Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening by Cynthia Bourgeault

Part of my Lenten devotion was to be more intentional with meditation and prayer. Was able to start reading this last night. Looking forward to getting into it more! It always takes me about a week to think about what devotion I will take into Lent. I’m always coming to the show late after thinking and thinking…maybe I’ll give up chocolate, cheese, wine…but in the end I chose to add rather than subtract. So I got up this morning at 5am to do morning meditation. With all the different schedules I’ve had to get used to lately this is the only time left for silence. Sacrificing sleep won’t kill me but rather, in this case, help me live!

The Book of Joel

“Blow the trumpet in Zion; sound the alarm on my holy hill. Let all who live in the land tremble, for the day of the Lord is coming. It is close at hand…” (Joel 2:1)
Here Joel is the watchman warning the people of the plague of Locusts who will devour all the vegetation and make the land have the appearance of death, dry as if to not have any life. It will be devoured by gluttony and greed and selfishness—qualities we can give to the locusts as they work on these terms. This reminded me of Isak Dinesen’s experience with the grasshoppers on her farm in Africa. In her book, ‘Out of Africa’, she explains the intense fear the people have of these creatures. A messenger would ride from town-to-town warning farmers of their coming. They would come in swarms. They would black out the sky. People would try to hold them back, but their numbers were so great it was no use. The devastation was immense.
A few years ago, I kept getting a waking vision of a train coming at me. I saw the light and felt the speed of the train as it barreled toward me. I knew it would hit me, I knew, and I could feel something terrible was coming but like most ‘visions’, I disregarded it as my imagination and ignored all warnings to prepare myself for disaster. What could I have done anyway when it hit so to blackout the sky? Not a year later disaster struck my family more than once and left us all terribly injured emotionally for many years and still recovering. Is it possible that we have watchmen for our own lives? Would we call it the Holy Spirit? When it moves, when it aches, when it laughs will we disregard it as our imagination? Or will we heed its gestures to love more, help more, say more?

Book of Ezekiel

First, you might wonder what this image is, it is the Holy Face of Jesus, the image that appeared clearly on the veil of Veronica. It is a powerful meditation and relevant to this post because how can one be a good watch person when their senses are destroyed like the senses of Christ were destroyed when he was crucified?

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the people of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from me.” (Ezekiel 3:17)

Ezekiel was a prophet and a “watchman” for the Israelites while they were in Babylon. When I first read through the Bible, I began a study on the word watchman. It appears several times and it fascinated me. What is a watchman? Who is a watchman? Its meaning is not easily articulated. But put simply, in a theological sense, watchmen watch for God and they watch for things contrary to God. They know what God sounds like, looks like, feels like, etc., and they know what God doesn’t look like, sounds like, feels like, etc.—a skill that can be useful when navigating the world. There is a prophet in each of us that knows how to navigate the entities of good and evil and everything in between. We are all called to be that watch-person). Environmentalists, justice seekers, those who practice inclusion, anyone on the frontlines of this pandemic, and I can be a watch-person by speaking out when I am called. And I am open to my ‘post’ changing over time. Next time I may be called to act instead of speak, or I may be called to be silent. No matter what the watch-person is called to do, the most important thing we can do is to be one with God in all we do and send what is contrary to God, God’s love and peace

The book of the Prophet Jeremiah

Oh my anguish, my anguish!
I writhe in pain.
Oh, the agony of my heart!
My heart pounds within me,
I cannot keep silent. For I have
heard the sound of the trumpet;
I have heard the battle cry.”
(Jeremiah 4:19)

Any time I have witnessed an injustice I have felt this way. Here
Jeremiah, a prophet, emphasizes exactly what I felt when I read about
the Poletown neighborhood in Detroit that was razed for the GM plant
in 1981. I can’t explain it, but the story awakened something within
me. It was like a trumpet that vibrated every part of my soul, and I
couldn’t shake the urge to talk about it endlessly to those who would
listen. I finally contacted a publisher and now the book, which has
been a year in the making, will be on shelves by Febuary 8th, 2021.
The sound of the trumpet is a call to something. It is the adrenaline
that bubbles up in our chests when we feel the need to speak Truth. It
is the nagging urge to do something, call someone, reach out, show
love. So by this, sometimes the trumpet’s call may sound different but
it is still a call. It is our job to try our best to listen for its
cry. Jeremiah’s book begins with his call to be a prophet, he heard
the trumpet, God’s voice saying, Get yourself ready!…They [the kings
of Judah and priests] will fight against you but will not overcome
you, for I am with you and will rescue you…” (Jeremiah 1:17-19). If
you have Christ’s Truth which is centered around unconditional love,
mercy and, empathy, then you have God. Do not be afraid to speak
Truth, do not be afraid of the trumpet’s call, its battle cry may just
be your life renewed.

