Hecate: Goddess of the Crossroads

Communion Reflection for July 29, 2021

At this time of Lughnasadh, I’ve been wondering about the fiery Celtic god Lugh

whose creative masculine sun-energy we learned about in our Gathering Space.

What creative gifts might Lugh have for us in our Fiery Communion?   

Was it the strong energy of Lugh that led me to look more closely at the pathways

we’ve been travelling together?

For those of us who were the first members of the Communion,

the ninth year of our adventure is approaching.

As Dolores Whelan told us in the Gathering Space, the Festival of Lughnasadh, August 1st,

is directly opposite the Festival of Imbolc, Brigid's Feast, February 1st, in the Wheel of the Celtic Year.

It was on Brigid's Feast, 2013 that I sent out an email of invitation to women whom I knew,

women whom I believed had the wisdom, courage and creative spirit

to engage with me in an exploration of uncharted spiritual territory.

There were no maps we might follow. No clear signs for the roads we would explore.

No one among us knew where the journey would end.

Nor has it yet ended. At times, it feels as though we have only just begun.

As happens on important journeys, where the only clarity is the desire of our own hearts

for a treasure in the realm of spirit, some of those who set out with us in 2013

experienced a lure leading them to follow a different spiritual path. For others, new demands or losses in their personal lives

made it difficult or impossible, at least for a time, for them to continue with us.

Other women were drawn to walk with us as the journey continued so that somehow the number

of our company has remained fairly constant, hovering around thirty.

Jean Houston, whose inspiration gave birth to the Communion, offered us a wonderful gift

in writing our first Reflection, "Communing with the Creative Fire of the Universe". (Archived under "Jean Houston")

This is something for us to read and re-read, especially when we are travelling in misty valleys,

in danger of losing sight of our purpose, in need of fanning the flame of our original desire.

Looking though the other titles in the Archives can remind us of the wisdom we have sought from the Mystics,

especially our godmothers: Hildegard of Bingen, Julian of Norwich, and Brigid of Ireland.

We explored the writings of Teilhard de Chardin, which were foundational for Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme.

Their development of the "Powers of the Universe" expanded our awareness of what we as humans,

as well as other forms of life who share our planet, hold within us.

We studied the Medieval Women Mystics, found kindred spirits among the Beguines,

explored the writings and poetry of mystics of other faith traditions,

including the Sufis (Hafiz, Rumi, Rabia) and Buddhist writings. We found inspiration in Celtic Spirituality,

in the great mythologies of the Egyptians and the Greeks, in ancient stories of many cultures

and in the traditions of the Indigenous peoples of many ages and places.

In the writings of Rabbi Rami Shapiro we met the Sacred Feminine Presence of Chochma

in the Hebrew Scriptures, the one known by the name of Sophia in other traditions.

Later we would learn that Teilhard honoured a Sacred Feminine Presence in the Universe

whom we identify as Sophia. Merton's poem "Hagia Sophia" was inspired by the writings of Russian Christians…

Recently, we looked at St. Mary Magdalene through the lens of her title "Apostle to the Apostles".

We began to explore The Gospel of the Beloved Companion,

coming to know Mary as the one whom Jesus named Migdala,“Tower”,  his trusted co—teacher,

his beloved disciple, very possibly his spouse.

Where have we been going in these eight and a half years together?

Would the tracks we have left behind have allowed anyone to follow?

Have we made any progress so that we might gaze around and say "look where we’ve come"?

It seems to me instead that we’ve been walking a spiral,

circling round and round even as we travel imperceptibly deeper, deeper still.

And this is a very good thing. Because it is the journey that matters,

and the measure of our progress is within each of us and among us.

How does our journey seem to you?

What have we gained?

How have we grown or changed?

Where are we being called to go next?

These are real questions I’m asking each one of you. I ask them now at this time

when sixteen months of the COVID pandemic have brought unexpected challenges in our lives.

Many of us are exhausted from the stress of anxiety, the suffering of loved ones,

the daily crises erupting through the effects of climate change, economic inequality,

political unrest as the ground beneath our feet reveals fissures…

Whether it’s clear in what ways we’ve been changed, our life on this planet has changed,

even as the poet Yeats once wrote, “Changed utterly….”

Yet that poem continues, “a terrible beauty in born”.

That’s also true when we look at the way compassion is breaking us open, calling us to radical change:

we cannot any longer deny the inadequacy of our social fabric, our market driven economy,

to solve the crises now arising everywhere, especially in the devastation of our earth-home, our true Mother.

As we look to our future, I need to understand how this time has been for each of you,

how we might adjust our course, where we might look next for soul-nourishment……..

I invite you in your Sacred Hour to study this image:

 Hecate, Greek Goddess of the Crossroads.

Ask Hecate these questions or others that arise in your mind and heart:

 

WHERE have we been?

 

WHERE are we now?

 

WHERE shall we go next?

 

What is the meaning of our shared journey?

 

Please respond by email: amclaughlin@sympatico.ca

 

Let Lugh inspire you to be creative in your response.

If you wish, use poetry or story or images or drawings.

 

It seems good to me now not to begin any new theme or topic of study

until I hear your responses over the coming 2-3 weeks. Thank you for this.

Your responses will serve as precious stones to mark the path

that will lead us onwards together.

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Honouring the Migdalah

Communion Reflection for July 22, 2021

Feastday of Mary Magdalene

Two millennia after her presence as beloved companion in the life of Jesus,

Mary of Bethany is finally being recognized for who she is. It was Jesus who gave her the name “Migdalah” which means “Tower.”

The one we know as Mary Magdalene would serve as guide and support

to the followers of Jesus after he returned to the Father.

Though fragments of a Gospel of Mary had been known among 20th century scholars,

the publication of The Gospel of the Beloved Companion in 2010 has given us the full manuscript

of a  previously little known first century Gospel.

written in Greek. Jehanne de Quillan, its translator/ commentator, is a woman with ties to a 12th Century Community in France

whose members have guarded this treasure, brought to the Languedoc from Alexandria in the first century.

In her commentary de Quillan invites the reader to consider the question: “Who is the beloved disciple?”

Who is the one, as the Gospel of John relates,  who lay back on the breast of Jesus

as the disciples were seated for the Last Supper, the one to whom Jesus entrusted His mother as he was dying on the Cross?

It was not until the end of the second century that this “beloved disciple” became synonymous with the apostle John.

De Quillan questions this designation, noting that for the Jewish people of that time, homophobia was as prevalent as in our own cultures.

That a man would sit so intimately near to Jesus would have been shocking.

And if it were John to whom Jesus entrusted his mother as he died,

why is John not listed as present at the foot of the cross?

The Gospel of John 19: 25-27 tells us: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,

and Mary Magdalene.  When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby,

he said to his mother, “Dear Woman here is your son.”

From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.  

As de Quillan explains, the Greek word translated as “son” holds several layers of meaning to denote a relationship

and may refer to either gender. Yet the traditional interpretation insists it must be John to whom Jesus speaks,

even though he is not mentioned as being present.

What if the disciple who was known as the one Jesus loved was Mary of Bethany,

the sister of Martha and Lazarus?

What if it was she who sat next to Jesus at the Last Supper?

“If she were simply another disciple,” de Quillan writes, “without any formal connection to the Rabbi,

then this action would very definitely have been frowned upon by those present.

On the other hand, if she were intimately connected to him by a direct familial or spousal tie,

then such behaviour might just have been acceptable in a circle of close friends.” (p.147)

In The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, it is the Mother of Jesus and Mary Migdalah who,

in accordance with Jewish law, anoint the body of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion,

with the spices brought to them by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.

In The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, the encounter of the Magdalene with Jesus on Easter Morning

is very similar to what’s in the  Gospel of John. What’s different is that Mary upon her discovery

of the empty tomb remains there alone. 

40:3 Now on the first day of the week, Miryam the Migdalah went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb

and saw the stone taken away from the entrance.

40:4 Stooping and looking in, she saw that the tomb was empty and the linen cloths scattered where the body had been laid.

Yet she did not enter in, but remained standing outside at the tomb, weeping.

And hearing a noise, she turned around and saw a figure standing close by.

Because of her weeping, she did not know that it was Yeshua.

40:5 Then Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?”

She supposing him to be the gardener, said to him, ”Sir, if you or another have carried him away,

tell me where he is laid, and I will go and take him away.”

Notice the confidence with which Mary requests to be shown where the body of Jesus has been taken

so that she might “take him away”.  As de Quillan comments: “She is in no doubt that she has the right

to take his body, wherever it may be laid….we must examine the conventions of the first century

to determine who would have such authority, such a right. The answer is quite obvious.” (p. 172)

Yeshua said to her, “Miryam.” She turned and, overcome with joy, said to him, “Rabbouni!”

40:6 Yeshua said to her, “Miryam, do not hold to me, for I am not of the flesh, yet neither am I one with the spirit.

But rather go to my disciples and tell them you have seen me, so that all may know that my words are true

and that any who should choose to believe them and keep to my commandments will follow me on their last day.”

40:7 And the Migdalah therefore returned onto her own and there in that place were gathered Martha her sister,

Eleazar her brother, whom Yeshua had restored to life, and Miryam, the Mother of Ya’akov, Yosef and Salome.

With them also was Toma, who was called the twin; and Yosef of Arimathaea, who had asked Pilate for the body of Yeshua;

and Nicodemus, who at first came to Yeshua by night, and who had brought spices for his burial.

40:8 Also there were the disciples Levi who some have called Mattithyahu; (Matthew) and Joanna;

and the other Salome, to whom Yeshua had spoken at the Well of Ya-akov.

The Migdalah told the disciples that she had seen Yeshua and that he had said these things to her.

And they knew the truth of her and were all filled with great joy and believed.  (The Gospel of the Beloved Companion pp.169-70) 

Jesus had told his apostles, “You will all be scattered…” That is what this Gospel shows,

for of the eleven apostles who remained,

only Matthew and Thomas were gathered with the other disciples in Mary’s home.

Jehanne de Quillan concludes: “So, one might ask, where does that leave us?

Was the Gospel of the Beloved Companion

the source document for what we have come to know as the Gospel of John? ….

"Was Miryam not only the Apostle to the apostles, but in fact, truly the first and the last apostle,

the true  Beloved Disciple, loyal to Yeshua from the beginning to the end,

and known here as the Companion, Beloved of Yeshua, the Migdalah?

“My answer is simple: it is you, the reader who must decide. In the final analysis,

it is your own heart that must be the adjudicator of this,

and so many other questions…. .” (p.194)  

 

I encourage you, if you are so drawn, to read The Gospel of the Beloved Companion

(Jehanne de Quillan, Editions Athara, 09000 Foix, Ariege, France, 2010)

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Morning after the Dark Night of the Soul

Communion Reflection for July 15, 2021

October 21-23, 2016: Jean Houston is to facilitate a program entitled, “The Morning after the Dark Night of the Soul”.

Early on Friday morning, I set out for the eleven hour drive to the Rowe Conference Center in Massachusetts.

The way takes me through mountains softened through millennia to rounded hills. Trees wear autumn colours

so achingly beautiful that I want to stop the car, to embrace them. The narrow road curves, dips, climbs.

Quite suddenly a sharp hairpin turn opens to a space to park, to take photos…

Full darkness has descended when the car’s headlights pick up the small wooden sign: “The Rowe Center”.

Over a narrow bridge that spans a swift-flowing brook, I enter the grounds.

In the central farmhouse, a dinner of eggplant parmesan, fresh-baked bread, vegetables, salads and apple crisp awaits.

In a great circle that embraces the dining tables, I join fifty others as we sing a blessing, “Simple Gifts”.

The words pierce through my dazed fatigue, startling me into joy: “To turn, to turn, will be our delight,

‘til by turning, turning we come round right.” I know my coming here is the grace for which I’ve been yearning.

Before setting out, I’d written my desire: to be spun around, turned to face a new direction….. 

After dinner, we walk from the farmhouse along the path that climbs through the woods

to the building that holds the meeting room.

Jean Houston welcomes us, assuring us that, “in the dark night, an enormous gift awaits you.”

Jean Houston: "In the dark night, an enormous gift awaits you. "

The music begins. We dance our way into a weekend of teachings, processes, insights,

profound inner experiences, one on one conversations   spinning our lives into joy.

Using as loom the stages of the mystical path as described by Evelyn Underhill (Mysticism, 1911)

Jean weaves together the present darkness of our planet, our personal lives, with the light that sustains the Universe,

holding each of us in a fabric of beauty. We’re immersed for a time, brief, endless, in the heart of the spirituality

that we in the Communion of Creative Fire have committed ourselves to embrace.

Part of the dark night today, Jean tells us, is way beyond the personal self:

this catharsis of refugees, war, weather,

the breakdown of systems is “a ritual of initiation that life gives us to deepen”.

Jean turns to Connie Buffalo, her working partner, a member of the Anishnabe/Ojibway People,

“How do your people deal with the dark night?”

“We walk in two worlds,” Connie responds. “We know ourselves as timeless beings,

called to become more for the good of all people.”

 

 “Mythologize the dark night. Don’t pathologize it.” Jean is introducing the theme when an urgent question

from a participant requires a shift:

“What are we to do about the violence, the racism now erupting in our country?”

“The way is love,” Jean responds. “Be there and love. Drop down into the center. Let the facts fall away.

Speak essence to essence. (In) very deep seeing, you see the levels of beingness in the person that are not normally seen.

Practise going off automatic and into the essence.”

We learn about the practice of deep seeing, first by watching as Jean engages

with volunteers from among us, then by working with one another in pairs.

Jean begins by asking the first volunteer to speak of a quality she dislikes in herself.

“People say I’m a know-it-all,” the woman responds.

Jean invites her to step back a bit, to shake her body, loosening the posture of protection.

In the silence, Jean looks at her. “You are a pattern-keeper,” Jean says to the woman,

explaining that one who sees and knows the higher pattern calls others to honour it in their behaviour.

The women nods, smiles, walks back to her place as one who has received a gift,

one who sees that her darkness has light within it.

Jean explains that we have within us a “daemon”: our essential self. This daemon  keeps us in a state of negative life,

a darkness, until the inner self has become strong enough to be seen in its fulness.

Winston Churchill stuttered when he was young; his voice was protected by his daemon until it would be needed to save Britain.

“The daemon protects you until you’re ready.”

Seeing deeply requires us to drop our ego, to focus on the other, Jean says, inviting us to experience

this process of deep empathic seeing, working with a partner, someone we don’t know in the room.

I’m surprised at the way this process opens my eyes to see the beauty and light in a stranger,

the way it shows me the light beneath my own darkness.

“We’re looking at the other side of the dark night,” Jean says. “Look deeply to discover what’s trying to emerge.”

In the dark night of the soul, Jean explains, ordinary life shuts down so that deep life can reconstitute itself.

If you could see it, it couldn’t happen. It’s like the caterpillar within the cocoon. Its cells turn into a moosh, a soup,

until the new imaginal cells combine, become strong enough to emerge as a butterfly.

 

On the drive back, I know I’ve returned to the deep self once more. I’ve been spun around

by my friend and teacher Jean to face into the firelight, into the joy.

When I step out of the car beside my home, the stars above me are dancing with delight.

 

Where and how do you find light in the present darkness on our planet?

What emerging butterfly will we see after this dark night?

What do you see now?

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Communion Reflection for July 8, 2021

“What Would Maisie (or Robin or Psyche ) Do?”

“Archetypes are many things,” Jean Houston writes, “-- primal forms, codings of the deep unconscious,

constellations of psychic energy, patterns of relationship. Our ancestors saw them in the heavens,

prayed to them as Mother Earth, Father Ocean, Sister Wind. They were the great relatives

from whom we derived, and they gave us not only our existence,

but also prompted our stories, elicited our moral order.”

