Tuesday, March 13, 2018

A Lenten Walk in God's Creation

This post marks just about a full year since my move to Kauai.  The Labyrinth at Maha'ulepu has been arguably the most single significant reason for that move, not withstanding the "Dream" Labyrinth still out there as the next generation of this modality.
I hope to post a few photo's to aid other seekers to find this memorial labyrinth on the remote SE shore on Kauai.
Since this labyrinth is not on any official maps of the South Coast one must navigate off of the existing points of reference.  Specifically You can hike along the bluffs and beaches East of the Grand Hyatt for 3+ miles until arriving near Kamala Point.  You have just walked past the Labyrinth when you reach this point(just look Mauka).
You can also drive out the cane road(dirt/rock), from the end of the paved portion of Poipu Rd, following all signs and warnings.  When you reach Kawailoa Bay(the East end of Maha'ulepu sandy beach)  you park and walk out along the bluff to Kamala Point.  It is also possible to park about halfway out (at CJM Stables) to cut the longer hike to a more leisurely distance.
Eiother way you get there I pray you enjoy and honor this wonderful part of God's Creation.  Pax Christi! RV

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Recollection ~ Quiet ~ Union

This posting is an excerpt from Richard Rohr's weekly summary of his meditations.  I found this particular piece to be very special in two ways.  In the first consideration I just love the poetic way that Mirabai writes and I'm not a particular great fan of poetry, but she is special in her phraseology.
Secondly, my approach to Labyrinth modalities in the past few years seems to have a correspondence to this particular message of St Teresa of Avila.  As I read this I could envision one reflecting on the "Prayer of Recollection" on the entry of your labyrinth.  And the "Prayer of Quiet" within your center.  And finally the "Prayer of Union" on your Joyful Exit into the world.  Enjoy! Pax Christi!  Roberto


In CAC's recent issue of Oneing, Mirabai Starr reflects on the three stages of prayer taught by Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) in her book The Way of Perfection. She invites us into deepening intimacy with God:
Teresa names the first stage the Prayer of Recollection. When we make the effort to set aside time to be still and turn inward, we gather all our faculties to a single point of concentration and invite the presence of the sacred to enter us. . . . In this state, we may find that what the Buddhists call "monkey mind" continues to chatter for a while, but gradually things settle down and a kind of spaciousness begins to open between the thoughts, and that's where the Holy One slips in to sit beside us.
The Prayer of Recollection involves our active participation. It requires discipline, concentration, and a willingness to endure both mental turmoil and spiritual aridity. It is an act of purification; by scouring the vessel of our souls with the practice of prayer, we empty ourselves so that the Beloved may fill us.
At that point, we may enter the Prayer of Quiet. Now that the labor of recollection has cleansed us, we are ready to receive the infusion of divine light. This is a state of grace. . . . Once we have gathered our senses and intellect, a feeling of deep peace and quietude may wash over us like a warm wave. This is an exceedingly delicate experience. . . . We cannot manufacture or manipulate this stage of prayer. We can only make ourselves ready to receive it when it comes and, in the words of the late meditation teacher Stephen Levine, we "hold on tightly and let go lightly." [1]
In Teresa's final stage, the Prayer of Union, any sense of an individualized self slips away. The soul merges with the Divine, like a drop of water into the boundless sea. The Beloved, who, as it turns out, has longed for the lover as fervently as she has desired him, makes her one with him. The Prayer of Union is usually fleeting, but its impact endures. Each time God blesses us with these unitive experiences, we are forever transformed. We are likely to still bumble through the human condition, behaving unskillfully at times and with more grace at others, but with each taste of union we identify a little less with the individual personality and more with our essential unity with the Divine. We are less likely to take passing circumstances as seriously as we used to. Our values shift from acquiring security to serving the One through being of service in the world.
The contemplative life is not a matter of achieving some artificial state of perfection available only to the spiritual elite, who glide past the obstacles that throw off the rest of us. It is a matter of being so fully present to the moment that we cannot help but catch a glimpse of God in all that is. "Which of my blessings," the Holy One asks in the Qur'an, "will you deny?" [2]
Teresa of Avila is one of the great advocates and models of the power of simply sitting for a few minutes each day in silence and stillness, and striking up a conversation with the One who is waiting to love us unconditionally, the One who will never leave us, the One who is not different from the essence of who we truly are. [3]
"I find it especially significant that in her writing Mirabai incorporates thoughts from the Christian but also the Buddhist and Muslim traditions"  RV

