Alice

Alice

Monday, December 15, 2014



My Dear Lovely Ladies,

It’s December 15 , 2014. 
I don’t know when you might be reading this, but I pray you take it to heart in the spiritual journey you are on.


I believe Father Rohr has offered in this short piece below a very true path, one no different than the path of Jesus himself.



Jesus has given us a path to follow in this life we have been given, always pointing to the path and not so much to himself.


We are one with God, just as Jesus was, but many things in this life compete with this profound mystery.

Jesus said if we want to follow him we must also take up OUR CROSS. Something must die!

Might our cross be our willingness to die to our ego and realize what has been given to us from the day of our birth :

WE ARE MADE IN THE IMAGE OF GOD and that image is our True Self not that self which has been conditioned by all of these competing forces in our lives

Merry Christmas!

And may you all discover this great gift, freely given to all, but you must do the spiritual work of unwrapping this profound gift.

Love Papa

December 15, 2014







Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation




Sunday, December 14, 2014 

Feast of St. John of the Cross

The Spiritual Journey in a Nutshell



Throughout this year of Daily Meditations we have been basically following the stages of spiritual development. (St. John of the Cross, whose feast day it is, charted this journey much better than I ever can!) We begin with the original blessing of being created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26) who is Love (1 John 4:8). But early in life we seem to forget our origin and who we really are. We leave our original innocence and the proverbial “Garden” to begin the task of the first half of life, which involves building a container, a False Self, and an ego. Dualistic thinking takes over, especially in the Western world, as education emphasizes the left side of the brain, competition, and success. Boundaries, group-think, and exclusion thrive. The shadow self hides whatever is considered unacceptable. Even our True Self becomes hidden beneath the False Self we have constructed to meet our needs for security, control, and esteem. The goal is personal individuation, and the emphasis is on the individual, and his or her positive self-image. This is fine as far as it goes, which is not very far, I am afraid; but it is all that a secular culture knows.

God’s goal is always union. “God comes disguised as our life,” as Paula D’Arcy puts it. Life lived fully and honestly inevitably involves both joy and suffering, a path of descent, doubt, and lots of little deaths that teach us to let go of our False Self and to live in the simple joy of divine union—which is exactly the passion and desire of the True Self. Our carefully constructed ego container must gradually crack open, as we realize that we are not separate from God, from others, or from our true selves. Now the ego is seen for the partial but limiting gift that it is. Now it is ready to become the servant of the soul, and is even willing to “die” for the sake of the Spirit.

We now know that God is in us and we are in God. Through grace, contemplation, and experiencing our experiences, our consciousness is transformed. We overcome the splits created in the first half of life. Now we are capable of non-dual thinking and we can forgive and accept our imperfections and those of others. We no longer have anything to prove or protect, so we can let go and surrender to Reality/God, which are now experienced as the same thing. As St. Francis said, “I am who I am in the eyes of God—nothing more and nothing less.” We may appear foolish, or even naïve, to those at earlier levels of development, but we are finally free and alive. This is the second naiveté, our return to an almost childlike simplicity and serenity. It is the primary goal and purpose of our maturing years.


"I am who I am in the eyes of God, nothing more and nothing less."



Sunday, November 9, 2014

SSSHHHHHH






Alice,
John Main died in 1982, thirty-two years ago as I write this to you. And by the time you might have a desire to read this for understanding, it will have been maybe fifty years, and yet the truth in these words will be as fresh as the next breath you take to read them.

May the Mystery bless you with the desire to know the silence he speaks of in these words.


