"Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house there are many dwelling places. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. And you know the way to the place where I am going." Thomas said to him, "Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?" Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, you will know my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him." Philip said to him, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be satisfied." Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you all this time, Philip, and you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on my own; but the Father who dwells in me does his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; but if you do not, then believe me because of the works themselves. Very truly, I tell you, the one who believes in me will also do the works that I do and, in fact, will do greater works than these, because I am going to the Father. I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If in my name you ask me for anything, I will do it. -John 14:1-14
About This Week's Prompts for Meditation
Christ prepares a place but just as I get there he disappears, just as he did at Emmaus. For he is going to prepare the next place for me. For in the house of the Holy One there are many mansions/ dwelling places/ resting places/ rooms. Teresa of Avila said, "Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many mansions, some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest mansion where the most secret things pass between God and the soul." Each sphere of consciousness draws me forward toward the next sphere. And when I shed my body will this pattern continue from glory to glory, from intimacy to intimacy, toward the Throne, the Source, the Uncreated Light, pure Love? I don't know, but I'm guessing so.
This week's first meditation invites you into the refuge of your own soul (meditation one). Draw toward the center more deeply and you will find your real self (meditation two). Ironically, drawing deeply into the soul places you more firmly, realistically into the world (meditation three).
And it doesn't matter where you are on this journey. For, "All the way to heaven is heaven because he said, 'I am the way.'" - Catherine of Siena
Meeting you along the way, - your Suzanne
Meditation One (introit) a radiant sanctuary
There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intoxication so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. … Put away the incense and forget the incantations they taught you. Ask no permission from the authorities. Slip away. Close your eyes and follow your breath to the still place that leads to the invisible path that leads you home.
-Mirabai Starr “The Calling” from the Introduction to her translation of Teresa of Avila's The Interior Castle
Plan of the Tabernacle, Unknown Illustrator of Petrus Comestar's Bible Historiale, 1372
The person who contemplates the beauty of the image also achieves knowledge of the original model.
- Gregory of Nyssa
How dear to me is your dwelling, O Lord of hosts! My soul has a desire and longing for the courts of the Lord; my heart and my flesh rejoice in the living God.
The sparrow has found her a house and the swallow a nest where she may lay her young; by the side of your altars, O Lord of hosts, my King and my God.
Happy are they who dwell in your house! they will always be praising you.
Happy are the people whose strength is in you! whose hearts are set on the pilgrims’ way.
Those who go through the desolate valley will find it a place of springs,for the early rains have covered it with pools of water.
They will climb from height to height, and the God of gods will reveal himself in Zion.
Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; hearken, O God of Jacob.
Behold our defender, O God; and look upon the face of your Anointed.
For one day in your courts is better than a thousand in my own room, and to stand at the threshold of the house of my God than to dwell in the tents of the wicked.
For the Lord God is both sun and shield; he will give grace and glory;
No good thing will the Lord withhold from those who walk with integrity.
O Lord of hosts, happy are they who put their trust in you!
Building the Temple of Solomon, the Unknown Illustraton of Petrus Comestar's Bible Historiale, 1372
Meditation Two (insight) mysterious place deep in the soul
Saint Augustine says that there is a mysterious place deep in the soul that is beyond time and this world, a part higher than that which gives life and movement to the body; true prayer so raises the heart that God can come into this innermost place, the most disinterested, intimate, and noble part of our being, the seat of our unity. It is His eternal dwelling-place, and into this grand and mysterious kingdom He pours the sweet delight of which I have spoken. Then is man no longer troubled by anything: he is recollected, quiet, and really himself, and becomes daily more detached, spiritualized, and contemplative, for God is within him, reigning and working in the depths of his soul.
-John Tauler 1300-1361 quoted from For Lovers of God Everywhere, Roger Housden
Meditation Three (integration) when we lose ourselves
What do we think the contemplative life is? How do we conceive it? As a life of withdrawal, tranquillity, retirement, silence? Do we keep ourselves apart from action and change in order to learn techniques for entering into a kind of static present reality which is there and which we have to learn how to penetrate? Is contemplation an objective static ?thing,? like a building, for which there is a key? Do you hunt for this key, find it, then unlock the door and enter? ? The contemplative experience originates from this totally new kind of awareness of the fact that we are most truly ourselves when we lose ourselves. We become ourselves when we find ourselves in Christ.
-Thomas Merton 1915-1968 Contemplation in a World of Action
The Last Word
If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.
-Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862
And You Know The Way...
Christ prepares a place but just as I get there he disappears, just as he did at Emmaus. For he is going to prepare the next place for me. For in the house of the Holy One there are many mansions/ dwelling places/ resting places/ rooms. Teresa of Avila said, “Let us now imagine that this castle, as I have said, contains many mansions, some above, others below, others at each side; and in the center and midst of them all is the chiefest mansion where the most secret things pass between God and the soul.”* Each sphere of consciousness draws me forward toward the next sphere. When I shed my body will this pattern continue from glory to glory, from intimacy to intimacy, toward the Throne, the Source, the Uncreated Light, Pure Love? I don't know, but I'm guessing so.
Teresa continues, “We ourselves are the castle; and it would be absurd to tell someone to enter a room when he was in it already! But you must understand that there are many ways of “being” in a place.” And she says, “As far as I can understand, the door of entry into this castle is prayer and meditation.” And, “You must not imagine these mansions as arranged in a row, one behind another, but fix your attention on the center, the room or palace occupied by the King. Think of a palmito, which has many outer rinds surrounding the savoury part within, all of which must be taken away before the center can be eaten. Just so around this central room are many more, as there also are above it. In speaking of the soul we must always think of it as spacious, ample and lofty; and this can be done without the least exaggeration, for the soul's capacity is much greater than we can realize, and this Sun, which IS in the palace, reaches every part of it.”
Each of these mansions encompasses a way of God-consciousness. When a person masters the way of a particular “mansion,” the stability and comfort of that mode of being-with-God disappears and the soul agonizes through a night of faith. Eventually the soul begins to appropriate a new and truer consciousness of God. This painful process unfolds again and again throughout life. “I go before you to prepare a place for you, that where I am, you may be also.” “But you keep disappearing!” “You have a long way to go!”
* all quotes from Teresa of Avila (1515-1582) The Interior Castle (translated and edited by E. Allison Peers)