Tag Archive: transformation


Because, but, despite…

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who   I   am

∫            ∫           ∫

because of       but         despite

∫           ∫           ∫

who   You   are

 

Talitha Fraser (in the style of RD Laing)

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‘Poetry is metamorphosis, transformation, alchemic operation,’ says Octávio Paz, ‘and for this reason it lives close to magic and religion’ (AL 137).  And Guimarães Rosa, the supreme magician of Brazilian literature, sees writing as an ‘alchemic process.  The writer must be an alchemist,’ he says. ‘The alchemy of writing demands the heart’s blood. For one to be a wizard of the word, for one to study the alchemy of the blood of the human heart, one must have been born in the immense empty spaces of solitude.’ (sertão) (LV 13)

[p.96, The Poet, The Warrior, The Prophet]

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This week The Carmelite Centre has hosted a Symposium called: The Once and Future Reformation: The Way of the Spirit.  The Symposium, 500 years on from Luther event, offers an opportunity to talk about the current need for renewal and reformation today, in the churches and in the world. The Symposium was diverse, ecumenical, and imaginative. Three days of lectures, reflections and discussion on ways of learning from the past, of living in the present and of looking to the future.

Dialogue Today & Tomorrow – Ken Petersen

O that today you would listen to his voice!
Harden not your hearts as at Meribah
Psalm 94

 

Contemplative listening requires the 3 R’s

Resonance – what rings true to your experience/affirms?
Resistance – what am I resisting?
Realignment – as a result has something shifted for you? what?

 

We are here to awaken from the illusion of our separateness.
Thich Nhat Hanh

 

Dialogue is two-way communication speaking/listening, giving/receiving for mutual growth and enrichment.

  • human level reciprocal listening àinterpersonal communion
  • respect and friendship
  • religious plurality “all positive and constructive interreligious relations with individuals and communities of other faiths.

Dialogue is rooted in the nature of the person and their dignity.
Pope Saint John Paul II

Forms of dialogue: sharing life, action – liberation of people, theological exchange, religious experience. Praying is not about “talking” but listening. Why can’t we (people of different faiths) sit together in silence.

In true dialogue both sides are willing to change.
Thich Nhat Hanh

Dialogue is not simply an exchange of ideas.
In some ways it is always an exchange of gifts.
Pope Saint John Paul II

Hie ist gotes grunt mîn grunt und mîn grunt gotes grunt”: “Here, God’s ground is my ground and my ground God’s ground” – Meister Eckhart… then man is no longer simply on the way towards unity (unio). Instead, unity is something that has always already been achieved.

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Pierre Marie Teilhard de Chardin – A modern religious crisis – David Moore

Teilhard spent half his life in exile. Buried in New York an there were only 10 mourners. Teilhard illuminates:

  • new paradigm
  • long view-evolutionary
  • radiant example of a human being

Despite war, revolution, atomic threat, exile… Teilhard maintained constant optimism and held no bitterness… how? Mysticism.

Mysticism

  • unitive (vision for humankind and everything)
  • supreme loving consciousness “Without mysticism there can be no successful religion” love and fire (were the same thing as he writes it).
  • evolutive (sacred heart and evolution/science) Contradictory truths of faith and science. “I am a child of earth before I am a child of God” and “the nature of nature is to change”

What is your crisis? What is your diagnosis?

Matter becoming spirit – “spirit-matter” – the process that restores this dualism.

Materialism suggests “there is no mind because you can’t prove it” – we’ve got down to atoms and we know that there’s still more beyond that >> soul >>”spirit-matter”.

Scientific and religion crises are rooted in the same problem. Prognosis – need both. They are animated by the same life. Noosphere = interconnectedness of mind/consciousness e.g. precursor of internet. Humans need to fulfil our obligation. “We are the axis and the arrow of evolution” >> reciprocity.

God is the centre of the cosmos but evolution depends on both the human and divine energies.

