Proclaimer and Disclaimer

The full set of 49 Omer entries are now posted (on the Counting the Omer page). Again, these are not polished poems, simply raw contemplations, where the Sefirot combination of the day intersected with my own life each morning. And they are in chronological order, first to last written, this year and then last.

As I will have inconsistent internet access in coming weeks, I will not commence another public writing project until again more consistently wired.

This post is mostly to apologize to any readers who find jarring (like I do) some of the ads that WordPress inserts into these blogs to fund the site.  Alas, currently I have no say into what content goes in those places. Désolé.

 

 

Advertisements

Final stretch, aptly named

We are in the final week of my Counting the Omer project, to which I’ve been posting primarily to the …Omer page, rather than the home page, of this blog for the past six weeks. Forty-three daily contemplations posted there (for this year). The final set will appear last weekend.  They are in numerical order, first to last, rather than reverse order, so that the most recent appears first.

Deep breath, grease your scrolling finger, and dive in …as it pleases you.

Next week I hope to commence a more interactive project on the home page. Stay tuned for that.

 

Instant Answered Prayer

This morning is the first day of the New Moon. I woke with my pipe cleaner in a bit of a kink, but once I sat for meditation I tripped into quite an expanded healing field.  Eventually I surfaced for my day and scribbled my daily Omer writing (see previous post, and my dedicated Counting the Omer page).    Once I rose from the cushion, I booted up the computer to type today’s writing in, and I found an email from a friend, containing a link sharing a funny “meditation.” I clicked on that, bracing only a little, given the title:  “F*#k That: Honest Meditation.”

The poem and the link to the meditation video that follows tell the story. My reason for posting, however, is to acknowledge the impressive immediacy with which the prayer of my writing was answered. In fact, the answer was sent before the prayer issued through my conscious mind. Pretty cool universe we live in, straddling both time and timelessness.

Here are the Poem, the meditation link, and the description I wrote to him of my response:

 

Day 16:  Gevurah within Tiferet

(Boundaries/Discernment within Balance/Harmony)

Tey, Tey Malkuta!

Cinco de Mayo. New Moon…

I feel so expanded that no such markers have meaning.

Boundaries disappear in this radiance,

this angel choir song emanating from the center of everywhere.

Thy Kingdom is Come.

And it seems infinite from here on my Throne (meditation cushion).

But now it is time to move,

To allow the brain, bones and flesh to coalesce

just enough, for locomotion and thoughts of breakfast.

How does this gelatinous cloud of Light negotiate the world unabraded?

Oozing forgiveness at every sharp corner of forgetfulness,

for every memory of God’s wounded Son?

How does Wisdom deflect and transform,

Never again to hide under a bushel?

I open my eyes to See,

my heart to Hear,

My body to Be…

Curious.

 

The Link:

An Honest Meditation

( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=92i5m3tV5XY )

 

The excerpted description of my response:

I chuckled, but I was in a pretty expanded state when I listened, so every profane word was like an insect slamming into a venus flytrap, I felt it land and the drum skin of my heart contract protectively around it. … I still feel the places in the jelly of my field that were abraded and I’m breathing willingness and the cosmic solvent of Love to ooze there like plasma and wash it with forgiveness, so that it can release.   A good practice, especially given the prayer of my Omer writing this morning, answered with impressive immediacy.

 

And with that practice under my belt, I moved on to breakfast and other little challenges–answered prayers– in a world that isn’t known for pulling its punches.

Never the same Omer twice…

Last year I explored a writing process introduced to me by Ya’el Chaikind in her book Revelations of the Heart (A 49-Day Journey of Poems and Prompts to Write Your Way to Revelation). It is based on an old Hebrew ritual of Counting the Omer.  I posted the fruits of that labor on a dedicated page on this blog, where it remains.

I decided to commence the process again this year. And I will weekly post the yield on that same dedicated page. You can find and click on it above. 

Here is an excerpt of explanation I offered last year, should you wish to review it:

     It is a systematic practice of immersing “in the spiritual qualities of lovingkindness, boundaries, harmony, endurance, awe, foundation and dignity for 49 days,” and, as presented here, of contemplating the relationship, the mutual influence, between pairs of these energies. (These qualities are represented in the Sephirot from the Tree of Life.) In her prompts and poems, Chaikind invokes these qualities as lived experience, expressions and circumstances in our personal world. She presents it as a writing practice, documenting the poem each day had inspired for her in 2013.

     This practice originally commenced on the 2nd day of Passover.  

     What follows are most of unpolished contemplations that have emerged.  I add a week’s worth at a time, with no exposition to fill in contextual gaps; it is a personal practice. Yet, so often the personal reflects the universal.  I set them forth here, annotated (usually) only with the prompt offered in the book. If the practice intrigues you, I encourage you to pick up a copy for yourself.

Enjoy!

Light is that by which we see light

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.

(Psalm 139)

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.

 

 

Vade Mecum

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

Janet McKenzie

Christ in the Tomb is still the Christ

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

the many and the ONE

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.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Odlw8WdsZS8

More words:

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.  

(JL)

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)

 

 

Musing on the News of Muses.

When poet Mary Oliver died in January, I was traveling; yet the news reached me–a text from a friend– when I stopped to stretch my legs.  I spent the rest of the day’s drive hoping my muse would catch up with me, or me with her, and allow a poetic tribute to crystalize and flow forth. Nothing brilliant launched, like Athena, fully formed, from my head; but, when I came to a stop, I wrote what came– as Mary Oliver herself did. She would start with simple observations of nature and trace the threads to universal wisdoms. Sometimes it went the other direction; a wise conceit grounded into universality by some phenomenon of nature.

