May/June 2021 Newsletter

This newsletter is a publication of Creation Spirituality Communities and is funded by its members and supporters. If you are enjoying this newsletter and appreciate keeping up with the Creation Spirituality community, please consider becoming a member or renewing your membership.


Membership is available at several different levels at annual and monthly rates.
A Self-Evident Truth
by James Irving Mann
We are children
of the Holy Spirit of Creation
born in Glory, Love, and Wonder.
 
Therefore, let us glorify our Creator
by loving one another
as we celebrate
the Wonder in ourselves
and the Wonder
in all other life forms as well.
Upcoming Events
There are so many classes, events & workshops coming up in the next months. We hope you can take advantage of the abundance of offerings!
Ongoing Events

Longing for spiritual connection in these troubling times?

We invite you to join us every Sunday for this online, interfaith Worship Experience. We are growing a strong, nurturing community and want you to be part!

For the past several weeks, we have been investigating the Sacred Feminine and the Black Madonna. We are thrilled to announce that poet and educator Dorothy Walters will be joining us for this week's Experience.

In case you are unable to attend in person, all who register will receive a link to be able to view the CSIWE after the event happens. So be sure to Register!

Every Sunday 7:00p/6:00p/5:00p/4:00p
Eastern/Central/Mountain/Pacific

Please register in advance for this meeting

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.
The NEXT Creation in Crisis Webinar will be on August 5, 2021 (no Webinar in July).

Contact Gail Ransom to get the Zoom link to the next Webinar: gailsransom@gmail.com
Monthly Enneagram Gathering on Zoom

3rd Thursdays from 4:30 – 5:45 p.m. Pacific

Donation: Love Offering

Interest in and appreciation for the Enneagram has been growing as many recognize its unique potential for personal and spiritual transformation. While it’s up to each of us to do our own inner work, the Enneagram is more deeply understood and easier to apply when we engage with others.

During these 75-minute sessions, there will be a brief teaching on one aspect of the Enneagram, drawing on the work of leading experts, as well as time for private reflection, small group interaction, and large group sharing. 

  • All levels of Enneagram knowledge are welcome, as diversity enhances our learning
  • Learn more about the Enneagram here
  • Sessions are open—join us regularly or when your schedule permits
  • Share this invitation with those you know who may be interested 

Upcoming dates and topics for 2021:
June 17: The stances – withdrawn, dependent, aggressive
      July 15: The centers of intelligence and the stances
      August 19: The harmonic groups – competency, positive, reactive
      Sept 16: Spiritual practices and the Enneagram
 
To receive a Zoom link for a session or learn more, email Joanne at joanne@joannedeck.com.
Workshops & Courses

Shift Network hosts 7-week course on St. Hildegard of Bingen with Matthew Fox

Click below to view the introductory video and register for this FREE video event.
Virtual Teach-In: Cosmic Wisdom and the Divine Feminine: Lost Insights for an Emerging World - ONLINE

June 25-26, 2021 

Join Rev. Matthew Fox and Rabbi Rami Shapiro in a Virtual Teach-in hosted by Rev. Cameron Trimble: Cosmic Wisdom and the Divine Feminine: Lost Insights for an Emerging World

  • Session 1: Friday, June 25 at 4pm-6pm PT
  • Session 2: Saturday, June 26 at 9am-12pm PT
  • Session 3: Saturday, June 26 at 12:30pm-2:30pm PT
Theatre of the Oppressed (T.O.) is a form of popular community-based education that uses theater as a tool for social change. This is an opportunity to learn more about T.O. and engage for social change in a new way.
 
Goodwill donations for Maryknoll Lay Missioners
 
About Theater of the Oppressed

The Theater of the Oppressed methodology was created by Brazilian Augusto Boal in the early seventies in São Paulo and now is performed in more than 70 countries. T.O. consists of different techniques such as Living Newspaper Theater, Invisible Theater, Image Theater, Forum Theater, Rainbow of the Desire and Legislative Theater.
During our time together we will use games and exercises to mediate discussions about different issues related to both individual and collective situations of oppression. This methodology allows the audience to become part of the play in the technique known as Theater Forum, when the "joker" invites someone from the audience to replace the character oppressed and show in acting a solution for the oppression presented in the play, making him/her at that same moment a "spect-actor". The whole idea of the Forum is not finding a solution but rather making people realize that they can be active in looking for different non-violent ways to solve the problems. This technique opens a space for a debate using theater as an educational tool.

About the Facilitator

Flávio José Rocha is a Maryknoll Lay Missioner since 2003 and is a native of Brazil. He has been facilitating Theater of the Oppressed workshops for the last 15 years in different parts of Brazil and The United States. He holds master’s degrees in Creation Spirituality through Naropa University and Environmental Studies through the Federal University of Paraíba/Brazil. He also has a doctorate in Social Science through the Catholic University of São Paulo and a Post Doctorate at the University of São Paulo.
Buddha Palms Qigong

Buddha Palms Qigong, an ancient Taoist practice, is a powerful meditative movement form for releasing stress and boosting and channeling healing energy. Class includes Qigong foundations and acupressure points for self-care and for deepening your experience of this multi-faceted Qigong form.