DIAGNOSIS PROGNOSIS
GOD Externalised, concretised As: dynamic, Omega Point > towards completion
SPIRIT/MIND/

CONSCIOUSNESS

Severed from matter Unified: brain/mind/spirit
CREATION Static/fixed – separated from the Creator Dynamic, evolutive, unfolding process converging towards completion. “Complexity Consciousness”
CHRIST Single, individual superhero – law/judgement Archetype of consciousness, anthropogenesis, cosmogenesis àgenesis is still happening
HUMANKIND Mere spectators Creation becoming conscious
SALVATION Rescue, doctrines, fall/original sin Noogenesis >cost of labour and suffering

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Seeking the Way of the Spirit living Jesus’ commands to love: for Christians, our church in our world, learning from our past, for our future hope through Love in our present – Carol McDonough

Old ways as well as new ways.

  • roots, learn from tradition and current best practice
  • ways of learning from the past
  • ways of living in the present
  • ways of looking to the future

Popes of Coptics and Franciscans – blind child chooses from 3 envelopes > spirit-led

Sunni Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb and Pope Francis > inter-religious dialogue. There’s more that unites than divides us.

A reformation of hope requires a reformation of faith
Prof Jurgen Moltmann

“We will keep the earth alive
by our love and by our choices”
Fay White, Universe’s Daughter

The theological implications of the contemporary
move from a culture of dispute to a culture of dialogue.
Prof Jurgen Moltmann

This is precisely the time when artists go to work.
There is no time for despair, no place for self-pity,
no need for silence, no room for fear.
Toni Morrison

In such times of civilizational trauma, when the book of life itself seems to have come unbound, where are the artists?
Maria Popova

Nothing new would ever be built if nothing was ever broken.

Christ has no body now but yours – St Teresa of Avila

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Ancient Roots, New Expressions: How the Spirituality and Praxis of Christian Contemplatives are being reshaped by the demands of living in an Evolving Universe and a Planet in ecological crisis – Ruth Harrison

Call to live contemplatively in the everyday. Raimon Panikkar had 3 PhDs in philosophy, chemistry and theology… lived out of a space of intrareligious dialogue. Left home a Christian, became Hindu, left Buddhist but would say he never stopped being Christian.  “not alone with the Alone but a harmonious complexity

“Panikkar proposes that the Christian doctrine of the Trinity reveals a structure of reality that is comprehensively universal. ‘The Trinitarian intuition is neither exclusively Christian doctrine, no a monopoly of ‘God’. It reveals the most fundamental character of Reality. Being is trinitarian.’ [Program for the Gifford Lectures, 1988/89, 1, 5.]”
– Ewert Cousins, “Panikkar’s Advaitic Trinity”, pp. 119-120 in The Intercultural Challenge of Raimon Panikkar, ed. Joseph Prabhu. Orbis Books, Maryknoll, 1996.

Panikkar’s “Radical Trinity”

Comparing 3 ways humans approach the Divine with the 3 classical paths of the Bhagavad Gita…

HINDUISM

THE TRINITY

THE  TRINITY AND
WORLD RELIGIONS

Karma = action – of worship
The spirituality of the worship of God, through a divine name e.g. Yahweh, Allah
FATHER
Silence, transcendence
BUDDHISM
The religion on the silence of the Father
The Silence of the Buddha
Bhakti = devotion – personalism
The way of devotion and love, the gift of oneself to the Lord this way demands a meeting of persons
SON
Christ, logos
JUDAISM, CHRISTIANITY, ISLAM
Revelations of the mystery of the Son
Jnana = advaita = not two – intimately related (not one) knowledge, pure contemplation
Spirit – of Absolute “being”
SPIRIT
Immanence
HINDUISM
As in the Upanishads
The religion of the unity of the Spirit

This intuition ultimately results from a mystical experience and as such is ineffable.  …It is the fruit of a simple and immediate insight which dawns upon Man’s awareness once he has glimpsed the core where knower, known and knowledge meet.

In this vision, the world is not a habitat or an external part of the whole or even of myself. The World is simply that greater body which I only imperfectly notice because I am generally too concerned with my own particular business. My relationship with the World is ultimately no different from my relationship with myself: the World and I differ, but there are not two separate realities, for we share each other’s life, existence, being, history and destiny in a unique way.

