interrelated…

[Please pardon a lengthy intro as I share a moment of synchronicity: I am on a personal retreat but still reading in preparation for our new program in Reconciliation Studies: Truth-telling and Reconciling with Indigenous Peoples. Early this morning, I was reading the chapter called “Creation Songs” from Sherri Mitchell’s, Sacred Instructions. As I was contemplating the passage shared below, I noticed that my random playlist was playing “Creation Dance” by Bruce Cockburn and that the cover of that album was a painting by Norval Morrisseau, whose work I had just admired at the National Gallery two days earlier after learning about him from Chris Beaver’s amazing podcast, “The Art of Sovereignty.” Interrelated indeed.]

“We all originate from the same divine source, and we will all return to that source when our learning is complete. During our journey, we will have many of the same experiences, seeing the world and one another from multiple angles and through multiple lifetimes. Sadly, there will also be times when we will lose sight of this basic fact. During those times, we will become lost in the unfolding stories of our own individualized realities.

Albert Einstein once talked about the illusion that is created by this belief in separation. He described it as a prison that restricts our awareness of connection to the whole:

A human being is part of the whole we call the universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself in the thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest… a kind of optical illusion of his consciousness. This illusion is a prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for only the few people nearest us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion, to embrace all living beings and all of nature.

This is an idea that still seems fantastic to many people around the world. But it is a belief that has been held by Indigenous peoples since the beginning of time. Our songs, stories, and mythologies all speak of our interrelatedness. From birth, we are taught to be aware of the expanded kinship networks that surround us, which her human beings along with the beings of the land, water, d the plants, trees, and all remaining unseen beings that exist within our universe. This multisensory understanding of life is now blossoming across the planet, and we are witnessing humanity awaken to a whole new level of being. We are able to recognize, for perhaps the first time in our history, that we are in the process of an evolutionary leap, which makes this a very exciting time to be alive. Our challenge is to remember all of who we are. We begin this process by expanding our awareness to include the entire creation…”

  • Sherri Mitchell, Sacred Instructions (2018)

practical art of the mystics

[This fall at SSU, we are starting a 1 credit hour course that we hope to run continually called the “School of Contemplation,” honouring the wisdom and practices of the contemplative tradition. Here is Evelyn Underhill on mystics]:

One and all, they demand earnest and deliberate action, the insertion of the purified and ardent will into the world of things. The mystics are artists; and the stuff in which they work is most often human life. They want to
heal the disharmony between the actual and the real: and since, in the white-hot radiance of that faith, hope, and charity which burns in them, they discern such a reconciliation to be possible, they are able to work for it with a singleness of purpose and an invincible optimism denied to other[s].

This was the instinct which drove St. Francis of Assisi to the practical experience of that poverty which he recognised as the highest wisdom; St. Catherine of Siena from contemplation to politics; Joan of Arc to the salvation of France; St. Teresa to the formation of an ideal religious family; Fox to the proclaiming of a world religion in which all men should be guided by the Inner Light; Florence Nightingale to battle with officials, vermin, dirt, and disease in the soldiers’ hospitals…

  • Everlyn Underhill, Practical Mysticism A Little Book for Normal People

words of truth and reconciliation

[We’ve had some important insights here at SSU through the first public lectures in our First Nations Voices and Themes series. We’ve also been challenged to make ourselves aware of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s “Calls to Action.” Here is one section relevant for us:]

We call upon leaders of the church parties to the
Settlement Agreement and all other faiths, in
collaboration with Indigenous spiritual leaders,
Survivors, schools of theology, seminaries, and other
religious training centres, to develop and teach
curriculum for all student clergy, and all clergy and
staff who work in Aboriginal communities, on the need
to respect Indigenous spirituality in its own right, the
history and legacy of residential schools and the roles
of the church parties in that system, the history and
legacy of religious conflict in Aboriginal families and
communities, and the responsibility that churches have
to mitigate such conflicts and prevent spiritual violence.

TRC’s “Calls to Action” – article 60