Tag Archive: Spiritual direction


Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship, but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

IMG_0695 (4).jpg Frost on Glass

The Art of Deep-Seeing is the practice of slowing down, paying attention and being present to the Miracles and Magic that surround us all the time, every day, every place, no matter where we are.

To some, the Art of Deep Seeing comes naturally.This is especially true if one’s personal pace and daily schedule offers the opportunity to not just “look” as we dash through on our way to somewhere else,  but rather to stop and allow things to surprise us. When that happens these seemingly ordinary “things” capture our attention with their beauty, their patterns and colors, and especially their metaphors..that is, what they simply are and  what they suggest to us symbolically.

The morning I captured this picture, or rather…it captured me…. was one on which a sudden sharp dark-night frost unexpectedly coated the windows of my car, the blades of dried grass and the glass jars I had washed and set out on the deck to drain and dry. Yes, in the early morning,  I had to scrape the windows of the car, scatter ice-melt on the front steps and mourn a potted rosemary plant that had taken the sudden freeze to heart, and sadly died.

But then I noticed a slant of cold early morning light beaming through the bushes and across the railing of the deck…and in all crystalline brilliance and color, was a feather-thin pattern and sparkle of ice on those glass jars.  Looking closely at them, I could see the icy crystals in a pattern of radiating stars as if  the frost had captured and imprinted the night sky full of twinkling bodies of light upon the surface of the glass.

The magic of camera went one step beyond the naked eye, and the editing program of cropping and color went several steps beyond the camera. And what do we see once again but the ingenuity, the beauty, the creativity, the mirroring of stars and sky upon earth and in water:  crystals, gems, snowflakes, stars, the sparkle of mischief, humor , intelligence  and LIGHT in the eyes of humans and all creatures on earth. Wealth and abundance of spirit everywhere. .and a multitude of Possibilities!  Is it actually possible to count each individual ice crystal upon that small patch of glass, let alone all the individual ice crystals of that morning?

Rev. Matthew Fox, author of “Original Blessing” often says “Where there is Awe, there is prayer”. (Awe as in “oh wow! Look at THAT!”)

I guess this was a morning prayer.

Move slowly, and with Presence. Be surprised when what was hidden because you looked but didn’t see, suddenly reveals itself to you in your rare moment of stillness.

It’s always about Magic.

Christine, The Greening Spirit

Hat 5

One of the  literary options available to a  Writer is the “Memoir”. Why do we write memoirs? Well, party to more fully understand and process personal life events of deep meaning or confusion,  partly to share with others so that they may recognize parts of their own stories in ours and find comfort, healing, celebration, affirmation and connection… and most significantly, to follow the most important virtue of writing, which is to tell the truth as we remember or experience it at any one time. The Greening Spirit is about life and the cycles of the seasons as well as the cycles of the many seasons we live through emotionally, spiritually or physically. This is one memoir of a season of letting go, of remembering and honoring when things have been difficult.

                                                      
                                                             My Mother’s Hat

When the box arrived from my brother a number of months after Mom’s death, I knew it was going to contain her “furs”.  He really wanted to send them on, saying they were part of my “inheritance” but I really did not want them for  a variety of reasons, both simple and complicated.

One, I don’t wear furs (who does these days?)  and secondly,  I would have to find a place to put the large box in my already-cluttered tiny house while I figured out what to do with the contents and where to dispose of them. (Donate to the theater department at the University?  Take them to a consignment shop? Give them to Goodwill?)

Those are the simple reasons. The complicated ones have to do with emotions and unresolved wounds from our very unfortunate, if not tragic, contentious and dysfunctional relationship filled with disconnected-ness, hostility, punishment, disappointment and pain. My mother was a very complex person.  A very difficult, angry and punishing person. The fact was, I simply did not want anything that belonged to Mom at this time. There was no one treasure or keepsake that I longed for as a reminder of our pained relationship, no one item that I longed for as a memory of a close, caring or supportive mother/daughter relationship, because really though I had longed for it , it just had not been.

When I opened the box, there they were, neatly folded and flattened: a tiny golden mink coat that had been my Nana’s  (my mother’s mother) and passed on to Mom when Nana died. Were they both so TINY? The coat looked like it would fit on a 12 year old child. Next, a grey stole, soft and classy, of the kind worn covering the shoulders in the 40’s through the 60’s before animal rights activists cursed such  apparel, this item of clothing replacing a coat or cape in glamorous style. Underneath that,  a fluffy white rabbit fur jacket that I remember her receiving one Christmas. From Dad, I think. (How did he know? I’d think she bought it for herself, “from him”).  A golden mink hat to go with the mink, all items that I would not wear for sure, although the grey fur stole with satin lining would be kind of stylish “retro” if I were going to a party. I sat looking at these items with a *sigh*. What was I going to do with these things?

