Thursday, February 21, 2008

Spiritual Entanglement

I am a a dabbler in physics and quantum mechanics, and I've been fascinated by the scientific principle of Quantum Entanglement, I won't go into details suffice to say that the theory implies that electrons are connected to each other and have an effect on each other regardless of their proximity in the universe, i.e. they are entangled with each other's cause and effect relationships. I've coined a phrase in my spiritual vocabulary that goes along with this scientific observation: Spiritual Entanglement.

I've been amazed time and time again at how many things are entangled in my spiritual sojourn. I got up this morning and picked up Thomas Keating's little book The Human Condition. It had been some time since I read this, and I thought it might speak to me in my current Lenten context. The major line that struck me was: "Here we are under the influence of unconscious drives of various intensity that in turn influence our decisions and relationships with other people and foul them up" (24). After reading Keating, I picked up my Methodist Lent devotional and the text for today was Matthew 11:25: "[You have] hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes."

I saw this verse in a new light today. How hidden are the drives and urges that originate from my false self? Very! I'm realizing that my past efforts to become wise and learned only assisted in covering up the reality of the way things are in the Kingdom of God. At this point in my journey, I'm finally sensing that it's not my job to "fix things." It is only my job to demonstrate a life lived in the true-self, i.e. a life reflective of the image of God. It was when I saw this life in the true self demonstrated by fellow members of this community that I was able to drop my nets and follow the contemplative path. Centering Prayer and Lectio Divina are returning me to an age of innocence where I am free to accept reality and be proactive in my true self as opposed to being reactive in my old/false self.

Does this mess with your electrons any?


Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Elea Jane

Christine went into labor Valentine's day at 2:00AM. It snowed on the way driving to the hospital. After fifteen hours of labor (including one hour and five minutes of pushing), our baby was born, Elea Jane Corrigan.

At birth, Elea weighed 6 lbs. 11.6 oz. and was 20 1/2 in. long. She was (and still is) perfectly healthy. After less than an hour, she stopped looking so much like an alien. Within a day or two, she became absolutely beautiful.

The process and product is such a miracle that I don't question God's existence; but because of the design of how it works, I am tempted to question God's sanity. (I think I'm joking.)

At this point I don't have any profound spiritual reflections to make even though I am sure that Elea will have profound spiritual and political implications for us--as far as living Christian spirituality, living in the present moment, living out the fruit of the spirit.

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.

--Paul Corrigan

Saturday, February 16, 2008

More Reflections on Lent

I've thought about how drawn to Lent we, as a community, are, and it came to me that Lent is a season that reflects the core of a contemplative lifestyle.

Lent is silence.

Lent is silence of the "me me me" voice that pervades our culture.

Lent is silence of the clamoring voices that tell us who to be and how to be.

Lent is silence of things that are good but often distracting.

Lent is silence of our false self that so often insinuates itself to the forefront of our relationships with others and our relationship with God.

When we repent, when we "rend our hearts," we uncover that humility and simplicity, that silence in which our souls find God. It is when we turn aside from focusing on so many of the "noisy" things that creep into our lives--cars, clothes, music, "stuff," that our hearts grow close to Him. This is the essence of silence, contemplation, Lent.

Thomas Merton wrote:
To the truly humble man the ordinary ways and customs and habits of men are not a matter for conflict. The saints do not get excited about the things that people eat and drink, wear on their bodies, or hang on the walls of their houses. To make conformity or nonconformity with others in these accidents a matter of life and death is to fill your interior life with confusion and noise. Ignoring all this as indifferent, the humble man takes whatever there is in the world that helps him to find God and leaves the rest aside. (New Seeds of Contemplation)
So as we walk through this season sometimes taken for granted, often ignored, I'm seeking to find the heart of Lent--humility, silence, laying aside what will not help me find God. I hope it will strengthen me as a a follower of Christ.

--Sarah Price

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Morning Thoughts

I wrote this a few weeks ago, but I thought it might be worth sharing today:

This morning I woke from troubling dreams and into troubling, anxious thoughts. Some days anxious thoughts come so easily—fear of loss, of death, of my own mind. Fear is such a constraint, a restraint that keeps me from being wholly myself and at peace with others. But can’t God take even our fears and transform them into something beautiful? Must fears be banished, or must they be confronted and converted with love? Perhaps it is bad theology, but the latter is a metaphor that speaks to me. I would like to believe that my fears can be “cast out” by love in a moment, but so far I haven’t seen love work that way in my life. It seems to me that love meets my fears as they are, rooted in deep places in my heart, and teaches them and works on them till they recognize the lordship of Jesus, till they follow Him.

