March 2019 Newsletter
This newsletter is a publication of
Creation Spirituality Communities
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Let us look to the Earth–and to each other
Yesterday I conducted a funeral service for a young, brilliant graduate student who was murdered. Everything about the situation was hard. Even after forty years of ministry, I’m never prepared for a tragedy like this. Looking into the eyes of the young woman’s mother and family members during the service brought me to tears. I am always humbled by the inadequacy of words in the midst of loss and pain, and especially on an occasion such as this. She called herself an atheist, but it was clear by her journal entries that she was in absolute awe of the universe and its wild, chaotic beauty. She saw herself bound up in a cosmic story that is still unfolding.
I’m reminded of a quote by William Bridges:
The alternation of letting go of an old world and beginning a new one is the rhythmic pattern underlying life itself. The heart is nothing more than an organ that does that with our blood. Our lungs do the same thing with the air we breathe. The air does the same thing with blood – leaving it behind when we exhale and reentering it again when we inhale. The earth lets the fallen rain go back into the atmosphere and then reincorporates it after it falls again. The ancient wisdom from Ecclesiastes that tells us that there is a time for living and dying is an affirmation of this basic alternating current of the universe that drives the blood and the breath and the weather...
In our lives and in our deaths, we matter.
New worlds are constantly being born, and born through us. Meister Eckhart dreamt he was lying on a maternity bed giving birth to divinity in the world. While none of us knows how long our journey will be from the cradle to the grave, we can determine how this moment, this act of justice, this decision toward love, will present itself. And even if we are not here tomorrow, those acts continue to flow out like light into the far reaches of the universe.
The most powerful part of the memorial service was when family members read entries from the young woman’s journal. They ranged from drinking chardonnay after climbing to the summit of a mountain, listening to her favorite bands, working in a lab, to wrestling with the idea of existence within the framework of the larger cosmic story. Here is one of those entries:
I asked my grandpa about mortality. He said he believed in a higher power some people call God, but that he has no idea what’s next. Only living a good life was important, and he isn’t scared of the inevitable unknown. He also remarked that we can’t be that important, so small in the universe. I borrowed a backyard astronomy book. When he dies, I won’t look to the remote heavens that have drawn the eyes of so many mourners. I’ll look to the earth, its firm unyielding nature proof of both origin and destination.
We are all bound up this story of origin and destination. Let us look to the earth—and to each other.
Rev. Sid Hall
President of the Board
by Joanne Young Elliott
Before me you flutter by.
Again and again I see you.
In a blur of painted wings
and spring energy you rise.
It is as if by magic you have
multiplied, become millions
hovering over the land that has
become sun once again.
Weeks upon weeks of rain
have nourished broken ground,
brought forth wild blooms.
Deserted land has risen in
bouquets of petals and wings.
I turn and turn in fields of
flowers as I walk down the
street in a dream of butterflies.
Joanne is Licensed Science of Mind Practitioner, Priestess in the Fellowship of Isis and deeply inspired by Buddhism and the Creation Spirituality path. She is a poet, writer and teacher of spiritual and creative principles and practices. She lives near Los Angeles with her husband and hundreds of books.
Super Natural Sacraments of Spring
By Lauren Van Ham
This article was first published in the March 28, 2019 edition of the
A few weeks ago, in her compelling
Lost in Translation
,” Rev. Gretta Vosper challenged us to look honestly at both the attrition of church attendance and community engagement. Carefully, Rev. Vosper detailed how the theological scholarship happening in the late 60s lead to a giant unpacking of the previously held practice of putting our belief in a supernatural divine being. She pointed to the confluence of this growing awareness happening parallel to “the American Dream,” which instructed every individual to play (& win) for themselves … and to feed a growth-dependent economy. It is in this space – a sense of no longer needing religious practices, combined with a pressure to “arrive” materialistically – where Gretta urged us to reflect upon our current seesaw. In short, our species has ascribed to a story that when we are not measuring up (house, job, car, clothes, etc.), our reflex is to quickly cry out, making petitions to the supernatural supreme being for an intervention or bail out. In this story, there are Either-Or poles: the appearance of success, or the perception of “try harder,” “pray harder.”
It’s a story of extremes, and our natural instincts have fed this story really well. Quite readily, our species rallies at the chance to climb, to consume, to conquer. Of course, we embody many other characteristics, too, like caring, contemplating, collaborating.
The progressive Christian practice, I believe, is founded on my (our) willingness to listen for and co-create the new story. And let me be clear about this word, “new.” I don’t mean the next bright and shiny object that allows me to toss the frayed one into the landfill. I mean “new,” as in emerging, fertile, and arriving with a willingness to acknowledge what has been before now. I mean “new,” as in the evolution of our universe, reminding us of how love and adaptation, in partnership, have birthed us into this present moment… and that we are all still birthing.
This week (in the Northern hemisphere), we are celebrating the Spring Equinox. It is one of only two times in the calendar year when things sit in perfect balance… and for merely an instant! At every other time of the year, we are turning through times of transition, arriving and departing, creating and destroying our way to one pole (Winter Solstice), or the other (Summer Solstice). We humans have been taught that categories are clever and convenient. Spirituality and science are forever reminding us, though, that this tendency is only helpful to a point, and that the real game begins when we embrace what is more true: fluidity, movement, adaptation.
The story of our Universe shows us that Either-Or isn’t how things really happen (thank Goodness). I find this incredibly instructive when, all around me, I’m seeing the systems I’ve come to rely upon going through undeniable changes. I want, very much, to “fix” the social systems. I want, very much, to heal the land, water and air. I want, very much, to mend and repair the trust that has been broken by the things we do on both sides of the seesaw. This is our progressive Christian path, is it not? To engage in, as Rev. Vosper clearly stated, “the core challenges of a vibrant Christianity – justice and compassion.”
When I catch myself living the current Either-Or story (a daily phenomenon), it’s a radical act for me to imagine other versions of the story. Yes, new stories! Whether capitalism embraces them or not, technologies already exist to implement renewable energy infrastructure that reverses global warming. Whether our moral compass embraces them or not, principles and practices have been developed to guide decisions on behalf of all species that will uphold equality, safety, bio-diversity, and life for generations to come. Humans are so capable of brilliance that the science part is easy. Humans are so vulnerable that the spirituality is scrutinized. Seesaw.
In his book, The Great Shift: Encountering God in Biblical Times, James L. Kugel observes that, in the Bible, when God speaks to people, they are “surprised, but not exactly bowled over.” Kugel suggests that the premodern self was, “semipermeable.” In other words, people didn’t experience their beings and bodies as fixed or separate from, but instead continuous with the natural world. Kugel also suggests that, not only were we more permeable, but that the Deity was experienced in ways that were far less abstract – at times even visible, accessible.
As “premodern” beings, we understood that what we were seeking was not supernatural but Super Natural. Visible. Accessible. Cosmology tells us that 96% of the known universe is comprised of invisible energy. As inseparable parts of the known universe, this means that 4% of who we understand ourselves to be manifests as our physical being, while the remaining 96% is invisible energy. In this light, we are invited to perceive the Holy running through us, surrounding us and coursing throughout the activities of our daily round. The Super Natural isn’t the experience reserved for the most devout. The Super Natural is the experience that is accessible in each moment (visibly and invisibly) as we discern a right relationship with the beauty and complexity before us, and within us. Stunningly simple, and so easy to miss.
Have we, in our highly sophisticated, peer-review vetted, post-modern arrogance made the magnitude of the Super Natural more difficult than it actually is? Yes. And it’s messy.