LOVE,
PAPA





READINGS
November 9, 2014
From John Main OSB, “The Silence of Love,” WORD MADE FLESH (Norwich:
Canterbury, 2009), pp. 29-30.
Language is so weak in explaining the fullness of the mystery. That is why the absolute
silence of mediation is so supremely important. We do not try to think of God, talk to
God or imagine God. We stay in that awesome silence open to the eternal silence of God.
We discover in meditation, through practice and taught daily by experience, that this is
the natural ambience for all of us. We are created for this and our being flourishes and
expands in that eternal silence.
“Silence” as a word, however, already falsifies the experience and perhaps deters many
people, because it suggests some negative experience, the deprivation of sound or
language. People fear that the silence of meditation is regressive. But experience and
tradition teach us that the silence of prayer is not the pre-linguistic but the post-linguistic
state in which language has completed its task of pointing us through and beyond itself
and the whole realm of mental consciousness. The eternal silence is not deprived of
anything nor does it deprive us of anything. It is the silence of love, of unqualified and
unconditional acceptance. [. . . .]
We know ourselves to be loved and so we love. Meditation is concerned with completing
this cycle of love. By our openness to the Spirit who dwells in our hearts, and who in
silence is loving to all, we begin the journey of faith. [. . . ] We let go of everything that
we want, everything we know. . . .We let it go in the abandon of poverty, and we are then
free to launch out in the depths of the mystery that is love. . . .

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

PURITY VS MATURITY



Alice,
Phillip Gulley, a Quaker pastor and wonderful thinker about this thing we call religion, says the following in a piece he wrote called SPIRITUALITY VS RELIGION (PURITY AND MATURITY)

“…Most religions encourage its members to achieve a state of moral perfection and have developed a set of rules or doctrines for their members to follow which, if scrupulously followed, will make them pure. Every religion does this to one degree or another. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with purity, in and of itself, just so long as we remember that purity is impossible. Because purity is insisted upon, but still not possible, it gives birth to two destructive tendencies: guilt and self-righteousness.

He continues later in the piece…Now I want to contrast religion with spirituality. If religion is about striving for moral and spiritual purity, which is impossible, then spirituality is about permitting our mystical experiences, our joyous, beautiful, transcendent moments with God, to enliven, energize, and positively transform us. This is our deepest hope for you here. Not that you will become perfect little Quakers, but that you will become fully alive and engaged human beings, growing and maturing.
So this is one difference between religion and spirituality. The goal of religion, spoken or unspoken, is often purity, which is impossible to attain, and usually leads to guilt or self-righteousness, both of which are destructive.
But the goal of spirituality is maturity. Purity vs. maturity. We will never achieve purity. Early Quakers believed it was a possibility. They were mistaken. But maturity is a real possibility. It is our decision each day to grow, to evolve, to learn, to love, to include, to care. Will there be moments, or even long periods, of regression, when we fail to grow, fail to evolve, fail to learn? Yes, of course. And when we become aware of our immaturity, of our failure to grow and evolve, we say, “today is a new day. I will commit myself anew to my moral and spiritual evolution.”
Religion’s prize is purity. But the effort to be pure will make you miserable or arrogant, for purity is impossible. You cannot run a three-minute mile.
Spirituality prizes maturity. The effort to be mature will make you hopeful, for maturity is possible. It begins when we commit ourselves, throughout our lives, to our spiritual and moral growth, to the work of love, to the joy of learning, to the dream of each day expanding our hearts, minds and souls.

Alice, Jesus was one of greatest examples of what it means to  be a mature, full human being.
May you too grow into your mature God Self Alice.

Love,

Papa

Sunday, August 3, 2014

IT IS TRULY SIMPLE BUT PROFOUND


Happy August Alice,

I know you have just had a wonderful time with your Mimi and Big at Lake Toxaway, North Carolina. I'm sure you will be building many memories from your visits there over the years to come. All kinds of stories and images in your mind to remind you of those times. But when you take away all those stories and images and strip that time down to its nakedness, what it will all be about is people who love one another spending some time together. The simplicity of just being together.

Not unlike all the stories and images being birthed from your experience of Lake Toxaway, your faith will be the same. Stories upon stories, images upon images, thoughts upon thoughts, ideas upon ideas, as you live your life in God. But they too will point to one simple truth: God in you and you in God. 

