The fourth posture we might continue to work with this Eastertide, continuing to draw on the work of Cynthia Bourgealt, is the posture of singleness, the undivided fully human being. Incorporating the three previous postures, this posture speaks to a state of inner wholeness. The factions of our being, often experienced as warring—our spiritual being nature and all the various parts/centers of our human being nature—have been brought (are being brought) into alignment. There has been an integration of the opposites within oneself as is revealed in Logion 22 of The Gospel of Thomas:
"When you are able to make two become one,
the inside like the outside,
and the outside like the inside,
the higher like the lower,
so that a man is no longer male, and a woman, female,
but male and female become a single whole;
When you are able to fashion an eye to replace an eye,
and form a hand in place of a hand, or a foot for a foot,
making one image supersede another —
then you will enter in."
Cynthia tells us in The Meaning of Mary Magdalene, “The integration takes place on a cosmic scale and is accomplished through learning how to anchor one’s being in that underlying unitive ground: that place of oneness before the opposites arise. . . its origin is on the vertical axis, in a realm and mode of perception far more subtle than our own. It has less to do with what one sees than with how one sees: it amounts to a fundamental shift in perception” (p.55). And a shift in how one exists and acts as a result of that seeing.
In The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia points out that Jesus was recognized by his followers as the Ihidaya, or the Single one. “In a wisdom context this title would be understood to mean an enlightened (or unified) one, a person who had integrated his or her being around the pole of nondual consciousness” (p. 76). Again, when we look at Jesus in the events of Holy Week, what does this tell us? Three times he asks God if there is another way but there isn’t so he keeps going. Three times he looks to his friends for comfort to no avail but he continues on. Three times he falls while carrying his cross and even needs help to carry on. While on the cross he expresses both feeling abandoned by God and profound surrender. We can clearly see that the very human self is not completely left behind even for Jesus! He lived in the freedom of being around the pole of nonduality, to be in his human experience at the same time as he was deeply rooted in his divine being. Not one or the other but both in the “underlying unitive ground: that place of oneness before the opposites arise.” He allowed himself to have his human experience, not suppressing nor acting out of the human experience alone, AND he listened for the will of which his will had been willingly surrendered to AND continued on with what he knew was his to do AND what he ultimately wanted. . . to give himself fully in substituted love. His human self had to be on board with this.
Jesus and Mary Magdalene had integrated their natures and were not fractured in their psychology or intentions. Singleness had become an abiding state of being for them. In reality, most of us have likely not established this singleness as an abiding state of being and that is okay. It is our ongoing invitation to lean into the Mercy which, to use Cynthia’s language from Mystical Hope, weaves the broken and fractured parts within us in a tapestry of divine love as we gain more capacity to bear that unification within ourselves, as the tastes of this we have likely had become more frequent and sustained. We often have a habit of favoring one nature over the other and we get off balance, we lose our feet, we fall down. But if, when this happens, we don’t rush out of it too quickly, if we are willing to see, wait, and allow some space, Mercy will meet us and un-fracture, restitch, weave, un-divide our two natures. Not so that they cancel one another out but that through their mutual respect, inter-abiding, and co-presencing there is an inner union and strength that accumulates and from which we begin to see and operate from more and more. And in this, we gain our balance, we find our feet, we get up AND wait yet again for a deeper impulse to arise from the ground of singleness. Who we are and how we are able to show up and take action from this undivided place may not look so different from the outside but from the inside we know we are free and whole. We must continue to tune into what it is like when we operate from here so that we can recognize it and settle less and less for operating from the less than the undivided ground of our being.
With Great Love,
The three previous postures can be found here First posture: being grounded and rooted in our two realities; Second posture: standing firm in our center, not bending; Third posture: wielding a spiritual fruit or substance, bringing it forth as a force
From a few of the Pauses :
Monday with Heather
'The Fruits of Centering Prayer'
A growing body of literature describes the benefits of practicing centering prayer. Since the principal arena for living a spiritual life is not prayer but rather everyday life, the benefits of centering prayer reveal themselves not during periods of prayer, but over time in the way we live our lives.
The essence of centering prayer is consent to the presence and activity of God in one’s life. In response to our intention to become more deeply united with the divine presence, God acts within us to transform us, making us more like Christ. One’s intimacy with God deepens and one’s awareness of that intimacy expands.
Those who regularly practice centering prayer have identified its many benefits. These include: greater access to God’s won wisdom and energy; a significant increase in creativity; a decrease in compulsive behavior; a reduction of painful emotions and negative thoughts and greater freedom to respond positively to them when they do arise; a greater ability to accept difficult situations with peace and joy; an expanded capacity to accept others on their own terms without judging them or desiring them to change; an ability to love others more selflessly; and a greater awareness of the presence of God in every person and situation we encounter.
— Joseph G. Sandman
Tuesday with Heather
“Dig deep. . . carefully cast forth the loose matter and get down to the rock, the sure foundation, and there harken to the Divine Voice which gives a clear and certain sound.”