Thanks to our teachers of Buddha Palms Qigong, Gilles Marin and Mantak Chia.

Instructor: Elise Ching with Guest Instructor Kaleo
Tuesdays – ONLINE
June 8 - July 13, 6 classes Fee: $30
9:45-10:45am Pacific Time

Acalanes Adult Education
1963 Tice Valley Blvd
Walnut Creek, CA 94595
(925) 280-3980


Recommended Readings:
Healing Buddha Palms Chi Kung (Book, with photos of Kaleo doing Buddha Palms postures), by Elise & Kaleo Ching and Gilles Marin; Chi Nei Tsang Institute, © 2009. DVD of Gilles Marin doing the form. Available at https://www.chineitsang.com
or Amazon.

The Creative Art of Living, Dying & Renewal: Your Journey throughout Stories, Qigong Meditation, Journaling, and Art, by E & K Ching (North Atlantic Books, © 2014). At Amazon, local bookstores, Sagrada Sacred Arts, Barnes & Noble. 
Half-day Interactive Art-as-Meditation and Journeying Workshop with Kaleo and Elise Ching

Sunday, June 27 from 11:00 to 3:30 pm Pacific over Zoom

To join us, register here  & consider a 
 
Are you looking for ways to connect with your inner knowing and gather insight for these turbulent times? Join master teachers Kaleo and Elise Ching as we learn simple Qigong techniques to open our heart chakras. Then be guided in a shamanic journey into non-ordinary realms to explore your personal secret garden – a place just for you and just how you would like it to be -- and connect with your guardian spirits who can offer spiritual and practical support on your life’s journey. Then, from mixed media art/collage supplies we have handy, we will create a collage expressing and deepening our discoveries. Supportive group sharing at the end invites more discovery as we bring the shifts we experience out into the world.
Kumu Kaleo Ching and Elise Ching teach Qigong, inner journeying, and art – ancient shamanic processes, that bridge the realms of body, mind, and spirit. They have taught this process nationally and internationally, including at John F. Kennedy University (25 years), University of Creation Spirituality, and various other venues. Kaleo also taught in the Jail Psychiatric Unit for Haight Ashbury Free Clinic.

They co-authored Qi & Grace: An Embodied Lord’s Prayer (2015); The Creative Art of Living, Dying, and Renewal (North Atlantic Books, 2014); Chi and Creativity: Vital Energy and Your Inner Artist (Blue Snake Books, 2007); and others. To learn more about Abba-Imma Qigong and their other work, visit http://www.kaleoching.com or FaceBook https://www.facebook.com/kaleo.ching.3
 
Kaleo and Elise are generously donating this Art as Meditation workshop to support Creation Spirituality Communities, which provides virtual interfaith classes and gatherings. To register, click here and consider making a love donation to Creation Spirituality Communities to acknowledge Kaleo and Elise’s wishes. You will then be sent a Zoom link. Before the class starts you may be interested in purchasing Faces of Your Soul: Rituals in Art, Maskmaking, and Guided Imagery with Ancestors, Spirit Guides, and Totem Animals by Elise and Kaleo. Bring a journal and simple writing/drawing tools and collage materials (magazines, glue sticks, scissors, pens, pencils, markers & pastels) to our session. Any questions, contact the workshop facilitator Deidre Combs at deidrebcombs@gmail.com. We look forward to exploring this restorative practice with you!
Earth Lovers Weekend


Friday eve, July 16th - Sunday afternoon, 18th
Boulder, CO
 


An in-person weekend of learning, connecting, and ceremony.
 We will explore how we might energetically experience our love for and grief about earth.
 
Led by Rev. JT Smiedendorf and Allison Conte, MS
Allison and JT will share important teachings from Allison’s mentor, an Apache Grandmother (master shaman) from the Moonwalker lineage.
 
  • Friday | Opening ceremonies
  • Saturday | Teachings, ritual, movement, music, poetry, breath work
  • Sunday | Integration, sweat lodge, potluck meal
 
Intentions for the weekend
  • Connect deeply, in sacred mutuality, with the natural world.
  • Honor Mother Earth with ceremony, ritual and prayer including a sweat lodge by a lineage holder.
  • Meet the experience of environmental grief with presence, tenderness, and togetherness.
  • Know our love for earth and emerge with a new sense of how to be with the changes on our planet.
  • Feel empowered for creative action for loving and protecting the earth
 
Minimum Donation: $386
(adjust upward as you are able)
Creation Spirituality on the Labyrinth
online course

Veriditas Council member Mary Ann Wamhoff introduces the four paths of Creation Spirituality and how to integrate them with a labyrinth walk. The labyrinth can help you embrace the Vias Positiva, Negativa, Creativa, and Transformativa as you honor all of creation. 

