Tuesday, February 2, 2016

MASTER AND WORKERS

 
 
 
CRISTO NEGRO – BLACK JESUS
 
Robert Trabold
 
Old year – New Year
 
I sit here – feel presence
of Black Jesus.
Feel old year
wonder about new one.
 
Jesus is black
color touches me
mystery – mystery of
our world.
 
Was a tough old year
endless wars – violence.
When will it end?
never ending!
 
I bring these wars – violence
to Black Jesus
Can help me
with this darkness.
 
Jesus’ life was one
of darkness
constant tensions
despite His good intentions.
 
Statue of Jesus on the cross
is black – copy of one
in a famous Guatemalan shrine.
What does the black say to me?
 
Jesus in life had no
easy answers.  His world
laid on Him – heavy
many problems – few answers.
 
Let me keep my eyes on the
black Jesus.  I have
to walk in mystery – few
answers in life – world.
 
Let me not be overwhelmed
with it all. Someday
an Easter Sunday will come
for us all – like it did for Jesus.
 
 
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MASTER AND WORKERS

 

Robert Trabold

 

 

            As we close one year and begin a new one, we wonder where the world is going. At times we feel depressed because despite our good efforts and those of others, the world does not seem to be better. It can be depressing as we look at the television and the newspapers where we read and see so much violence and hatred and war in the world. It seems to be never ending. There are many good people on earth who have the best of intentions and participate in many good projects. But their effect seems to be negligent in so far as the upheavals we see around us do not diminish. We notice that our government in Washington and others around the world do not accomplish what they could do in order to foster more peace and justice in the world. Political figures make many promises but do not live up to them.  So we are left with the sense of insecurity and disappointment as we look to the future and wonder what it holds for us and younger people.

 

            It may be good for us to step back and try to envision a larger picture of where all is going.  The work of making the world a better place is God’s project and in a very real sense it is beyond us. We do not direct how the world will go and in our lifetime, we accomplish a tiny part in this effort. Whatever we do and say which may be very good, is never complete because the building of God’s kingdom is always beyond us and our good work is just a small contribution to the final end. We can continually pray, do many good deeds, help many people, work in many good movements such as the peace movement, the ones to eradicate poverty, etc. All of our efforts in these endeavors are never complete nor accomplish what we would want them to do.  There is still a lot to be done and the problems of the world and its injustices continue to plague us.

 

            We have to realize that this is our lot on earth.  With our good intentions and deeds, we are planting seeds which one day will grow and bear fruit. We have to continue to plant seeds and water them with our consistency in doing good deeds and realize that it is in the future that we will see the fruits of our efforts and those of other good people. In one sense, we lay the foundation that as time passes needs further development and work. We are in a bakery where we use yeast which later will produce the finished bread.

 

            If we cultivate this sense that we cannot do everything and that the recreation of our world is God’s work, a burden is lifted from our shoulders. Let us not try to do the impossible. We have to be sincere in our efforts to lead a good life and make a contribution to the creation of a better world. We need to preserver in doing something and try our best but have to keep in mind that our efforts are incomplete. We are making our contribution to lay the foundation but it is God’s job to build the complete house. We may never see the complete house but be persevering in making our small contribution during our years on earth. The recreation of the world more in the image of the justice and peace that Jesus preached is God’s work and our small and incomplete efforts are steps along the way. Ultimately God’s grace has to come in to complete the work.

 

            Let us remember that God is the master builder and we are the workers. During our life, we are to make our small contribution. We most probably will not see the end work.  We are building a future which is not our own but belongs to Jesus and God the Father. If we can cultivate this perspective, it takes a load off our human shoulders.  We feel better, have things in perspective and realize that we are building a new world which is not our own but are called to make a contribution to its realization. We may get depressed with the world’s injustices and violence but need to continue to make our efforts to the building of God’s project and kingdom of how things should be.
 
 
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Sunday, January 3, 2016

CONFIDENCE IN GOD & THE NEW YEAR

 
 
QUIET SEASHORE DAY
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
Nerves on edge
many things to do
house work, poetry manuscripts
concerns about my health.
 
Noise – violence of our world
never ending wars
Gaza – Charlie Hebdo
harsh words – hatred.
 
Feel my insides all upset
looked forward to a day at
the sea.  I was not disappointed.
Weather helped me.
 
 
Blue sky – cold wind
not too sharp.  Jones
Beach pins trees soar
up – make no noise.
 
Dead yellow dune grass
gently swaying in the breeze.
They are awaiting the bugle of
springtime – will be green again.
 
