Saturday, August 29, 2009

Life Hike

“Me thinks that the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow.”Henry David Thoreau

I love to hike. Each is different yet familiar. However, I believe that whatever you look at long enough, a message breaks through beyond the obvious. Often it’s because things are familiar, we really never get to know them. There exists a deeper reality beyond the reality we see. He who is unseen enables us to connect with a deeper reality on an ever-deepening level and ultimately with all that is, with all creation.

“Generally, the familiar, precisely because it is familiar, it is unknown,” Hagel writes. I felt a certain sadness when I first read that quotation. How often do we take what is familiar for granted? When we take something for granted we do not show it much respect, reverence. It appears to have no value for us.

This taken-for-granted attitude deprives us of the wonder-fullness of all that is, in our everyday life. I believe what St. Francis says, “there is nothing profane for him/her who knows how to see.” Gerald Manley Hopkins expresses this so well when he tells us that all of creation is charged with the grandeur of God. More than 60 million people hike in America. This multitude immerse themselves in the grandeur of the cathedral we call the great outdoors. With what result?

Speaking for myself, there have been very few times I have come off a hike without being in some way changed. When I encounter another part of creation, something is different. Creation meets creation in this encounter. The presence of the Creator dwelling within each of us reaches out and connects in a mysterious way. This encounter always leaves us aware there is something more in us and we want to connect with it. This “something more,” this Other, cannot be explained, defined or communicated with through the medium of words. Words are limited. What we want to communicate is our encounter with mystery. We can never understand or explain mystery neither can we ever exhaust its meaning. All we can do is have reverence. In the reverencing, we allow mystery to speak to us. It speaks, speaks, speaks and never exhausts itself.

With no offense to M. Scott Peck, life is not a road to be travelled, rather it is a hike to be taken. With each part of a hike completed, I become more aware of the deep connection between what I have just experienced and my ongoing understanding of the spiritual life. When you hike a trail, it offers many twists and turns. It will have ups and downs. On the trail, you will meet all sorts of stones. Some are little, some are big – we call those rocks. Some are flat and a comfort to your feet. Others are sharp and pointy, they threaten the comfort of your feet. These latter ones awaken you to the need to be more careful, more particular about where you step. Some of the larger rocks must be navigated either up or over or around with care. You are always making a decision about which is the right way to go. Which is the way that is not too risky or too dangerous? A decision is made with each step we take. Which is the way that is healthy and good for us? A spiritual life is ever and always about the present. It does not matter what has happened in the past. It is over. What does matter is how we attend to now. That is why there is that great similarity between hiking and a spiritual life. In both, all we have is this moment, this step. There is no other way to make progress along the trail, except through taking this one step. In the spiritual journey, all we have is the here and now. There is NO other way of meeting God, of encountering the mystery, except by our attention to the right now.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Our Choice...

Unfortunately, our lives are populated with people who spread the noisy and distracting voice of the trash-talker. They have become immersed -- without question -- to the sound. They blare into our lives the disquieting messages that life is about power, property and prestige. Value is the result of your ability to control, to win. Unless you live out of their concept of property, then you are immersed in poverty. If you do not reflect a life of prestige, then you are a nobody only taking up space in their world.

We are so lucky to be offered the voice of the Truth Seeker. He tells us by His words and through His deeds, there is another way of looking at reality. We are encouraged to look to the reality beyond the perceived. The Truth Seeker gives us, imparts to us where we are to look for real power, real property, real prestige. We will find all of these in places the trash-talker would be afraid to venture to. The Truth Seeker reveals to us that true power will come to us in our powerlessness. The Truth Seeker came to us with no property, except a broken humanity He inherited – our humanity. His prestige lay in the fact that He was a child of the local carpenter and his wife.

So the battle rages in our souls. Our well-being, our destiny, our salvation is the prize. Yes, there are two powers, two forces at war, but the forces are not equal. God’s power is all power. This is the source of our great hope. It affords us the hope we need to face the forces that want us dead, and our lives destroyed. We make the choice, life or death, hope or despair, fear or freedom. May the spirit of love, compassion, consolation, lead you to the freedom of being beloved sons and beloved daughters.

In order for the saboteur to be successful, he must be devious, a distorter, a detractor, devoid of mercy, a master of disguise, and most of all – a deceiver. The destructive force for evil in our lives is all of the above. Its language is “cunning, baffling, powerful, insidious and patient.” That is quite an enemy we have. The Scriptures warn that “the angels of darkness do appear as angels of light.” We are also reminded that every vice is a virtue taken to extremes.

God will never allow us to be tested beyond our strength. What is our strength? Only the active presence of the love of the infinite God. Our God who is always there for us, with us, and within us. We must ask for the faith to believe that whatever the saboteur does through all of his disguises, that it will never, and I mean never, have the power to overcome or overpower us. We are on God’s team, strengthened with His spirit, and we shall overcome whatever the obstacles living life may place before us. Yes, God and I can. We can, not I can. It is a We job!

