Saturday, October 27, 2012
I have returned from my wanderings and hope my wonder-rings will continue. I have left behind, but carry in precious memory, the wonder-full sights. The sights and sounds of the fountains created by spouting of whales. Those awe-full, mystery filled moments, as I was privileged to walk among the redwood giants. To be almost overwhelmed with the crackling silence that is part and parcel of that experience. How great it is to be able to be immersed in the rain forests, and be caught up in the hidden mysteries their existence communicates. Then there is the symphonic sounds of the surf. There is the gentle adagio of lapping waves which lulls one to sleep. Then there is the majestic, thundering sounds of the angry, crashing surf. Two sides of the same reality. As with nature, so it is with you and I. Reminds one of what it means to be a spiritual being having a spiritual experience. The more we are drawn to the reverence of nature, the more we drawn into an ever deepening reverence for life as we are privileged to live it. We will no longer find ourselves just existing, but having life and "having it to the fullest". So spoke The God-Man, Jesus Christ. In this way, we are entering the life our God has intended us to live, as revealed by His Beloved Son. I have returned to the familiar, yet mysterious desert landscapes. As I return, I find myself more open to their uniqueness, and the new lessons to be learned. Are we ever too old to drawn into mystery? I am now more ready to be taught new lessons in a place which is so ancient and so new. As I hike ancient trails, both here and away from Arizona, I get caught up in a wondering that goes as follows. Who was the first to blaze this particular trail? Was it man, or was an animal? So many of the highways and byways we travel were first travelled by animals. Humans came and followed the trail they had worn from their everyday, and every season wanderings. Did they realize that what was common, and so ordinary for them, was a beginning of something that would have lasting effects. Many of those trails which were so common are now ways that allow thousands upon thousands, to experience places of great awe, and deep wonder. Most of those who have gone before, The Ancients, The First People, remain largely unknown, and so many, are long forgotten. The results of their labors nourish us, as they have nourished all those who followed them. We are the beneficiaries of their efforts and sacrifices. This is, ever and always, the story of all of creation, and in particular, the human race. Into this story has entered The Divine God, and so we now view all history as salvation history. A history story that is "ever ancient and ever new". A story that tells of, the easy it was, the way it is, and the excitement of looking forward to the future with greater hope for ourselves and for all of creation. Not just have humanity, but for all creation. This will only happen on the condition that we are always having our lenses of faith adjusted, so we are able to see The Real, God, The Divinity, revealed in all that is. You and are being asked, no, not asked, challenged, to enter “The Year of Faith” so as to rediscover the hidden beauty, and the rich meanings that are hidden from ordinary sight. We are asked to enter that which is "ever ancient and ever new" so as to find the trigger that will release a torrent of good news. This torrent good news will of itself trigger a new evangelization. A new outpouring of good, revitalizing, revivifying news which will bring new hope and confer deeper meaning to our wounded, and troubled world. We are the inhabitants of world that has lost its sense of the sacred, and its reverence for mystery. We constantly hear the prophets of doom preach their self originating message of hopelessness, and helplessness. To counteract theses efforts we are, not only this year but always, to deepen our sense of the sacredness of all that is. The seen and the unseen has The Creator as their source of being. (Hence, their sacredness.) We are being challenged to sharpen our lenses so the presence of mystery becomes more and more part of all that we do, and are. Where you stand is ALWAYS a holy place. Our ancestors in faith were deeply aware of the presence of the sacred in all of the so called "ordinary' people, places, and actions, of their day. In the deepest sense they were a sacramental people. That is sacrament with a small "s". I like to think that sacrament with a small "s"; Is each and every person, place, event, action that brings us closer to the realities of life, and ultimately to Reality Itself. That Reality is called God. I have always treasured the following prayer of St. Augustine. I hope you will find it to be a direction prayer for this Year of Faith. I read it first back in 1957, just after entering the seminary. "Late have I loved Thee, O beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved you. For behold You were within me, and I was outside; and I sought you outside in my ugliness fell upon those lovely things You made. You were with me but I was not with You. I was kept from you by those things….You called out and cried to me and broke upon my deafness, and sent forth Your light and shone upon me and chased away my blindness….I tasted You and now I hunger for You and thirst for You; You touched, and I burned for Your peace. "As it was with St. Augustine so it has been with so many over the centuries, and is true in our world today. Augustine had St. Monica for his journey. We are all called to be beacons of light, bearers of good news. We are asked to respond to the Pope as he encourages us, "to rediscover the journey of faith so as to shed ever clearer light on the joy and renewed enthusiasm of the encounter with Christ”. (Porta Fidei)
