The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, September 27, 2016

“When the days for Jesus to be taken up were fulfilled, he resolutely determined to journey to Jerusalem…” – Luke 9.51

The Greek word used in this verse, and translated by English as “taken up”, is the Greek word ἀναλήμψεως, which literally means  “up-taking”. In our usage today, we might think of the idea of “uploading to the cloud”. This is not as far-fetched as you might think, since the Christian tradition, and several mainstream translations of this passage, prefer to translate ἀναλήμψεως as “the Ascension”, which Luke details in Acts chapter one. Notice there, that it is not exactly clear what happens to Jesus when he ascends, since the text says that “he was taken up into the clouds out of their sight” (Acts 1.9).

One explanation as to what happened to Jesus when “he was taken up” and disappeared into a cloud, is that he was picked up by a spaceship. Not too long ago saying such a thing would be laughable, but in light of our expanding understanding of the universe, and the high likelihood that we are not alone here, the spaceship idea has become, to my mind, a very plausible explanation.

Of course there are other explanations – such as that Jesus was transferred into a different dimension, perhaps by way of a worm-hole-like energy-link. Or, that Jesus’ resurrection body allowed him to travel at the speed of light, as light. Whatever the attempted explanation, such a simple phrase as “taken up” embedded in the Gospel reveals that there is a lot more going on cosmologically behind and above the story than we might discern at first. It also brings a profound new depth to the Gospel saying that “unless you are born from above, you cannot enter the kingdom of heaven” (John 3.3).

Humility is a the practical up-take for us today. In the light of the bigger scale of things beyond us, it is wise to look up and ask for help. It is wise to not get so caught in the day-to-day concerns of life on planet earth, with all its stress and tumult, violence and recurrence of immature behaviors rooted in fear and greed. It is wise for us to recognize that all the joys and delights and love of this lifetime are not just an end in and of themselves, but a means to remember and discover that we are seeded here on this earth to develop and to aspire toward our own further ascension in Christ.

And lastly, please don’t hear “rapture” when you read  our further “ascension.” That’s not at all what I have in mind.

Safe travels, and…Godspeed.

© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

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The Contemplative Companion for Monday, September 26, 2016

“Jesus realized the intention of their hearts and took a child
and placed it by his side and said to them,
“Whoever receives this child in my name receives me,
and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
For the one who is least among all of you
is the one who is the greatest.”  – Luke 9.47 – 48

Notice that the therapy for what Jesus discerns as the intention of the heart was a contrasting remedy.

The ailment was pride, the therapy was the image of a child beside him conveying the contrast of humility and simplicity to pride, arrogance, and self-concern.

While the contrast is important for spiritual well-being, what is inspirational is the method of teaching and healing Jesus models. Leadership by way of discernment of the intentions of heart. And the application of a therapy in response to what is discerned.

Can we really discern the intentions of someone else’s heart?

A way of answering that question might be with another question: Have you ever experienced someone discerning or knowing the intentions of your heart?

If the answer is yes, then perhaps you have a lens by which to see and verify the spiritual gift of discernment demonstrated by Jesus in the Gospel of Luke. And aspire toward.

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The Contemplative Companion for Friday, September 23, 2016

“The Creator has made everything appropriate to its time, and has put the timeless into our hearts…” – Ecclesiastes 3.11

Time is one of the mysteries we live in and with. As humans embedded within the created universe, we are entangled in and with time. At least in our conscious experience.

One way we can begin to feel the timeless dimension is in the silence and stillness of our meditative prayer practice.  In part, because this helps us be in the Now. The Now is more than a concept. It can be experienced. But often the very second we experience the sensation of the Now is also the second we lose the sensation. The Now is best experienced non-reflectively. That is to say, when we don’t think about the fact that we are having a Now experience. The moment we start reflecting upon our experience we sink into time, and the freedom and wonder of the Now recedes.

The Now is always there – like a background, or ground of existence. It’s our awareness that is not.  Our awareness often is pulled into distraction and worry – about the past or future.

The restlessness and longing we feel in time dissolves in the rest and union of the Now – which is a portal of the Presence of God – or love. This loving presence contains no opposites or shadows of change – only Is-ness and This-ness.  Another word for this Now Presence, Union and Love is Christ. The timeless Alpha and Omega filling our hearts and connecting us to Abba-Creator by the love of the Holy Spirit.

