Friday, June 5, 2009

Divine Path

I was reading Cynthia Bourgeault's book on Centering Prayer this morning (note to self: re-read this book every six months to get back on the path!) and I re-read her explanation about the difference between Centering Prayer (surrender meditation) and the other types of meditation (concentration and awareness).

What struck me about the reading this time through was that all important reminder (and I can still see Cynthia's hand gestures as she explains this) that it's all about letting go and RETURNING to God. I love that notion of returning, and so I went to my pathways folder this morning, looking for an image of a path that returns, that turns back on itself.

And browsing through these images I noticed that I have a lot of them, that I love the path images, and looking at them really moves me. But I also noticed that NONE of them appear to turn back on themselves: paths are always about moving you from one place to the next, about going somewhere, although that somewhere may just be a very large circle, taking you through and past a series of places -- often lovely places, or useful places -- but back to wherever you began. They may have some unusual or intriguing curves -- and I noticed all this in my file of river and stream images as well -- but the intent is always to keep moving forward, not to turn back.

Which means that in Centering Prayer and the spiritual life, as each of us is living into that path, returning is NEVER about turning back. It's about getting back on the path toward our destiny, which is always ahead of us, never behind us, even though where we're heading is really back to our source and beginning. And at the same time, the Divine Source IS the path we travel...

I suspect this all sounds very confusing; it certainly feels confusing, and a little foggy, like this picture. But at the same time I find it reassuring -- and maybe that's why I love the path images, and they make me feel a little weepy. Because I like knowing there IS a path; that others have walked it; that even on foggy days, if I step off (and I'm paying attention) my feet will be able to feel the difference; that it will always be moving forward; that I will always be walking with -- and at the same time, closer to -- the Divine; and that I always have that choice, when my mind fills up with distractions, to just sit down, let them go, and return to God.


Kimberly Mason said...

I tried to leave a comment last night, I had an idea that my computer wouldn't put it through, so I copied it and saved it just in case it was lost. It seems to me that the Rumi verses apply today just as well:

That first Cor. verse has always fascinated me. I suspect that by the time I get the answer to all that it really means, I will already know all that it really means. 0;o)

The beauty IS breathtaking. I think when I struggle most is when I allow myself to be pulled away from gawking at the beauty and rhythm of God's creation. When I'm not busy looking outward and connecting is when I tend to turn my eyes inward, to focus on myself and how I'm feeling or how I may look to another. That separation is lonely, frightening...ha, and reminds me of the Rumi poem (good golly I've become a Rumi-nator!):

Song of the Reed

Listen to the story told by the reed,
of being separated.

"Since I was cut from the reedbed,
I have made this crying sound.

Anyone apart from someone he loves
understands what I say.

Anyone pulled from a source
longs to go back.

At any gathering I am there,
mingling in the laughing and grieving,

a friend to each, but few
will hear the secrets hidden

within the notes. No ears for that.
Body flowing out of spirit,

spirit up from body: no concealing
that mixing. But it's not given us

to see the soul. The reed flute
is fire, not wind. Be that empty."

Hear the love fire tangled
in the reed notes, as bewilderment

melts into wine. The reed is a friend
to all who want the fabric torn

and drawn away. The reed is hurt
and salve combining. Intimacy

and longing for intimacy, one
song. A disastrous surrender

and a fine love, together. The one
who secretly hears this is senseless.

A tongue has one customer, the ear.
A sugarcane flute has such effect

because it was able to make sugar
in the reedbed. The sound it makes

is for everyone. Days full of wanting,
let them go by without worrying

that they do. Stay where you are
inside such a pure, hollow note.

Every thirst gets satisfied except
that of these fish, the mystics,

who swim a vast ocean of grace
still somehow longing for it!

No one lives in that without
being nourished every day.

But if someone doesn't want to hear
the song of the reed flute,

it's best to cut conversation
short, say good-bye, and leave.


And that last part of the poem, "...if someone doesn't want to hear..." I'm not very good at giving up, letting go, allowing others their own path while I turn away from them on, lots of deep thinking on a stormy evening!! said...

That is just magical.
It's as if every line is a work of art... I want to illustrate them all.


"Returning is never turning back".....oh, I love that phrase. This is a rich, meaningful post. Thank you!

Anonymous said...

My pastor preached about unity and diversity last Sunday, talking about how differing opinions on ways to do things keeps us, more or less, on a straighter path. That without this diversity of thought, we'd be leaning only one way all the time and we'd end up never getting anywhere, just going around in a circle all the time.

Coming from the type of Christian background that I do, it amazes me every time I hear him speak like that. There was one way, and it was GAWD'S way. I remember very clearly the first time I heard him say that the Buddhist's had a different path to the same God, that his path was right for him, but their path seemed right for them also. I nearly stood up and cheered!

I'm off to pick my parent's up from the ship, I'll wave as I pass by. *g*