Many of the stories we love best are indeed prompted by archetypes, characters whose life struggles, choices,

suffering, triumphs, illumine our lives. They are, Jean writes, “our connection to the wider reality…. (they) bring to us

the inspirations, ideas, supports, strength to engage in our lives/our tasks with greater capabilities.”

Last week, we saw how the story of “The Great Stone Face” by 19th century author

Nathaniel Hawthorne illustrates the power of an Archetypal Story to offer guidance for a lifetime.

In the 21st century, English writer Jacqueline Winspear saw in her imagination

her fictional character, Maisie Dobbs, emerge fully created from a London Underground Station.

In the series of books which continue to follow Maisie’s development as ”Psychologist and Investigator”,

through the 1920’s and ‘30’s in London, Winspear presents a character so compelling

that her readers tell her that Maisie has inspired them with guidance for difficult times in their own lives.

That led Winspear to publish What Would Maisie Do? (Harper Perennial, New York, 2019),

a Journal with quotes from the stories of Maisie Dobbs followed by blank pages for her readers’ reflections.

Have you one or more archetypal stories, perhaps heard in childhood, whose characters and their choices

continue to guide you? You may have forgotten the original tale; yet, you are still influenced by it.

For me and my siblings, the story of Robin Hood with his band of adventurers in England’s Sherwood Forest

was such an archetypal story. Each evening at bedtime, our father would weave a fresh tale,

made up in the telling, about Robin Hood, Friar Tuck and the merry band who robbed the rich to give to the poor.

When, as an adult, working in women’s spiritualty, I encountered the power of stories,

especially very old ones, to illumine lives, I was re-enchanted.

The great storyteller from Chicago, John Shea, came to speak at Ottawa’s University of Saint Paul.

Afterwards, I approached him to ask, “How is it that stories, especially ancient ones,

hold such power to transform us?”

“Three things,” he began. “First, the stories are very old. No one knows where they came from originally.

"Second, there’s the power in the one who tells the story.

"Third is the power within the one who hears and understands the tale.”

Later, I would learn more about the power of these ancient, archetypal stories from Jean Houston.

In her book The Search for the Beloved (Tarcher/Putnam, New York, 1987, 1997),  Jean tells the ancient Greek Tale

of Psyche and Eros. For 21st century women, this tale offers wisdom about the feminine way

to approach difficult, seemingly impossible tasks.

Psyche, a mortal woman, has fallen in love with Eros, son of the goddess Aphrodite.

PSYCHE enters the garden   painting by Waterhouse

In her desire to see the face of her lover, Psyche goes against his insistence that she must never look at him.

As he sleeps, she lights a candle to gaze at him. At once he disappears.

Aphrodite, jealous of her son’s love for a mortal, offers to break the spell that separates the lovers.

She imposes three seemingly impossible tasks on Psyche.

One of these is that the young woman must gather golden fleece from treacherous rams.

Psyche weeps in despair, knowing the rams will surely kill her (as Aphrodite intends).

Reeds growing in the nearby river, symbols of the feminine, advise her. Guided by the moon,

rather than the all-revealing light of the sun, Psyche is to approach the rams while they sleep.

She is to take their fleece not directly from them but rather from the nearby bushes,

where tufts of the golden fleece have been snagged as the rams passed by…

Psyche completes this task in the feminine way: following the wisdom of moonlight and indirection.

How It All Works

“Archetypes are organs of Essence, the cosmic blueprints of How It All Works,”  Jean Houston writes elsewhere.

“As major organs of the psyche, archetypes give us our essential connections, and without them we would lose

the gossamer bridge that joins spirit with nature, mind with body, and self with the metabody of the universe….

"Because they contain so much, archetypes bewilder analysis and perhaps can only be known by direct experience.

“Working with myth and archetype, we discover that we are characters in the drama of the Anima Mundi, the Soul of the World.

"In this discovery we push the boundaries of our own human story and gain the courage

to live mythically ourselves and to help heal our world.

Redeem the unread vision of the higher dream

“At this we startle, we shake. The scope of this dream demands that we live out of our true essence,

which is always too large for our local contracted consciousness to contain. I find that it requires

many mythic adventures of the soul to reloom body and mind.

But such is necessary if we are to return to everyday life with knowledge gained

in the depths that can be put to use to redeem the unread vision of the higher dream

inherent in both self and society.”

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Communion Reflection for July 1, 2021

Archetypes Found in Stories

Last week we considered the great Archetype of the Beloved of the Soul. Yet the imaginal world is teeming

with lesser archetypes: some of these are real persons who live now or have once lived on our planet;

others are imaginary, encountered in stories. Their gift to us is that they embody for us

qualities we long for  and need to develop in our own lives.

In last week’s Reflection, Jean Houston referred to the thousands of other spiritual numinous persons

who just come to you in a unique manner and presence.

Have you heard or read a story that has become Archetypal for you in its theme, its unfolding?

What about “The Wizard of Oz”? “The Ugly Duckling?” or “The Lord of the Rings”?

One I have long loved is “The Great Stone Face” by American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864)

Does it hold Archetypal  power for you also?

The Great Stone Face

There was once a boy named Ernest who lived with his mother in a verdant valley surrounded by a black forest.

High above the valley hovered rocky cliffs, the sides of ancient mountains. On one of these, the centuries of winds and rain

had carved the likeness of a human face. On fine evenings, after their day’s work was done,

Ernest and his mother would sit outdoors,

gazing towards this face. Its nobility, a blend of wisdom and kindness, lifted their hearts.

Often they would speak together of the legend, told to Ernest’s mother by her mother, a legend older even than

the earliest inhabitants of the valley, the Indigenous peoples, whose fathers had heard it murmured

by the mountains and streams, whispered by the wind in the tree tops.

The legend said that one day a child would be born in this area who would grow up

to become the greatest and noblest person of his time. His countenance in manhood

would exactly resemble the Great Stone Face. 

Ernest grew into a fine youth, always bearing in his heart, when it was not before his eyes,

the image of the Great Stone Face, always waiting in hope that the promised arrival

of the great man might happen in his lifetime.

One day, when Ernest was in his early 20’s, word came that a great man, born in their village, haaving now made his fortune

with a fleet of mighty ships, was about to return. The name by which he had become known was Gathergold.

He had sent ahead of his arrival an architect to build him a great palace where he would live in the village of his birth.

Ernest and his mother went eagerly into the village to await the arrival of the great man.

Crowds were gathering, whispering, “Might he be the one?”

When Ernest saw the man seated in his great carriage, glimpsed the small-eyed, thin-lipped wrinkled face,

saw his contempt as he threw a few coppers to children who ran beside the carriage begging,

he knew this was not the one he’d awaited.

Ernest lifted his gaze to where in the distance he could make out the noble features of the Great Stone Face.

And it seemed that the Stone spoke to him and said, “He will come! Fear not Ernest, the man will come!” 

Many years passed. Ernest grew into full manhood, though he was little noticed among the inhabitants of the valley.

Some thought him rather strange, for he was often seen sitting, gazing at the mountain,

as though it were his wisdom teacher…

Another man born in the valley who’d gone to become a soldier was rumoured to be returning home,

now a great commander in the army.

Ernest and his mother joined the eager crowds gathered to welcome him. There were so many soldiers with bayonets,

ready to keep the crowd at a distance. There was so much noise, bluster, long speeches,

that Ernest and his mother  scarcely glimpsed General Blood and Thunder.

 What Ernest could see was a war-worn, weather–beaten face, full of energy, possessing an iron will.

The gentle wisdom, the deep broad tender sympathies that Ernest sought were completely lacking.

Ernest lifted his gaze to the Great Stone Face far off in the distance.

As always, the aspect of his marvellous friend made Ernest as hopeful as if had never hoped in vain.

“Fear not, Ernest,” said his heart, even as if the Great Stone Face were whispering to him

“fear not, Ernest, he will come.”

More years sped swiftly, peacefully away. Ernest, now a man in his middle years, still dwelt in the valley of his birth,

though now without his mother’s companionship. He laboured as before, was still the same simple-hearted man;

yet his long hours spent communing with the Great Stone Face had imperceptibly brought about a wisdom in him.

He became a preacher in the village. Always in his heart he held great hopes for the betterment of people’s lives,

always he trusted in the promise of the legend, the promise of the coming it foretold.

And now for the third time, the people who’d acknowledged their disappointment in Gathergold and General “Blood and Thunder”,

were looking to a new arrival, another village son returning,

an eminent statesman who was rumoured to be a Presidential Hopeful. Though he lacked both gold and sword,

his tongue was mightier than both. He was so eloquent that whatever he might choose to say,

his hearers had no choice but to believe him.

His magical tongue could make wrong sound right, right sound wrong. His tongue could warble like the sweetest bird

or rumble like thunder…

In fact it was so clear to so many villagers that he was the long-awaited one,

that they gave him the name, “Old Stony Phiz.”

Watching his arrival, Ernest at first saw a resemblance between this man

and the old familiar face on the mountainside.

Yet even as the villagers shouted and cheered, that here at last was the one,

Ernest knew something was lacking:

the sublimity, the stateliness, the grand expression of a divine sympathy

that illuminated the village from the Great Stone Face, were here absent.

This marvellously gifted statesman had a weary gloom in the caverns of his eyes,

as though his life with all its high performances was vague and empty. No high purpose had endowed it with reality.

Ernest felt a deep disappointment, the sharpest yet, for he saw that this man could have fulfilled the prophecy

but had not willed to do so. The cavalcade passed on.

Once again the view was clear for Ernest to gaze at the Beloved Face.

“Lo, here I am, Ernest. I have waited longer than thou and am not yet weary. Fear not, the man will come.”

Decades passed, bringing the wrinkles of age to Ernest’s forehead. They brought a deepened wisdom

that gave Ernest a fame

he’d never sought nor desired. Word had gone forth that this simple farmer

had a wisdom unlike that of others,

gained not from books, something higher, more refined, a tranquil familiar majesty.

Professors and sages, politicians and philanthropists

sought him out, sat near to listen to him, and ask him questions.

Once more a native son of the valley was gaining prominence: this man was a poet.

When Ernest read his verses, his heart soared.  He looked up at the Great Stone Face<.

“O majestic friend,“ Ernest asked, “is this man worthy to resemble thee?’

The Face seemed to smile, but answered not a word.

The poet had also heard of Ernest, had meditated on pieces of his wisdom that were told to him,

on aspects of what he learned of Ernest’s character.

One afternoon, the poet arrived at Ernest’s door to find him reading a book of his own poems. They held a deep conversation

and after Ernest praised his poetry, the poet sadly acknowledged that his life had not echoed the sublimity of his poems.

He had noticed Ernest looking intently at him, then looking up to the stone face, then back to the poet’s face.

The poet understood. “You had hoped to find in me a resemblance to that great face you love.”  

Evening approached and, as was his custom, Ernest set out to meet the villagers who gathered at sunset to listen to his words.

He and the poet walked together to the small nook among the hills where a natural pulpit was carved into the stone backdrop.

Ernest took his place there, gazing kindly at the assembled villagers.

Ernest began to speak from his heart. His words had power, the delicious purity of a draught of spring water.

The poet listened to Ernest’s words, knew that a lifetime of love and good deeds had dissolved in this draught,

knew that Ernest’s words were a nobler stream of poetry than his own…

The poet glanced up and saw the Great Stone Face, mists surrounding it even as Ernest’s white hair surrounded his face.

At that moment, the face of Ernest assumed a grandeur of expression so imbued with benevolence,

that the poet, unable to stop himself, threw up his arms, and shouted,

”Behold! Ernest is himself the likeness of the Great Stone Face.”

And all the people looked, saw what the deep-sighted poet saw. The prophecy was fulfilled.

Yet Ernest, when he’d finished speaking, taking the poet’s arm, walked slowly homeward,

still hoping that some wiser and better man than himself would by and by appear,

bearing a resemblance to the Great Stone Face.      

 

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Partnership Spirituality

Communion Reflection for June 24, 2021

A day in late June. The scent of wild roses on the wind. The trees around your home that have been stark, bare, skeletal since November

are suddenly lush, luxuriant with leafy canopies. The lake in the distance lifts small waves in greeting.

You cannot enter into the joy around you. Some inner darkness is invading your spirit, an inner voice,

silent for so long you hoped it had been banished,

begins its lacerating litany…

 “What have you been playing at? You do not deserve the love of the Sacred One you tell others about.

"Your life is a sham, and it’s time to admit it… Who do you think you are?”

When you are strong and focused you can silence this voice. Even mock it, laugh at it. Yet today, as clouds gather to swallow the June sunlight,

you are defeated. The words eat into your joy, into your very heart, just as surely as the hordes of gypsy moth caterpillars

are chewing the hearts of the leaves on the trees that shelter you….

A thunderstorm batters your home, rain drenches the deck. The caterpillars who swarm over railings, floor, table and chairs are delighted.

If their many legs could dance, they would.

Finally you sleep that night, waken at dawn, still immersed in inner turmoil. Seated before the Icon of Sophia you offer a desperate prayer:

“Send me words, any words that will take away this darkness.”

Not long after, though you’ve already forgotten your prayer, you open your phone to check emails.

Five lines fill the small screen with words you haven’t seen before, perhaps the tail end of an earlier email?

You have no idea who sent them or in what context. Your hungry heart receives them, wanting to believe

they have just this moment arisen from the noosphere in response to your prayer. You read them again, a second, a third time.

You are the best we have

You are all we have

You are what we have become

We pledge you our whole hearts

From this day forward.*

And you know, even as your heart rises to sing once more, even as you, unlike the caterpillars, dance with joy,

that these words are addressed to you, as well as to others who, like you, seek to serve Her,

the Sacred Feminine Presence. This is the way that Partnership Spirituality can fill your emptiness and orchestrate your being.

* days later I would discover these to be the final lines of a poem by Maya Angelou

By grace of fifteen years of absorbing and integrating Jean Houston’s teachings, woven into our lives through her processes, seasoned with delight

through dance, story, music and laughter, I have come to live a radically new way of relating to the Sacred Presence of Love that pervades our lives,

as well as every aspect of life on our Beloved Planet and throughout the Universe.

Yes, there are times, sudden, inexplicable, of darkness. Yet these moments or days allow the return of the Light to glow with greater radiance,

as our earthly nights reveal the splendour of starlight.

Jean calls this new way of relating to a Sacred Presence “partnership spirituality.”

Here is how Jean describes it:

It has been my belief and experience that a new order of spirituality is greatly enhanced with the concept of partnership with the Spiritual Friend,

the Friend of the Deeps, the Beloved of the soul. This of course is an ancient archetype (as is) the communion with the Beloved

whether seen as Christ or Krishna or the thousands of other spiritual numinous persons who just come to you in a unique manner and presence.

The practice of living and loving the Beloved has enormous consequences for our spiritual growth and well-being.

It is an essential form of partnership with the Divine. In all the great spiritual and mystery traditions, the central theme, the guiding passion, i

s the deep yearning for the Beloved of the Soul. This yearning for union with the Beloved lies at the heart of Sacred Psychology,

for it is this profound longing—which transcends the desire for romantic love, the nourishment of parental love,

and all the multiple and marvelous varieties of human love—that calls us to the Source.

As Jean so often reminds us, this time, our time, is the time of the great rebirthing,

when the discoveries about the Universe by the physicists of our time meld

with the mysticism of ages and cultures and spiritual traditions of past millennia

to offer us a whole new loom upon which our lives may be rewoven.

Jean writes: “We are truly in a time of partnership with God, whether the Divine Friend is known as the Beloved

or a sense of Universal spirit, or a transmission of luminous energy and peace.”

