Ecclesia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Passing on the street

peering down from windows

pausing at a corner

familiar faces without names

a crowd of witnesses

thronging daily

testifying public

to each other

with scarcely uttered speech

community invisible

webbed from filament

routines casually incised

within the human habits

unconsciously repeated

while a smile appears

as mind plays hopscotch

with random minute thoughts

and though a stranger

conspicuously marked

by practiced eye

the vision of ecclesia

never resonates

behind the blinking lids.

The Holiness of Life

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The holiness of life

demands attendance

to a water purifying

for the outer

and a dietary purging

for the inner

cleansing

to make straight

the way through

wilderness and wasteland

on swift burning feet

while tears

seem helpless to relieve

the agony of white hot heat

eventually which sears

the soiled soul covering

revealing sacro-sanctuary.

A Cup Of Water

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

A cup of water is

mirage to one who

desert sweltering

wonders if his thirst

will lead to death

or will be quenched

by what he knows

will mean his life.

And we who run

our faucets heedlessly

to water needlessly

a prestige lawn

do we consider how

daily it must be

to thirst for what

the rains give down

in purest form

to all the earth?

to quite imagine

how we might provide

for him who suffers

body drought?

and further

how provide

the wellspring

to quench the thirst

of dry parched souls?

Ceremony

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

In white smocked dress

with entre deux and reembroidered

lace on cuffs and hem

and heirloom petticoat beneath

made of great-great-granddame’s

wedding gown

and fresh new bonnet

fashioned in the latest neo-classic

hand sewn French couture design

by the young mother

having bought the sewing lessons

just for the occasion

without a thought to

knowing that the ritual required

the bare head of the child.

As streamers fell away

and cap removed

by him whose hand dipped in the font

epiphany tears blurred vision

in the mother’s eyes.

The infant passed from one to one

and blinking under water

dripping in its eyes

will have no recollection of this day

but secretly she vowed that

if cataract comes crashing

she will tell the story

of the special sprinkling

that was precursor

of a later time

when womb waters break

to midwife life anew.

When Were We Blessed?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

When were we blessed?

we ask the ones who

now and then remind us

to be blessing as we

walk among the multitudes

who need a sacred gift.

When were we blessed?

we ask again in order

to be certain of the time and day

to mark it down to be

remembered in a book.

When were we blessed?

we ask because we are not sure

that we can say with certainty

a blessing has become

so intertwined with who we are

that holy we experience ourselves.

When were we blessed?

we ask with ripening hope

that blessing fresh and warm

might be bestowed in

tokened reminiscence

of a once forgotten one.

When were you blessed?

asks the One to whom all blessing

owes its origin.

I blessed you in

the blessing of the world

as good.

I blessed you in

the ancient ones

who multiplied the

sperm seed placed in them.

I blessed you as

I gave the essence

of myself that you might be.

Now kneel and be reformed

in warm wet clay

and feel my hot breath

on and in you

then go to lay

my hand

on those who feel unblessed.

Be my blessing.

Dancing into Light

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Dancing into light

she could not understand

why others silent stood

in shadows at the fringe.

Asking some to join her

they shook their heads’ reply

and she

contented not

presented query one on one.

They had no life they said

No life fulfilled enough to

spill into a rhythm moved to music

No life to know a joy that

could not be contained

within their flesh and frame

No life to fling wide portals

of their personality

and shun that shame

that inhibitions shape

No life that knows such

verve and drive

that energy must burst forth

in explosion

if not channeled

in some festive rite

No life to feel a spirit

they themselves

could not create

if ever there could be

Almost no life

to even wish

for what had not

by them allowed

the possibility

of shopping for some

dancing shoes.

King

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Riding as a king

triumphal in my victory

o’er all I call

the enemies who thwart

my willful nature’s best intention

triumphal such that

others see my good resolve

and cheer me on

to greater goals of goodness

my mind has undertaken.

I hear the cheer—“Hurray for you!”

as friends and kinfolk recognize

assistance they have given

and cheering for themselves as well

participate in “Job well done!”

And we all name ourselves

good and faithful servants.

The greening branches move

as green confetti showers down

and all experience

the kingdom of righteous tasks complete.

