Friday, April 18, 2014

Entering Deeply into Sacred Mysteries

The Triduum - the Christian "High Holy Days" - has been ushered in with Thursday night's celebration of the Lord's Supper...

I attend a service that is exquisite in every way - a blend of the old and new - replete with familiar aspects - the procession of the Holy Oils, the washing of feet, the singing of ancient chants and hymns in Latin - the Pange Lingua and Tantum Ergo, which take me back decades in my life, to a time more than a half century ago. Am I really that old? Who would have thought life could go by so quickly?

I have always loved all things ancient - history and artifacts, books and places - always drawn to visit places of antiquity, impregnated with the energy of the legions who lived and died there before me...

And while I feel called to enter deeply into the Sacred Mysteries of my own tradition, I am no less drawn to the ancient traditions of others, having yearned for participation in a true Passover  and Seder this week. Yes, I would have loved to have attended somewhere - pulling out all the stops, but most of my Jewish friends are not observant.

I arise on this Good Friday and meditate, then go to the river for Lovingkindness practices. I feel there are still some things in my heart that remain unforgiven...

How is it possible to pray to have a "clean heart created within" and still find layers of things yet remaining unresolved? But of course I know, it is not about the destination, but always the journey...

Signs of spring are everywhere at the river. Leaves are beginning to unfurl, like a banner, processing diligently, and announcing the coming of Easter...

Spring is always eternal. Despite a brutal winter, nothing can halt its march...

I do Lovingkindness for a litany of broken saints - all those on my prayer list - and for those relationships still in need of healing. I do my practice and let go - not really knowing if resolution will ever be attained...

Yes, I am reminded to let go, especially when a dear friend posted a portion of one of my favorite prayers today, by St. Ignatius of Loyola, founder of the Jesuits:

"Take Lord, receive...
You have given all to me,
Now, I return it..."

I have prayed this prayer every day for years, and it has stripped me of the things I have most loved, but most often the gift has been returned later, when I could appreciate it so much the better...

The thing about spiritual practices - despite whatever tradition one belongs to - is that they elicit deeper mysteries inviting us to enter into them, taste them, and embody their fruits. We are reminded that life is a journey that we all take - and for me - my practices simply help me navigate the rough waters of life more easily. They do not make me better or worse than anyone else - but I will die trying to become the best that I can be, and someday arise as a wiser, and more loving and compassionate person, worthy of God's Presence.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

A Heart Converted

I enter softly into a sacred week - a Holy Week...

This is a week sacred to many - with Passover and Holy Week intertwined...

Holy Week is ushered in with Palm Sunday, on a magnificent weekend coinciding with the peaking of cherry blossoms, resplendent in every way, all over the city...

I walk under an exquisite canopy of blossoms, enveloped in their beauty, as they "rain" their petals on my head, anointing me...

In these moments, I feel a sense of oneness and presence that borders on pure ecstasy. 

For over a year I have prayed and made the request - "Create a clean heart in me," (Psalm 51) seeking to embody the way and path of the heart... And this sacred season, I have sought to reflect its essence even more deeply...

"The converted person does not say that nothing matters anymore, but that everything that is, happens in God and that God is the dwelling place where we come to know the true order of things...

The converted person says: 'All is clothed in divine light and therefore nothing can be unimportant.' Converted persons see, hear, and understand with a divine eye, a divine ear, a divine heart. Converted persons know themselves and all the world in God. Converted persons ARE where God is, and from that place everything matters: giving water, clothing the naked, working for a new world order, saying a prayer, smiling at a child, reading a book, and sleeping in peace. All has become different while all remains the same."
~ Henri Nouwen

I continue to stroll under the magnificent blossoms from cherry trees and Bradford Pears, fully engaged - and yet absent - in this world - and behind the veil - knowing full well they are one and the same. All - truly has become different, and yet is really the same...

Twilight yields the remains of the day into the night, as I sit on my deck on Monday - this first day of Passover, and the beginning of Holy Week - mindful that on this night, millions gather to celebrate the Seder meal together. 

