Archive for December, 2009

Image From The Well at the World's End by William Morris

12/31/2009: New Year’s Eve, U.S.

At midnight, local time worldwide, both a year and a decade come to a close. Like so many years before it, it was a whirlwind of surprising, shocking, exciting, breath-taking and unprecedented happenings. In many ways, I am glad to be rid of it as I am with every year that came before. To let it go is as important a spiritual lesson as to learn from what the year brought by way of teaching. The ending is a time of energy and excitement as it simultaneously serves as the gateway to new possibilities.

The past year is but history now: twelve months on which to think and abstract meaningful moments. As we lift a glass in the spirit of “auld lang syne,” I celebrate the intrinsic completeness of endings. As at the end of a phrase of music, we reach a coda, and we look ahead with a certain thrilling openness to the next verse, or the next movement, or the next symphony assuming a series. In the case of many ongoing issues that spill into the new year, perhaps it is more of a syncopation than a full stop coda.

Generally, endings have a certain purity that beginnings lack. They are definitive. After a point, what was once so pressing and ever-present and all-consuming is wholly replaced by the fresh scents and flavors of now.

Beginnings, however, are more elastic.  There are phases to a launch, and as each phase comes to a close yet another is just beginning. We are children of this rhythm of beginnings and endings framing the melody and harmony that weave across the landscape of our lives.

We are defined more by our endings and how we acknowledge them than by our beginnings. The future is the adventure of unfolding and discovery as yet undisclosed and too soon to celebrate.  We make our plans and express our resolutions though fully aware that odds are that they will surely be dramatically reshaped by coming circumstance.

Meaning is wrapped up in endings and we are known to ourselves and others by what’s been, what we’ve done and not done, said and not said. Grammatically speaking, endings are the periods which make way for the next sentence and paragraph. To end is to make space for the possible and to give meaning to all the wandering that led to this present moment.

Endings are congratulation and invitation. We sum up the past and offer an homage to days now gone by, while boldly stepping into the yet unformed, untraveled, and undiscovered lands of tomorrow. In taking her next step, the hero’s journey is only truly engaged once s/he’s acknowledged what is over.

In doing so, we make space for mystery to self-organize, evolve, and emerge with uncontaminated freshness.

This is our great spiritual paradox. We celebrate what’s been, recognizing what must end, and what we must “unlearn,” while  fully embracing what emerges without jaundice, undo coloration, or prejudiced sense of what seems predestined or constrained by what was.

This paradoxical nature is captured in the archetype of the Christ, or Anointed One: To be fully human, a child of an age, a culture, and temporal circumstances, and a bringer of perpetual hope, a harbinger of renewed and sanctified times, and sign of the approach of the Celestial City outside of space and time.

Our bridge to the divine-somewhere and luminous beginnings, starts with a profound bow to the spirit of history that brought us here, quickly followed by a deep and hearty, full-throated wish and embrace: “Happy New Year!” With arms thrown wide, let us offer a heart-felt and generous kiss to all who will receive it in the same spirit .

May deep and abiding Love and the intimate fire at the Heart of the Cosmos keep you warm on the coldest nights, illuminate your shadow-times, and fill your sails with bold winds on whatever seas the New Year may bring. May the times be sweet and gracious, joyful and deeply meaningful.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Aurora taking leave of her lover Tithos. Having asked Zeus to make him immortal, she failed to also ask that he not age.

In all things, nature seeks a steady state. Young lovers, like the mythic Aurora depicted in the public domain image above, leaving her now aged and enfeebled Tithos, last only for a season. Thereafter, love must take on new and changing features.

The neurotic pursuit of eternal youth fails to appreciate the natural order of change and re-balancing. There is nothing so pitiful as an older man lusting after a girl who could be his daughter, or an older woman pursuing a much younger man. These couplings are contra-natura and, as such, cannot long prevail.

Mind-body-spirit are continuously being recalibrated to new realities, and finding the “sweet spot” at each station on life’s path is our spiritual task. Neurosis simply reflects our failure to find it. Homeostasis is the capacity of animals to regulate physiological limits to secure a balanced system. Whether we speak about the endothermic animals who have inherent self-regulation of such parameters as temperature or exothermic, who carry out control by behavioral adaptations, the aim is the same: support an equilibrium around a mean value developed in evolutionary time. Such regulatory mechanisms include insulin production, kidney regulation of water and ions, conformance to circadian rhythm, and the sleep cycle to name but a  few.

