A friend and I recently started a weekly Personal and Planetary Prayer Gathering. She and I have shared an interest and resonance around practical heart-full living for several years. Ironically, hard endings cleared the way for our current cooperation. Each of us left behind once-cherished spiritual circles. Suddenly we both had the time and space. Finalities spiral to beginnings; it all works out.
The Prayer Gatherings flow gently from silence to sharing to affirmation and radiatory blessings and back to silence. It’s a rhythmic ritual that welcomes and employs the Heart, blending organization with invitation of that spontaneous creative Chaos which evokes cooperation, commitments, contributions and compatibilities so Genuine and Embracing they must be rooted beyond rationality and predictability. You know the feeling. It’s that outflowing, inflowing collaborative Grace. It’s serving with one’s Spiritual Tribe. It’s pushing the edge of the known and offering something together.
Group effort can bring immense challenges and sometimes disappointments. Believe me, I know. There’s a certain safety in confining one’s participation to global online petition clicks and hanging out within well-defined social circles. But deep down I think many of us are searching for more meaningful face to face communion, communion that breathes the breathe of united interplay and giving. For me right now it’s the weekly prayer group. What is it for you?
A healing sand mandala was exquisitely created and then ceremoniously brushed away last week in the ballroom of the Basin Park Hotel in Eureka Springs. It was a profoundly generous labor evidencing the power of ritual and symbol, as well as the impermanence of form.
I felt fortunate to break away from work and visit briefly on the second day. The room was stuffy with summer heat, but an obvious peaceful enthusiasm and curiosity filled the sun-lit space. A friend who had been witnessing the mandala’s creation for several hours that morning and the day before said she could feel her heart absorbing the mandala’s healing spirit.
Her comment stimulated my wondering at the potency and depth of a symbol’s influence if that symbol comes from a culture other than one’s own. Is the response of a westerner to a mandala rich with Buddhist iconography markedly different than that of a Tibetan whose culture organically conceived the symbol and projected it into sacred art to be infused with meditation and prayers over centuries? Similarly can a generations old, cherished family crest still evoke intended qualities of character and responsibility in our modern day? Or is the question more the Heart’s ready receptiveness? Or simply a general willingness to respond to symbolic human wisdom regardless of history, culture, geography or form? What has your experience shown you?
Given that we live in a global society that bombards us with materialistic status symbols, perhaps what matters most is finding and interfacing with those symbols that evoke Self-Centering, Earth-Loving, Wisdom-Seeking, and Inspired Action Whether a statue of Kuan Yin. A bouquet of daisies. An image of a solar warrior. A child’s drawing of the earth. Some experimentation may be necessary to determine which symbols radiate sufficiently compelling magnetism to counterbalance and even outweigh the ubiquitous pull of advertisements for smartphone, cars, perfumes . . . things and desires which entice us away from Ourselves, instead of drawing us into the sweetness of the Heart’s Healing Gifts and Spiritual Message.
I came across an intelligently compassionate article this week called The Great Grief: How to Cope with Losing Our World. I read the first paragraph with theoretical interest, but was quickly drawn into author Per Espen Stoknes’ acknowledgment of the psychological toll exacted by living amidst climate chaos and ecological destruction.
My greatest take away from the article was the invitation to consciously grieve the losses wrought by the accelerating changes engulfing Earth. An invitation to be emotionally real both as a practice and gateway to emotional health in these extraordinarily challenging times. Have you done this?
There’s so much to face. Death. The destruction of cherished places and potentially our entire home. The ongoing contradiction between our collective desire for ecological sustainability and our insatiable appetite for consumer goods and expanding GDP. Immediate worry for the poor and displaced. Powerlessness. Despair. As well as the Heart’s inherent desire to serve and be joyful.
If I’ve learned one thing this past year it’s that offering oneself the hard but healthy gift of sitting with and giving voice to one’s losses is an act of Heart. Winding through the pain precipitates changes, perhaps paradoxically. Pooled tears can give birth to resilience, clarity, and transformative strength and can resurrect an Inner Lightness – a Lightness of Self-Knowledge and Faith in Oneself.
These are significant Heart gains. Gains gifted by grief. Gains amidst destruction. Gains that we can count on in responding to our planetary crisis precisely because they reside neither in technology nor politics nor economies but rather in ourselves.
Summer nights in the Ozark woods vibrate with insistent insect song. On and on and over and over this tune plays. Such playful pluckiness! I liken it to banjo picking accompanied by unrelenting thumble-fingered washboard playing.
Every eco-system projects its sound. Every partnership carries its blended tone. Friendships. Families. Business groups. Lovers. Teams. Pets and caregivers. Whether fleeting or enduring, superficial or deep, groupings to some degree meld qualities direction, rhythm, individual essence and ritual into a distinctive note.
An additional perspective comes from those who say the Soul and Personality fuse and harmonize on the chord of the perfect third. Add in Spirit and the fifth is achieved; then the full chord sounds forth.
In my experience the heart-fully developed note serves as a sustaining and dynamic reservoir. It is at once a refuge to call home and also demonstrates as cooperative creative expression, As a life enjoyed and well-lived. A business evolving and well made. Challenges met together. Inspiring to behold. Magnetic. Appealing. A radiant flower of many petals so to speak.
When I left my intentional community last fall, I left the group note. I severed ties with the united sound that had risen and moved through my heart and actions for years. Even with all the discordance and dysfunction that had infiltrated into the shared song, still it was what I knew. The loss was disorienting. Hard. Perhaps you’ve experienced a similar severing, from a work group or personal relationship or creative collective of some kind.
Perhaps, as I did, you drew into the centering Silence of your true core and re-listened to the Sound of who you are Are, to the Values the Heart truly desires to express, and to the fitness needing to be gained to make it so. Perhaps you released into the embracing song of the Earth. Perhaps you cultivated new connections in the Inner Light and in outer conversation. All in hope of participating in a new deep convergence, a new fused note. Perhaps you found another way; I would love to hear about it.
I’ve sensed in prayer and meditation a new community melody awaiting; one that would be a harmonic fit for my Heart’s commitment to authenticity, kindness with strength, and love in action. I’ve been grateful for a renaissance with my two business partners, as we develop deeper resonance in heart and action. But I have known there was something more.
Last week I found the start of it . Not in the old way of living in an intentional community resounding with ideals. But in the way of life’s shared hardships and joys. I found it synthesized in three encounters spanning just one day. A friend taking refuge in what she described as profound inner peace following a difficult medical report. Another friend hitting her stride in her wellness counseling business/vocation; so much to celebrate! A third friend anticipating the arrival of his life partner, moving from out of state. In their stories, I heard my emerging heart note echoing all the richer back to me, no longer my note but the Note of Embraced Friendships. Authentic. Strong. Real. Committed. As welcome and stirring to me as the insect’s summer night song.