Archive for the ‘spiritual care’ Category

“With Open Hands” – Free me, Lord, from the inner bondage and endless cycle of what I think needs to happen before I can be happy. Free me, Lord, from my idea of the solution. Help me to wait with open ended, joyful expectation; and help me to experience your peace. Amen. (Charles W. Sidoti)

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

Ever wish you were more able to go with the flow? Have you ever wished you could go through the day without something upsetting your inner peace? It can be very helpful in this regard to think about how well you process the constant change that life provides. How well you process change has a direct relationship to the level of inner peace you experience.

If you’re like most people, you will discover that it is usually easier to talk or philosophize about change than it is to deal with it when it occurs, especially if the change is unwanted or unexpected. When the ground shifts, and life changes, our clear-sightedness and wisdom, so readily available when all is going well, evaporate, and an inner storm arises. For the moment, we may lose our footing, our sense of being in control.

I have begun to realize, however, that the inner storms we sometimes experience are usually naturally occurring events in the process of human growth. The transitional period of life commonly referred to as the midlife crisis is a classic example. Even the sense of losing control can be an important part of the growth process. This insight can be the beginning of a healing process, one that can help us to loosen our grip on the steering wheel of life. An ongoing personal transition can then begin to take place—a transition from fear to trust. If we can somehow manage to remain open, resisting the urge to panic, we will begin to realize that there really is a higher power that remains in control when the things we can do come to an end.

Famous American Catholic writer Thomas Merton, describes the need to feel that you are in control as “a need to see the future before it happens.” This is something many of us try to do even though we know that it is impossible. As we gradually learn to trust, our “need to see” starts to become less powerful in our lives. Merton goes on to say,

 Realizing that you don’t need to see—is seeing, and it can be a very clear form of sight (Thomas Merton – The Mystic Life).

This “realizing” can be a very slow process, but just knowing that an inner transformation is taking place is, in itself, healing. It is true to say that the healing each of us desires is being born out of the various struggles of our individual lives, out of the very ground upon which we stand. The more we are able to be attentive to what is happening in our lives in this present moment, the more we will be open and available to receive the gift of inner healing that God desires to bestow upon us.

Becoming a person who is better able to go with the flow is proportional to our level of trust. Trust that the changes that occur in our lives are not just random, chaotic events, as they sometimes seem to be. Trust that there’s more to life than meets the eye.

Connecting Point: Believing there is more to life than meets the eye opens the door to the personal realization that life is a sacred journey. It enables you to see beyond the outward appearance of things and to trust in what is yet to come. Trusting that there is more to life than meets the eye is a prerequisite to living a life of hope, making it possible to go with the flow.

Prayer: Lord, it is obvious that there is much more going on in life than what I am aware of. Help me to believe that “more” is you. Enable me to trust in your work in my life enough to not need to see today that which you are preparing for my tomorrow. Amen.

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This reflection is an excerpt from ,”Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time” https://www.amazon.com/Living-Gods-Speed-Healing-Time/dp/158595831X

Visit my blog to read more reflections, listen to live presentations and more:https://sidoticharles.wordpress.com/

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Listen to my live workshop presentation delivered at the 2017 Annual Conference of the National Association of Catholic Chaplains annual conference in Santa Anna Pueblo New Mexico.

The question and answer period of my workshop is very lively and even gets a little “dicey.” I welcome your feedback and comments after you listen to it!

Evidence of God’s presence is within and all around us.  One common barrier to our experiencing it is our tendency to become lost in our own imaginations.

By Charles W. Sidoti, BCC

As a young child I remember a picture hanging on the wall in my grandfather’s house.  It showed Jesus standing outside a door and patiently knocking upon it.  This picture is often accompanied by a caption taken from Sacred Scripture, “Behold I stand at the door and knock…” (Revelation 3:20).   I realized at that time that the closed door represented the door to my life, the door to my heart.  I knew it was about letting God in, and yet I did not know how to put the wisdom that the picture represented into practice.  I remember thinking to myself even at that young age, “I will be happy to open the door…but where is the door?”  As an adult, reflecting on words of Rumi,

 “Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it”  (Rumi – 13th-century poet, Islamic scholar, theologian and mystic).

brings me back again to that image of Jesus and the meaning of that closed door.   The picture of Jesus knocking outside the door relates directly to Rumi’s statement because it relates to whatever barrier we may place between ourselves and love.  It relates to whatever barrier we place between ourselves and God, for “God is love” (1 John 4:8).  The question I remember asking as a child, and which remains relevant today, is “What does it mean to open the door of my heart to God?’’

In saying that our task is not so much to “seek love” but rather to work to remove the barriers that keep us from experiencing love, Rumi is describing the work of the contemplative life, which is to grow in the awareness of God’s presence.

