Seeking His Mind

This is the title from M. Basil Pennington’s 2002 book where he shares the fruit of his own lectio divina – the ancient practise of sacred reading, of which he writes – “If each day a word of the Lord can truly come alive for us and can form our mind and heart, we will have that mind of Christ.” As someone who approaches life with the energy of the Enneagram five space these are wonderful words of hope. I’m all to familiar with how my mind can help or hinder my growth as a follower of Jesus’s Way of love. My mind is the source of my greatest joys and greatest fears. To be able to have the “mind of Christ” is one of my greatest hopes.

Lectio has been a meaningful, blessed spiritual practice of mine for years now. I’ve enjoyed hearing from Scripture rather than pushing my questions and ideas onto the text; trying to figure out what it means – in the original language, for the original listeners…all that hermeneutical stuff. Bible study is important and interesting AND it’s good to know there are other ways to read sacred text. Maybe as I got older I needed something for my heart as much as my head. For some reason when I read Basil’s words – “I…eagerly wait to hear what he has to say to me.” my soul said “I want that too. Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening.” A new reality was birthed in my soul and I now really believe that the Holy One will talk to me, especially in my time of lectio. I’m not expecting an audible voice but some kind of communication through the text or whatever else I’m “listening” to. It feels more than a hope but a definite possibility. My part in the conversation is to show up, listen and the One who spoke the universe into existence will speak to me. This reality has made my morning times of reading the Bible, using the lectio divina method, something I look forward to, rather than something I HAVE to do to keep me properly on the Way – a dogmatic discipline.

Basil also writes, “I am grateful that I have had the joy and privilege … of sharing with my fellow travelers some of the words the Lord has spoken to me…And the feedback has indicted that the Lord has spoken them there also, creating bonds among us that have multiplied our joy in the word.” These words have inspired me to blog more often. I’m not anticipating the same results – wisdom or response – of a Basil Pennington and yet I feel more encouraged to write what I hear with the ear of my heart. If it can encourage others that they can personally hear from the Holy One, creates bonds and multiplies joy for anyone, it will be worth taking the risk of putting myself out there. That “showing up”… which is what a healthy “five” can do, with practise. 2021 will be an interesting year for many reasons and I wanted to share this additional motivation for blogging right off the top. Here we go … thanks be to God. TBTG

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Advent 2020 – In the midst of a pandemic

God With Us: Rediscovering the Meaning of Christmas, edited by Greg Pennoyer, Paraclete Press, 2007, is one of our favorite Advent resources. Eugene Peterson concludes his introduction – “Christmas forces us to deal with all the mess or our humanity in the context of God who has already entered that mess in the glorious birth of Jesus.”

Our humanity is really, really messy this Advent. The Body of Christ is experiencing a deadly virus which is forcing us to face the fear, guilt, cynicism, oppression present in our lives…to use the words from Grain of Wheat Church-Community Advent liturgy. It’s easy to see and feel the darkness of fear of getting or giving COVID 19, the darkness of feeling guilty I’m not doing enough to help, the darkness of my cynicism that leaders aren’t doing enough or too much, the darkness of the overall oppression as we try and stay home, isolated from the ones who can lift our spirits. That darkness envlopes our souls, and makes heavy our hearts. 

Some of you know the encouraging words which come next in this wonderful liturgy, but wait for it. Advent is, after all, a season of penitence, an opportunity to wait in the darkness and confusion. Not to wallow in it, but to give it an opportunity to teach us something. One of my favorite questions nowadays is “What have your learned from COVID 19 so far?” What can the 2020 season of Advent say to us – about how God is with us? According to Richard John Neuhaus (God With Us, p.17) “The great question is not whether we have found God but whether we have found ourselves being found by God.” Sitting in the dark with these kinds of questions could make this strange, unique, scary Advent a special time of emotional and spiritual growth.

