Hilma af Klint, Group IX/SUW, The Swan, No. 21, 1915
I was his delight day by day, playing before him all the while, playing over the whole of the earth, having my delight with human beings. Now, children, listen to me: happy are they who keep my ways. Listen and grow wise ... Happy the one who listens to me, attending daily at my gates, keeping watch at my doorposts; for whoever finds me, finds life.
- Proverbs 8:30-35
In the opening lines of today's video, "Playing with God," from the God is Love: The Heart of All Creation series, Thomas Keating asks, "We might ask the question: Well, is this journey of life and this evolutionary process that we are immersed in, is it always so serious a situation? In other words, maybe we take it too seriously. And it is serious – heavens! Being created out of nothing is ... I don't know what you'd do without some kind of guidance or help. But it seems that God has created everything with a certain tenderness and humor and playfulness."
Similarly, in the Commentary now known affectionately as "Page 10," Maurice Nicoll notes, "Now the work can only be done in the spirit of its own beauty and light, in the spirit of its true message and significance. … For to work in a negative way is useless. It is only through some kind of delight, some feeling of joy or pleasure or some genuine affection or desire, that a person can work and bring about any change of being in himself. Fear, for example, will not act in this way. A man may have some knowledge of truth, but unless he values it, unless he feels some delight in it, it cannot affect him. It cannot act on him, for a man unites with truth only through his love, as it were, and in this way his being is changed. But if he is negative, then his love-life – that is, his emotional side – is in a wrong state and it will be the same if he is in a state of fear and feels compelled to do something against his will. To do a thing willingly, from a delight in doing it, will effect a change in you. And when a person begins to take up his own 'cross' – that is, the burden of some difficult thing in himself that he has at last come to observe – and does it in such a spirit, then he will get results. But if he does it heavily, out of the conviction of sin, nothing will ever come out of it, and especially if he shows others what he is trying to do, and likes to look miserable or grave or sad. … To work on oneself from the conviction of sin puts the work into negative parts of centers, and to work in a negative way can led to a worse state of oneself than not to work at all. … Negative parts of centers create nothing. When I first heard Mr. O. say that negative parts of centers cannot create anything and people who try to work in a heavy, dreary, negative way could only make their inner state worse than it was – then I experienced almost another moment of consciousness."
- Maurice Nicoll, Commentaries, "Letter to Bush," April 27, 1941, Vol. 1, p. 10
A Testament of Delight
"However far back I go into my memories (even before the age of ten) I can distinguish in myself the presence of a strictly dominating Passion: the passion for the Absolute.
"At that age, of course, I did not so describe the urgent concern I felt; but today I can put a name to it without any possible hesitation.
"Ever since my childhood, the need to lay hold of 'some Absolute' in everything was the axis of my inner life. I can remember very vividly that, for all my youthful pleasure, I was happy only in terms of a fundamental delight; and that consisted generally in the possession, or the thought of, some more precious, rarer, more consistent, more immutable object. At one time it would be a piece of metal; at another, I would take a leap to the other extreme and find satisfaction in the thought of God-the-Spirit. …
"This may well seem an odd preoccupation. I can only repeat that it was a fact, and a permanent fact. I was never to be free from the irresistible (and at the same time vitalizing and soothing) need to find unending rest in Some Thing that was tangible and definitive; and I sought everywhere for this blissful object. …
"It would serve no purpose here to give a detailed review of the various altars that I have successively raised to God in my heart. I shall only say that as I found every individual form of existence to be unstable and subject to decay, I extended the range of my search: to elementary Matter, to the currents of physical energy, to the totality of the Universe – always, I must confess with an instinctive predilection for matter. …
"I have always loved and sought to read the face of Nature; but, even so, I can say that my approach has not been that of the 'scientist' but that of the 'votary' [a person, such as a monk, who has made vows of dedication]. It seems to me that every effort I have made, even when directed to a purely natural object, has always been a religious effort: substantially, it has been one single effort. At all times, and in all I have done, I am conscious that my aim has been to attain the Absolute. I would never, I believe, have had the courage to busy myself for the sake of any other end. …
"The whole problem of my interior life – and all, too, that gives it value and delight – has consisted, and still consists, in knitting together in myself the influences that radiate from each of the two Centers (God and the World) – or, to put it more exactly, in making them coincide. …
"I have no words to express the ever-fresh treasures of strength, of light, and of peace that are constantly made available to me by the fundamental vision of Christ in all things. … Human effort and grace work together, each for an essential part. The World is not merely an exercise-ground; it is a work to be carried through."
- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, The Heart of Matter, "My Universe"
"For the world and time are the dance of the Lord in emptiness. The silence of the spheres is the music of a wedding feast. The more we persist in misunderstanding the phenomena of life, the more we analyze them out into strange finalities and complex purposes of our own, the more we involve ourselves in sadness, absurdity and despair. But it does not matter much, because no despair of ours can alter the reality of things; or stain the joy of the cosmic dance which is always there. Indeed, we are in the midst of it, and it is in the midst of us. For it beats in our very blood, whether we want it to or not.
"Yet the fact remains that we are invited to forget ourselves on purpose, cast our awful solemnity to the winds and join the general dance."
- Thomas Merton, New Seeds of Contemplation, "The General Dance"
Watch: In today's short video excerpt, Fr. Thomas speaks of God's play with each of us, perfectly suited to each of us. He ends with: Let God play. Will we play too? You may find the video and transcript here. It is about 10 minutes in length. If you would like to stream this video, use this link.
From four of our key influencers in the lineage of contemplative and Work teachers, we hear four ways of expressing the gifts of delight in Work: creation in tenderness, humor and playfulness. Work in delight. Treasures of strength, light and peace. Joining in the general dance. What is the source of your delight in the Great Work? What draws and enlivens you on this journey?
For more about working with delight, attend tonight's class at 7pm Central Time in The Church of Conscious Harmony sanctuary or via Zoom, using one of these connections: