I spent the first half of this week leading a retreat in which the participants learned about and tried their hand at creating spiritual autobiographies. “Spiritual,” defined most broadly, has to do with what animates us — literally gives us breath — what is meaningful in our lives.
Many of the people who came to the retreat had already been friends, some for over thirty years. They knew one another’s lives. And yet in our time with one another, they shared things they had never revealed before. We created a loving community together, one in which all perspectives were welcomed, all experiences cherished.
I believe we humans are hard-wired to be tellers of tales and receivers of one another’s stories. Wisdom is passed along, knowledge is shared, and expectations are tested in this intimate exchange. Beyond that, we create community, often across the usual barriers that separate us into factions.
I am musing about this. How do we create opportunities for the sharing of meaning between us? How do we create communities with one another across political, spiritual, ethnic, class and race divides?
It seems important.
John the Baptist had the clarity that sometimes emerges in a life stripped to its basics. He lived in the wilderness and he ate locusts and wild honey. Like the Desert Mothers and Fathers later or the Russian hermits even later still, he made of himself a channel for the Holy. And people came to him. They came to listen to him. They came to reform their lives.
“Repent,” he called to them. “Turn around.” And when they asked him what he meant by that, he gave them simple, practical suggestions. Be honest, take care of one another, don’t steal.
We are told he came to pave the way for Jesus. He was the Forerunner. I wonder if he didn’t come to drive Jesus into the wilderness and from there into his ministry. After all, it was that moment when Jesus was baptized that began it all.
So many questions are wrapped up in the three that we have from Jesus’ time in the desert. For instance, there’s bread. It’s such a necessary thing, bread. Without food our bodies do not function. Bread as sustenance, bread as fellowship, bread as the wherewithal to accomplish ministry — and yet there’s something about turning stones into bread that doesn’t fit the deeper consciousness Jesus is evolving. We do not live by bread alone.
What are the temptations with which Satan presents each one of us when we are in the wilderness? What challenges does this devil throw in our path that help us hone our awareness of what is really true?
Each of us is the new understanding, the Gospel, in embryo. During this Lenten season, may our spiritual practices deepen our awareness of what is the truth of us, and out of that our awareness of what is our ministry.
I’m just a little late in honoring the feast day of one of my favorite saints, Brigid of Kildare. St. Brigid was born in fifth century Ireland, the child of a court bard. Both her parents were Druids, but she decided at an early age to become a Christian. Eventually she became a nun, then an abbess, overseeing the monastery at Kildare which she founded at a Druid site where there was a holy fire.
While Brigid is honored on February 1, an important Celtic holiday is celebrated today, February 2 — Imbolc, which looks forward to the return of spring. Imbolc is a fire festival, so it links with Brigid’s day, which celebrates holy fire.
Celtic spirituality celebrates life. It doesn’t make the distinction between the spiritual and the earthly, but finds that everyday moments are chock full of mind boggling holiness — and vice versa.
So today have a beer in honor of the saint who once prayed for a lake of ale, enjoy the subtle signs of spring’s return, and light a fire with your beloved.
Three cheers for St. Brigid.
Being able to design our own website, while it is something that really appeals to the artist in me, is also a lot of work. Fun work, but work nonetheless. Mainly it’s the learning curve — nearly vertical. How to offer images of our work that are true, crisp and inviting; how to manage information and make the site easy to navigate; and how to inform our patrons and give you all a place to visit with us and one another — these are just some of the issues.
You can help out by sending your comments. Is the site easy to get around on? Are there other things you’d like to see? What doesn’t seem to be working real well? What is working great?
Reply to us here on this page, or, if you don’t want your comment published, put it on the “Contact Us” page. Or tell us what you really love about us and our work and we’ll put it on the “Testimonials” page. Which, as you can see, is currently blank.
Thanks for loving us.