My first thought this morning was about the unfolding of this experiment in holding space. I sit in wonder, awe and gratitude as I witness the men and women who have been coming forth to gather in community for meditation and contemplation. From the comments and the looks on their faces, I sense that they (we) are finding space in which their long-held spiritual needs are finding their expression and perhaps a small portion of nourishment. I sense that they (we) are feeling a sense of validation for the truth that they have held inward for perhaps many a year. The specific “format” for our gatherings is unfolding in a very natural and organic way and I can only sit in wonder at the gift each of these folks are in the world and will continue to be as they (we) maintain that commitment to nurture their deepest and highest truths. I am truly humbled to be witness to the liberation and freedom that is unfolding right before our eyes.
This then brings my thoughts to the journey that has brought me to this place. It has been a strange and magical journey and at times, I have felt a little like Frodo, charged with the protection and proper placement of “the ring”. When I first learned of the contemplative path and had the magnificent opportunity to learn the sacred treasures of the Christian mystical tradition, I felt an overwhelming call to share this with other – specifically in the context of my ministry at the Newman Center (Catholic Campus Ministry). I am so grateful for the many opportunities I had to share these tools, especially with the men and women who journeyed toward reception of the sacraments through the RCIA (an adult initiatory path in the Catholic Church for welcoming new members). As this work unfolded, I began to see the fruits of contemplation being born out in the lives of those who had participated in this process. At the same time, the “sins of the institution” began to become more and more obvious to me as the priest sexual abuse scandal erupted and other hypocracies were revealed. In my naivity and arrogance, I was convinced that the contemplative path would be the source of healing for the “broken” institution and sought to reform the Church from within. It goes without saying that this was quite simply a ridiculous notion – who was I to think I could reform an institution that has basically remained unchanged since the time of Constantine?
Realizing these failed attempts, I then sought to reform the institution from outside….duh….another failure! Then, I pursued reforming the institution through involvement with a “reform” church. Ha Ha What this only proved to me is that an institution is an institution by whatever name you call it!
As all of these experiences filtered through my being and I allowed myself to be open to the healing power of the Divine and to seeing more clearly through God’s eyes, rather than through my own limited perception, what I realized is that the contemplative path, while a potential complement to our religious expression, is truly a unique and parallel path. Specifically in regards to the Catholic Christian faith in which I was raised, I discovered that while there are places of overlap between the contemplative and institutional experiences, they are really two unique paths that developed along side eachother. What this realization did for me was to release me from my own dualistic perspective that placed spirituality and religion in conflict with eachother. I can now stand in the truth of the path to which I have been led and fed while allowing the institutional path to exist in its own right.
All I can do it sit in rapt wonder at how this journey has unfolded and in gratitude over the peace and clarity I feel in this place. While I realize the journey is never over, I offer a sigh of relief as I deposit the ring of reform that I have been carrying into the sacred fire and turn my eyes toward home. Thank you for accompanying me on this journey!
Click for the Led Zeppelin video, Ramble On! \”Ramble On\” on You Tube!