Steve Bell’s musical version of St. Francis’s poem, Our Need of Thee, begins “Darkness is an unlit wick” and the chorus reminds us, over and over (harmonizes by Steve’s daughter Sarah) “…don’t the caged ones weep.” Remind you of anyone or anything. COVID 19 had caged our planet, our businesses, our homes, our lives and weeping is a proper response. 

St. Francis, translated by Daniel Ladinsky, begins this poem with “In our ever present need for thee: Beloved, let us know your peace.” and concludes – “There is a courageous dying, it is called effacement. That holy death unfurls our spirit’s wings and allows us to embrace God even as we stand on the earth.” 

God with us, in the midst of infectious disease, death and darkness, is our peace. “Darkness is an unlit wick: it just needs your touch, Beloved, to become a sacred flame. And what sadness in this world could endure if it looked into your eyes?” 

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Wisdom from St. Benedict and Joan Chittister and Steve Bell and….

Seeing as I borrowed the name of my blog from St. Ben; I had to put a link to his wisdom, in Joan’s words, here. 

And some humour for the on going journey from NCR…

And finally some comfort and encouragement from my good friend Steve Bell…

As I’m writing this I’m listening to Steve’s  I Will Not Be Shaken (Psalm Collection) – Psalm 3: Jesus my Glory. It’s a wonderful album for this season.

…But Lord You always are
A shield about my heart
A warrior fierce and free
Surrounding me
In the hour of my dread
You lift my weary head
All trembling subsides
And I cry
Jesus my glory…


…despite the many challenges we have many resources – may we all receive the grace to listenwiththeearofyourheart and be open to experiencing the help that is all around.

May the peace of the Christ be with us all…


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On-call with Jesus – Lent 2020

As I contemplated how I would be / what I will do, for Lent 2020 I’ve decided to commit to regular times in my glass studio, giving at least a dollar to everyone who asks – on street at stop lights etc. and trying to live the 40 days of Lent as though I was on call with Jesus; requiring me to refrain from alcohol. This is my response as I have listened to my heart’s response to “what are you giving up for Lent?”. Seeing as I’d like this blog to be the place I share what I hear as I listen – to Spirit, to myself, to others – I will elaborate. If you ever want to know how it’s going, please comment.

My understanding of Lent is that many Christians emphasis some tradition Christian practises, prayer, almsgiving and fasting to intentionally acknowledge the suffering and death of Jesus. 

My personal Window of Grace with original tree in background.

PRAYER – readers of my blog know that creating stained glass pieces of art is one of the 3 main ways I am to “be and do” during this season of retirement. In an earlier blog I described the process of making Windows of Grace, however I left out how creating these pieces – any piece really – has become a way of praying for me. I believe that prayer is connecting with the Holy One in various ways, contemplation, petition, praise, responding to the invitations, nudges and graces of Spirit. With the help of my spiritual director I’ve come to see that creating stained glass pieces can be prayer for me. That process often is a collaborative response with the creative force that shapes the universe. All that to say I’m committing to a regular time in my stained glass studio for “prayer” this Lent – at least an hour a day. I hope to pray with the heart of Jesus, along with Rohr’s prayer from his daily email meditation ( :

O Great Love, thank you for living and loving in us and through us. May all that we do flow from our deep connection with you and all beings. Help us become a community that vulnerably shares each other’s burdens and the weight of glory. Listen to our hearts’ longings for the healing of our world. [Please add your own intentions.] . . . Knowing you are hearing us better than we are speaking, we offer these prayers in all the holy names of God, amen.

ALMSGIVING – giving money to help folk further the work of Jesus through a local congregation or other charity is a regular part of our lives, the tax break is cool too. When I see folk begging, especially at street lights, I try to acknowledge them with a smile but seldom give any money, usually because I don’t know what they are going to do with “my” money. I’m hoping that giving to everyone who asks, at least for 40 days will give me the experience of living out of a compassionate heart first – saying yes, before analyzing  – something it seems Jesus did. He wasn’t naive, but compassion for humanity came first, even submitting to a horrible death on the cross.