There was a canvas bag with zipper which I opened, filled with gloves…tiny ones  for such a tiny pair of hands. Really, I never remember noticing how small my mother’s hands were. I do remember them being deformed at the knuckles from degenerative arthritis and I remember the operations on her knuckles to try to correct them and the ruby ring on her finger that she inherited from her sister Gina who died in Europe. None of these gloves would fit my larger hands, but I knew that these gloves..smooth leather, or felt… had kept her hands warm as a necessity in the brutally cold winters of upstate New York. I also remember that there was a time when gloves were a part of dressing up appropriately for important appearances like church on Easter Sunday when I was very little. Not now. We only wear gloves in cold weather, and mine are stretchy woven things purchased at Job Lot. Warm. Inexpensive, easily replaced when inevitably I would lose one of the pair..  But not classy. No, the gloves would have to go, along with the coats.

Then…then…a small pile of many colored fur hats. Except for the hat of golden mink that apparently matched the fur coat, they were of several varieties of more contemporary and politically correct faux fur. These I lifted out of the box, taking myself and them to the mirror in the bathroom. One by one, I tried them on…each decorated with a flirty little pin on the side. I remembered how in both the dresses, and the pins on the hats, and the “tilt” of the hat on the head, there was always  a sassy slant of decoration or position…a kind of stylish flair that expressed the drama, the theatrical, the “Glamour” of the maternal Family women: the “actress, the attitude, the “posturing” of glamour. Sometimes it embarrassed me greatly when in the presence of my friends, seemingly false, untrue or melodramatic. But now, far away from those times and Mom’s actual presence, and after looking through the albums and pictures of the her family of origin way before I was born, I can kind of smile about this, appreciating both the  valid expressions of high style in the manner of show people and entertainers, and the longing to incorporate beauty, color and drama into the Personas and presentations to the world. No “hausfraus” in smocks  in this side of the family.

So back to the hats. Three of the four..all faux fur of different colors…were a little small and tight for my head size. But one of them, a mix of brown and grey fur, with a silver pin  attached by Mom for “upping the ante, style-wise” or as she would say “you know, for a little ‘décor’”…fit quite nicely. I turned it this way and that to see where the pin might look best, and I guess true to the genes and lineage, tilted it to the right at an angle..a little off-kilter stylish sass…yes, a touch of glamour. And that’s where it looked best.  And…I liked it.

This was new for me. I don’t usually wear hats. And I was uncertain and more than a bit uncomfortable wearing a piece of Mom’s personal clothing. It felt a little spooky, it brought up memories that made me quite sad. But somehow I needed to wear that hat, which I did for two days whenever I went out. It really seemed to be perfect on my head, looked good, and kept thoughts about Mom…always thoughts of confusion and emotional complexity… in my awareness re things between us that have slowly mellowed from anger into sadness so far. Things that simply were and best let go of, and things that “could have been” but never were. But wearing the hat seemed to have a certain connection that was gently opening a feeling of appropriate grief, acknowledged in its own time. Which apparently is now.

Yet there was something about this hat, or wearing this hat that was not comfortable. A subtle scent of it when held in the hand, or when I wore it…a  faint combination of someone else’s natural fragrance, a hint of cigarette smoke and a remembrance of a light cologne. I never ever could bear the smell of cigarette smoke or the ashes, and my eyes always stung and watered when around Mom and her habit,  I constantly moving out of the range of the drifting smoke from the cigarette. And Mom, in her self-centered ways, would become angry with me for this, asserting her right to smoke when she pleased whether or not it was hurtful to others in her presence .We did not have the right to breathe fresh air and not have stinging eyes, but it WAS her right to smoke without interference,  and  for us to ask for it not to be was taken as direct and unfair criticism by her, resisted with hostility.

What to do? The scent though subtle, barely detectable and elusive was nonetheless real, and the feelings and memories associated with it, would not allow me to accept this hat as a fitting keepsake. But I did want it, for in truth we all need a mother….

Not knowing if it would shrink the hat, I took the risk to wash it. I washed it in an organic dish soap (Mrs. Meyer’s) that is very pleasing to me, with the scent of rose geranium. I let it soak for a bit in cold water, squeezing gently for the water, soap and scent to thoroughly cleanse away what was not mine and should be let go of. (Maybe a cleansing of memories as well..?)  I hoped that the hat would not shrink, and handled it gently and with care, rinsing away the old and absorbing the delicate and loving scent of rose geranium. Gently squeezing out the moisture, shaking and fluffing it, it was then  hung over the shower head to dry, and on the third day, hung outside on the brambles of the wild rose bush that crawls over my deck, for the cold and fresh air to add a new aliveness.

