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Thinking Like a Planet

By Freya Secrest

“Think like a planet.” What does it mean to think like a planet? David Spangler has used this idea to introduce a way to access the stance of partnership and participation that will help us create a more whole future.  But I can be so immersed in my own daily events that I cannot even begin to imagine the thoughts that a planet might use to organize itself. How can I develop the capacity to hold such a wide perspective?

On a recent plane flight looking out the window with a vista from 30,000 feet up, I found at least a partial answer to that question. I found myself marveling at the folds, patterns and shapes of the land we were crossing over. I could see the movement of time and relationship as mountain evolved into foothill and from there into valleys with fields and towns.

My felt experience in nature often allows me to find the vocabulary that helps to navigate more conceptual understanding. Most often that wider, more expansive understanding comes when marveling at a detail like the pattern of bark or the color of a sunset.  But the view of our world from 30,000 feet up brought me to see and feel a wider range of our evolving planet from a new and very accessible viewpoint. It brought me from an image of a planet as a neutral hunk of rock to a more intimate experience of its relationship to aliveness and joy.  

Let me try to invite you into the picture as it engaged me.

First, imagine yourself gazing out the window of an airplane. The sky is cloudless and you can see clearly the mountains and foothills below. You are moving fast enough to recognize the progression in the landscape below but not so fast as to miss the relationship between its elements.

So close that they feel touchable, notice first the jutting peaks of mountains. Rock – just the weight of the word communicates its to-the-point honesty.  The word brings a satisfying felt description of the base layer of our planet.  It is solid; it will not be pushed aside. Rock can be cold and slippery and hard but it also upholds. And with time, rock gives way to water and wind, allowing itself to be rounded and softened.

Flying on, your view softens into foothills where the flows and patterns of rock become more entwined. The word Earth comes to mind. It brings a different quality, varied and not so singular.  Earth has learned to be collective and interactive. There are more shades of light in the ground below.

And now between the hills you see spaces of green – valleys where earth has softened into a seedbed. By honoring its relationships it has become Soil, nourishing, sustaining fertile ground for other lives. Soil blends and integrates to form a physical field of emerging life, an energetic field of invitation.

The scope of this awareness is wide. Rock speaks of identity and being.  Earth speaks of relationship and Soil to renewal. They speak to thinking like a planet.

[Come back to an awareness of yourself. Do you notice a deeper sense of the life of our world?]  

I am moved to be both a witness and a part of this majestic progression of life. I wonder what I can possibly contribute to the breadth of this planet-scaled experience.  A response comes up in me. I have an image of Seeds and a thought that says, “You add seeds, seeds of possibility that offer new harmonies to the song. New seeds to grow and shape new stories of life and your attention to the husbandry that will integrate that life into the joy of our planetary aliveness.”

Thinking like a planet needs me to accept the invitation to become part of the progression of emergence on this planet, embrace the connections that shape the field of life, and welcome the changes that time and relationship bring.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

Readers Respond to Rock Talk

Several weeks ago The Lorian Blog published a post by Mary Reddy entitled “Rock Talk.” (Click here to read it.) We received a number of responses from readers and would like to share some of their delightful experiences with rocks:

“Mary Reddy’s “Rock Talk” essay struck a chord with me. I came to an appreciation for rocks through my practice of geomancy using Israel Regardie’s “bowl-of-stones” method. I spent a couple of years gathering just the right set of stones along our dirt road during daily walks. New Hampshire is known for its quartz and granite, so I also collected semi-matching examples of that at the same time. I set them on a window sill as a kind of “altar” overseeing my working library of tarot books. I also created a rather Freudian piece of art with them. Here are some pictures.”— Wayne Limberger (Ed. Note: All photos below are from Wayne’s collection.)                                             

“My own experience with rocks has been a mystery but delightful nonetheless. About 8 years ago I felt a strong connection some acreage of land in Western Australia. The pull was very strong and I eventually purchased this land. Over time I noticed that certain rocks had ‘arrived’ on the land, noticing the way they sat on the land, I knew they had perhaps ‘arrived’ within the last 24 hours. I noticed if rocks had been there for a long time, they sat in the ground and underneath them was soil and perhaps some insects. Those that arrived more recently still had live green grass underneath which bounced back when I picked up the rock. There seems to be a certain magnetism on this land. For a very long time I have loved rocks and have travelled to many places where there are ancient rocks, eg England, Scotland, Ireland, Egypt, Bosnia, Africa and of course my own beloved Australia. What messages do they have for me I wonder?” SF

