Accept

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Accept is the third movement in the gesturing prayer of Julian of Norwich. You fold your raised and extended arms to your center, placing your hands against your heart. Through this gesture you accept as a gift whatever comes or does not come. You accept that you are not in charge. You accept the infinity of G*d’s presence, present whether or not you are aware. In so many ways this gesture is the kinesthetic practice of surrendering to presence; in a sense, renew your relationship in this movement.
You give your openness
freely and receive grace in return.

Seated (or seeded) in your own heart, you set all on this sense of oneness, and in true humility you become aware of an inner presence of peace. It is this energy that sanctifies you within your inner dimension. In this space, you detach the fetters of faults that bind you and connect to your true purpose.
 You release yourself to the ‘all-working will’ and you receive the strength to act, and the spirit that beautifies all and renews itself in creation and you. Sealed in trust, faith and truth you are confirming this with your entire being.

“Set me as a seal upon your heart”. (Songs 8:6-7)

 

 

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Allow

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The second gesture in the body prayer of Julian of Norwich is ‘allow’. You move your hands from your sides where you have held them in the ‘await’ pose and extend them upward and outward.

To allow is opening your whole self to G*d, it is inviting the living spirit and love to enter your heart. It beckons a keen sense of awareness connecting you to a knowing beyond knowledge that generates love and peace at your core. Allowing as a spiritual prayer practice connects you to a source of courage, strength and faith that replenishes and nourishes your growth.

Allowing conjures the idea of permitting someone or something to interact with you or act upon you in some mode. Normally, you allow from a place of complete understanding and confidence. In gesturing prayer practice, you set an intention of letting more unfold in you from a place of trust, faith and love which guides you to a more unitive appreciation of your self and all that is.

The repetition of the allowing gesture arouses a sense of calm and connection to wellbeing as you momentarily let go of the bondage of dualistic perspective and are simply present to the sacred in you, through you, with you and all around you. You relax into a space inside you that already is – an authentic self deep beyond the layers of personality that navigate our external worldly experience.

This gesture is a vital piece of caring for your heart, mind and body by returning you to spirit – a clear place of seeing as you find yourself more and more in the infinite space within. It is a powerful, prayerful intention to ‘await’ and then gently open to ‘allow’.

Await

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“Changeless and calm, deep mystery. Ever more deeply, rooted in Thee”

Gerald May

Await is the first gesture in Julian of Norwich’s body prayer. It is so relevant to my journey as I stand each morning facing the rising sun and initiate my body prayer with this gesture. I await with my hands by my sides at my waist, cupped up to receive: and I await G*d’s presence, not as I expect, hope, or imagine, but just as it is in the moment. 
I am present there through a physical commitment. Inwardly, I know that I am more than my physical being, my emotion, and my mind. There is a spiritual dimension of my being that is enriched, expanded and uplifted through this kinesthetic process. Deep within me, I lightly touch a sense that all of life is one. This sense enlivens as my heart opens to hold it and slowly, subtle energies of a less familiar inner world surface. A world where there are no obstacles, bindings, nor separations.

I stand and await a growing awareness of my part in a pulsating presence and energy of life. It is as if I am seed awaiting birth through some sacred source and somehow, I know my purpose as a seed can only be revealed if I am sown. So, I await my place in the soil of my worldly experience tentatively, confiding and believing that who I am unfolds from within. My gesturing prayer becomes part of a natural milieu that kinesthetically cultivates this essential inner seed. May my daily practice of awaiting each morning, lead me to live a life that manifests this sacred truth.

This is a challenging and new way of praying and opening myself. There are moments when I am bound by my physical being, and struggle to connect with my own process – times when I long ‘to know this light’ in my deepest parts and do not. And yet, this too is part of the journey yearning to be touched anew and to confidently feel a sacred veriditas rising from deep within. I do not await passively; as I await, I imagine, I long for the reconciling, transforming, aliveness of God throughout my being and my life. Still, I know that this inner process will travel paths and causeways other than my ‘ego self-image’ imagines… perhaps when,

“I live no longer; not I, but God lives in me” (Galatians 2:20).