As in matter so too in spirit, we see homeostatic feedback loops at work as we thread the needle of insight. Carl G. Jung spoke often of the need for complementarity and balance of feminine and masculine,  Shadow and self. The human ecology shows the same socio-spiritual dynamic. As a long-time facilitator of team meetings (large and small), I can anecdotally attest (as so many of my colleagues will as well), that a meeting of all men is a very different meeting than one with mixed gender representation.

The discussions tend  to have more sharp edges with an economy of time invested in discovery and willingness to live in the question. On receiving a facilitation assignment, the first thing I look over is the roster to see just how gender diverse it is. In any event, in such gatherings, mixed representation ensures a better return from extremes to balanced views as issues clarify and strategies are developed.


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Mount Mayon Volcano, The Philipines

My son and his companion are traveling on holiday to the Philipines and is now, as I type this, in Legazpi City, home to Mount Mayon, an active and erupting volcano. Needless to say, we are all deeply concerned. Though his assurances in the one email we’ve received since their arrival there said that they are alright and well outside of the danger zone, one never knows with volcanic activity.

Of the 5 category rating scale used by volcanologists, where “5” is a full-scale eruption in progress, Mayon is rated a “4”, denoting an imminent eruption. We are anxious to hear that he has traveled well north of the active area toward Manila. Already 50,000 residents within a radius of 8 miles of Mayon were evacutaed.  Half that number were removed to shelters by Christmas day.

Some, now lulled by lessened activity in the last 24 hours, are returning to their homes to tend cattle and farms, though authorities are strongly warning them away, and calling this the “calm before the storm.”  We can all understand the wish to be home with family:  an especially compelling need during the Christmas holiday. This wish is particularly strong among the agrarian people of the Philipines who live in the foothills of the mountain and who bring great cultural passion and import to this Season, and whose lives are completely dependent on the land.

For us, these days have been difficult and anxious times of waiting for the next email ( as my son and his companion are without cell phones and must depend on available internet cafes). They are adventurous and touring for another few days nevertheless before their flight back, assuming no further official evacuation outside of the extended danger zone.

“Just waiting for word” sums up this time. I have written before about “waiting”, the power of vigil, and, in such times, our expectations of either great positive and miraculous events or, as now, fears of the unimaginably disastrous. One cannot help but be reminded of the Indonesian tsunami and the toll it took, and, earlier, in the Philipines itself, the disastrous eruption of Mount Pinatubo on June 15th of 1991.

We are now called to hold on to the only thing we have in such times – prayer. We pray for the Light of the World to quell the rumbling of the Earth and still the fires of magma, and for the safety of our loved ones and the thousands now threatened there. We once again see in these events our connection to all people: their plight is our plight.

The world is risk. We have no power over the Earth and its elements. Our sole power rests in our love and care for each other.

With all this as my present context, I reflect on today’s reading from the Gospel of John, verses  1 through 13:

After this, Jesus went to Jerusalem for a religious festival. 2Near the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem there is a pool with five porches; in Hebrew it is called Bethzatha. 3A large crowd of sick people were lying on the porches—the blind, the lame, and the paralyzed. 5A man was there who had been sick for thirty-eight years. 6Jesus saw him lying there, and he knew that the man had been sick for such a long time; so he asked him, Do you want to get well? 7The sick man answered, Sir, I don’t have anyone here to put me in the pool when the water is stirred up; while I am trying to get in, somebody else gets there first. 8Jesus said to him, Get up, pick up your mat, and walk. 9Immediately the man got well; he picked up his mat and started walking. The day this happened was a Sabbath, 10so the Jewish authorities told the man who had been healed, This is a Sabbath, and it is against our Law for you to carry your mat. 11He answered, The man who made me well told me to pick up my mat and walk. 12They asked him, Who is the man who told you to do this? 13But the man who had been healed did not know who Jesus was, for there was a crowd in that place, and Jesus had slipped away.

