Tag Archive: Prayer


 

Lately, my spiritual peer mentoring group and I have been discussing how our concept or image of God has changed as we have gotten older. Most of us have originally come from traditional religious roots but over the course of our lives and especially in our eldering years, many of us have come to a point of questioning all that was programmed into us by church, family or state.

This of course is not true for everybody who are comforted by the same images for a lifetime. But in my particular world I guess we are a circle of quiet rabble rousers.. some might also, fearing our quest for fresh images of the Divine, call us heretics!

But that is only the name given to seekers and those who question, by others for whom there is only one TRUE story, tradition or concept of how we got here, why we are here, who in the Divine World made it all happen and who is listening when we are called to prayer. To think that no one is listening is to all of us, a heart-rending if not dreadful thought. But we pray anyway because we are “called to prayer” and love the invitation, but sometimes our prayer starts “Here I am… and to Whom it May Concern …. ” because Patriarchal concepts of the Masculine Divine do not fit with our lived spiritual experience any more.

It would certainly be easier and more comforting if we KNEW for sure who was listening,  or if we were not bothered by just speaking the traditional prayers addressing the Heavenly Power(s) by rote. But alas, we are in between what was and what might be, these Prayers that include the words, “what if?” and “maybe”.

For myself, I have found that talking in prayer to the Saints (who once had a human experience) inspires me, and even more personally, also praying to my Angels ie My Guardian Angel, and my Library Angel  (who might be one and the same), they  who constantly bring the Light of Guidance or Protection or hints of what I need to investigate next for my best unfolding and Destiny. I know when it happens that they have heard  because if those mysterious synchronicities that make me smile, if not laugh out loud catching me by surprise on the almost immediate heals of my prayers or beseeching. My Angels though engaged in serious work, ever have a playful sense of humor in their high Service with me.

I have also found comfort especially in sad times to image the Angels weeping with us in times of personal or communal grief. And there is much for which to grieve right now in our society.

Several years ago there was something going round the internet… an experience of sending a team of Angels to each other…the “story” was that there was a special team of Angels going to the homes of those they were sent to and would stay for seven days. We who were hosting were to set up an altar with white candles and fresh white flowers before and during their (invisible) stay. Our prayers during that time would be carried heavenwords in a special way.

It was a lovely experience for those who participated in this little spiritual ritual.. Perhaps the key word is “Maybe” but whether or not the Angels were actually in our homes for those seven days,  our personal vibration was lifted higher, WE  were changed and inspired to be like kindly Angels to those around us and in our own environments for the betterment of all.

If that team of heavenly spirits, the Traveling Angels, are still on the move I wish that they would be sent to me once again for these are challenging times.

For those of us who in these times are uncertain as to who is actually listening when we send our “thoughts and prayers” outward and upwards , I sense that the Angels MAY be (Maybe) eternally present to companion us and deliver our lamentations where they need to go.

And I am going with that!

This poem by Mary Oliver just most recently and  rather serendipitously “appeared in my life …(did one of the Angels send this for my awareness while I question who is listening to my prayers?)

  The World I Live In

I have refused to live

locked in the ordinary house of reasons and proofs.

The world I live in and believe in

is wider than that. And anyways,

what’s wrong with Maybe? 

You wouldn’t believe what once

or twice I have seen. I’ll just

tell you this:

only if there are angels in your head, will you

ever, possibly, see one.

                                                       ( my ballerina grandaughter )

 

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the loveliest meditation practices in retreat work is praying with clay, a medium whose primary virtue is its ability to be shaped by the intent of the artist whose hands are able to bring imagination, warmth and life from a seemingly inert, cold and compact ball of earth.

In the retreat experience, the prayer that often accompanies this centering and contemplative “shaping” experience is drawn from Old Testament scripture (Jeremiah) in which we are encouraged to be like clay in the hands of God, the Master Potter, allowing ourselves to be formed into goodness by the guidance of the Divine.