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Free To Be All We Can Be

Recently I have met someone who speaks my language and seems to see life with very similar eyes and spiritual focus.  There are many of us out there, I’m sure, and prayerfully the number is growing even as it seems the daily world is falling apart in front of us.  The really cool thing is to realize that the path is really very simple and it is an inside job.  
It has been a great week on many fronts and it has not been devoid of problems but they have been resolved for the most part.  A loving community helps.  I have greatly Loved having my children home from parts afar for the celebration of our family and the birth of our nation.  This nation still has a great Manifest Destiny in its future but not in the form it has been used in the past.  I know in a past post I mentioned a book by Marianne Williamson titled “Healing The Soul of America”.  I would like to encourage the reading of her work again.   We are Blessed but one by one must realize that with great blessing comes great responsibility.  I hope and pray that  I may be able to remain vertical long enough to see my children pick up the torch!   
I close this brief post with a quote I found to really encapsulate my mission in this life!  

“My presence here is to provide services for joining in community… each of us elevates each others spirits and this is the gift of giving and receiving grace. It is an honor to offer these services and products for enjoyment, healing, and connection.” Rev Nancy Moore   from the website ArtSpiritMedicine.com   Pax Et Bonum! Roberto

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Mercy! Me!

The link above will connect you with Richard's CAC website.  Below I have reproduced this particular meditation( highlights in red are my addition) to make just a few observations.  The past month has seen my sojourning about Scandinavia in search of their ancient past especially related to the modality of labyrinth utilization.  My feelings are reported in the adjacent  post but the net result somewhat supports my thought that labyrinths are just "what you make of them".  As a tool for contemplation they can be beautiful but so can many other modalities, a beautiful sunset on the beach for instance.  The highlighted sections of the post below I believe really appropriately point to the connection between authentic contemplation and the embracement of Mercy.
It seems that our ancestors, the First Nations Peoples all over the world  had a handle on this idea.  Of course there is the issue of survival and meeting the basic needs for civilization that has influenced how merciful and peaceful peoples have been.  It is a goal to strive toward and I believe that in today's world we have a transcending soul rising up which will make us truly "The Body of Christ" and Mercy and Love will Win.  Lord Have Mercy!  Pax Christi!  RV

Richard Rohr's Daily Meditation

Two red and black insects protecting an egg sack.

Week 1

The Ark of the Covenant
Monday, June 27, 2016

In his book The Soul's Journey into God, Franciscan theologian Bonaventure uses a most wonderful Old Testament metaphor to describe the contemplative mind; he says it is like the Ark of the Covenant housed within Israel's temple. [1] Exodus 25 describes in great detail how the Ark was to be built. It was first of all a kind of traveling temple so the Israelites could carry God around with them, wherever they went, until they finally settled the Ark in Solomon's permanent temple. But it didn't really hold God, which would have been idolatrous. The Ark of the Covenant was instead the "place-holder" for God--a brilliant metaphor!
The open space above the Ark of the Covenant was rightly called the "Throne of Mercy." Two golden cherubs protected the empty space, directly facing each other. "In that space," God says, "I will meet you" (Exodus 25:22). Mercy multiplies inside such open and free space. This is the work of contemplation--"guarding your mind and your heart" (Philippians 4:7) so that a Larger Presence can show itself. Such silence and emptiness is open to infinite horizons and True Transcendence in the way that nothing else quite is. Words always whittle God into small parts that we can seemingly grasp and understand. Read Max Picard's classic book, The World of Silence, where he masterfully describes this phenomenon. [2]
The golden cherubs protect an infinite opening, a silent unknowing that is a different kind of knowing altogether, a fully open space that only God can fill and inhabit, never our own small ideas and passing feelings. It is in this eternal, endless space where Yahweh rightly says to Israel, "I will meet you." Every other playing field is far too small.
Protecting infinite, empty, and merciful space is precisely what you do in contemplative practice. Most of what we call thinking is narcissistic reaction to the moment. Moment by moment, you're judging things and labeling them, whether they attract or repel you. That really isn't thinking, but self-centered reactions and the stating of your preferences to yourself. It takes work to return to the Ark of the Covenant, the placeholder space within you that is quiet, that doesn't get caught up in all your commentaries and emotional evaluations, up and down, in and out, with or against. Some kind of contemplative practice will allow you to watch yourself doing all of this and notice how futile it all is. In contemplation, your inner witness is still, like the golden cherubs, and lets everything else float by. It observes and learns from your thoughts and sensations, but it doesn't attach to any of them. It lets go and lets go and lets go.
This takes years of practice, until letting go becomes an art form. You learn not to be so opinionated, not to be emotionally dragged up and down, but to stay in this quiet place that watches everything come and go with calm equanimity. When you learn how to stay here, you'll recognize you are not your thinking and you are not your feelings. What you were thinking even an hour ago, you're not thinking anymore. Therefore it is not you. Your thinking is essentially unstable. Yet most people think they are their thinking! Such a life is inherently insecure. Many people in contemporary secular society have little solid ground on which to stand, to create a mature and happy life.