Hat

The hat still has Mom’s energy in it because she wore it, in and out of the car on her short and busy trips here and there, and on her head in those fierce winters going in and out of the house to scrape and brush ice and snow off of the car, or shovel a path to it. I’m thinking of her when I see this hat on the shelf her or if I place it on my head, with the silver pin tilted stylishly to the side. It smells of fresh air and rose geranium..an herb of love and beauty and healing of the heart. I think this is a “Remembrance and forgiving in its own time, after a death with un-resolved loose ends”.  It feels gentle.

And that is the story about my mother’s hat. Now mine. Or rather, “Ours”.

Moi hat 2

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION/SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE

  • IMG_0869For those on a spiritual journey who are seeking guidance and support in deepening their personal connections to Spirit, by whatever name they experience it, the Mystery, The Divine

         *  For those who are in the process of finding their own Authentic Voice to name and claim their life’s experience.

         *  For those who are are seeking encouragement in the adventure of discovering their own inate creative potential and gifts.

         *  For those who wish to find new words and perspectives with which to examine and re-frame their life direction and Soul-path.

 For those who seek Wise, Ethical, Respectful Counsel, and Compassionate Dialogue, at a new Threshold/Passage.

SPIRITUAL DIRECTION: Working with your traditional spiritual roots, or questioning them in the process of seeking a new path . (It is good to make peace with your parents/heritage!)

 Creatiing new prayer forms and personal ritual appropriate to your maturing Soul’s Unfolding. May include scripture, poetry, literature, the arts and Dreamwork for Inspiration and personal prayer. Astrological profile information included. In person or by phone.  

1 hour:  $65-$85 sliding scale

Contact: Christine Phoenix-Green at:  anamcara131@hotmail.com   OR cphoenixrising@earthlink.net

The Dance of the Femine Face of GodA week ago at the Greening Spirit’s Home, we had an evening convocation of spirited women coming together in another one of our sacred Circles to learn and share community, wisdom and inspiration. The purpose of this gathering was to view the newly- released documentary of the visionary artist, Meinrad Criaghead. Formerly a contemplative Benedictine nun for 14 years, she is now a shining Elder who lives simply in a small home and studio in New Mexico, by the Rio Grande, with her canine companion,  opening her heart and space to small groups of women coming in on occasion for communal retreat and contemplative renewal.

Meinrad was not just your ordinary contemplative  Catholic nun living in a monastery. While participating fully in the Christian practices and life of Catholic teachings,  her primary workplace within that community was in the art studio, creating wild and passionate paintings expressing her private inner relationship with God the Mother.

Since the paintings were recognized in the art world as something quite extraordinary and were selling to those who understood and appreciated what they saw, and because monasteries must support themselves independently (jams, cordials, greeting cards, fruitcakes etc) the Order’s practical monastic financial  saavy left Meinrad alone to produce darkly beautiful images of the Divine Feminine….and so starkly and passionately that I am sure in another age, she may have been burned at the stake for heresy!

Before watching the movie, and with a huge bowl of sweet and salty Kettle Corn on our table altar for sensual treats, we went around the circle so that each woman could introduce herself and share her original spiritual backround, and where she was now on her spiritual path and present naming of God. There was eagerness  in each women to speak about this, and eagerness and intensity in each of the women to listen deeply to the experiences revealed, without judgement, without challenge, and with the greatest hospitality and reverence. No one seemed to have to fill a desire to make a point, take a stand, but rather to Learn and Listen, Question and Share.

The stories each woman shared about their former religious paths were deeply engaging, amusing, comforting and shocking. Three of us had grown up Catholic and had loved the sensuous beauty of Catholic liturgy…the lovely music, the candles, the incense, the artwork , the gorgeous and inspiring setting and architechtural design of Church and stained-glass windows as well as the ritual of the Mass and “Time Apart-ness”  in the silence of catherdral or chapel  Yet now, all of us,  past the age of 50, have moved away from full participation, if at all, in  the traditional parish church and the patriarchal language, teaching  and practices that have silenced women’s voices and ignored the sacred passages inherent in a women’s life cycle…which  are very dramatic if we start to name what those passages are, biologically, spiritually and psychologically. The naming of God remained more problematic..If God were not inherently MALE, then is God FEMALE ?  Do we say “Goddess” instead, which for some is just as problematic as “God”. The consensus for our naming was that one woman said yes, for her the image of God remained Male out of familiarity, tho now in question. The two others said God is “Mystery/Spirit” and the renaming is now in process. One of us is moving towards the image of the Feminine Face God as in  the Great Mother, or She-Who-Is.

One woman was raised,  and is still active in, the Episcopal church, in which she has experienced the freedom to think more for oneself  than in the Catholic Church, and in which both gay persons and women may be ordained as priests, and even elevated to Bishop.  For her, God is “Spirit” at this time, male imagery gone….but not necessarilly feminine either.