Saturday, October 13, 2012
"Climb the mountain and get their good tidings. Nature's peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The wind will blow their freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like falling leaves." John Muir one of the wildernesses greatest champion penned this many years ago. Today, more than ever we desperately need to take his advice. We as individuals, families and nation are in great need of a source of peace. A source that will touch our, hearts, souls and minds. A source that will be available to all and at a great price. Mother nature surrounds us with her many, many gifts. These vivifying, transforming gifts are offered to each of us free of charge. Are these gifts always accepted? Unfortunately, no, is the sad answer. As human beings we are endowed with the gift of free will. We for our part , have been given the freedom to enjoy, celebrate or ignore. Why is it that these gifts are so ignored? Very simple these wonder-full gifts have become so familiar, we have lost the ability and the desire to delve into the wonder, The Mystery both hidden and revealed in that which is real. We, as members of the human race ,of our essence, are religious. (Again, this is what I had to learn early on in the priesthood: "You do not put religion into humankind, you create that which will free that which is already within. As it was so it is, and ever shall be.) We all called to encounter The Mystery, The Real. Because of this encounter we are slowly led to an ever deepening awareness of the sacredness of, the real. We will be drawn into an ever deeper encounter with the mystery that lies deep within. If it lies deep within, then it only stands to reason we will have to go deep. Nothing of value will come to us unless the take that risk of plunging into the depths. We will also come to realize we are somehow hardwired, designed, programmed for this inner journey. It is our real destiny and the real source of our peace and happiness. Apart from this journey there is no lasting peace, there is no lasting happiness. I really enjoy the following words of Bishop Desmond Tutu, spoken in 1994. "We were made to enjoy music, to enjoy beautify sunsets, to enjoy beautiful sunsets, to enjoy looking at the billows of the sea and to be thrilled with a rose that is bedecked with dew…Human beings are actually created for the transcendent, for the sublime, for the beautiful, for the truth-full…and all of us are given the task of trying to make this world a little more hospitable to these beautiful things." Blessed Mother Theresa is quoted as saying; "We need to find God, and He cannot be found in noise and restlessness. God is the friend of silence. See how nature-trees, flowers, grow in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence. We need silence to be able to touch souls." All of the above is good news. This is the good news that must be announced, broadcasted to our desperate world. This is one aspect of The New Evangelization we are now being introduced to. More on that in the weeks to come. Our world is desperate, just as we are, for that which will connect the reality of the human experience, with The Sacred, Who The Source of all reality. This connection will release a new sense of wholeness. A new sense of holiness, leading to celebrations that celebrate the presence of The Sacred in all that is. We then will no longer have liturgies, celebrations without soul. These community celebrations will speak to the depths of our being. We will become more and more at home with who we are, what is happening in our immediate universe. These celebrations will foster a faith, renewed belief in the goodness of all that is. We will begin to see our world, and all creation through a new set of lenses. We will accept our dignity, and responsibility to be so-creators, and co-perfectors on an ever evolving creation. This may sound like a dream, right? No this is not a dream. This is the reality that can be ours as when we let go of fear and trust the Holy Spirit as it blows ever new over what we may seem to be chaos. The Spirit, unfettered by the restrictions imposed by the fear-full, works wonders with, and within the chaos. The Spirit has been dealing with chaos since the beginning of time, right? Is it not until we accept, surrender to that terrible reality that we are powerlessness over the chaos of our lives will we ever enter into that place where the Spirit is free to make all things new. Not give us anything new. Our lives will be somewhat the same, only somehow different. It takes time to adjust to the newness, for ourselves, and those who sure our lives. If this process does not happen then that which comes to us from the Cree Nation will become our personal reality and the cosmic reality; "Only when the last river has been polluted, and the last tree has been cut, and the last fish has been caught, will we realize we cannot eat money."
