Special Thanks to Rev. Shiloh Sophia McCloud for the use of this beautiful art!
This year marks the 20th anniversary of Sophia Center. Today it is estimated that 9 out of 10 people are less interested in religion and more into spirituality, seeking out and living towards the deeper meaning in life. What was true twenty years ago was that many, many women were seeking a safe place to explore their lives and its deeper meaning. They wanted to think for themselves and explore how to live lives in more conscious ways. This is even truer today than it was 20 years ago. In the twenty years I have walked with these women and responded to their stories and to mine by creating sacred art that could capture what has heart and meaning in life, the journey of feminine consciousness has become an ever increasing passion of mine. One thing that has always been the real power of our species is the heart of a woman. This is the fire that continues to burn a bright light of hope in our homes and neighborhoods. It is the civilizing energy in our world. It also has amazing magical powers.
Two stories illustrate this: At about age 15 months I chanced to swallow a fish bone from a salmon pattie my mother carefully thought she had inspected before I ate a tiny piece of it. It lodged in one of my bronchi, apparently. A Doctor reassured my mother when I was taken to see him that it would be okay and not to worry. But, within a day of this proclamation by "Dr. God" mom knew something was wrong. When no one from the hospital would take her seriously, she called the Red Cross and got some action. At last I was admitted in a very grave condition to the ICU. My father, who was on a special assignment with the military in Alaska was brought home in an emergency transport because by this time I was not expected to live through the night. A priest was brought in to give the last rites. My mother kept an anxious vigil for 3 long days. Each day the medical staff was sure I would succumb but my mother just willed me to live and I did! Later, when I was a teenager, I saw this wondrous power myself. We had a little lamb that had been rejected by its mother. A sheep farmer up the road from us came to assess the situation and he advised putting the lamb down because he had never seen them recover from such a sickly state. "It was why its mother rejected it in the first place," was his wisdom on the subject. My mother refuse to believe this and said to the little lamb, "your name is Angel, and you will live, if it's the last thing I do!" Little Angel did live and went on to bring forth twins each spring.
I know many of you out there know what I am talking about. Either you are, or you know an amazing woman whose heart was or is strong enough to heal the whole wide world. I believe that at this time it is the collective heart of women who have kept our world from imploding. As the spring continues to unfold for those of us in the Northern Hemisphere and begin to wane in the Southern Hemisphere, let us do what ever we can to join our heart power together as we wind down women's History month. It is a month every year where we remember and celebrate the heart of women through time who have been the gathering place, the fermentation in the dough that gives sustenance to the soul of our world and culture. Praise and celebrate a woman somewhere in your life today! Light a candle on an altar somewhere for the awesome expression of the Sacred Heart that you are as well, for no matter our gender, we all are under the influence of this Heart of which I speak.
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
MAKE READY FOR THE CHRIST
WHOSE SMILE, LIKE LIGHTNING
SETS FREE THE SONG OF EVERLASTING
GLORY, THAT NOW SLEEPS IN YOUR
PAPER FLESH, LIKE DYNAMITE! GERARD MANLEY HOPKINS
In 1986 a small group of Episcopal women approached me to see if they could commission me to make a Risen Christ image for them to give as a gift to one of the women in their parish who was to be ordained a priest. I was doubtful I should be the one to make this image, I told them, because my notion of the Risen Christ had changed so much that I knew I could not do the same stereo typical images we had all grown up with. When they asked me what I would show if I were to do it. I replied:" I have no idea. It would have to be inclusive, cosmic and show a lot of radiance and light. " They all agreed, that they wanted me to do it. They knew it was the right fit. A long about holy week of that year, only a few weeks after the ordination, I knew it was time to "push this baby out." Not even knowing what it would look like, I went into my mental workshop, put a blank screen up in my mind's eye and said:" Ok, what do you want people to see when they look at it?" Instantly, I was shown a white disk of clay with a hint of a cruciform and a dancing, jubilant figure broken through, Just a silhouette of a hole. I said to the Muses: "But, the figure looks unfinished, what do I do about the figure?" A distinct voice so distinct I had to look around to see if someone were there in my studio with me, said: "Use a mirror!" So, in my mind's eye I put a mirror behind the disk and gasped! the hair stood up on my arms...I said: "You're kidding me...do you realize what people will see when they go to look at the Risen Christ image they will be seeing....." "That's Right, they will being seeing exactly what they should be seeing!" It was as if the heavens opened up and the Angels started applauding: "Well finally, somebody gets this!"
For the next 24 hours it was if I were in a trance making this piece. The final part of it came as I was crawling into bed feeling there was something else.... When it came to me, I threw on my clothes and raced to the studio for one last touch.
