A talk given at “Pilgrimage (Liberal/Feminist Mormon Women’s Gathering),” Alta Lodge, Utah, June 2011
Thank you for the invitation to speak with you today, and in particular, for the gift of the topic, “Embracing Wholeness in the World.” I have really enjoyed the opportunity to walk with the topic as I have prepared over the last few months. What I want to share falls into three different themes: holding and imaging patterns of wholeness; patterns of wholeness in the Scriptures; and patterns of wholeness in the world. Under each of the themes are three examples.
Images of wholeness
The first theme is images of wholeness. I believe that each of us can play a role in creating and increasing wholeness, and that holding images of wholeness is one place to start.
The first image I want to share comes from my own practice as I seek to hear and know the wholeness in myself. Quakers sometimes use the term ‘grounding’ to refer to a spiritual sense of rootedness. The term alludes to an intangible experience of feeling that your Spirit is anchored deep within the earth, or deep within the Divine. When I sit in worship by myself, in whatever location, it often starts with attention to the image of being deeply rooted. This is a metaphorical practice of feeling my own roots go through the earth and feeling them extend and reach. Holding this image gives me a personal sense of keeping my center of gravity low enough that I won’t topple over or get stuck in my head.
The second image comes from a time when we were living in West Virginia. We were members of the Charleston Friends Meeting, and I was asked to be clerk. In a Quaker meeting, particularly those without pastors, the clerk of the meeting is the administrative head, and responsible for listening for the spiritual sense of the business meetings. It was a small meeting, with 10-15 people on a Sunday. As clerk, I felt some responsibility for making an effort to deepen worship, and the image that came to mind was of a maypole of light in the center of the room. Each Sunday as we settled into worship I would image the light pillar in the center of the room, and then take strands of that light and wrap them one at a time around each person in the room until I’d gone all the way around the circle. I felt that the image was a way of holding up the wholeness that we could be as a meeting gathered in worship.
The third image comes from a time when I had made a set of prayer beads that I used while sitting in prayer in the mornings. There were 16 beads – four large ones, each separated from the others by three small ones. I assigned people and responsibilities to the small beads, and for each of the large ones I held the earth, imagining that amazing view from space. How do we each hold the wholeness and health of the earth? Continue reading