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In the Presence of the Lord...

Updated: May 6

This post has been prepared for tomorrow's Men2Men circle at the Brentwood campus of the Sisters of Saint Joseph. We meet there on the second Saturday of the month from 8-9:30 AM. For info or to register, text me.


Sat. Circle Time: Let's begin with questions...instead of answers...


As we begin this morning's explorations into the Presence of G-d, feel free to imagine G-d as not only MALE...And fear not...it's in the book...Genesis 1:27...See "G-d is Beyond Gender" at the end of this post.


Also, I much appreciate the help of two particular women in the production of these reflections: my wife Eileen and a woman identified below as "D" - who's serving as my spiritual director...


Let's ask ourselves:


  • WHAT's relationship between knowledge of G-d and experience of G-d?

  • WHERE do I experience the Presence of G-d...As I currently understand G-d??

  • HOW do I experience G-d...in my head...in another place...?

  • If I experience G-d...HOW does this make me FEEL?

  • If I do not experience G-d, HOW does this make me feel?

  • WHAT keeps me from experiencing the Presence of G-d?

  • What can I do to GROW my experience of the Presence of G-d?

"Taking" the Presence with Us...



April 09

This tale began on April 9th, when I offered to present at this coming Saturday's Men2Men Circle in Brentwood. Here's what I sent to Michael our facilitator in response to a call for a presenter:


"Michael, I'll always be on standby...because it provides me yet another opportunity to sit and ask...'what shall I offer the men?' 'What are you saying to me?' 'How am I doing at listening AND responding?'"


April 10

On April 10th, Michael replied and accepted my offer.


April 11

Late afternoon on Thursday, I had my regularly scheduled spiritual direction session with D (pseudonym). I had previously offered to serve as an intern for one of the people in their final year of the Spiritual Direction Program offered by the Sisters of Saint Joseph in Brentwood - the same place that hosts or men's group. D and I began meeting together on Feb. 15 and will conclude the internship on Apr. 23.


Among the chief responsibilities of a spiritual director in to help the person they are directing discover that what they are seeking - is already WITHIN THEM...


For me...this involves TRUST...and then letting of trying to control the process...



As we met that evening, I introduced my questions about prayer...trust...



April 12 10:11 AM


When I awoke this morning, I was greeted by a friend - J's (pseudonym) text:


"Today's Richard Rohr Daily Meditation hits the nail on the head. I feel that I am standing on the shore of a new and unexplored territory. This reading is key to that journey, I suspect."


I proceeded to take in the words of the meditation...s...l...o...w...l...y...and then went about my day...trying to remain aware of what I'd read...and when I forgot the Presence...I returned to it...gently...no self-recrimination...simply starting over...


April 12 11:04 AM


"D,


Thank you for stoking around in my embers of faith…

…this fire-stoking work continues this morning.

A friend - J - texted me to check today’s Daily Meditation from Richard Rohr.

In light of our evening’s focus, his timing is significant. Here are some of the opening words of the DM:


'Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It’s an encounter and a life stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, with awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. Fully contemplative people are more than aware of Divine Presence; they TRUST, allow, and delight in it.'”


...and I included a link to the full meditation (it's also below) along with this favorite passage:



She replied:


"That's so relevant; there's that Trust word again--so simple yet so complex.


Your faith is much more than embers; those previous embers are sparking into flame with each of your encounters with others."


April 12 6:30 PM


When I returned home from my afternoon at the East Meadow Public Library enjoying friend Keith Crocker's screening of the Monterey Pop Festival film, I texted J:


"J,


First, thanks for listening to the still small voice...I read your text minutes after you sent it. Then started reading it...slowly...


It continued the conversation at last evening's spiritual direction session...


...and I've been practicing trying to remain aware of Presence throughout this day...


Please keep me and this practice in your Presence times - as this has become what I'll be sharing at tomorrow's Men2Men circle in Brentwood...🙏


tOM"


Encountering Presence


Except for the main link to Richard's Daily Meditation, I've removed the others...and added my own emphases.




True encounter with Christ liberates something in us, a power we did not know we had, a hope, a capacity for life, a resilience, an ability to bounce back when we thought we were completely defeated, a capacity to grow and change, a power of creative transformation.—Thomas Merton, He Is Risen 


Father Richard teaches that the essence of contemplative prayer is presence and love: 

Prayer is not primarily saying words or thinking thoughts. It’s an encounter and a life stance. It’s a way of living in the Presence, with awareness of the Presence, and even enjoying the Presence. Fully contemplative people are more than aware of Divine Presence; they trust, allow, and delight in it.  


The contemplative secret is learning to live in the now, which is not as empty as it might appear to be or that we fear it may be. Try to realize that everything is right here, right now and God is in this moment in a non-blaming way. When we’re able to experience that, taste and enjoy it, we don’t need to hold on to it.  


