"John Calvi, who's directing our workshop, talks about healing not as curing, but as creating a space where healing can occur. Healing forces are at work everywhere within an organic system. As Galway Kinnell puts it in his poem, St. Francis and the Sow: 'Everything flowers from within of self-blessing.' But when I'm cramped up with fear or anger or self-loathing, nothing can move. As the Sacred Harp text goes:
I'm fettered and chained up in clay.
I struggle and pant to be free
I long to be soaring away --
Hindu cosmology teaches gardeners to create a wild space in the perennial bed where devas -- angels -- can multiply. They need such a lot of room."
~ Mary Rose O'Reilley ~
The Barn At The End Of The World -
The Apprenticeship of a Quaker, Buddhist Shepherd
Of late, I've needed to create a space where angels could multiply. I didn't need curing, but I deeply needed to create a space where healing could occur. I've spoken to very few people, answered only a very few e-mail, and gone about the cottage and done the daily tasks, cared for the animals, and tended my wild garden very much in the Buddhist sense of "Chop wood, carry water." We long to witness the Divine, but the most sacred tasks we will ever encounter come in the round of daily chores. We love the flowers but amending the soil, weeding and watering, allow the flowers to grow. The new path that is opening before me can only be traversed when I have shed past burdens, learned to take the albatross from around my neck, and lightened my load in every way possible. I am creating a space where angels can multiply. They need such a lot of space, and without this fluttering lightness allowing the sunlight to filter through, I would not be able to move ahead safely. I am emerging from a long dark tunnel. I am making way for the life ahead. At last. At last...
And while inner work is composting and needs be left alone to become lush and fertile I am doing outer things to take care of myself. I'm letting my hair grow, just a little. I had to get new glasses and instead of the heavy dark rims I usually wear, I ordered pale pink wire framed glasses with no rim on the bottom. I look 50 pounds lighter just with the glasses. I dress simply in long flowing caftans, shawls and sandals, as I always have, but I am taking care of my physical body. I am eating healthy and losing weight. I am taking care of my nails and they look pretty. No, not polished or colored, but taken care of, something I rarely have done since my hands are so often in the earth or caring for the cottage animals. Inotherwords, it is important to become lighter, and care about our bodies, our physical presence in the world as well. I am preparing in so many ways.
My demeanor is motherly and gentle, soft and quiet. When I counsel people, or teach, I talk softly. One of the wisest things I ever heard as a mother was that yelling at a child is not only destructive but does no good because they shut down. Speak softly, almost at a whisper. The child will become quiet and strain to listen to you. Her body will relax as yours does. Lower the energy, move slowly, allow your gestures and touch to be tender. Soothe the savage spirit. Anger breeds anger. Hate breeds hate. Violence breeds violence. Love breeds love.
Love must begin for ourselves and all that we are. We must first be tender with ourselves before we are able to be loving, gentle and compassionate with another. This is also the definition of maitri, the teaching of loving-kindness and compassion, the name I have taken, the life I have chosen. I feel like a little girl, at times, stepping into her mother's much too big shoes. I can't wait to one day be grown up enough to wear them. And then I feel fathoms deep inside myself as I meditate and pray and prepare for my life as a minister. And yes, I wrote about going by a single name, Maitri, and I meant it. Personally, intimately, inside myself, with those I love, a familiar name with those I know, and even those who represent my congregation in this outreach ministry around the world. But there is no getting around the fact that I am officially and legally, in the church and in the world, Reverend Mother Maitri Libellule. Mother Maitri. I am both.
These are some of the wildflowers I have been picking in the field, along roadsides, and the highways and byways in my mind. I spiral down to the center of my being, slowly, slowly, slowly, and then faster, faster, faster up and out into the world around me, like a shooting star. This is how it feels, what it means, to find and follow your destiny, but we can still become afraid, we can still doubt, we can still forget all that we know. That's why it meant so much to me when a friend reminded me, very recently, in the midst of a blizzard of fear coming at me, blinding me, to let go and have faith that I would be provided for. The child in me who once upon a time believed in magic and miracles, and of late is finding them again, am blessed beyond measure to have such a friend. She is a star in the firmament of my life. I am blessed beyond measure with the friends, the family, the students in my life. I was reminded of this in a precious, tender moment with my 4 1/2 year old grandson a couple of days ago.
Lucas and I are birthday twins. My daughter went into labor at my house the night of my 50th birthday party. Lucas was born May 1. We celebrate our birthdays together every year. This year I will be 55 and he will be 5.
When I babysat on Monday he looked at me and patted me, with the faith and innocence of a child, and he said to me, "Grandma, I know what I'm going to get you for your birthday. I'm going to find Henry and bring him back." Henry, my beloved grey parrot whom I handraised and loved for 10 1/2 years, who talked constantly, and spent a good deal of every day on my shoulder, and who disappeared on November 8, shattering some part of my heart, a part that will have a hole in it the size of a little grey bird for the rest of my life, and a tiny, towhead blond, wise and magical 4 1/2 year old boy could see straight into my heart. I don't believe I've ever been so touched. He hugged me with his skinny little arms and I buried my face in his silky, curly hair. Lucas is one of my angels.
"Be not forgetful to entertain strangers: for
thereby some have entertained angels unawares."
If you can remember this you will look at strangers differently. Perhaps you will smile at them as you pass, perhaps the devas, spirits and angels that are here to watch over us come in the form of a co-worker, an elderly neighbor, a tiny towhead blond boy hugging your neck. So yes, I am making space for angels. I am creating a space where healing might occur so that I have something to offer others. I will not be forgetful. I have work to do, and I need all the angels that can multiply and manifest to help me along the way. I am not a little girl, I am a near 55 year woman. I am a minister. I have chosen a path and I am learning how to follow it. I have learned, once again, to believe in magic and miracles. They do exist. I've plenty proof of that.
Create space, for angels, for healing, and for miracles. You don't have to believe, you just have to make space, and the rest will follow. At least that's what I'm learning to do, and most days I remember.