Tag Archives: John O’Donohue

The Touchable Ones are the Healed Ones

the-touchable-onesThis post is to highlight the work of Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr, who inspires me so much. His teachings function as a bridge for me between the Christian religion I was raised in and the broader, deeper spirituality I now embrace. His interpretation of Christian scripture moves way beyond what can feel like dogma to the timeless and timely profundity of Jesus’ teachings.  I want to share a blog piece of his with you verbatim, (below), with my brief comments about it.

I had an “aha” moment this morning, during my meditation and journaling time, when this paradox came alive: Surrendering mental control and/or understanding of an outcome (in this case, I was praying for a specific healing), while simultaneously fanning the flames of desire for healing is…vulnerable!

Vulnerability is the buzz word in spiritual circles lately. So much so, that it has already lost some of its vulnerability! And yet, I am experiencing a big dose of its depths as I realize what it means to LET GO. I think I had some hidden belief that letting go of the “how” somehow meant letting go of the wanting, too.

But the wanting without needing to understand the how, is what makes us vulnerable. And in our vulnerability we are touchable! By Grace. By the Miraculous. By God.

Here is Friar Richard’s blog piece. He says it so much better! If you like his work, you can follow him here.

Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it means others could sometimes actually wound us. Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin for “to wound.” But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us.

If and when we can live an honestly vulnerable life—the life we see mirrored in a God who is described as three persons perfectly handing themselves over, emptying themselves out, and then fully receiving what has been handed over—there will always be a centrifugal force flowing through, out, and beyond us. Then our spiritual life simply becomes “the imitation of God” (see Ephesians 5:1), as impossible as this sounds to our ordinary ears.

This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow. Notice that the major metaphors for the Spirit are always dynamic, energetic, and moving: elusive wind, descending dove, falling fire, and flowing water. Spirit-led people never stop growing and changing and recognizing the new moment of opportunity. How strange to think that so much of religion became worship of the status quo and a neurotic fear of failure. It does make sense, though, when we consider that the ego hates and fears change and failure.

What, then, is the path to holiness? It’s the same as the path to wholeness. And we are never “there” yet. We are always just in the river. Don’t try to push the river or make the river happen; it is already happening, and you cannot stop it. All you can do is recognize it, enjoy it, and ever more fully allow it to carry you.

As John O’Donohue put it:

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding. [1]

This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: this divine Flow has very little to do with you. The Flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect, right, belonging to the right group, or even understanding the Flow. Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals someone. He just says, as it were, “Are you going to ask for or allow yourself to be touched? If so, let’s go!”

The touchable ones are the healed ones; it’s pretty much that simple. There’s no doctrinal or moral test whatsoever. Jesus doesn’t check if the people he heals are Jewish, gay, baptized, or in their first marriage. There’s only the one question, which he asks in various ways:

Do you want to be healed?

If the answer is a vulnerable, trusting one, the Flow always happens, and the person is always healed, usually on several levels. That is the real New Testament message, much more than miraculous medical cures.

Isn’t that great?  Have a blessed day, everyone. <3

Longing, Belonging and Freedom

ListenIntuitives have been talking lately about the cleansing energy that has been blasting through our inner lives over the past weeks and months. Old stuff, ancient stuff is rising up and being blown about. The corners are being swept. That has certainly been true for me. I don’t have a handle on this newest revelation yet, so my writing about it may feel jumbled, unclear, but I am coming to you live from inner space, and here is what it looks like at the moment.

Crestview2I just returned home from a week-long trip down south, my birthplace. While there visiting with my family, I also looked at a piece of property that literally wept with nostalgia – thirteen acres of pasture, forest, private lake, barn (complete with a tractor and two horses), and a ramshackle house that was begging for love, my love…the kind of treasure completely out of reach here in California. This place got under my skin, as well as my husband’s and daughter’s…so much so that if the house hadn’t needed quite so much attention, we would be ranch owners right now.

