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Listening to the musical legacy of Abbess St. Hildegard von Bigen, 12th Century mystic, writer, diplomat and counselor to Bishops, Kings and Popes.  Beautiful.

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Spiritual development is the birthright of every man and woman … the world as a whole tends to neglect and forget the knowledge of how to pursue and live a spiritual life. (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Keating, in The Heart of the World

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Can there be wisdom and leadership without a spiritual component to one’s life?  No.

We are more than intellect.  We are spiritual beings.  Denying this, we are left less intelligent, less human and less healthy – flat and without insight necessary to make wise decisions on complex matters – or any matter.

Contemplation is the way to spiritual development for a contemplative life and life itself is a spiritual experience.

Contemplation leads to the full experience of the human experience.  In mass culture or any culture, contemplation requires that one lift himself or herself above the fray of mundane existence which so often captures us moment to moment, hour to hour, day after day – year after year.

Yes, attending to the demands of the world keeps the Christian from the mystery of Christ and the timeless message of the Gospel, and from knowing our self.

There is no full development of the human person without contemplation, no self-examination either – and hence no fullness of being, of human being.

In contemplation, the self is examined and understanding follows, and one is no longer trapped by the errors, follies, divisions, temptations and corruptions of the mundane world and the voices of its most vocal members.

Indeed, does contemplation not require the voiceless silence of solitude!  Yes, in contemplation there is a silent respite from all that interrupts our healthy, full development and greatest state of being.

In contemplation, God is real and immanent and those who are disoriented are no longer free to be housed within us.  Free – free at last.  Thank God Almighty “free at last.”

Shalom.

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A rainy overcast day, mist in the mountains, a warm fire and classical music quiets and settles the day.  Peace on earth.

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The Christian has a deep, silent, hidden peace, which the world sees not, like some well in a retired and shady place.  What he is when left to himself and to his God, that is his true self.

John Henry Newman, in Parochial and Plain Sermons

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Do you see the steady stream of frantic people in public life – the “advocates” and well-financed, tax-exempt self-named guardians of this position or that, this category or that.

All this urgency and crude public displays – the name-calling and demonizing.  Why do we listen to this nonsense?  These are troubled souls.  They live life of distress and hostility certain that they have the “correct view” of everything.  Look, too, at the publicly elected Leftist politicians – perpetually in a state of anger and 100 percent certainty that their view is correct and that those who hold a varied opinion are to be labeled negatively – even if those in disagreement are many in number.  Law-makers, advocates and the like readily demean and dismiss others by name-calling like “basket of deplorables;” yet, they tell us that they are morally superior without the slightest notion that their view of others is hardly morally upright.

What I see in these public advocates and their certainty is far from the hidden peace that John Henry Newman identifies.

What Newman describes is the person of faith who is at ease in this world.  One who attends to problems without losing his or her peace, civility, humility, certain knowledge God governs man and not man who governs God.

Yes, our greatest calamities arise for those frantic advocates who in their certainty make enemies of those who disagree with them.  Their disposition alone as well as their hostile temperament ought say clearly to you: these are not people worth being listened to … too frantic, certain, angry, exclusionary and agitated.  Their frenzied nature speaks to the disaster that awaits in their proposals for radical “change.”

Seek your hidden place … it is sane and reassuring there.

Shalom.

 

Theology is not made by mystics; mystics are formed by theology.

Thomas Merton, in Ascent to Truth

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In a sense the above proposition raises the question as to one’s journey to God.  Is this trajectory intellectual or does it require an ascetic disposition?  Does one think oneself to God, or is there a personal disposition that brings one to God?

As to the latter question, I suppose that when one’s life is absorbed by, and full of, the satisfaction of all personal desires then one might think of the importance of an ascetic disposition – a sparser life.  That is to say – a life void of multiple distractions and endless obligations, a simple life of few attachments and tasks – one with privacy and quiet might be better than a fully engaged life if one desires God.

