May/Jun 2020 Newsletter

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OOPS, I missed a few things when I first sent this newsletter! Kindly disregard the first one and read this one. Thank you.

Your humble newsletter editor
Prayer of Welcome and Embrace
Rev. Jerry Maynard
Apr. 29, 2020 (St. Catherine of Siena)
Dedicated to the Creation Spirituality Communities Board & CS Tradition

Beautiful People,

You are welcomed here and cherished. Every road you have taken to arrive here, that road is valid. All that you have and all you do not have, is welcomed and embraced.

You, including the “you” that you hide out of fear and shame, is welcomed and embraced.

There is plenty good room here and an abundance of grace for you. We are not afraid of your questions and we share in your need for affection. You are welcomed and embraced.

This circle is always wide enough for you, with each molecule of faith and every atom of hope, with every ounce of doubt, and inch of truth, you are welcomed and embraced.

We welcome you not just because we should but because we want to welcome you. You are welcomed and embraced.

We delight in your edginess, in your confusion, and anger because we share in those realities and are not afraid to hold space for them. You are welcomed and embraced.

Together, in all we are and all we are striving to be, this sacred circle is a safe space and it is a home. Rest here. Extend a hand of friendship and appreciation. Dance the dance of freedom. Cast your lot. Celebrate and cry. Every experience is welcomed and embraced like a vibrant rainbow of true colors.

It is so. 
Upcoming Events
CREATION IN CRISIS WEBINAR:
Law and the Crisis in Creation

Thursday, June 4
1pm PST, 2pm MT, 3pm CT, 4pm EST


with
Nicholas Robinson, PhD

Professor of Law, University Professor on the Environment, Gilbert and Sarah Kerlin Distinguished Professor of Environmental Law Emeritus
Adjunct, Yale University School of Forestry & Environment
Monthly Online OSE Council

Thursday, June 18th from 5-6 PM PST (California Time)

This will no doubt be a special time to connect in community to the sacredness of the Earth within a conscious community. Join Matthew Fox, Skylar Wilson and a dynamic global community in creating a container for connection and networking with other mystic warriors who are carrying on the deep and diverse work of the Order of the Sacred Earth within their bioregions. We have also enjoyed providing a space for new people to join us to learn more about this movement and how to get involved. We've had between 12-65 people join us from all over the world so the format changes from month to month. There will be time to briefly share what you are up to as well as to listen to what has been happening within our extended network of over 60 Pods and thousands of people who are now meeting and rooting into their bioregions while creating community change in both internal and systemic ways. 
 
OSE Council link:

Join Zoom Meeting
 
Meeting ID: 886 6530 2478
One tap mobile
+13017158592,,88665302478# US (Germantown)
+13126266799,,88665302478# US (Chicago)
Community Leaders Monthly Connections
Are you a leader of an existing or newly forming Creation Spirituality community? Join us on the monthly Community Leaders Zoom call!

To join the email list for CSC Community Leaders, receive a reminder email with the link and updates, please email judyshook@aol.com. To join the monthly call follow this link to join the Zoom call: https://zoom.us/j/635474888

The next call is on June 8 at 11AM EST/10AM CST/8AM PST. 
Zooming along in Virtual Celebration
For over 30 years, Jubilee! Community has been bringing people in Asheville, NC together in joyful celebration of Creation Spirituality. Hugs, dancing, music, laughter, inspirational talks and meditation pave our path on the four Vias. Now, for the first time ever, we cannot join together in person. Nevertheless, our community continues to celebrate life virtually…not just in Asheville, but worldwide as people across the globe seek new ways to gather in spiritual community.

Holding online celebrations isn’t easy, but we are blessed with resourceful people who pool their talents to create meaningful fellowship in the virtual world. Every Sunday morning at 9:45am EDT, we go live on Zoom and Facebook. Each celebration includes a guest speaker delivering the main message, Yona FrenchHawk calling in the four directions, Daniel Barber and other musicians making a joyful sound, and a variety of Jubilants sharing their many gifts. We can’t hug each other, but we have breakout rooms where people can chat for a few minutes. We end each celebration with everyone singing together in a beautiful cacophony of delayed audio.

People hungering for a Sunday morning dose of Creation Spirituality can find links to join our online celebrations at  www.jubileecommunity.org , or subscribe to our  newsletter  for advance notice about these events. We invite everyone to celebrate life with us!
Reflections on our Times
What the Heart Cannot Forget
by Joyce Sutphen

Everything remembers something. The rock, its fiery bed,
cooling and fissuring into cracked pieces, the rub
of watery fingers along its edge.

The cloud remembers being elephant, camel, giraffe,
remembers being a veil over the face of the sun,
gathering itself together for the fall.

The turtle remembers the sea, sliding over and under
its belly, remembers legs like wings, escaping down
the sand under the beaks of savage birds.

The tree remembers the story of each ring, the years
of drought, the floods, the way things came
walking slowly towards it long ago.

And the skin remembers its scars, and the bone aches
where it was broken. The feet remember the dance,
and the arms remember lifting up the child.

The heart remembers everything it loved and gave away,
everything it lost and found again, and everyone
it loved, the heart cannot forget.