FASTING – when I contemplated, in prayer and thought, what could I stop doing that would help me remember Jesus suffering during Lent, I thought of stopping something that keeps me from being available to serve as he did – doing the will of God. I was reminded that that way of being – being ready to do what God wants at a moments notice, is sort of like being on call. One of the blessings of retirement is that I can choose what I will do, besides sleeping, eating, breathing, etc…don’t get me started on exercise. However, when I choose to carry the pager for my role as spiritual care provider at a local hospital, I also choose to give up some things i.e. traveling to far from home, sometimes sleeping through the night. I also refrain from doing anything that would impede my ability to give good spiritual care, so I choose not to take any mood alternating substances including alcohol for at least 24 hours before call. So if I want to be available to God for whatever during Lent and hopefully beyond, I thought one way of looking at it would be “going on call with Jesus” for Lent. That means I’m “giving up” drinking alcohol for that period, except on Sundays and St. Patrick’s day – of course, unless I’m on call at HSC during the week.

May your Lenten season be blessed with times of full of deep reflection and joy – especially during this health crisis and the solitude, physical distancing and postponements it’s engendered. The Church and it’s traditions continue, grounding us all in the resurrection power, hope, loving presence of the Living God.

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Liminal Saturday

I’ve copied this from CAC – Richard Rohr’s daily email meditations

Each week they send a summary of the week’s meditations and a contemplative practice. I’ve found the practices very meaningful and this week’s was especially so considering we’re in the liminality of Saturday between Jesus death and resurrection.

Image credit: Lamentation of Christ (detail), Andrea Mantegna, 1470-1474, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

Practice: Darkness of the Tomb

Anyone who enters into love, and through love experiences inextricable suffering and the fatality of death, enters into the history of the human God, for [their] forsakenness is lifted away from [them] in the forsakenness of Christ, and in this way [they] can continue to love, need not look away from the negative and from death, but can sustain death. —Jurgen Moltmann [1]

As I shared earlier this week, Jesus replaced the myth of redemptive violence with the truth of redemptive suffering. On the cross he showed us how to hold pain and let it transform us rather than project it elsewhere. I believe one of the greatest meanings of the crucifixion is the revelation of God’s presence in the midst of suffering. God suffers with us.

Even when we may feel alone and abandoned, as Jesus did on the cross—“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Mark 15:34)—we can trust that divine love is holding us. Thankfully, we know the end of the story from the beginning, that after death comes resurrection, after injustice comes liberation, after wounding comes healing. But we can’t skip over the darkness of the tomb.

On this Holy Saturday, before the joy of Easter morning, befriend and be close to sorrow, whether your own suffering, that of a loved one, or the pain of creation. In this liminal space of waiting and the unknown, as poet David Whyte writes, let “the night put its arm around” you.

Last night they came with news of death,
not knowing what I would say.  

I wanted to say,
“The green wind is running through the fields,
making the grass lie flat.”

I wanted to say,
“The apple blossom flakes like ash,
covering the orchard wall.”

I wanted to say,
“The fish floats belly up in the slow stream,
stepping stones to the dead.”

They asked if I would sleep that night,
I said I did not know.

For this loss I could not speak,
the tongue lay idle in a great darkness,
the heart was strangely open,
the moon had gone,
and it was then
when I said, “He is no longer here,”
that the night put its arm around me
and all the white stars turned bitter with grief.


[1] Jurgen Moltmann, The Crucified God (Harper & Row: 1974), 254.

[2] David Whyte, “News of Death,” River Flow (Many Rivers Press: 2007), 313. Used with permission.

Image credit: Lamentation of Christ (detail), Andrea Mantegna, 1470-1474, Pinacoteca di Brera, Milan, Italy.

