Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Shift, part 2


So, on Sunday I wrote about "the shift" that happens when we move into awareness of God. I used this quote from Mary Margaret Funk (all the "bolds" are mine):

"Simply living in a convent hasn't made me safe from my interior flood, or stopped me from obsessing on my own thoughts and feelings. But the practices mean I can lessen the length of time the afflictions last, weaken the impact they may have on my soul, and reduce the damage I may do to myself or others through acting on the impulses stirred up by the afflictions. I've become better at discerning their onset and on rare occasions have even been able to shift myself toward God--that place where all feelings, thoughts, and desires sit back and rest and there's no fuel for destructive or heightened emotions."

Little did I know the commentary we would hear accompanying the Rule of Benedict the very next morning at prayer. It comes from Benedict's Dharma, which is a book that reflects on the Rule from a Buddhist perspective. It reads:

“When we pay attention to the movements of the mind, letting go of thoughts and feelings and returning to spontaneous awareness of the present moment, something gradually begins to shift. Self-absorption is no longer nourished, and its influence on our minds shrinks and lightens as we begin to experience the expanse of awareness, limitless and deep like the sky.”

Isn't that pretty wonderful?! I uttered a big thank you to God via a big smile on my face.

This morning I sat outside with my coffee, praying with the first step of humility. Awareness of the Divine Presence is the key to the first step on Benedict's ladder: "The first step of humility is that we 'keep "the reverence of God always before our eyes" and never forget it,'" Joan Chittister writes in The Monastery of the Heart. That first step says to me that I can shift from living in fear where my thoughts overwhelm me, to living in "fear of God," an outdated word given its connotations now, but one that is really just a place where God's love and God's work overwhelm me instead.

Hearing that Rule commentary was certainly one instance of the awareness offered to me always.

Let us walk in the holy presence.

Turkey vultures enjoying the summer solstice as much as I am!