Dearest monks, artists, and pilgrims,
Joyous blessings on this celebration of Easter and the season of resurrection stretching out before us!
I am in the midst of some travels in the U.S. for about a month which began with a lovely visit to my sister-in-law in South Carolina, and now I am heading to Santa Fe to meet up with a dear friend for a couple of days before the Spiritual Directors International conference begins. Then it will be on to Tulsa, OK for the Awakening the Creative Spirit intensive and Lafayette, LA for a private women's group.
If you didn't receive the free gift, What is Blossoming Within You? from last week – here it is! This is a reflective art journal I published a few years ago in print form, but am now sharing digitally as my gift to you, dear monks.
Since I am traveling, I offer you a slightly edited reprise of an article I wrote on springtime a couple of years ago for Patheos:
Spring and all its flowers now
joyously break their vow of silence.
It is time for
celebration, not for
I believe deeply that the seasons have a great deal of spiritual wisdom to offer us if we make space to listen. They teach us of the cycles and seasons of the earth and of our own lives. We are invited into the movements of blossoming, fullness, letting go, and rest, over and over again. Just like the lunar cycles of the moon's waxing and waning, so too does the body of the earth call us into this healing rhythm. The call of the monk in the world is to tend this rhythm ourselves, as part of the way our souls might flourish.
Spring is a time of balance, renewal, and welcoming new life into the world. As the northern hemisphere enters the season of blossoming we are called to tend the places of our lives that still long for winter's stillness as well as those places ready to burst forth into the world in a profusion of color. It takes time to see and listen. Around us the world is exploding in a celebration of new life, and we may miss much of it in our seriousness to get the important things of life done.
In the southern hemisphere, the world is moving toward harvest and release. But perhaps there is a blossoming still happening deep in the soul?
Lynn Ungar has a wonderful poem titled "Camas Lilies" in which she writes: "And you — what of your rushed and / useful life? Imagine setting it all down — / papers, plans, appointments, everything, / leaving only a note: "Gone to the fields / to be lovely. Be back when I'm through / with blooming." Spring is a time to set aside some of the plans and open ourselves to our own blooming.
There is a playfulness and spontaneity to the season of spring that invites us to join this joyful abandon. As Hafiz writes, spring is a time for singing forth and celebration. We are called to both listen deeply to the blossoming within ourselves as well as to forget ourselves — setting aside all of our seriousness about what we are called to do and simply enter the space of being. In this field of possibility we discover new gifts.
On my daily walks I have seen clusters of crocuses thrusting themselves out from the ground into the brilliant sunlight. The branches of cherry trees begin to hum, then burst forth. Small shoots are ready to press outward, anticipating their explosion into a pink spectacle of petals. And in my presence to this dynamic energy I discover places within me humming and bursting forth. I notice my own deep longings wanting to emerge in vibrant ways.
The fertility of spring speaks of an abundantly creative God who is at the source of the potent life force beating at the heart of the world. Created in God's image, we are called to participate in this generous creativity ourselves. Our own blossoming leads us to share our gifts in service to others.
In the Hebrew scriptures the promise of God's abundance is often conceived of as blossoming in the desert. In that harsh landscape, a flower bursting forth from the dry land is a symbol of divine generosity, fruitfulness, and hope. Hope is a stance of radical openness to the God of newness and possibility. When we hope, we acknowledge that God has an imagination far more expansive than we do.
Take time this week to meditate with gratitude on a flower, appreciating all of its qualities of beauty, how it simply is what it was created to be. Allow yourself to fill with joyful gratitude for the gifts of the earth. Open yourself to experience the fullness of this flower and all of the ways God delights in the beauty of blossoms.
Then shift your focus from the flower to yourself. Take this sense of wonder and awe at the beauty of the flower and imagine how God gazes with delight on the beauty of who you are. What aspects of your being can you imagine God relishing? What are the longings inside of you God is asking you to embrace?
Rest in this awareness of the joy and delight of God in your own beautiful blossoming for several minutes. Notice what new longings it stirs in you.
Join us for a new Invitation to Poetry on the theme of "Arise and bloom", another new and fabulous Monk in the World guest post by fellow monk in the world Cyndi Gallo Callan, and an update from another one of our amazing Earth Monastery Project grant recipients creating a community garden for youth affected by incarceration (plus grant applications are currently being accepted).
We also have two new online programs for summer! Join us for our brand new Novena of Resurrection: Earth as Our First Monastery (May 31-June 8 culminating on the feast of Pentecost) and Exile and Coming Home: An Archetypal Journey through Scripture (June 16-July 27). If you register for them both by May 12th, you also get a free self-study retreat as a bonus (click here to see your choices).
With great and growing love,