Reinventing a Shamanic, Faery Grandmother
by Diana Zweygardt

This month of May I will be graduating from the Fox Institute for Creation Spirituality with a Masters of Spirituality degree, focusing on my thesis and final project, entitled: Re-inventing a Shamanic, Faery Grandmother:Through Nature Meditation, Mystical Art and Alternative Education.  My Masters Final Project is designed to create a spiritually enriching atmosphere for children by letting them explore the awe and wonder of nature through their experience in my outdoor faery garden, which I have been creating on my land in Colorado over the past decade. Through hands-on workshops, I will utilize my experience as a nature-based artist, my studies with cross-cultural shamanic practices, and my work with the ancient Faery Folklore Tradition of spiritual practices in an alternative learning environment that supports the values of Creation Spirituality. A major focus will be to involve children in a closer spiritual relationship with the natural world and help them become active participants in combating climate change. The workshops are designed as an Earth experience, where they can develop new insights, spark their imagination and creativity, enhance their sense of amazement and live a more spiritually creative life.

Here in Colorado, our state is still in a transition from a stay-at-home situation because of the Covid-19 virus, to beginning to slowly open certain businesses. Our schools are still closed and gatherings of over ten people are not allowed. There is no assurance that our state guidelines will allow a workshop such as I have proposed for children to take place anytime soon. However, I am continuing to develop my plans and care for the sacred space that I have created, in anticipation of a time when the virus will no longer be such a threat.

The work of honoring and caring for our Earth Mother does not cease, and our individual actions to celebrate the sacred natural world can transform us from a place of despair to being a catalyst to change the consciousness of humanity.
Nature's Hymn
by James Irving Mann

Listen close and you will hear
The wind and rain give birth
As the Conductor of the sphere
Brings music to the earth.

Rivers flow in sweet refrains
As they travel through the night
And across the open plains
Rabbits jump in sheer delight.

Tiny crickets infiltrate
The silence of the dark
As fireflies and their mates
Make love amid the sparks.

Mountains echo in their songs,
“May all the world be blessed”,
As singing birds greet the dawn,
“Peace on Earth” is their request.

Rainbows serenade the sky
As they slow dance in the air
While buzzing insects as they fly
Hum “Thank You” in a prayer.

Water, Air, Earth, and Fire
Rejoice throughout the land
And their songs, like a choir
Proclaim Creation’s plan….
Stardust: A Meditation on Grief
by J. Barrett Lee
Stardust: A Meditation on Grief

One of the many remarkable truths about nature is that death is often a gateway to new forms of life. My favorite illustration of this process is the most powerful incident of death in the known universe: a supernova. A supernova is how a star dies.

Read more
hoppinghadrianswall.com
J. Barrett Lee lives in western Michigan with his spouse and children.

He currently works as a hospital chaplain and has previously served as parish clergy, a college professor, and a substance abuse counselor.

Barrett is an Episcopalian and a Benedictine oblate novice.
Come plan our Next Gathering!
Calling ALL! Would you like to help shape our next Creation Spirituality Gathering? Spots are now open on the Design & Planning Team. Come and share your talents to make our next Gathering the best one yet!

This Transformational God of Wonder
by Rev. Roger L. Brown

Part I

Ah this transformational God of wonder
Designed a magical universe
Wrought from an infinitesimal moment
of grand beginnings when ..
God snapped his fingers
Snap!
And the Universe began
Expanding, expanding,, expanding
13 billion years.
But here, and there, everywhere
Cosmic dust gathered, ignited
Into star glow power --
Itself a glowing crucible of creation
The fulcrum pull of gravity
Snagging planets into place.
The eternal patient hand of God,
Ordaining solar systems, galaxies
Into a mysterious, mystical madness of creation.
In this vastness, lives a small planet
First barren, then drowned in ocean
Where, like a giant mixing bowl,
Full of random ingredients --
Add molecules, stir for a billion years.
Voila - life appears!

Part II

A shepherd in Bethlehem peers skyward
To wonder at tiny points of light
Filling the night sky with
Wonder and beauty.
But God’s creation is topsy turvy
Little is big and weak is strong.
A pinprick of light is a galaxy far away.
A seed, but tiny,
Contains a giant tree.
A tiny CoronaVirus
Cannot be seen,
Invisible, hidden,
Catches a world by surprise,
Bringing governments and nations to their knees.
Who knew?
Who cared?
Nations might?
War machines at the ready,
They matter not to a tiny virus.
The tiny,
The invisible
Are strong,
The strong are weak.
A world turned upside down
Sein Weltenshauen ist Nicht!                (“A Worldview is shattered”)
When will the blind
The reality see?
When will the strong pay homage to the weak?
When will they learn who is really in charge?
Mother Nature is our boss -
Follow her lead for a life of joy.
Heed her way.
Learn her rules.
She is our partner, not our foe.
Follow creation’s banner to joy and life.
For the small is great and
The strong are weak.

Part III

Who would believe? Who would really believe?
A feisty CoronaVirus,
Derided and feared
Can
Teach the world, or
Blow the World apart.
Can it
Teach the World to learn to
Come together,
To care as one world
Where
The insignificant are
Not….insignificant,
And the strong bring
The weak
Into an orbit of caring.
So, amid unspeakable tragedy,
May we together
Bring healing to the Earth.
Guided By Stars
by Sue Ellen Parkinson

I grew up with images of Eve looking frightened, cowering, running away, hiding herself. We need to take back these negative stories about women and retell them to be empowering. This is my painting of Eve, as a grandmother, titled, "Guided By Stars." My Eve feels perfectly fine about eating her apple. She's even got an apple seed necklace and apple blossoms in her halo. The snake is her “spirit animal,” and they've become friends. The butterflies represent transformation. She is at peace, and has wrapped herself in gold.

