Spirit Garden Reflections
After every contraction, comes an opening and expansion.
Welcome to the Reflection for April!
In these days of moving inward and self-isolating to flatten the curve of the Covid19 virus, I have been taking walks around my neighborhood every morning. As I walk, I find myself reflecting that there is a rhythm of expansion and contraction that is built into all of creation.
The inhale and exhale of the breath.
The waxing and waning of the moon.
The coming in and going out of the tides.
The growth and blossoming of spring and summer, the letting go of fall into the quiet stillness of winter.
The heart beating within your chest.
After every contraction, comes an opening and expansion. This is a rhythm of birthing and renewal. It is a rhythm that brings new life into the world.
As I walk these days, I wonder what new possibilities are in the process of being birthed as all of humanity contracts and withdraws into our homes. What is it that we are making space for? What is this ancient rhythm in the process of birthing right now?
When the contraction of self-isolating and standing in the unknown brings up my fears, I remember that this ancient rhythm is at work and it has a wisdom greater than my own.
As I ponder this rhythm of creation, I find myself turning to these words from the great Sufi mystic and poet, Rumi, which says:
Observe the qualities of expansion and contraction in the fingers of your hand:
surely after the closing of the fist comes the opening.
If the fingers were always closed or always open,
the owner would be crippled.
Your movement is governed by these two qualities:
they are as necessary to you
as the wings are to the bird.
–Mathnawi III, 3734-3739
So, if you, like me, have moments of being caught in fear and overwhelm about all that is going on in the world at this time, you may take comfort in this simple breath practice inspired by Rumi’s words:
Take a moment to sit quietly and bring your attention to your hand.
As you inhale, allow your hand to open and expand.
As you exhale, allow your fingers to contract and close into a fist.
Inhale and allow your hand to open.
Exhale and allow your fingers to contract and close.
Breathe in this fashion for a few minutes and notice any shifts inside.
Natural Rhythms Meditation
The audio file below invites you into the Breath Meditation of expansion and contraction that is written above. Take a moment to settle yourself comfortably in your chair as you take a few moments out of your day to be soothed by this natural rhythm.
As we breathe in this way, we find ourselves connecting once again to the rhythms of creation. We discover it is in our nature to move in harmony with expanding and contracting. We discover we can do this. We remember that the opening and closing is an essential part of this rhythm of life.
With peace and love,
Our biological rhythms are the symphony of the cosmos,
music embedded deep within us to which we dance,
even when we can’t name the tune.
Spirit Garden Moments
Spirit Garden Moments offer a short pause in your day and an opportunity for reflection. This month’s Spirit Garden Moment is a short reflection on Maundy Thursday. It touches on the unfolding Easter story and the parallels found between this ancient story and our current reality of living with the Corona virus.
Stay Awake with Me
The breezes at dawn have secrets to tell you,
don’t go back to sleep!
As we sit in the very midst of the paradigm shift that the Corona Virus is creating in our world, I have been overwhelmed with the parallels to the Easter Story and the paradigm shift of death and rebirth that was taking place in Jerusalem over 2000 years ago. I wasn’t sure if I would be able to create any Spirit Garden Reflections this Easter, as I have felt flooded with so many thoughts and ideas, none of which I felt I could fully articulate.
But as I was out walking, I had the sense that I could just reach in and touch a few threads of the story and that would be enough.
So, here we go. Today is Maundy Thursday. It is the night of the last supper. It is the night that the vision the disciples held of Jesus overthrowing the current government regime completely falls apart and the world shifts beneath their feet. It is the night Jesus is arrested. But before he is arrested, he has dinner with his friends, he tends to them by washing their feet and feasting with them. Afterwards, he walks with them to the Garden of Gethsemane, where he asks them to watch over him while he prays.
I have always envisioned this as Jesus asking them to encircle him with their prayers and watchfulness. He asks them to stay awake. Yet they cannot. They repeatedly fall into a slumber. In the Gospel of Luke, it says that they sleep, exhausted from sorrow.
I find, in our present day, that we are also being asked to stay awake, to keep watch, to not allow despair or sorrow to lure us into a spiritual sleepfulness, one in which we lose sight of the significance of the events taking place around us. I have this sense that we are called to stay wake, to be present to this cosmic, paradigm shift happening in our world. Yet, to stay awake, we too may need to be encircled in prayer. We may need to reach out to one another as we support each other through this time of change and uncertainty as we wait to see what tomorrow brings.
And so, today, I offer you this Prayer of Encircling that comes from the Celtic Tradition. This prayer is called a Caim, and it is meant to create a sacred space that encircles and protects. It is a prayer to help us retain our inner strength and fortitude, that we might stay awake, and not fall into the turmoil of despair.
Circle me, O God,
Keep hope within,
Keep despair without.
Circle me, O God,
Keep peace within,
Keep turmoil out.
Circle me, O God,
Keep calm within,
Keep storms without.
Cirlce me, O God,
Keep strength within,
Keep weakness out.
(I do not know who to credit for this prayer.)
You can listen to the Encircling Prayer below:
May we stay awake and keep watch with one another.
Connect & Share
Please share any comments about this Reflection in the comments below. Make sure to check out what others are posting and encourage each other!