Tag Archives: Prose

No Thing

One day there will be no day

No thing

To call me back

Because it and I exist.

Only being with you.

No thing to distract

No thing to occupy

No thing to get on with

There will be nothing.

No reality to resign myself to.

There will be Love

With no thing to compare it to

To hold it in

To hem it around.

No thing left and nothing will indeed be well.


Where’s My Soul: Neil and Tim Finn. Loving and Experiencing From Your Essence (Soul Part Two)

Soul can also be about identity. Christian spirituality attests that hidden in the mysterious depths of soul is the essence of who we are. To nourish our soul is to love that deep self. Sometimes this nourishment means being other-centred in our actions and intentions, sometimes it does not. Ultimately though, all love of soul is about growing in a love that is not self-obsessed. Self-obsession is not consistent with Divine Love or the deeper self. Human maturing is about the risk of growing into a forgetting of our own self-consciousness, and so losing self-obsession, so we might express in ever growing fullness that deeper essence of who we are. That deeper, truer self has no need to neither remember itself nor forget itself. It is simply being-in-love and already at one with the Divine within us. The Christian mystic St. Theresa of Avila calls this deeper self simply our spirit.

The question ‘where’s my soul’ is often about the search for a way to live from this deeper self. It can be a question, however, that risks leaving us at the ‘surface’ of soul as we search for something deeper. ‘Where’s my soul’ can be a self-conscious question keeping us at the self-conscious level as we attempt an answer. It can work against going deeper.

So what can we do to go deeper? What can we practically do if we are to live from and experience this being-in-love and our deep oneness with Divinity?

Tim and Neil Finn start to point to an answer in the words “I’ll go up with my conscience clean, down below they’re looking for me, and I know you’ve got my soul”. These lines remind me of the poetry of St John of the Cross (another Christian mystic). The image here is of someone ‘going up’ to experience something deeper, away from the surface looking of self and others and into the experience of forgotten deep soul. This dynamic, in the Christian story, is called contemplative prayer. It means loosely to ‘co-temple’, to experience communion with the Divine and all in our own being-in-love.

The practice of Christian meditation could be seen as a readying for contemplative experience. Through the practice of giving more and more of our attention to a mantra, over time, there happens a transformation in the way energy is used in the soul. Over time there occurs deep healing in the soul and the need for self-consciousness grows less and less. Some of us may need other ways as well such as therapy and/or the working through of painful memories and hurt in this process. The overall goal here is to gently and naturally move past the surface of soul so that more and more energy is then available for the deep soul.

The commitment to a mantra helps with this process of moving attention to the deeper soul. In this process it can be important to feel the mantra sounding in the lower body, in the chest or the gut. This helps to move attention away from the head. The head is that part of the body where we tend to experience life at the surface of soul.

With regular practice there will be a sense emerge of deepening into the soul as grace through the mantra moves attention downwards. Hand in hand with this there will be a growing experience of inner silence and stillness. Don’t, however, go into meditation expecting these things to happen. Expectation can be a distraction during meditation. Expectation, like other ‘residents’ of surface soul (elements like thoughts and images) will be forgotten as attention falls deeper. What is most important first is a growing faithfulness to and trust in our meditation practice.

Any contemplative experience of the Divine and our being-in-love is a divine gift. Meditation cannot make it happen. Meditation prepares us for the gift’s reception into our lives. Only the Divine can give the gift. Whether it is given or not is secondary. What is of greater importance is the energetic transformation of soul.  The ongoing practice of Christian meditation is, for many, an integral part of this transformation. The fruit is an ongoing and practical growth in the life of love and silence. Through this ongoing transformation all of soul, both its ‘depth’ and ‘surface’, come to participate more and more in the loving nourishment of all.

Who are we? Ultimately we are being-in-love made for Love. Our mysterious and true identity could be described then as an ideal. Human maturing is the gentle and compassionate, limited and humble, at times painful, other times joyous and at all times soulful movement towards this ideal. While it is not possible for us to live fully this ideal here and now, it is possible, with grace, to experience something of it and allow this ideal, this fully Real that is the divine life, to change us bit by bit into who we most deeply already are.


The River and the Bridge X

St. Teresa of Avila once wrote of seeing Jesus with the ‘eyes of her heart’. Was she deluded? Was she just the casualty of malign suggestive thinking, a thinking that had somehow colonized her psyche thanks to too many years spent living in sixteenth century Nunneries? We know better now don’t we? The Modern Mind is free of such misadventure, isn’t it?