Artist  Website:  www.miracleofyourlife.com
Ground
by Robyn Hubbard

Lying on the ground, I feel solidness beneath me, holding me firmly. I feel the prickle of the grass, the tickle of the insects exploring the flesh of my arms and ears. I feel the itch of all that’s unfamiliar, all while feeling held and supported.

As I rest, I begin to feel a softening beneath me, a yielding quality to that which once felt impenetrable. Now, there is a softer pulsing, a living quality to the solid mass. As I allow my sensation to deepen, I sense warmth. Not the warmth of gathered heat from the sun, but a warmth more inherently alive deep within the soil. 

I am continually drawn to cultivating intimacy with the ground. I frequently drop to the ground, surrendering my weight to the Earth’s embrace in the middle of a hike through a high mountain meadow, or alpine forest, or in the middle of my back yard. Maybe its because I long for my mom’s unconditionally loving embrace that I was blessed to receive the first twenty years of my life before she left the planet. Or maybe it’s just that I long for solid ground beneath me as I have traversed through numerous trials that have shattered my notion of ground unwillingly. Either way, ground is a sensation I have hounded my whole life.

I began to recognize in my early adulthood that finding an internal sense of ground, even amidst the most devastating circumstances, came somewhat naturally to me. Or, at least it was something that became familiar that offered solace. 

My first unexpected experience of this sense of ground came during my Mom’s funeral. For most of the service, I had my head buried in my Dad’s lap next to me, unable to face the hundreds of people mourning her indelible spirit, or the beautiful words of inspiration, Jewish prayer and memories shared. When the pallbearers surrounded her coffin to take her out to the hearse for final burial, I thought I would come completely undone right then and there. 

Just as I was thinking I could not survive this moment of my Mom being taken away from me forever, let alone another second without her through my life ahead, I suddenly felt an unusual sense of calm overcome me. I registered it immediately as my first conscious spiritual encounter with God. I just knew. It was a direct experience that came with a feeling that all is ok and that all will be ok, that my Mom was in a safe place and that she would be with me always. I was stunned and speechless. There was, and still are, no words to describe this sense of peace and ground that filled me. 

Since that time, whenever I have found myself in a free fall, in the midst of a difficult life passage, I have been able to connect with this feeling and seek out whatever ground I could find to allow myself to give in to the descent. I somehow learned through that early experience during my Mom’s funeral ceremony to trust that the greater ground, something much bigger than imaginable, would be there to catch me. I have so much gratitude to my Mom for instilling in me this sense of attachment and trust that laid the framework for this grounding force, even for the relatively short time she was here. Her presence, in essence, prepared me for the shattering I experienced through her loss at a critical time in my life.

As I continue to compost, turn, prepare and find support for my own inner soil, I have discovered an affinity for holding a strong space of ground for others to navigate their own shattering through grief and loss. The most difficult thing most of us encounter as we spiral into the challenges of descent is the fear that there will be no bottom, or end, to the suffering. This is a natural fear that accompanies the feeling of being out of control and swirling in the unknown. Feeling a sense of the safe presence of ground that you can trust will catch you, and/or the companioning of a compassionate other who can hold that trust and ground for you when your eyes, heart, mind and body cant find it, is the true experience of mercy. 

Mercy is a long lost treasure that would benefit all of us to bring out of the cave of isolation. My experience of mercy is that it is a quality of feminine origin – a disposition of compassion and forgiveness, as the dictionary definition states. This does not mean that only women can access the attributes of mercy, but to draw on its gifts, we must awaken the feminine energies of leaning in, and discover feelings of love and reverence through all that is unknown, uncomfortable and uncertain. My experience of having mercy for myself, as well as holding this sacred space for others, is that great gifts of awakening and creative inspiration are birthed in this wildly tender, and often chaotic, space. 

It has inevitably been at the moment when a sense of inner ground has rooted within me, when I can fully surrender to the unknown, that I have been able to ironically fly with the freedom of trust in something larger than me. The more I surrender my weight into the ground, the more I have felt lifted in flight – and ultimately liberated by the growing gift of the present moment with each passing day.

May the ground beneath us, the ground within us, the ground held by those surrounding us, and the sacred ground of Wild Mercy (Mirabai Starr) infusing the fabric of our interconnectedness be there to support each of us and catch us in the midst of our most difficult falls. And may we trust in this ground evermore with each turn and churn through the wheel of suffering, as well as in the midst of unimaginable grace.

How can the sense of ground, and mercy, support you through these unprecedented times?  Are there places in your inner or outer life that might benefit from connection with these resources? May we each have the courage to bring these kind and unconditionally loving companions in. 
We just might start a revolution.

Now is the time to RE-MEMBER
by Loretta O’Hanlon 

We have an opportunity to be aware
             and to learn from our past.
   Fascism thrived on fear and a culture that         had lost it’s ability for compassion,
       along with its sense of self. 

                  We forgot.
We have an opportunity to be aware and to learn from our past. 
We are the stewards of this planet. 
We share it with a multitude of species, just as if not more important than ourselves. 
       Materialism may pay the bills 
           but deflates the soul.

We can be a democracy that does NOT tolerate suppression.
Together we can do the right thing. 
Together we can pave the way to a brighter future.

