Being the healing light

Something much easier to preach these days, than to practice, is the art of not adding to the fear and the fury of the tumultuous social and political events of our day.  We seem to have lost the gift and the blessing of restraint, and the ability to harness rather than share anger and/or outrage.

Not as trite as it sounds, what comes to mind is Dr. Phil’s question… how’s that working for you?  Does sharing wrath make your day a better day?  Are you fit or even civil company?  Does staying glued to news outlets help you share a sense of peace and joy with those around you?  So my answer to these questions is obvious: No.  Spewing makes my stomach churn, my blood pressure rise.  My anger makes me more likely to cut others to the quick.  It makes me anxious. How about you?

People I both love and respect who in other circumstances would be taking the high road, in this current untenable situation of our nation, on an hourly, daily or weekly basis are taking the low road.  And this is my own fear, in doing this we are becoming like what/who we hate. We are acting like what/who we despise.  We have lost some the objectivity to reflect on what we are saying or doing. And in the deeps within we know this to be true.

For me, it’s a matter of time. Yes, minutes and hours.  How much time do I spend each day burrowing in the darkness?  And how much time do I spend in soaking up and sharing light?  And when I’m in the downward spiral–can I simply walk away?  What is my trigger to tell me to ‘take the nearest exit’ for my own safety?  What can I do, where can I go, what can pull me out?  And what is it that brings me back to neutral, or even better sets my feet on high places?

We all find our own way, don’t we, in troubled times.  I spent all of 2017 (Yikes!) and part of 2018 angry, disgruntled and disgusted. Nothing that I saw as the root of that has changed…but at an unknown time and in a secret place inside a lever was thrown, some thing shifted in my inner being.  It was not that simple and I do not know the day or the hour, but my awareness became just this: what if  I spent even half the time and energy I was spending in the dark and instead use it for the purposeful spread of light?  Is it possible that the world would already begin to become a different place–a place of which I would be proud to be a part.

There is no single book, no sacred writing, no favorite author or speaker that I can point to for this new thought, revived hope and beckoning practice.  It just came.  It just dawned, slowly and gently.  My conviction is that it is the fruit of my practice of sitting meditation with the words of Augustine as my mantra:  “Noverim Te, noverim me”  — I look at God, I look at myself.   It is a gift that I am still growing into in fits and starts.

It is also a truth that is branching out into my whole life–personally and professionally.  What would it look like for you to “bless those who curse you?”  I don’t mean who literally curse you, but those whose actions are a curse to you, whose words and plans curse the meaning of life you hold dear?  What would it take for you to bless them.

Let me be the first to confess the difficulty of this blessing thing.  I could give you a long list of people for whom it would be insincere of me to verbally bless.  But what if my thoughts and actions were those of blessing–when their actions enraged me?  What if instead of cursing, railing, and blathering; what if instead, on their behalf and in their name, I blessed someone in my sphere of influence with goodness, with kindness, with generosity.  What if I determined to became a cosmic counterpoint?

These are my hopes and dreams friends, for myself and for you.  That we all would find a way to live moment by moment in such light, that the whole earth might begin to sense that there is healing light growing in the darkness.  That there is healing light in me.  That there is healing light in you.

In brightness,  Kathleen  — the celtic monk

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

An Invitation

AN INVITATION    7:30 a.m and 7:30 p.m. 

What was the last thing you were invited to attend?  I don’t mean the herd invitation… everyone is invited. I mean the personal invitation as in I’d be so happy if you would join me, or come with me, or come and see…

Most of us are invited often to be part of a crowd.  Come to the spaghetti supper!  Come to the Farmer’s Market!  Come to the Strawberry Festival, the Film Festival, the … well you can just fill in the blank.

I am writing to invite you to a very small gathering.  I am writing to invite you to an event where you and I will be the only visible participants.  I am writing to invite you to meet me (every morning at 7:30 a.m. EDST and every evening at 7:30 p.m. EDST) for a journey into your relationship with God which, as it turns out, ends up being a journey not only towards God, but towards yourself and into every relationship in your life.

I am calling this time a retreat… because the content when added up would make a wonderful week long retreat in a lovely setting.  But we all can’t just gather ourselves to get away, can we.  Yet, it’s likely that our soul would benefit from some focus.  It’s likely that we could use some encouragement to become or stay faithful in our spiritual practice or discipline.  What better way than to be able to participate anywhere we can connect to the Internet where we will move through this time leading to Holy Week and the joy of Easter slowly, reverently and together. 