I prayed this prayer today, and I think it is a good prayer: “God, let my fears be transformed into perfect trust, faith, simplicity. Let your love soak into my fears till they become perfect in your love, marks of my trust in you. Let your peace that passes understanding guard my heart and my mind in Christ Jesus.” I don’t understand the way of God’s peace, but I know that it is real and abiding and a gift that Jesus gives.

This morning I also remembered a verse I loved in my first days as a Christian: “You will keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you because he trusts in you.” (Isaiah 26:3) Despite the gender exclusive language, I still love these words as they are in the NKJV: a mind stayed on God, steadfast in trusting God. A mind stayed on God does not come naturally--although my mind turns to God frequently and instinctively, I have trouble keeping it there, keeping it stayed on God. I suppose that is where recollection comes in--a willful choice to return, again and again and again, to Reality, to love, to the rest that Jesus gives.

--Erica Waters

Monday, February 4, 2008

Reflections on the Emergent Conference

Over the weekend John, Jen, Daniel, and I were able to go to an emergent conference in St. Petersburg. It was the same one that Daniel had posted about a few weeks ago. It was truly an amazing and inspirational time. We were able to connect and converse with some really awesome people. My understanding of the Emergent community up to this point has been one of distant observation, and through this I have come to appreciate most of what I have seen. They appeared to be a very loving community with a lot of excitement and zealousness for an open honest conversation about where the Lord may be drawing each of them. This observation was proven many times over this weekend by the love that I saw permeating the people that I talked to.
The main theme of the weekend was "a sustainable faith," and we got to see many speakers who both challenged and encouraged us to earnestly seek this type of faith. I am not sure what denominations/faith communities I was expecting to see, but whatever ideas I had were a little off. It seemed as if the vast majority of the people who came were involved in home churches or smaller churches with a nondenominational affiliation. Whether through some of the topics of the sessions or the excitement of the people involved, I couldn't help but feel a little out of place after the first day simply because of my affiliation with the Episcopal Church. I don't want to give the impression that anyone was intentionally attacking the people of the organized churches; as I already said, most of the people I talked to were very loving. It was purely an open critique of the inability of the church as an organization to be able to minister on a personal level and sustain close relationships. I personally have experienced both of this things happening in the Episcopal Church.
One of the speakers on Saturday led us through an awesome retelling chronologically of Paul's travels and the churches that he established. It was great to be able to hear the order in which the churches were established and the contextual situations of each one. Over and over again he reminded us of the fact that the early church was non-hierarchical and non-authoritarian. I loved the way in which he spoke of these communities living in an organic way. He spoke of the love that they shared and the way in which they took care of each other. I was, however, troubled by his unspoken assumption that a "building church" can not also live in this way.
On Sunday after church we traveled back to St. Pete for the afternoon. On the way I prayed that I would be able to see past my cynical angst toward some of these people whom we had heard from. That afternoon we went to a session led by Billy Daniel. The topic was Eschatological Economics: Trinity, Liturgy and Capitalism. Billy turned out to be an Episcopalian who had recently finished seminary and was working on his doctorate. He spoke of the beauty of the church and especially of the liturgy and the eucharist. He was unknowingly the instrument God used to answer my prayer. After the session I was able to talk to him, and before I knew it we had talked for over an hour and the conference was ending.
Throughout most of today I have been able to reflect on the weekend as a whole, and after this long intro, I want to share this reflection. I know that the animosity that I felt was completely unintentional and came purely from these people's excitement and enthusiasm about this new form of church. What they have found is enabling them to connect to each other and God on a much deeper level. I couldn't help but be reminded of our group and this endeavor that we are undertaking. For most of us this journey of a mystical life is just beginning, and I was reminded of the excitement and enthusiasm that I'm sure we are all filled with. I long to be grounded in Christ's love and have his hands guiding my actions. Through the excitement of this new thing that we are experiencing, I feel strongly that first and foremost our call is love. No matter what theological or ideological differences I may have with others, I can and should, with Christ's help, love them unconditionally. For me, those spiritual practices that we are helping each other to develop are the tools that God is using to teach us this love.

-Matt Addis

Article on Spirituality and Academics

I've posted an article on integrating spirituality into academics in secular or multi-religious contexts. Here's a link: "(Re)Integrating Spirituality, Breaking Academic Taboo." Thanks to Dr. Cotton for reading it and giving insightful comments on an earlier draft. I am considering trying to publish it; if anyone else has feedback to offer, I welcome it as well.

--Paul Corrigan

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