Our schemas and plans, concepts, and doxologies, are, at best, hazy reflections of the Real. Yet, we are every day invited to sort our priorities and let the trivial drop away. Life brings challenge and dread, and, when it does, our character is most authentically revealed.

What is true in us is all that is left as the rest dissolves into the drama of impending or active crisis. There is nothing to fear and no law about which we need worry save one: to draw close to those we love and shield them if we can physically or, if not, to do so psycho-spiritually, and this is the Beloved’s eternal verity.

As we pray for my son and his companion and for all who live around Mount Mayon, our prayer celebrates the Beloved’s intent and action in the world. Our vigil joins that sacred intent and helps complete the circuit between phenomena (volcanic activity) and noumena ( love and inter-being).

I give thanks for love. I give thanks for prayer and the capacity to reach through time and space with and without words. I give thanks for life. I rest in the arms of the Beloved whose Presence I pray settles upon Mount Mayon, its people, my son, and his beloved. All else is silence and waiting.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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Christmas Day, 2009

The gifts of the Magi are among the most captivating of the traditional stories of Christmas. Three kings read portents in the heavens and were motivated by what they saw there to make the arduous trip to find the site of a cosmic event of enormous importance. The title of  Magi, used in  in the Gospel of Matthew 2: 1-12, is a reference to Priests of Zoroastrianism who were reputed to be adepts in the astrological arts.

While their number conveniently provides an allusion to the trinity, and their convergence on Earth alchemically captures a likely convergence in the heavens, I’ve always found the story hopeful and imbued with a sense of the power and meaning of synchronicity. While astrology ( western & Vedic) keep their fascination for many, they have largely been relegated by the intelligentsia of the churches and science to the margins of history as quaint anachronisms of the magical fixations of the past.

Astrology can certainly be presented as a simple reading of the future as typified by the entertainment horoscopes published in daily newspapers. One so predisposed can neurotically cling to the supposed predictions and use readings as a guide to selecting auspicious occasions to engage in some behaviors or avoid others. What I find intriguing instead is use of astrology as a medium by which to enhance sensitivity to the possibilities and patterning occurring within and among events. The idea of meaningful coincidence and Jungian studies come to mind. Psyche and cosmos are entangled. They mirror one another.

I have studied Vedic Astrology for over a decade and have found it always intriguing and rich, not as a divinatory system, but as a medium for active imagination, and a formalized process for entertaining higher-order synchronicity. It is less about a predestined path and more about potentialities, proclivities, and convergences. It is another poetic language by which to explore the mysteries of consciousness.

In 2006, Richard Tarnas, author of The Passion of the Western Mind, a cultural historian and professor of Philosophy and Depth Psychology at California Institute of Integral Studies, published his very thoughtful and provocative work, Cosmos and Psyche: Intimations of a New World View. It is a courageous piece of writing as it looks ahead for a new model for the 21st century and beyond it, by looking back to Astrology. This is a perilous undertaking for an academic in today’s zeitgeist. The book is an invitation to revisit foundational assumptions that we hold about Mind while fully embracing the new physics and what it reveals about Mind and Matter.

In his epilogue, Tarnas writes:

….our own marvelously complex nature depends upon and is embedded in the universe. Must we not regard the interpenetration of human and cosmic nature as fundamental, radical, “all the way down?” It seems to me highly improbable that everything we identify within ourselves as specifically human – the human imagination, human spirituality, the full range of human emotions, moral aspiration, aesthetic intelligence, the discernment and creation of narrative significance and meaningful coherence, the quest for beauty, truth and the good – suddenly appeared ex nihilo in the human being as an accidental and more or less absurd ontological singularity in the cosmos. Is it not much more plausible that  human nature, in all its creative multidimensional depths and heights, emerges from the very essence of the cosmos, and that the human spirit is the spirit of the cosmos itself as inflected through us and enacted by us?

Clearly, the writers of the Gospel of Matthew had no reluctance in speaking of cosmic and human convergences. Why should we be reluctant to do so? The revelations of science are slowly but agonizingly pushing aside Cartesian dualism. It will not pass easily. Why is it assumed by many christian thinkers that Christianity is somehow purer if the agency of cosmic evolution is denied in favor of supra-natural events?