How many good intentions I’ve had for keeping a spiritual practice for Lent…as a reminder that Jesus’ way had now turned and He was on His way to Jerusalem…only to let it fall away.   So beginning February 14th, Ash Wednesday, at 7:30 p.m. I will be LIVE on the Peace River Spirituality Center Facebook page.  I will be there each Monday through Friday morning and night all the way to Good Friday, March 30th.  We will meet in the morning 7:30 a.m. for a very short bit of inspiration and 20 minutes of silent meditation.  We will gather back in the evening for Compline, evening prayer,  7:30 p.m. which will include an additional 15 minutes of silence.  Twice a day.  30 minutes each.  Monday-Friday.

There is a Retreat booklet available to download at: http://peaceriverspirituality.org/pilgrimages-and-retreats/live-2018-lent-retreat/?view=mobile    It has an overview of where our journey will take us. It includes everything you shall need to participate.  You can download and print it for easiest use.

So join me, won’t you?  There is no pressure.  No papers.  No attendance record.  No grade at the end. Just an accomplishment towards your own spiritual deepening–and time spent letting God get a word in edgewise in my life and yours. 

To participate LIVE… you can go to the Peace River Spirituality Center page on Facebook and “Like” it.  The twice daily videos should automatically begin to be fed to your Facebook page.  You can view the modules (48 hours later) on the Pine Shores Presbyterian Church’s web page, where they will be archived.

I know.  This is not a usual invitation. Nor is this a usual retreat.  But it holds the possibility of being a wonderful deepening adventure for you and me.  What to you say?  Wanna come?

In peace and with joy,

Kathleen

KATHLEEN BRONAGH WELLER — thecelticmonk 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Hope as a Verb

HOPE

Is there a difference for you between a wish, a hope or a dream?  I know I sometimes use those words interchangeably in a fanciful way:  I wish I was going on vacation… I hope I am going on vacation… I am dreaming of being on vacation!

But when matters are more serious, or even grave…do I still use these words as if they meant the same thing?  I wish I didn’t need surgery… I hope I don’t need surgery… I dreamt I did not need surgery?  [I have no surgery planned]  No, I don’t use these words in the same way when speaking of something more consequential, more serious.

In a conversation yesterday with sister spiritual directors, one of them related something she’d heard over the weekend and that she was still in the process of unpacking and wondering about.  Her little something also captured my attention so, that it bubbled up first thing this morning.  At a conference from which she’s just returned, the speaker offered this seemingly simple thought: “hope without action leads to despair.”  Hope without action leads to despair.  How does that feel to you?  Hold that thought.

So this morning I was on a social media site and read one of those posts that come up every so often.  They are the equivalent to a chain letter…that if you don’t pass it on…something terrible will happen to you, but if you do, something wonderful will happen.  The post was about a serious matter, cancer.  But somehow the author believed that pasting this chain letter was efficacious.

It was in reading that frivolous post on social media,  that Patricia’s wondering came back to me.  And let me state my inkling, or my fear, up front.  My fear is that many people… with a great hope for something good… believe (erroneously) that posting on social media is action; is doing something.  And while being heart-feltly concerned for a friend or family member with cancer…hoping for their survival is a call to action–a social media post is not an action.

The most likely actions for such a hope may be a call to prayer. Or a call to listening to the person’s pain.  Maybe it’s a call to make a supper, to watch their kids, to hold their hand, to drive them to an appointment.  To not have our true hope(s) become despair… action is needed.  Real action…not false action…fake action.

But we’ve been duped, en masse, into believing that doing a COPY and PASTE on a social media site is doing something.  Whether its something as serious as health concerns, the working of our politics, or our concern for the welfare of the earth–let me assure you that COPY AND PASTE will not help a person, people or cause.  And it will not hold back despair.  It cannot hold back your despair.

It is not lost on me that I am sitting here with my laptop literally on my lap to share this “aha” moment of mine on another social media outlet.  But  if just one of you who reads this begins to think about those things for which you hope…and actually takes a step toward action (real action) then I’m blessed.  And you will be too.  

Wishes and dreams are magical, friends.  Sometimes, they can even keep a little light burning in a  dark or scary space for a while.  But hope?  Our hopes must have feet on them. Our hopes call us beyond ourselves for our own good and/or the good of others.  And when great hopes are not matched with great action…they can lead to despair.

I did not Copy and Paste the item on my timeline this morning.  But I’m engaged in discovering an action step for those things that rise from wish or dream status in my life to a true hope.  And I’ve written this little piece, because I hope you will do the same.