“I began “communicating” w/stones, stone-persons, in the ’90s, but had always been drawn to stone, especially the feel of sculptured stone; the intuitive me knew clearly that as artists & others have said–the piece to be revealed IS w/in the stone, awaiting the hands to assist in its being shown. when walking I was drawn to certain stones, then taught to hold them & meditate on them, their energy, what messages or teachings they had to offer. As a result, I have a collection of stones from various places over 30+ years.
 
While i’ve never had the joy of engaging standing stones, i have no doubt whatsoever that I’d be flying, too! what joy that must’ve been! I believe the stone persons want to engage with us, want to be understood for the gifts they are, bring, such as the waterfall. I’ve felt such support at times when leaning on stones (after asking if it’s ok) and so enjoy their beauty.” — LVM
 
 
“It was a delight to read of (Mary’s) delight to connect with stone sentience! My book Awakening to Home: A Partnership of Sidhe Star and Stone (which documents my work with David & Jeremy’s Card Deck) speaks to this – both from a giant (mountain) perspective as well as a modest (pebble) perspective. I often ‘hear’ stones calling to me as I hike the Alps (‘See me! See me! I want to help Gaia too!’).

If they’re small enough I bring them home for blessing with Love’s Light, to then offer in healing to the fractured places of the world. With a large glacier erratic, the blessing occurs within their (adopted) ‘home-space’. In German we call them ‘Findling’ which (translated) is the same as ‘Foundling’, a child abandoned on a doorstep. It’s this ‘mother-love’ that I bring to my embodied relation with stone (standing or otherwise), which has opened me to the ‘mothers’ of Gaia, a very precious collective of crone wisdom …”— Anne Gambling

Much gratitude to all of our readers who took the time to share stories or just dropped us a line to say they enjoyed reading Rock Talk and other blog posts. Please keep your emails coming.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

Rock Talk

By Mary Reddy

During my apprenticeship to a shaman, I learned how to journey into the non-ordinary reality of the lower, middle, and upper worlds where I met with power animals, nature spirits, deities, and all manner of beings for which I had no name. My first attempts were tentative yet soon enough I was surprised by some very real alternate realities. When going to the upper world for the first time, I expected to see ethereal castles and cloud cities. I thought I’d meet austerely other-worldly teachers. Instead, I wandered as though in a fog and began to worry that I would fail to see anything. Suddenly, I found myself in the presence of an old crone of a woman with wild hair and wilder eyes. I appeared to have startled her. She turned from something she was working on, took one look at me, and yelled in consternation “Go talk to rocks!” Her hoarse voice and peremptory command shocked me back home. Journey ended. Message received.

I followed her advice. In the beginning, I would touch into a rock and get a clear sense of its intelligent but foreign-to-me nature. Eventually, my rock communions expanded to include something like rock emotion. For example, I once leaned into the cliff cradling the Baptism River as it rushed down a gorge into Lake Superior. The Rock Being I connected with exuded a rocky delight that I cared to visit and proceeded to convey wordlessly how much it enjoyed shedding its minerals into the river, tinging it a copper. Part of its earthly mission was to hold the swift-flowing water on its course to the deep lake. I still believe it had much more to “tell” me if I’d had the patience of a rock to listen for hours.

Another time, touching an old standing stone in Ireland that was carved with tree runes, I heard a delighted voice that said “Ah, you’re back!” Then I felt as though I was atop the rock and we were flying through the night skies. I can’t explain what that was about, but it moved me to happy tears. 

Here on Whidbey Island, I go for walks in a Buddhist nature reserve known as the Earth Sanctuary where they have created a standing-stone circle using slabs of Columbia Gorge basalt. I walk the circle, greeting each stone. Every time I perform this ritual, I am struck by a peculiar sensation when touching the stone slabs. I feel the exact opposite of grounded and immobile stability. I feel a watery current, a rushing and waving motion moving through dark space. Some of the standing stones convey this energetic feeling more strongly than others; with one, the sensation is quite strong ( the 11th in the circle proceeding clockwise). It reminds me of the flying sensation I experienced with the stone in Ireland. I can journey to stones at a distance, but the physical touching of stone is precious to me. 