Clay is also a therapeutic tool in retreats for Healing and Wholeness aside from a religious focus although such healing often includes a deep spiritual sense of awe and relief that can border on the miraculous. In such exercises, a story from our lives that is painful or un-healed can be crafted into an image that holds and carries our experience so that we ponder it and receive insight, release, and movement into re-creation. As we shape the clay with intent, we may also re-shape our lives when it is necessary to let go of the old forms that have lost their purpose.

Many years ago when I was going through a very intense period of loss…divorce, single parenting, challenging financial survival while crafting a self-employed music teaching career.. I sought inspiration, support, deepening and sanctuary in a long-term program of training in retreat work at a wonderful nearby Catholic Retreat Center.

During one of the retreats on healing and wholeness, we worked with clay as a meditation. Desperately needing to be centered and still, coming in from a noisy, chaotic,  confusing, challenge-filled personal world that needed re-shaping for the survival of my children and myself, I took that cold ball of clay and worked it until all that pain and broken-hearted-ness entered it and became the clearest answer to what I needed for healing, comfort and clarity:  a cave/womb of refuge and sanctuary in which sacred silence, stillness and chosen periodic solitude would be the best medicine.

For whatever reason, I crafted on the back outside wall of this Cave, this Sanctuary, snakes which originally I think symbolized the challenges I was dealing with, and the safety of my sacred shelter in keeping them outside until I knew how to work with them. Yet over the years, those snakes have become instead, Guardians of the Goddess, protecting me and that sacred space ..the cave of my Heart where much of my work in the world has been crafted.

I also remember that at the time of this shaping, the little figure who was ME, had her hands over her eyes..and though over the years that has come to mean shutting out worldly distractions in order to dive deeply into the cave of my heart for Wisdom, during that initial time of crafting this image, the hands over the eyes symbolized the intense grief and the weeping I could not allow myself to do in real life with its demanding immediate responsibilities because I always had to be “on”.

However, that is all past now and there have been many many happinesses and blessings since then, as well as the inevitable periodic challenges and losses that are always a part of life. But over the years, this little ME image has traveled with me through all the chapters of my book of life, reminding me to take the time for withdrawing from the chaos of a conflicted world and particularly at this time of our deteriorating political national culture.

For me, the snakes are still Guardians, protecting the need for silence and stillness to Discern Truth, BUT these days when shifting focus, those snakes also symbolize the Lies and Deceptions that are rampant right now in our media culture and  socio-political landscape and must be kept outside, being agents of Soul pollution.

I has been a long time since I have worked with clay and sculpted images that have beauty and power for transformation. But I DO have a packet of clay here, just waiting to be touched and warmed into life. Like what happens each time I sit down to write an essay initially not knowing what it will actually be about, I am ready to be just as surprised (and informed) when that clay comes alive under my fingertips!

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I love surprises.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

UU2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Today I Am Looking for What I Am Wanting to See

It is a very serious time here in America with issues that are heartrending, enraging, challenging and disorienting. It’s also a time of awakening of hope and a turning of the tide towards an America we want instead of America we have drifted towards while asleep.

How do we stay balanced and focused on the positive when our hearts are breaking, and our psyches are bruised by conflict and confusion?

Well for me, having been taught by wise mentors of the laws of attraction is that we get what we mostly think and talk about…usually what we don’t want rather than what we do want.

One of the practices or mantras that I employ is the phrase “Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see!”.

One of those things I want to see are “smiles” … a symbol of good will and connection in a divisive world.

I have found smiles everywhere when I go about the world…the market, stores, the post office, parking lots while I enter buildings and pass others. Almost 99.9% of the time, a nod and a smile as I pass another “stranger” elicits the same greeting in return and I know that we both have been soothed and brightened and given a dose of hope. It is a wonderful practice to employ. IT MAKES A DIFFERENCE in the energy field around us.

One day, feeling a bit low and needing a break from the dominant culture of never-ending “news of strife and disasters” I went for a solitary walk at the beach on a chill but early hint-of-spring day, of course as always with my camera.

My every-day prayer “Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see” was intent on experiencing smiles.

