This is a picture of what I saw above me upon opening my eyes after a deep relaxation exercise in the Chapel at Kripalu during my teacher training. The Chapel was central to the life of the Jesuits who once lived in this monastery. Now, the large mosaic at the front is covered with cloth and there is a giant, dancing Shiva in front of it.
Sad because I think a dancing Shiva would be fine with an Ignatian mosaic.
In the following letter written by Thomas Merton in 1967, he speaks of an indestructible kernel of hope. My teacher training, for me, is yet more proof of this kernel and its indestructible nature.
No matter how depressed I have been (and it has been very bad, do not be mistaken), some part of me knew there was light at the end of that deep and dark tunnel. Some part of me continued to fight the good fight.
I am thankful that I have emerged from the tunnel -- not unscathed, surely, yet reborn better than ever.
Advent is about anticipating birth, creation, the radically new and transformative.
I have been living in an Advent of sorts for many years. Time to celebrate Christmas.
(Advent-Christmas, 1967) The times are difficult. They call for courage and faith. Faith is in the end a lonely virtue. Lonely especially where a deep authentic community of love is not an accomplished fact, but a job to be begun over and over... Love is not something we get from Mother Church as a child gets milk from the breast: it also has to be given. We don't get love if don't give any.
Christmas, then, is not just a sweet regression to breast-feeding and infancy. It is a serious and sometimes difficult feast. Difficult especially if, for psychological reasons, we fail to grasp the indestructible kernel of hope that is in it. If we are just looking for a little consolation-we may be disappointed.
Thomas Merton. The Road to Joy, Robert E. Daggy, editor (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1989): 108. (Emphases mine