So life rolls on
New Year. What will
it bring? Hopefully good news
only God knows.
 
I live in mystery – all of
us do – mystery of time
mystery of God – Jesus
invisible hands directing us.
 
Thank God I live near the seashore
West End Beach.
I let it blow over me
sooth me – strength for tomorrow!
 
 
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CONFIDENCE IN GOD & THE NEW YEAR

 

Robert Trabold

 

 

            As we begin the New Year, we should take time to see where our life is going.  We slow down our schedules, reflect on our prayer life of contemplation and where it is leading us. In our meditation, we have our discipline of prayer and attempt to touch God’s presence by repeating the mantra and watching our breathing in and out. Of course, there are always distractions, worries about our life and its many facets and the constant tumult of the world and its wars. But we put those thoughts behind us and again return to our mantra and breathing. This constant putting aside the many distractions, worries and cares that come into our prayer is a sign that God is more important in our life than the many concerns we have about the present and the future. For twice a day for twenty minutes each time, we set our sights on the Lord because He is the primary object of our life and guides us. We have confidence that the rest of life with its cares and worries is not important as the Divine.

 

 

            This putting behind us and away the worries and concerns of our daily living and those of the world reminds us of the teaching of Jesus. In the gospel of St. Matthew, the Lord tells us to put aside our constant worries about having enough to eat and drink and clothes for our bodies. He mentions that life is more than these material concerns.  These worries are basically about survival and Jesus in his teaching tells us that life is more than survival. Rather we have to concentrate on the Kingdom of God and its justice and the Lord will provide for the rest. This is quite a challenge for us because we are immersed in the world, can be sucked into its dynamic of desire for material things and security, etc. and be overwhelmed with the injustices and wars around us. It will take a life time for us to put aside these concerns and fix our sights on the Kingdom of God and grow in such confidence that Jesus proposes to us.

 

            Our contemplative prayer where we put aside these concerns of our material life and the world requires a trust. We have to grow in the belief that God is there for us and will never let us out of his sight. In the gospel, Jesus tells us to look how his Father takes care of the lilies of the fields, the grass and birds.   If this is so, He will extend to us the same care. Jesus exhorts us not to worry about tomorrow since it will take care of itself. This is one of the challenges that we face over the years; we are to be faithful to our daily meditation where the focus is on the Lord. Our relationship with Him will grow. Our love will deepen and so to the confidence of His care which Jesus promises us. This is an important horizon of our life and if we are persistent in growing in this, a peace will come within us. We will not be torn in every direction but keep our sights on Jesus and His promise who then will guide the boat of our life to a safe landing.

 

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Wednesday, December 2, 2015

ADVENT - CHRISTMAS 2015

 
 
 
DEEPER DOWN THINGS
 
Kilmarnock, Va.
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
Utter quiet just silent breeze
brushing my face. Blue Chesapeake
Bay water lies in silence – sunshine.
Breeze flutters over it – but hardly
moving it.  Late afternoon sunshine
diming adds to the peace.
 
Happy to be here touch of beauty
moment of silence – enchanted world.
They wash over me.
 
Let me hold on to them
will always remember  them.  Years of life
run by like breeze touching my face.
I wonder where is it all going
my world – endless wars of my country?
 
Here on the wharf, watching blue
water gives me hope.
Moments of beauty point to the Beloved
will not let my hands go –nor our world’s.
 
St. Paul says:
“For those of faith,
all things work for the good.”
 
 
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ADVENT – CHRISTMAS TIME – 2015
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
            As we approach the month of December, we enter into the season of Advent and Christmas where we commemorate and remember the birth of Jesus Christ on earth.  The heavens opened up and Jesus was born to bring us the Good News of how we are to live as God’s children on earth. This time is also a busy one for us.  The season brings many social activities with our family and friends. We commemorate the birth of Jesus which brings us together with other people. The month of December has also the down side of the rampant commercialism which accompanies this holy time.  Starting already early in November, the stores and media pound us with advertisements on what to buy for ourselves, our household, relatives and friends.  These are all over the place and we cannot escape them.  They can distract us from the real and deep meaning of Advent and the Christmas season.  We have to struggle on our part to keep in focus the spirituality of this season which will help us not be dominated by the materialism and gift giving.  The social activities of this season are important but we have to put them in perspective so they do not overwhelm us.
 
