Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting; the Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting and cometh from afar; Not in entire forgetfulness, and not in utter nakedness, But trailing clouds of glory do we come…
– William Wordsworth, c. 1804
This week I had the opportunity to share the gifts of my spiritual journey with my husband and a good friend. We had both deeply spiritual and highly irreverent conversations. We touched on our deepest difficulties and hurts and we laughed until our sides hurt about our current lives and all that confounds us in this world.
Now, it is New Year’s Day. I’m remembering that we are not here to conquer or control life. We are here to open our eyes – to heighten our senses – and be present. If we pay attention, we will witness a series of miracles and moments of grace – of extraordinary moments in a sea of confusingly ordinary and sometimes overwhelming ones. That’s my experience, anyway. Whenever I feel that I have things figured out, the cosmos stirs things up and turns the world upside down, just to keep the process interesting. Laughter and a sense of humor are as essential, as is the ability to ride the ever-changing waves.
At midnight last night, after a quiet evening at home, I came upstairs and discovered my new year’s gift. The moon was shining bright and it had snowed about an eighth of an inch of big elegant flakes – enough to cover our deck and the fields below. The moon reflected like diamonds, making each surface sparkle with light. If you have eyes to see, ears to hear, and a soul that senses – our Source is seeking our awareness.
Let’s see if this year sparkles with that same promise as it continues to unfold. Let’s tell each other about the miracles we experience. Let’s laugh and cry and hold each other in our grief. And in the midst of all that, let’s find out if it is possible to stand in awe and soak in gratitude each and every day.
The storm, the shifter of shapes, drives on across the woods and across time, and the world looks as if it had no age: the landscape, like a line in the psalm book, is seriousness and weight and eternity.
What we choose to fight is so tiny! What fights with us is so great. If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, we would become strong too, and not need names
I guess the planet, Mother Earth, is saying that it is time for us all to dive in and deepen our journeys. This is a time of great spiritual expansion. So much going on. So much light, love, and connection being shared upon the globe. Perhaps it is the balance to the many other things taking place where energies which are not creative, loving, or constructive are dominating attention. Many of us, however, are choosing to focus elsewhere.
I have two friends who, like me, felt called to start a women’s group – delving deeper into expansion, providing a sacred space for each other to share life journeys and amplify the sacred Feminine. I call this “soul support.” We all need it so much at this time (I know I do). How are you bringing or magnifying the love and light that is needed?
The Circle of Grandmothers and the net of light (netoflight.org) are quietly capturing attention and bringing the support of the sacred to those who feel they need additional support and clarity. Magic is happening where the Grandmothers are working with groups and individuals to anchor the net of spiritual light and love for our planet. I call on the Grandmothers many times each day.
My forays into the woods, the mountains, and the mystical right now are so rich. I’m hearing from others that this is the same for them. Growth, connection to the Sacred and to Mother Earth seem to be accelerating.
In my life, it has also been a time of grief and transition. Others are also opening to their own grief (both old and fresh), and learning how to let it rise to the surface, hold it, observe it, and hear what it may have to say to them. The journey is a deepening one and very expansive – connecting us to all beings. (This article by Jack Kornfield is lovely.)
Solstice has just passed and we are heading toward the full Buck Moon (or Thunder Moon). In August, a total eclipse of the sun is attracting solar tourists and driving prices for lodging way up due to the number of people who want the “best seat” for this event.
Each of these occurrences serves to remind us of greater forces all around us. Perhaps their message is to look up and out, or dive deeper – beyond the hubbub of distractions to what is greater than we are. Look beyond what is clambering all around you to see the cosmic backdrop, the sacred sea stretching out beyond the horizon. As a trusted guide recently said to me, “Pay attention.” The Sacred is right in front of us if we just open our eyes to see.
“Speak for those who cannot speak; seek justice for all those on the verge of destruction.”
– Proverbs 31:8 (ISV)
Everybody has their point of reference – a family, a community from which they discover their perspective. Sometimes we stay the same as our original family or group; other times, our perspectives are reactions against the way we’ve been raised; and sometimes we take what our families have given us and put our own spin on it. For the most part, I’m in the latter category. (Image source: http://www.peacemonger.org)
Lately, the world has been dividing itself into categories. So, who do you identify with? What categories do you fall in? Mine are:
+ Progressive Christian
+ Interfaith spirituality/eclectic Universalist beliefs
+ According to a conservative definition, I think I fall into the “hippie” category (which is somewhat hilarious – a truly boring hippie)
+ Feminist (prayerfully, peacefully, lovingly)
+ Nature lover/environmentalist (with some realism, some idealism)
+ Celebrate diverse humanity – I believe we are better humans when we embrace lots of differences – racial diversity, age diversity, ethnic diversity, diverse expressions of gender and sexual preferences, diversity of body size/shape, religious diversity and so on and so forth….