A twentieth-century Hindu Guru says it this way:
TALKS WITH RAMANA MAHARSHI: On Realizing Abiding Peace and Happiness (Carlsbad, CA: Inner Directions, 2001), pp. 70-71.
"

The ultimate Truth is so simple. It is nothing more than being in the pristine state. This is all that need be said. Still it is a wonder that to teach this simple Truth there should come into being so many religions, creeds, methods, and disputes among them. . Oh, the pity!. . . .[Because people] want something elaborate and attractive and puzzling, so many religions have come into existence and each of them is so complex, and each creed in each religion has its own adherents and antagonists. For example, an ordinary Christian will not be satisfied unless he is told that God is somewhere in the far-off Heavens not to be reached by us unaided. . . .If told the simple truth—“The Kingdom of Heaven is within you”---he is not satisfied and will read complex and farfetched meanings into such statements. Mature minds alone can grasp the simple Truth in all its nakedness."

So when you get to that point in life Alice when it seems some of those ideas, images and thoughts about God don't match up to your experiences of life,
Just take a deep breath and enjoy the simple truth of abiding...In the Mystery of it all.

I love you,
Papa

Saturday, July 5, 2014

FALLING DOWN 10 TIMES AND GETTING BACK UP 11 TIMES



Dear Ladies,
I want to apologize, again, for being remiss in my sharing my thoughts with all of you on a monthly basis. Seems that knitting has taken over my life during my quiet times of thinking these days. So Papa needs to reshape his sacred time again. So please bare with me as I recommit to my writing to all of you.

This “recommitting”  reminds me of a story about one of my significant spiritual mentors. I know I have probably mentioned his name to all of you in some way in all these writings I have done. His name is Thomas Merton. He was a Trappist monk and prolific writer in the 1960’s. And he had a great influence on my spiritual life.

Seems one day someone was interviewing him about living the life of a monk and discussing how difficult it must be to maintain the disciplines required of such a life. 

I don't remember exactly how he asked the question...

The interviewer asked  Thomas Merton, “How do you maintain such a disciplined life?”

Thomas Merton’s answer was, “We fall down and we get back up”.

Do you see the grace in that ladies?

No judgement.

There another way that is stated in the Buddhist tradition. It goes like this:

If you fall down seven times, the most important things is that you get back up eight.

Well Papa has fallen down and is getting back up .
I’m sure I will fall down again.
And if I fall down 10 more times, the most important thing is not to judge myself but to simply get back up the eleventh time.

Be kind to yourself ladies.
You will fall down.
Just get back up.

Love,
Papa

Monday, June 9, 2014

THE MIND SEED IS ALREADY THERE!

Alice,
We talked about transformation last month and having the "mind of Christ".
Richard Rohr reminds us that the seed for that "mind" is given to us in our spiritual DNA. This is truly "Good News". I shared these same words this morning with your cousin Caroline. I think these words are so important for us to reflect on. Like I told Caroline, I know I have said these things in other vignettes I have offered you here in this space, but Rohr articulates it in a beautiful way.
Please reflect deeply on these words, they can change your life!

I love you,
Papa


Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation
Becoming Who You Are
Divine DNA
Monday, June 9, 2014
The True Self is characterized by communion and contentment. It’s okay. It’s all right here, right now. The True Self is the self that is connected with Being itself. It is the realigned self. Christianity would use the word “saved” to describe this state, and Jesus would speak of the grain of wheat which has died to its small boundaries to become the large self, the God Self, the Christ Self, the Enlightened Self. It has to do with participating and resting in the Universal Being (“God”) that is bigger than your own small being and yet includes it. You are inherently a part of it. Your life is not about you. You are about life.
The True Self needs only to uncover or discover itself. It’s already there. We are all tabernacles of God, as Paul says in several places. We’ve each been given the gift. And there are no degrees of givenness; the gift is equally given to all, but we must admit that it is received in varying degrees. The only difference is the degree of conscious realization, the degree that you now draw your life from that Source. You are the dwelling place of God. Your deepest DNA is divine. God is not out there. Your deepest you is God, is good, is okay. The True Self cannot be hurt; it’s invulnerable, it’s indestructible. It’s the Great I Am continued in you.
The True Self is inherently satisfied and overflowing. It lives an abundant life. “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Spiritual gifts increase by use. If you love, you become more loving. As you learn to call upon the True Self, you draw life from that which is the Big Self, instead of the small ego. That’s probably why Jesus commanded us to love one another. Love is something we have to do to be who we are, to reconnect, to be realigned, to be in communion.