We humans have interacted with stones for eons, performing ceremonies in standing stone circles, carving runes on stones and painting wild animals on cave walls, using hot stones for physical healing or crystal stones for concentration of light and intention. Someone told me once that stones hold memories. Our histories and the history of the planet may be stored in stone. I wonder if it’s possible for humans to co-author stories with stones? Is that what happened with the ancient standing stones? Was the meaning embedded in sacred stones through human beings collaborating with stones, angels, or Sidhe? Or were the messages generated by other beings to communicate with us? Whether collaboration took place in the past, perhaps it’s time to experiment with it now. 

It’s been years since I learned shamanic practices. Later, discovering incarnation spirituality, I realized a key difference between the two approaches to journeying or attunement. In shamanic journeying, I learned to leave the body behind. My consciousness departs the surrounding environment to enter a full-on trance state. Incarnational spirituality, with its joyous acknowledgement of embodiment, encourages me to involve my whole self. I retain awareness of my body and invite my environment to accompany me in fellowship. Thus, the touching of stones physically carries a powerful charge for me, as it works on a Gaian wavelength.

I’d love to hear from you about your experiences with stones. And if this is new to you, I invite you to “Go talk to rocks!” (and bring your body along with you!)


 On September 28, join Lorian teacher Susan Sherman for a free webinar on Energy Tending. In this one hour interactive webinar on Zoom, you will learn a simple and effective practice that can shift your inner landscape towards a more welcoming, loving and connected way of meeting the world in your daily life. For more information and to register, click here.

Excess Baggage

By Susan Beal

A sense of urgency always overtakes me when I get to an airport, even when I am in plenty of time. It’s the overall vibe, I suppose, of a seeming non-place—everyone there is rushing off to somewhere else or working to get people from here to there. The muffled, sub-sonic vibration of jets overhead and the smell of diesel that permeates everything adds to the unsettled feeling.

The process of going through airport security adds to the stress. One day a few years ago, my husband David, and I, were flying home from Sea Tac. He had gotten TSA pre-check and I hadn’t. I waved goodbye to him as he sauntered off to his special check-in point—no line there—and I paused to fish my wallet and ID out of my backpack. Just then, a gaggle of Japanese school girls sashayed past, and all at once I was at least 20 people farther back in line than I would have been moments ago. It wasn’t a big deal, since we were in plenty of time and it hardly mattered if we waited here or at the gate. But I smoldered as the line barely inched forward. I saw David collect his bags from the conveyor belt, clear of security. It was so unfair!

I told myself I was being silly. Our flight didn’t leave for two hours. Everything was fine. Yet everything rankled and my nose was out of joint. What was wrong with me?

The morning had started off well. I had just finished the second of four weekends that were part of the Lorian ordination program. I had been in a fine, even inspired, mood. And although airport security is tiresome at the best of times, I’m generally laid back. Even if I get upset, I can usually summon a sense of gratitude to lighten up. It’s fun to get a hassled security officer to smile, or to share a sense of amusement with fellow passengers at the mild indignities we were all enduring. I also like to recognize and say hello to the life and sentience within the airport building, the monitors and machines, the subtle beings and energies at work alongside their physical counterparts, unseen and rarely acknowledged.

On this occasion, however, I couldn’t summon the least smile. To make matters worse, after I’d been in line for fifteen minutes or so, a TSA officer ushered everyone just behind me into a new, shorter line. I escalated from petty annoyance, to robust anger, to simmering rage.

As I looked around me at the mass of people being processed by armed, uniformed officials, my mood shifted into something darker and more troubling. Suddenly, we were not air passengers having our bags checked for bombs and knives, we were refugees being herded into camps, prisoners in a gulag, illegal aliens captured for incarceration and deportation. The scene around me was superimposed in my mind with images of Jews being unloaded from cattle cars and sorted on train platforms, of women in headscarves being harassed by military troops. On top of anger, I was flooded with grief about the cruelty humanity visits upon itself. Clearly these weren’t all my own thoughts and feelings, but why was I picking up on them so strongly?

