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Priests of our own lives.

We are now in the fourth week of Advent, nearing Christmas. In her teachings from Exploring Advent through the Eyes of Jean Gebser and G. I. Gurdjieff Teaching, Cynthia Bourgeault talks about how the images of pregnancy and birth so prevalent during Advent invite us to explore the relationship between conscious intentional suffering and creative, fecund, life giving generativity. Although much of the typical suffering we endure is unnecessary and even considered by most spiritual traditions as stupid suffering [in large part because this kind of suffering is a result of our egoic selfhood's thwarted efforts to search for happiness through power/control, affection/esteem, safety/security], Cynthia points out that the Western traditions say that “we do experience suffering as an irreducible condition of life in this world and probably in all manifest form.” This is because “its origin is deep in the hidden abyss of God” and “is how something comes into being.” It is not all the result of Adam and Eve making a great mistake that Jesus had to come and save us from. The mystery goes deeper than human misdoing. Mary is a supreme example in the Christian tradition of one who incarnates this intentional suffering, an inner 'let it be.' She shows us what it looks like to say yes and allow oneself to come under a certain inevitable pain and anguish. She made a lofty self-donation that made space for new life to emerge. This kind of sacrificial creative act, which makes space for life to happen, is a core piece of Real Love. Intentional suffering requires that finding our identity and happiness at the level of our egoic selfhood alone be sacrificed in service of a more enduring and sturdier identity and source of happiness at the level of 'Real I' Selfhood. Through this sacrifice we make it holy, and in so doing as Cynthia says, we become priests of our own lives. Let us not take lightly that we can be priests of our own lives and rather than squandering our energy on unnecessary suffering or rejecting these jagged conditions, we can choose to use this energy to birth a new self, 'Real I,' which Cynthia suggests is the real birth. And so we wait in patience through an active letting be until it is time to give birth. Advent blessings, Heather


Readings from this week's pauses: Vessels by Jan Richardson, Night Visions I measure my life in vessels. They trace the contours of my days. Teacup, bowl, oil lamp, picture, baptismal font, Communion chalice, basin, bathtub. I sleep in the belly of the night and wake under a downturn bowl of blue. I ponder their shapes as I begin to understand my own longing: wanting to be held, fighting against being contained. Teach me, I say. Tea, food, oil, water, wine, stars, sky. Teach me how to gracefully, powerfully fill my space. You hollow us out, God, so that we may carry you, and you endlessly fill us only to be emptied again. Make smooth our inward spaces and sturdy, that we may hold you with less resistance and bear you with deeper grace. The Annunciation (even the angel pauses) by Stephen Mitchell, Parables and Portraits He tiptoes into the room almost as if he were an intruder. Then kneels, soundlessly. His white robe arranges itself. His breath slows. His muscles relax. The lily in his hand tilts gradually backward and comes to rest against his right shoulder. She is sitting near the window, doing nothing, unaware of his presence. How beautiful she is. He gazes at her like a man might gaze at his beloved wife, sleeping beside him. With all the concerns of the day gone. And her face as pure and luminous as a child’s. And nothing now binding them together but the sound of her breathing. Ah: wasn’t there something he was supposed to say? He feels the whisper far back in his mind, like a mild breeze. Yes, yes, he will remember the message, in a little while. In a few more minutes. But not just now. Song: O Come, O Come, Emmanuel Mother Wisdom Speaks by Christine Lore Weber Some of you I will hollow out. I will make you a cave. I will carve you so deep the stars will shine in your darkness. You will be a bowl. You will be the cup in the rock collecting rain. I will hollow. I will not do this to make you clean. I will not do this to make you pure You are clean already. You are pure already. I will do this because the world needs the hollowness of you. I will do this for the space that you will be. I will do this because you must be large. A passage. People will find their way through you. A bowl. People will eat from you. And their hunger will not weaken them to death. A cup to catch the sacred rain. My daughter, do not cry. Do not be afraid. Nothing you need will be lost. I am shaping you. I am making you ready. Light will flow in your hollowing. You will be filled with light. Your bones will shine. The round open center of you will be radiant. I will call you brilliant one. I will call you daughter who is wide. I will call you transformed. Hold Out Your Hands by Julia Fehrenbacher Let’s forget the world for a while fall back and back into the hush and holy of now are you listening? This breath invites you to write the first word of your new story your new story begins with this: You matter. You are needed — empty and naked willing to say yes and yes and yes. Do you see the sun shines, day after day whether you have faith or not the sparrows continue to sing their song


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