Archive for the ‘commitment’ Category

31 Days of Lunasa: Days 5 & 6 — Falter, Fallow, Follow



What do you do when you falter in a commitment?

Here’s Kris Hughes in his most recent book, writing about the goddess Cerridwen, and also about how we can meet halfway whatever it is that we aspire to. Rather than lamenting no post for yesterday, or beating myself up about it (no fun unless masochism inspires me), I can collect a number of really helpful pointers:

I cannot see Cerridwen physically–she does not possess a carbon-based physical body–so the manner by which I develop my relationship with her must somehow address these limitations. Nothing beats heading over to Bala for an afternoon spent at her lake, for there is a sense there that is different to anywhere else on earth–there is a tangibility to her presence in that location, as if the landscape holds a different kind of lyric. However, Bala is just over an hour from my home, and my schedule does not permit me the luxury of going there every day. Therefore I have re-created a sense of what I feel at Bala at home, and it is centred around my altar … (pgs. 264-5).

First, acknowledge limits — something still not fashionable these days, in spite of broad hints and clear evidence not just from the day’s headlines but all of human history. Often what I want to connect to doesn’t have a physical form, “so the manner by which I develop my relationship … must somehow address these limitations”. Nothing beats direct experience, the right location or doorway or person — “as if the landscape holds a different kind of lyric”. But working with my “howevers” may mean among other things re-creation of the remembered ideal in a new setting, and a focus helps immensely. In Kris’s case this re-creation is “centred around my altar”.

But we all do this already — we re-create in so many ways. No one starts from zero. The trick is to open the tap even incrementally — to increase the flow even a little. Commit to 31 days of blogging. Commit to a cat, another person, a goddess, a garden. The point, after all, may not be to get there, but to get here — more fully.

I cannot see what I desire, but let me marry earth with fire … Often a rhyme will launch me toward where I wish to go. Self-enchantment is a delightful skill. I happen to do it with words, but your preferred mode may be other: a walk, gardening, cooking, some other craft, martial arts, a relationship. The fire of the imagination, a south to the north of earth, balances the path to recovery, discovery.

I take the word “howevers” from earlier in this post and play with it: “who-verse”. In the world where I currently reside — or one I wish to (re)enter — what verse will take me to who I’m looking for? The “who” may be a version of me, the verse may be the song I can’t stop singing. So many pointers, so many paths. Or the “who” is a deity knocking, knocking to make herself heard over my human noise. Who cares if I don’t believe in a god? It’s enough some days that she believes in me.

You see, I know how much I talk myself into many experiences and states of being, unawares, or unintentionally. Like most of us, I’m (still) just starting to claim my power and trying do it a little more intentionally. This blog is my trail, my track, my spoor. It’s true that the more personal I get, the more universal I become. Up to a point. Sometimes, though, I just turn oracular, and have to wait until I can untangle what I wrote in order to interpret it to myself, let alone anybody else.

Sometimes you just need to show up, not bump into the furniture any more than you must, and grow whatever your equivalent is to a suitable Druid beard. In other words, stall for time. Make sh*t up. Because when you do, I’ve noticed, something always turns up. We accumulate momentum with even small efforts, and that carries us into the next moment. With any luck, singing — and no apologies to the naysayers, the donkeys braying. But even if not, there we can pick up the trail again, climbing to see what’s over the next hill, what the vistas reveal, how we may serve a greater vision than before.

/|\ /|\ /|\

Welcome to the newest visitor from Ethiopia.

Christian spam, “cheap grace” and Commitment

Most spam to this site gets deleted without me ever seeing it.  Some slips past the filters and I manually delete it after scanning it.  The following piece that arrived earlier today felt like I could squeeze it for something bloggy:

“Cheap grace is the grace we bestow upon ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession…Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate…When Christ calls someone, he bids them come and die.” – Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

We like things to be easy. We don’t want to have to think or commit too much to anything. We want to get the most reward for the least amount of effort. We expect it from our technology, our education, and from our God. “I went to church and I even put money in the offering, so we’re cool, right, God?” We did the minimum and we think that should be good enough. Yes, you’re still saved through grace; grace that is a free gift. But that grace is hollow, because you didn’t put yourself on the line for it. For years, our experience of church has been safe. Sit, stand, sing, bread, wine, Jesus loves you. Being a follower of Jesus is mainstream and acceptable. In most cases, we don’t risk anything by being a Christian. We proclaim a cotton candy gospel (that is, mostly sugar and air) and nobody gets stoned to death, crucified, or drawn and quartered. Do you see what I’m getting at? I’m not saying you have to defy the Roman Empire to validate your faith, but if you’re not willing to stand up for it, what is it really worth? What are we worth if we let intolerance and injustice rule over us without a fight?

The message intrigues me.  (Learn wherever you can, I tell myself.  Don’t turn away from a teacher just because you don’t like the color of her skin or the accent of his voice or the flavor of her wisdom.  You might pass up something valuable.)  It also spurred a set of responses.

One is how contrary to much preaching, but how common-sensical, it is:  ya gotta work at anything worthwhile.  Salvation in Christian terms is a gift, unearned, but this post tells a deeper truth.  Salvation isn’t enough; it’s just the start. In eco-spiritual terms, Christians may get saved, but Druids get recycled.

The second probably arises out of the time of year.  A good number of us are halfway into hibernation mode right now.  Yes, we often want the easy path, because we’re lazy.  Why expend energy pointlessly?  Laziness makes good animal sense, up to a point.  Devote your hours and muscles to acquiring food, finding a mate and — later — protecting your offspring.  Anything else is likely not worth the effort.  If you’re human, add in a few comforts you may have come to expect, if they don’t cost you or the planet too much trouble.  Beyond that, it’s almost always diminishing returns for your efforts.  OK, that’s one view.

Another is the universality of suffering, as Buddhists like to remind us. It’s not like Christians have any corner on resisting intolerance and injustice.  To point out just one example, can anyone say Arab Spring?  Any person can reach the tipping point of disgust with tyranny or suffering or despair and rise up to fight it.  It need not be a specifically religious struggle at all — though it can be a profoundly spiritual act.

A fourth response (in case you’re counting):  plenty of Pagans and Druids are also easy in their practices, just like the “cheap-grace” Christians in the spam above.  And we can opt to let them enjoy a space and time where they may practice undisturbed.  But others, depending on what part of the world they live in, may face considerable daily risk.   Does that make them “better” Druids and Pagans — or Christians? Not necessarily.  Maybe more careful, or stronger, or more committed.   But these are character traits, present in some practitioners of all spiritualities and religions — and none.

A fifth response:  the natural world calls Druids and Pagans to live consciously in it.  We all die and are born, along with everything else.  We’re compost after just a handful of decades.  When the path of Druidry calls, it says wake up to the world we’re in right now.  Whether or not it’s the only one, it’s this one, and our lives here, as long as we’re still breathing, are our answers every day. Figuring out what the questions are — well, that’s a task for a lifetime.

/|\ /|\ /|\

updated 22:15 EST 11 Feb 2013

%d bloggers like this: