Unity of Greater Portland
March 15, 2009
Rev. Jacob Watson, Abbot
Chaplaincy Institute of Maine
Thank you; it is a pleasure and privilege to be back here at Unity. You will find a gift from me in your seat: a painted card with a mystic saying from the book The Mystic Vision: Daily Encounters with the Divine, by Andrew Harvey and Anne Baring Thank you to Jack for putting them out. And the purple, red and gold hanging ribbon decorations are reminders that this is a new day, not to mention that soon you will have a newly painted sanctuary! Thank you to Emmy for helping me put them up.
I appreciated the excitement, pleasure and passion I felt these last several weeks getting ready to speak today.
So now, right away you have a chance to look at your belief system: Can your life be changed by one morning in church? By a 20 minute sermon? And for me it is: Can I teach you everything I know in 20 minutes? Let’s give it a try!
Creation Spirituality is a blessing-centered prophetic journey of spiritual growth, an ancient tradition and present-day earth-based practice advocated by Matthew Fox. Matthew is a teacher of mine, a former Dominican priest, author, and founder of the University of Creation Spirituality.
Creation Spirituality reminds us that all creatures are divine, and encourages us to feel and express the awe and wonder and response-ability of living our “original blessing”, the title of Matthew’s early book 26 years ago. It’s been a dream of mine to bring him here, and he is coming to Chime in Portland.
I’d like to share how I came to study Creation Spirituality: When I was a grief counselor I finally understood that people were bringing me their wounded and broken spirits. I discovered I needed to learn more about the spiritual realm, so I applied to the Doctor of Ministry program at the University of Creation Spirituality in CA. Then I was accepted. And I thought – I can’t do this! I have a family, a job, it’s in CA, it’s expensive, and what will do with a D.Min degree?, etc, etc. Then that Spring Matthew Fox came to speak in Portland and I went to hear him. At the end of his talk, I turned to my wife Kristine with tears in my eyes, and saw that she had tears in her eyes, and I knew I was going. Six weeks later I was in CA in his school.
Another story about one of my teachers: My last semester of High school I needed one more credit to graduate , so I took a religion class taught by Frederick Buechner, Unexpectedly, I liked it but didn’t think I did very well. Later that semester, at the graduation prize day, I was sitting daydreaming in the back of the auditorium, gazing out at the warm sunny spring day. One of my friends was suddenly shoving me: my name had been called: I had won the class Religion Prize!
It’s an interesting thing about teachers and gurus; they have their place, and yet … Andrew Harvey’s story is instructive. Years ago he took the India silent mystic Mother Meera as his guru. Then she told him he could not be gay and that he had to leave his relationship. He felt deeply betrayed, and eventually wrote a book about the whole experience: The Midnight Sun. Then later he wrote The Direct Path. His point is that we do not need intermediaries – no guru, no teacher, no priest, no church, no seminar between ourselves and God, the divine; we can have direct access.
The doors of the cloisters and monasteries are flung open – add the Internet – the result is that this is a time of transformational change!
Last Fall Barack Obama had a sure thing – change! Life on this planet – especially everything material is ALWAYS changing (it’s just that we human beings don’t like it!)
Humans are the first species that are conscious of our own evolution – conscious of being conscious. That is a great privilege and carries a great responsibility: to create change that produces justice and compassion, kindness, love.
Creation Spirituality, as Matthew Fox teaches, says, “Compassion is where peace and justice kiss.”
Compassion for oneself comes FIRST (the wonderful Buddhist nun Pema Chodron is strong on this point) Shine the light of compassion on yourself.
The season of Lent commemorates Jesus’ withdrawal into the wilderness for forty days, to look deeply into himself. No one knows what we need except ourselves: LOOK INSIDE. Deepak Chopra phrase to describe this is “Self-referral”.
I encourage you to give yourself 40 minutes every day – or 4 minutes – it’s not the quantity of time – it’s the quality. A time of quiet, just for you – listening to yourself. If you are a care giver, a parent, a teacher, friend, how can you possibly listen with compassion to anyone else unless and until you listen to yourself first? And first thing in the morning? Please do not turn on the radio news or TV or read the newspaper – give that precious time to yourself first.
Creation Spirituality requires this self awareness: shine a light on yourself. We always have help: Last week two nights in a row I was awoken by the moon shining in my bedroom window: I felt the sweet golden yellow light caressing my face. I felt filled with the light of the divine feminine. My heart opened and my mind filled with ideas and art projects I wanted to do. My creativity was waking up, birthing. The divine feminine was alive in me.