The word sacrament is Latin and means “a sign of the sacred.” Enter, Spring! Cold mornings and warm afternoons, daffodils tenaciously appearing in newly fallen snow, mud and slush and flooded basements. This season is a mish-mash of ever-extending daylight hours alongside dramatic storms that flood river beds and paste delicate tree blossoms to the sidewalk. Springtime’s sacraments.
The story of life cycles on Earth show us the both-and, push-pull, laboring that is needed to bring the winter into spring. It happens with struggle. The ice doesn’t “leave,” it transforms. It’s Super Natural. May our spiritual practice, then, be to embody our premodern permeability, allowing ourselves to be porous enough to entertain the new story. Let’s partake of this season’s sacraments as a reminder to bring the frayed stories into the present moment, and then let’s engage in the push-pull, calling upon the Super Natural to infuse our actions for justice and compassion, adaptation and love.
Born and raised beneath the big sky of the Midwest, Lauren holds degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, Naropa University and The Chaplaincy Institute. Following her ordination in 1999, Lauren served as an interfaith chaplain in both healthcare (adolescent psychiatry and palliative care), and corporate settings (organizational development and employee wellness). Her passion and training in the fine arts, spirituality and Earth’s teachings has supported her specialization in eco-ministry, grief & loss, and sacred activism. Lauren’s work with Green Sangha (a Bay Area-based non-profit) is featured in Renewal, a documentary celebrating the efforts of environmental activism taking place in religious America. Her essay, “Way of the Eco-Chaplain,” appears in the collection, Ways of the Spirit: Voices of Women. Lauren tends a private spiritual direction practice and serves as Dean for The Chaplaincy Institute in Berkeley, CA. For more, check her website at
by e.e cummings
i thank You God for most this amazing
day:for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky;and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes
(i who have died am alive again today,
and this is the sun's birthday;this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings;and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth)....
From e.e. cummings, Selected Poems, "Religious Learnings 1," p. 167
In what follows, the word “I” is often used. Let’s remember, “I” is part of a word pair. The other half of the I-word is “You.” There is the given and the understood. In the economy of words, “I” and “You” equate with “We” “We” does not always happen, but “We” is always possible. Whatever is given expression desires to be received. Even the most eloquent, revealing soliloquies of Shakespeare were written to be heard by an audience. Let’s get started….
Look over here. See me. Here I am. I am a human being. This is a dangerous declaration. Yet notwithstanding, I wish to give new definition to this being human. I wish to declare something surprising in humanity—as humanity lives and grows and reaches external expression through me.
Look, you can see the outward terms of who I am; as I can take account of the outward terms of you. This is a start for us, and it is important that we remain focused for our interval together. It is common value that speakers make eye contact. That is an indicator of respect and some measure of respect accompanies civil recognition and discourse.
I wish for you to understand that I am a seeder: seeding is my intention: it is what I do, what I am attempting here to do with you.
I enter the world and plant myself as presence and as a creative dreamer in the erotic fertility of creation—in the Eros-in-the-world of being human. I enter the space before you and plant myself in the common-ground and mutual condition of existence and ambiguity of each of us and in the now, flowing in moments, between us.
A seeder looks toward a horizon; looks between here and there; and looks toward tomorrow. Seeds to actualize potential require duration. What does a seed contain? What will a seed grow into? Growth is process and happens over time—years, expanses and transformations of time. There are patterns in seeds and patterns are Gestalten, figures in process, becoming, unfolding; and a seed comes into its fullness through cycles, carrying purpose over seasons. Creation is a magnificence of origami: opening, folding, unfolding again, on and on. True!
Yet I am here. I am in this present-presence, an active actual of the moment. This can be good, my good and my good to share; if I embrace and offer it. If you embrace and embracing becomes possible and sharing integral in a revelation between us of being human.
I have a need and an abundance of tears. The world as I find myself in it is a conditional cause of tears. More tears than I would welcome if only the terms of existence altered; became more honest, empathetic and caring than conditions are. Which is to say, less violent, aggressive, broken and breaking of dreams; treacherous and betraying of life’s need for dignity and decency. It is tearful and often tearing for a conscious, thinking, feeling person to cope with the preponderance of human ignorance and cruelty, and how we choose to live in self-referencing artificial extensions, far removed from the metamorphic flow (and glow) of natural balance, inspiration, wisdom and harmony.
I have a need and hungering of the soul for laughter. Laughter is an outburst of delight and I never have enough and am ever longing for more. Do you agree with this? The longer we mourn for the wrongs of the world, the more we become spontaneous with the funny ways this and that slips into life’s constant flow to tickles us. Injury and waste and underneath injury and waste ecstasy and renewal! A marching boot crushes a flower and a flower lifts into light. A serpent strikes and a bird with a song that defines its relationship to air circles the sky.
In my hands, wait, let me show you, are collected some of the living gems of the Living Earth, of life here, where I am, where you are. Seeds of life, of what is “being human,” what is to be repented, overcome, changed and what yet possible; the longed for, the hoped for, the dreamed, and the yet to be shared, this is what is in my hands. By opening, I give. Whether I am young or old or you are old or young, whether female or male, Caucasian or of Color, does not matter much in the life of tears and laughter. These qualities, unless destroyed by malignant normalcy or systemic oppression, are species common. Seeding matters and the nature of what is sown. That which feeds or that which poisons. What from seed grows, how it becomes, blossoms and in turn seeds again into the wide world, into the future of the human condition.
When I say “I” and include you, I can say with some certainty that we are not who we were. Nor shall our kind be what we’ve been, if we, the seeds of humanity, are to be at all.
Prayer to the Ancient One of Knowledge
Ancient One of Knowledge
You know these secrets of transformation
Of bringing forward something from nothing
Of giving form to the formless
You have no fear of the swirling waters
Begetting life and death and life again
Show me this way in my own life
Teach me how I may reach deeply into my
own primordial matrix of being
And honor the impulse of creation that
surges through me at every moment
Do not let me fear in bringing this forward
But teach me to weave it in and through
With healing prayers for the world
And all of creation.
By John Robinson
Creation is sacred. She is the ground of our being. She is our mother and we are her children along with countless other species, processes and places.
But we separate ourselves from Creation all the time. Cell phones, computers, internet, social media, 24-hour online news, video games, clocks and television hold us prisoners in the digitally-driven conventional world. No wonder we are depressed, disillusioned, and over-wrought.
Imagine a month-long wilderness retreat without these mental distractions. In the immediacy of nature, after our “withdrawal” from our technology addiction, we would rediscover Creation. She everywhere! Returning to our senses, we would soon
experience the sacred world that we are avoiding. This is why we go into nature in the first place as hikers, campers, river rafters and mountain climbers: we intuitively seek the healing transformation of the living divine world. And she will also talk to us.
If we want to know how to support the healing of Creation, let’s ask Creation herself. Opening our talent for active imagination, we could ask the Earth and her children - insects, rabbits, grasses, eagles, forests and mountains - how they feel, what they need, and how we can help them. In such a creative dialogue process, we can begin a sacred and spontaneous conversation with our mother. And here’s my bet: pretty soon, the conversation will take on a life of its own and its revelations surprise and move you.
Yes, we are all busy. But the Garden is everywhere. Look out your window. Where does the green begin? Find the path back to Creation and commune with her on a daily basis. She will teach you how to live again. Whatever your activism, may it be further awakened in the arms of Creation.
John C. Robinson, Ph.D., D.Min.
is a clinical psychologist with a second doctorate in ministry, an ordained interfaith minister, the author of nine books and numerous articles on the psychology, spirituality and mysticism of the New Aging, and a frequent speaker at Conscious Aging Conferences across the country. You can learn more about his work at
Push Sahara into the Sea
The Great Creator said, "Push Sahara into Sea."
