Category Archives: Partnership Spirituality

travelling with sophia

Perhaps like you, I have begun to take road trips once more to visit with friends and family. On Saturday I set out with confidence on a journey to Southern Ontario, travelling along roads I’d been taking for more than twenty years. I knew where to find the essentials: gas stations, Tim Horton coffee stops en route, had a mask handy for each time I got out of the car. I had my GPS.

What more was needed?

For several hours, I drove past lush green scenery, towns, landmarks not seen in these seventeen months since COVID took up residence across the planet. There were changes since my last journey: the express route, 407, had been extended to link with the 115 South, shortening the trip by nearly an hour. I was within 30 minutes of my destination, London, Ontario, when I stopped for coffee, found a phone message from my sister warning of a major detour on the 401 for that night only.

Within minutes of my setting out again, a flashing sign warned that traffic ahead was stopped. The three-lane highway became a parking lot, with progress measured in metres, interspersed with stoppages. Full darkness had risen two hours later when we exited onto a side road whose winding ways would lead back to the 401 beyond the construction area.

Soon I was completely lost.

I pulled into a large, empty parking lot to get my bearings, reset my GPS. I backed up, heard the sound of crunching metal. I had backed into a narrow cement pole just a few centimetres above the ground, too low to register on my backup screen, though strong enough (as I would later discover) to deliver a strong punch to my back bumper…

Meanwhile, the confident voice of the GPS, apparently unaware of the detour, was guiding me to the exit to the 401 West. I was driving along in the opposite directions to a long line of cars, vans, giant transports, all leaving the 401.

One car waited while I made a graceless U-turn to join the line…

Two phone calls, combined with a less-trusting return to the GPS, brought me to my sister’s home where she was waiting for me outside her front door…

After a late dinner, after conversation with my sister and brother-in-law, I was alone in the guest room, seated for my evening prayer with Sophia. The tensions, the dangers of that dark journey swept through me. Paramount now was concern about repair costs for the bumper punch.

“WHY did that happen?” I asked.

In response, words of Rabbi Rami Shapiro, written about Chochma (Sophia) rose in me. This is how I remembered them: “Sophia will not tell you why things are as they are, but She will show you how to cut with the grain, tack with the wind…”

As though blown away by a gentle breeze within me, my tensions resolved. I knew I would, on my return, go about the steps involved in having the damage to the car assessed and repaired. Only then did I realize what love and care, what inner guidance, had kept me safe through a harrowing journey, where I did not panic even when I found myself going against the traffic.

Now that I am home, I have found the full passage from Rabbi Rami Shapiro’s book, The Divine Feminine in Biblical Wisdom Literature, that brought me comfort.

To know her, according to Shapiro, is to know the Way of all things and thus to be able to act in harmony with them. To know the Way of all things and to act in accord with it is what it means to be wise.To know Wisdom is to become wise. To become wise is to find happiness and peace:

Her ways are ways of pleasantness…all Her paths are peace. (Proverbs 3: 17) 

Wisdom is not to be taken on faith. She is testable. If you follow Her you will find joy, peace and happiness not at the end of the journey but as the very stuff of which the journey is made. This is crucial. The reward for following Wisdom is immediate. The Way to is the Way of.  

Chochma is not a reluctant guide or a hidden guru, Shapiro writes. She is not hard to find nor does she require any austere test to prove you are worthy of Her.

She stands on the hilltops, on the sidewalks, at the crossroads, at the gateways (Proverbs 8:1-11) and calls to you to follow Her. Wisdom’s only desire is to teach you to become wise.  Her only frustration is your refusal to listen to Her.

….To know Wisdom is to be her lover, and by loving Her, you become God’s beloved as well.

In our becoming partners, co-creating with Wisdom, Shapiro writes:

Wisdom will not tell why things are the way they are, but will show you what they are and how to live in harmony with them….Working with Wisdom, you learn how…to make small, subtle changes that effect larger ones. You learn how to cut with the grain, tack with the wind, swim with the current, and allow the nature of things to support your efforts. She will not tell you why things are the way they are, but She will make plain to you what things are and how you deal them to your mutual benefit.

In the Wisdom of Solomon, Chochma/Sophia is described in words that are not unlike those that define the GPS: “the Global Positioning System that tells you where you are on earth.”   

She embraces one end of the earth to the other, and She orders all things well. (Wisdom of Solomon 8:11)

partnership with the sacred

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)