A Prayer for Openness

welcomesign

I don’t travel alone much, and when I do, I feel the whole process interiorly – from the planning of itinerary; to the packing, the transit and the journey.

I was reminded of one particular stay in Sydney two years ago when I was there for a conference. It was night, and many of the participants had either travelled in groups or were familiar with the locality. To add fun to the story, it was wet and quite cold that winter night, but because I was a Melbournian going to Sydney, I had decided on principle (and in stubbornness) that I wouldn’t need an umbrella with me. (Melbourne winters are not for suckers.) We had to organise our own meal and I was getting hungry and tired from the commute, and I was without the securities of shelter, familiarity and knowledge.

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Sydney in the rain, by night, 19 August 2014. Image credit: G. Anderson.

I mustered courage and ventured out nevertheless, with a borrowed umbrella, and walked around the precinct awhile. Businesses were closing and people were going about their regular routine, leaving work, etc. It was not a tourist district, so everyone looked as though they knew where they were going. I did my best to imitate them, and found a haven of authentic #Japanese fare open, as if just for me. The interior was cosy and intimately lit (dark!), and I was the only customer at the time, yet there was something warm about it (apart from the steaming hot #miso). The service staff spoke little English but we managed with smiles. どうもありがとう 🙇

This was not the #Sydney I had known before, it was something else altogether, and in part, I think it was because I let myself be vulnerable yet reliant on whatever strengths I had in me.

When was the last time you lived with openness of spirit? Are you being called to openness? How can you be a welcome for someone today?

 

 

Prayer for Openness

God of Love,

Your birth knew no welcome on a barnyard floor

Your childhood estranged from the land of your home.

As an adult you lived among outsiders and lepers,

the lost and the forgotten, on the edges of sociability.

Rejected and renounced, to be abandoned by your kin

You were left to die alone, save for a few.

Even in rising, you were found unrecognised

yet remained ever faithful to the truth that is Love.

God of Love,

In knowing this, and in all you’ve given me,

Make me a haven of welcome and warmth,

that I too, may be open, to your coming again.

#spiritual #insight #instafood #restaurant #door #doorway #opendoor #travel#memories #fcjasau #mission

Day 18 of #31DaysWithIgnatius

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Have been thinking about my #motives today; about my intentions, and why I do the things I do. I’ve tried to be as Mary, to evaluate the#inner, rather than jump from one task to the next task, like Martha. What it comes down to is this reminder and challenge: to clothe oneself with kindness, #compassion, tenderness and mercy. To serve from a place of love, yes, but not without first attending to Love by sitting still.

#31dayswithIgnatius #marymartha #gospel#reflection #meditation #self #awareness#prayer #ignatian #mercy #love #Jesus

In celebration of Ignatian Spirituality, and to mark the feast of St Ignatius of Loyola (31 July), I have taken on the challenge of posting a picture a day that speaks to me of the lessons learned from all things ‘Ignatian’; including ‘finding God in all things.’ Here it is, as posted on Instagram (@fcjAustralia).

Mid-Lent Heart Check-up

The following extract is from a reflection from the Apostleship of Prayer. It provides a succinct and accessible way to check in with God as a cardiac review of sorts, midway through Lent. I encourage you to click through the link to read the entire exercise.

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Heart Check-Up
A couple of weeks ago, I shared an excerpt from Pope Francis’ Message for Lent 2015:

During this Lent, then, brothers and sisters, let us all ask the Lord: “Fac cor nostrum secundum cor tuum”: Make our hearts like yours (Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus). In this way we will receive a heart which is firm and merciful, attentive and generous, a heart which is not closed, indifferent or prey to the globalization of indifference.

“Make our hearts like yours.”

How’s that going?

– Original source: Apostleship of Prayer

Source: Apostleship of Prayer

Insight: The Faith of Children

A few weeks ago, my son had brought home to me, a curious little egg-carton with some soil inside.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“They’re my carrot seeds,” he replied. “I need to water it every day and put it on the window sill.”

Not having a green thumb or much exposure to gardening of any sort, I figured this kid would know best since he plays with dirt at school.  I followed his every instruction and added that we ought to have a container to catch any water that might drip from the papier maché carton.

So we waited.

He checked it daily, and watered it. I even heard him tell his ‘plant’ a little story so that it would grow. We all thought it was very cute that he had something to look after, to be responsible for and to tend to. I admit that I didn’t think much of it, save the fact that it was a nice project my son was taking interest in. I honestly didn’t think anything else would eventuate when, today while I was buzzing around from one thing to another in the school-morning rush, my daughter checked on her brother’s plant and exclaimed, “It’s sprouting! It’s sprouting!”

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What I’ve taken from this is the marvel of a child’s faith. Jesus taught this: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever becomes humble like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” (Matt 18:3-4)

In our own faith journey, and especially in our lives as people of God, we often doubt the possibilities of the unknown or neglect to nurture the seed with which we’ve been entrusted. We think we know better in our maturity since we’ve experienced life and its share of disappointment at the times the seed has not germinated. But thanks to God, through the lives of my children, I was reminded again that I ought to be more humble, to love with tender devotion and to embrace the simple joys in daily life.

Poem: Going Back to Galilee

Dear Pope Francis preached at the Easter Vigil on Galilee. Curiously, I dabbled in writing a poem a few years ago on the same theme.

PS: I’m not a confident poet, so any helpful comments are appreciated! Happy Easter!

