Centering, Emptying, Grounding, Connecting

The fourth chapter of Brian Seaward’s Stand Like Mountain, Flow Like Water looked at the seasons of the soul and I found many of his reflections profoundly helpful. Centering, emptying, grounding and connecting are the four processes reviewed and are all deeply rewarding and necessary but also have challenges that accompany each of them.

Centering, or entering the heart and quieting the mind, is the first step and for some the hardest. It is creating a quiet space for the divine to speak into. “In the words of Jesus of Nazareth, ‘Be still and know that I am God.’” (pg. 125) It is important to do this activity daily, even if only for a short time, to try to have a designated space, and to have it be quiet.

The second is emptying, where we let go and release those things we no longer need.  It can be thoughts, ideas, memories, etc. but they are weights that hold us down. Emptying out creates space for new ideas, insights, and growth. The author claims this is the hardest and often is accompanied by grief and avoidance. “Stressors are not so much a spiritual breakdown as opportunities for a spiritual breakthrough. Our moments of despair are the soul’s attempt to take that first step into the void.” (pg. 139) This is not a place to get stuck, as many do, but to rest in the momentary but profound freedom this brief emptiness offers. “When we understand and appreciate the balance, we can see how necessary the emptying process is to becoming whole.” (pg. 143)

Third is the grounding process, the space in which we are reminded of our basic connection to God; when we seek for insights from something beyond ourselves. Dreams and vision quests are paths used but there is always communication happening outside of these two things; it is often a matter of receptivity which is more a process then an outcome. “Just as you cannot push water uphill, you cannot demand enlightenment. Discipline and patience are essential in the grounding process.” (pg. 153) Another space you will find this is in moments of synchronicity, where we see that all things are linked and that the divine can speak to us through those ties. In other words, two events that might separately have no great meaning together speak a greater truth to us. This is, in part, what Sophy Burnham refers to when she, “…eloquently suggests in her acclaimed bestseller A Book of Angels, the voice of God has many mouths. Insights, inspirations, and revelations can come from relatives, friends and even strangers.” (pg. 157) To hear from God provides stability through the divine instead of our own foundations.

The final process is connecting, relationship. From the Apostle Paul to African Proverbs to Chief Seattle, our interconnectedness to each other and the world is impossible to deny. “From a Taoist perspective, when we see ourselves as separate from the whole, we not only distance ourselves from nature, we isolate ourselves from other people as well. In turn, this distance weakens our spiritual health and suffocates our very essence.” (pg. 161) As science began to recognize that we were all energy, Jung with Einstein formulated the idea of a collective unconscious, a universal mind. Later, in his autobiography, Jung noted that which he had labeled the unconscious could just as well be God. Shifting from grounding to connecting is found in both receiving and giving. Viktor Frankl, a psychologist and concentration camp survivor, “…wrote in his memoir, Man’s Search for Meaning: “We had to learn from ourselves and we had to teach disparaging men that it did not matter what we expected from life, but rather what life expected from us.” (pg. 164) This communal, interconnected life we all share asks something of us, and we give to it, enter into community and this final phase, through and out of love and compassion.

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Reflections on “Radical Amazement” Chapter 5: All Creation is Groaning: the Process of Evolution

In Chapter 5 of Radical Amazement by Judy Cannato, we examine our self-awareness. One of the more profound statements I reflected on from this chapter was, “The consciousness of each of us is the result of the evolution of consciousness which has proceeded for eons. In us the evolving universe is capable of self-reflection.” (pg. 57) This self-awareness carries not only a wisdom but a responsibility; an understanding that our actions ripple through our connectedness and impact the rest of creation. “In the gospel of Mark, Jesus’ final words to his disciples encourages them to ‘go into all the world and preach the good news to the whole creation’ (Mark 26:15).”’ Thomas Aquinas too, saw that divinity was represented not in a single creation but in the collection of creation. In 1950, the Pope Pius saw no conflict between evolution and the faith tradition of Catholic-Christian tradition, which Pope John Paul II later confirmed.

Although evolution is confirmed more and more through various sciences, also confirmed is the reliance of various species on one another for their diversification. All creation groans together, as we read in the Bible, and participates in this creative process with one another and the Creator. “As it is, there are many parts, yet one body. The eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you,’ nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ On the contrary, the part of the body which seem to be weaker are indispensable.” (1 Cor 12:20-22) This too is true of our world, for where would we be without the tiny bee to pollenate the plants, or the little seeds, that produce all plant life which cleans the air and feeds so many creatures? Those things that seem the weakest and smallest are the least dispensable. This means our salvation, our wholeness, is tied up with one another, so that the world must too be brought to wholeness and we do this through a response of love, wisdom, and compassion. “Hubbard describes the universal human as “one who is connected through the heart to the whole of life, attuned to the deeper intelligence of nature, and called forth irresistibly by spirit to creatively express his or her gifts in the evolution of self and the world.” (pg. 64) Evolution, contrary to degrading humanity, makes us part of a universal creation of Love brought to life, recreating itself in greater complexities in relationship to one another until, after 13.7 billion years, it reaches a point of self-awareness and reflection in ourselves. This alone is a point of radical amazement.