With One Voice

WONDERFUL FILM. Watch again and again and again!  ~patty

Never before have mystics from the world’s great spiritual traditions come together in one venue to share their personal experiences…until now.

With One Voice is a compelling, life-affirming documentary that addresses the profound questions about the meaning of life and love, the existence of God, the path to spiritual awakening, and the way to true peace in the world.

With One Voice brings together mystics from fourteen different spiritual traditions to share their perspectives on the unifying truth that transcends all religions. In this seventy-eight minute documentary, these awakened teachers address profound questions about life and love, the existence of God, the path to spiritual awakening and the way to true peace in the world. Through their words and compelling presence, they ask us to look within our own hearts and listen deeply, so we too can join the conversation and speak With One Voice.

http://www.withonevoicedocumentary.org/

You can view the whole piece on YouTube:

 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r3o2kltX7RI

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Labyrinth Summer – part 3

 

Tuesday, June 6th 

I forgot to add a little stop I made at Luther Memorial Lutheran Church.  On the south side of the church parking lot is a small Cretan Labyrinth with a stone path.  Unfortunately I picked a hot sunny day to stop.

The labyrinth was a bit over grown so my tendency was to pull weeds as I walked.  This got me thinking….

How well am I caring for my soul?

Am I pulling out the weeds in my life?

Am I allowing myself time to just “BE”?

Not only am I worth the time….God certainly is!!

Wednesday, June 21st

I walked the labyrinth painted on the parking lot of St. Paul UMC in Papillion…maybe not the best thing to do on a very hot day!   This project was done by a Girl Scout troop this past year.

My reflections:

The urge to go fast is ingrained!  Even when there is no need to hurry, that’s what I tend to do.  I had to keep telling myself to slow down.  On the longer curves (without turns) my tendency was to pick up the pace.  “Make up lost ground”…from what?

At one time I said to myself “let’s get this done”.  Yet I had nowhere I had to be.  I like walking labyrinths and there was no reason I had to “get it done”.  Why was that in my head?

I wonder why I want to go so fast?  Where does this originate?

What am I missing along the way when I hurry through my day/life?

I need to think more about the discipline of “being present”.

Saturday and Sunday, July 8th and 9th  – Fayetteville Arkansas

A trip to see my son and his wife gave me an opportunity to walk some fantastic labyrinths! I had done my homework and chosen a few I wanted to see and had printouts of the labyrinths.

The first one was at Unity of Fayetteville.  The picture was beautiful but when I got there it was unkept and overgrown.  It was a sand path and the wind had left parts bare with other parts thick. Kinda made me sad and of course I felt the need to pull weeds.

My reflections:

Weeding is a normal part of life.

Left unkept, weeds will sometimes block the way.

It is still worth the walk.

The center was spacious enough to walk around and had a tall stake that said “May Peace Prevail On Earth”.    Yes, Amen.

The second labyrinth in Fayetteville was at my son’s church, First United Presbyterian Church, and wasn’t even on my list…a bonus!

This Cretan labyrinth was behind the church and made of small brick interlocking pieces with small stones as the path.  It was on a bit of a hill so it seemed to have levels, which was a nice change.

I am getting used to labyrinth walking so I was thinking how nice it would be to have one to walk before and/or after church, as a regular practice.  I am learning labyrinths are something you do for your soul.  It gives you a path to walk…something to “do”, while giving yourself time to “be”.  It’s a beautiful convergence.

My third labyrinth was my favorite and the most unique labyrinth I have walked.  Terra Studios is an artist community very close to my son’s home.  They have a stone labyrinth that is beautiful!  Rock slabs jet out of the ground to make the walls of the path.  The slabs fit together like puzzle pieces creating a wall about as high as my knees.  This had to have taken time to build!

The walking path is made of small clay stones so it is comfortable to walk and the labyrinth has a very earthy feel.

In the center is a stone bench and as I sat there I really felt IN the labyrinth.  It was a very safe, secure feeling.

It is the first labyrinth I have walked that has height.  It becomes more 3-D and gives it a feeling of an actual place.

I was vey captivated by the uniqueness and the feelings it evoked.

The fourth labyrinth was on the grounds of the regional hospital.  It is the first 8-walled Roman labyrinth I have walked and I liked the change.  It has a concrete path and 10 tall trees surround the center.

Sitting in the center with tall trees surrounding you makes for a very intimate feeling.  I sat for a long time.  I felt the need to take off my shoes and walk out of the labyrinth barefoot.  Because it was concrete it was easier on my feet.

