A Sacred Place - Carol Ann Sokoloff.
Imagine - by Thomas Merton.
Cycle - by Randy Iwanciwski
Practice of the Presence of God for Terminally Ill - by Piotr Rajski
What is Roche Miette Association - by Piotr Rajski.
A Sacred Place.
in the garden
of the gods;
their mythical presence
is hidden hard in crevices,
suspected in glens,
in the highest places,
a welcome worshipper
in Nature's temple;
in the garden of gods.
Quoted after: Sokoloff, Carol Ann. (1993). Eternal Lake O'Hara. Victoria, BC: Ecstasis Editions.
Thanks to Patricia Glowacka for this inspiring book.
"Imagine a man or a group of people who, alone or together in a quiet
place where no radio, no background music can be heard, simply sit for
an hour or a half hour in silence. They do not speak. They
do not pray aloud. They do not have books or papers in their hands.
They are not reading or writing. They are not busy with anything.
They simply enter into themselves, not in order to think in an analytical
way, not in order to examine, organize, plan, but simply in order to be.
They want to get
themselves together in silence. They want to synthesize, to integrate themselves, to rediscover themselves in a unity of thought, will, understanding, and love that goes beyond words, beyond analysis, even beyond conscious thought. They want to pray not with their lips but with their silent hearts and, beyond that, with the very ground of their being."
Thomas Merton, Love and Living.
Submitted by Gary Horn
As the close to the Year of the Mountains nears, these thoughts I wish to share. It is winter in the mountains and as I look to Roche Miette the snow is back and will not melt till spring. Such is the cycle and again it tells me of God’s love and how we are part of a cycle also. We are born, we grow and learn and perhaps share then we die. Yes a cycle. In nature this happens yearly here. I see it in the forests, plants and animals. The life cycle continues like a well-oiled machine that has purpose and direction.
So should we in our lives. We are given choices, shown a direction and a purpose to fulfill. Yes at the end we will look back and see how we have fulfilled our purpose. Yes our own life here will end; all of us must face the inevitable sooner or later. This proves to me that we are connected to his Godly creation called Earth. Even more evident we are connected to each other and certainly must care for one another.
Death is all around us not only on the media, war and in human struggle but also in our own families. Even this week some of my close friends have lost fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, and any number of family members. It does make you stop and think how precious life is and how we should live and treat one another.
My neighbor suffered his second stroke in two years just three weeks ago. I spoke to him yesterday and he told me that he might be gone at any time now. The doctors are having a difficult time diagnosing and treating his condition. Yet he is smiling, just walking again and eating. Things that I take for granted he is relearning again. I do see a peacefulness and grace about him though, that is God’s reflection. Yes even if we are staring death in the face, God is there if we choose to call on Him. I pray I can have the strength and courage my neighbor has when my time nears.
Being close to nature here I do see the promise of new life in the spring. Again we being part of this Godly creation give us the opportunity to share in this experience. We must die to ourselves in order to recognize our own divinity. We are born and we will die and move on. Some to a Heaven others to a next life, some to another level, whatever your belief is, the cycle that we are part of continues. Yet I struggle with this continuation myself though I continually see it presented to me in nature’s yearly life cycle.
I am slowly learning. God is the gentle teacher and when I am ready I will move on, all of us will someday. Thank you God for the mountains and another year to share them!
In the particular situation of this lecture the awareness of God's Presence means that He is not only present in me while I speak to you, but He is present in each and everyone of you and He is also present between and beyond us. He permeats every atom of every item in this room but He may also assume a human body and sit next to you.
This awareness is not given but can be learned through the human life.
Some people believe that achieving this awareness is the goal of human
life. It requires an act of courage - a belief that something that cannot
be observed with human eyes really exist. It is an act of faith.