I shook my head. I needed to get a hold of myself. I gazed around me and reoriented to the present. Amidst the hubbub, a woman in the cylindrical x-ray machine raised her arms. A guard ran a beeping scanning baton over a man’s pockets. A mother bent down to help her young daughter put a Dora the Explorer bag on the conveyor. Tall, potted ficus trees presided calmly over the crowd. Sunlight filtered down from skylights high up on the ceiling. I could see blue sky through the glass, and clouds drifting past. I breathed in, I breathed out. But I was still mired in anger and grief.

I collected my stuff and put everything back into place, then found David, who was smiling as I approached him. I thought, “Fine for him to smile! He didn’t have to wait in line!” We decided to grab lunch before heading to the gate. After we ordered food I ran through various techniques for grounding and calming myself, but I couldn’t regain my equilibrium. Things didn’t improve on the plane. We were in the last row, in seats that didn’t recline because they were up against the bathroom wall. The smell of bathroom disinfectant wafted over us and the man in the aisle seat crunched noisily through bag after bag of smelly bag of onion sour cream potato chips.

Finally, somewhere over the middle of the US, my mood began to lift. Hurtling through space in a winged aluminum cylinder, subjected to bad odors, limited personal space, minimal oxygen, and an accumulation of annoyances, I started to feel better. They say angels can fly because they take themselves lightly. Maybe it works the other way around, too—when you fly, you take yourself more lightly. My mood lightened—not entirely, but I no longer felt hijacked by rage and despair.

Flying always makes me aware of the angelic and elemental beings who assist the material world. It’s not just physics that keep planes aloft, but the assistance of angels and sylphs. And the view above the clouds reinforces a sense of celestial collaboration. Also, I find the enforced inactivity of being stuffed into a plane seat conducive to meditation and self-reflection. When I fly, I review my life. What effect it would have if I went down in a plane? How would my family fare? What messes and blessings would I leave behind? It puts things in perspective.

The plane landed, thanks to the human and subtle teamwork. Once home, the peace and familiarity of our land and house embraced me. I sat down to center myself and do some energy work to ground and transmute the psychic gunk that had thrown me off. Despite, or maybe because of my sensitivity, I often don’t make a distinction between energies that originate with me and energies that are no more mine than the rain falling from a cloud or the exhaust from a tail pipe.

I reviewed the morning’s events from a clairvoyant perspective. I saw the emotional residue of thousands of people’s irritation, fear and frustration accumulating in the check point area, like an ecosystem overburdened with toxic runoff. There were vague shapes moving among the heavy residues, perhaps a combination of projections and thought-forms left behind by travelers, and more autonomous beings who find nourishment in such an environment, like rats in a garbage-strewn lot.  

I felt stupid and chagrined for having been thrown so far off center. What kind of a Lorian priest would I make? I asked my inner guides for their perspective and all at once I was flooded with a new understanding. I often take on difficult energies from other people and places. I used to feel vulnerable, even victimized by my sensitivity, but I’ve learned through the years how to cope more effectively and safely with discordant energies. In this case, the subtle cleaning crew at the airport had recognized I had those skills and had handed me a bag of psychic trash to recycle when I got home. Apparently I’d agreed to it on a subconscious level. Yes, I’d gotten whammied at first by “leakage” from the bag, but I’d contained it until it could be properly transmuted, and my subtle courier services were much appreciated. I smiled as I thought of the constant warnings played over airport PA systems about not accepting bags or packages from any unknown person. Little did the TSA know it was happening all the time in ways they hadn’t imagined!

Since then I’ve learned to be a more conscious partner in such work.


On September 28, join Lorian teacher Susan Sherman for a free webinar on Energy Tending. In this one hour interactive webinar on Zoom, you will learn a simple and effective practice that can shift your inner landscape towards a more welcoming, loving and connected way of meeting the world in your daily life. For more information and to register, click here.

Formative Forces

Essay and Photos By Freya Secrest

I spent a day in the northern section of Yellowstone National Park this past summer. It was a brief visit, but nonetheless powerful in connecting me with the formative forces building our world.  There were geysers spewing out hot bubbling minerals not safe to be touched by human hands, powerful rivers cutting channels in the landscape and various microbial life-forms wearing down rock. My day’s experience was an amazing window into the forces that tirelessly move, meet and mold a world.

