Today At Meetingbrook

Thursday, February 14, 2002

The Beloved, through the energy of Love
brought forth the world.
From the rising to the setting sun,
Love radiates out to the nations
perfect in beauty.
...
I know every creature, every plant,
every mineral;
I know you -- your every need
and your fears;
The Earth and all that is in it
belongs to the Whole, to be
tended by all in co-operation
with Love.

(from Psalm 50, as presented by Nan Merrill in Psalms For Praying, An Invitation to Wholeness, pp.96-97)

Jim said in response to the question "Really...What is Love?" at Wednesday Evening Conversation, "Love is allowing God to flow through you."
To the thought "God is what is there," Charlotte corrected "here!" Jesus, by dying on the "T" makes it and separation and death disappear -- so that, There becomes here -- and God is what is here.
Saskia added, "By entering the flow we present God here. Trust, the letting go on, and the letting go into, the Love-of-God flowing through us -- that's trust."
It seems to me that the phrase "Love-of-God" is the very flow of the reality that originates and sustains life and existence. As we come to feel it and know it, we enter and even dissolve into it. What we have named "God" and "Love" with the possessive "of" -- can be seen in another way. The "Love-of-God" is what we are, what we are meant to be, the very reality of existence we are not other than..

Earlier in the day Virginia told that Seinfeld once said his show was all about language and words. She, Hugh, and I were assembling the new chair for Saskia purchased in Bangor enroute home from Presque Isle and the County. Talking about our stay-over in St. Andrews By The Sea, New Brunswick, I told them about our ruminations about the missing third part. There's a wonderful sailboat with its business for sale there, and a house perfect for the hermitage also for sale up the hill from the wharf. This process --from separateness, to consolidation, to enfoldment, to disappearance -- seems to be a sequence of meetingbrook meditation that applies to spiritual as well as physical life.

My friends, search for the still voice
that dwells in the Silence.
If you call upon Me in times of trouble,
I am ever present to you.
You will know Me in your hearts,
As you honor my love for you.

(Merrill, Ps.50, p.98)

Allowing is suffering, is letting -- that's the definition meaning of the word patior, (L.=to suffer, experience, undergo, permit, allow). Suffering is not synonymous with pain. Suffering is allowing. So, when Jim says, "Love is allowing God to flow through you," there is a suggestion of suffering God through one's being, one's person. Much the same way Jesus said, "Suffer [let] the children to come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these." (Mk.10:14) To prevent, or hinder, the free flow of love through anyone, especially the young, is a real sorrow. To dam (damn?) anyone, to attempt to block the flow of the Love-of-God, is a foolish, cruel, and terrible activity to attempt. To open, unblock, let flow again what has been dammed (damned?) is healing, kind, and gracious activity.

All who surrender to the love of
the Great Mystery,
whose hearts are merciful and kind,
will go in beauty and walk with grace;
And all who reverence Love's Eternal Flame,
will know Love's Companioning Presence.

(Merrill, Ps 50, p.99)

It's St. Valentine's Day. Give chocolates! Bow in gratitude to the life and love that flows through each one of us!

The Earth and all that is in it belongs to the Whole, to be tended by all in co-operation with Love.

Tend well! Let love go on!

Wednesday, February 13, 2002

Desperate times demand desperate measures. When does despair become a virtue? Is it when hope turns to face you, and you have disappeared?

Comprehending the fundamental,
Embracing the spirit,
Roam the root of heaven and earth,
Wander beyond the dust and dirt,
Travel to work with noninvolvement.
Take care not to let mechanical
Intelligence burden your mind;
Watch what is not temporal
And remain unmoved by things.

- Lao tzu (in dailyzen)

In a time of censure, suicide, and slaughter, I propose a more radical penance practice -- namely, disappearing in place of Christ!