The quote from the illuminated translation: 2 cor. 3:18 "But we, with unveiled faces, reflecting as in a mirror the Glory of the Holy One, are being transformed into God's very Image, from Glory to Glory."
It came out very early Easter morning of that year and as I was putting the final touches on it so it could be finished on Easter, I looked up and saw the kiln that it had just come out of, which reminded me of the empty tomb,and my mind played the story of Mary Magdalene going to the tomb to anoint the body, now that the sabbath had ended. I followed her in the story to the garden where she sees and has that very important encounter with the Risen Christ. I was so distracted by his response. So cold I thought, to push her back and say: "Do not cling." When I ask him what that was all about, in the quiet of my remembering, fully expecting an answer, I got: "You see, if the woman,(he actually called her 'the woman') and if you cling to the idea that I'm the only one who will ever do this, it will be all for naught! Everyday of my life, my mother, who knew well who I was, held the Mirror of Magnificence to me and said: 'Look, my son, who you are and who you are becoming.' And when I fully understood what she meant, I knew my true mission: To be the mirror holder for you, so that you, too, could someday understand who you are and who you are becoming."
This was The most significant Easter I have ever experienced. This is why I can't get too involved in the old stories and tedious interpretations any more. I am, you are, we together, are the New Story unfolding. We are the Christ becoming moment by moment as we throw off the "little me stories" and really go for the Gold. It does not really matter what your religious belief system is because it is about the new possibilities for the human and for the cosmos. Finally, when even one of us humans "gets" who we really are and who we are becoming, It ain't never going to be the same! And that's the gospel truth!
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Little by little I've watched and waited and finally spring is beginning to show itself! Even though the mornings are still pretty dark when I wake up and the cold is still with us, I can feel the energy welling up from deep in the earth. It is always a reminder that the creatures of the earth are tapped into this great energy and respond with life. New buds are coming forth and even the birds sing a different song when spring approaches. Then there's Easter: The first Sunday after the first full moon, after the Vernal Equinox. That is how it is calculated. Before Jesus it was the Passover...calculated, the first Sabbath after the first full moon, after the Vernal Equinox. Now that we are moving into what we Christians call Holy Week, there will be many cases where the preacher types come out and remind us all about how lucky we are that Jesus came to save us from our sins. This is an approach I've never really bought into. My friend on the other side speaks of this time of year and the challenges of being barraged by the same negative messages this way:
"Make no mistake. The “preacher types” will always be needed to make you strong, K. To stand resolute and to live out the gospel, as the Master did. Most of the time, he, the Master, spoke to a small group at a time and did his healing quietly. He was uncomfortable drawing any attention to his work. It was more important that the ones he shared with got it. He never said: “let’s go gather a stadium full of people so I can preach and teach and let’s do some healing of the sinners and the pathetic so they can convert and I can save them from their sins.” It never would have happened that way either. Because, as you, know, K, it is all about the Light that comes streaming from each aware and openhearted soul, of every microbe and creature, of every human heart. It is all about each choosing to be a shining vessel, an expression of the Source, The Creator, THE ONE. With ONE SO MAGNIFICENT, how can there be any other reality in all the universe? "
It seems to me, all of creation knows all about this too, because the daffodils and crocuses don't talk about religion or salvation, the bird songs and crickets all sing the songs of glory and praise and they do so with such great energy at the return of the light. Does this mean I don't care about the Christian Easter and that to me Jesus is irrelevant? Not at all. It's the emphasis that changes for me. During that last night in the garden where the story turns ugly for the Master when he is astonished about the sleeping disciples and he says: "won't you stay awake with me?" I think he was really talking about consciousness. Once aware of who we truly are, when we look into the Christ Mirror, the Mirror of Magnificence, going back to sleep is not an option. The Light of Spring is just too bright now to roll over and catch just a few more minutes of shut I. If you get my meaning......
Monday, March 10, 2008
Many thanks to Sr. Barbara De Boo, CSA for the use of this Photo!