Moreover, Jean says, “It is crucial, in any spirituality adequate to our time, that we have both the masculine and feminine sense of Divine Presence.” 

artwork by Mickey McGrath OSFS

This must be an engaged spirituality which means that “one works, wherever one is, for the betterment of all….

"the ruling commandment of radical empathy for the other is a manifestation of the true Self, the divine reality of Spirit.”

As I thought about Jean’s words on Partnership Spirituality, a memory rose: Jesus speaking to his beloved friends on the night before he died.

The magnificent words in the Gospel of John are themselves an invitation to the adventure of Partnership Spirituality

to those for whom the risen Jesus is the Beloved of the Soul:

I tell you most solemnly,

whoever believes in me

will perform the same works as I do myself,

s/he will perform even greater works,

because I am going to the Father.

Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,

so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

(Gospel of John 14: 12, 13)

 

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more,

because a servant does not know

her/his master’s business.

I call you friends,

because I have made known to you

everything I have learned from my Father.

(Gospel of John 15: 14, 15)

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Summer Solstice with Sophia: Communion Reflection for June 17, 2021

 

The journey of increasing light continues with the approach of mid-summer, around June 21 in the northern hemisphere, when the light triumphs

and brightness occupies a large part of both day-time and night-time hours. High summer celebrates the complete blossoming and fruition

of the seeds sown back in the depths of winter. However, this triumph of light is, like all things, transitory.

Just as the journey toward the summer solstice began at the time of the winter solstice,

so too the journey to the winter solstice is initiated at this moment.

The sun begins to lose some of its strength; it shines for a shorter time each day, as the year moves past the summer solstice.

The water energy, in the form of rain—so much a part of summer in the northern regions – tempers the fire energy

and ensures that the crops reach full ripeness without being burned.

 (Dolores Whelan Ever Ancient, Ever New Celtic Spirituality in the 21st Century,  published by Original Writing Ltd., Dublin, 2010 )

For this almost-Solstice Reflection, I chose a piece on Sophia inspired by Thomas Merton.

On his fiftieth birthday, January 31, 1965, unaware that he was entering the final decade of his life,

Merton wakened in his hermitage on the grounds of the Abbey of Gethsemani.

He wrote of the "fierce cold all night, certainly down to zero." He expresses deep joy at being in his hermitage,

where his life is shared with Sophia. He quotes from the Hebrew Bible, the Book of Wisdom: 8: 16:

When I go home, I shall take my ease with her, for nothing is bitter in her company,

when life is shared with her there is no pain, nothing but pleasure and joy.

Thomas Merton

Reflecting on this text Merton writes: "But what more do I seek than this silence, this simplicity, this 'living together with wisdom?'

For me, there is nothing else....I have nothing to justify and nothing to defend: I need only defend this vast simple emptiness

from my own self, and the rest is clear...."

(p. 14 in  Sophia: The Hidden Christ of Thomas Merton Christopher Pramuk  Liturgical Press, Collegeville, Minnesota 2009)

When I first found this quote from Merton, I did a double-take. I had read it earlier in a book I’ve come to cherish: Rabbi Rami Shapiro's

The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature (Skylight Paths Publishing 2005).  Shapiro opened my heart to the Sophia Presence

in the Hebrew Scriptures. I was finding my own way to sharing my life with Sophia.

Rabbi Rami Shapiro

Because of Shapiro's insight into another passage about Sophia from the Book of Proverbs,

I glimpsed the meaning of Merton's dream of a young girl whose name was "Proverbs".

In Proverbs, Wisdom/Sophia or Chochma, (her Hebrew Name) speaks:

The Lord created Me at the beginning of His work, the first of His ancient acts.

I was established ages ago, at the beginning of the beginning, before the earth…

When He established the heavens, I was already there.

When he drew a circle on the face of the deep,

When He made firm the skies above,

When he established the fountains feeding the seas below…

I was beside Him, the master builder.

I was His daily delight, rejoicing before Him always.

Rejoicing in His inhabited world, and delighting in the human race. 

(Proverbs 8: 22-31)

Shapiro writes that “Chochma ….is the ordering principle of creation”:

She embraces one end of the earth to the other, and She orders all things well. (Wisdom of Solomon 8:11)

"To know her," Shapiro adds, "is to know the Way of all things and thus to be able to act in harmony with them.

"To know the Way of all things and to act in accord with it is what it means to be wise. To know Wisdom is to become wise.

"To become wise is to find happiness and peace:"

Her ways are ways of pleasantness and all Her paths are peace. She is a Tree of Life to those who lay hold of Her;

those who hold Her close are happy. (Proverbs 3: 17-18) 

"Moreover," writes Shapiro, "Wisdom is not to be taken on faith. She is testable. If you follow Her you will find joy, peace and happiness

not at the end of the journey but as the very stuff of which the journey is made. This is crucial.

"The reward for following Wisdom is immediate. The Way to is the Way of. " 

Shapiro teaches that the key to awakening that is Wisdom is having a clear perception of reality.

"Wisdom does not lead you to this clarity; She is this clarity….The Way to Wisdom is Wisdom Herself.

"You do not work your way toward Her; you take hold of Her from the beginning.

"As your relationship deepens, your clarity of seeing improves, but from the beginning you have Her and She has you."

I am my Beloved and my Beloved is mine. (Song of Songs 2:16)

"Chochma is not a reluctant guide or a hidden guru," Shapiro writes.  "She is not hard to find nor does she require any austere test to prove you are worthy of Her."

She stands on the hilltops, on the sidewalks, at the crossroads, at the gateways (Proverbs 8:1-11) and calls to you to follow Her.

"Wisdom’s only desire is to teach you to become wise.  Her only frustration is your refusal to listen to Her.

….To know Wisdom is to be her lover, and by loving Her, you become God’s beloved as well."

When we become her partners, co-creating with Wisdom, Shapiro writes:

"Wisdom will not tell why things are the way they are, but will show you what they are and how to live in harmony with them….

"Working with Wisdom, you learn how…to make small, subtle changes that effect larger ones.

You learn how to cut with the grain, tack with the wind, swim with the current, and allow the nature of things to support your efforts.

"She will not tell you why things are the way they are, but She will make plain to you

what things are and how you deal with them to your mutual benefit."

 

Icon of Sophia from Athens, Greece

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Engaging with Your Archetype

Communion Reflection for June 10, 2021

August 2011. On a high cliff above the Hudson River in a former Catholic Monastery, now a Buddhist Prayer Center in Garrison, New York,

the East Coast Mystery School Community is gathered for its penultimate experience. Before the weekend ends, there will be a hurricane.

We will gather outdoors, above the river, letting the winds blow where they will….

Yet, when I think back to that weekend, a different sort of hurricane fills my memory.

On Saturday night, Jean Houston offered a time called “The Gifting”. In a curtained alcove, we were each in turn invited to speak with Jean

about the desires we held for our lives. This process would continue into the early hours of the morning. Everyone had a chance to ask for a gift.

Jean was empowered by the Beloved to respond.

I had a complex request prepared, one that involved many aspects of my ongoing ministry of spirituality for women. As I waited for my turn to speak with Jean,

my eyes were drawn to a cross carved in the wood above what had been the monastery’s sacristy. A knowing rose from my depths

that this symbol belonged to an earlier form of spirituality. Suddenly I knew clearly what I needed to ask for in the gifting.

When I was seated across from Jean, I made my request: “I want to be an embodiment of the Sacred Feminine.”

“I have seen this in you,” Jean said. “You are ready. I couldn’t give you this gift until you asked for it.”

 

Looking back now over the ten years since that Gifting, I recall the different ways I have sought to grow in this sacred relationship. As a writer, I was drawn

to engage in a process I’d heard Jean recommend: daily conversations with the Beloved. At an alarming rate, the unlined pages of my large hardcover journals

began to fill up with my black ink handwriting. You may wonder how I could call it “conversation. I was the one writing both my questions and the answers…

Trust me in this: I began to recognize a different writing voice in the responses, one that was both more certain and more gentle than my own.

I noticed that often when I asked an important or perplexing question, for which I could find no guidance, the Beloved’s words would clarify for me

what had been fogbound, showing alternatives that my conscious mind had not been able to see or imagine.

If you enjoy journal writing, I recommend this process, adding a caution of patience and perseverance. Early in the dialogue writing the suggestions I received

were about small things: a nudge to send an email, make a phone call, complete a task, or even take a break! I admit I was rather disappointed,

having expected to be asked something exciting, noble, life-altering…. As the years have gone on, I find that the guidance offered has grown in depth,

directly responding to moments of sorrow or fear, confusion or failure, offering love and support that is an inner beacon of light and joy ….

If writing is not your way, try drawing or painting what you wish to know from the Beloved; put on beautiful music, something you love,

and dance with Beloved. Often that is when a response may rise from within you.

Today I found in an old journal something I wrote in 2012. I share these suggestions with you. You may wish to add others.

Nurturing a Relationship with the Beloved:

Care for the relationship as you would a sacred garden.

Spend time within this garden.

Be aware of new plants, growing, emerging.

Water these with your time and attention.

Dance, so that your whole body is involved in this gift

Imagine yourself striding through deep waters to keep the lower chakras aware and alive.

Look for weeds- noxious ones or even other plants that begin to demand space, light, air, water,

distracting you from the great gift you are fostering within you.

It takes time, energy, focus.

Above all, it takes acknowledgement that this is your most important work, the one thing necessary, without which all your other tasks would come to nothing….

You must structure your life around (this gift), as you would make room for a lover or friend whom you invite into your life…

This gift asks for space, attention, nurture, even the sacrifice of your more self-centred concerns…

refocus your energy towards what the Sacred Presence feels and enjoys and longs for…would wish to do in/through/with you.

 

“Nearby is the country they call life.

You will know it by its seriousness

Give me your hand.”  (Rainer Maria Rilke)

May you enter the adventure with trust and find delight in your relationship with the Beloved of your Soul.

      

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Our Longings Lead Us to Wisdom

Communion Reflection for June 3, 2021

We each carry a treasure within us. Etty Hillesum writes of “that little piece of you, God, in ourselves,” and Teilhard de Chardin describes

“the diaphany of the Divine” which he recognizes “at the heart of a glowing universe.” That sacred presence manifests in our lives at times as a kind of knowing

more intimate, more sure, than something read or heard from others. We experience moments of clarity when we “see” into and around the deep questions

that arise within us. In times of darkness or dimness, in times when we hunger for meaning, for a path through difficulties,

we catch a glimpse of light, a glimmer of radiance, as when quartz crystal in a rock catches starlight.

We have moments of sight, of knowing. But do we trust them? Do we follow the path they point out to us?

Perhaps we do sometimes, perhaps for a little while…

There is an ancient Arabic tale of a wondrous golden bird who drops one burnished feather.

Its magnificence lures other birds to set off in pursuit of the golden one. The intensity of desire fuels their flight into an arduous journey.

They fly through danger, through darkness, through wild winds and pelting rain. The way is long. Some become lost, some sustain injuries,

a broken wing, a blinded eye. Others become so exhausted that they stop to rest before turning back towards home.

In only a few does the desire burn so intensely that they cannot turn away.

When they finally reach journey’s end, the golden bird is waiting for them, ready to reveal a secret:

each one of the birds carries a golden feather in his or her breast.

This story illumines the path to wisdom. It begins with desire, with a glimpse of something lovely and golden that allures us.

We set out, lured by our longing. If we hold the vision in our heart through danger, darkness, discouragement, through the disenchantment,

the desertion of some of our companions, we win through at last to the place where the golden bird awaits us.

We discover that our allurement has led us into our own hearts where a golden feather has been all along.

 

What does this mean in our personal stories? What dangers do we encounter that are so terrifying that we are tempted to turn back?

I do not think we fear darkness, danger, stormy nights, piercing cold or blistering heat. We have lived long enough to know about difficult journeys.

We have taken a few already. We are not like the birds who turn aside because the way is dark and uncertain.

 I think Marianne Williamson has it right: what we fear most is not darkness, but our own light.

We distrust the very longing that allures us. We fear the beauty of what we seek. Somehow we have come to believe that it is best not to desire too much,

that it is nobler to be content with less, to keep to the low road, the one that cannot disappoint or deceive us. We have been taught NOT to seek too much,

NOT to desire joy, NOT to expect happiness. Perhaps those who taught us were trying to protect us for disappointment.

Or maybe they prefer us to be more pliant, more in tune with their needs than with our own, more willing to serve their desires than the desires of the Universe,

the longings that have been seeded in our hearts by the Sacred Presence of Love…

And yet, the poets, the mystics, the wise ones of all times and faith paths assure us: the Universe has birthed us out of Love, and our heritage is light and joy,

inner wisdom, guidance towards fullness of life. We are not meant for ease nor for absence from the suffering that is part of life.

But we are offered beauty, meaning, wonder, and a love within us that draws us into Love.

It is our longings that lead us to our destiny.

As Frank MacEowen writes in The Mist-Filled PathNearly all initiations, if they are truly centered in the life of the soul,

are about stepping into right relationship with the spirit of longing.

Initiation is the process of defining and refining one’s role in the life of our longing,

determining how we can be conduits for its influence in our lives and world.

Our longings influence more than our own lives as Brian Swimme also assures us:

Your allurements draw you into the activity of evoking the life about you. (The Universe Is a Green Dragon)

MacEowen believes that: When we have a tangible heart-felt sense of the pain and joy of our personal longing,

a powerful force that seeks to serve others becomes activated in our souls.

And the Sufi poet Rumi encourages us: Let the Beauty you love be what you do.

While life’s door stands open, we must step out onto the moon-washed path that lures us forward.

We must take the path that leads to life, the path illumined by the deepest longings of our heart.

On that path we will be serving the Universe as seekers, sharers, of joy and wisdom.

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Where our Longings Lead Us

Communion Reflection for May 27, 2021

How might your life have been different if, once as you sat in the darkness, suffering the most piercing shame for simply being yourself

...you had sensed a presence nearby, sitting quietly in the shadows attending you...a forgiving Feminine presence?

If you had felt such a flow of compassion from that ancient presence ... that you could begin to accept your flaws, even your gravest faults?

And deeply comforted in the flow of that compassion, you were able, at last, to embrace your own woundedness.

How might your life be different?

Out of a woman’s acceptance of her woundedness comes a quietness and sense of peace. The transformation of the Masculine energy within her

from negating to supporting allows her to become herself. She redirects her efforts from the outer to the inner realm...

finally makes the return to Archetypal Feminine ground with her roots in the guiding principles of the deeper Self.

(I Sit Listening to the Wind Judith Duerk, LuraMedia, San Diego, California, 1993, pp. 91-92)

It is now twenty-five years since I first read these words. They amazed me, awakening a longing in me for a loving presence for whom I had no name.

Have you also sensed a similar desire? Have you also searched, perhaps found, a mysterious presence of guidance and love,

rooted in “the guiding principles of the deeper Self”?

Today you and I are like nascent butterflies emerging from the cocoon of these fourteen months of isolation, anxiety

and deep questioning of so much in our former lives. Like the butterfly, we need time to pause, allow our wings to dry.

We need to become used to what we already know will be a new way of existing on the planet.

The butterfly is not a caterpillar with wings. It is a new being whose entire DNA has been altered.

Apparently the fashion /clothing industry is gearing up for an explosion of interest in new clothes. I suggest we focus first on what is within us.

What longings have been awakened in these past months in moments of aloneness or darkness or deep anxiety? What are these longings and where are they seeking to lead us?

To begin, may I take you with me to Greece, to Zakynthos Island on the Ionian Sea. It is late September in 2015 as we gather

under the shade of trees in the morning sunlight. With a huge palm tree serving as backdrop, Jean Houston speaks to us of the Beloved,

the One towards whom we long: the Great Friend. This is the One with whom we live and act in “interdependent co-arising”,

the quantum partner who holds/knows more than we do about what we require for our work, our task.