My heart longs and yearns to be at such a table, soaking in the traditions, the readings, the prayers - even though I have never been to a "real" one... But it does not matter, for I BREATHE in the prayers offered all over the planet - sharing and actively participating in the blessings and the petitions recited, as if they were mine...

I enter into a week softly, of walking the labyrinth, attending a Taize service, Stations of the Cross, Easter Vigil, and other services, knowing that with each step, and each prayer and timeless chant, I INHALE and EXHALE with millions of others - praying - singing - chanting - swaying - and embodying all the characteristics of a heart converted.

Friday, April 11, 2014

The Paths Converge

Sometimes, the paths we take converge...

Recently I wrote about the ways of the heart and reconciliation...

I believe, the more we commit to one path, the more we express the other - regardless of which one we start with. It does not matter...

All roads lead to the same place...

If you live from the heart, you strive to live from a place of integrity and in time you see beauty in everything. Nothing is accidental. Everything you do or say or try to be, comes from a place of harmony... It comes from a place of love and seeks self-expression...

If you follow the way of reconciliation, you strive for greater harmony and balance - seeking atonement - or to have all things be one: "At-one-ment." This path too, leads to the heart, and it is fueled by love...

"Love bears all things, believes all things,
hopes all things, endures all things..."
~ 1 Corinthians 13:7

We begin with a choice. We follow one path. Then it leads to another. But it does not matter whether it winds, takes us directly to where we are going, or if we end up where we need to be in a convoluted way. The destination is always love.

Today, inspired by a dear friend, I chose to sow the seeds of love in several instances. I witnessed how they had born fruit in another. And I wait to see if previous seeds that have lain fallow will blossom this spring...

I reflect on the end of this Lenten journey, as I prepare to step into a Holy Week which commemorates passion, death, and resurrection, and Passover. Beautiful themes will be revisited. Ancient prayers will be recited and very old chants intoned.

I hope to always be true to whichever path I take. At different junctures, a different one is emphasized. They are not always easy. But the reward is great. For it is always love.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The Way of the Heart

I decided to "refresh" my website, only three days after launching  a new one on meditation.

Over a year and half ago, I changed the name of my site, after an inner prompting urging me to call it "Dwell in Your Heart."

Since I first launched a website in August of 2007, I've been lucky and blessed to have been led to people that helped execute what I had in mind for a reasonable price. But I had never done the work of building or maintaining a site myself. It was simply beyond the purview of my skills and ability.

Recently, a couple of friends re-did their own sites, and following their suggestion, I decided to take a stab at doing so. It was incredibly easy to do, and very empowering in the end. Not only was I able to create and redo two sites, I also successfully transferred my own domains and hosting services.

As I prepared to begin a new session of yoga classes, just as I was revamping my site, I reflected on what it truly means to dwell in the heart.

When we choose the path of the heart, we choose to live from a place of integrity - seeking to have our actions and everything we do - or expose ourselves to - to be in harmony with our hearts and our spirits. 

When we live from the heart, we strive to live in a way that is more compassionate - more caring - and ultimately more concerned with the welfare and wellbeing of others.

When we choose the path of the heart, we stay clear of those things that prove vexing to the spirit and which pulls us out of our center. 

If we choose to dwell in our hearts, we choose to grow. We choose to experience oneness - we choose to forgive and let go...

I was moved to read stories in yesterday's paper of Rwandans - perpetrators and their victims coming together - victims forgiving those who had killed their family members and loved ones - with both parties posing along side each other for pictures. I studied the pictures of all the people in the article, profoundly moved by the actions of both - perpetrators actively seeking forgiveness and their victims - giving it, knowing that their choosing to do so, would forever free them on some level, from the captivity of hatred.

When we dwell in our hearts - we choose to live from a place of openness and vulnerability that changes us - that transforms us to our very core. It is not an easy choice, but I really think it is the only one to ever make.

