Mount Everest

Recently, I had a Vision of standing on top of a
High Mountain looking out at the world.
My eyes moved about, and my heart cried out:
“Smother the world with love and compassion,
May love and compassion light up the whole earth!”

As my mind shifted from the High Mountain to reality, a concern arose.  Is a world of love and compassion for all living beings possible?  It’s easy to respond “yes”, however, there is the reality of a world population of 8.05 billion people.  There are also millions of other species on Earth.

Now is the time to stand firmly and lovingly on this earth, where we live, in our neighborhoods.  The World is our Home Community, and we are all connected to each other.  Those to the front and to the back of us, those to the right and to the left:  We Are All One!  The Clarion Call is to open our hearts with love and compassion for each other.  Then a peaceful world will rise to mountain heights and grow.      

Posted by Henrita Frost

Responding to the Cry of Our Earth

Love – caritas – is an extraordinary force which leads people to opt for courageous and generous engagement in the field of justice and peace. It is a force that has its origin in God, Eternal Love and Absolute Truth.”

Pope Benedict XVI

With the help of our faith practices how can we respond to the cry of Our Earth?

Integrity of creation is rooted in the great complexity and beautiful interconnectedness of life on Earth. Integral ecology points to the reality that the Earth is best understood as an integrated living community. This is a new way of seeing, thinking and acting which will begin to help us better respond to the cry of the Earth.

Resources for Courageous and Generous Engagement :

SSND Shalom News North America

Laudato Si Action Platform

Posted By Sara Neall

Clarion Call to All Hearts!

“In this earth,
in this immaculate field,
we shall not plant any seeds
except for compassion, except for love.”

The words “we shall not plant any seeds except for compassion, except for love.” merged with the beating of my heart. My heart joins all our hearts in Creation, beating and beating, giving life, guiding life through the body and into the atmosphere. We can stand alone anywhere and offer our pulsating heart to whomever and wherever it might move. Constantly, my yearning has been for a boundless heart, open to all, no passports or permission needed.

We are called to travel a journey. There is a universe to travel, a world, a nation, a town where we live. So, I ask where is the path? Antonio Machado calls to us: “Traveler there is no path, paths are made by walking.” Are they to the right or left, are they up or down?” Then we might respond, wherever my heart leads me! Hearts are needed for the journey! A journey to carry love and compassion to all areas of creation.

When you recall your life in this world, is it different from when you began to know about it? How often does it change, frequently, maybe daily? How has your world changed. Finally, it may be time to ask: What does the world community need from me/us now? A response may come:
Be in the presence of the Divine,
open your hearts with love and compassion and
await ongoing inspirations of where the journey might take you.

Posted by Henrita Frost, SSND

Mettā : A Gathering of Our Whole Being

In a Mettā practice, we offer loving-kindness to ourselves, to people we love, to people we feel neutral about and finally to challenging people. Simple. Right? Not so much. Mettā practice is more than saying the words. Mettā practice is about our deep intention to create an unconditional, caring connection to all beings.

“It’s a complete, whole-hearted attention. It’s a gathering of our whole being behind those intentions.” – Sharon Salzburg

With time, a loving-kindness practice blurs the boundaries of self to make space for this unconditional, caring connection. We need to cultivate the ground for the seed of connection to grow. The opening verses of the Mettā Sutta outline the many beneficial traits we should bring to a loving-kindness practice.

Translations vary, but the Mettā Sutta suggests we be: skillful, honest, openminded, kind hearted, humble, easily supported, not overly busy, restrained at the sense doors, careful, modest and not selfish in relationships. Oh my! That‘s just the first two verses. That’s a life time of practice.

A life time may not be enough time to retrain the mind to love wisely, without judgement or expectation. If history is accurate, we have been selectively loving and hating for a very, very long time. These conditioned patterns of judgement separate us from each other. As we practice loving kindness, our hearts and minds gradually incline toward this unconditional connection. No beings are excluded from a Mettā practice.

“Mettā is not sentimentality. And Mettā is not affection. It’s not about turning someone we don’t like into somebody we do like – or pretending to like everybody. Mettā is an attitude of benevolence, of good will toward all beings.” -Shaila Catherine

The vastness of loving all beings is difficult to comprehend. The judging mind finds it nearly impossible to stop the litany of reasons that a perpetrator, an oppressor or an aggressor is not worthy of loving kindness. The clinging mind vigorously defends its claim to a lofty self identity. With time, humility enters the debate, reminding us that no accomplishment or failure is realized independently.

We are inexplicably connected to each other by an infinite array of contacts, causes and conditions. This realization is liberating … there is no separate self to cling to and there is no valid reason to judge.

As we continually practice loving-kindness, our contribution to societal problems will ebb. We will become part of the solution.

~ Written by Christine Jacobi

Becoming Compassion

It is a challenging time for the world.
We need to call for light in the darkness,
appeal for the light to shine bright.

Our world needs light, the light of radical compassion.

Place your hands directly on your heart.
Feel compassion as your inward presence.
How do you feel?
What does your experience of self-compassion feel like?

As you experience self-compassion, continue
resting your hands directly on your heart.
Now send your self-compassion into the world.
Are you experiencing your offering of compassion to the world?
Describe your experience.

Praying compassionately, it expands into the world.

Hope, pray and long to love each other despite differences.
Growing our souls, connecting our souls.
Healing ourselves, healing the world.

Be grateful for love. Love is greater than all. Love is profound.
Do I live life in love, radical compassion and so much more?
Wisdom, kindness, awareness, mindfulness, peace.
And of course, joy!

And most important of all
Am I in love with the Divine?
God is everywhere.
We carry the sacred within us.

Each single moment
Be here, present with your heart.
Present with your God.
Breathing in and out.

