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Friday, July 17, 2009

Deep Acceptance

I’ve always wondered about “peace that surpasses understanding;” something deep that goes beyond cognitive explanation.

I’d like to present a few, short blogs sharing a few of the notes I took on a weekend spiritual retreat led by James Finley, a psychotherapist, spiritual teacher, and former monk who resided with and learned from Thomas Merton. I’ll space only a day or so between them, sharing some of the short but thoughtful things that were of particular interest to me.

Finley talked about peace that is not dependent on outcome or circumstance, the ultimate lesson of the cross. Peace in the midst of deep suffering.

Interestingly, Finley links this kind of peace to deep acceptance. The kind of acceptance that only a child can have.

“Whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will not enter it.” (Mark 10:15; Luke 18:17)

A child is accepting by nature. A child knows nothing else other than acceptance. It is beyond cognitive understanding. It is deep.

I have heard that a child does not have the capability of hating its parent without a psychotic breakdown. That is, it is not within a child’s psychological capacity to hate. Children are emotional, yes. Very emotional. But not hateful. They have deep acceptance.

Finley links this deep, childlike acceptance to peace. It is a certain disposition to the world that accepts the world as it is, a certain trust in God, in ourselves, and in the world that goes beyond cognition and leads to peace.

“By learning to accept as a small child, we realize that even if we burn to death, the fire is trustworthy….Even the violator is a confused and warped member of the trustworthy human race….Life is wholly trustworthy through childlike acceptance.”

“God protects us from nothing but sustains us in the midst of it. This is the centrality and mystery of the cross.”

This acceptance, says Finley, does not mean that one is passive toward evil. Rather, this deep acceptance is the trust that sustains. This allows us to engage the world in an aggressive stance toward evil, while remaining centered, trusting, and deeply accepting.

“Meditation grounds us in acceptance of God’s sustaining power, while guiding us toward not being passive toward the unacceptable.”

1 comment:

tamie said...

I have found over the years that when I talk about James Finley, or quote him, I get very little feedback and response. Clearly the same is happening to you. I wonder why this is?

Maybe it's just because it's the summer, but it sure does seem like some of your recent responses generate far less conversation and controversy. And yet, I feel like your posts are more and more open-hearted and authentic all the time.

I just wanted to let you know that I'm reading, and I loved your summary. Interestingly, I'm in the middle of writing a blog post in which I talk about these very things that James Finley said, but with a different take.

Also, as you said, you'll be glad you have all this stuff recorded here on your blog, for your own reference if nothing else!