There were no other people nearby on the beach or boardwalk but it is true that “ask and you shall receive”for within five minutes of my walk, pondering smiles…there is was! And it was not a person! Nevermind…  “The Universe always says yes” in this focused magic of the imagination.  You get what you ask for, what you focus on with intent…eventually if not almost immediately, metaphysically in the mind first, then experienced in concrete reality.

Scarborough 2 Happy (3)

I have hope that in our lives, in our nation we can wake up from where we have drifted into a new consciousness of what we can be for the good of all, not the wealth and privledge of a few at the top.

Today and each day as I enter the world around me, I am starting by making kindly connections with others I newly meet, with a smile and nod of good will.

I am looking for what I want to see…  people willing to help each other, willing to volunteer and work for good causes, looking for beautiful art and words of wisdom and guidance in good books and literature, looking for and celebrating those individuals and societies that work for the preservation of our beautiful planet. And more.

I hope, while taking actions for goodness, that I can remember to celebrate and talk more about the things I want to see and not to just rage and post and repost endlessly about all that is enraging, shocking and dark.

Mother Theresa once said “You will never see me at an anti-war rally. But you will always see me at a Peace Rally”.  Perspective/focus.

Today I am looking for what I am wanting to see. And I will see it…experience tells me I will indeed see it.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the challenge.

We are in a very unsettled time here in the US as we experience the coming apart of our society politically, socially and most recently in the past week, another mass shooting of innocents with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. Our American psyche has been battered this past year- and- a- half as we come face to face on a daily basis by internal corruption in high places and immoral and self-serving so-called leadership. But THIS issue now of mass killings over and over again has thrust us into a national and personal mixed cauldron of grief and rage as the people fight against a powerful gun lobby that is also determined to fight to the death to protect their own agenda and  profits.

A walk at the beach..with its wide and far horizon and the freshness of wind and consolation of the ever rocking ebb and flow of the tide…cannot solve the situation itself, but it can offer a break in the turbulence of emotion in difficult times, soothing our chaotic feelings and helping us to restore some sort of internal balance as we move through very uncertain and dangerous events requiring new decisions.

But as I said previously, when asking for heartfelt guidance and consolation in difficult times, we always receive an answer if we are aware.

And so for now,  a surprise message of guidance on a walk along the edge where the land meets the sea …the extra surprise when a message of compassion and hope was left in the sand as well… a gifted “communique” from the Universe.  Although created by human hands, the message left for all who might pass by ( even though I took it very personally as if  it were left for me) took on the energy of the Angelic. Which sometimes we humans are for each other, usually unaware that we have been so divinely commissioned.

SOMEone had been by before me …maybe it WAS an actual angel (?)…taking the time to craft this castle of peace. Maybe it was a prayer or meditation experience for them, maybe it was that plus a loving message for others as well to be still and Centered and not lose hope as WE lobby for a society of PEACE, not violence or war.

share Peace Castle COPY(3)

Who knows how long this had remained whole and intact there in the sand before the tide would in time come in and wash it away. As I continued my walk and then sat higher up near the  dues behind this little peace castle,  I watched several other people and couples come by, stopping to look down with surprise at this message. They each and all paused and gazed quietly as if at some holy relic in church, pondering for some long seconds before moving on.

It was comforting to see that no one maliciously attempted to kick or destroy it, but moved on ahead in their walk, leaving this creation to eventually dissolve into the Great Mother She-Sea naturally. In Peace.

There is deepest gratitude to whatever Human (or Angel) left this message.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

As part of my own personal spiritual practice, I am inspired to try to follow the Benedictine and monastic way of pausing with mindfullness or prayer several times throughout the day or night when I am able. The “Book of Hours” can be formal if in the monastery, and yet can be more informal guided “out here  in the world” by a good resource book.

That book for me is “Music of Silence: a Sacred Journey Through the Hours of the Day” by Benedictine Brother David Stendl-Rast which has beautiful essays on each of the hours and their meaning and application for peace and gracious living. There are two mid-morning “hours” for pause and reflection that are very inspiring for whatever are our busy times engaged in worldly tasks. These hours are Prime and Terce.

