Sunday, October 23, 2011

Reflections from retreat – Ainaola Anam Cara “Monastery” Waiakea Uka, Mauna Loa, Hawaii:

The following are notes and reflections gathered during time of extended retreat. Much is taken directly from Scripture, or adapted from Celtic Daily Prayer with my own notes based on my family heritage of the Celtic Highlands and Islands (Scotland and Northern Ireland). Prayers of the Highland Christians and Hebridean Altars are also sources. The Watters clan [tribe], (name meaning in Gaelic: they that dwell by loch and muir; or lake, inlet and sea), lived out life for some time as farmers and fishermen under clan chiefs, later emigrating to North America to begin new lives there as both Celtic and Lakota. That story, “From Clan to Tribe”, has been documented elsewhere. No directions are offered here for either study or meditation, but I trust that those who read and reflect will enter upon on holy ground and be blessed.

During the season of falling leaves, (canwapekašnawi in Lakota), in the year of our Lord, 2011:

I have learned during solitude and silence up here, that life cannot be all retreat nor all mission. There must be a balance as Christ Jesus modeled; wherein each discipline feeds and nurtures the other. So life is a series of seasons during which God provides His own rhythms for our good and His service. Finding our rhythm and getting in step with the “dance of the Trinity” is a lifelong journey along the Narrow Road, the Good Red Road of Christ.

John 16:33
33 I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

St. Columba’s final words to his fellow religious seem an appropriate beginning, as well as end, to these reflections: “I give to you, my children, these final words: Be at peace with one another, bound together by mutual and unfeigned love. If you do this, according to the example of the ancient fathers, God, who gives strength to the righteous, will bless you; and I, abiding with Him, shall intercede for you. Not only will God provide all things needed for this present life, but He shall prepare for you blessings of eternity.”

I recall during prayer the struggles of our former church family, and these words of Columba seem apt knowledge and reflection for them.

1 Chronicles 16:8-11
8 Give thanks to the LORD and proclaim his greatness.
Let the whole world know what he has done.
9 Sing to him; yes, sing his praises.
Tell everyone about his wonderful deeds.
10 Exult in his holy name;
rejoice, you who worship the LORD.
11 Search for the LORD and for his strength;
continually seek him.

A common aspect of monastic communities, especially the Celtic which combined work in the community with retreat into solitude, is the daily offices or rhythms: “When labor in the fields was finished they returned to the monastery and spent the whole of the day until the evening in reading, writing or praying. When evening came, and the stroke of the bell sounded, whether only the tip of a letter or even half the form of the same letter was written, they rose quickly and left what they were doing. In silence, without empty talk or chatter, they went into the church. When they had finished chanting the psalm, with voice and heart in complete harmony, they humbled themselves on bended knees until the appearance of the stars in the heavens brought the day to a close.”

May we be one Lord God as You are ONE; Father, Son & Holy Spirit. Amen.

Isaiah 53:3-7 – counting the cost

3 He was despised and rejected—
a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief.
We turned our backs on him and looked the other way.
He was despised, and we did not care.
4 Yet it was our weaknesses he carried;
it was our sorrows[a] that weighed him down.
And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God,
a punishment for his own sins!
5 But he was pierced for our rebellion,
crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole.
He was whipped so we could be healed.
6 All of us, like sheep, have strayed away.
We have left God’s paths to follow our own.
Yet the LORD laid on him
the sins of us all.
7 He was oppressed and treated harshly,
yet he never said a word.
He was led like a lamb to the slaughter.
And as a sheep is silent before the shearers,
he did not open his mouth.

“It was custom that anyone who yearned for this manner of saintly life and asked to join the monastic community first remained for ten days at the door of the monastery, as if rejected and also silenced by words of abuse. If he put his patience to good use and stood there until the tenth day, he might be admitted and first put to serve under the elder who had charge of the gate. After he had toiled there for a long time, and many conflicts with in his soul had been reconciled, he was finally judged fit to enter the brethren’s society.”

My brethren, be joyful, keep your faith and belief, and perform the small things which you have learned from me and have seen in me, those which God will make great in His providence. Amen.

Ecclesiastes 3:1-2
A Time for Everything
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.

John 4:23
23 But the time is coming—indeed it’s here now—when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way.
“Recognizing time as a reality made holy by a loving God, the Celtic saints valued the daily, the routine, the ordinary. They believed God is found not only at the end of time when the reign of God finally comes, but now, where the reign is already being lived by God’s faithful people. Theirs was a spirituality characterized by gratitude, and in our stories we find them worshipping God in their daily work and very ordinary chores.” Sellner, Wisdom of the Celtic Saints

Labor and rest, work and ease, the busy hand, and then the skilled thought: this blending of opposites is the secret of the joy of living.
Whether I be in retreat, or about Your work, keep within me a stillness deeper and sweeter than a forest’s in mid of winter.

Ezekiel 33:30-32
30 “Son of man, your people talk about you in their houses and whisper about you at the doors. They say to each other, ‘Come on, let’s go hear the prophet tell us what the LORD is saying!’ 31 So my people come pretending to be sincere and sit before you. They listen to your words, but they have no intention of doing what you say. Their mouths are full of lustful words, and their hearts seek only after money. 32 You are very entertaining to them, like someone who sings love songs with a beautiful voice or plays fine music on an instrument. They hear what you say, but they don’t act on it!"

Mattew 25:35-40
5 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’
37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’
40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters,[a] you were doing it to me!’

How wretched we are, given up to sleep and laziness so that we never see the glory of those who watch with Christ unceasingly! What miraculous things I have seen after so short a vigil here!
Deliver me from self-trustfulness. In the frequent days in which I must do battle with my self as foe, arm me with a constant trust in Thee.
I am calmed because I know You love me. Because You love me, nothing can move me from my peace. Because You love me, I am as one to whom all good has come.
Lord, You love us to stand in Your sight upright and with such a gentleness in us that some other will yearn to win its power.

John 17:25-26
25 “O righteous Father, the world doesn’t know you, but I do; and these disciples know you sent me. 26 I have revealed you to them, and I will continue to do so. Then your love for me will be in them, and I will be in them.”


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