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Love Listen Create – 3

The third main way of being and doing in my retirement is being a stained glass artist, primarily creating “Windows of Grace” for anyone who wants one…my gift to you and the world. After all grace is a gift, according to St. Paul. I figure the more windows letting God’s grace / presence into the world the better. Let me explain what I mean beyond the glass metaphor and describe the process.

Have you ever experienced a “whoa, that is amazing” moment? Maybe at a sunrise or sunset – like the one in the blog header. Often those moments happen when you’re in a special place – like by the lake or a special grove of trees. When you revisit that place in your mind or through pictures you again feel something special – peace, freedom, joy – some intangible emotion or body sensation. I’m sure you’ve heard  of people who go to their happy place in times of stress…not with drugs or alcohol…but by picturing a peaceful scene in their minds, which helps them regain a sense of perspective or control, so they can make better decisions or simply cope with the crap going down. 

Some folk understand these “aha” moments as “God moments”, a gift from the source of all goodness. One of my favorite spiritual teachers, James Finley calls them contemplative experiences, graced moments. In his book, The Contemplative Heart, (Sorin Books, 2000)  he writes “By grace is meant that which is truly real and precious simple appearing prior to and beyond one’s own efforts to achieve or produce it.” Grace is the “awe-inspiring instant of sensing the inexhaustible nature of what is most simple and commonplace in daily living.” “…we glimpsed a great depth, which we intuit to be the hidden depths of the life we are living. ”(p.15, 16) You can’t make those experiences happen but you can find ways to be open to that “awe-inspiring instant”. It is an encounter with the Sacred which transforms your life, sometimes in big ways, more often in deep subtle ones.

A “Window of Grace” will be our (you and me) attempt to create something that will remind you of a graced moment you’ve experienced; that glimpse into the “hidden depths” of YOUR life. The process of creating it is very meaningful, for both of us. You recall a place and experience, then we talk about it and you help me draw it on paper. It can’t be a picture – I’m not that good an artist and stained glass doesn’t work like ink and paint. It will be more an abstract image of the place, designed to provoke memories and hopefully similar “awe-inspiring” feelings. Then we get the fun of finding the right colors of glass – which are never just the right


This is the first one I designed for MY “happy place”.

ones – but like you can’t force Spirit to grace you, you can’t recreate graced moments exactly – in life or glass. I have a lot of glass in my workroom and would like to use what’s there, if possible. However if there is a special color or texture you really want, you can buy it and I’ll be more than happy to include it. In all it’s a wonderful process of remembering, discussing, designing, creating. I feel blessed just writing about it. One of the main blessings for me is getting to know each other better through the piece of art we create together. I get to know the window pretty well too, cause I handle each piece of glass a lot, carefully and prayerfully. I believe I have been gifted to create “Windows of Grace” to help others be more open to the possibility of recognising the hidden depths of their lives, and the possibility of reliving an awe-inspiring instant, an encounter with the Sacred, having a God moment, revisiting their happy place – however they understand those unique life moments. 

You can see and read about some of the windows I’ve helped folk create on the Facebook page… If you have questions, comments or want to discuss what a “Window of Grace” might look like for you, please email me Blessings.

Let me conclude these 3 blogs, by writing that I believe I was made by God to let God love me and I want to love God back. I do that through loving all that God loves, especially Linda, and encouraging folk to find ways to let themselves be loved. Seems so simple when I write this and my mind regrets not being aware of this freedom and joy in my spiritual and religious life sooner. My heart and soul – nod, smile, sigh and say “just enjoy the grace in this moment” and I relax.  I find myself joyfully anticipating continuing my pilgrimage as a retiree with a few things to do as I be Stephen Murphy. Thanks for joining me for awhile. 

