Friday, September 11, 2009

A New & Fresh Awakening . . .

To You God's Precious, Valuable, Important and Worthwhile Child,

Grace and Peace to You from God Our Father Through Christ Jesus our Lord.

Our Father God is calling us to a new and fresh awakening . . . to find and cultivate our own sacred garden.

"Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting:
The Soul that rises with us, our life's Star,
Hath had elsewhere its setting
And cometh from afar:
Not in entire forgetfulness,
And not in utter nakedness,
But trailing clouds of Glory do we come
From God, who is our home ..."
William Wadsworth
"Intimations of Immortality"

Abraham our father left the certainty of the womb ... for the wilderness.  Exiles from the garden.  Setting out, leaving everything behind.  The social milieu.  The preconceptions.  The narrowed field of vision.  The language.  Strangers in a strange land.  No longer expecting relationships, memories, words ~ to mean what they used to mean.  To be, in a word, open.

At the end of childhood, we are called to move out of immaturity into responsibility.  If we do not make this passage, if we attach ourselves to our childhood home as a mollusk does to a sea rock ~ we do not mature.  This much is obvious.  But what is not so obvious is what home means to each of us, when we need to leave it, and how.

Home ~ leaving doesn't necessarily mean you leave anything; sometimes someone leaves you.  Nor does it necessarily mean that anyone actually goes anywhere because after all is said and done, what is left ~ or lost ~ is not a relationship or a place or even a context.  What is left is a consciousness that once felt secure, had categories to fit things into, and knew who it was, where it was going, and why.  And what replaces this sureness is a "not knowing."  An openness.  And something unspeakably, and sometimes almost unbearably, new.

Perhaps the one decision we do not have to make about home-leaving is when to do it.  Home ~ leaving happens.  Dreams come.  Memories present themselves.  As sure as birth contractions come to separate us from the safety of the womb, some hidden timing stirs us, bringing a sense of readiness for the new.  We wake up one morning to find we are no longer able to squeeze into our old identity.  What used to feel secure and comforting now feels life~denying, and suddenly we know it is time to leave home.

"Then Jesus went to work on his disciples. "Anyone who intends to come with me has to let me lead. You're not in the driver's seat; I am. Don't run from suffering; embrace it. Follow me and I'll show you how. Self-help is no help at all. Self-sacrifice is the way, my way, to finding yourself, your true self. What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?"
Matt 16:24 -26

Learning to trust the unfolding of one's own life is awkward, painful work that often leaves one feeling exposed and vulnerable.  And it does not happen overnight.

Something begins to arise in us, a trust that something in our life itself is our teacher.  There is a gnosis, a direct inner knowing, that drives us.  Somehow deep inside us we know, it is not somebody else's tradition now, it is mine, and I have to follow it.  Finally you begin to see their is no person, place or thing you can trust ~ nobody, no authority ~ except the process itself.  Trusting your reality ... the essence itself.

"There has never been the slightest doubt in my mind that the God who started this great work in you would keep at it and bring it to a flourishing finish."
Phil 1:6

"I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would be hope for the wrong thing;
wait without love
For love would be love of the wrong thing;
there is yet faith
But the faith and the love and the hope are in the
T.S. Elliot

The miracle of life waiting in the heart of a seed cannot be proved at once.  The miracle comes with the waiting.  And the waiting takes trust.

This yearning is essential because it comes from the immediacy of our lives, and that is just what we need to find and live from; the penetrating alertness that lets us connect with what is sacred.

Going through a gate or doorway is a metaphor of immense power, perhaps because it reminds us of how we enter this life.  Exiled from the safety of the womb by a hidden timing, sent on a journey through the straits of the birth canal, our passage is fraught with dangers.

Every child who enters the world though believes ~ at least in part ~ that there is only one gate and the getting through it is a matter of life and death.  The message is unequivocal.  There is only one entrance to the sacred, and it is exclusive and exacting.

"Don't look for shortcuts to God. The market is flooded with surefire, easygoing formulas for a successful life that can be practiced in your spare time. Don't fall for that stuff, even though crowds of people do. The way to life—to God!—is vigorous and requires total attention."
Matt 7:13-14

From the mother's perspective, the gate is as wide as it needs to be.  Unlike the fetus whose crowning achievement is successfully negotiating the birth canal, what is at issue for the birth giver is the "willingness to surrender" ~ to be opened by the rhythms of nature flowing through her.  To the extent that she pushes with her contractions and regulates her breathing, she acts in cooperation with an already ongoing process.

Thus two perspectives are potentially available to each one of us: the child's view that the opening to the sacred is singular and narrow, and the mother's perspective that the sacred is manifold and wide.  If only one possibility is presented to us, however, we may never recognize and value the other.  In particular, if we have been taught only the viewpoint of the child, we may deny the experience of the mother.

If we lock away the fearful, painful experiences of our lives, we cut them off from their natural cycling.  They are not washed by our tears.  They are not exposed to the warmth of our heart and the light of our consciousness.  And so these old emotions and memories can not break down to become new sources of new life.

