We consider a story of transformation from Mark 9, echoing stories of Moses and Elijah and Daniel, wherein we glimpse a transcendence that changes everything. What do you want to change in your life? In this world? What is powerful enough to initiate transformation within you?
Your body is woven from the light of heaven. Are you aware that its purity and swiftness is the envy of angels and its courage keeps even devils away. — attributed to Rumi
Lord, the demons still are thriving in the gray cells of the mind:
tyrant voices, shrill and driving, twisted thoughts that grip and bind,
doubts that stir the heart to panic, fears distorting reason’s sight,
guilt that makes our loving frantic, dreams that cloud the soul with fright.
… Clear our thought and calm our feeling; still the fractured, warring soul.
By the power of your healing make us faithful, true, and whole.
— Thomas Troeger (excerpt from hymn ‘Silence, frenzied, unclean spirit’)
We consider mindful, spiritual and positive psychology approaches to issues with which we wrestle. These issues may be known in Biblical texts as ‘unclean spirits’ and also referred to in our culture as as inner demons or in Buddhist canon as hungry ghosts. We offer below some resources to reinforce the practice of calling on God, love, compassion, acceptance … maybe through simple exercises and spiritual practices, or with the belief in God, Christ, Spirit, angels, saints, and bodhisattvas as well as self and other people in community.
- OptionB.org, Lee Daniel Kravetz: Guide to Grounded Hope
- Lama Tsultrim Allione, How to Feed your Demons
- Thich Nhat Hahn, 5 Practices for Nurturing Happiness and Dharma Talk on ‘Transforming Negative Habit Energies’
- Plum Village (Thich Nhat Hahn’s community), Being Mindful in Daily Life
- Center for Action and Contemplation, Fr Richard Rohr, Daily Meditations (must sign up for these)
- Steve Goodheart, Skillful Ways to Deal with your Demons
- Good Therapy, Core Mindfulness: Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy
- Positive Psychology Program: 12 Positive Psychology Interventions and 3 Ways to Find the One You Need11
- Positive Psychology Program: 22 Mindfulness Exercises, Techniques and Activities
- Psychology Today, Inner selves: Calming the Demons
- Psychology Today: What Is Positive Psychology and What Is It Not?
- Ignatian Spirituality, The Daily Examen
Themes from Joshua 3:14-17 and Matthew 23:11-12. The crossing from wasteland to abundance, from brokenness to blessing … gratitude arises from the chance to serve others.
Blessing of Enough — Jan Richardson
I know how small
this blessing seems;
just a morsel
that hardly matches
the sharp hunger
you carry inside you.
But trust me
when I say—
though I can scarcely
believe it myself—
there is a space
where a table
has been laid
has been prepared
all has been
and it will be
Gratitude through Service
As soon as healing takes place, go out and heal somebody else … Let gratitude be the pillow upon which you kneel to say your nightly prayer. And let faith be the bridge you build to overcome evil and welcome good. — Maya Angelou
In normal life we hardly realize how much more we receive than we give, and life cannot be rich without such gratitude. It is so easy to overestimate the importance of our own achievements compared with what we owe to the help of others. ― Dietrich Bonhoeffer
One can never pay in gratitude; one can only pay ‘in kind’ somewhere else in life. — Anne Morrow Lindbergh
At times, our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person. Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us. — Albert Schweitzer
Gratitude can transform common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joy, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings. ― William Arthur Ward
But fortunately for us, the soft spot — our innate ability to love and to care about things — is like a crack in these walls we erect. It’s a natural opening in the barriers we create when we’re afraid. With practice we can learn to find this opening. We can learn to seize that vulnerable moment — love, gratitude, loneliness, embarrassment, inadequacy — to awaken … — Pema Chodron
Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and in the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back. ― Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers
As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them. ― John F. Kennedy
To become fully human means learning to turn my gratitude for being alive into some concrete common good. It means growing gentler toward human weakness. It means practicing forgiveness of my and everyone else’s hourly failures to live up to divine standards. It means learning to forget myself on a regular basis in order to attend to the other selves in my vicinity. … It means receiving the human condition as blessing and not curse, in all its achingly frail and redemptive reality. ― Barbara Brown Taylor
In the end, though, maybe we must all give up trying to pay back the people in this world who sustain our lives. In the end, maybe it’s wiser to surrender before the miraculous scope of human generosity and to just keep saying thank you, forever and sincerely, for as long as we have voices. ― Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love
No one has ever become poor by giving. — Anne Frank
‘Enough’ is a feast. — Buddhist proverb
Wear gratitude like a cloak and it will feed every corner of your life. — Rumi
Meditations on themes from Exodus 33:12-23 and Matthew 22: 15-22 — What blessing will we leave to the land and the people of our lives? What is our legacy?