Gateway to Silence
Teach me how to see.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A Franciscan labyrinth in Ashland, Oregon


Last evening my friend and brother in Christ, John, returned after a 3 week visit to Sweden and Denmark.  We made the trip as John needed to connect with his relatives and his memories of youth.  This was a very nice trip and, for me, a very good exposure to the Scandinavian history, culture, and path at this point in time.  Another point of interest for me was the large number of labyrinths present, especially on the coastal points of travel.  This led me to the theory that perhaps the early Viking travels, themselves or perhaps their captives or slaves, may have been instrumental in the dispersion of that medium throughout the world.  To this point I will post here, in addition to the latest walk of the Franciscan Labyrinth, a few of the many labyrinth shots we took on the trip.
This is a paver labyrinth in the courtyard of a bicycle dealership in Vasteras, Sweden.  This is a typical pattern from this area (9 or 12 instead of 7 circuits in the classical).  This one is patterned after the next photo which is very hard to still make out as it is near an ancient Viking ceremonial ground and not so well maintained.

It seems as though most of theses labyrinths were used in random ceremonies, quite often by fishermen wishing for a good catch.  Magic seemed to be the goal verses meditation.  And to be honest I can not really see Viking warriors themselves walking a pattern like this (especially to "get a girl").....The next few shots were taken on the island of Gotland off the coast of Sweden.
 On the road to the lighthouse
Scratched into the sand within a church ruin in Visby (I did not do it)
 An unusual pattern in the pavers in front of the cathedral in Visby.
 This sign is describing, in Swedish, a hedge labyrinth in Stockholm.  A pretty nice one but somewhat overgrown so it is almost a maze.
 This is the inside shot of the center of another hedge maze (true maze this time).  The pathway is again pretty tall and the inside is patterned after the label on a Tuborg beer bottle (not prehistoric :0)
 This is the entrance to the Tuborg Maze

This is the first 12 circuit classical labyrinth we encountered arriving at Visby on Gotland.

I am very happy that we made this trip and the ancient roots of the Viking settlements were a treat to visit and ponder upon the drive that lead peoples to travel such harsh seas in search of new lands.  Perhaps with respect for all the ancients who searched out new lands we can in these latter days  search out the new lands and dimensions of creation within ourselves.  Learning to realize that we and all of creation are connected and can best survive by serving each other, including Mother Earth.  Pax!  Roberto

Friday, March 25, 2016

A View From The Bottom!


On this Good Friday Richard Rohr has posted a timely thought for the season.  It really is worth a read and a contemplation.  Please consider doing so.  Last evening a group of us gathered and reflected on the message of Servanthood  and Compassion as is encapsulated in those last hours before the crucifixion.  It was one of the most meaningful services of which I have ever been a part.  Thank You to my Brothers and Sisters in Christ for being in my life and showing me the face of Jesus!  Pax Christi! RV  

Monday, March 14, 2016

And The Next Step Is??!

