Today At Meetingbrook

Saturday, December 11, 2004

Cesco is ill.

In the Mountains
Common birds
Love to chatter
Where men live quiet lives.
Peaceful clouds
Seem jealous
When the moon is bright.
In the world,
The ten thousand affairs
Are not my affairs.
My only shame,
It’s autumn,
And I have no poem.

- Szu K’ung-t’u (837-908)

The athletic Border collie is unmoving on kitchen floor.
He is back from animal hospital. “Call me if you need to tonight,” the vet says.

Saskia keeps watch.

Friday, December 10, 2004

It is silence, after all, holds us.

Stop searching for phrases
and chasing after words.
Take the backward step
and turn the light inward.
Your body-mind of itself
will drop off,
and your original face will appear.
If you want to attain just this,
immediately practice just this.

(- Dogen 1227)

We pronounce promises at shop after conversation. Michael, Pia, Jean, Genevieve hear Saskia and I say yes to what and who we are.

In silence we face and admit that gap between the depths of our being, which we consistently ignore, and the surface which is so often untrue to our own reality. We recognize the need to be at home with ourselves in order that we may go out to meet others, not just with the mask of affability, but with real commitment and authentic love.
(--Thomas Merton, d.10Dec.1968))

Just this.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Time does somersaults. Anselm says, "The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary."

This December, that which seeks Itself turns round and round in wobbly gyre, feet over head and hands with extended arms out from rotating shoulders. The season turns, and with its turning, we turn too.

When true simplicity is gained,
To bow and to bend we will not be ashamed,
To turn, to turn will be our delight,
'Til by turning, turning we come 'round right.

(from “Simple Gifts” -- a Shaker Hymn written by Shaker Elder Joseph Brackett, Jr. in 1848)

Time present and time past cartwheel when we try to figure and follow which comes first in the realm of the Spirit.

Reading: A sermon by St Anselm:
O Virgin, by whose blessing all nature is blessed!
Blessed Lady, sky and stars, earth and rivers, day and night -- everything that is subject to the power or use of man -- rejoice that through you they are in some sense restored to their lost beauty and are endowed with inexpressible new grace. All creatures were dead, as it were, useless for men or for the praise of God, who made them. The world, contrary to its true destiny, was corrupted and tainted by the acts of men who served idols. Now all creation has been restored to life and rejoices that it is controlled and given splendour by men who believe in God.

The universe rejoices with new and indefinable loveliness. Not only does it feel the unseen presence of God himself, its Creator, it sees him openly, working and making it holy. These great blessings spring from the blessed fruit of Mary’s womb.

Through the fullness of the grace that was given you, dead things rejoice in their freedom, and those in heaven are glad to be made new. Through the Son who was the glorious fruit of your virgin womb, just souls who died before his life-giving death rejoice as they are freed from captivity, and the angels are glad at the restoration of their shattered domain.

Lady, full and overflowing with grace, all creation receives new life from your abundance. Virgin, blessed above all creatures, through your blessing all creation is blessed, not only creation from its Creator, but the Creator himself has been blessed by creation.

To Mary God gave his only-begotten Son, whom he loved as himself. Through Mary God made himself a Son, not different but the same, by nature Son of God and Son of Mary. The whole universe was created by God, and God was born of Mary. God created all things, and Mary gave birth to God. The God who made all things gave himself form through Mary, and thus he made his own creation. He who could create all things from nothing would not remake his ruined creation without Mary.

God, then, is the Father of the created world and Mary the mother of the re-created world. God is the Father by whom all things were given life, and Mary the mother through whom all things were given new life. For God begot the Son, through whom all things were made, and Mary gave birth to him as the Saviour of the world. Without God’s Son, nothing could exist; without Mary’s Son, nothing could be redeemed.

Truly the Lord is with you, to whom the Lord granted that all nature should owe as much to you as to himself.

(from Office of Readings, Dec.8, Feast of the Immaculate Conception)

We re-dedicate hermitage to this wholeness of Mary.

At conversation last evening the artists named Clarity remind it is a round path, not a flat path, we each walk.

Listening this morning to Joseph Campbell. He says: God is a metaphor for a mystery that absolutely transcends all human categories of thought. Even the categories of 'being' and 'non-being.' Those are categories of thought. (from video, "The World of Joseph Campbell; The Hero's Journey")

Christianity is metaphor. As is Judaism, Islam, Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism, etcetera. Those who hold metaphors as true are one category of seers. Those not holding them as true are another category of seers. We are invited to be seers. We speak at times and we remain silent at times in the presence of what is seen.

When we ask, "What is true?" we place ourselves in response to invitation. To ask is invitation into the open. The very question itself is invitation to contemplation, meditation, or prayer. Ask, and drop into the way of metaphor.

In language, a metaphor is a rhetorical trope where a comparison is made between two seemingly unrelated subjects. Typically, a first object is described as being a second object. In this way, the first object can be economically described because implicit and explicit attributes from the second object can be used to fill in the description of the first.

A trope is a play on words, a word used in something other than what is considered its literal or normal form. It comes from the Greek word, 'tropos,' which means a "turn", as in heliotrope, a flower which turns toward the sun. We can imagine a trope as a way of turning a word away from its normal meaning, or turning it into something else.

(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trope)

There is a dance that occurs with words. The steps of the dance are idiorhythmic to the dancer and the word. Idiorhythmic, that is, where each person and word could follow their own rhythm and tempo.

