Yesterday I spent time engaged in a ritual designed by Starhawk. It was an invitation to go outdoors, to encounter a growing plant, study it, listen to its wisdom, learn from it. This is what aboriginal shamans did, how they learned about the medicinal qualities of plants as well as other aspects of earth wisdom.
This plant in my garden is awakened by the sun’s morning appearance in the east, inviting her to live a new day. Reflecting on this, I recalled words of Ezechiel: “Live and grow like the grass in the fields”. Was this the plant’s wisdom for me? I turned towards the south whose warmth engenders life within this plant, asking what I need to engender new life from within. I remembered the west wind loved by poets, the winds that ruffle the leaves of this plant, soothing, caressing. I remembered friends whose gentle winds of love sustain me through times of inner turmoil. I faced north, the place of transformation. What is north for this plant?
Winter, I thought, imagining her glossy green leaves brittle, brown, broken. Winter when she must let go of all she cherishes, feeling it blown away by cold winds until nothing remains but her buried roots. Under the snow-covered garden, she endures the long wait through darkness until her new life emerges with spring. But would she know about spring? I found my thoughts turning to my own life, to the way I resist recurring cycles of loss and transformation, as though I too were ignorant of the way spring must follow winter.
I looked at my plant, admiring her steady presence, her calm acceptance of the rhythms of life…. She has become my wisdom-teacher.That ritual opened my heart when I later read Rilke’s poem, “The Apple Orchard” :
bear the weight of a hundred days of labor
in their heavy, ripening fruit.
They serve with endless patience to teach
how even that which exceeds all measure
must be taken up and given away,
as we, through long years,
quietly grow toward the one thing we can be.
(in “A Year with Rilke“ Joanna Macy, Anita Barrows, ed.)
My heart knew urgency. What is that “one thing (I) can be?” And how soon might my winter come? I decided to share with you, my blog readers, the work which has been taking shape in my life, the “one thing” that I can be and can do. I invite you to be part of something new that I have been called to create, as my small work within the great work of transforming spirituality in and for our time.
June is opening around us, releasing young birds into the air, drawing the tall purple Iris into bloom, bursting trees into leafy greenness. At each moment the universe is birthing newness. We in whom the universe dwells are continuously being reborn. Yet we carry in our hearts, our minds, our very souls, old, outworn, decaying images and thoughts of the sacred, unaware of the beauty within us, blind to our own light, deaf to the music of our longings, utterly incapable of knowing how deeply we are loved.
Reflecting on Ephesians 4:6, Elizabeth Johnson writes:
The One who blows the wild wind of life, who fires the blaze of being, who gives birth to the world, or who midwifes it into existence does not stand over against it or rule it hierarchically from afar but dwells in intimate, quickening relationship with humanity and the life of the earth…. Enfolding and unfolding the universe, the Spirit is holy mystery over all and through all and in all. (in “Woman, Earth and Creator Spirit“ Paulist Press 1993 p. 57)
We are being wooed by a Love passionate and faithful beyond our imaginings, a Love that yearns for our freedom, our transformation from caterpillar to butterfly, into a newness that is joyous, rich, empowered to reach out in love to transform the world.
What I want to say is
that the past is the past
and the present is what your life is,
and you are capable of choosing what that will be…
So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbour of your longing,
and put your lips to the world
and live your life.
There are three aspects of this invitation for you to consider, allowing your own desires to guide you in your choice to become involved in one, or two or all three facets of the work.
First, gather a group of friends who share your desire to imagine/ to explore/ to create together a new expression of spirituality.
Second, contact me to arrange a time and place when I might come to offer the play, “The Wooing of the Soul”, woven around the ancient Irish tale of Midir and Etain.
Third, should you and your friends wish to continue to engage in this adventure on your own, I shall provide resources and suggestions that will assist you, serving as a compass.
If you have been experiencing a stirring, a call to incarnate a new way of knowing the Holy, a desire to share this with others, you may wish to pray these words from Clarissa Pinkola Estes:
Please remind me that people are waiting for my work,
That I make them suffer even more by withholding it.
Please help me to create in all mercy toward others
For I’ve been given everything I need to be one who awakens myself and others through
how I live, how I work, not so much even in the doing than in the BEING….
I am willing to work with you to make this possible, affordable, enchanting. It will form the heart of my work over the years ahead. You may contact me if you have questions or for further clarity. firstname.lastname@example.org
Let us together put our lips to the world and live our life!
Anne Kathleen McLaughlin