This course is self-paced, available anytime and only $10!
Creation Spirituality on the Labyrinth

After training with Lauren in Chartres, Mary Ann became a Certified Veriditas Facilitator in 2016. She has walked labyrinths since at least 1995, has studied with Caroline Myss, and is a Reiki Master. Using her original poetry, she regularly...

Read more
veriditas.teachable.com
Creative Offerings
Litany to the Black Madonna
Remembering and Opening to Hidden Reservoirs of Deep Wisdom
by Marjo Grogan
 
The following litany honors our ancestors who many years ago followed lay-lines and the path of stars on their pilgrimage in honor of the Black Madonna. They crossed Europe during the octave between July 19th and August 15th, Feast of the Assumption of Mary. We honor their faith in mystery, the transit of Venus moving into obscurity, the dark mother calling us back to the womb to be re-born over and over again in the arms of each river, tree and mountain. Each day I have created a litany to the Divine Mother. Below are a few examples. Repeat an invocation for each day and end by adding: We pray to you.

7/19   Queen of Honey Bees - Protectress of all Life on our Planet…We pray to you.
7/24   Our Lady of Refuge - protecting the vulnerable, immigrants and the homeless
7/26    Queen of the Night & the moon reflecting back to us our own beauty & goodness
7/27    Queen of the Day and the sun shining the brilliant light of truth into our world
7/29    Our Lady of the waters bless the Great Lakes, the oceans & waters of the earth
7/31    Mother at the hour of death, be with us as we enter the realm of transformation
8/1      Mother of compassion release us from self-hatred and self-righteousness
8/2      Our Queen bless sensitive men, strong women and free-spirited children
8/6      Mother of the air, breath & the breezes that bring forgiveness & restitution
8/7      Lady of Playfulness - like Sophia (Wisdom) may we dance & play before you
8/10    Comforter of the lonely, sad, anxious and depressed - may we feel your presence
8/11    Protector of the innocent who see new possibilities & trust in good outcomes
8/12    Mother of our planet may we see potential when facing insurmountable odds
8/13    Mother of the vulnerable, tiny lives, atomic particles and cosmic matter
8/14    Queen of Mystery, may be trust in the dark womb where you dwell
8/15    Queen of Heaven and Earth, bless the union of the divine & human

O Glorious Dark One do what is necessary to wake us up, and give us the strength and sacred passion to bear our illumination. What I am certain of is this: the Black Madonna will give us all the strength and passion we need if only we can find the courage to surrender to Her.
 Andrew Harvey on the Black Madonna
Going Forth

by Tim Cronley
When I open my front door
dawn-gates open outward on hinges
of hope. All things possible
await me right outside my front door.
 
The closed door behind me
reminds me of where I just was
so safe, so mindlessly secure
so fearful of the light outside.
 
But when I am outside I can listen
to the ticking clock of expectation
as mother nature measures out
what is reachable and possible.
 
Outside I can connect with myself
and remember who I truly am
and by the grace of the present moment
move mindfully forward - trusting.     
Lying Down in the Heart of an Iris
by Norbert Krapf

Yes, I want to go down into the heart
of this iris in our downtown garden.
 
I want to crawl into the center of its
gorgeous interior where colors come
 
together like nowhere else in this huge
universe. Yes, I want to crawl down inside
 
this opulent iris and wrap its rich colors
of pale yellow and white and magenta
 
around me like a blanket and also these
tiger-like stripes of yellow burning into gold
 
with deep maroon squiggles flowing
and fall asleep and dream of a paradise
 
in which no evil virus comes searching
for me and those I love to bring us down
 
into the dark breathless abyss from which
few escape alive. Let me fall asleep in
 
the heart of this splendid iris and awake
refreshed with the pollens of color on my
 
eyelids and lips and arise and go kiss
those I love with the colors I bring back
 
to make their lips and lids tingle with all
that is beautiful and life-giving to pass on
 
to those close to them by touching
lips tinged with the powder to as many
 
other lips as are praying to be kept
alive so life can move forward again.
Crust
by lsmg (Lynda Sue Marks-Guarnieri)

Those days are gone…
Seemingly a time of fulfillment and promise…
There were gifts and maybe ~
Nights of love,
Excitement,
Possibilities,
Late nights of practice, rehearsals ~
Separate, alone, with many people ~
And suddenly - nothing.
So time moves on,
Memories remain
Not so faded.
Where did those days go?
Dissolving like salt in hot water,
The bowl left to dry
Has a crust remaining.

