The Contemplative Companion for Friday, August 26, 2016

“Jesus told his disciples this parable:
‘The Kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.
Five of them were foolish and five were wise.
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps.'” – Matthew 24. 1 – 4

Such parabolic teaching as this, invites diverse interpretations. What I am interested in, is what this parable might reveal about the nature of the contemplative spiritual journey.

With that said,let’s focus on one aspect of the parable. Ponder what the lamp oil might represent?

In the extended parable, it’s evident that it’s crucial to possess a lamp – but the lamp is non-functional without oil. So the lamp represents the means. In this case, a method, such as meditative prayer; like the method of Centering Prayer.

The oil that empowers and enlightens the lamp, making the lamp useful as a means of seeing in and through the darkness, perhaps represents the silence and stillness. Both of which are essential resources for partaking in the method of Centering Prayer. A method that  may lead to the state and experience of contemplation, i.e. the Wedding feast.

Another perspective could be that the lamp represents the Nous, the mind of Christ, and  the oil represents the gift of consciousness. The lamp is the mind-means by which we see and perceive the world. The oil of consciousness is what alights the mind and radiates light, which represents truth and wisdom.

Just a few ideas to stimulate your own creative scripture reading. Have fun playing in the fields of the Lord, where the Word of God conveys endless treasures for the soul and insights for your journey.

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Thursday, August 25, 2016

“Jesus said to his disciples:
Stay awake!” – Matthew 24.42

As plain as day, placed in the open for all to see – here is Christian instruction that reveals the state of humankind. We are asleep, and if not sleeping, then continuously prone to sleep.

We may not all be asleep at the same time, but as a species we are not as awake as we could be. Applied psychologically and spiritually, this has profound implications. In part, it helps explain why things continue as they do. Humankind exists in an atmosphere of sleep and forgetfulness. We are not awake to God and we forget our true self. We forget God. We are literally and metaphorically sleepwalking through life. As a result, we are, apart from God’s grace and the practices that awaken us, missing out on the fullness of life in Christ.

The Greek word used for “stay awake”  γρηγορεῖτε (gregorite) has at its root our English word for gregarious. It conveys the idea of remaining vigilant. It is similar to the Greek word Nepsis, which conveys a more nuanced meaning – that of keeping watch over oneself, such as ones attitudes, moods, thoughts and feelings. This is the word used to describe the spiritual practice of “guarding one’s heart” internally, psycho- spiritually

The environment and condition of sleep is a useful way to evolve our understanding of what we mean by “sin.” One reason this is so, is because of the way sleep dovetails with our understanding of levels of human consciousness. Lower levels of consciousness are where much of our unconscious motivations, negative emotions and hurtful violence reside. When we are asleep, we don’t know why or what we are doing what we are doing; or being how we are being.

The good news is that we can develop deeper or upward on the spectrum of consciousness so that we are more awake, aware and intentionally choosing our life, behavior and actions. This requires a strengthening of our will – something both suffering and spiritual practices cultivate. We do so to become more awake. Jesus came to awaken humankind. Sleepers, Awake! And not only awaken, to heal us from the state of sleep which keeps us seeking happiness and meaning in what eventually turns out to be unfruitful ways.

As we are awakened by God’s grace and the Wisdom of God’s Word, we discover that awakening is just a beginning.

We may also discover we need a community to help us stay awake and grow in the new gift and state of being awakened.  The Christian destiny is not just to become awake-ones. It is to also journey deeper into the Body of Christ as Beloved-ones.

The more awake we are the more we can consciously love one another and fulfill the great commandment to love God, one another and our self.

The poignant question is: what helps you stay awake? How do you cultivate awakeness is your life? Or have you never even considered this aspect of the Christian life? One would want to know, cultivate and experience the difference being awake makes in one’s life.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Wednesday, August 24, 2016

“The angel…took me in spirit to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.” – Revelation 21.9b – 10

Our reading of sacred texts always involves our level of understanding and lens of perception. It turns out that when it comes to how we perceive and understand holy scripture, we see what we be.

It is vital to remember that there are levels of perception, understanding and interpretation in our being and reading.

The first level, the ground floor, foundational level, is the literal, historical level. This is a useful lens by which to read and interpret scripture. It plays an important role in developing our understanding, but it is not the only lens of interpretation.

Such a passage as the one above from the book of Revelation, invites the cultivation and acquisition of a more subtle lens so to understand and interpret the spiritual/interior level, which is the level that reveals ourself to ourself. It is the level where we are read by scripture more so that we read it.

Here is an example of such an interpretation of the aforementioned text:

From this level, what in you represents the higher vantage point by which you can see and perceive as if from a high mountain? Does this not evoke the image of clear sighted wisdom: those moments in your life when the clouds part and you see yourself more clearly than ever before – as if everything now makes sense because you can see it all from a higher vantage?

Similarly, what might the “city of Jerusalem” represent in you? That it descends from above is a hint. So too is the fact that the city is gleaming. Could it be that the city of Jerusalem represents your higher, more developed intellect: the mind of Christ filled with the peace that surpasses understanding? What the Eastern Orthodox call the Nous?  Jerusalem literally means the city of peace – where God dwells with God’s people. So it is not beyond reason to see the descending city as a symbol of the gift of knowledge, wisdom and understanding increasing in our life.

