Great Beauty

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From Wendy Farley’s The Wounding and Healing of Desire: “Weaving Heaven and Earth: “The great beauty that is ourself is drawn to the great beauty that is God, just as a roe is drawn to water in the desert. With nothing but our thirst to guide us, we who have “been scorned and `buked”‘ walk past and through the beauties of the desert always onward toward the Great Beauty. This beauty beyond all knowing and naming pulls us out of ourselves and toward ourselves and in doing so pulls us most intimately and scathingly toward the world. It is impossible to be drawn to the beauty of Christ without entering more vividly into the beauty of everything else.”

Roger

Expanding Circle

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times: “The formal practice of loving-kindness or maitri has seven stages. We begin by engendering loving-kindness for ourselves and then expand it at our own pace to include loved ones, friends, “neutral” persons, those who irritate us, all of the above as a group, and finally, all beings throughout time and space. We gradually widen the circle of loving-kindness. The traditional aspiration used is “May I and others enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.” In teaching this I’ve found that people sometimes have trouble with the word happiness…To get at the heart of the loving-kindness practice we may have to put the aspiration for happiness into our own words…The aspiration of a woman I know is that we all learn to speak and think and act in a way that adds up to fundamental well-being.”

Roger

Reading the Bible

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From Rowan Williams’ Being Christian: Baptism, Bible, Eucharist, Prayer: “So reading the Bible is about listening to God in Jesus –which is what Christians ought to be doing in all circumstances anyway. It is letting the Holy Spirit bring you inside the story of how God related to the ancient Israelites and the first Christian believers –letting the Holy Spirit bring you inside that story so that you recognize it as your story. Suddenly these bizarre and exotic figures from the ancient Near East look you in the eye, and you recognize your own reflection. You see that they are indeed like you and you are like them. Reading the Bible is about building analogies between then and now, and recognizing in them your story. And developing and maturing in the reading of the Bible involves coming to recognize patterns of faithful and unfaithful response to God in the light of Jesus. That is what begins to happen when you make Christ the centre and focus of your prayerful reading.”

Roger

Closing Down

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From Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times: “…even in the rock-hardness of rage, if we look below the surface of the aggression, we’ll generally find fear. There’s something beneath the solidity of anger that feels very raw and sore. Underneath the defensiveness is the brokenhearted, unshielded quality of bodhichitta [compassion]. Rather than feel this tenderness, however, we tend to close down and protect against the discomfort. That we close down is not a problem. In fact, to become aware of when we do so is an important part of the training. The first step in cultivating loving-kindness is to see when we are erecting barriers between ourselves and others. This compassionate recognition is essential. Unless we understand—in a nonjudgmental way—that we are hardening our hearts, there is no possibility of dissolving that armor. Without dissolving the armor, the loving-kindness of bodhichitta is always held back. We are always obstructing our innate capacity to love without an agenda.”

Roger

Tied Together

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From Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America: “But so much of what ails us—black people, that is—is tied up with what ails you—white folk, that is. We are tied together in what Martin Luther King, Jr., called a single garment of destiny. Yet sewed into that garment are pockets of misery and suffering that seem to be filled with a disproportionate number of black people. (Of course, America is far from simply black and white by whatever definition you use, but the black-white divide has been the major artery through which the meaning of race has flowed throughout the body politic.)”

Roger

Bundle

Nic Jonk Jonas in de walvisFrom Pema Chodron’s The Places and Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times: “It might feel like stretching into make-believe to say, “May this person who is driving me crazy enjoy happiness and be free of suffering.” Probably what we genuinely feel is anger. This practice is like a workout that stretches the heart beyond its current capabilities. We can expect to encounter resistance. We discover that we have our limits: we can stay open to some people, but we remain closed to others. We see both our clarity and our confusion. We are learning firsthand what everyone who has ever set out on this path has learned: we are all a paradoxical bundle of rich potential that consists of both neurosis and wisdom.”

Roger

Original Sin

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From Michael Eric Dyson’s Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon To White America: “America is in trouble, and a lot of that trouble—perhaps most of it—has to do with race. Everywhere we turn, there is discord and division, death and destruction. When we survey the land, we see a country full of suffering that we cannot fully understand, and a history that we can no longer deny. Slavery casts a long shadow across our lives. The spoils we reaped from forcing people to work without wages and treating them with grievous inhumanity continue to haunt us in a racial gulf that seems impossible to overcome. Black and white people don’t merely have different experiences; we seem to occupy different universes, with worldviews that are fatally opposed to one another. The merchants of racial despair easily peddle their wares in a marketplace riddled by white panic and fear. Black despair piles up with each body that gets snuffed on video and streamed on social media. We have, in the span of a few years, elected the nation’s first black president and placed in the Oval Office the scariest racial demagogue in a generation. The two may not be unrelated. The remarkable progress we seemed to make with the former has brought out the peril of the latter. What, then, can we do? We must return to the moral and spiritual foundations of our country and grapple with the consequences of our original sin.”

Roger