The Art of Forgiveness
by Rev. Amina Wolf, MA, DMin
 
When I was just starting as a Hospice Chaplain, I used to ask people I visited whether they had any forgiveness issues. Surprisingly, many people answered this intrusive question. My CPE supervisor, Rev. Doug Lubbers, warned us new residents at St Francis Memorial Hospital in San Francisco, that we carried a weight of authority into the room when we visited people. He said that we walk into the room, whether we intend to or not, representing God’s presence. People gave us that weight, no matter what their beliefs or lack of beliefs. Doug warned us to be careful about that authority. So in my earliest chaplain job, I was learning how to be a chaplain, and people were giving me that authority as I learned. Now, more than a dozen years later, I am much more subtle. I try to play that authority down, because it does lend weight to my words that I would prefer to lighten. I work to be a friend and companion on the journey, and sacredness comes in, but not as an authority I represent. It is more of a background of safety and support in the room and in our conversation. I listen and people talk and eventually things come out, in a natural way, as people start to trust me and even to like me.

But there in the beginning, when I was asking the question, I did receive some surprising answers. When I asked about forgiveness, one man said to me “I will never forgive President Clinton for the lies and the infidelity! He was a terrible president and Hilary should have left him!!!!” He repeated these words many times in the course of our journey together. Another man said, with equal vehemence, and in the very same week, “I will never forgive President Nixon! He was a crook! He was a liar! Look at what he did in Watergate!!!!” This man also repeated these same words several times over the months I visited him.

Two men with the very same spiritual pain forgiveness issue who were at opposite ends of the political spectrum. Both were Christians. I was still very inexperienced as a Chaplain, so I was surprised, but I believed this was a special lesson for me. I felt God’s hand on me; I was meant to visit both of these men. They held closely an ideal they felt was violated. Tied in with that were their political beliefs and prejudices which supported their lack of forgiveness. I didn’t discover a magic key that opened up their hearts. Instead, I visited these men over the course of many months. We prayed together. And I listened to them talk about their lives, their feelings, and their beliefs.

I told them that forgiveness was important for their own peace of mind. Over time one of them decided he needed to forgive, and let it go. “It was a long time ago. We have all made mistakes,” he said. He had a very peaceful death. The other man remained unforgiving and angry all the way to the end. He was less peaceful. He grimaced, and moaned, and the nurses had to increase his medication. I was there at the very end, when he could no longer speak. I whispered in his ear that God loved him. I held his hand. I asked him to let go of his anger, and to ask for forgiveness in his mind. I prayed the Lord’s Prayer, with the line “Please forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.” I asked God to open this man’s heart and let him know he was loved, and to forgive him his anger if he still held it. I don’t know if he did let his anger go or if it was the medication finally working, but he relaxed and died soon after, looking peaceful.

I believe in God. But I am a Hospice Chaplain so I work with many people of differing beliefs. As a Chaplain, I respect the beliefs people hold and I work to support them in their beliefs, without inserting my own. I try to discover where they do connect with the beauty and mystery of the universe, in what unique and wonderful way their spirits are fed. I believe God’s light shines in many ways; after all, is not God capable of anything? So for an Atheist, God’s light comes in a way he can accept it. I don’t have to share that this is my belief. I just listen for it in the stories people tell me. A man who said he was an Atheist told me he “felt something” when BB King played live in the Grace Cathedral and this man was there to hear it. Then he opened up to talk of the death of his young son. He wanted to be buried in the same grave “to be together.” Sometimes he later claimed it was to save money, but I knew that his first statement, when his heart was feeling tender in the memory of BB King’s music, was the truth. Another man, a Muslim who didn’t want to talk about religion with a woman who was not Muslim, told me about his love of poetry, so we recited poetry together. The spirit moved in the poetry as we talked. A Hindu man, who was also a scientist, talked to me about energy healing, about the presence of starlight in the universe, about the nature of love and forgiveness, and told me “I am content to rest in the Mystery.” We don’t have to preach to find God. God is there; God finds us whether He is named or not.

A few months ago my little dog was killed by another dog; one who was vicious and had attacked other dogs in the past. I saw the attack and later my dog died in my arms.  I did not feel very forgiving of the owner of that dog. I complained to animal control and there was a hearing. Many people came to witness on both sides. Eventually there was a determination that the dog was to be given a second chance, wearing a muzzle and not allowed in common areas. I complained to animal control, to the administration at our apartment building, and to our community through the newsletter. Frequently, I saw the man and his dog on their walks. I could see he loved his dog and felt remorse over the death of mine. I started to feel sorry for the man when I heard that administration at our apartments was going to make him give up his dog or leave. I imagined the man homeless and refusing to give up his dog. My heart softened. I forgave them. I wrote a letter asking administration to let the man and his dog stay, as long as he kept on the muzzle so as not to endanger other dogs. So they are still here. It was hard to forgive. I had nightmares for a long time about that attack. I miss my little dog. I feel sad thinking about the walks we went on, the place he stayed by my chair; his little ways of staring instead of barking when he needed to go out; twirling around on his hind feet for a treat. He was really a good little guy. I have a hard time seeing the other dog. But I know the man loves his dog as I loved mine. And the dog is wearing a muzzle so is safe to be here. Maybe all my forgiveness is not working in my heart all the time. But I am trying.  

