Horrendous floods, devastating tornados, blistering fires, violent earthquakes – is Mother Nature raging at all the abuse she has suffered through our lack of compassion for the earth?
How does ‘Mother Earth’ survive the high levels of pollution our factories and automobiles spew into her air? How do her rivers, lakes and oceans survive the waste people so thoughtlessly throw into her waters? How can she breathe when forests are stripped from her soil?
What an amazing gift—to sit and gaze at the beauty and simplicity of a maple tree!
While on vacation, with time and space to be truly available to Spirit, the words of John of the Cross came to me:
Silent music, the murmuring solitude, the supper which revives, and kindles love.
“There is nothing hidden that won’t be revealed” Jesus said to his disciples.
As I look at the violence erupting in our country and our world, we see the Band-Aid of the past 50 years being torn away more each day. Greed, oppression, fear, and inequality once again raise their ‘heads’. Race and religion used as elements of isolation, discrimination, division for power and control have once again been revealed in all their hostility.
Our cities and towns are filled with veterans who have served our country — many returning proud of their service, and many traumatized, injured and struggling to reclaim the life they once knew. Most of these men and women have known fellow soldiers who have lost their lives, returning in flag-draped caskets. And they remember!
I went shopping for a ‘Mother’s Day’ card recently. I wanted to get it in the mail a week early so it would arrive in time for May 8th.
My intention was to simply pop into a store, get the card and mail it on my way home. But as I perused the multitude of cards, I began to feel frustrated. The cards seemed to be so limited in what they had to say and so absent of the stories I hear from ‘mothers’ as I listen in spiritual direction week after week!
There was such joy-filled excitement May 8, 1996. I opened the box containing our Eremos Board Minutes file and the official embossing stamp Eremos, 1996. I felt like a woman who had just received an engagement ring. There was joy, hope, anticipation of a life commitment, and just a little anxiety as well as I wondered if I could really do what would be asked of me. I remember I was alone in the house when it arrived. My first thought was to wonder: “Who do I call? Who will celebrate this moment and how would I let the world know life had changed forever?”
And so the years have unfolded. We have had dark moments of uncertainty, we have had moments of light and clarity, we have had people ebb and flow from our programs. We have had our original members remain with us over all these years. We have celebrated marriages, the births of children, and the deaths of members and their loved ones. We have lived and loved, laughed and cried these 20 years.
We have been faithful to our mission of contemplation beholding God in mystery. And God has truly been faithful to us. 20 years is a long time. As with all major markers in our lives, it is a time to remember the past and dream into the future. It is time to wonder again: “Who will we now call into leadership? How will we keep the mission of Eremos alive and relevant in our changing world? Who will celebrate this special time with us?”
We will have two celebrations to mark this moment. May 15th will be a casual Open House to drop in for cake and ice cream at Eremos. The second will be our more formal celebration at our Gala on November 3rd. Join us for these events. Bring your stories and help us gather and weave these stories into a strong foundation for the next generation of those called to serve.
We celebrate 20 years with deep humility and gratitude. Thank you for being part of this heartbeat of God called Eremos!
In his Easter message last year, Pope Francis lamented the suffering of people because of the conflicts currently making headlines and he called for violence everywhere to end.
As I pondered this message, I was reminded of the command of Jesus as he stood outside the tomb of Lazarus: “Roll back the stone. Lazarus come out!” Death could not contain Lazarus! And in the Easter story, we discover the stone closing the tomb of Jesus had been rolled back but the body of Jesus was no longer there. The violence of the previous days had ended but death could not entomb Jesus.
Today, so many people are caring for the victims of violence. Like the women in the Easter story, we too show up with a desire to care for people. We too bring tenderness and compassion, skills and food, medicines and clothing. And like Pope Francis we too call for an end to violence.
Easter is a belief in the possibility of resurrection! It is celebrated in a season of spring when life rises out of winter’s death. It is a time when Spring proclaims death cannot be a permanent tomb, but rather becomes an awakening to new life. So too for the human person. Jesus is a proclamation of personal resurrection. Suffering and death will not be the final answer. Like the women in the resurrection story, we need to be messengers of this faith. We need to awaken to a life that is possible. It is a life of justice, compassion, and freedom from all tombs of enslavement for all people! It is Resurrection!