      Now is the time to RE-MEMBER!
      Our survival may depend on it!
Helpers
by Nancy Cosgriff

Leaning against the mailbox post
at the end of my drive
I feel mlld spring air warming my face 
and see a blue expanse of sky
above the still brown meadow. 

Then, my friend, working
on the pandemic’s front line 
caring for vulnerable elders 
calls to talk about her fear.

How long before this tiny virus—
spiked circles of protein spreading randomly 
like spilled ink—infects us helpers?
Without masks and vents, she says, 
it stains lungs of even the strongest. 
What will happen to us? 

I listen to anguish underneath her anger 
as I notice the tall aspen up the hill 
sprouting early buds still black
and I ache for them all—helpers 
and patients—in this dark time
holding the tension of death and life.

Then turning my head to the sun
with light illuminating my view 
I affirm her commitment and say
‘Remember what Mr. Rogers said,
that wherever the helpers are, 

there is hope.’
The Endangered Madonnas
Mary Ann Maruska, Mother’s Day, 2020

Each panel in The Endangered Madonnas series shows our planet, Mother Earth, one orb among billions floating in the dark sky. She is presenting one of her myriad of life forms, a female mammal and offspring, through her widening birth canal. Emerging along with their habitat, the mother and her daughter both look us in the eye, challenging us to connect with their experience and asking us to behold them with the same respect and reverence as we might a traditional madonna and child.

These paintings are based on the tenets of iconography, a centuries-old artistic and spiritual tradition. Traditionally depicting saints, to the Orthodox believer the icon provides a “portal to heaven,” a continuum which connects the secular world with the heavenly realm. Like a church, a labyrinth, or even a crop circle, I think of the icon as a sacred space which the viewer is invited to enter and experience. The icon’s structure, with its formality, stylization, and archetypal symbolism, as well as the use of iconography’s traditional materials of egg tempera and gold leaf, all build to convey an attitude of reverence. Using these elements helps to assert the sacredness of the subject, in this case, that animals are to be as equally revered as saints.

Formerly a graphic designer and teacher, I started painting icons in 2014. The Endangered Madonnas is my third series of icons, after The Fourteen Holy Helpers ( saints invoked by sufferers of the Bubonic Plague), and The Four Stages of Womanhood . I am happy to have found iconography as a mode of artistic expression as it weaves together several major threads of influence in my life: my Catholic childhood with its stained glass, rituals, and saints; the training of eye and hand as a pre-computer graphic designer; and my quest as a spiritual seeker. Painting in the iconographic style satisfies my penchant for working small and with precision while fulfilling a deep desire that my artistic efforts serve to communicate a meaningful message.
The preferred habitat of polar bears is the Arctic ice pack; its pressure ridges provide the best place to find the seals they hunt.

In the winter a pregnant female will dig a den into the snow where she gives birth, usually to twins, and remains with them in hibernation until the spring. A solitary animal, she will provide all of the parental care for three years. The cubs will reach sexual maturity at six years. Lifespan: 25 years.

Threatened due to the reduction of their habitat (pack ice) due to global warming. 
Sloths spend most of their time hanging upside down motionless in the trees of the tropical rain forests of South and Central America. They live for about 25 years.

Just about every year, a mother sloth will give birth to one baby after a six-month pregnancy. They will stay together for about five months and the baby will learn what to eat by licking her mother’s lips.

Threatened by habitat loss, electrical lines, and poachers. Two species of sloth are endangered. 
The St. Lawrence Estuary beluga population is isolated from other whale populations, a relic of the last glaciation. They are very social, vocalizing and playing constantly.

Like humans, they can live for 75+ years, reach sexual maturity in their teens, and undergo menopause in their 40s. About every three years, a mother will give birth to one calf after a 14-month pregnancy. Calves nurse for two years.

Endangered as a result of commercial whaling (banned in 1979), pollution, reduced food resources, and habitat degradation including acoustic contamination caused by whale-watching. 
Native to Australia, koalas live in eucalyptus woodlands and live on the eucalyptus leaves. With a lifespan of about 15 years, they are nocturnal, solitary animals and sleep 20 hours a day. 

Every year or so, a mother gives birth to one tiny ‘joey’ who crawls into her pouch and develops there for its first six months. At nine months the joey leaves the pouch and rides on her mother's back. Three months later she is weaned and her mother shoos her off.

In decline due to habitat destruction caused by agriculture and pesticides, droughts and bushfires , urbanisation and highways.
Native to Africa, China, and India, the pangolin is nocturnal and solitary, meeting only to mate. She captures ants with her long tongue and with her scales acting armour, she curls up into a ball when threatened. Lifespan: 20 years.

After four months of pregnancy, she births one to three offspring, which she raises for about two years. While the baby’s scales are still soft, she stays with it in their burrow, wrapping her body around it if she senses danger.

Endangered: she is the most trafficked mammal in the world and is threatened by poaching (for her meat and scales), and the heavy deforestation of her natural habitats.
Douc langurs live in the vanishing tropical rainforests of the Annamite Mountains of Southeast Asia. Highly social, they live in family groups consisting of an adult male, several adult females, and many children. Lifespan: 25 years.

A mother’s pregnancy will be about six months, and she will suckle her single offspring for about a year. The baby clings to its mother from the minute it is born, learning from her their great repertoire of communication patterns.

