"I was dizzy with thoughts of being free to wander the countryside.
I imagined filling my basket with nature's gifts while searching
for the stories and poems fixed in the fur, feather, and fin of God's creatures."
The Spring Equinox approaches and the Lenten season begins. Spring is a stunning example of God's language made visible. Mystery surrounds us as trees burst forth with buds and the unfurling of their bright green dresses. Birds are busy gathering bits of shiny things, grasses, and twigs to create their nests. The breed-mares bellies, graze in the pasture near our home, preparing to birth their foals. The south wind blows across the prairie and the caterpillar fastens herself to the branch to begin her journey of transformation.
The changing seasons mark time. I feel the stirring within, not unlike the trees, horses, birds, and caterpillars. Something is happening. There is a clarion call to listen deeply, to anchor myself, to pay attention, and to enter the chrysalis. It is the season of transformation and I must follow nature into the greening...into the Mystery.
"Wisdom Sophia, you infuse Creation through the birthing season
of spring as the greening of the earth resumes. Help me to
cultivate my creative and spiritual gifts while I embrace
and appreciate the beauty of the earth at this fertile time.
Mother of Nature's miracles, you bless my spirit with renewal!
The Way of Belle Coeur
Radical Hospitality and Welcome
St. Benedict wrote in his Rule: “All guests who present themselves are to be welcomed as Christ, for him himself will say: I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” The core of this idea was that everyone who comes to the door of the monastery, and by extension the door to our lives—the poor, the traveler, the curious, those of a different religion, social class, or education — should be welcomed in, not just as an honored guest, but as a window onto the sacred presence. For Benedict, our encounter with the stranger - the unknown, the unexpected, the foreign elements that spark our fear - are precisely the places where we are most likely to encounter God. This is a practice of outer hospitality.
The concept of inner hospitality is to open our inner selves to all of the elements about us that we fear and reject — the painful and dark feelings, our shadow side, the things we do and long for we don’t want anyone else to know about. If we embrace Benedict’s wisdom for our deepest selves, inner hospitality might be seen as hospitality that proceeds from the very core or root of who we are, an invitation to extend a welcome to the stranger that dwells inside of us.
We are each made up of multiple inner characters and voices and some of them get invited to our inner table, while others are standing out in the rain waiting to be let in to feast and share their wisdom with us. In this practice, I invite you to befriend any feelings which you have held at arm’s length or suppressed. Often this is grief or anger that has not been allowed expression.
How do you welcome in the range of your feelings without being swept away by them? One way to do this is by cultivating your inner witness and connecting regularly with your calm, non-anxious, compassionate core Self. Meditation practice can nurture our ability to sit and observe the rise and fall of our inner lives without resisting or seizing any particular moment. When we offer ourselves the space to simply be with whatever is happening inside, without judgment, we begin to see that each of those feelings passes with time. When you notice yourself resisting an inner voice or shutting your inner door on it, take some time to intentionally invite this voice inside to the table. Ask it what it has come to tell you. Listen past the first layer which may sound ugly or painful and tend to the deeper layers underneath. This takes time, much like growing in intimacy with a friend. Our rejected selves will need some coaxing.
When we choose to receive guests as a window into the sacred presence, we are choosing to live and relate from a more intentional and reverential place. When we engage in a dynamic encounter with what we are fearful of, it releases its power on us and new wisdom and energy is released. In a world where people want to build bigger walls, we forget that the “other” and the shadow places exist within us, within the walls we erect. It is in this place of hospitality to the unknown where we encounter God.
In meditation we cultivate our ability to be completely present to the rise and fall of our emotions, not by becoming detached or disassociated from them, rather by fully experiencing them without feeling carried away by their power. The body, in all of her wisdom, thrives on this kind of free allowing and flow without judgment. The witness is the compassionate and curious part of ourselves which is able to look with love and tenderness on this pattern rising up in us and extends a sense of curiosity.
(excerpted and adapted from The Wisdom of the Body)
Journey through the year and enjoy journal prompts, Scripture for meditation, and seasonal inspiration. Belle Coeur spirituality embraces various liturgical celebrations throughout the year. In addition, there are particular Belle Coeur practices to accompany each season. You're invited to refer to the 2017 Belle Coeur Calendar to join us in observation of holy days and sacred moments. To fully experience the calendar and in depth seasonal practices it's suggested you refer to The Way of Belle Coeur: A Woman's Vade Mecum.
Guidance, Sacred Practices
Companionship as you make your spiritual inner journey offers a safe, compassionate, and prayerful way to enrich your understanding and spiritual practices. Please contact me to schedule your complimentary first Skype or phone session. Creative mentoring for writers, artists, and those seeking fulfillment of a vision, project, or concept is also available.
Over 500 women have explored The Book of Wonderment
. This independent study online course invites you to a journey of creative self-discovery through six guided tutorials and audio meditations. Explore the creation of a self-portrait, mandalas, visual prayer, and more.
Enjoy working at your own pace according to your schedule.
Maryam and Mary in Christian and Islamic Traditions is a play and story for today.
My creative friend and sister priest, Dr. Victoria Rue, presented this performance of her play, Mary/Maryam , last December in California for Christians and Muslims and others. I invite you watch Victoria's play to witness the exquisite portrayal of the Islamic and Christian "Marys." The Sacred Feminine is alive within this presentation. Prepare to be inspired. You're welcomed to share your questions and comments with Victoria.
Lenten Sacred Journal Practice
It is the liturgical Lenten Season. The forty days of Lent preceding Easter, invite the deepening and enrichment of the spiritual journey and relationship with the Beloved. The four quadrants of each day: Dawn, Day, Dusk and Dark offer four sacred pauses for reflection. A simple journal practice in relationship to the hours of the day may be use during Lent or any time the heart longs to witness the days' ebb and flow.
In 2017, Belle Coeur will celebrate the birth of a new website for all things pertaining to Belle Coeur spirituality and sisterhood. Meanwhile, explore Belle Coeur
and read The Way of Belle Coeur
to learn more.
A Vision for the Future
Our Belle Coeur Sisterhood is growing and in the coming year there will be opportunities to join our community through online study, sisterhood formation, and creative expression.
March blessings to all from Belle Coeur...