The theme of Prime at its simplest is about the assignment of and preparation for “work” each day and how to realize that our work  should have meaning and is to be about loving service. We and our work is needed…or should be. As Brother David writes ” This world was given to us to work on” and indeed there are many things that need to be done for the good of all.

The theme of the hour Terce following a little later before noon, is like a little spiritual coffee break during which we pause to reflect on and send our work out beyond as blessing and well wishing to all who might receive our the fruit of our labors.

It is these two particular holy hours that I thought of the morning at brought my daughter to catch a train back to the  big city for work after her week-long  family visit on the coast.

A bit sleepy so early in the morning, we were nevertheless given the lovely  opportunity for a special little just-us mother-daughter visit while waiting on the platform for the train to arrive.

There IS something wonderfully exciting waiting for a train and seeing it approaching from a pin-point distance to the roar and silvery speed as it  arrives with squeeling brakes and shaking platform.

That morning with  mumma/daughter goodbye hugs and once-again promises that I would get on that train sometime in the future to come visit when I had more confidence with my vision, the train finally stopped in front of us and the doors popped open.

There, welcoming oncoming travelers, was this handsome Conductor with the biggest smile of the morning, holding the door open and waving people in as to a party.

THIS was a man happy with his work, obviously loving his on-the-move job and the gift of his service to one and all and I thought to myself  “He has the PERFECT spirit of these early hours of the morning ‘Prime and Terce’!”.

He  was not a monk, but a proud and crisply uniformed agent of hospitality, welcoming and good cheer whose blessing and generosity assured the travelers that the ride would be  pleasurable and the destination assured. I knew then that a trip to visit my daughter and family in the big city would happen even before my vision was stable.  I want this man to be the Conductor welcoming me on board when I travel there and..

THIS is the train I want to ride!

Let’s GO!

 

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It is Valentine’s Day today and at this particular time in my life, I am once again my own Valentine, as I have been over the past several years. I am also at a time of looking backwards, mindfully pondering where I have been in my life, where I am, presently, in the very much appreciated NOW, and lingering with questions regarding where I am headed in the future, next, in this still unknown third chapter of life.

I have been child, teenager, girlfriend, wife, lover, Mother, Professional, Grandmother. I have been many things at various stages, overlaying one onto the other like those Russian dolls that nest within each other, starting small and growing larger with each new role. I have been them all and today on a rather unusually configured Valentine’s Day culturally, astrologically and spiritually, I especially ponder the “me” that has been both Tartalina, and Priestess.

Two things: Today’s Valentine’s Day also falls on the day of Ash Wednesday. From an astrological/archetypal point of view, this is a rather interesting mix:  An “8th House” mix for those who speak and understand the poetic language of astrology.

The” 8th House”  is about several things but commonly  sex and death are initially considered.  Today’s Valentine’s Day oddly contains both themes for those who honor or ritualize both the popular cultural theme of romance and the more serious spiritual and religious consideration of death. This Valentine’s day offers us the opportunity to consider both sex/love and death as important and transformative experiences with the invitation to fully embrace Life.

In sex/love, the heart is opened and beating with Life, passion and connection. In death, the heart and beating are closed and earthly connection is released. In sex and love we can be healed but also we can be wounded which when lost, is like a death. In death, we if spiritually inspired, dream or believe our spirits move into a place of total love and merging with the All. Ash Wednesday reminds us of that return back to from where we came.

Big things to ponder here.

But now back to Tartalina and the Priestess.

A number of years ago, a dear artist Friend named Madeline, gifted me on my birthday with a doll she made to celebrate the qualities of the sacred feminine and love of ritual that we both share. The Priestess doll represents the spiritual quality of  the Virgin-One-Unto-Herself experience and knowing that is in every woman, some of us a little more aware than others of the sacred times of ritual, connection to the holiness/wholiness of the earth, the seasons , the phases of the moon and planets and the many seasons and moods within us. This beautiful doll with the golden hair representing the return of Spring’s bright sun in the month of May (my birthday month) and the waning moon on her forehead foreshadowing release and letting go speak to the same qualities that we experience in our lives.  There is much to ponder in the symbolism that Madeline placed artfully onto the Priestess Doll.  The Priestess is all knowing of the cycles of life …birth, the fullness of Life,  and death along the continuum of our time here. She knows we come from ashes and to ashes we shall return.   And I am her.

