Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Compassion Retreat: Thursday's Reflection


      May I abide in lovingkindness. 
      May I be free from suffering.
      May I receive what I need.
      May I be at peace. 

What a gift it was to participate in a retreat led by Joyce Rupp.
Joyce has been one of my spiritual heroes for a long time and if you have been reading this blog for awhile, no doubt you will recall frequent references to her books. Her writings are core references for me.

You know how it is, however, when you meet someone who has influenced you from afar. Will I be disappointed? Will she be different than the person I have gotten to know on the page? 

Well, I experienced NO disappointment. Joyce Rupp is warm and approachable and humble and open. And wise. I am so grateful for the recent days in her presence. 

The topic of the retreat was compassion. Not a simple or easy topic, and I am still processing much of what was offered during those days. Although the content was thought-provoking and dialogue with others stimulating, the best part was the amount of silence for contemplation and reflection structured into each day. We started the day meditating and chanting and ended the day that way as well, but then in the middle of the day we had three hours of silence. 

Three hours of silence. 

I live a fairly quiet life and most days I begin the day in silent meditation leading to a day in which most of what I do is accompanied by silence. I welcome that, treasure that, and know I am nurtured in that silence. Still, to have three hours with no  intention other than to maintain silence was heavenly. 

I truly didn't know how much I needed that time, how much I needed to retreat until I entered the retreat space that first evening and sat in our circle. When I signed up for the retreat this past winter, mainly because I wanted to have a Joyce Rupp experience, I could not know what a powerful experience of Divine Energy it would be. 

What did I bring home with me? I am still feeling my way through that question, but one covenant I made with myself is to start each day using the Lovingkindness Meditation (Metta) we prayed each morning in the circle. Here's the version we used, repeating each line three times. 
                   May I abide in lovingkindness.
                   May I be free from suffering.
                   May I receive what I need.
                   May I be at peace. 

The lines are then directed to someone I hold in my heart.
                   May you abide in lovingkindness.
                   May you be free from suffering.
                   May you receive what you need.
                   May you be at peace.

Finally, I address the world with the same wishes.
                   May all beings abide in lovingkindness.
                   May all beings be free from suffering.
                   May all beings receive what they need.
                   May all beings be at peace. 

My prayer is that I can bring greater compassion into my life and my relationships.

An Invitation
I invite you to use the Lovingkindness Meditation for the next 30 days. I wonder what you will experience. I would love to know. 

Compassion, Listening to the Cries of the World by Christina Feldman, our main text for the retreat.  
Meditation adapted from Healing into Life and Death by Stephen Levine, pp 23-24 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/263053.Healing_Into_Life_and_Death

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