Saturday, December 29, 2012

Luke 24:35

I Kings 19

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.  Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me, and more also, if I do not make your life like the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”  Then he was afraid; he got up and fled for his life[1][1], and came to Beer-sheba, which belongs to Judah; he left his servant there.

But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness, and came and sat down under a solitary broom tree.  He asked that he might die:[2][2] “It is enough; now, O Lord, take away my life, for I am no better than my ancestors.”  Then he lay down under the broom tree and fell asleep.  Suddenly an angel touched him and said to him, “Get up and eat.”[3][3]  He looked, and there at his head was a cake baked on hot stones, and a jar of water.  He ate and drank, and lay down again.  The angel of the Lord came a second time, touched him, and said, “Get up and eat, otherwise the journey will be too much for you.”[4][4]  He got up, and ate and drank; then he went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb the mount of God.  At that place he came to a cave, and spent the night there. 

And here follows the well-known story of the earthquake, the fire, then the STILL SMALL VOICE.  How many times have I read that story since I have been reading the Bible through since high school?  How many times have I read it aloud or heard it read at Sunday Eucharist or retreats?  Dozens!  Yet, until now, I have missed that the STILL SMALL VOICE story is preceded by a nourishing meal provided by the angel of God.  I am posting this entry to memorialize that profound revelation.  It has been there all along, but this is one of those instances where I am tempted to say, “Was that in the Bible the last time I read it?”

[1][1] A very reasonable fear.
[2][2] How many times in the past year+ have I asked this?  The intensity of God’s work in my life felt unbearable and the feeling returns again and again.
[3][3] Get up and feed on the food provided by God’s angel and don’t try to tough it out on your own.
[4][4] A reminder to remain in good nutrition from that angel food.  One meal will not suffice.  Maintain, maintain, maintain.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 29

Chapter Three – Purification

p. 137: “’God is the only reality,’ says Patmore, ‘and we are real only as far as we are in His order and He is in us.’”

Is this Keating’s “false self?”

p. 138: “To the true lover of the Absolute, Purgation no less than Illumination is a privilege, a dreadful joy.”

Hmm, I’m not feeling a sense of privilege or joy, although I get what is being said here.

16 Then someone came to him and said, ‘Teacher, what good deed must I do to have eternal life?’ 17And he said to him, ‘Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only one who is good. If you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.’ 18He said to him, ‘Which ones?’ And Jesus said, ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; 19Honour your father and mother; also, You shall love your neighbour as yourself.’ 20The young man said to him, ‘I have kept all these;* what do I still lack?’ 21Jesus said to him, ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell your possessions, and give the money* to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.’  22When the young man heard this word, he went away grieving, for he had many possessions.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 28

"That in the winter, seeing a tree stripped of its leaves, and considering that within a little time the leaves would be renewed, and after that the flowers and fruit appear, he received a high view of the Providence and Power of God, which has never since been effaced from his soul.  That this view had set him perfectly loose from the world and kindled in him such a love for God that he could not tell whether it had increased in above forty years that he had lived since."  M. Beaufort, relating Brother Lawrence's mystical experience.

"...rapture or fluid splendor, and crystallize into a willed response to the Reality perceived..."  // "...from the emotional to the volitional stage."

Here is where I fall short.  I had such an experience, related in the walk around Lake Davis at the beginning of my Stephen Ministry training.  I have fallen short so many times in living the Reality I met there.  That is, perhaps, why Incarnation is such a key inspiration for me.  It is what I need to work on most.

28 ‘What do you think? A man had two sons; he went to the first and said, “Son, go and work in the vineyard today.” 29He answered, “I will not”; but later he changed his mind and went. 30The father* went to the second and said the same; and he answered, “I go, sir”; but he did not go. 31Which of the two did the will of his father?’ They said, ‘The first.’

