Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Sacred Space in the Mirror

My theology and my anthropology descend from two ideas:

  • We are all created as beloved children and as an image of the divine
  • We are called to enter lovingly into sacred mystery, to enter lovingly into our deepest selves, and to enter lovingly into caring for the whole world

That makes the Divine and people ultimately loving and good in my view. The place that I believe that it is most difficult to lovingly accept is when we look into the mirror and see ourselves. What do you see in your mirror? Are you noticing every flaw? Or are you seeing perfection? Those are probably two places that are hard to be. What if we looked in the mirror and found love? acceptance? our ancestors? the future? It is all there!

I am wondering if you could offer a reflection in whatever form speaks to you on what you see in the mirror.

my face is not an
etch-a-sketch
the lines do
not disappear
when you shake me
they are there forever
traced over by time
lovingly etched
by laughter and
tears

my fingers
trace the lines
no knobs to turn
to change directions
the path already
traveled
knowing that each
line
knowing that each
curve
reflects love

no.

I would not trade
these engravings for
an etch-a-sketch
shake-shake-shaking
away each
memory, erasing
each person
that has walked
the line creating a
new face, a
new face, a
new face
and again, a
new face

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Welshdan: http://flickr.com/photos/welshdan/415087493/
cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo by Welshdan: http://flickr.com/photos/welshdan/415087493/

(c) 2014, post, Terri Stewart

REV. TERRI STEWART is The Bardo Group’s Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

Finding Sacred Space in Mandala

I love the idea of Mandalas. Mandala means sacred circle in Sanskrit. The idea of sacred circles permeates the spiritual underpinnings of many traditions. The circle of Native American tradition where a sacred circle is danced, not to be broken. The circles of trinity in Christian tradition. The Mandala of Hindi and Buddhist tradition. The circular labyrinth that dates back up to 25,000 years. Walking a circle, dancing a circle, drumming a circle, drawing a circle, even singing a circle … “make the circle wide, make it wider still” … creates a moment of sacred space meeting the co-creative spirit of human and transcendence.

That is beauty.

Lately, I have been thinking about mandalas more than normal because I am co-organizing a mandala workshop called, “Finding Your Spiritual Identity with heART: A Mandala Workshop.” Julia Weaver, a mandala practitioner, will be coming to town and doing two workshops for me- one with the girls in detention (how awesome is that?!) and one for the people of Seattle.  I love that she is being so flexible in offering her gifts and talents.

That is also beauty.

So today, to create our sacred space, I’d like to do a mandala meditation. I am using one of my own images and some meditation ideas that I have found at jeweledlotus.com.

Take a moment and center yourself. Imagine a circle of protection, love, compassion, and mercy surrounding you. Let your gaze rest softly on the computer screen. Rest your feet comfortably on the ground if possible. Simply become as comfortable in your own spot as you can become. As Julia says (and which I will quote in the video!),

“As you gaze at a mandala,
breathe slowly, and relax your eyes.
See with your heart and listen for guidance.
Gently open to your own luminous Divinity.”

Shalom and Amen,

Terri

(c) 2014, post, Terri Stewart

terri

REV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Essay, Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart

What’s in a Name? Finding Sacred Space in Identity

Christening  (c) 2009, Paula Bailey CC 2.0
Christening

A little secret: I am preaching on Sunday. So today’s inspiration is gleaned from random thoughts about what I have been studying. And I have been studying names. In the Gospel of Matthew, the story of Jesus’ beginning has an angel telling Joseph the name for this baby:  Jesus. Jesus is the English form of Yeshua which is a form of Joshua. Yep. Joshua. Where have we heard that before? Joshua is the name of the guy in Hebrew scripture who takes the people into the promised land. How is that for being saddled with a name? Joshua also means, arguably, “God saves.” Additionally, Matthew references the Book of Isaiah and the name Immanuel, “God with us.”

And I think being saddled with a name like Terri is a problem! Well, I don’t really think it is a problem, but in second grade, I had problems. My reading teacher put masking tape on each reading book so she could write our names onto our book. I don’t know why, perhaps because I was as boisterous then as I am now, but she put “Terrible Terri” onto my second grade reader. I was distraught. But, being ever so bashful, I said, “no, you need to change this.” And then it became Terrific Terri. Just goes to show that advocacy has always been in my personality. But I was hurt that a teacher would label me as Terrible.

Naming, labeling, creates expectations that can hinder us or help us in our journey. I think the name “Terrible Terri” is a hindrance! But the name “God Saves”… well, it could go either way. You either live up to that name or you become completely overwhelmed. Or maybe even both! It can be both an inspiration and an absolutely terrifying expectation. I wonder if Jesus ever worried about getting it wrong? For example, he was out in the country, and this woman runs up to him asking for him to heal her daughter and he says, “I did not come for your kind…you’re like the dogs underfoot at the dinner table!” Ouch. I hope he at least winced at that one. He did not live up to the expectation, at that moment, of being the perfect picture of saving grace. But he grew into it as he changed his mind. (Matt 15:21-28) and included the very ordinary mother and her daughter in his ministry. That’s kind of inspiring, isn’t it? A picture of someone willing to listen, hear, and change. We don’t get much of that in our daily life. Witness: CNN, MSNBC, FOX. Maybe that is one place where “God saves.” When we engage in a relationship, listen to each other, hear what is said, and change for the better. That might be new growth. That might be creating sacred space. Can I get an Amen?