Little do we sense

that we must be

betrayed by some Iscariot

the one most close

the one whose presence

seems to be the primal motivation

spurring us to holy tasks

that one within we know as friend

is friend indeed and

of him say ‘the blessed one

who comes from God’

for who can bless us more

who orchestrates

the death of good

to empty and then sanctify?

Seeking

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

I seek wheat within myself

among the heaping piles of chaff

I seek righteousness

amidst my bounding wantonness

I seek self-trust

beneath my inability to be

true to anyone including Thee

I seek goodness in my heart

even in the selfish evidence I’ve found

I seek ability to praise

displace my envy and my pride

I seek justice

in place of all the power

I hold so dear and can’t release

I seek solace

from the grinding guilt

that wears away all images

of wholeness in my soul.

Where have I heard

that seekers find?

Or is the seeking

as some say of journey

all there is

and I need entertain no more

an image of discovery

of something wonderful

at end of search?

My heart tells me “no!”

Buddha Teachings

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Buddha teaches

wisdom to be found

in nothingness–a space

within that moves

into the world beyond the cave

and back again to feed itself

from inner calm

so that detachment from

the trappings traipsing round us

denies imprisonment to things

and liberates the soul

to glide and swim

through multiple experiences

without the need to own

or justify the lack

of action or production

but unencumbered flies

through space and time

constant consorts

abundancing its life.

Would that monotheists all

might free the soul

from dogma

and the need to do.

Invitation

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Gathered at the riverside

  we question

    mandatory participation

      in penance preparation

         as a voice tells us to turn

and face the dry and lifeless land.

With no ranting

  on the wrath of God

    we hear reiteration

      of continued invitation

        and silently assent

to a journey to the new unknown.

Then we turn slow

  to see the water surface

    undulating ever slightly

      and sense a beckoning

        by unseen finger

to respond.

Water wading moves

  from shallows to the deeps

      and though we have

        no swimming skills

the transport to the womb occurs

  as if we had stood still.

Desert Places

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

There are those who choose

to visit desert places

who revel in the solitude as

seeking for some unpredicted beauty

find blossoms there

and color

and enchantment in the arid wastes.

But we avoid the barren lands

needing

so we think

oases of variety

and fecund warmth of kindred souls.

We have seen the wilderness

and heard the mournful howl of brazen beasts

whose names unspoken

strike a paralyzing fear.

And we have been alone

in deserts desolate of all

except the gritty sand

that wears our feet

and lodges long within our mouths

that stings our tears

that burns our skin

and sings the solemn unpitched note

that seeks to deafen us.

We know a wilderness

where nothing blooms

where sorrow’s sobs can sprinkle nought to life.

Is there a hand to give us hope?

Is there a voice to tell us this will pass?

Truth

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Is there truth so palpable that

once known

effects a freedom heretofore

unknown

unknowable

and further

unimagined?

So what

and where

and why

is truth?

Is there an entity

as powerful

as Holy Writ describes?

What motivates

gigantic games of searching

all possiblities

for ambrosia for the mind?

Great minds and small

have followed

rocky

tangled

paths of question

often coming round

to the beginning place

with question asking multiplied

and still no closer closure comes.

Might our preoccupation

with this noun

if substantive it is

be labeled imbecile attempts

at rank omnipotence

because we

after all

seek ranking with the gods?

Is this a foreordained

conundrum

maddening maze

of constant fruitless questing?

Or is there somewhere

a reality that

we were born to know?

To know in such a way

that moving us

to joy abundant

truth becomes a verb?

Memory

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

A strange phenomenon

memory

that without which life

would not be worth

the trouble to sustain

say some.

Puzzling

how together

some can witness

an event

retaining bits and pieces

perceptions and reflections

so different in recall.

The remembering almost makes

an individual

as multi-faceted as all

whose lives with that one intersected

and each left wondering

how recollection

so differing came to be.

Perhaps the psyche soul

unique to each

magnetically attracts

the details mandatory

for spirit evolution

beatifying each and all.

Character

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Dim foreshadowings afford us

early glimpses of what later

might be called good character

the strength of which was hewn

from hard fine granite

chipped away in slow

painstaken labor

certainly

not self- designed

nor requested

nor desired.