"Right ," I said, "Sure".
I decided instead
to lie down on the warm sand.
It baked my bones
and melted into me.
I nearly fell asleep.
"Wake up." I heard,
"I told you what to do."
I looked around from dune to dune.
"This is ridiculous!" I yelled.
I called out to passing birds for help.
They flew on by, uninterested.
I pushed some sand around with my hands,
then started walking to the sea and got lost.
"Push Sahara into sea." I heard again.
"Oh leave me alone,
it's impossible!" I called back.
I started to cry.
"Can't you see this is beyond me?"
"I'd need trucks, thousands,
"Do you want me to die trying?"
"Is that it?"
"What are you talking about? " I heard
"I asked you to
COME PLAY WITH ME."
A FEW SPOTS LEFT!
Join Mathew Fox in Germany, June 16-21
Course: Eckhart @ Erfurt - Erfurt, Germany
Join Matthew Fox and Friends for a UNIQUE OPPORTUNITY to study the great medieval mystic MEISTER ECKHART in Erfurt, Germany, in the very rooms where Eckhart lived and taught and prayed! "[Fox] not only gives us his beloved spiritual father as a...
Cosmic Mass in San Antonio
Matthew Fox brings the Cosmic Mass to San Antonio on Sunday evening, April 28
Matthew Fox is a noted author and theologian, who coined the term Creation Spirituality on which Celebrate Circle is founded. He and his team bring the Cosmic Mass, a ritual celebration process which combines elements of ecstatic dance, guided meditation and sacred ritual, based on the Four Directions of the Earth. This process is inspired by dance raves, but is also grounded in leading-edge, contemporary science, as well as the ancient indigenous beliefs and the age-old contemplative faith traditions of the East and West. It contains an urgent call for re-examining our personal and communal relationships to the Earth in the face of global climate change.
This first-ever production of the Cosmic Mass in San Antonio is being sponsored by a coalition of local environmental groups and faith-based non-profit organizations, including the Celebration Circle, Compassionate San Antonio, Green19, the peaceCENTER, and the SOL Center.
Sunday, April 28, 2019, 7:00 – 9:30pm
Whitley Theological Center
285 Oblate Drive
San Antonio, TX 78216
$25 in advance
$30 at door
For more information contact:
Sacred Work and Community
Sacred Earth-Sacred Work: An Immersion Retreat into the Essentials of Creation Spirituality
Are you a lover of creation seeking other like-minded people? Would you like to bring this retreat to your local community?
For the past two years the Board of CSC has been developing a retreat curriculum to help small groups focus on their love of creation and the sacred work of caring for it.
This retreat offers participants connection, support, renewal, encouragement and empowerment individually, for our communities and for our world. Together we explore Earth wisdom and the tools for understanding the nature of growth and change using Creation Spirituality and the transformative process of living systems. This retreat module compels us to live out our Sacred Work in the world through spiritual inquiry, creativity, and prophetic action.
The retreat has now been pilot-tested in three locations and we are seeking other individuals or small groups who would like to offer the retreat in their local area. We have developed a 2 1/2 & a 3½ -day model. We would like to offer the retreat in at least two new locations this year. Is this something your community might be ready for?
If so, someone from the Retreat Module Development Team of the Board will work with your team to adapt the module to uniquely fit it to a theme that works for your community. We are continuing to offer this resource for free this year (2019) to communities that are willing to give formal feedback as we continue to develop and refine the model. Our goal is to have the finished resource available for purchase from CSC next year.
If you would like to take advantage of the opportunity to present this retreat to your community this year, please contact:
Syracuse University Ecumenical Chaplaincy
by Rhonda Chester
During Spring Break last week, a few of my students and I went on a 48 hour immersion retreat.
As people whose lives are governed by notifications, emails, breaking news and briefings, we had a discussion recently as to how the constant culture of connectivity causes us to miss the simplicity and the beauty of nature. Not to ignore as well, the toll constant connectivity is taking on our physical and mental health. So we headed to Niagara Falls Ontario for a time of retreating in nature and disconnecting from technology.
The objective of the retreat was simple: intentionally remain disconnected from technology, especially social media and constant notifications for 48 consecutive hours. During that time, we were to immerse ourselves in nature and personal spiritual practices (prayer, meditation, sacred text readings, journaling, crocheting and coloring.
The very natural, beautiful scene was never dull. The Great Niagara Falls took our breaths away. We spoke our prayers over the mighty Falls, knowing that as we did so, we were putting the universe on notice that we were ready to receive the freshness of Spring after a long Upstate winter. We went to the Butterfly Conservatory where we were reminded that like butterflies, we too can go through our own transformations and come out beautiful. We spent time engaging almost all our senses as we strolled around in the floral showhouse.
One student commented: “It (being disconnected) was one of the hardest things I have done in a while and yet it was one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done.” Another student, amazed by the majesty of the Falls proclaimed: “it is most refreshing and life-giving to be this immersed in nature.”
We came off the retreat feeling renewed and ready for the rest of the semester, vowing to be intentional about connecting more with nature and with one another.
These photos that we took reflect the beauty of nature that we let be our muse for the weekend.
Rev. Rhonda Chester, MDiv is the United Methodist Ecumenical Chaplain at Hendricks Chapel of Syracuse University in Syracuse, NY. You can learn more at
Morningland Community, Long Beach, CA
by Gopi Ona-Ali
Morningland Community in Long Beach CA recently joined the CSC. It is one such environment where modern spiritual practitioners can build community, have access to interfaith study and meditation instruction, engage in seasonal and life stage rituals, and perform work that directly benefits those in greatest need. The foundation of community creates a sustainable environment for jñana (study), raja (meditation), bhakti (ceremony), and karma (service) Yogas.
Paramahansa Yogananda taught passionately at the end of his life about the need for Community. He said, “Gather together, you who share high ideals. A simple life will bring you inner freedom. In the company of truth seekers, it will be easier for you to meditate and think of God. Environment is stronger than will.”
As one among many thousands of modern seekers led to the path by Paramahansa Yogananda, these words ring in my heart with truth perhaps even more profound today than when first spoken in 1947. Our world has changed dramatically, but the truth that “environment is stronger than will” has never been more relevant than in the age of social media. The Community environment is where we can preserve the depth God gave us, and the freedom to create a divine life.
I found my home in Morningland Community, in Long Beach California; this is where I have spent the last 25 years dedicating my actions for the world’s welfare. In such an environment, designed to provide the tools for loosening the attachment to suffering, a simple spiritual structure facilitates the discipline needed to transform into an instrument of peace.
Morningland Community is a sanctuary of extraordinary peace; truly a wellspring of the
the Upanishads promise. Founded by a divine mystic, Sri Donato, it has become what she envisioned: an ashram, intentional community, modern monastery, where people have the time and space to learn to walk their talk. This takes practice, as all of us dedicated to this path know. And practice takes time.
Time to awaken, time to struggle; time to build, and time to embody. Many moons wax and wane before the pure impulse to help others arises.
Time is where community becomes our greatest strength. This is Via Creativa, birthing new and healthy collectives, and is our key to having the time necessary for spiritual transformation. What we can achieve together for a greater good is impossible as individuals. If we, as Yogananda advises, give ourselves to “simple living and high thinking,” we can share resources, support each other, and strengthen each others’ resolve.
In each of the four stages of our spiritual journey, the support of those senior and junior are essential, to provide inspiration, honesty, spiritual camaraderie and accountability. Shared ritual, creative outlets, connection to nature, humanitarian work: these provide ground for deep bonds that lead to realization of interbeing.