So my visit was thrown into a tailspin of pondering. Could we relocate back to my Mississippi roots, after almost forty years in the liberal, urban sprawl of Los Angeles? Could we embrace the idyllic geography, spend the next and final years looking at the stars, listening to the crickets, catching fish and growing vegetables, feeling the deep belonging of brothers and cousins, nieces and nephews, and old high school friends who knew me when? Could our wide-world mindset find its place in the old-world leanings of the south? Could we survive the heat and humidity? 😉

Oh, how I struggle when I go back there! My mom is in her latter years, and it hurts to witness her decline, experience the tenderness between us, then say goodbye each visit. It hurts to connect with my brothers and their children, feel that potent pull of belonging, then depart. But then I arrive back at LAX…and there is something in the air that feels good. Really good. It smells like jet fuel, it looks like concrete and cars and palm trees, but it feels like freedom. I can breathe deeply here in the City of Angels.

I’ve been reading another John O’Donohue book. This one is called Eternal Echoes: Celtic Reflections on our Yearning to Belong. The timing could not be more perfect. And the corners that are getting swept, the ancient stuff that is coming up for me to heal, is another piece of self-acceptance: accepting this throb in the center of my chest that pulses so intensely it hurts. This yearning heart, which often embarrasses me, is my life-force, my very best feature!

I’m also being asked to look at the continuum of belonging and freedom, and embrace the fluctuating position I find myself in along that continuum.  Pure belonging is impossible without the sacrifice of individuality, the gift of freedom. Pure freedom is a lonely, lonely place.  I had never thought about this before, about the dynamism of these twin calls in our lives, and our negotiation of those energies. Somehow, naming them helps me dance instead of wrestle between, even as the as-yet-unknown future unfurls.

Here is a lovely blessing by O’Donohue that I offer as prayer for myself and for you, as you, too, are blown about in your own winds of change:

May you listen to your longing to be free.
May the frames of your belonging be large enough for the dreams of your soul.
May you arise each day with a voice of blessing whispering in your heart that something good is going to happen to you.
May you find a harmony between your soul and your life.
May the mansion of your soul never become a haunted place.
May you know the eternal longing which lives at the heart of time.
May there be kindness in your gaze when you look within.
May you never place walls between the light and yourself.
May your angel free you from the prisons of guilt, fear, disappointment, and despair.
May you allow the wild beauty of the invisible world to gather you, mind you, and embrace you in belonging.

–John O’Donohue

 

Neon Consciousness, Candlelight Consciousness

Neon and CandleJohn O’Donohue, in his book Anam Cara, A Celtic Book of Wisdom, talks about the dangers of “neon vision,” which he describes as the harsh, analytical light we often apply to ourselves when we follow the call of our spiritual hunger. I have mistakenly done this for years. While the self-awareness gained through mindfulness has been extremely fruitful, and while I have developed a rather eagle-eye in the world of inner-looking, that eye has a fierceness to it that can leave my skin feeling raw! I know I am not alone in this. Self-compassion is a big lesson for almost every serious seeker I know.

O’Donohue offers up “candlelight consciousness” as the alternative light within which to seek. I truly love this metaphor! He says, “Candlelight perception is the most respectful and appropriate form of light with which to approach the inner world.” Can you feel this? The softness, the romance, the “beloved” within that phraseology?

This morning, as I sat on the patio with my journal and tea, a squirrel skittered down the overhanging branch of a tree a few feet away and began to chatter loudly, insistently. Eventually, I realized he was talking to me, so I walked over to the tree limb, and said, “Hello!” He looked me squarely in the eye and responded in squirrel language. I said “Hello,” again. He responded again. I asked, “How are you?” He said whatever it was that he said. (I don’t speak squirrel, but I felt like he said, “It is important that you pay attention to me!”) This went on for 2-3 minutes, until I pulled out my phone from my robe pocket to take a picture, and of course, then he scampered away.

I relate this a bit to “neon consciousness, candlelight consciousness.” When I just enjoyed the moment for what it was, we communicated. The minute I tried to capture and substantiate it with the photograph, turn it into something, it was if the doorway into that other dimension closed. I don’t know. I could be making great leaps here. 🙂

But I googled the Native-American symbolism for squirrel and though there was the obvious imagery about “gathering,” the thing that jumped out at me was the message of “play.” I definitely need more play in my life. That feels like candlelight consciousness, too, doesn’t it? It is time to soften up. Yes, do our gathering for the changes ahead, but don’t go nuts with it! Yes, keep being watchful, but do so in the warmly lit landscape of kindness, of enjoyment. We are on a grand adventure, not stuck in an endless curriculum.

I think this could become a mantra for me – “Candlelight consciousness.” What do you think?

Blessings!