Today, I discuss the small things we often forget are a vital part of the Path of Transformation.
Today is the feast of the presentation of our Blessed Mother to the Temple in Jerusalem. Her parents, Saint Anne and Saint Joachim, took their holy child to be raised in the path of holiness.
In this mystery, we have much to meditate upon.
In the Via Positiva
In the Way of Bliss, we see this mystery from the perspective of Mary. She was sent to the Temple to increase in holiness. Not doctrine, not legalism, in the Temple she was meant to find wisdom and holiness.
This reminds us of our work in the Via Positiva, where we, like our Blessed Mother before us, learn to see the world as it really is. She was surrounded by the power of the creative Word of God, experienced the kingdom of Zion as a real place, and was constantly reminded that God is in all things and all things are in God.
As we contemplate this mystery, we need to recommit ourselves to walk the path of Bliss, remembering that we are filled with the Holy Spirit, our guide, who leads us to all truth.
In the Via Negativa
In the way of silence, we see this mystery through the eyes of St Joachim and St Anne.
Saints Anne and Joachim had prayed for years for a child. Now, standing on the steps of the holy Temple, they gave the child back to God. Imagine the pain of the holy grandparents of the Lord as they gave up their only child.
How often are we asked to do the same? The child's first day at school, their first day at college, and sometimes the tragic loss of a child into the silence of death. We share this experience also when we move from a favorite city, lose a beloved job, or realize we have to close down a pet project.
Throughout our lives, there are many beloved people, projects, and things we will have to let go of. Our heart clings to them even though we know that they are gone. This is the lesson we learn from the way of silence. We cannot hold on to everything forever. Attachment is the cause of suffering. While it is never easy, we must learn to let go.
In the Via Creativa
In the way of creation, we see this mystery through the eyes of Mary.
While she was in the Temple, Mary found favor with the Lord. She became the vessel through which Jesus Christ would enter the world.
This is the very same work that we are called to do. We are called to be co-creators with God. We must learn to see Christ as our brother and our child. To do this, we must enter the holy place and set our hearts aside to do the work of God, which is compassion, justice, and loving kindness.
We learn to see God in all things and all things in God. Now, we must learn to speak the Word of God, and arrange our lives as ambassadors from Zion.
In the Via Transformativa
The presentation of our Blessed Mother led to Mary's glorious Fiat. It was her time in the Temple, her time in Zion, her time with God, that not only caused her to find favor with the Lord, but made her ready and willing to say yes to being the mother of God.
So many people in the church today jump straight to the way of transformation, and seek to change the world without first doing the hard work of preparing and changing themselves so they are the proper vessel for the change they want to see. It is easier to yell at others than to do the real hard work of changing ourselves.
Sisters and brothers, I invite you to look at the example of our Blessed Mother. she sought out the face of God so she might reflect God to the world. We must humble ourselves and do the same.
Let us pray
Blessed mother Mary, as we contemplate your presentation in the Temple, we ask that you will give us your Immaculate Heart. Conform us to the person of your son, our Lord, Jesus Christ. Welcome us into the kingdom of Zion, holy Queen, and pray that we may be safe in our sojourn through Babylon.
Holy mother, teach us the ways of God. Remember us always, as we forever hold your example in our mind. Lead us to your son, our Lord Christ Jesus, that he may be born through us into the world. Amen
We have followed the star to the new born Christ, and behold the one in whom God is made manifest to the world. We stand by the river Jordan and watch the skies open as the dove descends upon our Lord. We drink the wine at the wedding at Cana and marvel at the one who produced it. We celebrate the revelation of the Lord.
This is the day when we remember the revelation of God to humankind, but how can we celebrate the revelation the one who:
Clouds and darkness are round about him: righteousness and judgment are the habitation of his throne (PS 97:2).
This is the God of whom Solomon says:
It is the glory of God to conceal a thing: but the honor of kings is to search out a matter (Pr 25:2).
While I do not believe that anyone can every describe or define God in any great detail, I believe that God can be found be those who seek him out. All religion is an attempt for us to put these experiences in words. God is hidden from us by the minutia of our lives. Anyone can find God by relaxing, and coming to the present moment fully aware. This is the glory of mindfulness.
Creation Spirituality talks about the four paths to encountering God. As Matthew Fox answers the question, "Where can God be found?"
In the Via Positiva. In awe, wonder, and mystery of nature and all beings, each of whom is a ‘word of God,’ a ‘mirror of God that glistens and glitters,’ as Hildegard of Bingen put it. This is Path One (Creation Spirituality 18)
This is the path most people find to God. Sitting in the awe of nature, we feel our interconnectedness with all things. This interbeing is the purest connection we have with the Divine.
We can find God in music, art, or anything that instills within us a deep sense of Awe.
Where else can God be found?
“In the Via Negativa. In darkness and nothingness, in the silence and emptying, in the letting go and letting be, and in the pain and suffering that constitute an equally real part of our spiritual journey. This is Path Two (Creation Spirituality 18).”
This is the path of the Buddha- the path of silence meditation. Most of us what to reject this aspect of life, but it is an equal part of existence, and the most universal.
The Buddha himself reminds us of the only things we can ever know for sure, that we exist and that we are interconnected with all things. There is not an atom in our body that did not come from another creature, plant, or long lost star. It is in this lack of separate self that we find the Ground of All Being.
Where else can God be found?
“In the Via Creativa. In our generativity we co-create with God; in our imaginative output, we trust our images enough to birth them and ride them into existence. This is Path Three (Creation Spirituality 18).”
This is the path of Rumi- the path of art and co-creation. The Via Creativa is the very beating heart of the sacrament of Art as Meditation. In trusting our own creativity, we come closer to God. We learn how to be bearers of Christ into the world like those who came before us.
"My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you (Gal 4:19)," as the apostle said, we find God through trusting our generatively.
Where else can God be found?
“In the Via Transformativa. In the relief of suffering, in the combating of injustice, in the struggle for homeostasis, for balance in society and history, and in the celebration that happens when persons struggling for justice and trying to live in mutuality come together to praise and give thanks for the gift of being and being together. This is Path Four (Creation Spirituality 18).”
This is the path of Gandhi and Dr King, the path of satyagraha. In community and common cause, when find God. As David prayed, “Yours, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is yours; yours is the kingdom, O LORD, and you are exalted as head above all (1Chr 29:11).” Wherever we see greatness, we see God. Wherever we see glory, power, victory, or majesty, we see God. When ever we see love, charity, grace, mercy or any of the Divine attributes, we see God.
These are the paths to God we have learned, the paths that we walk every day. They are as natural as breathing. There is nothing more simple than our experiences of God and learning to trust them.