Monday, December 31, 2007

Google Docs Account

I've set up a google docs account for posting community related articles written by us. Feel free to upload to it. The email and password to log on are the same as for this blog. The url to the site it:

Nothing other than a "Welcome" note is posted yet, but I plan on uploading an article or two before too long.

-- Paul Corrigan

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Centering Prayer

Do not store up treasures in heaven where moths destroy and thieves steal. -- Jesus
Why do you spend your money on what's not bread and your labor on what doesn't satisfy? -- Isaiah
As Christians, it seems, we are all as perfect and holy as God in the empty center of our true selves. In the ground of our being, God is our apophatic reality. In the center, we are in God and God is in us. Our kataphatic lives, however, are the messes we see (or perhaps are blind to). The purpose of centering prayer--it seems to me--is to bring the inner and outer realities (the apophatic and kataphatic) into contact with each other. The true self cannot be corrupted by this, but the mess we live can be gradually drawn towards unification, defragmentation, and purity.

I'm not sure how the verses above tie into this reflection, but I think they do: something about priorities and the economy of time.

-- Paul Corrigan

Monday, December 17, 2007

Community Activities

Dear Community, I asked Paul for permission to post these paragraphs below from the email he sent out to us yesterday morning. They are a rich example of the kind of intiative and caring investment that I hope we will develop more of--Rickey Cotton

"A number of us have been discussing a few community events we could hold over winter break, so I thought that I would synthesize some of what's been said and email it to you all to see what the level of interest is and to see if we can set some things down on a calendar.

"Here are the two (related) ideas: (1) A week (or two week) discussion online. We would pick a topic (specific or broad) and make some "guidelines" for contributing. We could either do this through email using the "reply to all" button (which, by the way, is how you should respond to this email); or we could host the discussion on the blog (which is what it is for anyway). Please respond, suggest a topic, if you would like to, or dates for when to have the conversation. (The idea behind setting a beginning and an ending date is that it will facilitate more focused contribution than otherwise). Also, feel free to put out "guidelines" for suggestions. For example, I'll suggest one: Over the course of the week, we could each aim to contribute at least three comments about a paragraph in length.

"(2) A community meeting. Let's meet some time for communion, prayer, and dialogue. The online discussion above could either flow into or out of this event (or happen independently). According to what schedules I've synthesized so far of when people will be in Lakeland (assuming that is where we will hold the event), the window of opportunity is Dec 28 to Jan 3. Please send suggestions for dates. The event and discussion about it is and should be multi-authored (even though I'm sending this email). So please, hit the "reply to all" button (each person thereafter hitting the "reply to all" button on the latest email in the discussion) and let's talk about these ideas.

"God bless. Looking forward to some sweet prayer, discussion, and fellowship in the spirit."

Paul Corrigan

Friday, December 14, 2007

Keating & Freeman Conference

This past weekend ( 12.7.07--12.9.07)Rickey and I went to a conference in Sarasota. The theme was peace. Fr. Keating and Fr. Freeman spoke together. (Do you remember they are both Catholic priests, but they each have their own group with a specific approach to Christian mediation?) The whole event was deeply meaningful to me personally. I was encouraged and strengthened. It was significant to me that both men of God were received with honor and respect. It was unifying to share meditation periods together. (We prayed once Friday evening before the talks began. We prayed three times on Saturday and twice on Sunday.) Rickey returned to Lakeland on Saturday for SEU graduation and missed 2/3 of the day. He particularly missed the talk Fr. Freeman gave on education and contemplative spirituality. If you'll give me room, I'll try to say with honesty that Fr. Freeman described Rickey's philosophy and practice. (Our friends gently joked with him about what he had missed, but together they said he would have agreed.) It was meaningful to me for a whole room of contemplative folks to hear what is vitally important in education being articulated clearly from a respected voice. He pulled things together by saying a proper view and practice of education cuts across fear. If we can cease being fearful, we can cease being violent. (Be assured I am leaving out a significant amount of nuance.)

At lunch on Saturday, a stranger joined our group for conversation. She was particularly interested in how we shared the contemplative life. We all spoke articulately about the goals and specific teaching sessions we (as Representatives of Contemplative Outreach of Tampa Bay) made available to our larger church communities. We told about the importance of retreats and how difficult they were to finance. I briefly mentioned Rickey's investment in students at a Christian university. So when Rickey was introduced to her on Sunday, she had a whole set of questions ready for him. It turns out she is the director for a charitable trust that has funded both groups, CO--Contemplative Outreach and WCCM--World Community for Christian Meditation. It's interesting, but we don't know what it means.

Fr. Freeman spoke about us all being monks. "A monk," he said, "is one who seeks God." But we must realize deep spirituality is not about withdrawing. It is about integrating wisdom into every part of our lives. He closed with a quote from the beatitudes; "The pure of heart shall see God." Purity of heart is what we need to cultivate. Amen

Anna Cotton

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Freedom to Love

Paul tells the Galatian church to use the freedom they have in Christ to love each other as they would want to be loved, which fulfills the entire Law (vss. 13-14). Christ's freedom allows us to love each other across racial, gender, denominational boundaries and even to love our enemies. A few chapters back, Paul had told his readers that Christ destroyed all of these barriers, and there is “neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor free,” etc. (Gal. 3:28-29).

It is so difficult at times to love each other because the flesh and the Spirit fight against each other, but if Christians are led by the Holy Spirit, we are free to truly love (vss. 17-18). It is very tempting to think that freedom means to be able to do whatever one wants, but Paul's idea of freedom is being free to love, to serve—freedom from the selfish illusions of one's own false self. God is love (1 John 4:8) so we can only love through Him, by the help of His Spirit. Love is not an emotion or a nice feeling, though emotions often go with it; one way I have come to speak of love is as an absolute and unconditional acceptance of the other, as shown in the complete and perfect unity within the Godhead. In our case, God accepts us into His kingdom in spite of our sin and shortcomings; let us find freedom to love others as He has loved us.

Practically, it seems to me that love starts with those who are closest to us. We can't love some vague idea of the Church or the poor or any other abstract category; we have to love the people of the Church that are sitting right beside us, our families and friends, the people we're arguing with and the ones that annoy us. I am reminded of my need for the Spirit to give me freedom to love in such a selfless way as Christ himself has done.

--John Orzechowski

Blog Archive