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Love, Listen, Create – Part 2

The second main thing I “do” now I’m retired is “listen, so those I’m listening to have a healing experience of God’s love.”  I put that in italics because that sentence has become the latest bookswritten expression of my vocational statement I’ve developed over the years. Parker Palmer has been a great guide in this process…especially his book, Let Your Life Speak – Listening for the Voice of Vocation.

“Am I listening or lecturing?” is question that guides me whenever I speak. The anxiety of what to say is often as real as ever, however it is much reduced when I simply follow my vocation rather than expectations, real or imagined of others or myself. Being retired from permanent employment helps a lot.

Before I say more about listening I want to briefly talk about simple living. One of the blessings / graces I received from God was Linda agreeing to be my life partner, over 30 years ago. Her love has guided many of our decisions over the years. Her question / encouragement about what I was going to do with my life helped me stick to a job longer than 2 years. As I wrestled with why that was so hard I came to the awareness that spiritual care was what I really wanted to do. That led me to training in CPE and Spiritual Direction. Which turned into employment at Concordia and Health Science hospitals and eventually Grace Bible Church.

Part of the process of focussing on one occupation helped me come up with that vocation statement – or my deepest calling, helping me grow into my authentic self-hood and “path of authentic service”, p.16 in Palmer’s book. My vocation statement expresses who I believe I am, with God’s help. What I “do” is easiest, most loving and fulfilling when it’s an expression of my authentic self, as my last blog talks about. Now I’m retired my vocation of listening is still being best expressed in spiritual direction sessions, or to use a more 21st century expression – spiritual companioning or spiritual counselling. My webpage, describes this form of listening. If this kind of conversation interests you please contact me.

The spiritual care I presently give at HSC is an ongoing expression of that vocation. In my everyday living I try and listen to everyone I meet and to creation as well. That part of
“expressing my vocation” gets me out of the house and this introverted, shy self. Of course listening to God and myself is crucial as well. Interesting how being oneself – doing one’s vocation -becomes love.

stiggySounds like what St. Ignatius was trying to encourage – “The glory of God is a human being ‘fully alive’.” Some call this translation disingenuous, causing Christianity to become a cult of self-fulfillment and self-expressionists and “churches merely self-improvement societies.” -(from an online article in TOUCHSTONE) IMHO, Jesus was the best expression of a “human being ‘fully alive’” modelling for us what it mean to fully human, which is why I follow his way despite the voices of those trying to control what I am to believe about him. But I digress. 

To recap – being retired is allowing me to pay more attention to how I listen – to God and to self, to others, to creation. It’s interesting that those are all ways that God communicates with me so what comes around really does goes around. Next blog is about creating which is gift / grace from God that I really didn’t ask for…I guess that’s what grace is. Good topic for this time of year. I have to include my latest favourite band The Brilliance and latest favourite Christmas song I mentioned on Twitter @smurphy512. –

– next time – Love, Listen, Create – Part 3 will reveal the grace and exciting world of stained glass and Windows of Grace– click if you what a jump start on that blog.WofG

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Loving, Listening, Creating – Part One

It’s almost been a year since I retired from permanent employment which I announced in my February 2018 blog. In that blog I mentioned looking forward to more time to love, listen and “creating beauty through stained glass”. Over the past months I feel I’ve been called / graced to simplify my life in 3 ways of being and doing. Loving Linda, listening, creating stained glass pieces – mainly windows of grace. My reflecting on these ways of being / doing turned out to be over 1600 words so I am breaking it into 3 parts / blogs heart in sandover the next few weeks, beginning with some thoughts about loving. 