As to intellect, it seems that thinking alone will not of itself bring us God for God is not a mental proposition but far more the totality of all that a human is, and can be by their mere (divine) creation.

So where does that leave us – or at least – me?  A modest life fully lived, accepting of all that comes one’s way (good or bad) is necessary for the experience of God.

By a life fully lived, I mean one that is examined so one comes to know one’s faults, short-comings, personal history honestly seen, one’s gifts and deficits and the mysterious joys of having been helped, nurtured, taught, loved and accepted by those placed in one’s life without whom each of us would be far poorer and more likely lost than found.

What am I saying?  Yes, intellect plays a part in our journey to God – we learn from our narrative and all those who over the Ages unbundle the mystery of a Loving God.  Yes, maintaining a life that is prepared in its honesty and humility to find God is also essential.  And yes, the acceptance of life as it is presented is the essential ingredient of obedience that brings us to God for this acceptance says clearly – “I accept my gift of being … I trust in the Gift-Giver.” In this, it seems to me one meets God …

Do not underestimate the value of acceptance and obedience.  Is that not the humbling road we must choose?

Friends, journey well and wisely this year.

Shalom.

 

Insanity is contagious.

Joseph Heller, in Catch 22

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Well, New Year’s Eve.  Resolutions, hopes and all that stuff.   Me?  I’d like a lot less insanity … and I lot more quiet.

Elizabeth Warren (of the high cheek bones) has announced she has formed and “exploratory” committee to assess whether or not she should run for President.

Oh, goody!

We need a faux Indian princess for President – especially one who is utterly unable to present herself to others but that she is screaming with the crinkled-up face that not even a mother could love.

Gee, I hope Lizzie does the old Cal Coolidge thing and dons the War Bonnet that created that infamously odd-ball photo of the taciturn Yankee (who, by the way was alsonot related to any American Indian).   History could be made, People!

Suggestion to the Princess: have the Exploratory Committee look for your husband.

The guy is M.I.A.  Frankly, I think in reality he is the “Invisible Man” from comic book lore.  Yes, when you think of sacred bliss with the Princess – being invisible qualifies for the heading “some guys have all the luck.”

Then there are the endless radio ads telling us of do-good community efforts – like early January 1st a.m. free rides for the completely intoxicated New Year’s Eve party-goers.

Imagine how many of these guys get dumped off at a house that isn’t their’s …

Yep, do-gooders … ain’t they something.

How about the do-gooder ad that introduces us to a guy (“Louie” who sounds about a half-step away from a dead-end) who tells us with glee that he had not paid his taxes in years and some do-good operation interceded and Ol’ Louie’s got out from under a huge debt just like that … shazzam!  Magic, I tell you!!!

Doesn’t that just make you so happy to have fully paid your taxes all these years!  After all, think of all we got to finance all the “great” things Father Government has done – all the efficiency and perfection they have authored.  Wow.

Louie missed out on being part of all that.  Poor Louie – that’s missing “all the good experiences” taxpayers have!

My hope for the future?  Fewer lunatics in public life, fewer people stampeding to “do-good” since their efforts are often less helpful than they think – and more humility, more responsible people who mind their own business and leave others alone, smaller government, fewer “advocates” of their particular insanity or fetish, fewer people who desire to “change” the world or make everything “better.”

Give me humility, responsibility, less non-stop public chatter and end to talking heads and CNN, MSNBC, PBS, CBS and the rest, and a renewed habit of wrapping fish in the likes of our “leading” newspapers.  Quiet would be just fine.

The alternative?  I join Yossarian in the hospital censoring out-going mail of all words but conjunctions.

Shalom.

In character, in manner, in style, in all things, the supreme excellence is simplicity …

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Sovereignty, loyalty and solitude.