Going into the Park I recalled several National Geographic documentaries of Yellowstone which shared the beauty and the rawness of life in its mountains and valleys. But as we traveled by the mineral geysers, the Yellowstone River canyon, and a wide valley with a vista that dwarfed its resident buffalo, I was aware of the vast energies that sculpt and give shape to our planet. Those documentaries had not given me the felt sense of the power in wind and sky and molten chemicals that underlie its unique landscape of bubbling springs and delicate wild flowers. Images could point me to a tree growing close to sulphurous upwellings or a wild creature who made that world their home, but they didn’t fully capture the spirit of determination and joy evident when standing in their presence.  

On the way home to Michigan, I found myself considering my own relationship to formative forces, not looking to those powers of nature outside myself but to those powers available within my human stream of action. Standing, Partnering, and Generativity – these are not geologic forces but human-centered formative forces that I can direct— each elemental and powerful in their way.  They work with elements of creation different from the geologic forces, but they are no less potent to the life of Gaia.

Back now to my daily life, I wonder how to better focus my formative actions. I do not always see the impact of my life in the world, do not always recognize myself as a formative force. But the choices I make, the relationships I foster and the way I invite possibilities to emerge in my life help shape the wider world. My awareness of the possible impact of my actions leaves me feeling daunted. How do I know my individual actions contribute to the dance of life in a way that leads to a more whole and coherent world?

The answer that comes to me in this moment is that we don’t always get to know our impact. We cannot control the end result of our contributions in life except through Love. The understanding we bring to our actions and the choices we make from Love create a field where connection, possibility and respect enhance mutual unfoldment, where results foster wholeness and a vitality of life. As a formative force, it is my responsibility, my opportunity to step into Love as the controlling factor.

I have to admit that love has been a bit of a mystery for me, not so much in the specificity of personal love or the spaciousness of love for the Sacred in life, but in the mystery of how to bring them together. How does personal love expand to touch the universal and cosmic love reside in daily connections? How do they come together into a wholeness of love that is a life-enhancing, formative force?

What comes to me as a path into answering this question is to live with the same determination and joy as does the nature I connected with in Yellowstone Park – to stand and celebrate my life as a feast , to partner deeply, joyfully, lovingly with myself and the people and life around me, to be generative as a spring is, bubbling out the fullness of myself from wellsprings of love, a resource freely available for co-creative interaction with my world.   

After millions of years of interaction and relationship, many large and small acts of beingess, Yellowstone is a landscape manifesting a presence that touches its visitors with integrity, beauty and coherence.  It is a whole greater than the sum of its parts. No one element could alone imagine its current shape and vitality, but each element is a formative force in creating it. The same is true of each in our own lives; we are a formative force in connection with other forces and together we shape a more whole and beautiful world.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

The Shadow of the Moon

By Julie Spangler

We Americans have just passed through “The Great American Eclipse”. It was a dramatic name for a dramatic event. Like most of the country, I waited eagerly for 10:20 AM to arrive in Seattle. It was awe-inspiring.

Seeing them all lined up, the three celestial bodies which makes life possible on our planet was a moving moment to reflect on. Celestial events always lead me to consider where I stand in the universe on a small planet revolving around a small sun on the outskirts of a huge galaxy. Our beautiful earth is a miracle worthy of love.

As part of the whole experience, I then watched the televised videos of the event as the shadow of the moon moved across the land, welcomed by crowds and news reporters all across the country sharing in the experience of the totality.  I was shocked to see how suddenly darkness fell, how complete the darkness was, and then how swiftly light returned. At each location the event was welcomed with cheers and the joyful camaraderie of a community created simply to share a unique cosmic event at a moment in time. Very different from some more recent public gatherings of people in our country.

As I watched the news, they played a clip of Frank Reynolds, the ABC news anchor in 1979 when the last solar eclipse happened in the US: “So that’s it, the last solar eclipse to be seen on this continent in this century,” he said. “As I said, not until August 21, 2017, will another eclipse be visible from North America.”

“That’s 38 years from now,” he continued. “May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace.”

Hearing this, I found myself gripped by a grief which I still feel. May the shadow of the moon fall on a world at peace. It did not. People the world over pray for peace, march for peace, work and write for peace, yet our world continues to display war and violence. Suddenly I am in touch with the grief I have buried in the face of all of the news we are bombarded by daily of those tortured parts of our planet where people and families and communities are torn asunder by violence.      

