A most unlikely place to hide a promise. But here it lies. Within the writings of a little-known first century Roman, Lucius Apuleius, whose character, a hapless magician, turns himself into an ass. He cries to the Goddess for help. Suddenly, shining like the sun, she is there. She rescues him, refers to her many names, then makes this promise: I am come with solace and aid. Away then with tears. Cease to moan. Send sorrow packing. Soon…shall the sun of your salvation rise…. Eternal religion has dedicated to me the day which will be born from the womb of this present darkness.”
That darkness would envelop the sacred feminine presence, forgetting her many names, abandoning her temples, sending her into two millennia of hiddenness…
Well, almost, but not quite.
The light of the feminine holy, like the Buried Mother Moon of the old English folk-tale, would find a way to break through. The Shekinah of the Jewish Kabbalah, the Sophia of the Book of Wisdom and the Gnostic Gospels, Mary with her wonderful names drawn from the beauty of the planet: Mystical Rose, Star of the Sea, Our Lady of the Pines, of the Lakes, of the Mountains, Madonna of the Rocks… would find her way into hearts ready to receive her light.
We have been born into the time of the great recovery of ancient wisdom from story, myth, legend, from sacred writings, poetry, and ritual, from the peoples of earth-honouring religions: American and Australian Aboriginals; the Ancient Egyptians; the Celts. Within these rediscovered traditions, we find the presence of a Sacred Mother, a womb of life who calls us to honour the earth and all her living systems, to honour ourselves, to honour our bodies which are part of the earth. She calls us to accept the wisdom of the circle of life: its rhythms of dawn to day to dark to day; of spring to summer to autumn to winter to spring; of birth to life to death to rebirth. She calls us by our true name as she invites into the adventure of life in a time when each of us is needed to live fully.
She calls us into joy, through allurement to the hope, to the stunning beauty of a promise born in light. She reminds us that the universe herself is drawn, not through duty, despair, grim determination, but through allurement: the earth is allured to the sun, caught up into a dance of spinning wonder; the moon is allured to earth, circling her in ecstasy; the tides of the seas are allured to the moon, as are the cycles of women’s bodies. Each planet in our galaxy, like each of the galaxies of the universe, of the multiverse, twirls in a passionate dance of awe and delight.
Sophia calls us to awaken on this day which is being born from the womb of this present darkness. Her time is now.
For years, I have felt the call, have been gathering the stories, the poems, the music and dance required for this work. Today is the day of my soul’s awakening. I invite each one of you, called with me into this dance of allurement, to join with me. Together we will awaken the Sophia within, among us.
Today is the day I am accepting this life-task.
It took a powerful nudge.
Yesterday, my Community, the Grey Sisters of Pembroke held a ritual of song, of memory, of prayer and blessing as we said goodbye to the building that had served us since 1956. first as Motherhouse, later as a Spirituality Centre. We said goodbye to the dedicated staff who had companioned us over the decades. Amid tears hugs, laughter, much conversation, we gathered for refreshments.
Afterwards, I lingered. I walked into the rooms where I spent my early years in formation as a Grey Sister. I visited the Chapel, recalling sacred moments of celebration, of prayer during retreat times, moments of searching, seeking, losing, finding. As I stood looking into the open door of the Chapel, ready to say “goodbye”, one moment stood out among the others.
August 2006. Our Chapel had just been renovated, the pews replaced with chairs, suited to a Spirituality Centre. One hundred and fifty people had gathered to celebrate the 80th anniversary of the Community’s new beginning in Pembroke. We had invited Jean Houston and Peg Rubin to lead us in a weekend of “Rediscovering Fire.”
I had met Jean and Peg in the summer of 2005 at their Social Artistry session in Ashland, Oregon. I knew, as I took a crystal stone from the basket Jean was holding, that my life was about to become far more exciting.
On that August day a year later, I approached Jean as she stood ready to begin her session in the sanctuary of the Chapel.
“Look,” I said. “I’ve had a necklace made with the crystal you gave me.”
Without hesitation, Jean took the stone into her hand, saying, “May this be a reminder of all that needs to be done.”
I was wearing that necklace yesterday. I knew that memory was the one that would take me into the future.
A Promise Born in Light.