Sunday, October 7, 2012
Into the winter of my memories, the thoughts that spring from the springtime of others, become that which brings about renewal, refreshment and revitalization. This is an experience that is so difficult to express in words. Why? Because words, at least the words I know, are so limited and limiting. All words are limited by definition. Definition springing from the finite mind of human beings. Fr. Rohr says at one time we had the language to communicate the deep reality within, but we lost that language. This is part of our present-day poverty. So for me to communicate, with confidence, that which is my depths I must rely on the thoughts and the wisdom of others. "The redwoods, once seen, leave a mark or create a vision that stays with you always. No one has successfully painted or photographed a redwood tree. The feeling they produce is not transferrable. From them comes silence and awe. It's not only their unbelievable stature, nor the color which seems to shift any vary under your eyes, no, they are not like ant trees we know, they are ambassadors from another time." That is the famous quote of John Steinbeck after his visit to the Redwoods. I followed in his footsteps this summer, as I have done a number of previous summers. I have taken a great number of photos of that place of mystery, awe and wonder. I was wounding why I was never satisfied with any of those pictures. Now I realize, after reading that quote, I was attempting to capture the timeless through an action in time. A fool’s errand. This summer I was privileged to wander through, and wonder at, the Redwoods near Eureka,California. The silence was truly amazing. It was, to build on Steinbeck, awe-full, wonder-full. I described it as “a silence that crackled". That is a contradiction in terms. That is a paradox. How often have we been told that paradoxes stretch us, and bring us to a place we otherwise would never go to. Now add mist and you are really taken to another reality. A reality we in the desert cannot relate to. There is no way to describe the feelings and emotions as one journeys along the trail that leads through the mist shrouded trees. You can only see a short distance ahead. You lose sight of the trail as it disappears into the mist. Look behind you and the trail is also lost as it too is lost in the mist. (A great paradigm for my life.) On each side shadowy, ageless sentinels appear to stand guard drawing attention to the fact this is a sacred place. As one begins to focus on where one is at and what one is doing, a special gift is given. A gift beyond the descriptive power of words. Words cannot describe, or explain mystery. Mystery cannot be explained, or described, it can only be entered into, again, again and again ad infinitum. The redwoods, for me and many others, are places of mist and mystery that keep calling on us to return. The result ,we are mysteriously led, so very gently, into an ever new, and an ever deepening sense of wonder. "I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essentials of life, and see if I could learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived". That is the famous quote of H.D.Thoreau. Another great champion and defender of nature was John Muir. There is a wilderness named after him. He wrote the following, "Keep close to Nature's heart…and break clear away, once in awhile, and climb a mountain or spend a week in the woods. Wash your spirit clean. This one I really like. I have found it to be so true for me. “Earth and sky, woods and fields, lakes and rivers, the mountain and the sea, are excellent schoolmasters, and teach some of us more than we can ever learn from books." (John Lubbock) "I drank the silence of God from a spring in the woods" (George Traki). It is such a privilege to be able to experience that which I am able to experience at this stage in my life. It is a true gift. Because of this I am becoming more aware of The Sacred, The Mystery, in all that is. I am becoming more aware of my Celtic roots. I am now able to understand why ii was so easy for my ancestors to accept Christianity. Ireland was converted without anybody being martyred. It was such an easy step from the religion the Celts embraced and practice. That was a religion based on the sacredness of time, space ,and place. So it was an easy transition to accept and come to believe in the One God, and the many manifestations of His/Her presence. There was a religion in Ireland. It was what theologians call, natural religion Natural religion was practiced by our ancestors for 70.000 years. (O Muruchu) He also points out formal religion has only existed for about 5,000 years and counting. We, then, are part of the ongoing formation and evolution of which has it's origins in the mists of history. This evolution continues within the reality of our being, and within all of creation, wherever and whatever that reality may be. Hence all this is, is vivified with the Spirit, who is bringing all that is into a wholeness. We may not be able to see this new creation as it occurs, but it is happening. As it was in those days of old, so it is today and will be until the end of time. Nothing can prevent the emergence of this new reality. It is happening in and through all the realities of your everyday experience. We, then, must reverence the present. We must also have a deep reverence for that which is past, ancient. We have to again reclaim the reverence for the sacred presence in all of nature. Before it is too late, we have to accept our interdependent. Nobody acts alone. That adage, "What I do is nobody else's business", no longer holds water. It is a lie. We are so interconnected all our individual thoughts, and actions have a lasting effect on the whole of creation. We have the responsibility to nourish, and care for our hearts, souls and minds. We must not only acknowledge but grow in the acceptance of this fact, "As I am so is all of creation". Nature is our mother, our mother will feed us only that which will fulfill our mutual destiny, hers and ours. May you be blessed in all your wanderings and wonderings knowing when you stand will always be a holy place.
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