I wrote:

News comes as one needs it;   

To a poet comes word that

Mary Oliver has closed her notebook,

Has passed the torch now to all the fires she stoked.

Poetry, an alchemy;

A Zen rake over the dulled river stones of language

Coaxes flint,

spark,

surprise,

recognition,

redemption.

With this news I felt impulse to compose

but found no words, only

Silence—

Teeming and grateful—

Silence,

Where all poetry is born

And where it returns,

along with every poet.

Beloved to beloved.

Wordless, Thunderous Thanks,

O’ Wise Flint Dust.

…And my pen ran out of ink just as I finished scribbling those words.

A few weeks later, just last week, Mark Hollis died. I expect fewer readers than know Mary Oliver’s name to know his. He was a musician. But since he and I had both long ago disconnected from the music business–him as a musician, me as a fan–I was impressed that, again, I got timely word. My cousin emailed me.  

Mark Hollis led the band Talk Talk. Their biggest hit in the U.S. was “It’s My Life.” I occasionally hear that on the radio; alas, more often I hear NoDoubt’s un-imaginative cover of the song. But as long as Mark was getting royalties, I don’t mind.  Covers are a form of tribute.

While Talk Talk lodged a few hits in the British pop firmament, Mark Hollis’s more poignant legacy was what came after. He insisted on making music that challenged pop ears, that left that heady, cotton-candy world far behind and went spelunking in the depths. He many lost listeners, of course, but he gained respect.  TalkTalk’s last two albums remain critically admired and far more influential than even Mark Hollis may have known. I was heartened by the number of tributes and column inches he received in the (mostly British) press upon news of his passing. 

I listened to a few of his songs in commemoration. The man’s voice was like no other; it dripped with grief; and many of his songs use that to exquisite effect.  Having said since high school that I felt like I was made of grief, I resonated intensely with the soul keening through that voice.  But the man remained a mystery, remains a mystery.  Even after I read his obituary in The Guardian, I knew little more than I always had. I did learn that he was exactly ten years and one day older than me; our birthdays were one day apart.

The gifts of his passing for me were 1) to connect (through the ethers) to all those others who had connected to this noble soul through his music, and 2) to observe how, as I note in my Mary Oliver “tribute” poem, news I need to know seems to find me, and I must trust that. What’s more, I can greet whatever in life finds me, whether I seek it or not, as purposeful and timely, even if its meaning might seem as obscure as Mark Hollis.

If you are not familiar and wish to experience his music, it’s all over the internet. From the solid synth pop of the Talk Talk and It’s My Life albums, to the rich deepening of Color of Spring, to the remarkable, groundbreaking Spirit of Eden and the almost abstruse Laughing Stock and Mark Hollis albums.  It is hard to isolate songs to recommend. I will say that my father was even captivated by the song “I Believe in You,” from Spirit of Eden. Pure pathos…and pulchritude. It is to be experienced, not described.

Thank you Mark Hollis.

Rest In Beauty.

Loneliness: The Phantom Limb Ache of Self

I had been noticing that loneliness, a perennial theme in human life, has been coming up a lot lately, in my personal vocabulary as well as in the confessions of others. Apparently I am not the only one observing this.  The same day I heard two friends profess to their own states of loneliness, I received word that Laura Parker was presenting a thoughtful on-line interview series called “Transforming Loneliness.” And I heard it from one of the interviewees, Jeannie Zandi, who reported that she herself had been considering engaging in more public discussion of “Loneliness as Holy Longing,” the title of her interview.

The fact that this theme is focussing in our individual minds and hearts indicates to me that it is rising forth for consideration and transformation in the collective consciousness. And this phenomenon is itself demonstration that none of us is as alone as we think. That echoes the title of one of today’s interviews in Parker’s series. And it is a realization that most spiritual work leads each of us to, again and again. It is the balm for loneliness itself.

Right in sync, yesterday, Richard Rohr’s daily meditation ended with “Once a person recognizes that, it is hard to ever be lonely in this world again.”

The “Transforming Loneliness” interview series is only in its second day, and it is archived. It is probably not to late to subscribe to it. Try this link:

https://www.transforming-loneliness-event.com

The interviews I’ve heard  so far are well worth a listen. In distinct vocabularies, all seem to reflect that loneliness is a mutable perception, and it stems from a forgetfulness of our origins,  perpetuated by the myriad ways that we are conditioned to believe and operate as if we are separate: from each other, from all life, even from our own basic wholeness.

This morning, I listened to a selection from a podcast called Interesting People Reading Poetry. It featured Krista Tippet (Of On Being) reading a favorite Rilke poem. It’s one of my (many) faves, too. 

https://interestingpeoplereadingpoetry.com/2019/02/12/krista-tippett-reads-rilke/

As I listened, I observed myself experiencing the now-familiar sensation of simultaneously feeling less lonely and more lonely: On one hand, a joining in the deep and redemptive Knowing with two other thoughtful minds (Krista and Rilke, standing in for a world of consciousness); and on the other hand, the twinge of loneliness of perceiving myself isolated from such company in my mundane or physical existence, of forgetting what I do know, which is so poignantly articulated in Rilke’s few lines, and also on occasion, in my own poetic writing.

One way I reach across that apparent chasm of separation is meditation or prayer. Another is to be in nature. A third is to write a blog.  It is in sharing, in reaching across the gap that we erase it; and if we are lucky, we realize (again) it isn’t really there.