The other doll is “Tartalina”, made in a private workshop Madeline gave to me and another close friend of hers. Both myself and that friend were coming out of complex and  passionate love affairs that broke our hearts and we were in great need of healing.

When coming out of a passionate relationship that has been “the best and worst thing that every happened to us”,  there is a decision to be made in the grief process as to whether we close our hearts totally in renunciation and self protection, or to, after a time, keep our hearts open to the new, to risk love once again despite having been wounded.

I created “Tartalina” to hold that broken heart open in love and understanding, and to honor the alive passionate sensual part of my nature that is as holy and private as my deepest spirituality. She is about owning and loving the sacred, mischievous, naughty, physical, spicy, tart-like feminine expression that is pure sensual delight. I created her to be beautiful and earthy with her long legs delicately imprinted with garden vines and green hair of nature and veriditas for these are earthly as well as spiritual powers. She is a Valentine. And I am her.

I am Tartalina and Priestess combined and in this middle phase of the blessed “NOW” between the remembrances of the Past and the as-yet unknown answers of the Future, I honor and love them both, knowing I can call their qualities and virtues back in whenever necessary.

An incredible Love Story: The Artist is Present: As she sits  silently for eight hours  looking into the eyes  of anyone who wishes to be seen, she is startled when an important lover from the past takes the chair in front of her. Deeply moving.

 

Happy Valentine’s Day to me! …and with love to all of you as well!

From Christine, the greening spirit

Cranberyy 2

 

 

I am on FB/social media daily and interact with a number of creative people who are free-spirited and artsy: craftspersons, lovers of music and dance, writers, poets, painters,photographers,animal lovers,  yoga teachers…. and political activists in this chaotic time of challenging social priorities.

However recently this past year, showing up in my feedback stream are a number of posts (or comments) by persons of fundamentalist religious beliefs who are ardent about particular issues that they feel are dangerous, sinful, against God’s will or threatening to their biblical or dogmatic faith teachings. These passionate concerns include issues around pro-choice vs pro-life legislation, transgenderism, gay relationships, emerging women’s voices with access to public power for change, to name a few.  Let me say that altho we may differ vastly on what we think about these issues, both they and I have a common right to think what we will.

Debate that can often lead to arguments as to who holds the “Truth” are common although I try not to engage in that way, beyond stating what feels right to me…for me. What I ardently resist is the attempted legal imposition of fundamentalist  belief systems upon the rights of others to choose for themselves how to live a sane and hopefully moral life.

And I do not hold that there is only one valid spiritual path that is the one true faith for all and that that one path is a cure for all of societies ills.

As the prophetic priestly Matthew Fox often says of the world’s spiritual Wisdom traditions :  “One River, Many Wells”.

I teach a variety of courses at a local University and one of them, a course I describe as “a retreat in an academic setting” focuses on three words (plus one) from a poem by the Celtic poet John O’Donohue.  The three words are Silence, Stillness, and Solitude. I added the “plus one” as Simplicity. These words are practices that help us to discern a deep ability to access a personal  spiritual conscience leading to right and just decision making personally and in society.

A meditative exercise we do to demonstrate open-ness and respect for the many ways of finding a healthy inner guidance system without judgementalism born of fundamentalist hubris is the artistic creation of our Soul Mandalas.

Each person receives a black and white image of a complex mandala design. Everyone receives the exact same image (ONE RIVER). In quiet meditation to soft music, everyone colors this image. At the end of the exercise we display our creations and are awed at the diversity (MANY WELLS) and all and each one is beautiful, whole and unique. Yet the original pattern is identical. Each of us, given free will (and a set of colored markers) must personally create a life, a spiritual path, a Voice for what we stand for without demanding that everyone else believe as we do or denigrating others for standing up for justice from another angle. We each color in our mandalas without demanding that they are colored in the same way.