Let us now roam life’s pathway.
Relax as you journey.
Be joyful in your Being.
Grateful for life.
Let love and radical compassion fill your Being.

Posted by Henrita Frost, SSND

Loving Kindness Practice

“There is no compassion greater than the fearless heart that can turn toward suffering and pain, tremble with empathy, and live with the commitment to end the causes of anguish.”

These words, which open Christina Feldman’s book Boundless Heart, are both inspiring and daunting.

How can the simple practice of,

May I / You be safe.
May I / You be well.
May I / You be happy.
May I / You be at peace.

possibly meet the needs of our world?

The Buddhist practice of Loving Kindness begins as a practice of concentration. The practice of concentration whether it is on an object, like the breath, or on a mantra, like May I be well, is a calming practice. The repetition calms and trains our mind to attend to what is important.

The phrases, rooted in safety, happiness, peace and well being connect us to our deepest values. These values are directed towards ourselves, our family, our community and our world. They anchor us into intentions of love and kindness.

When the mind is calm, the practice can begin to offer us the opportunity to feel the relational aspects of living in community. In the practice we bring specific individuals to mind; a benefactor, a friend, a neutral person and someone who is difficult. These people allow us to remember and feel both the love and warmth that living in community brings and also the hardship and challenge living in community brings. These interpersonal aspects of community are held in the simple repetition of our deepest values.

It is a practice. It requires time and commitment. It is both small and magnificent.

Please join Sister Henrita in practice on Friday mornings during the 8:45 mediation.

Post by Sara Neall

“In God’s House there are many dwelling places”…

Periodically a window in our Mary of the Angels Chapel holds a message out to me.

Its center calls to me. This window’s center is speaking loud and clear:

“In God’s house there are many dwelling places” . . . (John 14:2).

But what is the message of our Global Community to us:

In our house there are many dwelling places – room for everyone?
Instead, we witness borders, boundaries, and barriers in its place of openness to everyone.
Barriers are devastating and painful experiences that divide sisters, brothers, and all beings.
I mourn the violence that seems to have become daily bread in our world today.

Are we able to open our hearts in loving compassion to people
of all traditions, nationalities, and cultures – everyone?

Posted by Henrita Frost, SSND

Unshakeable Kindness

At the moment I am reading Boundless Heart by Christina Feldman. It is a book about Metta, the Buddhist path of kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. She begins this book with the sentence,

“There is no greater love than the immeasurable friendliness that can embrace all beings, all events, and all experiences with unshakeable kindness.”

I try to imagine unshakeable kindness ….

Is it possible to move through the world, through a day, with unshakeable kindness?
What does that mean?
What would that look like?

She offers this practice:

Slow down, rest. Sit comfortably and tune in to the present moment. Relax.
Recall a recent encounter where friendliness, warmth, appreciation or generosity occurred.
It doesn’t need to be grand. Just a small gesture of kindness.
Hold this remembrance. Let it gladden your heart and your mind.

With this practice, she writes, we learn to be intimate with the landscape of unhesitating friendliness. And every moment, she believes, can be a moment in which the cultivation of kindness is possible.

Moment after moment, day after day, until perhaps, it is indeed, unshakeable.

By Sara Neall

A Boundless Caring Heart

Recently I have been reflecting on this challenge offered by Tara Brach, a proponent of Buddhist Meditation: “Create a clearing in the dense forest of your life for radical compassion.” Her words comfort me and challenge me. Has compassion been my companion? Has radical compassion been my companion? Sometimes yes!

Now I am looking within myself to find where compassion lives inside me. In 2014, The Christine Center became a member of the Charter for Compassion. Since then, these words have expressed the meaning of compassion for me: “Compassion is the trembling and quivering of the heart in response to suffering… (Pali Language)”. Now I must ask myself: Has my heart ever trembled and quivered at my suffering and the suffering of one of my sisters or brothers? Sometimes yes!

Faithfully, I have said yes sometimes, but I know it is never enough. So once again I sit and try to hold the World that is my home in my heart. My heart wants to embrace my companions in this world, all creatures: our sisters and brothers, and all animals from the tallest Giraffes to the smallest Bumble Bats, and all living things. The world situations can raise many emotions within me. Fear may come, and on occasion fear stops me, but I can keep going. The world needs Boundless Caring Hearts. Befriending fear can be an encounter into the unknown, into a beautiful place to visit. Daily I message myself that the world needs us.

Compassion Cannot Wait
Let Compassion Inspire You
Vibrate Compassion Into The Universe

Posted by Henrita Frost, SSND

Compassion in Action

Map Your Passion

In October 2014, Sister Henrita and The Christine Center Board of Directors, having recognized the urgent and compelling need for compassion to permeate our Universe, partnered with the Charter for Compassion.

The Charter for Compassion provides an umbrella for people to engage in collaborative partnerships worldwide. Their mission is to bring to life the principles articulated in the Charter for Compassion through concrete, practical action in a myriad of sectors.

They envision a world in which the darkness of suffering is healed by the light of compassionate action; in which children and adults are literate and skilled in the transformative nature and power of compassion; and in which we treat ourselves, each other, and the natural world with dignity and respect, manifesting the Golden Rule in all relationships.

Since signing the charter, The Christine Center has endeavored to bring the light of compassion into all aspects of daily life. Sister Henrita weaves Lovingkindness practices in to daily prayers mediation, art and outreach with this long standing blog.

Recently The Charter for Compassion has created a MAP OF CO-CREATORS. It is a map of connection. It offers all who are dedicated to compassionate to share with and reach out to others. The Christine Center has mapped its commitment and would love for you to join us. Please consider mapping your compassion as an individual or as an organization. Lets spread the word and the work, together.