by Rev. Brendan Curran, Assoc. Minister         –          August 15, 2019

“Holy Spirit is Life-giving life.  Invisible life that sustains ALL, I awaken to life in everything.  In every waft of air, the air is life, greening and blossoming.  The waters flow with life.  The sun is lit with life.  The moon, when waning, is again rekindled by the sun, waxing with life once more.  The stars shine, radiating with life-light.  All creation is gifted with the ecstasy of God’s light.”  -St. Hildegard of Bingen.  (11th century Christian mystic). 

The forest was beautiful!  For four days in the first week of August I had the opportunity to experience a silent retreat on “Mt. Mineral,” in Western, MA in a little cabin in the woods at a forest retreat center.  I made myself a schedule that included singing, prayer, walks, meditation, and study of the writings of my favorite Christian mystics!  After reconciling with the bugs, what became clear in the beauty and grandeur of the forest was the strong sense of not being alone.  What became apparent in the symphony of shared life between the trees, the forest creatures, moving waters, dancing light, and the rhythms of the weather was the deep powerful presence of Life and of Spirit.  We are never alone.  We forget this sometimes.  The demands of life have us locked in our head or our own personal narrative.  But God is always there, and we discover this presence by turning toward one another, the earth, and all our relations with open arms.

In this time when we see so much disregard for life and social fragmentation the temptation might be, understandably, to do the opposite.  But it’s by building stronger communities and healing our relationship with creation and each other that we experience God.  The physicist Fritjof Capra observed that, “Subatomic particles have no meaning as isolated entities, but can only be understood as interconnections between the preparation of an experiment in subsequent measurement.” In other words, everything in the universe is connected.  We are not isolated.

For the mystics, the Holy Spirit IS interdependence and this reality of the interconnectedness of all life.  The French mystic and theologian Teilhard de Chardin writes, “There is a communion with God, and a communion with earth, and a communion with God through the earth.”  The Celtic Christian theologian J. Philip Newall summarizes Chardin’s insight as being the truth that, “what we do to one another as individuals and nations and what we do to the earth as a human race is what we do to the Presence of Love.” What I do matters for you, and what you do matters for me.  Every one of us needs to awaken and act on our potential to be a spark of light.

This is the reason we need healthy functioning faith communities, especially right now!  We need communities that come together to intentionally hold, protect, cherish and grow the presence of Love.  For the mystics, Christ is, “the soul shining forth,” * through the universe.  It’s always there, but we need to turn toward each other and not the clouds and call it forward.  We need places where we can call that soul to shine forth through others and where others will call that soul to shine forth through us!  In this time when people have become afraid of one another, I have come to think that this simple act of coming together as a community to hold down the fort for trying to be more compassionate has become a revolutionary act.  And yet turning toward one another in this simple way IS the power to transform and co-create a more healed, whole community, country, and earth.

It’s the Holy Spirit!  It’s actually a real thing!  The mystic Hildegard of Bingen described the Holy Spirit saying, “you are the mighty way in which everything that is in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth, is penetrated with connectedness, penetrated with relatedness.”   I went on retreat to the forest thinking I’d find solitude and peace being alone but, to my surprise, relatedness, a deep remembrance of connectedness, and company were what I found.  We are not alone.  We can’t escape God.  We are IN God.  And the presence of Love can shine through us.  Let’s continue turning toward each other and reminding each other of this to try to find it together.  I look forward to seeing you all in the fall when the church calendar year ramps up again after Labor Day.  I encourage you all to invite new friends and family members to come to church as all our enriching programs get started.   Until then, keep shining.

Happy Summer and warm blessings,

Reference: *J. Philip Newell: “Christ of the Celts: The Healing of Creation.”