I wonder what would happen if more of us became less identified with our rationality and allowed the heart – that deep place of mind – to rise up more and more into consciousness. Yet how can we let it happen if we don’t know how to let it happen? Are we trapped in rational explanations and evidence at the expense of the balance that heart can bring?

We are human beings – spiritual, rational, and emotional. The path of life is about coming back to the integration of these. For some of us experiences happen on this path, experiences that others may name as completely irrational – and irrational for them means delusion. Yet for others the irrational can mean, on occasions, experiences that cannot be explained rationally, experiences that do not need to be explained rationally.

The Enlightenment has made the embrace of the ‘contemplative vision’ a courageous act, an act of foolishness. And yet, for Christians, the Risen Christ lives on.

X

I see her again.

Neediness moves in me

 It craves love and attention

It is not the freedom of Love.

.

I must be alone

 To sit with this,

 Away from compulsion.

I go to the chapel.

 Alone I feel a longing for Love mingle with craving.

Am I loveable, am I worthwhile?

.

Time passes.

I sense the presence of my Brother.

My spirit sees Him and knows who He is.

‘What do you know?’ He asks.

‘I know you can heal me.’

‘Then let it be done.’

.

I open as best as I can to allow Him.

I sense His embrace in my chest.

Gently He holds my needy heart.

I feel the warm healing of His holding.

.

 I allow.

.

After a time I sense His embrace in my head,

I feel there the warmth of His Love.

Gently He loves the feebleness of my thinking,

He heals my fearful disorder

 .

 I allow.

.

In the silence there is focus on His warmth.

He heals me from the battle for living and from what brings the battle on.

Neediness recedes,

Disorder unbinds.

.

Jesus, my Brother, my Master – thank you.

.

‘You are my disciple, you are my brother, and you are my friend.

 We have journeyed long into the depths of this life.

I am so very proud of you.’

.


The River and the Bridge IX

As we grow we lose innocence, or at least lose touch with it. We begin to become more aware of ourselves, our actions, the impact we have on others and the world. We begin to fear. We begin to compromise. We make decisions, mostly unconscious, about how we can best be loved; about how we can best fit in. The child in us, those experiences and memories of earliest being, can be lost. Childhood becomes covered and exiled, deemed no longer relevant to a life that must now grow into responsibility.

What is responsibility? Part of it is the re-learning, the re-discovery of our own innocence and openness to the gift that is life. New parents and new grand-parents can tell us something about this re-discovery. And in the playfulness of lovers we often see children emerging from deep sleep.

The seeds of innocence can sprout again in the vulnerability at the heart of our most intimate relationships.

Divine Love is in all of this, calling us home to a full experience of a human life. When we are aware and quiet enough we can see that this Love  makes an Icon of Creation. Creation, all of it, is soaking in what our hearts desire the most. Becoming as little children is seeing this, experiencing this, again and again.

IX

I remember as a child being scared of imagining what I wanted.

 If I imagined, would it happen,

 Or would the world of imagination reach into the world of stuff

and steal what I wanted the most?

.

I feel a child’s desire to be at the river again,

Before I begin to think too much,

Before distraction lures attention away,

And again I lose conscious sight of Love.

.

I listen and walk back to the valley.

I climb through The Eye,

Down the steep gully,

To the bank below.

.

In the presence of the river wonderings settle.

 There is calm here.

 It’s flow helps me come back to the flow within.

 Soon I find myself, again, in the presence of Love.

.

Grey clouds begin to fill the sky.

 The day darkens.

 Thunder echoes in the valley.

Blue and grey become one.

.

 Soon rain falls on the river.

 As water hits water light explodes on dark green surface.

The face of the river looks like the night sky, flashing and twinkling.

I am in awe.

.

 I lay back and surrender to the flashing and twinkling of Love.

 The river has become my Icon.


The River and the Bridge VIII

If our experience of Love is to be true and full, it will be about more than just our own self. Love is forgetful of self and is happy to be so. The flowering of this self-forgetful Love in our lives happens only because of Love’s presence and activity.

For all of us some self-focus is a part or our living into Love and is necessary. We are human after all. However self-focus is not the natural end point of Love. Love’s nature is one of other-centered expression and care. Compulsed self-focus is loved by Love however it is not of Love.

If we do find it a challenge to look beyond our own lives and challenges, then perhaps this is because Love has not yet finished with its other-centered focus on us. This is okay. It’s a dynamic that will last – to some extent – for all of our lives. At these times we are invited by Love to practice the opening of our humanity to the action of Love. This opening is a natural human response which Love itself can help us with. With time and healing, we find ourselves joining more and more with Love’s other-focus and embrace of the world. Our attention finds a natural home in Love’s other-focus because we are created by this Love and for this Love.

