let yourself be dark

.”When night came, it did not fall, as people say it does. Beyond the bright crown of earth, the heavens were always dark. Here, on this lonely hill, tinier than the smallest suggestion of a moment, I watched the darkness rise up from the ground to meet the steady darkness overhead, as if the two worlds had been waiting for the sun to go so they could touch again”,

Lauren Wolk, Beyond the Bright Sea

Let yourself Be
dark
Let your darkness expand 
to be kissed by the heavens
Unencumbered by light, 
unenlightened, unknowing, 
en-lightened, weightless

Let knowledge release its grip
into that dark unworded mystery
Be Wonder and Grace
Quiet, unspoken 
Vast, enough

Let there be shadows to dance in
to make love in
to be wombed in

Quiet to sink in
Stillness to bathe in 

Let yourself trust
as those who came before
that the heavens are trustworthy, again
It is not up to you to push
the earth back into orbit
to tilt this heavy weight back toward the light

Be free of that gravity
we will be nurtured again
our hearts will be warmed again
Love will be rooted 
Again

On this long night, where there is 
no distinction between
heaven and earth
inner and outer
space, you and me
Let it Be
One

It never was separate
It is only the light that blinds us
temporarily
on this exquisite planet
of color and texture and form 
of lush and riotous beauty
It is natural
to forget the darkness
 from which we come. 


a solstice gift for you

A collection of poems and writings compiled for your evening meditation, as you sit, as did our ancients, in the midst of this longest night, in the mystery and trustworthiness of the heavens.

Find a room where you can sit in the dark. Read through these snippets slowly, notice what rises. Don’t overthink, just notice, allow, accept or reject without judgment, what stirs in your belly, what is yours.

1.”When night came, it did not fall, as people say it does. Beyond the bright crown of earth, the heavens were always dark. Here, on this lonely hill, tinier than the smallest suggestion of a moment, I watched the darkness rise up from the ground to meet the steady darkness overhead, as if the two worlds had been waiting for the sun to go so they could touch again”, Lauren Wolk, in Beyond the Bright Sea,

2.

They (the physicists) shook light from darkness! They coaxed something out of what we normally think of as nothing—the vacuum of space, the abyss, the void. But there is no such thing as empty space, The void is in reality a quantum sea of light, teeming with activity. The question is how to glimpse it because the particles move in and out of existence in the blink of an eye.

Our entire existence is a continuous, universe-wide bringing forth and returning once again into this all nourishing ‘abyss’, This ultimate reality is pure being, pure consciousness, where everything has its source; an ocean of pure potentiality at the basis of all existence, it does not arise as a result of some particular arrangement or form, it is always present.   – In the stillness you will Know.

notes taken from Awe-filled Wonder, by Barbara Fiand

3.

“At the center of our being is a point of nothingness
which is untouched by sin and by illusion, a point of pure truth, a point or spark which
belongs entirely to God, which is never at our disposal, from which God disposes of
our lives, which is inaccessible to the fantasies of our own mind or the brutalities of our
own will. This little point of nothingness and of absolute poverty is the pure glory of
God in us. . . . It is like a pure diamond, blazing with the invisible light of
heaven.” (Merton, Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander)

4.

The cat sits on the back of the sofa looking

out the window through the softly falling snow

at the last bit of gray light

I can’t say the sun was going down.

We haven’t seen the sun for two months

Who cares?

I am sitting in the blue chair listening to this stillness

The only sound: the occasional gurgle of tea

Coming out of the pot and into the cup

How can this be?

Such calm, such peace, such solitude

In this world of woe

-David Budbill  

     

5.

We are too often unhappy, while on and on

the world remains the gift of presence God

meant it to be at the beginning and sustains

in every moment and when we catch

even a glimpse of this, our restlessness

begins to open to a deeper stillness within us

where we will come to know that what is

now torn apart and broken will finally come

back to the stillness which rests in the deep

oneness of this life and in the breadth of Love

A deeper stillness –Meister Eckhart, as translated by Mark Burrows and Jon Sweeney

6.

