Budding Within

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, March 24, 2017

So much is in bud, the poet Denise Levertov tells us.  In the Northern hemisphere we might add: even when buried under 2 feet of snow.  Even when assaulted by fierce, unrelenting wind.  Even when held firmly in the grip of unforgiving cold.

Can we hear the whisper, barely audible yet quite emphatic, that is the call of spring?  Have we noticed the lub-dub of the beating heart of our planet?  The irrepressible longing of the Earth moving towards greening?  Have we heard the summons towards newness of life that will not be ignored or denied?

In my part of the world where there are usually marked differences in the seasons, spring is not a time of ripening but a season of possibility and the dreams that are the stuff of longing.  Already, impatient snowdrops and courageous crocus have broken ground.  Thebuddingcrocusinsnow copy forsythia bush is putting out tentative, promising buds.  Indoors, my housemates—a family of African violets and English ivy–peer out at their relatives in the front yard and feel a kinship as they lean towards the light together.

Is it any wonder that, here in the Northern hemisphere, the liturgical season of Lent runs parallel to the natural season of spring?  The word “Lent”, after all, comes from the Old English “lencten” and the German “Lenz”, meaning spring.  And in Old German, related translations of Lent uncover the word, “long,” reflecting the lengthening of days as we journey toward ever increasing daylight.  Or perhaps the root meaning should really be not “long” but “long-ing,” reflecting the desire of all creation for greening and growth.

Can we imagine our Lenten hearts erupting in the Song of Songs (2:10-11)?
“Arise, my friend, my beautiful one, and come!
For see, the winter is past, the rains are over and gone.
The flowers appear on the earth…”

May we move into this springtime of the liturgical year with what John Soos names as

“the restlessness of being a seed
the darkness of being planted
the struggle toward the light
the pain of growth into the light
the joy of bursting and bearing fruit
the love of being food for someone…”   (To Be of the Earth)

May we begin this springtime of the heart seeking wholeness and a stillness which is generative.
May we tend to our profound hunger for the Holy and the deep longing of the Holy for each one of us.
May we lean towards the light and live lives of meaning beyond ourselves.

May we, in the prayer of the Chinook Psalter,
“be touched by grace, fascinated and moved by this your creation,budsprouting copy
energized by the power of new growth at work in your world…
May our bodies, our minds, our spirits learn a new rhythm paced by the rhythmic pulse of the whole created order.
May spring come to us, be in us, and recreate life in us.”

Blessings on these remaining days of Lent!

Takeaway

What seeds do you hope to plant and nurture in your life today?

What might God be longing to green and grow in you?

NOTE:

My thanks for your prayerful support of days of retreat and reflection in the past two weeks in Sullivan County, NY; Port Washington, NY; and Springfield Gardens, NY. 

Please continue to hold in your prayer these upcoming events:
March 25-29:  “Walking the Lenten Journey with Jesus,”  Parish Lenten mission, St. Susanna Church, Penn Hills, PA 

April 8:  Lenten retreat day for parishioners of Christ the King Church, Springfield Gardens, NY at Our Lady of Grace Center, Manhasset, NY

 

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Becoming the Field

by Chris Koellhoffer, IHM, March 12, 2017

Right now, at this very moment, everything in the Universe is moving, vibrating, giving off energy in some form.  This astounding reality is one of many insights quantum physics and the new cosmology have broken open in recent years.  If you have any difficulty fully embracing this, observe how children and animals often intuitively sense a place of safety and goodness in a person they’re encountering for the very first time, and how they’re drawn to this positive energy.  Consider how the vibrational pulse of people in a room can change dramatically when one person with negative energy joins the conversation.  Or recall a time when, even if you couldn’t summon words to articulate or describe it, you knew yourself in the presence of peace and compassion through the energy field of another.

heartekg copyThis past week of offering a guided retreat for Maryknoll Sisters, I experienced a palpable sense of energy, a resonance with the mission of love and service these women have given over to the Universe: lives open to what Vatican II called “the joys, hopes, griefs and anxieties” of the people of this world; lives transformed by relationship to the other, to welcoming the other’s wisdom and insight and sense of the Holy.

Each morning and each afternoon of the retreat, we engaged in breathprayer, remembering how the Spirit of God hovered over the waters at the beginning of creation, breathing out breath that was generative, that summoned life.  In inhaling and exhaling, we sent our prayer and compassion and intention beyond the chapel.  Just like the singing bowl rung at the close of our breathprayer, we rang our love out into the Universe without knowing our reach or impact.  We simply trusted in the breathing and the sending.

At Maryknoll, a place made sacred by the lives of hundreds of missionaries, the theme of resonance kept returning to me long after the sounds of the singing bowl had diminished and disappeared.  All around the building were vibrations of images, photos and artwork from countries and cultures around the globe, each one speaking of energies invested and given over in love and sacrifice.

In our shared struggle to contribute to a world of tenderness and peace, Teilhard de Chardin might have been speaking of these vibrations when he wrote, “Our role is not only to ease suffering, bind up wounds, and feed the hungry, but through every form of effort to raise the powers of Love upward to the next stage of consciousness.”

To raise the powers of Love upward to the next consciousness.  To do this from wherever we may happen to live.  Isn’t this what Judy Cannato references in her beautiful IMG_1879 (2)work,  Field of Compassion?  She speaks of British biologist Rupert Sheldrake’s concept of morphogenic fields, in which “…the human person is a field of energy and information rooted in the body but extending out from the body, interacting with the energy and information of others.”  We humans, she asserts, have the ability to be aware of and to transform our energy fields by the choices we make.  We can, with God’s grace, alter the kinds of energy we pass on to the world around us.  Our call is to make enlightened and compassionate choices that resonate for the good of all.

Cannato asks a series of “What ifs” about these energy fields, this raising upward of the powers of Love:

“What if we experiment with the notion that what Jesus was about was the creation of…a morphogenic field, one that resonates with love and draws others like a magnet?

What if we could intentionally contribute to the fashioning of a field in which attitudes and speech and action flow out of the very best human beings can be?

What if we with great intentionality take up the challenge to love God and neighbor with all our heart, mind, soul, and strength?

What kind of morphic resonance would that create?
How would we change?
How would the world change?”

Takeaway

Imagine your life displayed as a collage of photos and artwork and words and images, an intimate glimpse into the fields of energy you have shared and are sharing with our world.

What do you see?  Hear?  Feel?

What kind of energy field are you giving out to the Universe?

How are you the presence of Love that invites others to see their beauty and worth?

Spend some time in silence giving thanks for the energies of Love within you and around you.

 

NOTE:  My deep thanks to the many who enriched and contributed to the retreat experiences offered during the past two weeks in Scranton, PA; Watchung, NJ;  Ossining, NY; and Sullivan County, NY, and to all of you who supported in prayer these sacred moments.

May I ask you to again surround the next round of retreat experiences with your prayer:

March 18:                   “Standing, Staying, Accompanying,”  St. Peter of Alcantara IHM  Center, Port Washington, NY
March 22:                   Social Justice Ministry, Christ the King parish, Springfield Gardens, NY
March 25-29:              “Walking with Jesus on the Lenten Journey,” parish mission at St. Susanna Church, Penn Hills, PA

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