Gratitude bestows reverence, allowing us to encounter everyday epiphanies, those transparent moments of awe that change forever how we experience life and the world. ~ Sara Ban Breathnach

Monday, April 18, 2011

Week V - Day 2 - Offering the Cup

To begin this new Monday morning a wonderful rendition of a familiar song and amazing photos...

Etty Hillisum wrote: "...there now flows a constant stream of tenderness, a stream in which all petty desires seem to have been extinguished. All that matters now is to be kind to each other with all the goodness that is in us.

Etty Hillisum 1914-1943
Last evening, I watched The Fall of The Third Reich on the History Channel.  I watched footage shot by and heard letters written by German soldiers to their wives and families. It did not change the horror of what happen, but it did put other faces into a time of history I had not known before.  Etty Hillisum was a Jew living in the Netherlands during Hitler's reign of power. Knowing this about Etty as I again read this quote offers another layer of appreciation of the power of her insight.

Joyce uses Etty's quote to consider the image of the Body of Christ and her belief that even though she does not hear a lot about The Body, it is still vital and helpful when it comes to living compassionately.
The Body of Christ Cross
"This Christian spirituality envisions each of us as a part of the whole, with the Spirit of Jesus uniting us...'If one member suffers, all suffer together with it; if one member is honored, all rejoiced together with it' (1 Cor 12:26)...Each and every part of the whole has significance and worth." (Joyce Rupp, The Cup of Life, p 115)
Joyce shares that she finds great strength in knowing that she is connected to everyone and everything in her world because of the vibrancy of the Divine Presence dwelling in each of us and because of the atoms that twirl and whirl in every piece of creation.
"All of life is a part of me and I am a part of all of life. All people are my sisters and brothers. In each one I recognize the face of the Divine Presence looking back at me. The God of Compassion has shown me a loving face; now I am to be that reflection in return. I am to be the presence of God to another. When I offer the cup of compassion to someone, it is God in me reaching to God in the other. There is a oneness of Love bonding us to all of life." (Rupp, p 116)
Joyce continues writing, reminding the reader that it is not only Christians who are encouraged to be a light for others and a source of love.  Compassion is a core element of other religious traditions as well.
Make yourselves a light. ~ Buddha
"In his last words to his disciples, the Buddha said: 'Make of yourselves a light.' How similar are the words of Jesus when he asked his followers to not hide their light under a basket but to place it where all could see. Like Jesus, the Buddha also encouraged his followers to be persons of great love." (Ibid) 
John Cardinal Newman 1901-1990
As she nears her time of meditation, Joyce writes that praying for and with others is one way of being a light or a sign of God's great compassion.  Joyce also names the groups that she will be meeting with in the days or weeks to come.  She then prays the adapted prayer of John Cardinal Newman that she has included within today's devotion.

I see that word "adapted" and I immediately want to know how the entire prayer reads. While looking, I learned this prayer was recited daily by Mother Teresa and her Sisters of Charity in Calcutta, India.

Dear Jesus,
help me to spread your fragrance wherever I go.
Flood my soul with your spirit and life.
Penetrate and possess my whole being so utterly
that my life may only be a radiance of yours.
Shine through me and be so in me that every soul I come in contact with
may feel your presence in my soul.

Let them look up and see no longer me, but only Jesus!
Stay with me and then I will begin to shine as you shine,
so to shine as to be a light to others.

The light, O Jesus, will be all from you; none of it will be mine.
It will be you, shining on others through me.
Let me thus praise you in the way which you love best,
by shining on those around me.
Let me preach you without preaching, not by words but by example,
by the catching force, the sympathetic influence of what I do,
the evident fullness of the love my heart bears for you.  Amen.

Breathing in: We are many...
Breathing out: ...we are one

In Christ There is No East or West
Hold your cup out in front of you.
Stand and face the East.
Unite with all beings of the East.
Let your heart extend compassion to them.
Turn and face the South.
Hold your cup out to all who dwell in the South.
Unite with these beings.
Let your heart extend compassion to them.
(Continue in the like manner with the West and the North)

Scripture: 1 Corinthians 12:12-31
 27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

I am a fountain of God's love when...
I hesitate, or refuse, to offer the cup of compassion to... because...
Dialogue with an individual or a group toward whom you feel biased or prejudiced.

I have been using Adam Hamilton's book "24 Hours That Changed the World" during Parlor Conversations on Sunday mornings during Lent.  We have talked several times about "crowd" mentality and how "good" people end up doing something they would have never thought capable. I watched this played out again in the documentary on the Third Reich last evening.  Good people...hesitating or refusing to offer the cup of compassion because...

