TO BE BORN IS TO BE CHOSEN
A paper written by Brother Sean for souls now seeking personal intimacy with their God as contemplative monastics’ within the Tau Interfaith Community of Saint Francis.
We don’t have to give up anything-it is God who gives us everything who says YES to this call to be a ‘Chosen One’ in Divine service as members of the Tau Community of Saint Francis.
There is in the world today a thirst for God. People are seeking a reversal of the trends toward consumerism and materialism, prejudice and violence. They are discovering that what one does must be a means of both self-fulfilment and service to others.The call to the creative life of interfaith monasticism is a call to dignity, to a life of vulnerability and adventure and the call to a life that exquisite excitement and indeed ecstasy will often visit. The passion of the imagination is nourished from a deeper source, namely God.
John O’Donohue says: ‘There is a mystery of individuality that shapes the soul into a divine masterpiece that pleases God.’ The great law of life is to be yourself! Though the concept sounds easy and simple, trust me, it is often a difficult task. To be yourself, you have to learn how to become who you were dreamed to be. I believe that each person has a unique destiny because ‘to be born is to be chosen by God, because each soul has a special purpose in this world. Following one’s true vocation ensures that what you choose to do, finds itself in harmony with your inner nature and whatever gifts one has will naturally unfold. Having a sense of one’s vocation does not in any way relieve one of the travail and turbulence of being human. Indeed, being true to one’s vocation can often require a level of generosity and risk that will cause great suffering, for more often than not there is no surge of light to clarify direction; the light on offer is only enough to the next step in one’s faith journey.
The nature of the calling can change over time, taking the person down pathways never anticipated. The calling opens new territories within the heart, thus in turn deepens the calling or vocation itself. The faces of the calling change; what at the beginning seemed simple and clear can become ambivalent and complex as it unfolds. To develop a heart that is generous and equal to this complexity is the continual challenge of growth. According to many mystics, this is the creative tension that dwells at the very heart of vocation. One is urged, nurtured even coaxed beyond the pale regions into rich territories of risk and promise.
It is devastating to feel trapped in a form of life where you feel utterly misplaced and all your effort is laboured; everything you do is done against the grain. You take no joy or pleasure in what you say or do and your heart is haunted by alternative lives you will never have. When you feel like this, it can make for a resentful and bitter life – a life where you are neither seen nor understood for much of the time – and your gifts remain locked away; never to emerge. It is clearly time to change what you are doing; perhaps sacrifice the familiar in order to find your true calling. Such change can utterly transform your life as happened in the case of the young man who entered a monastic religious order to discover that the abuse of God’s power coupled with the disillusionment he experienced during the novitiate and early years of his life as a professed monk. His journey into the world of monasticism was to become a rude awakening for his spiritually energised and naive soul so reminiscent of the many thousands of young enthusiastic men and women who went before him and who will have undoubtedly followed in his footsteps. For so many who have not reneged on their spiritual vision from God despite the religious injustices they had to endure in the name of God, there is a spiritual longing deep within the recesses of their soul to reawaken the God/dess within and take ownership of the beautiful soul searching truth, ‘TO BE BORN IS TO BE CHOSEN.’
It is such a relief and joy to find the calling that expresses and incarnates your spirit. When you find that you are doing what you love, what you were brought here to do, it makes for a rich and contented life. You have come into the rhythm with your longing. Your work and action emerge naturally; you don’t have to force yourself. Your energy is immediate. Your passion is clear and creative. A new calling can open the door into the house of vision and belonging. You feel at home in your life, heart and hearth at one with God.
In our faith journey to God, we are continuously thankful for the ‘synchronicities,’ or God incidences,’ that manifest themselves to our hearts. They are part of the Master Builder’s gift to our soul to invigorate our heart during the winters of discontent which leave the soul feeling bereft of God’s love. There is another wise old monastic saying, ‘Man’s disappointment today, is God’s appointment for our tomorrow.’ Often when we hit rejection in our faith journey, we will go to any length to decipher ‘what this or that is saying to our head.’ There is a sense that we are being punished by God for ‘past sin!’ This is a school of thought that is ‘New Age’ and not inspired by God. It says, ‘I have come into this lifetime to endure pain and suffering for the many life times when I squandered my sacred gifts.’ Surprisingly, there are many who subscribe to this erroneous concept and it refers more to appeasing one’s insatiable ego than liberating a pure heart inspired by divine love.