Jean tells us that on the Greek Island of Samothrace, in ages past, the Rites of Pothos or Longing were celebrated.

In The Search for the Beloved (Tarcher/ Putnam, New York, 1987, 1997), Jean writes:

Pothos initially rises because I find that I am a stranger to myself and that I cannot discover myself except through finding the other. Thus I wander in search of the potential reunion.

The rites of pothos at Samothrace spoke to this reunion and addressed the truth that you are both yourself and your archetype, the extended godded self residing in the archetypal world. Thus part of us dwells in the archetypal realm that transcends time and space, and part of us dwells here in existential space and time. In the Mysteries, the initiates grew into an awareness of their double nature. They essentially learned to “dock with their angel”. Ultimately then, pothos helps us to navigate in two realms. Our yearnings and seaborne wanderings carry us into the depths….

image of the goddess by Susan Seddon Boulet 

The mystery religions, with their emphasis upon dramatic inward journeys of anguish, grief, loss, redemption, joy,

and ecstasy of union  with the archetypal Beloved, gave people a sense of deeper identity and belonging.

Jean invites us to consider:

Who is your double in the extended realm of the soul?

For whom are you here as the…partner, the exotype of the archetype?

Who or what is it that is yearning for you, calling to you, who is the beloved you are always trying to remember? (The Search for the Beloved, page 126)

 

Our longings can sometimes take shape in dreams or in imaginings. The poet, Denise Levertov, tells of an imaginal encounter

with a presence whom she names, “The Goddess”. Chancing upon this poem, I find it touches an inner knowing,

our longing for, a power both fierce and loving that will come to set us free from our captivity:

The Goddess
 

She in whose lipservice

I passed my time,

Whose name I knew, but not her face,

came upon me where I lay in Lie Castle !

 

Flung me across the room, and

room after room ( hitting the walls, re-

bounding – to the last

sticky wall- wrenching away from it

pulled hair out!)

till I lay

outside the outer walls!

 

There in cold air

lying still where her hand had thrown me,

I tasted the mud that splattered my lips:

the seeds of a forest were in it,

asleep and growing! I tasted

her power!

 

The silence was answering my silence,

a forest was pushing itself

out of sleep between my submerged fingers.

 

I bit on a seed and it spoke on my tongue

of day that shone already among stars

in the water-mirror of low ground,

and a wind rising ruffled the lights:

she passed near me returning from the encounter,

she who plucked me from the close rooms,

 

without whom nothing

flowers, fruits, sleeps in season,

without whom nothing

speaks in its own tongue, but returns

lie for lie!

(The Collected Poems of Denise Levertov, New Directions Publishing Corporation, New York, 2013)

 

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 Communion Reflection for May 20, 2021

Dialogue with Wise Women on Iona: Part Two Hildegard and Brigid

After I thanked Julian for her wisdom, I turned again to Jean:

Anne Kathleen: You are a great admirer of Hildegard of Bingen, Jean.I have never felt close to her.

Hildegard`s visions were too complex and theological …too heady for me.

Jean: Would you like me to conduct this interview?

Anne Kathleen: I’d like that very much. You’ll ask the right questions.

Jean: Hildegard—great abbess, theologian, musician, playwright, herbalist. What can you tell us

about bringing forward a Communion that carries some of the ancient wisdom of women’s religious life

and the genius of souls who are willing to draw out of their contemplative practice gifts for the planet?

Hildegard: Well, Jean, as I have heard you say of me, it began with a desire to move beyond

my physical challenges, my migraines, and enter the light, to see what lay beyond the beyond,

and to carry it back. You know what I’ve written—what I’ve drawn.

When words and drawings were not enough, I created music

and had the women in the monastery perform plays. You and I are alike, you know.

We could never be content with a quiet life of prayer and study and writing.

We are both, at heart, performers. In my life this included creating, staging plays

with elaborate costumes; imagining and scoring complex melodic /harmonic music

and asking others to sing it; healing illness I saw it in those I loved and served;

creating original remedies for illnesses through an encyclopaedic knowledge

of herbs and plants; giving lectures and teachings out of deep inner thoughts and knowings…

Jean: I see myself in you, Hildegard. I’m guessing you too would have been a parachute-jumper,

a world-traveller, a deep diver, had your lifestyle allowed it. I was impressed by your life

when I spoke with Anne Kathleen about creating something new with poetry, music and story.

What guidance might you offer to us as we begin this ”Communion of Creative Fire”? 

Hildegard: I see you, Jean, gathering these women and drawing forth from their hearts

the precious unique gift each one brings to the communion.

Jean: And what do you see further, Hildegard? Will our communion have an impact on the planet?

Hildegard: Each woman’s gift will radiate in the circles where she lives, and the combined energy of so many creative, dedicated open souls

will make a fire that burns bright across the planet. They will be a support to one another.

They will strengthen each one’s dedication, multiply the effect of the work that each does.

Jean: May I ask you to speak now with Anne Kathleen about the next steps?

Hildegard: You have gathered your communion. Now you must lead them to their gathering space, as I led my community away from the Monastery

where we shared our life with monks to a new location, a monastic dwelling for women. It was hard work, not without pain.

You must begin to create this home with your website, with each one’s daily contemplative practice, with a sense of each one’s desire and gifts,

with the beginnings of mutual communication. …There will be times of gathering together when the time is right for this,

at Stella Maris, Galilee Center in Arnprior, at the Jesuit Centre in Guelph.

Stay close to the Sacred Presence in prayer and you will know how to choose the time and place…

Anne Kathleen: Thank you for this, Hildegard.

Now I turn to the fourth woman in our Wisdom Circle here on Iona: Brigid of Kildare.

Anne Kathleen: Dear Brigid, I first came to know you while in Edinburgh in 1992, through John Duncan’s wonderful painting, St. Bride.

St. Bride by john Duncan 1913

He created this in 1913, a hundred years before the Communion was birthed! Through Dolores Whelan’s writings I began to know you better.

In 2012 while in Ireland, it was Anne O’Reilly’s poem dedicated to you that showed me your soul.

While I struggled to respond to Jean’s invitation in January, I came upon an online reference to “Brigid and her Community of Creative Fire”.

It was all I needed to accept this new calling. It gave us our name once Jean suggested that “Communion” was the better word for what we would become.

You have become my inspiration, a new fire in the embers of a dying way of life. I need that fire within me. Will you help me to build a fire that never goes out?

What is its source? How is it ignited? What must I do? I need a focus. 

Brigid: From the first moment I met the Holy, my thoughts have never strayed. Can you say the same, Anne Kathleen?

Or are you like Brendan: anxious about the weather, the tides, the location of the fish? Focused on your important tasks, forgetting the one thing necessary?

Anne Kathleen: You know the answer to that, Brigid. Yet, the fire of a passionate love has been created in me over these years.

Now I see my task is to tend that fire, to keep it aflame.

Brigid: A firetender must first of all take care that the flame of love in her own soul burns bright. For each of you in the Communion that is your task,

your focus, the one thing necessary. All else in your lives flows from that. The flame must be tended and nourished from deep within you

in order that it may be turned to other uses: warming those who come near, creating art, poetry, story, song, whatever is needed to nourish those you love.

Anne Kathleen: Thank you for this elemental teaching, dear Brigid.  Have you anything more to say to me today?

Brigid: If you turn your heart towards the fire, the other tasks will seem less difficult. The fire will ignite your creativity.

Your love will give you the strength and joy you require. FOCUS. That’s the Brigid-gift I offer you. 

Share with the women what I’ve just spoken about with you, what you’ve heard from Hildegard, from Julian, from Jean.

Invite them to respond to these suggestions. Let their responses guide you regarding the next steps. Speak to Jean. Ask her guidance in this. Trust her.

Anne Kathleen: Thank you Brigid, I think you and I are going to become very good friends...

What resonances, insights, affirmations, questions arise for you as you read these dialogues?

Please respond to the Communion using “reply all” to the list on this email.

If I receive your response by Wednesday evening, May 26th, I shall share it in our posting on Thursday May 27th.

Communion Reflection for May 13, 2021

 A Cirlce of Wisdom Gathers on Iona 

On a February day in 2013, I was seeking wisdom. I awaited responses to my invitation to some forty women to form with me the “Communion of Creative Fire”,

I decided to make an imaginal journey to Iona. There, among the tumbled stones of the ruins of a Women’s Monastery, I gathered four wise women: Julian of Norwich, Hildegard of Bingen, Brigid of Kildare and my friend Jean Houston who invited me into this adventure with Creative Fire.

What follows are excerpts from the conversation among us that day as I sought their wisdom and guidance:    

In the Garden of the Ruined Nunnery   

Under the open sky, we are seated among grasses and early spring flowers within the low stone walls of what was once the monastery’s Chapter House.

This is where until the 13th century, the Augustinian Sisters gathered to ponder decisions about their life, their spiritual path forward. A sacred place.

Stillness surrounds us. Silence, except for the song of a bird. Robin? Song sparrow? Lark?

Jean suggests we breathe deeply for a few heartbeats…

Now the women turn their gaze towards me expectantly, wondering why I’ve called them here from other lands, other centuries.

“I’ve invited each of you here in order to learn from you. You’ve lived a life open to the gaze of Love, yearning to know how to live in harmony with that love,

to open the way for other women to follow in your light.

“I would like each of you to share with me a vision for our Communion of Creative Fire. Jean, perhaps you would be the first to speak as it was your idea to begin with.”

Jean speaks: “I see a scattering of women, each bathed in light that flows from an inner source. I see a circle of women telling one another

what each has heard her own heart say, strengthening, deepening, one another’s insights.

"For you, Anne Kathleen, I offer the gift of empathetic wisdom so that you may hear the needs and desires of those who gather in communion with us.” 

We are silent, absorbing the vision that Jean has shared.

Julian speaks next: “What of you Anne Kathleen? Would you tell us what you know in your heart, what you desire from the Communion?”

“With you, Julian, I know that I am deeply loved.” I stand and walk to where Julian sits on the remnants of the stone wall.

I kneel before her, take her hands in mine. “Tell me Julian, for you know me so well. What is it that I seek?”

Julian responds: “You want joy. I can see that. You have always sought love, but now you know you have found it here among us.

What you most want now is that your life should matter. ‘I want….’ Finish the thought for us, my dear.”

painting of Julian by Jane Joyner 

So I do. “I want the love I have known among you to flow through me now to others, so that they may see their worth, know themselves deeply loved.

I want to be to others what you have been to me, Julian, for these twenty years. Like you, I want to be a friend at the window.

For me, for us, the window will mostly be a computer. My task will be like yours: opening the shutters of my window to greet whomever comes,

and to post on our website questions and knowings, poetry and music, stories and reflections to nourish our Communion;

sometimes we will gather in person to celebrate the joy of our belonging to Love.

“Julian, do you have a desire, a vision for our Communion”?

Julian speaks: “I want you each to have what you long for, a home among others who share something of your desires, your vision.

An Indra’s Net where you find connection among others, sharing poetry, music, dance, as you are each held in the embrace of Love.”

“Julian, how am I to know the desires of these women who will form the Communion?”

Julian answers: “You must ask them. You have sent out an invitation. Trust that those who respond desire what you offer.

Stay clear and focused on what you’ve invited them to become: Don’t let yourself stray from that vision: a cup to catch the sacred rain,

their own daily contemplative practice, a willingness to share insights with one another… then watch how it grows!

“I did not have such a community of mutual support. Instead, I wrote a book to share what I had received in my visions: Revelations of Divine Love.”

“Thank you Julian. Perhaps after all, it will be well with the Communion, even to the website! Is there anything more you wish to say to me?”

Keep your vision clear. Don’t let the beauty and wonder and mystery you now see be obscured by shadows of old fear, habits you’ve outgrown.

LOOK, SEE the beauty as each day begins. Remember the words I speak in Janda’s play: ‘I rise early to welcome God’s new day….at night I give thanks for all that has come to pass.’

And these other words also: ‘I believe that God’s Spirit is in all of us- speaking words in us when we know not what to say, giving light, wisdom, understanding,

showing us gently what we cannot see, what we are afraid to see, that we may show pity, mercy, forgiveness to ourselves.’”

“Julian, thank you. You have given me, and the Communion, important guidance in this work.”

(Next week: Dialogues with Hildegard and Brigid)

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Coming to Know the Migdalah*

(* a title given to Mary by Jesus, meaning "the tower")

Communion Reflection for April 6, 2021

Easter Saturday is usually a quiet day, a time of waiting, doing some house cleaning, anticipating the dawn of Easter. Yet as nothing thus far in 2021 has been “usual,”

I was not surprised when my appointment for the COVID vaccination in a nearby town was scheduled for that day. Returning home with neither energy

nor desire for housework, I reached for a book:The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, a translation made in 2010 from a previously little known first century Gospel

written in Greek. It is thought to have been brought to the Languedoc in France (at that time Roman Gaul) from Alexandria in the early to middle part

of the first century (thus showing it to be decades earlier than any of the four Gospels we know best).

The translator and commentator is Jehanne de Quillan, a woman with ties to a 12th Century Community in France whose members have guarded this treasure.

In her commentary, de Quillan invites the reader to consider the question: “Who is the beloved disciple, the one who lay back on the breast of Jesus

as the disciples were seated for the Last Supper,

the one to whom Jesus entrusted His mother as he was dying on the Cross?"

It was not until the end of the second century that this “beloved disciple” became synonymous with the apostle John.

De Quillan questions this designation, noting that for the Jewish people of that time, homophobia was as prevalent as in our own cultures.

For a man to sit so intimately near to Jesus at the Last Supper would have been shocking.  

 

And if it were John to whom Jesus entrusted his mother as he died, why is John not listed as present at the foot of the cross?

The Gospel of John 19: 25-27 tells us: Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene.

When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother,

“Dear Woman here is your son.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.  

As de Quillan explains, the Greek word translated as “son” holds several layers of meaning to denote a relationship and may refer to either gender.

Yet the traditional interpretation has insisted  it must be John to whom Jesus speaks, even though he is not mentioned as being present.

But what if the disciple who was known as the one Jesus loved was Mary of Bethany, the sister of Martha and Lazarus?

If it was she who sat next to Jesus at the Last Supper?

“If she were simply another disciple,” de Quillan writes, “without any formal connection to the Rabbi, then this action would very definitely

have been frowned upon by those present. On the other hand, if she were intimately connected to him by a direct familial or spousal tie,

then such behaviour might just have been acceptable in a circle of close friends.”(p.147)

In The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, it is the Mother of Jesus and Mary Migdalah who, in accordance with Jewish law,

anoint the body of Jesus immediately after the crucifixion, with the spices brought to them by Joseph of Arimathaea and Nicodemus.

Mary the Migdalah: artwork Sue Ellen Parkinson 

In The Gospel of the Beloved Companion, the encounter of the Magdalene with Jesus on Easter Morning is very similar

to the account in the  Gospel of John. What’s different is that Mary upon her discovery of the empty tomb remains there alone.

The whole confusing incident of Mary leaving to tell Peter, of Peter and John racing to the tomb, then leaving again, is simply not there.

Here is  howThe Gospel of the Beloved Companion tells of Easter Morning:

40:3 Now on the first day of the week, Miryam the Migdalah went early, while it was still dark, to the tomb and saw the stone taken away from the entrance

40:4 Stooping and looking in, she saw that the tomb was empty and the linen cloths scattered where the body had been laid.

Yet she did not enter in, but remained standing outside at the tomb, weeping. And hearing a noise, she turned around and saw a figure standing close by.

Because of her weeping, she did not know that it was Yeshua.

