In these painful and difficult times, Chair of the Temple of Understanding, Alison Van Dyk has found solace in the wisdom of many spiritual teachers. This is her contribution, titled, Transformation As Spiritual Practice.
I have a favorite book. It is called Uncommon Gratitude and it was written by Joan Chittister, a Benedictine sister and Rowan Williams, Archbishop of Canterbury. In times like the present, I feel the need to just hold this book in my hands and re-read its beautiful pages. I keep it on my desk and like to read the comments on the back cover almost like a prayer. Everything about this book gives me hope in the dark times we are now experiencing. It is The WORD MADE FLESH from a deeply spiritual Christian perspective. My favorite endorsement is by Robert Ellsberg who writes, “One finishes this book with renewed gratitude-for faith and doubt, for all that is , for two wise spiritual teachers who remind us that God is present not just in the peak experiences but in the hidden depths of our everyday life”. Doesn’t that just make you wonder what sacred knowledge is inside these covers?
Joan on Divisions:
“Social divisions and dissent are alleluia moments in life because they make individuals of us all… Divisions of opinion, too often the fault line of human relationships, are when we embrace it openly, what invigorates thinking and stirs new thought. It is the ground of new beginnings, the beginning of new insight, and the foundation of new respect for the other”. (pp. 39 &41)
Rowan on Saints:
“An alleluia for saints means an alleluia for the people who get the work done, the work of letting God through. …There are no straight lines of cause and effect where holiness is concerned. It’s more a case that God uses whatever space we make for whatever God has in mind, where ever it may be possible.“ (p.76 & 77)
If we truly hear these words, slowly and intentionally contemplate their meaning in our own lives, a deep transformation is not only possible but mysteriously probable.
It is in times like these that we need to go within, quiet our chatty minds and listen to the silence for answers. Isn’t it wonderful to know that we don’t need to go anywhere, do anything, or acquire anything? We have everything we need right here, inside us. Life is a gift regardless of how long we have to live it or what circumstances we find ourselves thrown into. Uncommon Gratitude is a candle by which we can navigate the darkness of negative experiences. It is a light that guides us homeward, towards our true inner knowing, towards our spiritual awakening.
It is times like these that we can turn to old friends and loved ones for comfort and communion. It is times like these that we can see anew the reality that humanity is one great diverse reflection of the wholeness that sustains all life. It is times like these that true leaders step forward and beg us to “Silence the Guns” as United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Gutierrez implored of us last week. It is times like these that we are called upon to shift our consciousness into gratitude because even the most painful experiences can be turned into spiritual gold. It is times like now that call us to care for the earth, our mother, Gaia and all sentient beings. It is in times like this, that we are called to see with the eyes of our inner child. It is only then that we can make the shift to a world community, united as one people with many diverse cultures, colors of skin and beliefs. It is in times like these that we are ripe for a spiritual transformation; for finding meaning in all aspects of our experiences because this is why we are here. That is the gift of our Divine Creator.
And here is the best part of Uncommon Gratitude, the subtitle:
“ALLELUIA FOR ALL THAT IS”.