This fourth (possibly last) contemplation from the the Universal Christ conference is an addendum to the first. Here I briefly share just a couple of the parallels drawn between the Christian and Scientific world-views, where they are shown to support or mirror one another.
The word “light,” in common parlance, refers to a certain bandwidth of energy within or near what is perceptible to the human senses, that which moves, warms, illuminates our world. Science understands that these energies, frequencies, extend beyond our perception in both directions, into realms most humans cannot navigate with our common faculties.
Light in Christian symbolism refers to something less measurable, less describable–hence the appropriation of the metaphor of Light. It is a radiance; it could possibly be an attribute, vehicle or substance of consciousness, or in some vocabularies, God or Christ.
Recent discoveries about Neutrinos, how they penetrate everything, even the dark spaces we might call nothing, tell us that light permeates even darkness.
...Even the darkness is not dark to You,
but the night shines like the day,
for darkness is as light to You.
Though taking place a few weeks ahead of the high holidays, the conference traced, re-enacted, the Holy days around Easter. On Sunday Morning, our Easter, Richard read a quotation from Quantum Physicist David Bohm. Near the end of his life, Bohm summarized his understanding of the Universe succinctly in three sentences, just below. Note that the words in parentheses were interjected by Father Richard as he read, to draw the parallel):
The Universe is a single, unbroken entity in flowing motion, in which each part replicates the Whole. The three basic manifestations of this entity are Matter (Christ), Energy (Holy Spirit) and Meaning (Creator), and each of them enfolds the other two. The universe informs the action of all its parts, and their feedback alters the universal flow.
Father Richard, finding this such a resounding and perfect description of The Trinity, reiterated what he often says of what is common to all Perennial Wisdom Traditions, “If it is Truth, it’s got to be True everywhere.”
While this might not seem revelatory to a contemporary mystic’s intellect, it is, in fact, Revelation in perpetuity.
Today, Dictionary.com’s word of the day is Vader Mecum, a Latin phrase for “something a person carries around for frequent or regular use.” This might be a book–for many it is The Bible or Qur’an; or it might be a respiratory inhaler, or a water bottle; or it might be a thought or identity! We carry with us all kinds of notions. But I suspect we also carry with us, in us, at our foundation, as our foundation, our “angels,” those higher voices and resources, the higher self, we usually relate to as outside our self. That’s a heady topic to explore, but I’ll leave that to thee. Feel free to stop here and do so!
I learned today’s word just after I’d set down the book that is my current companion. I don’t physically carry it around, but I carry its theme, its voice, and I consult it once per day, in the morning or evening, opening it to a random page and receiving a thump to the forehead and a melt in the heart and curling up of the lips as the words address the thought or theme I’d woke up with that morning, or that I’d been distilling in the back of my mind or in dreams.
That book, currently, is Paulo Coelho’s Warrior of the Light, a Manual ; but it isn’t always. I’ve carried many different vade mecum books over time. The covers, the authors, the vocabulary, the accent might seem to be different with each. Yet these are different portals opening to the same Voice: different wells, sometimes to different rivers, which connect to the same Ocean. And that Ocean I carry inside me. Hmmm, another description for Universal Christ.
This is not where I was headed when I started this post! But it is plenty. You are welcome to stop here.
My original impulse had been to share a couple of excerpts from the Coelho volume. But perhaps what makes vader mecum objects or companion books so magical is that they are placed on our paths, in our lives, in perfect timing, as totems or divining tools to address us, exactly where we are (psychologically or circumstantially). Uniquely. They are the Greater Self talking to the smaller self and lifting it up.
In the water analogy, these are wells that hold just the right mineral content that a traveler requires at the moment it appears on his/her journey. They are channels of Elijah’s still, small voice.
Ah! It seems instead, then, that I’m guided to include a fuzzy snapshot of an image from artist Janet McKenzie, the fourth presenter at the CAC Conference. For more of her beautiful images, find her website at https://www.janetmckenzie.com
Elijah Hears the Still Small Voice of God
This post follows on the foundations of the last.
I mentioned that I was raised by parents who inculcated me with a suspicion of Christianity, and organized religion in general.
My mother often said that she “envied those who found solace in their God.” I can not really know how or whether finding some kind of faith in the numinous might have improved her existence.
In the last session of the conference, we returned to find rosemary branches on the tables. This prompted a little epiphany for me.
Among common uses for Rosemary oil is to focus and wake the mind, to clear the psychic field, to bring one into present time. My mother’s name was Rosemary. And, though I might have seen her as stuck in reaction to religion, what that effectively provided me was a relatively clear slate from which to launch out in my explorations on the path of Spirit, without having to lick my wounds or unload as much baggage and as many do. I was moved (as I contemplated the conference and the rosemary) to allow any lament I had for my mom be reframed as the gift of Grace this probably was to me, as her progeny and as the next generation in a collective human evolution.
As a revelation, it didn’t seem huge, but it was significant; and it had been hiding in plain sight. It impressed upon me again how often this is the case, and how the shift in one’s psyche and life ripples out from these moments.
