25 January 2023 - CITW
25 January 2023 A Candle in the Window Peter Millar
I will not die an unlived life,
I will not go in fear
of falling or catching fire.
I choose to inhabit my days,
to allow my living to open to me,
to make me less afraid,
to loosen my heart
until it becomes a wing,
a torch, a promise.
I choose to risk my significance:
So that which came to me as seed,
goes to the next as blossom.
and that which came to me as blossom,
goes on as fruit.
Dr. Dawna Markova, of Makawao, Hawaii, followed her precious grandmother’s footsteps to become a midwife, but rather than babies, she helps birth possibilities within and between people. She has lived many incarnations in the past seven decades as an author, teacher, psychotherapist, researcher, executive advisor, and organizational fairy godmother. One of the creators of the best-selling Random Acts of Kindness series, Dawna is the author of many other inspirational books, including: I Will Not Die an Unlived Life: Reclaiming Purpose and Passion; Reconcilable Differences: Connecting In a Disconnected World; Collaborative Intelligence: Thinking With People Who Think Differently; A Spot of Grace: Remarkable Stories of How You DO Make a Difference.
The noise that prevents us hearing the voice of God is not, is truly not, the clamour of humans, the racket of cities, still less the stirring of the wind or the whispering of water.
The noise that completely smothers the voice of God is the inner uproar of outraged self-esteem, of awakening suspicion, of unsleeping ambition.
The late Bishop Helder Camara from his book ‘A Thousand Reasons for Living’
For in the market-place, one dusk of day, I watched the potter thumbing his wet clay: and with its all obliterated tongue
it murmured—gently, brother, gently, pray!
Ah, my beloved, fill the cup that clears today of past regrets and future fears—Tomorrow?—Why, because tomorrow I may be myself with yesterday’s seven thousand years.
Poems from the Rubaiyat of the Astronomer-Poet of Persia Omar Khayyam (1048–1131)
Practicing the presence of God:
I think it is true to say that in many book stores in the world there are increasing numbers of books on spirituality and the inner-life. Many people are seeking new depths within themselves and new understandings of what it means to be human. One book I have found helpful is Marilyn McEntyre’s, When Poets Pray, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2019, ISBN 978-0-8028-7658-4. It is in ‘the learning from, and living with, prayer-poems series’. Other writers in this series are Wendell Berry, Gerard Manly Hopkins, Mary Oliver, T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, John Dunn, Hildegard of Bingen, George Herbert, Thomas Merton and Anna Kamienska. The following extract is from Marylin McEntyre and I hope you will find it helpful:
“It was a long time before I learned that prayer wasn’t just talking to God but, more importantly, listening. My first attempts at prayerful listening were frustrating. What I heard was...nothing. Then a shift occurred:
I discovered a subtle difference between listening for and listening to.
I learned listening as an intentional disposition, attitude, readiness.
Without prepositions, “listen” came to mean something more like open-hearted waiting, breathing, relaxing into wordlessness becoming aware of Presence. Brother Lawrence, a seventeenth-century French Carmelite, used the phrase “practicing the presence of God.” In my efforts at prayerful listening, this phrase acquired new meaning for me. Despite my own intermittent practice over days and years laced with distractions, in the best moments of listening prayer, sometimes a word or phrase or sentence came that I know I didn’t “make up.” It was given.
As I read the meditations of Hildegard of Bingen, the great twelfth-century mystic and scholar, I am taught again about this dimension of prayer, given in such rich and explicit ways to those folks like me, “busy about many things,” who find listening hard to sustain—listening and bearing witness to what we hear. It is there in the prophets. Repeatedly we read that “the work of the Lord came” to Abram, to Jacob, to Moses, to Samuel, to Nathan, to Jehu, to Elijah, to Isaiah and Jeremiah. Their job was to hear and deliver that work.
Of course there are delusions. Distinguishing the word of the Lord from one’s own voice, from the internal chatter where memories and plans and desires mingle with bits of poetry, is a little like teasing apart strands in a tangled skein. It behoves any of us, if we think we’ve heard a message from the Spirit, to check for ego investment, run it by a spiritual director, or otherwise wait for further clarification. But what “comes” in quiet times when our intention is directed toward God is worth our attention. The God who speaks in them is the same one who uttered forth Creation.”