As I sit with these images, "peace" keeps coming to mind.  If all Christians, Buddhist, Muslims, Jews.... if all religions offered the Cup of Compassion...if they would be a Light...then the world would know peace.  But...we don't and the world does not know peace.
As we peel away layers there are tears...
tears of laughter, tears of pain, tears of joy, tears of release...
At first I thought this Cup was misplaced in Joyce's book.  It seems far easier to work through than previous weeks, yet this morning I am thinking back to those previous weeks....The Cup of Life, The Open Cup, The Chipped Cup, The Broken Cup and with each week....I had to peel away another layer of "protection" in order to get to my true self.  I have often said that life is a lot like an onion, and our true self, our core, may only be revealed after all of the outer layers have been peeled away. 

When I peel away the layers of my conditioned beliefs, of my ideas and influences, and all the protective coverings that I imagine make me feel safe, I get to the heart of my "issues" and discover my own personal truths, my own deep knowing...  and awakening to the nature of reality.  And, once I get past all those layers, I find that within my center I am perfect...a beloved Child of God, just as I am.  This is what I and others have been doing as we have read through the exercises and stories for the past four weeks! Each lesson has been a peeling away... that now, I can read what would initially seems so "easy" with new eyes and a new appreciation of what lies in my deepest heart.

God, I am a fountain of your love when I forget myself and see only the other person or situation.  I've actually have done this!  I don't try to get complicated or second guess myself...I'm simply present with the need.

Yet, I hesitate, or refuse, to offer the cup of compassion to ... when I stick a label/judgement on the person or the situation.  "She's never going to change." or "We have offered help before..." or "I heard she really bad mouthed the congregation, why would I want to reach out..." and "They have more technology in that trailer than I have at home! Why don't they use some of that money to pay their heating bill!" lastly "They are Muslim! I don't understand their religion and 'they' blew us up!"

Unconsciously and very easily....I create a Me/Them mentality rather than seeing everyone as a brother/sister...just doing their best to live within this life.  A wonderful lesson for me to hold comes from the book Gifts From A Course in Miracles.  It is entitled, Recognizing Your Brother.  Excerpts from this lesson...

When you meet anyone,
remember it is a holy encounter.
As you see him you will see yourself.
As you treat him you will treat yourself.
As you think of him you will think of yourself.
Never forget this,
for in him you will find yourself or lose yourself.

Everyone lives in you,
as you live in everyone...

For God so loved the WORLD...
not just Christians, not just Jews,
not just white, or black,
not just protestants, not just straight...
God so loved the WORLD...
what does that mean for me?
...Recognize all whom you see as brothers,
because only equals are at peace....

...When you have seen your brothers as yourself
you will be released...

...In truth you and your brother stand together,
with nothing in between.

Christ stand before you both,
each time you look upon your brother.

Dream of your brother's kindnesses
instead of dwelling in your dreams on his mistakes.
Select his thoughtfulness to dream about
instead of counting up the hurts he gave.
Forgive him his illusions, and give thanks to him
for all the helpfulness he gave.
And do not brush aside his many gifts
because he is not perfect in your dreams...

...It is not up to you to change your brother,
but merely to accept him as he is.

You will never know that you are co-creator with God
until you learn that your brother
is co-creator with you.

Peace to my brother, who is one with me.
Let all the world be blessed with peace through us.

God, I need your help to uncover, to open my prejudices that I hold deep in my heart...and then I need your help to let go. I don't think of myself as a prejudiced person! In fact...I am prejudiced against prejudiced people!!!  Oh my God...I have so much yet to unlearn, yet, I know you will be faithful...and forever patient. AMEN.

Prayer: (adapted from the prayer of John Cardinal Newman)
Dear God, help me to spread your love everywhere I go. Penetrate and possess my whole begin so fully that all my life will reflect your compassion. Shine through me and be so in me that every person I meet will feel your presence in my spirit. AMEN.

“I want you woven into a tapestry of love, in touch
with everything there is to know of God.
Then you will have minds confident and at rest,
focused on Christ, God’s great mystery. All the richest
treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embedded
in that mystery and nowhere else.
And we’ve been shown the mystery!
” (Col 2:2-3 MSG
Today: I will intentionally offer compassion to someone I know who is in need of my understanding, kindness, and care.

I think I will tweak Joyce's "Today" by saying, "Today, I will offer compassion to someone I have judged as not needing my understanding, kindness, and care.  I even have someone in mind!

Many Blessings ~ Sandi

P.S. I am still doing The Evening Review, but I will most likely not be including it within this online journal.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the full prayer above. I like the bit of information about Mother Theresa and her Sisters of Charity. The onion picture is a great reminder of getting to the core of who we are. I hope that I can accept the core more than I like some of the outer edges.