2016-06-30
The following selections from "Rise Up With a Listening Heart: Reflecting and Meditating With the Monks of New Skete," are reprinted with permission of Yorkville Press.

The word "resurrection" comes from the Greek, meaning "to stand up again, to rise up," and though Christians think of this in terms of belief in the resurrection of Christ-his victory over hell and all manner of death-the word also applies more broadly to the daily moments of rising up that each of us experiences. These reflect the fundamental nobility of life and the ongoing possibility for change and renewal, for personal transformation. As such, rising up involves the most ordinary of realities, whatever someone may or may not believe.

Our hope is that these reflections can become windows into daily life, an invitation to take a second look at the experiences all of us usually take for granted. By deliberately taking time to look at our lives more carefully, more meditatively, we allow a sense of spiritual vitality to arise, often in surprising and delightful ways, and this too becomes both a daily wellspring of gratitude and an ongoing call: Rise up!

Rise Up With a New Day

What a wonder each day's sunrise! As soft rays of light peek over the trees, it is always as if for the first time. Dawn beckons with an invitation to begin anew, to see things in a fresh way. "Yesterday is past," it whispers; "you only have today and its possibilities." Hope rises with the advent of a new day. Part of letting hope spread is to begin each day anchored in stillness, taking nothing for granted, open to whatever the coming day's gift may be. Before you turn on the radio, before you wake the kids, listen to the silence for ten minutes and realize how filled it is, filled with the breath of God! Such silence wants to draw from you a quiet prayer that leans on that presence and seeks to harken to it throughout the day. It all starts with the morning, the fertile soil that helps us realize our vow always to be better, to leave our world a better place by day's end.

Rise Up With a Listening Heart

In the wake of growth and renewal, we have a chance to experience a new sensitivity to the needs of others. Though blatant human suffering usually doesn't escape notice, subtler forms often go undetected: those who are always cut off as they try to express their feelings; the distress a friend tries to hide when you ask how things are going at home. How such moments can pass just below our conscious awareness! What is most often needed from us isn't all that dramatic: a listening heart. In listening to the other-really listening-we offer a gift that is increasingly absent in our culture. So many of us today can feel isolated, alienated, for the simple reason that we don't experience ourselves being listened to or accepted for who we really are. What a switch it is to offer that to another with no strings attached, and to witness the grace of someone suddenly coming to life because of it.

Rise Up From Temptation

Rarely do we conceive of temptation as a stimulus to virtue, yet often its presence signals that we are doing something right in our life. When we channel our energies in positive directions, the hidden, shadow side of our nature will awaken and offer us fierce resistance and whisper temptations of all sorts. Take that as an opportunity: We need not fall for it. Temptations are normal and, though challenging, they have a chance of helping us along the pathway to inner freedom. The temptation to cheat on a spouse, for example, far from being a betrayal, can be the occasion for a deeper choice of one's mate and can actually stir us on to strengthen the relationship if we face it honestly. Acknowledging the temptation consciously is the first step towards dealing with it and not letting it control us. Although each of us intimately knows occasions when we fell victim to temptation's sneaky assault, such is the stuff of being human. By encouraging in us a broader perspective, such moments keep us humble while at the same time challenging us to meet the next occasion of temptation with greater self-possession and integrity.

Rise Up And Do Nothing

It is not hard to believe that sometimes people are so busy they can't even go on vacation. Must the car run out of gas before we fill the tank again? Paradoxically, the word "vacation" comes from the Latin vacare, which means "to be empty." What happens on vacation is the necessary process of emptying ourselves of our many concerns. It facilitates an essential distancing from our everyday lives that allows us to physically and psychically relax and obtain perspective to see how we can live more authentically and faithfully. Viewed in this way, a vacation is less a luxury than a vital touchstone to our deepest reality. So take a week with no other task than to relax and enjoy yourself. You'll see the power in doing nothing. Whether it be at the shore where waves soothe your consciousness, or hiking through a national forest and being enfolded by the silence, such breaks help us recover an essential dimension of ourselves that can be lost in busyness. The rest and relaxation, the change of pace and place, let our imagination catch its breath and play a crucial role in the renewal of the self.

Rise Up From Losing a Friend

The loss of a friend after decades of friendship leaves a deep and lasting hole in the soul. The way to rise up from such a depth is to let the separation give new perspective to the rarity of such a gift. Let the bond that filled the years roll out like a receding tide revealing small and varied treasures: shells and sand dollars, those individual likes and interests shared and gradually absorbed, one for art and travel, the other for food and music; a shark's tooth of humor; the flotsam of life's twists and turns; smooth, shining pebbles chattering of multicolored memories, and there, almost hidden in glistening seaweed, a pearl of joy, a mystery deeper than the ocean-the awareness that an intimacy enriched by the shared pull and draw of what is of the Spirit is not gone but endures, even now, to be perfected in the life to come.

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