My son, Colin, is transgender. His original name was Caitlyn. Caitlyn means “pure.” Pure is quite a lot to live up to. When Colin came out, he chose his name. He chose Colin for two primary reasons-he likes the name and it was close enough to Caitlyn that it would be easier for people to make the transition. Colin has several options in its meaning, but since Caitlyn is of Irish origin, we decided to continue with the Irish origin (much to the Scottish family’s dismay!). Irish-ly speaking, Colin means “peaceful dove.” Hmm. I don’t think Colin is quite the peaceful dove, but maybe he will live into it. In fact, upon reflection, I think he has lived into it in many ways. He may not be a quiet, peaceful dove. But he does advocate for right relationship between people and has zero tolerance for bullying. Can you exuberantly advocate for peacefulness? I think so.

We finally took Colin in to get his name changed legally. The judge looked at the paperwork “Caitlyn” to “Colin,” looked at me, asked me if all the signatures were valid and if this was something “she” wanted. I answered, “My son desires to change his name to Colin.” The judge blinked. Looked back down at his paperwork and then decreed it so. Then Colin got 100 pats on the back as he left court. And not one negative word was said. He was beaming from ear to ear. This was his naming ceremony. The moment in time where he stepped into who he really was. It was important. There is something sacred in claiming yourself and knowing your own identity, your own story. There is also something very difficult in the process. And, it is ultimately a very loving act. Can you love yourself enough to know your name? Not the name slapped onto your second grade reader, but the name you choose? Is your name Inspiration? Compassion? Love? Challenge? Maybe your name is a complex amalgam of inspirational-compassion-that-challenges-while-whispering. (Well, I would not whisper, but you take my meaning?!)

What name do you claim? What name do you want to jettison? What name has claimed you?

Shalom and Amen!

~Terri

(c) 2013, post, Terri Stewart

(c) 2009, photo, Paula Bailey, cc licensed 2.0, http://www.flickr.com/photos/32625013@N00/4195762309/

terriREV. TERRI STEWART is Into the Bardo’s  Sunday chaplain, senior content editor, and site co-administrator. She comes from an eclectic background and considers herself to be grounded in contemplation and justice. She is the Director and Founder of the Youth Chaplaincy Coalition that serves youth affected by the justice system. As a graduate of Seattle University’s School of Theology and Ministry, she earned her Master’s of Divinity and a Post-Master’s Certificate in Spiritual Direction. She is a contributing author to the Abingdon Worship Annual. (The 2014 issue just released!)

Her online presence is “Cloaked Monk.” This speaks to her grounding in contemplative arts and the need to live it out in the world. The cloak is the disguise of normalcy as she advocates for justice and peace. You can find her at www.beguineagain.com ,www.twitter.com/cloakedmonk, and www.facebook.com/cloakedmonk.  To reach her for conversation, send a note to cloakedmonk@outlook.com

Posted in Niamh Clune, Poems/Poetry

Preponderance

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When thunder rolls on the mountain, I will remain small;
In a time of humility, I will cherish modesty’s virtue.
In a time of mourning, I will uplift with sombre reverence;
In a time of want, I will be resourcefully frugal.

If I should try to fly too high, my wings would be melted by a greater god.
So I will remain in the nest, where I am safe.

I will strive instead to be to be content with Self.
This is the greatest success imaginable.
I have nothing to prove to me or to others.
Posturing is unnecessary.
Strength lies in guileless sincerity ~
Mourning is selfless compassion.

Modesty is an unshakeable faith
That allows grace to flow to others
With no loss to Self.

– Niamh Clune

© 2013, poem, Niamh Clune, All rights reserved
Photo courtesy of morgueFile

430564_3240554249063_1337353112_n-1orange-petals-cover_page_001DR. NIAMH CLUNE (On the Plum Tree) ~ is the author of the Skyla McFee series: Orange Petals in a Storm, and Exaltation of a Rose. She is also the author of The Coming of the Feminine Christ: a ground-breaking spiritual psychology. Niamh received her Ph.D. from Surrey University on Acquiring Wisdom Through The Imagination and specialises in The Imaginal Mind and how the inborn, innate wisdom hidden in the soul informs our daily lives and stories. Niamh’s books are available in paperback (children’s books) and Kindle version (The Coming of the Feminine Christ). Her Amazon page is HERE.

Posted in Spiritual Practice, Terri Stewart, Uncategorized

I am the one who…

There is a spiritual practice called SoulCollage®. The main focus of this practice is to put together a collage that represents various things to you… your inner committee, your community, world archetypes, or totems and chakras. Below is an example of a card I created that represents various voices on my inner committee.

One of My Committee Cards
One of My Committee Cards

It isn’t simply the making of the card that is the point, but it is exploring the card. If I look at the card and the various images, I can settle into one (or more) of the images and complete the following sentence.  I am the one who….

  • I am the one who dreams
  • I am the one who prophesies
  • I am the one who walks towards a voice that calls
  • I am the one who is grounded
  • I am the one who flies

I could continue on. What became clear to me after I put these images together is that the holy and the worldly are held together in one place for me. That I need the child-like dreamer to be the one who confronts injustice and demands change. That the holy ferris wheel in my head holds together joy and the sacred. That being grounded allows me to fly. And I could still continue on!

Now it is your turn! I have taken a few photos of various situations, people, animals, things. I am presenting them here. I ask you to locate one photo (maybe more), and enter it and complete the statement:  “I am the one who ___________________ .”

What did you discover?

How was the process for you?

“The greatest hazard of all, losing one’s self, can occur very quietly in the world, as if it were nothing at all. No other loss can occur so quietly; any other loss – an arm, a leg, five dollars, a wife, etc. – is sure to be noticed.”
― Søren Kierkegaard, The Sickness Unto Death

“You are — your life, and nothing else.”
― Jean-Paul Sartre, No Exit