So...Here I am, back on the East side of my pond again.  The Spirit That Heals Week is over again and has been a great experience once more.  Met some more great people, saw some great sights in my Island in the Stream.  The Dream Labyrinth will surely come to be in that beautiful place.
A couple of sights really stood out and may be the location of the future adventure.  It becomes obvious that my original scale, while doable, is about 30% too small.  The way things grow over here we need a larger growing strip by about 50%, 12' instead of 8'.  I was able to visit almost all of the Botanical gardens available while on Island this time and the plant list will need to be adjusted one more time, this will be an ongoing process...

Besides the beauty of Kauai, The special nature of this place to me, The microcausmic nature of this palette as a working pattern for Peace and reconciliation for the World stage, this is a good place to post the following statement  which I have titled Theology 101.  It beautifully describes the interconnectedness and flow of All Creation as an Aspect of God:

Who is this God?
For both Jesus and Paul,
God is an Infinite Flow--which we eventually call Trinity. God is much more a verb than a noun. All things exist inside of that Flow, come out from that Flow, and return to that Flow. Only for a while are we allowed to choose to act from within this Flow consciously, freely, and happily; or alternatively, to resist it. The very nature of Being is communion, infinite generosity, and unhindered giving and receiving between three, which then becomes the template for the whole universe, from atoms to galaxies.
~Richard Rohr, DM 3/14/16

In addition to an expanded/revised plant list it seems appropriate to start a list of aphorisms, inspirational quotes and their authors for potential use in the "Dream". My first draft follows:

Just as I have Loved you, So you must Love each other!   Jesus

You are not a drop in the ocean - you are the entire ocean in a drop   Rumi
Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field.  I’ll meet you there.  Rumi

Peace begins with a smile!  St Teresa of Calcutta

Preach the Gospel always, And if necessary, use words!    St Teresa of Calcutta

Live Simply So others may simply live.  M Gandhi +

Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace!  Buddha

An eye for an eye only ends up making the whole world blind.  M Gandhi

Act justly, Love mercy,and walk humbly with your God.  Micah 6:8

If I, your teacher, have washed your feet, You too, must wash each other’s feet.  Jesus

Maybe you are searching among the branches for what only appears in the roots.  Rumi

It is our Light, not our darkness, that frightens us…..We were born to manifest the Glory of God within us.  N Mandela

Before you embark on a journey of revenge...Dig two graves.  Confucius

Service above Self!  Rotary International

We can do no great things...Only small things with great Love.  St Teresa of Calcutta

It is better to light one candle than to curse the darkness,  The Christophers

Never give a sword to a man who can’t dance.  Confucius

You have spent your whole life with elegant speeches...For some time you should walk in the gardens of silence.  Rumi

In the Beginning was the Word!  St John

If we are to pray and mean “Your Kingdom come”  we must be able to say “our kingdom go”.  R.Rohr

If you can not see God in all you can not see God at all.  Yogi Bhajan

It does not take many words to speak the truth.  Chief Joseph

You can not remove the plank you are standing upon.  R. Rohr of St Francis

Lord, Make me an instrument of Your peace.  St Francis of Assisi

Why did Moses, the Buddha, Jesus and Mohammed cross the road...To get to the Other.  Brian McLaren

Mankind has for millennia lived off of Mother Earth’s interest --We are now living off of her principle. Chief Phil Lane

Love is the bridge between You and Everything.  Rumi

Thousands of candles can be lighted from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened.  Happiness never decreases by being shared.  Buddha

I have found the paradox, that if you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt, only more Love.  St Teresa of Calcutta

Don’t Gain the World and Lose Your Soul.  Wisdom Is Better Than Silver or Gold.  Bob Marley

The day the power of Love overrules the love of Power, the world will know Peace.  M Gandhi/ Jimi Hendrix

Imagine….all the people living life in peace.  You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.  I hope someday you’ll join us , and the world will be as one.  John Lennon

You cannot shake hands with a clinched fist.  Indira Gandhi

There is no path to peace.   Peace Is the path.  M Gandhi

See Yourself in others,  Then whom can you hurt?  What harm can you do?  The Buddha

More to come! Pax Christi! RV