Georges Bataille, in The Unfinished System of Nonknowledge

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You want to know why the Brits favor leaving the European Union – it’s because they favor simplicity and their own sovereignty … to the rule of a distant, obtuse political class that lives and governs beyond their borders.  Yeah, they know instinctively and by life experience that he who governs lease governs best … and they have seen up close and personal the nonsense, waste, destruction and foolishness that large-and-expanding government inevitably brings.

What some examples?  “If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.  If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan.”  The bankrupt Golden State of California is so broke that it is contemplating taxing text messages.  We live in a system that the government can lie to you without punishment and we can be prosecuted for a felony for lying to it … and they’ll even trick you into committing the felony!  Our Peanut farming former President brought us the Department of Education and education has gone to hell sooner that one can say “Y’all.”

Just about everything the government and those loons who seek more of it do makes matters more complicated, convoluted and corrupt.  When you think of government as it now exists think too things: simplicity (forfeited) and sovereignty (lost).

By the way, isn’t God sovereign?  Does God not make us so?  Is God not more direct and simpler than government … say, the IRS for example?

Want to understand riots in Paris?  The English voters decision to ditch the clowns of Brussels, the election of Donald Trump and populism arising in other Western countries? Just look at the nonsense of the “governing class.”  Only a jackass would want more of this.  Jackass?  Hey don’t the Democrats have such a mascot?

Simplicity and sovereignty … best when government is small and unobtrusive.

Shalom.

Quiet the mind and the soul will speak.

Zen Saying

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It is Christmas time, a sacred time .. . a time fitting for quiet.

Today I tended to the fire so I might have warmth in the cold of winter.  It is a common practice this time of year here in the mountains.

I have come to this almost as a ritual.  I move slowly and in silence.  I twist newspaper pages into a small circles and make a bed for dried twigs and portions of small branches. I lay some cardboard strips atop the twigs and carefully select the logs to position them so they resemble a small oven.  Quietly the match is struck and the paper and twigs burn.  I carefully the feed the flames with oxygen and the fire makes it home and flourishes.

This is a quiet time.  It is a Zen experience.  My thoughts are dormant, my worries at rest.  My heart is quiet and my movements slow.  It is a soulful time, a time of peace. The slow movements are as if an homage to this magnificent time of a Savior’s birth.

What at Christmas time do you do that quiets the heart and awakens the soul to the holiness of this season of this Great Gift?  Are your days a preparation for Christmas Day?

Quiet, slow movement, no haste … no worldly thoughts or common chatter … Christmas and our individual homage to our God and our Savior is near.

Make your moments sacred – quiet, attentive, slow and dedicated.

Shalom.

Remember Pearl Harbor, 1941/Remember Benghazi Too

It is cold and the sky is clear, the colors true and the mountains firm and sure.  December and the Son is near.  Despite the public nonsense, it is Christmas time … and Holy Silence is here.

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Man … a wanderer and wayfarer … in search of a … holy place, a center and source of indefectible life …

the Irish monks “… simply floated off to sea, abandoning themselves to wind and current, in the hope of being led to the place of solitude which God himself would pick for them …”

Walker Percy, in “From Pilgrimage to Crusade”

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Have you seen your life as a pilgrimage?  Have you imagined it so?  Have you been given to live what God has given?  Are you so blessed by the grace of that gift to come to that place He chose for you?

Live properly and fully lived, life is a pilgrimage.  And I have come to realize this as I come to my 73rd year this month.

Yes, I have been overcome by the length of time and its passing speed, but more so the unusual continuity and scope of my life … from betrayal and poverty, to death and homelessness, to conversion and many who loved me to that place … In it all I see my gifts of interest in others, and the will to survive life’s constant and bitter combat and the desire for God in all of it.

Lately I have sought peace and quiet after years of battles – defense of others with my lawyer’s trade and growing faith – seeking truth and a just result … standing alone as loneliness prepared me so.

Seeing life as a pilgrim’s journey is a blessing that overwhelms, producing tears of wonder for the divine gift of consistency that was in me and this life so on track to be just what I had been made to be.

