A Messy Spirituality

moon rise 2012-09-16 002

My heart has become capable of every form: it is a pasture for gazelles
and a convent for Christian monks,
And a temple for … the tables of the Torah and the book of the Koran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take,
that is my religion and my faith.
Sufi mystic poet Ibn ‘Arabi

My longtime friend Nancy Agneberg asked if she could interview me about my spiritual practices for her weekly blog Clearing the Space.

Thinking about her questions about my spiritual practices it came to me that I have a messy spirituality. I am a collage artist and a process person. Contrary to our beliefs, process does not flow from a to b. It is messy. Play is messy. Spirituality is messy when it is uninhibited by limits or rules. Here the Mystery truly enters in.

My life is a collection of bits and starts therefore my spiritual practices include bits and starts. I don’t attend a church. I no longer believe many of the Christian stories that were a part of my young life. I delve into Buddhist and Zen practices and am intrigued by many Jewish teachings. I delve more deeply into women’s stories of the Divine – the Mother/Goddess stories. I have been paving/playing/praying my own paths into the Mystery for at least 40 years.

In this collage of spirituality I do have consistent practices.

Before I sleep and when I wake up I give thanks. In the morning I make coffee and in this house I take a cup to the back deck where I breathe in and out, noticing the apples on their trees or the rose bush that has grown too big to flower. This morning I noticed a newly blooming, very small sunflower and smiled back at her. When I begin to plot and plan my new garden in this tangle of untamed yard, I come into the house and read.

Lectio divina is a practice of reading (scripture) and then spending time in prayer and contemplation with that reading. I read from Soil and Sacrament, a spiritual memoir of food and faith by Fred Bahnson. The paragraph that provided my contemplative time follows:

“As we entered the driveway…a sign read: ‘It’s time to slow down.’ Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the sanctification of time. … (it) teaches a person to be ‘attached to the holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events to learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our great cathedrals.”

That sunflower was my sanctuary for a few holy moments. While I was busy preparing food and space for an overnight visit from friends the day became a Sabbath; a slowed down honoring the holiness of time.

My practices resemble the paragraph about the Jewish community Bahnson wrote about; “We are a nonrabbinic community …When a rabbi is present; people don’t step up as much. We’re a community about empowerment, whether teaching people to grow their own food or say their own blessings…”

Nancy asked about my teachers. One is Matthew Fox. He teaches Meister Eckhart’s Creation Spirituality. The essence is, if God is our Creator, and we are made in This image, we are all meant to be creators. We each need to step up!

Another of my teachers is Angeles Arrien. She teaches that we must take off our masks; unzip our armor.

In my blog I try to give voice to where I’m balancing on my growing edge. With my grandchildren I try to channel my mothers’ loving self, not her nor my own judgmental cranky, sharp edge. Mother did caution “without a sense of humor we are lost. Not only do we need to step up, and be vulnerable, we need to lighten up!

Nancy also asked what I’m reading. I laughed. Because I live alone my bed is piled with books and magazines, notebook, pens and pencils, my Nook, and sometimes my computer.

The pile beside me included Soil and Sacrament, A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith, by Fred Bahnson; How the Light Gets In, Writing as Spiritual Practice, Pat Schneider. The e-version of Orion Magazine, http://www.orionmagazine.org/‎ a bimonthly, advertising-free magazine devoted to creating a stronger bond between people and nature is on my computer.

Check out Nancy’s blog with the interview and her more recent writing, including the Halloween thoughts about fear at http://clearingthespace.blogspot.com.


About Marian Methner, B.S., D.Min.

Polydox: accepting that we are many labels, I am mother of 4, mother in law (love) of 4 and grandmother of 5. My life is a collection of bits and starts. I was recently on the road for over a year exploring ideas of living in shared housing. A recent summer course in Permaculture design, solidifed my interest in "social permaculture" or ways we interact not only with our Earthly environment but also with each other. I am back Bellingham, Washington, in a small rental house, owned by my ex husband, talk about shared housing, practicing living in community with family, and friends. My doctoral dissertation A Map to Living Open Heartedly, centers around making art as a way to healing. Paradoxiclly, a recent diagnoses of heart failure (cardiomyopathy) expands this exploration...
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7 Responses to A Messy Spirituality

  1. Priscilla says:

    Lovely piece, my friend.

  2. I was so happy to have you respond to my interview questions, but more than that love having you in my life –you and your perfectly messy spirituality. I love the lines opening this post from the Sufi poet. Perfect and not messy at all!

  3. Louise says:

    Thank heavens for messy-ness! Mess makes me feel ALIVE! Here’s a haiku for you.

    Crescent moon hangs low
    in autumn sky; inviting
    the muse to nestle.

  4. Your messy spiritual life is an inspiration. Keep living, and keep sharing that inspired life of yours!

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