Spiritual sustenance, naturally.

Archive for January, 2010

Full Moon Labyrinth Walk

Ten of us gathered on a frigid night, 9º F, with a wind chill many degrees below zero.

Clouds were racing across the sky, hiding and then revealing the big, silver moon.

Full Moon Snow Labyrinth

We were bundled up, thus able to take the time we needed for this snow labyrinth experience. Candles in lanterns made of ice  cast a warm glow across the snow, as we followed the winding path.

Labyrinth Ice Lanterns

At the center, we each paused to look at the moon and reflect on the journey.

At the Center of the Labyrinth

Right after we left the labyrinth, a coyote howled in the woods nearby.

That set us to howling, too!

The Full Moon, Candles, and Brigid’s Crosses

This evening I will gather with women friends outdoors to walk a snowy labyrinth illuminated by ice lanterns and the full moon. What could be more magical for this weekend of Imbolc / Candlemas / Brigit’s Day? This full moon will arrive at perigee, the place on its non-circular orbit when it’s at its closest point, a distance of 221,577 mi. (356,593 km.) from Earth. It will be the biggest full moon of 2010. The moon will exert a strong pull on the ocean tides at this time. Pause, close your eyes, quiet your self: as a watery creature, can you feel the moon’s pull?

On Sunday, we of Caim an t’ Stratha of the Céile Dé will gather with members of a nearby Catholic church to weave Brigid’s crosses with locally gathered rushes. In the Celtic calendar, Imbolc brought the first harbingers of Spring, but now my snowdrops are under snow, and an Arctic front has given us bone-chilling temperatures. It’s a time for hearth and home. Light some candles, for the light is growing.  It’s good to know that the snowdrops are there, awaiting their time.

Immanaire!

Up-Close and Natural

Because we are part of the natural world, our earthly story can offer us inspiration, healing, a sense of peace and balance, or a profound feeling of belonging. What is happening now outside your window? As I look out, I see that once again a soft blanket of white covers the ground and rooftops. The new snow clings to the tree branches, creating a fairyland in the ravine behind my house. Once again, the world has been reborn.

Today I will take a walk and look for messages. These messages may take the form of a sharp cold scent on the breeze; the sound of some water trickling beneath the snow; bird calls; animal tracks in the snow; the soft kiss of snowflakes on my face; the winter light, with its gray, blue, and sepia shadows; the shape of the bare tree branches against the white sky. My walk will be different from any other time, and though the place may be familiar, it will be new.

To dive even deeper, I may take out my loupe, a lens that goes with me everywhere, nestled in its tiny, wine-colored pouch. It allows me to see a world that is usually hidden from our everyday eyes. Through the loupe, a tiny area becomes an entire world from an insect’s point of view, evoking images, memories, and inspiring art and poetry.

We will do this together, looking for messages, exploring the outer world up close, seeing what that experience evokes in our inner worlds. The listing with the date and time for this gathering will appear on the Services / Gatherings page of this blog.

Happy Saint Dwynwen’s Day!

Saint Dwynwen is the patron (matron?) saint of lovers and relationships; interesting legends and stories are associated with her. January 25th is the Welsh “Valentine’s Day.” I posted a “Happy St. Dwynwen’s Day” message on Facebook, and a friend asked if I would put it here, so here it is. Check out the Wikipedia link on her: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/St._Dwynwen%27s_Day

Her stories remind us of the mutuality of love, and the pain when love is not reciprocated. Another version of her story can be found in the book Praying with Celtic Holy Women, by Mehan and Oliver.

Before going to sleep tonight, take a few moments to close your eyes, and with your imagination, encircle those close to you with warmth and love. If you are seeking a relationship, feel your heart open as you appreciate the goodness and love you already have in your life. And pay attention to your dreams.

A poem that says it all

Born innocent, one

– that’s I –

strives hard to become

an adult, no longer childish,

worldly-wise

in one’s art, one’s love, one’s life . . .

Then discovers:

that no one ever

becomes an adult,

becomes either

delightfully childlike

or pitifully juvenile . . .

Discovers:

one’s art to be outside the art game

one’s faith outside the religious game

one’s love outside the sex game

Discovers:

one’s own little song

and dares to sing it

in all variations,

unsuited as it may be

for mass communication . . .

For perhaps

here and there

someone will hear it

and listen

and know

and say

Ah!
YES!

From Art as a Way: A Return to the Spiritual Roots, Frederick Franck, New York: Crossroad, 1981

Spirituality?

