Contemplative Times, Issue # 11
The Newsletter of Meditation Chapel
The Meditation Chapel Vision
Meditation Chapel nurtures unity and peace through the sharing of divine stillness and sacred listening. We support groups of all faith traditions in offering and sharing the contemplative experience through the sacramental use of technology.
LETTER FROM THE EDITOR
We discover as we go that there are no mistakes, just more of the fabric of the Universe coming into view. I used to think that pulling threads would lead me somewhere…but pulling threads has only taken the coverings off everything, including my efforts.
Mark Nepo, Drinking from the River of Light
Each of us is a spiritual weaver. Daily, we pull threads to form the cosmic tapestry of Love. Every time we sit in still silence, every time we reach a hand to someone in need, every time we share a bit of our own story, every time we create and laugh and cry, we knit together this beautiful fabric.
Each of us has a particular strand that acts as the lead thread. We weave this One strand into every part of our lives. This strand may be named hope, or kindness, or joy, or service, or justice, or love. Whatever you call it, it is a meaningful contribution to the whole.
So, what is it that you weave? What are the threads you knit together?
Contemplating this newsletter’s theme, I began recording some of the threads that I am weaving – at least, what I believe to be weaving:
I weave darkness with light. Nothingness and night serpentine their way among stars and moonlight. Black holes couple with lightning.
I weave together the losses and discoveries I’ve experienced to make a path on which to travel. Bejeweled roads carrying great caravans of moments.
I weave the moments of silence together with the weight of the words expressed in my lifetime. Particles of air.
I weave together decades of communion with the Divine into the evolution of consciousness that is ongoing. Wine, salt, myths, story.
I weave together practices, experiences, ceremonies, and tears. I weave hope and joy with frustration and disappointment. Broken glass, echoing laughter, contented sighs.
I weave together all the flowers and scents and textures and tastes to form a bouquet of delights for my senses. Peony, linen, velvet, coffee, cinnamon, myrrh, sage, sea.
I weave together the empty hours of unlearning and unknowing, the loneliness I’ve felt, the comfort of friends, the choices I’ve made, and the visions yet forming for my future.
I weave together origins, truth, and the mysterious, fertile earth of ancient lands. I weave the marshlands and tidal canals and oyster beds of my home together with the concrete highways and heavy metal machinery that transport me away from it.
I weave my breath together with your presence. I weave arriving and departing. I weave community with solitude.
I cannot but help to weave together beginnings and endings because they are one thread.
This one thread of beginnings and endings is particularly prominent just now, as I bid farewell as your Contemplative Times editor with this issue. It has been a distinct pleasure to provide you with a tapestry of beauty from our community over these few years. I hope that you have enjoyed contributing and reading as much as I have enjoyed creating these newsletters for you.
I have other threads to pull at this time – great, colorful, thick threads that have been calling me for a decade. I will be working more with folks in recovery of all kinds – aren’t we all recovering from something? With these new threads, more of the fabric of the universe is coming into view.
In this issue, you will find contributions from Bob Brown, Carolyn Goddard, Phil Higgs, Marita Merlene, Joan Mistretta, Karen O’Brien, and Marcia Stoner.
I encourage you to keep pulling those threads that Spirit places in your path.
Peace and goodwill to you always,
Editor, Contemplative Times
Weaving 101 by Marcia Stoner
God is the warp, the strong first threads,
I am the weft, adding color, pattern and beauty.
Together we make spiritual fabric.
Opened heart, creative love, colorful relationship.
Back and forth, the shuttle floats
As the weaver prays repetitively
Right—-“Bless the Lord, O my soul
Left—Forget not they benefits.”
Your graces set up the constant rhythm.
Textured yarns like bumps on our journey.
Broken strings repaired unconsciously,
Like forgiven sins dismissed by you.
The tapestry of life unravels easily…
Without your strengthening love, protective care and attentive watching.
HOSPITES DIVINA by Carolyn Goddard
Sometimes the Holy Spirit manifests so completely it is impossible to miss.
Prior to the pandemic, a group of about twelve people would meet each Monday morning to pray together in the manner of lectio divina. Once a month, those whose schedules allowed for it would stay after the prayer period for coffee and a snack. Covid-19 put an end to that way of gathering, but the group found its way to the Meditation Chapel. Here they were joined by people from other states, other countries, other continents. As had happened with various peoples in the early stages of Christianity; a more diverse, more inclusive community emerged.
But the Spirit was not done. When the original members of the group were vaccinated, some of them expressed a desire to gather in-person, at least for coffee. As the facilitator, I sent out an email, outlining how we might safely meet. A surprising response came to my inbox. One of the members, Anne, said she had not been drawn to the zoom meetings but would very much like to host the coffee group at her home. She explained that she was caring for a friend who had Alzheimer’s Disease. Could we please meet at her home since she could not leave her friend home alone?
The date and time were set. Others offered to bring the food items, but Anne insisted she wanted to provide. And so it came to pass that the images that had shown up so faithfully in the weekly zoom meetings were made incarnate for the first time in over a year. Anne had spread a table, well actually a counter, before them. Coffee, tea, juices, crustless quiche, bacon and sausage, French toast with maple syrup and Anne’s aunt’s special homemade jam – it was a feast of Biblical proportion.