If there is a ethic in the way we come to spiritual maturity, it is one that places value on process, on acceptance of one's whole experience of truth.  Entering the gate to the sacred marks a beginning, an engagement with the divine that does not seek to exclude darkness from the journey but regards it as a mystery to be solved in its own time.  Challenging us to take responsibility for our own progress ~ process.

 "In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you."
Matt 5:48

Our part comes through receptivity, through Grace and Mercy.  We can prepare for this, but how and when it happens is not within our control.

The other part requires choice, an act of conscious intention to embody the sacred in our everyday life.  This means we bring our spiritual insights into every aspect of our lives.  We have to keep stretching to believe and consistently trust the Light inside.

Choice lies at the heart of the matter even if we have not had a direct experience of the divine, once we make a conscious choice to act on what we do know, the process of spiritual awakening begins.

Once we are willing to embody the sacred in our lives, our maturing can proceed.  We can say in effect, "I already know I am an Child of God.  The question is, ~ How can I be an Adult of God?

As Marcia Falk, a poet and professor of religious studies tells us, " ... we've been stuck in a childhood relationship with an parental God figure, but we can't afford to be there anymore.  Far from being arrogant, what this means is taking responsibility, so that we can really, deeply, celebrate divinity.  Which is a better gift to your parent?  ... To fulfill your own life and to care for the lives around you ... or to remain in constant dependency?  The sick parent will prefer the latter, but that is not my notion of divinity; I don't want a sick parent for a God."

It is when we want to become an Adult of God that we look for tools to cultivate our secret garden.  Until this point, we have no need for tools because we are eating spiritual convenience food, the product of someone else's cultivation.  But now we are ready for a spade, a hoe, a rake, some compost and perhaps a knowing friend to help us.

Just as any plot of soil with seeds and sun and water can become a garden if there is a gardener, so can our lives come to spiritual maturity, if we are willing to cultivate them.  To cultivate, in its root form, means to inhabit, to dwell within.  Learning how to live in the dailiness of our own lives while opening continually to the sacred seems to take practice ~ practice in opening, practice in listening, practice in waiting.  Practice in obeying our inner directive, in speaking out when we are so moved to do so, and in accepting responsibility and authority when we are called upon to be bold.  And practice also means celebrating and expressing gratitude and "making a joyful song unto the Lord."  When we enter such practices wholeheartedly, we bring to life another root meaning of cultivate: to worship.

Prayer, the act of communing with the divine, is perhaps the most universal tool we know for cultivating our sacred garden.  There is in us, it seems, some deep human need for connecting with the truth.  And the most direct and accessible way is through prayer.

As the artist Meinrad Craighead said, "Being open to the voice within is how your life happens.  Again and again, it plunges you into the unknown."  What is required, it seems, is the willingness to commit yourself to the whole ~ known, unknown, and the unknowable ~ and trust the path your indwelling truth is showing you.

Too often we wait for the guru, the teacher, the husband or father figure, the wife or mother figure, to approve before we take a step of faith.  Or we never take it at all.  We have to begin now to give ourselves permission to trust the process ~ even if it takes a lifetime.

"In the beginning everything was in relationship,
and in the end everything was in relationship again.
In the meantime,
we live by hope."
Jean Lanier

To quote the ecologist and theologian Thomas Berry, "It is as if we are in between stories.  The old story about who we are and how to live doesn't work anymore, and we don't know what the new story is.  Yet, we desperately want to find this new story.  We want to know how to live in a context of relationship and not betray ourselves.  The challenge is to be intimate with another and still remain true to ourselves.  When we deny our innermost knowing, silencing our voice in the hope of pleasing others, we avoid this challenge.  But we also avoid it, if we listen only to ourselves."

In the presence of someone who is real, we take off our veils of illusion.  The other person doesn't have to tear them off.  We just automatically drop them, either that, or we have to get out of their presence.

If you know who you are, and can be true to your own reality ~ you won't be threatened by my reality.  In fact, you'll affirm my difference because you'll know that's just what I need to activate my deepest talents and gifts.  Through searching for and finding our connectedness we gather together what has been lost or forgotten or disowned and welcome it into our lives.

There is a Hebrew word that describes this action ~ tikkun.  It means to heal, to mend what has been broken, to transform.  

In the beginning of the world, the legend which is the source of this word goes, the abundant divine light was held in primeval vessels.  But somehow ~ no one knows how ~ the vessels were shattered, and discord and confusion spread everywhere.  ~ The great task for human beings, the story tells us, is to repair the ancient vessels, to gather together the scattered light, to call home all who have been lost or in exile, to heal the separation and bring peace to our world

"At first people refuse to believe that a strange new thing can be done,
then they begin to hope it can be done,
then they see it can be done ~
then it is done
all the world wonders why it was not done centuries before."
Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden

The Savior is spread out among all of us, emerging from each of us as we bring the fruits of the spirit from our own sacred garden into our daily lives.  Our challenge is to go into the great womb where all possibilities dwell and bring the "Skekhinah" God's indwelling presence ~ the Christ child out.

Imagine ~ The gates of thousands upon thousands of sacred gardens are flung open from within, accompanied by laughter that cannot be contained.  And with the laughter comes speech, because in our exuberance we are no longer able to silence ourselves.

Because His Oceans of Unconditional Love and Mercy Compel Me,


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