“Brotherhood”, Yogananda wrote in the first edition of Autobiography of a Yogi, “is an idea better understood by example than precept! A small harmonious group here (Encinitas) may inspire other ideal communities over the earth.” These words echo today through intentional spiritual communities blossoming all around the world.
Fr. Bede Griffiths gave a specific prescription for the reformation needed today: the Indian ashram model as ground for mystical experience to arise. Open to the local community as a source of education, guidance, devotion, the ashram provides an environment where the abundance of God’s grace can be celebrated daily. Monastics, supported by the church/community, in turn, teach scripture, guide meditation and prayer, provide a horarium and lead the liturgical life necessary to maintain a functioning spiritual way of life.
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother built Auroville, a collective in which all roads lead to one center, encouraging transformation, abandonment of selfish gains and embodiment of divine ideals.
Preparing an environment for spiritual awakening is Sri Donato’s Vision and her sacred activism. She saw many today being reborn who had spent lifetimes as yogis, monks, nuns and faithful, eager to pick up their work, but terribly distracted by all that the decadent West has to offer. This is exactly how I was embraced: “Welcome to a refuge for reincarnating bodhisattvas. Let’s get to work.”
This Utopian dream has always been with us, but it seems to be flowering as prolifically as our California wildflowers after many years of drought. The rains of social transformation have been falling over tumultuous decades, leaving a young generation cheated out of a hopeful future. As a mother and sentient human, I grieve for our world’s children, wondering what the next decades will bring.
But I see the bright light of our hope, those of us who have committed our lives to practice. The consciousness movement, intentional communities, spiritual festivals, the infiltration of eastern thought, the communities we have formed or joined are providing a vital refuge. I see the young generations fighting back, fueled by a democratic attitude and bending deeply toward social justice. We’ve been getting ready for them.
It seems a perfect storm: in the midst of this global, species level, Dark Night, we, as spiritual communities, are called to provide refuge in which innovative religious thought, the reconsidered theologies, feminine interpretations, truth in reconciliation, guidance in conflict resolution are being preserved for the awakening of a new Utopian Dream.
In this storm, we will be called to humble ourselves; for these children are “arrows who belong to the future, and we may strive to be like them, but not to make them like us.” As Gibran reminds us, “life goes not backwards, nor tarries with yesterday.”
As we look ahead on the Via Creativa, each of us is called to find a path of dharma that is authentic. Each of us struggle daily to embody the purpose for which we were created. 25 years later, I am working to provide an organic garden space for people to retain sensitivity and hold herbal and plant wisdom, while the world tears itself apart. We gather water from around the world and pray for it daily.
I see others of us facilitating the Cosmic Mass, Standing with Standing Rock, reserving Fridays to protest Environmental abuse: all of us united in a passion to know God through the unfoldment of Her magnificent creation by playing our parts; individually, and as a collective.
Krishna tells us in the Bhagavad-Gita, “Whatever a great man (or woman) does, ordinary people will do; whatever standard is set, everyone else will follow.” B-G 3.21 This, He teaches is how we adhere ourselves to dharma itself, and ensure the working of the world.
May the communities we form and sustain align us deeply with dharma; and in dharma with each other; and in each other, may we ensure the future.
(Kriyananda, The Most Stirring Lecture I Ever Heard - Yogananda's Passion for Colonies, n.d.)
Gopi Ona-Ali is associate director of Morningland Community. Morningland has chosen to remain offline and unplugged, and it is the Gopis’ sacred activism to not participate in social media. Gopi Ona-Ali is reachable by email at
March at Spiritwind, Auburn, CA
For the month of March at Spiritwind, we discussed Creation Spirituality's four paths and how they relate to Existentialism.
Spiritwind meets every Thursday evening year-round in Auburn, CA and is led by Rev. Dr. Rick Kuykendall.
Spiritwind is a Creation Spirituality Community in the tradition of "One River, Many Wells" and has been meeting in Auburn for 15 years.
A Morning Blessing Letter
by Jacob Watson
Blessings to you as you begin this day. Whatever you think is in store for you today, know that anything can happen. Let go of your plans; loosen their grip so that you have some freedom, so that you have some response-ability. After all, the day must be yours first before it can be anyone else’s.
Loosen and relax now into silence. Join the stillness that surrounds you like the air itself. Become one with the all-pervading quiet, merge with it, become the stillness here…
Gradually let yourself become aware of your body and how it serves you. It has carried you through the night and it is about to carry you through this day. Notice it and nurture it from toes, legs, thighs, waist, chest, arms, and head; feed it in many ways.
Living in your body, now live in your emotions, and let them live in you. Life and health go together. Give life to your feelings. Welcome your feelings to the life of this day, right now. Express what you already feel in this moment.
Underneath the emotion lies the spirit, your spirit, and the unspoken definition of who you are. Lying there stretched out like a giant soft animal, your spirit seeks expression in your life. How can you be creative?
Go now into this day as a whole being, moved and motivated by your spirit. Instead of having a spirit, be your spirit. Remind yourself who you are underneath, down deep, wherein lies your essence. Express your spirit today.
Your gift today is creativity.
Jacob Watson, UCS DMin 2001
, has taught workshops on healing loss and transition around the US, in England, Scotland and South Korea. He helped start the Collins Brook School, the Center for Grieving Children and the interfaith Chaplaincy Institute of Maine. A meditator for over 40 years, he practices and teaches finding the spiritual in the present moment of everyday life. Jacob is the author of Morning Blessing Letters, Essence: The Emotional Path to Spirit, and Enso Morning: Daily Meditation Gifts, as well as a newsletter, Spiritual Companion. His new book
We’re Gaining’: Collins Brook, A Maine Free School - A Memoir
will be published this summer.
Do you find this to be true: “the brighter the light, the darker the shadow” - personally and collectively? Do you believe there is an energetic status quo that keeps this reality in check? Do you observe great acts of love and kindness “balanced” by acts of vengeance and cruelty?
Somedays I fear the darkness is too dark. I am not talking about shadow...I’m talking about true Darkness. I worry over the world as it is now and as it could be when my son grows into adulthood. I feel helpless and hopeless in the face of the violence in distant countries and even in my own mind. In this fear, I freeze into rigidity, afraid to feel the full sorrow, afraid that I might not stop crying if I begin to melt.
But then I wonder...
Is there a way to raise the vibration to a higher level - a level where these terrible acts of violence, oppression and repression are unheard of? As the light grows, will the darkness grow proportionately or will it lessen? Will love and compassion prevail?
As a Dreamer, I take my troubles to the Night. I fully believe that our souls carry the “soulutions” and they deliver these messages through dreams and synchronicities. Rarely do I wake up with a clear answer right away, but when I commit to looking deeper, I am more often than not surprised and inspired by the Wisdom codes hidden in the Dreaming.
There is a practice called Dream Incubation in which you create a ritual to welcome in a sacred dream. Dream incubation rituals are found across cultures: in Greek and Roman Asklepian temples, Native American vision quests, Tibetan dream meditations, and Muslim sleep prayers.
There are basically 3 steps: prepare your space; set your intention; and open to epiphanies.
- To Prepare your space, create a Dream Altar with flowers, music, soft light, special sheets, and so forth. Infuse each action before sleep with meaning - from eating to bathing to drinking a cup of tea with herbs that stimulate dreams and beckon sleep. A simple tea of mugwort will activate amazing dreams! Add chamomile and lavender for peaceful sleep, and rose for the Divine Feminine’s fierce beauty.