Endangered by deforestation, hunting, and the illegal pet trade with snares being set not only on the ground but in the canopy where they live. 
I Can't Breathe
by Ellie Stock 05/29/2020

Inside the glass
a young man says his last goodbye,
a phone call to his mother, vigiling outside,
a cough and a sneeze now a pandemic disease,
soon he is whispering, I can’t breathe
isolated and trapped by a ventilator machine,
a masked nurse holds his hand to ease his pain
until he dies.

Outside the glass
a mother says her last goodbye,
a phone call to her ailing son inside,
eyes burning and red, tears clogging her throat,
grieving uncontrollably, I can’t breathe ,
no one consoling or hearing her cry
masked ones walk by as she watches intently
his final sigh.

Inside the glass
a black man says his last goodbye,
a video recording to witnesses outside
arrest and handcuffing, then a racism disease,
soon he is choking, I can’t breathe (12 times)
face pinned to the street, neck kneed, lynched by police
while masked witnesses shout for relief
until he dies.

Outside the glass
Mothers say their last goodbye,
a viral video to the public outside,
eyes burning with anger and hearts in their throat,
screaming loudly, I can’t breathe ,
400 years, violently oppressed by law and vigilantes,
while masked protestors demonstrate for justice
as cities burn and die.

Inside the glass
creatures lament—will it be their last goodbye—
media and marches to the world beside,
eyes burning, throats choking from polluting,
and protesting loudly, I can’t breathe ,
Life exploited by legal and corporate greed,
masks hiding climate change extinctioning
as communities die.

Outside the glass
Pachamama mourns—will it be her last goodbye—
warnings to humanity collapsing inside,
land, water and air depleting, eyes and throat parching,
pleading desperately to all species, I can’t breathe ,
strangling pandemics of hatred and greed,
praying to unmask love, courage and empathy,
so Mother Earth and all may thrive.
Walking the Four Vias in the Face of Creation in Crisis and Elder Consciousness
by Art Mitchell

At the Sage-ing International Conference held in Chaska, Minnesota, in October 2018, Matthew Fox said we should “retire the word retirement. It’s an obscene word,” and we should “replace retirement with the words re-firement and rewirement.” My sentiments exactly. As far as I was concerned, he was speaking directly to me! In fact, this was a great serendipitous validation as I had already more or less settled on the subtitle of a book I was then drafting on conscious aging, “ Grateful, Not Dead: Rewire, Not Retire. Re-fire Your Purpose ,” which was finally published in paperback and Kindle in May this year. Themes include ageism, conscious aging, values, vision, purpose, work, money, consciousness expansion, spirituality as service, and activism. The book’s core theme or objective is to help others, especially those in their later years – those of us who recognize that a search for meaning and service now takes priority over a pursuit for advancement – to reconsider, change, or reinforce our consciousness, to rewire our mindset, to re-fire an oftentimes dormant purpose that, when acted upon, will enable us to contribute to the transformation of ourselves, our community, our world. These are the issues we consider as we move from the Iliad , the war of adulthood, into our Odyssey , our search for meaning, lost at sea, as we journey to get home.

John Robinson asked me to give an on-line presentation last February as part of CSC’s Creation in Crisis series. The topic centered around themes in my book on conscious aging and thoughts on our “creation in crisis” from my 40-year career as a conservation biologist leading teams in 18 countries on projects that focused on many environmental issues, including biodiversity conservation, protected area management, coastal and marine management, and adaptation climate disruption. This was to follow Penny Andrew’s talk on Joanna Macy’s “Work That Reconnects” and preceded John Robinson’s presentation on his recent book, “ Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis .” What I wanted to say seemed to fit nicely in the middle, perhaps even as a link between the two, or at least a reinforcement.

I structured my talk, “ Grateful, Not Dead. Re-fire Your Purpose in the Face of Creation in Crisis and Elder Consciousness ,” on the Four Vias of Creation Spirituality. “Our inner work can be understood as a four-fold journey involving (1) awe, delight, and amazement (Via Positiva); uncertainty, darkness, suffering, and letting go (Via Negativa); birthing, creativity, and passion (Via Creativa); and justice, healing, and celebration (Via Transformativa).” When traversing the four Vias, “we weave through these paths like a spiral danced, not a ladder climbed,” not unlike the four-fold spiral of the Work That Reconnects: (1) coming from gratitude, (2) honoring our pain for the world, (3) seeing with new eyes, and (4) going forth. And both of these metaphorical spirals parallel the three – or four – phases of a labyrinth walk.

The labyrinth is a mindful walking meditation, an archetype, a metaphor of personal journey, a mystical ritual found in most religious and secular traditions back thousands of years, and a powerful tool for personal transformation. Rev. Lauren Artress, who trained me as a Veriditas labyrinth facilitator, defined the labyrinth as “a spiritual tool that has many applications in various settings. It reduces stress, quiets the mind, and opens the heart. It is a walking meditation, a path of prayer, and a blueprint where psyche meets Spirit. … To walk a sacred path is to discover our inner sacred space: that core of feeling that is waiting to have life breathed back into it through symbols, archetypal forms like the labyrinth, rituals, stories, and myths. … It quiets the mind and opens the soul.” Unlike a maze, where the purpose is to get lost and then find the correct path, a labyrinth is a single pathway spiraling to the center and then followed back out the same way. You return to where you began. Our approach to visualizing the transformative power of walking the labyrinth is based on a path to (1) Reflect – selecting a question or an issue of concern and focusing on that as you begin; (2) Release – walking in, likened to purgation, letting go of the details of your life; (3) Receive – being at the center, likened to illumination, receiving what is there for you if you can listen; and (4) Return – walking back out the same way you came in, likened to union, empowered to take back into your life and the world what you discovered at the center.

