Reflection on God is My Portion

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” (Lamentations 3:24. NRSV).

Everything we seem to want must be the biggest, fastest, the most up to date thing. When we eat at a restaurant, we look for the biggest meal that will give us the most pleasure. In and of themselves, these are not terrible. On the contrary, the hunger and desire for something more means that we have more room for God than we think we do.

Jeremiah was writing about a terrible time. Everything he has known to be what it was, was gone. He and the people of Judah were at their wits end. They were at their rock bottom moment. Jeremiah was writing from his grieving heart. All was lost. What more could anyone do?

As Benedictines, we live a life of continuous prayer. Liturgical prayer, Lectio Divina, personal and intercessory prayer, and of course, contemplative prayer. It is through a life of prayer that we seek union with God praying for a purity of heart. A heart that wants God and nothing more. We are hungry for God. We come with St. Benedict and The Rule with “My soul [that] has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord…” (Psalm 84:1).

We are living through some very difficult times. Everything around us has been up heaved and turned upside down. Our hearts and souls have are longing for something that will bring us good news, and a return to what we remember. We do not have things the way they used to be. God, our portion who is all we really need is present in that hunger and desire. God is reaching out to love us and be close to us; to transform and renew us. This is the moment of contemplative prayer and living into the mysticism of God’s life-giving opportunities.

“And first of all, whatever good work you begin to do, beg of Him with most earnest prayer to perfect it, that He who has deigned to count us among His own may not at anytime be grieved by our evil deeds. For we must always serve Him with the good things He has given us,,,,” (Benedict’s Rule for Monasteries, p.1).

Are you listening for that desire and longing in your heart for God to be your portion?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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Reflection on Darkness and Light

If I say, “Surely the darkness will cover me, and the light around me turn to night,” Darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day; darkness and light to you are both alike. (Psalm 139:10-11. The Book of Common Prayer, p.794).

I once heard the story of a man who served in the U.S. Navy during World War II. His ship was destroyed and sank in the Pacific in a battle with Japanese forces. He found himself in the ocean with debris from the ship, and many of his shipmates. Some were dead. Others were wounded. Others were trying to stay alive. As he and many of the men struggled to grab on to anything that would help them stay a float, they discovered a shark fin swimming their way. The individual who told the story was one of the very fortunate survivors. Later in his life, he told us that while he was in the midst of the life and death struggle, he was praying the words of Psalm 139:10-11.

My readers have read the many times I have written about the importance of searching for union with God in the here and now. Whatever is happening to us at this moment, whether we are enjoying the warm clear air, holding a new born baby, cleaning the garage, sitting in a room, or at the point of death; God is there with us. Jesus told us in Matthew 28:20 “And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

God may or may not bring us exactly what we think we need at this moment. But, God is with us in God’s Grace and Love without exception.

The contemplative person, lives in an awareness of God in our times of silence and solitude; as well as our times of working, suffering, loving, enjoying or crying. We can acknowledge God while we butter bread while praying in thanksgiving for the sun, the rain, the wheat, the flour, the cows, the milk, the baker, the grocer, and the means of how we obtained the bread and butter. As we do such things, we are living the presence of God in that very moment. In moments of darkness, in our struggle and questioning, God is interacting with us in our uncertainty.

As we continue to live through these difficult times, let us remember to look for and respond to God’s loving embrace with arms that are forever outstretched on the hard wood of the Cross.

“Let us open our eyes to the light that can change us to the likeness of God. Let our ears be alert to the stirring of his voice crying to us every day: if today, you should hear his voice, do not harden your heart.” (The Benedictine Handbook, p.11).

Where do you see God shining God’s light in your darkness?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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Reflection on A Prayerful Heart

Give ear, O Lord to my prayer, and attend to the voice of my supplications. In the time of my trouble I will call upon you, for you will answer me. (Psalm 86:6-7. The Book of Common Prayer, p.710).

The great Desert Father Antony once wrote, “Just as fish die of they stay too long out of water, so the monks who loiter outside their cell or pass their time with men of the world lose the intimacy of inner peace. So like a fish going to the sea, we must hurry to reach our cell, for fear that if we delay outside we shall lose our interior watchfulness.”

Christine Valters Paintner in her book Desert Fathers and Mother’s: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings wrote, “The Greek word nepsis means “watchfulness.” It refers to a kind of calm vigilance in daily life, staying attentive and aware to the inner movements of the heart, watching one’s thoughts, and noticing patterns that arise. This inner attention, conducted with compassion, is the grace of the desert way.” (Pages 8-9).

The cell that Antony is writing about is our hearts. The heart in Christian spirituality is “the whole of ourselves.” The Psalmist is writing to ask God for help in times of trouble. The Psalmist knows the troubles that have been, and those ahead require God’s help to work through them.

We are living through some very difficult times. The coronavirus along with the excessive violence has everyone including me experiencing what seems like endless pain and confusion. We are inundated by the fast paced media that is bombarding our sensory awareness to overload.

The Psalmist and the Desert Monastics tell us to return to our cells (our hearts) and spend time in the presence of God in silence and solitude to reclaim our true sense of self. Contemplative prayer and mysticism calls us to embrace the peace of God that leads us to an awareness of what is really happening with in the heart of who we are. Let us remember that Jesus is walking with us through the events of the present time; and the Holy Spirit is teaching us from deep within our hearts. We do not have to understand anything. What we must do is let go of trying to determine a conclusion to the ongoing experience of God’s extravagant love that is transforming us “from glory into glory” in the here and now.

“How much more important, then, to lay our petitions before the God of all with the utmost humility and devotion.”

“The function of times of prayer, then, is not to have us say prayers; it is to enable our lives to become a prayer outside of prayer, to become ‘pure of heart,’ one with God,,,,” (The Rule of Benedict: A Spirituality for the 21st Century, Joan Chittister, p.132).

Are you setting time aside in your life to listen to God within the whole of yourself?

Amen.

Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB

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