- To Set your intention, ask a question and seek guidance. Say it out loud 3 times. Form it into a prayer - a soul prayer that connects you to your Higher Self, to the Great Mystery, to your understanding of Source.
- Then, Give yourself sacred space in the morning to receive the epiphanies by journaling your dreams, feelings, insights, and healing messages.
If you happen to not recall a dream in the morning, do not distress. Work with what you are aware of – your feelings, the sounds outside your window, the weather, the song in your head or playing on the radio. Also, pay attention to what comes your way in the next several days.
I believe that if we each truly listen and look deeply enough, we’ll receive the answers...we’ll be able to look into, through and beyond the current situation ...we’ll see the Light and the Way forward...and we will shift the trajectory.
Awakening Through Dreams
, takes you on a journey into your dreaming and gives you the tools to wake up to your Innate Wisdom and Creativity. The Dreaming is one way and it’s here inside you, coming through you every single night.
Dr. Jennifer Marie Lane
Creating a New Order.
Imagining a New Story.
By Brent Thomas Ladd
Dr. Rev. Matthew Fox has been a 'book elder' to me, as he has inspired me to be in tune with spirituality and religion and the Earth in ways that are healing and life expanding. I first read
in 1992. It gave me a language and a framework for many of the feelings and thoughts I had carried as a young man about religion, spirituality, human beings, and the Earth.
Last summer for my fiftieth birthday my wife gifted me a new book by Fox with co-authors Skylar Wilson and Jennifer Listug and several guest contributors titled
Order of the Sacred Earth.
I read and rumbled with the message of this new Order that the authors propose. The Order of the Sacred Earth (OSE) has no restrictions or rules. Rather, the Order invites us to take a vow of “being the best lover (mystic) and defender (warrior) of the Earth that I can be."
Taking this vow first struck me as asking too much. I was both leery of taking such a vow, as well as intrigued by it. My inner voice kept asking, “how can I take this vow when I'm not living up to this ideal in the first place?”.
As I absorbed the OSE message what is being proposed is to bring oneself to this vow in a personal way that is true to each person and where they are in life right now - always with room to grow; no self-judgment or judgment from others necessary.
As I contemplate my own life and this vow, I remind myself that I'm enough. Rumi shared that there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground. There is no one right answer to any of this, only thousands of possible questions with which to get curious and creative. Can we be bold enough to start the conversation difficult as it might be to do so? The Order of the Sacred Earth speaks to a way of walking with this vow that acknowledges:
Each one of us is a mystic
Each one of us is an artist
Each one of us is a prophet
One of the understandings that Creation Spirituality has helped me to understand is that the basic work of God is compassion and creation and that we, who are all original blessings and sons and daughters of the Divine, are called to compassion and to co-create with the Divine. As Matthew Fox states, "We are all here as a blessing to one another and to the Earth and it is our responsibility to live out our capacity to return blessing for blessing."
I remind often to let this be enough, and to follow my curiosity. I remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can. Everyone is struggling with something. I pray to be mindful to develop courage to be vulnerable enough to get into the arena, to lean into the difficult questions and get curious. For this can help me to enter into being creative, and to be open to greater possibilities. Fox emphasizes, "It is our creativity that has to explode at this time in history to fashion alternative ways of living on the Earth, ways that do not exploit the Earth or abuse it." That is a big challenge. Mercifully, there is no one right way to answer this question of ‘How Shall We Live’. Yet, this doesn’t give us permission to remain standing still going through the motions of the same old habits. Alice Walker reminds us that "we are the ones we've been waiting for." I think this is why the OSE book’s subtitle emphasizes intergenerational action that emanates from a vision of love.
The idea of an Order that focuses on our relationship to the Sacred Earth inspired me to talk about it with others. Together a few us have started creating something new and beautiful. A space where individuals can regularly join and connect with their hearts and spirits about their relationship with the Earth. The group has grown in number a little since we started meeting weekly each Sunday in late 2018. We call ourselves the Sacred Earth Learning Community, and we recently communed with a contribution from the OSE book by Theodore Richards titled “A New Story”. Richards’ insights shone a bright light on our need for a new story.
Because our cultural stories both past and present are no longer working for many of us, we are dangling over an abyss while frantically hanging on to the frayed rope of these myths like “The American Dream”, pie-in-the-sky-when-you-die, self-made success through sheer hard work, with technology and monetary wealth as our saviors. Some of us have begun adopting older myths belonging to other cultures that may or may not fit well. Some of us might have let go of the modern mythos altogether and are in an anxiety inducing free fall, not sure of what comes next.
Richards reminds us that imagining a new story and living into that story is perhaps one of the most difficult things for us to do as human beings. Our current cultural myths are hard to shake, yet are not serving us as a people who desperately need a new story that honors everyone, and holds the Earth our home as sacred.
If you grant that we're in the midst of apocalyptic times, then Richards asks a big question: What New Story is
itself today? He emphasizes that in order for a story to anchor us in understanding who we are and our place in the cosmos it must be able to answer
What is Sacred?
This may well be the first question we must answer for ourselves in order for us to imagine a new story to live by. If guns, military might, individual monetary wealth, white privilege, male dominance, and self-made success continue to be held up in our culture as sacred, then not much will change. Cultural change will take most stepping across the threshold to re-imagine our culture and choose actions that live into the kind of people and communities to which we aspire. We can re-imagine education, community, livelihood, success, what it means to be a man, what it means to be a wholehearted human being, and our relationships to one another and the Earth. In the light of a new story, we are capable of re-imagining all of these aspects of our culture and who we are as people.
My local Order of the Sacred Earth learning community along the Wabash River in Indiana, U.S. is currently connecting on this very idea, with a personal vow of “being the best lover and defender of Earth that I can be”. We are imagining, sharing, and working toward creating a new story to live by. A story that honors what it means to be wholeheartedly human while answering the central question of what is sacred. It may take generations to evolve, yet this journey can start today.
Brent Thomas Ladd
is an educator, author, father and husband, and lover of the Earth. His blog Emergewild.com centers on bridging our wild hearts with wild nature on a path toward wholehearted living.
The Eucharist, a Portal to the Four Paths of Cosmic Spirituality
By C. Ashley (Ash) Dotson
“My dear brothers, we are already one. But we imagine that we are not. What we have to recover is our original unity. What we have to be is what we are.”1 John Philip Newel quotes Thomas Merton (
A New Harmony
) in this seemingly simple yet profound quote as he leads us into a discussion on unity and Communion. In 1 Corinthians 11:25, Paul quotes Jesus as saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Every time you drink it, do this to remember me.” Newel comments that what we are actually doing is remembering who and what we are, remembering the oneness that we were born into, and thus, reawakening ourselves.2 We are invited to be awakened to our true selves and our oneness with all of humankind, with all creatures, and with all of creation through the Cosmic Christ.
Remembering our oneness can only be achieved by consciously or even unconsciously recognizing Jesus as the Cosmic Christ which takes us down the four paths of Creation Spirituality, via-positiva, via-negativa, via-creativa, and via-transformativa. Via-positiva tells us that all of creation is a blessing, and we are born into that blessing being blessed, and in turn to be a blessing. While the Eucharist is handed down through Christian tradition, it can help us to see the varied means in which humankind connects to God. It can also help us connect us to the spiritual practices of other faith traditions which point to creation spirituality. When we learn to live as intimately connected people, we can lovingly embrace ourselves, the rest of humankind, and all of creation which affects all aspects of our world view.
