When the curtain falls for the last time …

At the height of my professional career, I came across a verse by an unknown author that had a profound impact on me.   The verse that I typed and pinned onto my bedroom door has long since withered, but I came across a copy today which I would like to share.

I am often dramatic

I think it was perhaps it was this daily reminder of  whose applause really mattered I and how I would face my Maker with my life’s story that maybe influenced me to retire early from the commercial success oriented rat race to live a more ‘fruitful’ and meaning life.

I can’t say that I have achieved this,  or whether I have actually ‘wasted my talents’ as a professional who was good at her job (my family is always on at me about this!!), but I feel that I am a happier and more content person.

Whether My Lord will clap at the way I have spent the last 10+ years is something that I am not so sure about.  There has been some good,  quite a bit of bad and a whole lot of ‘wasted’ time.  Honestly,  I could have done better.  Much much better.

As for the next few years  …. (or months, or weeks or days … who knows how much time any of us have) …

It’s time to put back my poster 🙂 !

 

 

 

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Does your space influence your praying?

I’ve been waking up around 3.00 am these days, as my body adjusts to effects of a trans-Atlantic trip.  I have been going to bed late hoping  I would sleep right through.  However I find myself awake in a couple of hours, trying to figure out how to while away the time till the dawn.

So I wander around a bit, pet the dog, pick up a book and put it down again for my eyes are too tired to concentrate.  I switch on the TV.   More of the same stuff – Trump and his trip, Trump and his tweets,  Trump and his tactless talk, interspersed with bits of world news. CNN is really obsessed with Trump and trite news. Imagine – they were actually showing the police recording of Tiger Woods being tested for driving under influence. Gross invasion of his privacy.  I switch to BBC.  More Trump tales but also news of Manchester, Brexit, Elections and EU.  I click to Al Jazeera – less obsession with one topic and a more global view: labour reform in Brazil,  environment research in Senegal, lynching in Pakistan,  a protester used as a human shield in India,  and  in-depth reporting on the floods in Sri Lanka.  I watch a bit and switch off.   3.30 am.  Its going to be a  l – o – n – g night. I make some coffee, grab a bite and decide its a great opportunity for some quiet time with the Lord.

But that does not work !  Try as I might I could not quiet myself.  One whole week of getting up at 3.00 am and I did not get any quality prayer time. (??)

And then today this article on Ignationspirituality.com titled Take Inventory of Your Spaces by Vinita Hampton Wright made me realise the root of the problem.  To say my space was the major distraction to my prayers would be an understatement.

It has been raining heavily the past week, pre-empting me from going onto the balcony which is generally conducive to reflection and quiet time.  The rain has impacted the indoors too.  There are racks of clothes drying out in the upstairs lobby/study.  And lots more clothes lying around – unfinished packing – waiting their turn for the machine and the racks. Maybe it is time to invest in a Drier even in sunny Sri Lanka?

I muse that the rain has only minutely disrupted my space.  It has played havoc in the country, creating a national disaster and taking away ‘all the space’  of hundreds of thousands of families.  In the face of that, my distraction from prayer because of dis-organised surroundings seems very trite indeed.  But it is a reality.

The article brought home to me the importance of consciously creating that place and space that I need to go into by myself to meet my Lord.  As Ms Hampton Wright says  … it matters where we dwell for a time of communion with God.  

She urges that we take an inventory of our spaces and gives some guidlines on how to achieve this.  You can read the full article Take Inventory of Your Spaces on the Ignatianspirituality.com website.

I hope it helps you as much as it has  helped me.

 

The terrible thing about religion

“…. The fact is that you’re surrounded by God and you don’t see God, because you “know” about God. The final barrier to the vision of God is your God concept.

You miss God because you think you know. That’s the terrible thing about religion.

That’s what the gospels were saying, that religious people “knew,” so they got rid of Jesus.

The highest knowledge of God is to know God as unknowable. There is far too much God talk; the world is sick of it. There is too little awareness, too little love, too little happiness, but let’s not use those words either. There’s too little dropping of illusions, dropping of errors, dropping of attachments and cruelty, too little awareness. That’s what the world is suffering from, not from a lack of religion. Religion is supposed to be about a lack of awareness, of waking up. Look what we’ve degenerated into. …”      Extract from : The Anthony deMello Institute Goa: Awareness – 57

Awareness

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The most difficult thing is the world is to look, to see. We don’t want to look because if we do, we may change. If you look, you lose control of the life you are precariously holding onto. In order to wake up the one thing that you need the most….. is the readiness to learn something new.

The chances that you will wake up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away.

How much are you ready to take?  How much of everything you have held dear are you ready to have shattered without running away?  How ready are you to think of something unfamiliar?

The first reaction is one of fear.  It’s not that we fear the unknown.  You cannot fear something that you do not know.  Nobody is afraid of the unknown.  What you really fear is the loss of the known.  That’s what you fear.

Extract :  Awareness – The Perils and Opportunities of Reality.  by Anthony De Mello

Choosing happiness …

If you had to choose between happiness and something or someone that you desperately want,  what would you choose?

