As we introduced ourselves and talked about the different reasons we're in this workshop a common theme seemed to emerge and tie back to the evening's Opening Reflection. As I see it many of our the reasons we stated related directly to these lines from Psalm 119: "...Open my eyes that I may see the wonders of your law, I am a pilgrim on the earth..."
As pilgrims we are on a journey to an important sacred destination, but of equal importance to the destination is the transformation that occurs as we travel there. During a pilgrimage it is the process that takes us to our true destination and prepares us for being there.
As with any pilgrimage, we must have the courage to face the uncertainty of the journey, but we take solace from sharing the journey with others, knowing that we are not traveling alone.
For the next 10 weeks, God's Spirit has brought us together on the pilgrimage of this workshop as we cooperate with the Divine in the mysterious work of our own transformation through presence, deep, open sharing and our own personal reflection.
As I look more closely at "Merton's Voice", the inspirations that touched many seemed to be related to the following:
- Merton writes that our true vocation is to "work out our own salvation by close attention to the reality of every moment and great fidelity to God as He reveals himself, obscurely, in the mystery of each new situation." Christian inner work is cooperating with our neighbors and therefore with God, to create the truth of our identity, our True Self. In my own life I find that the awareness necessary to experience True Self requires me to suspend judgement and personal perspectives on life situations. Instead of desiring things to be as I would want them, if I strive to accept, see and hold things as they are, I become open to obtain a deeper meaning in myself, others and the overall situation or a call to action that God may be revealing.
- We have the choice of evading this responsibility by "playing with masks" which is a creative and easy way to seem to please everyone but the long-term personal consequences are high. Alternatively, we can choose to work out our true identity in God which requires great attentiveness and letting go to a process to which "we do not know clearly beforehand what the result of this work will be."
- Only with genuine desire and faith, which I have come to call living intentionally, will we be willing to find our true identity. Merton writes that this is a labor requiring sacrifice and anguish, risk and many tears. This dedication leads us to follow a path that often seems obscure to us, it relies upon a trust that God is making me "who I will be when at last I fully begin to be." There is no way to attain this secret without faith. But contemplation is the gift that enables me to see and understand the work that He wants done.
- According to Merton, "Not to accept and love and do God's will is to refuse the fullness of my existence."
Hafiz's "Another Voice" poem translated by David Ladinsky caught the attention of some of us as who were able to relate to being the hopeful Prisoner, who through faith, would "Find all wounds, debts, stamped, cancelled, Paid." Others saw the enabling power of love which lifted the bird in flight:
I once asked a bird,
"How is it that you fly in this gravity
I end this reflection with a final item that I was touched by from our evening's discussion:
As you become aware and accept that God accepts and loves you fully in your humanness, you naturally are able to accept and love others fully in their humanness. In doing so, you complete the cycle.
I look forward to your reflections and thoughts on the things that touched you from this session.