This Transformational Time Communion Reflection for October 21, 2021
Late afternoon in mid-October. I’ve been here in my chair reading “The Quest of Rose.” Yet, my eyes are drawn again and again to the window. In the woods behind my house, birches, oaks, apple trees and maples lift their limbs so that their remaining leaves catch the molten gold of sunlight, that rich colour the only sign that summer has passed. I cannot resist the lure any longer. I take my camera, hurry outdoors. It’s like stepping into a story, though what is the tale being told? It takes a time of walking, footsteps crunching over dry leaves, stepping between fallen branches, pushing aside supple stems of younger treelings, before something of the story comes clear. I’d read it in a poem that morning in a Denise Levertov Collection. What was the image? An ancient tree, her trunk scored, scarred, clawed, riven by time, by weather, by humans. Though barely alive, she survives. All around her the descendants of her life are emerging from the earth that nourished her: they stand slim as pencils, bending with green grace to each passing breath of wind, eagerly drinking water from the soil, warmth from the sun. Suddenly I know what I see: beneath, above, around me is a painting created as an expression of this moment in time that each of us is graced and challenged to live. This is what “The Quest of Rose” reveals. Inside again, I flip back to the pages I was reading when the woods summoned me. Rose had been speaking with her grandmother Verdandi about her struggles as she attempts to describe to her University friends the newness she’s been living since her astonishing recovery from COVID, about the call from the future she hears. They don’t seem to be interested. Verdandi offers her a practice for connecting with these future potentials, inviting Rose into awareness that her life contains the codings of two “creative cycles of consciousness”. Verdandi explains: the old era… is still influencing our current world consciousness, where patterns of sacrifice, conquest, division, and duality became the dominant narrative for humanity….The new era brings the possibility of new growth patterns that are based on wholeness, unity, evolutionary diversity, collaboration, co-creation, and partnership with the Universe. Verdandi invites Rose to notice how the dynamics of the old era have played out in her life, have influenced her views. Yet the future possibilities are already present within, though dormant, “like the imaginal discs that contain the genetic codes for the butterfly body in the skin of the growing caterpillar.” “Which of these codes have already activated and which are activating now?” her grandmother asks, suggesting that Rose be present to what is emerging within her as she asks herself these questions. Reminding Rose that “the caterpillar era of human consciousness has reached its stage of completion,” Verdandi asks her (and us!): “Do you realize how incredible it is to be born in this transformational time when you actually get to see these changes in what becomes possible and is made real?” (The Quest of Rose: The Cosmic Keys of our Future Becoming, Jean Houston, Anneloes Smitsman p. 185, Independently Published by Oxygen Publishing Inc., Montreal QC, Canada, 2021) Gazing at the stages of life in the woods, I see that the future is neither as mysterious nor as hidden as I had once believed. Instead, the newness is already here among us, within us, just as new life here in the woods is shooting up from the moist earth beside the aging trees that engendered it. Now I wonder: Where within us are there future possibilities awaiting our activation? Which aspects of the newness are already stirring with "the force that through the green fuse drives the flower" as the poet Dylan Thomas wrote? What do you experience of this new life within and around you? How will you activate these future possibilities?