My reflections:

Labyrinths get you out of the ordinary path of life.  You have to decide to go to a labyrinth and it’s an intentional walk to the center.  Staying in the center long enough to process the experience is important.

These different labyrinth experiences made the trip to Fayetteville especially meaningful.

Cathy C

‘courage’

Whitsunday, 1961

I don’t know Who – or what – put the question, I don’t know when it was put. I don’t even remember answering. But at some moment I did answer Yes to Someone – or Something – and from that hour I was certain that existence is meaningful and that, therefore, my life, in self-surrender, had a goal.

From that moment, I have know what it means “not to look back” and “to take no thought for the morrow.”

Led by the Ariadne’s thread of my answer through the labyrinth of Life, I came to a time and place which is a catastrophe,  and to a catastrophe which is a triumph, that the price for committing one’s life would be reproach, and that the only elevation possible to man lies in the depths of humiliation.

dag-portrait

After that, the word “courage” lots its meaning since nothing could be taken from me.

As I continued along the Way, I learned, step by step, word by word, that behind every saying in the Gospels, stands one man and one man’s experience. Also behind the prayer that the cup might pass from him and his promise to drink it.  Also behind each of the words from the Cross.

 – Dag Hammarskjôld, Markings.

Centering prayer and Kenosis

KENOSIS

I want to share with you a few of my own reflections on kenosis and why it is so important for our spiritual journey.  So your first question is, what in the world is kenosis?  Kenosis is found in the Apostle Paul’s admonition to his readers in his letter to the Philippians.  “Let this same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus, who . . . did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant. . . .”  (Philippians 2: 5-7)

The phrase “emptied himself” is the English translation of the Greek word “kenosis.”  It is the opposite of the word “cling.”  In everything Jesus did, he lived and breathed kenosis.  He did not cling to his life or to any self-importance, not even his divine nature.  In his living and in his dying, he let go without resistance.  That self-emptying humility was the mind of Christ into which Paul invites his readers and us.  The mind of Christ is one of profound trust in the Divine Indwelling and that trust invites our consent and our surrender.  Surely this self-emptying kenotic mind of Christ informed his prayer life as well.

The mind of Christ, that self-emptying humility, is very counter to our predominant culture, which prioritizes power, esteem, security, success, achievement, status, and wealth.  Values like self-emptying humility, generosity, vulnerability and service to others are in short supply.  If we’re lucky, the last five minutes of the national news may tell a story about someone who demonstrates those values, which of course serves to remind us how rare they are.

The mind of Christ invites us to let go.  But letting go is not our inclination.  Our inclination is to cling to our lives, to hang on, to keep ourselves safe and secure.  We resist making ourselves vulnerable.  It is only by God’s grace that we can begin to have the self-emptying kenotic mind that was in Christ.

And that mind is central to our spiritual journey.   You and I know down deep that if we want our lives to be full and rich, we can’t count on our achievements, or our success, or our wealth to deliver what we’re looking for.  It is only as we let go that our lives are transformed into a new way of being.  Contemplative practice reveals the paradox that as we empty ourselves, we are filled with God’s presence, God’s love, God’s grace.

Self-emptying, kenosis, letting go:  it is the path of Jesus.  As we follow that path ourselves, as we let our thoughts go without clinging to them, without commentary, as we let go of our attachments to our old ways and to what we think is so important, as we consent to the Divine Indwelling, something new is born within us.  Centering Prayer is a practice of self-emptying that opens us to the mind of Christ and creates space for humility, compassion, kindness, patience, forgiveness, service and justice.  Those are the fruits of a spiritual journey centered on the mind of Christ and that’s where true happiness is found.

In Centering Prayer we empty ourselves and wait in silence trusting that God will give us what we most need for our healing and transformation.  It is a practice that exercises the letting go muscle in our mind.  Our intention is to consent to God’s presence and action within and that consent is set in motion as we sit in silence letting thoughts come and letting them go.  And whenever we find ourselves engaged with a thought, or a memory, or a reflection, or a body sensation, or anything at all, we use our sacred symbol to renew our intention to consent.  That is our practice of kenosis, the self-emptying, that invites us into the mind of Christ and into the Divine Indwelling presence of unconditional love and grace, which over time, transforms everything we say, do, think and feel.

Simone Weil said; “Grace fills the empty spaces but it can only enter where there is a void to receive it, and it is grace itself which makes this void.”  (Quote from a Richard Rohr daily meditation, May 27, 2017)

Grace leads us into the emptiness and grace alone fills it with love.

