Somehow, a stranger pressing her finger slightly into my breastbone and insisting the seed of God does, indeed, reside in me opened me to the idea of the cross as personal transformation, not just the remote Easter story of childhood.
I know the mysterious Christ energy that became available to all at Jesus' resurrection. I feel it in me, around me and in others.
Years ago, I was transformed reading Marcus Borg's "Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time" and the delineation of Jesus as historical figure from Jesus as mystic. Before death and after; human, then divine energy. Unconsciously, I got that.
Last fall, I was assimilating the concept into my own life:
"What's at the crux? An invitation to go beyond the cross, into it and through it ... away from the symbol and to the idea of bearing a cross to freedom. The cross was man's constraint, meant for death. God uses it as a metaphor for new life."
Monday, when I went to visit my shaman/pastoral counselor/massage therapist apparently I was ready for the next step. I hadn't seen him for almost 10 weeks, so there was a lot floating through my mind body and spirit. He suggested we begin with breath work and coached me through the dizziness, which always makes me want to stop. But I trust him and blew through. No one likes losing control, but it is the bridge to deeper work. He guided me into the breath of fire, urging me to really move my sternum. The hot breath was diving deep into my heart and beginning to dislodge gunk with guttural sounds. Wildly, Native-American music magically moved my mind elsewhere, out of the way of body and S/spirit. Gary had invited spirits from all directions to attend and I felt their presence: eagle, bear, ancestors and wind, also my own personal guides, Mike and Aunt Anne.
I found myself in child's pose, surrendering.
I pressed the palm of my right hand deep into my sacrum/lower back and said I wanted "it" out. My shaman helped me breath and scream it out, gently massaging the spot as my body and something else took over. I don't have a word now for it, but I believe it was a negative energy, a darkness trapped in my body. Not of me or Spirit. As I sensed release, I automatically flopped over on my stomach, arms dangling at the sides and my chest pressed hard against the massage table. I felt the intersection of the cross searing into my breastbone, my heart and me. Then a wordless glimmer of the mystery of what happens there, the transformation. Nothing I can explain, except I have never felt more loved, so wholly and completely down to every last cell in my being. It was God's way and I broke into tears of joy, knowing this is surrender.
As the session drew to a close, Gary sat for what seemed like eternity with his hand gently on my back as I returned into my body. I broke the silence and Gary asked "Do you know what that was?" "What?" I responded. "It's your process," he said with a twinkle that made me giggle.
I've experienced a rather profound week when I think about it. Later that day, after I spent some time outside re-grounding, I met one of my favorite people, our former Quaker minister. Early in his ministry, he'd make a monthly visit and we'd chat over tea and busy toddlers. He was the first person I could ask about Jesus and evil and he'd honestly tell me he wasn't certain either. On Monday afternoon, he and a small group of Wilmington College Quaker-Leaders met me at my studio for an introduction to labyrinths. They plan to build one as a service project. They walked the Artsy Fartsy Christmas light spiral in the empty classroom across the hall, then we headed to the Milford Spiritual Center for another experience. While the kids hiked the riverbank, Dan and I became reacquainted. Boy, have I missed him. What a gift this afternoon had been. Sliding down the hill almost to water's edge in my five-finger shoes was just the grounding I had needed.
Tuesday, I spent completing the last half of a New Year's retreat I wanted to finish before meeting with the retreat leader Wednesday. It was about being with the word she had given me a few weeks ago: purification. Meditating on it and listening to Spirit's intention for me and the word. Though I had been reluctant to initially embrace it, I have since discovered it is my word. Yet the listening taught me a new meaning: freedom. Purification means freedom from whatever debases, pollutes or contaminates. And, since Monday, I was free of some darkness.
I couldn't wait to greet Mary for our appointment and express my wonder that she knew Gary, my shaman. She's only been here a year-and-a-half and I wondered what an episcopal minister was doing with a shaman. "When I was in Philly, I worked with a shaman, so I asked around when I got here and I met Gary. He's great." My worlds were colliding.
She loved that he had suggested I add more fire to my life, even with the simple act of a daily candle lighting. We discussed how it tied to the idea of purification and burning off. I recounted Monday's experience knowing I was safe here.Then I shared the five-lines (cinquen) summarizing "God's new thing" this year for me:
energetic, content, balanced
becoming, embracing, loving, freeing
And Mary gave me scripture from Isaiah 43:
“... Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze ... "And then she asked if I'd like her to be my spiritual director. Such blessings this week.
• How has Spirit come alive for me?
• How have I experienced God's love?
• Name a transformational experience.
• How was I changed?
• How do I continue to surrender?
Listen to this post: