We give thanks to God always for all of you,
remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly,
calling to mind your work of faith
and labor of love
and endurance in hope of … Christ ...
knowing brothers and sisters loved by God,
how … our Gospel did not come to you in word alone,
but also in power and in the Holy Spirit
and with much conviction.
- 1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
"The unquestioned assumption was that contemplation could not be found anywhere except in a cloister … This has left us in our time without a sense of the immense possibility that the Gospel opens out to lay persons and indeed almost commands them to pursue. Evelyn Underhill is one of the outstanding writers on mysticism of our era. She offers a parable of the spiritual journey that might be apropos here. She wrote that the spiritual journey is like the migration of English sparrows, each weighing about an ounce and a quarter, who twice each year take off into the unknown, committing themselves to the air and flying over the ocean where there are no landmarks to give them any guidance. And yet without any hesitation, every fall thousands of them take off, and in the spring thousands return undergoing the same hazards. This migration, she claims is a good example of what the spiritual journey is all about. We have no idea of where we are going. There are all kinds of difficulties we cannot foresee. The birds commit themselves to the elements by way of blind trust in their instinct. The spiritual journey is basically a surrender in blind trust to our conviction that what we hope to find on the journey we either already have or will certainly find. But there is no guarantee that we will arrive safely on the basis of the evidence or our circumstance. We must let go and let the wind (the Holy Spirit) take us where we hope to go.
"One of the reasons why contemplatives have always been in the minority in this world is because contemplation involves a surrender of one's whole self, not just a period of time set aside each day for some form of prayer or meditation. It is a commitment of immense proportions and requires an eminent trust that God will bring us where we hope to go, if we submit to this inner conviction or urging that we have to start. It does not matter how many difficulties there are, we have to go. There is no turning back once we have started because the sky is a big place, and we had better stay with the flock. The image of these little English sparrows fighting storms and winds to get to their destination is a moving symbol of our own situation. In our case, however, taking to the air is not based on instinct, but rather on the theological virtue of hope. The movement, call, or attraction that God has given us is a promise that is just as reliable as the instinct of the birds as they surrender to their migratory instinct. Instead of surrendering to a migratory instinct, we surrender to God's transforming process."
- Thomas Keating, Intimacy with God
Examen: And so — trusting the Holy Spirit to take us where we hope to go — we rest.
An archive of previous emails may be found here.