A day in late June. The scent of wild roses on the wind. The trees around your home that have been stark, bare, skeletal since November are suddenly lush, luxuriant with leafy canopies. The lake in the distance lifts small waves in greeting.
You cannot enter into the joy around you. Some inner darkness is invading your spirit, an inner voice, silent for so long you hoped it had been banished, begins its lacerating litany…
“What have you been playing at? You do not deserve the love of the Sacred One you tell others about. Your life is a sham, and it’s time to admit it… Who do you think you are?”
When you are strong and focused you can silence this voice. Even mock it, laugh at it. Yet today, as clouds gather to swallow the June sunlight, you are defeated. The words eat into your joy, into your very heart, just as surely as the hordes of gypsy moth caterpillars are chewing the hearts of the leaves on the trees that shelter you….
A thunderstorm batters your home, rain drenches the deck. The caterpillars who swarm over railings, floor, table and chairs are delighted. If their many legs could dance, they would.
Finally you sleep that night, waken at dawn, still immersed in inner turmoil. Seated before the Icon of Sophia you offer a desperate prayer: “Send me words, any words that will take away this darkness.”
Not long after, though you’ve already forgotten your prayer, you open your phone to check emails. Five lines fill the small screen with words you haven’t seen before, perhaps the tail end of an earlier email? You have no idea who sent them or in what context. Your hungry heart receives them, wanting to believe they have just this moment arisen from the noosphere in response to your prayer. You read them again, a second, a third time.
You are the best we have
You are all we have
You are what we have become
We pledge you our whole hearts
From this day forward.*
And you know, even as your heart rises to sing once more, even as you, unlike the caterpillars, dance with joy, that these words are addressed to you, as well as to others who, like you, seek to serve Her, the Sacred Feminine Presence. This is the way that Partnership Spirituality can fill your emptiness and orchestrate your being.
* days later I would discover these to be the final lines of a poem by Maya Angelou
By grace of fifteen years of absorbing, learning how to integrate Jean Houston’s teachings, woven into our lives through her processes, seasoned with delight through dance, story, music and laughter, I have come to live a radically new way of relating to the Sacred Presence of Love that pervades our lives, as well as every aspect of life on our Beloved Planet and throughout the Universe. Yes, there are times, sudden, inexplicable, of darkness. Yet these moments or days allow the return of the Light to glow with greater radiance, as our earthly nights reveal the splendour of starlight.
Jean calls this new way of relating to a Sacred Presence “partnership spirituality.” Here is how Jean describes it:
It has been my belief and experience that a new order of spirituality is greatly enhanced with the concept of partnership with the Spiritual Friend, the Friend of the Deeps, the Beloved of the soul. This of course is an ancient archetype (as is) the communion with the Beloved whether seen as Christ or Krishna or the thousands of other spiritual numinous persons who just come to you in a unique manner and presence. The practice of living and loving the Beloved has enormous consequences for our spiritual growth and well-being. It is an essential form of partnership with the Divine. In all the great spiritual and mystery traditions, the central theme, the guiding passion, is the deep yearning for the Beloved of the Soul. This yearning for union with the Beloved lies at the heart of Sacred Psychology, for it is this profound longing—which transcends the desire for romantic love, the nourishment of parental love, and all the multiple and marvelous varieties of human love—that calls us to the Source.
As Jean so often reminds us, this time, our time, is the time of the great rebirthing, when the discoveries about the Universe by today’s physicists meld with the mysticism of ages and cultures and spiritual traditions of past millennia. These combine to offer us a whole new loom upon which our lives may be rewoven.
Jean writes: “We are truly in a time of partnership with God, whether the Divine Friend is known as the Beloved or a sense of Universal spirit, or a transmission of luminous energy and peace.”
Moreover, Jean says, “It is crucial, in any spirituality adequate to our time, that we have both the masculine and feminine sense of Divine Presence.”
ARTWORK by Mickey McGrath OSFS
This must be an engaged spirituality which means that “one works, wherever one is, for the betterment of all…. the ruling commandment of radical empathy for the other is a manifestation of the true Self, the divine reality of Spirit.”
As I thought about Jean’s words on Partnership Spirituality, a memory rose: Jesus speaking to his beloved friends on the night before he died. The magnificent words in the Gospel of John are themselves an invitation to the adventure of Partnership Spirituality to those for whom the risen Jesus is the Beloved of the Soul:
I tell you most solemnly,
whoever believes in me
will perform the same works as I do myself,
s/he will perform even greater works,
because I am going to the Father.
Whatever you ask for in my name I will do,
so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.
(Gospel of John 14: 12, 13)
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
her/his master’s business.
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learned from my Father. (John 15: 14, 15)