I could go on, but you get the picture. So, when certain groups are targeted and under fire, who do you stand up with and for? What kind of oppression and persecution gets you so riled up that you get off your couch and march/make a phone call/write a letter/join a group?
As a long-time person of faith, a progressive Christian minister, the go-to phrases that come to mind during times of crisis are well known: “Love your neighbor as yourself,” “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” The Judeo-Christian tradition is filled with reminders to never oppress, always to welcome “foreigners” or strangers, because we were once strangers ourselves. And there is that lovely passage from the old King James bible, “Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for thereby some have entertained angels unawares.” (Hebrews 13:2) I believe this is reminding us that there is God-light in every person and we dare not turn away people based on our own fear of differences – we have no idea how precious that person is to the Divine (or how sacred to others).
So, I guess I arrive at a place where my job is to stand up to oppressors for any human being who is being unjustly treated. Of all the values taught in each world religion and for anyone claiming to be Christian, the highest value is Love. To use the words of Jesus or Buddha or Mohammed or any of our great spiritual leaders to do harm or to persecute is the greatest perversion of the Truth. So, we must revive an old saying and, “Speak the Truth to Power with Love.” Say it, sing it, paint it, dance it, mail it, phone it, sculpt it, shout it. But do it for love (not anger or hate). Stand up.
Note: Downloadable poster or coloring book may be found here.
Heaven and earth, the Celtic saying goes, are only three feet apart, but in thin places that distance is even shorter.
– The New York Times, March 11, 2012
Last Wednesday, Johnny and I arose a bit early to get a head start on the sun. We were hoping to miss all of the “leaf people” by going on Wednesday and still get up to Guanella Pass before the aspen leaves pass their peak. Johnny is fussy (or so I say) about light. He only likes his light for photos at dawn and right around dusk – first light and last light.
Anyway, the drive was gorgeous, we continued to climb toward the pass. Who doesn’t love a mountain drive, in fall, along a rolling river? I began to get anxious, however, believing that we hadn’t left early enough for him to get good early morning shots. All of a sudden we came up over a tall hillside and stretching out in front of us was a tundra-like landscape and a several tall mountains. No aspens here. We were above the tree line! I hadn’t expected that. The last photo outing had been up a neighboring pass – lots of trees up there. But we couldn’t stop to take it all in – we had some light to catch.
The short version of the story is that we arrived in plenty of time. This time the views from the road and neighboring woods were wonderful enough – we didn’t need to hike in any distance to get our photos. As usual, I ran around like a nut for a couple of hours looking at every possible perspective on the hill full of golden aspens and taking random shots while Johnny stayed put, focused on one thing and got spectacular photos of the mountainside. (There is a fairly obvious metaphor for how each of us approach our lives in that description.)
We continued down from the pass, stopping a couple of times for new perspectives. We parked at the base of the mountain in Georgetown, enjoyed a delicious breakfast and then walked around window shopping. It was the perfect fall day. Happy people milling about, chatting, smiling. Sunny, but delightfully cool air.
Then we headed back up the hill. One of our thoughts had been that if we spent enough time enjoying ourselves we might catch some acceptable afternoon light filtering through the leaves. As it turned out, that was indeed the case. But it was not what made my afternoon unforgettable.
We made our way back to the summit and parked in the busy lot so that I could use the restroom. Coming out, I could see that Johnny had set up the tripod and was taking some pictures. So, instead of getting back in the car, I headed over the nearest hill. As soon as I stepped over the top and onto the trail that headed into the distance, I was awe-struck. The plain, golden “moose bush”-covered landscape stretched out before me and Mt. Bierstadt’s rocky presence pulled me in.
I sheepishly returned and asked Johnny if he’d be willing to hike a bit up there. “Sure!” he said. Minutes later we were winding down the hill toward a large pond in the distance. As we started downward, he asked, “Just exactly how far did you want to go?” I smiled. Clouds billowed and rolled. The top of Mt. Bierstadt looked alive in the distance as wisps of rain clouds filtered through the high valleys. We got far enough along the trail to feel the mountain in front of us. I sat in the wind and breathed in the energy, the presence. Wow. I was certain: this is a place I will return to.
The magnetism of the mountain still has not left me – that trail winding upward in the distance is still calling. Our reverie was, however, broken by the drops of rain that began to fall as we quickly covered up Johnny’s new camera. A little sprint for him and speed walk for me and we were back up the hill in no time, headed toward the car.
I’ve been pondering the moment of communion with the mountain since then. At last the right term popped into my head: a “thin place”! As my geologist daughter once said to me about Point Reyes, “Mom, it IS a thin place! Not just a metaphor.” And then she talked about tectonic plates and subduction and so on. I’m not sure but what she missed my point. Her point was well taken, though. Mountains, too, have lots of crazy plates, thrusts, and geologic activity. As my daughter says, it is a thin place and I want to get close. Yep. It is.