To know the dark, Wendell Berry

To go in the dark with a light is to know the light

To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight

And find that the dark too, blooms and sings,

And is traveled by dark feet and dark wings

Now, if you will, read this before turning off the light to be dark

2020

Winter solstice poem*

The shortest day and the longest night have arrived

We turn our attention to stillness

As we enter the darkness

willingly

As we slow down and turn inward

We rest in the belly of darkness

We are held in the womb of God

We resist no more

We force no more

We are anxious no more

We fear no more

We rest

We allow

We soften

We surrender

We stop

We stop the struggle

We stop the pushing

We stop the striving

We stop the future telling

We stop to see What Is 

And in doing so we surrender to the void

We arrive at the abyss

Where miracles are made

where mystery lives

Where connectivity reigns

Where creation begins

And we wait

We wait

We patiently wait….

Turn off the light now, and sit for 20 minutes in the darkness. After 20 minutes come back here to read the closing prayer

And in this quiet moment

We feel the peace in the darkness

We sense the potential in the abyss

We perceive the presence..

of light

We see its truth

We’re in awe of its beauty

We are lost in the wonder

We sense our own capacity for light

And we wait

For the light to rise

For the light to heal

For the light to guide our way

We turn our focus to hope

We turn our focus to faith

We turn our focus to Love

And in the light we see

And WE rise

To hope

To love

To create

A new year is here

The turning has already happened

May we trust

May we soften

May we Be the Light

Amen, and a little woman

– *compiled from an online source, Plentyconsulting.com

haikus

1. 
Today I allowed
myself to be small, a seed
a droplet, enough

2.
Let yourself be seen
as relinquishment alone
bathed in compassion

3.
Let impotence heal
this striving within you held
by powerless grace

4.
The fierce lion of pain
will not allow the gentle
to remove the thorn

5.
Negativity
is perhaps a clever cloak
worn by the tender

6.
Let the dark be dark
don't barge in through that door with light
let your eyes adjust

7.
To be human, let
your vulnerability
be cherished by Love

8.
The vulnerable
the humble, the powerless
bearers of Love

surrendering to Love

…. facing my own vulnerability and pain

  

“The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell, don’t go back to sleep.” – Rumi

I wanted to walk away this morning, but my soul had other plans. It begged me to sit with this feeling of ‘too much’ (yes, you can bear it) one more time, to not rush out that door headlong into winter, that there was something yet to glean from these seedheads.

The last of the grains came free with these words, “Eventually, it feels like forgiving Reality Itself for being what it is’,  the last lines of a brief morning reading on the practice of letting go.

And I remembered that sweetness

All those years ago in the midst of my own devastation, God coming to me, seeking my forgiveness for being ‘imperfect and impotent’, asking if I could Love Him even here (often in ghastly images),  yearning for me to welcome Him into my embrace.

I understand now. That was about acceptance — Love Of Life, as it is.  No denial of its ugliness, or refusal to acknowledge its suffering.

This morning, in the breaking dawn, I clearly saw the wide gulf between deep curiosity about life and the rigidity of certainty about it, between the wisdom of love and the self-assurance of knowledge and information, between resting in the knowledge that Love is Deep within All and denying that Life is Pain and the world is broken.  And I asked myself, “What vulnerable place within me am I seeking to assure with certainty… or to protect with denial? What grief, perhaps, am I unwilling to accept?”

That question broke open the hard-coated seed to Love within. Suddenly I can see that my striving– seeking answers and explanations, understanding and solutions– stems from this vulnerability.

As each day for hours, often several times a day, the pain and darkness of a beloved one pours into my heart through the cellphone attached to my ear; as each day, images and articles of the brokenness and suffering in our world pour into my heart from the screen, I divert the flow of that pain to my heart with so many words and thoughts – a world of ideas flowing into and out of my head. My brain tricks me into thinking it can grasp onto some formula to solve the problems of Life (if only ‘they’ could see)… and avoid feeling the pain of a heart broken open by Life’s suffering.

The truth is that Life is pain (it is also bliss. sorrow and joy. terror and beauty, night and day). That pain needs to be held by compassion (perhaps, it wants to teach us about compassion). Where there is suffering, it seeks mercy. Where there is grief, tenderness. Acceptance not resistance.  Surrender not solution. Forgiveness not fixing. (the ‘if only they could see control’ transforms into the release of ‘forgive them for they don’t know’) A Love like that heals, and transforms darkness into light.