40:5 Then Yeshua said to her, “Woman, why are you weeping? Who are you looking for?” She supposing him to be the gardener,

said to him, ”Sir, if you or another have carried him away, tell me where he is laid, and I will go and take him away.”

  (As de Quillan comments: “She is in no doubt that she has the right to take his body, wherever it may be laid….we must examine

the conventions of the first century to determine who would have such authority, such a right. The answer is quite obvious.” p. 172 )

Yeshua said to her, “Miryam.” She turned and, overcome with joy, said to him, “Rabbouni!”

40:6 Yeshua said to her, “Miryam, do not hold to me, for I am not of the flesh, yet neither am I one with the spirit. But rather go to my disciples

and tell them you have seen me, so that all may know that my words are true and that any who should choose to believe them

and keep to my commandments will follow me on their last day.”

 40:7 And the Migdalah therefore returned onto her own and there in that place were gathered Martha her sister, Eleazar her brother,

whom Yeshua had restored to life, and Miryam, the Mother of Ya’akov, Yosef and Salome. With them also was Toma, who was called the twin;

and Yosef of Arimathaea, who had asked Pilate for the body of Yeshua; and Nicodemus, who at first came to Yeshua by night, and who had brought spices for his burial.

40:8 Also there were the disciples Levi who some have called Mattithyahu; (Matthew) and Joanna; and the other Salome,

to whom Yeshua had spoken at the Well of Ya-akov. The Migdalah told the disciples that she had seen Yeshua  and that he had said these things to her.

And they knew the truth of her and were all filled with great joy and believed.  (The Gospel of the Beloved Companion pp.169-70) 

Jesus had told his apostles, “You will all be scattered…” That is what this Gospel shows, for of the eleven remaining apostles,

only Matthew and Thomas were gathered with the other disciples in Mary’s home.

Jehanne de Quillan concludes: 

“So, one might ask, where does that leave us? Was the Gospel of the Beloved Companion the source document for what we have come to know as the Gospel of John?

….Was Miryam not only the Apostle to the apostles, but in fact, truly the first and the last apostle, the true  Beloved Disciple,

loyal to Yeshua from the beginning to the end, and known here as the Companion, Beloved of Yeshua, the Migdalah?

“My answer is simple: it is you, the reader who must decide. In the final analysis, it is your own heart

that must be the adjudicator of this, and so many other questions…. .” (p. 194)

 

I encourage you to read The Gospel of the Beloved Companion (Jehanne de Quillan, Editions Athara, 09000 Foix, Ariege, France, 2010)

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Greek Light Startles

My sister Patti’s cottage sits on a hillside thickly braided with pines and deciduous trees. It could be a fairy tale forest, but this is no time for tales.

Sitting here on the deck we cannot see the sand shore, but gaze beyond the tops of trees to where Lake Huron shivers in silver light.

It’s the Summer Solstice of 2014. If we look to our right up through the tallest branches, we see the sky blushing from soft blue to delicate pink,

deepening to rose madder, mirroring our thoughts, fading with longest day into night.

 

But this is not where the story begins. Come back with me to early May, 2014, to Greece. Stand with me on stones that predate the Christian era

in an open theatre-like space in Eleusis, twenty kilometers beyond Athens. The grey rocks around us sprout blood red poppies,

fiercely alive, dancing in the cool breeze, nourished by no visible earth.

Our Greek guide, Calliope, tells us that this is where the initiates, who came here to take part in the annual religious rites known as the Eleusinian mysteries,

would have gathered. Unlike us, they would have undergone a ritual cleansing in Athens before beginning the walk to Eleusis. Along the route,

known as the Sacred Way, they would have paused to place offerings in tiny cavern-like openings in the rocky outcrops beside the road.

Crowds would have gathered to watch their progress. At Eleusis, there would have been a welcome, some explanation of the ritual that would follow,

a telling, perhaps even a re-enactment, of the ancient Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. Demeter, corn goddess, giver of the earth’s abundance,

weeps for her daughter, Persephone, who has been seized by Hades, god of the underworld. Her grief and rage at this loss are so terrible

that she tells Zeus she will wither the earth’s food crops until he forces his brother god Hades to send Persephone back to her.

Only when the earth’s plants wither, threatening starvation, does Zeus give in. A truce is agreed upon: Hades will release Persephone for half of each year,

but she must return again to the underworld. It is the myth of the seasons, of the maiden who returns after each barren winter bringing spring’s abundance.

 

Though the story has survived, the details of the ritual have never been discovered. The initiates who took part in what we know as the Eleusinian Mysteries

were bound to secrecy under pain of death. The Mysteries began in Greece around the first millennium before Christ and continued,

spreading into the Roman Empire, until the 4th Century of the Christian Era.

It is believed that the ritual, based on the Demeter /Persephone story, had a three-part theme: the descent (loss), the search and the ascent. 

Following their arrival in Eleusis, the initiates would have rested, spent a day of fasting to honour the grief of Demeter. The ritual would follow.

Calliope points to the earth beneath our feet, telling us that the initiates would descend underground for the ritual.

Its focus was the overcoming of any fear of death, though how this was enacted is unknown. But as the ritual was drawing to a close,

light would have begun to seep upwards from the underground. Soon after that, the initiates would emerge, radiant with their experience.

After Calliope’s introduction, we move further into the site to an ancient cave, its dark mouth appearing to us like an opening to the underworld.

Here members of our group have been invited to enact the story of Demeter and Persephone. Peg Rubin, an actor of immense power, 

co-leading this journey with Jean Houston, plays Demeter. 

The day before our journey to Eleusis, Jean Houston had prepared us for the experience by speaking of the Greek understanding

of the need to “die before you die”. As we travelled by bus, Jean led us in a visualization/meditation. We were invited to imagine ourselves

entering the underworld, being clothed in earth, masked by earth, resting in death….then asking, “What are the aspects of ourselves

that no longer serve us, serve life?” These we name and allow to die…. We remove the mask of earth that covers face and body.

We emerge, freed to live more fully, more joyously, set free from the burden of those behaviours, those needs, those fears,

that have kept us captive. We rise: quiet, composed, centred, unafraid, ready to love.

 

Eleusis is the first of many journeys into the myth, the wisdom, the mystery of ancient Greece. As the days unfold, I come to know the truth

of words I found during a Canadian Authors’ poetry workshop in Ottawa before I travelled to Greece.

This poem was composed of lines chosen at random from several different books of poetry.

 

Greek light startles

the warm appreciation of one being for another

every life long or short is a pilgrimage

under the wide and starry sky

sea salt scouring my body

old skins shed

kindled by the tangelo sun 

ignite into life

 

 

On the long journeys across mainland Greece the poem unfolded for me like a prophecy, except for the “warm appreciation”…

As our bus moves with the surprising grace of a large elephant, skimming edges of cliffs that hover above olive groves and waters of an impossible turquoise,

we pass the time creating poetry, reading it aloud to our companions over the microphone.

The young man with the young name, Josh, exudes the relaxed arrogance that only the young can carry off with charm.

His poem is a mockery of the ancient archaeological sites, the stunning beauty, the fairy tale wonder that others have been praising.

I whisper to my companion: “That young man needs to be broken open!”

Ever-confident, Josh takes the mike the following day to chide us for our comments on his frequent cigarette breaks.

Yes, he knows we care about him, but he’s serving notice that our advice will only deepen his determination to continue smoking.

When, on the third morning, Josh again takes the mike, I’m fuming without the help of cigarettes.

“I had a dream last night,” he begins. “A friend came into my dream, talking really fast. He was really excited, with something important he needed to tell me.

I couldn’t make out what he was saying. When I woke up there was a text message. My friend had died overnight in an accident.

Then I understood what he’d been trying to tell me: It’s so much easier on this side. All the pain, all the suffering is only while we are alive.

But afterwards, everything is good.”

Greek. Light. Startles.

Later that morning, as we’re walking down the stony hillside path towards the ruins of the Temple of Athena, I encounter Josh.

No words come to me as our eyes meet, so I reach out to hug him. He holds me with a gentle strength, as though I were the one needing comfort.

 “It’s OK,” he says. “Really. I’m OK with this. It’s a gift.”

It’s not a text message but a phone call that wakens me in my home in the Ottawa Valley, the day following my return from Greece.

My sister, my beloved Patti, has had a return of cancer. There is no medical hope. She has perhaps three months to live.

So that’s why I’m here with her on the deck of her cottage, her holy sacred place, on the Summer Solstice.

Why we are caught up in the beauty of the sunset. Why we have so few words.

Patti speaks quietly.” I’m afraid. What is death like?”

I say, “Let me tell you about Josh, the young man I met on our Greece Tour.”

 

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Communion Reflection for March 23, 2021

The Paschal Mystery

 It hovers, the knowing that soon, with the rising of the full Paschal Moon on March 28th, it will be time to re-enter the Sacred  Days of Holy Week and Passover.

For years, decades, I approached HolyWeek with a kind of dread, knowing I must engage once more in the agony of Jesus, his sufferings, his death,

followed by the long tomb-time of his absence , before I could even remember the truth of Resurrection….

I would get up during the night after the Holy Thursday Eucharist, to spend an hour in prayer, remembering Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane,

his friends asleep around him, as he faced the certitude of his coming death.

 It was a Mystery Play, perhaps not unlike the ancient Greek and Roman Mystery Rituals, but the emotions were manufactured.

The darkness I experienced through these intense feelings of grief and loss was real, as was the physical discomfort of fasting.

Yet some part of me knew it was play-acting: both the terrible loss of Good Friday and the exploding joy of Easter.

Jesus IS risen and will never die again; the Christ is with us always.

Seven years ago, something shifted. I wakened in the deep heart of Holy Thursday night. Yet I was drawn in prayer, not to the Garden of Gethsemane,

but to the earth herself, in agony, dying. I sat through that hour with her suffering.

Later, I came upon this lovely meditation by Susan Griffin which spoke to my heart:

As I go into the Earth, she pierces my heart. As I penetrate further, she unveils me. When I have reached her center, I am weeping openly.

I have known her all my life, yet she reveals stories to me, and these stories are revelations and I am transformed.

Each time I go to her, I am born like this. Her renewal washes over me endlessly, her wounds caress me.

I become aware of all that has come between us, the blindness, of something sleeping between us. Now my body reaches out to her.

They speak effortlessly, and I learn that at no instant does she fail me in her presence.  She is as delicate as I am, I know her sentience,

I feel her pain and my own pain comes into me, and my own pain grows large and I grasp this pain with my hands,

and I open my mouth to this pain, I taste, I know and I know why she goes on, under great weight, with this great thirst,

in drought, in starvation, with intelligence in every act does she survive disaster. This earth is my sister, I love her daily grace,

her silent daring, and how loved I am, how we admire this strength in each other, all that we have lost, all that we have suffered,

all that we know: we are stunned by this beauty, and I do not forget what she is to me, what I am to her. (Susan Griffin in The Body of Earth)

Since that time of awakening, I experience these Sacred Days of the Paschal Mystery, the Mystery of  life/death/life that is at the Holy Heart of the Universe,

in a new and deeper way. The suffering is not a remembrance of events in the life of Jesus, but rather a reawakening to the raw suffering,

the unaccountable losses, the seeking for light and hope in darkness that is the Mystery Play of our lives, especially now in this year of 2021 on Planet Earth.

I wakened today, as you did also, to the news of another mass shooting, ten lives snuffed out in a grocery store.

No motive known for the young man who shot them….

Our Canadian news is revisiting the death a few years ago of a young Indigenous man who was shot by a farmer on whose property he was trespassing.

The farmer was acquitted. The young man remains dead, his mother’s humiliation by the RCMP who investigated her son’s death only now coming to light.

These agonies rose in me this morning as in a Sacred Dance Class we were invited to meditate on the Black Madonna…

for the first time I really understood why we need a Sacred Feminine Presence that is more than sweetness and light, One who is also fierce, strong,

capable of holding us in the darkness in which our lives are shrouded. The Dark Mother, Who was present in the very chaos

in which our Universe was birthed, is strong enough to remain through eons of destruction and rebirth.

Statue of the Black Madonna in Chartres Cathedral, France

In the poetry of John O’Donohue we find words powerful enough to hold the agony as well as the ecstasy of the Paschal Mystery.

In this poem I grasp the gift we’ve been given by Jesus in his suffering and death: the courage to endure the suffering within and around us.

“The Agony in the Garden”:

Whatever veil of mercy shrouds the dark

Wound that stops weeping in no one, cannot

Stop the torrent of night when it buries thought

And heart beneath the black tears of the earth.

Through scragged bush the moon discovers his face,

Dazed inside the sound of Gethsemane.

Subsiding under the weight of silence

That entombs the cry of his terrified prayer.

What light could endure the dark he entered?

The void that turns the mind into a ruin 

Haunted by the tattered screeching of birds

Who nest deep in hunger that mocks all care.

Still he somehow stands in that nothingness;

Raising the chalice of kindness to bless.

(John O’Donohue in Conamara Blues)

May the Dark Mother hold each of us as we too stand in that nothingness, raising the chalice of kindness to bless.

 

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Brigid Speaks of Spring Equinox

Communion Reflection for March 16, 2021

In mid-morning, we walk from our lodgings in Kildare to the garden where we sat with Brigid on our first visit. She’s here already,

seated beside the pool of water, expecting us. Her smile warms the air of this mid-March day. Following her lead,

we breathe in the fragrance of earth, of violets, daffodils, foxglove, and trees whose young leaves are ready to burst outwards.

With a gesture of welcome, Brigid invites us to sit near her where the early grass softens the earth beside the pool.

“Today we need to speak of the equinox,” Brigid begins. “Do you know its meaning?”

A few of us exchange glances. Every child knows what equinox means, and yet Brigid waits, expecting a response.

“It means that day and night are of equal length after the short days and long dark nights of winter,” Mary responds, politely.

Brigid smiles. I have the uncomfortable feeling that she knows exactly what we’re thinking. “That’s a good answer, as far it goes,” she says now.

“But did you not understand our last conversation? You and I and all that lives upon our beautiful planet are part of her.

"Our lives, our bodies, our souls, our spirits are one with her rhythms, her seasons. Since this is so, what meaning does equinox hold for us?”

“Is it about balance?” Noreen ventures. 

At this, Brigid smiles. Mischievously, I think. “Balance, yes. But balance of what?”

 “Light and darkness,” I say, growing increasingly uncomfortable as I wonder what Brigid is up to, if she’s playing with us,

trying to trip us up in our knowledge of the earth. Spurred by this thought, I rush on, “it’s the balance of light and darkness that shows us spring is coming.

Longer days mean that the earth will soon be bursting with new life.  Also,” I add this with some pride as I’ve only just learned it myself,

“it’s the increase in daylight that draws the birds back from the south.”

Brigid appears unimpressed. “I don’t think you really understand about the equinox. You’re describing what you see around you.

"My question is about what’s happening within you.”

 Suddenly a fox emerges from the bushes beyond the garden. It walks with soft steps, unswervingly, towards Brigid.

Though her back is to the fox, though she could not possibly see the delicate animal, Brigid stretches her hand towards the fox, calling out,

“Come, my friend. Meet some people who have a great deal to learn.”

 Frozen in fear at the appearance of the fox, we watch in amazement as the small animal comes to sit, composed, peaceful, at Brigid’s feet.

 “Your Celtic ancestors,” Brigid continues, as she strokes the fox’s fur with her hand, “like indigenous peoples everywhere, experienced time as circular.

They danced to its rhythm: night gave birth to dawn and day blossomed before it waned into evening, back into night.

 “These ancestors watched the cycles of the moon, the turning of the tides. The women noticed how the rhythms of their own bodies,

their regular times of bleeding, followed the moon’s rhythms. No wonder they felt at home in the universe, embraced by the earth.