            The advent of Jesus into the world should remind us that the central goal of our life is to put God at the center. Jesus came to give us the Good News that God our Father loves us and wants us to love Him in return. This can be more difficult than it sounds.  Our human life on earth is complicated and we can be torn in many directions. Some of these can be good, others bad for us. During Advent, we have to clear the air and refocus our sights on Jesus and His message. One of the things that can help us in this task is to be faithful to our daily meditation of twenty minutes, twice a day. For a short while, we put other things aside in our life and focus on the presence of the Lord at our still point and center and on His path for us to follow.
 
            In meditation and contemplative prayer, we let go of our thoughts, desires, plans, images, etc. and we enter into silence and focus on the presence of the Divine who is there. There is a cleaning out of ourselves for a short while to be in the presence of someone who is the origin of our life. In meditation, there is simplicity because we quietly repeat our mantra; there is no fuss in this. This repetition of the mantra helps us go beyond many words, images, thoughts to focus on the presence of our Beloved. In this focusing on the Lord in silence and simplicity, we receive the invitation of love.  We realize that the Lord loves us and want us to love in return.  It is an invitation to orientate our life around one who will fulfill us. Only God can do this. We will no longer be torn in every direction but see the path to follow in life which will bring us a peace which the world cannot give.
 
            This is the reason why Jesus came into the world in order to give us this invitation to enter into God’s path and love. Our work then in Advent is to orientate ourselves to this call from the Divine. We will participate in all the social activities of this season but also keep in our sights the real meaning of Advent and the coming of Christ. We will not let the materialism of our modern and urban world deceive us. We will put our sights on the things which do not pass away. God offers us His/Her hand with the
coming of Jesus and we have to prepare ourselves to reach out and grasp it.
 
 
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Monday, November 2, 2015

PIILGRIMAGE AND MEDITATION

 
 
 
SILENCE OF MARY
 
Mary, Queen of the Heavens
Montréal
 
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
Simple chapel,
simple church
silence of the chapel
touches me.
 
Mary does not say
anything. Lets
us know she is
there – silent – listening.
 
I came a long way to
make this trip – pilgrimage.
Ride – long – tiring
 I made it.
 
I want to thank Mary
for being here.  She knows
all my problems
problems of the world.
 
Silence is here
language of God.
Mary learned it
 covers me with it.
 
I sit in the chapel
a pilgrim who travelled
long distance to touch
the Divine – the Beloved.
 
Mary assures me
trip was not in vain.
Jesus – Mary are
listening – touch me with silence.
 
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PILGRIMAGE AND MEDITATION

 

 

Robert Trabold

 

 

            During the last month of September, I had the opportunity to make a two week pilgrimage to Québec, Canada and I visited beautiful shrines on the shores of the St. Lawrence River.  I made this pilgrimage by myself and considered it a trip of silence and meditation.  I did not go in a group so that I would have much time to make such a contemplative trip. I first went to Québec City where I visited the shrine of St. Mary of the Incarnation. She lived there in the early years of the French colony and was a great mystic.  She had a deep experience of the presence of God at her center and still point and wrote beautifully about this in her letters. She is called the Theresa of Avila of North America. I then went to the beautiful basilica of St. Ann of Beaupré on the outskirts of the city and situated on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. It is a famous pilgrimage church in Québec and many pilgrims go there especially for physical healings. I then drove to Trois Rivières and visited the shrine of Our Lady of the Cape. It is also a beautiful church situated on the banks of the St. Lawrence River and commemorates the apparition of the Virgin to the people there in the 19th century. I continued on to the city of Montréal and visited three places. I went to the shrine of St. Brother André who lived in the 20th century and had a profound influence on the people of that city due to his sanctity and healings.The latter continue to this day. I also visited the shrine of Saint Padre Pio and the church of Our Lady, Queen of the Heavens.

 

            During these two weeks of visiting these churches, I was in silence and meditating. I knew few people in Canada so I could focus on the visit to these holy places. The beauty of the shrines and they being dedicated to very holy people reinforced the sense of silence in my prayer. I was in a special place and made great efforts to drive long distances to visit there. This added to the experience of meditation and silence.  There was an encounter with Jesus and the saints which I felt very intensely. This immersion in silence and meditation for two weeks can make us feel a bit uncomfortable. In our modern life in the big cities, we are not accustomed to much quiet since noise is all around us with many people, television, our activities, cell phones, etc. Silence seems to be out of place and a mysterious thing. But being immersed in silence and meditation for two weeks highlighted the meaning of contemplative prayer.  This quiet is not really empty but is the place of a deep encounter with the divine, the Lord, Our Beloved. We meet someone and out of the nothingness of silence, we have an encounter of love with the ground of our being and around whom we rotate our whole life. Our life has a meaning and depth that no one else can give to us. We no longer have a feeling of the emptiness of life but have it filled with a personal reality who wants us to love in return.

