I will give you a new heart
and place a new spirit within you
taking from your bodies your stony hearts
and giving you natural hearts.
I will put my spirit within you
and make you live by my statutes,
careful to observe my decrees.
You shall live in the land I gave your ancestors;
you shall be my people
and I will be your God.
– Canticle of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 36:26-28)
“The spiritual journey … frees one from the limitations of seeking happiness in self-centered pursuits. It also opens one’s whole being to the possibilities that were unknown …. From this perspective, it’s easy to negotiate the entire spiritual journey because all you have to do is accept it. It is already happening. It has been communicated to us. It has been put into our hands. It has been put into our mouths. It has been poured into our hearts by the Holy Spirit. Are we willing to let God love us with this much unmerited gratuity?”
– Thomas Keating, today’s video: “‘The Pursuit of Happiness,” Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ
Faith plays a big role in our journey but not a faith that settles all questions; it plays a far more dramatic role. Thomas Merton once wrote to his friend Dorothy Day, “We should in a way fear for our perseverance because there is a big hole in us, an abyss, and we have to fall through it into emptiness, but the Lord will catch us. … The Lord will catch us. He will catch you without fail and take you to his Heart” (The Hidden Ground of Love).
This is faith. And faith prompts the seeker to take the journey. And sustains her.
“Christ never pointed out a path, taught any how-to’s or left any rules, he didn’t even tell us to follow him … Instead, he said, ‘I am the Way.’ But how can a person be a ‘way?’ What does this mean and how does it work? What it means is that: the ‘way’ it went for him is the ‘way’ it goes for us. Thus, it means we have to recapitulate or re-live his own human spiritual journey, to live and experience life with God just as he did. This is a ‘way’ of transformation, a transformation into Christ. So just as Christ gave his whole life over to the transcendent – whom he called his ‘Father’ – so too do we.
“We are to live in oneness with God-Immanent, what he called his ‘Spirit.’ Like Christ, we are to love God with our whole heart, mind, soul and body, a path of love requiring a total giving of self, even unto death. Anything held back is self, anything given, is God’s. Thus, as we decrease, God increases – the more empty of self, the more room for God. Our journey, then, is one of ever-changing proportions: less self, more God, until in the end there is no-self at all. It has been replaced by Christ and all he is.
“… The gradual unfolding of this mystery constitutes the Christian path of transformation. … God’s plan for mankind, a plan that has been in place from the beginning.”
– Bernadette Roberts, “The Spiritual Journey Recapitulates the History of Religion,” The Christian Contemplative Journey, Essays on The Path
Thoughts in Solitude
My Lord God, I have no idea where I am going.
I do not see the road ahead of me.
I cannot know for certain where it will end.
Nor do I really know myself,
and the fact that I think I am following your will
does not mean that I am actually doing so.
But I believe that the desire to please you
does in fact please you.
And I hope I have that desire in all that I am doing.
I hope that I will never do anything apart from that desire.
And I know that if I do this you will lead me by the right road,
though I may know nothing about it.
Therefore, I will trust you always though I may seem to be lost
and in the shadow of death.
I will not fear, for you are ever with me,
and you will never leave me to face my perils alone.
– Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude
– View the video excerpt of “The Pursuit of Happiness” from Heartfulness: Transformation in Christ. This excerpt is about 10 minutes in length. A transcript of the video is also provided for you.
– If you have not already done so, state your intention for undertaking this study of the spiritual journey. Intentions are powerful affirmations of our deepest wishes and can help animate our participation. Consider the reasons you were attracted to this offering and write an intention to carry within your heart.
– Examen: You might choose to review the outlines of your personal search for happiness. Where were you led? What did you find? Where are you today?
– You may wish to keep a journal of this year, outlining your sharings, questionings, discoveries – ever watchful, listening, expectant of the Light of revelation.
Resources for Further Study:
You may wish to read:
- “The Emotional Programs for Happiness,” chapter 1, Invitation to Love