Dwell in Your Heart
www.dwellinyourheart.com

Meditation Pure and Simple
www.meditationpureandsimple.com

Portraits of Reconciliation
http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/04/06/magazine/06-pieter-hugo-rwanda-portraits.html

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The Way of Reconciliation

References to the heart continue to abound this Lenten season, but also passages, musings, and a deep and innate desire for reconciliation...

I shared this with a dear soul companion recently, and she asked me what it was that I was feeling I needed to be reconciled to. God? Others? And I realized that what I meant by reconciliation is so much more...

The Bhagavad Gita, a beloved scripture of Hindus, teaches there are many "margas" - ways, or paths to the Divine. For example, there is the path - or yoga of action - of good deeds and doing our duty. There is the path of karma - intricately linked to the choices we make. There is the path of devotion, and the most refined path, which is the way of meditation.

But I believe, there is also the path of reconciliation...

Implied in the definitions for this word are the notions that reconciliation is about making something consistent or compatible - or seeking harmony or resolution between two opposites in the midst of estrangement or conflict. It is about settling, bringing back together, or reconsecrating...

Reconsecrating to me, means making something holy again... A relationship, an understanding, a perspective - one's very life...

Reconciliation to me, is about "atonement..."

Atonement is really - "At - one - ment." That is, making something that has become separate, "one" again...

This season, I have felt the sense of urgency to fulfill all that is meant and implied by reconciliation. In some cases, it has meant reaching out to a few souls that had become estranged, and it has led to a warm reconnection and rekindling of a relationship, while in other cases no resolutions were achieved, and no doors were opened...

In situations where no connection can occur, it has meant doing Loving-kindness meditation for healing and shifting the energy or vibration needed at some level...

I've had to reflect on the reality that not all relationships in our lives are meant to last. But even so, I believe we should try to reconcile with one another - and to try to make what has become separate, whole, or "one" again - or to at least seed harmony where dissonance has prevailed, whether or not it results in a healing or a reconsecration...

So, this is what reconciliation means to me. It is simply a path one chooses to take on one's spiritual journey. It is not easy by any means - but we must try to make right what has become wrong - we should try to make amends - and reconsecrate our hearts. In fact, we cannot embody the way of the heart, without first embodying the way of reconciliation, and even if that is not achieved as an end result, I believe we should try to work toward it anyway...

In atoning, and reconciling, we till the soil of the heart, and prepare to plant new seeds in anticipation of new blossoms that will thrive in the fertile ground of the innermost being we have reconsecrated...

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

A Journey of the Heart

Nearly halfway through this Lenten season, I am reminded that it has been a journey of the heart, every step of the way - a journey of breaking the heart wide open!

Every single day, I come across a reading, or  a quote that speaks of the primacy of the heart in all things...

... Psalms that proclaim the cleansing and creation of new hearts, or readings by a desert Christian monk speaking of the necessary circumcision of hearts, or other passages extolling the opening - or healing of hearts, the rending and mending of hearts, and the tilling of the fertile soil within hearts, culminating in the eventual reconciliation of the heart.

Just this morning I read this passage:

"If you open your heart,
love opens your mind."
~ Charles John Quarto

If your heart opens - it heals, it transforms and transmutes all things, as difficult as this seemingly unending journey can at times be ...

"O that today you would listen
to God's voice!
Harden not your hearts!"
~ Psalm 95:7-8

Henri Nouwen, whose writings I have been meditating on this season imagines God saying to us:

"Let my love touch the deepest, 
most hidden corners of your heart
and reveal to you your own beauty."

This is a season for breaking hearts open. Rumi wrote:

"You have to keep breaking your heart
until it stays open."

Nearly halfway through Lent, and only halfway through breaking the heart open!



Sunday, March 23, 2014

A Week of Blessings

Everything can be a blessing, if you have the eyes to see - and the ears to hear...

Everything can be a blessing - even life's greatest challenges, come bearing blessings...

In meditation, and deepest prayer, I review the many blessings of my week...

