By Sr. Doreen, SSJD.
Sister Doreen’s Reflections
Today I awake – to the real presence
Living as Contemplatives in the World is to see the holy in the ordinary. Macrina Wiederkehr in her book A Tree Full of Angels writes:
“You live in a world of theophanies. Holiness comes wrapped in the ordinary. There are burning bushes all around you. Every tree is full of angels. Hidden beauty is waiting in every crumb. Life wants to lead you from crumbs to angels, but this can only happen if you are willing to unwrap the ordinary by staying with it long enough to harvest its treasure.
The question remains. Will I be there? Will I be there with my eyes wide open? Will I unwrap the gift of the ordinary? Will I gather up the crumbs? Will I harvest the angels hidden in those crumbs? The incredible gift of the ordinary! Glory comes streaming from the table of daily life. Will I be there to catch the rays or will I remain blind to the holy because I’m too busy to see?”
In our cluttered, distracted, and noisy life the task of being really present is not easy. But it is our high call. It is a spiritual practice. A mantra. There is nothing so healing in all the world as real presence – taking the time to be really present (and let God be really present to us) to ourselves and to others. And our real presence can feed the ache for God, not only in ourselves but for others. It is in trying – spiritual practice – to be present to God in every moment of our day-to-day life – searching around in those colourful scraps of our life – that we uncover deep down in our inner self that love – Love who will carry us along to fullness of life. We know that when we pray for the presence of God, we are already in the presence of God, a God who is our constant companion; a God whose tenacious love will never let us go. We know that even as we seek God, we have already been found by God. God holds us in the palm of God’s hand. We are God’s home.
This is gift – when the mystery of God and the mystery of ourselves meet in communion: it is the gift of God for the people of God and it is our gift to the world, a world that hungers and thirst for ‘real presence’. Waiting – in silence with God – for that gift: spiritual practice … centring prayer leading to contemplative prayer – to dwell in the presence of God – in order to rise and put God’s love into action in the world. That is our high calling – living as contemplatives in the world. To bring the real presence into our day-to-day life, into our world, a way of being in the world that is open to God and open to others. We struggle of course with temptations to separate the two. It is easy to tell ourselves that we overlooked the needs of others because we were attending to the needs of God, easier to want silence than the demands of children, easier to read a holy book than listen to a loved one tell of their day or talk about loneliness. I remember only too well being told as a Novice that if I thought God was listening as I fervently prayed in chapel when I was supposed to be working in the kitchen doing pots and pans, that I’d missed the boat. God was standing waiting for me at the sink!
How do we experience this? We know our littleness and our greatness, our frailty and our splendour, our poverty and our wealth. It is dishonest to pretend that our days are one long golden thread. The dark patches need God’s healing touch for whatever in ourselves or in our world is out of order: pain, fear, guilt, inadequacy. Into this – into our greatness and our littleness, our frailty and our splendour, our poverty and our wealth, we continue to hear the words “come and see” – “make your home in me, as I have made my home in you.” There truly is nothing so healing in all the world as real presence. Each one of us has infinite possibilities for goodness and for splendour. We are God’s home – the apple of God’s eye.
Today I Awake – (John Bell – Common Praise #9)
Today I awake and God is before me.
At night as I dreamt, he summoned the day; for God never sleeps, but patterns the morning with slithers of gold or glory in gray.
Today I arise and Christ is beside me.
He walked through the dark to scatter the light.
Yes, Christ is alive, and beckons his people to hope and to heal, resist and invite
Today I affirm the Spirit within me at worship and work, in struggle and rest.
The Spirit inspires all life which is changing from fearing to faith, from broken to blest.
Today I enjoy the Trinity around me, above and beneath, before and behind: the Maker, the Son, the Spirit together – they called me to life and call me their friend.
Seven Sacred Pauses – M Wiederkehr:
Greet the hours with joyful awareness.
Greet the hours with faithful presence.
Greet the hours with a reverential bow.
Greet the hours with a sacred pause.
“The mysticism of everyday life is the deepest mysticism of all” – Jurgen Moltmann
“Everything in the universe breathes for God. It does not matter what name is given to this Presence.” – Paula D’Arcy
“I arise at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving” –Kahlil Gibran