First, let me hurry to say that the Brussats didn’t call this a “decalogue.” That’s on me. I use the term informally, simply to draw attention to this contemporary list of ten essentials–not inscribed on stone tablets, but important nevertheless. Rather than what not to do, these words suggest what to do. Rather than warning of danger, they invite to deep spirituality. Rather than issuing commands, they offer a compelling example. I hope you’ll take some time to “hover over” these beautiful intentions. This is how I mean to live . . . but, I need reminding!
1. I will live in the present moment. I will not obsess about the past or worry about the future.
2. I will cultivate the art of making connections. I will pay attention to how my life is intimately related to all life on the planet.
3. I will be thankful for all the blessings in my life. I will spell out my days with a grammar of gratitude.
4. I will practice hospitality in a world where too often strangers are feared, enemies are hated, and the “other” is shunned. I will welcome guests and alien ideas with graciousness.
5. I will seek liberty and justice for all. I will work for a free and a fair world.
6. I will add to the planet’s fund of good will by practicing little acts of kindness, brief words of encouragement, and manifold expressions of courtesy. [unconditional regard, exquisite tenderness]
7. I will cultivate the skill of deep listening. I will remember that all things in the world want to be heard, as do the many voices inside me.
8. I will practice reverence for life by seeing the sacred in, with, and under all things of the world.
9. I will give up trying to hide, deny, or escape from my imperfections. I will listen to what my shadow side has to say to me.
10. I will be willing to learn from the spiritual teachers all around me, however unlikely or unlike me they may be.” Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat @ Spirituality & Practice
“Joyful is the person who finds wisdom . . . . “
Proverbs 3:13 NLT
Moving From Head to Heart
*Are these reminders helpful to you? What emotions arise as you read them?
*What does that response say about you?
Abba, grant us a world of people whose intentions these are.
Thanks for reading my blog! Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.
“Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered,
“you are worried and upset about many things,
but few things are needed—or indeed only one.
Mary has chosen what is better,
and it will not be taken away from her.”
(read the full story) Luke 10:41-42 NIV
“We experience in ourselves a new and special kind of truth when we imitate Mary. We [who are monks] who have this particular call recognize that when we are agitated by all kinds of external concerns which do not touch us deeply at all we are less authentic, less real, less ourselves, less what we are supposed to be. We feel less faithful to the will of God than when we remain simply in an attitude of freedom and attentiveness to His word, His love and His will. This gospel text illustrates our experience that we are summoned by the Holy Spirit to make an act of preference. We are called to prefer the apparent uselessness, the apparent unproductiveness, the apparent inactivity of simply sitting at the feet of Jesus and listening to him. We are called to prefer this over an apparently more productive, more active, more busy life. We quietly affirm that there is something more important than ‘getting things done.’ Together with this is another implied assumption: that this preference goes against the ideas of the majority of our fellow human beings at any given moment and especially today in the twentieth century. Our act of preference for ‘quiet’ is at the same time an implicit protest and defiance, a protest against and a defiance of the counter-opinion of those who are absolutely convinced that our [monastic] life is useless and who reproach us for it.” Thomas Merton
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Concern to get things done comes naturally to me–even when it makes me less authentic, less myself, less who I am supposed to be. Is it just me?
- Are you, at least sometimes, able to prefer apparent usefulness, apparent unproductiveness, apparent inactivity–quietly affirming that something else (attentiveness to God) is more urgent than your “to do” list?
- Many others will reject this invitation. Are you willing to join with Merton in defiance of a driven, busy life?
Abba, in each circumstance, may I wrestle to know and to choose what is best–shaped by your call rather than pressure from within or without.
For More: Contemplation In a World of Action by Thomas Merton.
Thanks for reading my blog. Please extend my reach by reposting on your social media platforms. If you like these topics and this approach, you’ll like my book Wisdom From the Margins.
“In many Muslim cultures, when you want to ask them how they’re doing, you ask: in Arabic, Kayf haal-ik? or, in Persian, Haal-e shomaa chetoreh? How is your haal? What is this haal that you inquire about? It is the transient state of one’s heart. In reality, we ask, ‘How is your heart doing at this very moment, at this breath?’ When I ask, ‘How are you?’ that is really what I want to know. I am not asking how many items are on your to-do list, nor asking how many items are in your inbox. I want to know how your heart is doing, at this very moment. Tell me. Tell me your heart is joyous, tell me your heart is aching, tell me your heart is sad, tell me your heart craves a human touch. Examine your own heart, explore your soul, and then tell me something about your heart and your soul. Tell me you remember you are still a human being, not just a human doing. Tell me you’re more than just a machine, checking off items from your to-do list. Have that conversation, that glance, that touch. Be a healing conversation, one filled with grace and presence. Put your hand on my arm, look me in the eye, and connect with me for one second. Tell me something about your heart, and awaken my heart. Help me remember that I too am a full and complete human being, a human being who also craves a human touch. …How is the state of your heart today? Let us insist on a type of human-to-human connection where when one of us responds by saying, ‘I am just so busy,’ we can follow up by saying, ‘I know, love. We all are. But I want to know how your heart is doing.’” Omid Safi
“The swiftest runners won’t be fast enough to escape.
Even those riding horses won’t be able to save themselves.”
Moving From the Head to the Heart
- Many people commented on Safi’s original post, deploring how busy they are and how trapped they feel. How about you?
- How is your heart doing at this moment? …yesterday? …typically?
- I’ve gotten to the point where I sometimes answer the question “How’s it going?” with just “Hi.” Isn’t that sad?
- Do you ask people how they are–and then wait for an answer? …a real answer? Do you listen to the answer? Is your response evidence that a “human-to-human connection” has occurred?
Abba, break me of busyness that keeps me from experiencing loving human connections, and from hurry that cannot save me.
For More: Crazy Busy by Edward Hallowell
Thank you for your support of my blog! I wish you a new year full of divine favor. – Bill