equinox

as i pulled together the newest edition of wild roots: weaving stories of wonder and truth, i’ve been listening and looking for patterns that have revealed themselves lately. today, these patterns fell into natural order as we land on today, equinox.

in the northern hemisphere, this means we head into darkness. the days become shorter, the nights longer. trees shed their leaves and the earth prepares for the new life that will come again in the spring.

for now, though…it is a time of turning inward. a time of hunkering down.

nature’s rhythms help to make sense of the patterns i’ve been noticing in my everyday life and point to the reality of our interconnectedness and interdependence. patterns include emptiness/nothingness, death, and freedom in the form.

on emptiness: a text that has some attention these days in my work context is Rev. Stephanie Spellers’ new book, Church Cracked Open. in it, she writes of the purposeful cracking open into life-affirming energy that fuels transformation and refers to the role of kenosis in that process. the term kenosis comes from the Greek kenos which means “empty” so kenosis means to empty oneself.

turning to the holy scriptures, Spellers points us to Philippians 2:5-9 known as the “kenotic hymn”; it is said to predate the gospels and Paul’s letter–a piece of oral tradition and the passing down of stories about Jesus in song, preserved:

let the same mind be in you
that was in Christ Jesus, 
who, though he was in the form of God
  did not regard equality with God
  as something to be exploited
  but emptied himself
  taking the form of a slave
  being born in human 
  likeness.
And being found in human form, 
  he humbled himself
  and became obedient to the point of death--
  even death on a cross. 
Therefore God also highly exalted him
  and gave him the name
  that is above every name...

jesus’ life on earth was a kenotic path.

spellers then points us to Jesus’ teachings in Matthew 10:39: “If you try to save your life, you will lose it. But if you give it up for me, you will surely find it.” and to Luke 10 in which Jesus instructs the seventy to go empty-handed and vulnerable into the world; do not go with answers, the need to control and fix.

in what ways do I practice and/or allow kenosis as a necessary part of growth and transformation? and in what ways do i resist?

last Tuesday, when midwives (what those of us who hold the space call ourselves) gathered to prepare for a wisdom circle later that evening, we wondered together, what does it mean to practice being with nothingness?”. And so it became clear that this was the practice for that night’s circle. and in practical terms, what does it look like to practice being with nothingness? well, we leaned into our usual intention of holding the space with openness and willingness to follow the energy, to ask deep questions that support us in going where the moment is inviting. that night, we deliberately entered that circle with no plan other than to practice being with nothingness–a simple question. for me, it was a matter of noticing the underlying motivations: why did i feel the need to offer this? speak to this or that? is the motivation more about filling the emptiness for fear of it or is it from a place of peacefulness and love?

here are some of the nuggets of wisdom that emerged from this group of twelve souls:

  • Nothingness as peaceful—amazed by where I ended up
  • In the beginning, it is all a void. A chasm. Then, creation.
  • Getting back to where we came from.
  • Nothing is God’s favorite resource.
  • It is a practice of non-violence; a place where the divine can enter.

on death: i wrote a piece on Covid several days ago, with a focus on our relationship with death (and therefore, life). as i follow this thread to see how it connects with emptiness/nothingness here’s where i land: our relationship with death/emptiness/nothingness directly relates to our relationship with life/growth/transformation. shutting down one, shuts down the other.

and…it is not possible to shut it down. we can buy into the illusion of control, for it is only an illusion. the universe is compelled by evolution, by love. we can choose and shape what that looks like and it is underway regardless. we both matter and we don’t. the question becomes, do we want to participate in the co-creation with the universe? to participate, there is a continuous letting go to be present–an endless cycle of death and rebirth.

Richard Rohr writes in Falling Upward, “someone has to make clear that homes are not meant to be lived in–but only to be moved out from.” growth necessitates growing pains, a growing out of the form/home that can no longer hold.

which brings me to the final thread that i’ve been following: freedom is in the form. it’s been a thread i’ve long followed (most recently, here).  the form both frees and holds; it is because of the form that creative tension exists. the form can take shape as marriage; friendship; relationship; organization; institution; or materially–a pair of jeans, a house, a body. our relationship with these forms matter. do we clutch onto them for safety and security, as ends in themselves ? do we appreciate them as impermanent, supporting our living?

and, how do we relate to these forms in ways that allow for and ignite healing and wholeness? some questions that are present for me:

what if we honored these forms as living, asking always what the form is asking for (ie, nourishment, hospice, composting)?

what if we practiced staying with the form, working in it and with it as a way of offering increased clarity and revealing more and more to us in terms of the reality, now. meeting external constraints–including those that are oppressive and even destructive–our inner resources come forth to shine and balance. remember victor frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning?

what does it look like to outgrow the form, to allow the form to dissolve and (re)form and then to incorporate both the old in the newly evolved form, in the process of (trans)formation? historically, revolution and reformation has excluded the ugly and painful parts, resisting and rejecting to be/do better. we see how that has worked. evolution teaches us to transcend and include–everything belongs. and so, as we contemplate the end of something, how might we consider including it and welcoming it into the new beginning?

for now, though…it is a time of turning inward. a time of hunkering down.

it is equinox.

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