Monday, March 24, 2008

Sunday, March 23,2008

Opening Music “Spring,” Allegro 1, from The Four Seasons. Vivaldi. (Northsound, NorthWord Press, 1996)

Call to Silence and Opening Meditation

The Spring Equinox has been celebrated by cultures and religions since antiquity. For the ancient Saxons, Eostre was the Germanic lunar goddess, Ostara. Her feast day was held on the full moon following the vernal equinox – almost the identical calculation as for the Christian Easter in the west. The Venerable Bede (672-735 CE), a Christian scholar, first asserted in his book De Ratione Temporum that Easter was named after Eostre (or Eastre). Easter Sunday falls on the first Sunday after the first full moon after March 20, the nominal date of the Spring Equinox. All of these Spring festivals celebrate rebirth and renewal. One of the most widespread symbols of renewal is the egg. In Mexico and the Southwestern United States, cascarones, confetti-filled eggs, are typically used during Easter as well as other special occasions. Having a cascaron broken (gently) over your head is said to bring good luck. There is even a legend concerning Mary Magdalene which says that she was a woman of some wealth and social status. Following Jesus Christ’s death and resurrection, she used her position to gain an invitation to a banquet given by Emperor Tiberius Caesar. When she met him, she held a plain egg in her hand and exclaimed “Christ is risen!” Caesar laughed, and said that Christ rising from the dead was as likely as the egg in her hand turning red while she held it. Before he finished speaking, the egg in her hand turned a bright red, and she continued proclaiming the Gospel to the entire imperial house. Today, many Eastern Orthodox Christians end the Easter service by sharing bright red eggs and proclaiming to each other, “Christ is risen!” The Christian celebration of Christ’s resurrection is synonymous with rebirth, rejuvenation, and renewal.

(Various sources)

Readings on Spring and Renewal

A Reading from SpringConcerto in E Major , Vivaldi

Springtime is upon us.
The birds celebrate her return with festive song,
and murmuring streams are softly caressed by the breezes.
Thunderstorms, those heralds of Spring, roar, casting their dark mantle over heaven,
Then they die away to silence, and the birds take up their charming songs once more.

On the flower-strewn meadow, with leafy branches rustling overhead, the goat-herd sleeps, his faithful dog beside him.

Led by the festive sound of rustic bagpipes, nymphs and shepherds lightly dance beneath the brilliant canopy of spring.


A Reading from Robert Frost, “ A Prayer in Spring”

Oh, give us pleasure in the flowers today;
And give us not to think so far away
As the uncertain harvest; keep us here
All simply in the springing of the year.
Oh, give us pleasure in the orchard white,
Like nothing else by day, like ghosts by night;
And make us happy in the happy bees,
The swarm dilating round the perfect trees.
And make us happy in the darting bird
That suddenly above the bees is heard,
The meteor that thrusts in with needle bill,
And off a blossom in mid air stands still.
For this is love and nothing else is love,
To which it is reserved for God above
To sanctify to what far ends he will,
But which it only needs that we fulfill.


A Reading from the Tanakh, Job 14:1-2, 7014a (from An Uncommon Lectionary, John Beverly Butcher, pg. 75)

A mortal, born of woman is short-lived and sated with trouble,
blossoms like a flower and withers,
vanishes like a shadow and does not endure . . .
There is hope for a tree;
If it is cut down, it will renew itself;
Its shoots will not cease.
If its roots are old in the earth,
And its stump dies in the ground,
At the scent of water it will bud
And produce branches like a sapling.
But mortals languish and die;
Humans expire; where are they?
The eaters of the sea fail,
And the river dries up and is parched.
So mortals lie down never to rise;
they will awake only when the heavens are no more,
Only then be aroused from sleep.
O that you would hide me in Sheol,*
conceal me until Your anger passes,
Set me a fixed time to attend to me.
If a person dies, can that person live again?

*(Sheol [pronounced “Sheh-ole”] in Hebrew is the “abode of the dead”)

A Reading from The Prophet, by Kahlil Gibran, “On Death

Then Almitra spoke, saying, We would ask now of Death.
And he said:
You would know the secret of death.
But how shall you find it unless you seek it in the heart of life?
The owl whose night-bound eyes are blind unto the day cannot unveil the mystery of light.
If you would indeed behold the spirit of death, open your heart wide unto the body of life.
For life and death are one, even as the river and the sea are one.
In the depth of your hopes and desires lies your silent knowledge of the beyond;
And like seeds dreaming beneath the snow your heart drams of spring.
Trust the dreams, for in them is hidden the gate to eternity.
Your fear of death is but the trembling of the shepherd when he stands before the king whose
hand is to be laid upon him in honor.
Is the shepherd not joyful beneath his trembling, that he shall wear the mark of the king?
Yet is he not more mindful of this trembling?

