Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Your Sacred Ohana - by Grace Johnson

Grace and Peace to You from God our Father through Jesus Christ our Lord,

Our Father God is calling us to a new and fresh awakening . . . to find, cultivate and experience our own personal and sacred Ohana ~ a resting place ~ connecting us to Himself ~ where Shechinah and Glory dwell.

“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 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 contest.  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 “not knowing.”  An openness.   And something unspeakable, 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 like life denying, and suddenly we know it is time to leave home.

“In order to gain our life, we have to lose it.”  Matt 16:25

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 within 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’s not somebody else’s tradition now, it is mine, and I have to follow it.  Finally you begin to see that there is not a person, place or thing you can trust ~ nobody, no authority ~ except the process itself.  Trusting your reality . . . the essence itself.

“Being Confident ~ He who began this work (in Me) will be faithful to complete it.”  Phil 1:6

“I said to my soul, be still, and wait without hope
For hope would not 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 waiting”

The miracle of life waiting in the heart of a seed can not be proved at once.  The miracle comes with the waiting.  And the timing 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 through the birth canal believes ~ at least in part ~ that there is only one gate and that 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.

“Enter by the narrow gate . . . the gate that leads to life is small and the road narrow, and those who find it are few.”  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 and be opened by the rhythms of nature flowing though her.  To the extent that she pushes with her contractions and regulates her breathing, she acts in cooperation with the 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 sources of new life.

If there is an 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 this 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 . . .

"In a word, what I'm saying is, Grow up. You're kingdom subjects. Now live like it. Live out your God-created identity. (Be whole and complete, in both shadow and light) Live generously and graciously toward others, the way God lives toward you." ~ “Be ye perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.”  Matt 5:48

Our part comes thought receptivity, through Grace.  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 lives.  This means we bring our spiritual insights into every aspect of our lives.  We have to keep stretching to believe and constantly trust the light inside.

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

Once we are willing to embody the sacred inside our lives, our maturing can proceed.  We can say in effect, “I already know I am a child of God.  The question is, How can I be an adult of God?

As Marcia Falk, a poet and professor of religious studies tell us . . .
“We’ve been stuck in a childhood relationship with a 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 parents?  To fulfill your own life and to care for the lives around you . . . or to remain in constant dependency?  The sick parent may prefer the latter, but that’s not my notion of divinity: I don’t want a sick parent for God.”

It is when we want to become an adult of God that we look for tools to cultivate our own sacred garden ~ our Ohana.   Until this point, we have no need for tools because we are eating spiritual convenience food, the products 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 dayliness of our 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 direction, in speaking out when we are moved to do so and accepting responsibility and authority when we are called upon to be bold.  And practice also means celebrating and expressing gratitude and making a joyful sound unto the Lord.  When we enter such practices wholeheartedly, we bring to life another root meaning of cultivate : to worship

Worship & Prayer, the act of communing with the divine, is perhaps the most universal tools we know for cultivating the 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 worship & 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 a willingness to commit yourself to the whole; known, unknown, and the unknowable ~ and to 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.”
Jane 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 when 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 : it is tikkun.  Tickkun means to heal, to mend what has been broken, to transform.  In the beginning of the world, the legend which is the source of the 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 those who have been lost or in exile, to heal the separation and bring peace to the 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 can see it can be done ~
Then it is done
All the world wonders why it was not done centuries before.”
Francis Hodgson Burnett
The Secret Garden

The Savior is spread out among us, emerging from each of us as we bring the fruits from our sacred garden ~ into our daily lives.  Our challenge is to go into the great womb (God’s Ohana) where all possibilities dwell and bring His Glory & Shechinah ~ the Christ Child out!

Imagine :

“The gates of thousands upon thousands of sacred gardens are being 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.”                             
Frances Hodgson Burnett
The Sacred Garden

Oceans of Unconditional Love &
Aka: Grace Johnson

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