Thin Places

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I believe the term ‘thin places’ is Celtic in origin: “Thin places, the Celts call this space, both seen and unseen, where the door between the world and the next is cracked open for a moment and the light is not all on the other side. God shaped space. Holy.” It is a term meant to explain an intrinsic, mystical spirit alive in the essence of nature, landscape and sky that beckons to the willing heart. It conjures the sense of a ‘thin veil’ between ‘apparent reality’ and ‘deeper reality’. It shifts that veil for just a moment, so you are able to perceive what is true always and everywhere; a glimpse of reality as it really is, simple, revealed. Perhaps at such times, in such moments your understanding marries your experience resulting in a more heartful way of knowing. The Apache proverb – “Wisdom sits in places” – is an apt description of the unique and magnificent unification of the sacred and the profane where the divine transcends time and space. Maybe such experiences simply help you attend with more intention to G*d’s omnipresence and constant availability.

Perhaps the ‘thin places’ invite you to transform, to have all the ‘places’ in your life become ‘thin places’. Maybe, this is a path by which you perceive that the Spirit of G*d dwells within you and not just these places. You come to see that you have a unique potential to be a ‘thin place’; G*d’s presence may become known through you. “But the hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship God in spirit and truth, for God seeks such as these …  God is spirit, and those who worship God must worship in spirit and truth.” (John 4:21-24)

Maybe this is why I increasingly experience a convergence of the sacred each day in the profane. The small details of my day feel more and more like a threshold of life as sacramental, unitive. I glimpse divine presence and honor the sacred in the waking hours of the morning as I rest in alive awareness next to my beloved. I see it in my daughter as she expresses her artistic sensibilities and reveals unique beauty in the world through her burgeoning self. I sense it in my communion with my dogs – the spirit that permeates our relationship. I hear it in the creaking of the trees in the winter wind – the sheer unmitigated aliveness of all that is part of me and vice versa. For me, this expanded thinness in my life seems to accompany a more heartful awareness and way of knowing. It is a palpable presence in the stillness of my silent prayer and meditations that begins to linger, seeping into my living being – a permeating presence. And now, the simple act of holding and feeding my baby grandson evolves to be a sacred act of love, of presence, of communion with all that is – and, even more the confluence of…all that has been, all that is and all that will be.

 

 

 

 

 

Thank Goodness For The Mystical

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Much of my life has been sprinkled with what I will call, mystical ways of discovering and knowing. These are experiences many people have and most of us don’t speak about because in our secular society it can inspire people around you to look at you and wonder. It can be risky to share these alternative ways of knowing. I sense this is because our world likes to dwell in the tangible, palpable, rational way of knowing. When confronted with something that doesn’t compute in this way this world reasons it away and forgets about it. Not doing that; seeking a deeper meaning can often make people uncomfortable. It is navigating somewhat unchartered waters. It is inviting people to move beyond the concrete ways of knowing.

And if one is looking at existence concretely, only through the physical senses, then you are overlooking the mystical that can only be known through what I will call, the ‘secret senses’. The novelist, Amy Tan tells a moving story about these ways of knowing in, The Hundred Secret Senses. This is a story of two half-sisters wrestling with each other in a complex relationship of contrasting realities and ways of knowing as seen in their world perspectives. One of them, is a secular and pragmatic Chinese American. The other of them is traditionally Chinese and very mystically inclined. This Chinese mysticism leads her to look at the world with ‘Yin eyes’. She sees the world of Yin – a thin place between what we know and the great mystery beyond. As the story concludes, the secular sister experiences a shift in her perception – a deepening nurtured by her half-sister’s way of knowing and seeing things. An opening within herself that leads her to expand her way of knowing beyond the concrete. “… the world is not a place but the vastness of the soul. And the soul is nothing more than love, limitless, endless, all that moves us toward knowing what is true….. And believing that love never dies. If people we love die, then they are lost only to our ordinary senses. If we remember, we can find them anytime with our hundred secret senses.” Love never dies…it is held, known, and nurtured in our inner secret senses.

Thank goodness for these secret ways of knowing. Thank goodness for the power of love that eventually opens a willing heart to perceiving all that is. Thank goodness for stories and storytellers who help us open ourselves to possibilities that move beyond where the world tells us we are. Thank goodness for those who see things in other ways and by their presence, lead us deeper into love and being fully alive through our secret senses. Thank goodness for the mystical!