Panikkar

Man…is ultimately more than an individual.
Man is a person, a knot in the net of relationships…
reaching out to the very antipodes of the real… Man is only Man
with the sky above, the Earth below, and his fellow beings all around. But just as “individualizing” the human being is tantamount to
cutting the umbilical cord which gives him life, so isolating
Man from God and the World equally strangulates him.

Panikkar

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Holy Disruption: A Quaker Experience of Reformation Then and Now – David Buller

{have a time of meditation}
how was that? did you have your eyes open or closed? …I ask is my heart open or closed?

Quaker silence holds an anticipation that God will speak to us.

  • something of the divine is in every person
  • seekers and also finders
  • vision of the truth again and again, will grow and change.

This provides an inward teaching and there is no need for sermons/preaching.

Experience New Testament church without the cumber of previous generations.  He has come and is with us, we don’t need to wait.  He is not a Jew that is won outward but inward. Quakers believed you told the truth ALL the time. Often played a role as mediators.

Faith getting in the way of comfort. Quakers taken to court for possessions lost cases because they wouldn’t take the oath.

You can’t negate (kill) someone in whom God dwells.

No war tax/profit from violence/slave trade or asylums. The Retreat was a therapeutic model providing a humane space for those experiencing mental illness.

“The likeness we bear to Jesus is more important
than our notions of Him”
Lucretia
(hiding slaves and boycotting products)

Quakers work on education for peace, skills to handle violence, build peace, non-violent activism, engage with broader movements > Greenpeace, Oxfam, UN.

A Quaker who owned a factory might provide social housing for the workers employed and run a school providing education for women and children.

Sit in silence. Talking with God.
You’ll get a job to do.

“turning on a tap impacts others….
let me live as lightly and delicately as possible”.

 

Respond to the presence of Spirit, light and truth.
Recognise other wisdom – written and lived.

 

“This I know experimentally, ” Elizabeth Watson,
“we augment one another and we need one another”

The inner light is not frozen it is dynamic…

Ref: Quakers in Aotearoa booklet

A Holy Remnant – whatever other chaos is going on. Meet in North Melbourne in the Kathleen Symes Library. New building 484 Williams St. “Hold this in the light”

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Reform: Spirituality and the Person of Jesus: Christian Holiness as Deification (Theiosis) – Francis (Frank) Moloney

500 years on from Luther, I’m going to talk about reform, spirituality and the personification of Jesus.

Blessed Isaac of Stella, French monk 1100-1169, concept of theiosis “The faithful and spiritual members of Christ can say they are what he is” What is his nature, they are sharing; what he births, they adopt.

Pope & Emperor – the power of the two keys – corruption in Princes and church leaders.
11th century saw a shift from a Church whose foundation was law to Church preserved from secular authority.

1082-1084 Henry besieged Rome, forced Gregory VII into Castille > both died in exile. Isaac of Stella living in the midst f this.  Recaptured theiosis. Exiled for harbouring Thomas Beckett (1164) Isaac died (1169). Popes in Avignon. Schism resolved by Catherine of Sienna. Rome needed to be restored to its former glory – theological and spiritual dissatisfaction increased.

Martin Luther Oct 1517 affixed thesis – he didn’t come from nowhere, broke ranks.

  • lost touch with its roots
  • liturgical rhythms and practices
  • Word of God, Work of Jesus

“only Word, only faith, only Christ”.  Principle rejected everything that couldn’t be found in the Old Testament.  Purity of Christian thought and practice didn’t last – series of wars… Protestant town but then the next town Catholic… whatever the religion of the Priest, the region must take it.

Erasmus, Catholic priest. Back to beginnings. Church not perfect but self-sufficient. “Enlightenment” rejected as false, something that could not be proved.  US/Germany/ Russia revolution against Catholic church.

1870 Infallibility of Pope – Vatican I, took further than Council intended.

1491-1660 Frances de Sales, Vincent de Paul, Teresa of Avila… these figures living out the reform – cared for sick, dying…

Vatican II honoured what these people did and lived for.  What was considered dangerously close to Protestant thought now endorsed by the highest authority.  COuncil of Trent “return to the sources”. Fierce opposition to Pope Francis > he speaks to gospel and concern for humankind.  Time of rebirth. Divinisation of the individual at the heart of God.