I could write more than 1600 words on love but let me begin with a spiritual experience from my Bible college days in Edmonton, Alberta in the late 1970s. While studying at Northwest Bible College, now called Vanguard College, I attended the youth meetings at Central Pentecostal Tabernacle. A speaker taught us the reason humans were created / made was to let God love us. I forget his name, I think it was one of the Argues…an old time Pentecostal family. He said that angels worship better than humans and anyone can do good works. Argue reminded us that John wrote “God is love”, from those verses he concluded that God initial response to anything is to love. Because loving is such a good thing God created something to love – all living things including the “very good” humanity, you and me. We were created in God’s image and hence we have the privilege to act out our divine nature by loving. However he insisted our response to God loving us must first be accepting that love – which I hadn’t heard before. The truth that first and foremost I was created to be loved by God seemed to free my soul from the weight of having to do everything right and guilt and the shame of never doing everything right. Yes, yes – we are to love God and each other – do something…I cover that in the next paragraph.

Over the years while I’ve allowed that truth to penetrate my soul and mind, slowly replacing all the angst I had about religion and church with God’s true purpose for my Caminobeachexistence – to be loved by God. It’s amazing how hard it is to change my automatic inner response to the question “Why did God create me? … from … “worshipping Him” or “serving Him”. It took over 10 years before I could respond – “to let myself be loved”. I’m not sure where I got the idea of understanding love as a circle, beginning with God but is sort of incomplete without me returning that love, some how. The prime way I’ve learned to return that love, completing the circle begun by God, is to is to love what God loves. Steve Bell says this well in his song “Think about That” in his 2014 album Pilgrimage. “Whoever loves God, loves all that God loves” 

I still need reminders to let God love me and then love God – which nowadays is simply loving myself (which is amazingly hard) and loving my partner  / wife of 30 years, Linda. Then loving then extends to our family – the boys and their partners, Mom, my sibs and their families, friends old and newer, and all creation. Easier said than done but I’m a work in progress. So that’s the first thing I do now I’m retired – in case you were wondering.

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Fathering & Flying (a kite)

Last Father’s Day I went for a walk along the Red River, a few blocks from our home, to meditate on being a father. As I left the house I felt the wind on my face, saw the leaves moving and was reminded of the pocket kite Thomas (our youngest son) had given me. Father’s Day seemed like an appropriate time to fly a gift from a son, so I  brought it along. When I got to an open space, along the river path with a strong enough wind, it went up to the full length of the string quite quickly. It’s satisfying and exhilarating getting a kite into the air, feeling that tug on the line and watching it dance in the sky…doing what it was made to be.

I began thinking about how fathering can be like kite flying. The most obvious similarity was how necessary something outside myself is crucial for the kite to fly – to be / do what it was created for. This kite is beautifully designed and flies easily. I got this picture off  – webpage. pocket kiteHowever when it’s not flying it isn’t much more that a pile of colorful fabric. In the wind it becomes something more. The wind doesn’t depend on me and I have no control over the wind but when I cooperate with it … get the kite at the right angle, keeping tension on the string … the wind does most of the work and the kite soars, joyfully majestic. When the wind stops, there is nothing I can do and the kite falls – it’s still a kite just not as much. When the wind picks up again, I need to get into action – do my part. Sometimes I actually ran to keep it up … almost too much work for retired guy. I guess seeing it fly was important and worth the effort.

It’s challenging and encouraging to realize that, while the wind is crucial to a kite flying, it’s pretty obvious I am too. I need to maintain a firm grip on the string, always staying connected to the kite. Proper tension needs to be maintained by running or rhythmic pulling movements. If I don’t pay attention and let the string out too quick, or heaven forbid, let go of the string, the kite eventually crashes and becomes a pile of beautiful fabric – often damaged or stuck in a tree, still a kite, but not really. Even after a crash I have an important role. Recovering it from where it lands, untangling the lines, getting it ready for the next soar. When the kite is in the air again, I need to pay attention to how close it’s getting to trees, how much open space is left, how strong the wind is. All those factors affect how much string I let out or where I run – walk mostly – or where I sit to enjoy a created thing flying – which I’m kind of responsible for.  Then the wind weakens, nothing I can do will keep the kite in the air and I’m reminded how little control I have. It’s also interesting that the more string that’s out, the farther away from me the kite is, the less control I have…it’s amazing and humbling. Humility is good for fathering. Life is full of ups and downs.