Not long after this, I had occasion to consider what I recognized decades later was an enduring traumatic life event. (For the purpose of illustration –not self-pity or drama– I will detail it concisely below. ) In this most recent contemplation, a realization articulated itself that had pretty much been looming in plain sight for years, might even have been glimpsed, and connections semi-consciously made but spun differently in previous visits to this memory (and the uneven shadow it cast through decades).
My parents, who did not separate finally and divorce until I was roughly middle school age, first separated when I was in around the first grade. My mother, understandably, was trying to parent me through her distress, her anger, her “failure.” She was operating at the end of her rope, I guess, when one day I pushed her too hard on some matter, as children do, and she lost her cool. She threatened to send me to live with my father; I can no longer remember for sure if it was her tone, or also her words, that communicated “and he doesn’t want you either!” There was nothing objectively wrong or scary about going to live with my Dad. It was what the threat meant emotionally, existentially, subliminally, that landed. Supreme rejection and abandonment. Gripped with panic, I pleaded with her not to call him as she made good on her threat by picking up the phone and starting to dial. I clambered at her hands and in the struggle she cast me down into a crumple against the base board.
Many have experienced far worse, of course.
My mother had no recollection of the event decades later. Of course not; she had been out of her mind (and body) with anguish. No blame here. As I recall, I did go stay with my dad a short while, a very short while, before I was back with my mom, and it seems like overnight I developed asthma, a disease many have associated with abandonment.
In light of my nomadic circumstances, folks who have heard that account have commented, “No wonder you are homeless.” Yet what might have been explanatory and neutral took on a tone of injury. It is was a wound, certainly; but let’s not forget the French word for wound is our word “bless.” Wounds hold blessings. That is the whole point in depicting the resurrected Christ still carrying his wounds.
Years later I had a brief and indelible dream image that seemed to signal that my ministry would be a mobile one. But I had not yet shed the scabs of that wound and owned it fully and freely as a blessing, as a formative and necessary obstacle to my following a conventional trajectory that was not my path. That is where my choice in all this lay. My work has been to disentangle my resources from the scar tissue that formed. To leave the wound and own the blessing.
Evolution is ongoing, and every step is honorable. The Christ in the Tomb is still the Christ. The work of each of us is to compassionately facilitate resurrection, for ourselves and others. This frees us, yes, and also the ones who came before, even those party to a crucifixion.
Last weekend I attended The Center for Action and Contemplation’s conference on The Universal Christ. In the days following, folks understandably asked me variations on “How was the conference?” I’m still digesting, and found I could articulate little more than, “It was very good.” It was many, many moments, some I could call highlights, and each one was invaluable; but like the Christ itself, where two or more are gathered, the sum surpasses the parts.
Many of you know I was not raised Christian. And I do not claim affiliation with any institutional denomination. But I am a mystic, in fellowship with the Christ that lives in every faith, in all creation.
At this conference we were all met with the Credo “You Belong.” In the lobby, they had set out between 50 and 100 stanchions, and blank banner cards, encouraging attendees to put some descriptive category on the card and stand it on one of the tables so that “birds of a feather” could attract each other, talk and share. (12 Step, Canadians, Cancer diagnosis, LGBTQ, heart-broken Methodists, etc.). It was an interesting way to reinforce the common denominator of Christ within diversity. Start people where they are.
Since most of the attendees were of some Christian background, historically or still, I was in the minority there. Although I didn’t feel quite comfortable placing a stanchion on a table that would in any way put up force fields of exclusivity, I did amuse myself by making two banners: Sufi Taoist in Christ, and Raised by Atheists; Realized they were Christ.
As it turned out, few of the stanchions left the display table, which instead became a growing and well- and repeatedly-visited exhibit.
As is common to most such experiences in my life, my reason for being there came clear in a moment near the very end. I made notes for what might become a longer blog post about that, but, as I said, I’m still digesting.
Meanwhile, I cobbled together some pithy one-liners, which, to the mind of words might say, “You had to be there,” but to the soul beyond the words, might say more.
But first, I share a link to a song that was played at the conference: Birdwalker’s “One.” If you’ve been blessed to hear it before, you might not mind hearing it again. A song is often better than mere words. Enjoy.
The speakers were: Richard Rohr (RR), Jacqui Lewis (JL), or John Dominic Crossan (JDL).
If in the beginning there was the Word, and the word was Logos, replace Logos with “Blueprint.” (RR)
Evolution is the business and professional face of God; Jesus is the human an personal face of God. (JDC)
Lent is the invitation to Thirst. (JL)
Liminal Space is God’s Waiting Room. (JL)
White means never having to say you’re Ethnic. (JL)
[Not sure of your power or passion?] …It is Where You Would Go to Die for Love.
It is easy to become comfortable in Babylon (exile and empire)….Sometimes we are so thirsty we drink the Kool-Aid….But it is toxic…kills us from the inside out. …America is exported to Babylon, deported to Empire. Empire killed Jesus. (JL)
Christ in the Tomb is still the Christ.
Love the Hell out of Everyone.
Everyone is called to minister to the world; you are not called because you are perfect; you are called because you are You. (JL)