When we look at what should be considered the failure of Christianity in most of the world’s societies that practice it today, especially in the West, humankind has obviously not benefitted in the ways one might think from a remembrance intended to illustrate the love of God incarnated on earth. As such it seems that the Eucharist has lost its meaning and significance somewhere along the line. Could it be that humankind, for the most part, has built a wall of egoistic separation from the mystical aspects of God and Creation Spirituality? The term mystical is being used here to describe an internal experience of God and the things of God. Has humankind made the Eucharist into a personal ‘pick me up’ or a tool as it is withheld, to judge and punish some over others rather than a means of deep connection to God and the true self that it was intended to be?
We can find great power in the Eucharist and other provisions of God handed down through Christianity and in the mystical observations and rituals handed down through other faith traditions as we open ourselves and break through self created egoistic walls. Through spiritual practices we find the power to be freed from our false dualistic selves and begin to live in the truth of who we are. Newell relates beautiful experiences in Iona around the table of communion. He remembers an Islamic scholar by the name of Zaki Badawi leading all those present in a Muslim call to prayer as they were gathered around the large table of the traditional Scottish celebration of the Eucharist. It was a first for the abbey church on Iona, and Newell felt as if there was a new and ancient harmony filling the eight hundred year old building.
He also relates the time when Rabbi Jeremy Milgrom came to teach Torah at the same abbey. The Rabbi was asked if he would preach at the communion celebration around the same table. He shared that he had never done such a thing, and thought that it might not be proper for a rabbi. However, he did agree to say a few words and be present at the table with the rest of those gathered there. He was seated at the head of the table with the other leaders and something interesting happened. When it came time to share the bread and the wine, the rabbi unexpectedly took full part in the sharing of the bread and wine to everyone’s surprise. The rabbi said he hadn’t intended to, but when the time came it all seemed so natural and familiar. Newell shares that the rabbi was being true to an older unity of the human soul and the earth.3 This is an example of the via-positiva in its full glory and present before time now available through the Eucharist.
Matthew Fox states, “The Via Positiva is a way of tasting the beauties and cosmic depths of creation, which means us and everything else. Without this solid grounding in creation’s powers we become bored, violent people.”4 He goes on to say that all of creation is renewed through our realization of the via-positiva and without it we become more interested in death and the systems that lead to death.5 Certainly we see the evidence of this in most of our societies today, especially in the so called ‘first world’ countries as corporate greed, oppression of the poor, and the destruction of the living earth, without regard, is prevalent.
A wonderful example of the unity available via positiva and present in the Eucharist comes from Bruce Sanguin (
If Darwin Prayed
) in one of his loving and beautiful communion prayers, “We bring to the table our kin: the bacteria and the lichen, the moss of forest floors, the flora and the fauna, the gilled ones of the sea, and the feathered ones of air, we bring the crawling creatures and the furry mammals.”6 When we realize that we are indeed connected through the interlinked web of creation, we find a divine responsibility in caring for each other, the creatures of the earth, the living earth, and creation itself. Fox (
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ)
wonders what might take place if we truly realize that when we take part in the Eucharist we are, “eating and drinking of the cosmic body and blood of the the Divine One present in every atom and every galaxy of our universe.” He asks, “What is more grounding, more intimate, more local, and more erotic than eating and drinking? And if Jesus Christ is Mother Earth crucified, then the eating and drinking at the Eucharist is the eating and drinking of the wounded earth.”7
We see from these examples that the via-positiva offers solutions for humanity in and through the realization of our connectedness. In that realization we would come to know that each of us has an impact on all of humankind through our individual thoughts and actions, that each of us has an impact on the creatures of the earth through our individual thoughts and actions, and that each of us has an impact on the living earth itself through our individual thoughts and actions. However for these realizations to take place we must let go of the false egoistic self as Jesus teaches in John 12:24 along with other verses in scripture,
I assure you that unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it can only be a single seed. But if it dies, it bears much fruit,”8 and this leads us to the via-negativa.
) explains that the via-negativa “opens us to our divine depths.”9 He strikingly illustrates this by comparing our depths to those of the Grand Canyon and declares that we are “deeper and more powerfully carved over millions of years by the flowing tides of pain.” Furthermore, he tells us that we suffer very similar consequences for ignoring the via-negativa as we do for ignoring the via-positiva. Our God given prophetic voice is lost as “life becomes superficial, easily manipulated, and ultimately as boring as it is violent.”10
It seems that the via-negativa is the most difficult path for us as humans as it is the path that the ego or the false self is most interested in blocking. One might ask then, how the Eucharist would help us embrace the via-negativa? Every time we receive the bread of life and the cup of God’s covenant we are giving permission for God to work within us. More than giving permission, as we receive this provision of God with intentionality we are praying God’s work within us. Every time we receive the bread and the wine we are taking part in breaking down the egoistic walls we ourselves have built up between us and God. Again, done with intentionality we empty ourselves (our false self) just as Jesus did and taught, so that we begin to be re-introduced (re-created, re-born) to our true selves.
The Gospel of Philip, discovered in the Nag Hammadi Library, calls the bread the food of humanity and the wine the cup of prayer. The author exclaims that the cup, “is full of the Holy Spirit, and it belongs to the wholly perfect human being.”11 The Eucharist is a form of contemplative prayer, so it engages God’s work as we allow it. Cynthia Bourgeault (The Wisdom Jesus) uses the Greek word, Kenosis, for the emptying we are speaking of. She describes a divine exchange which, “connects us instantly with the whole of God, allowing divine love to become manifest in some new and profound dimension.”12 As we empty ourselves, God fills us.
Emptying isn’t the only aspect of via-negativa, but it does play a role in the other aspects. As mentioned above, we are deeply affected by the pain we experience. Many psychologists and therapists will attempt to help people accept and experience their pain and often the goal is to provide a means to cope with pain. As we empty ourselves through the Spirit, we can find those often hidden patches of pain. This is usually a process that takes time and comes about in conjunction with other spiritual practices such as centering prayer. Cynthia Bourgeault (Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening) tells us of Thomas Keating calling this process “the archeological dig.”13 She states, “As trust grows in God and practice becomes more stable, we penetrate deeper and deeper down to the bedrock of pain, the origin of our personal false self.”14 Bourgeault here is speaking of centering prayer, but the same applies with any emptying process (Eucharist) facilitated by God.
In a short but important work by Joseph F. Schmidt titled,
Praying Our Experiences,
he points to three types of prayer that can be used in the healing of pain. One of those is contemplative prayer. Schmidt tells us that through these practices we can place the story of our pain into God’s story. In doing so we come closer to “the truth that is already within us as the Spirit of Truth, abiding in us and constantly calling us to be our true, best self.”15 God is in our stories, and finding God in our stories helps us to find God in the stories of others, and become a blessing for others as we enter into via-creativa and via-transformativa.
Through realizing our pain, and consciously involving the Spirit in processing our pain, we can begin to be healed at the root of our pain. This goes above and beyond coping with our pain as is the way of many secular therapies. We then better understand the pain of others, and can even apply our process in facilitating relief for others in their pain. In that way we can become co-creators with God as was intended.
This is a good spot to add that it is important to point out the four paths of creation spirituality are not in any order. We can experience more than one path at the same time and move back and forth between them. We see that the Eucharist plays a great role in both the via-positiva and the varied aspects of the via-negativa, and we begin to see how the paths overlap and interplay with each other. As we learn to experience the via-positiva and practice and learn via-negativa, we will find ourselves on the via- creativa. That is, we will begin to see and feel changes in the way we see, perceive and experience our lives, in the way we see, perceive, and experience others, and the way we see, perceive, and experience creation. It is like we are being re-created, and in a way we are as we find our way back to who we are as created Imago Dei, the Image of God. Creation spirituality calls for spiritual evolution. Bourgeault (The Wisdom Jesus) calls this transformation the ‘Divine Alchemy,’16 which is beautifully appropriate as it implies spiritual evolution.
