I have been asking God in my prayers over the past few years for a new vision of Him and the Church I have been brought up in: the Roman Catholic Tradition. ‘Is this it? ‘ has often been my cry of despair and frustration. Surely Lord, there must be more to it than this tired weary old church which seems to be imploding in on itself daily.
Where are the prophets? I have asked God to fill me up with his love and not to let me off the hook,’ Come on Lord….more, give me more of your LOVE, as you know I have run out of ideas and steam!’ this has been my prayer for ages.
In one way at one level nothing has happened. I am still the same person, same life, same frustrations, same thoughts….then when I start to think at a deeper level I do realise that God is in fact lesding me into seriously deeper waters. He guides my mind as I am always asking Him not to let go of my hand, every day I am offering up the prayer of self-abandonment. There has been no blinding lights, but inevitably his grip has tightened. The life events around me speak volumes, the conversations I have with Mike Gartland, Tony Grigor and John Walsh, the books that come my way, there would seem to be a thread linking things.
Years ago I heard Richard Rohr and Ronald Rolheiser saying ‘start to think in a non-dualistic way!’ Its not so much ‘either or’ but rather ‘both and’. As Cynthia Bourgeault says in her famous book: (‘The Wisdom Jesus, transforming heart and mind, a new perspective on Christ and his message’) : “We walk thru life perceiving, reacting to, and attempting to negotiate the world “out there” on the basis of this operating system. It’s like being in a mirage. A system based in duality can’t possibly perceive oneness; it cant create anything beyond itself – only more duality and more trouble. So the drama goes on and on.”
So we do have the capacity, if we choose, to shift to a whole different basis of perception. We come into this life with another operating system already lying in latency, and if we wish to move in this direction, we can learn to steer by it, understand through it, and ultimately discover our deepest sense of identity within it. This will mean learning to see via the heart rather than the mind which takes some effort and de-briefing.
The system we all automatically tune into is the egoic or dualistic world, it is related to the brain and the mind. In our pusuit of ‘salvation” as Christians, we try to keep the 10 commandments, do good and earn the reward, we attend church and keep the rules. However this way of ‘doing church’ is now breaking down and disillusionment is conquering the once strong catholic church organisation. It is time for a radical rethink. Many people in desperation will try to wind their life-clocks back to an earlier, less troubled time, like fixing a wonky computer to a time when it was working ok.
Such a leap into a new way of thinking into ‘the heart’ requires courage and great faith as it involves a risk.
But I believe it the way forward and one not to be afraid of. You can start to rethink using your heart instead of your brain with the following small example . This morning it was pouring down with rain, my daughter called out to me “OH dad, its a ‘horrible day’ its raining !!” I was able to immediately reply using my heart thinking rather than the usual dual type brain response, ” NO! Its a lovely new day, the rain is good too!” Saint Francis of Assisi was a new being as he thought from the heart rather than the brain, he spoke often about the beauty of the rain!
It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy seperately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and Our Father is younger than we.
do you ever experience a dragging sensation in your inner being ?
No? It is difficult to describe but i will try here:Altho if you read psalm83(84) you will get it from the horses mouth. “How lovely is your dwelling place, Lord, God of hosts. My soul is longing and yearning, is yearning for the courts of the Lord, my heart and my soul ring out their joy, to God the living God…………”
I can feel deep within me this longing….for something better, for a real, lasting, fulfilling Love. It is partly satisfied by falling in love with another person,or buying and enjoying that first exhilarating ride on a new motor-bike, elctric bike, new car…etc. It is glimpsed at when you go on holiday, a friend greets you with real love and affection. New birth also satisfies that inner longing, there is a deep need to be happy and satisfied.Every morning I can feel it ‘dragging’ inside me.
What do we do with this longing?
I usually distract myself from it by proceeding with the days duties, making a drink, eating some cereal, reading a newspaper, answering the phone, I cannot dwell on the longing because its quite painful and no one really wants to talk about it.
my tree next to the hut in hebden, a friend providing shelter, haven for birds and a beautiful sight in the 4 seasons.
tony grigor exchampion cat player and Nwcastle- would- have- been- footballer. chats with denis on a bench at grandweek at Ushaw.
lying in bed on Saturday morning I shouted out to my daughter, (she is a woman of 37): ‘You better get yourself to confession Louise, otherwise you will go to hell fire !’
I then spontaneously burst out laughing !
Why did I laugh, what is so funny about what I said?
Somehow today in our secular post-christian world we just do not take seriously the matters of Catholic faith which we used to hold so dear. Why is that ? What on earth has changed so much about these once eternal truths?
If I am honest, (which I try to be) I myself! do go to confession every so often, I do regard it as very serious and a genuine source of divine grace etc.. But when it comes to communicating that zeal of mine to my grown up daughters I founder. The spiritual climate and air they breath is of a totally different density to my climate. It is as though we inhabit different planets. Perhaps the sorrow my daughter may feel over a wrong doing is real and acknowledged but she feels no need to confess it through the Church. Whereas I do.
So it is strange living this schizophrenic world of my faith and theirs; buit it is also quite amusing as humour helps us all to be more tolerant and helps us avoid the dreadful temptation to be righteous, fundamentalist and judgemental !