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 27

What is this resistance to reading this book?  It is thick and intense, but feels so much like home on every page.  The thing is, I refuse to read it unless I have a solid block of time combined with centering time.  Today I made that happen while waiting for a Eucharistic visit call back.

p. 123: "...onset of this sudden...typical case...St. Paul...the sudden light..."  (like a pop artist who becomes an "overnight success," but has been working and practicing for years)

3: Now as he journeyed he approached Damascus, and suddenly a light from heaven flashed about him. 4: And he fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to him, "Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?" 5: And he said, "Who are you, Lord?" And he said, "I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting; 6: but rise and enter the city, and you will be told what you are to do."      -----Acts 9:3-6 (NRSV)

Three marked characteristics:
1 sense of liberation and victory
2 conviction of nearness of God
3 sentiment of love toward God


St. Francis of Assisi - Francis's "whole universe has suffered complete rearrangement"

Catherine of Genoa - unhappy with self and life "...received in her heart the wound of unmeasured Love of God"

Read this passage in Mysticism after hearing Tim Black's sermon today on the inevitability of change and the birth pangs we experience throughout life.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 26

Dark Night of the Soul

"The human instinct for personal happiness must be killed."  Really?  Is our Declaration of Independence then counter to a mystic life?

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness." 

"Union: the true goal of the mystic quest...characterized by peaceful joy,..."

"In the mystics of the West, the highest forms of Divine Union impel the self to some sort of active, rather than of passive life: ..."

Matthew 10.39:
Those who find their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake will find it. 

"...a change whereby that self turns from the unreal world of sense in which it is normally immersed, first to apprehend, then to unite itself with Absolute Reality: finally, possessed by and wholly surrendered to this Transcendent Life, becomes a medium whereby the spiritual world is seen in a unique degree operating directly in the world of sense."

I have these impressions, deep within me as I read this book, but they are not amenable to articulate expression.  And I am so very far from being able to live this out.  My only consolation is understanding that these states of being are commendable and desirable and I hope for the beginnings of truly desiring them so that I can, in fact, begin to see how I might operate their truth in the world of sense.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 25


"The central doctrine of magic may now be summed up thus: --

(1) That a supersensible and real 'cosmic medium' exists, which interpenetrates, influences, and supports the tangible and apparent world, and is amenable to the categories both of philosophy and of physics.
(2) That there is an established analogy and equilibrium between the real and unseen world, and the illusory manifestations which we call the world of sense.
(3) That this analogy may be discerned, and this equilibrium controlled, by the disciplined will of man, which thus becomes master of itself and of fate."

Contrast the above with the five great stages of the Mystic Way, as set forth in the beginning of Part Two:

(1) Awakening or conversion
(2) Self-Knowledge or Purgation
(3) Illumination
(4) Surrender, or the Dark Night
(5) Union

What is the difference? Attitude toward power. Magic = power over / Union with God = power to. It's still power, but power that recognizes that power comes from God, or it's doomed. Once again, God is God, and I'm not. That is not to say I cannot wield great power, e.g., "do all things through Christ who strengthens me (Philippians 4:13)," but it must always be wielded with recognition of its source. No amount of "severe schools" or rigid self-discipline or magical rituals can equal the power of acting with recognition of Whose is the "power, the glory, and the kingdom." Our faith tradition recognizes the focus value of ritual actions, words of power, sacred numbers, but it is not things or actions that matter, but the Who that they point to.

I made a further note about developing the notion that the Magi were, in a sense, returning the gifts that were stolen by Adam and Eve. Wonder what in this section elicited that note?

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 24

p. 109: "...'universal agent' connecting soul with soul. // Astral World // ether

We all grope at expressing the sense of God's presence; we all fall short. The distinction between magic and mysticism made in this chapter seems to me to be more the distinction between magic and God acceptance. That is, magic is the will of the human over the spiritual essence, effecting change in the lived world. God acceptance effects the fullness of human being brought forth by the will of God and, in Christianity, exampled in Christ, thus Paul Tillich's "ground of being."

Acts 17:28: For “In him we live and move and have our being”; as even some of your own poets have said, “For we too are his offspring.”

