Meditations

Resistance

This meditation comes from Anam Cara Ministries, lightly adapted. Questions for reflection are included in the italicized text.

The reassuring thing about resistance is the fact that it means we’re pressing up against something. We are not floating aimlessly in a vacuum, but brushing up against something solid – and God is in that something, whatever it may be. There may be pain there, but there is also treasure.

Read and reflect, then, draw the a wall (or some other structure that seems to represent a resistance you’re feeling right now). Where are you in relation to the wall? What’s on the other side? Where is God? Draw or journal all these pieces in, then spend some time looking at what you’ve created. What prayer emerges?

The Home of Your Heart

This meditation comes from Anam Cara Ministries. Reflection questions are included throughout the meditation. May it be fruitful for you!

Imagine coming down into the home of your heart. What does it look like on the outside? What kind of building is it?

As you enter the door, what do you see? What is around you? What is the state of things: Clean and organized? A bit messy? Completely chaotic?

Are there rooms in the home of your heart that others aren’t allowed in (or that you don’t even enter yourself)?

Where is God, and is there anything that particularly seems to be catching your attention, as if God is inviting you to sit with it a bit longer? Stay there for a little while.

What is the invitation?

Now imagine coming back out the front door and up the walk. As you leave, is there anything you sense you’re meant to take back out with you, to remove from your heart’s home?

Sit for another moment, simply present to God, present to you.

The Tropics in New York (A Poem by Claude McKay)

Bananas ripe and green, and ginger-root,
Cocoa in pods and alligator pears,
And tangerines and mangoes and grape fruit,
Fit for the highest prize at parish fairs,

Set in the window, bringing memories
Of fruit-laden trees by low-singing rills,
And dewy dawns, and mystical blue skies
In benediction over nun-like hills.

My eyes grow dim, and I could no more gaze;
A wave of longing through my body swept,
And,hungry for the old, familiar ways,
I turned aside and bowed my head and wept.

This poem is in a section of The Penguin Book of Migrant Literature focusing on the experience of leaving home that launches every migrant’s journey.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Exile,exodus and homecoming are powerful Biblical themes. Are the feelings of loss and longing woven into this work familiar to you? How do such feelings resonate with a changing relationship with God, or with the Church? Commentary on the poem suggests that a supportive community of other people on a similar path, as well as personal patience during “an adaptation [that is] gradual and nonlinear” can ease the transition from one home-place to another. What else would you add to this list?

Lines Written in the Days of Growing Darkness: A Poem by Mary Oliver

Every year we have been
witness to it: how the
world descends
into a rich mash, in order that
it may resume.
And therefore
who would cry out
to the petals on the ground
to stay,
knowing, as we must,
how the vivacity of what was is married
to the vitality of what will be?
I don’t say
it’s easy, but
what else will do
if the love one claims to have for the world
be true?
So let us go on
though the sun be swinging east,
and the ponds be cold and black,
and the sweets of the year be doomed.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: What images come to you as you read this poem? What feelings accompany these images? How do you respond to the poet’s insistence that “the love one claims to have for the world” is not easy? How deeply do you trust that “the vivacity of what was is married to the vitality of what will be?

The Good You Have Done

Steven Charleston is a Native American elder (Choctaw), author, and retired Episcopal bishop. This is re-posted from his Facebook page.

You have done more good than you know. I want to mention that because I think that fact can get overlooked in the hustle and bustle of everything else going on these days. You may know a handful of the times when you did something that helped others or influenced them in a positive way. But for every one of those memories there are a dozen others you never really even noticed. Your words silently changed someone’s mind. Your example inspired a child who was just there watching. Your contribution tipped the scales and altered the path of another person’s life. You will never realize how many people you have blessed. There are too many to count. You have done more good in this life than you will ever know.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: What feelings do the bishop’s words stir in you?

