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Spirituality

Lectio, Mark 14:22

By | Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Contemporary Issues, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Natural World, Nature, Nonviolence, Saying the Unsayable, Social Justice, Spirituality | No Comments

“While they were eating, he took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to them, and said, “Take, this is my body” Mark 14:22

As a Christian, I believe that this bread truly became the body of Christ Jesus, and that the bread of the Eucharist is the true body of Christ Jesus. But there are far more bold implications for this sacrament. After all, when we receive the Eucharist, we receive it with the words, “The Body of Christ.” And we say our “Amen” to that reality.

The body of Christ is the whole cosmos, and Christ infinitely fills each and every part of the cosmos in the same way that Christ infinitely fills the bread we receive. To the Christian, this is not merely a symbol but a reality. Every atom in the cosmos is filled infinitely with the infinity of the Christ. Every atom is holographic in nature, containing within itself the infinity of the whole while also being a part of the whole. The Sufis chant, “How could I ever be less by dying. I am the ocean and the ocean is me.”

It is nice to think that there is little relation between the bread of the Eucharist and the cosmos as Eucharist–both being the real presence of Christ. That way, we can go out from our worship and rape the creation and still come back and pay reverance to the Body of Christ in the bread. The split goes right through our heart and through the heart of creation.

Blue Lines

By | Asking the Question, Current Issues, Nonviolence, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Social Justice, Spirituality, Uncategorized | No Comments

Seeing the blue line appear under my words
as I type
I wonder who is keeping me in line,
telling me forthrightly I have misspelled a word
Telling me how to say something differently
When maybe what I am saying is how I want to say it.
Can I go on and leave the line there?
Going boldly where no one has gone before
into an unknown future?

Who is seeding the world with this correctness?
Is there a master-mind?
A data collector?
An algorithm?
How many errors will I be allowed before
my Microsoft Word is shutdown
and I am hauled off to sit again in spelling class?
Fingered to be re-grammered?

Blue lines are appearing everywhere,
Not just on my screen,
but on the streets,
dressed in riot gear
holding batons
Faces shielded.
They seem to mean business.

Blue lines have got me wondering.

Shock and Awe

By | Asking the Question, Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

The light shines in the darkness
Revealing its own infinity
And our incapacity to comprehend it–
The beginning of real awe.

The light shining in the darkness
Shines on our own inner darkness
As initial shock–
Revelation of our little self at work–
As invitation to awaken.

Those who walk while asleep are wasting their time…

By | Asking the Question, Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

For them there is only the past, present, future.
They walk out of illusion into illusion
Going along but never up.

To be awake is to be aware of the vertical dimension–
Of states of being, of evolution of consciousness,
Of entering the cocoon and emerging as something new, transformed.
Leaving behind old ways of thinking and doing.

The intersection of time with eternity
Is always the now–the quality of the moment
Is measured in lightness of energy.
Bogged down in time we will not ascend.

There is nothing to find outside ourselves
We have been primed from the beginning.
The Absolute lies within
Ready to reveal our True Self to us.

We are all asleep. When we awake, the journey begins.
We ascend the ladder that leans against no particular building
But is supported by angels ascending and descending
Between heaven and earth.

Some People

By | Current Issues, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Nonviolence, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Social Justice, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

don’t have a dollar.
Their numbers keep growing.
Some don’t have a job.
Some people have three jobs
And still can’t make ends meet.
Some people have ten dollars.
Some have a hundred stashed in a box
Some have a thousand in the bank
Just trying to save
For a rainy day.
It rains a lot these days.
Some people have a thousand thousand.
That’s a million
Used to be way more than enough
Even for the rich.
Some people have a thousand million
They don’t need a job.
They live off the work of other people.
They get richer and richer
Their numbers keep growing.
The way things are going,
Someday someone’s going to reach
A thousand billion.
Maybe someday soon.
And that still wouldn’t be enough.
There’s more ways than one to be poor.

Guest Post by Brian Plachta: How to Find Flow and Jumpstart Your Spiritual Life

By | Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Mysticism, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

When our car battery loses power, we often take out the jumper cables, open the hood, and jumpstart the battery to give it new life.  It’s the same thing with our spiritual lives—occasionally we need to step back, open the hood on our lives, and see if our spiritual life needs a jumpstart too.

A tool we can use to evaluate our spiritual lives is what I call Finding Flow.

Years ago, while studying to become a spiritual director, as part of the coursework, we learned about saints and spiritual masters, including Saint Benedict. Benedict, a fifth-century monk who started the first monastery, wanted to give his monks a template for finding balance between daily work and prayer (ora et labora). He called it a Rule of Life.

The monks had to create an individual Rule which became their guiding principle, a framework for finding inner peace and balance in their daily lives. Today, we might call it a personal mission statement.

As part of our three years of spiritual direction classes, we were tasked with the assignment to create our Rule of Life. As I pondered, I looked to the spiritual giants we studied. I noted how each man and woman—Saint Benedict, Saint Francis, Julian of Norwich, Saint Teresa of Avila, Martin Luther, and others—had four common characteristics that shaped their lives.

  • First, they took daily time for solitude, to be alone with God—time to meditate and listen.

  • Second, they read the scriptures and the work of spiritual teachers to learn wisdom.

  • Third, they surrounded themselves with people who inspired them to grow.

  • Finally, they discovered their unique talents and gifts and used them in life-giving ways for themselves and others.