The Book of Isaiah

“Listen! Your watchman lift up their voices; together they shout for joy. When the Lord returns to Zion, they will see it with their own eyes.” ( Isaiah 52:8)

“Israel’s watchman are blind, they all lack knowledge; they are all mute dogs; they can not bark; they lie around and dream, they love to sleep.” ( Isaiah 56:10)

Basically the book of Isaiah can be summed up by these two contrasting images of the watchman. In one half of his book he prophecies hope & redemption and the other half he prophecies realty of the future based on what he sees in Judah and Israel. It is a warning to them. To not let the watchman sleep, as they were getting a little lazy in their devotion to God.

We all have a watchman inside of us, do not let the seeker in you sleep, keep an eye out for Truth and Love, watch with the eyes of your heart and listen with the ears of your heart. “Watch and pray….The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14: 38)

I think I wrote more notes from the book of Isaiah than any other. It is long for one thing, but it is also filled with wisdom and beautiful words.

The books of John

“…God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” (1 John 1:5)

 Anyone out there afraid of the dark? When I was going through a tough time my grief manifested itself in anxiety. As soon as the sun went down the wolf, as I called it, began to hunt me, and I was terrified almost every night. I could not see clearly; all my thoughts were too muddled to see my way out of it. 

There is a phrase soldiers use called ‘the fog of war’. Popularized by Stephen Crane’s The Red Badge of Courage, it’s a term which refers to the clarity of vision that disappears when we must fight for our lives. It’s often used in recollections of warfare and battlegrounds, but the fog of war can begin its seeping journey into our homes and minds if ignited by fear or anger. It is the reason we cannot see our way out of “attacks” of the mind. So how do we remedy this and possibly cure ourselves of this affliction?

I experienced this in another form last week when they tore yet another perfect old home down in my neighborhood. I Facebook vented (something I never do) with pictures and words and received many comments from people who agreed with me. I then sent the whole correspondence and post to the City (names blacked out). In this moment I was fueled by anger and though I felt I was fighting for a certain justice, I found it hard to navigate with the compass of truth and love, and I know this because I began to think dualistically, them vs me, good guy vs bad guy. I think this is because I did not bring God/Christ into the fight with me, I sort of left God behind and went on my own fuel and thought I was alone in it or needed to do it alone. We must bring God/Christ into these fights with us, every fight, and by Him we will be guided and the fog, the darkness which blinds us will dissipate and we’ll see our way out. 

 

The book Song of Songs

“Let him kiss me with kisses of his mouth—for your love is more delightful than wine.” (Song of Songs 1:2)

Said to be an allegory if God’s love for his people, Song of Songs or Song of Solomon is a love poem of a Jewish woman and her lover King Solomon. It is written as dialogue between them. With ‘friends’ intermingling their words of inquiry to the mystery of their love. It is a beautiful read either with allegory in mind or just with human love in mind, but God is in all love, so one can’t help thinking of him as these two go back and forth.

I placed a little work in progress in this shot, a whittle project not yet finished of Thomas Merton. My whittle projects are my love letters to the saints and writers with whom I spend time and who have assisted my spiritual journal in some way. It is a meditation and my love letter of thanks. What do your “love letters” look like?

Memoir and Remains of Robert Murray M’Cheyne

Needed me a little Robert Murray M’Cheyne this morning (19th century Presbyterian Minister—Edinburgh, Scotland). His pastoral letters supply a thirsty soul with living water. He knew the Bible so well and never failed to tie a small sermon into his letters.

To comfort a parishioner after the death of her brother:

“Are there any need to be brought off from the love of the world? Let them hear the voice of God from your brother’s grave, saying “What shall it profit a man though he gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” Your brother, though dead, still speaketh. To you he says, Lean on the Beloved as you come out of the wilderness. The Lord is at hand.” -Robert Murray M’Cheyne, Dundee February 28th, 1841

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