This morning, I wondered how I forgot this, as I really thought I’d done this work long ago (when in the midst of my own life-rending pain)  had come to accept that Life’s heartache is an essence of her Great Beauty, after all, a paradoxically necessary part of our journey of Becoming more deeply human, softening to Love. But I asked myself, ‘Is it true that you have come to accept/love the Reality of Life? Do you truly have compassion for Life as you claim that you do? Or do you want to bypass its ugliness and get straight to the Beauty? Can you love its darkness, too?”

I so yearn for the transformation of pain in others, in this world – but perhaps I am too attached to that outcome, and so I try to push rather than allow it. ( my mind cannot help but bring forth images of childbirth here- the pain of contraction softening the cervix, allowing for the birth of a new being)

I see now that in allowing the pain of others to enter my heart, I must take care to not let it get caught in my head, separated from my soul, to Re-Member that pain to the Wholeness of life as I know it to Be.

This morning I acknowledged my own sorrow and grief, which I’ve been denying in my unwillingness to feel the vulnerability that comes with opening to the pain of the other. This morning, I allowed myself to be a mortal human being, tender with the vulnerability of unknowing.  This morning, I allowed that pain to be seen and to be held. This cracked open the seed, if you will– To release its clinging to knowledge and expertise, To let go its need to fix so as not to feel anxiety and fear, To fall into true acceptance and Love.

Simply Love.

I expect the yearning to alleviate pain and transform suffering is a Holy Yearning, which gets a bit twisted up in my human attempts at responding to Life’s pain. The question for me is how does it truly look to offer comfort not answers*, hope not invalidation — to Be and to Act with Compassion and Love, with Mercy and Grace, grounded in the Wisdom of Soul, with Love—open eyed, open hearted, open souled. To love the darkness without trying to make it be light. To love those who, from within their own brokenness, cannot see or receive or know Love, or whose own hardness will not let you close enough to remove the thorn that is causing their pain. This is not to turn my back on What I Know, but to enter more deeply into this Beloved World, bearing that Love on my sleeve (some of those seeds, you see, clung to my coat).

Vulnerable to the full catastrophe. 

*My husband and I were talking about how difficult it is sometimes to crack the veneer of one who is unable to receive a message of Love. (Some seeds require a manual knicking, often performed in nature by bird beaks). I thought of my own journey, and how vital it was to hear and to receive new definitions of Love from those outside of myself, in order to heal my image of self. But then I wondered, what soul force was it within me that sought out those outside messages, what soul knowledge allowed me to receive them.  He came up with the image of an egg, that the chick must crack the shell open from within. I’ve also learned that butterflies are the same- that if someone tries to ‘help’ it in its painful looking struggle to free itself from the chrysalis, that butterfly with not survive. But I wondered about that image of the egg, and how it is also that something must keep the egg warm, while the chick grows strong enough to survive in the outside world. I think of my very pregnant daughter-in-law, and the strength of the womb to both nurture and protect, but to also push life forcefully forth. The process is painful. There is a powerful life-force within the seed, within the egg, within life– and there are conditions in which that life force is supported to develop, and in which the birthing is midwifed by one who knows the way.. And so, I am left with both/and in regards to this inner/outer action of Love. We are the hands and feet, as they say… And within each of us is the spark of the Divine urging us into Life.

oversaturated

A few weeks ago, I wrote of the banquet table that was spread out before me, as I found myself feasting upon a new stack of books. Well, here I am today feeling abit like Thanksgiving afternoon, all that gratitude transformed into gluttony.

It’s not really the books, perse, that have left me feeling overstuffed and bereft. It’s just that, well, one thing leads to another, with information overload so ready at my fingertips, with the synergy of emails between friends leaping across the synapses in my brain, with the plethora of excellent soulful offerings on zoom or podcast, daily readings, thought provoking essays, self-help advice for a loved one… you get the idea. And it is not lost on me that here I am adding more words to the blogosphere… with these journaling prompts from the latest book on the stack.

It seems I have moved from satisfying the hunger in the belly of my soul, to oversaturating my brain. Words. Words. Words. Thinking. Thinking. Thinking. Ideas. Ideas. Ideas. Solutions. Solutions. Solutions.

I live in a culture that teaches me that consumers are vital aspects of a healthy ecosystem. That consumption will make me happier. That, if I have free access to consuming, then I really ought to take advantage. The hunger for healing and wholeness in me perhaps makes that a potential deathtrap, for I could consume myself into a virtual coma.