This divine alchemy, at least partially, can take place through the Eucharist. As Bruce Sanguin prays in another of his communion prayers we are opening ourselves up,
To the wisdom of Krishna, who helps us distinguish illusion from Reality...To the wisdom of the Buddha who teaches us to reflect on the transitory nature of life...To the wisdom of Chief Seattle and our indigenous peoples, who share with us the wisdom of earth...To the wisdom of the Jewish prophets, who show us there is a time to speak truth to power...To the wisdom of the Christ, who teaches us the subversive wisdom of the silenced ones...to the wisdom of Mohammed, who inspired ecstatic prophets.”17
This wisdom (Sophia) is part of the via-positiva, and we begin to take it in through the via-negativa, which in turn works in the via-creativa and the via-negative. This is spiritual evolution!
Thomas Berry proposes a whole new curriculum for elementary and high school students in order to begin to bring us back into harmony with each other and the earth. One of his proposed courses helps us determine the values we live by. He lays out basis for values and suggests that one basis should be communion. Berry is using the term communion here to mean being present to each other and the rest of creation. As we have discussed, the Eucharist (Holy Communion) is about just that. Berry states that we have not developed a capacity for real communion or presence.18 I’ll add, experiencing the Eucharist with intentionality puts us in spiritual communion with others, with all of creation, and helps us carry this communion of which Berry speaks into the world with us.
Cynthia Bourgeault (Wisdom Jesus) relates her personal experience of the Eucharist for us. She was in college and attended a service with her roommate where she unintentionally found herself in a line for Holy Communion. It was her first communion, and she thought nothing of it until a minute or so after she had taken in the bread and wine. She states, “I knew I had met my match; something utterly real, strangely compelling, strangely familiar, had entered my life that day—something I didn’t even know I had been missing but which for the first time made life feel really right.”19 In Bourgeault’s first experience of the Eucharist we find via-creativa and via-positiva as life became more alive for her.
Another first communion experience is related by Sara Miles, a self described atheist, lesbian left-wing journalist, who had seen and experienced more pain than most in her life. She describes a time when she found herself walking into an Episcopal Church for no reason. In her very real and very moving book,
Take This Bread,
she paints a picture of the physical attributes of a classic Episcopal church building. She took a seat wanting to be inconspicuous, and went through the service singing the hymns all the while thinking that it was ridiculous. When the time came to gather for Eucharist she proceeded to the table with the rest of the people there without knowing why. She shares her experience of standing around a table with some dishes and a pottery goblet, and then, “...someone was putting a piece of bread in my hands, saying ‘the body of Christ,’ and handing me the goblet of sweet wine, saying ‘the blood of Christ,’ and then something outrageous and terrifying happened. Jesus happened to me.”20
She shares that she found herself shaken, in tears, and unbalanced. On her way home she analyzed what had happened trying desperately to come up with an explanation for her responses to the experience. She probed through all of the psychological possibilities, yet could not get the name, Jesus, out of her mind. Eventually, she settled on the only possible explanation...Jesus did indeed happen to her.21 Through this experience of the Eucharist she began to make connections with her pain, and found love. Not long after this Sara had a vision, and went on to create food pantries all over the city of San Francisco.22 Sara had radically experienced via-creativa , which led her to via-negativa and via-positiva...then into radical via-transformativa. She became a co- creator with God.
Matthew Fox (Original Blessing), in giving the via-creativa an amazing sense of wonder, states, “For creativity is a cosmic energy; it is the cosmos birthing itself.”23 He also gives us the connection of the via-creativa with the Eucharist. Fox cites scientist Rupert Sheldrakes work with morphogenic fields and group memory or what is called a morphic resonance. A morphic resonance is much like Jung’s archetypes in that it is present in most human minds. He also calls upon Thich Nhat Hanh, the gifted Buddhist instructor who teaches that taking part in the Eucharist meal brings with it the entire history of the universe through the memory contained in this morphic resonance.24 So, in reality we are taking in the life force of the universe through the Eucharist...Just Wow!
Fox connects Jesus’ ‘I Am’ statements to the bread and wine of the Eucharist. This is my body makes the easy parallel to I am this bread, and the same applies to the blood...I am this wine, meaning that Jesus is actually present as we ‘do this in
memory’ (Luke 22:19) of Jesus. He states, “The eating and drinking of the bread and wine, then, is not about a cannibalistic exercise of eating the flesh of Jesus—rather; it is a Cosmic Christ experience. One is receiving fully of the sacred bread and life force of the universe itself. All is sacred, and we remember that in a group way by sharing the wine and bread as a community. What, after all, is more intimate that eating or drinking? We are eating and drinking the very sacred food and drink from the edges of the universe when we are eating and drinking this divine food.”25 In doing so, we become food for others via-creativa/transformativa.
“Everything came into being through the Word, and without the Word nothing came into being.” (John 1:3)26 Jesus is the life force and the memory of the universe, and through God’s provision of the Eucharist, we are invited to empty ourselves, to heal our pain, and be transformed. We are invited to remember the blessing we are born into, and we are invited to join with God as a co-creator.
1 John Philip Newell quoting Thomas Merton,
A New Harmony (Jossey-Bass: 2011) p. 132
2 Ibid, p. 133
3 Ibid. Pg. 134-135
4 Mathew Fox,
Original Blessing, (Tarcher/Penguin: 1983) p. 34
6 Bruce Sanguin,
If Darwin Prayed: Prayers for Evolutionary Mystics, (Evans and Sanguin Publishing: 2010) p. 187
7 Matthew Fox,
The Coming of the Cosmic Christ, (HarperOne: 1988) p. 214
8 Common English Bible,
John 12:24, (Christian Resources Development Corporation: 2011)
Original Blessing, p. 130
11 John Beverly Butcher,
The Tao of Jesus, (Apocryphile Press: 1994) p. 187
12 Cynthia Bourgeault,
The Wisdom Jesus, (Shambhala Publications, Inc.: 2008) p.73
13 Cynthia Bourgeault, quoting Thomas Keating,
Centering Prayer and Inner Awakening, (Cowley Publications: 2004) p. 97
15 Joseph F. Schmidt, FSC,
Praying Our Experiences, (The Word Among Us Press: 2008) pp. 21-22
The Wisdom Jesus, p.72
17 Sanguin, p. 191
18 Thomas Berry,
The Dream of the Earth, (Counterpoint: 1988) pp. 99-106
Wisdom Jesus, p. 184
20 Sara Miles,
Take This Bread, (Ballantine Books: 2008) p.58
21 Ibid. pp. 59-62
22 Ibid. Chapter 11
Original Blessing, p. 176
25 Matthew Fox,
Stations of the Cosmic Christ,
(Bishop Marc Andrus/Andrew Fox: 2016) p. 190
26 Common English Bible,
(Christian Resources Development Corporation: 2011)
An Epiphany–Casting out the 7 Demons
By Sue Ellen Parkinson
I was raised with the story that Mary Magdalene was a repentant prostitute. Other than that, I knew nothing about her; the little I knew was based on a lie.
I am an intuitive artist in my late 60’s. About four years ago, I began exploring the Christian aspect of my spirituality through painting. In using my active imagination, I paint images that come to me and then do a spontaneous writing dialogue with them.