The Magi read the portents in the sky. They saw patterns converging and were moved to follow what they saw to be an unfolding narrative of creation. Rather than doubt it all or debate points of theology, they accepted mystery and went out seeking after it. For me, Christmas is a reminder that whatever our approaches, all roads up the spiritual mountain lead to the same summit. Studying synchronicity can only further enliven our capacity to see the subtle in the everyday and the greater story embedded in the variety of swirling and interacting, diverging and colliding events that occur all around us.

The spiritual life is about seeing clearly and living accordingly: to awaken. It’s up to us entirely whether to open our arms wide to mystery, or accept a smaller fraction of the great opus of creation.I choose the greater landscape and the wider bandwidth.

Glad Tidings of Great Joy!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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I was listening to National Public Radio (NPR) this afternoon and was especially interested in an interview Terry Gross had with Greg Epstein, Humanist Rabbi, who has written the book Good Without God. In recent years, there has been a spate of such titles ( e.g., God is Not Great, Goodness Without God Is Good Enough) all capitalizing on the fashionable assault on all things religious. Well, I listened very carefully to the gentleman’s argument and one particularly large logical flaw emerged for me.

Throughout the interview, he talked positively about our secular christian nation, complained of the rote recitation of scriptures during temple services, and  celebrated the ethnic and cultural dimensions of judeo-christian heritage. His fundamental argument is a that we no longer believe in the many things of faith and it is, therefore, proper to strive for intellectual integrity and be good without need of a god. He claims, furthermore, that there is no overarching purpose to our lives “assigned” to us by a divinity. Instead, he places a premium on dignity as the highest good and “relationships with people in the here and now”.

While there is much that I find reasonable and, in fact, commendable, about his argument, he characterizes theism several times as magical thinking involving belief in a deity that orders the world. This struck me as simplistic at best. In a particularly disingenuous moment, he said to Terry Gross:” We are not talking about what we do not believe, but rather about what we do believe.” The rest of the interview is an homage to the supremacy of a humanistic, secular world-view.

Epstein’s clear implication is that religion is principally about cultural identity. He regards celebration in that spirit as meaningful and satisfying, but the beliefs themselves are, he reasons, lacking in  rationality and unneccessary baggage (my words). Just there, under the surface of his argument, is the old saw about the lack of any compelling rationale for the existence of  God. He also suggests that meditation stripped of belief is just as powerful.

In other words, this is it. This is as good as it’s going to get. It’s all up to us, and “we just get one shot.” His biggest objection is to the use of the word “God.” Suffering and misery is just awful, and only community support and love make it all bearable, he suggests. There is nothing one can say to make it better than it really is or explain why bad things happen. They just do.

I find myself agreeing with a great deal of what Epstein says. His argument is nuanced and generally well-reasoned. I certainly agree that belief itself is unnecessary, but I take issue with the wholesale rejection of religious experience. He closes the interview by saying that the Santa Claus myth is a good exercise for children because, over time, they must face the myth and ask better questions: Is it really true?

The overall flaw, both in this book and the interview, is the notion of Jewish & Christian religious myth as “childish” magical thinking, and built on irrational beliefs. Often, belief may be as he suggests, but he lumps all religious experience together as if uniform. What Epstein fails to do in making his case is to apply sound rules of empiricism to his analysis.

The null hypothesis in science is that there is no effect of our manipulation, or that there is no evidence in support of our experimental hypothesis. The null can only be supported or unsupported, but never proved or disproved. To imply that there is no need of God is clearly based on the core belief that there is no God no matter how he spins it. He cannot see any compelling reason to believe in God, so he argues that it is a hollow myth.  In effect, he is saying that the lack of evidence of divine action proves the null hypothesis that there is no divinity operating in the universe.

On the contrary, as Hans Kung and others have shown, the “evidence” of transcendent experiences are many. It takes more than ideas and strong-willed leaders making definitive choices to change the world. It takes resilient and purposed personalities fed by a deep spiritual reservoir. The transcendent function is visible in poetry, art, all forms of revelatory writing, the religious experiences of people around the world in many traditions, and the tendency of all the sciences, especially the physical sciences, to see a movement toward grand unifying theories of all matter and energy.