All three pathways (Four Vias, Work That Reconnects, Labyrinth) are metaphors for a spiritual journey and are flexible enough to be molded to fit an unexpected purpose or convey a message and thus have great universal relevancy. So, I structured my presentation, what I wanted to say, around the Four Vias.

Via Positiva Reflecting on the Question, Coming from Gratitude, and Recognizing a Living Earth (for which we experience awe, delight, and amazement). I remember the awe, curiosity, and delight as a small child wondering the woods and horse pastures around my home, but a child does not know the words “mystical experience.” The via positiva says, “We are born full of wonder and can recover it at any age.” Joanna Macy, writing about the Work That Reconnects, said, “The spiral begins with gratitude, because that quiets the frantic mind and brings us back to source, stimulating our empathy and confidence. It helps us to be more fully present and opens psychic space for acknowledging the pain we carry for our world.” I spent my career working with living communities, ecosystems, and watersheds, and for that I am now grateful. Via Positiva contemplation can involve asking yourself several questions, such as: How much do I know about my local, living biological community, the ecosystem, of which I am a part every day? Can I name my watershed; can I trace where the water goes from my yard to the sea? Do I see my home within a community comprised of humans and infrastructure or as part of the larger interacting and interconnected biological and physical community, an entire ecosystem? Have I ever felt – really felt – the interconnectedness of a natural community as a real web of life or just accepted that idea intellectually?

Via Negativa Releasing, Honoring Our Pain for the World, and Accepting Creation in Crisis (uncertainty, darkness, suffering, letting go). I do not need to wax lyrically about our current environmental problems and threats to a biosphere that sustains all life. There are the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) 2019 Report predictions from climate disruption; the loss of biodiversity with species extinctions and ecosystems collapse; the interconnected inequalities, inhumanity, and social divides; our human consciousness and world view of patriarchal “power over”– over other people and the biosphere. The ethnobotanist and philosopher Terrence McKenna said, “What is out of control, what is in fact dying is a world that had become too top-heavy with its hubris, too bent by its own false value systems and too dehumanized to care about what happens to its own children. … We are a world dying under anesthesia, for lack of authentic experience, authentic connection with the living world out of which we came. … What we have to do is feel our dilemma. … So I say, good riddance to it. … Let’s create a new world.” And Joanna Macy and Molly Brown, in their book “ Coming Back to Life ,” wrote, “In owning and honoring our pain, and daring to experience it, we learn the true meaning of compassion: to ‘suffer with’. We begin to know the immensity of our heart-mind. What had isolated us in private anguish now opens outward and delivers us into the wider reaches of our inter-existence.” Via Negativa contemplation: Ask yourself, “Is Nature a commodity, pretty landscapes for our amusement and use, resources to be exploited on a dead rock, with air and water as free and open sewers, given by a patriarchal God for our use?” Or could this better resonate with your soul, what you deeply feel? “Is Nature a sacred partnership of life forms, all expressions of the Divine, on an interdependent living earth moving through the cosmos and with human consciousness enabling wise stewardship?”

Via Creativa : Receiving, Seeing with New Eyes, and Transforming as a Conscious Elder (a birthing, with creativity and passion). This via states that “whatever the expression of our creativity, it is our prayer and praise.” And Carolyn Myss reminds us, “Your power to create is in your clarity.” What do you really want? What do you want to transform? Joanna Macy and Molly Brown wrote, “Experiencing the reality of our inter-existence helps us see with new eyes. We can sense how intimately and inextricably we are related to all that is. We can taste our own power to change and feel the texture of our living connections with past and future generations, and with our brother/sister species.”

Carl Jung wrote that “the first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go.” Conscious aging is concerned with acceptance of the present moment and the positive aspects of growing older. We age consciously “by facing our fears, uncovering the wisdom of life experiences, healing wounds, forgiving ourselves and others, and charting a path forward that involves passing on a legacy, serving as an elder committed to healing the planet, and facing mortality with dignity and grace” (from: “ Deepening the Sage Within ” course description, Sage-ing International). Ram Dass said the purpose of conscious aging is to “open your heart to a life filled with abundance and wisdom and free of the fear of death.” Thus, through the process of conscious aging, becoming more fully aware in the present, we are transformed. But are we satisfied with what is? Can we do better? “I feel that the urgent question is for many people,” said Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi, “when you have an extended lifespan, can you do this without having extended consciousness? It is so clear to me that without extended consciousness, the extended lifespan is a depressive thing. With an increased life span and the psychotechnologies to expand the mind’s frontiers, the spiritual elder heralds the next phase of human and global development.” Now ask yourself, “What messages do I accept about my own aging? What negative feelings or limitations arise from age discrimination, external and internal – my own – and the prospects of my own future? And what does it mean to be an older adult, an elder, in modern times during an apparent shift in human consciousness amidst ecosystems collapse and climate disruption?”