Sea of Galilee (Source: Encyclopedia Britannica)

Going Back to Galilee (2012)

Going back to Galilee,
to where it all began.
My heart was alive, inflamed with love,
It was there I met a man…

His eyes were hazel, amber-like
And his face had lines of life
He had a past with shadow self
But a lightness of hope in time

I met him there, along the way
Unbothered in my stride
I sought him not nor noticed much
Until he was by my side.

A gospel of love he longed to preach
A heart-space of truth and light
The setting sun and the morning moon
With his words, now coincide.

Miracles did happen and
His stories gave me to peace
They challenged me, I was alive
And freely I followed with feet.

These feet, sometimes patted
Sometimes shuffled, sometimes stride
But follow all the same I did
With wings I could not hide.

Where is this man now of whom I write?
This vision of inner peace
This beauty, this beloved companion of mine
Is he only in Galilee?

Not true, not so, it cannot be!
Galilee was only the start
So many places we’ve travelled since
In spirit, in word and in heart.

Reflection: Step by step (Palm Sunday 2014)

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Today is Palm Sunday, also called Passion Sunday, as we mark the entry into Holy Week, where we contemplate the Passion of our Lord Jesus Christ in the lead up to Easter.

Today we also gather in prayer of solidarity for all, but specifically, for the refugees and asylum seekers -who thanks to our government, have been locked up indefinitely, with little-hope-to-none of entry and welcome into Australia.

Today we take to the streets in support of asylum seekers.

But today we also recount how Jesus, the one we’ve been following, enters into Jerusalem, a city where he will inevitably meet his passion and death.

Exercise for Contemplation

Imagine you’re with Jesus. Maybe you’re leading the donkey with a rope. Perhaps you’re the one beside the donkey,and you glance over at your friend and fellow disciple of Jesus, on the other side. Perhaps you’re one of the larger group, following behind, not really being able to see much past the bodies – your only marker is our Lord, elevated on the beast of burden.

Whichever character you assume, notice the crowd around you. Notice the sand and dust brought up from under the carpet of palms and cloth. Where are you walking to? Who are you walking with? Do you know what’s really going to happen?

Now look at Jesus. His glance meets with yours. Your eyes lock for a moment and you see something in his look that strikes you in the centre of your being.

What do you see in Jesus’ eyes? What is Jesus trying to share with you, reveal to you? Having insight into this, how do you keep walking?

Wise Words: Honestly and Gently

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Wise Words: Honestly and Gently @ Keeping-Company.com

The juxtaposition of words in this quote caught my attention:

fundamental aggression toward ourselves
fundamental harm is done to ourselves
when we choose to remain ignorant (unaware, asleep)
to see ourselves honestly and gently which takes courage and respect

What does this quote say to you? Examine yourself gently, honestly and lovingly.

Twilight

TWILIGHT (from dictionary.com)
twi·light / ˈtwaɪˌlaɪt / noun

1. the soft, diffused light from the sky when the sun is below the horizon, either from daybreak to sunrise or, more commonly, from sunset to nightfall.

2. the period in the morning or, more commonly, in the evening during which this light prevails.

Keeping-Company.com

Photo: G. Tan, 2013


Let us prepare for Advent. Our theme is Advent at Twilight. Twilight is the transitional movement, usually of one kind of light to another. Spiritually, we may speak of the transition of one space to another. The Advent journey is in a way, a twilight space. Such ‘in-betweeness’ is also called a ‘liminal space.’

Richard Rohr OFM writes:

[It is] a unique spiritual position where human beings hate to be but where the biblical God is always leading them. It is when you have left the tried and true, but have not yet been able to replace it with anything else. It is when you are finally out of the way. It is when you are between your old comfort zone and any possible new answer. If you are not trained in how to hold anxiety, how to live with ambiguity, how to entrust and wait, you will run…anything to flee this terrible cloud of unknowing. | Richard Rohr

 

Have you found yourself in a place of ‘not-yet’? How do you deal with this waiting? Are you easily anxious? Or are you so much of a doer that you don’t even realise you’re in a hurry?

Graced Moment

rainbow, grace, FCJ, Keeping-Company.com

Image credit: ‘A Rainbow Appears’, Wellness360studio.com

Graced Moment

A yellow sunbeam beckoned me
before day turned to night;
the air was clear and magic,
the sky was bright.
To westward, sheets of golden silk
shimmered and glowed,
luminous clouds hung in the sky,
rippled and flowed.
I turned around, an urge to seek
the eastern sky,
and there, clear arched above the road –
a rainbow high.
Both ends were anchored in the earth,
a perfect bow,
a blessing from the sky above
and earth below.
The colours radiated clear,
distinct, yet one.
A double arc crept into view;
the work was done.
Such scenes have happened here
since time began:
an arc with seven rungs –
part of the plan
to lift our minds to cosmic truth
and draw us home
to love’s embrace, the ancient goal –
no more to roam.
A cosmic child, summoned to tell
all time and space,
Earth speaks of star-dust images –
Creator’s face.

– Sr Mary O’Shannessy FCJ

In Everyday Splendour (Melbourne: Poetica Christi Press, 2011), 104.

Write the Soul Online Retreat

We can be so busy doing the work of God that we forget to just be with God. That’s why “spiritual checking-in”, as I like to call it, is so important. Without grounding in where you are with God (and self, included), there is often the potential to lose balance. All work and no pray makes Jack, Jill and John potentially harmful by this distraction away from God. In Ignatian spirituality, we call this temptation as working or following “the angel of light”, essentially a bad spirit appearing as the good.

As such, I wish to share with you, a brilliant initiative by Vinita Hampton Wright, of LoyolaPress on her blog, Days of Deepening Friendship (for Women Growing Wiser). Below are the details:

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Please share this around to your friends, family and networks.