 “Because they saw their lives as part of the great cycle of life, the Celtic people created a calendar that marked the seasons of the year,

dividing the year into two major parts related to the sun’s light: giamos and samos. They celebrated eight festivals that were about 45 days apart.

Because they understood that it is darkness that gives birth to light, their year opened with the Festival of Samhain, November 1st, when the dark days begin.

These are the days of inwardness, receptivity, the time that came to be known as feminine. Here the pace slows, linear time recedes,

the intuitive is honoured over the rational. With the Festival of Bealtaine, on May 1st, the bright masculine sun days begin,

the samos time of outer activity when the seeds nourished through the dark days blossom into new life. The linear, analytic, rational way dominates once again. 

 “In the Celtic Calendar, the Spring Equinox occurs halfway between the Winter and Summer Solstices.

It’s the festival just before Bealtaine, when the feminine season ends, and the masculine begins.

 “Now can you see a deeper meaning for the equinox? It’s an invitation to find a new balance within our lives, within our cultures

and throughout the planet, of these masculine and feminine energies that so often are in opposition. It’s a time to choose how we shall hold the values

of the dark time of the goddess even as the bright active masculine takes over in our lives.

 “How will you choose to honour the feminine intuitive gifts of the moon time in the days when the sun calls forth your logical, rational gifts?

Will you make a space in these busier days for quiet reflection, for remembering your winter dreams, for poetry, music, drawing,

dance or whatever nourishes your inward life? Will you seek a finer balance of work and recreation, of times with family and friends

as well as times of solitude? Will you consider how the dance of opposites in your own life might flow in rhythm, even as it does in the Celtic Calendar?

 

“These are important questions, dear friends. I hope you will consider them until we meet here again. 

 “If we could enter into the ancient ones’ understanding of time, the rhythms of our lives would take on sacred meaning.

Our times of inner darkness would hold the promise of a dawn of new joy. Our losses would be seen as invitations to embrace other gifts,

our death as birth into a new as yet unimagined life.”

 And with those words, Brigid is gone, her fox companion with her!

We are left here by the pool, thinking, wondering.

 

 

 

Communion Reflection for March 9, 2021

Cosmic Brigid Part Two

By Kate Fitzpatrick

In November 2000 four women and myself spent 5 days in Co Meath to do the workshop to awaken Serpent power and call her back to Ireland. At a birthing ceremony at Loughcrew, we experienced an awakening of the Serpent energy from the deep earth beneath us. In our myth, she poured out of the Stone Cairn and onto the rich green lands of Meath that surrounded us. On the final day we went to Tara – with the intention of grounding the energy of Serpent in the land as an act of sovereignity to the Feminine spirit  and we sent the power of Serpent out to the four corners of Ireland.

Tara Hill, County Meath, Ireland

I hear the horses of the Tuatha Dé Danann thunder into Tara to witness the power of Serpent joining herself with the ancestors of this land. To Brigid in particular, she who was once known as Serpent Mother. I am knowing an ancient union has taken place that the Old ones have longed for. That Serpent would return from the depths of the Earth into the heart of this land and unite with the people of the Sidhe from whom she has been long separated.

 

A Higher Light of Brigid

In the 2 years of 2011- 2013, I returned again to work with Brigid and Serpent and I was linking with the significant universal energy shift predicted to happen in 2012. Out of this reflection and journeying came an understanding of Brigid as ‘Cosmic Brigid’ in a far-reaching way. In the myth that was then weaving, it was Brigid’s light that could connect us with the Divine Feminine coming to birth in the cosmos as part of the 2012 alignment. The ancient energies of the Tuatha Dé Danann were always linked to the stars and to cosmic light. This ‘cosmic’ link with Brigid has never been lost and Brigid as spiritual midwife can support the birth of new light into the world and help to ground it safely where it can be used for spiritual development of the human race. I also knew that the higher evolved ‘Serpent’ energy we had been working with in 2000 is ‘Serpent in the Heart’.

 

In 2013, at Imbolc, I gave  a talk at the Navan Centre in County Armagh that was pulling together these new ideas and I called the presentation: ‘A Higher Light of Brigid’. This extract below summarises the evening where a new energy of Brigid was tangibly felt:

 

On Friday, 8 February 2013, an audience of some forty people have gathered at Emain Macha in County Armagh to listen to a presentation of the stories of Brigid, together with music, songs and poems. Brigid’s presence is tangible in our midst. Carrying her spirit on the wind, Brigid, Celtic Mother Goddess and Saint, brings to all who might receive her light the qualities of truth, clarity, creativity and healing. Tonight, we dare to call her ‘Cosmic Brigid’ and ask her to bring in an even higher light than heretofore. One that is linked to the sun and the moon and the stars, to all of the heavens above us.

 

That evening was the naming of Brigid as Cosmic Brigid. And it was a year later that I went to the Brigid of Faughart festival in Dundalk and presented the talk on ‘Cosmic Brigid’. This idea continues in my awareness today as we move onwards in our awakening of the Feminine spirit and witnessing its influence as it filters in to society and is changing our perspectives about women and roles and power.

 

New paradigms are being born and old, outdated patterns of spirituality are being shed. The idea of ritual and ceremony is still a potent way to link the cosmic energies with the land – thus blessing it and clearing it. The powers of Serpent energy, Feminine light and Cosmic Brigid to assist with this are, I believe, real.

 

We are linking across universal truths. In Ireland we hold and awaken our indigenous spirituality and we are no longer a separate island but part of a newly emerging world culture of indigenous spiritual potential that is currently giving birth to a healed Feminine Light.

 

I am knowing Serpent to have risen. From the centre of the Earth she came in Fire. Across the land she came in Water. I know her to have moved up through my body from the below to the above and be transformed in the love of the Heart.

 

Kate Fitzpatrick is the author of Macha’s Twins, A Spiritual Journey with the Celtic Horse Goddess. She is currently writing a book about her experiences of shamanic work with the evolving roles of Brigid saint and Goddess.  Her email is katefitzpatrick2@gmail.com 

 

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At the Brigid of Faughart Festival in Ireland in February 2018, I met Kate Fitzpatrick, who was one of the performers in an evening of music and storytelling.

Hearing of her work in Ireland to bring about a rebirth of its ancient spiritual heritage, I was inspired.

I learned that Kate had given  a talk on “Cosmic Brigid” for an earlier festival and received her permission to share it here:

 

COSMIC BRIGID PART ONE

by Kate Fitzpatrick

Brigid has always held the role of being a cosmic Goddess. There are many areas of life that she governs. Her symbolism is vast and covers all elements

– the power of transformation of the Fire, the healing qualities of Water and holy wells, and in the blessings of the Earth in the ritual prayers

for crops for the year to come. The inspiration of her creativity given to poets and crafts people is the intuitive faculty associated with the element Air.

 

I have worked with the Celtic Goddesses for almost thirty years now – in designing and facilitating spiritual journeys for healing and transformation. My work with the myths is to help bring them to life in a modern context. Let the myths live on. Let the myths change, transform and become a new thing as we work with them at profound depths. Become the myth. Listen with your heart and allow it to weave magic within you. Allow Brigid to be with you and to assist you in your own life. It is not theoretical knowledge but wisdom we are speaking of. It is the teaching of ages that we want to call in from the cosmic dimensions to help give meaning to our lives today. Let the women sing out the stories that the Goddesses will hear and they too will be changed in the process.

 

Can we allow the myths to change? Give permission for the music to evolve? And help Brigid to become an even bigger version of who she is? Archetype of the Divine Feminine in her full power, equality and wisdom. She is a guide to us such that we too can reach for the stars and have a model to find the map forward in this new age of Feminine wisdom returning. There is a higher light coming in to support us in these changing times. A living myth of cosmic dimensions is living through and beyond us.

Will we lean into it to assist us in these challenging times? 

 

Brigid as Serpent Goddess.

Since 2000 there have been great changes happening in spiritual light and the Feminine. The patterns of cosmic energy began to shift in 1987 in what became known as ‘Harmonic Convergence’ (1). What this entailed was an increase in the vibration of the earth’s energy system. Along with this shifting of frequency, portals were opening and greater spiritual light was coming into the earth’s field.

Many people were tracking these changes and it was said that the new millenium of 2000 would be a portal also. Each four years after that - 2004, 2008 and right up to 2012 - would see another major shift in the measurable hertz (that is - in the earth’s vibration rate) and corresponding portal of energy opening. 

In 1999 I did a vision quest in Co Antrim, N. Ireland, and and as a result of this was shown to work with the power of ‘Serpent’ in the energy fields of Ireland.

As I opened my heart and mind to find out what this meant I began in earnest doing shamanic journeys to follow this vision and carry out the work asked of me.

In March 2000 I decided to lead a workshop in November in Co Meath called ‘The Power of Serpent Rising’ . I felt the first resistance to the work on St Patrick’s day as the old saint’s spirit lashed out against the possibility of snakes being awakened again in Ireland. This work with Serpent was very powerful.

In preparation for the workshop I found I had to sit in silence for long periods of time and hold absolute stillness and breathe very consciously. In this practice I felt the power of Serpent energy in my body as a vital force. She brought her gifts of healing, transformation and a sense of balance of all opposites. I entered the void and just sat in it. Often there were no images – just an awareness of body energy. The stillness was profound however – it was like the silence of Stone.

I trusted the ancient priestess spirits who came to guide the work with Serpent. Their connection to Brigid as an archetypal feminine energy started to show itself.

In my whole being I glimpsed the cosmic dimensions of the ancient stone alignments of Ireland and their eternal mythic links to the Tuathe Dé Danann.

(to be continued next week) 

Reference: (1) The Harmonic Convergence is the name given to one of the world's first globally synchronized meditation events, which occurred on August 16–17, 1987. This event also closely coincided with an exceptional alignment of planets in the Solar System.

 

 

Communion Reflection for February 23, 2021

Conversation with Brigid 

After these weeks of reflecting upon Brigid, we decide to pay her a visit. We book thirty seats on an Aer Lingus Flight to Shannon Airport. Outside the airport, we find a bus, its destination clearly written above the front window: Church of St. Brigid.

The bus stops before a stone church that appears centuries old.  Inside, as our eyes adjust to darkness, we pull shawls/sweaters/light coats more closely around us to protect against the chill, the seeping dampness left over from winter’s rain. The scent is a not unpleasant mix of wax, flowers, dusty hymnals, wispy remnants of incense.

Light comes from the red sanctuary lamp. In a side aisle, a single candle bows in a soft breeze from a high, partially open, window. Drawn by the candle, we find ourselves before a statue of Saint Brigid, eyes looking away, hands joined around a book.

Clearly she is not expecting us.

But then, slowly, she lowers her gaze, looks steadily at us and…. WINKS!

Behind her, a door opens onto a sunlit landscape of such verdancy that we are drawn towards it even as we see her gesturing

that we follow her. We are outside now, breathing in the fragrance of wet, newly-turned earth, pungent with spring life.

Brigid draws us onward towards a tall tree bursting into spring bloom,

invites us to sit on the springy flower - blessed grass that surrounds the tree.

When we are settled, she speaks: “There’s something I need to tell you….” 

We look at her, surprised by this turn of events, eager to listen, to learn.

“First of all, you took the wrong bus.  When I drew you here to Ireland, I thought you’d know where to look for me,

but when you climbed into that bus, I had to get to the Church ahead of you. Believe me, it was no easy task to stand so still,

trying my best to look holy, otherworldly, until you arrived. But now you’re here, I have much to say to you.

“You’ve heard stories about me, of my life in the Christian Monastery of Kildare where I served as abbess to both men and women.

I embodied in that role the qualities of compassion and generosity, of kindness, of fierceness in my focus, as I kept the sacred fire alight,

the healing water of the holy well flowing. These stories you understand for they are part of your heritage.

“Yet there is so much more for you to know, wisdom that goes back to the countless millennia before Christianity,

before the Hebrew Scriptures, before men decided that God was a powerhouse running the universe,

yet wholly separate from what “he” had created.

“I will speak of Ireland, but you must understand that this wisdom was found in many different parts of the planet,

in the myths and stories of numberless, now mostly forgotten, aboriginal peoples, in the days when the Holy was understood

to be a woman whose body was the earth that births and holds us, nourishes and comforts us,

receiving us back into her body when we die. Fragments of this wisdom have endured to come to us in stories, in myths, in rituals.

“In those ancient days, wave after wave of people came to Ireland, each bringing their own understanding of that sacred being,

Our Mother. Over the millennia, she was called by many different names: Anu, which relates to Danu, the goddess

for whom the great river Danube is named; or Aine, the wheel of the seasons, the circle of life;

and later Brigit, a name that derives from an Indo-European word brig, meaning the High, the Exalted One.

“In ancient Ireland, Brigid was honoured as embodying all three aspects of the goddess: maiden, mother and crone.

The poets, who themselves held positions of honour almost equal to that of the king, worshipped the goddess Brigid,

taking her as patron. She was said to have two sisters, each named Brigid, one the patron of healers, the other patron of smith-craft.

“In this, you can see that Brigid was a goddess of many aspects, perhaps herself the many-faceted One,

the Sacred Holy Mother of far more ancient times.

  “I can see by your expressions that some of you are wondering why I feel it so important to tell you all of this,

you who live in a time so different, so removed from the ancient days of Ireland.

But I am coming to know you, dear women of the Communion of Creative Fire.

When you chose me as one of your godmothers,

didn’t you expect I would take a particular interest in you?

 “I have seen in your hearts some of the darkness and suffering you carry, your grief for the ravaging of the planet,

the earth that you know as your mother. I have felt your pain over the desertification of the rain forests

which are the lungs of your planet;, the pollution of its waters, its rivers, lakes, oceans, its very life blood: the poisoning of the air…

 “I want you to know, to rediscover the wisdom of the ancient ones who saw Brigid/Aine/Anu as the life within the earth herself.

The hills, her breasts, called the Paps of Anu; the nipples of high mountains sprouting water like breast milk;

wells that spring from rocks on the sides of mountains and hills or gushing forth from under the earth,

or deep inside caves, offering healing.

“Open your eyes, dear ones, so that you may see the Earth as co–creating with you in love.

See yourself as a partner in this great work, and know yourself held in love by the Earth whom you honour as Mother.

 “As you watch spring returning to your land, remember these things, remember me, and know you are not alone.

“I hear your bus returning. You need not tell the driver what we’ve been speaking about.

But do come back again, for I have so much more to tell you!”

 

We board the bus, bemused, intrigued, as we drive to our hotel.

We know this is only the first of many conversations with Brigid.

 

 

Brigid Reflection for the Communion February 16, 2021

Who is Brigid for us today? As women of the Communion of Creative Fire, we take inspiration from her, and yet we are separated from her life

by a millennium and a half. We don’t live in a monastery, or in a way of life intimately tied to the land and its cycling seasons.

Brigid's Celtic Soul ...continues to challenge each new generation

In her book Praying with Celtic Holy Women Bridget Mary Meehan writes that “the force of (Brigid’s) Celtic soul is a rich lodestone

of the Celtic feminine which continues to challenge each new generation.” (p.29)

Consider the word Meehan chooses: a lodestone, a magnet, a thing that attracts…. What is it in Brigid’s story that so attracts us

after so many centuries? I will give my own answer, inviting each of you to give yours.

What I see in Brigid is that she matters to the time in which she lives, and to the people whom she serves, as we each hope to do in some way.

But she also matters (maters as in mothers) to the Church where her leadership was strong, recognised and luminous.

As a woman living in the 21st century in the oh-so-very-Roman Catholic Church, I do not matter.

I write, I teach, I offer retreats, and am largely ignored by the Institutional Church.