Getting into Nature helps. Or should I say, letting Nature into you. There, in the beauty of the earth we are often reminded of the joy of feeling this Now moment. A harmony that speaks to us and helps us feel at ease despite the chaos and violence and challenges our common human life in time and the pendulum swing of change and conflict.


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The Contemplative Companion for Thursday, September

“Herod the tetrarch heard about all that was happening,
and he was greatly perplexed because some were saying,
“John has been raised from the dead”;
others were saying, “Elijah has appeared”;
still others, “One of the ancient prophets has arisen.”
But Herod said, “John I beheaded.
Who then is this about whom I hear such things?”
And he kept trying to see him.” – Luke 9. 7 – 9

Allegorically,  John the Baptist represents the unfolding presence and influence of the Wisdom of God, especially that aspect of Wisdom which is seeking to do something new; to nurture human development forward and deeper at the spiritual level.

That Herod cut John’s head off, represents the tendency to reject the presence of divine wisdom seeking to do something new. Violence tends to be the go-to reaction when more immature levels of human development and consciousness feel threatened and or exposed by the Light of the More Fullness of Divine Wisdom.

That the process of human transformation and development doesn’t cease with the removal of John the Baptist, reveals the flourishing, unyielding process of growth, drawn by the Divine Wisdom and Love calling us into the Omega-Future. The Divine Wisdom and process of unfoldment is continually bringing forth the new and next. In this case, after John –  Jesus. Similarly, after Jesus, the Spirit. After the Spirit, the Church. After the Church, the Cosmos. And after the Cosmos, the New Creation.


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The Contemplative Companion for Wednesday, September 21, 2016

“Live in a manner worthy of the call you have received,
with all humility and gentleness, with patience,
bearing with one another through love,
working to preserve the unity of the Spirit
through the bond of peace:
one Body and one Spirit,
as you were also called to the one hope of your call;
one Lord, one faith, one baptism;
one God and Father of all,
who is over all and through all and in all.” – Ephesians 4. 1 – 6

The last phrase of this passage is compelling, and points us toward the contemplative dimension.

God is over, through and in – all and everything. It’s as if the text stretches language to convey the Mystery of Abba, and in so doing reveals a peek at the Trinity.

The daily practice of meditative prayer, such as Centering Prayer, is a primary way to experience what the scripture teaches. In meditative prayer theory becomes practice, doctrine becomes participation.

So comprehensive is the All-Through-and-In-All-Ness of the Trinity, that everyone and anyone should take delight in the reminder that nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ – including busy schedules shuffling kids from school to soccer, while parents rush to work or meetings. Harried dinners. Late nights putting kids to bed, or organizing for the next day’s business, all are holy moments of re-connection to and with and in the Trinity.

It turns out all and everything is sacred. It’s only our thoughts that make one thing or way “better” than the other. Every moment is an All-Through-and-In-All-Ness moment. And in that moment, it becomes no moment at all – an ever still and silent being and knowing and feeling and seeing beyond time, which is, in many ways, the core quality of the contemplative experience.


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The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

“Make me understand the way of your precepts,
and I will meditate on your wondrous deeds…
The way of truth I have chosen;
I have set your ordinances before me…
Give me discernment, that I may observe your law
and keep it with all my heart.”  –Psalm 119.27, 30,34

There are many distractions and demands in our day to day life. And it is easy to miss the way of peace and wisdom. Easy to forget the goodness and beauty of life – and of  your unique place in the goodness of things.

Discernment is necessary. And must be cultivated quietly, pondering experiences and listening for guidance.

Feel the law of love leading you. Don’t force the fit – in anything. Choose your way wisely. Don’t live aimlessly. Rather, aim amidst the aimlessness of life toward a wise destination.


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The Contemplative Companion for Monday, September 19, 2016

“Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lampstand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” – Luke 8. 16 – 18


Notice that the light does the work.

Some might read this and sense a threat. Perhaps even a subtle fear of being shamed. Yet the motivation of this text is not guilt or shame, though it has often been used in that way.

The motivation of this text is about the transformative effect of the light, releasing our inward treasures and gifts so to share them with others. In this transformation, the Spirit of God and the Light, which is Conscious Wisdom, does the essential work. We are the location where the Light is happening, and indeed flowing through our unique gifts, way of being and charism of service to others.



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