Celebration: A Poem by Denise Levertov

“Brilliant, this day — a young virtuoso of a day.
Morning shadows cut by sharpest scissors,
deft hands. And every prodigy of green —
whether it’s ferns or lichens or needles
or impatient points of bud on spindly bushes —
greener than ever before.
And the way the conifers
hold new cones to the light for blessing,
a festive rite, and sing the oceanic chant the wind
transcribes for them!
A day that shines in the cold
like a first-prize brass band swinging along the street
of a coal-dusty village, wholly at odds
with the claims of reasonable gloom.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Close your eyes briefly. When you open them, what shapes and colors and living things are you seeing as if for the first time? How will you dispel “the claims of reasonable gloom” today?

Becoming Like Children

This, from The Way of Love: Pray (Church Publishing 2018

“Every once in awhile we realize what a lot we have to learn. Usually we realize at the same time what a great sense of humor God must have — how true it is that those who live in Christ will have their world turned upside-down. A five-year old asked her mother at breakfast one morning about her bedtime prayers. She wasn’t really sure, she admitted, just what to say to God. ‘God likes to hear from us’ the mother responded, ‘the same things all mommies and daddies like to hear from their children: please and thank you and I’m sorry.’ Considering this, the little girl licked jam from her fingers in order to count to three: please; thank you; I’m sorry. She nodded, then waved the two unaccounted-for fingers and said, ‘Maybe there are two other things I say a lot that God would like to hear from me.’ The mother asked absently ‘What’s that’? as she began to clear the table (the lesson being over). ‘Maybe’ the girl suggested, ‘I could tell God “wow” and “I love you.”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: What are your favorite things to say to God? If the only words you had to say to God were the words this mother and child mentioned, would they be enough? When you were a child, who taught you to pray?

A Vision of Enchantment

Love people even in their sin, for that is the semblance of Divine Love and is the highest love on Earth. Love all of God’s creation, the whole and every grain of sand of it. Love every lead=f, every ray of God’s light. Love the animals, love the plants, love everything. If you love everything, you will perceive the divine mystery in things. Once you perceive it, you will come to comprehend it better every day. And you will come at last to love the whole world with an all-embracing love.” (Fyodor Dostoyevsky, The Brothers Karamazov).

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: The title for this meditation is also a chapter title from Richard Rohr’s “Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer”. Rohr places Dostoyevsky’s words at the head of the chapter. What relationship do you see between Rohr’s title and Dostoyevsky’s imperative words? What parts of God’s creation are easy for you to love? Which are more difficult? Who, or what, seems impossible for you to love? How willing are you to ask God to change your mind?

What to Do on Missing God Who Is in Hiding

From 14th century German Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart:
“The mind is sometimes lacking in perception and is very apt to imagine that God has passed it by. Then what is to be done? Exactly the same as you would do if you were in the greatest comfort. Learn not to vary in the depths of woe but behave in every way the same. Your best chance of finding God is to look in the place where you left God. As it was with you when you last had God, let it be now while you have lost God — then you will find God.

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Does it ever seem to you that you have misplaced God, or that God has misplaced you? How did you react? How helpful does Meister Eckhart’s advice seem to you?

To the Light of September: A Poem by W. S. Merwin

“When you are already here
you appear to be only
a name that tells of you
whether you are present or not

and for now it seems as though
you are still summer
still the high familiar
endless summer
yet with a glint
of bronze in the chill mornings
and the late yellow petals
of the mullein fluttering
on the stalks that lean
over their broken
shadows across the cracked ground

but they all know
that you have come
the seed heads of the sage
the whispering birds
with nowhere to hide you
to keep you for later

you
who fly with them

you who are neither
before nor after
you who arrive
with blue plums
that have fallen through the night

perfect in the dew”

For reflection in solitude or in the company of others: Merwin invites readers to experience September as a time of “now and not yet” (a phrase which also describes our experience of the Reign of God). As September deepens, what previously hidden truths about your relationship with God are becoming more clear?