— John Woolman
Wednesday with Heather
“Ultimately speaking just one thing that’s happening, that the infinite presence of God is presence-ing itself, or is pouring itself out, or giving itself away whole and complete in and as the gift and the miracle of our very presence, the presence of others, the presence of all things in our nothingness without God. That’s the mystery. Ultimately speaking, that’s what’s happening. And since love is the overflowing fullness of presence, we can say, ultimately speaking, just one thing is happening—the infinite love of God is pouring itself out, emptying itself, and giving itself away in and as the intimate immediacy of our very presence, the presence of others, the presence of all things. So, love then, this infinite love of God, is our origin, the infinite love of God is our sustaining ground. . . And the love of God is our origin, this infinite love as our ground is our destiny, is our eternal destiny.”
— James Finley, Podcast: Sink into the taproot of your heart
Thursday with Ali
To pray you open your whole self
To sky, to earth, to sun, to moon
To one whole voice that is you.
And know there is more
That you can’t see, can’t hear;
Can’t know except in moments
Steadily growing, and in languages
That aren’t always sound but other
Circles of motion.
Like eagle that Sunday morning
Over Salt River. Circled in blue sky
In wind, swept our hearts clean
With sacred wings.
We see you, see ourselves and know
That we must take the utmost care
And kindness in all things.
Breathe in, knowing we are made of
All this, and breathe, knowing
We are truly blessed because we
Were born, and die soon within a
True circle of motion,
Like eagle rounding out the morning
We pray that it will be done
— Joy Harjo, In Mad Love and War
Friday with Heather
“Work with “Dear friends, let us love one another for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God. And knows God, for God is Love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.” Live in love and let that love that you live in be and bear the fragrance within your atmosphere of God, if God is love, as you live love, you live God and you know it.”
— Cynthia Bourgeault
“There are certain moments our heart is quickened by the intimate realization of what faith proclaims. And in these quickenings, these awakenings, we taste for ourselves, like, “What a fool I am to worry so, the way I sometimes do,” that nothing is missing in all directions. We serendipitously have found our way into this abiding love of God that is life as reality itself. But then we also see how these moments fade. They tend to be very fleeting. They fade away from us, and then there’s another one, and there’s another one. And soon, we can start to become aware of our tendency not to be aware of this infinite love that ultimately alone is real. And so, this is what Jesus meant, “You have eyes to see and you do not see.” And so, our prayer becomes “Lord, that I might see.” There are fleeting moments I see this. I see the truth that you and your love for me are giving yourself to me as the very miracle of me and of others and all things. I am subsisting in you like light subsists in flame. There’s a certain moment I sense it, but I also see how I tend not to see it. I tend not to see it.
And so, here it seems then, this is kind of the poetic image we’re kind of moving toward here, that we can’t get the ocean into a thimble, but we can drop the thimble into the ocean, and we are that thimble. At a certain moment, we realize this that in God, we live, and move, and have our being, and in these moments of realizations, we see that fear has no foundations.
And then we see how that slips away from us. So, there’s that in us that sees this, these moments, “I will not break faith with my awakened heart,” and then there’s that in me that doesn’t see it yet, which is the me that still gets reactive, still gets overwhelmed, still gets flooded by fear such as with the pandemic. We’re just human beings. We are just human beings. And this is the way of starting to move in closer, I think, to how to understand ourselves in the presence of Christ, in the presence — James Finley, Podcast: Sink into the taproot of your heart
Saturday with Heather
“And there’s another mystery. . . for us to consider. And the mystery is this, this is really the mystery of the cross, too, that in these moments of realization and we look out at the world, we begin to understand God as the presence that protects us from nothing even as God unexplainably sustains us in all things, that this presence of God, it doesn’t protect us from the death, from the illness, from the fear of the loss of the beloved, from the suffering of this world. We just look out at the world, and we see all the suffering. It’s like the view from the cross. It’s like the view from the cross. We are not protected. God depends on us to be there for and with each other, that wherever there is suffering, we lean in close to touch the hurting place with love, to touch the hurting place with love, in ourselves and others, but grounded in a peace that’s not dependent on the outcome of our efforts, because we’re grounded in the peace of God, it isn’t dependent on anything for it is rather the peace upon which everything depends.”
— James Finley, Podcast: Sink into the taproot of your heart
Sunday with Heather
“We’re not exempt from trauma. When we get overwhelmed and afraid because we’ve lost someone, or we look out at the world, we’re afraid, because very, very scary things happen to us. And so much so, we can momentarily lose experiential access to that love we know is there, and that helps us have empathy. If we have the gift of faith to reground us in the love we know is there, we can have empathy with those who aren’t able to experientially ground themselves in it. And that’s how we’re woven. We all belong to each other, that our suffering doesn’t belong to us. Our suffering, we’re all woven into each other, like this, and God’s love is woven into our trauma. And I would put it that way. . .
. . . if my base of operation is nothing deeper than the self that things happen to, so if I fight or flight, what if I—So, how can I, as a human being, sink [into] the taproot of my heart in a presence that transcends my ordinary humanity, and at the same time utterly permeates it through, and through, and through, and through, and empowers me to be present to do the best I can to be a nurturing person, a protective person, a healing person, in a peace that isn’t dependent on how that might turn out specifically for me or my loved ones? I think that’s the courageous spirit here, I think.”
— James Finley, Podcast: Sink into the taproot of your heart