Breathing - Biological Experience of God
Continual conversation with God
Repeating God's Name
Practicing Purity or Holiness
“Breathing is the bridge between the visible and the invisible. Our invisible Source is eternal - ever young and healthy. Our visible body is always rejuvenating, purifying, and expressing the Infinite invisible Source. Intuitive Breathing constantly merges our body with its Source. (…) Even after practicing it daily for 23 years I am still amazed how it frees my mind and body of tension and pain (…) I don’t understand how or why people survive without it.” (P.2)
Orr (1998) wrote:
"To consciously appropriate the Breath of Life is the basic gift of God to enrich human existence. (…) Breathing is the basic source of health to the body. Breathing is the primary source of nourishment and elimination. (…) Cleaning and balancing our energy body is the secret to mental and physical health." He later explained, "The miracle of Intuitive Energy Breathing is not a religion, nor dependent upon belief or faith, nor dogma, nor philosophy, but it is a biological experience of God, that is available to everybody." (P.2)
In other words by practicing breathing we practice God's Presence in its most wonderful form - life.
"(...) And I make it my business only to persevere in His holy presence, wherein I keep myself by a simple attention, and a general fond regard to God, which I may call an actual presence of God; or, to speak better, an habitual, silent, and secret conversation of the soul with God, which often causes me joys and raptures inwardly, and sometimes also outwardly, so great that I am forced to use means to moderate them and prevent their appearance to others." (P.37-38)
To "(…) accustom ourselves to a continual conversation with Him, with freedom and in simplicity" he wrote, "(...) we need only to recognize God intimately present with us, to address ourselves to Him in every moment (...)."(P.24). He told one of his followers that "we ought to act with God in the greatest simplicity, speaking to Him frankly and plainly, and imploring His assistance in our affairs, just as they happen (…)."(P.18). Apparently Brother Lawrence participated in formal times of prayer according to the directions of his superior, but did not really need these formal times as nothing could divert him from God. "His prayer was nothing else but a sense of the presence of God" so "when the appointed times of prayer were past, he found no difference, because he still continued with God (…)." (P.26).
What is interesting is that Brother Lawrence was a cook in his monastery for 16 years and achieved his way of Practicing God's Presence in spite, or perhaps thanks to, the fact that he was a very busy person. He commented:
"The time of business (...) does not with me differ from the time of prayer; and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are at the same time calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the blessed sacrament." (P.31).
He further added:
"My most useful method is this simple attention, and a general passionate
regard to God, to whom I find myself often attached with greater sweetness
and delight than that of an infant at the mother’s breast; so that, if
I dare use the expression, I should choose to call this state the bosom
of God, for the inexpressible sweetness which I taste and experience there."
“Forget past and future, abolish all other thoughts, but pray with total concentration of mind and soul and have full faith in God. Chant OM NAMAHA SHIVAYA and you can defy death. Have no thought about your life and death. No evil influence will ever come near you if you pray with purity of heart and mind and with all faith and concentration.” (P.2)
And how can we practice cleanliness? It seems that God does not require
much or anything that would be too difficult for human beings. He seems
to want us to wash our bodies daily and to wear clean clothes. He probably
wants that we keep our quarters (our “camp”) clean. He appears to expect
that we avoid substances that poison our bodies. He asks us to refrain
from improper sex and to take care of our sexual impurities. He wants us
to be active and to use our bodies in physical work or exercise. He wants
us to breathe fresh air. Sitting at the fire is also believed to have a
purifying effect. God often asks us to give up on hateful or sinful thoughts
and to love one another. The purpose of these recommendations is to help
us to be clean when we put ourselves in God's Presence.
"In Buddhism our effort is to practice mindfulness in each moment – to know what is going on within and all around us. (…) When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply, and the fruit are always understanding, acceptance, love and desire to relieve suffering and bring joy."(P.14).
The following poem by Thich Nhat Hahn (1995) may be especially suitable
for the terminally ill:
"Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment.
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Breathing in, I am aware of my heart.
Breathing out, I smile to my heart.
