10/23/2018

Let Us Be

When I was in seminary, a "famous theologian" gave a big speech. During the question and answer period, I raised a point. "If God is absolute Being, and I Am, then my being is God, isn't it? Not just me, but a flower. God is the being of every flower. And God is being a fly on the window."
Everyone in the lecture hall was shocked and silent. I guess we weren't allowed to say stuff like that. Then the theologian explained, while God's Being is absolute, our being is only "contingent being." I just stared at him, saying to myself,  'WTF is contingent being?' I sat down.

People wouldn't join me in the dining hall. They thought I was a heretic. They whispered, "universalist." I asked, "What is a universalist?" They said it was someone who believes that God's grace pours equally upon all, no matter what their religion, whether they confess the name of Jesus or not. I said, "Yes, that is exactly what I believe."

So I decided I could never be ordained as a Christian minister, because everyone is already ordained by their first breath, which is the breath of God.

You and I are Being. A stone is Being. I am not sure the stone is aware of it, maybe so. But You and I certainly have the marvelous chance to become aware of our Being, who is God. To be aware of our Being is worship. To enjoy our Being in each other is love.

Let us each take responsibility for who we really Are, and begin treating one another as a human Being.

Samhain Meditation

   
    The veil between the worlds is thin.
    Bright to dark the seasons turn,
    Green Man's fire in the Jack O'Lantern,
    Light above now shines within.

   Come dance in the circle of Samhaim,*
   Buds of Beltane burnished in frost.
   Honor the Old Ones: nothing is lost.
   Whatever you offer is born again. 
              
   *Pronounced Sów'an
We have just ended Navratri, most sacred Goddess festival of India. We wish happiness to our Indian and Goddess-centered friends.

In the West we have Goddess festivals no less sacred. At the end of October is Samhain (pronounced Sów'an) the Pagan and Celtic New Year. Children know there's something holy about Halloween, and its not just divine Snickers bars and Red Hots. There's a tingling electric presence we feel in the ether of Autumn, the living womb of silence, nature's ineluctable Om.

Just as the Indian Goddess is three-fold - creative Sarasvati, abundant Lakshmi, and energetic Kalishakti - so Samhain honors the three-fold Goddess: Maiden, Mother, and Crone.

At Samhain time, the fire that once was flower, fruit and harvest now burns inwardly, while outward forms wither, rest, and cool. The hollow of gourds and pumpkins symbolizes that inner space of Winter meditation. Now is the time to empty ourselves and prepare our hearts for the birth of new solstice light at Yule.

This is womb time. What outwardly fructified goes to seed, stores up its fire for Spring. The Christic energy of the male, the Green Man who triumphed last May, wanes in power now, returning to rest in the darkness of the Great Mother. Nature's light descends into the hollow places of the underworld. For underworld is sacred space too. Get down in mushroom silence, where Queen Mav mingles death and life at the core of every perennial bulb.

                   Our Samhain alter at Common Bread, Evergreen College
Gossamer October threads the veils of this world to the realm of the dead. But the realm of the dead is full of life. As the veils thin out, we feel so close to our ancestors, so intimate with those who have just departed. That is why, at Samhain, we build an alter to the dead, greeting those recently passed one last time before they move to the next cycle of their never-ending growth. The playful custom of Halloween ghosts belies this poignant time of fellowship with the other world. The Mexican tradition of Dios des Mortes comes much closer to the original spirit of Samhain.

When the veil between the worlds grows thin, it is time to embrace our loss and grief, to honor the husk of outworn relationships, then let them go. Time to pour the wine and apples of the old story onto the midnight "bonfire," culling the herd, offering old bones. Time to sink Earthward, feel our kinship with gnome and dryad, wood nymph and salamander. For as outward husks grow frail in shadows, yet the mysterious depths of matter glow, and we realize that the earth herself is lit with Spirit.

Western Form of the Three-Fold Goddess

We have many forms of the three-fold Goddess in the West. Prominent at Samhain is Hecate, witch-crone deity of moonlight, crossroads and wild animals. We also honor the harvest mother Demeter, who goes by many names such as Rhea or Ceres. Persephone is the maiden, who will usher in the Spring. Her Celtic version, Aericora, is the consort of Cernunnos the Green Man. She is also the Welsh Cerridwyn, keeper of the wiccan cauldron, feminine template for the holy grail.

And we honor Mary Magdalene, consort of Jesus. In Palestine, the town of Magdala Nunayya on the Sea of Galilee was known for its pagan temple of the moon goddess, whose priestess may have been called Magdalena. Some believe that, in Biblical symbolism, Mary Magdalene represents the moon, the dark lunar energy that balances the bright solar Christ.

However you honor the divine Feminine, do it now. For in the Northern hemisphere, the earth is bending back toward the Mother, the divine blackness of origins, the loam of the hidden seed. Now we remember that darkness is not absence of light, but womb of light.

O Breath of emptiness, season of dew-jewel and corn stalk, spider's web and nugatory gourd, bless the starlight above us, the fallen garden around us, the hidden rainbow in the cocoon, the mycelium darkness below.


Painting by Wendy Andrews

Tip



If you let a Goddess be
your breath this morning,
you won't need any rule
but kindness.
For just a little while,
sorrow and joy must drink
from the same cup,
the chalice in your ribs
that you’ve been polishing
too carefully.
Let it tip over now.
Mother Raven in her
soft golden feathers
will bring you not fire
in her beak, but a black sun,
the circling splendor
of emptiness,
portal to the uncreated.



Photo: Spirit Raven, British Columbia