Often then a challenge comes back such as “well is MURDER a valid life choice, or GREED or LYING or Terrorism? And should we accept those? ”  Common sense and decency can answer that one. The issue here is about intolerance of diversity in how people make life choices that lead them to whom they were meant to be in the Creator’s plan for service and inspiration for others.

It is vital in today’s complex society filled with so many forceful “opinions”,  judgments and and sometimes “righteous” religious hubris, to craft honorable discernment through personal spiritual work and the humble practices of Silence, Stillness, Periodic Solitude, and Simplicity.

And it is also vital to keep the image of these multi-colored mandalas in our imagination and the wise teaching of One River, Many Wells.

OLLI Class photo

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

OLLI peace

 

 

 

 

JOURNAL ENTRY

March 28, 2017 – Tuesday

The world of ” the news” is too much with me and for sure “the world’s way” is not my way these days. The intentional  chosen silence and stillness of the “Inner Monastery” is my sanity and my saving right now.

Yesterday a book I had ordered arrived in the mail: “Seven Sacred Pauses: Living Mindfully Through the Hours of the Day” by Benedictine nun, Macrina Wiederkehr. I cannot fully express the delight and joy that has enveloped me as I entered the pages of this exquisite guide to prayers and reflections praying the hours of the day. This book, and “The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul through Monastic Wisdom” by Christine Valters Paintner are, and are to be, the prayer books that guide my life on a daily basis. It is with a deep sense of wonder and joy that these books have found me.

The Hours of the Day are little monastic pauses from Dark to Light to Dark again…a mindfullness of the messages inherent in the turning of the wheel of each day and night, never ceasing. I have always known this, and have lived it out in special ways and also known when I have NOT. This is a marvelous and soothing “coming home” to a path I wandered off of in tending to pressing matters these past couple of years.

This morning of course is the prayer of LAUDS at the waking up, the coming of sunrise. Except these days I often wake up with a sadness that either I cannot name or that has many names. And this morning as I read the new inspiration and prayers in Macrina’s book of reflection, I found myself inspired but also very groggy, wanting nothing more than to settle back into bed and snuggle under the covers listening to the silence before the light.

Macrina waxes poetic over the coming of sunrise and the light. You can tell it is her favorite hour of the day. However, this morning outside it is white and grey, not golden, as we are enveloped in fog and mist and the actually sunrise was and is not discernable. It is of course no longer dark, but light….not bright, casting legnthy and moving shadows, but soft and muted and a little echo-y. I give myself liberty to languish quietly into the comfort of couch and covers with my cup of coffee, in silence, and watching the path and leafless woods outside. This is the best I can do today this morning, aware of the new day to unfold, but feeling very lazy, so staying close to “what is” in the moment, I offer gratefulness and praise for the opportunity in my life right now to BE lazy and indolent in this early morning today.

I have a question about the landscape here however. We have so many trees…but where are the birds? Where is the chirping and trilling and sounds of life among the trees? I am used to the sounds of birds sometimes at 4 am in the wee hours back at my former home, my little cottage. It is now 9:02 am and I hear very faintly in the distance on this property, a soft occasional chirping…but not right here outside my apartment. Why not? Why not here?

I am asking this question of the Angels in charge of the birds.

“Perhaps the birds are also lazy this morning as well. Patience…”

Perhaps all is just as it should be. 

Now at last: Good Morning, World!

from Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

Healing Magic (2) ed

Some of us cannot be defined by a singular spiritual path but instead, draw from  the richness of a variety of traditions to inspire and nourish the diverse complexities of soul within and around us. For example, for the past several weeks I have been incorporating the Benedictine cycle of the Hours of the Day and Night, pausing to notate the energies and themes of Vigils  ( Deepest Night/ The Great Silence/Knowing the Truth)…Lauds (Sunrise/Praise and Celebration)…Terce and Prime (Mid-Morning/Work and the Art of Blessing)…Sext (Noon/Praying for Peace)…None (Mid-Afternoon/Nothing Lasts Forever)…Vespers (Evening/Coming Home and Community)…and Compline (Bedtime/Early Night/Asking for Good Dreams/Entering the Great Silence),  returning again through Deepest night, to Sunrise. Another day! Another gifted opportunity in which to create something new!

