Saturday, September 26, 2009

Focusing Our Hearts and Minds

annie posted the following quote...written by Henri Nouwen on EU a while back...
Focusing Our Minds and Hearts
How can we stay in solitude when we feel that deep urge to be distracted by people and events? The most simple way is to focus our minds and hearts on a word or picture that reminds us of God. By repeating quietly: "The Lord is my shepherd, there is nothing I shall want," or by gazing lovingly at an icon of Jesus, we can bring our restless minds to some rest and experience a gentle divine presence. This doesn't happen overnight. It asks a faithful practice. But when we spend a few moments every day just being with God, our endless distractions will gradually disappear.

What I took note of was the mention of "gazing lovingly at an icon of Jesus." This is so similar to the excerpts I posted from Frank Laubach's,"The Game of Minutes" ...where he makes similar suggestions. Frank talks about using icons of him walking beside us...."including him" in our conversations. 

I wrote quite a bit about Frank Laubach a month or so ago.  Although "The Game" seems to be a frivolous title, this man very much walked the path of the mystics....but was never so metaphysical that he was (as annie says) of no earthly use.  He was a Christian missionary to the Philippines and founded (through adversity) a reading system called "Each One Teach One" and worked for worldwide literacy his entire life.  He has several books and one (available on line) is called "Letters By a Modern Day Mystic" which chronicles his year in the Philippines.  He was alone because his wife and one remaining son, Robert, were in the States while Robert regained his health.  He and his wife lost three of their children to malaria.

During this time, he tried to devote his every waking moment to communion with God....while continuing to work his butt off doing his missionary duties.  The results amazed even him.  It seemed almost hokey when I first read it...almost the antithesis of the "spiritual path".....more akin to something you might hear on the 700 Club....yet here is Henri Nouwen saying the same thing!!

This also reminds me of an artist I came across a few years ago.  I don't think I've posted anything about him here on this blog but I was immediately drawn to his work. His name is Nathan Greene. His art depicts every day scenes with everyday people in every day situations....with one exception....Jesus is visible in the pictures.  Sort of a visual of Laubach's suggestion of imagining Jesus walking beside us...imagining him sitting in on our conversations with others, etc. etc. Check out his website....which has many, many inspirational pictures under headings such as





This post is intended as an (re)introduction to a series of posts on every day mysticism. I wrote quite a bit about mystics but then got distracted and wrote about other assorted, varied and diverse topics. I have a few posts planned...actually written down on an outline of sorts.  That is something new since I usually fly by the seat of my pants as far as what I write about.  I doubt if the "but I digress" posts will stop popping up here and there...but I think God just might plant those out of nowhere ideas for impromptu posts in my head for my edification and my education.  Perhaps I pass a bit of that along as I write. I learn so much in my internet "research."

Well, today is a busy day..and as much as I would like to sit here on the couch, laptop perched on my lap...surfing endlessly...writing and reading and pondering...real life calls me.  Have a great Saturday!!!

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