On a morning in mid-September, I wakened from a dream. The dream was set in a time in the future, not a distant future but one close at hand. A desire I had long held revealed itself in the dream as already a reality. The desire was to travel deeper with a smaller group in the Communion of Creative Fire. As I reflected on this dream, I understood it was revealing something I had long known without understanding: our present way of being together in the Communion was coming to an end. Though I had attributed the almost total lack of written response from our members over recent months to COVID fatigue, I now understand something more had been at work. And as is the way with the Universe, the life/death/life principle ensures that as an ending becomes apparent, the new life is already present in seed form... I knew at once that our ZOOM calls were the place where new life is rising in our Communion. I saw that expanding this form of Communication, inviting into it others among you who share the desire to go deeper, was the way forward.How to begin this newness? How to invite members of the Communion into a deeper journey? One way to begin had already been proposed by Suzanne: Why not use Jean Houston’s new book, “The Quest of Rose” as a travel guide? When the Communion first began at Jean Houston's suggestion in 2013, I had hoped it would lead to a formulation among us of a new spirituality for our time. I understood my task was to write on our website what I knew and was continuing to learn about the aspects of that both ancient and new spirituality. Jean wrote our first Reflection on the new spirituality for our time: "Communing with the Creative Fire of the Universe". In the months and years that followed, I wrote on the mystics, the beguines, Hildegard, Brigid, Julian. I wrote of Sophia as she was revealed in the Wisdom Literature of the Hebrew Scriptures, as she was understood by Teilhard, by Kathleen Duffy, by Thomas Merton, by Rabbi Rami Shapiro.. I continued to offer Jean's teachings, her processes, drawn from the journeys and workshops I engaged in with her. I wrote about Thomas Berry, Brian Swimme, the Powers of the Universe, as well as Celtic Spirituality, the Seasonal Rituals of the Celtic Year.... so much that I now see as complete. These teachings we did seek to draw together into a weaving; yet, what I saw happening was more like an unravelling. As each woman was drawn to pursue her own path, I felt drawn to support this. Remember the Epiphany with Jan Richardson's poetry when I shared that we are each called to follow our own star? This has led to us becoming a supportive presence for each woman's call to spirituality... It has led as well to wise, spiritually gifted women leaving the Communion, each one pursuing her own luring and longing. This was the dilemma I reflected on. Should I just focus on offering a star map for a deeper journey together? Find the women willing to follow it? Then came the insight that set me on a new course: I remembered the three principles of the Universe sourced in Teilhard's writings, expanded and developed by Thomas Berry and Brian Swimme: differentiation, subjectivity and communion1. Everything carries its own uniqueness and individuality, and each reality is distinct (that is, differentiated).2. Everything carries the whole numinous divine dimension of the Universe within itself (that is, subjectivity) 3. Everything is bonded to everything else (that is, communion). (from JE Carroll’s description of the Earth-centered principles in Sustainability and Spirituality, State University of New York Press 2004) In a moment of knowing, I saw how we in the Communion had been working with these principles all along, even though we'd begun with Communion, circling back through Subjectivity as we deepened our relationship with our own inner "divine dimension". Then recognizing our uniqueness, we were experiencing differentiation as we began moving away towards what lured each of us....In a flash, I saw that the way forward is to now embrace communion through a process of a co-created new vision, one founded on the principles of the Universe. Jean's christening gift to our Communion was her Reflection, "Communing with the Creative Fire of the Universe." Her newest book, "The Quest of Rose" is a guidebook towards the Spirituality of the Universe. If this is to be the path of our future as Communion, it must be a shared task. I saw that I must give up my former way, which Jean described to me recently as being "like the old nuns- doing everything yourself.”So here is how each of you, who share my desire to travel deeper, may begin to prepare for our journey. Remember the story I shared in last week’s Reflection of the birds who set out on a journey to find the golden bird whose single dropped feather lured them to find her? THE SACRED JOURNEY BEGINS WITH DESIRE, WITH ALLUREMENT. The golden feather is the lure towards a deepened spirituality. Do you feel this desire strongly enough to join in the adventure? Let me know by email before October 21st so that you will be included in the shared journey which will begin on October 28th. Our website will be the place of written responses you send me under the new heading of “BLOG.” Our ZOOM calls which you may enter either by video or phone will be our