(For some strange reason, this post has gotten a bit "blinky" regarding type size issues. Please forgive)
What's in a name? When I was named Kathryn after my mother's best friend, it seemed like every little girl or other in my class had some form of that name. There seemed like a million Cathys, Cathies, Kathys and on and on. I only got called Kathryn if my mother was mad at me and wanted to emphasize that I was in big trouble, so I associated Kathryn, my name, with negative feelings. When I entered the convent the practice of taking a religious name was still in practice. At last, I thought, I could be rid of the idea of being one of many Kathys.In fact, no one could have a name that was already in use, so I could be unique and not one of many. When I became a novice my religious name was Sister Mary David Mark. I loved the name David and had always envied my younger brother because he was named David. I found out it meant Beloved of God and I really wanted that name then. Not long after I got the name, however changes in religious life occurred, due in no small part to the Second Vatican Council. This was a world changing event at the time; rather like a spiritual Tsunami that swept through our world and especially the life of nuns. It was realized that the name given us at baptism was the beginning of our life long membership in the Christian family and that the life of a religious was a deepening of that life and journey, giving we who answered the call an opportunity to make a special commitment of faith. Therefore it only made sense as a sign of that thinking to invite us to choose to take our Christian names again. I didn't like how "Kathryn" sounded on me and was reluctant to give up "David, Beloved of God." My friends, however encouraged me saying how beautiful the name Kathryn was and how much quiet power it had. Besides, they said, it will suit you very well as you age. It's a graceful, elegant name. I really grew to love the name the more people whom I dearly loved said the name with loving tones instead of the scolding tones I had associated with it. Today I totally love that name. I know it is a sacred name and I know each of us carries a sacred name.The very first person to love me, my mother, gave me that name, a name she associated with a best friend, someone she loved and wanted to honor. I know today that each name carries a special vibrational frequency with that name that sounds throughout the universe and announces our arrival into this part of creation. Being a member of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary has made the power of names even more important. To honor and hold sacred the name, honors and holds sacred the person.
This is why I presently have a problem with the "political cockroaches" attempting to continue their fear mongering tactics. You know the way they work: associate a few names Like Hussein and Osama with terrorism and evil and then try to "whomp" up some trouble by trying to make an association with Hussein Obama. I just can't let something like this happen to some body's name without strongly objecting. Here, we in America, are a nation of people who after having been traumatized by a national tragedy, are duped into believing that the bad guys by the name of Hussein and Osama hurt us, therefore, justifying hurting others who are associated with those names. And while were at it, let's just be down on everyone who is Muslim, just in case. More fear and suspicion arises. More stirring up trouble and color coding terror. Then, when someone comes along that reconnects us to hope and goodness again and helps us look into the Mirror of Magnificence by reminding us what we can be and do in the world, as a people, the dupers try some tactic (because they know about the power of vibrational frequencies) to sully his name by trying to connect him with the bad guys. Names are just too precious and powerful to allow them to be degraded and taken in vain. I'm not fooled for a minuet by what is going on. All names are sacred. I've gotten really good "using the mute button" whenever I hear someone trying to change things to suit their own world view. So, I put this thought out to you and invite you to consider how you can best be the power or your Holy Name today and how you can lift up another by consciously honoring the name they carry. Who loved your name on you? May our Holy Names this day be frequency modulators for the world around us!
Saturday, March 8, 2008
I had a religious experience today! Because of an inspiring post at Miss R's new blog,I now have a clean window on my wood stove. Wow! What a difference. How did I achieve this, you might ask....? Every morning I mix up a concoction of effervescent vitamins and minerals, fresh squeezed lemon juice and water. The empty half of the spent lemon was what I used to clean the glass on the wood stove window. Just rubbed it over the surface without the need of any special cleaning cloth or elbow grease and presto! A clean window. I don't know if this would work quite as well with regular window glass, but vinegar has always been a woman's cleaning friend for that. The thing is, I love our Mother Earth, Gaia. Living here on the Central Oregon Coast and blessed with an ocean view, I am daily reminded of the power of the forces of nature. Yet, there is a fragile side, too, and I recognize that I am part of a species that acts in many unconscious and destructive ways towards the very womb in which we live. I tried composting my garbage, just like my father has done ever since I was very young and well before it was fashionable to do so. I gave up on it, however when the marauding raccoons regularly rifled through it scattering to and fro and making a nuisance of themselves all over the neighborhood. They would sometimes come in packs like little tattooed, gun totting gangs looking for trouble. That's when the kinship model breaks down and you find yourself dreaming up ways to scare them off. Then there are the insects...I once had swarms of sugar ants, tiny little things coming in droves. After making sure the counter tops were spotless and having no luck, I tried borax and cayenne pepper, which didn't seem to deter them. I even resorted to pleading with their queen on a telepathic dimension, hoping we could strike a truce, but to no avail. One day while inquiring at a hardware store what their advise would be, the line of men behind me at the check out stand fell over laughing, when I mentioned trying to talk to the queen ant looking for a reasonable solution. The clerk rolled his eyes and handed me a bottle of "Terror." I admit, I was desperate and succumbed. Everyday I pray for forgiveness for any harm or malice I have ever had for one of Gaia's little children. Some days I feel stronger than others in my resolve and outward actions in living in harmony with the others with whom we share our planet, Gaia. I am thankful, today I was just a little bit greener.....amen.