The thing about puzzles is, there’s a moment between when you have all the edges done, and when you have enough of the middle filled in to see what’s missing, what’s left.
Writing in a group setting is different, much more like praying together. Or sitting together in meditation. Being present to each other in-process, witness to the very act of discovery and composition, soul-deep in the chaotic waters of creativity. This is writing as a spiritual practice — a kind of sacred deep listening, what Karen Hering calls in her book Writing to Wake the Soul, "contemplative correspondence."
"There are two paths to transformation: the way out-beyond and the way deep-within. Either way will work. But it's no good to stay here wavering between the two, weighing which one asks the least of you." A leap day altar, and more excerpts from my altar-a-day challenge...
To dig my soul-toes deeper into this fertile soil, I’ve decided to pair my Word of the Day practice with reflections on the #UULent Photo-A-Day challenge. My Word-of-the-Day calendar is full of verbs. The #UULent reflections are mostly nouns. Each morning, I sit down and craft an altar that expresses an aspect of these two words in combination. I'm looking forward to discovering what intriguing combinations I'll spiral through over the next six weeks! I'll be sharing my altars daily (along with some inspiring quotes and a few words of reflection of my own) on both my Facebook page and my Holy Wild Tumblr, if you'd like to follow along.
It's been two weeks since my piece "Gods Like Mountains, Gods Like Mists" set off a fascinating and wide-ranging discussion about anthropocentrism in polytheist ritual and theology. In case you were wondering — yes, I've been busy reading, thinking, digesting and working on a follow-up post (or six!) of my own that I'll be sharing here soon. In the meantime, I wanted to point out some amazing writing elsewhere in the blogosphere. Featuring posts by Sara Amis, Joanna van der Hoeven, Heather Mingo and more!
Between research and writing, there is a lacuna in which almost anything can happen. The hush is nearly unbearable. In my mental landscape, ideas rustle and nudge towards one another through the tall prairie grasses, their haunches twitching with tension, ready to flee. Eros is thick in the air. Ecology rubs up against ritual theory, playing with the hem of her skirt. Bruce Lincoln is making eyes at Lewis Hyde. The deer of my dreams raise their heads to listen hard for the hunter. The salmon of wisdom are working their way home. Any moment, I'm going to start writing. Any moment...
When we see nature itself as a constantly-unfolding story about the deepest, most sacred truths of life and death, we can adapt the practice of Lectio Divina as a creative approach to meditation that can strengthen our relationship with the earth. Here are just a few ideas about how to use the practice of Lectio Divina to engage with the stories of nature. Although we can approach each of the four stages of Lectio Divina as distinct activities that we can do one at a time on their own, we experience the most benefit from this kind of spiritual work when we bring them together into a single coherent, continuous practice.
I haven't meditated in nearly a year. The other day, I sat down to renew my work, and my brain, that chattering monkey mind, wouldn't shut up for one second. Plan, plan, plan. Row, row, row. Enamored with its own frenetic activity. I made meditation just one more task on my to-do list, one more way that I would prove myself the better person, force myself into the mold of accomplishment and success that I had made for myself. It didn't work. So what's a slacker contemplative to do?
I've lived so long among ghosts, / the puffed up shells, / watery husks / shimmering transparent skins / that shiver in the wind. / Like so much sea foam, / they shrink away / from the outstretched hand, / fall back into their emptiness.
I look up from my work at the computer and notice for the first time the gray curtain of rain outside my window. That sacred presence that crept upon the land so slowly, opening itself up into a downpour over this city of steep hills and huge rivers with such unrelenting patience that it's easy to believe the rain could go on forever, pounding over the black slate rooftops and gathering into the gutters. And it does. I turn off the air conditioner and open the windows to let the breeze and noise-song of the storm in. The smell of summer is delicious and sweet and warm in my lungs. The red brick of our neighbor's house darkens to a deeper, mottled red across the narrow span of the alley. Our tiny garden nods and nods...