VI
Although I do not hope to turn again
Although I do not hope
Although I do not hope to turn

Wavering between the profit and the loss
In this brief transit where the dreams cross
The dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying
(Bless me father) though I do not wish to wish these things
From the wide window towards the granite shore
The white sails still fly seaward, seaward flying
Unbroken wings

And the lost heart stiffens and rejoices
In the lost lilac and the lost sea voices
And the weak spirit quickens to rebel
For the bent golden-rod and the lost sea smell
Quickens to recover
The cry of quail and the whirling plover
And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth

This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross
Between blue rocks
But when the voices shaken from the yew-tree drift away
Let the other yew be shaken and reply.
Blessed sister, holy mother, spirit of the fountain, spirit
of the garden,
Suffer us not to mock ourselves with falsehood
Teach us to care and not to care
Teach us to sit still
Even among these rocks,
Our peace in His will
And even among these rocks
Sister, mother
And spirit of the river, spirit of the sea,
Suffer me not to be separated

And let my cry come unto Thee.

(final part, from poem "Ash Wednesday" by T.S.Eliot)

Dean, concert singer doubling as bookstore clerk, would often reach for a quote from Pema Chodron, about hope -- that it was something you hung on to, clung to -- but it too must be dropped. He'd say this over coffee. He wondered why Christians placed so much value in hope. Wasn't it wanting something other, something separate that wasn't necessary? Suffer me not to be separated.

Lent begins. Let the suffering begin! Or, put differently, let the allowing begin. To suffer is to allow, to let what is taking place be what it truly is. And what is taking place? What truly is? What is turning itself into itself in this existence?
Perhaps, just perhaps, it truly is the body of Christ taking place in this world.

Although I do not hope to turn. These are desperate times. Canadian figure skaters are denied the gold they demonstrated belonged to them. Catholic priests are deconstructing the privilege and power they once assumed was theirs no matter what. Politicians poise to saw off the limb of easy money that held them aloft from the ground of honest brokering. The heresy of having a different opinion about war, murder, infallibility, and nearness to God -- has been moved from ecclesiastical sanctuaries and relocated in the oval office, justice department, and pentagon -- linking heresy with treason, and usurping the national flag as new icon of redemption.

And the blind eye creates
The empty forms between the ivory gates
And smell renews the salt savour of the sandy earth.


I am desperate. I despair. I cannot see myself...without hope...where does one turn?

It is Ash Wednesday, Lent, and the slow emptying begins.
Perhaps it is not hope, but something wonders -- If what we call "Christ" takes place in this world, will anyone who answers 'yes' or 'no' come to realize their separation? -- or, their true self, their Christ-self?

As for me, disappearing might be a virtue to consider.
This is the time of tension between dying and birth
The place of solitude where three dreams cross


At least, it's a place to begin.

Monday, February 11, 2002

[Note for bookshop Tuesday Evening Schedule -- There will be no Buddhist Studies for the remainder of February. They'll continue first Tuesday in March.]

.......................

The woman, the priest, and the community are shaky today.
We're not sages. We're ordinary people...

Sages lean on a pillar
That is never shaken,
Travel a road that is
Never blocked, are
Endowed from a
Resource that is never
Exhausted, and learn
From a teacher that
Never dies.
They are successful
In whatever they undertake,
And arrive wherever they go.
Whatever they do, they
Embrace destiny and go along
Without confusion.

- Wen-tzu (dailyzen.com)

...And we're confused.

Yesterday the pastor of the local Catholic church said someone had accused him of being sexist, arrogant, and having done immeasurable harm to women parishioners. He said he'd be rendering his resignation at an emergency parish council meeting this coming Wednesday. He then launched into his sermon, ignoring the murmurs of surprise as well as the woman who stood addressing him "Father?" Her plea was ignored. So too ignored was the question of propriety in announcing in such an unresponsive way what to some is a sudden and undesirable revelation.