Via Transformativa : Returning, Going Forth, and Interfering as a Mystical Activist (in which justice, healing, and celebration become the norm). The Earthways Foundation briefly defined conscious activism as “engagement in the world that expresses and reveals our most profound understanding of the nature of reality.” Mysticism refers to the direct, first-hand experience of the divine. Activism in general may be broadly defined as efforts to promote social, political, and environmental progress to remediate the suffering of humans and other life forms. And the mystical activism of transformation is an awakened state in which we discover a world that is literally sacred and beyond the bounds of identity and beliefs. We enter the flow of sacred consciousness, caring for the divine world right where we are and generously sharing our gifts of true self and soul with others. So, the mystical activism of self-transformation is a here-and-now activism. John Robinson, in his book on mystical activism released last March, wrote “we each hold the power to change the world right where we are. To call these ‘end times’ is not hyperbole. We are in trouble and the signs are everywhere: extreme political divisions; xenophobic violence; enormous wealth inequity; poverty and homelessness; racism, sexism, and ageism; arms buildups and unending wars; and, most critical of all, terrifying climate disruption associated with man-made global warming. … We are the cause of these dark times. Driven by left-brain beliefs, illusions and obsessions, humanity races headlong toward the collapse of civilization. Fortunately, the solution to these mounting crises also lies in the human psyche, arising from a most surprising source: the right-brain’s natural mystical consciousness. Our survival depends on whether we grasp and resolve this paradox in time.” On contemplating the via transformativa, you can ask yourself, “Can I shift my consciousness, empowered by feeling, and stand to enable a life sustaining future? Do I feel a responsibility or calling to do so? How can I therefore respond according to my ability? What can I do or am doing to transform myself and the world?

In conclusion, astrophysicist Hubert Reeves wrote, “Man is the most insane species. He worships an invisible God and destroys a visible Nature, unaware that this Nature he’s destroying is this God he’s worshiping.” True to that statement, Hildegard of Bingen, a veriditas “greening power” activist, wrote, “The earth which sustains humanity must not be injured. It must not be destroyed! … Humanity, take a good look at yourself. Inside, you’ve got heaven and earth, and all of creation. You’re a world – everything is hidden in you.” She called to us then and warns us now to “Wake Up,” and “bring light to the dark places in our lives,” and thus, rise above our self-destruction and denial of a Sacred Living Earth.

Art Mitchell lives in Tucson, Arizona and can be found at zaperonneau@gmail.com His book Grateful, Not Dead: Rewire, Not Retire. Re-fire Your Purpose can found on Amazon .
Morning Glory
by Nancy Cosgriff

How can I be so lucky—as to open my door 
and see the three old birch 
thrusting their way to the sky.
Warm and white, the light against their bark 
shimmers in the fresh morning air.

The sky, still a pale blue at this early hour, 
holds wisps of clouds—see there, angels’ wings.
And in the distance, beyond the birch and cedar, 
hills across the river valley form mounds of feathers
lit and shadowed in soft undulating ripples of splendor. 
This is morning glory in my here and now.

But sun shines too over temples and beggars of Chennai 
focuses eyes of women weavers in Antigua, 
eases the night chill of men with guns in Kabul
warms those in hospitals struggling for breath
and softens people’s fears of this viral pandemic. 

Through time and space angels appear 
everywhere shining strength for healing.
CS Communities News
Sacred Traditions and Rituals (S.T.A.R.) of Spartanburg SC faced social distancing, and—like other groups—scrambled to find a way to serve its followers effectively. S.T.A.R. had previously emailed a monthly newsletter containing features and information, but mainly announcing the subjects of the next month’s services. Our first impulse was to use our excellent contact list and to make this newsletter weekly. Doing so meant the content and purpose of the newsletter had to be rethought.

S.T.A.R. services emphasize participation, creativity, intellectual exploration, and emotional engagement. The new newsletter should do the same. Our minister began soliciting brief reflections from S.T.A.R. leadership and membership on a different theme each week. These subjects ranged from serious to playful. An early number contained a range of personal reactions to and emotions stemming from the pandemic. Another offered musical selections to aid in coping as well as photos of S.T.A.R. meetings and members from years past. There was an Earth Day edition that looked at past, present, and future Earth Days. We published the views and reactions of essential workers, of a volunteer assisting the homeless, and of a person in a retirement community. There were reflections on loss and grief and hope and resilience. On the lighter side, we published photos of our animal companions and of ourselves in our pandemic masks.

Each new newsletter opens with “Words from Sue,” a reflection by our minister. Rev. Sue Perrin usually provides an overview of the theme of the newsletter, any significant information it contains, together with nods to its contributors. In the past two months, she has written about the unity of all creation, joy, sorrow, ritual, Earth Day, community, mercy, and the relations between humans and other animals. These little essays are weekly homilies that S.T.A.R.s look forward to.

The effectiveness of “S.T.A.R. by email” can be seen in the 20% increase in the number of opens the newsletter usually now gets. Donations to S.T.A.R. have also risen to nearly three times what they were before the pandemic.

S.T.A.R. is exploring a number of other options as it goes forward in these uncertain times. Among them are an electronic meeting platform and the use of an outdoor labyrinth/amphitheater for properly distanced physical meetings. We believe that a congregation grounded in Creation Spirituality is well suited to redefine itself and to move forward in these challenging times. 
Special S.T.A.R. Friends

Jason Loscuito, Emily Nelson and Donna Stroud. We are thrilled to welcome them and the creative energy they will be sharing with all of us. Reading through to the end, you will find photos from Animal Blessings Past! While this edition will be a...

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For the month of May at Spiritwind, we are doing a study of Lyall Watson's book, DARK NATURE: A NATURAL HISTORY OF EVIL, then in June we will be doing a study of Buddhism and 'Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh.  