No

this surgeon artist scalpel

reconfiguring as prisoner

one who would if breaking

chains invisible were possible

bolt and leave a fiery trail

as hastily escaping such ordeal.

How daring the Designer

who mined the blocks

then saw unique form buried there

waiting to be born

and as the Master Sculptor

took full advantage of

his expertise without

apprentices employed

but in his own worn practiced hands

the ancient tools

began their sacred work.

Stigmata

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

I listen with my ear

my mind

my heart.

I strain to hear

I know not what

but something from beyond

the dailyness of dull routine

where unpredictability

no audience desires

The catechesis memorized

as well as hymns and creeds

parade despite my plaintive plea.

I meditate on verb and phrase

and hope for some

resounding redolent reconfirmation

of oral apparition rare

enough to scar my brain

or stigmatize my hands and feet

to prove whatever words

some holy voice might tell me.

Perhaps if I but see or hear

or have imprinted as tattoo

a sacredness no need to prove

I would not need the sermonette

“be doers…”

 for the doing

would already be.

Fire

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

What fascination this with fire

that causes gods to give and then withhold it

making theft a necessary crime?

And what of ancient ones who labored long

or perchance in purely accidental flinting action

discovered they could so create?

And what theology espoused an evil entity

where flames engulf perpetually the damned?

Sacred writ is filled with references

from Eden’s entrance guardians

to  apocryphal revealing

where now and then emerges an image

so profound it lingers long for pondering

and many meditations may invoke.

Need we a myth of stealing fire from God

to warm our snow-cold  souls?

Need we the confidence that flinting of our wills

can cause the man-made miracle?

Need we to cast aside in our enlightenment

the burnt-out notion of a purgatory flame?

Or is there truth within the stealing, flinting, damning

for us who nurse burned fingers from

the flames that stolen matches lit

that speaks more plain to us of holiness and purging

than all the burning bushes of all time?

Who Heard God Say?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Who heard God say

“let us make man”?

Can we be sure

that “in our image”

was not addendum

for enjoyment of

imagination of an ego

eager for some status

in the face of fearful

existential angst?

Who learned of angels

and the guarantee that

we can almost match

them in God’s hierarchy?

Is this a fable poised

like all such stories

to smudge  

the universal question marks

and make us rank ourselves

more highly than we ought?

Or set a standard of perfection

dangling always right above our reach?

There must be some fast truth

imbedded in the tale told throughout

the rounds of galaxies

and baby weaning days.

There must be more than make-believe

to stir the heart’s awakening

to a melody mysteriously

making sure we don’t

forget the humming tune

and lyrics long repeating

“fearfully…wonderfully.”

These Least

In the alleys and the byways

we can find the outcasts

often self-imposed as

they

grown weary of

the uphill climb

they daily trudged

saw their energy

slip back

and felt defeat

despair

and desperation

so intense that

effort could not be born

within embrace

of gnawing pain of hunger

cold

and even more

the knowledge

that they

are the forgotten friendless

for whom no portals open

to welcome commensality

with those who

strangers

yes we be

live out

the Lord’s injunction

to feed

and wash

and clothe

and warm

those ones for whom

life lingers long

in shadows of

a dim drab dream

and harsh reality.

And we who have

the means to purchase

and provide for

some small number

of these least

and shun

responsibility

of offered hospitality

can muster

a water cup

of gentleness

in the form

of smile or touch

or one kind word.

Education

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Life-long learning

is offered

to those elderly whose jobs

have ceased providing

stimulation adequate

to satisfy the curious

and those whose jobs have ceased entirely

who thrash about

to find a mind-thing

to occupy and verify

that brain cells function well enough.

But what of learning’s leader–

the staid formation of a guided tour

through book ideas as foreign

as the fields of some lost land?

The gentle musings of one long

removed from active life

preparing for the grave?

The pandering of some

pedantic pedagogue

promoting what he calls

manna food?

The life-long learner

comes

if true to self

and that which beckons him

to ponder deep desires of early life

when inner voices tried to make him hear

and follow his own siren’s song.