Edward Collins Vacek, S.J. in an America article (March 9, 1996) entitled "The Eclipse of Love for God," wrote:
When David Hare interviewed clergy as part of his research for his play, "Racing Demons," he ran into a problem: None of the priests wanted to talk about God. One of the disturbing questions his play raises is whether contemporary Christians, with the exception of a few fanatical fundamentalists, are concerned about loving God.
In my own conversations with Christians, I find that almost all of them talk approvingly about love for others, some talk confidently about God's love for us, but few are willing to talk about their love for God. When I press them to say what it means to love God, some of them in fact deny that we can love God directly, many admit that they don't give much thought to love for God and most deny that there is any ethical obligation to do so. They judge that it is wrong not to love people, but they have no such thoughts about neglecting God. In short, many contemporary Christians subscribe to Jesus' second commandment, but not to the first.
(p.13

The priest on Sunday must have been very upset to blurt out his suffering in what some feel was an insensitive and uncaring way to his parishioners. If he was asking for help, he didn't ask. If he was lining up support against the person (presumably a woman) accusing him, he chose an abusive way to do so. But if he was trying to say that he loved God, wished to serve God and God's people, and was temporarily knocked off his pins by rage, sorrow, and helplessness -- then, we must attempt to heal the cut and tear that all of us participate in as members of the body of Christ.

Brother Antoninus (William Everson), in his book of poems The Hazards of Holiness (1960) writes in his poem "Saints" --
Souls and warriors!
Great-hearted ones!
How may we hope to learn of you,
Of anyone,
For a course of battle
That can't be seen
Ever at all?
When what is relatable
Broke at a level beyond any ken?

Even you, even you,
Never really knew it, saints.
Stalwarts of the soul's war,
Prechosen.

But woke one morning
Dead and glorified,
Nobody more surprised than yourselves.

And looked back doubtless
As some thorn-torn climber
Pants at the peak-top,
Staring down in amaze
At the hell of cockle
He clambered through.

I've done that.
Looked back down all choked and bleeding
At what I crawled across,
Raking scorpions and poison-mouthed toads
Off my clothes as I stared.
I know that.

But now ahead
No cactus there nor any beasts,
No toads, no snakes,
No devils and no ghosts.

Nothing.

No thing. Not anything.

Not to be named, even,
Cursed at, grinned back against,
Invoked, knelt to,
Adored, denied, befouled or hated!

And nothing to love!

A blankness
Like neither night nor day
Confronts: the flat void
Of unrealization.

Before what will be
Is.

Before what might be
Can.

(pp.32-33)

The woman, the priest, the community attempting to be body of Christ -- are each "Before."

What happens next -- with, to, and as, love -- will reveal to us either realization or unrealization.

Vacek ends his article in America saying:
At the end of this essay, let me make it clear that in speaking of love for God, I do not mean to exclude love for neighbor or self or world. Rather, love for God leads us to cooperate with God's love of the world. Hence -- strange as it seems -- one of the reasons we want to love ourselves and others is that we want thereby to cooperate with God's love for us. In a profoundly religious sense, we are aware that the ordinary and usually best way that God can love creatures is through our love for them. Still, although love for neighbor and love for self are essential to the Christian life, my concern here is that we must not let these wholesome Christian loves eclipse our love for God. That love should be the sun of our lives. (p.16)

Perhaps here is offered a way out, or in, for the woman, priest, and community attempting to be body of Christ in a confusing time -- namely, acknowledge, but do not succumb to seasonal affective disorder. The light of the sun, deprived during dark winter, is returning -- slowly, slowly. Lent, the slow preparation for the mystery that enfolds our bodies as well as that of Jesus' is upon us. The sun, the son, the sum of our "thorn-torn climber" selves -- is returning to the midst of our consciousness, returning to this part of Maine's eco-geography. Put differently, what we are "Before" is ready to engage and enfold Real Presence. And for this, we need to:
...lean on a pillar
That is never shaken,
Travel a road that is
Never blocked, are
Endowed from a
Resource that is never
Exhausted, and learn
From a teacher that
Never dies.
(Wen-tzu)

The snow is blowing horizontal in Presque Isle. We're on our way!
We'll, all of us, clamber through!