Tuesday, February 23, 2016
Teresa of Avila was a Spanish 16th century nun. He wonderful book, Interior Castle, describes the seven "mansions" in our lives as we progress through them on our spiritual journey. When she writes about humility, she writes that God owes us nothing. I like her concept of humility. God doesn't owe us health, prosperity, safety, etc. Life is full of unexpected happenings, some of which are not what we would have chosen. This doesn't mean that God doesn't like us, is punishing us or is not involved with our lives. Humility accepts whatever life brings our way without the hint that God owes us something better. Humility accepts life's twists and turns whether they point in ways we like or dislike. Teresa also reminds us that whatever life brings, God is present. Knowing that God is present and humility that accepts one's life, is not only contentment but, also, healing from life's stresses.
Sunday, February 21, 2016
It has been known for a long time that sleep is a powerful medicine. Research teaches us that when we don't get sufficient sleep, things begin to happen that aren't so healthy. Sleep helps our brains to repair the "connections." Another discipline that helps in this way is meditation and contemplation. I define meditation as fixing one's attention on a subject for a period of time. For example, It is a serious, attentive study time with the scriptures. Meditation is an active attention as we pay attention to our thoughts and ideas. Contemplation, however, is more of a passive attention. It is sitting still and watching thoughts flow past my mind, but not picking them up and thinking about them. John Climacus, an Egyptian monk of the 7th century, said that contemplation involves the discipline of not "entertaining thoughts" for a period of time. The Spiritual Directors say that if an idea or thoughts is really serious enough, it will return. Contemplation requires some trusting that God will return whatever ideas or thoughts I really need to give attention. I like that idea that I don't have to invite in and entertain all of the thoughts that come through my mind. I think contemplation is best done in a quiet and dark room. I try it several times a week and it is a hard discipline to keep my mind still and quiet. When thoughts come, as they will, I watch them as I might stand in a shallow river and watch the debris flow by. I believe that contemplation is like a good night's sleep or a good nap, it is healing of the "connections" that happen in my mind and my world. I hope you've had a good night's sleep, perhaps a nap as well as times of meditation as well as contemplation.