Imagine the innate mystery of consistency and the companionship of the right values and the best goals of service to others  … a life like the Irish Monks submission to the winds and currents of a life Godly given.  Imagine too the sight of God in those who loved me to this place.  My shepherds … my shepherds – so many, so many … angels given, angles given …

Looking back now I see one astonishing grace – that I was given to accept life as it presented and to do so without complaint or bitter feeling – but rather to accept it as what it was – the gift of challenges that built with each hard event courage, wisdom and greater strength, greater depth, greater faith, greater insight and the reward of solitude, certainty of the soul and peace which conquers all conflict.  Once lonely, I could stand alone because of Him … I am who Am.

A pilgrimage – previously unbeknownst to me.  But for the grace to walk one step at a time over hills and through dark valleys for all these years I would not know how grace delivered consistency to me … and now I see that God has done as God intended … and my unwitting collaboration with His Desire for me … grace … grace … grace – the mystery of grace.

Looking back I see through tears of awe and humility for I have done by the Grace of God what God has asked of me – simply to journey as a pilgrim would.

I pray you know the same.

Do not get bogged down in the daily voices of nonsense – they hold no sway, no mystery they.

Shalom.

 

A cold rain falls here on the ridge.  Listened to Down’east sea ballads sung by Gordon Bok – all songs of the Maine Coast.  Suitable for a gray sky and a determined cold rain.  The fire is my friend today.  I hear it best in the silence that is a gray November day.

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Learn from yesterday, live for today, look to tomorrow, rest this afternoon.

Charles M. Shultz, in Charlie Brown’s Little Book of Wisdom

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What might you say if you were to be asked: What makes for a good life, a contented life amid the daily demands one faces?

Here would be my response:

  • come to seek and enjoy silence
  • make time alone for contemplation
  • come to value, not plenty, but frugality – a step to de-consumption
  • welcome humility – make it your home
  • discreetly separate from chaos and those who cause it
  • seek intimacy – we all want to be known and understood by others
  • relax regularly
  • seek truth (religious narratives are full of truth and wisdom)
  • believe – A Belief System is Essential to a healthy and contented existence – it is a “contextualizer” – it helps you understand and integrate human experience.

Shalom.

 

Only solitude has taught me that I do not have to be a god or angel to be pleasing to You, that I do not have to become a pure intelligence without feeling and without human imperfection before You will listen to me.  (Emphasis added.)

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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We neither need be god nor angel, nor pure intellect or perfect.  God loves us and accepts us as we are: human and imperfect.

Yet, what public figures or those in leadership positions or those who insist that they must lead show any signs of what Merton is saying?  Who among those cited have the humility and understanding conveyed by Merton?  Answer: no one.

Given the acceptance of a loving God, we chatter endlessly – much as if to avoid any interior examination.  Ironically there is no leadership to be offered by those who lack the humility that comes from what Merton rightly says.

The endless chatter of the public class says one thing: they are neither whole nor intact.  Run from such people – pay them no heed.  Lacking humility – they lack wisdom and missing each they cannot offer anything much but division and folly … and they do so as we can plainly see.

Chatter is wasteful noise to avoid individual growth and the recognition that we are all, in essence, the same – with the same value to a loving God.  There are no hierarchies of privilege and heritage, and education and wealth that ought be honored.  Indeed, one who serves in leadership must stand with others and not above others.

It is the quiet one who leads.  It is the common one who possesses what Merton describes.  For it is the quiet one who walks with God and others.

Shalom.

…the life of grace on earth is the beginning of the life of glory.

Thomas Merton, in Thoughts in Solitude

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Eternity dominates temporal time.

We live a counter-Eden – miles of endless shopping malls and think temporal time distinct.  Independent … but are we only blind, a blink of an Age?

If so, are we going to be surprised?

Faith Forestalled.

The mirror looks at us while we think we look at the mirror.

Best we live in the infinite – in eternity – even as we set our life by the clock we made.

Shalom.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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