When the days drew near for him to be taken up, he set his face to go to Jerusalem. And he sent messengers ahead of him. On their way they entered a village of the Samaritans to make ready for him; but they did not receive him, because his face was set toward Jerusalem. When his disciples James and John saw it, they said, "Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?" But he turned and rebuked them. Then they went on to another village. As they were going along the road, someone said to him, "I will follow you wherever you go." And Jesus said to him, "Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests; but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head." To another he said, "Follow me." But he said, "Lord, first let me go and bury my father." But Jesus said to him, "Let the dead bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim the kingdom of God." Another said, "I will follow you, Lord; but let me first say farewell to those at my home." Jesus said to him, "No one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of God." -Luke 9:51-62
Mysticism involves the awareness of interconnectedness, the intuitive knowledge or insight that everything is linked, and that what humanity tends to call “the divine” is at the heart of being.
I see this relational dynamic in Jesus' encounter with the would-be disciples. Jesus responds to the seeker who wishes to follow him this way - Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head. In her commentary for this week in Feasting on the Word (Year C Volume 3, Westminster/John Knox Press) I loved Elaine Heath”s insight: “God incarnate is essentially homeless apart from the hospitality of others.”
Daring to let God into our lives we become authentically human and incarnational (meditation one). The unfolding of God's revelation is dependent upon our creative response to God's love in us (meditation two) while God finds sanctuary in our caring for others (meditation three).
“You can survive on your own; you can grow strong on your own; you can prevail on your own; but you cannot become human on your own." (Frederick Buechner The Sacred Journey)
Have a hospitible meditation, -Suzanne
Meditation One (introit) invitation and incarnation
In fact, his life (Francis of Assisi) bears witness to the fact that holiness is not by necessity a denial of one's humanity, or something added on to it. Holiness may in fact be the deepest achievement of what is authentically human. Here we are very close to the Christian mystery of the Incarnation. ...
...Francis was no theoretician of the spiritual life. He never spoke of God in any but experiential terms, because he was a witness to a living and acting God. He could speak only of what he saw, heard and felt. In this regard, he remains before us, across the centuries, as an example of what God can do - which is primarily to astonish, to alter radically the way we live and move. In the dramatic passages of his own life, and the remarkable ways in which a genial but rather shallow young playboy became a model of service to the world, he revealed that God is present in time and history. In other words, he has such credibility because he demonstrated that we are at our best when we dare to allow God into our lives.
-Donald Spoto Reluctant Saint: The Life of Francis of Assisi
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going. I do not see the road ahead of me. I cannot know for certain where it will end. Nor do I really know myself, and the fact that I think I am following Your will does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please You does in fact please You. And I hope I have that desire for all that I am doing. I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire. And I know that if I do this You will lead me by the right road, though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore I will trust You always though I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death. I will not fear, for You are ever with me, and You will never leave me to face my perils alone.
Thomas Merton 1915-1968 Thoughts in Solitude
Art is long, and Time is fleeting,
And our hearts, though stout and brave,
Still, like muffled drums, are beating
Funeral marches to the grave.
In the world's broad field of battle,
In the bivouac of Life,
Be not like dumb, driven cattle !
Be a hero in the strife !
Trust no Future, howe'er pleasant !
Let the dead Past bury its dead !
Act,— act in the living Present !
Heart within, and God o'erhead !
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) Excerpt from A Psalm of Life (What the Heart of the Young Man Said to the Psalmist)
March, Limbourg Brothers, Tres Riches Heures
Meditation Two (insight) except through our hospitality
So it is that the love of God, in waiting upon the response of recognition, waits upon its own celebration. ... ...Thus we may say that the creativity of God is dependent, for the completion and triumph of its work, upon the emergence of a responsive creativity - the creativity of recognition. Recognition is to be understood neither as a single psychological event nor as a state of mind brought about by such an event. It is to be understood as creativity directly and explicitly responsive to the creativity of God. We may say that the response of recognition celebrates the love of God. The final triumph of the love of God is the celebration of His love within that universe which has received that love. -W.H.Vanstone 1923-1999 The Risk of Love
Meditation Three (integration) my yoke is easy
Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which he speaks as it pleases him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus. It comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.” -Dietrich Bonhoeffer 1906-1945 The Cost of Discipleship
The Last Word
It is in community that we are tested and purified. It is in community that we learn what forgiveness and healing are all about. It is in community that we learn who our neighbor is. Community is the true school of love. -Henri J. M. Nouwen
The Hospitality of My Attention
I've always got to do “just one more thing.” Right now I'm trying to write this meditation for Monday's posting. And here's what I've done: wrote two emails and made a telephone call, put the laundry in the dryer, put flowers in a vase for guests coming tomorrow, hung 6 pictures, made a cup of tea, blow-dried my hair, unpacked a box of books and packed up another one of books to give away, made another cup of tea, noticed that my radio/cd player was really dirty and cleaned it with Windex and a toothbrush.
My excuse: we've just moved and there's so much still to do and our first overnight guests arrive tomorrow. But it's really only an exaggeration of the way I think and the way I do things - an intensification of “monkey mind” and being wonderfully distracted by our new surroundings. Oh. There's the dryer buzzing - laundry's done. I just need to go fold the towels and hang the clothes right away before wrinkles set in.
In this Gospel, one person wants to follow but Jesus warns him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” I have a lovely new place to live and rest my head. I have no excuses not to turn my attention to the Present Moment, to the Divine Presence while going up and downstairs to the laundry room, here in my study, at my desk, in my heart, within my breath.
Two are called to follow. I just have to bury my father, says one. I just have to say goodbye to my relatives, says another. Let the dead bury their own dead. The dead moments are ones without attention. There's two ways to do housework - one open to Divine Presence and another, just uselessly frittering away the Moment.
I'm delighted to see my “monkey brain” in full vigor. I'm laughing. And, my exaggerated distraction helps me to see how I live this way all the time but more subtly and obscurely to my usual awareness. I always have “just one more thing” to do or think about before turning my attention toward the eternal and patient Divine Presence, waiting for the hospitality of my attention. (Or, to you, my Monday readers...)