Discover more from Contemplative Chapel
Poetry, readings, and a brief recap
From Wednesday, October 18 Zoom Gathering
We began our session by recognizing that October 18 is the feast day of St. Luke the Evangelist. Luke was a physician, a healer, and the Gospel that bears his name evinces special concern for the poor and the marginalized. Women play an especially important role in Luke, as well. A number of beautiful parables are only found in Luke, such as the Parable of the Prodigal Son, the Parable of the Good Samaritan, and the Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector - God at work in merciful, loving ways, and often through unlikely characters.
We noted that Luke 15 consists of three parables: The Parable of the Lost Sheep, the Parable of the Lost Coin, and the Parable of the Lost Son (Prodigal Son), and our opening prayer time focused on a portion of the Prodigal Son, a story about the fact that we are all waited for, just as the father waits for his son, and our practice is about coming home, releasing ourselves to the one who waits to embrace us.
But sometimes (and this is true for many of us now, in this painful time we’re living through), we can’t help ourselves — we’re simply overwhelmed, and we feel as if we’re drowning. This led us to David Whyte’s beautiful and moving poem, “The Truelove”.
THE TRUELOVE by David Whyte There is a faith in loving fiercely the one who is rightfully yours, especially if you have waited years and especially if part of you never believed you could deserve this loved and beckoning hand held out to you this way. I am thinking of faith now and the testaments of loneliness and what we feel we are worthy of in this world. Years ago in the Hebrides, I remember an old man who walked every morning on the grey stones to the shore of baying seals, who would press his hat to his chest in the blustering salt wind and say his prayer to the turbulent Jesus hidden in the water, and I think of the story of the storm and everyone waking and seeing the distant yet familiar figure far across the water calling to them and how we are all preparing for that abrupt waking, and that calling, and that moment we have to say yes, except it will not come so grandly so Biblically but more subtly and intimately in the face of the one you know you have to love so that when we finally step out of the boat toward them, we find everything holds us, and everything confirms our courage, and if you wanted to drown you could, but you don’t because finally after all this struggle and all these years you simply don’t want to any more you’ve simply had enough of drowning and you want to live and you want to love and you will walk across any territory and any darkness however fluid and however dangerous to take the one hand you know belongs in yours. (From The Sea In You: Twenty Poems of Requited and Unrequited Love)
We briefly pondered the opening of John’s Gospel, “What has come into being in him was life, and the life was the light of all people. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it,” followed by a quotation from Reinhold Niebuhr that could be taken to mean that there is a God-given goodness in human beings that might be hidden but never obliterated:
Ultimately evil is done not so much by evil people, but by good people who do not know themselves and who do not probe deeply. Reinhold Niebuhr
A beautiful reminder from Nick Cave:
I think there is more going on than we can see or understand, and we need to find a way to lean into the mystery of things — the impossibility of things — and recognise the evident value in doing that, and summon the courage it requires to not always shrink back into the known mind. … The luminous and shocking beauty of the everyday is something I try to remain alert to, if only as an antidote to the chronic cynicism and disenchantment that seems to surround everything, these days. It tells me that, despite how debased or corrupt we are told humanity is and how degraded the world has become, it just keeps on being beautiful. (from Faith, Hope and Carnage, by Nick Cave)
Our session of Lectio Divina focused on a passage from Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians:
2 Corinthians 4:6-10, 16 For it is the God who said, ‘Let light shine out of darkness’, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. So we do not lose heart. Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day.
After closing our practice of silence with the Lord’s Prayer and the beloved Antiphon from Compline, “Guide us waking, O Lord, and guard us sleeping; that awake we may watch with Christ, and asleep, we may rest in peace,” we closed with a poetic reminder from Steve Garnaas-Holmes:
Vigil As darkness descends you hold your candle, your frail light, but it is not little. It is the flame of “Let there be light,” the big bang of hope. Your light orbits through the darkness with all the other stars in a great galaxy of compassion. You say your quiet prayer, a few words uttered on the wind, but they are not small, these words spun of a thread of love, a hardy strand that runs from heart to heart in a massive web of mercy. You offer up your heart but it is not your heart, it is God's, beating in you, it is God's light shining in you, God's hope echoing through you, God's prayer sustaining the world. Keep vigil with courage and confidence, for God keeps vigil in you. In us, in the hopeful and the helpless, in the traumatized and terrorized, in all of life God keeps vigil. Steve Garnaas-Holmes Unfolding Light www.unfoldinglight.net