But I don’t believe we are made to be consumers of this earth. Nor do I believe we are meant to be consumers of information. In both cases, our souls are starved of what they truly need.

I also suspect that our brains are not made to hold so much information. We have access to too much, more than our physiology can digest. That makes us sick. I have been feeling that — anxiety, inability to process, faitigue, vulnerability. I suspect that , just as we are advised to eat local, our brains are also designed to process- and relate to – the local, the immediate, the present, the actual.

As I hit upon so clearly yesterday, I know I am not meant to carry it all…but to open to Love it all. Ironically i think that is one of the gifts of the internet, if we can ever allow it to simply be so, that it might be a container for our brains so that we can be freed to be human again.

Sometimes, I wish i weren’t so voracious for knowledge. I’d like to look at that. Does it make me feel safe, less vulnerable somehow? What answers am I truly seeking? One very real problem for me (and one that I suspect is an invitation into loving awareness) is my need to respond to EVERYTHING — which is somehow tied to my need to fix to alleviate my anxiety– to be necessary… (to be loved?). The relinquishment of this attachment is a strong Soul pull that I feel, this call to surrender, to accept…to simply fall…in Love. I cannot fix a broken heart …or a broken world. On a deeper level than that, I expect this is a practice to which I am invited into the ultimate surrender– to the Reality of life and death itself.

This morning, I woke, yearning for emptiness, wanting all of these seeds within me to burst from the pod, be dispersed to the wind, to be free of them. Winter is the time to be still, emptied of ideas, emptied of knowing, emptied of reaching and grasping, emptied even desire.

So, this morning, I took a long walk through the snow-covered landscape. I noted where squirrels and deer had crossed the path before me. I noted the way the seedheads of summer’s blossoms were the gathering places for winter’s crystals. I left the turret of my brain to enter the kingdom of my body, and I remembered what it feels like to simply be alive.

And i realized again, that this is why i go… out there, into the wild. To be simple again. To be immediate. To be present. To be real. And I understood that this is the reality i wish to bring home to this place — not another binge cycle, but a steady diet of simple goodness– of quiet, of stillness, of depth, of meaning, of trust, of belonging, of rightness, of Love for this place.

So, the task laid out before me is how to be simple here. How to know what is mine to carry, what food I should eat, how to sit by the water each morning, in stillness, falling in love, and let that be enough. More than enough.

For I truly believe that this is what the earth needs, for more of us to be still, to be simple, and to fall into Love. So, I likely won’t be here in this virtual place again for some time.

I leave you, for now, with this excerpt from an essay from LLewyllen Vaughn Lee, which came upon my desk this morning. May it be an open gate for you to also enter….

Ordinary, everyday awareness can return us to a place of balance, where we are part of the living community to which we really belong. A community not of internet bubbles, but of the earth and the clouds and the sun on the water. Whether this is an answer or merely a refuge I do not yet know. I am reassured to find this primal awareness described centuries ago, in teachings and poems that remain outside of time. Today, watching a little ruby-crowned bird looking for food at my feet, I feel true kinship. Focused on her own search, she allows me to come close, without fear or concern. Walking through this gate that is always open, we can return to a quality of consciousness beyond truth and lies, one that is more primal, spontaneous. Here an old man in his garden watching a little green bird can leave behind a strange fractured world of distortions and breathe an air that is not toxic, walk on a land that is still singing.

morning lesson

This is everything I need.

Encapsulating all that I was feeling and intuiting and trying to put my finger on/wrap my heart around as Something in me (or outside of me) was seeking to breakthrough yesterday’s distress . Overwhelmed by the weight of too many words, too much “information”, not enough Wisdom. Understanding, somewhere deep within, that balancing all of this head knowledge, this bombardment of information -science, analysis, statistics, data, facts- with Presence and Depth, is what this world so very desperately needs right now. (There is a vast difference and necessary counterbalance between the understanding of the brain/ego and the awareness of soul) Needing to move my human body out of the darkness of an anxious brain to step into splendor (to remember, humbly, that I am a human Being, not merely a human knowing) moving from being fear-driven to being love -drawn. Surrendering to the truth that there are things too big for me. Hearing the grace in the song’s lyrics to “Let it fall with confidence and grace.. Breathe in” . Trusting the All is Well within the all is not well.