Spiritwind is a Creation Spirituality Community based on the spirit of ONE RIVER, MANY WELLS and is based in Northern California and is facilitated by Richard Reich-Kuykendall, D. Min.
Member Publications
Want to Review Books?
From time to time (and now more frequently than before) your newsletter editor is approached by authors within our community who are offering their books for review and promotion. If you are interested in reading and writing up reviews of books focused on creation-centered spirituality, please let us know. The books will include poetry, theology/philosophy, memoir, art, etc. We would be interested in relatively in-depth and objective reviews of books. Please send a message to newsletter@cscommunities.org
New Book by John Robinson
John Hunt Publishing – 2020

"The need for this book is so urgent. A brilliant and comprehensive manual for understanding and surviving this very challenging and confusing time."
Anne Baring, Ph.D. (Hons.) author of  The Myth of the Goddess (with Jules Cashford) , The Birds Who Flew Beyond Time, and The Dream of the Cosmos.

In mid-March of this year, my publisher (John Hunt Publishing) asked ten of us to contribute to a new series of books on the theme of Resilience in a Time of Crisis . The purpose of the series is to support humanity’s survival and adaptation in this time of global chaos. He asked me to write one for our demographic – people 65 and up. The catch? He wanted it finished in three weeks in order to publish by May 1 to be most timely in this pandemic crisis. And bear in mind, the normal process of bringing a book from concept to market takes at least eighteen months.

I had to say yes. First of all, you don’t get offers like this very often, but more importantly, I realized that this book is about us – you and me. I just turned 74 and it felt so important to me to write an honest, compassionate, and deeply meaningful book about our place and experience in this apocalyptic time. So, for three weeks, I got up before dawn in the dark and started writing 6-8 hours a day, day after day, until it was done. It was exhausting, it was powerful, and it turned out great.

The book is called, Aging with Vision, Hope and Courage in a Time of Crisis . Its purpose is to remind our generation of who we are – our resilience, strengths, and resources – but also to acknowledge the magnitude of the huge storm that’s coming our way - COVID-19, climate change, overpopulation, and the unraveling of civilization as we know it. It’s all happening at once, and I believe this moment in history is going to be humanity’s Great Reckoning. 

We are being called to reinvent our lives, our work and our civilization in a new consciousness of Creation. The old world was rife with manmade problems, it’s time for a new one. Our 65+ generation, with its hard-won resilience, spiritual maturity and wisdom, can help light the way. We are not done. So, this was my contribution. It picks up from my earlier book, Mystical Activism: Transforming a World in Crisis , goes even more deeply in the mystical journey we must all take to make the biggest change of consciousness in our lives to save Creation. 

You can learn more this work at my website: www.johnrobinson.org . And, as promised, the book is now available on Amazon. There is a link on my website. Please take a look and please help me promote it. Our lives depend on our waking up now. It is time. And we must do this together.
Audiobook now available!
The Tao of Thomas Aquinas
Relax and listen to Matthew Fox read  The Tao of Thomas Aquinas: Fierce Wisdom for Hard Times,  at your leisure. 

The digital version is now available  
at 25% discount


The 5 CD SET is available for pre-order 
at 20% discount
A Benediction for the Lightbearers
Rev. Jerry Maynard, The People’s Priest

+ Bless you , who shine your light, even when you would rather extinguish it; thank you for your steadfastness.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, even when it is little and you are embarrassed by it; thank you for your vulnerability.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, even though you think it is pointless and stupid; thank you for your discipline.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, not because you want to be seen but because you want others to be seen; thank you for your generosity.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, not because you have to but because you want to; thank you for your big heart.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, even when ridiculed, abused, angry, and neglected; thank you for your courage.

+ Bless you , who shine your light, even when it’s not sanctioned, validated, ordained, or affirmed; thank you for your defiance.
 
Bless you , lightbearer, you teach me what it means to warm someone up with the mystique of your glow. Your disciplined, steadfast, and courageous presence teaches me to lean into the reality, that there are people who will light the way. Bless you, lightbearer, your generosity and big heart, are like sparks that kindle the flame of my life and help set others on fire for living. May your defiance, which disrupts the darkness, be the energy that encourages us to extend our lights out towards the path so others may continue the journey.

May it be so.

Amen+

What is Creation Spirituality Communities?
Creation Spirituality Communities, Inc. (CSC) is a network of individuals and communities who are grounded in the sacredness of all creation and seek to connect to the spirituality of creation through mysticism, creativity, and cultural transformation.

CSC includes people from many spiritual traditions, cultures, races, sexual identities, and ages. They come to Creation Spirituality through the writing and speeches of Matthew Fox, through articles and videos, through conversations with friends, and through study at one of the Creation Spirituality universities – now the Fox Institute of Creation Spirituality.

Creation Spirituality Communities provides avenues for gathering together, being inspired, and embodying the CS message of compassion, co-creation, and transformation. We are led by a nine member board of directors and supported by our members.
Below are the Creation Spirituality Communities that we are aware are meeting on a regular basis. If you are participating in a community or CS circle that is not included on this list, please let us know by writing to contact@cscommunities.org.

If you are the convener or leader of a CS community, you are invited to an online conversation on the first Monday of every month at 11:00EST. Please let us know if you are interested!

LIST OF CREATION SPIRITUALITY COMMUNITIES:

Creation Spirituality Communities
contact@cscommunities.org | www.cscommunities.org