Yes, we can reject the magical god as “big man in the sky” on the grounds that it shapes the Beloved in our image. It is much more subtle than that.

As I listen to Epstein’s interview, I leave dissatisfied. I hear in it a reductionism whereby Humanism reflects Man cut off from everything else in the Cosmos. I hear a hubris revolving around Man’s need for self-centeredness and a radical realism. I hear that purpose is something we author alone.

Again, he is half right. We author our purpose and our sense of self, but that set of choices interacts with many other dimensions of existence that work on us, through us, within us. The interactions are complex.

Jung’s discovery of the archetypes as emerging from the “collective unconscious” is relevant here. The archetypes work independently of each mind. They emerge as foundational to consciousness itself. In fact, the existence of Man and Woman is itself archetypal and pre-exists humanity acting as catalysts for the evolution of the universe toward ever greater degrees of consciousness.

The whole thing smacked of post-modern scientism, the myth of total self-control, and the proposition that goodness is, pure and simple, a matter of choice. I suggest, in objecting, that goodness and love under those circumstances is a tactic, a self-serving, self-aggrandizing motive. Instead, authentic compassion and divine love are inspired naturally through spiritual nourishment and Communion with the Beloved.

Epstein misses the essential message of religion in his intellectual scholarship and facile rejection of the authentic experience that grounds mature belief.  Absent the true mystical experience (apart from belief), beliefs themselves are empty containers with two- dimensional content. He dwells too much on that two-dimensional state as if that was all there is to the religious sensibility. Given human doubt, agnosticism appears more logically and experientially defensible.  Atheism is too sweeping a generalization and deviates from the established empirical method that proponents would seem to value.

I am attaching the YouTube interview with Epstein for those interested. What are your thoughts?

Defending the Faith and Morality of Non-Believers

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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His name is Nicholas: a man who was known in his times for having given his own wealth to those in need, and to be a tenacious protector of children. Under Diocletian, Nicholas was imprisoned for his faith and then served as an attendee at the Council of Nicaea after his release. Legends swirl around Nicholas as a kindly and generous man with a fervent and unyielding faith. Many of these legends speak of miracles performed both before and after his death ( e.g., raising young murdered adolescents back to life, and restoring a kidnapped child to his parents).

In time, Nicholas would become almost synonymous with the mythic Santa Claus ( Father Christmas, the Nordic Tomte or Nisse, Pere Noel, Sinterklass, Pere Fouettard, and Kris Kringle). What is the basis for this enduring image that has been so emblematic of the Season? The good and kindly St.Nicholas represents the best of humanity. He had a large heart, placed others first, and sacrificed for the needs of a greater good based in faith and principles. Often rendered as corpulent, I am reminded of Budai, the laughing Buddha.

The Fat Buddha, as he is known in the West, or the Buddha Maitreya and Phra Sanghachai in Thailand, carries a cloth sack and, though poor, is totally content. He is revered as the enlightened embodiment of true contentment, wisdom, a generous and open heart, and the very meaning of Zen. In Zen Buddhism, Budai is himself a Koan: Asked, “what is the meaning of Zen?” Budai put down his bag. When then asked,”How does one realize it?” He picked it up again.

St. Nicholas, Santa Claus, and Budai set the imagination ablaze with wonder at enduring simple truths that are, as always is the case, harder to reliably demonstrate than to extol, sing praises about, and capture in verse, story, and Seasonal trappings:

  1. All that we need to become we already are.
  2. The laughter of a kind heart heals deep wounds.
  3. One’s bag is full when it is empty.
  4. Openness to all means no stereotyping, no intolerance, all loving and spacious regard for all sentient beings.
  5. A smile is a salve for injury, pain, and disappointment.
  6. The child’s imagination is our first and truest state of being – the state of amazement.
  7. Heaven is now. If not now, most definitely not later. Make it so.
  8. Give of yourself. All else is a proxy for that.

It is said that if you rub the Budai’s belly, it brings good luck. His girth is large not from over-eating, but as a result of taking into himself the poison and darkness and evil all around, and he laughs them into oblivion. So, our greatest act of engaged spirituality is to be the inverse of the three monkeys – i.e., see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil. Instead, we are called to see it and dissolve it in compassion, hear it and make music where there is only rude, discordant noise, and speak of it so that the evil is named and can then be “called out.”