So I share this morning’s gift of affirming grace, from Richard Rohr’s daily email, with you below (Or you can follow this link to the full text.) in case you need it too.

Wisdom of Presence
Thursday,  December 17, 2020

We empty ourselves to let the divine flood us with love. We are empty so we may be full. —Beverly Lanzetta

It seems that one of the most difficult lessons for us to learn is that knowledge is not the same as wisdom. Even sincere spiritual seekers resist this truth: becoming “full” of all the information in the world does not of itself accumulate into wisdom. As Bonaventure noted, “Wisdom is confusing to the proud and often evident to the lowly.” [1] Wisdom is not the gathering of more facts and information, as if that would eventually coalesce into truth. Rather Wisdom is a different way of seeing and knowing. Nothing new—no perspective, no experience, nor even love can come to us when we are full of ourselves, our agendas, and our own points of view. That is why, as Beverly Lanzetta observes, self-emptying is so critical to any expression of authentic spirituality. She writes:

Defined as the releasing of selfishness and ego attachments, loss of self is a central characteristic of spiritual life. Let us for now refer to emptying of the self in a twofold sense: as a breaking down of our cherished self-identities, wants, demands, and ego struggles; and as an openness of being, where all the doors and windows of the soul are thrown back to allow in the splendor of life. Since in a body we will always have elements of personality traits, self-emptying is not an absolute state but the practice of letting go. And this practice of detachment, in which we experience the fluidity of presence [italics added] that is deeper than identity, becomes the medium for the great transformation of being that demarcates a contemplative life. . . .

I would go so far as to suggest that wisdom is precisely the freedom to be present. People who are fully present know how to see fully, rightly, and truthfully. Just try to keep your heart open, your mind without division or resistance, and your body not somewhere else. Practicing presence is the daily task of all mature religious and spiritual disciples. It is our very presence, open and available, that allows us to experience and participate in the life of God in the world. Beverly Lanzetta continues:

True emptiness is also an openness of being. It is an ongoing receptivity to the wonder of life. Having an ability to flow with what life offers, we are able to pass back and forth from the interior chambers where our soul and the Beloved meet into the world. Intimacy with the Divine offers a new quality of heart. The contemplative life teaches us how to sustain this openness that is natural to our natures, and how to employ spiritual disciplines to preserve and protect our vulnerability. Contemplative experience moves us from the intellectual idea of openness that we glimpse in fragments and in starts, to the meditative exercise of openness, and then to the orientation of our whole being toward surrender and receptivity.

corrective

You know how it is when a news source prints an article, then realizes an error was made – sometimes egregious – that when the correction appears, it goes often unnoticed, and is irrelevant by then. Well, this is it, my friends. I was wrong about many things in my previous post. That was not an alphabet of awakening, but one of annihilation.

But this correction is not at all irrelevant, and the correction that was made was to me.

After I put that post out there, my husband, sensing my distress perhaps, invited me to step outside for a long walk through the snowy streets of our village, where it was good to get out of my head. While out there, I remembered , as often I do, where to ground myself — in Love, not despair, in Beauty, not fear.

I know just enough to know that my brain is biased evolutionarily toward negativity, to not be ‘keeping a look out’ for the Good but for the dangerous. I know just enough to know that the algorithms of the internet can reinforce our biases as we fall down its suggested rabbit holes. I know that I do much more Good in the world by being a presence of compassion, of stillness, of hope, of peace, of wonder, of depth, of silence, or joy than I could possibly do by bringing more fear to it.

I also remembered, as I often do out there, my smallness, and not in a way that made me feel hopeless, but humble, in a way that helped me remember the Vastness of Love (of the Universe) relative to our human failings. I understood that of course I cannot bear the weight of this world on my shoulders, but can be present to it with Love in my heart. And I can trust that there is One who can bear it, who is far Wiser than me, who sings ‘Fear Not’ into the night.

And I can soften into that Grace.

alphabet of awakening

Those who will not slip beneath

the still surface on the well of grief,

turning down through its black water

to the place we cannot breathe,

will never know the source from which we drink,

the secret water, cold and clear,

nor find in the darkness glimmering the small round coins,

thrown by those who wished for something else.