This pausing and mindfulness of the blessings and tasks of these hours has deepened  my appreciation and love of the cyclical nature of each twenty-four hour day from dark to light and back to dark again and connected me to the monastic rooms of my own soulful “Interior Castle”.

Living this way, although coming from a religious tradition, is really quite “magical” as spiritual practice, connecting me to the Great Mystery of Life and he rhythms of the earth and heavens that are felt and experienced rather than just described in words or print. In truth, the best of the mystical traditions, free of dogma, have never lost their connection to the Earth, nature and “the great Round” of the seasons, the moon, and the year.

Yesterday, my Library Angel “ACE”, through the agency of a soul-sister, handed me another book that is also a rich reminder of a path of soul that is ever a part of my own journey through life. All the way from “monk” to “green witch”… beloved traditions that each in their own ways have never lost the spirituality, and practices of the Earth, Cycles and Seasons of Celebration and Transformation.

Sitting on the front deck, feet up, un-apologeticley spending the afternoon reading “Healing Magic-A Green Witch Handbook” by Robin Rose Bennett and drinking fresh lemon balm and lemon verbena tea from the garden…. (the “Hours” of my reading being between mid-afternoon (None) to earliest evening (Vespers)… I once again reveled in herb lore, moon lore, tree lore, chakras and medicine wheels, the tarot wisdom, women’s sacred cycles and rituals and wise-women traditions.

Is there conflict between the monastic path of awareness and the green witch path? Not within me, as they each dance, blend and honor celebration, silence, prayer, ritual, presence, communication, intuition, gratitude and praise, beauty, and periodic chosen solitude to be one-on-one with the good and virtuous inner Voices of the “invisible” world…angels, ancestors, guides and God.

Is there conflict between the monastic path of earth-centeredness and the green witch path and the relationships with the healing plants/herbs of field, forest and gardens? I think not, remembering the wise women of the villages and the brother monks in the monastery gardens who all were keepers of the secret powers of lemon balm and lemon verbena tea!

lemon balm tea (2)

And so:

“Healing Magic is rooted in the earth. It’s basis and foundation is the realization of immanence, which is the recognition that the Great Mystery that gives life to the earth and he universe is within the earth as well as transcendent. It (God-Goddess-All-That-Is) exists within us and within the land–every tree, every animal, every pebble and every so-called inanimate object”  ~Robin Rose Bennett (Healing Magic: a Green Witch Guidebook)

 

“There is a secret place. A radiant sanctuary. As real as your own kitchen. More real than that. Constructed of the purest elements. Overflowing with the ten thousand beautiful things. Worlds within worlds. Forests, rivers. Velvet coverlets thrown over featherbeds, fountains bubbling beneath a canopy of stars. Bountiful forests, universal libraries. A wine cellar offering an intox cation so sweet you will never be sober again. A clarity so complete you will never again forget. This magnificent refuge is inside you. Enter. Shatter the darkness that shrouds the doorway… Believe the incredible truth that the Beloved has chosen for his dwelling place the core of your own being because that is the single most beautiful place in all of creation. ~ St. Theresa of Avila (The Interior Castle)

May Magic and Holy Blessings Be Yours!  (one and the same,,,)

Pearls GardeningFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

 

 

Monk Endrts (2)

The “world” seems quite crazy right now, populated in the media by some very bizzare personalities, stories and situations presented and talked about all day long 24/7 . If one has the tv habit of watching, which I do NOT voluntarily have, the world presented to us is so disturbing, divisive and dangerous that one has limited choices for dealing with it ie  joining the fray with words and verbal combat, insuring a fractured angry heart, or the duck and cover response, insuring disaster and despair when it all goes down and one is left un-prepared to deal with new realities. A third choice is to be very very picky about information coming in from the outside, choosing wisely what informants we listen to, and taking time away from it all to listen from the inside-out.. listen to our own heart and intuition speaking the truth of sanity, peace, balance and love. It also is so important and healing to bring that inner-knowing of virtue back out in some form of creativity and self expression ( (writing, painting, poetry, music, gardening, cooking, STORYTELLING etc)  thus becoming an “Artist”..an Artist of Life, bringing beauty and mindful care to a chaotic world. YOUR world. 