I begin the week by giving two dear ones, a blessing...

That night, I attentively listen to a talk during a retreat, with the theme of blessing... In this talk one priest shares his ministry to a Hispanic community that blesses him every day. He is blessed, to be "blessed" so often! And I remember being blessed by my grandmother and mother on so many occasions...

Yes, life - and every experience within it is a blessing. A blessing is hidden everywhere...

At this retreat, we bless each other. My favorite priest blesses me in a beautiful way, and then I hold a bowl of water while strangers bless each other - with many of them deciding to impart an extra blessing on me. I, am visibly moved. I began my day by imparting blessings - and I end it by receiving more - multiplied many times over...

This Lenten journey has been about journeying more deeply into my heart and experiencing blessings everywhere. It seems everything I read - reminds me about blessings - and the importance of recognizing them - even in the smallest of things...

The poet Rumi once wrote:


"Listen to me!
For one moment quit being sad.
Hear blessings dropping their blossoms
all around you!"

I end the week and begin another, with a reading on blessings by Henri Nouwen, a Dutch priest who died too young, and whose works I devoured in the '70's and '80's:


"The blessing of the Lord is the reward of the pious,
and quickly God causes his blessings to flourish."
~ Sirach 11:22

"One way of claiming your blessedness 
is the cultivation of presence... 
attentiveness to the blessings 
that come to you day after day, 
year after year. 
The problem with modern living 
is that we are too busy 
looking for affirmations 
in the wrong places 
to notice we are being blessed... 
It is not easy for us busy people 
to truly receive the blessings we are given... 
Few people offer a real blessing... 
It has become extremely difficult 
for us to stop, listen, pay attention, 
and receive gracefully 
what is offered to us."


Today, be a blessing...

Today, receive a blessing...

Today, hear blessings dropping their blossoms all around you!

Friday, March 7, 2014

Perfect Love Casts Out Fear

"There is no fear in love; 
but perfect love casts out fear, 
because fear involves punishment, 
and the one who fears 
is not perfected in love."
~ 1 John 4:18


Perfect love, casts out all fear...

If we choose perfect love, then fear cannot reside within us...

I recall a dream, I had 25 years ago or more, where medieval monks in hooded robes, danced in a circle, holding hands, chanting over and over again:


"Perfect love,
casts out all fear!"

I woke with a start, somewhat fearful - ironically - not knowing why I had that dream... Perhaps it was meant to unfold with time, and it has...

When we have perfect love, we live from the heart. We can choose to live from this place, even when fear stubbornly wants to hold fast onto our souls...

Every day, we can choose perfect love over fear. We can choose to see love in everyone we meet, and in every situation that comes our way.

Today, and every day - choose love. Choose perfect love! Choose  to be the embodiment of perfect love in every way.

Today, on this commemoration of the MahaSamadhi of Paramahansa Yogananda, I end with portions of readings I read today:



"May thy love shine forever
on the sanctuary of my Devotion,
And may I be able to awaken
Thy Love in all hearts."
~Yogananda

"God is fragrant in my love...
God is the light constantly
extinguishing the darkness 
of ignorance. He is the river
of life inundating the soil
of all souls."
~ Yogananda

"[God] ...wants us to live in the center of all things. 
He does not speak of a change of activities, 
a change in contacts, or even a change of pace. 
He speaks about a change of heart 
that makes everything different... 
What counts is where our hearts are. 
[We are asked] to move our hearts to the center, 
where all other things fall into place."

~ Henri Nouwen

"No matter what happened even a moment before, 
the present is always a new beginning. 
God's Mind rearranges time and space 
according to our willingness to love. 
Nothing in the world can stop 
the creative power of the universe...


Let me not forget that the universe 

is endlessly creating opportunities, 
following my lead whenever I choose to love. 
As I open my heart, life will birth itself through me. 
I will be amazed to see 
what comes forth from my heart."

~ Marianne Williamson, A Year of Miracles

For a short meditation on perfect love, visit: