Wednesday, November 25, 2009


My teaching & personal practice theme this week seemed to center around offering gratitude. Quite appropriate since Thanksgiving is tomorrow! For me, it is easy to offer daily thanks for the blessings in my life. Over the years, I have also discovered deep peace from offering gratitude for the obstacles in my life. My obstacles are people, places, things or in truth - a state of my mind. Whether an attachment, a disappointment, a frustration, a nuisance, or a heart ache - each obstacle has been a teacher and a light on my path over the decades so that I can focus & see myself more clearly.

Being fully involved in family life raising 2 children, I often long for pockets of time away - so I can "tap in" & "tune in" with out distraction -- and see myself more clearly. And I think because of this strong desire, lately, I have been fascinated by individuals who lived in caves over 1,000+ years ago. These cave dwellers from various religious beliefs were on a spiritual journey & deeply seeking. They were basically hermits. The other night, I watched a documentary on discoveries of ancient scrolls and cave art in Tibetan caves. And, I am currently reading Thomas Merton's Wisdom of the Desert - a compilation of thoughts from the 4th Century cave dwellers of the Middle East.

Merton writes about a story of a monk named John who claimed to be "beyond all temptation." He was "advised by shrewd elder to pray to God for few good solid battles in order that his life might continue to be worth something."

Wisdom of the Desert is compiled from an ancient scroll called Verba Seniorum. I particularly loved this translation...

"Abbot Lot came to Abbot Joseph and said: Father, according as I am able, I keep my little rule, and my little fast, my prayer, meditation and contemplative silence; and according as I am able I strive to cleanse my heart of thoughts: now what more should I do? The elder rose up in reply and stretched out his hands to heaven, and his fingertips became like ten lamps of fire. He said: Why not be totally changed into fire?"

May our fires burn bright. May we be luminous so others may see the way.