 

            Coming home then to New York City where I live, I feel that I had a deep contemplative experience enriched by the visit to beautiful shrines and basilicas in a lovely part of the world, Québec and on the shores of the St. Lawrence River. Hopefully this rich experience of prayer and silence will help me be faithful to the practice of contemplation twice a day, each time for 20 minutes. It will help me be preserving in the contemplative path when there are times of dryness and distraction. I can look a back to the deep experience of prayer in this pilgrimage encouraging me to continue on and not give up.

 

                                            

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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Contemplative Life Style




LIFE – A ROLLERCOASTER

Robert Trabold

Life can be a rollercoaster.
so many things to do
decisions to be made
some successful, other not.

Recent weeks have been a
rollercoaster. Work outside
work inside – upstairs – downstairs
list gets longer – not shorter.

I feel the pressure lays
on my body. Feel my nerves
frayed – high pitch.
I cannot turn off the radio.

Came to the seashore
looked for calm – beauty
fresh air- breeze – dunes
sand – quiet.

I talk to Jesus – put the
load on Him.  He will he[p
me carry all of this – help me
make the right decisions.

I cannot ask for too much
clarity in life. There are
 burdens.  I have to be calm
try my best – hope in Jesus.

Like the ocean in front of me
vast – incomprehensible
so is life.  Comes in waves – some
knock me down –others no.

Let me be calm
take Jesus’ hand. Walk
with Him.  He will get me
through the storms.

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CONTEMPLATIVE LIFE STYLE


Robert Trabold



           
            Since I am in now a stage of semi-retirement, space has opened up for me to build a more contemplative dimension into my life. I have had this element for many years becoming pronounced in my college years. Now however, with my schedule opening up and my time not so constricted by a work routine, I have attempted to build time and activities to allow me to enter more deeply into contemplative prayer. This new freedom has allowed me to meditate twice a day for twenty minutes each time. I have created a small corner of the house with a statue and pictures which give me a sense of peace to enter into a spirit of prayer. I play soft mystical music in the background helping me calm down. I have a large garden connected with my house and in the warm season, I meditate there. The quiet and beauty of the flowers help me focus on the presence of God within me. Luckily, I live not far away from the seashore at Jones Beach and I go there once or twice a week immersing myself in the silence and beauty of the ocean side allowing me to experience the presence of God. Important also is spiritual reading.  I try to keep my eyes open for good books on spirituality and contemplative prayer helping me understand better the dynamics of prayer and the intimacy to which God calls me and motivating me to be faithful with the spiritual routine despite the periods of dryness that inevitably come.


            I am active in the John Main Meditation Movement giving me opportunities to pray with others in group sessions and share with them. This is very encouraging because prayer has times of dryness and we wonder where we are going – back or forward. Being with these movement people allows me to discuss contemplative spirituality and this sharing is an enriching experience. It deepens my understanding of the spiritual journey we are on. I write contemplative poetry and articles on spirituality. I have done extensive reading in mystical prayer and the writing of articles on this topic allows me to share this knowledge with the people who read the spiritual magazines and newsletters that print my material. The writing of contemplative poetry helps me deepen my grasp of the prayer experience. Since much of my poetry is deals with the experience of the presence of the divine within me and in my encounter with it in nature, such as the garden and the seashore, the process of writing the poems helps me grasp better the encounter that I have with the Lord. I try to put into words, images, symbols, etc, the closeness and intimacy I feel in prayer.


            Our contemplative prayer life should also encourage us to express itself in service to the people around us. For a good deal of my life, I have been a social activist participating in various social movements. I live in New York City and am the head of a local neighborhood organization which I founded to control overdevelopment and so keep the quality of life we would like to have. For many years, I have been active in various peace movements working to resolve and end wars around the globe and particularly right now in the Middle East. These activities are supportive because our contemporary world has many social and economic problems and at times, one feels like giving up. The whole world looks hopeless. At this point, I feel my contemplative prayer is very helpful; I get the strength and commitment to continue to be of service to the world and people in these social movements. God gives us the strength not to give up and to work for the greater justice and peace that Jesus promises to give us.


            Another dimension of my contemplative apostolate is the reading of my poetry at various events where poets are invited to present their writings. At times, I feel self conscious because not many people write for and read contemplative poetry to a secular audience. I have found to my surprise the audience does respond positively to my writing perhaps encouraging them to grow in their quest for God. One good sign is that the literary journals of these local groups publish my poetry. Hopefully then, the people who read these journals will be touched by my writings.


