What do we most Seek?
Please pray with me: Dear Mystery of Love, May we come together, with You, to seek what
we most need and most want and to find it in your abundant gifts. Amen
Fr. Thomas Keating use to say, “Silence is God’s first language and everything else is a
That certainly resonates with my experience of God.
One of my earliest childhood memories was sneaking out of Sunday school, to hang out in the church garden.
It had a small St. Francis statue in the corner. I would feel closer to God there, in the
silence, with the birds, flowers and trees than I did with the words being said inside.
I have become a lifelong seeker of God, Yet, I can not define or describe what God is
and I often don’t agree with what religions, even Christianities' words claim God to be.
But I’m certain this God Mystery is always closer than my own breath. I have found that
this Love is the only part of life that is real and worth seeking,
Yet I still resist often and pull away from that Center, deep within me where God resides.
My journey brought our family to Community UCC more than 16 years ago. Our own Kayrene Pearson was the first person to introduce me to the word “Contemplative” when we first started the caring ministry team, with Ann Carson, Kayrene, Pete and 2 others.
I have always felt called to science, logic, reason and trying to control outcomes for the betterment of others. I have found That calling quite easy compared to the other calling of a Contemplative Journey.
About 1 year ago I finally got up the courage to apply to the Center for Action and Contemplation’s
Living School. I asked Rev. Nicole to write a recommendation letter for me.
I secretly hoped she’d write something very unconvincing so I’d be declined entry and I’d
be off the hook from deepening my contemplative calling.
I don’t know what she wrote but they accepted me into the Living School.
I was initially petrified. Truly! Scared to death. I am sure God’s asking me to decrease more and more of my false self and ego, so God may increase, more and more in my life. Although it’s a sacrifice well worth giving up it’s filled with unknowns and insecurities for me.
I’m incredibly grateful to you, Nicole, for your support and encouragement into this journey. I’m less scared and more excited now, but it’s probably about equal doses of both.
I’m also very thankful to Kayrene Pearson, Ann Carson, Pete Terpenning, Gwen Goodwin, Marie Sutherland, Jean Scott, Judi Kleinman, Robb Lapp and our church family. You have helped me to seek out this contemplative path of action and living.
During recent caring ministry meetings I have shared about the Living School experience and teachings. Rev. Nicole offered me this opportunity to share with you.
I chose today for 3 primary reasons:
1. It’s daylight saving and I hoped people would miss the correct time and I’d have less
people listening to me.
2nd- Because the U.S. Election is this week and I wanted to offer what the contemplative
journey offers me of some sanity, serenity and even simplicity during these tough times.
3rd- Because it’s All Saints Day and I’ve always felt strangely comfortable and even loved
the thin place- the veil between human life and life beyond our awareness.
It is where my contemplative journey and the mystical and spiritual silences of God first came together for me.
Rev. Nicole just offered a taste of the Lectio Divina style of reading sacred text. She read something from Esther Hillesum. She is known as Etty and she was 29 when she was killed in Auschwitz concentration camp.
I feel close to Etty today, especially on All Saints Day. She was born on January 15th-same day that Martin Luther King Jr and I were born. Just different years and different challenges, but they both faced them with God, that they tapped deeply into. I’ve been to Auschwitz, where she was killed at 29 years of age. I’ve walked through that camp and entered into the shower chambers of death and felt the presence of those that suffered there.
Etty was a Dutch author that wrote about her religious awakening and the persecutions of Jewish people in Amsterdam during the German occupation.
She isn’t as well known as Ann Frank but she was what I’d call a true contemplative; during a time much worse than what most of us have ever had to endure.
Here are some additional things Etty wrote, that I invite you to contemplate on: I’ll pause and repeat them so they may soak in a bit deeper.
“I do believe it is possible to create, even without ever writing a word or painting a picture, by simply molding one’s inner life. And that too is a deed.”
“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the REST we take between 2 deep breaths,
or the turning inwards in prayer for 5 short minutes.”
Fr. Richard Rohr says that if the word “Contemplative” means anything it means what Etty
described- which is, “that we can safeguard that little piece of you, God, in ourselves.
What other power do we have now?”
Fr Rohr goes on to say that
“All else is tearing us apart, inside and out, no matter who wins the election or who is
on the Supreme Court.
We cannot abide in such a place for any length of time or it will become our prison.
God cannot abide with us in a place of ill will or hatred.
God cannot abide with us inside a volley of claim and counterclaim.
God cannot abide with us in an endless flow of online criticism and analysis.
God cannot speak inside of so much angry noise and conscious deceit.
God cannot be found when all sides are so far from the “Falconer”.
God cannot be born except in a womb of Love.
So offer God that womb.
Stand as a Sentry at the door of your senses, Guard yourself closely, especially now.
Do not let the tides of fear, anger, unknowns, doubt, deceit, and delusion sweep you away.
The opposite of faith is not fear, it is Doubt. Hold peace and hope close to your Hearts.
Safeguard that little piece of God that dwells in that really deep well inside you.
As Etty said, “That is all we can manage these days and also all that really matters.”
Nurture God’s womb of Love, deep within you, between deep breaths, in Silence, beyond words.
I offer two more of Etty’s great words of wisdom:
“Life is good, after all… that’s
what stays with me, even now, even when I’m about to be packed off to Poland,”
“Ultimately, we have just one moral duty; to reclaim large areas of peace in ourselves, more and more peace, and to reflect it toward others. And the more peace there is in us, the more peace there will be in our troubled world.”
So, we come here, because we seek something real that brings us together.
We seek community.
We seek silence, stillness, one second at a time.
We do not want our culture and our thoughts to reside too long in us or it will become who we are and we will no longer have access to the really deep well that Etty returned to so often and that held so much vitality and freedom for her.
This has been true for me. The more I get into busyness and my own self importance I start to listen to the world around me more and it becomes harder to Stop.
Harder to pull inward in contemplative prayer and tap into that deep well.
Harder to be Still and Silent where I can hear and Be in God.
I was a firefighter and one of our Educational Safety slogans, for approaching a railroad
crossing was “Look, Listen and Live.” Look, Listen and Live.
I’ve found that motto true for all aspects of my life.
We seek this deep well that is accessible to all of us, between each breath, between each word and between each thought, in our lives now.
As Thomas Merton said so simply.
“Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love
is my name.”