-David Whyte, Well of Grief

Yesterday’s practice seems to have opened a well of grief within me, as if the cap of some ancient source has been pried loose.  It’s mingled with other griefs within me, I suppose, like the Big One I carry for the pain of a precious loved one, and suddenly feels much larger than the possible space that contained it.

After reading yesterday’s post, a friend sent me this article from Sun Magazine, on the consequences to the earth of our human plunder, equally bleak – with small slivers of gold threaded through its dark cloth. Sitting with my journal this morning, as a reread the article for the 3rd time, trying to absorb the weight of its message, I jotted down words, as they jumped off the page, just to help me to sift and to sort, I suppose, and to get them out of my body, where a preponderance of words such as these are a bit too heavy to bear.

I’ve arranged them here in a sort of Alphabet of Awakening. Where there was a positive feeling word for a particular letter, I placed it at the end of the list, as a sort of movement towards grace.

Appropriation, abysmal, antagonism, anthropocentrism, affordness of place, agreology, alignment , awe, abundant, ancient

Bleak , barren, biome, biological wealth

Catastrophic, colonialism, collapse, clear cut, consumption, constructed, conqueror, callous, cruelty, control, command, cynicism, curiosity, challenge, consciousness, connectivity, conserve

Defaunation, disparagement, domination, destruction, disjunction, demeaning, dispensible, devastation, depletion, devoid, demolish, dislocate, damage, disenchantment, dependency, degrowth,

Ecological collapse, extinguish, extravagance at the expense of the other, engineered , emergency, emptying, entitlement, exterminate, egregious, educate, ethical, embrace

Factory farming, freshwater, forests

Global, greed, guilt, grief, geographical takeover, goodness, gift, gratitude

Human supremacy, human impoverishment, human catastrophe, hollow illusion, holocaust, humanization, human participation, habitat, heal

Invasion, impoverish, impossible, inhabit, intrinsic, imagination, inherent worth,

Killing

Loss, local, love,

Monumental, mass extinction, mass production, monstrous mandate, monotonous, monoculture, materialism, mindless, mitigation, minimalism, mystery,

Normality, non-human, nutritious

Onslaught , oppression, overconsumption, oasis

Pain, pressure, poaching, pollution, populations, property, power, plague, poison, plunder, participate, principal, precious, planet, protection

Reverberation, revolted, revulsion, revolution, remorse, rage, resignation, resistance, reckoning, remembering, rescue, radical, respect, restore, relationship

Supremacy, supremacy, supremacy, subjugate, suffering , super-killing, selfishness, spread, shame, survival, sorrow, sacrifice, slowness, socialization, splendor

Technological, trajectory, threat, trance

Unconscious, unethical, unraveling, upheaval, used, unique

Virulent, violence, verdant, viable

Worldview, waste, weight, wrecking ball, wild ecology, worth, wholesome, waking, wonder,

In my inbox this morning, I also received a beautiful visual offering of prayer, which included a description of prayer as dance. I have long experienced this Great Conversation between myself and God ( between humanity and the divine) much like that, an embodied/cosmic dance where Godde is most willing to alternately lead and follow, needing us as much as we Need.  I’ve imaged Godde’s alternate surprise and sorrow in that dance, along with the subsequent sigh, of delight or acquiescence, “Ok, I’ll go with you there”.

May it be so in this grave moment, for we are surely in need of some holy partnership as we make our way through this dark human-made passage.

What does that dance look like, for me, on this day? One of unbearable sorrow, a stagger, an assuaging sway, each of us upholding the other ….

…..

But outside my window, it is beginning to snow… As I watch, I listen to this song, Let It Fall, by Over the Rhine. I let it wash over me, a healing wash, one of full bodied surrender and grace. I imagine it to be a song, to which I am being invited, by the Divine, to dance on this day.

I’ve my snowshoes at the ready, by the door, eager to enter into the hushed silence of that blessed snow bathed wonder just outside my door, where I will continue to clumsily fall, I suppose –in love, and in falter—where I will continue to bear witness, and belong deeply to, this terrible fleeting eternal  beauty.

eco crisis

This morning, I am asked to allow my mind to explore the depth and breadth of the degradation of Mother Earth, to allow myself to linger in the places that cause me pain or discomfort… in other words, I suppose, to allow myself to feel.