The Spirit of Nicholas/ Sinterklaas and Budai are celebrated with special vigor in these next 12 days. The archetype of the Healer will certainly be in my mind throughout the season.

May you and yours know deep and enduring peace, true contentment, laughter that ends suffering, and the full measure of being close to those who are richer for the fact that you have shared yourself with them.

Merry ( & Happy) Christmas!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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As is the case with so many rituals and symbols, the Christmas tree has undergone significant evolution in its use throughout the centuries. The practice of decorating an evergreen goes back to pagan roots as a ritual in celebration of the Winter Solstice and in hopes of a good harvest in the season ahead among ancient druids, Egyptians, Hebrews, pagans and Chinese.

The choice of the evergreen revolves around the allusions to eternal life, so its later adoption by Christians was quite natural as the adornments took on the symbolism of the faith: an angel atop the tree and not the Norse practice of the spear signifying the God Odin. The German Lutherans decorated their trees with apples and wafers symbolizing the crucified God. Victorian ritual saw a shift from live fruit to the glass balls we are now accustomed to along with candles, allusions to the fire of life and Genesis, now more safely represented by the strings of multicolored lights.

It is among my favorite traditions of the season along with modest use of outdoor lighting. The colors red and green capture the mysteries of Divine love, the Presence of the Holy Spirit and the greenness of the biome. What we place on the tree matters a great deal. There are archetypal images along with those specific to our own sense of meaning and personal unconscious.

We always leave the decorating until the day before Christmas eve; today, as it turns out. With music playing and a wood fire in the fireplace, we each place decorations on the tree, and there are always more decorations than the tree can accomodate.

What images find their way there, first:

  • the ornaments with the name of our two children inscribed along with the year of their birth,
  • ornaments that are old, and go back to the earliest days of our marriage,
  • those hand-made by my wife’s late Aunt who made them each year as gifts for the family,
  • many delicately made images of angels,
  • ornaments of saints,
  • nativity scenes,
  • many beautifully crafted song birds and parrots,
  • small cottages dusted with snow,
  • and the untold number of glass baubles and balls, flutes, and stars, and a goodly number of ballerinas.

Throughout the central room where the tree resides, there are the many nutcrackers, larger angels, a separate smaller tree for special bird ornaments, and other seasonal objects far too many to list. What matters is what they all say and create. In this moment of family artistry and creative decorating, the point is to suspend time and allow the system unconscious its full expression.

We delight in the rainbow display of color, in the symbols of dance, movement that celebrates being alive and conscious, joyfully surrounded by imagery of nature, mystical union and spiritual vitality, the memory of loved ones and things past, and loved ones in the here and now engaged in the high play of celebrating the deep mystery of the Incarnate G-d.

For a few days, time has no meaning. The past is alive with us in the quickening of memory. The present bathes in the deep roots to which color reaches into our personal and collective unconscious, and the symbols dance like so many sugar-plums on the stage that we construct together.

We are artists in action. We awaken the creative muse that whispers in our ears of simpler times. We stimulate all the senses and prepare for the mystical rebirth that surely happens, beyond ritual and Liturgy, in the timeless realm of soul and spirit, in the Heart of the Cosmos that continually renews itself.

The Evergreen miracle, the moment of the Star of Bethlehem, the end of our waiting, and the spark of inner knowing are upon us.


© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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My daughter drove 1100 miles from college for the holidays. We certainly worried about her traveling such a distance, much of it alone, along what seems an endless stretch of road. The road she traveled meanders for many miles through mountains and was especially treacherous in the inclement weather of earlier this week.

Our longing and expectation to see one another again punctuate the warm flood of emotions once the person for whom we wait, finally arrives. So it was with our daughter. Her name is Kristen, a name derived from the Greek word for “Christ-Bearer.”

As she pulled up in front of the house, she was unquestionably that for us. In all our waiting, her arrival, at night in the cold air, just before the worst of this week’s first major snowstorm struck, was the arrival of light. On first seeing her emerge from her car, I was simply over-joyed.

