I Didn’t See That Coming!

Wednesday mornings I am on my way to 7 am meditation at the church I attend. Wednesday, February 14th I knew it was Ash Wednesday and thought I could escape the ashes on the forehead by going to the weekly contemplative service. However, after the welcoming, the worship leader turned it over to the minister who gives us a short reminder that this is the beginning of Lent and it is always good to remember that we are all going to die (someday). Ashes to ashes, dust to dust. I guess this is supposed to get us into a reflective mood.

I have a love – hate relationship with ritual. On the one hand it is boring, words and actions that we say or do that seem to lose their meaning over time and become empty gestures. On the other hand ritual surprises me and orders my life, leading me deeper into the place where God lives. I have always observed the church year. It gives a certain rhythm to my life and a way of celebrating birth, death and transformation as a pattern for life to evolve. Now the invitation is before me. Quickly my mind wonders if I am going to do this, and if I do, what does it mean to me.

I asked myself the question and start writing in my journal as 20 people begin moving toward the front.

This is what I wrote: “It is star-dust – ashes from the end of the singularity and the beginning of possibility. God/Energy no longer confined to a perfect static existence. In an explosion that is still going on, God is moving out in all directions into a generative, creative possibility…and the rest is history. The end of love that is selfish and needy; the beginning of love that is expressive and giving. The elements from this explosion became my life, and here I am today celebrating an ending that has given me a place in creation. The singularity (God?) did not end, it transformed. And now God cannot be perfect/complete without me, without every one of us.”

Lent now becomes forty days to remember and wonder who I am and how do I take my place in this movement in time. For this season my task is to practice living in communion with the love energy that created me, in which I am rooted, which is rooted in me, which I am most often ignoring as I wonder about the meaning of retirement.

In this same service, I am reminded of the Lord’s Prayer and the line “lead us not into temptation” stands out for me. Translated by Neil Douglas-Klotz, Prayers of the Cosmos, (from the Aramaic) as “do not let us be seduced by surface things”. Yes, take time to pray, wonder, reflect, go deep, let the Spirit inform, renew, energize you. This is the contemplative way. Why do I avoid it? Lent is my invitation to return again to my roots and not skim along on the surface of life. I will adopt a prayer from Ted Loder, Guerillas of Grace, p. 27, for lent:

Now, Oh Lord,
…………. calm me into a quietness
………………….. that heals and listens,
………….. and mould my longings and passions,
………….. my wounds and wonderings
…………………….. into a more holy
………………………………… and human shape.

Definition: Initial singularity, a hypothesized singularity of infinite density before quantum fluctuations caused the Big Bang and subsequent inflation that created the Universe.

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7 Responses to I Didn’t See That Coming!

  1. Vince McGrath says:

    John, it sounds like you didn’t go up for the ashes, but the ashes got you thinking and setting priorities with a renewed commitment to contemplation. I think the ashes did their work.

  2. Gordon Churchill says:

    I think that Love/hate is the only/ way that one can relate to ritual. If it just slides in there and does not speak, then it is a blankie, and not a comforter. To speak it has to disrupt and cause change and that is going to be something we Love/hate. Keep going preacher.

    • jegrif says:

      Yes, Gord, comfort, disruption and change seem to be in the same sentence for me as well. I like to think of myself as a free spirit. And then, every once in a while I get caught up in a bigger pattern that holds my feet to the fire. That is why I titled this post: I didn’t see that coming.

  3. Donna Friesen says:

    Thanks for this John! I love your line “And now God cannot be perfect/complete without me, without every one of us.” How true–which leads directly to your next point.
    “How do I take my place in this movement at this time?” A deeply profound practice for Lent–not so much giving something up as stepping forward into a place that only each individual can fill in their own way. I like to also think that the dust to dust is a return to source. Not a degradation but an invitation into participation with the cosmos or “stardust” as you so poetically name it. This week I was prompted by Thomas Merton to consider God as solitude; a bit of a conundrum for me but perhaps we are invited into the great solitude so as not to “skim over” our life. And then move into it in our own individual way.
    Thanks again for this very thought provoking blog.

    • jegrif says:

      Donna, one of my words for the year is “silence”. It seems every word (7 of them) speaks about the necessity of doing inner work this year. This silence is not the absence of noise, rather the “great solitude” that you mention. It is the positive, viable, tangible presence that cannot be disturbed, where one is rooted.
      An authentic centre. My meditation practice is helping me get there. Gunilla Norris wrote a book, Inviting Silence. She says, “Within each of us there is a silence – a silence as vast as the universe. We are afraid of it…and we long for it. When we experience that silence, we remember who we are: creatures of the stars…Silence is the source of all that exists, the unfathomable stillness where vibration began – the oscillation, the first word, from which life emerged. Silence reveals. Silence heals. Silence is where God dwells. We yearn to be there.” I identify with the yearning to be there!

  4. liberty forrest says:

    Wow…. absolutely brilliant. Thank you!! I SO love this – especially that prayer at the end…Beautiful post, my friend. Hope to see you soon!

    Love and blessings,

    Liberty Forrest Psychic Medium and Award-Winning Author Compassionate, Heart-Centered Guidance (by phone or video) Do You Think You Might Be Psychic? yourstoryofhope.com Paranormal Thriller Saga Fiction Get your free eBook here! http://www.booksbyliberty.com

    Connect with me: Huffington Post Facebook Twitter LinkedIn

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    • jegrif says:

      Yes, the prayer is one that surfaces regularly for me. This seems to be another year of inner work. But the word is also that I may be ready for some “action” next year. I have recommitted to a meditation practice and that is what it is: practice, practice, practice.
      We are off to Puerto Vallarta for two weeks to read and meditate on the beach (some of the time).

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