Until now, I have not minded. It allows a certain freedom. But something in Brigid’s story makes me wonder if perhaps it does matter

very much indeed that the Church to which I have belonged since infancy does not appear to need or even notice women.

How does the Celtic Feminine as expressed in Brigid’s life challenge us in this matter?

Bishop Mel...consecrated Brigid as a bishop

We know the story of how Bishop Mel, guided by the Holy Spirit, accidently consecrated Brigid as a bishop.

We know that her monastery in Kildare was a double monastery, housing consecrated women and men, as was the way

in the Celtic expression of Christianity. Brigid would have ministered as Abbess/Bishop to both women and men.

The development of Irish Monasticism appears to have been richly differentiated, a garden of wild profusion and endless variety.

So there is no way of knowing how or when or why Brigid’s monastery of women began to welcome men.

But here is a story I found that tells how it may have happened:

One day a group of men, for whom Brigid’s faithful spirit and generous heart were as a lodestone, came knocking at the door of the Kildare Monastery, requesting that they be allowed to join the community. Brigid consulted with her Sisters. They were aghast! What? Men! Noisy, unruly, bothersome. No way! Brigid’s first assistant sealed the matter with the words that have frequently put an end to something new: “It’s never been done before.”

Still not at ease with the decision, Brigid went outside and sat near the holy well. Something urged her to look deeply into its dark waters, recalling  that imagination dwells in the dark places. Brigid picked up a tiny stone and dropped it into the well. Down, down it fell, until a small splash in the deep told her it had reached the water. But there was still nothing to be seen in the well’s depths. She picked up another stone and dropped it into the well. Just at that moment the noonday sun at its highest place in the sky illumined the water where the stone had struck. Brigid saw tiny circles rippling out from where the stone had pierced the water.

In the depths of her own imagination, Brigid saw a circle widening. She thought about this: “Because it’s never been done before does not mean it can never be done.” And it was so. Kildare become a monastery for both men and women, drawn by the depth of Brigid’s holiness.

Seeking a meaning for the word lodestone I notice another word: lodestar. This refers to the star by which a ship navigates,

usually the pole star. Symbolically it refers to a guiding principle. This illumines something for me, shining into the wells of legend and story

that flow around Brigid’s life. Under the tales there is a guiding principle that will illumine our lives if we look deeper.

What was the lodestar of Brigid’s life, the star by which she navigated the uncertainties and challenges that faced her each day?

A fire tender must ... take care that the flame of her love burns bright.

When Brigid became one of the “godmothers” of our communion, I wrote an imaginal dialogue with her.  I asked that she help us

to build a fire that “never dies away”. I asked her what its source must be and how it is to be ignited.  Here is Brigid’s response:

From the first moment I met the Holy, my thoughts have never left her…. Can you say the same? Or are you like Brendan,

anxious about the weather and the tides and the location of the fish? focused on your important tasks but forgetting the one thing necessary?  

 

I had to admit to her how easily I lose focus, forget the One who began this work in me, let the Holy One slip from my gaze,

from my path, from my heart. I realized then that it is the fire of a passionate love for the Holy that has been lit within me,

a fire I must tend faithfully. A fire tender must first of all take care that the flame of her love burns bright.

All else, for each one of us, flows from that. 

 We in the communion can support one another in the wisdom, creativity and vision of new life that flow from that fire,

but first we must keep our own fires alight. The one thing necessary is the flame that must be tended and nourished from deep within.

Then the fire may be turned to other uses: warming those who come near, creating art, poetry, song, melody and ritual,

offering food to the hungry, and justice to those denied it.

 

 

Brigid spoke again: If you turn your heart towards the fire, the other tasks will seem less arduous. The fire will ignite your creativity.

The love will give you the strength and joy you require. FOCUS! That’s the Brigid–gift I offer you. 

 

Brigid, you are our lodestone, drawing us to a life aflame. You are our lodestar, offering us guidance in something so utterly new,

so untried, that it sparkles in the sun’s light even in the midst of surrounding darkness. The ripples make circles that widen,

that embrace ever-new possibilities. Thank you.

 

 

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Welcoming Brigid as we become “Co-birthers” with God

Communion Reflection for February 9, 2021

The knocking on the wooden door is so loud it startles us, even though we are waiting for the sound.

A woman’s voice, strong, certain, calls out from the other side: “I am Brigid. Do you have a welcome for me?”

We have our answer ready, “Yes, we do.” The door opens. The woman playing Brigid’s role enters.

On this final morning of our weekend with Dolores Whelan at the Galilee Retreat Centre in 2014, we are enacting an ancient Celtic Ritual of Imbolc as we welcome Brigid in her Maiden form. Brigid, who “breathes life into the mouth of dead winter”, comes among us, announcing spring.

 Brigid is a woman of great power, an archetype, an embodiment of the energies of the sacred feminine, another facet of Sophia. Our welcome of her will open up our lives in ways we cannot foresee, cannot even imagine. But the hints are already given in the stories we have been recalling.

We recall the legend that angels carried Brigid over the seas from Ireland to Bethlehem so that she might be present for the birth of Jesus, assisting Mary as midwife. Brigid, who was born in the fifth century after the event….

artwork by John Duncan 1913

Immediately we find ourselves in sacred time, in what today’s physicists, following Einstein, would call the simultaneity of time. Mystery. We suspend disbelief, allow our linear, logical brains to take a break, invite the story to offer us its teachings. Ask how this applies to our own lives. Listen.

Each one of us is asked, like Mary, to give birth to the Holy One. In Godseed, Jean Houston writes about the heart of our call, inviting us into a meditation, a visualization, of how this might be:

Lying down now and closing your eyes, imagine that you are dreaming. In your dreams, you see light, and into this light comes a Being of Light, a Bearer of Good News, a Resident from the Depths. This angel says to you, “Oh Child of God, fear not to take unto yourself the spiritual partnership, for that which is conceived in you is of the spiritual Reality. And this Reality, if nurtured, shall be born of you and shall help you to…bring the Godseed into the world.”

 

And now see what the angel sees—the fulfillment and the unfolding of this Child of Promise within you….see and feel and know the possibilities, indeed the future, of this Child in you, this Godseed that you are growing in the womb of your entire being, should you allow it to be nurtured and to grow and to be born into the world.  (Jean Houston in Godseed  Quest Books 1992 p.39)

 

This call to birth the Christ within us is as ancient as first century Paul, who wrote of being in labour until Christ is born in us. It is as modern as twentieth century eco-feminist theologian Yvonne Gebara who entreats us to give birth to the Christic Presence in the Universe.

 Contemporary writer Diarmuid O’Murchu cites the words of the thirteenth century Dominican mystic Meister Eckhart:

What does God do all day long? God lies on a maternity bed, giving birth all day long.

Reflecting on Meister Eckhart’s image, O’Murchu continues:

This is a metaphor we have known as a spiritual species for thousands of years, long before formal religions ever came into being….The Great Goddess of our Paleolithic ancestors was perceived as a woman of prodigious fecundity, birthing forth the stars and galaxies, the mountains and oceans and every life form populating planet earth today. God, the great life-giver in the pregnant power of creative Spirit, is probably the oldest and most enduring understanding of the Holy One known to our species.

 

O’Murchu concludes that: we are called to become co-birthers with our birthing God of the ongoing evolutionary re-creation of God’s world in justice, love, compassion and liberation. (Diarmuid O’Murchu Jesus in the Power of Poetry 2009 pp. 45-46)

 

When we say yes to our call to give birth, we are embracing a lifelong partnership with the Holy One of “prodigious birthing”, a responsibility that has the power to take over our lives, to demand of us everything, to offer us a life that is at once profoundly meaningful, and intimately engaged with the ongoing renewal of the universe. There will be suffering, there will be hard work, but there will also be times of ecstatic joy, tasting our oneness with the Love at the heart of life.

 Dolores reminds us that: it is only in us, you and me, that the energy of Brigid will rise again, take form and become a force for transformation in our world. (Dolores Whelan in Ever Ancient, Ever New  Dublin 2010 p. 81)

Brigid, midwife of this birthing, stands at the door. We hear her voice, “Do you have a welcome for me?”

What is our response? 

 

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Communion of Creative Fire Reflection for January 26, 2021

"Brigid: Wise Guide for Modern Soul Seekers" 

As we prepare to celebrate Brigid’s Day on February 1st we focus our Reflections on Brigid, inspiration for our Communion's name, and first of our three godmothers. Unlike Julian and Hildegard, Brigid has left us no written word. Her earliest biography was written a hundred years after her death by Cogitos, one of the monks of Kildare, the double monastery where Brigid served as Abbess of both men and women in fifth century Ireland.

 

Ireland is a land of story. The stories woven through and around Brigid's life are interlaced with the stories of the Ancient Goddess Brigid so that the two have come to be one sacred archetypal presence. This is best illustrated in words overheard a few years ago at a ceremony at Brigid's Well in Kildare: "Sure and wasn't she a goddess before ever she was a saint."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

 In the winter of 2018, I was in Ireland for Imbolc, the Feast Day of Brigid, who “breathes life into the mouth of dead winter”.  Staying in the home of Dolores Whelan, I found in her garden small snowdrops blooming and one purple crocus. For a Canadian, such flowers in late January appeared miraculous.

Dolores, who is my primary teacher in the ways of Brigid, showed me the hill of Faughart, clearly visible from the upper story window of her home. Faughart is known in legend as the birthplace of Brigid. I had the joy of being present at the Oratory in Faughart on February 1st, Brigid's Day, for a Ritual of Music and Readings.

In her article, “Brigid of Faughart – Wise Guide for Modern Soul Seekers", Dolores Whelan writes of coming to know Brigid:

Faughart, near Dundalk ,Co Louth, Ireland is an ancient place filled with a history that is both gentle and fierce. It is a place associated with battles, boundaries and travel. The Sli Midhluachra, one of the five ancient roads of Ireland, runs through the hill of Faughart on its way from the Hill of Tara to Armagh and then to the north coast of Ireland, making it a strategically important place.

 

However, Faughart is also a place of deep peace, tranquility, beauty and healing, being associated from ancient times with Brigid, Pre-Christian Goddess and Christian Saint. Brigid holds the energy of the Divine Feminine within the Celtic Spiritual tradition. Faughart is the place associated with Brigid, the compassionate woman who heals, advises and nurtures all who come to her in times of need.

 

People are drawn to her shrine at Faughart because of the deep peace they experience there. Brigid's peaceful presence can be experienced in this landscape where the ancient beech trees radiate old knowledge and hold a compassionate space for us all.

 

On La feile Bhride (Feb 1st) people come in their multitudes! On this special day the shrine at Faughart is thronged with pilgrims who come to invoke Brigid’s blessing on their emerging lives. Brigid is associated with springtime and new life emerging. She is the one who “breathes life into the mouth of dead winter.”

 

Shrine at Faughart on Brigid’s Feast

 

I first went to Faughart in 1992 ( Dolores writes) and was amazed by the beautiful energy present there. At that time, I had begun to study the Celtic spiritual tradition, something from which I and so many other people had been disconnected over many centuries. My quest at that time and since then has been to recover some of the riches and wisdom of that ancient tradition. And to ask the question:  “How could this wisdom be integrated into the lives of us modern humans in ways which would create a more balanced and peaceful life for all of the beings on planet Earth”?

 

While at Faughart in 1992 something deep and ancient stirred in my heart and I have been on a journey with Brigid ever since.

In 1993 I went to The Brigid Festival in Kildare, organised by Mary Minehan, Phil O'Shea, and Rita Minehan (Solas Bhride). At this festival these women, in a daring Brigid-like action, re-kindled the flame of Brigid in Kildare. The flame of Brigid had been quenched at the time of the suppressions of the monasteries around the 12th century.

As this took place an ancient part of my soul understood the significance of this prophetic act. My journey into the Celtic spiritual tradition changed and evolved over time, becoming a deeply significant part of my life’s purpose.

 

It is said that from the moment Brigid learned to know God that her mind remained ever focused on God/Divine. This allowed her to remain connected to God and the heavens while living on the earthly plane. Her great power of manifestation was a result of this ability to be aligned heaven to earth. The strong connection between her inner and outer worlds allowed her to focus her energy onto a particular intention so clearly as to ensure its manifestation in the physical world.

 

Brigid had the capacity to bring forth new life, to nourish, to create plenty in the crops or an abundance of the milk from cows, and to manifest or create ex nihilo. This gift reflected the true abundance and prosperity that was present in the society she created, a society living in right relationship with the land. Her life and work thrived due to her deep trust in life and because there was a total absence of fear within her.

 

Slowly, I began to understand that Brigid, the Pre-Christian Goddess and Celtic Christian saint who lived in the 5th Century in Faughart and Kildare, who embodied wonderful qualities of compassion, courage, independence and spiritual strength was not only a historical figure! I realised that those energies and qualities exemplified by her in her lifetime are still alive in the world and available to me and to all humanity. What a gift it was to realise this! And so the task became how could I access those qualities in myself, embrace them and use them to challenge the dominant thinking of our culture and become like Brigid, a catalyst for change in society.

 

Brigid challenges each of us to have that same courage; to live our lives with the passion and commitment that comes from trusting our own inner truth and living the integrity of our unique soul journey. She invites us, like her, to breathe life into the mouth of dead winter everywhere we find it in ourselves and in our society. She represents for me the spiritual warrior energy reflected in this ancient triad “The eye to see what is, the heart to feel what is, and the courage that dares to follow.” 

Deep thanks to Dolores Whelan for this article, for her fidelity to her call to embody for our time the qualities of Brigid. 

 

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The Greek Holon Journey Nine:  

"The Wizard of Oz" Continues

 

Under an Ancient Tree on Mount Pelion, listening to Jean retell the story of the Wizard of Oz, we have each begun to revisit our life as a heroic journey. Finding where we are now in the story will give us fresh insight about where we must go, what we must do, what needs to happen next.

 

The Road of Trials, the Belly of the Whale

Dorothy is offered Guidance, but not a map. “Follow the Yellow Brick Road.” What in the Hero’s journey is a road of trials, often for the heroine includes a time of what Joseph Campbell calls being in the “belly of the whale”. In "The Wizard of Oz", this is symbolized by the poppy fields where Dorothy and her three companions suddenly fall deeply asleep under the spell of the Wicked Witch.

asleep in the poppy fields

The Belly of the Whale takes us by surprise, for just when we know what we must do, just when we manage to fool the guardian and pass the gate, we find ourselves blindsided… by a depression, an ingression, a call to the depths of being. Though we are clear about our mission, we are not yet prepared.

The Belly of the Whale gives us preparatory time, time for deep inner work. We enter our own depths, the source place for all endeavours. Find your form for this inner work: drawing or dance or journaling or music or drumming or nature or working with an archetype.  “You may not know what your archetypal guidance is, but your archetypal guidance knows who you are.” (Jean Houston)  When you discover who your archetype is, you have guidance. You are put on the path.

Live in the Temple of Inner Abundance where you are  in the womb of your new becoming. Choose your daily practice and be faithful.

 

Assisted by her friends, Dorothy wakens and all four approach the Emerald City.

 

 

Once again they face a guardian at the gate who will not allow them to see the Wizard. Dorothy’s tears as she speaks of her longing to see her Aunt Em break down his resistance. Yet the Wizard, when they at last meet him, refuses to grant their request until they fulfill an impossible task: "Bring me the broomstick of the Witch of the West!"

 

The challenge here is to discover the task that you never believed you could do, but the Wizard of the inner sanctum of yourself always knew you could, and if you did, would change the nature of your belief about yourself….Your inner Wizard…the Friend, stands before you and asks you to recall the “impossible things” you have done….

Now the Friend-Wizard asks you to consider what “impossible things” you have yet to do in the near future. The Friend-Wizard also asks you to imagine as vividly as you can actually doing it, with all the difficulties and acts of courage that it may require. Remember that you have allies, a Protector and the Friend to help and accompany you.