One lovely and deeply spiritual woman was raised a natural “pagan”…no push in her family to go to any church, but a family with strong ethics and ties to home, family, fields and land by the sea, which became Church for her as she played, prayed and listened to nature and the natural flow of one season into another…everything sacred and filled with mystery and delight. To her, Everything is wondrous and Holy. And God is NOT masculine. Not even close.

And finally, one woman’s experiences of being raised in a Greek Orthodox Church drew gasps of surprise and grief. In her story, the most patriarchal of all, women were not allowed to receive communion during their monthly cycle  and after birthing, being seen as “unclean”. A rigid doctrine and body of religious rules forced her of her own volition and will, to flee all such indoctrination, which was so strong that upon leaving she “became” an atheist for a period of time…a leap necessary for her to claim her own authenticity, starting from scratch, and listen deeply within to what the poet Rilke described as ..”that Homesickness for what we cannot name”…, which can only be filled by some sort of personal connection to Mystery/Source,/God -of-your-own Naming.  Now presently finding a spiritual home within the Unitarian Community,  she expressed that our little Circle that evening felt like the finding   a gentle comfort addressing  a corner of  “that Homesickness that we cannot name”:  the candle on our altar, the incense in the air, the deep sharing of our stories in the VOICES and EXPERIENCES of Women seeking the Sacred, which are powerful and transformational forms of personal Sacred Scripture holding deep wisdom individually and for each other. Even gratitude too,  for the experience to dialogue with others over the concept of “God”.

The documentary of the Life of Meinrad Craighead was deeply moving, inspirational, emotional. Afterwards we shared about those stark,sometimes dark, always strange and beautiful images from her visions and paintings of the Divine Mother, The Feminine Face of God. At evening’s end, there were huge hugs, new connections, exchanges of phone numbers, and an enormous energy of gratitude, homecoming and blessing….

This was another form of “Church”.  In exploring the Feminine Face of God, we left with no Answers, but with many many new Questions…which as Rilke also said,   (…it is not as  important to have answers as it is to)…”Live the Questions…”

Through this evening, in Circle , with its  reverential and soul-sharing stories of the Feminine EXPERIENCE of the Sacred…God became Bigger.    

Yes, SHE did.

*Note: “Dancing Goddess on Fence” by Artist David Hickey, now living in Peterborough, Canada

 INSIGHT GUIDANCE SOULWORK SESSIONS  are one-on-one personal discernment sessions….(in person, or by phone) for:

  • For those on a spiritual journey who are seeking guidance and support in deepening their personal connections to Spirit, by whatever name they experience it, the Mystery, The Divine.
  • For those who are in the process of finding their own Authentic Voice to name and claim their life’s experience
  • For those who are are seeking encouragement in the adventure of own inate creative potential and gifts.
  • For those who wish to find new words and perspectives with which to examine and re-frame their life direction and Soul-path.
  • For those who seek Wise, Ethical, Respectful Counsel, and Compassionate Dialogue, at a new Threshold/Passage.

There are several modalities , or  “doorways”  into the mysteries and questions of your own Life and Experiences. They are:

  1. DREAMS, Archetypes and Dreamtasking-working with your dreams, and their message for your life 1 hour-$65
  2. INSIGHT Intuitive Guidance Session with Oracle cards ( a highly inter-active process)- click on page for full description 1 hour- $65 TAROT “Light” (shorter readings and dialogue…) click on Tarot page for full description 30 min-$45
  3.  SPIRITUAL DIRECTION/Guidance : Working with your traditional spiritual roots, or questioning them in the process of seeking a new path. Creatiing new personal prayer forms amd sacred ritual. (click on Spiritual Direction page for more information) 1 hour-$65
  4. EVOLUTIONARY ASTROLOGYYOUR BIRTH CHART is your own personal LIFE LESSON PLAN  guiding you to live out your  highest evolutionary potential! A reading will assist you and your  deeper questions about your Life’s meaning, purposes and transitions ..(click on Astrology page for post and description) aprrox. 90 minutes in person, taped or by phone (not taped, must take personal notes)- $135
  5. TAROT “Light” (shorter readings and dialogue…) click on Tarot page for full description 30 min-$45

Please click on the Page Menu to the left to learn more about each of these choices for Personal Insight Guidance services,contact and scheduling.  

For  personal appointments please contact Christine Phoenix-Green  at : cphoenixrising@earthlink.net or thegreeningspirit.wordpress.com.

Gifts cerificates are a nice idea too, for a friend or family member!

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see music website: http://c_phoenixrising.home.mindspring.com    for teaching  style and description/testimonials/newspaper article  .

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