Go To The Limits Of Your Longing by Rilke

God speaks to each of us as God makes us,

Then walks with us silently out of the night.

These are the words we dimly hear:

You, sent out beyond your recall,

Go to the limits of your longing.

Embody me.

Flare up like flame

And make big shadows I can move in.

Let everything happen to you:  beauty and terror.

Just keep going. No feeling is final.

Don’t let yourself lose me.

Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness.

Give me your hand.

~Rainer Maria Rilke, Book of Hours, I 59

Reflection

Give me your hand. Placing your hand in another’s requires trust. To connect, to let another lead, or to share the direction as a kind of meandering, this is to trust; no requirement necessary, go beyond labels:  no role, title, ownership…just your hand.

Trust does require something though. It requires vulnerability. This giving of your hand, this is the real you, the one God created you to be, born into a miraculous and unique being. This is your true self and it may make you feel “unmasked”. What does being seen this way evoke in you? A sense of freedom? Perhaps hesitancy? Awkwardness? Completeness?

It is your hand, real and vulnerable, that God calls, open and waiting for unification: Your true self with God.

In this month’s Retreat, Reflect, Renew reflection, Christine shared Thomas Merton’s words: 

If I find Him I will find myself, and if I find my true self I will find Him.

This is what I know as the HOLY, the presence of God. When you find that what is Holy, you find yourself; if you find your true and unmasked self, you find what is Holy.

For me this sometimes looks like:  new life, literally like when I watch All Creatures Great & Small and there is a calf being born, wet and steaming in the stable; many experience the holy in a newborn baby, and even experiences of death, with another leaving this world to meet God, that is their experience with the Holy; bulbs forcing through the soil, springing to life; the colors of a sunset; the sound of water flowing in a creek.

How do you meet and/or experience the Holy?

Merge Mercy with Might

Merciful God, help us to embody the faith, courage, and love of those who have led us to this moment. May we have the faith to trust that we can become an anti-racist society. May we have the courage to “step out of the shade, aflame and unafraid.” And may love be our practice until, in the words of Amanda Gorman, we can:

Merge mercy with might;
And might with right,
Then love becomes our legacy
And change our children’s birthright.
Amen

Adapted from Racism through the Lens of Love and Justice,

Renee Regacho-Anaclerio and Michelle Gorman, RSM

Making Time for Spiritual Growth

Complete the following sentence by checking all the appropriate responses. 

“I feel or sense I’m most connected to God when I am…”  

  • Sitting alone in silence
  • Writing in a journal
  • Attending church services
  • Meditating
  • Praying a traditional prayer
  • Talking in a conversational prayer with God
  • Taking a nature walk
  • Praying the Psalms or reading Scripture
  • Reading spiritual growth books
  • Volunteering
  • Participating in a faith sharing group
  • Listening to spiritual or inspirational music
  • Other…fill in whatever you experience.

Journaling:

Which activity from above will help you live a more Christ-centered life? 

What do you need to say “no” to in order to say “yes” to your chosen activity?

What else calls to you at this time?

Spiritual Guidance

Life in the Spirit is what St. Teresa names in You are Christ’s Hands. We are called to stillness and listening to meet God, and we are also called to be the feet, hands, eyes, ears, face of the Holy One. Experiencing this delicate balance between nourishing the Spirit within and living it in community is challenging. With the help of a spiritual guide, we notice how we are called to nourish both God within and call to action, this life-spirit dance.

I experience God’s grace in the quiet, strengthening my relationship with the Divine, and then I find it to be reflective in my thoughts and actions. I see how this happens for others and this affects my approach to SD. In a spiritual direction session, there is time for quiet prayer, a time to be still and listen, softening and opening our hearts to the wisdom that is already within you. There is space to become more attentive to God’s call for your life. Silence in SD, as well as in the everyday, reveals God to us and also reveals what Thurman calls the “inner authority, that place within each of our hearts, where we discover who we are created to be, the strength and purpose that enables us to live the lives we are called to live — and, just possibly, to change the world in the meantime.”

I find this incredibly powerful and find it deeply rewarding to explore with a trusted spiritual companion. 

How comfortable are you with silence? 

What does inner authority mean to you? 

How are you called to live life in the Spirit?

Loving Kindness Meditation

Breathe gently, and recite inwardly the following traditional phrases directed to your own well-being. You begin with yourself because without loving yourself it is almost impossible to love others.

May I be filled with lovingkindness.

May I be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May I be well in body and mind.