We filled our plates, our cups were indeed overflowing, as we found our places at the table. That is when Eileen appeared, stepping out of the isolation her disease can cause, to join us at table. She looked each of us in the eye and extended her hand, repeating our names as Anne introduced us. Eileen smiled gently and told each of us her name. As we finished our meal and sat back in our chairs, many of us cupping a second dose of coffee, Anne mentioned how much Eileen liked jigsaw puzzles. In fact, there was one just behind the table. One of the guests brought the box to the table and opened it. The puzzle had recently been done, there were large chunks of jigsaw pieces still connected. As conversation around the table continued, various guests came to the end of the table where Eileen sat and began to make connections – of the puzzle pieces, with Eileen. It was a grace-filled morning – hospites divina – divine connections, all under the brooding heart of a Holy Spirit.
Untitled by Joan Mistretta
with hopeful heart,
I dare to place the ragged,
of my faith.
Back and forth the shuttle
Over and under with my
Warp and woof,
till once again my soul retrieves
its lost design.
A WARM AND GRATEFUL WELCOME TO ALL OF OUR NEW FACILITATORS AND GROUPS.
THANK YOU FOR SHARING YOUR GIFTS AND RESOURCES WITH THE MEDITATION CHAPEL COMMUNITY.
Spiritual Weaving by Marita Merlene
Driving to Church on a Saturday morning as a child, sitting in the back seat of the car looking out the window at the rest of the world going about their usual business, I marveled at my outrageous good luck to be born into a family who knew the Truth about the Universe and its rules for living leading to salvation. Pretty much everything has changed since then – several times. But I still feel lucky.
The spiritual tapestry of my life is filled with knots. Luckily for me I keep finding threads that I can follow that bring so many gifts: community, retreat, pilgrimage, song, chant, prayer, aspiration, generosity, service. But threads break. What comes together falls apart. What is built up deteriorates or is smashed. Communities drift or break apart. Beliefs expand and contract – a treacherous track through shifting sands. Trust is broken or stretched micron thin. Where to turn?
Walking a labyrinth with spacious, prayerful attention. Being instructed by its narrow, winding path – now so apparently near the destination, now so apparently far, yet with each step coming closer – trustworthy, unfailing, non-linear.
The face of Kwan Yin on my bedroom wall. She looks at me. I look at her. Year in, year out.
Chanting, song, breath. Being with others in open-hearted communion, blending aspirations and wishes with our voices. The blessings of repetition, simplicity and deeply resonant, embodied silence.
The simplicity of lighting a candle and making a wish for the light of wisdom to fill all of space. The beauty of Chartres Cathedral humbling my proud heart and reconnecting me to my ancestral heritage. Falling in love with the stained glass image of the Madonna, who looks like my mother.
Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.
Om Tare, Tutare, Ture Soha.
Hail Mary, full of grace. Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death.
O Guru Rinpoche, care for me.
Seeker of truth/ follow no path/ all paths lead where/ truth is here. This poem enchanted me once. Now I’m grateful for a path – all paths of spiritual practice that are embodied, communal, lead to here – to the heart – my heart, your heart, the heart of the matter. Love. Trust. Surrender. Peace. Gratitude.
Weaving Practices: Tai Chi and Meditation by Phil Higgs
Phil Higgs facilitates Tai Chi Meditation on Meditation Chapel. Check our calendar for days/times! CALENDAR
Transition between movement and stillness.
For many, meditation involves willfully entering a state of stillness. This can be accompanied by restless movement, muscle twitching, and other physical effects. It can be helpful to have a physical technique which mitigates these effects. Tai chi, yoga and focused breathing are all useful techniques.
After completing a meditative session, sleep, or couch potato behavior, the body needs to warm up. Performing a very familiar slow movement pattern can warm up the body. This can aid the transition from deep meditation to daily activity.
Transition between stillness and focused action
Meditating directly after focused action, the mind often enters prolonged periods of “chatter” when transitioning into meditative states. Slower than normal moments used in Tai Chi and yoga can coach the mind into settling. Then meditative states can be entered with less mental noise.
Tai chi can be used as a form of meditative awareness. At first the mind has to focus on the actions of the move. Then, as a rhythm develops, the mind wanders. Just as in seated meditation, awareness can alternate between focusing on the movements or wandering into thoughts. Over time different movements are chosen, and the cycle starts again.
Unlike most exercise routines, Tai Chi patterns are performed slower as the practitioner becomes more adept. Individuals find their own ideal pace.
With consistent practice it is easy to drop into a meditative state while performing well known Tai chi routines.
Like all learning, beginner methods of Tai chi are simple. More complicated techniques, forms and styles can be added. However, it is the simple core methods which are best suited to meditative practice.
DIRECT EXPERIENCE by Bob Brown
do I experience reality
does the Divine Presence dwell and act in me
does the Divine Presence radiate out from me
does my false self
restrict this radiation
ONE THREAD by Laura Waters
Weave with me and become entranced
Let go of me and sink into the eternal embrace
Feel yourself fall gloriously into nothingness
Pull me and find that everything comes together, even as it all falls apart
Untether yourself from your chaotic thoughts, hurried steps, and breathless days
Entwine yourself with me, your beloved
And know you are never alone
And know you are enough
And know I am.
And that is enough.
I am the One thread.
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