Friday, February 12, 2010

Building the Internal Sky

Anna Pigeon is a memorable fictional character because she carries a lifetime's experience in her strength and fears. At one point Anna reflects on her days of deep depression and how she struggled to break free:
She had tried meditating on love and courage, bright satin sashes and whiskers on kittens, but they seemed such tiny points of light in the ink of her internal sky.
Nevada Barr, Borderline, pg.39
Those of us who have known depression, know this "internal ink". To cancel such darkness, the tiny lights must be very strong--in luminosity or in numbers.

But a dark internal sky is not just a symptom of depression, we can create it from holding fast to what we believe is wrong in the world, or from our anger and hate, or from mentally living in the "bad times".

We counteract the "internal ink" by creating light--reminding ourselves of life's joys, remembering the good times, or living with the Eternal Spirit in our hearts. My favorite image for God's Spirit is a tongue of flame. Flaming light, meant to slide deep within us and banish the dark ink. But first, we must believe that the Light--the positive, the good, the blessings--exist. Then we must make an act of faith every day, perhaps several times a day and draw the flame inside, flooding our internal sky with Light.

Avoid building a dark internal sky with anger and bitterness and drama. Life has enough dark spaces; we don't need to add any.

May your internal sky glow with the Spirit's light.


Thursday, February 4, 2010

The Power of Three

The number three is pervasive through human culture and human religions.
There were three witches in "Macbeth" and the three blood relatives in the "Charmed" TV series who pooled their energies to create powerful spells.

We coordinate our efforts "on the count of three…"

Bad things, it's said in some families, comes in threes. But then again, third time’s a charm.

Three notes make a triad, considered the fundamental chord structure in music.

Three strikes and you’re out. Hockey is played in three periods. Three is Dale Earnhardt’s number.

There were Three Blind Mice, Three Musketeers, Three Little Pigs, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You get three wishes from the genie.

The Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are the center of Christian Trinitarian dogma. The New Zealand Prayer Book describes the Trinity as Eternal Spirit, Great Weaver, and Mother Wisdom. And the concepts of a Creator, a Redeemer and a Bringer of Change are found throughout human religious thought. Wiccans comtemplate the phases of life through the Maiden, the Mother, and the Crone.

I went looking for a Unitarian Universalist "trinity' and found one in a bumper sticker:
Unitarian Universalism, A Different Trinity: Respect, Freedom, and Justice

And the UU Fellowship of Athens, OH, offers this triad as their brief mission statement:
Sustainable Living, Inclusive Community, and Religious Freedom

Finally, in a UU Christian publication, this part of a prayer:
Make my hands just. Make my feet firm. Make my body a temple fit for your service.
Three has such powerful spiritual connotations that needlecrafters use a repetition of three to transform their craft into a spiritual discipline.
o Some use a pattern comprised of three stitches (3 knit, 3 purl; the crochet V-stitch)
o Others choose three words, three phrases, three verses from the Psalms and chant silently or aloud as they create.

You can make any repetitive activity or the work of your hands a meditative practice by using the Power of Three. Washing dishes by hand, digging in the garden, sanding a piece of wood, shoveling snow, vacuuming. Choose a triad and repeat it aloud or silently.

The important part of what you choose for the triad prayer is that the words or phrases should resonate with you and the task you're doing. There should be an emotional tug to the triad so that you will come back to it if your attention wanders too far.

Some possible triads:
Faith, Hope, Love
May you be healthy. May you be happy. May you be comforted. (when creating gifts for others)
Respect, Freedom, Justice
God in my head, God in my heart, God in my hands

Do you use the Power of Three in your prayer? Please share your triad meditations and prayers. We'd all love to hear new ways to connect with the Spirit and Heart of God.