(Jean Houston in The Power of Myth and Living Mythically p.202)

Emergence with Amplified Power

                                                                                                                                                         

You discover now that your expectations become magnets, drawing to you what you need for your task, your life work. You have entered the path of wisdom, and with her come all good things. You experience the grace of ABBONDANZA. You are moving into the fullness of life. Your entelechy holds the seed of what you truly are and draws you into the magic and mystery of being “a local outcropping of the Godself in time”. (JH)

                  

The life force of Toto (“Run, Toto, Run), the support and cleverness of her three friends, and finally the life force of water accomplish the impossible. Dorothy and her companions return to the Wizard in triumph.

                                                                                                                  

                                                                                                         Returning Home

Returning home to a Kansas that may not have changed, Dorothy discovers that the real change is within herself. She has met and integrated her intelligence, her compassionate heart and her courage.

Now she is ready for her great task of greening the wasteland. 

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The Greek Holon Journey Eight:

"The Wizard of Oz" Under an Ancient Tree

Communion Reflection January 12, 2021

 

It is afternoon of the day when we wakened early to watch the eclipse of the Blood Moon. The magic still lingers. The eclipse had looked like great branches of light, inviting us, as Jean had said, into the next level of our human becoming, activating our essential humanness as it moves to its next possibility.

 

Now we are about to explore our lives, to see them as heroic journeys, to discover that next level of our human becoming, that next possibility that awaits.

 

Massive branches hover protectively above us as we gather beneath the ancient plane tree in the courtyard of St. Paraskevi Church on Mount Pelion. The tree is older than the story we are about to hear, older than the storyteller, older than the listeners.

 

Jean is going to take us through the story of “The Wizard of Oz”, to illustrate the stages of the heroic journey, using the framework created by Joseph Campbell in his book The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

 

The first stage is the CALL.

In the film version of the story we see Dorothy in a dying wasteland, living on a farm in a dust bowl with an aunt and uncle as grey as their home, so focused on counting their chickens that they cannot hear Dorothy’s cries for help. The only life in the scene is Toto and when he is threatened by Miss Gulch, Dorothy becomes desperate, longing for a new place, a place of safety and happiness, “somewhere over the rainbow”.

 

Miss Gulch arrives and takes Toto away. When the little dog escapes, Dorothy determines they must run away. They don’t get far. Professor Marvel receives them with kindness and understanding, then urges Dorothy to return home as her Aunt Em is sick with worry over her. That might have been the end of Dorothy’s search for a new life… the end of longing, the refusal of a call that feels impossible….

 

But then comes the twister, the twist of fate that knocks her on the head, picks up the house and carries it with Dorothy and Toto inside, to Oz.

 

So this is where our journey begins: the call to leave a way of life that we have outgrown, followed by a refusal… because we can’t find our way or we don’t feel ready or we must put it off until we have placated Aunt Em….

 

Then fate steps in and, ready or not, we are on our way!

 

"What emotional or psychological twisters have you brought on yourself in order to get away from Kansas?....Taking on a twister is what human beings often do to get from here to there. And sometimes twisters just arrive on their own steam." (Jean Houston in The Power of Myth and Living Mythically pp.183-4)


What call allures us now?

What are our reasons for refusing?

 

Meeting the Guide, Crossing the Threshold

 

In the heroic journey, following the hearing and refusal of the call, Joseph Campbell found that the hero(ine) was given a guide, a supernatural helper to assist in crossing the threshold, which was guarded by a fierce presence.

 

Arriving in Oz, Dorothy meets Glinda, the wise friend who can guide her steps in this wondrous strange land.

 

Glinda is the archetype of the benign protector, a figure who appears in all myths. It is a figure that lives in everyone. In fact, look inside now and ask for your Protector to come forward. You may feel or sense their presence in many ways….You can even begin by imagining a radiant bubble of light coming toward you, and then opening up to reveal…who? (Jean Houston  p.187)

 


Glinda will be Dorothy’s protector. The ferocious Witch of the West is determined to punish the girl who killed her sister by dropping a house upon the Witch of the East.

 

In addition to Glinda, Dorothy will gather three more allies: the Scarecrow, the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion who will assist her in what has become her quest: to find her way home, even as she will assist each of them in his quest. ( to be continued)

 

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Communion of Creative Fire Reflection for Epiphany

January 5, 2021

“Weaving a Spirituality for our Time on the Loom of our Lives”

What is it about early January and especially the Feast of the Epiphany that sends us into the heart of our lives with questions? What is my deepest desire for this New Year? What star am I to follow? How can I, like Brigid of Kildare, FOCUS on what matters most? And this year a new question rises with urgency: While the Corona Virus continues to bring suffering and death, how may my life offer compassion and light to others in the midst of planetary darkness?

Even in lockdown, even in these times when we are limited in our contacts, the primary commitments of our lives remain. Yet there are as well so many paths opening for our engagement: a multitude of ZOOM courses, summits, gatherings, many with a spiritual focus…

If you find it bewildering, you are not alone.

When the snowfall on New Year’s night finally created a white wonderland around my home, I paced out a snow labyrinth, rudimentary, three intersecting spirals. I walked it, holding my confusion, asking, “What am I to do? How am I to choose among so many activities? Where shall I focus my energy? What is most important in my life?"

When I reached the heart centre of the labyrinth, I stood listening, still unsure, but as I walked out an answer arose, so simple I might have dismissed it… the labyrinth itself showed me. "Choose from your heart centre. What do you love most?"

Suddenly it was easy. Inside, I drew a labyrinth with three spirals: in one I printed: “The Communion of Creative Fire”; in the second, “Dancing the Womb of Compassion Course with Banafsheh" and “Singing the Dawn”, the novel I’ve been writing for four years, to be completed by Brigid’s Feast, February 1st.

These three involvements will shape my days, have already begun to do so. 

And so here in the Communion of Creative Fire, we take up our task once more, dear friends. We sit down at our looms and choose the coloured yarns for the weaving of a spirituality for our time. We know what we are about, our hands are strong, supple, as we select the shades, the textures, the combinations that harmonize best. We include the dark threads as well as the golden, the soft fibres as well as the tough. We know this weaving requires it all... the warm rose madder of love, that stretches across the universe for three trillion miles in a NASA photograph…

the gold of wisdom, polished to glowing through times of suffering and loss… the deep purple threads that remind us that 96% of the universe , including ourselves,  dwells in darkness… invisible threads of beauty wind themselves into the spaces between the weaving: music, song, dance, poetry, stories, the threads of the relationships that give meaning to our lives… and our weaver’s shuttle moves with ease between ancient wisdom, and the edges of mystic knowings of today’s physicists.

The ancient weavers were women, and as they wove, I believe they created and shared stories that wove meaning through their lives. The fragments of these tales that still remain reveal their ways of knowing… their understandings of love, of wisdom, of darkness, of suffering. Listening to these tales while we do our own weaving lends enchantment, as well as clarity.

Here is an old Scottish tale: “The Stolen Bairn and the Sidh.” It is a story that never fails to inspire me anew to commit my life to what matters most.

 

By the fireside of an ancient gypsy woman, there sits a young woman, barely twenty. Exhaustion and grief have bowed her, stolen light from her lovely sea-green eyes. For weeks, she has been wandering the moors, knocking on every croft door, walking through towns, seeking everywhere for her small son. His father is dead. The little boy is all she has left in the world and she loves him desperately. This gypsy woman, known for her deep wisdom, is her last hope.

The old woman stands, takes a handful of dried herbs from a cauldron at her side, throws them on the fire. After studying the dim patterns of smoke, she reaches for the young woman’s hand, and holding it between her two gnarled ones, she speaks gently: “Prepare yourself for great sorrow. Your child has been taken by the Sidh, the fairy folk of Ireland, into their Sidhean. What goes into the Sidhean seldom emerges.”

The young woman begins to weep. “I may as well die, for without my child, I have nothing to live for.”

“Do not despair. I see one hope. The Sidh have a great love of beautiful things; yet, for all their cleverness, they are unable to create anything, so must either steal or bargain for what they desire. If you could find an object of immense beauty, you might be able to bargain with them to regain your son.”

“But how shall I get inside their Sidhean?” the woman asked.

“Ah,” said the gypsy. “You shall need a second thing of great beauty to bargain your way inside.”

Then the gypsy woman gave her directions to find the Sidhean, blessing her with a protection against harm by fire, air, water and earth. The young woman slept deeply that night. When she wakened, the old Gypsy woman and all her people were gone, and the place of encampment was an empty field.

The young woman drank water from a sweet stream, ate some bread given her by the gypsies. Then she lay in the grass and wept. How could she do this impossible thing that was asked of her? After a time, the flow of tears dried, and a light wakened within her. She thought: “ I shall need not one but two things of incomparable beauty.” She set her mind to remembering all the lovely things she had heard about. Of all, she chose two: the white cloak of Nechtan, and the golden harp of Wrad. 

With sudden clarity, she knew what she must do. She stood, began walking towards the sea.

She clambered among the rocks at the shore, gathering the down left by the ducks. And the blessing of the gypsy protectee her from harm by the waves, the wind, the sun’s fire and the sharp rocks.

She sat on a large stone to weave the down into a cloak. She cut a strand of her her hair with a sharp rock. With it she wove a pattern of fruits, flowers and vines through the hem.  The cloak was so beautiful it might have been a white cloud fallen from the sky. She hid the cloak behind a gorse bush, then walked the shoreline until she found  a frame for her harp, a fish bone just the right size and and shape. With strands of her hair, she made the strings fast to the frame, then tightened and tuned them. The sound of the melody she played was so lovely that the birds of the air paused in mid-flight to listen.

She placed the cloak around her, and carrying her harp, set out for the Sidhean.

A Sidh woman, arriving late, rushing towards the opening in the hill, saw her. Mouth agape, eyes burning with greed, the fairy gazed at the  cloak. A bargain was struck. The fairy woman allowed her to enter in exchange for the cloak. The other Sidh folk were so enthralled by the cloak the fairy woman wore that they did not notice as the young woman walked into the throne room and began to play her harp before the King. The king’s eyes grew wide in amazement, then narrow in greed.

 “I have many harps ,” said the King, pretending disinterest, “ but I have a mind to add that to my collectiotn. What will you  take in exchange for it? ”

The young woman said “Give me the human child you have here.”

The King whispered to his servants who brought a great caulron of jewels, which they poured at her feet. But she would not look. “Only the child,” she said. The servants came a second time with a cauldron of gold pieces. Again she did not look, but played on her harp a tune of such love and longing that the King was overcome.

The servants were sent out and returned carrying the child. When he saw his mother, he gurgled with delight, and stretched out his arms to her. Letting the harp be taken from her, she lifted her arms to receive him.  Then she walked with him out of the Sidhean.

 

Reflection:

How does this story speak to your own life? What is the one thing for which you would give all?

The woman created what she needed, two things of incomparable beauty, using what the seashore offered, and even her own hair… how do we create what is needed from the substance of our lives?

 

Partnership Spirituality

Communion Reflection for June 24, 2021

A day in late June. The scent of wild roses on the wind. The trees around your home that have been stark, bare, skeletal since November are suddenly lush, luxuriant with leafy canopies. The lake in the distance lifts small waves in greeting.

You cannot enter into the joy around you. Some inner darkness is invading your spirit, an inner voice, silent for so long you hoped it had been banished, begins its lacerating litany…

 “What have you been playing at? You do not deserve the love of the Sacred One you tell others about. Your life is a sham, and it’s time to admit it… Who do you think you are?”

When you are strong and focused you can silence this voice. Even mock it, laugh at it. Yet today, as clouds gather to swallow the June sunlight, you are defeated. The words eat into your joy, into your very heart, just as surely as the hordes of gypsy moth caterpillars are chewing the hearts of the leaves on the trees that shelter you….

A thunderstorm batters your home, rain drenches the deck. The caterpillars who swarm over railings, floor, table and chairs are delighted. If their many legs could dance, they would.

Finally you sleep that night, waken at dawn, still immersed in inner turmoil. Seated before the Icon of Sophia you offer a desperate prayer: “Send me words, any words that will take away this darkness.”

Not long after, though you’ve already forgotten your prayer, you open your phone to check emails. Five lines fill the small screen with words you haven’t seen before, perhaps the tail end of an earlier email? You have no idea who sent them or in what context. Your hungry heart receives them, wanting to believe they have just this moment arisen from the noosphere in response to your prayer. You read them again, a second, a third time.

You are the best we have

You are all we have

You are what we have become

We pledge you our whole hearts

From this day forward.*

And you know, even as your heart rises to sing once more, even as you, unlike the caterpillars, may dance with joy, that these words are addressed to you, as well as to others who, like you, seek to serve Her, the Sacred Feminine Presence. This is the way that Partnership Spirituality can fill your emptiness and orchestrate your being.

* days later I would discover these to be the final lines of a poem by Maya Angelou

By grace of fifteen years of absorbing and learning how to integrate Jean Houston’s teachings, woven into our lives through her processes, seasoned with delight through dance, story, music and laughter, I have come to live a radically new way of relating to the Sacred Presence of Love that pervades our lives, as well as every aspect of life on our Beloved Planet and throughout the Universe. Yes, there are times, sudden, inexplicable, of darkness. Yet these moments or days allow the return of the Light to glow with greater radiance, as our earthly nights reveal the splendour of starlight.

Jean calls this new way of relating to a Sacred Presence “partnership spirituality.” Here is how Jean describes it:

It has been my belief and experience that a new order of spirituality is greatly enhanced with the concept of partnership with the Spiritual Friend, the Friend of the Deeps, the Beloved of the soul. This of course is an ancient archetype (as is) the communion with the Beloved whether seen as Christ or Krishna or the thousands of other spiritual numinous persons who just come to you in a unique manner and presence. The practice of living and loving the Beloved has enormous consequences for our spiritual growth and well-being. It is an essential form of partnership with the Divine. In all the great spiritual and mystery traditions, the central theme, the guiding passion, is the deep yearning for the Beloved of the Soul. This yearning for union with the Beloved lies at the heart of Sacred Psychology, for it is this profound longing—which transcends the desire for romantic love, the nourishment of parental love, and all the multiple and marvelous varieties of human love—that calls us to the Source.

As Jean so often reminds us, this time, our time, is the time of the great rebirthing, when the discoveries about the Universe by the physicists of our time meld with the mysticism of ages and cultures and spiritual traditions of past millennia to offer us a whole new loom upon which our lives may be rewoven.

Jean writes: “We are truly in a time of partnership with God, whether the Divine Friend is known as the Beloved or a sense of Universal spirit, or a transmission of luminous energy and peace.”

Moreover, Jean says, “It is crucial, in any spirituality adequate to our time, that we have both the masculine and feminine sense of Divine Presence.”  This must be an engaged spirituality which means that “one works, wherever one is, for the betterment of all…. the ruling commandment of radical empathy for the other is a manifestation of the true Self, the divine reality of Spirit.”

As I thought about Jean’s words on Partnership Spirituality, a memory rose: Jesus speaking to his beloved friends on the night before he died. The magnificent words in the Gospel of John are themselves an invitation to the adventure of Partnership Spirituality to those for whom the risen Jesus is the Beloved of the Soul:

I tell you most solemnly,

whoever believes in me

will perform the same works as I do myself,

s/he will perform even greater works,

because I am going to the Father.

Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,

so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.

(Gospel of John 14: 12, 13)

 

You are my friends if you do what I command you.

I shall not call you servants any more,

because a servant does not know

her/his master’s business.

I call you friends,

because I have made known to you

everything I have learned from my Father.

(Gospel of John 15: 14, 15)



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