meeting space. The journey will last from Samhain to Brigid’s Feast (November 1st to February 1st). The postings on our website will be on Thursdays: October 28th through to February 3rd. The ZOOM calls will be on Tuesdays (November 2nd to February 1st.). You will need a copy of The Quest of Rose which can be ordered from Amazon in the US or Amazon.ca in Canada. What will it cost to join this adventure? Your commitment to engage as fully as possible in the readings of each section of “The Quest of Rose”, in the processes from the book which we’ll do together on ZOOM, and in your responses (email these to me for posting on the new BLOG page).I await your response: email@example.com Embracing the Sophia Presence Communion Reflection for September 23, 2021 As the Autumn Equinox arrives, darkness and light, night and day, winter and summer move into a delicate balance. Following her example, I allow the earth to guide my own balance of feminine and masculine both within and outside of myself. This prompts me to return once more to Rabbi Rami Shapiro, opening my heart to receive his translation of the "Song of Songs", the Jewish text originally written in Greek somewhere in the second or first centuries BCE. Shapiro, in his book, Embracing the Divine Feminine, traces the history of rabbinical scholarship and offers his own insights into this poem of erotic love which he sees as "a celebration of the union of the seeker of wisdom with Lady Wisdom herself." In his Introduction, Shapiro writes: Given the centrality of Chochmah, Lady Wisdom, to this reading of the Song of Songs, we would be wise to take a moment to understand just who she is. According to the Book of Job, Wisdom is the means by which God created the universe. God looked and took note of her. (Job 28:27) In other words, God looked to Wisdom to discover both the form and function of the universe. Wisdom therefore is the very nature in nature. Curious, I opened my Jerusalem Bible to the Book of Job and found these lines:But tell me, where does wisdom come from? ....God alone has traced (her) pathand found out where (she) lives…. When (God) willed to give weight to the wind and measured out the waters with a gauge,When (God) made the laws and rules for the rainand mapped a route for the thunderclaps to follow,then (God) had Wisdom in sight, and cast (her) worth, assessed (her), fathomed (her). (Job 28:20, 23, 25-27) Who is Lady Wisdom? For answer, Shapiro offers his own translation of Proverbs 8: 22-32. (Remember Thomas Merton's dream of a young girl named Proverbs who was for him the Sophia Presence?) I am the deep grain of creation,the subtle current of life.God fashioned me before all things:I am the blueprint of creation,I was there from the beginning,from before there was a beginning.I am independent of time and space, earth and sky.I was there before depth was considered,before springs bubbled with water,before the shaping of mountains and hills,before God fashioned the earth and its bounty,before the first dust settled on the lands.When God prepared the heavens, I was there.When the circle of the earth was etched into the face of the deepI was there.I stood beside God as firstborn and friend.My nature is joy and I gave God constant delight.Now that the world is inhabited, I rejoice in it.I will be your true delight if you will heed my teachings.Follow me and be happy. Practice my discipline and grow wise. Shapiro writes: (T)he Hebrew is clear: the speaker is Chochma, Lady Wisdom, and hence all the pronouns and verbs referring to Wisdom in this passage are feminine. The grammar of this and every passage that speaks of, to, about, or for Wisdom always uses the feminine form. Shapiro invites us to consider the qualities of Wisdom usually associated with God. She is the "firstborn" of God and from her come the thousand things of creation. Her way is of truth and justice while her essence is pure delight. Wisdom delights in humanity and one who finds her finds life. Shapiro compares this with Jesus who said, I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6) Paul connects Jesus with Wisdom in Corinthians 1:24 when he writes: Christ is the power of God and the Wisdom of God.Then Shapiro goes further: What becomes the male Christ in the Christian Scriptures was originally the female Chochmah in the Hebrew Bible. He continues: Wisdom is the way God manifests in and as creation. Uniting with Wisdom, as the Song of Songs invites us to do, is a way of uniting with the life and the Source from which life arises. Why do we personify Wisdom? Shapiro believes it is because on a deep and subconscious level we know her to be the other with whom we long to unite. She is not an abstraction but our Beloved. She is not to be thought about but physically embraced in a manner that reveals YWVH to us. Returning to Proverbs, Shapiro offers us his translation of Chapter 9, 1-6:Wisdom's house rests on many pillars.It is magnificent and easy to find.Inside, she has cooked a fine meal and sweetened her wine with water.Her table is set.She sends her maidens to the tallest towers to summon you.To the simple they call: Come enter here.To those who lack understanding they say:Come eat my food, drink my wine,Abandon your empty life and walk in the way of understanding. Shall we accept her invitation?