Instead of a top-down reflection on who we are, return to sources in bottom up.  Whatever is honorable, pleasing… worthy of praise, dwell on these things (Paul) Christian humanism – benign relationship between nature and grace.

1965 Jesuit le mystere (the mystery of the supernatural)
Natural > supernatural > showed that to be a false idea. The development of human excellence depends on an understanding of what it means to be human.  Based on ‘do’ sport/IT/social… >sense of self-worth, used by Government, funding depends on it. Danger > lose sight of who we are, lose sight of that when we focus on what we can “do”.

Need to recognise every human as mystery at the core of their being.
Love and be loved.

Share faith and commitment with others…sexual desire, pain, crying… why is it so important to feel love then, from death or distance, loss? Gives great capacity.  These are things that matter for the human spirit.  You are the only you to have ever existed. We each have a unique history. We allow others to shape our human history and we shape theirs.

What matters is loving and being loved. Only free action we will perform – saying yes to God in moment of death.  What we do is not the final measure of who we are.

This is what is deepest in us but what forms us is beyond our control… it transcends us. Why did I cry? Why did I love that man/woman? It’s beyond us but forms us and the choices we make about our lives. I need to find the keys to my own heart (self) before finding keys for others.  Recognise the mystery of yourself as beyond your control. we have all experiences signs of the divine within us. Be open to and transformed by the transcendent. All human beings share in the divine.

Called to develop a personal relationship with Jesus Christ – what does that mean? Lifestyle is directed by gospel values > exciting pathway to be authentically Christian. Yearn for divine home. “You have made us for Yourself, we are restless, until we rest in You”. Only human –  that’s not your weakness but your strong-point. Jesus blessed with the human and the divine.

To be Christian = to be like Christ.

Jesus was unconditionally human in all things but sin.  Loved, hoped, sang, danced, prayed, suffered… We sin when we do not respond out of our best humanity (selfish, jealous, arrogant…) Sin is rejecting the experience of divine within me that yearns for wholeness/fulfillment. John – “whoever says they are like Him must walk like Him”. Impact of our choices on how we live (gospel) > no one is talking about that.

A mystery of faith. In Jesus – the Divine Sphere invaded the Human. Good/bad, sacred/sinful… Jesus never reneged on the divine.  There was no ambiguity about His “yes” to all that was human within Him. “Abba” – unswerving commitment to living the presence of God as king.  Conflicted but trusting, not without fear or anguish but trusting God would have the last word.

The Human realised its potential and lived into the Divine in Jesus.

Christology and discipleship intersect.
Jesus’ life consisted of saying “yes” to God.
Jesus’ death consisted of God’s “yes” to Jesus.
Costs Jesus no less than everything.

Jesus could do this because He was Son, only one… can we do it?

We are all capable of repeating the lifestyle of Jesus and realising the fullness of God. Graced by baptism to have grace of discipleship. Paul: Blessed to cry out Abba Father to Romans/Galatians.

Betray our true selves, to be like unto God as Jesus was.  Called to recognise our dignity.  Revealed God to us and raised us to God.  The glory of God is the human fully realised.

There should be no separation between our secular life and Christian practice.  loving, laughter, mission, dancing, praying and eating… all form part of the journey to be as Christ was. Ref: Ignatius Loyola, Thomas of Aquinas, Karl Rainer…

I find myself in the world and on my way to God.
I find myself being both at once.
I cannot be one without the other.

John’s invitation: “Come and see…” (see joyful, loving, caring people > witness not word).

We are given chance after chance, after chance to respond in Christ-like ways… to say “yes” or “no”

Not “want you to be saved” but rather “sharing the invitation I know”.

Jesus: “Abba, I want this chalice to pass from me but Your will not mine”
John: “I will do the will of the One who sent me and brings it to perfection”

Obedience is an unconditional “yes” to God.