Images from the David Attenborough documentary, A Life on our Planet, flash across the screen of my mind. Thoughts of my grandchildren’s lives being played out in some bizarre disconnected reality, where relationship to the Earth is severed, where everything is manufactured and nothing is nurtured, fill my heart with an overwhelming despair, for which I am unprepared.

My head questions my heart here, asks if this is mere sentimentality, some romantic longing for what was, a symptom of one who is aging and struggling to accept the changes to life on earth, which feel so alien, but which are both here and now and coming.

But this is grief, I feel. Profound heartbreak at the loss of something terribly beloved, something deeply valued and inherently sacred. I wonder, though, will my great-granddaughters realize this as grief? Will they even feel the absence as loss? What will that world look like? Where will they find Beauty in a manufactured world with artificial nurture and virtual experiences?

Am I called to trust in Love here too, or this that merely a cop out? Can I trust in this evolutionary process of Consciousness Becoming, have faith in this Great Loving Source of All Being, which is indwelling and unfolding and inspiring, when It doesn’t look anything like the Life on Earth –enfleshed and organic– that I have come to know and to love (and perceive as essential)? Can I embrace the artificial, the technological, the engineered world as Beloved, as Beauty?

As You?

These are the things I ask You, Love, this morning. What is Your call here for me? What is my response to be?

I remember once reading that those who have been deeply invested in environmental activism have realized that their work now is grief work—complete with all the stages inherent in that work. Having passed through denial, blame, anger, and bargaining, they are now in the process of letting go. Having moved on to acceptance that the world is dying, they are practicing witness bearing. How terribly bleak is that?

How to hold on to Love – Her Presence and Her Action—in the midst of an existential loss such as this. This is perhaps the work I am called to do, though part of me—well, if I am honest almost the whole of me in this moment—resists this mightily , wants to cling to Her, fall upon the body of our dying Mother, gather the disintegrating flesh into my arms. Though She feels like dust between my fingers, I feel myself desperate to pull Her back together, breath life again into Her formlessness, rent my garments, keen all day.

Perhaps this is the image I need follow as my heart’s calling, then? This fierce Love for the You within this Beloved place? Is this heart grief then You beseeching me to conspire with You in an act of resurrection?

This is a stark landscape. A Good Friday despair. I’m not at all certain I want to visit this place today.

Perhaps my imagination is too small. Perhaps I make too much import of our tiny planet –its diverse beings, amazing manifestations, extravagant beauty. Perhaps we humans are no more meaningful or vital to the evolution of Love than were the Dinosaurs… or that Super Nova that just exhaled its last breath. Perhaps this is merely the self-important, anthropocentric ego that is dying — and perhaps that is, after all, what is needed, for the hubris of humankind to be brought low.

But Mary, Mother of God, what of the innocents?

Are we not all innocents?

Tragedy is hard to reconcile in the human heart. We long for redemption. We yearn to find Beauty within it, as the concentration camp victim who bore witness to the Jasmine bloom, or the Iraq war reporter who bore witness to the slaughter of children. Being struck powerless like this, perhaps, yields no other choice but surrender to the terrible beauty of it all, to let your heart be broken open in order to somehow hold it.

Can I find You here, in this apocalyptic vision, Trust in Your Light and Your Love as I say that I do? Let go my own agenda about what is Good and Right?

This is indeed a terrifying place for me, this image. Can I also embrace that this is perhaps just that- an image that stems from my own lack of image-ination, based in what is actually a fragile faith in something Other Than Love, Other Than the Wisdom of the Universe — that is, humanity. Or, perhaps, on the other hand, I have not enough faith in humanity, its goodness and wisdom, its ability to transform itself. Perhaps this is a symptom of the true smallness of my own humanity, this lack of imagination, this fear of what I (and many others) can only perceive from this vantage as death and destruction. Am I telling a story, then, that will not come true, as so many apocalyptic prophets throughout the ages have, with the certainty of their age, foretold?

Dear grandchild of mine, if you are reading this, I trust we have made it through and that some part of you is smiling inwardly at my naïve fear of the planet’s demise, that the earth, or at least humanity, has found a way. I pray that it is with our relationship intact and reciprocity restored.  This is perhaps my selfish desire for you, as my love for the Earth has meant so much to me that I want that for you, too.  For your existence to be disjointed from relationship to the Earth feels like a life impoverished of soul. Yet, I believe this deep desire for the Earth to survive is an unselfish hope at the same time, as my Love for the Earth with its vast array of self-expressions (so very many of which are already lost) and inherent worth, longs for it to survive for Its sake alone.