It seems such an inane question  … but think about it a moment.  Aren’t there things in life, decisions we make every day that we know will not bring us happiness  – and yet we make them?

As Anthony Mello de Mello puts it in his reflections on Awareness:

“…. we don’t  want to be happy.  We want other things. Or let’s put it more accurately:  We don’t want to be unconditionally happy. I’m ready to be happy provided I have this, that and the other thing. But this is really to say to our friend, or to our God or to anyone, ‘You are my happiness.  If I don’t get you, I refuse to be happy.’

It’s so important to understand that.  We cannot imagine being happy without those conditions.  That’s pretty accurate.  We cannot conceive of being happy without them. We’ve been taught to place our happiness in them.”   

So when you have to choose between happiness and something or someone that you want, what will you choose ?   Honestly …..

In the face of terror …

Pope Francis and Youth Day in Poland“Our response to a world at war has a name: its name is fraternity, its name is brotherhood, its name is communion, its name is family. ..”

Indeed a powerful response to the terror we face and a wise message to all youth:”Let our best word, our best argument, be our unity in prayer. ”   Pope Francis at World Youth Day in Poland 

As the deer panteth …

Touching words extracted from a post Touching the Stars by Michelle Franckl-Donnay

We describe prayer as talking to God or listening to God. Yet both these images of prayer let me keep a bit of distance between God and me. I sit on the sofa, God next to me. I look up to the altar or to the heavens, God before me, God above me. But I’m starting to wonder if to pray is in reality to touch and be touched by God. To move toward God, reaching out, and at the same time, to be still, allowing God’s hand to rest upon me. To let go of my boundaries, to be uncertain where I end and God takes up. To be willing to risk letting God within me.

In Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis urges us to get our hands into the mystery that is God and let it get into us: “If you want to get warm you must stand near the fire: if you want to be wet you must get into the water. If you want joy, power, peace, eternal life, you must get close to, or even into, the thing that has them.” We are called not just to walk with Christ but to be clothed in Christ, to wrap ourselves up in God.

…    And what do I desire, if not the infinite, invincible, ineffable God, come to dwell within my very ordinary life?

As the deer panteth

Soul searching

I came across this statement recently in a post by Adrianplass that has me wondering :

“The world is filled with desperate people.  They need Christ, not Christianity.”

Some soul searching going on here.   Am sure I have been one of those who has contributed to separate Christ from Christianity !!

Thank God for the reminder  which I hope will stick with me.   And  thank God for people like Pope Francis who helps us to refocus/re-align with the merciful Christ.

The world needs Jesus, not systems. A real person among real people doing real things. Informal, sometimes bewildering, often captivating and exciting, not very religious, frequently alienating.

The Paradox of the Cross and Christian Freedom

I have posted before my thoughts and questions on Why the Cross in which I asked “What did Jesus come to save us from”.

Whereas I fumbled with my answers   – this post on an Ignatian Spirituality website  (quoted  in its entirety), gives a beautifully simple answer to the question I had posed.

road - freedom theme

Jesus came to set us free. From what?

The kind of freedom Ignatian spirituality preaches is freedom from the attachments, fears, and blockades that inhibit our human flourishing.

One of those blockades, sin, is more than choosing to do wrong. Sin includes operating our lives from a place of fear—preventing us from being our truest selves. Blockades to the freedom of our flourishing are those places in our lives that seem comfortable and safe but in truth keep us stagnant in faith and keep us from our dreams.

For instance, in marriage I might like to keep an escape hatch open so I can get out “just in case.” What seems to be the freedom of keeping options open prevents me from genuine commitment. When the thought of financial freedom keeps me in a job that drains the life from me and does not utilize my gifts, I’m impeded from the freedom of developing my gifts. The fear of change and endless “what-if” scenarios may cause me to freeze in the safety of my current life situation.

The paradox of Christian freedom is that when we take risks and make choices, we don’t restrict our freedom; we increase it. God calls us to have freedom from our fears and attachments so that we may have the freedom for a full life. When we cling to our comfort zone in fear we sin, a sign that the evil spirit is trying to prevent us from fully living out God’s call. We must allow Jesus to lift our burdens from us!

The genuine freedom that comes from following the call of God to let go of the illusory “safe path” leads to greater trust in God and one another. When we let go of unhealthy attachments, fears, and other blockades, we gain the freedom to be our best selves, our most whole selves. And then our dreams can unfold, our relationships can be more trusting, and we can cultivate our gifts and talents in new ways.

Source: The Paradox of Christian Freedom – Ignatian Spirituality

Spiritual Freedom

Freedom birds from cage

Freedom from what binds us

Spiritual freedom is an interior freedom, a freedom of the mind and heart.  People who are spiritually free know who they are – with all of their gifts and limitations – and are comfortable with who they are.  ** 

When we let go of unhealthy attachments, fears, and other blockades, we gain the freedom to be our best selves, our most whole selves.

** See Day 3 of following link for full quote on Spiritual Freedom 

Picture Credit :  found on various sites on internet.  Have not been able to obtain original source.