Opening to the invisible


This evening we celebrate Halloween which is based on the most important Ancient Irish and Celtic feast, that of Samhain. The Celtic year was divided into two parts, the bright half from the 1st of May until today,  and the dark half, starting tomorrow. Today stood in-between, when Summer not quite fully over, but the old year was dying and  winter was about to  begin. On this in-between day  it was felt that the normal barriers between the visible and invisible worlds were less strong. The normal Celtic sensitivity to the hidden world – their awareness that the other world was always there right beside them – was heightened, So for us too, it can be a day to be more aware of deeper dimensions, by not rushing past the “ordinary” or the routine, by not expecting real happiness to be elsewhere, but by tuning in to the “bits and pieces of everyday” as poet Paddy Kavanagh reminded us.

One comes to know the interior of the exterior. One comes to know the inside of every outside. It’s not only human beings that have an interior or an inside, but that the world around us as well can be known inwardly. Life is dense with those levels of experience, but we need to calm ourselves, get clear, get quiet, direct attention, sustain the attention, open up to what is normally invisible, and certain things begin to show themselves. Maybe gently to begin with, but nonetheless it deepens and enriches our lives. If we are committed to knowledge, then we ought to be committed also to exploring the world with these lenses, with this method in mind and heart.

Arthur Zajonc,  Professor of Physics,  Amherst College

…leading to long, slow conversations

File:Old couple in love.jpg

Our culture is so focused on … youth, that we don’t have a good model for what aging and dying could be like. All we feel is the lack of things: we’re not as youthful as we were, we’re not as limber as we were, we’re not as this, we’re not as that. Almost everything that we hear and see in the media is about how to maintain your youth as long as possible. All this focus on stopping aging implies that someone made a big mistake in the universe. It’s as if we should be getting younger instead of older.

But we’re missing a very important point. There’s something beautiful about quiet and peace. There’s something beautiful about not trying to do anything, but simply, in some way, your heart joining  the whole world. There’s a time in life for building something up in this world: a family, an institution, a business, a creative life: there’s a time for that. There’s also a time for becoming quiet, a time for slow conversations with people that we love, and a time for reflecting on all the things that we’ve seen in many years of living. When the time for those things comes, it’s beautiful.

Norman Fischer, Suffering and Possibility

photo ian mckenzie

Gratitude as a choice

two doors

Gratitude as a discipline involves a conscious choice. I can choose to be grateful even when my emotions and feelings are still steeped in hurt and resentment. It is amazing how many occasions present themselves in which I can choose gratitude instead of a complaint. I can choose to grateful when I am criticized, even when my heart still responds in bitterness. I can choose to speak about goodness and beauty, even when my inner eye still looks for someone to accuse or something to call ugly.

Henri Nouwen