LATEST BLOG from māc. Ilze 08.08.2016

LATEST BLOG from māc. Ilze 08.08.2016

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Novembris, piemiņas (Week Two)

Novembris, piemiņas (Week Two)

In this, the second section of Christine Valters Painter’s reflections on the month of November, we are reminded powerfully that our story does not begin with us. Rather, deep within us, shaping our genetic code, are the life-stories of those who have gone before us, and the world from which they came. We are rooted in their past.

It reminds me of my husband’s words to me as we talked of marriage. He promised he would try to learn my language: “I won’t be able to understand you until I can begin to understand your language” and he did. Language can, of course, be a metaphor as well as have a literal meaning. It prompts us to ask of ourselves: how well do I know the “language” of my forebears? What do the songs they sang, and the prayers they said say about their belief and trust in God as well as their values? How can I become more open to let this resonate within me and so truly value their place in my life?

If you click on the link at the foot of the page and go to page 2 on the website you will find a series of exercises Painter invites us to practice and so deepen our experience.

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We live in a world where certainties about God are the impulse behind violent acts and the violation of people’s dignity. Perhaps if we all recognized that the way of unknowing was the necessary complement to the way of images and knowing, we would act with more humility and be less willing to speak for God. Our ancestors have passed over into the Great Night and they call to us across the threshold to release our tight grip on what we think we know.

We are surrounded by a great “cloud of witnesses” Paul’s letter to the Hebrews (12:1) tells us. We don’t often make room for the honoring of ancestors or valuing what connection to the stories of our past might bring to us. For me, honoring the Communion of Saints means recognizing that the lives lived before mine matter. It means remembering that there is ancient wisdom wrought from generations of engagement and struggle with life. We can call upon those who have confronted the great mystery of being across time.

We carry the stories of our ancestors in our genetic code; they beat in our blood. When we uncover the layers of the stories our family systems have lived for generations we begin to understand ourselves better. Some of these stories we may know the details of, and some we may only experience in an intuitive way. These memories live inside of us, waiting for us to give them room in our lives. Within me is a sacred thread that ties me to everyone in my ancestral past. I carry within me the wounds and unfulfilled longings, the hopes and dreams of everyone who came before me. Learning their stories means I come to know my own more intimately.

Each of us has concentric rings to our stories — my story is embedded in the story of my family, which is nestled in the story of my parents’ families, and so on back through generations. This genetic story is wrapped in cultural stories, the places and events that shaped the people who came before me — scripture, language, music, landscape, and the trauma of war that carries down from generation to generation. This cultural story is shaped by the unfolding story of nature and the cosmos. We might imagine ourselves as a smooth stone dropped in a lake, and the center of the ripple widening out to the great shores of God.

Credits: Luminous Wisdom of Night:Reflections on All Saints and All Souls by Christine Valters Painter
Header photo

November, remembrance

November, remembrance

This is the first of three sections taken from Christine Valters Painter’s profound reflection on November as a month of remembrance, commemoration, and dedication. The others will be shared with you in the two following weeks. I hope these will help you find a way through this often challenging time.

In this week’s passage, Painter invites us to do the opposite of what might come naturally: to open ourselves to “not-knowing” in the awareness that God is always present to us and yet is greater than all we know.

The God we come to know in Christ is defined by love that is more immense and mysterious than we can imagine. And God never ends this relationship of love with us.

If you click on the link at the foot of the page and go to page 2 on the website you will find a series of exercises Painter invites us to practice and so deepen our experience.

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WEEK ONE:

The Christian feasts of All Saints and All Souls on November 1st and 2nd honor the profound legacy of wisdom our ancestors have left to us and continue to offer. In some denominations, we celebrate and honor the dead for the whole month. In the Northern hemisphere the world is entering the dark half of the year. The ancient Celtic people believed this time was a thin space, where heaven and earth whispered to one another across a luminous veil and those who walked before us are especially accessible in these late autumn days. These moments on the great turning of the year’s wheel offer us invitations and gifts for our spiritual journeys.

As the earth prepares to enter winter, she sheds what she no longer needs and moves inward. We live in a world illuminated by artificial light and so we often forget the wisdom to be gained from being in darkness. With the busyness of our lives, we resist the call of winter to fallowness and to contemplate what mortality means for us.

The darkness of this season invites us to release all of our certainties about how God works in the world, and sink into the deep unknowing. Apophasis is the way of darkness in Christian spirituality and has a deep and rich tradition among the mystics, including Meister Eckhart and John of the Cross. When we enter the wisdom of night we discover God is so much larger than what we can imagine that many of our beliefs have become idols, and that the call to a mature spirituality has more to do with surrendering our attachments than in gaining enlightenment.

Credits: Article from:Luminous Wisdom of Night: Reflections on All Saints and All Souls by Christine Valters Painter
Photo http://www.cappellaromana.org/2015/05/ivan-moody-from-darkness-to-light/

A prayer for Thanksgiving

A prayer for Thanksgiving
Close up of farmers hands as he displays heirloom carrots and beets.

For the fruits of the earth
For hands that tend and care
For the gifts we receive and share

Giving thanks
As you gather together on this weekend

May joy fill your hearts this Thanksgiving
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Gracious Lord,
As we gather around this table
we bless you for your gifts to us:
in the love we receive and give,
in the support of family and friends,
in the unquestioning attention of animal companions,
in hope contained in new beginnings.

As we gather round this table
we are mindful of those
for whom hope seems lost,
each waking day brings not hope, but despair.
We remember those in refugee camps,
those bereaved or injured in the attempt to flee to a safer place,
those who do not have what we have to experience life with dignity.

As we gather round this table
and feel the strong embrace of your presence uniting us,
let your love flow through us and inspire us
that we become your living presence to those in need.

Let our deeds be our true thanksgiving.

All this we pray, gathered around this table,
in the name of the one who draws us to himself:
the Bread of Life,
the Living Water, Jesus Christ. Amen.