None of us are perfect. We just do the best we can. Just as I struggle with forgiveness, so do you—so does everyone. So do the people I visit who are at the end of life. Forgiveness is a necessary step in our journey. The hardest ones to forgive are our very own selves.  I went on a silent retreat with others led by the Sufi teacher Aziza Scott. This involved a morning teaching by her about the day’s focus and suggested prayers. The day and meals were all held in silence, with a chanting prayer time twice a day. We were camped in cabins and tents at the side of a nearly dry creek, in the forest, for four days. Our task was Forgiveness. We started with general prayers in preparation, and then confession, in our solitary and silent rambles through the grounds. Then we moved on to atonement. Finally, we asked forgiveness. I discovered I had many sins to confess. My atonement was very difficult. I prayed for ways to atone all the following day; with very many tears. The last full day, I was at the side of the creek, when I prayed for forgiveness. I did not feel worthy. I thought I was unforgiveable. With my eyes shut, I cried and prayed. Finally, emotionally exhausted, I opened my eyes. There on the ground in front of my feet, was a heart shaped rock, a naturally shaped river rock. I picked it up, marveling at the beauty of this river-shaped heart. I rose and started to walk, wondering if this was an answer from God. As I walked, to my wonder, I found another and another of these perfectly shaped heart rocks. I picked up some but there were many more left in the creek. This was God’s answer to me, I knew it, that I was not only forgiven, but I was beloved. I have one of those rocks on my altar now to remind me of this small miracle proving God loves me.

One line of my favorite Sufi prayer is, “Open my heart, so I might hear thy voice, which constantly comes from within.” God created this universe. God created all of us who live within it. Of course God loves us. Of course God forgives us our human failings.  We then forgive each other, forgive ourselves, and even forgive God, sometimes.  

The Sufi prayer KHATUM, as related by Hazrat Inayat Khan

O Thou, Who art the Perfection of Love, Harmony, and Beauty, the Lord of heaven and earth, open our hearts, that we may hear Thy Voice, which constantly cometh from within. Disclose to us Thy Divine Light, which is hidden in our souls, that we may know and understand life better. Most Merciful and Compassionate God, give us Thy great Goodness; teach us Thy loving Forgiveness; raise us above the distinctions and differences which divide us; send us the Peace of Thy Divine Spirit, And unite us all in Thy Perfect Being. Amen.

***previously published in Presence: An International Journal of Spiritual Direction Vol. 27, No. 1 March 2021
The Band
by lsmg (Lynda Sue Marks-Guarnieri)

Awesome and Ominous
They howl.
Shrieking and dancing
The circle enclosing ~

A madness begins at the
Very touch of the moon’s lifting off
This planet as seen way in the distance.

How far does this howl go?
Carry?   Resound?   Echo?
Foraging in the distance for a reply of
Required
Silence!

Hush!            Be still!
Don’t even twitch for the
Sound waves may bubble
And Explode.

As teeth sharp and ready
Aim,
The slobber drools
Over the bottom lip and slides down the
L - o - n - g
Straggly fulvous threads under the jaw.

The eyes glitter in the night.
Close your windows lest
You cry out with fright!

Grab your sheets
Pull blankets o’re your head.
Close your ears,
Try not to reveal your fears.

It’s death that’s coming
That’s for sure.
But who’s or what’s?
IT’S coming
And IT must endure.
.
Bow your head,
It’s too awful to know.
To see.                       To hear.

Nothing to be done.
Nature at work.
Hold your pet tight.
Knowing
He’s safe for the night.
My Back Against a Tree
by Norbert Krapf

What I have heard in the restless wavering
of leaves in deep woods I don’t often share,
but can say that especially when darkness
begins to drop I like the atmosphere that
 
feels like the coming of a healing presence
from another world. Sometimes I think
I might return to some of my earlier woods
at the end of this present life and let go
 
of my hold on this time and country and place,
sitting down with my back against the base
of a tree I love, maybe a beech on a hill.
I might fall towards sleep giving thanks
 
for the people I have loved who love me.
That would include family but others as well.
It would include some lovely women friends
who have shared their innermost thoughts,
 
some men who have been open about their
yearnings, mistakes, and goals, and some
highly spiritual folks who have listened
extremely well to the stories of my self,
 
my particular Song of Myself. It may be
this kind of friend who would find me
deep in the woods with my back resting
against the trunk of a beech with traces
 
of a smile on my face. Look at him, this
friend might say, doesn’t he look content,
like he crossed over and beyond to a good
place where he’s found what he loved?
Why Liberation Theology is still needed
by Flávio José Rocha

Going back in recent history, the Rio de Janeiro Archdiocese never supported Liberation Theology such as it happened in other Brazilian dioceses. This reality created a vacuum for the conservative groups of Neo-Pentecostal churches to make a very strong presence in the Rio de Janeiro periphery, impoverished areas where traditionally progressive Catholics were very active. Abandoned by part of their hierarchy, the faithful felt welcomed in the Neo-Pentecostal churches that emerged in the last forty years. Many leaders from those religions are close to extreme right politicians and they give emphasis to moral issues to gain votes in areas dominated by criminal organizations. The same phenomenon did not happen in such a radical way where the Catholic and Protestant churches were close to people's struggles such as in the northeastern part of the country, the Amazon region or in the periphery of the megalopolis of São Paulo.

