Manifestation One! Tending the Flame: 44 Days of Self Care Online Retreat
I’m exploring a new project. Read along to wonder with me about the sacred fire that flows through each one of us. A fire that guides my life, exemplifies my work and blesses the world.
In the beginning I sat in the sanctuary to participate in a ritual that would formally confer ordination on my beloved friend. It was a path that had been steeping and developing for her for over 20 years and the “Charge to the Minister” totally captivated me. The story was told of a sacred painting of Mary with a burning bush in her body. Yes, in this moment we were recognizing in my friend the sacred fire that has called her to this movement of ministry. She has been a priestess this whole time. Now she was officially an ordained minister.
As we celebrated and moved past the ritual into life, the image of Mary embodying a burning bush stuck with me. What a provocative image.
I am on the very fringe of progressive Christianity and raised protestant at that. As an adult I have been captivated by Mary even though she was barely a part of my religious education or upbringing.
I honor and celebrate the women in my tradition. Women were not honored the way the men who followed Jesus were, but a few powerful figures remain prominent in the life story of Jesus. In the ordination ceremony, it wasn’t named which Mary the painting captured. My guess and a very traditional interpretation is that it is Jesus’ mother who is pictured and possibly pregnant with a burning bush, perhaps Jesus?
Since I haven’t seen the painting, I got to use my imagination. What if it was the other Mary, Mary Magdalene. Depending on what accounts you read, she may have been Jesus’ closest disciple. She is named as the first person who “saw” the Christ, risen from death. Possibly she was the first disciple to embody Jesus’ own connection with divine essence. The first one who saw what he saw, embodied what he taught. The idea of her body housing the fire of Life opened in her by Jesus the enlightened teacher deeply resonates with me. I believe that we all contain that Life Force Energy in us, that Eternal Light and Love that is God.
The idea and image of Mary, of me, of women and all people embodying our own universal sacred fire stuck with me and started working through me. First I started reflecting on Moses. What was this burning bush anyway? Moses was hiding out in the desert tending sheep when, “An angel of the Lord appeared to him in a blazing fire out of a bush. He gazed, and there was a bush all aflame, yet the bush was not consumed”. When he comes close a voice identifying itself as “I am what/who I am” tells him that he is on sacred ground and to remove his shoes. So here is a man, a shepherd, encountering “a fire that burns, but does not consume.” Mystics of all stripes recognize the fire of the Divine that burns out all impurity, returning human people to unhindered direct contact with the Life Energy, the Existence, the I Am that is at the core of each life. This encounter with the flame of Life tells Moses who he really is, a prophet, a carrier of God’s message and path for his people. Moses himself, of course, does not see this and resists. God must have the wrong guy. No one is going to believe him and he can’t speak God’s message to Pharaoh, he has a speech impediment for goodness sake. If you are familiar with this story, you know God does allow Moses’ brother Aaron to assist him in his task as he pleads with Pharaoh, the ruler of Egypt, to free the enslaved people of Israel.
Eventually as Moses comes fully into his role and fully into his relationship with the Divine, it is said of him that God spoke to the priests by signs, but with Moses God spoke mouth to mouth. In my estimation Moses had become and fully embodied that sacred fire he had encountered on the mountain. He had finally recognized God’s leadership, impulse and action through his being. The energy of existence in the bush flowed freely through Moses’s body, life and movement.
My life, my practice and my aspiration is to become my own particular burning bush, a carrier of divine fire, a beacon of love’s light to the world and a bearer of Love’s message. This is not about right belief or about doctrine or dogma, this is about being fully alive and fully responsive to the Greater Life expressing through this particular form. This, I believe, is the gift of being alive, in bodies on this earth for this particular time. We all carry our own flavor of the Divine fire, the Divine Love that transforms every ordinary thing into a miraculous gift.
This has got me wondering…how do I invite that fire to flow freely in me? How do I wander the world burning with Love, but not burned up? In what ways do I dampen or dodge recognizing my essence and allowing the greater Love to move through me freely? What would it be like to have a burning bush in my body? What would it be like to recognize and honor the burning bush that is already in my body?
This wondering has been marinading in me for months.
I’m not an artist, but I wondered what it might be like to draw Mary or myself with a burning bush in her body. It was a fun exploration, but it didn’t feel complete to me. For a while I let the image go and it would arise again. What would it mean for me to claim my own divine fire? How would I do this in ritual or in ordinary life? How would this act shift or influence my work as a healer and a spiritual guide?
This symbol represents my work, I realized. I seek a congruent and dynamic relationship to the Universe so that I can be an open channel for love and healing. In every client I work with, I see the Love that they carry and the particular gift of their expression of Love in their lives. Our work is to open ever more deeply to the expression of Life through our bodies, actions and beings. Our work is to become the living fire that burns out fear, violence, hate and harm in all its forms. Our work is to heal, feel, celebrate and grow; to light the world with hope. Our work is to move through the process together, to ignite our depths, to shine, to live our fullest life.
Now this symbol has turned into a project. I want to embody this symbol, to live it and to honor it in ritual. I first tried to find some paint. What would it be like to decorate and honor this fire in my body?
I got caught up trying to find non-toxic paint and when I received it, I almost cried. The paint was thick and grainy. The colors were wrong. I almost trashed all of it. But, I was trying to claim my sacred center. No one said it had to be perfect. In fact it will be what it is, a particular image of a particular time. I could just play around with it, something hard for us perfectionists to do. I went for it, gooping the paint I had across my body. It did not turn out like I hoped, but it had it’s own beauty and it was one touch point on the journey.
It also got me thinking about how I might do it next time. What paints would more fully express the beauty I imagined? I did more research. I played with costume paint. Yes, here was my next thing to try.
I went to the costume shop and picked out fire colors and went home to try again. The paint was very different to work with, but much closer to what I had imagined: bright color, firmer lines, more definition. I tried again to see what would happen. What happened was another refinement and a desire to try it again.
Isn’t this what the spiritual journey is like? …a moving in, a trying out, a refinement? When I sit to meditate, I use an opening taught in Centering Prayer. “I consent to Oneness”. Every time I state this I open myself to a cleaner clearer relationship with Life. I seek to be in harmony with the movement and growth of Life itself. Every time I meet with a client, I set an intention for the Highest Good. This also is an indication to my depths and the Mystery Beyond that I desire to flow with whatever arises with love and grace.
This is what I claim every time I paint my body. I am the divine fire. I am being refined into pure light within the body I am using to experience this life. This process of showing up again to wonder and explore, to claim my deepest self, to remember by inner being and my relationship to the greater Whole is my greatest aliveness.
What is this work for you? How do you claim and remember your particular light? How to you express your deep self? In my experience, this is work that is most powerful and profound when guided a sacred helper and healer. This guidance has been part of my life for decades and it is work that I do as well.
Come into my sanctuary. Learn, grow and become one with Life.
Every time I share this work with others, to honor the Divine Love, to honor the bodies and energies of the feminine, the energy of the room raises. People get curious, people get excited. I am curious to see where this project goes! Maybe offering sessions in particular to experience this ritual. Maybe a retreat of women as we honor our wisdom and bodies. Maybe simply a deepening of my own connection and my own Life Force. For now I think this page will hang out and maybe some blog post as I explore further will find it’s way on my site. Check out the site or Facebook from time to time for new entries.
For now, I wish you joy and play in your own exploration of divine fire in you. Be brave in bringing your light to the world. Be compassionate in your healing and refinement. Let me know if I can be of service.