Friday, June 24, 2011

Still Listening

You may remember a few posts ago I wrote about my listening tree, the tree with ears that I discovered on our monastery grounds. It became one of my sacred sites and when I could find the time I went there to listen. Sadly, two days after I shared 'my listening tree' with you the storms came with their raging winds and fierce lightning and split my dear tree wide open. I was away from home and one of our Sisters e-mailed me with this dreadful message.

Is it right, I thought, for me to be mourning a tree when people have lost lives and homes? Yes, when you've loved something and named it, it is yours in a special way. All mourning is to be honored.

A friend shared with me this poem by Charles Mungoshi. In a way it a ritual for mourning. A ritual for surrendering and receiving again. It tells me what to do--


Take out all your belongings--

Furniture, clothes, crockery--

All you have since held dear

Take them all out

And return them to the forest.

Now, bring in the sky

The mountains, distant views

Of anything, the rivers, trees,

Boulders; the animals, birds

And insects--

Set them loose in your room.


Kneel down anywhere

And give thanks.

-Charles Mungoshi

from The Milkman Doesn't Only Deliver Milk

Baobab Books, Harare, 1998

And so I kneel before the remains of my tree giving thanks for everything and I wonder: In spite of its very wounded state, is it still listening.


Thursday, June 16, 2011

Bringing in the kin

I am reflecting on the photo above as a metaphor for my family. All coming from the same root basically, yet little volunteers sprouting up in the midst -- Connected and at times disconnected. Kindred spirits, unique and beautiful. I just spent a weekend with many of these kindred spirits at our family reunion.

I readily admit that there are times when I dread family reunions. All that noise, everyone talking at the same time (and more) but this time I tried to look at it all as HAPPY NOISE and it was kind of like music. When we were praying together I looked out onto all those faces and thought: Who are these people? Is this really my family? Some of us are democrats, some republicans, some independents! Some conservative, some liberal! Some Catholic, some from other denominations! Some, not needing labels at all.

And then I thought, perhaps it doesn't matter. Hopefully we are connected in ways that are most important. There is a holy Source of Life that brought us into being. In some way, we all try to lean toward. that Source. Our lives are spiritual (whether we recognize it or not) and in our most vulnerable moments we know that. There is a love in our hearts that we can't always reach and we don't fully understand. But it is present and it makes itself known in surpising ways just when it is most needed. There is a depth in the recesses of our souls that we have not yet discovered. We are slowly growing into our best selves. We are here to renew the bond that binds us to one another.

The word reunion suggests a gathering of what has become scattered. It is a bringing in the kin. We have no choice in being related to one another; we do have a choice as to whether we want to remain or become kindred spirits. Our frenetic schedules often make abiding relationships difficult.

And so I look upon this family and I pray:

O Source of Life,

Loving Creator, Jesus, Saving One,

You have lifted us from the womb of the earth

You have blown your breath into us

Enable us to be faithful to this holy breath, your breath

the breath you loaned us on the day of our birth.

Thank you for the family gathered here

Enrich our lives; nurture and sustain us.

Bond us together as kinded spirts.

Keep our ancestors dreams alive in us.

Reveal to us your own dreams for our well-being.

Well-being! What a beautiful word!

That's the gift you can give to this family.

Awaken us to the deep well within our being

Let us be refreshing drinks for one another

and for the larger human family.

O God of our Ancestors, just as you

cherish us, teach us to cherish one another.

Amen! Yes! May it come to pass!