Reminder: The clock is ticking on the Lughnasadh Give-Away. Send my blog link to a friend. If he or she signs up and then clicks through to read the whole blog, you get an entry in the drawing for a set of six hand-made cards.
Last week was manna moments – the lovely grace that drenches us all day every day, if we are willing to notice. It is important to learn to receive the blessing of the universe with open hearts – something many of us do stumblingly, at best – but it also seems to me that we need some practice in being blessing. We tend to think of giving as the counterpoint to receiving and to imagine that we are always (sometimes from one second to the next) tipping between two options: giving and receiving. I wonder if there is a third way to engage with blessing that is neither giving nor receiving, but incarnating (embodying, manifesting, witnessing).
Being blessing is – on some level – about recognizing our own truth. It is about identifying who we are as persons created in the divine image. Being blessing is knowing what harvest we are for the world. Being blessing is accepting our sacred vocation and paying attention to it, nurturing it, noticing how we are changing and being intentional about engaging with that change. Being blessing requires us to see our wounds honestly, and see our gifts and strengths equally honestly. [And to realize that they are sometimes one and the same.] Being blessing means living fully, living generously, living large. Being blessing is standing firm in the moment, able to bend in the gales, but drawing sustenance from roots sunk deep in ultimate wholeness (and holiness.) Being blessing is being one with all that is and, at the same time, being uniquely ourselves.
It is not always easy to be blessing because sometimes (often!) the blessing you are is counter-cultural (whether that is the culture of a family, of a community, of a religious tradition, of a national heritage). It is not always easy to be blessing because we get distracted by the shiny things all around us and think that they are the blessing which we need to be collecting (like manna), instead of knowing that we are the blessing. [Shiny things may be material possessions, or perceived security, or success, fame, power, networks, education.] We look for blessing outside ourselves because – let’s be honest – it is easier to let someone else be responsible whether that is our heroes and role models or G-d. Looking outside ourselves means we can sail along on auto-pilot rather than being alert and present.
So, I invite you to take some time this week to be present and responsible (or response-able). This meditation may open some inner doors or windows, inviting fresh air, fresh perspective, fresh attention, fresh energy.
Close your eyes if you are comfortable doing that. Or you may prefer to use the flame of a candle as a focal point to help your mind be still. Become aware of your breathing and allow it to be slow and deep, until you feel centered and calm.
Let yourself imagine:
You have awakened from a deep sleep and you become aware that what waked you is an internal feeling, a physical feeling, of pressure. Perhaps it feels like your skin is just a little too tight. Perhaps your head feels like a headache is about to start. Perhaps it is a feeling of restlessness, a need to stretch or walk.
There is nothing wrong with you. The feeling is uncomfortable or unusual, but it is not dangerous in any way.
Lying still doesn’t feel right, so you get up to stretch your legs and get a glass of cool water. Something draws you to the door and you open it and step outside. What do you see? Is it still dark? Is dawn beginning? Is everything quiet or are birds beginning to stir and sing? What are the sounds, the smells, the physical sensations, of this moment? Let them become as rich and detailed as possible.
Whatever you see and sense outside the door, it begins to beckon you. You close the door behind you and start to walk, continuing to be aware of the strange sensation of pressure inside. Perhaps you are simply wandering, perhaps you are heading for a specific place. Whatever your intent, you soon come to a beautiful open space (maybe a park, a vista you love, the edge of a meadow, a garden).
As you step into this beautiful space, you become aware of a person waiting for you. This may be someone who has served as a mentor or teacher in your past, someone you have known in real life. It may be an imaginary or historical character you have always wanted to meet. It may be someone who is important in your life at this moment as a companion or friend.
Pause and greet the person and notice your own feelings of pleasure, joy, wonder, delight, hope, amazement, gratitude at meeting here at this moment.
This companion asks what has brought you here and you tell him or her about your restlessness, the feeling of internal pressure. The person smiles as if she or he has experienced something similar at some time and asks you precisely where you are feeling the most pressure. You point to that place (your head, your heart, your arm, wherever it is) and the person reaches into a pocket and brings out a lovely small stick, intricately carved.
She or he taps you with the stick at the place you have indicated and there is a cracking sound, the pressure is released suddenly, and a gift pours into your cupped hands. This may be an actual object which represents your inner holiness; it may be something like a thought, a hope, a vision, something that needs to be said. However it manifests, it is a symbol of the blessing you are that has been yearning to be revealed and expressed.
The companion blesses you and the symbol you are holding and vanishes. You hear a voice in the wind asking, “Now what will you do with it?” Take time to welcome and cherish this blessing that is both within you and cupped in your hands where you can see it clearly. Consider how it is asking to be used.
When you are ready, take 3 or 4 more deep breaths and then open your eyes gently and let yourself become centered in this time and place. Take some time to write or draw some reflections on the meditation, something that you can return to this week and consider again.
I leave you with this prayer that I wrote in response to the Exodus story. I carry it in my heart as a reminder that I am still learning to be blessing. Massah means “testing”; it is the place Moses struck the rock and water fountained forth to quench the thirst of the people.
Holy One, you meet me at Massah
where we test one another.
You test the stoniness of my heart;
I test the strength of your love.
At Massah, you offer yourself:
a staff to fit my hand (if I will dare to use it!)
a staff to break through the fear,
a staff to shatter the resistance,
to split you–my Rock–and release
the life-giving torrent of your outpouring self,
emptying into me, through me, beyond me,
to fill your world with your glory.
May it be so.
Text © 2014, Andrea La Sonde Anastos
Photos © 2013, 2011 Immram Chara, LLC