For what is it to die but to stand naked in the wind and to melt into the sun?
And what is it to cease breathing, but to free the breath from its restless tides, that it may
rise and expand and seek God unencumbered?

Only when you drink from the river of silence shall you indeed sing.
And when you have reached the mountaintop, than you shall begin to climb.
And when the earth shall claim your limbs, then shall you truly dance.

A Reading from Sri Chinmoy, “My Secret and Sacred Bird”

My secret and sacred bird now flies
To meet the Spirit's vacancy.
All chaos of life today dissolved;
In me a surge of ecstasy.
Gold flames within my longing heart
Invoke the cosmos’ Parent-Sun.
A tapestry of Truth unseen
Bursts forth within; the Play is begun.


A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

. . . Will matter then be destroyed or not?

The Savior said, All nature, all formations, all creatures exist in and with one another, and they will be resolved again into their own roots. For the nature of matter is resolved into the roots of its own nature alone. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

Peter said to him, Since you have explained everything to us, tell us this also: What is the sin of the world?

The Savior said There is no sin, but it is you who make sin when you do the things that are like the nature of adultery, which is called sin. That is why the Good came into your midst, to the essence of every nature in order to restore it to its root. Then He continued and said, That is why you become sick and die, for you are deprived of the one who can heal you. He who has a mind to understand, let him understand.

Matter gave birth to a passion that has no equal, which proceeded from something contrary to nature. Then there arises a disturbance in its whole body. That is why I said to you, Be of good courage, and if you are discouraged be encouraged in the presence of the different forms of nature. He who has ears to hear, let him hear.

When the Blessed One had said this, He greeted them all, saying, Peace be with you. Receive my peace unto yourselves. Beware that no one lead you astray saying Lo here or lo there! For the Son of Man is within you. Follow after Him! Those who seek Him will find Him. Go then and preach the gospel of the Kingdom. Do not lay down any rules beyond what I appointed you, and do not give a law like the lawgiver lest you be constrained by it. When He said this He departed.


Call to Conversation

Closing Meditation

There is a delightful legend associated with Eostre. She found an injured bird on the ground one winter. To save its life, she transformed it into a hare. But the transformation was not a complete one. The bird took the appearance of a hare but retained the ability to lay eggs. The hare would decorate these eggs and leave them as gifts to Eostre. With the gift of this egg, may we go forth in peace and hope and renewal.

We ask for your comments/thoughts to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Opening Meditations

What struck me most was the silence. It was a great silence, unlike any I have encountered on earth, so vast and deep that I began to hear my own body; my heart beating, my blood vessels pulsing, even the rustle of my muscles moving over each other seemed audible. There were more stars in the sky than I had expected. The sky was deep black, yet at the same time bright with sunlight. The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly alone, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew what the word "round" meant until I saw Earth from space.

Russian Astronaut Aleksie Leonov (quoted in Elizabeth Lesser, The Seeker's Guide)

Beloved Lord, Almighty God!
Through the rays of the sun,
Through the waves of the air,
Through the All-pervading Life in space,
Purify and revivify me, and, I pray,
Heal my body, heart, and soul.

Attributed to Hazrat Inayat Khan, by Elizabeth Lesser in The Seeker's Guide

Readings and Conversation: Psalm 118: 1,24,26

O give thanks to the Lord, for s/he is good;
Her/His steadfast love endures forever!

This is the day which the Lord hath made;
Let us rejoice and be glad in it.

Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord:
We bless you from the house of the Lord.

A Reading from Matthews 21: 1-11

When they had come near Jerusalem and had reached Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two disciples, saying to them, 'Go into the village ahead of you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied, and a colt with her; untie them and bring them to me. If anyone says anything to you, just say this, "The Lord needs them." And he will send them immediately.' This took place to fulfill what had been spoken through the prophet saying, 'Tell the daughter of Zion, Look, your king is coming to you, humble, and mounted on a donkey, and on a colt, the foal of a donkey.'
The disciples went and did as Jesus had directed them; they brought the donkey and the colt, and put their cloaks on them, and he sat on them. A very large crowd spread their cloaks on the road, and others cut branches from the trees and spread them on the road. The crowds that went ahead of him and that followed were shouting, ';Hosanna to the Son of David!'
Blessed is the one who comes int he name of the Lord!
Hosanna in the highest heaven!'
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking,'Who is this?' The crowds were saying, 'This is the prophet Jesus from Nazareth in Galilee.'

