Wednesday, December 14, 2011

"Go straight to the Heart of God"

 ‘It feels a lot like Christ......' happened to be the subject heading on an email I received today from a local Supermarket. Considering I spent all of today on a silent retreat, tuned in to the rhythm of God, it seemed for a moment that this Supermarket was retreating too! It actually said ‘It feels a lot like Christmas’ for those of you who don’t know the song, advertising ham, turkey and prawns on special!
A retreat I went on yesterday was really good. I felt like I was in the right place for me, like I had come home. The setting was idyllic with quiet places to rest under the shade of tall trees or by the babbling brook. Crickets chirping and birds singing. The kookaburra competing with the lazy sound of the crows. I didn’t have to talk to anyone or listen to anyone unless I wanted to. I enjoyed experiencing the labyrinth within the garden and taking part in the bread and wine as we served it to each other. Basking once again in the teachings of these famous saints. The Franciscans, Benedictines, Julian of Norwich, St John of the cross, Hildegard of Bingen and one of my favorites, St Ignatius Loyola, founder of the Jesuits. I am humbled before these great mystics.
What’s exciting for me is that I am now free to choose and commit more fully to this way of being a Christian. As a friend said, ‘I’m like a bird that has flown out the door of a cage. The door has always been open and I can come back in again if I feel insecure or hungry.’ 

In the past there were real and some made up reasons for not following my own way. I suffered a major depressive illness for many years on and off. There was my commitment to work and regular church. The responsibilities of running a home and caring for family. Also the dependence that I had on my husband to guide me through the maze of apologetics and doctrines within the christian church. I respected the fact that he had chosen to discard his Zen Buddhist teachings of 4 years and follow what I had thought was a call to us both to believe in the christian faith and leave everything to follow Christ. 
We did just that and Greg worked through the six years of rigorous training to be ordained by God no less, and sent out to work in the Lutheran Church of  Australia as a Pastor. This meant he was my pastor. He was and still is, the father of my two beautiful children, my lover and my best friend. Interesting combination don’t you think?
Greg was keenly interested in Christian Meditation but it was not a high priority for the seminary and Greg has been pretty much on his own as far as establishing anything significant within the Lutheran church. I watched as the contemplative life for him gradually got put on the back burner and now simmers very, very gently while the demands of his pastoral and now presidential (bishop) roles fill nearly all his day and evenings.
Funny how I always dreamed we would one day be running our own lay monastery or retreat centre.  I would be teaching art for the soul, sacred dance and meditation and Greg would oversee the spiritual teaching and worship. 
I gave up on that idea a few years back. My spiritual journey is not so much about what Greg is and isn’t doing, it is about my relationship with God and the community of people I find myself with, including my family. I can’t wait for things to go the way I think they should go. I need to be actively involved with the people and places that are life-giving and move away from anything that is deadening or leaves  me with that empty feeling inside. I need to listen, feel, pray and act. That is Gods guidance for me for now.
It was lovely that Greg was able to come with me to the retreat today. We were able to share our experiences and be on the same page. This is precious. We have such a different approach to things, even how we entered the labyrinth. I can see that Greg’s way was meaningful to him, and theologically correct, my way was also meaningful to me and I’m convinced God may have been a little amused! You see I didn’t walk around the circles, it was raining so I hopped over all the paths and into the centre, where I sat on the bench sheltered from the wind and rain. Apparently the centre of the labyrinth is where you commune with the Heart of God. Best place to be if you ask me. Reminds me of the Monopoly game "Go straight to jail, do not pass go" This was The labyrinth game  "Go straight to the Heart of God, do not enter the usual way!"

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