Reflection on The Wheat

Grain of Wheat


Jesus said, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified.  Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.  Those who love their life lose it, and those who hate their life in this world will keep this world will keep it for eternal life.  Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am , there will my servant be also.  (See John 12:20-33 NRSV).

A few weeks ago, I went to a doctor’s appointment.  There was a lot of snow and ice around.  I had to park on the side of the street.  When I got out of my car and walked with my cane, I was stopped by the sight of a lot of snow and ice pilled up between the street and the sidewalk.  This was a very challenging moment for me, because I am on the Autistic Spectrum.  I found myself stuck in place, because I was afraid of the next step I might take.  Just then, a gentleman came along and offered to help me.  The man held me in a loving embrace, and helped me over the snow mound to the dry sidewalk on the other side.   I embraced him and said a relieving thank you.  God had come to my aid through the generosity of this stranger.  It was a very humbling experience.  It was also a teaching moment for me.  If I had remained there by myself, I would have been stuck there.  If I had tried to walk without help, I could have slipped and gotten hurt.  It was when the man reached out for me, that I had to let go and let him help me.

“Abba John gave this advice, “Watching means to sit in the cell and always be mindful of God.  This is what is meant by, ‘I was on watch and God came to me.” (Matthew 25:36)  (Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings Annotated and Explained by Christiane Valters Paintner, p.11).

In Desert spirituality the cell is a place in our interior self in which we encounter God with the best and worst of ourselves.   It can be as St. Romuald writes “Sit in your cell as in Paradise.”  It can also be an inferno.  When we see the worst of ourselves in our cells, the best thing is let God work through it with us.  If we try to escape, it will only catch up with us later.  If we pretend it isn’t there, it only becomes worse instead of better.  To find that paradise within our cells, we must let go and let God embrace us and carry us through to the other side.  Our gentle and loving Shepherd will help us get to safety.

If we want to find the true path with Jesus, we must like the grain of wheat fall and die to ourselves.  When we empty ourselves there is a “death” that occurs as we bear a lot of fruit in the mystery of God’s love for each of us.  We enter into a deep moment of Contemplative Prayer that takes us in the here and now and transforms us into true followers of Jesus.  When we let ourselves go and follow Jesus the Word, we must commit ourselves to going with Him to the Cross.  It is by Christ’s death and our own, that we have a hope of the Resurrection.

“This message of mine is for you, then, if you are ready to give up your own will, once and for all, and armed with the strong and noble weapons of obedience to do battle for the true King, Christ the Lord.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, The Prologue, p.15).

Are there single grains of wheat in your life that you need to let go of?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See The Community of Solitude

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Reflection on Mouth and Heart



“Let the words of my mouth and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord, my rock and redeemer” (Psalm 19:14.  The Common English Bible).

One day, while I was doing Lectio Divina on the words of Psalm 19:14 in The Common English Bible, I found myself disturbed by the words “and the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, Lord my rock and redeemer.”  As I meditated on these words I found myself needing to reword the quote from this Psalm.   “May the meditations of my heart be pleasing to you, my Lord, my rock, my redeemer; so that the words of my mouth may also be pleasing to you.”   If what I am meditating on in my heart is to be pleasing to God, then I must do what scares me the most.  I must relinquish control of what I think I know will be pleasing to God within my heart to begin with.  I must let God teach my heart what is pleasing to God.   How can I please God in the meditations of my heart, if I do not let God teach me what pleases God?

I recently began reading an incredible book entitled Desert Fathers and Mothers: Early Christian Wisdom Sayings, Annotated & Explained.  The annotations and commentary are written by Dr. Christine Valters Paintner.   As I have been thinking of what I was going to write in this blog reflection today, I came across some words that she wrote that express so beautifully, what I am writing about.

“The desert journey isn’t about embarking on a long and arduous struggle to find God at the end of the road. Desert spirituality is about looking for God right in the midst of wrestling with ourselves.  God in the heart of the struggle, and so we are to stay there with the holy presence until the treasure is revealed” (From the Introduction, p. XXIX).

If we are to embark on a mystical journey with God, then we must begin by letting go of thinking that we must have the answers for everything that is going on with us; inside and out.  Searching for union with God in the deepest recesses of our whole self, is an excursion with the God who knows us better than we know ourselves.  When we are in our cells in solitude with God, there is no pretending that our human brokenness is not there.  We must face it, and let God walk through it with us; so that we can by God’s grace, let it go.  Only then, can the meditations of our heart be pleasing to God who is our rock and redeemer; and from our mouths will come what is pleasing to God and beneficial for the world around us.

“The blessed space of quiet discernment and contemplative understanding manifests itself when we are quiet enough to listen to the still, small voice guiding our path forward” (Teresa Pasquale Mateus, Ashes and the Phoenix; Meditations for the Season of Lent, edited by Len Freeman, p56).

“Go sit in your cell, and your cell will teach your everything.” (Abba Moses).

“Listen and incline the ear of your heart” (Prologue, The Rule of Saint Benedict).

