These are days of collective outrage and mourning. Deathly injustices and waves of protests across the country have jolted us. We grieve with those who grieve the killing of George Floyd. We say the names of those who have died as a result of systematic racism and police brutality. We yearn for real change. Our minds and hearts are disturbed by the ongoing injustice and the current unrest. We sit with an uneasy feeling deep in our guts. We ask, ‘How long Dear Lord?’. Our social media feeds are filled with friends and family members stepping up, speaking out, and shaping change. The fierce urgency of now compels us to act. Thus, we ask, ‘What shall we do?’ In the lament we carry for our country, we desperately want to act. Let us not forget that wise action springs from prayer. We need the wisdom that contemplative practice brings to the world, and we appreciate the teaching of St. David’s own Gus Hernandez at this time.
The Abbey staff and editors
Anchoring to Love
By Gustavo Hernandez
Sitting in meditation requires a fundamental condition: sincerity. There is no point in bringing postures, stories or pretenses when having a quiet time with God. Whatever is going on in your heart, She already knows. God sees us just as we are, with all our complexities and contradictions. Sincerity is the starting point for this relationship.
Recent events are demanding from us a great deal of reflection. Living in the middle of a pandemic, and witnessing once again the brutality of racism, we are challenged to cope with truths about ourselves and the societies we live in.
First, we were forced to recognize that which is essential: caregivers, nurses, doctors, food providers, teachers, garbage collectors. We can’t function as a society without them, the fruit of their labor is essential. At the same time, the pandemic had exacerbated what had become well accepted economic inequalities. Long lines at food banks in American cities. People dropping dead while still going to work in poorer countries. The economic systems we built are deeply rooted in inequality, and we are being challenged to face it.
And now recently, once again we need to cope with the violence of systemic racism, the anger of people of color at societies’ long indifference, and the resounding feeling of helplessness with a system unwilling and unable to change.
It is my belief that it is the destiny of our individual and collective a journey to reach full communion with The Creator. To move along this journey, we must remove all the barriers which keep us from reflecting our true selves. This is the daily work of not letting the ego define us for much less than what we really are. Thomas Merton, in his 1949 book Seeds of Contemplation speaks about our true nature:
“To say that I am made in the image of God is to say that Love is the reason for my existence, for God is love. Love is my true identity. Selflessness is my true self. Love is my true character. Love is my name.”
And so in the middle of all the chaos, anxiety, fear and anger, the contemplatives return to their practice to anchor themselves again and again to their true nature of Love.
If you don’t have a practice yet, this is a good time to start with a very simple one. Early in the morning, before you start your earthly to do list, take care of a heavenly one. Sit still in a quiet place for 3 minutes. Start each practice with an open heart, and to the best of your ability, with absolute sincerity. Return to your practice each day. Paraphrasing James Finley, make this your “daily rendezvous with God, where the only agenda is Love.”
The point is that the world needs you to anchor yourself in your spiritual practice, and with utmost sincerity recognize our flaws and shortcomings, but also our possibilities, and oneness as children built in the same divine image. Remember spiritual practice is necessary but is not a destination. From spiritual practice we are called to spiritual doing, and to do the work of healing in this world.