Adapted from True Self/False Self, Disc 1 (CD)
Gateway to Silence:
Love is the presence of God within me.

Saturday, May 31, 2014

THREE YEARS OLD TODAY



Alice,

It’s your birthday! Happy Birthday!

You have changed in so many ways!
And you will continue to change for many years.
And my prayer for you is that your spirit will forever be blossoming and transforming into an open spaciousness. 

In some genres of spiritual jargon, the word TRANSFORMATION is associated with change. David Benner talks about transformation and how it is different from growth in his book Spirituality and the Awakening Self.

He says:
“Transformation is a term that is getting a lot of use recently. However, the changes referred to are frivolously small. Someone, for example, might speak of a spa treatment as having been transformational. They probably mean that it was refreshing. At a slightly more profound level, another person might speak of having lost a lot of weight as transformational. By this, they might mean that they feel like a new person.

Authentic transformation involves a much more major reorganization of our internal furniture than any of these things. Unlike the small incremental steps involved in growth, transformation is more like a quantum shift. It starts with an awakening and involves movement toward a more inclusive identity, a larger framework for meaning-making, and an expansion of consciousness. But most importantly, it will always translate into new ways of being in the world, and of understanding your relationship to it.
Self-improvement projects will never produce transformation. And, unlike growth, transformation is facilitated more by consent than effort. Accept no substitutes for it.”

Alice as we celebrate your day of birth today, it is so obvious how you have grown physically and intellectually. May you intellect and your body continue to be nurtured in healthy ways.

But may your spirit be TRANSFORMED,  that you might truly have the mind of Christ to share with this world.

Happy Birthday Circus Girl!

I LOVE YOU!
PAPA

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

FINDING YOUR PLACE




Alice,
Forgive me for not writing you in April. Sometimes it’s just hard to keep up with my writings. But my goal is to keep it up until all you girls are five years old. Anyway, what should we
talk about in May, 2014, besides the fact you will be tuning 3 this month?
Thomas Merton (I have probably mentioned him before) has been one of my spiritual mentors over the years. He was a trappist monk at the Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky. At some point he asked to live alone in a hermitage on the monastery property and was granted permission by the Abbot. He said this about this move:
“This is not a hermitage—it is a house…What I wear is pants. What I do is live. How I pray is breathe…Up here in the woods is seen the New Testament: that to say, the wind comes through the trees and you breathe it. Is it supposed to be clear? I am not inviting anybody to try it. Or suggesting that one day the message will come saying NOW. That is none of my business.
(Taken from The Ox-Herder and The Good Shepherd)
He seems to be saying that we all have to find our own way to God and feel at home with ourselves when we have found that place.
He’s quoted again in the same book:
“Life consists in learning to live on one’s own, spontaneous, freewheeling: to do this one must recognize what is one’s own—be familiar and at home with oneself. This means basically learning who one is, and learning what one has to offer to the contemporary world, and then learning how to make that offering valid.”

What will your offering be Alice?

