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Thursday, August 8, 2013

The Virtue of Walking

Now shall I walk or shall I ride? 
'Ride,' Pleasure said; 
'Walk,' Joy replied.
- W.H. Davies

I woke up this morning early and decided a walk would be the best way to start of this day. I did not expect what was to come. The town lay asleep within their homes warm and snuggled up in their beds. It was quite. It was peaceful. It was tranquil. It was everything I needed. So how can I describe it? Well...I'll, ever so briefly, try to share.

The air was thick, its presence was most definitely apparent, yet it was not heavy, it was not burdensome. Each step I took was filled with awareness of being fully engulfed by what was around me. A constant reminder that I am not alone, though no other was within my sight, I walked hand in hand with it. Preparing itself ever so diligently to remind me of its awe, love and majesty, it is as though it knew I was coming.
As I exited my home it immediately embraced me in welcome, rubbing away the sleep still lingering on my eyes and gently guiding me fully more into its essence. Its life giving drink was all about, tenderly moist, softly giving itself to me and all that I saw. Like the tender kisses of a lover all over ones body, so too, it gave itself to me. We breathed one another in, together becoming more in each others presence. Rich in awareness of each other.
It took me as I am, as I took it.

Still, it clings to me as I sit here in remembrance of it.

All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking.
-Friedrich Nietzsche

If you seek creative ideas go walking. Angels whisper to a man when he goes for a walk.
-Raymond I. Myers

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

What if God just wants you to discover yourself?

I recently came across this writer in the blog world and have enjoyed many of his thoughts. With his permission, I have reposted one of his more recent writings below, as it ties into the two of my  own previous posts. This may in fact clear up some thoughts about where I am coming from, although, I may indeed go a little bit farther yet. Read these words of Peter's and the words of others he has mentioned. There is, indeed, wisdom here!


What if God just wants you to discover yourself?

A few years ago, I was given a short book written by James Martin, SJ, Becoming Who You Are: Insights on the True Self from Thomas Merton and Other SaintsI read it quickly, and liked it well enough, but I recently picked it up again and I felt this time I was more ready to listen to what Martin had to say.
You may know Martin better from his two recent books,The Jesuit Guide to (Almost) Everything: A Spirituality for Real Life (a NYT Bestseller) and Between Heaven and Mirth: Why Joy, Humor, and Laughter Are at the Heart of the Spiritual Life. He has great insights, and is becoming a writer I look to for guidance along the way and to push me think differently about…oh, I don’t know…life I guess.
Much of this short book (89 pages, plus) is a review of the life and writings of Thomas Merton and Henri Nouwen centering on the idea of, as the title tell you, Becoming Who You Are.
Martin explains by citing Merton from New Seeds of Contemplation:
For me to be a saint means to be myself,…Therefore the problem of sanctity and salvation is in fact the problem of finding out who I am and discvoering my true self” (p. ix).
These might be off-putting, even scary, words for those raised in a Christian faith where “we” are the problem that needs fixing. I mean, Jesus even said you have to lose your life if you want to find it.
But Merton is in fact saying just that. Note Merton speaks of “discovering my true self.” The true self is “the person we are before God and the person we are meant to be” (p. 18). The false self, by contrast, is “the person that we wish to present to the world, and the person we want the whole world to revolve around” (p. 19)
Martin cites Merton, again from New Seeds of Contemplation:
Thus I use up my life in the desire for pleasures and the thirst for experiences  for power, honor, knowledge and love, to clothe this false self and construct its nothingness into something objectively real. And I wind experiences around myself and cover myself with pleasures and glory like bandages in order to make myself perceptible to myself and to the world, as if I were an invisible body that could only become visible when something visible covered its surface (p. 19).
I understand some might be tempted to think this is self-help psychobabble, but nothing could be further from the truth.  True knowledge of oneself, and the process of transforming beyond the false self, is a lifelong, arduous process.
It takes courage to look deep inside ourselves and ask, “How well do I know myself? How bound am I to a life I have constructed for myself that on the surface has all the trappings of piety and faith, but in truth is rooted in jealousy, anger, fear, power, self-justification, control, and the like?”
As psychologist and spiritual writer David G. Brenner puts it in Spirituality and the Awakening Self: The Sacred Journey of Transformation:
Far too often we confuse our own spiritual self-improvement tinkerings with the much more radical agenda of God. The call of the Spirit–which is always gentle and therefore easily missed–is an invitation to abandon our self-improvement projects that are, in reality, little more than polishing our false self and become the unique hidden self in Christ that we have been from all eternity (p. 33).
It is a sad thing when one’s faith in God is an expression of the false self: judgmentalism, us vs. them thinking, theological pride, overweening attention to rules and regulations, etc.
A faith that is simply an expression of the false self is mere religion. But when flowing from a knowledge of the true self–which is a work prompted by the Spirit, if we are willing to listen–faith becomes love of God and love of neighbor. This is what Merton means when he says, “For me to be a saint means to be myself.”
I think there is much wisdom here.
Thanks Peter for allowing the repost. If you'd like to read more of Peter's writings, you can follow him at Peter Enns . You wont regret it.