To the women who came to care for the body of Jesus we hear his words: “Don’t cling to me. Go and tell my disciples I have risen!” That is the message of Easter today. Don’t cling to hopelessness, to old messages of helplessness or overwhelm. Don’t be blind to old patterns of victimization. Work together for the new life Easter celebrates – a resurrected life.
May your Easter be a celebration of resurrection – for yourself and all of the people whose life you touch.
He is Risen! And in His Resurrection we too are raised up!
Guest Blog Post: John Fox, co-facilitator with Mirabai Starr of Eremos’ upcoming event: The Heartbeat of Hope: Life-Giving Nourishment in Stressful Times.
This past month, with great attention, I have slowly read Mirabai Starr’s Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation. Her life-story hits me where it truly hurts, her grief moves me to tears; it is heartening to the further edges of what is exhilarating, beautiful and unknown.
I feel significant threads in her tapestry are shared—the profound ways Ram Dass and Stephen Levine influence our life and work.
This occurred for me in the fire of my very broken places and a deep awakening, at the age of sixteen, of my consciousness reaching towards God.
Both Stephen and Ram Dass helped me open into a vivid sensitivity that is intimate with the human condition.
In the autumn of 1974, at the age of 19, soon after the amputation of my right leg, I stood with Ram Dass at the corner of Beacon Street and Commonwealth Avenue in Boston. I was distraught. I was in near despair about what living meant—or to be more exact, at that time, a fear that for me it meant nothing.
I felt as close to hopeless as one can come; fear crowded in around me.
Simultaneous with this, strangely enough, I felt an unstoppable and forceful cry forcing itself up through, from my dark unknown, crying out for God’s love, help and presence. That’s why I was standing there with Ram Dass at that street corner because of my longing and brokenness.
It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock
In flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone;
I am such a long way in I see no way through,
And no space: everything is close to my face,
And everything close to my face is stone.
Rainer Maria Rilke
translated by Robert Bly
I remember he looked at me and with a gaze that felt and appeared to me far more fierce than loving, like a Jeremiah from the Old Testament.
Ram Dass said, “You couldn’t get away if you tried.”
What he said dropped into me like a small seed I could barely see. It took me time to experience what he meant. I had to wait to hear and grow into this:
I can’t escape the life I am given; and more, God does not, will not, allow me to abandon Her. What I didn’t realize for quite a while (and though I can still forget) although I felt abandoned in the extreme, the deep and lovely truth is this: I had never been apart from the Great Spirit, never abandoned, nor could I run away!
His statement doesn’t address how I should respond, it said something else; I feel it speaks to a radical acceptance…not by resignation or non action…but a profound active acceptance that could, in itself, be alchemical, offer a spiritual opening.
That’s what Ram Dass was saying to me—a deep, and, yes, fierce transmission of abiding, even tender, love.
Seven years later, I met Stephen Levine (blessing upon him) and while I had grown considerably, there remained inner work to be done. What I learned from Stephen was how to deeply listen to a person. I began to reclaim within myself a much better sense of humor and playfulness. Yet, even more, I learned from Stephen and Ondrea the practice of staying with people, even when there was great discomfort.
All of this was essential to my own learning and I have brought what I learned from them into the work with Poetic Medicine.
What I want to offer with Mirabai on April 9th is a day for you to get in touch with your unique heartbeat—that drum of life-blood, awareness and sensitivity—your spiritual heart which is so often connected to what we mean by that somewhat elusive word, hope.
We will offer dialogue and stories, writing and contemplative practice that encourage exploration, sharing and reflection.
In recalling Kabir’s “breath inside the breath,” it may be only a hair’s breath underneath your physical heartbeat is another heartbeat, that is, by its mysterious nature, able to speak to you as a dear friend, comfort you with nurturing silence, cry out with you, or, if need be, cry for you, in a raw and absolutely necessary way.
Please join us!
*Excerpt from John Fox’s March 2016 Institute of Poetic Medicine Newsletter