|Friends in Christ
Opening Space for God:
Living in the Light
A participatory course
using a contemplative approach,
life experiences, spiritual practices and the Bible.
“Be still …and know that I am God”
Psalm 46:10 (RSV)
February 17 through March 24, 2002
Mind and Heart
The principal thing is to stand with the mind in the heart before God.
-Theophan the Recluse
There are dangers along the path of seeking a relationship with God. The first danger is to see the path as an intellectual effort at knowledge. We like to use our minds. By analyzing, comparing and contrasting, we control ideas. We like to keep the spiritual journey in our mind so we can control it. Unfortunately, as long as we keep the search solely intellectual, we will fail. The essence of the journey is to let go and receive the Divine Other. True relationship is not controlling.
The second danger is to see the path as only one of the heart and emotions. We ache to feel the Truth. This way, however exciting it may appear, robs us of the great gift of thought and can trap us in the great currents of the flesh.
The goal of our inquiry here is to stand with the mind in the heart before God. We will not abandon our minds, but we will not be ruled by our minds. We must put our minds in our hearts, the core of our whole being; the center of our emotions and physicality. From this place and posture, we will relate to God. So, beware of overemphasizing either thought or emotion.
Welcome to this course which we hope will assist you on your spiritual journey. Our goal is to open our senses anew, to respond freshly, to the Divine Teacher who is always present.
We request that you begin the class by reading the Bible selections provided. Try to read and react to them as if you were reading them for the first time. Try to avoid complex intellectual analysis, but rather try to respond to the passages fully, with your memories of past experiences, with your feelings and also with your mind.
We request that you listen to the short teaching section with the same kind of openness.
Our sharing time will be an opportunity to share appropriate life experiences, feelings and thoughts. It will not be really a discussion, but it will be more of an opportunity for mutual sharing. Everyone's past experiences, feeling and thoughts are true for them; thus, we will not criticize or challenge each other.
Finally, we offer suggestions to stimulate you to keep a journal during the course. In the privacy of your home, you can reflect in writing about your thoughts and experiences as the course progresses.
Jesus’ first disciples felt drawn to him. While these disciples did not always understand what Jesus taught, they felt a closeness to God by just being with him. So too for us. Our first step on the pathway of God does not require we understand Jesus, just to stay close to him.
When we first meet some one we like, we feel a positive force in our interactions. The first step in building a meaningful relationship with this person is to spend time with him/her. So it also is with God. After sensing God, we must begin by opening some time for God by creating space in our daily activities.
The practice of silent prayer, meditation and openness is found in many religious traditions. This practice opens us to depths of our being and the Divine Voice which speaks from these depths. When we act from these depths, our actions are an extension of our Divine foundation.
Several things hinder our use of the Bible. Many times we have developed strong, interfering feelings about the Bible from our youth. Also, our education urges us to understand with our minds what we read. How can the Bible be used to open our hearts to God?
Sometimes we see the world as a menacing place with which we must struggle. We feel threatened. There is little room for God here. But if we look at the same world with eyes of gratitude, we see miracles and gifts from God everywhere. Feeling thankful opens us to the Divine Presence.
We Americans are taught to take care of ourselves. We are proud of our successes and hurt by our failures. Our pride tells us that we are on own. Self promotion has become a way of life. Until we can put aside this pride, there is little room for God. Humility is the recognition that our lives are really rooted in God and that we need God.
© Friends in Christ Inc.
Friends in Christ, Inc.