I vow to eat, drink and work in ways
That preserve my health and well-being." (P.18)
Elimination of loneliness
Spiritual perspective on suffering
Dr.Benson himself (Benson, Stark, 1996) reported that "25 percent of people feel more spiritual as the result of the elicitation of the relaxation response" (P.154-5). He observed:
"People who reported increased spirituality after eliciting the relaxation response described two things about the experience: 1) the presence of an energy, a force, a power - God - that was beyond themselves, and 2) this presence felt close to them. And it was the people who 'felt this presence' who noted the greatest medical benefits. Regardless of their professed faith, people eliciting the response who experienced these sensations - an energy that seemed both internal and external to their bodies, and that felt good - had better health as a result" (P.157)
The Practice of God's Presence solves these problems, as those who are
in God's Presence are never alone. They are continually in contact
with the Being who is not only their best friend, who knows them most intimately,
who has always been loyal and understanding, but who is the Most Powerful
Being you can imagine.
"Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want; He makes me lie down in pastures
green; He leads me beside quiet waters. He restores my soul; (…). Even
though I walk through the valley of the shadows of death, I fear no evil;
for Thou art with me; Thy rod and Thy staff, they comfort me. (…)" (Psalm
"When pains come from God, He only can cure them. He often sends diseases of the body to cure those of the soul. Comfort yourself with the sovereign Physician both of the soul and body."(P.56-57).
Regardless his own readiness to suffer Brother Lawrence was quite lucky.
He lived until the age of 84 and was never afflicted by any serious illness.
It seemed to bother him. He envied his friends who were sick. Maybe the
reason for his good health was his practice of the Presence of God. He
saw God everywhere, including in his own body. Perhaps this
permitted his body to stay healthy. Or maybe the reason was that he obtained
insight into the purpose of suffering so it was not necessary for God to
afflict him with suffering at all.
"The fear of death is born with man (…). Attachment to material things
makes man cling to life. When you chant the Name of the Divine, when you
are one with the divine, you accept death. While you are attached to life
and afraid of death, you die with fear and that weight clinging to you.
If you have attained liberation you are free from death (you accept the
inevitable). You die without fear and by remembering the Name of God, your
soul leaves the body free of that fear and attachment. If you are reborn,
your soul is still free from that fear. If you die in 'unity,' you are
free from rebirth, unless you will it." (P.41).
This truth was also expressed in Bhagavad-Gita (1972). "Anyone who, at the end of life, quits his body remembering Me, attains immediately to My nature, and there is no doubt about it," says Lord Krishna. It seems that for the most of us the purpose of life is not to become immortal. It is rather to learn about God. That is why, it is maintained, to remember God in the moment of death is the ultimate goal of human existence. Being firmly established in God, through the Practice of His Presence, we can safely, to use the expression of St. Augustine (1952), "cast ourselves upon Him without fear" during the final passage.
Brother Lawrence seemed to understand it well. He was not afraid of death. In one of the letters he wrote:
"I must, in a little time, go to God. What comforts me in this life is that I now see Him by faith; and I see Him in such a manner as might make me say sometimes, I believe no more, but I see. (…) I know not how God will dispose of me. I am always happy. All the world suffers; and I, who deserve the severest discipline, feel joys so continual and so great that I can scarce contain them. (…). He never forsakes us until we have first forsaken Him. Let us fear to leave Him. Let us be always with Him. Let us live and die in His Presence." P.58-60.
(This text was presented by Piotr Rajski during the conference "Spirituality and Health Care," Toronto, October 25-27, 2002.)
If you have any questions or comments, or you would like to contribute to the Roche Miette Newsletter, send Piotr an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Feel free to forward this newsletter to anyone who you think could be interested in it. People may subscribe for the future issues at http://rochemiette.ca/newslettersubscriptionemail.html. If, on the other hand, you would like to be taken off our mailing list, please, reply to this e-mail with the word "remove" in the subject line.
What is the Roche
Roche Miette Association is an informal group of people who try to achieve the ideals of human unity as expressed in the Roche Miette Rule. One of the characteristics of this group of enthusiasts is love of Nature and willingness to love God through His Creation. In particular, we are drawn by the beauty of the Roche Miette Mountain, near Hinton, Alberta, and organize once a year a non-denominational hike/pilgrimage to this mountain. People of all religious backgrounds are invited to participate with us in this auspicious event.
If these ideals appeal to you, you may want to support them through a financial donation. Please, send checks for "Roche Miette Association" to:
Roche Miette Association
576, Lessard Drive
Edmonton, AB, T6M 1B2