May I be at ease and happy.

As you repeat these phrases, picture yourself as your are now, and hold that image in a heart of lovingkindness. Or perhaps you will find it easier to picture yourself as a young and beloved child. Adjust the words and images in any way you wish. Create the exact phrases that best open your heart of kindness. Repeat these phrases over and over again, letting the feelings permeate your body and mind. Practice this meditation for a number of weeks, until the sense of lovingkindness for yourself grows.

Be aware that this meditation may at times feel mechanical or awkward. It can also bring up feelings contrary to lovingkindness, feelings of irritation and anger. If this happens, it is especially important to be patient and kind toward yourself, allowing whatever arises to be received in a spirit of friendliness and kind affection.

When you feel you have established some stronger sense of lovingkindness for yourself, you can then expand your meditation to include others. After focusing on yourself for five or ten minutes, choose a benefactor, someone in your life who has loved or truly cared for you. Picture this person and carefully recite the same phrases:

May you be filled with lovingkindness.

May you be safe from inner and outer dangers.

May you be well in body and mind.

May you be at ease and happy.

Let the image and feelings you have for your benefactor support the meditation. Whether the image or feelings are clear or not does not matter. In meditation they will be subject to change. Simply continue to plant the seeds of loving wishes, repeating the phrases gently no matter what arises.

Expressing gratitude to our benefactors is a natural form of love. In fact, some people find lovingkindness for themselves so hard, they begin their practice with a benefactor. This too is fine. The rule in lovingkindness practice is to follow the way that most easily opens your heart.

This meditation is taken from the book, “The Art of Forgiveness, Lovingkindness, and Peace“ by Jack Kornfield.

Washing Hands Ritual

Washing our hands has taken on new meaning because of the pandemic. What once was a quick, mindless cleansing has become an act of private and public safety. Yet, water has always had significant meaning for humankind. It is life-giving. It symbolizes power, grace, purity and transformation.

In the following practice, please allow the washing of your hands to become a new ritual for you, a ritual to open your heart:

To begin, light a candle and allow for some quiet time.

(Take deep breaths, relax your body, rest your eyes.)

Reflect on the meaning of water in your life. What does it represent for you?

Look at your hands. Reflect on the love your hands have experienced in your lifetime. How have they helped you and others? (Among other things, you might consider work, nourishment, caring for others and the earth.)

Look with compassion on your hands, noticing the marks that are uniquely yours, the lines, shape, color and markings.

In a sink or a basin, pour water over your hands. Slowly and mindfully wash them. Imagine the water washing away the pain your hands have experienced. Let the water flow over your skin, relishing the sensations you feel.

As you dry your hands with gentle care, imagine you are preparing to hold something sacred to you – perhaps the gift of letting go, one of spirit, forgiveness, hope, peace or love.

Find a place in your home where you would like to share this gift.  

Hold your hands open to release the gift into your home.

Bringing your hands to your heart’s center, slowly breathe in this gift, exhale, and bow to this sacred space.

If you want to journal about the experience, you may start by discerning on this question:   What surfaced for you during this ritual?

Called to live life in the Spirit

Life in the Spirit is what St. Teresa names in You are Christ’s Hands. We are called to stillness and listening to meet God, and we are also called to be the feet, hands, eyes, ears, face of the Holy One. Experiencing this delicate balance between nourishing the Spirit within and living it in community is challenging. With the help of a spiritual guide, we notice how we are called to nourish both God within and call to action, this life-spirit dance.

I experience God’s grace in the quiet, strengthening my relationship with the Divine, and then I find it to be reflective in my actions. I see this in others as well and this affects my approach to SD, a prayer, a time to be still and listen, to soften and open our hearts to the wisdom that is already there while attentive to call. Silence in SD, as well as in the everyday, reveals God to us and also reveals what Thurman calls the “inner authority, that place within each of our hearts, where we discover who we are created to be, the strength and purpose that enables us to live the lives we are called to live — and, just possibly, to change the world in the meantime.”

I find this incredibly powerful and find it deeply rewarding to explore with a trusted spiritual guide. What is your inner authority? How are you called to live life in the Spirit?

For inner peace and calm

Holy Spirit, please encircle me,
Come hold me safe and secure.
Wrap my mind up with your truth
Guide my thoughts and calm my fears.
Steady my emotions,
Lord that you would guide my feelings,
May I not be overcome by upset.
Sustain my soul, 
With vision for the future, 
And hope for tomorrow.

I need you. 

Amen.