Monday, July 9, 2012

Tracing the Outlines of Grace

From somewhere I copied this spiritual advice:
Just to continue
To express our nature and sincerity
in the simplest, most adequate way
And to appreciate it in the smallest existence. 
This is our task.  This is exactly what I was getting at in the previous post with this quote:
The Mystery of Christ
              is at work in
     however humble
                  or humdrum
Julian of Norwich, a medieval mystic, had a series of visions during a grave illness in her 30th year.  In one of them she beheld something tiny and precarious, about the size of a hazelnut in the palm of her hand.  So tiny, she sensed, it could fade into nothing.   She was given to understand that this tiny thing was all of creation, held in being through God's tender, loving care. 

A zen master described zen in this brief aphorism:
Zen is dried dung.
Gerard Manley Hopkins summed it up this way in Gods Grandeur:
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
None of this means that life is a bowl of cherries.  The zen saying makes that clear.  Julian's illness nearly killed her.  Hopkin's brief poem also references the seamy side of life.

But wisdom crystalizes one's attention.  As pressure and time turn coal into diamonds.

What is the meaning of the zen saying?  I can think of two things.  The first is that dung is what remains after one has digested whatever is consumed.   Often, people disparage wisdom or a path, as they might disparage dung.  But the task is to take the leavings and trace them back to the digestive process or the meal eaten or the seeds planted.  Alternatively, one can carry dried dung on a journey and use it for fuel.  Set alight, what seems worthless, is suddenly revealed as a source of heat and light.  It becomes useful.

Like what I'm trying to do here. 

Addendum IDo not miss this exquisite gift from an Islamic scholar:

hearts ablaze:  releasing the divine potential inside

Addendum II:  Thanks to a comment below, here is a brief quote from a website dedicated to a saintly Orthodox Bishop:
  "The Jesus Prayer is for moments of repentance. But in between these moments one is in the atmosphere of the Spirit, wordless and motionless - in the silence of deep hesychia which penetrates everything, including daily work. It is constant, never hindering earthly activities of any kind, but rather sanctifying them..."


claire said...

Not easy to trace the outlines of grace. You do a nice job at it :-)

TheraP said...

As I'm sure you know, Claire, I am only the recipient and translator of what comes from the Spirit.

Thank you for confirming that my humble efforts are beneficial.

Peace be with you. And many blessings.

Robert said...

The Zen way of thinking always attracted me, even before my conversion to Christianity, and afterwards. I can imagine the Koan scenario and the parables in the 8ible having an existential commonality-is it really dung, or an invitation to look beyond appearances and see into the ultimate nature of reality?
Fascinated at an early age by the story of Buddha's enlightenment, confronted with the conflicts within Christianity I have decided that enlightenment is needed (wisdom) more than ever. Christ, Son of God, Savior was compassionate. Why were many claiming His name so cruel over time? Buddha, Prince Gautama, precursor to the Christ in an age an time without the Judeo-Christian tradition, awakens to the Spirit. Some have compared his enlightenment to the Kingdom of God, from a Western perspective.
If one has encountered Christ as the ground of reality, Buddha (for me) is easily accessed through meditation as Buddha-nature, which recalls our nature as children of God-endowed with wisdom, serene and untroubled by roiling passions, kind, benificent and charitable to all.
But key here is the wisdom to avoid suffering-not that which we cannot avoid if we are to retain our spiritual integrity, but that which we create, unnecessarily for ourselves and others.
Key here would be health of mind and body and a positive outlook and hopefull disposition in the face of what might otherwise appear daunting or insurmountable obstacles.
The wisdom one seeks may be summed up in a phrase found in the New Testament: the Kingdom of Heaven is within you. I still find this resonates with a mystical experience of real time, even should the idea be co-opted by those using scripture as justification for wealth and financial prosperity.
Ultimately, Cor. 13 sums up all wisdom as LOVE. I have found that however far I may wander in the spiritual life, a return to the God of Love is a return HOME. And my home is not in this world, anymore.

TheraP said...

Thank you, Robert, for your moving thoughts and insights.

Gregor Zap said...

Check out this guy. One of the best on our lifetime.

TheraP said...

Thank you, dearest Gregor Z!

This truly elevates the post!

Many blessings. And fond memories. :-)