Evidence of God’s presence is within and all around us.  One common barrier to our experiencing it is our tendency to become lost in our own imaginations.  In our imagined isolation and self-sufficiency we have learned to see life through the eyes of what famous Catholic writer Thomas Merton calls the false self. This is the barrier, the door, between us and God.  Seeing through the eyes of this false self we do not realize that the things in our life, the people, the miracle of simply being alive, and the entire created world are the ways in which God comes to us.  These “things” are the tangible presence of the Living God.  We need to die to the worried, preoccupied false self and learn to see with new eyes.  Jesus spoke of this death and rebirth when he said, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit” (John 12:24).

Removing the barrier of the false-self involves spiritual work.  It involves the spiritual discipline of prayer and true humility to acknowledge our faults and to seek God’s mercy and forgiveness.  It involves asking for God’s help to remove the falseness that stands between us and the realization of God’s love.

The Contemplative Connection:  While talking to his fellow monks about searching for the presence of God in their lives, Thomas Merton once said, “We have what we seek. We don’t have to rush after it.  It was there all the time.  If we give it time it will make itself known to us.”

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 This article is a sample of my new book “Simple Contemplative spirituality.”  Click below to view  and / or  purchase  on the publishers website:   http://vesuviuspressincorporated.com/simple-contemplative-spirituality/

A Traditionally Published Book

 

Each one of us has our own personal Egypt.  We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.

This article is an excerpt from “Living at God’s Speed, Healing in God’s Time,” by Charles W. Sidoti, BCC and Rabbi Akiva Feinstein.

One of the keys to a more peaceful life is learning when to allow oneself to be led and when to take life by the horns. Both of these inner-actions are necessary at different times. As we reach a point within ourselves where we are able to live in the middle, between the tensions of when to relinquish control and when to assume it, we will have reached a place where real spiritual growth becomes possible. We discover a kind of rhythm or dance of life in which we sometimes follow and sometimes seem to lead. In both actions we are active participants in life.

In my daily work coordinating a hospital spiritual care department, my job is to provide for the spiritual needs of all faith groups. The program serves patients, their families, and also the hospital staff. The hospital not having an official religious affiliation has been a source of blessing for me. Although I am Catholic, I have become knowledgeable about many spiritual traditions in order to serve each of them well. One of the most powerful insights I have learned involves the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover, also referred to in the Jewish tradition as “The Festival of Our Freedom.”

Through my association with Jewish friends and colleagues and in researching the significance of Passover, I have found great spiritual meaning in seeing Passover as a distinct action and gift of God in human history before the establishment of Christianity. Researching Passover has enabled me to see it from a different perspective, thus gaining a new appreciation for it.

The Jewish Festival of Passover is a joyful time, primarily retelling and remembering the story of the exodus of the Jewish people from both the physical and spiritual slavery of the Egyptians some 5000 years ago. The story is symbolically re-told in the Seder meal that is observed with the whole family during the festival that lasts several days.

The great Jewish phrase that captures the spiritual meaning is, “We were slaves to the Pharaohs in Egypt, but the Lord led us out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” (Deuteronomy 26:8). I have learned that the message of Passover, “God leads his people”, is not only about what happened in Egypt 5000 years ago. The message for us is that “Egypt” is in our own hearts. Each one of us has our own personal Egypt. The inner slavery of loneliness, depression, anxiety, addiction, jealousy, lust, hate, anger, prejudice, violence, abuse, and countless other chains can hold us in bondage. We are enslaved by whatever negative power grips our hearts, preventing us from becoming the people God calls us to be.  The same God who led his people out of Egypt “with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm” wants to lead us out of the Egypt of our own closed hearts today so that we may live in the freedom of the children of God. With God’s help we can open up and allow ourselves to be led.

As a Christian I have found it helpful and interesting to observe that The Last Supper actually occurred on the first day of the Passover Festival. I feel a special connectedness with my Jewish brothers and sisters as I wonder if at the Last Supper, Jesus was observing the Passover meal, sharing the Seder Meal with his friends for the final time.

Opening my heart to the Jewish celebration of the Festival of Passover has been powerful and insightful. It has been and remains a tremendous source of comfort and healing in my own spiritual journey.

Connecting Point:  The same God that led the Jewish people out of the slavery of Egypt so many years ago, holding out “a mighty hand and an outstretched arm,” reaches out to you today. It is your responsibility to reach back (in prayer) to God in response. God wants to lead you into freedom from whatever grips your heart (fear, anxiety, anger, resentment), preventing you from becoming the person that God created you to be.

Prayer: Loving God, as you have always revealed your presence to your people, reveal yourself to me. Help me to reach out to hold the hand you offer to me. Lead me to the freedom of mind and heart that you desire to give me, and help me to accept it into my life.

 Traditionally Published

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