals of restoration are the most common. These are the practices that restore our faith in the beliefs that order our lives. They also connect us to and anchor us in the religious communities in which these beliefs are expressed. Restorative practices are highly structured & do not change from day to day or year to year. They reaffirm our sense of order & meaning in the universe, our community & our own lives.  Most importantly, they intentionally connect our daily activities to the life, death & resurrection of Christ.

Possibilities include a rhythm of prayer that reaffirms what we believe, sabbath practices, weekly church gathering, taking communion, following the liturgical calendar and the use of liturgical symbols like the sign of the cross, candles, and incense. I even find that writing prayers for Facebook each morning and preparing my blog posts is a stabilizing and restorative ritual.

The thing about Medievalists is that they find nuggets of wonder in history, art, music and philosophy that we rarely touch upon.  I was delighted to find an obscure link that someone posted on Facebook that lead me to their FB page and also their website where I could sign up for a weekly newsletter.  Oh, now I remember.  FB friend Barbara B had posted a link that led me there.  The articles have left me wanting for more, and more I shall receive!  The articles touch on all aspects of life as we know it, but in the Middle Ages, some of the ideas were borne of interaction with foreign countries and the ideas of those places...for instance:

Theorizing the Crusades, The Jew Who Wasn't There, Medieval Pet Names, and Real Tennis and the Civilising Process.  True, not the most tantalizing-sounding topics, but then I didn't include all of each is truly amazing stuff, gems of history, of life that brought us to the present as we know it, and yet we don't know it all.

You can read more on all the various aspects of how we got to where we are by visiting the website, and reading all the obscure good stuff yourself.  

Spiritual rhythms of resilience and reading about the Middle Ages...I personally can't think of better stuff to read or write about at the end of a long day.

Humbly, your servant,

Credits:  the image of the candle and icon are from Christine's blog post of July 11, 2013, and the series of stained glass windows are from Hakuba.

Tuesday, July 02, 2013

Living in the Mercy...

It is 12:51 am this very early Tuesday morning.  This insomniac night happens when I have a lot on my mind, or in my heart and body, when thoughts refuse to hear the last bedtime story with any solace, and begin murmuring after the lights should go out, but they don't, and busy themselves with suppressed little jobs like posting an entry to a much neglected blog...and of course Thoughts think they can help moping moaning Muscles to lower their voices, so here is where those busy little thoughts have brought me.

I pulled a book of poetry off the library table in the living room, careful not to knock over or bump this candle, or that tiny brass incense burner, seemingly and haphazardly placed alone along the spines of books by Oliver, Shelley, Cummings, Spenser, Wyatt, Browning, Hopkins, Rumi.  Dickinson, Donne, Milton, Tennyson, Housman.  No,  I choose Levertov.  And here is what she said to me because the Spirit spoke it to her, and she had to pen it down:

To Live in the Mercy of God

To lie back under the tallest
oldest trees.  How far the stems
rise, rise, 
               before the ribs of shelter

To live in the mercy of God.  The complete
sentence too adequate, has no give.
Awe, not comfort.  Stone, elbows of 
stoney wood beneath lenient
moss bed.

and awe suddenly
passing beyond itself.  Becomes
a form of comfort.
                            Becomes the steady
             air you glide on, arms
stretched like the wings of flying foxes.
To hear the multiple silence
of trees, the rainy
forest sepths of their listening.

To float, upheld,
              as salt water
              would hold you,
                                      once you dared.

To live in the mercy of God.

To feel vibrate the enraptured

              waterfall flinging itself 
              unabating down and down
                                                     to clench fists of rock.
              Swiftness of plunge,
              hour after year after century.
                                                           O or Ah
              uninterrupted, voice
                                             To breathe
              spray.  The smoke of it.
              of steelwhite foam, glissades
              of fugitive jade barely perceptible.  Such passions~
              rage or joy?
                                                 Thus, not mild, not temperate,
              God's love for the world.  Vast
              flood of mercy
                                         flung on resistance.

 Much mercy has been shown to me these last 2-3 years, especially from very close friends and from my parish.  I know I would not made it in many ways without them and their apparent love for me.  So, the mercy shown to me, experienced by me, has reached sunless depths within my heart, soul and mind.  It is my prayer and hope, I can really begin to give back and reciprocate all of the kindnesses shown me.

Right now others deserve very special kindness with the loss of loved ones, living the memory of they who will await our arrival at the Gate.  The Stream and the Sapphire is a volume I recommend highly.   Much to point to and ponder, pray about and contemplate.