Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Finding Our True Home and Healing Sanctuary

Finding Our True Home and Healing Sanctuary in Christ

"Come to me, all you who are heavy burdened and I will give you rest….Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.; for I am gentle and humble of heart and you will find rest for your souls."  Matt. 11:28

Our invitation from Yeshua is to find our home, our root, our rest in Him.  All of us at some time in this world of impermanence ask the question, "Where is our true home?" In my own story early in my life we had to move often as a consequence of great financial insecurity. My mother says that I often asked as young child, "Is that where we are going to live?" This same insecurity carried into adult life. I have longed to find the home and sanctuary where I can always rest, where I can always belong, where I can always have worth and dignity, where I can always have safety and security, where I can we always know who I truly am and live that truth.  For me the answer to these questions is at the core of the Christian mystery. The Heart of Christ is an ontological reality already within us. The Heart of Christ is a truth to be discovered and lived. His Invitation is to live our lives consciously and intentionally in his Heart.  In the Gospel of John He says "Abide in my love."  I take Him at His word that His heart is my home, and I can dwell there in a sanctuary that is neither conditional nor temporary. So much of the way we live is conditional, dependent on external circumstances for getting along or making a living. We make the necessary adjustments and negotiations in order to survive, in order to have some semblance of safety and security in this life, in order to be acceptable. That set of arrangements is necessary. The problem arises when we believe the set of arrangements and adjustments we make and the face we show to the world that we call "self" is who we are, is our true abode. We are wandering pilgrims in this life without a home until we discover and anchor our lives in the Heart of Christ.

Yeshua tells us that union in Him is the promise of the Way of the Heart.  (John 14:20) "On that Day you will know that I am in my Father and my Father in me, and you in me and I in you.”  Today, each day, can be “that day.” Christ is the central Reality of our inner Life. Unitive Life in Christ is an ontological truth which we are invited to live, to make real in our humanity.  In John 15:5, Yeshua says, “I am the vine you are the branches.” In this passage we see that the fullness of Christ, the Pleroma of the Word made Flesh, has the potential to be realized in our human person. This is not another human arrangement, another negotiated relationship, another "deal" we work out for our benefit. It is simply the way things are; it is not earned but pure gift. The heart of our own heart is the Heart of Christ, waiting to be fully incarnate in our human person, Christ consciousness brought forth in our own human consciousness as we spoke of in Chapter Four.

John 1:1- "In the beginning was the Word.. all things came into being through Him... What has come into being is Life and the Life is the Light of all people. " In this passage the Gospel says again that the ontological truth of our being is that we come into life in Christ and whether we are awakened to it or not, He is our true Light.  Thomas Kelly, in his beautify essay, "The Light Within" says that our inner Light is Christ. And in the Way of the Heart we come to express His Light, not in spite of, but through all of our wounds and brokenness, through the raw material of our incarnate humanity. We become the vessel and the lit flame of the Light of Christ. In this way we bring the totality of our life experiences, need, and vulnerability to the Divine Christos, the Life of our Heart, and in the love of Christ it is redeemed and brought to the fullness of life's true purpose.

In our interior life of communion with Christ He draws all things unto Himself. Life experienced in our humanity is brought into the Light and Redemptive Love of Christ, and transformed. Our humanity is not to be rejected or disdained or shamed, but brought to the altar as the broken bread to be lifted up and consecrated. What was knotted is set free, what was twisted is made straight, what was injured is healed. All is redeemed, and brought to its rightful purpose in the Heart of Christ. We experience then in our transformative spiritual practice, an interior circulation, an alchemy of Love, where all is brought to its rightful purpose in the Heart of Christ.  What was seen before as deficit becomes strength. So many persons have discovered that what brought them down and injured them and others in life becomes redeemed strength. In the moment when we say 'yes' to Christ, and make of our humanity an offering, it becomes the moment of transformation. We bow and we offer ceaselessly.

Christ Our Safety and Security
In my own early life there was great insecurity and a life of being moved from place to place and at times periods of homelessness. And it is this wound of insecurity that has been the engine of my own spiritual journey to find a Home where I wouldn't have to leave, where I would always be welcome, where I would eternally belong. All of us need a place of ultimate safety and healing to abide and take refuge.  Yeshua says that His Heart is our true home. And I believe Him. When we stop relying on the conditional survival adjustments and arrangements as the source of our ultimate Faith, and instead anchor our life ultimately in the unconditioned Love of Christ, then we begin to experience true Home, and true Peace and true Love. We can continue to live in the conditional world but we can stop making compromises with the primacy of the Love of Christ and the truth of our communion in Him. When we do this we find the courage to bring forth what is truest and best in us as gift to the world.

The purpose of a silent immersion retreat in Prayer of the Heart is to settle in to a deep place of interior safety and sanctuary in Christ. In this place of safety, in this sanctuary in our own heart, we become accessible to communion with Christ.  We open and release the knotted and wounded aspects of our life. Intensive experience with Prayer of the Heart practice opens us and makes us accessible to the Heart and Love of Christ in a deeper way than we thought possible. In the Prayer of the Heart intensive retreat we come to release from the worries, wounds, and confusion of our life to abide and heal in the Heart of Christ.

