Open awareness – the mindful silt trap of the mind

An interesting analogy which I hope you’ll find useful.

I have been staying at Clowance Estate in Cornwall, where there has been a mansion house since 1380. Some of the original features are still there like a silt trap.

This silt trap is a small pond into which a stream runs via a control gate and a control exit. The control gate is used to determine how strong a flow of water from the stream comes into the pond. Most of the particles coming into the pond, soil, sand and silt, settle in the silt trap.

That means much cleaner water flows out of the pond – in this case to stew ponds where fish for the kitchen table were reared. In the photo below you can see the stream, the control gate and the silt trap pond.

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Seeing this in operation gave me an analogy for the way our minds can work. Attention is like a control gate…

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Treasure

 

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I recently spoke at my church on the subject of Treasure -‘riches stored in secret places’ . The talk was developed from an extended meditation on bible passages about treasure, riches, gold and silver. I only scraped the surface – there are many more passages I could have chosen.

Bob Gass in Word for Today last week had two items relevant to what I want to say this morning.

The first was to encourage us that there is no substitute for spending time alone with God. There He gives us: ‘hidden treasures, riches stored in secret places’ (Is 45:3). The best place to find these treasures is in God’s word.

Later last week, Bob encouraged us to ‘place these words on your heart. Get them deep inside you’ (Deut 11:18 TM). That reminded me of another passage in The Message which talks about meditating on the word of God ‘Righteous chews on wisdom like a dog on a bone, rolls virtue around on his tongue. His heart pumps God’s word like blood through his veins’ (Ps 37:30,31 TM).

Today I want to talk about that treasure. The Bible has a lot to say about it. In the New Testament it is linked to the Gospel:

In Colossians, Paul prays ‘that they may have the full riches of complete understanding… that they may know the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col 2:3) – again, God’s talking about hidden treasure, we have to dig about, make an effort to find it.

Earlier in the same letter, Paul writes that he was given ‘the word of God in its fullness – the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages… the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:-27).

So here we have treasure linked to the mystery of God – the Gospel – and to wisdom and knowledge.

Turning to the OT, Proverbs is all about wisdom and in the early chapters Solomon tells his son ‘wisdom… insight… understanding if you look for it as for silver, and search for it as hidden treasure… then you will find the knowledge of God.’ Pr 2:2-5

He goes on, ‘choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is more precious than rubies, and nothing you desire compares with her.’ Pr 8:10,11.

‘those who seek me find me. With me are riches and honour… my fruit is better than fine gold; what I yield surpasses silver.’ Pr 8: 17-19.

‘my fruit is better than fine gold’ – which made me think of the fruit of the Spirit: ‘love – joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faith/or faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.’ Gal 5:22,23.

You could argue that wisdom is the Holy Spirit. Pr 8 goes on, ‘the Lord possessed me at the beginning of his way, before his works of old,’ v22. This verse varies depending on the translation, but the gist of it is that wisdom has been around since before time began.

You could also argue that just as God is love, so also He is wisdom.

I’ve since looked up some commentaries where it is suggested that wisdom is the Word, i.e. Jesus as in John 1, ‘in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. eH He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made.’

The Holy Spirit was also there at Creation – hovering over the waters (Gen 1:2)

But we needn’t worry too much about whether wisdom is Jesus or the Holy Spirit – we worship the triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – all God.

But I digress….

To return to the NT,

Paul writes about the gospel as – ‘the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages… the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:-27). And then ‘the mystery of God, namely Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’ (Col 2:3)

The gospel, mystery of God, Christ – Christ is the gospel. It’s a mystery that’s been kept hidden, but has now been revealed in Christ.

What about us? We have this treasure in jars of clay – we are but dust (Ps 103:14), yet God entrusts His treasure to us. Paul gives a reason for this ‘we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us’ 2Cor 4:7.

And what are we to do with this treasure?

Give it away!

‘Freely you have received, freely give’ Mt 10:8 Jesus was sending out the Twelve, instructing them to proclaim that the kingdom of heaven is near, to heal the sick, cast out demons – and they were to do this free of charge, ‘Freely you have received, freely give’

Jesus also likened the kingdom of heaven, or the gospel, to treasure hidden in a field, and a pearl of great price. Mt 13:45&46 which people will sell all that they have to obtain – yet we have it free of charge. A free gift to us, which cost Jesus everything on the cross.

Paul also says that he preaches free of charge: ‘When I preach the gospel, I can’t boast, for I am compelled to preach. Woe to me if I don’t preach the gospel! …and what is my reward?…. that in preaching the gospel I may offer it free of charge’ 1Cor 9:16&18.

So we give this treasure away – and we can’t keep quiet about it.

Even in OT times, the prophets couldn’t keep quiet, Jeremiah wrote: ‘if I say “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed I cannot’ Jer 20:9.

The people did not want to hear Jeremiah’s words of coming disaster, but he couldn’t keep quiet.

The same with Peter and John in Acts. They saw a crippled man begging and told him ‘silver and gold have I none. But what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, get up and walk’ Acts 3:6. The priests and religious leaders took exception to this and hauled them up before the Sandhedrin and told them not to speak in the name of Jesus anymore. Peter and John refused saying they would obey God rather than men, ‘we can’t help speaking about what we have seen and heard’ Acts 4:20

Peter wrote that we are always to be prepared to give and answer when asked for the reason for the hope, the heavenly hope that we have 1Pet 3:15.