            In conclusion, we contemplatives are on an inward journey to encounter God at our center and still point. I try to develop a discipline of silence in my life so as to find space for and grow in contemplative prayer. I am hopeful that it will give me the strength and perseverance to continue to be active in various social movements giving our world more justice and peace.


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Sunday, August 2, 2015

Appreciation of Silence

 
 
 
 
ADIRDONACK PINES
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
Stately pines reaching to sky
deep blue  that only
Adirondack Mountains can paint.
Sun is clear - strong
tree branches reach out for its
life giving nourishment.
 
Pines – sky – sun light
each a silence
broken only by gentle breeze
whistling through pine trees
breeze so peaceful – so soft – adds to
silence of the woods.
 
So many years I walked - sat
among these stately pines.
Why do I come back?
I tell my friends I meet Someone here.
 
Silence of Adirondack pines
echoes silence of God – Absolute
my Beloved.
Being there is a walk in mystery
mystery in the Adirondack blue sky
also a presence
within me – at my center – at my still point.
 
I rest in this mystery – letting gentle breeze
touch me
soft kiss of Someone who loves me.
Feel my breathing in and out – pointing to
presence at my center.
 
Continue to look at blue sky – soaring pines
let silence - beauty run over me
inundate me – embrace me.
Say no words because in silence of pines
my Beloved is wooing me.
 
Gentle call!
No words of mine fit the situation
I sit in quiet - let it wash over me.
Joy!
 
 
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APPRECIATION OF SILENCE
 
 
Robert Trabold
 
 
 
            The summer time may be a chance when we can come to appreciate what silence is in our life. When we think and talk about silence, it appears to us as a mysterious thing. In one sense, it is out of step with our modern life.  Many of us live in these big cities and are busy and overwhelmed with activities. We have our life of work, family, studies and education, etc. This fast pace is now faster with the advent of the social media and the cell phones. We can be contacted wherever we are and are pressurized to respond with texts and messages. So silence is somewhat strange.  It is drowned out in the fast pace of living.
 
            In the summer time, however, we may have more opportunities to step out of this hectic pace of modern living. For many of us in the temperate zone, the weather gets warmer and nature that has been asleep in the winter comes alive and there are chances to be outside and enjoy the beauties of the natural world. There may be a slackening of the pace of our duties with vacation time and opportunities to be in our gardens or the seashore or the mountains. These days then can be the advent of silence and reflection on our life. For example, I am lucky to live near the Atlantic Ocean and look forward spend time walking along the beaches and seashore. I have a garden at home and enjoy in the summer the opportunity to sit outside in the evening. I admire the loveliness of the summer flowers and feel the quiet of the garden and nature. I cannot do this in the winter time because it is too cold to sit outside.
 
            So the summer can be a time of silence and quiet and give us opportunities to grow in the contemplative dimension of our life. It gives us a space to reflect on who we are, where we are going in life and what are the goals and ultimate end of our living. So in these moments of quiet and reflection, we become aware of silence and uncover new riches for our human living. These spaces can be ones where we pull things together in our life, see things in a new and deeper way. Silence then loses some of sense of difference from our ordinary life and we realize it as a necessary part of human living.
 
            As contemplatives who meditate twice a day in silence and repeat our mantra, it is an encounter with Someone who is very important for us. In the silence of our prayer, we encounter a presence who is mysterious and transcendent but who also wants to reveal Himself/Herself to us. There is darkness in this encounter because we are meeting the divine. Yet despite this darkness, we feel that the Lord is reaching out to us and wants to enter a relationship of mutual love. Contrary to our feeling that silence can be empty, it is rather full with an important meeting. John Main mentions that in our meditation and contemplation, we meet the ground of our being, the primordial Spirit around which we are to orientate our life. It is no longer empty but now is filled with the presence of Someone with whom we journey on earth. We are no longer torn between different ways of living which the modern world presents to us. Some can be good, others detrimental to us. We are meeting the Lord Jesus who takes us by the hand and leads us on earth and hopefully to eternal life.
 
            With the encounter with God in this quiet time, silence loses some of it mystery and we become aware of its beauty and depth. Quiet time may not be the most popular thing in modern living but in our contemplative prayer, we have found a pearl of great value. John Main mentions that we find the one who is the ground of our life, gives it meaning and deep value. We do not let the many activities of our daily modern life overwhelm us but now have an anchor to guide our living on earth. So it behooves us to take advantage of the possible slowdown in our daily activities which the summer and vacation time offer us and so enter more deeply into silence and quiet time. This will enrich our life and help us continue on our contemplative path.
 
 
 
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