Thursday, August 1, 2013

Reflection Paper #3: Choosing a Spiritual Practice

My monthly reflection on the lessons of the Ministerial Training Program

Instructor— Nancy Rowe
Grandmother—Mona Polacca; Hopi-Havasupai-Tewa

“What will be your way to kiss the ground?” This is the question asked by Nancy Rowe that plants the seed of discovery in my mind. Having had a somewhat regular and routine daily practice for many years now, it was a good question to ask as my month was upturned by the death of my own beloved grandmother, which made anything such as “the usual” difficult if not impossible to achieve. With everything changing uncontrollably, my practice started with simply coming into the present time and space. I began to adapt my practice to whatever I could manage in the moment—focus on my breath, the simplest of prayers, such as “Thank you,” and feeling gratitude for the blessings of comfort, support, water to drink, a good cry. Having unraveled my standard daily practice, I could allow for new possibilities to emerge.

The Findhorn book offered many suggestions for ways to tune into the moment. I found sweetness in the practice of addressing my neighbors in nature— the trees, birds, insects and rivers— as I would any human I wished to know better. Without presumption, I would greet the creature and invite it to share some time with me. I was often met with a welcome feeling. In this way I found moments of peace as I traveled away from home for various family visits.

Mona Polacca spoke of this same reverence for approaching a space with respect.
To paraphrase:

“Enter a room with awareness, observe the space don’t just rush in. Approach the water respectfully, introduce yourself to this life-giving element, don’t just run in. Tell it what you have come for, to drink or to swim or to pray, before you do it.”

Another concept she spoke of was the importance of cultural connection. As I entered family gatherings, I considered how I modeled responsibility, commitment and purpose. I had the opportunity to share a story at my grandmother’s funeral, and observed the way such a seemingly simple action can heal and connect people. As I left my family and encountered other human cultures, I kept in mind that I represented my family. What did my presence say about my people? As I interacted with non-human cultures, I considered how I represented humans in the web of creation. Did I approach with respect and leave with gratitude?

Our talk with Jyoti offered insight into some notable experiences that seem to be occurring to many of the students. I could relate to the digestive complications and the ringing in the ears especially, and hope I can discuss this more with other students (frustrated that I cannot join any discussions on Facebook, however I honestly cannot handle that site responsibly).  Jyoti was slinging so many potent phrases at us, I feel like I could meditate on each one for a week and have my work cut out for me for the rest of my life. Some I’m pondering and practicing daily: “Stay in your sacred witness,” “If you’re going to have your dream come true, it has to go all the way to your feet,” and “This is the alchemical process cooking up in Mom’s kitchen. Remember: backstrokes through the soup!”