Poor in spirit
This silent Sunday is a personal reflection on the beatitude from Matthew 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” I invite you to join in with the music, readings, quiet prayer and reflections around this theme.
Beati pauperes spiritu (Blessed are the poor in spirit)
Quoniam ipsorum est regnum caelorum (For theirs is the kingdom of heaven)
Time: 15 minutes
Centering prayer / meditation:
I invite you to spend some time in quiet prayer. (You can choose between a 10 minute timer and a 20 minute timer below, which each have a gong at the beginning and three gongs at the end). If you find your mind wandering, gently let go of your thoughts and return to silence, to being present, to awareness of your breath or your sacred word.
Listen to the following music as an ending to the time of prayer:
Come now child, lay it down,
Just breathe, just be,
Come be cradled in the arms of love,
Just breathe, just be.
Read the following readings through twice or three times, with an attitude of open receptivity. Listen for any words that call out to you, or that draw you into the sacredness of silence.
“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”
“Unless you become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.”
From Granum Somalis (The mustard seed)
Become as a child, become deaf, become blind!
Your own substance must become nothingness;
drive all substance, all nothingness, far from you.
Leave space, leave time,
eschew also all physical representation.
Go without a way the narrow foot-path,
then you will succeed in finding the desert.
O my soul, go out, let God in!
Sink, my entire being, into God's nothingness,
sink into the bottomless flood!
If I flee from You, You come to me,
if I lose myself, I find You:
O goodness extending over all being.
~Anonymous, 14th century
For Further Reflection:
I encourage you to spend some time in further reflection on this theme. Below are some of the quotes from the talk for you to take this theme further.
“In committing ourself to this interior silence, we immediately come up against our poverty in silence; that is, we experience fairly early on how inept we are at this deep attentiveness. We meditate and pray to deepen our capacity to be genuinely present, and the paradoxical nature of prayer and meditation is not that the intention to pray and meditate immediately delivers us from our poverty in silence – quite the contrary, prayer and meditation brings us directly to the experience of our poverty in silence. We might say, in fact, that those who pray are not those who know how to pray, but those who are willing to be humbled at ever deeper levels of the realization that they do not know how to pray.”
“Not being very good at it is the point, in that meditation brings us directly to the humbling realization of our poverty in stillness. Being silent on purpose is just esoteric noise if I sit proving to myself how silent I can be – my silence is in fact my ego’s noise if I sit very still in meditation, sitting still on purpose, this is just the ego’s esoteric footwork, proving to itself just how poised, how still, how motionless it can sit.”
“The more elastic an ego we have, the more respectable an ego it is. It can even stretch out to nothingness, and snap back to put another score on the chalk board : "I reached nothingness", as if nothingness was the attainment that one had acquired.”
“What are you gonna do, wake up some morning poor enough, like say to yourself you know, I never thought I'd make it, but I did it! I got poor enough.”
“Isn’t it true that not being poor enough is poor enough?”
2 Corinthians 4:6-7, 16-18
For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," made God's light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the radiance of God in the face of Christ. But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. ...
Therefore, we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal radiance that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
“Meditation practice brings us to the direct realization that we are poor enough, not as something obtained, but in the very real limitations of our ability to do something as fundamental, as foundational, as being simply present, open and awake in the present moment.”
My Lord God,
I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore will I trust you always though
I may seem to be lost and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
(by Thomas Merton)
Come with me to the Palace of Nowhere
Where all the many things are one.
(This track includes recorded segments of James Finley and Thomas Merton)
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Sharon's book that was previously called "Contemplative Living" has been republished by AnamChara Books under the title "Deeper: Finding the Depth Dimension Beneath the Surface of Life". The Kindle version is available from Amazon, and the hard copy version can be ordered from loot.co.za or Takealot, or from your local bookshop through Ingram Distribution.