People may question our motives in speaking about Jesus and accuse us of trying to force our opinions on them. Not so, we are like the men with leprosy in the OT who were outside the gates of Samaria. The Arameans were laying siege to the city and everyone inside was starving. The men decided to risk asking the Arameans for help, and went to their camp – only to find that the arameans had all fled. So they started taking gold and other things from the tents – then they realised that that was wrong, they should go and tell the city officials – it was too good to keep to themselves 2Ki 7:9

It’s the same with us – we have this treasure, the gospel, the words of eternal life, and it’s too good to keep to ourselves.

In summary:

First of all we need to spend time with God, getting close to Him, and meditating on His Word.

Digging in His Word for hidden treasure – and when we find it, tell others, give it away. God will always give us more. In God’s crazy arithmetic, the more we give away, the more He gives.

 

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Spiritual Formation Thursday: Celtic Circle/Caim Prayer

I am following David Cole’s Celtic Lent. Today’s chapter is about st N I n I a n and mentions circling prayers. Here are some examples.

Learning From the Saints

Celtic Trinity KnotToday’s post is about a protection prayer from the Celtic Christian tradition.  The Celtic Church developed differently than the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches, mainly because of their distance from the central locations of Rome and Constantinople.  They also were not as influenced by the Roman Empire, although they were part of the Empire for some time.  The Celtic Church developed around the monks and monasteries on the British Isles.  So it would follow that some of their traditions would differ than the more mainstream Churches.

The Celtic Church developed a special type of protection prayer, the Caim Prayer or Circle Prayer.  This was a way to surround oneself with the protection and blessing of the Triune God.  To perform the Caim Prayer, you stand up, point your right index finger at the ground and turn in a clockwise circle.  At certain positions you will say prayers.

Imagining your circle…

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Too many Christians do Christmas wrong

This post is a timely reminder. My family laugh that I wait till Christmas eve to put up my decorations, and leave them up until 6th of January – or even beyond (my youngest s birthday is on the 7th so I used to keep them up until the 8th.)
Whatever happened to Advent as a time of preparation and fasting? People have their parties before Christmas, and come Boxing Day are bored.

Faith on the Fringe

Christmas express

If you’re a Christian who thinks the Christmas season ended on Dec. 25, then you’re already a casualty of the ‘war on Christmas,’ and you don’t even know it.

In the United States, the annual commercial assault on Christmas begins on Thanksgiving, when some Christians line up in the middle of the night for special sales that force others to work on a national holiday.

In the bigger picture, the modern attack on Christmas, and Christianity, has been ongoing in one form or another for more than 100 years.

As too many Christians have grown ignorant of Christian history, they’ve surrendered the faith to the mainstream cultures in which they find themselves. From closing churches across Europe to Americans ignorant of the liturgical calendar, the Christian tradition has slowly given way to Christmas trees, theologically flawed nativity scenes and the drawings of Thomas Nast.

The fact is, for the…

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Meaning and Mercy

Beloved of the Broken Heart

The first time I saw this picture, I found it repulsive and bleak.  The colors are dark; the figures a bit depressing.  This painting is the work of Sieger Köder, a German priest and artist and World War II survivor.  I was given a card with this painting on it, and upon receiving it shoved it in the bottom of a box.   As time went on however, I felt called to return to the picture, and found God had unlocked some of its meaning for me, and was calling me to live and minister to others through the truth that this artwork expresses.  I taught an Apologetics class to Seniors this past year and had the students compare this artwork with Edward Munch’s “The Scream.”  It was a powerful reflection on MEANING.  At the end I revealed to them the inspirational text for the picture.  It is included here:

As…

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Mindfulness – as used on a busy acute mental health ward

It’s been brought to my attention that my link to the University site no longer exists, so I’ve inserted a link to my pdf file of the presentation.
As there has been some recent interest, I’m reblogging this post.

MMM... Meditation, Mental health, Mindful crochet

This is a presentation I made at a Mindfulness Conference in spring 2011 – it has links to some useful resources:

Delamares MINDFULNESS PRESENTATION SOUTHAMPTON 2011

In the audience were my consultant psychiatrist and some of the psychologists who had taught me mindfulness – no pressure then!

This is from a powerpoint presentation – fairly self-explanatory but if anything is not clear, please ask. It includes a diagram of how mindfulness can help cope with unwanted or distressing thoughts, memories or voices.

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one minute meditation of fish in pond #mindfulness

This includes a link to a video of a fish pond – so if you’re unable to get out into nature…

I am at Hayes Conference Centre for the @RetreatsUK retreat. The centre has a beautiful pond where you can watch little fish swimming, being still, moving, suddenly startled…

I’ve recorded one minute of this on video. If you are stuck indoors somewhere it is good for your soul just to be able to step back into nature and your senses even for a minute. Watch the fish and notice their movements and their stillness, hear the sound of the birds and perhaps the indistinct sound of people’s voices occasionally in the background. Notice how the light changes and there are ripples on the water from the breeze. Sometimes we see the fish more clearly, sometimes they are more fuzzy and out of awareness.

If you think of the pond as your mind, a pool of awareness, and the fish as thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations that come into your mind. The…

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