For centuries, those who lead charitable actions in the Catholic church didn't question why millions of people were dependent on their hospitals, schools, orphanages and assisted living houses that gave food for the hungry. Little by little, this changed. Fifty years ago the Belgium Theologian José Comblin (1923-2011), who lived most of his life in Brazil, published his book Théologie de la Révolution. The following year Teología de la liberación by the Peruvian priest Gustavo Gutierrez was published. Some Protestant theologians also published books on the same topic in that period. A planet ever more urbanized and a youth movement that demanded urgent changes in society in the 60s, were factors demanding new reflections in the field of theology. The role that churches played in a world with new religious and political configurations came to be an important question. With all of that happening, one question emerged in the Latin American religious circle: why is it that the continent with the largest number of Christians is also the one most economically unequal? If we are all brothers and sisters as it is preached in the pulpits, there must be something wrong in that supposed brotherhood and sisterhood that leave many excluded.

In Brazil, for example, a bishop started to think and act different than his peers. His name was Helder Câmara and under the influence of the French Catholic Action, he moved away from the conservative thoughts that he carried when he was a younger priest. Besides helping to found the Brazilian Catholic Action, Dom Helder questioned himself about his role as a prelate in Brazilian society and how his power could help the poor. In this first moment, his was still lead by a charismatic enthusiasm. Moving to the city of Recife, in the Northeast of Brazil in 1964, coincided with the coup d'état by the Brazilian military. By that time, his political positions were very clear against the new dictatorial regime denouncing the violence against its oppositions who either had to flee the country or became political prisoners. He didn't make a distinction between Catholics or atheists when he denounced human rights abuses and torture in the prisons.  Dom Helder became a champion for social justice and today he is officially the Brazilian Human Rights Patron.

The wind of liberation also made its presence in other churches as well. In 1962, Recife headquartered the meeting Christ and the Revolutionary Process, sponsored by various Protestant churches. Influenced by some Protestant theologians from Europe and in the United States, those institutions had faithful who also were questioning the social and economic inequality in Latin America. Some of them started to be leaders in the struggle for land reform such as the Presbyterian João Pedro Teixeira, assassinated for organizing peasants in the northeast of Brazil.

There is no doubt that without Liberation Theology, the repression of the Brazilian Dictatorship would have been much worse in the seventies. The commitment made by part of the Catholic hierarchy, some Protestant pastors and Jewish rabbis surprised the army that was not attentive to the depth of the ideas that were planted one decade before. One of the results of this opposition to the dictatorship was a report organized by Cardinal of São Paulo, Dom Evaristo Arns, the Presbyterian Pastor Jaime Wright and the Rabbi Henry Sobel. Together they coordinated a team that produced a report denouncing what was happening in Brazil such as torture in the prisons, disappearing of prisoners and other ways to repress any political opposition to the dictatorship. The report was entitled Brazil: Never More and it became an important document to ask for punishment for those responsible for those atrocities.

The seventies also saw religious communities starting to leave their convents and seminaries to live in poor areas. This resulted in the strength of the Faith Base Communities. Those small groups gathered millions of people for the reading and the reflections of the Bible in light of the social reality of those people, helping them to form a critical perspective on the oppressions that they suffered in the rural areas and in the periphery of the big cities. If not for those Faith Base Communities, many people perhaps would never have such biblical and political formation. That was a place where people could give their opinions freely and talk about the struggles in their communities. Some of those were maids, construction workers, unemployed workers, students, nurses, supermarket cashiers, etc. who became coordinators of the Church pastoral groups. For many of them this was the first time in their lives that they could use their leadership skills and be recognized for that. They felt valued as human beings and not only as labor for their religions. Additionally, the Faith Base Communities opened a space for many of the people to exercise their artistic gifts as they started singing in mass, writing poetry, participating in the Passion plays, etc. Others evolved to become local political leaders after learning about their rights and felt that their path was to join a political party after the end of the dictatorship and dispute a position as council member or other positions in the institutional arena, as they perceived that they were left out of this possibility for centuries. The positive result are immeasurable for the poor. It was in the Faith Base Communities that many social movements emerged and won important struggles.

Having such influence in the society's traditionally oppressed paid a price. Starting in the seventies, Liberation Theology suffered many attacks in the media, mostly by being portrayed as communist. During the eighties, those attacks intensified and by the nineties, it started to get put aside by the new conservative bishops appointed by Rome. Of course, this happened because Liberation Theology made it possible for the poor to reflect about their oppressions and fight against them, trying to stop a situation of centuries.

