Dearest monks and artists,
We offer you the audio and video podcast for Day 2 Evening Prayer on the theme of Earth, our original scriptures. In the Celtic way of seeing the world, Earth was one of the two books of revelation alongside the holy text. The seasons beckon to us with their continual unfolding and wisdom about what it means to be fully human in this world and embrace rhythms of flowering, fruitfulness, release, and rest.
Last week I talked about how dawn and dusk are threshold moments in our day and how in the Celtic imagination these times were considered to be doorways to connecting more deeply with the divine and those who have passed on.
Morning and evening prayer is a beautiful practice passed down from our ancestors. When we make time to pause twice each day we join in with all those monasteries and other kinds of faith communities who knew that stopping work to praise the sacred is an essential practice. When we pause we join a lineage of those seeking this kind of regular, intimate connection with God.
Psychologist Carl Jung wrote extensively about the collective unconscious which is this vast pool of ancestral memory within each of us, it is a kind of deposit of ancestral experience lived out over time. He believed it comprises the psychic life of our ancestors right back to the earliest beginnings, nothing is lost, all of the stories, struggles, and wisdom are available to us. Each of us is an unconscious carrier of this ancestral experience and part of our journey is to bring this to consciousness in our lives.
He even believed it comprises our animal ancestry, he creatures we evolved from, which existed longer in time than our human existence. It is the place where archetypes emerge – those symbols and experiences that appear across time and cultures. The stories of our ancestors are woven into the fabric of our very being.
In his book Memories, Dreams, Reflections, Jung wrote:
"I became aware of the fateful links between me and my ancestors. I feel very strongly that I am under the influence of things or questions which were left incomplete or unanswered by my parents and grandparents and more distant ancestors. It often seems as if there were an impersonal karma within a family, which is passed on from parents to children. It has always seemed to me that I had to answer questions which fate had posed to my forefathers, and which had not yet been answered, or as if I had to complete, or perhaps continue, things which previous ages had left unfinished."
We let these lost voices speak through our own lives and perhaps discover our own deepest longings are woven together with theirs. Consider spending some time in your journal holding this image of offering space for the voices of your ancestors to speak. What stories might they tell? What wisdom might they offer? What were the prayers they sang at the moments of the sun’s ascent and descent along the horizon?
The evening of October 31st through the day of November 1st is called Samhain in the old Celtic calendar. It is a time when the veil is believed to be especially thin and we can hear the voices of the ancestors more clearly. November 1st and 2nd are also the feasts of All Saints and All Souls and the time when the northern hemisphere continues to move into greater darkness and mystery. Join Deirdre Ni Chinneide and me for a mini-retreat via Zoom to honor this most special time of year.
With great and growing love,
Christine Valters Paintner, PhD, REACE
 Carl Jung, Memories, Dreams, Reflections (Vintage Books, 1989) p. 233-234.