I shaped my Rule of Life around the ancient wisdom of Benedict and the other spiritual masters. The following became my Rule, the guiding principle we can use to evaluate our lives so we can find deeper inner peace and balance:

  • Solitude: establishing rituals to spend daily “quiet time” to deepen our relationship with God

  • Spiritual reading: delving into books that teach and inspire

  • Community: surrounding ourselves with people who nudge us to grow

  • Contemplative Action: discovering our unique gifts and talents and using them to make the world a better place

When put into regular practice, these guideposts form healthy habits that help us experience abiding joy. We can take Benedict’s wisdom, even if we’re not monks, and find unique ways to translate it into modern life. We can look at our lives through the lens of these guideposts to find balance. Wholeness.

For shorthand, I call this  Rule of Life, “finding flow.” Flow means being one with the Divine Spirit who opens our hearts, allowing us to experience inner peace, balance, and wholeness.

Finding flow involves adopting spiritual practices to exercise our souls, just like going to the gym or taking daily walks to help maintain strong healthy bodies.

Consider taking time to look at each of the above four pillars to assess your spiritual life. Check your spiritual battery by giving each of the four a ranking from 1-10 to discover which ones are full and which ones need your attention.

When all four guideposts are fully charged, it’s amazing how God deepens our relationship with him as he invites us daily to find flow.

Brian J. Plachta is a writer, spiritual director, and teacher. He writes a weekly reflection called Simple Wisdom for Everyday Living he sends out via email each Monday. You can receive his weekly reflection and also get a free copy of his book, Life’s Toolbox—Blueprints Included by visiting his website:

http://www.brianplachta.net/home.htm

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Mercy

By | Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Contemporary Issues, Current Issues, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Nonviolence, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

Our concept of mercy changes
As our image of God changes.

First, there are the gods who
Remain aloof, separate from us, who reward
And punish us whimsically in storm, in drought,
In famine, in plenty. We never know, we can only
Hope to win their favor, that they show mercy
In plenty.

Then there is the God who reaches out to us,
God’s chosen. If we the chosen follow the Law,
Offer placating sacrifice, extend mercy to others,
Mercy will be given to us. If we fail in any of these
Requirements, favor will be withheld. In its place
We will be punished. We plead for forgiveness,
for mercy as restoration of relationship.

Then there are those who experience a much larger God.
A God who is merciful to God’s chosen even when
They fail to live up to what is expected.
When the chosen deserve punishment and expect it,
God responds by embracing them, taking them back
Time and again.

And then an even much larger God is experienced as extending
Mercy to everyone in this same way, moving out beyond
The chosen in an all-inclusive embrace. And this mercy
Is once again freely given, even when the whole world
Is deserving of punishment and expects it.

Then there is the God who lives among us
As one of us. Whose very Presence in our midst
Bespeaks mercy. We see in the eyes of God a mirror
Which reflects back to us only love. And we call such mercy
God’s loving compassion. We experience a constant
Flow of unearned forgiveness. We realize that God doesn’t
Even judge us.

And then the mystics experience that God’s ground
Is our ground, and our ground is God’s ground.
And that is true for all of Creation which is the incarnation
Of the Word of God, the Christ, and that there never was
any separation between God and the Christ and never can be.
We have only to awake to our reality in God.
We are as Meister Eckhart says, The generosity of God.
And this is true whether we acknowledge it or not.

When we awake to this Reality, we can in truth lay claim
To what has always been True. In this sense grace,
God’s life freely given, replaces any need for mercy.
God is Graceful to all, even before time existed.

How?

By | Asking the Question, Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

How could it come to this?
This not wanting to be good
For anybody.
(Not a meanness)
Just a wanting to leave
The stage
Where goodness merits applause.
And the critics
Hold your fate in the palm
Of their hand,
Where one slip could end it all
And there goes the train
Leaving the station without you.

Makes one feel important
When all is going well.
Salvation  a morality play,
All hanging on for dear life
To the script.

Where’s the wildness?

(Not a sowing of more oats)
Mainly the freedom
To walk away
From the confines
of the organization,

toward the One who deals
only in unabashed love,
whose Beauty keeps ambushing me,
revealing infinite mutual longing.

To stop refusing
Such generosity
that doesn’t care to hear
that I deserve only banishment
to the servants’ quarters,
when all this Love wants is
to put a ring on my finger,
sandals on my feet, cover me
with a royal robe,

And nothing else seems
To matter– except to
welcome me home.”

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The Fading Shine of the Golden Ring

By | Asking the Question, Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Contemporary Issues, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Nature, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

This path I have walked,
My life
Has been circling round
Back to
Fearful, clinging places,
More like promises of brambles.

I labeled the lessons a nuisance,
failed them
Cursed my fate.
Hard lessons,
More like crucifixions.

My faith
In the golden ring
Has worn deep the path
I have trod.

At least now
I am heading toward the precipice
Overlooking a fiery inferno
To receive it.

God help me–

To walk away divorced.
This time wanting only the true bride,
The one my soul has always
Yearned for.

Ringing the Bell and Hiding in the Bushes

By | Asking the Question, Contemplation, Contemplative Journey, Ingegral Spirituality/Psychology, Mysticism, Poetry, Saying the Unsayable, Spirituality, Wisdom/Compassion | No Comments

If nothing else, what is called religion
ought to be teaching us to be attentive to those
border crossings of the Trickster who lives within us.
We ought to be alerted to our being
Sons and daughters of a Pure Generosity
Who can’t wait to come to us as Spirit and Light,
As Living Water, as Bread, and who
surprises us, often when we least expect it,
leaves a cornucopia of spiritual food on the doorstep
rings the bell and hides in the bushes.
We ought to be alerted, so when this happens,
we can say with clarity we have been visited
by the Divine Grocer and Artist of the Beautiful,
who gives us this bread and living water,
Spirit, and Light, and often
crouches smiling as we stand on the step
gazing out, hoping for a glimpse
of the One we knew would come.
If religion does this right
we will be glad,
that our Lover is out and about,
and can’t stop thinking of us.