The term “spiritual,” like the word “love,” has been used in so many ways that it has almost lost its meaning (think, “I love your new car!”). But most of us have not given up on the word love; I’m not ready to give up on the word “spiritual.” But what does it mean? Some thoughts from a variety of sources/traditions:

Theologian Matthew Fox, in #11 of his 95 Theses says, “Religion is not necessary but spirituality is.”  And from #12 of his 95 Theses: “Spirituality is living life at a depth of newness and gratitude, courage and creativity, trust and letting go, compassion and justice.” A New Reformation: Creation Spirituality and the Transformation of Christianity, Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions, 2006

“…human beings have . . . a need to be valued, to be cared for, to be loved, to be recognized, and to feel that their life has some  meaning and purpose and is not just a means to someone else’s needs. We call these spiritual needs.” Michael Lerner, p.16, editorial, “Hostile Takeover: Theocracy in America,” Tikkun Vol. 21 No. 1

“Spirituality is an organic part of daily life, not something dispensed by a professional. True spirituality is liberation, not just from the delusions of reality but from the delusions of religion as well.” Deng Ming-Dao, 365 Tao: Daily Meditations, p. 20. New York: HarperCollins, 1992.

“I use it with a very basic connotation: the human search for meaning. All of us, all the time, operate out of a sense of being connected to an inner core of meaning.” (p.12)   “Spirituality is inherent to being human; religion is only one aspect of our unfolding spirituality.” (p. 13) Diarmuid O’Murchu, Quantum Theology, New York: Crossword Publishing, 1998

And about raising children:

“To be fully engaged members of the human society, [children] must be religiously literate. An important part of this literacy is the recognition that humans have a ‘spiritual’ dimension, broadly defined – a yearning for meaning and purpose, a connection to the rest of humanity and life on Earth, a sense of existential wonder and mystery.”  Roberta Nelson, “Even Secular Parents are Religious Educators,” p. 15, UU World, Fall 2007. The article was adapted from Parenting Beyond Belief: On Raising Ethical, Caring Kids Without Religion, edited by Dale McGowan.

And finally, my simple take on it: “Spirituality is about our human spirit, our experience of that within us and around us which opens us to a larger view and new possibilities: interconnection, love, compassion, forgiveness, and creativity in our lives.” Katharine Houk, The Book of Belonging

Life is Tough

As we move along in the barn renovation project, the electrician is ready to do the trenching for burying the power lines. A couple of days ago, I spoke with him about this part of the process. So where does that trench have to go? Directly through my herb garden. Ouch!

This is a garden I’ve slowly been developing – starting plants from seeds, rejoicing when after two years flowers appear, adding a few new varieties each year, looking forward to working there again in the spring. I  was surprised at how bereft I felt at the thought of the trencher going through that garden. I asked the electrician if I could tie ribbons on plants to be avoided, which at this time of year are nothing but bare twigs sticking out of the snow. And naturally, most of the plants are not visible at all in January. He said, “of course!” Then I began wondering if I could dig up some of the plants with no obvious growth showing, but all the life is currently in their roots. Would they survive the digging process?

Before I could make any decisions, some other events distracted me. My mother who lives with me, age 92, wasn’t feeling well. For her to even mention such a thing is a big deal; she’s always afraid she’s going to be a bother to me. Mothers! I’m just relieved she’s right here so that I can take care of her as needs arise, instead of driving hundreds of miles, as some of my friends must, to take care of their aging parents! So I made a doctor appointment for her, but just before we were to leave for that appointment today, she fell down the stairs. Oh, my.

As it turned out, she was justified in not feeling well; she has an infection. And because she had her puffy winter coat in her arms when she fell on the stairs, the tumble just resulted in bruises – we hope! We are waiting for the phone call with x-ray results.

After getting her settled back at home with her prescriptions, I took a little stroll out back. There was the snowy herb garden, waiting for me to tie ribbons on the bare sticks. Somehow it didn’t seem so urgent. I found myself thinking, “Well, with that plant gone, I could move this plant over here, and put a new one there….” I also remembered that plants are tough; their life force can be very strong. I’m not as concerned about my garden now (but I may yet use a couple of strategically placed ribbons).

My mother has a wonderful attitude. She’s a tough old lady, who always makes them laugh at the doctor’s office. I hope that when I’m 92 I will bear my ills with as much grace as she does! She teaches me about resilience, about keeping a sense of humor, about taking in stride all that comes with old age (which isn’t for sissies). She especially teaches me about life’s strength and tenaciousness. Life is tough. And I love it.