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

Then Mary stood up and greeted them; she tenderly kissed them all and said, 'Brothers and sisters, do not weep, do not be distressed nor be in doubt. For his grace will be with you sheltering you. Rather we should praise his greatness, for he has united us and made us true Human Beings.

A quote from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Jesus Christ belonged to the true race of prophets. He saw with open eye the mystery of the soul. Drawn by its severe harmony, ravished with its beauty, he lived in it, and had his being there. Alone in all history he estimated the greatness of man[woman]. One man was true to what is in you and me. He saw that God incarnates himself[herself] and evermore goes forth anew to take possession of his[her] World. He said in this jubilee of sublime emotion, "I am divine, Through me, God acts; through me, speaks. Would you see God, see me; or see thee, when thou also thinkest as I now think.

From An Address, The Essential Writings of Ralph Waldo Emerson

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Opening Meditations

What struck me most was the silence. It was a great silence, unlike any I have encountered onearth, so vast and deep that I began to hear my own body; my hearat beating, my blood vessels pulsing, even the rustle of my muscles moving over each other seemed audible. There were more stars in the sky than I had expected. The sky was deep black, yet at the same time bright with sunlight. The Earth was small, light blue, and so touchingly aloen, our home that must be defended like a holy relic. The Earth was absolutely round. I believe I never knew whatthe word "round" meant until I saw Earth from space.

Russian Astronaut Aleksie Leonov (quoted i

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Opening Meditation


"Why,---what are you?"
"I am the cry of the hungry mind."
"Why,---what do you signify?"
"I am the knocker on a closed door."
"Why,---What do you represent?"
"The owl which cannot see during the day."
"Why,---what is your complaint?"
"The irritation of the mind."
"Why,---what is your life condition?"
"I am shut up in a dark room."
"Why,---how long will your captivity last?"
"All night long."
"Why,---what are you so early waiting for?"
"The day-break."
"Why,---you are yourself the cover over the answer you want."
Hazrat Inayat Kham

Readings and Conversation

A Reading from Ezekiel 37:1-14

1 The hand of the Lord was upon me, and carried me out in the spirit of the Lord, and set me down in the midst of the valley which was full of bones,
2And caused me to pass by them round about: and, behold, there were very many in the open valley; and lo, they were very dry.
3And he said unto me, Son of Man, can these bones live? And I answered, O Lord God, thou knowest.
4.Again he said unto me, Prophesy upon these bones, and say unto them, O ye dry bones, hear the word of the Lord.
5 Thus saith the Lord God unto these bones; Behold, I will cause breath to enter into you, and ye shall live:
6And I will lay sinews upon you, and will bring up flesh upon you, and cover you with skin, and put breath in you, and ye shall live; and y;e shall know that I am the Lord.
7So I prophesied as I was commanded: and as I prophesied, there was a noise, and behold a shaking, and the bones came together, bone to h is bone.
8 And when I beheld, Lo, the sinews and the flesh came up upon them, and the skin covered them above: but there was no breath in them.
9 Then said he unto me, Prophesy unto the wind, prophesy, Son of man, and say to the wind. Thus saith the Lord God; Come from the four winds, O breath, and breathe upon these slain, that they may live.
10 So I prophesied as he commanded m e, and the breath came into them, and they lived, and stood up upon their feet, an exceeding great army.
11 Then he said unto me, Son of man, these bones are the whole house of Israel: behold, they say, Our bones are dried, and our hope is lost: we are cut off for our parts.
12 Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel.
13 And ye shall know that I am the Lord, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves.
14 And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the Lord have spoken it, and performed it, saith the Lord.

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

After saying this, the Blessed One greeted them all, saying "Peace be with you-may my Peace arise and be fulfilled within you! Be vigilant, and allow no one to mislead you by saying: "Here it is!" or "There it is!' for it is within you that the Son of Man [child of true humanity] dwells. Go to him, for those who seek him. find him. Walk forth, and announce the gospel of the Kingdom. Impose no law other than that which I have witnessed."

Closing Meditation:

"God is the partner of your most intimate soliloquies"
Victor Frankl

We ask for your comments to continue our Sunday conversation. Thank you.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Opening Meditation
Readings and Conversation:
A Reading from Elizabeth A. Johnson in She Who Is (New York: Crossroad,1994)13-14

A hardening of the mind against unwanted wisdom can be called a scotosis and the resulting blind spot a scotoma, in Bernard' Lonegran's pointed terminology. Scotosis results when the intellectual censorship function, which usually operates in a good and constructive manner to select elements to give us insight, goes awry. In aberrant fashion this censorship function works to repress new questions in order to prevent the emergence of unwanted insight. This happens not only to an individual in isolation but more especially to communities as a whole. Within a given community, different clusters of people are implicitly defined by patterns of relationship to each other. Any particular group is prone to have a blind spot for insight that would reveal its well-being to be excessive or founded on distorted assumptions. The powerful tendency of such group bias is to exclude some fruitful ideas and to mutilate others by compromise. Scotosis is present when group interest limits intelligence.

