MYSTICISM: From Faith to Wisdom

Now faith actually brings all of the unconscious into integration with the rest of our life, but it does so in different ways. What is below us is accepted (not by any means merely rationalized). It is consented to in so far as it is willed by God. Faith enables us to come to terms with our animal nature and to accept the task of trying to govern it according to the divine will, that is, according to love. At the same time, faith subjects our reason to the hidden spiritual forces that are above it. In so doing, the whole man is brought into subjection to the “unknown” that is above him.


Source: MYSTICISM: From Faith to Wisdom



An interesting and insightful interview with Amma Cynthia Bourgeault, wisdom mentor and “Rabonni” — thanks be to God, for her, and her incredible ministry!  She is a Desert Mystic and Contemplative extraordinaire!


A gentle, beautiful description of Contemplative Prayer

Spiritual Practice: Sitting with a Question
by Beth A. Richardson

We live in a world full of questions, some of which cannot be answered. Living in questions rather than answers is not a comfortable place for many of us.

Try the following practice for 5 to 7 days. Rather than finding an answer to a question or thinking about it, the idea is to let a question float into your heart, where God’s presence can sit alongside it, be present in your feelings, or speak to you in the silence.

Set aside an uninterrupted fifteen or twenty minutes. Invite God to sit with you in this quiet time and ask for God’s presence as you ask yourself a question.
Settle yourself comfortably, yet solidly, in a chair. Take a few deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth five or ten times. Then close your mouth and breath normally.

Observe each breath as it comes and goes. Concentrate on where you feel the rising and falling of the breath in your body. If it helps you focus on the breath, count the breaths up to ten and then start over again. Or think about a prayer word or phrase that will help your thinking mind slow down and come to a quiet place.

When you find yourself distracted by a noise or a thought, gently return your focus to the breath or to your prayer word or phrase.

When your mind is quiet, ask yourself a question. This could be a big or a small question, one that has just occurred to you or one that you have been carrying inside for a long time. Ask the question as though you were asking someone else. Then let the question sink into your heart, into your breath. As you continue to breathe, observe the emotion, the image, the sense, that comes to you. Let yourself breathe into, pray into, soak into whatever comes to you.

If you find yourself engaging in vigorous thoughts or debates about the question, gently return to counting your breaths or focusing on your prayer word or phrase.

After a time, gently let your awareness come back to your surroundings.

As you finish your time of meditation, say a prayer of thanks for God’s presence, for quiet, for questions, for feelings.

You may find that after a day or two or three, you have a sense of the answer to the question. Or it may be a question that you might need to sit with for a week, a month, or longer. Sometimes you might find that the question of your heart changes. The point of the exercise is to make the space to ask the questions. To listen to what comes forth, not from your thinking mind, but from the space within you when you quietly connect with God’s Spirit in prayer and meditation.

Adapted from "Questions from the Heart," Weavings: A Journal of the Christian Spiritual Life, Vol. XXX, No. 3 (Nashville, TN: The Upper Room), 2015, 45-46

Regret, and second chances for chances not taken

I cannot begin to express (in mere words) the depth of wisdom this post posits– leaving one with the unrequited sense that, I too, had a similar relationship with my biodad.  I’m left wondering how many of us can resonate with these sentiments at a very profound level?  Robert Alan Rife, not only are you  an exquisite wordsmith, but the gold you weave is rich beyond compare.  That vastness of thought which fills the imagination, and that sensibility of spirit which renders every circumstance not just interesting but profound, are in the qualities of your prose: may I say, like Milton it is most sublime, and like Homer, most picturesque!

Thank you RAR — for this sublime, picturesque, profound prose!

Regret, and second chances for chances not taken.

Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth

The meekness proposed in the Beatitudes is not passivity but the firm determination to go on loving no matter what evil another person does to us. It believes that to show love is the true nature of being human. This behaviour undercuts violence at its roots. Violence tends to beget violence. When people feel attacked, they defend themselves. There is no end to the chain of violence until one of the contenders refuses to respond in kind. The determination to go on loving in spite of immense hurt is the only way to achieve peace (peace within ourselves, with God, amongst our families, communities, and nations). It presupposes and manifests the inner freedom to which the Gospel invites us.



 tell cross-section2 (868x400)


aerial view of monk mound

Archaeologists routinely gather together some graduate students from some big university, raise money from some philanthropic foundation, and hunt around for “digs” to unearth. The process often takes many years. Level by level, the archaeologists work down, culture by culture, all the way down to the stone age.

I suggest that the Holy Spirit, as the divine archaeologist, works in a somewhat similar mode. S/he picks us up where we are now, whatever our chronological age. The first thing is to heal the most destructive aspects of our present relationships and addictive behaviours. As a result, we enjoy a certain freedom in practicing virtue and humility toward others.

The Spirit decides to dig down to the next level. Actually, the Spirit intends to investigate our whole life history, layer by layer, throwing out the junk and preserving the values that were appropriate to each stage of our human development. Without following an exact chronology, the Spirit seems to work back through the successive stages of our lives: old age (if we have arrived there), mid-life crisis, early adult life, late adolescence, early adolescence, puberty, late childhood, early childhood; infancy, birth, and even prebirth.

The sequence corresponds in general to the emotional chronology of our psyche, in which the deepest and earliest wounds tend to be the most tightly repressed. Eventually the Spirit begins to dig into the bedrock of our earliest emotional life, where the feelings of rejection, insecurity, lack of affection, or actual physical trauma were first experienced. The most primitive emotions arise to consciousness because raw anger, fear, and grief were our only possible responses at that time.

Hence, as we progress toward the Centre, where God actually is waiting for us, we are naturally going to feel that we are getting worse. This warns us that the spiritual journey is a series of humiliations of the false self. It is experienced as diminutions of the false self with the value system and worldview that we built up so painstakingly as defences to cope with the emotional pain of early life.

As the ’true’ self is encountered with more frequency, our personal relationship with Christ deepens. We may experience enthusiasm for Scripture. Our devotional life, the sacraments, the liturgy, spiritual reading, ministry, all begin to flourish. The mistake would be to think that the journey is over. It has not even begun. This is just the first stage. Keating shows us a diagram which helped me to better understand this stage of my journey ‘toward the centre’.



Abandoning Ourselves to God

In working with the importance of interior silence and the need for an inner sanctuary deep within our own clay, we focus on a form of silent prayer – called Centring Prayer. The beauty of this form of prayer is that it takes us away from a preoccupation with our thoughts and therefore from our illusions. The simplest description would be, coming with an intention to sit in a loving relationship with the source of Love and the Creator and sustainer of life without thought and in the absence of self-judgement. In this space, which might last from 20-30 minutes daily, we loosen our attachment to ourselves. We abandon ourselves to God so that God ‘can get at us’. Centring Prayer is simply to sit in the presence of God with intention, but without needing thoughts or words (apart from a simple “love word”). It is very much a companioning space – being with the Divine Companion. And as such, it can be a very healing place.

Taken from “THE HUMAN STORY” by Christopher Basil Brown (2005)