For me, the holidays now officially could begin. Our light arrived and came in from the cold night to warm up our lives. Kristen, for us, in that moment, was the Christ. She was as he is: the One who tempers the sharp edges and dark places in our lives and makes all the drudgery and travails seem less unnerving and imposing.

One need not look far to see the proof of the Light of Christ and the Presence of the Sacred in our lives. The Beloved is right there in front of us assuming the form of  the one who makes us jump for joy when s/he arrives.

I feel the same way when I hear my son’s voice on the phone. While we regret that he  is so far away, on the other side of the world for the first time this holiday season, just talking with him on Skype video brings a similar excitement.

After planning a time for the call, I feel the same enthusiastic expectation and longing for it to happen. It is in those moments of anxious waiting and, then later, in the joy of seeing and hearing, that we experience the Beloved’s touch directly.

My son’s given name is Marc. The name’s origins includes the mythic character of the Etruscan God, Maris,  protector of fertile land and farmers. In Roman mythology, Mars, God of War, married Venus, Goddess of Love.

He was a strong protector of the one he loved, herself the epitome of tenderness and openness to the Other. She softened Mars’ worrying intensity and anxious vigilance with the gaze of unequivocal devotion.

In like fashion, my son’s nature is that of watcher and protector of his sister, his family, and his beloved: a tenacious and uncompromising defender of what is just. He is an honest broker, who speaks truth to power, and is a passionate advocate for clear thinking and accountability.

Together, Kristen and Marc represent the two aspects of the Beloved for me: bringing peace through compassion, and finding truth through clear sight and vigilance. I celebrate them both in this season of mystical enlightenment and give thanks for my children. They add profound depth to my life, and their character, love, and presence escort me to the threshold in my embrace of the Sacred Heart.

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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In the Bhagavad Gita, Sri Krishna says to Arjuna ( Verses 10 & 11):

To those steadfast in love and devotion I give spiritual wisdom, so that they may come to me. Out of compassion, I destroy the darkness of their ignorance. From within them I light the lamp of wisdom and dispel all darkness from their lives.

In the Gospel of John 8:12, Jesus says:

I am the Light of the world; he who follows me will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life.

Twenty-five hundred years before Christ, the message of the divine light was equated with the divine splendor. This universal teaching refers to an inner work whose aim is to release the light that surely burns naturally and brightly in us all. So, what gets in the way?

Sri Krishna sums it up. It is ignorance. It is our illusions, allusions, and delusions. It is the opaque screen of egoistic motive, and preoccupation with our own sense of purpose and design that blocks the otherwise steady stream of divine light.

A soul in deep distress can be as a “black hole” from which Light cannot escape. It consumes itself and all around it. It is the task of a soul to bring forth her Light; to illuminate the whole world, to be a Christic, a Bodhisattva, and to work to dispel ignorance.

The work, like charity, begins inside, within the self. We must remove the shields, the screens, the walls and boundaries and find the source.

It is the journey of our lives to uncover and recover what we have always been: to be as we truly are, once all the mist and fog of doubt and worry and plots and subplots are cleared away.

Oh, come, oh, come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

Oh, come, our Dayspring from on high,
And cheer us by your drawing nigh,
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to you, O Israel!

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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1st Major Snowfall of 2009 in the Northeast

Our first snowstorm of the season has been a blizzard with a great deal of snow. G-d’s powdered sugar adorns all the trees. The Beloved inspires randomness in this spray of trillions of tiny crystals on the ground, buildings, and trees. Only the whimsy of the wind combined with the structure of frozen crystals can produce such exquisite images.

Any one crystal seemingly doesn’t matter much. It’s fall would very likely go unnoticed. But, when joined with a universe of others, it forms a pure and weighty blanket; a frozen community made up of miniscule fragile structures. When taken all together, it takes heavy plows, and intense shoveling labor to move the mountains of white.

All small things, unique, fragile, beautiful, and intelligently crafted in themselves, find their purpose in relationship to one another. Every flake matters as does every weave of fabric in a fine carpet.

Like a pointillist, the Beloved’s artistry on the scale of the large is best understood among the worlds of the very small.

“Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the Earth. ”

© Brother Anton and The Harried Mystic, 2009. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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