A Reading from His Holiness The Dali Lama, The Art of Happiness: A Handbook for Living (New York: Riverhead Books.1998),55-56

"Although aggression can occur, I believe that conflicts aren't necessarily because of human nature but rather a result of the human intellect---unbalanced human intelligence, misuse of our intelligence, our imaginative faculty......but it's important to recognize that if human conflicts are created by misuse of human intelligence, we can also utilize our intelligence to find ways and means to overcome these conflicts. When human intelligence and human goodness or affection are used together, all human actions become constructive. When we combine a warm heart with knowledge and education, we can learn to respect other's views and other's rights. This becomes the basis of a spirit of reconciliation that can be used to overcome aggression and resolve our conflicts."

A Reading from John 9

1As he went along, he saw a man blind from birth. 1His disciples asked him. "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

3"Neither this man nor his parents sinned," said Jesus, "but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life. 4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."

6Having said this, he spit on the ground, made some mud with the saliva, and put it on the man's eyes. &"Go," he told him, "wash in the Pool of Siloam" (this word means Sent). So the man went and washed, and came home seeing.

8His neighbors and those who had formerly seen him begging asked, "Isn't this the same man who used to sit and beg?
" 9Some claimed that he was.
Others said, "No, he only looks like him." But he himself insisted, "I am the man."

10"How then were your eyes opened?" they demanded.

11He replied, "The man they call Jesus made some mud and put it on my eyes. He told me to go to Siloam and wash. So I went and washed, and then I could see."

12"Where is this man?" they asked him.
"I don't know," he said.

13They brought to the Pharisees the man who had been blind. 14Now the day on which Jesus had made the mud and opened the man's eyes was a Sabbath. 15Therefore the Pharisees also asked him how he had received his sight. "He put mud on my eyes," the man replied, " and I washed, and now I see."

16Some of the Pharisees said, "This man is not from God, for he does not keep the Sabbath." But others asked,
how can a sinner do such miraculous signs?" Sop they were divided.

17Finally they turned again to the blind man, "What have you to say about him? It was your eyes he opened." The man replied, "He is a prophet."

18The Jews still did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they sent for the man's parents. 19"Is this your son?" they asked. "Is this the one you say was born blind? How is it that now he can see?"

20"We know he is our son," the parents answered, "and we know he was born blind. 21But how he can see now, or who opened his eyes, we don't know. Ask him. He is or age; hi will speak for himself." 22His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews, for already the Jews had decided that anyone who acknowledged that Jesus was the Christ would be put out of the synagogue. 23That was why his parents said, "He is of age; ask him."

24A second time they summoned the man who had been blind.
Give glory to God," they said. "we know this man is a sinner."

25He replied, "Whether he is a sinner or not, I don't know. One thing I do know. I was blind but now I see!"

26They they asked him, "What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?"

27He answered, "I have told you already and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you want to become his disciples, too?"

28Then they hurled insults at him and said, "You are this fellow's disciple! We are disciples of Moses! 29We know that God spoke to Moses, but as for this fellow, we don't even know where he comes from."

30The man answered, "Now that is remarkable! You don't know where he comes from, yet he opened my eyes. 31We know that God does not listen to sinners. He listens to the godly man who does his will. 32Nobody has even heard of opening the eyes of a man born blind. 33If this man were not from God, he could do nothing."

34To this they replied, "You were steeped in sin at birth; how dare you lecture us!" And they threw him out.

35Jesus heard that they had thrown him out, and when he found him, he said, "Do you believe in the Son of Man?"

36"Who is he, sir?" the man asked. "Tell me so that I may believe in him."

37Jesus said, "You have now seen him; ion fact, he is the one speaking with you."

38Then the man said, "Lord, I believe," and he worshiped him.

39Jesus said, "For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind."

40Some Pharisees who were with him heard him say this and asked, "What? Are we blind too?"

41Jesus said, "If you were blind, you would not be guilty of sin' but now that you claim you can see, your guilt remains."

A Reading from the Gospel of Mary

Jesus said: "Be in harmony...If you are out of balance, take inspiration from manifestations of your true nature. Those who have ears, let them hear."

Concluding meditation