Today we come to the end of what has been a very gentle series of reflections over the last twenty-five Sundays by Francis Brown. It's the story of his own evolution in faith — finding again an At-One-Ness he had experienced as a young child but which he felt side-tracked away from for a significant portion of the eight decades of life. In this final excerpt from the last chapter of his book "My Love is Here — an evolution in spirituality" shares his thoughts on a few aspects of life, including his great inspiration, Francis of Assisi, and his love for his environment and all of Creation.
I had a dream that started as a nightmare: I thought that I was a raisin, and that I lived in a box on a shelf with a lot of other raisins like myself. Next to my box was another box containing flakes; wheat flakes I mean. I and my friend flake saw ourselves as dried up and wrinkled and unhappy with how we appeared to ourselves and how we thought others saw us. I was disturbed in my dream because I knew that I was really a grape and that I could have chosen to join with my many fellow grapes to be wine which could be used to warm hearts and to celebrate. I also knew that the friend in my dream, flake, was really a grain of wheat and could have chosen along with his many fellow grains of wheat to be bread which, along with me [wine] could be used for a great celebration. Then I realised that my friend and I would be welcome at a very special celebration at Mass everywhere. Then we would be transformed. I knew that would be a great joy to me and my friend who would be used to our full potential, our real purpose: celebration of our salvation.
On awakening from my dream, I began to realise my identity, and that Jesus had lived as my elder brother to tell me who I really am. I realized that I had mistaken a lot of what he had said. However I also realised that I could not be mistaken, that he was telling me to look beyond the appearances of my life in this world to a reality far beyond my imaginings. He showed me by the way he lived his life in this world in unconditional love and at this time by the simple structure of the celebration which he left me as a remembrance of his love that I could be helped by the Holy Spirit through my fellows. The recalling of his love, and the memory of the absolute innocence of my fellows, are true ingredients for salvation.
When I, alert to and caring for my fellows, come to Mass, I bring my perceptions of myself: wrinkled and unattractive, lacking in special features, rejected and despised, poor in intelligence, in goods and talents. I also bring my perceptions of my fellows. So here I am seeing myself as a raisin and my friend as a flake. I bring these perceptions as all I seemingly am. When the memory of Jesus' loving life shines on me at the moment of celebration, my perceptions, combined with what my fellows bring, are transformed into the reality of who I am. Thanks to the teaching of Jesus and the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I no longer see myself as a raisin compared to a grape, nor my friend as a flake compared to a grain of wheat. Now I see myself not only free from an illusionary world but full of vision. I 'see' my real identity as it was in the beginning and as Jesus, the prophets before him and the many enlightened people of our time see me. I see myself as God created me, whole and complete, possessed of only peace and joy. I also see others in the same light. July 1996
Eucharist a Celebration
Eucharist is the celebration-in-gratitude I have with Jesus and my companions of my growing remembrance of the eternal Oneness we are in and with God. It started with the renowned "Last Supper" and evolved, through shadows of guilt and felt need in past times of sacrificial retribution, to the simple yet effective breaking-bread-together ritual. This ritual is effective in bringing the ever-present Jesus into my consciousness as spiritually perceived in those gathered and otherwise represented. The love of God in me is activated towards the individuals there and the excitement and vitality of the One-I-Am is stirred in me. Compassion for the felt troubles we have is part of and accompanies that love as my self is no longer thought to be isolated from the self of another.
Whatever darkness, felt by me or by others and brought here is flooded out with the light inherent in the One-I-Am. The beauty and goodness I am in this celebration shines to me as bright as the accumulated sunbeams radiating from the One-I-Am, brighter than any created sun. Whatever words and actions I share in celebration are the exhilarating songs and expressive dance of the bird before God that I am, unwilling to curtail itself for the joy of living the One-IAm. Satiated and rejuvenated with effective remembrance, sharing and joy, I am free to leave the physical gathering ready to respond to whatever it is that seems to trouble humanity in its call from Jesus to live life to the full, to achieve, without self denigrating thoughts, its absolute potential. 2007
St. Francis of Assisi
This saint, more than most others gave direction in my tendency to simplicity in faith and living. As a young man, Francis Bernadone sought greatness. Well endowed with natural abilities and the wealth of his successful merchant father, he lived a life of extravagance and generosity not only with his nobly born friends but also to the poor, even to lepers. The grandeur of knighthood appealed to him and he enlisted in the army of Walter of Brienne who fought on the Pope's behalf for the causes of nationalism and religious fervour. Resplendent in the attire of a rich young man going to serve his country, he set out with high hopes of glamour and glory. However, on the first evening of the journey, he had a religious experience he took seriously because of the urgency he felt from the message he received. However he was confused and humiliated by turning back. Subsequently, Francis returned to his former fun-filled and glamorous life style.
Another religious experience came upon him suddenly one day. It was described by him as like falling in love, an experience familiar to his companions. From later happenings it became clear that Francis had espoused what he called Lady Poverty because he saw her as the handmaid of the Christ that Jesus revealed. To better serve the poor he became poor and discovered what it was like to be destitute. But the real test was when he was confronted by the presence of a leper. Formerly his generosity was such that he would throw a leper he would meet a few coins and gallop away on his horse. This time he overcame his revulsion and embraced this lowest of the low in human estimation at that time. Francis had made his metanoia, his right about face, his conversion. From then on he rivaled the poor in his poverty.