With Frank’s words, though, I am also made aware of our collective expectation that global peace is possible. I am deeply moved by the way humans continually envision a future of peace. In the ’70’s we marched for peace with the hopeful, expectant youthful belief that we could make it happen. One war ended. Others began.

Unlike many of my fellow students who thought taking down the government would solve our problems, I believed that the only way to make such changes was for each individual to be at peace within him or herself, to seek a spiritual center which does not foster violence. Often violence comes from dark unintegrated parts of our past which can lead us to strike out. It is the task of each of us to find the courage to uncover those parts, to see them, name them and reclaim them as part of our wholeness. There are many teachings and approaches to help us do this, but first we must look at how we choose to act and take responsibility for it.

The shadow of the moon imposed an unusual darkness during the daylight, a darkness that unexpectedly brought things up to be examined. As we enter times of darkness when things go bump in the night, we may find ourselves confronting those things which hide inside us from the light of day. They may sneak up on us, taking us by surprise as I was, or they may erupt suddenly and forcefully. For me, this grief for my world in the grip of so much violence has always been there, but I manage to keep it under the bed so that I can function in my day. The eclipse and Frank Reynolds brought it back into the light of my consciousness.

We are in a time when the violence and hatred in the collective is erupting all over the world. Is there more violence than there has been in the past? Are we in a time in the cycles of the world where hidden distortions  at the heart of humanity are brought to the surface – shadows of the collective past – so that they can be seen and dealt with? Or is it simply that with the speed of communications and connections these days we are seeing the violence and hatred more clearly and more immediately, again bringing to our awareness that which isn’t normally visible? Will being made more aware of it allow us to finally address the hurt and pain in the human experience in order to bring healing to the species? In any case, we are seeing it and if we are to see a future where the next shadow of the moon can fall on a peaceful world, we must act toward that goal.

I still believe that the path to peace is a personal one. It requires us each to be attentive to those buttons which lead us to violent thoughts, words or behaviors. And it also requires us to reach out to each other with love and caring, recognizing and accepting our differences. What a boring, colorless world it would be if we were all the same.

With Frank Reynolds, I also wish for the shadow of the next eclipse to fall on a world without war. And given that the next eclipse is in 2019, I suspect that it will not. But this knowledge does not have to stop me from holding the intention for global peace, and as we are aware, subtle effects can have impact. The more people holding a vision of global peace, the closer we get to it. One day, through the efforts of us all, it will be the reality we live in.


There’s still time to join Julie Spangler for A Journey into the Sacred Fire of your Life, a six-week class exploring the sacredness at the heart of our ordinary human experiences and incarnate lives. Click here for more information and to register.

 

Strange Attractors

By Susan Beal

I have had a meditation and spiritual practice for almost 40 years. Mostly it’s been a private thing, central to my sense of self and informing my activities in the outer world, but never overt. In many ways, my experiences of the “inner” and “outer” worlds had felt like very different, if not opposing forces in my life. Two summers ago, I was ordained as Lorian Priest. I saw ordination as a way to reconcile these worlds.

I also have a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution. Although I have not been in formal practice as a mediator in some time, I still see myself as a mediator in the larger sense of seeing things from multiple perspectives and bridging differences when I can. It wasn’t until after my ordination that I realized that what drew me to ordination was the same thing that drew me into conflict resolution: a desire to be of service in the world, a longing for peace and wholeness, and the need for practical skills to that end. It was also the call to maintain a higher perspective and identify a compass point to guide and inspire me as I moved through my life.

Long before I thought to be a mediator or a priest, I was an artist. I come from a long line of artists and always thought that was the path I would follow. I went to art school to become a professional artist. When my life path took a detour, I didn’t see the common thread linking art, mediation, and, later, ordination. I just thought I was moving between different, unrelated stages of my life. But now, looking back, I see that what connects them is my fascination with what I have come to think of as the Inbetween—the place between places, a zone of high potential, of unformed possibilities, of What Could Be, but isn’t yet.

It’s the mix of excitement and anxiety I feel facing a sheet of good drawing paper, a freshly gessoed canvas, a wedge of soft clay. It’s discovering the small bud of cooperation that can blossom and grow between parents warring over custody or coworkers snarled in office politics. It’s where the friction between the material and subtle worlds can be shaped into useful warmth and illumination. It’s the call to action of the neglected garden, the cluttered house, the dispirited friend. It’s facing the question: Can I help in some way to make something new, meaningful or beautiful out of this? Will it work out? Will it fail? Am I up for this?  

