Friday, May 3, 2013

Finding Spirit's cup in the dark

Chalice/pastel and paint on paper
Are the mystical path and the creative path one in the same? If not, do they intertwine?

Those questions have been ricocheting in my head and heart since my last shamanic-counseling session. Ostensibly, I was poised to share how well things were going: that I had triumphed in a good, but tough, parenting moment, I was being faithful to my call to lead eight weeks of spiritual-nurture sessions and the arts ministry I do for under-served kids is blossoming.

I began with the parenting and that's where everything I was about to say unraveled. I suspect that, unconsciously, I knew it would. If there's anyplace I can unravel, it's with my shaman. There was so much unraveling that we had a mere 10 minutes for body work, which I desperately need and I left confused, a first. However, Gary insisted that I had done "very good work today."

It had been exhausting, but I promptly drove to Starbucks for an ice tea and sat down, outside, to write the wisdom he had given me and the insights I had. Two days out and I can't quite remember all of them, but what sticks is what he said about the lonely path of the mystic and artist. It's no cookie-cutter life, he'd said, reminding me that the lives of the saints were filled with suffering. Oh great, I thought. I'd recently read how Catherine of Sienna had to pick herself off the floor to go tend someone and I wondered how, perhaps why, she did.  He also related the story of directing a small group to write down their problems, lay them in the center of the circle and suggest they pick another from the pile. Invariable, they all chose their own.

So, this is my life. Of. my. choosing.

Revelation was the topic of last night's nurture group and we began with a half-hour scavenger hunt and meditative walk, then dipped into that experience, what revelation means and our personal knowledge. I'd done some preparatory reading from Evelyn Underhill's classic "Mysticism." It was great for the class, but rich for me personally. I specifically looked at the sections on purification and illumination. The former reached me personally and the latter spoke to the group.

Underhill wrote about going against the grain and I underlined that passage to share with Gary. She spoke of the death of old habits and ways of thinking and a birthing of new. I recognize that I have been here before, but am, once again, struggling with leaving something I've held close behind, several somethings: money, security, living within the norm and doubt when I step outside of that.

My shaman said to think about against the grain as "in-grained," something within I am fighting to loosen. "You may think it's external, but it's from within." Almost in the same breath, he mentioned that one line of thinking about fibromyalgia suggests it's an auto-immune issue. "You mean like I am allergic to myself?" I quipped. I already know that.

I think we all fight something in ourselves. I just had this discussion with my youngest, who gave into impulse, to which she was able to admit. We discussed how we all have good parts of ourselves and others we're not so crazy about. That's a piece of our life's work, I told her, to explore those parts and shine some light on them."

Wow, I thought, that's exactly my lesson right now as well.

The other passage from Underhill I shared during counseling was the story of brothers who were given the holy chalice from which to drink. Those that drank wildly and took every sip were totally filled with the light of Spirit. Those that were timid and only partially drank or spilled some, were given partial light, which means they also had partial dark.

My wise friend gave his interpretation: "The cup is always full and there other chances to drink," he declared. "It's not a one-time thing." He said a constant drinking from that cup is what grounds us in Spirit (my word, not his), however we can not handle to whole cup. That'd be death. he warned.

When I asked how he handled the dark experiences, he said "with an Irish drinking song: do something fun to transform those." I giggled when he bellowed out an example; he's not a drinker and I identify his persona as Native American more than Irish.

Here's a beginning of mine:

when you're
down in the mud
remember the cup
so sit up
drink up
remember the cup

so sit up
drink up

• Where are the lonely places in a spiritual life?
• How do I handle them?
• How and where do I unravel?
• What truth is revealed in the unraveling?
• How do I find Spirit's cup in the darkness and loneliness?

Listen to this post:


  1. hi there, was inspired by the drinkingsong attempt at brevity in the dark, and wrote my own, quite a cheaper version but put it up over here. http://wifemotherexpletiving.blogspot.com/2013/05/irish-pirates-scottish-pirates-people.html

    so, thank you for yours. . .

  2. I LOVE it! I am so grateful you shared and thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment!
    -- Cathy