Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sitting Alone

My wife and I spent the weekend in Atlanta. My daughter is expecting our third grandchild and she is due any day now, so we thought we would go up and see if we could be there when it happens. Well, as of right now, it didn't. Her due date is Sunday, according to the "professionals". My wife stayed to give a helping hand and offer her "grandmother mind" to the other child, our oldest grandchild Caroline, whose life will change shortly in a significant way.

As is our habit lately, when we go to visit our children, (both son and daughter live in Atlanta), we try to go to church with the ones we are staying with. This weekend my son's wife and daughter were out of town so he stayed overnight at my daughter's house and we all went to my daughter and son-in-law's church this morning.

It's a very progressive United Methodist church. I'm guessing the average age in that church might be 35 years old. It's the same way at my son's church. There is a generation of young Christians who are trying to reform the church in a new way, it seems to me. And I mean in a good way. They seem to focus on relationships, authenticity, justice, inclusivity and many other "right" things to be if you are going to be the church.

It feels like a de-institutionalizing while remaining an institution.
It's different. It's refreshing. And I'm sure it's not perfect and has and will have it's own problems as it continues to morph into whatever it is this generations is trying to birth.

The point of all this is to share my experience of sitting down while all the others were standing.
I commented to my son and daughter that the last time I went to his church it seemed they stood up for about twenty minutes in the beginning of the service before they ever sat down, indicative of the majority of the age group there. Us "elder" types needed to sit. 

So this morning I decided to take hold of my authority as an "elder" and sit when I felt the need to.
So there I was sitting, and standing right next to me were my son and my pregnant daughter, both looking towards the altar, both singing a hymn together, not knowing their father was sitting there in tears, gratitude running down my cheeks. Here they both were, searching for their truth, worshiping their God...Both "A people of the way", setting aside a sacred time to do one of the most important things that matters to their father - practicing their spirituality.
I was overwhelmed with gratitude that I had two children and a Son-in-law and a daughter-in-law who saw the value of following a spiritual path.

I don't know what part I have played in this. That is not important. If anything I hope I have taught them the value of questioning, of having their own faith, not mine and the value of love and relationships and most importantly, family.

What is God? Who Is God? How is God in our lives?

Who knows?

I do know I sat alone in church today and cried.

For all the right reasons.

Thanks be to God!


Saturday, September 15, 2012


“All one needs is a place to belong, a path to follow and a few friends to keep you sane.”
Lawrence Freeman from Jesus The Teacher Within

This quote is an affirmation for me right now. As I have gotten older, my sense of what my life should look like has become more and more concentrated. 
Some would see it as “small” but that would be a misperception. Being small is quite different from being concentrated. 
Concentrated is rich. Concentrated has a depth that small does not have. Concentrated for me is synonymous too with simplicity.
Knowing where one belongs seems to be, partly, the beginning (the very beginning) of dismantling the ego. Knowing where one belongs is another way of saying learning and accepting who you are. It might well be the authentic life, which sets us free.

Having a path to follow is in some way, no longer looking for all the answers but just walking and enjoying the view, accepting what is presented; a curve in the road, a steep hill, a long flat stretch of road, flowers, weeds, sunshine, rain, snow…all part of the path, the weather of life, seasons, coming and going.
And eventually we return to the earth, only to sprout again in some other form.
From form to formless, to form…the Mystery.
Wood being wood, ash being ash.

To have a few friends to keep you sane is part of being accountable. To have a life companion as part of that small group of friends and a loving family is grace abundant.

All one needs is a place to belong, a path to follow and a few good friends to keep you sane.

Yes, I believe this.


Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Mind

Photo credit:

Monkey Mind meditation this morning, all tangled up in the vines of Mu.
My granddaughter Alice understands
What I mean.


Saturday, September 8, 2012


photo credit: Walter Schels, Hamburg

I'm reading an introductory book on Karl Rahner's theology and came across this yesterday morning. I'm just wondering if this is another finger pointing to the same moon. It's my imposed title to this selected piece of writing from the book.

Form and Formlessness in Karl Rahner's Theology?

Another, rather more technical, way in which Rahner often formulates his basic vision of human beings is by means of an opposition between transcendental and categorical experience. Strictly speaking these are not two different experiences but two different dimensions of all our experiencing. We have only one, unified experience, but it has two sides to it. Categorical experience is our experience in so far as it involves us with the finite, with particular real people or objects, with things that can be put into categories, with things to which we can apply concepts, of which we can use language. To transcend means simply ‘to go beyond’, and so our transcendental experience is the experience we have of going beyond all the things which we know and choose and love, even as we are knowing and choosing and loving them: transcendental experience, in Rahner’s words, is the experience which ‘consists precisely in the transcendence beyond any particular group of possible objects or of categories’. And since when we go beyond all the things of this world what we go towards is God, transcendental experience turns out to be, most fundamentally, the experience we have of God in all our ordinary experience. Though transcendental and categorical experiences can be distinguished, they cannot be separated. Rahner insists that transcendental experience does not occur apart from categorical experience – we do not have an experience of God neat, all on its own, but always only in our experiencing of the concrete, categorical realities. Transcendental experience is not, however, just an accompaniment to categorical experience, a kind of added bonus. It does more than just make our ordinary experience a little bit richer. According to Rahner it makes our ordinary experience possible in the first place. Transcendental experience, Rahner maintains, is a condition of the possibility of categorical experience, that without which we would not be able to have any experience at all. There is another, and very important, way in which the two layers in our experience are related. Transcendental experience, Rahner maintains, always needs in some way to articulate itself, to express itself, in categorical experience. By definition, of course, transcendental experience is that realm of experience where language fails, since we have language for objects, for distinguishing one thing from another, but not for that which in principle cannot be an object, not for the infinite horizon within which all this distinguishing takes place: 
The horizon cannot be comprised within the horizon ... The ultimate measure cannot be measured; the boundary which delimits all things cannot itself be bounded by a still more distant limit ... (TI IV 51) And yet, in spite of all this, transcendental experience cannot simply remain totally inarticulate, but must always seek to be expressed, if always inadequately, in the realm of the categorical. Or to put it differently, we must always try to express our transcendental experience. The expression can take place in language – in philosophy or poetry – or through other means – art, music, religious symbols and actions.3 The attempt to articulate always in some way fails – the articulation can never be adequate to the original experience. But the attempt must nevertheless always be made. Furthermore, the attempt itself is important. The very expression of the experience, Rahner maintains, is always a shaping moment in the experience: what is experienced is partly determined by how this experience is expressed.

 Kilby, Karen (2005-04-19). The SPCK Introduction to Karl Rahner (Kindle Locations 336-355). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition. 


Sunday, September 2, 2012

Ate The Wordless Proclamation Today

Worshipped with my Son, Daughter-in-law and precious granddaughter Alice today. I was reminded of my writing about "The Wordless Proclamation" as I partook of the Eucharist. It was so meaningful in light of my recent ramblings. I truly felt I could receive it with integrity. I was able to perform Gassho with greater awareness of reverence than ever before.

Bon Appetit!