A gem of a book recently came into my life by serendipity while I was deeply pondering these things. A timely toss from my Library Angel, “ACE”  (Angel- in -Charge of- My -Education), this treasure “The Artist’s Rule: Nurturing Your Creative Soul with Monastic Wisdom” by Christine Valters Paintner came into my possession as one of the many “winks” from the Universe when I am on the right track in my personal unfolding into who I am meant to be or what I am supposed to be doing.

In this beautifully written book, much of which sounds like it is out of my own journals, the author ties together the similarities of spirit of the archetypes and practices of both the Monk and the Artist. Following her lovely suggestions for both the practice of the the Lectio Divina and especially the Praying/Presence of the Hours of the Day, I started to incorporate the markings of time s during the day to re-collect myself back into a state of peace, awareness of “the NOW” and gratitude and blessing for exact place and moment I was in. 

Often in my life…VERY often..when committing myself to this inner state of  stillness, peace, presence and LISTENING I receive surprise messages from the Ethers, from “The Universe” that cheerlead  me  on, often making me laugh out loud in the playful way my direction is validated. And this experimentation with the archetypes of Monk/Artist was no exception.

With book in hand, I drove as I often do to a special retreat center on a little island off of the coast of Connecticut, where I photograph the gardens, walk by the sea, and enjoy the peace and music of wind and water, and the solidness of earth for several hours. I parked the car, and found a big rock upon which to perch reading through the section about the “Inner Monastery” accessed through silence, solitude and nature. When, who should appear right in front of me, strolling with a friend across the vast lawn towards the sea, but a MONK himself, in grey habit, rosary beads hooked on the knotted corded belt around his waist, and sandals on his feet.

This retreat center’s grounds are open to the public like a park, and I am there so often during the week when there are few people there and I almost have the place to myself. I can tell you that in all that time, though I have sometimes shared the gardens with couples, people walking their dogs, friends sitting on lawn chairs by the ocean quietly having lunch, or pray-ers on retreat walking slowly in meditation, I have NEVER had a MONK cross my path.

But it did happen that very day as I held the book about the Monk and Artist open on my lap and for sure I recognized that manifesting that monk at that very moment was a very merry communicaton from that who watches and guides my own journey..a “wink” from God, from my angels and/or chorus of ancestor guides.

Enders Sept 4

Lest you think that these validated moments into the Inner Monastery shelter us totally from dealing with the chaotic life-times we live in , I must admit the inconvenient truth that the Monk/Artist first steps back to center and remember the assignment he/she was “given” when coming here, and is then required to go back out and engage the “world” in truth-telling, vision and beauty..making an artful life and bringing hope and healing. In the monastic Rule of St. Benedict centuries ago, he writes of the backbone of this task.

     “Your way of acting should be different from the world’s way”.

I like that. And it frees me, gets me off the hook trying to explain the personal path that seems to wander in a different direction than the dominant culture and its consumeristic, militaristic, competitive prescriptions for “happiness” and fulfillment.

I feel okay if not delighted with this, and the “winks” that so playfully manifest all sorts of affirmations to ” keep on with it! “….

*** In another afternoon visit  to this place several weeks later,  I was walking down a path towards the gardens, when whom should appear walking this time down the spath TOWARDS me but this very  same monk! In our sudden  face to face encounter, we chatted and I found out his name…Brother Seamus…another surprise “wink from God”.

update Feb 2016 (2)From Christine, the Greening Spirit

***** DON”T BE SHY….SAY HI! *****

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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