rising from beneath

Cicadas as my teacher

The wisdom of the Cicada

As I drove to the farm market a few weeks ago, listening to Robert MacFarlane discuss his exploration of the Underland, for his book of the same name, I was struck by the emergence from underground of these 17 year cicadas, who continue to serenade where I live, although they are beginning to fade and to fall, where they will disappear from our awareness again until the next time.

The emergence of these cicada has been meaningful for me. As a marker of time, they have invited me to consider my own life in 17 year increments, its risings and its goings underground. Will I be here for the next emergence? The one after that? I spent some intentional time with them with my granddaughters, not so much that i wanted them to learn about the Cicada itself– although they are fascinating insects, from the female’s ovapositor that slices slits into the end branches of trees in order to deposit her eggs, to the way that they emerge pure white and tender to harden to a more crusty and hardy appearance (there is more but that’s not the point of this post) — but that I wanted to plant a memory in them, one that they might recall in 17 years of this time spent with me, and of who they were at that time, in case something in them gets buried between these tender ages of 8-12 and the next time the cicadas emerge, when they will be adult women. Perhaps there will be something they wish to retreive from this time, something that wants to be dug up from where it is buried, to sing or to fly.

As i considered my own life in seventeen year increments, I realize that seventeen years ago, my husband and I were married, an event which marked the ending of a period of intense upheaval, grief, healing, and transformation for me, and the beginning of a new stage of life. Seventeen years before that, my daughter was born, an event that awakened me so potently to my own wounded/buried feminine self and my tender desire/love for her that I couldn’t put her back to sleep, and which set my life on a trajectory which culminated in her freedom to fly and to sing, to being valued and loved, 17 years later. I can’t recall much of the first time the cicadas visited me, but I would’ve been 8 years old at that time, still in those blessed years of naivitee, before parts of myself were forced underground in those tumultuous adolescent years of girlhood.

It has made me wonder what this year will bring?

I think I am beginning to intuit/sense what is emerging from beneath in me this year, that which has lain buried, taking its nourishment underground perhaps, these last 17 years. (Like the cicada we are not dead during those times, nor are we hibernating, we are simply taking our nourishment from a hidden source, within the body of the earth, as we grow) My marriage, while a new beginning, also in some ways marked the end of a time of profound transformation for me…. a transformation that was inspired by the dismantling of my external life and the subsequent inner spiritual awakening (although which came first I cannot say– was it the inner awakening and rising that wrecked that outer structure, where I no longer fit; or the emptiness of loss, which allowed space for my inner spirit to grow and emerge?) The journey of Love’s becoming in me, the experience of being infused by Divine Love, and the growing awareness of self as both Beloved and Lover, was a profoundly spiritual and mystical journey. As that period of intensity quieted, 17 years ago, and I moved fully into the next stage of my life, perhaps I was able to receive Love in the human form, to take nurture in the stuff of life on this earth, which I had felt so powerfully from the Beloved during those healing years. I do recall asking the question in prayer, before saying yes to the proposal, ‘Is there room enough for 3?”

Perhaps I needed to fall in love with Life?… and so the spiritual dimension of my life went beneath for a time? Perhaps I was not yet ‘worthy’ (teacher, Cynthia Bourgeault has unpacked that word for me— it merely means ‘not ready’ in the original) , not able to integrate what I experienced in those glimpses of the Sacred. Perhaps my ego needed to detach from some story of my individual ‘chosen-ness’ (we all are, after, chosen to bring forth Love in this place)

As I’ve told the story so many times now, these past years have been a dark time between the Beloved and myself. It wasn’t that I couldn’t see the Beloved’s face in the midst of all of this wonder (which perhaps was the falling in love with life part) but I really didn’t believe that my face was being seen, that I was at all integral or important. I was just a speck in the grandeur/a witness at most.

Here is how I described it to a group facilitator recently.

After a profound few years of mystical experiences, (about 15-20 years ago now) where i experienced such intense and healing love for me , where i knew myself as Beloved and God as my Beloved, where I came to Know and see All is Well in a real way, I entered a long period of dark night where I couldn’t find my footing. I can’t explain it completely, other than somehow when I came to see the sacred in everything, I lost the personal connection between God and self. I felt more like a witness to the wonder and beauty that is, but forgot somehow that I am a part of/participant with that wonder and beauty, if you will. In that place, i felt rather insignificant, not that i needed to be seen and known so much as wondering what was the purpose?

In Cynthia’s teachings* thus far i hear so many echoes of what i experienced of the Divine One all those years ago, but perhaps had no roadmap/theory/context to follow beyond the experiences– such as the experience of reciprocal feeding, of God needing me, of me feeding God and being a part of God’s growth in Love, of opening a clear channel in myself to take light and love into my being so that i can flow forth from me, of being ‘chosen’ (as we all are), of a deep knowing that All is Well despite it not looking that way on the surface, of the whole world shimmering with presence. 

Perhaps my ego had to die before I was ready to understand this as nothing ‘special’ about me, but the Truth of the Universe. Before I was ready to be a pure transmitter and co-creator of Love, Grace, Mercy, Compassion. Before I was ready to Be Love.

Now, like those cicadas perhaps, it feels as if the light is shining on my face again and I can see that I AM integral – not merely a bystander. It is at once a terribly humbling awakening and an elevating one, for I Am ‘merely’ a part of Love’s becoming, a small part of the body, and I AM (we together/collectively are) the way in which this universal energy of Love – God- is made Real, becomes both Manifest and More.

In other words, we are made to praise and serve—but how those words have been transformed for me—not as subservient to an egomaniac diety, but as necessary in order that Love can be manifest/seen. Not as accidental byproduct of that Energy of Love but vital to it… and not in the way that God requires something to love, to awaken God’s compassion, so to speak, (that would be akin to pity) but that we are doing the work of Love/Compassion here, making it visible, Life itelf is the grist for the mill that produces more Love.

“I was a hidden treasure longing to be known’

Today’s teaching spoke of mercy. We learned that the word comes from the same root as ‘merchant’, and ‘mercantile’, and that when we pray ‘lord have mercy’ it is NOT as if we are plea-ing to a juridical power for pity. Mercy is the very field in which we live and dwell and have our being, a field of exchange! Our relationship to it is not one of a power differential, but of scale. When we pray this way we are asking to be restored into the vastness of that mercy, to re-member it, to see it, to step into it and thus into the heart of God. We are a part of that mercy. In the utterance of that prayer for mercy, we open the purse of our hearts to offer our bit, if you will, and thus step into the vast, ever presence of mercy, into the heart of God, and thus receive its abundance in return

How healing and spectacular is that?

I realize I am rambling because I am struggling to capture in words what I am feeling. So much of what I share here is nothing new, nothing that hasn’t been said in a million different ways before, through the ages, by countless others, in many words and languages, but it ‘makes sense’ to me in a new way somehow, as if some door has opened. Something in me was/had closed, perhaps, not ready or unable to see or hear, needing to grow, needing to go underground for some time, to enter into the nymph stage and live in the dark, drawing some sap of nourishment that I couldn’t see….

And the resonances now with what I was ‘shown’ all those 17 years ago, when i was singing in the light, joining with the Divine, being inseminated, but couldn’t completely understand nor integrate, feel like echoes from that time, resounding forward in this day, and saying ‘yes’!

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