In much peace and with love,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller
THECELTICMONK

   

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

CLICK ! CLICK ! CLICK!

John Main Seminar  2011 in Cork  
Laurence Freeman/Kathleen Weller

Dear Ones,

Earlier this August, I attended the 2017 John Main Seminar.  We were hosted on the campus of the University of St. Thomas in the museum district of Houston, Texas.  People travelled from Venezuela, Trinidad, Australia and beyond to attend. I still  have much to unpack from the week; much to yet ponder.

The seminar began with a four-day guided silent retreat with Laurence Freeman (Benedictine) who is the Executive Director of the World Community for Christian Meditation.  He led us through short talks on finding our way to the “inner room” in our meditation.  Citing Scripture, the practice of Lectio Divina, and the images of the Rothko Chapel, Fr. Laurence made a compelling case on how we may be led into stillness and silence. A silence we practiced 6 times a day for 25 minutes each sitting.  What I want to share is more experience and interpretation than information.  It so happens that the experience I want to share occurred on the very first day and continued to open itself the rest of the week.  

Our designated location at the university was a lecture hall with rows and rows of theatre-style seats with steep steps declining toward the stage below.  On the stage was a single table covered with a colorful cloth, an icon of Christ, flowers and a candle.  Next to the table was a chair for Fr. Laurence.  

Most often I made my way down to within the first few rows as the spaces near the top filled up first. The room was chilled for the number of persons who would fill it…but as they say “heat rises” so I was always wrapped in a pashmina I carried for just such an occasion.  On this particular day I had the fortune of sitting in the first row, the one with the most leg room.  After Laurence’s introduction, he led us into our first group meditation…”Heavenly Father, open our hearts to the silent presence of  the Spirit of Your Son, lead us into that mysterious silence where Your love is revealed to all who call… Maranatha, Come Lord Jesus.” (John Main’s prayer)

As the bowl was struck three times, more than 100 people settled in for our first of thirty different opportunities to sit in silence together over the week.  The lights dimmed. The sneezes and coughs faded. Still. Very still. 

A while into the silence there was a loud “Click” the dimmed lights went off completely and there was utter darkness. On its heals another “Click” and the air-conditioning in the room also went off.  With maybe only seconds between there was a third “Click” and a single emergency light came on high in a corner of the room.  It was only a few more minutes until the bowl rang again 3 times to end our silent prayer.  The lights all came back up by the push of a button in the video control booth.

I didn’t think much more about the experience that day, until I realized it happening again and again as we gathered to sit in silence. Not so neatly and deliberately as that first time, but nonetheless, each time.  And as Laurence’s teaching on creating an inner room in our heart continued to unfold… those now familiar clicks began to tell me a story. A story of how our inclination is to create activity, busy-ness and noise rather than tending to a point of silence. 

As I ruminated on it I realized that the first click was the computer-driven smart buildings’ way of saying “nothing is happening here.”  Through its sensors, though there were 100+ people in the room, it saw the space as empty.  No need for all these lights, even dimmed.  Since there’s been no movement for 20 minutes, time to shut down.  The smart-building letting us know that silence and stillness are not valued here … “Click.”

The second click was that same building turning off the air-conditioning.  With no one moving it sensed no need to chill the place. It was saving energy, although there were a lot of people who would now not have new air to breathe.  This second click became for me a reminder that their is a Breath that is of utmost importance in our lives; and it is not the breath a smart-building can take away. …”Click.”

The final click was that a small square emergency light that came on high in the front corner of the room.  It was just enough light to let you know you were not on a smooth surface.  Just enough light that you could see the outline of rows of chairs and aisles and EXIT signs above the doors.  Just enough..but not quite enough.  Following the lead of Laurence’s teaching I received it as a sign, a hope, for the light within us all that is waiting to shine…waiting to show itself when once we enter the inner room of our heart through stillness and silence.  There is indeed a Light within… the light of God, the spark of the divine … “Click”

In a conversation around a table toward the end of that week, I shared the skeleton of this experience. I shared it again as a devotional before a monthly meeting upon my return.  Each time I do, I learn more. There are so many nuances to these three clicks.  Maybe there are others that you see or that speak to that still place inside of you.  

We indeed have benefitted from the age of technology.  But in some cases, as I think the above is evidence, we have created systems and objects that keep us from our true selves, that keep us from the Light that shines in the darkness not visible with human eyes.  Perhaps its time to listen for those “Clicks” — to listen, to wonder, to understand.  And to give Thanks!