Like everything else, Liberation Theology wasn't perfect. The concentration of power by some or even the taking of advantage to become political leaders by others was a reality in many communities. The repeated idea by some religious that they were the “voice of the voiceless” also shows a certain idea that the oppressed had no voice, as actually they do have a voice that has not been listened to. There are probably other issues that should be added to this topic, but all of these concerns and problems do not invalidate the importance of Liberation Theology.

My defense of Liberation Theology does not mean that it should come back as it was in past decades. We live in another reality and new theologians are transforming what they inherited from the old one in new Liberation Theologies focused on different oppressed minorities. We can witness the development of Indigenous Theology, Queer Theology, Black Theology, Green Theology and the Feminist and Ecofeminist Theologies, to cite some. Those theologians are in search of answers for the new questions that are emerging and they are creating new possibilities and actions that will help in a positive way people and communities at the margins of society.

The peripheries and the minorities still suffer for not having their basic human rights respected, as nature as well, while some conservative religious leadership who are more and more powerful commit to supporting politicians who will only worsen the situation. Liberation Theology showed us that faith plays an important role in the process of social awareness and support of the oppressed. As people of faith who believe, hope and act for a better world, we must fulfill the empty spaces in geographical and “existential” peripheries in order to allow the Reign of Justice to emerge to all of us.

Flávio José Rocha is a Maryknoll Lay Missioner serving in Brazil. He holds a doctorate in Social Science through the Catholic University of São Paulo.
Books from our Community
“This book blew me away.  OMG. A warrior’s compilation of inspiration and achievements.  Your passion overwhelms.  Your talent propels us into a crusade of public service.  Your dedication to the cause has been an inspiration.  The book remains a testament to an inspired life.  And a primer for all art teachers.   By promotion you can reach a wider viewership. Congratulations.” 
-Lynda Ortega, Arizona

“I LOVE your new book! What a marvelous tour it is of your powerful vocation of service by way of art - and I commend you for all your wonderful accomplishments.

I would like to talk about it in my Daily Meditations. Is that ok? Can I cite pieces from it? Talk about Via Creativa & Transformativa - you are an incarnation of that way or path

Congratulations”
-Matthew Fox, Author and Theologian

“Jennifer, when I sent Pastor Scott a copy of your book, I told him that you both met and that I shared a couple of videos of his sermons with you, that you liked. Here is his response ‘I feel honored to even be known to a person with such artistic and soul insight. Her renditions are both beautiful and soul wrenching if that makes sense. Thank you so much for sending me this. I will definitely use them in some of my work to challenge people with thought, with idea, and with art.... she is amazing’”
Renowned archetype expert Carol S. Pearson guides you through the journey of discovering and understanding the archetypes active in your life. These universal themes may be invisible to you now but through this book you will learn how they inspire the behaviors and relationships that drive your life story. As you become conscious of your archetypal potential, you can cultivate the hero or heroine within you by living your stories consciously, in your own unique way. This book provides a roadmap for achieving deeper self-understanding, and includes clear steps for reshaping your life stories, awakening your authenticity, and finding meaning, direction, and purpose.

The Four Paths Archetypes

The Path of Awe (the Via Positiva) — in the awe, wonder, beauty, joy, blessing and mystery of nature and all beings, each of whom is as Hildegard of Bingen put it a “word of God”, a “mirror of God that glistens and glitters”.

Idealist/Innocent—faith, trust, practice of gratitude
Lover—loving others, loving life, God, practice of mystic union
Jester/Fool—happiness, joy, humor; practice of play

The Path of Release (the Via Negativa) — in the beauty of darkness and nothingness, in mystery, in the silence and emptying, in the letting go and letting be, and in the pain and suffering that constitute an equally real part of our spiritual journey.

Realist/Orphan—sorrow, empathy for the pain of the world/others, practice of a letting go meditation
Seeker—releasing what is and has been in order to find something better—practice of openness to experience and insight
Revolutionary/Destroyer—letting go inwardly and outwardly, practice of emptying & receiving

The Path of Creativity (the Via Creativa) — in our generativity we co-create with God; we trust our images (poems, paintings, inventions, ideas for peace and justice-making, businesses, creative parenting, etc.) as divine inspiration and courageously birth them into existence.

Creator—being inspired by the muse to create tangible things—practice of art as meditation
Caregiver—the creativity of raising children, making home, crafts, creating safe and nurturing environments in any area of life—love expressed in service
Ruler—creating and maintaining social systems that bring out people’s better angels and that foster social justice and environmental sustainability—practice of sacred responsibility

The Path of Transformation (the Via Transformativa) — in the individual transformation made possible through practice and grace, in the relief of suffering, in the combating of injustice, and in the celebration that happens when persons struggling for justice and trying to live in mutual respect come together to praise and give thanks for the gift of life.

Warrior—saying no to the enemy within and without, demonstrating courage, standing up for what is right; practice of personal discipline
Sage—fidelity to seeking, finding, and speaking truth, spiritual and data-driven; practice of study that fosters evolved consciousness evidenced in action.
Magician—healing, providing vision and rituals that foster transformational community; practice of energetic connection with the divine, the self, others, and the earth that inspires major change. Changing what happens by changing your thoughts and the story you tell about it.