This is an example of a spiritual/interior lens interpreting an esoteric passage of scripture from the sacred book of Revelation. John’s Revelation is a book about many things, but never forget that it can activate what it articulates.  It’s not just meant to be a historical document. It is a living text that can do things in us by revealing things to us about us. In a certain sense, we become the text and the scripture becomes the searching, reader – revealing who we are and inviting us to ponder how we might develop.

Enjoy the journey and have fun being less certain you know anything and more certain you are simply known and loved by God – beyond all texts, experiences, feelings, perceptions or events.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Tuesday, August 23, 2016

“May the Lord Jesus Christ and God our Father,
who has loved us and given us everlasting encouragement
and good hope through grace,
encourage our hearts and strengthen them
in every good deed and word.” – 2 Thessalonians 2.16 – 17

Paradoxically, we often need to get in the silence in order to be strengthened in our words.

Being still in the silence has a way of both clarifying our thoughts – separating us from the less true thoughts – and connecting us with the Truth of our Being Loved in Christ.

The grace of meditative prayer is an important way how Christ and the Abba encourage and strengthen our hearts in every good deed and word. Obviously, not the only way, but a primary way – often neglected by us in our busyness.

If you need good hope. Or more grace. Or encouragement. Or strength. Or wisdom to speak or do – then try simply being still in the silence for twenty minutes. The goal isn’t to stop your thoughts – that is impossible. The goal is to consent to God’s presence and action, and when you notice you are thinking about your thoughts, then return to your sacred word, or breath. It’s a simple method that can lead you to profound gifts – the contemplative gifts of seeing God and knowing love holds us all together despite whatever is occurring.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Monday, August 22, 2016

“We ought to thank God always for you, brothers and sisters,
as is fitting, because your faith flourishes ever more,
and the love of every one of you for one another overflows with fullness.” – 2 Thessalonians 1.3

The word flourishing caught my attention as I read the daily lectionary readings for today.

The Greek word is ὑπεραυξάνει (hyper-auxanei),  translated variously, such as “ever-growing” or “increasing exceedingly.” You can probably detect a familiar word in the root stem, the English word “hyper.” As in, hyperdrive. Or hyperactive. In this case, it literally means hypergrowth. Overflowing growth. Flourishing.

Notice that their faith flourishes and their love is full. Both convey ongoing development and movement in depth and breadth.

Our ever-growing, flourishing faith may not always feel like we are growing. There are seasons where no fruit or growth is visible, and yet the roots are strengthening in silence and stillness, hidden to all perception.

Flourishing is a something we get to participate in. Partly, because we become what we do. If we give our attention to practices that nurture our flourishing – we will flourish. Perhaps not in the way we think, but in unexpected ways. Inward ways. Ways of the Spirit, whose fruit are unmistakable: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, self-control, and such.


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Friday, August 17, 2016

“The hand of the LORD came upon me,
and led me out in the Spirit of the LORD
and set me in the center…” – Ezekiel 37.1

Resting in the silence, I rediscover the center.

It is the Presence of the Beloved.

I rest in this Presence, aware that I have been on a journey and will continue to my evolution deeper in the Mystery of Love that holds me as I grow.

This center is a paradise, and many Fathers and Mothers have marked this Center long before me or you or any of us. Countless pilgrims of the Center have left their silence as a witness to their journey. Some have left their wisdom. And much of it can be re-discovered herein:

 Paradise of the holy fathers


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

The Contemplative Companion for Thursday, August 18, 2016

“The Kingdom of heaven may be likened to a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He dispatched his servants to summon the invited guests to the feast,
but they refused to come.” – Matthew 22.2 – 3

The banquet of Divine Presence is always occurring; our attention, consent and participation is not. To the contrary, our attention is sporadic. Hit or miss. Whimsical. Just when we want to; mayben when we need something, but often only on our own terms, even then. These are hard truths that for most only require a soft touch – of suffering or loss or despair to recall us to attention.

With that percolating in our hearts, perhaps this contemplative interpretation can unveil new ideas from the passage:

The King represents the Divine Loving Presence of the Ever-Always Indwelling Trinity.

We are the sons and daughters. Already and always connected to the Loving Presence.

The guests represent the invitation to the parts of our self and personality that still need to be integrated and healed. They think they remain outside the Presence, feeling and acting as if they are separate and distant from the Presence. The truth is ‘they’ all already belongs, ‘they’ just have forgotten and in some cases, prefer to live in the darkness of that forgetfulness.

The feast represents the experience of inward healing and integration that occurs in the silence of consent, resting with the Divine Presence in stillness, receiving the Divine Therapy of love that seeks to often first undo us so to bring us into a more complete wholeness, which is the fullness of Christ. In a word, the feast is our transforming journey into the Body of Christ.

 

 


© 2016  The Contemplative Companion

A Resource of ContemplativeChristians.com

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