What is abiding? One way to see this might be as "anchoring" in both our attention and intention in the core and ground of Ultimate Reality, rather than being carried along in the confusion and distraction of what is "normal" consciousness for most people.   Abiding in Christ is also "anchoring" in our practice. In order to be accessible to this "anchoring" in Christ as our true home and reality we do our praxis of Breathing Yeshua, bowing in presence and adoration, and offering in love to Christ. In the Way of the Heart this grounding and anchoring happens through the "Invocation of the Holy Name," to come Home, again and again. For Christians the name of the Holy One is Yeshua, the face of God turned towards us. The ancients of the desert called this continual return the praxis of the "Remembrance" of God.

The need for salvation arises from our homelessness, and our wandering and seeking in all the wrong places. The practice is to look for love in the right place, and home is right here, right now, within us. The Good News is that God in Christ is accessible to us, The only impediment to our always being Home in communion with Christ is our receptivity, our being accessible. As God is pure gift then the real issue is being accessible. "I am here, I am ready for You, to receive You, to 'live' Your Life in mine." To be accessible we offer all that we are, all that we have lived, all that we intend and will to be, in the praxis of attention/adoration and intention/self-giving love.

We make our self-offering without exception, without shame, without self-judgement, and in utter trust. The Gospel stories teach us metaphorically that being accessible to Yeshua involves stretching and reaching beyond the familiar patterns and known limits. Healing in the Gospel stories must involve stretching out the hand in trust, asking to be being "lowered through the roof" in utter humility. And we reach out like the hemorrhaging woman to touch the garment.

These acts of Faith, and not magic, Yeshua tells us, are what makes the healing possible. And so it is in Faith we are accessible to Him and His touch within us. In a retreat space or in the consecrated space of our daily practice we enter into an act of giveness and trust where unconditioned Life is offered to us. We make ourselves accessible by stepping out of known and familiar patterns of the mind traffic and the arrangements it has made, to anchor into the Mystery of communion in Christ in our own Heart. Like the paralytic lowered through the roof to be healed, we lower ourselves into intimacy with Christ in our own hearts in the interior quiet of Breathing Yeshua, and we receive the touch of healing Love. In His touch we find our home, in His touch we find our healing.
In this exercise of pure Faith we open to transformative healing, and our life's salvation in Christ. The healing of fear brings forth courageous Love. The healing of shame and unworthiness brings forth the dignity and reverence of Love. The healing of isolation and rejection brings forth the communion and belonging of Love. The healing of spiritual blindness brings forth the clarity and awakening of Love. The healing of a divided life brings forth wholehearted and consecrated Love.

My Healed Journey with Dad
The journey I have walked with my father the last 20 years has been blessed by this same healing touch of Christ. My father and I started out badly in life. He returned from World War II a deeply damaged young man who had undergone the worst of combat and the turmoil of an alcoholic upbringing. Being terribly injured by a drunk driver and in a hospital for several months didn't help in his prognosis for having a happy family life. My mother and father divorced when I was two years old. The father I knew growing up was not someone I wanted to be with.  Through grace, religious Faith, and Alcoholics Anonymous he began to do the inner work necessary to be a man capable of love. With the inner work I was doing in contemplative prayer practice we found a way to walk together and discover the love we could have as father and son in later life. In April 2004 I was at his bedside and he passed from this life into the joy of Christ. He had told me that his greatest happiness would be to see Yeshua face to face. I was graced to be present when that moment happened and I felt his joy.

Our journey of healing began when we decided to have an annual retreat together at the Trappist Monastery of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Oregon. It was the monastery where my spiritual mentor, Abbot Bernard McVeigh O.C.S.O. resided. In the years that followed my father and I grew to become best friends and shared the love that two men who are good friends can have. This love and healing only became possible out of the growing experience of abiding in Christ and bringing our wounds to the Love that heals all and redeems all. Sometimes an entire redemptive movement of Christ's healing touch in a life can be best summed up in a moment. I wrote a poem in 1994 to describe such a  moment.

Walking down Abbey Road

by William Ryan

Two men tread the silence and communion along Abbey Road.
Their vapored breath rises toward a grey winter sky.
This way they come now eight years,
when the sun slants just so.

They have held and heard,
each the other moan,
and lanced the  festering wounds of grief.
One foot bathes in wellspring of Living Water within,
the other wrenches in pain.
One father crying out for the son he lost in divorce,
the other, the boy he lost in the wasting of leukemia.
It will never be.
The one man injured his mind,
lost his innocence,
and his soul was bloodied,
in the killing of Bloody Nose ridge,
on that  distant Palau island, Pelilu.
Alcoholism took the rest, almost.
The other, now grey too,  recovers from wounds,
a casualty of the suicides,
broken lives and suffering of
the psychiatric trenches.

Father and son no more,
Now two old friends,
telling tales of love and passion,
round the corner and ascend the hill
of Guadalupe.

They stride arm over shoulder.
The winter ray strikes through the clouds
the outstretched white marble arms
of  welcoming Savior.
He beckons all, takes all unto Himself.

The Living Spring breaks through the weary crust,
In timelessnes, can it be any other way?
" All will be well, All be well,

And all manner of things will be well."