VIII

On the walk back from the bridge

I feel deep contentment.

The River of Love flows deeply within,

Filling vulnerable places.

.

Soon I flow with Love for the people around me.

At Mass the old priest forgets the words

And anxiety spreads across his face.

I see this and my heart fills with Love for him.

.

I see an old woman walk slowly across the lawn.

I stop ready to help.

Love flows from my heart,

A love for her and the dignity of her years.

.

I see beauty with blue-grey eyes.

In the silence she sits next to me,

And the longing for companionship grows.

Amid this longing, Love for her flows.

.

I look upon all those with me,

I smile and tears well in my eyes.

This is how God looks upon us every moment of our lives: with nothing but Love.

God is Love

And there is nothing to fear.


The River and the Bridge VII

On the journey into Love’s experience we can reach moments where our experience of Love begins to challenge the influence we allow fear to have over us. In these moments our experience of Love moves against the grain of fear and the limitations that fear can impose. We grow restless, we feel anger, resentment, longing. Finally we come to enough is enough. In this dynamic Love and Love’s experience stand with us as we slowly turn against the patterns that fear has worn into our minds and hearts. In these moments of grace we allow grace to support and transform our minds and hearts. In time and with enough of these moments, we can grow in Love, and we can find ourselves acting with Love even for fear itself. We come to discover and name the ways through which fear has attempted protection and dominion over us. It may be that we have to keep re-visiting these moments of tension between fear and Love until fear melts enough. Each time we do we move a little more from fear’s influence while moving gracefully into Love’s embrace. In this Love our humanity is let loose to experience the communion between our being and God. In this union of Love our being shines and the world notices. We live more deeply with Love for the world.

 

VII

Fear tries to tell me that here on the bridge I am safe,

far above the unpredictability of life and love.

‘What if you can’t handle a life of love?’

‘What if God asks you to do something you don’t want to do?’

‘What if you don’t want what you think you want?’

Fear is the hall of mirrors man,

the one who would have me in the safety of confusion.

Again frustration and anger rise within me.

I have at last had enough of fearful rendezvous.

I snap.

‘What do you want from me’ I yell at fear.

‘Nothing seems good enough for you.

How dare you come between me and the River, between me and Love!

I will love my deepest desires, they are loved by God.

I will be happy in the living of them!’

‘Don’t go down there,’ (he points to the valley below).

It’s a big scary world and you’re not good enough for it.’

I turn to him seething.

‘Stop coming between me and life!

Stop bringing me here!’

I stop.

Fear falls silent.

I feel compassion for him.

‘Look we both know how hard at times my life has been.

You were at my side when it seemed that no-one else was.

You looked after me the best way you could – by getting me to fear everyone and everything.

Thank you for all you have done and for all you will try to do.

But you must understand that you do not speak the truth to me with Love.

Yes there are times when you do speak truth,

that is why I listen.

But you do it only with fear because that is who you are.

There has been no compassion in you,

no Love when you speak.

Too many times you speak to me only from this bridge.

This is where we have lived apart from Love and apart from my heart.

Or at least we did.

For I have gone to the River with you,

I have faced you with Love.

You were not able to stop me from experiencing Love more deeply.

I know now that there is nothing to fear from Love.

You will not stop me from flowing with the River.’

I turn from fear and walk away.


The River and the Bridge VI

Sometimes we can over think things. Sometimes the best thing to do is to just let something be, to simply experience something without searching for some deeper meaning or intent. Perhaps a meaning will reveal itself only later as life is lived.

Sometimes a mind caught up in creating meaning and purpose by itself can miss the deeper meaning and purpose within an experience. This something deeper has a life and timing all its own. A life lived with spirit is about learning and living into this deeper life and timing. Sometimes a pre-emptive curiosity, a prideful ego, anxiousness or fear can all stop the head and the heart from working together.

Spiritual life and timing is about the head and heart working together. It is part of the graced journey towards wholeness, towards integration.

VI

In the day that follows, the experience of Love at the river begins to engage my curious mind.

‘What does it mean?’

‘What will happen now?’

‘Did that really happen?’

Curious consciousness seeks to know.

With mind seeking its own answers

I slowly begin to wonder apart from Love.

I lose touch with the valley and my heart.

Mind falls from the present moment.

Unanswerable wonderings move beyond the light of grace.

They become ‘I don’t know’.

‘I don’t know’ feeds doubt.

This doubt, now apart from Love, feeds fear.

I withdraw again with fear to the bridge of rational mind

To analyse new uncertainty at a ‘safe’ distance.


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