– Donald Bredthauer

 

Summer labyrinths continued..

chartres

June 4th I am again at First United Methodist Church’s labyrinth. I am reminded to slow down. My reflections dealt with our pace of life. Doing things in a hurry generally are not good for us: eating, driving, breathing, making decisions…

The only need for hurry is in an emergency: fire, police, EMT or in an ER room! Things take time: healing, sleeping, listening… Value going slow…be intentional about slowing down.

June 11th Creighton University Retreat Center (Iowa) has a beautiful labyrinth on the back of their property in a wooded area. It is a Chartres labyrinth made of white interlocking stones. I have walked it many times on my private retreats and it is one of my favorites. I startled a deer when I approached.

Here are my thoughts: Change direction when you need to. Sometimes you are close to the center, sometimes not. Go slow around the corners.

I am learning a bit about the difference between walking into the center and walking out of the labyrinth.

Right before I arrived at the center I noticed a small red pony bead. I went into the center and when I was ready to leave thought I’d take the bead with me as a remembrance. On my journey out I started to notice all kinds of little treasures I had walked right by on the way in.

There were 3 butterflies on the path I had noticed on the way in but didn’t think much of. As I walked out I stopped to enjoy the way they danced and played with each other. Another was a strange small, brown ball. When I picked it up it felt hollow. When I cracked it open there was a beautiful seed in the center with threads connecting to the sides.

I saw three different kinds of feathers, a perfect small acorn and a small red mushroom (at least I think that’s what it was). I felt like it was a little scavenger hunt God had for me. He delighted in me finding the treasures, and I delighted in the “finds”.

My labyrinth intention for the summer is growing in me an ability to enjoy the moment and not have to figure out or know “why” exactly I am doing it. I am sharing these reflections because I am enjoying the experience and you might too.

Cathy C.

my summer project

My summer intention is to visit all the Labyrinths I can find here in Omaha Nebraska.  I thought I might keep you posted on which ones I have walked and share insights and reflections I have during the experience.

I have always enjoyed labyrinths.  I’m not sure why.  They are at the same time very simple and yet very complex.  To start my summer intention I have now read more about them and even how to build one so I am even more amazed at their complexity!!

I begin:

On Friday, May 26th I went to First Central Congregational Church, close to downtown about 36th and Harney.  Their Chartre labyrinth is painted blue on a grey patio.  (11 rings plus a 6-petal center)

While it was a busy afternoon with traffic nearby I was surprised how easy it was to ignore all the noise and busyness while walking the labyrinth.  That is what must come from a daily Centering Prayer practice!

My thoughts:

The meaning comes in the walking.

Am I willing to follow the path?

The path takes twists and turns similar to life’s journey. There are longer spaces without a turn which I enjoyed.  Hummm…

Sometimes it feels like I am going backwards.

Sometimes it is monotonous.

Then I reached the center and felt relief.

I walked out much more confident.

 

On June 3rd I walked the outdoor labyrinth at First United Methodist Church at 70th and Cass after the monthly Taíze service.  It was a warm sunny afternoon but the labyrinth was shaded by large old trees.   There is a sign by the area that has helpful information.  It is a Cretan Labyrinth dedicated in 2008.

My thoughts:

Shortcuts don’t produce what the long journey produces.

What does it mean to walk with God?

Follow where the path leads.

The spiritual journey requires intentionality.

 

If you have a summer intention you’d like to share, or a labyrinth I should know about,

please email me at centering@nebraskaconteplativeoutreach.org

Cathy Mann Christiansen, Co-coordinator, Nebraska Contemplative Outreach

 

“You can’t get lost on a prayer labyrinth.”   Zachary Christiansen

forgiveness

Forgiving is one of the most difficult and complex gestures. Why is it a complex gesture? – because it is not the normal reaction of humans – our tendency is to get even or withhold when hurt. And yet, like love, it is one of the things which defines the essence of our humanity. 


Love makes us different from the animal world – they are into caring – we are into loving – it is the ‘hallmark’ of our humanity.  Forgiveness at its core is a divine gift of love, a movement of love so profound that it reveals the truth of our nature.  

Father Carl Arico

To be grateful…

To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us-and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude, therefore, takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.

—Thomas Merton

Love is full of rest

And so I urge you, go after experience rather than knowledge. On account of pride, knowledge may often deceive you, but this gentle, loving affection will not deceive you. Knowledge tends to breed conceit, but love builds. Knowledge is full of labor, but love, full of rest.

– The Cloud of Unknowing