Kite flying and fathering, like all analogies has it’s limits. While a kite crashes if not tethered – children need healthy separation from parents to truly be themselves. I suppose we’re always connected to our children. Our connections becomes less obvious as they mature and often get stretched by geography, communication, and choices they make for themselves. Fathering and flying a kite both need outside help for one to be up to the task…Lord in Your Mercy.

Changing the subject…sort of.

Human being or doer or both?…a haiku by gsm

when is doing what 

you are meant to be, become 

being who you are

— 20sep18 – inspired by this blog and a conversation over breakfast with WW 

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“Know thyself”

Recently our eldest son asked if I had “The Sacred Enneagram” by Christopher L. Heuertz. I didn’t and thought that Joel wanted it so I researched it and discovered a wonderful enneagram jewel; so I bought it for him, Thomas and our house. I sense God’s grace when our boys recommend…books, music, good Irish whiskey…children are indeed our greatest teachers.

This little exchange got me thinking again of the wisdom of the Enneagram and reminded me of Jerome Wagner’s little book “The Enneagram Spectrum of Personality Styles”. I often say that it’s the most positive book on the Enneagram I’ve read over the 30 some years I’ve been aware of this interesting way of understanding personalities. I found a wonderful article by Wagner online that I hight recommend. 

As I listened with the ear of my heart – the phrase “know thyself” came to mind. Self-awareness / mindfulness are similar but they may be more modern ways of framing it. In Phaedrus, Socrates says, that “people make themselves appear ridiculous when they are trying to know obscure things before they know themselves.” Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” In her Interior Castle – Teresa of Avila (1515-82) holds the paradox of the incomprehensibility of knowing one’s soul and the loss of not trying.

Teresa of Avila “I began to think of the soul as if it were a castle made of a single diamond or of very crystal in which there are many rooms just as in Heaven there are many mansions[…]Now if this is so —and it is— there is no point in our fatiguing ourselves in attempting to comprehend the beauty of this castle; for, though it is His creature, and there is therefore as much difference between it and God as between creature and Creator, the very fact that His Majesty says it is made in His image means that we can hardly form any conception of the soul’s great dignity and beauty. It is no small pity, and should cause us no little shame, that, through our own fault, we do not understand ourselves, or know who we are. Would it not be a sign of great ignorance, my daughters, if a person were asked who he was, and could not say, and had no idea who his father or his mother was, or form what he came? Though that is great stupidity, our own is incomparably greater if we make no attempt to discover what we are, and only know that we are living in these bodies, and have a vague idea, because we have heard it and because our Faith tells us, that we possess souls. As to what good qualities there may be in our souls, or Who dwells within them , or how precious they are —those are things which we seldom consider and so we trouble little about carefully preserving the soul’s beauty.” page 41-42

Bence Nanay is a professor of philosophy at the University of Antwerp and Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and the author of “Aesthetics as Philosophy of Perception “(2016). He writes “ ‘know thyself’ is not just silly advice: it’s actively dangerous. Knowing thyself is an obstacle to acknowledging and making peace with constantly changing values.”  Maybe, but IMHO knowing that we are constantly changing can be helpful personal knowledge.

Let me close these random thoughts with some from Meister Ekhardt (1260-1328), one of the greatest of Christian mystics. He writes (forgive the sexist pronouns) “To get at the core of God at his greatest, one must first get into the core of himself at his least, for no one can know God who has not first known himself. Go to the depths of the soul, the secret place of the Most High, to the roots, to the heights; for all that God can do is focused there.” Is this what Jesus meant by saying “the Kingdom of God is among / within us”?  

I’m not sure I can yet fully accept Ekhardt’s statements or understand what Jesus was teaching, but something about their words sounds right and brings hope to my soul and heart. Maybe that’s why St. Benedict said “listen with the ear of your heart”.


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