A Legacy (excerpt) — James Lovell
… I leave to you a curious loom
That I have wrought my dreams upon
I beg you lay your hand to it
And weave a pattern when I’m gone.
We are leaves of one branch, the drops of one sea, the flowers of one garden. — Jean Baptiste Lacordaire
Never separate the life you live from the words you speak. — Paul Wellstone
May you walk in the center of your life in balance and abundance. —Dakota/Lakota Saying
Today, more than ever before, life must be characterized by a sense of Universal responsibility, not only nation to nation and human to human, but also human to other forms of life. — Dalai Lama
In the evening, we will be judged on love. — St John of the Cross
I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?’ — Mother Teresa
The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. — Thomas Merton, No Man Is an Island
It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important. — Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince
Widower — David Ray
She took such good care of him
DOUBT — Augustine Bowe
Faith can move mountains
Let the mountains be.
For when mountains stir,
There is no peace, even in the sea.
Doubt dares not touch
The heft of stone,
For fear it’s better, much
Better to leave things alone.
Walking on Water
People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle. — Thich Nhat Hahn
When it comes to your life’s work, you can’t take yourself too seriously. Even Jesus had an occasional joke with the boys, take walking on water, for instance – but there’s a time and place for fun. Jesus never faltered when it came time to tip over the money stalls or to take his hard walk up the mountain. — Deacon Jones
Isn’t it instructive that the spiritual formation of the original disciples happens with Jesus on the road? In effect, the disciples learn by doing. They grow into an understanding of this God of love, this God of compassion, this God who loves justice, this God who makes all things new, by participating as active observers and agents of compassion, justice, and newness. … But the spiritual adventure described in the four Gospels does not happen in the sanctuary; it happens on the road, in the company of beggars, prostitutes, and lepers. — Jack Jezreel, Oneing
In God’s eyes, walking on water is no more miraculous than the ability of hemoglobin to bond with oxygen inside a red blood corpuscle. — Deepak Chopra
Walking on water wasn’t built in a day. — Jack Kerouac
We look at the ancient Greeks with their gods on a mountain top throwing lightning bolts and say, ‘Those ancient Greeks. They were so silly. So primitive and naive. Not like our religions. We have burning bushes talking to people and guys walking on water. We’re …sophisticated.’ — Paul Provenza
You believe in a book that has talking animals, wizards, witches, demons, sticks turning into snakes, burning bushes, food falling from the sky, people walking on water, and all sorts of magical, absurd and primitive stories, and you say that we are the ones that need help? — Mark Twain
Jesus Christ would have been considered just another long-haired hippie freak if he hadn’t been crucified. The folks weren’t impressed with healing the sick, feeding the multitudes bread and fish or anything else, except maybe the walking on water. But when he got crucified, that gave him his big start. — Ted Turner
Now I understand. Everything is water. — Vladimir Nabokov, Speak Memory
Helping Hands: Reaching for Connection
‘Yes, Piglet?’ ‘Nothing,’ said Piglet, taking Pooh’s hand. ‘I just wanted to be sure of you.'” — A.A. Milne‘I felt Holmes’s hand steal into mine and give me a reassuring shake.’ – Watson. — Arthur Conan Doyle
Sooner or later, life is going to lead you (as it did Jesus) into the belly of the whale, into a place where you can’t fix, control, explain, or understand (usually very concrete and personal; it cannot be merely theoretical). That’s where transformation most easily and deeply happens. That’s when you’re uniquely in the hands of God because you cannot “handle” it yourself. — Fr. Richard Rohr
Doubt & Faith
I talk to God but the sky is empty. — Sylvia Plath
Doubt isn’t the opposite of faith; it is an element of faith. — Paul Tillich
There are three things all wise men fear: the sea in storm, a night with no moon, and the anger of a gentle man. — Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear
Do not be afraid; our fate Cannot be taken from us; it is a gift. — Dante Alighieri, Inferno
Doubts are the ants in the pants of faith. They keep it awake and moving. — Frederick Buechner
For to have faith, is to have wings. — J.M. Barrie