The Divine Feminine, Creation Spirituality says, nurtures at all costs, births in spite of all odds, embraces the whole, dances in the cosmos.
The Laws of the Divine Feminine:
- All life is sacred and One
- The Universe has it’s own laws and harmonies, which are ready whole and perfect.
- This life is exuberant, sensual, ecstatic : an unbroken flow of normal miracle
The Divine Mother (who is the Awe behind the Awe) says:
Adore the divine feminine
Adore each being as my child
Adore and honor yourself humbly as my child
People ask me about books to read about the Divine Feminine or Creation Spirituality, and there are many, including one by that very name, and One River, Many Wells. But the way to live Creation Spirituality is not by reading, which is taking in – and there is a place for that – but by expressing your creativity:
Brian Swimme, the scientist and teacher, says,“Self-expression is the primary sacrament of the universe. Whatever you deeply feel demands to be given form and expression.” I love that!
Art as Meditation is the primary prayer form of Creation Spirituality: expression of your unique self. You will notice that when you look inside yourself you will find grief.
Grief comes before anything new can happen : grieve the passing of the old. At the Chime convocation weekend as the school year opens and new students arrive eager to begin the program we ask them: what are you giving up to become a Chime student? We provide a process to begin to grieve that loss.
Now I invite each of you to turn to the person next to you to briefly share: A grief you feel – give it a name.
Notice that the word GRIEVE has the word of the goddess EVE in it, suggestion the feminine qualities of tears and water.
Now I Invite each of you to turn to the person next to you to briefly share: A dream you have – give it a name.
So when the grief is expressed (the past) and dream is expressed (the future) then and only then can you be present in the present, which is what Creation Spirituality is asking.
Here are some major Principles of Creation Spirituality:
1 We must express our ‘deep self’ – spirit self (emotions clearing out pathways to spirit)
2 We can and do relate to the Universe as a whole
3 Everyone is a mystic, i.e. born full of awe and wonder
4 Everyone is a prophet: I.e. a mystic in action What is just is sustainable. What is unjust is not sustainable.
5 The Universe is a blessing, a gift to us, and we are a gift to the Universe.
6 Everyone is an artist.
I pause here to discuss our perception of ourselves as artists. We have to work with the judge who says you are not an artist / creator. I suggest using humor, because judges can’t stand humor!. Remember much of that old judgment is because as a child you drew something
and it didn’t look real, or like somebody else’s, or it wasn’t representational, it didn’t look like something in the real world. They forgot to tell us THAT’S THE POINT! It’s not SUPPOSED to look like somebody’s else’s IT’S YOURS – NOBODY ELSE’S – NOBODY, YOU INCLUDED – HAS EVER SEEN IT BEFORE! It’s THAT NEW!
7 We are all sons and daughters of God/Goddess
8 The divine feminine (honoring Mother Earth, and birthing)
9 The divine is in all things and all things are divine (panentheism is the academic word
10 The Original Blessing – Creation Spirituality tradition has always been about an interfaith perspective, welcoming all religions, all wisdom traditions especially indigenous and native peoples – the earth-centered ones.
Matthew Fox has written the four commandments of Creation Spirituality:
1 Thou shalt fall in love at least 3 times a day
2 Thou shalt dare the dark
3 Do not be reluctant to give birth, to express, to create
4 Be you compassionate: soften your gaze.
In closing, here are words of the divine feminine:
Hildegard of Bingen was an Abbess, author, physician, poet, naturalist, composer, who lived in 1100s.
Holy Spirit, Giving life to all life, Moving all creatures, Root of all things, Washing them clean, Wiping out their mistakes, Healing their wounds, You are our true life, Luminous, wonderful, Awakening the heart, from it’s ancient sleep.
Clarissa Pinkola-Estes, contemporary author, poet, a teacher of mine at the University of Creation Spirituality:
Refuse to fall down. If you cannot refuse to fall down, refuse to stay down. If you cannot refuse to stay down, lift your heart toward heaven like a hungry beggar, ask that it be filled. You may be pushed down. You may be kept from rising. But no one can keep you from lifting your heart toward heaven – only you. It is in the middle of misery that so much comes clear. The one who says nothing good will come of this is not yet listening.