For me, Incarnational Spirituality is a guide through this luminous, promising, confusing, powerful Inbetween, where outcomes are uncertain and hope is tangible. To navigate through it one needs a guiding star, which I.S. provides.

I studied General Systems Theory in college as part of learning about the relationship between conflict and cooperation. One of the most useful things I learned from it, something that helped me immensely as a mediator, was that conflict and cooperation are partners in the movement towards wholeness. It describes the transitional zone between chaos and order as a place of great power and sensitivity, where the least influence can have enormous impact and result in a domino effect for good or ill. The influence that helps a system in flux settle into a new pattern is known as a “strange attractor” or seed crystal. A seed crystal is an anchor, precipitating change in a system wavering between outcomes. The quality of that little crystal can determine the quality of the outcome.

Being a priest, a mediator, or an artist is akin to being a strange attractor, someone who strives to draw out new meaning, order, and beauty that before was only latent. Incarnational Spirituality provided a kind of strange attractor for me, a number of guiding principles and concepts that have oriented me when I come face to face with doubts about the hows, whys and whats of my life and the world.  

Most spiritual paths tell us our true power comes from spiritual sources. Most scientific perspectives insist that reality is physically based and consciousness results from that. We’re left with a gap between spirit and matter, an either/or choice that generates endless conflict. And yet physics demonstrates that all useable power is generated from opposite energies coming together. Differentials in temperature, pressure, direction and flow is what powers thunderstorms, engines, generators, turbines and heat pumps.

So I’m particularly inspired by the concept in Incarnational Spirituality of generative capacity, the power and potential that result from the act of incarnation itself, the coming together of the fiery, cosmic, unbounded nature of spirit and the dense, flesh-and-bones, finite nature of a physical body. We are beneficiaries as well as custodians of the creative light that comes from reconciling seeming opposites. Using that power wisely and well to benefit Earth and all who call her home is what I believe we are here to do. It is the essence of Incarnational Spirituality as I understand it, and it has become a guiding star for me.

The way I see it, we are all mediators, healers and artists by design. We not only have the capacity, but also the responsibility, to be seed crystals and strange attractors for greater love and wholeness on Earth. Understanding and manifesting that potential is, for me, what Incarnational Spirituality is all about.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

Reading Water

Essay and Pastels by Claire Blatchford
 
Mesmerized by a video about water I saw almost two years ago, I knew I wanted to try meeting water by way of pastels. It wasn’t so much the drawing challenge (water, clouds and faces are, for me, the ultimate challenge when drawing) because water is, as the late Theodor Schwenk, German Anthroposophist and pioneering water researcher, says in his wonderful book, Sensitive Chaos, “always on the way somewhere.”  It was the challenge of trying to feel my way into the movements — visible and invisible—of this powerful, vital, elusive and wondrous element. I’m not out to simply record what I see with my physical eyes—I could use a camera if I wanted to do that– so the results sometimes don’t make sense to viewers.
 
I think of this as my attempt to “read” into water. Put another way: a stream, for example, can be seen as an ongoing sentence or story flowing—or being “uttered”—onwards. When “reading” a stream I might catch a couple of the words passing by. Here follow seven examples of attempts to read water.
 
In this first one I saw, and read, shapes the water made in the sand over which is flowed: 
 
 
In the next one, when looking at the surface of a pond, I was amazed at how just a few inches of water could look like a view of our earth seen from a great height.  
 
In this one —another up close of a spot on a small stream near our home–I was struck by how water has fingers!
  
 
Again and again, what comes home to me in this “reading” is how water, despite the fact that it’s almost always on the move, is not without shape. And it tends to be spherical as I tried to show here (and as if evident too in the one above.)
 
  
As I see it, water is almost always reflecting things above and around it. Or one may see through it to what’s beneath it. In this “reading” other things are enhanced or brought to my attention. I’m always drawn to the moments when water moves with, into and through sunlight. 
  
 
There are also those moments when water is playful —the moments are easy to “read”! It surges, draws back, leaps forward, folds over, pops up again. I’m certain, if I stay attentive, I’ll see the water elementals, the undines, whom I saw once years ago.  
 
And so the “reading” continues…..

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.