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Truth Speaker

We have the choice to turn out the trash-talker and tune into the voice that is always there to remind, to reassure us of our essential, and eternal goodness, our eternal value. That quiet voice -- if and when we listen – tells us we are loved for what we are, not for what we did or did not do. It is a straightforward voice, with no conditions or restrictions, no reservations or limitations. It says, “I love you.” It is the voice that reminds us that we are precious.

This gentle voice is neither devious nor deceptive. It is a voice whose source is Life. It consequently wants us to live life in a healthy, meaningful way. Not a life lived in deception, discouragement, or despair. The trash-talker wants us dead. The voice of Real Truth wants us to live. This is the voice The Truth Speaker. The Truth Speaker as opposed to the trash-talker speaks to the truth of who we are, who we have been called to be, and always reminds us of who has done the calling. The Truth Speaker speaks to our essential goodness and to the Eternal truth that lies within each one of us. The trash-talker wants nothing of that!

We then have a choice:

• be in dialog with the Truth Speaker who is God reminding us of our essential goodness as His beloved son/daughter
• listen to the trash-talker who wishes to denigrate us into a life of Hell.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Saturday, August 8, 2009

The saboteur continued...

The saboteur attacks us under many disguises. We need to rely, always, on the x-ray eye of faith to identify the lies, the deceits, the falsehoods. The x-ray eye of faith will reveal our deepest truths, in spite of all the efforts of the father of lies, Satan. Our deepest truth -- that we are beloved sons/daughters -- will set us free to enjoy life to the fullest. The saboteur will do all in his power to prevent this from happening. His goal is to bring us to the point where we share his experience, which is Hell. Hell is that place where there is no love. Hell is a place we choose to dwell. God does not send us to Hell, we choose to go and dwell in that place of isolation and torment through the exercise of our own free will. We make a choice every moment of every day. “It is Heaven all the way to Heaven and it is Hell all the way to Hell.”

I learned to play golf in Ireland. My dad was my teacher, and a good one he was. Before I stopped playing, my handicap was in the single digits. (It is not a good sign when a priest is playing in single figures. It may mean the parish could be suffering.) I learned early that all golfers were not as polite on the course as my dad. [I played a lot with my friends who loved to bustle a lot.] When I came to America, that expression “bustle” I have found out could be translated into the expression “trash-talker.” How hard it is to play and concentrate on a game with a trash-talker. That is precisely their ambition. The trash-talker’s goal is to throw you off your game by distracting you from focusing on what you wish to accomplish. To distract you from the here and now. It is meant to antagonize you, discourage you, distract you from where you are and from what you are doing.

One of the many disguises of the saboteur is that of the trash-talker. The devil is THE trash-talker. He is always scheming, plotting to undermine our true value, our true self-worth, our true foundation, so he can substitute for what is rocky within. His goal is to substitute that which is really real with what is illusion and unreal. This will lead to our being disconnected from reality. When we are disconnected from reality we are ultimately disconnected from God. We must always be reminded that God is Reality. In all of our reality, whatever it may be – God is present. He is not present in the trinity of illusions which is could, should, would and all of their minions.

The trash-talker repeats over and over and over again words meant to denigrate you, your family and all that is near and dear to you. The trash-talker loves to bring up past mistakes, past failures to challenge your confidence in what you are doing right now. The trash-talker is out to sow seeds of fear in your ability. He needs the challenge of the present moment. The trash-talker shows no mercy until we are broken-down, beaten-down and destroyed. What the trash-talker has in mind, the trash-talker’s goal, is to make each of us a victim and remain in our victim-hood. But, we have a choice to make.

The dreamer’s journey continues…

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Introducing the saboteur

Many years ago, a popular poster showed a little boy, fully dressed, standing on a junk heap. The caption read: "God made me, and God makes no junk". Do we believe that? The harder question, if God doesn't make junk, why on earth do we treat ourselves or allow others to treat us as if we are junk? It is because we are listing to the wrong voice. There are dueling voices within us. One voice invites us to live in a world that is sometimes unbelievable. It is a world beyond our imagination, where we are living in freedom and the presence of our living God. Then there is the other voice, the voice of the saboteur, which does not want us to enjoy this wonder-full gift that is freely given.

The saboteur wants to destroy the goodness that is ours. It wants to destroy by every means imaginable, all that is healthy, all that is fullness, all that is Holy. The saboteur has the power to make this happen, make no mistake about that. But he does not have all the power. The All Powerful One is God. He is on our side and at our side, no matter what happens. He tells us fear not, "I am with you".

The saboteur, like all saboteurs, can seem to have some wisdom but lacks all wisdom. All wisdom belongs to the Holy Spirit who dwells within us. There is a GPS system that is God's Persistent Safety-net. The saboteur knows some of the truth, but he does not know all of the truth. All Truth is his enemy but our friend. We are defended by this Truth as adopted children, chosen children.

As chosen children, we are given the strengthening spirit as our inheritance. It is our inheritance we are to enjoy in the here and now. When we do not, what has happened? The voice of the saboteur dominates the airwaves of of our hearts, souls and minds. It is a noise that wants to drown out the voice of Truth that reminds us "we are the Beloved. We are precious...the apple of our God's eyes."

The dreamer's journey continues.....