My exploration of Mary Magdalene began with an unarticulated longing in my heart accompanied by these legitimate concerns:
Where do I belong in a spiritual pantheon constructed solely by males? Who meets me, a woman? How do I fit in—not just as a mother (the only sanctified position)
—but as a fully developed human being? In answer to those questions Magdalene entered my consciousness. My connection with her started with a visual flash, just an early morning thought while lying in bed:
I want to learn more about Magdalene. About a week later I found myself at my first Magdalene retreat, led by the inspiring teacher, Kayleen Asbo.
Soon after that I began painting Magdalene. As the images came to me, I would dialogue with them. There was an intimacy about this practice. She felt so familiar to me. She quickly became my icon for all women. In Her I felt the presence of all the women who have been denied their appropriate authority in the world, all the unacknowledged women who have been guiding forces for love. When I connected with Magdalene, I connected with all of them. I also connected with all that grief, all that loss of what could have been. Then within that world of sorrow, where women are blocked from power, Magdalene mysteriously became my doorway through to it. She is now become my steady bedrock of renewal and spiritual support.
When I ask Magdalene “
How can I connect with you?” this is the voice I hear: “W
hen you align your actions with your heart—you align yourself with my heart. When you are true to yourself, you are true to me. When you listen to the world with your heart you will hear me, my voice. When you tend to your deepest grief, you tend to mine.”
This is the feminine voice asking for self-inquiry, her suggestion being to trust one’s inner barometer. She says: “
You can fall on your face, dear, but listen to your heart.” This is a voice I can follow.
On a recent trip through Ireland, I had a discussion with a Catholic priest about my perceptions of Mary Magdalene. I had shown him my paintings and he was enthusiastic about my process and ideas. He gave me an article that supported many of the insights that had emerged for me. As I read this article on my train ride back to Dublin, I came to a paragraph referring to the story of the 7 demons that were cast out of Magdalene by Jesus. There I stopped. I was rankled.
I found this image of Magdalene with 7 demons troubling. It seems to imply that she was riddled with sin and that prior to her encounter with Jesus there was something shamefully wrong with her. It just didn’t jive with my sense of who she was. Honestly, I was also annoyed with the idea that it was yet another man being credited as the vehicle for a woman’s transformation.
Feeling myself in a reactive state, I settled down and meditated. I drifted back to a time in my 30’s when I told a dear friend, Mokusen Myuki, about a dream I had. Mokusen was about 25 years older than I. A Buddhist priest and a Jungian analyst, he was my spiritual advisor. I had felt embarrassed because in this dream I was being sexually debased in a work environment. I remember I’d averted my eyes from his while telling him about it. I explained to him,
“It was as if I was a piece of furniture, without thoughts or feelings. It was as if I wasn’t even there.” When I finally looked up at his face, I saw he had tears streaming from his eyes. In somewhat awkward English he said,
“To be a woman in this culture is demeaning. It’s so wrong.”
As a young woman, this was unspoken knowledge that I had learned to live with day in and day out: the lie that women are viewed as less than men and often just as sexual objects. Most of the time, this lie is normalized and accepted as being “just the way it is.” In seeing Mokusen’s tears that day, my heart was somehow unburdened. When I saw that he—a man—really understood how crazy-making and oppressive it is to be so objectified, I was changed through his acknowledgment of this truth. He understood the depth of my experience.
After recalling this turning point in my own life, I realized that the historical Magdalene may have had a similar experience with Jesus. What if “the demons” Jesus cast out were the lies with which society infuses women’s psyches? What if Jesus had denounced those lies that continue to cripple and burden women all over the world to this very day? Lies are demons and if Jesus denounced them, she would be transformed. She would be free.
Continuing on, I reflected on the 7 chakras as a means to identify what these 7 lies might be. The following list is what came to mind almost immediately. I acknowledge that generalizations don’t always hold true, but for the most part, at least in my experience, these are accurate.
1st Chakra – Survival.
Lie number one: Women can’t take care of themselves. They need a man to be whole, in order to survive and thrive in the world.
The truth? Women not only survive alone, but they include others in their net of survival. They not only care for themselves, but they care for their parents, their siblings, their husbands, their children, and their friends.
2nd Chakra – Sexuality.
Lie number two: Women’s bodies are unclean—if they enjoy sex, they must be whores.
The truth: Their bodies are life-giving, beautiful, sensual and magnetic, and their sexuality is driven by love, rarely by base desire.
3rd Chakra – Power.
Lie number three: Women are the weaker sex.
The truth: When a woman enters her power, she uses it to protect and empower others as well—she doesn’t dominate, she educates.
4th Chakra – Love.
Lie number four: Love and compassion are associated primarily with women and seen as a form of weakness, mental softness, and even hysteria.
The Truth: Love and empathy are equally necessary to any balanced human being. The ability to include emotions such as love, fear, and grief allow decision-making to come from a more holistic perspective.
5th Chakra – Expression.
Lie number five: Women have nothing of value to say or contribute to the world.
Truth: From birth, women are marvelously expressive—often more so than their male counterparts. The schools for the arts typically have a much higher attendance of females. (Although the graduates are quickly snuffed out of their chosen fields—as writers they remain unpublished, as artists unable to show.)
6th Chakra – Intellect.
Lie number six: Women have inferior intelligence to men.
IQ surveys consistently show that men and women have equal intelligence—some recent tests even show women as having a
slightly higher IQ than men.
7th Chakra – Enlightenment.
Lie number seven: God is a He.
Truth: God is un-gendered. A feature of divinity is to have one’s animus and anima wholly integrated.
I trust in the depth of my creative perceptions and in my perception of Her. I believe that creativity has the ability to open our consciousness and to allow the unfiltered truth to emerge. I trust this truth more than any other.
When lies are unmasked, the truth is revealed – showing us the way to a more perfect spiritual goal. It is not to fall to one side or the other—but instead for men and women to integrate their inner male and female selves and begin to create a harmonious whole. This is a necessary step if we are to save our beautiful broken world and bring it back into balance.
Scholars may argue my conclusions, but my own interpretation of Jesus casting out seven demons from Magdalene makes sense to me. It strengthens and aligns me with my spiritual center. It also clarifies my understanding of who a Savior is. A Savior is a being of deep compassion and fearless honesty, who would exemplify and promote equality.
If any of my insights resonate for you, please post responses on my website:
. Let me know what truths you have found to replace those lies. I wish to extend my gratitude to: My teacher, friend and scholar Kayleen Asbo, who is a spiritual conduit of the Divine Feminine. The late Mokusen Miyuki, who was truly a holy man of wisdom and compassion. My brilliant friend and poet, Donna Kerr, who was a wonderful sounding board. She generously gave me her editing advice and the encouragement to say all that needed to be said. And last but nor least, Mary Magdalene—like the swell of a wave, may She lift you as She has lifted me.
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
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 Circle Maui Style (Kihei, Maui, Hawaii)
- HeartSpace Spiritual Community (Medina, OH)
- Integral Church (St. Petersburg, FL)
- Jubilee! (Asheville, NC)
- Jubilee! Pioneers (Baton Rouge, LA)
- Jubilee! Circle (Columbia, SC)
- Ruah (Toronto, Ontario, Canada)
- Spiritwind (Auburn, CA)
- S.T.A.R. (Sacred Traditions And Rituals) (Spartanburg, SC)
- The People’s Church (Houston, TX)
- Twitter: @ThePplsChurch
- Tree of Life Community (Dayton, OH)
- Trinity Church of Austin (Austin, TX)
- Ukiah United Methodist Church (Ukiah, CA)
- Mystics in Motion (Pittsburgh, PA)
- facebook.com/Mystics in Motion
- Veriditas Circle (Cottage Grove, Wisconsin)
Creation Spirituality Communities
firstname.lastname@example.org | www.creationspirituality.info