Things began to unravel Wednesday afternoon, the day I awoke feeling a bit under the weather and, well, cranky. I almost put off the appointment I scheduled a month ago with the Episcopal pastor who is walking me through a New Year's retreat I had missed because of touch of the flu. This was a follow-up to my work. I spent an afternoon braving through the first half, identified blessings, burdens and patterns of last year, stymied to forge ahead to this year because I had not selected my "angel" word. As Mary says, my new word for the year. I was anxious, but asked her to select. We could never quite cross paths, so opted for a quick check-in Wednesday and time for me to get my word.
I wanted to know what it was, but she said most people like to tangibly receive their word, so I'd have to physically retrieve it. She was playfully teasing me, but serious. I am patient.
When I wandered into the beautiful, large church, but one that also feels like home as my girls attended pre-school and many summers of Bible school here, Mary caught up with me and we entered her office together. She handed me an envelope. Gingerly, I fingered it, neatly undoing the glue. The art card contained an owl and Mary had taken the time to look up the entomology of the word in several languages. Before I got to that, however, the small piece stamped with an angel and my word fell out. Purification, it read. Not what I was expecting. "I've done this many times and no one has every had that word,"Mary said. "Thats' why I checked it meaning."
Wow, I wondered. what does this mean? Grateful to get my word, it took awhile for my real reaction to take hold, which it did as I left her office. Tears welled. "Really, God, this word? I am so tired of this journey of constant spiritual discomfort and learning!"
"It's root word is 'pure’
which in old Fr. 'pur' meant
simple, absolute and unalloyed.
"in Latin ‘purus’ meant
clean, clear, unmixed, unadorned
"in Sanskrit 'pavate'
"Middle Irish 'ur' meant
"Old German ‘fower’
meant to sift”
What she hadn't known is that Catherine, my name, means pure. How could I say it doesn't fit?
We talked about it a bit and when I told her the word I had distilled last year's lessons into was truth, I could see purification as the next step. Thanks, Saturn, I murmured sarcastically, remembering how that planet rules my sun (Capricorn) and, in alchemic terms, means the transformation of lead to gold via a deep, interior process.
"Pivotal for me last year,"I found myself confessing though not for the first time, "was an experience at a Quaker mystics retreat when a woman I hadn't known gently touched below my windpipe and told me that's where she experienced the seed of God. In the moment, I did for the first time. I could always identify it in others, but failed to do so in myself." That's where last year's word of truth emanated.
So with the truth, it's time to do some sifting, casting off and, as Mary said, seeing with new eyes. "It can mean for the scales to fall from your eyes, for you to have new insight and perspective, to see Reality."
I rallied myself that evening to make my monthly archetypal astrology group. I can't imagine missing and I could not wait to share this word with them. Atypically, when we checked in, I began. Lots of nods because they knew it fit my path. The night's topic was discerning our soul's path from our ascendent, the sign that was rising when we were born. Char, a dear, wise spiritual friend and leader/collector of this group had prepared an affirmation for each of us based on our ascendent. Mine resonated very closely with my purification word.
"The deeper purpose of Cancer (my ascendant)," a handout from Char read, "is to selflessly nourish others through compassion and unconditional love. To realize the highest purpose, the Cancer Soul needs to transcend fear ... this is achieved by keeping one's attention on one's inner light, which encourages it to grow."
Yes, I sighed when I read this. And my task this year is to burn off the fear and doubt, that which no longer belongs – purification.
Affirmation of Cancer
I was born under the sign of Cancer
I accept all its power, potential, and gifts
for I am the star in a sea of stars,
I am the water and the moon,
I provide the haven, the safe haven, in the universe.
My deep and powerful emotions
enable me to be the Universal Nourisher
so that all that's new may grow
safe and loved, secure, well understood and cherished.
I am the womb of the new.
I am patient, the Master of the Ties of emotions and moods.
Through my amazing ability to focus power and attention,
I easily navigate the ebb and flow of emotional atmospheres.
I induce and bring new life up from the deepest caverns of consciousness
into the bright light and power of the Sun.
I give birth to new life on the upper spirals of existence.
I ascend and the Sun shines on me,
because I, above all, below all,
nourish the present moment and protect it,
harbour it so it may be cherished later.
I am emotionally brave, magnetic, strong, and persistent.
I care and I share and so people trust and depend on me.
I make them feel safe and secure, needed and protected.
I hold the family of man together. I am that unity.
I rule with a loving, loyal sympathy
the public mass consciousness on the planet.
My love is so exquisite for all men and women that I overcome
and meet all challenges. I am brave, and I feel
I have more energy than I need and can change rhythm at will.
Though I respect tradition,
my quiet power can transform all that is old into the new.
I am prosperous, self-reliant, shrewd, thrifty and methodical.
I nourish and cherish my destiny;
I can change my destiny
Now I choose to shape my future
in a balanced dance between comfort and challenge
• What word would I choose to describe last year?
• And, this year?
• Where am I in the dance between comfort and challenge?
• Where do I find God in that?
• What have I learned about myself or journey recently?
back and forth
my pendulum swings
sometimes I am
way off kilter
others, I barely
it had felt like
me, the pawn
until I recognized
my steps were always
I had been
to the dance
between comfort and challenge
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