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Contemplative Living with James Finley, Ph.D
The Contemplative Way Newsletter September 2016


Greetings Everyone!

In this newsletter I will reflect on the Spirituality of Healing. My reflection will be followed with information about a free of charge, live streamed evening event of chanting and spoken words that I will be presenting with a gifted vocalist and musician Alana Levandowski this Saturday evening at 7:00 PST.

Typically, I do several revisions of these meditations before sending them out. But the tight deadline I am under to send out notice of the streamed event this Saturday requires that I send this newsletter in a raw, stream of consciousness phase in which words come to me prior to any editing. I sense this may be ok in this case in that the chants Alana sings my words are in that poetic, evocate voice in which music conveys intimations of interior realizations prior the point at which the realizations are clarified in more conceptual explanations. And so here is my first, stream of consciousness reflections on the purgative, illuminative and unitive phases of spiritual healing.

We enter the initial, purgative phase of the healing journey as we begin to realize we are in a dark place in which we feel lost in a suffering from which we do not know how to free ourselves. The dilemma deepens as we recognize that fear, anger, shame, resentments, and other painful emotions, over which we seem to have little control, are driving us to treat ourselves and others in ways that are perpetuating the suffering in which we feel so lost. We know we need to do something before matters get worse, but we feel powerless in knowing just how to begin to free ourselves from the suffering that has such a hold on us. This initial, purgative phase of healing has about it a sense of life-saving urgency. The urgency embodies an intimate, experiential self-knowledge that calls for courage, humility and the willingness to ask for guidance and to find support wherever it might be found.

Then something amazing can happen in the midst of the struggle that marks the beginning of the illuminative way. The unseen presence of God that was always there unexpectedly illumines the darkness in which we have lost our way. These illuminations come as insights, intuitions, visceral recognitions, and all sorts of interior grounding points that help us regain our balance and get our bearings in our own life.

The gratitude we feel for the inner light that shines in the darkness deepens as learn to follow the path that leads out of darkness into the light. The transformative process of learning to find our way out of the darkness continues to be a messy business that involves the willingness to feel feelings we do not want to feel, to remember memories we do not want to remember, and to risk new ways of treating ourselves and others that are more honest and vulnerable. The illuminate way continues to be messy as we struggle, with God's grace, to renew and deepen our dependence on God as the guiding light that shows us the way, day by day, day by day, day by day. In the midst of this learning curve into wholeness, we obscurely sense that we are being transformed in all sorts of unforeseeable ways.

The unitive phase of the healing journey begins to occur as we realize that as grateful as we are for having survived the storm that threatened us, we are even more grateful for a profound awareness that has emerged within us in the midst of the transformative journey we were fortunate to have experienced. What is this awareness that marks our entrance into the unitive way? How shall we say it? There is no way to say it that even begins to do justice to it. But I will now stammer a few faltering attempts to say something about this blessed deliverance that marks entrance into the unitive way:

What is that even when all is lost is never lost? I cannot say. But I am immensely grateful and amazed in knowing that in those moments I was losing everything including myself, I was granted a taste of the deathless mystery that is never lost. I do not know who God is, nor do I really know who I, deep down, really am. But I do know who God is. God is the one who saved me. And I know who I am. I am the one God saved. I am grateful for the intimate realization that God protects us from nothing, even as God sustains us all things. And I will not break faith with my awakened heart. And this fidelity within myself to God I know to be an incarnate echo of God's infinite, sustaining fidelity to me, and to all who live, and to the earth that sustains us all.

The unitive way is most clearly known to be authentic to extent we are able to see others through eyes at once God's and our own, allowing us to see how unexplainably holy everyone is in the midst of their wayward ways. The unitive way is most clearly known in the inner promptings of our own wayward heart that inspires us to be someone in whose presence others are better able to get their bearings in their own transformative journey through the darkness into light. The unseen light of God that shines in the unitive way shines ever brighter in all the ways we learn to nurture, to watch over and protect, and to find joy in witnessing the unforeseeable, circuitous ways that others are being transformed as they find their out of the darkness into the light.

Here is the link that will allow you to sign on to watch Sanctuary, which is the event that will be streamed live on the internet, free of charge, this Saturday evening, September 17th at 7:00 PST.
Sanctuary Screening

With peace and blessings to all of you.
Jim Finley


You can find a continuously updated schedule of my retreats at my website:
The Contemplative Way

Copyright © 2016 Dr. James Finley
Sent by James Finley
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