Francis still had to learn what God wanted of him. His frequenting the loneliness of the caves around Assisi, awakened him to a fuller awareness of the Presence of God. He became a contemplative, which he basically always was, and set out again on the path of glory but this time it was to be as "the Herald of the Great King".
Francis was a man of action. He saw things in their simplicity and acted upon them readily. The Pope, to whom he went to seek approval for the way of life based on the clear and simple messages of the Sacred Scriptures, was turned off by the group of tramp-like men before him but was reassured by a vision he had of Francis reforming the Church.
Francis understood about Oneness. His perception of all that is was so purified that he saw through appearances to the reality. All in nature were his brothers and sisters.
Because of his adoption of the simplicity of the Gospel life, Francis was a man of peace, praise and joy. His writings, indeed his daily life even in bodily pain and distress, were expressions of the peace and joy of being in God's Presence and occasions for praise of God and of the Presence of God in nature.
Francis' love for Lady Poverty and for Jesus as he got to know him so well made him be truly what he loved. He became the poorest among the poor and as a sign of his identification with Jesus he bore the marks of the crucifixion in his body.
The Church celebrates his feast day on the 4th of October. He was seriously regarded as a saint during his life time. He became in his time the founder of an effective reform movement in the Church.
A pebble dropped into a pond sends off ripples. So! There are ripples! That is all. Nothing has changed. A scene projected onto a screen does not change the screen. After the movie, which portrayed horror or emotion or scenes of devotion or formality, the screen is exactly as it was before the movie. Nothing has changed. God is as God eternally is and what God created as extension of the divine remains as perfect as when "first" created. No matter what I see as happening to me is nothing more than the projection of the thoughts I am having, the pebbles I am dropping into the pond. My experiences are according to my human thoughts and do not have effects in reality. In spite of my felt experiences I am as God created me, completely one with God. Experiences of poor self image and depression do not chance reality. The depressed are certainly safe but I am drawn to compassion which, as part of the creativity I have inherited, generates a healing remedy for temporary and apparent distortions. The love I share activates the divine Love that is the life-force of the Oneness and has the effect of bringing human thoughts into line with the Thoughts of God. 2005
The pleasure of walking in the rain and the relaxation of water of a mountain stream running over my immersed body are lasting memories for me. Water on earth is plentiful. Oceans take up a huge area of earth's surface. In the Arctic and Antarctic regions of earth, water in its frozen state is superabundant. Where the equator and tropical forests meet, water is rained down measured not in millimetres but in metres. Even in arid landscapes, subterranean water is to be found. Ocean currents, land formations, tree cover and movement of air have supplied reasonable rain throughout most areas of Earth. All bodies are known to be predominantly water.
God's Creation is an extension of all that God is. There is nothing of God that is not unsparingly shared. Even as that extension allowed its consciousness to unwittingly accept a lesser state to that created, it made a world of matter capable of sustaining its existence in abundance.
Humanity, that element of Extension-of-God with the highest sense of consciousness, made a mistake in believing it to be profoundly limited. It consequently believed its world limited in resources. That belief presented humanity with a need for survival. Survival mentality soon became the norm and self-centeredness was born. In this self-centeredness and consequent greed began the degradation of Earth's environment. That in turn has led to critical water shortage here in Australia.
Rains may come and drought relieved but if selfcenteredness and greed remain the degradation remains. The waters of the ocean misbehave by current malfunction causing cyclone and hurricane damage, by threatening response to earthquake and submarine landslide, by melting ice and by flooding land.
Belated human efforts to curb climate-change promise gradual modification to earth abuse but what is needed is that humanity will awaken to and give attention to the full sharing of God-Fullness. I choose to correct my perception of my relationship to God and to one another and of my place in the environment of the world so that, knowing the perfection of Creation, I will allow its fullness to be shared equally with every human and with the total environment. Easter 2007
I'm somewhat at a loss about angels. I wonder where others get so much knowledge about them. I know that (and what I write about me applies, I'm sure, to all) I am an extension of God and so must be spirit. Angels are defined as spirit and, knowing each of us (individual expressions or incarnations of the Thought of God) is spirit, I share divine Life with God. The Hebrew Scriptures give me ideas as to various expressions of angels. My incarnated state reflects Divine Life in various ways and, as I am, with all, but one in God, I (along with other humans and angels) express God in various ways and gain help and encouragement from one another.
I saw angels when I was 3-4 years of age but not since. That was a time when I was expected to learn about the world that was touted as reality. Now that I am over 80 years of age I am being helped by the inner Presence (including angels) to overcome my amnesia. The present moment is all I have and I try to remain in and use that to the fullest. After all that was Jesus' message: "I come that you may have life and have it in the fullest". I appreciate what others have told me of their experiences of angels. My understanding of it is that these experiences put me in touch with the reality of intimate Oneness whilst I continue to retain consciousness of this world. The Presence of God, in my experience of world, is not far from my consciousness so I am in touch with at least some of the dynamics of divinity.
There is no Ending
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