To live uniquely as himself

to view his world

in such a way

that education emanates

from each experience

to teach him

most of all

about himself.                                                            

Witnesses                                                       

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Witnesses they say

surround us

invisibly attending

indivisibly uniting

in such great company

that spoken of as clouds

great masses

throngs of ones

too numerous to number

ethereally growing

as joined by new arrivals

some of whom have

known us in a special way

and watch to see if their

imprimatur still tangible

within the heart

informs our pilgrimage.

Witnesses they say

surround us

their watchfulness

not all they bring

no, least of all

their watchfulness

for sightless they would still

perform their gift

of lifting and embracing us.

Comfort Ye

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Comfort

comfort ye my people

comes command

and yet perhaps more

confirmation of

the character of

creaturehood

than mandate for life mission.

From whence comes true compassion?

Perhaps as we spring

fully formed

in soul-made grandeur

from the womb of Him

who birthed all sacred life.

So we endowed

with angel flight

and special birthing splendor

hold secretly sequestered

in dark reaches

heretofore unspermed

conception capabilities

of such elaboration

angelic choirs

would sing our praise

and we magnificats would raise

were we to witness and display

peculiar parity with God

as in immaculate conceiving

we give birth

to God’s own wombness

passioning with those begotten ones

who need some mending of their wings.

Baptism

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Baptized once with water

ceremonially

or bathed in childhood

or perhaps alone with tears

or saved from certain drowning

or drenched with raging rain

some experience of water

has impressioned us

with grave importance

of the power it has

and when we hear the story

of those on whom the splashing

was accompanied by words

of cleansing to embrace new life

we wonder as we later ponder

other needed rituals of water     

and a wrestling then with life

to find a newness never found

not knowing where or even if

a new one could be had without

a certain rite in which

a cleric spoke convincingly

of purity and sanctity

that made us

not only know in mind

but feel in heart

a sense that some rare grace

indeed had come to take us

not so much from something old

as into something new

and being clothed

in fresh washed white

drink water as if holy wine.

Not As the World Gives

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

‘Not as the world gives’

is your peace you said

yet we would be

content just now with

what the world defines

since such unpeacefulness abounds

we cannot entertain the notion

of a state within

when all about us

life’s demise looms large.   

Power plays take center stage

and those rehearsing roles

soon star in great performances

surprising e’en themselves

with prowess and precision patterning.

Oh greed where is thy pain

which piercing self to inner well

of generosity so makes our

substance sharing

more to be desired

than much fine gold?

Where is the understanding

of that peace not understood

by mortal minds but mandates

light’s deep penetration of the

soul’s storehouse of truth?  

Is there a spirit energy

encased within your peace

propelling us to

show the world the way?

Pouring Nard

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Our alabaster jars emit

some essence purely ours

unnamed but permeating

deep within our secret place

saved up long years ‘til space brim-full

to be poured out unconsciously

on that most precious personhood

soul-born within the womb of God

anointing as one would a king

except this spills down past the head,

the seat of power, of will, of aim,

and covers all the flesh

and all interior dwelling

and all ethereal parts unknown

but to Begetter in beginning

that all may know the kingdom

and royal robes forever wear

and offer oblations as the high priest

and spread divinity throughout the realm.

Communal

Note: If you want to comment on Ann’s poetry, I will copy and paste, just as you have written, into an email to her. Thank you. – Celia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Rustle of anticipation

decorum-tamed in sacred space

could not contain

eager excitement as

children-like they waited watching

crowding in habitual place

sharing seats with former strangers

expectation now uniting.

The moment came and on the face

of each one present glowed a radiance

felt within and seen without

igniting new communal flame

non-consuming yet hope-glowing

in the destined still-to-be.

Unseen aureoles now formed

around the crowd as well as him who spoke

in new yet old familiar tongue

each falling rapt upon the ear

of all who in the hearing heard

the rush of holy breath and knew that

they were born again commensally.

Born of and with and then into

the Spirit of the One whose

once-begotten Spirit we all are.

How Can We Be at Peace?

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

How can we be at peace when

spirits’ doors are locked against it?

locked and bolted ‘gainst

we know not what but the

unknowing makes us fearful still.

Fearful of whatever lies beyond

paltry presumption of control 

beyond concentrated consciousness

that knows so little

understanding even less.