Sur la Table

J'attends toujours.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Evelyn Underhill - Mysticism 23

Magi, magic p. 107

"In magic, whether regarded as a superstition or a science, we have at any rate the survival of a great and ancient tradition, the true meaning of whose title should hardly have been lost in a Christian country; for it claims to be the science of those Magi whose quest of the symbolic Blazing Star brought them once, at least, to the cradle of the Incarnate God."

Thanks be to God, with much nagging the Holy Spirit has succeeded in causing me to open this book again. I'm never sorry I have done so, but I do so kicking and screaming seemingly every time.

And again, I am struck by a quotation concerning Incarnation. If I learn nothing else--unlikely, but if I did--from this book, I have learned that my most cherished touchstone of faith is Incarnation. God is God, and I'm not, but I claim faith in a God Who knows firsthand what it is like to be what I am. The Magi hardly knew what they sought except that what they found was so much more than what they had sought, but exactly what they would have sought, had they known what they knew once they found it. My Lord and my God, thank You for knowing what it's like, but also thank You for being God. You have smitten me wholesale, and I have lived. Somehow.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism - 22

After a longish hiatus, and the nudging of the Spirit and the encouragement of a cousin, 1-2-3, re-plunge into this densely wonderful book...

pp. 102-106

Green Lion - My centering prayer mentor once said she woke up each morning a beginner. The Green Lion image so aptly embodies that principle.

Red Dragon - A dragon helped Harry, Ron and Hermione escape from Gringott's but I otherwise have had a negative image of dragons, e.g., the one devouring the child in Revelation 12:4: "His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. Then the dragon stood before the woman who was about to bear a child, so that he might devour her child as soon as it was born."

Sulphur - Salt - Mercury - Love this metaphor. The interdependent human chemistry of heart, mind, body and soul make fascinating, if uncomfortable bath salts in which to mystically soak.

*NOT* magic - So much of the wrong sort of evangelical Christianity is ill-disguised hocus pocus invoking the name of Jesus.

Purgation - Illumination - Union - See "wake up a beginner every morning," above.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Psalm 19 - August 12, 2012

Psalm 19
1 The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament* proclaims his handiwork.
2 Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night declares knowledge.
3 There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard;
4 yet their voice* goes out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.
Throughout the night--and a good hour or so into the next day--my cousins and I sat in our lawn chairs, gathered in family love, in shared faith in the God Who knows every intimate detail of the hairs on Creation's head. This night it was the stray rocks of the solar system chafing against the Earth's atmosphere at supersonic speed. Whether it was the first one, or even after the twentieth time, we couldn't help but say, "Oooh!" Such a pretty streak of light across a sky bigger than our wildest imaginings! And yet, the beauty of the cosmic light show is quite a mundane part of speech in a universe designed by the Word for the not so mundane purpose of speaking God's love. It is a night that will speak to my life and beyond, until I join the dance of the stars myself.

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Evelyn Underhill, Mysticism - 21

pp. 96-102 “…down the nights and down the days” of Francis Thompson’s “The Hound of Heaven.”

“the idea of a love-chase”

The several pages read tonight relate how many mystic writers have described the mystic experience—the pursuit of Reality—with images of the pursuit of alchemy, i.e., that we are spiritual beings, souls, in search of the gold standard, The Goldenness within us, that was put in us by The Hound of Heaven, the One who urges us forward to the fullness of our being in the Eternal One, if we will purge ourselves of the baser metals in our spirits. Much of this book before now has described how the mystic pursues the Ultimate Reality. This section reveals how, in fact, it is Reality that has been pursuing us all along.

With the 2012 Olympics in full swing now, I can’t help thinking about the pursuit of gold, how the athletes work constantly to discover their most golden selves, the ones who allow themselves to be shaped by discipline, constancy, direction, and responsiveness to the best that is within them. They are always the chasers, though. They are not pursued by The One, in order to hand them the gold medal.


[Richard of St. Victor] “The Soul, is utterly concentrated on the One.” She is “caught up to the divine light.”