When you meditate with God in your heart, what do you hear God saying to you?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

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Reflection on Perfection


“The Lord’s instruction is perfect, reviving one’s very being”. (Psalm 19:7.  The Common English Bible).

I read the most thought provoking words in the book Lent with Evelyn Underhill at Matins this morning.

“To the alarming list of innate vices which you have managed to get together I would like to add another: Pride.  All this preoccupation with your own imperfection is not humility. but an insidious form of spiritual pride.” (See page 52 in the Second Edition of this book).

Human perfection and Christian perfection are not one and the same thing.  Making sure all our prayers get said properly, as a matter of perfection is of least importance.  Saying our prayers while seeking a greater love for God and others is what Christian perfection and humility are about.  Humility is not about focusing on ourselves and all that is wrong with us.

“The first step of humility, is that a monastic keeps the reverence of God before oneself, and never forgets it.” (The Rule of Saint Benedict, Chapter 7 On Humility, paraphrased).

Thomas Merton in his book, The Rule of Saint Benedict: Initiation into the Monastic Tradition 4 he wrote,

“If we concentrate directly on humility, our humility will be false.  If we concentrate on our relationships with others, and with God, our humility will be true. (see page 173).

Earlier in the book, Merton wrote,

“The active life of humility leads to the contemplative life of union with Christ by love.” (See page 156).

As contemplatives we are on a constant journey of turning ourselves over to God, so that God can bring us into a deeper relationship with the Holy One.  Humility in The Rule of Saint Benedict reminds us that God is God, and we are not.  Contemplative prayer is not about learning these things in our minds, so to analyze and understand them.   Contemplative prayer is about letting go so God can revive us at the very center of ourselves.  It comes by being open to seeing ourselves from God’s perspective.  In so doing, we read, mark, learn and inwardly digest that in humility God is God, and we are not.

Are you seeking to make yourself perfect before God?

What might you need to do to let go and let God be God in your life?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

If you feel led to buy me some coffee, please scroll down the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee mug.  Thank you so much.

Reflection on God Our Strength

“Only God! The God who equips me with strength and makes my way perfect ” (Psalm 18:32. The Common English Bible).

Life sure does throw us a lot of curve balls. Though we may plan things well in advance with all the I’s dotted and the T’s crossed; it doesn’t take much for us to discover that God has other plans. There is an old saying, “If you want to make God laugh; tell God your plans.”

As contemplatives, we learn over time that we are always arriving, but have never arrived. There is always another road to be traveled. We are never on a lonely journey. The Holy One walks with us, and shows God’s Self to be present in the last places we expect to find God. To be a contemplative, means to always be open to the Mysterious. God desires to be closer to us, and so gives us the desire to be on a life long path to search for union with God. God equips us with the strength, and makes our journey perfect; because God alone knows and loves us so intimately, “that nothing can separate us from God’s love in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:39).

Spending time in silence and solitude is one way in which we can know more closely that “only God equips me with strength, and makes my way perfect.” In silence and solitude, we let go of everything that distracts us from knowing our true selves, and “do battle under the true King, Christ the Lord.” (Prologue of The Rule of St. Benedict). “Sit in your cell as in Paradise. Leave the world behind you.” (The Brief Rule of St. Romuald).

Can you let God equip you with strength and make your way perfect?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See The Community of Solitude

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Reflection on Carrying Crosses



“After calling the crowd together with his disciples, Jesus said to them, “All who want to come after me must say no to themselves, take up their cross, and follow me.  All who want to save their lives will lose them.  But all who lose their lives because of me and because of the good news will save them.”  (Mark 8:34-35. Common English Bible).

One day during this past week, while I was praying the Prayer Rope, I experienced an old and painful memory come to the surface.  It caused me a great amount of pain, and I found it necessary to stop for a while and let God into this space, and then continue praying as Jesus walked through the emotions of the memory with me.  There was no running away from them.  Only by giving them over in prayer, was I able to experience some kind of freedom.  I had to tell myself “no” to hanging on to it.  Until that moment, I had no idea how much of my life I “saved” that I allowed to control me.

The words of Jesus about saying no, carrying our crosses and losing our lives for the sake of the Good News are quite contradictory.  The contradiction comes with the notions of letting go, taking up to carry and letting go.  It is by letting go of the many things we cling to, taking up the crosses in our lives as they are and let God in to help us through them, and then let go again.  People who are diagnosed with some kind of cancer know all about what it is to let go of things as they were; pick up the cross of the cancer and face it as is to do what needs to be done to take care of it; then let go.   They let go, because they know just how uncertain life is.  People with cancer often teach us courage like no one else can.  Even when the moment comes that their battle is lost because of death, their courage to let go and trust God to take care of them after death is stays with us for the rest of our lives.

As contemplatives, we know that we must say no to ourselves about hanging on to things and/or pretending they are not there.  When something grabs our interior attention, the worst thing to do is to push it away or pretend it is not there.  To say no to ourselves, is to let God into those spaces and carry those crosses with Jesus, so that we can ultimately let go of the “life” we were building in our false-sense of self, to find salvation through the love of God in Christ.  It is when we let go, pick up our crosses, and surrender ourselves to God that our search for union with God makes progress.