What does this Earth look like for you? What does your life look like? Where do you find Beauty? Wholeness? Belonging? Where do you experience the Wonder of Being a part of Something Vaster than yourself? Tell me now, my child. I trust that I can hear you, somehow.

under the bed

Julian of Norwich, 13th century mystic, and somehow sister of my soul, experienced what she named as ‘showings’, during a near-death experience, in the midst of world where she witnessed a plague that ravaged humanity with untold suffering. I imagine her recording as quickly as she could those experiences when she came-to, so as not to forget them. (the ‘short-text’) She spent the next 20 years of her life, trying to unpack them– both in the sharing of their grace to those who came to the window of her anchorage for comfort, and also in the continued journaling –word leading to deepening word– of those experiences, which we now label as the ‘long text’.

I like, somehow, that she hid them under her bed, and that after she died, someone spirited those pages away until the world was ready to receive them 500 years later.  As I read these stories about Julian, I experience such a resonance– the seeking to understand the messages in what she was shown, the writing to unpack, the attempt to embody the love she experienced… even the fear of heresy (as you will read below)

In my own writing practice, I have been often encouraged to do something more formal — to publish, for instance (under the guise that the world ‘needs’ what I have to offer), but I have resisted for some reason this recurrent call. Sure, some of that is probably fear, probably a feeling of incompetence, probably not wanting the attention. But I know I need to take care with my sharing. Honor my experience, and even acknowledge it as gift, but not let my ego carry it. Blogging for me, I think, feels safe, but it also keeps me humble, keeps my ego out of the mix (as much as that is ever possible) as I don’t get caught up in ‘imparting wisdom’ in a posture of power as one can fall into when speaking or writing directly to an individual. There is a vulnerability to it, in not knowing who is reading. There is a selflesness to it, in the offering as gift with no expectation of reward,validation, or even acknowledgment. There is a mystery to it, in their ‘Just being out there in the world’, which has felt right for me.

Perhaps this is the equivalent of Julian’s tucking her words under her bed. Or persons showing up at the window/screen to receive whatever morsels of grace might pass through. Lately, I have been noticing how my own experiences from 15-20 years ago are bubbling up in my writing, perhaps in my own unpacking of those powerful, transformative, mystical and mysterious experiences, during my own painful ‘near-death’ experiences.

And so, I risk myself here in this remembrance, which i recorded, perhaps in my own version of ‘short text’ here in 2007, and then an embarrassingly vulnerable longer one here (and I wonder where the bravery to reveal these words came from at that time… but moreso, what has receded within me)

…”this was during a profoundly healing time in my life, when a lot was being ‘corrected’ in me, around what God was, what Love was, Who I was . (I’d really received a shame based education about life). I feel like Love was literally being poured into me. Many of these experiences were dreams (I was once told that something like 1/3 of the Bible is dream related) In this particular dream, Jesus came to my bed wanting to make love to me, (ok I’d be kicked out of ‘church for that one! But a lot of the harm done to me was sexual, so I think there was some major work to be done through that) but I covered my face in shame and tried to slip out from beneath him, saying , ‘but I’m not clean, I must go wash’ (I still believed I needed to somehow be worthy enough to receive Love). Then, the most amazing thing happened. A plump babushka wearing, old world, wise woman stepped into the bedroom, and scarfed Jesus off of the bed, and told HIM to go wash. I understood then that it was my image of Love that was soiled somehow, that needed some cleaning up” .

I remember sharing that dream in small group spiritual direction where a wise, gentle sage was present. I shared there that the dream went on to me ‘reviving’ Jesus in my mouth. That gentle teacher took the shame I was feeling in the sharing of this dream and offered to me the notion of taking the Word (the words I had received) into my mouth (he was referencing Ezekiel’s taking the scroll into his mouth and it tasting sweet as honey) and transforming it/them into Love.

I am still living into the meaning of this dream too. On the surface, of course, there is the message of how Love has been corrupted by the definitions that have been passed on to us, and placed into us, by the church, where we are taught shame in a place that has such Power. But beneath that simple answer, there is layer upon layer upon layer of understanding of How I am Loved, how I am yearned for, how Love begs us to receive It…. and how you are too.

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