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Pleasure is when love and its object meet.
To love is to eat.
To love is to give oneself to be eaten. (p.84)

The Latin languages preserve an intuition which seems to be absent from English.  Their words for ‘knowledge’ and ‘taste’ come from the same root. Sapere, in Latin, means both to ‘know’ and to ‘have flavour’. In my language, saber – to know, and sabor taste.  Eating and knowing have the same origin.  To know something is to feel its taste, what it does to my body.  Reality is not rawness, the ‘things-in-themselves’. Reality is the result of the alchemic transformation by fire, the food which is taken inside my body. (p.85-86)

The dead man: the raw.
But it was transformed by the fire of the villagers’ imagination.
And they, themselves, were resurrected by participating in the anthropophagic ritual…

The body is a kitchen.
Without the fire that burns inside,
the fire of hunger,
desire,
longing,
imagination
there cannot be any hope of resurrection, because we are what we eat. (p.87)

 

 

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An outsider would not have noticed any visible changes. The same skies, the same seas. The same faces… But they know that everything was different. Their banal everyday life which they knew with such familiarity had been transfigured,  They had been given new eyes and the solid objects and stone faces which filled their space became transparent. It was as if they saw invisible things which were visible only to those who had seen the angel troubling the waters of the pool – the dead man.

Normal mirrors reflect things which are present; but dreams show things which are absent… their stories about the dead man were stories about themselves. Stories not about what they were (that is what they saw when they looked in their mirrors…) but stories about what they desired to be: this is what they saw as they faced their dreams…

Inside our flesh, and mixed with the noises of Death, there is written an indelible story of beauty.  And even without knowing we know that we are destined to this happiness: the Prince must meet Sleeping Beauty.

The villagers remembered. Their stories were the return of a lost time: the past, desired, repressed, forgotten, dead, resurrected from the grave.

…How could I explain to her that the story was always happening in the present just because it had never happened in the past, in the far distant land?

…the beautiful wants to return… its time is sacred; it is reborn every morning; it is the time of resurrection.

…Once upon a time, in a far distant land…” : a cloud of mist covers the narrative to conceal its real time and space which are ‘now’ and ‘here’… the ‘once upon a time, in a far distant land’ is a metaphorical was of speaking about a present loss.

p.39-41, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet

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“… a subtle moment, a reversal occurs.  I know longer drink the wine. It is the wine which drinks me. I have been ‘drunk’ by it. I am drunk. Now it is not the wine which enters my body. It is the wine which holds me inside a glass and drinks me, and I enter into a totally different world, a strange world which I don’t know.  My body is possessed by ‘spirits’ which had remained outside till that moment. ‘In vino veritas’: in wine truth abides.

The eucharist: If the body and the blood were assimilated into our bodies, they would become what we are. But the eucharist is the reversal of normality: we eat and drink the bread and the wine, but it is the bread and the wine which eats us. We are to become what they are: the body and the blood of Christ.”

p.14-15, The Poet, the Warrior, the Prophet

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We are running a fortnightly bible study following our community dinner looking at the exegesis (interpretation) of the bible passages that underpin each of our community values. You can read the list of Values here so you know what’s coming up next.

These values can be relevant whatever context you live and work in just make the Word you own.


 

Value 7: Doing the hard yards

We value servanthood in the big and the small – choosing to do the “crappy” stuff.  We want to be people of personal and spiritual maturity (enduring personal cost) in order that the vision is accomplished.

Biblical basis: James 5:7-11


 

Let’s read the value together. What stands out?

“We value” – this is about making personal choices to value things differently than most of the rest of the world… not a flashy project, it doesn’t attract attention.

Trusting there is purpose in the crappy stuff.

 Need to acknowledge the way our current situation impacts my approach to this value, how would my/our interpretation differ if we weren’t crisis.

Is it ‘given’ that in order for the vision to be accomplished, it needs to cost me?




James 5: 7-10

My friends, be patient as you wait for the Lord to return. Be as patient as the farmers. Farmers sow their crops and then have to wait patiently, hoping for good seasonal rains, because the harvest that pays their bills ripens in its own good time. There is nothing they can do to hurry it up. You can’t hurry the Lord up either, so be patient. Stay focused though, and condition yourselves, because the arrival of the Lord is not far off.

