Darkness is a gathering time, a state set apart from the glare of light in which we can see what is real.
In the dark we sit with the energy generated in the light and try to make sense of it. We sift through, “clinging to what is luminous in ourselves, in others, and in life itself,” and releasing unwanted ego energy. We brood our way through the darkness back into light, illuminating the way for fellow pilgrims, each bound for their own Bethlehem.
When we are going toward someone we say you are just like me your thoughts are my brothers and sisters word matches word how easy to be together.
When we are leaving someone we say how strange you are we cannot communicate we can never agree how hard, hard and weary to be together.
We are not different nor alike but each strange in our leather bodies sealed in skin and reaching out clumsy hands and loving is an act
that cannot outlive
the open hand
the open eye
the door in the chest standing open.
This poem drew me into meditation this morning and I have strolled through its many nuances throughout the day. We allow the other’s difference to grow a wedge between us because we don’t understand it, and we can’t control what we don’t understand. We would rather muck around in the divide than risk the outstretched hand and the open door in the chest.
In their book, Blindspot: Hidden Biases of Good People, Mahzarin R. Banaji and Anthony G. Greewald describe their study which concluded that every human being fills in what we don’t know with what we think we know. In observing myself, I see that it is my ego that fills in what I don’t know, rather than the self that lives in divine presence. This self is strong enough to welcome that which is strange in the other, that which reaches out with clumsy hands.
My spiritual practice comes in the form of a pause. I pause before I judge. I breathe in respect and release fear. I breathe in love and release judgment. Once in a while it works. Our human instinct is to protect our ego, but the pause interrupts the knee-jerk impulse to insert it into the strange, unknown spaces of the other. The pause lets in the Spirit who places clumsy hand in clumsy hand.
This morning’s news cycle brought me back to that precipice of despair once again, so I begin yet another span of time away in which to allow space for the phoenix to rise again. I spare you the stories which pushed me over the edge so as to avoid putting the negative energy out there again-besides, you know them already.
My spiritual practice for this time came to me from, of all things, the Christmas carol, “Do You See What I See?” The phrase, “He will bring us goodness and light” engaged me. I want to counteract evil by radiating divine light and goodness. I rewrote the verse to reflect my theology and my heart.
Candle lit , I am ready to sing my song. Join me?
Listen to what I say
Live for peace, people everywhere,
Listen to what I say
The Christ, the Christ, moving in our world,
Will bring us goodness and light,
Will bring us goodness and light.
. . . Whom should I turn to, if not the one whose darkness is darker than night, the only one who keeps vigil with no candle, and is not afraid— the deep one, whose being I trust, for it breaks through the earth into trees, and rises, when I bow my head, faint as a fragrance from the soil. [II, 3]
Rainer Maria Rilke from Rilke’s Book of Hours: Love Poems to God translated by Anita Barrows and Joanna Macey
This poem emerges from a recent conversation with my dear friend Linda in which we commiserated and celebrated our entrance into the stage of The Velveteen Rabbit, scars and bald spots our glorious trophies. Especially the inside ones. Enjoy.
Old people like old barns Lure light through weathered Planks in sagging frames. It spills in speckled streaks Onto the foundations of their souls Where young visitors can sprawl And play at life.
“The eye with which God sees me is the same eye with which I see God. God’s eye and my eye are one eye. One seeing, one knowing, one loving.”
If you are one who grieves the election of Donald Trump you may want to assess where you are in that process before you read this post; grief has no set linear plan for the stages it lives. If “RAW” describes where you are you may want to read this at a later time.
There is a space of potential presence where we can reside in peace with another even if we cannot be with them in any other place: in God’s eye. I am preparing my soul for the moment when I can share that space with Donald Trump. Who knows what can happen? Here is a spiritual practice which is slowly working its way into my being. Maybe it will be a help to you as well:
Potential Presence Mantra
The eye with which God sees me is the same eye with which I see God. The eye with which God sees Donald Trump is the same eye with which Donald Trump sees God.
My eye and Donald Trump’s eye are one. One seeing, one knowing, one loving. One in humanity, growing into divinity.
May it be so. Amen.
In her article, “The Divine Dynamism: Being and Becoming,” ( in A Matter of Spirit,Winter 2014, available at http://www.ipjc.org/journal/index.htm) Gail Worcelo, SGM, says, “As we begin to meet each other beyond the boundaries of the separate sense of self, a new, enlightened space opens up between us, bringing with it the capacity for deeper relationality and depth.”
So. As the U.S. presidential election draws to a close, are we “slouching toward Bethlehem” or are we slouching toward Armageddon? Regardless of our hope or fear, this pair of poems by William Butler Yeats offers us a rich reflection. They were Crittenden the world was at war and tensions between Ireland and England were at the boiling point.
The Second Coming
BY WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
Remorse For Intemperate Speech
WILLIAM BUTLER YEATS
I ranted to the knave and fool,
But outgrew that school,
Would transform the part,
Fit audience found, but cannot rule
My fanatic heart.
I sought my betters: though in each
Fine manners, liberal speech,
Turn hatred into sport,
Nothing said or done can reach
My fanatic heart.
Out of Ireland have we come.
Great hatred, little room,
Maimed us at the start.
I carry from my mother’s womb
A fanatic heart.
28th August 1931
“SoulCards” by Deborah Koff-Chapin. The technique Deborah has created is called “touch drawing.” The cards come in two decks of 60 images and can be used alone or with others as reflection tools. They have enriched my meditation for years and have helped those I companion with. www.soulcards.com
“What has been weak is ascending… goodness in human nature is like the dim but beautiful early morning light.”
On Thursday, October 13, 2016, Michelle Obama responded to the allocations of sexual harassment made against Donald Trump. The effect of her words still reverberate today because Mother Michelle lifted up her stong, tall frame and swayed across deep desert recesses picking up the abandoned pieces of our dark experiences as she went. She called them by name and redeemed them with the power of her truth and love.
Here is a taste of her power:
It has shaken me to the core in a way I couldn’t have predicted.
I feel it so personally.
It is cruel. It is frightening. And the truth is it hurts.
We as women We as Americans We as decent human beings Can come together to stand up and say, ENOUGH IS ENOUGH.
A Spiritual Practice for Developing Satyagraha, Truth Power
(For Gandhi satyagraha was more than a movement of nonviolent resistance. The word comes from Hindi to Sanskrit. sat= being satya= truth graha= fervor or power.)
In my deepest being, my Self, I am strong.
Breathing in I rest in being. Breathing out I release fear Breathing in I am true Breathing out I release deception Breathing in I am powerful Breathing out I release doubt Breathing in I am peace Breathing out I send peace.