Because most of our moments are not tasted or in the Presence, we are never full. We create artificial fullness and want to hang on to that. But there’s nothing to hold on to when we begin to taste the fullness of now. God is either in this now  or God isn’t at all. If the now has never been sufficient, we’ll always be grasping. Here is a litmus test: if we’re pushing ourselves and others around, we haven’t yet found the secret of happiness. This moment is as full of the Divine Presence as it can be.  


The present moment has no competition; it’s not judged in comparison to any other. It has never happened before and will not happen again. But when I’m in competition, I’m not in love. I can’t get to love because I’m looking for a new way to dominate. The way we know this mind is not  the truth is that God does not deal with us like this. Mystics, those who really pray, know this. Those who enter deeply into the great mystery do not experience a God who compares, differentiates, and judges. They experience an all-embracing receptor, a receiver who recognizes the divine image in each and every individual. 


For Jesus, prayer seems to be a matter of waiting in love. Returning to love. Trusting that love is the deepest stream of reality. That’s why prayer isn’t primarily words; it’s primarily an attitude, a stance. That’s why Paul could say, “Pray always; pray unceasingly” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). If we read that as requiring words, it’s surely impossible. We’ve got lots of other things to do. We can pray unceasingly, however, if we find the stream and know how to wade in its waters. The stream will flow through us; all we have to do is keep choosing to stay there. 


Reference: Adapted from Richard Rohr, Everything Belongs: The Gift of Contemplative Prayer, rev. ed. (New York: Crossroad Publishing Company, 1999, 2003), 31, 60–61, 65–66, 81. 

Image credit: Jenna Keiper, Untitled (detail), Washington, 2020, photo, used with permission. Click here to enlarge image. Within our deep and tender inside spaces there is a bright light to tend and care for.


Musical Presence...



Psalm 139: 7-12

Where can I go from your Spirit?

    Where can I flee from your presence?

If I go up to the heavens, you are there;

    if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.

If I rise on the wings of the dawn,

    if I settle on the far side of the sea,

even there your hand will guide me,

    your right hand will hold me fast.

If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me

    and the light become night around me,”

even the darkness will not be dark to you;

    the night will shine like the day,

    for darkness is as light to you.





"Presence Of The Lord"

--Eric Clapton/Blind Faith


I have finally found a way to live just like I never could before

I know that I don't have much to give, but I can open any door

Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score

Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah

I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord


I have finally found a place to live just like I never could before

And I know I don't have much to give, but soon I'll open any door

Everybody knows the secret, everybody knows the score


I have finally found a place to live, oh, in the presence of the Lord

In the presence of the Lord

Mi

I have finally found a way to live, just like I never could before

And I know I don't have much to give, but I can open any door

Everybody knows the secret, I said everybody knows the score

I have finally found a way to live in the colour of the Lord

In the colour of the Lord






Centering Prayer: A daily practice for practicing the Presence of G-d


Eileen, John and I were introduced to the Centering Prayer form of contemplative prayer more than 30 years ago by Fr. Thomas Keating and others...


The Method

Monday, February 13, 2017

Guest writer Cynthia Bourgeault continues exploring the contemplative practice of Centering Prayer.

For nearly thirty years now, the following four guidelines have successfully introduced tens of thousands of people worldwide to Centering Prayer:

  1. Choose a sacred word as the symbol of your intention to consent to God’s presence and action within.

  2. Sitting comfortably and with eyes closed, settle briefly and silently introduce the sacred word as the symbol of your consent to God’s presence and action within.

  3. When engaged with your thoughts [including body sensations, feelings, images, and reflections], return ever so gently to the sacred word.

  4. At the end of the prayer period, remain in silence with eyes closed for a couple of minutes. [1-see link below]


Father Thomas Keating suggests praying for twenty minutes twice a day.


So are we really saying that in Centering Prayer you meditate by simply letting go of one thought after another? That can certainly be our subjective experience of the practice, and this is exactly the frustration expressed by an early practitioner. In one of the very earliest training workshops led by Keating himself, a nun tried out her first twenty-minute taste of Centering Prayer and then lamented, “Oh, Father Thomas, I’m such a failure at this prayer. In twenty minutes I’ve had ten thousand thoughts!”


“How lovely,” responded Keating, without missing a beat. “Ten thousand opportunities to return to God.”



[from this meditation] I must invite us all to reclaim and honor female wisdom, which is often qualitatively different from male wisdom. I hope this perspective can invite you to trust your own experiences with the divine feminine as well. For many, it is an utterly new opening, since they always falsely assumed that God is somehow masculine.



Presence Prompts


We cannot attain the presence of God. We're already totally in the presence of God. What's missing is awareness.

David Brenner


We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade the presence of God. The world is crowded with Him. He walks everywhere incognito.

C. S. Lewis


We rarely think of the air we breathe, yet it is in us and around us all the time. In similar fashion, the presence of God penetrates us, is all around us, is always embracing us.

Thomas Keating


If the presence of God is in the church, the church will draw the world in. If the presence of God is not in the church, the world will draw the church out.

Charles Grandison Finney



Finding Presence In One Another's Presence...






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