On Seeing : Three Reflections January 2012

There were three separate and unlinked posts in my inbox this morning that stayed with me and made such an impact  that I thought I would post them here in one place. (I added my own choice of illustrations/graphics to the writings)

The first is from Inward/Outward, the second from Richard Rohr's daily meditations and the third, a much longer but brilliant reflection from Benedictine monk, Laurence Freeman OSB. I am not sure which island Laurence Freeman is referring too in the last article and there is no title or supplementary notes - it is a stand alone piece. 

I do know that he conducted a retreat on Bere Island in Bantry Bay, off the South West coast of County Cork, Ireland, and I posted earlier in October on his ten day free retreat here.  Maybe this is the island he is referring to as I know it has a wind turbine and he mentions a Jubilee cross erected in 1950.

All three articles focus on paying attention, seeing, and in the last article by Laurence Freeman, I can hear the winds of change and of seeing sideways, making imaginative connections and not seeing !!
( Hope you see what I mean! )

 Painting Birds Nest Lorena Pugh source

Look Always Forward
Dale Wasserman

Take a deep breath of life
and consider how it should be lived....
Call nothing your own except your soul. 

Love not what you are, but only what you may become.
Do not pursue pleasure
for you may have the misfortune to overtake it.

Look always forward:
in last year's nest, there are no birds this year.

Source: Man of La Mancha

More on the life of Dale Wasserman from here
Video interview with Dale Wasserman on the writing of Man of La Mancha here.

LEARNING TO SEE from here by Fr. Richard Rohr
Starter Prayer : Open my eyes.

“God, you were here all along, and I never knew it” (Genesis 28:16), says Jacob on awakening from his stone pillow

                            Jacob Wrestling With God, Painting © 2011, by Jack Baumgartner                                         Photo Courtesy of the artist, Jack Baumgartner

To see more of Jack Baumgartner’s work visit his web site here: http://theschoolofthetransferofenergy.com/

 You can also read Stone and Knee: An Art Review of Jacob Wrestling With God 
by Robbie Pruitt from here.

"The essential religious experience is that you are being “known through” more than knowing anything in particular yourself. Yet despite this difference, it will feel like true knowing. This new way of knowing can be called contemplation, nondualistic thinking, or “third-eye” seeing. Such prayer, such seeing, takes away your anxiety about figuring it all out fully for yourself, or needing to be right about your formulations.

At this point, God becomes more a verb than a noun, more a process than a conclusion, more an experience than a dogma, more a personal relationship than an idea. 

There is Someone dancing with you, and you are not so afraid of making mistakes. You know even those will be used in your favor. At that point you also have awakened from your stone pillow, and you know with a new clarity what you partly knew all along!
Adapted from The Naked Now: Learning to See as the Mystics See, p23 

Laurence Freeman OSB.

This untitled article also appeared in The Tablet and the source for the original talk is here.

 Photo of wind turbine and dog somewhere on the West coast of Ireland from here
The Magi got much clearer and more definite responses.
“Has anything happened on the island since I was here?” It was far too leading a question to ask an island resident. But listen to the pauses and the silence as well as the evasive answer and you might guess whether anything significant has transpired and even where you might look for it.
I heard about John W., only in his sixties, who died recently after a long illness and a turbulent life on oil rigs and at sea before returning to the island with a Chinese wife. Everyone liked her and spoke of how loyally and lovingly she cared for him throughout his last illness. With her he found five years of an emotional and domestic stability he had not known before. Until the day before he died he smoked like a chimney and indulged his passion for betting on the horses until his vision failed and he could no longer see the television. 
Shortly before the end he put on a party for his friends on the island, which is to say almost the entire island. ‘Why should you have all the fun at my wake without me there’, he asked them. They came and had a long great craic even though he had to go to bed early.
Changes don’t happen alone. One leads onto another; so, we ring in the changes like bells tolling, continuously yet seemingly unexpected. St Augustine knew what time was until he had to describe it. Heraclitus said of the river of time that we never go down to the same one twice.
Continuity and change and sometimes: a finality like the last sound of a fading gong. New Year only reminds us that time ever flows, flies like an arrow in one direction till it falls. John’s absence means many things, one thing to Min, another for the islanders. It means we will no longer see a quiet, self-possessed Chinese woman walking the lanes of this Irish island taking a short break from her carer’s work.
These deep thoughts melted in the practical world during my first walk on the island after several months. Looking up to the crest of the hill I saw not just the Cross which is lit up at night and is visible from the mainland as soon as the island comes into view on the road from town. 
There was also a strange new thing, awkwardly present, like an unexpected guest wearing the wrong clothes and uninvited. A single wind generator, a three blade turbine, a blow-in rudely taller than the 1950 Jubilee Cross.
Retrospectively the silence that my innocent question had evoked became more understandable. This was something that had happened alright and people had their feelings about it. Without notice or consultation, it had appeared on public land for private profit. 
But if people spoke about it at all, they spoke guardedly. It was an event, unlike John W’s departure, that could cause division and resentment for years to come. Any personal remark travels fast through the ether of a small community and acquires spin as it travels. I could hear the danger of my own too direct comment.
We spend much of our life denying death. When other unpleasant things happen we instinctively find ways to deny them too. Isn’t this what must have happened in the cases of clerical child abuse over decades?
You begin by downplaying its importance. It will go away. Wait and see. Don’t cause unnecessary offence.  God will take care of it with time.
In the case of an illegal and anti-social wind turbine you begin by describing, with some glee, how it broke down immediately it was turned on. But it is not easy to seriously discuss its rights and wrongs if there are no structures for discourse, no civic institutions except extended families where blood is thicker than water and stronger than the wind. It is the procrastination of unfinished business anywhere that feeds corruption in homes or in communities or states.
Well, at least there is the liturgy. Here we experience sacred time not subject to the intrusions of fashion or faction or individual whim because the sacred can’t be created even by the highest magisterium. It takes time to mature and for words to acquire the resonance and layered familiarity of funerals, weddings, anniversaries and the flow of ordinary days. 
But a fresh new missal with its often dissonant piety and false sounding archaisms, hard to understand and hard to read aloud, lay open on the altar, reminding us that nothing is sacred, even the sacred. 
 No one I spoke to, lay or clerical, likes it. Maybe, in time, like people and scandals and the wind it will go away."

Laurence Freeman OSB
The World Community for Christian Meditation, of which Laurence Freeman OSB is director, has recently opened a new outreach program – “Meditatio” (www.wccmmeditatio.org)

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