My friends, don’t go whinging and putting each other down. If you do, you’ll find yourselves having to answer for it. The judge could reopen the case against you at any moment.

Take as your role models the prophets who brought us God’s message in the past. They really suffered for their stand, but they hung in there, never giving up, and their patience paid off.  11 That’s because God cares, cares right down to the last detail.

©2002 Nathan Nettleton LaughingBird.net

 

“This work could be a prayer; its results should not concern me”

Thomas Merton

 

“There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are afraid, we pull back from life. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance. We need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and our imperfections. If we cannot love ourselves, we cannot fully open to our ability to love others or our potential to create. Evolution and all hopes for a better world rest in the fearlessness and open-hearted vision of people who embrace life.”

John Lennon


Read the bible. What words/ideas stand out? What can we learn from the bible about living the Value of “Doing the hard yards”?

Being patient sounds passive – I’m bad at that!

It’s not passive it’s active! “stay focused”… “condition yourselves”… farmers till, plant, fertilise, prepare the soil… still required to exercise what is within your ability to influence, power, control. There are things we can do but then there are things we can’t… we have to rely on God for those.

Begin work or make choices with an outcome in mind but often things don’t go as we plan, despite this things work out.

You have to do what you can and trust the other stuff to happen. 

Often in Christian circles the personal cost component can become competitive and be worn as a badge-of-honour.

Perspective makes a difference – choosing, for example, to work part time could be perceived as a ‘cost’ but for us, from our perspective it feels like an opportunity.

You can love different people if you put you mind to it. A lot of people don’t go out of their way… instead they love to put people down.

Standing up for someone when you notice the truth. When they can’t stand up for themselves.

 

Taking this idea of where our influence ends and God’s begins let’s write down on these “seeds” what we know and what we don’t know, doing what we can, planting them and leaving the growing to God remembering “we need to learn to love ourselves first, in all our glory and imperfections”

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…all we can do is plant our seeds and trust that the outcomes that come, while not what we might imagine,  work toward the vision of God being accomplished.

 

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Within the grip of winter, it is almost impossible to imagine the spring. The gray perished landscape is shorn of color. Only bleakness meets the eye; everything seems severe and edged. Winter is the oldest season; it has some quality of the absolute. Yet beneath the surface of winter, the miracle of spring is already in preparation; the cold is relenting; seeds are wakening up. Colors are beginning to imagine how they will return. Then, imperceptibly, somewhere one bud opens and the symphony of renewal is no longer reversible. From the black heart of winter a miraculous, breathing plenitude of color emerges.

The beauty of nature insists on taking its time. Everything is prepared. Nothing is rushed. The rhythm of emergence is a gradual slow beat always inching its way forward; change remains faithful to itself until the new unfolds in the full confidence of true arrival. Because nothing is abrupt, the beginning of spring nearly always catches us unawares. It is there before we see it; and then we can look nowhere without seeing it.

 

With thanks to Dusk for sharing this when I needed to hear it.
An excerpt of a meditation from From To Bless the Space Between Us by John O’Donohue 

 

The river water

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The river water

runs high and fast.

Unknown depths,

cloudy murk obscuring

what is usually

so clear.

The season

is changing.

The high tide

lifts debris that has

been stuck since the last

spring storms

and carries it away.

In the run-off and rain

new biodiversity are

introduced, seeds from

places never seen here

downstream.

The land alters under

the authority of this new flow

the landscape – forever changed.

Not better, not worse, but new.

Talitha Fraser

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Ch 2, p8

“The surrender of faith does not happen in one moment but is an extended journey, a trust walk, a gradual letting go, unlearning and handing over… to finally surrender ourselves to healing, we have to have three spaces opened up within us – and all at the same time: our opinionated head, our closed-down heart, and our defensive and defended body… the work of ‘a Power greater than ourselves’, and it will lead to great luminosity and seeing.”

Richard Rohr