Fearfulness that lies in wait

albeit quite against its will 

for frequent fear is nonetheless

predictable and anxious huddling

in its shadow is more

to be desired than any sort

of openness to expectation’s

swaddling cloths of vulnerability.

How senseful that our fear 

that chronic lodger

continues welcome with its stale                         

foul breath and stained attire

when we the landlords

with our legalese

could if we dared

advertise our “rooms to let”

and interview new prospects

always with the veto power

tightly clutched within our ring of keys.  

Union

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Water into wine

into sacramental pure libation

shared by all attending

festive culmination of betrothal

of the bridegroom and the bride.

Preparations planned to posture

in appointed places

all the actors

of the passion play

the passage rite

the mystery of miracle

leaving home and kindred folk

to enter tiny canopy and there

repeat the ancient vows

and pledge to honor

new relationship of head and heart.

Would that all so young

might don the wedding white

baptismal robes and leave

the washing waters of remorse

and feel such cleansing

as pre-nuptials require

to fully celebrate the union

of my mind and soul.

Name

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The name’s the thing–                                                                                                                                   

the precious thing that’s mine alone.

Some stories tell of Adam

naming animals with such humor

and caprice that we are made to laugh

and as young children we named toys,

then pets, and some of us kept genealogy

of all the living creatures that came

to love us in our youth.

We named our playmates, imaginary though they were,

and those of us with great imaginations

even gave ourselves new names and then designed the tales

to prove that those names were most real.

But Kunta Kinte brought to us a new reality

in the giving of our names.  Was he named

by splendid universe or great ruler thereof

or was he named in presence of and introduced

at once to all the galaxies beyond?

No matter.  Perhaps both.  Whatever happened

as we read or witnessed it on film,

and witnessed, too, the naming of the

families of slaves descended from this one,

we learned to longer look at naming

and the phenomenon

it truly is.

How many names do we possess?

And have we named ourselves as we

were wont to do?

And have we understood the family

of names passed down to us from all

ancestors who lived before and wove their

lives into peculiar branches that are ours?

And naming of ourselves–how often and deliberately

have we bestowed upon ourselves

appropriate appellations reckoned

 by a quickened self-disclosure?

How often have we let the voice

of God break through the towers of babbling names

in order to proclaim again–or for the first time

to our sometimes deafened ear

our holy name of well belov-ed only child?

Exile

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:                        

Sent into exile, called out of exile

Who sends?

Who calls?

Once upon a pilgrim journey

seeking what had been abandoned

but what memory labeled lost

and held remorse at having let it loose

and turned that sorrow into stern resentment

at victim-state inexorable

and pondered who the persecutor be

and weighed the balance of another’s misery

with hope to win the crown of thorns for prize.

Through exile comes the Kingdom

in golden robes of seamlessness

once blame is cast aside

and hope can see the beauty of the wayside

and yearn for life

as those beneath the water yearn for air.

Hands

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Casting out demons

offering cold water

embracing into life

 Let hands be used.

Hands are used

almost reflexively

as if they

led by force unknown to human brain

guided by some unseen master Hand

whose plan surprises

as we see ourselves

gently stroke a poor child’s head

rise to voice a cause conflicted

write a letter to support or warn

fashion baby quilts and garden plots

touch the dying in their final hour.

Perhaps our greatest strength reveals itself

in hands’ activity

behooving us

to study ours

to see what power

we have and use.        

Welcome the Child

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Welcome the Child

the child in me who longs to be

            unhampered by high expectations

            placed upon her by comparative critique

            so constant that the life blood joy

            begins to pale and then succumbs

            to lethargy within the deepening dark

the child in me who wants to be

            active in one world

            and nurturing attachment

            to another

            with eucharistic daily bread

the child in me who needs to be

            rebirthed into a balanced one

            who free of censorship of self

            and habits binding  

            from a paralyzing past

            can welcome other children

            from confining prison cells.

Welcome my child

            the little me so bonded with

            the Old Embracing One

            who never for an instant

            e’en considered

            abandoning or bruising

            my small soul.