Just make sure it's YOUR offering, 

A place where you can sit comfortably and naturally.
And you will be at home.
Love,
Papa

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Trusting The Source of Your Being


Alice,

Parker Palmer, in his book A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life, quotes from a classic novel, the following:




In Zorba the Greek, Nikos Kazantzakis tells a tale about the way some efforts to help can do real harm:


One morning ... I discovered a cocoon in the bark of a tree, just as the butterfly was making a hole in the case preparing to come out. I waited a while, but it was too long appearing and I was impatient. I bent over it and breathed on it to warm it. I warmed it as quickly as I could and the miracle began to happen before my eyes, faster than life. The case opened, the butterfly started slowly crawling out and I shall never forget my horror when I saw how its wings were folded back and crumpled; the wretched butterfly tried with its whole body to unfold them. Bending over it I tried to help it with my breath, in vain. It needed to be hatched out patiently and the unfolding of the wings should be a gradual process in the sun. Now it was too late. My breath had forced the butterfly to appear all crumpled, before its time. It struggled desperately and, a few seconds later, died in the palm of my hand.

That little body is, I do believe, the greatest weight I have on my conscience. For I realize today that it is a mortal sin to violate the great laws of nature. We should not hurry, we should not be impatient, but we should confidently obey the eternal rhythm.'

Parker J. Palmer. A Hidden Wholeness: The Journey Toward an Undivided Life (Kindle Locations 672-674). Kindle Edition.

All parents wound their children in some way, and grandparents probably do too. And it is quite often done in the name of “love”. At least we think it is love. Many times it is probably our own fears being projected on to you younger ones. I know quite often, if I had to choose, I would limit all of you four girls in many ways just because of my fears. I would want to “unfold your wings” for you in many kinds of ways and I would be wrong for that. So let me just ask for your forgiveness now, because I’m sure there will come a time when I will be impatient with the “eternal rhythm” of your life. And there may come a time when you have to forgive your parents for the same thing. Sometimes we all forget that you do not belong to us.

So may I have the patience to watch you spread your wings in your own timing and be given the great gift of watching you fly.

Love,
Papa

Monday, February 3, 2014

STORYTELLING




Alice,
I had a wonderful time with you this weekend. Thanks for the memories and the stories that come with them. Speaking of stories, you let me make up some stories to tell you during our time together. And I loved the way you were attentive to the unfolding of those stories as I told them. They were, of course, just silly little made up of stories about you and your life. As you know, not all stories are true but even the stories that are not true often have truth in them. In fact, sometimes stories are made up to point to a truth.

I read a book not too long ago by David Loy, entitled The World is Made of Stories. In that book he points to the fact that our lives become a story of sorts. Stories we hear about ourselves from others and stories we believe about ourselves. Some of these are true and some of them we just have bought into and we "think" they are true.
Figuring out the truth of who we are (what is the real story) is a life long process, always unfolding as we mature on this spiritual journey. David Loy says, "The problem is not stories themselves but how we relate to them."

He goes on to say:

If delusion is awareness stuck in attention-traps, and enlightenment liberates awareness, does the spiritual path involve finding the correct story, or getting rid of stories, or learning to story in a new way?

I want to think maybe it is all of the above.

I'll be vulnerable here and tell you a personal story in a way of giving some understanding to the above statement.

One of my stories that I remember is my father never letting me assist him in trying to fix things. He always told me I didn't know how to do it. A specific memory relating to this experience is him always just telling me to hold the flash light so he could see what he was doing but he would not let me participate in anyway in the "fixing" of the problem.
"Holding the flashlight" became a metaphor for me regarding my ability to fix things. Or should I say my inability to fix things. Eventually I bought into that story. For the longest time I believed I did not have the aptitude to "fix" broken things so I never made an effort to learn. 
That story became part of who I was, not who my father was as a teacher. Eventually, through my self awareness, I came to understand that I was not the problem in this story, my father was. 
I learned to relate to this story in a different kind of way because I came to understand who I was and not who I was told who I was: "You can't do this."

"The problem is not stories themselves but how we relate to them" David Loy
Loy, David (2010-05-10). The World Is Made of Stories . Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition. 

Your story is continuing to unfold Alice. May your awareness continue as well, so you will know which stories to keep and which stories to discard.

In the beginning was Alice…



Love,
Papa

P.S.
I'm really not that good at fixing "things".