In stillness and silence of heart,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller  
THECELTICMONK

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

THE PRESENT AND COMING LIGHT

Dear Friends,

        Every once in a while, I get stopped by an image.  Most often, I am reading or looking for something else when such an image seems quite simply to call my name.  It insists I pay attention. It says, “look here,” or “this is important.”  or “I’m what you were looking for.” 

        At least that’s what the image above said to me–when I saw it.  Yet I didn’t stop.  Because of course I was too busy. It’s December for heaven’s sake.  There are concerts and teas and parties and gifts to be bought and wrapped.  There’s traditional food to be made and cookies.  Don’t forget the cookies.

        Yet this particular image was persistent, so as is my habit I simply hit COPY and SAVE and it ended up in my bottomless folder of images that try to speak to me.  The ones I save for someday. And some of them have been there a long time!

        But as I read the first Chapter of John she called to me again, and I went to that folder with all those images and retrieved her.  I put John chapter 1 down and when I found her John’s Good News leapt from the page: “What has come into being in Christ, was life, and the life was the Light of all people.”  The Light of All People.

        You know sometimes, or maybe most of the time, we can get tongue-tied when we read the poetry of John’s Gospel… but this image made it more real for me than I ever knew it to be.  Christ, the light of all the people. Christ in me, my hope of glory.  Christ above me, beneath me, shining through me and you, and you…  Christ within me, illumining my heart and mind and yours.  Blessings and grace penetrating all people. 

       A second barrage of thoughts came as I sat a little longer looking at the photograph. It was only then that it occurred to me that while illuminating, it would also be consistent that the sun would necessarily be melting those on which it cast its rays.  And that similarly, when we allow the light of Christ into us… we do not control what may happen next.  Melt me. Mold me. Fill me. Use me. Have Thine own way, Lord—

       Many of us were not taught or encouraged towards the use of pictures, representations or icons in prayer. But I often find the quiet sitting with an image, is much like the process of Divine Reading (Lectio Divina) except it is Visio Divina or Divine Seeing.  Meditating on this image revealed much about God and God’s relationship to us all in ways that words never could.
       This year we have a particularly long season of Advent—a season of waiting.  Let me encourage you to allow yourself to be stopped by something you see.  And then to tarry there is prayer. Invite the Spirit to illumine your understanding.  Take a moment to step away from all the busyness to just look and listen for a while. I’ll be praying for whatever God might be ready to birth in you this year.

A very Merry Christmas to you and yours,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller —
THECELTICMONK

P.S.  I think the above photo has all the invitations of Advent waiting.  It is saying:   

“look here,”  “this is important,”  and “I AM what you are looking for.”

                                                        To God be the glory. 

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

Gate to the Path Ahead


Dear friends,
        For more than half of the voting public of these United States, it has been a rough week. My FB page is filled with disbelief, tears, rage, and horror expressed from across the nation— folks who are somewhere between uncomfortable or outright afraid. 
        I’ve read too much already.  Said too much already about this election.  I went from a sleepless Tuesday, to a tearful Wednesday, to an angry Thursday and a numb Friday.  By Saturday I felt like those drivers who slow down to see the crash…I just couldn’t stop watching, listening.  I woke up for the 5thnight in a row at 2:00 a.m. staring at the ceiling, my mind racing.  And I thought to myself, “think of something beautiful.  Picture something beautiful.” 
        So this is sad, but for the longest time I couldn’t.  I couldn’t pull up an image in my mind of one sunrise or sunset.  I couldn’t find image of (one of all the photo’s I’ve taken) trees, or paths or birds.  As I laid there I could name those things that were beautiful to me, but couldn’t make the neuropathways work to give me an image.  By now it was no longer sad, but scary.
        Only slowly a gate came to mind [we can do the Freudian interpretation some other time.]  A particular gate that I took a photograph of in 2011 at Holy Cross Monastery in Rostrevor, Northern Ireland.  Those who know me well, will already know that Holy Cross is a Benedictine Monastery founded for the express purpose of reconciliation.  Somewhere deep inside, my subconscious chose this image in which I could seek refuge in which there was beauty.
        So while I went through some pretty average stages of grief this week… from anger to lamenting to anger and back again…I knew it could not continue.  My spirit, as Spirit is wont to do said “enough is enough–move on–more specifically, move through the gate.”
        My righteous anger will still lead me in things to do to combat the barbarianisms of the president elect we saw and heard over the past 18 months.  I shall still work to do justice (for all), love mercy (for all) and walk humbly with my God hand in hand with indigenous people, migrant workers, the LBGTQ community, Muslims, sisters and anyone else marginalized.
        But it’s time for me to walk through the gate; leaving all that is past behind and reaching toward the goal.  What that means is that I will take control of myself and react in another way when the tears flow and the rage erupts. Instead of jumping on the bandwagon, I will look for something beautiful, something pleasing, something kind and generous to offer instead of more anger and hate.
        It’s time for me to walk through the gate; to at least (hopefully) demonstrate that it’s possible.  No one said easy, but possible.  I’ll walk through the gate given to me twice now at low moments in my life—and allow it to remind me that this is a new moment…now this is…now this is… and I have a choice in how to approach each new moment. Okay, I’m not perfect.  It’s likely some idiot will post something bogus on FB and I’ll be compelled to reply. I want to apologize in advance.
       Yet it is time for me to walk through the gate.  And I invite you to find your own image or metaphor and to hold onto it too.  I’ll begin on the road to reconciliation by posting one beautiful thing each day on the FB page of Peace River Spirituality Center and Sanctuary House of Sarasota. That way, something other than disgust will sprinkle through folks newsfeeds and minds. Offering beauty is a start to a new ending.
        If you are not ready to move towards your deep, unflappable center right now, I get it.  If you need to be angry and outraged a little longer, I understand.  If sadness still has you tightly bound, I’m so sorry for your pain.  We all have our own unique rhythm. 
       But here and now I go through this gate of my memory, that called to me in the darkness.  Here I go through this gate of my memory, that beckoned me to its silent beauty.  Here I go through this gate of my memory, that reminded me reconciliation is possible… and invited me to accept it so that I might turn back and extend a hand from the unfolding place of my own healing.
        Thanks for listening to my story.  It would be my privilege to hear yours.
                                       In the peace of the Lamb,
                           Kathleen
                                       Kathleen Bronagh Weller
                                         THE CELTIC MONK