“Renounce yourself to follow Christ.” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, p.27).

“Abba Hyperichius said, “The true service of a monk is obedience and if he has this, whatever he asks will be given him and he will stand with confidence before the Crucified.  For that was how the Lord went to his cross, being made obedient even unto death.” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p.80).

What might the Holy Spirit be asking you to let go of, to pick up your cross and let go again?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

If you feel led to buy me some coffee, please scroll down the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee Mug.  Thank you so much.

Reflection on The Wilderness



“And the Spirit immediately drove Jesus out into the wilderness .  He was in the wilderness forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.”  (Mark 1:12-13 NRSV).

Thomas Keating in his book The Mystery of Christ: The Liturgy as Spiritual Experience wrote the following words.

“The Biblical desert is not so much a geographical location–a place of sand, stones or sagebrush– as a process of interior purification leading to the complete liberation from the false-self system with its programs for happiness that cannot possibly work.” (p.40).

The wilderness can be a place of solitude and silence; as well as a state of prayer and contemplation.  As we spend time in our wilderness of silence and solitude, we see the best and the worst of ourselves.   Everything about us that is visible and invisible is inescapable. Thomas Merton once wrote, “For although God is right with us and in us and out of us and all through us, we have to go on journeys to find him.”  Searching for union with God includes meeting Jesus where He meets us in our temptations with God’s grace to redeem and transform us.  Amma Sarah said, “The greatest thing we can do is to throw our faults before the Lord and expect temptation to our last breath” (Daily Readings with the Desert Fathers, p.72).

When we spend some time alone with Jesus in our wildernesses of silence and solitude and pray Lectio Divina (the prayerful reading of Scripture), Contemplative and Centering Prayer,  God will always come and graciously help us along.   When we stop for a while and in silence, let God in and let go of our false-self system, Jesus will show us how to search for union with God, even when we are at our worst.

The Psalmist wrote, “Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; in you have I trusted all the day long” (Psalm 25:4 The Book of Common Prayer, p.614).  The best way to learn the truth from the God of our salvation is to spend some time with Jesus in the solitude of our wilderness and to learn from what He did as well as what He said.

“Therefore our life span has been lengthened by way of a truce, that we may amend our misdeeds.  As the Apostle says: Do you not know that the patience of God is leading you to repent (Rom 2:4)?” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English, p.18).

Have you journeyed with Jesus into your wilderness lately?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See: The Community of Solitude

If you feel led to buy me coffee, please scroll down the right side bar and click on the Benedictine Coffee mug.   Thank you so much.


Reflection on Broken to Ashes


“The sacrifice of God is a troubled spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.” (Psalm 51:18.  The Book of Common Prayer, p.657).

Almost anything including the human body can be burned and/or broken into ashes.  It is a stark reminder that nothing is permanent.  Everything and everyone eventually passes beyond our sight and becomes dust and ashes.

As we begin the Season of Lent on this Ash Wednesday; it is a good time to begin searching within ourselves to discover what is broken within and/or about us.  Psalm 51:18 and Ash Wednesday tell us that it is okay if we are broken.  God loves us and in Jesus redeems us as broken people.

“Lent is a good moment for a spiritual stocktaking; a pause, a retreat from life’s busy surface to its solemn deeps.  There we can consider our possessions; and discriminate between the necessary stores which have been issued to us, and must be treasured and kept in good order, and the odds and ends which we have accumulated for ourselves.”  (Lent with Evelyn Underhill, Second Edition. Ash Wednesday taken from the School of Charity, p. 15).

Praying to God from the whole of ourselves in Contemplative and/or Centering Prayer is our chance to take off the masks by which we think we are hiding things from God.   Our sins and brokenness keeps us from a deeper relationship with God, only because we hang on to them within our false-sense of self.   In The Rule of Saint Benedict he tells us,

“we urge the entire community during these days of Lent to keep its manner of life most pure and to wash away in this holy season the negligences of other times.  This we can do in a fitting manner by refusing to indulge in evil habits and by devoting ourselves to prayer with tears, to reading, to compunction of heart and self-denial.  During these days, therefore, we will add to the usual measure,,,” (RB 1980: The Rule of Saint Benedict in English. Chapter 49, p.71).

Notice that Benedict tells us that a good way to observe Lent is not just by self-denial, he also suggests adding on to the usual amount.  Letting go is important, of course, but it must be accompanied by adding something that takes us to our true-selves.

During these days of Lent, we can offer our broken and contrite hearts to God; and let Jesus transform us to search for union with God within our essence; possessed by the Holy Spirit.  This is not only contemplative, it is mystical.  God sees our brokenness as opportunities for growth, not impediments to God’s grace.

4. The path you must follow is in the Psalms–never leave it. (From St. Romuald’s Brief Rule).

Have you considered offering God your broken and contrite heart during this Lent?


Peace be with all who enter here.

Brother Anselm Philip King-Lowe, OSB-CoS

See The Community of Solitude.

If you feel led to buy me some coffee, please scroll down the right sidebar and click on the Benedictine Coffee Mug.   Thank you so much.