By Carol S. Pearson, Creation Spirituality D. Min.
“Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother” was born out of a series of intense spiritual experiences Mare Cromwell had in the early summer of 2012. The book was written in only five weeks guided by Earth Mother. In a magical blend of humor and spiritual wisdom, Mare illuminates the overwhelming love Mother has for us. Chatty, opinionated and profoundly compassionate, Earth Mother discusses the environment (her body!), love, war and soul-woundedness, with specific messages for her sons and her daughter two-leggeds. If we could all listen to Earth Mother, perhaps these are the messages we would be hearing to help us birth the New Earth coming in presently.
 
"Messages from Mother.... EarthMother is a beautiful, magic school bus for grown-ups. I had such an interesting experience as I was reading. It suddenly came upon me with a deep understanding. The voice I was reading in the book was literally the voice of Pacha Mama. This is hard to articulate but it became very clear to me. Very, very clear. I LOVE this book!" (IvaPeele, Co-Director of The Road to Q'ero - A Journey Home)
 
[This book] is delightful, simple and inspirational. I gently encourage you, because it's polite and nice, but what I really want to say is Buy this book now! And while you are at it, add a few extra to your virtual shopping cart you'll want to give it to someone. (elephantjournal.com)

"Mare Cromwell is one of our Great Listeners. She beautifully carries the ancient, necessary wisdom into our Present, so we can have a Future!" (Judyth Hill, author, Dazzling Wobble)

"A walk in the park sets off a mission to awaken humanity and save Earth, as Cromwell's work weaves an argument for living in awareness of all life."  (Kirkus Reviews)

"A unique blend of prophecy, hope and inspiration meant to enlighten."  (Keith A. WheelerChair - IUCN Commission on Education andCommunications)

"Mare Cromwell's lively instructions offer enchantment and ageless wisdom packaged in novel and humorous ways." (Stanley Krippner, Ph.D., Co-Author, Personal Mythology)

Winner ~ 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards - Green Living Category,
Finalist ~ 2013 National Indie Excellence Awards - Spirituality Category,
Finalist ~ 2012 ForeWord Magazine's Book of the Year Awards - Nature Category
 
 
“Messages from Mother…. Earth Mother” can be purchased via Mare’s website for autographed copies HERE
 
Via Amazon HERE
 
It is available as an ebook through Amazon and all other ebook venues also. 
Gaia Communicator & Priestess Mare Cromwell was awakened at 5 AM in November of 2013, and given specific instructions from the Great Mother to set aside that winter to listen and write “The Great Mother Bible”. Out of that spiritual call has come this revolutionary and humorous book of spiritual wisdom that speaks to the wondrous sacred realms in which we live. With teachings ranging from the role of aliens on Earth, the Christ Consciousness, and the need for balance between the Sacred Feminine and Divine Masculine, the Great Mother offers essential guidance to help bring our beleaguered world back into divine harmony.
 
"An enjoyable female version of Neale Donald Walsch's 'Conversations with God'. Positive powerful insights about love, spirituality, the universe, and Mother Earth." ~ Kirkus Reviews

"I love the wisdom and the message of love within this book!" ~ New Age Books Review

"A significant contribution to the growing library of Metaphysical Studies literature and an inherently fascinating, absorbing read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended." ~ MidWest Book Reviews

"Definitely the kind of Bible I wouldn't mind keeping by my nightstand ... Love scrawls across every page." ~ Pathways Magazine 

These are powerful and wise messages from Earth Mother, shared by her beloved daughter Mare Cromwell, to encourage humanity to awaken their hearts and find peace in these struggling times. The world will find these sacred writings most brilliant. ~ Bavado (Rainbow Thunder Heart), Eastern Shoshone Nation, Late-President - Earth Wisdom Foundation
 
~ Winner of the 2016 Coalition of Visionary Resources Book Award in Inspirational

~ Finalist in the 2016 International Book Awards in the Spirituality: Inspirational
 
About Mare
Mare Cromwell has surrendered to serve the Great Mother. She is an internationally known Gaia Communicator & High Priestess, Author, Healer & Visionary. Her multi-award-winning books include: "The Great Mother Bible"; “Messages from Mother.… Earth Mother”; and, “If I gave you God’s phone number…. Searching for Spirituality in America”. She has studied with Native American teachers for 26 years along with other gifted mentors and is the producer of the 1000 Goddesses Gathering Global Grid. Mare also leads the “Great Mother Love Way” year-long course. She is devoted to the Divine Mother in all of her manifestations. www.marecromwell.com
 
“The Great Mother Bible” can be purchased via Mare’s website for autographed copies HERE

Via Amazon HERE
 
It is available as an ebook through Amazon and all other ebook venues also.
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.

LIST OF CREATION SPIRITUALITY COMMUNITIES:

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