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized

LESSONS FROM THE GAME

       

So as I sit down to write, I’m a little bleary eyed from staying up to watch the final two games of the World Series where my long-suffering Cubbies finally brought it home.

        But as the photos and comments continue to fill social media, it occurs to me that there are lessons in this historic win for all of us–lessons we may sense but have not put into words.  So I have a quartet of options—you likely could add a few of your own. 

·         The plan was new. 

·         The key players are young. 

·         The leaders prepared.

·         The playing field, hostile.

PLAN.  If you were listening, you heard over and over again that Theo Epstein was trying something new.  Building from nothing (indeed 108 years without a championship is pretty much that). He did not look backwards to a glorious past…to old ways, old rules, old outcomes. He was writing a new chapter looking forward and creating a never-seen-before path and future.

PLAYERS. I know—I don’t like it either. I want to feel useful. I am useful.  But I’m no longer a key player, but in a supporting role. My job is to get out of the way enough for the growing talented to hope and shine. I’m not the first baseman, or pitcher or even catcher anymore…I’m a line coach. It’s important to always do an honest and perhaps searing inventory of who we are in the current situation at the current moment, and take a realistic part.

PREPARED LEADERSHIP.  During a post game interview a journalist asked Joe Maddon… “How do you get ready?”  Without a moments hesitation Maddon replied:  “…honestly the other thing is meditation. I love to meditate in the morning. I’m a big believer in meditation. Whether you want to call it prayer or meditation, whatever you want to call it, that to me is very, very helpful to just really get my mind right for the course of the day. So that when you do come to the moments, and you have to make a decision you feel convicted in that decision, and that is based on what you do prior to, during, and then after.”  Great leaders work from a clear, still center and not from the voices, advice, or pressures around them. 

PLAYING FIELD.  It would have been insanely awesome for the Cubs to have won the World Series at Wrigley Field.  Indeed the thousands that gathered there, hundreds of miles away from the actual game, was impressive.  But the final runs that put the Cubs ahead and the final out that sealed the victory was won at Progressive Field in Cleveland.  The game was won in a place where most voices were against them, on the very ground of their opponent.

 I find these lessons compelling in my own life.

 I could go on (and maybe I will at some time) about the players love of the game and one another.  I could go on about their goodness—which is a new dimension in a ‘high-ego” profession. Or how they kept saying they were doing this for those who went before… for people and for a place that was not their own.  I could say more, except it makes emotions roll down my cheeks.

  So this is just a reminder of the godly and goodly things I saw in a young bunch of guys known as the 2016 World Champion Cubs.  And hoping that others might take a look and learn from them too.

In peace and much, much joy,

Kathleen Bronagh Weller

THE CELTIC MONK

  

Leave a comment

Filed under Uncategorized