The greatest thing by far is to be a master of metaphor. It is the one thing that cannot be learned from others; it is also a sign of genius, since a good metaphor implies an eye for resemblance.
(-Aristotle, De Poetica, 322 B.C.)

"Una voce dicentis" (one voice saying) was the Latin phrase leading to "Sanctus, sanctus, sanctus" (holy, holy, holy) in the preface to the celebration of the Presence in Sacrament at Catholic Liturgy.

What is holy is the sound of seeing.

On the 10th of December, (what we hold as the feast of Thomas Merton), we pronounce again our 3 promises of Contemplation, Conversation, and Correspondence.

Contemplation is the promise of simplicity.
It is a gift of poverty inviting open waiting, receptive trust, attention, and watchful presence. It is a simple Being-With.
It is attentive presence.

Conversation
is the promise of integrity.
It is a chaste and complete intention to listen and speak, lovingly and respectfully, with each and all made present to us. It is a wholeness of listening and speaking.
It is root silence.

Correspondence is the promise of faithful engagement.
It is responsible attention and intention offered obediently to the Source of all Being, to the Human Family, to Nature. It is a faithful engagement with all sentient beings, with this present world, with existence with all its needs & joys, sorrows & hope.
It is transparent service.

{Three promises: Contemplation, Conversation, Correspondence ...as held by Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage “m.o.n.o.”(monastics of no other).}

We listen silently.

For that one voice.

Speaking as Itself.

Mother. Metaphor.

A blessed fruit.

Turning with love.

Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Mary is our sister. The present is our mother. What is here is What Is here.

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Dear woman, here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home. (John 19:25-27, NIV)

“Here” is our only home. Jesus understood that “here” is our mother. When we are present we are mother. When we are in the presence of another we are in the presence of mother.

Mother is presence, and presence is always here.

Waking from sleep,
I can hear the dew in the trees.
I open my door
Overlooking the garden.
The winter moon
Clears the eastern cliffs;
Water murmurs
Through roots of bamboo.
The mountain stream’s
Beyond my hearing,
But a mountain bird cries once,
And then again.
Leaning in the doorway,
I follow night through to dawn.
What words can I summon
For such mystery and peace?

- Liu Tzung-yuan (773-819)

To be conceived and born whole is to be undifferentiated from presence itself. Mary, says the feast of the Immaculate Conception, was conceived and born whole. Thus it was that Presence Itself received permission to be let go through her. To be sent through here.

“Permission” comes from the Latin per = through, and mitto, mittere = to send, or, to let go.

Mary was sent through God. God was let go through Mary.

It is a wonderful feast. It is the feast of Letting Presence Through.

“Whole sight,” wrote John Fowles beginning his novel Daniel Martin, “Or all the rest is desolation.”

The world knows desolation and the ambition of the half-sighted.

Here it is time for whole sight. Mary whole is our permitted wholeness.

Mary, Spirit-Sophia. Mother of God. You and I. And each about us.

Recourse.

Monday, December 06, 2004

War is deception and lie.

Common Form (1918)
If any question why we died,
Tell them because our fathers lied.

(Kipling)

War is now a permanent state for America. As long as there remains a single terrorist, America is at war. The next difficult question will be: Who is not a terrorist? Anyone opposing the ascendant reign of righteous warfare and crusade will be considered terrorist.

A Dead Statesman (1924)
I could not dig, I dared not rob,
And so I lied to please the mob.
Now all my lies are proved untrue,
And I must face the men I slew.
What tale will serve me here among
Mine angry and defrauded young?

Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936)

Young men face down and kill men, women, and children in Iraq. They will have to live with the screams and scents of carnage. These men will come home. They will haunt the homes and streets of our neighborhoods. We will have to face terror in our streets -- the terror of felt memory in men. These haunted men and memories -- men who've done their job well will look out from eyes and smiles -- these decent warriors gone to the bidding of their leaders.

Our streets and roads will be filled with memories drifting like ghosts in and out of family cars, shopping malls, and places of worship.

The real way circulates everywhere;
how could it require practice or enlightenment?
The essential teaching is fully available;
how could effort be necessary?
Furthermore, the entire mirror is free of dust;
why take steps to polish it?
Nothing is separate from this very place;
why journey away?

- Dogen 1227

We can pray. Soon we will have nothing remaining but prayer for these our brothers, fathers, and sons.

Pray, then, we will.

For the living.

And dead.

Among us.

Sunday, December 05, 2004

John was ahead of his time. He saw God in stones.
For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones. (Matthew 3)

Paul was a theologian for our time. He saw 'welcome' as the glory of God.
Welcome one another, then, as Christ welcomed you, for
the glory of God.
(Romans 15)

What is this for? What is that for?

For the glory of God.

Glory is defined, and defines us, as: Praise, honor, admiration, or distinction, accorded by common consent to a person or thing -- says Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary

Common -- i.e. -- belonging equally to or shared equally by two or more.

Each stone, each person, and everything between -- is the glory of God.

The voice of success and profit
May stir the vault of heaven,
But not this place.
In the rounds of the day,
You wear threadbare clothing
And eat simple fare.
When the mountain snow deepens,
Your thoughts
Are far from those of people.
Occasionally,
Immortals pass your door
And knock.

- Kuan-hsiu (832-912)

Imagine.

Revise our theology.