“And of His Signs is that He created mates for you from yourselves that you might find peace of mind in them, and He put between you love and compassion al-Qur’an 30.21
With one silent laugh
You tilted the night
And the garden ran with stars. – Jalal-ud-Din Rumi
To love someone, especially someone who doesn’t expect you to love them, may be the most important of the spiritual practices. Love is a grace of God given freely to all and as Oscar Hammerstein wrote “Love in your heart isn’t put there to stay. Love isn’t love till you give it away.” God put love in our hearts to be shared with all creation, not just humanity but animals, flowers, and yes, even rocks. To truly love is as close as we get to being the image of God.
This week share your love with a family member, a friend, an adversary, an enemy. Let the love in your heart out and be God’s image in the world.
23He took the blind man by the hand and led him out of the village; and when he had put saliva on his eyes and laid his hands on him, he asked him, “Can you see anything?” 24And the man looked up and said, “I can see people, but they look like trees, walking.” 25Then Jesus laid his hands on his eyes again; and he looked intently and his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. – Mark 8:23-25
In January I had Cataract surgery and I must admit I never knew how much I was missing or how dark my world had become. One of the first things I noticed was that our light bulbs were a lot brighter and we didn’t need to change them after all. I also noticed evergreen trees, grass and the leaf buds on our Lilacs were so much greener than they were. The colors of the crocus and daffodils seemed to pop out like neon lights and I was amazed at how blue the sky was (that is when we had blue sky). The funniest thing was my IPad mini. I have a screen saver of stars and low and behold I just discovered there were also clouds in the picture. I couldn’t see them before.
I thought about the scriptures where Jesus healed those who were blind, especially the one where it took two tries before the man could see clearly. In many ways we are all like that one man. We see but we don’t really ‘see.’
My sudden clarity in sight has also made me think of all the things we miss because we don’t “see” them, really see them. We see the homeless man standing on the corner but we don’t really see him. We don’t see his pain, or his embarrassment, or his fear. What we see is a figure, as the blind man said as a walking tree, but we don’t see the human, the child of God who is before us. How many of you have taken the hand of a homeless person and looked into their eyes and saw the person for who they are, our brother or sister in God.
How many of you have gone to a jail and comforted the mother of a victim, or taken the hand of a felon and said you are loved by God, don’t be afraid. How many of you have seen children arrested for stealing drugs at their parent’s request or for stealing to provide for their family’s who are held in Juvenile Detention for a year or more because there parent or guardian can’t get clean from drugs or alcohol and there is no responsible adult to care for them. How many of you have held someone suffering from mental illness or PTSD and said ‘I’m here, you aren’t alone.’
If you haven’t volunteered at a shelter or soup kitchen yet find the time to do so. Volunteering there is a lesson in compassion and humility, of seeing people society throws away as our brothers, sisters, and friends who are in pain and afraid.
I am grateful that I am now able to see creation more clearly, the colors in sunrises and sunsets, and to rediscover the beauty of spring flowers. I love it that I can now see the faces of my friends and family, each and every one of them, more clearly. I love it that much that had been hidden by my own dark glass has been made clear. But today there is so much darkness, so much fear, so much hatred that clarity of sight is difficult for us all. Jesus said “I Am the Light of the world.” (John 9:5b) and in the words of the Prophet Mohammad “God is the Light of the heavens and the earth.” (Quran 23.35a) As people of faith we are to be the light that brings sight to the blind. We are called to bring the light of love, compassion, justice, and peace to a wounded world.
My recommended Spiritual Practice for this week is to open your eyes and SEE the world around you. Take the time to gaze at the beauty of a flower, and marvel at the rebirth of delicate green leaves on a tree. Let the beauty of creation refresh your heart and cleanse your eyes. Then take the time to see the people around you, offer a sandwich to the homeless man, woman, or teenager on the corner and take the time to look into their eyes and see your brother or sister, your son or daughter. Let them know they are known for whom they are a child of God.
Gracious Lord, you gave us eyes to see you in the face of all who surround us, to see you in a smiling baby’s face, the wrinkled face of an elderly, in the broken lives of the homeless and the hungry. In our rush of our daily living we become blind to all the love you have given us and we forget to pass on the love we are given to those in need. Help us in our blindness Lord. Amen
Truly in the remembrance of God do hearts find rest (Quran 13.28)
In the last week I have begun reading the book Out of Darkness Into Light by Jamal Rahman, Kathleen Schmitt Elias and Ann Holmes Redding. The book gives a wonderful introduction to spiritual guidance found in the Quran with reflections from the Jewish and Christian Faith provided by MS Elias and MS Redding respectfully. The three faiths Islam, Jewish, Christian are siblings and we share more than just a connection with Abraham, we share hearts.
As a Christian I am well versed in my own tradition, practices and beliefs but reading Jamal’s writings and MS Elias’ writings has opened up interesting doors into the shared space of our three faiths. One of those doors is called Spiritual Practice. I have always known many of our “Christian” spiritual practices have their roots in other faiths, yet as I read I am finding a second and third dimension in them. The practice I would like to highlight is a specific type of journaling Jamal calls “sacred writing.
I have practiced journaling for many years and have done something similar to the practice of sacred writing called “free writing or journaling where you write what comes to mind, letting my hand freely put on paper whatever comes from my heart. Sometimes there is an intention question sometimes not but always there is no planning of what I will write. Sacred writing is very similar but Jamal has beautifully paired it with the intention of going deeper into the heart of self when you’re sad, angry or in crisis, however, this is a good practice to use at anytime. Here is Jamal’s description:
“Start with the phrase, “Right now I am feeling” … and allow yourself to express your feelings and fears as fully as possible. After you finish, invoke the mercy of God and Make an intention to connect with your higher self. Start by writing. “I have heard your sighs, beloved one, and I want to tell you …” and continue writing, allowing your higher self to express itself fully.” (pg 55)
I have found that writing in this manner can produce insights to my own behavior and helps me find meaning in events or trials I could never have seen. One benefit to this method is by putting feelings onto paper gets them out of my body and I see clearer and become filled with an inner peace.
May the Great Spirit enter your heart as you pour out your fears and doubts onto a simple piece of paper. Amen
 Rahman, Jamal, Kathleen Schmitt Elias, Ann Homes Redding; Out of Darkness Into Light, Spritual Guidance in the Quran with Reflections from Christian and Jewish Sources, Morehouse Publishing, New York, NY, 2009