I feel assured I should write from the mere fondness and yearning I have for the Beautiful even if my night’s labours should be burnt every morning and no eye ever shine on them. John Keats (
To be born is to be chosen encourages the soul to engage more with the gifts of our imagination. Here are a few examples that will enable you to reflect on the absolute power God has given to our hearts through the correct use of our imagination.
· The imagination is like a lantern that illuminates the inner landscapes of our life and helps us discover their secret archaeologies. When our eyes are graced with wonder, the world reveals its wonders to us. There are people who see only dullness in the world and that is because their eyes have already been dulled. Too often we squander the invitations extended to us because our looking has become repetitive and blind. The mystery and beauty is all around us but we never manage to see it. Similarly, with the inner world: the imagination is the eye for that world. When the imagination awakens, the inner world illuminates. When the inner world brightens, we discover a new confidence and a surer grounding in the world.
· The imagination has retained the grace of innocence to see new possibilities in what appeared to be fixed and framed. There is a moreness to everything that can never be exhausted.
· The imagination retains a passion for freedom –a freedom where there are no rules or sense of entrapment for the soul. It wants to press ahead beyond the accepted frontiers and bring back reports of virgin territories.
· The imagination keeps our heart young, alive and youthful. The harvest of life’s experiences brings invitations to new risk experiments. The urgency, restlessness and passion of youth are all there as though everything is about to begin anew.
· The imagination awakens the wildness of our heart - our human nature. It returns us to our native wildness, to the natural and seamless fluency of our own nature. Other worlds come into view and we are invited to risk new and original ways of dwelling in the world.
· The imagination has no patience with repetition. We become interested in what might be rather than what has always been. Experimentation, adventure and innovation lure us towards new horizons. What we never thought possible now becomes an urgent and exciting pathway.
· The imagination offer revelation and never blasts us with information.
· The imagination works through suggestion not description. Suggestion respects the mystery and richness of a thing that are clues that leads to nature.
· The imagination has a deep sense of irony.
· The imagination creates a pathway to reverence for the visitations of beauty. It opens up diverse ways into the complex and lyrical forest of experience. To awaken the imagination is to retrieve, reclaim and re-enter experience in fresh new ways. According to Bill Stafford, ‘You are the only world expert on your own experience.’ There is no-one else to illuminate our experience but ourselves. In liturgical terms: each of us is the priest/priestess of our own life and the alter of our imagination is the place where our hidden life can become visible and open to transfiguration. Keats said it so perfectly: ‘I am certain of nothing but the holiness in the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination.....whether it existed before or not – for I have the same Idea of all our Passions or Love they are all in their sublime, creative of essential Beauty.’ The call to the creative life is a call to dignity, to a life of vulnerability and adventure and the call to a life that exquisite excitement and indeed ecstasy will often visit.
· The passion of the imagination is nourished from a deeper source, namely God.
BE GRATEFUL FOR YOUR BLESSINGS- how many times have we heard this expression? Given that the bestselling Book of all time is the Bible, yet there are generations of individuals who have not even seen a Bible let alone read a single passage from it. In truth, their ignorance deny hidden blessings to liberate their often confused mind in search for wisdom; a wisdom that comes from knowing the mind of God during times of uncertainty that would welcome clarity. The following text taken from the Book of Ruth in the Old Testament offers a challenge to the soul in search of God. Here, she says, ‘I went away full, but the Lord has brought me back empty...’ Ruth 1:21. When it comes to valuable life-lessons, the book of Ruth tops the best-seller list. When famine came to
, Naomi, her husband and two sons moved
to Bethlehem where the economy was thriving. What
they hoped would be a short stay turned into ten years. Their sons married two
local girls, Ruth and Orpah. Then the unthinkable happened; Naomi’s husband and
sons died. As a result of her loss she became bitter. When she heard that times
were good in Moab , she decided to go back home. After she
arrived she said, ‘I went out full, and the Lord has brought me home again
empty...’What did she mean? She was saying that despite the famine at home in Bethlehem , at least there she had her husband and
sons, whereas in Bethlehem , ‘the land of plenty,’ she’d lost them. Moab
You never miss the water until the well runs dry! The truth is, you can be blessed and not know it. Only as you look back do you realise that what you have, is much more important than all the things you don’t have. When Naomi lost what she loved most, even a famine seemed insignificant by comparison. Have you been saying, ‘I’ll be happy when...? No, happiness doesn’t come from getting what you want; it comes from appreciating what God has given you. Instead of whining and complaining about your lot in life, stop and ask yourself, ‘What would I take in exchange for what I have?’ If you don’t know the answer, begin counting your blessings and thanking God for them.
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 I will 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. Thomas Merton
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