Happy Dreams

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

New Truth

New truth comes to me

and I

eager to demonstrate

this sudden energy

look for someone

who might listen

but all are busy

looking for their own

interior informings

or if they hear me

give back blank looks

and realizing I have failed

to share some substance

of my newfound joy

I wince and wonder

if I’m meant to speak at all

or rather keep inside me

all that cries out to be told.

From time again of reaching out

with words

in vain attempts

conveying little

of this deepest gift

I come at last to know

the patience of the ancients

who learned what I must learn:

the simple waiting

until time and place

and question from another

might reveal

communal readiness

to share.


Meditation from Celia:

“I said before that the first change, before dreams disappear, is that your dreams of fear are changed to happy dreams.  That is what the Holy Spirit does in the special relationship.  He does not destroy it, nor snatch it away from you.  (A Course in Miracles, FIP ed., T-18.II.6)

The two parts of this quotations are linked together by the fact of a happy dream.  The Holy Spirit acts in us to change our dreams of hostility and anger and pain to happy dreams, even though we are still asleep and don’t entirely know how this change is happening.  What is going on is that our projection from within, where the Holy Spirit resides, is changing.  We are projecting more loving thoughts, and thus the perception that we have of the outer world is that it is changing, independent of us.  This change is not independently wrought.  And as we become happier, seeing in a more loving and kind way, the dream we experience becomes even better!

At this point our special relationships will begin to look better and better, not filled as much with pain or the vicissitudes of mood.  The special relationships, at this precise point, have not yet transformed into holy, but the potential is there.  We will want them to be holy as we proceed in our study of A Course in Miracles.

The Holy Spirit does not snatch away our special relationships, though we are fearful that, being inferior, He will decide that this form has to go.  The person most likely doesn’t have to go—if the transformation into a holy relationship can be made. 

We are learning in the context of ACIM.  We are projecting more positive aspects to our outer world, and everything changes at this point.  We are drawn by the joy that we experience as these changes come about.  This joy leads us to forget the ego, and just run to the joy.

And in that running will we take the next step, the sometimes disjointed next step, of transforming our special relationships (which have always been problematic) into something better—something holy.

Draw Nigh to the Comforter

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Seeking Wholeness    

Hungry

I find myself

for comforting

eternal words

sustaining this frail being

torn between two spheres

eager immortality

producing living words

to last beyond the grave

and worldliness accommodated

by constant cache of fiction facts

Thirsty

I am

for what would quench

and bring together both in

steady stream through daily pulsing life

Desperate

I stretch

 this empty frame

pleading for the great “I Am”

to root so resolute

transforming my attachments

and divinizing me.


Meditation from Celia:

Draw Nigh to the Comforter

“You will no longer resist the process of purification, by whatever means the Comforter uses for you.  It simply does not matter anymore:

“Why resist it?  All I want is God!

“If it is dissolved in the mind in a split second, and you do not even notice it—fine.  If it requires great tears and great experiences in the world—fine.  What is the difference?  They are really the same.  It is because you have relinquished—through allowing—ownership of your pathway home.  You have decided to let the Comforter take you home.” (“The Way of Transformation,” The Way of Mastery, Chapter 21, Page 255)

The Comforter, as we know, is the Holy Spirit.  He is always present, always giving us solace in a sometimes difficult world.  His emotional support will allow us to live through difficulties unscathed, even difficulties that are suffering and pain.

We have traveled far from our Maker.  We have made drastic mistakes that have colored our minds and perhaps even our hearts.  Drastic measures are sometimes taken by our souls to turn us back toward God and our home in heaven.  Only when we recognize, however dimly, that these drastic measures, chosen by our own souls, are sometimes necessary to bring a light into our deluded minds, only then will we know that all the suffering and pain were worth it.

God only loves.  Our souls make far more of the choices for us than we can know on this earth, in this world.  And at heart we are all One. 

Thank God that He did not abandon us in misery.  The Holy Spirit, our Comforter, will always lend a listening ear and a surcease to that which troubles us, whether immediate or down the road.  God does not abandon us.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

God Fruit

I am

you are

he is

            all God-fruit

            from germinated holy seed

            and ripening unevenly           

            appear misshapen and discolored

            as if from bruising

            or poor pollination.

I am

you are

he is

            judged by size and shapeliness

            and sometimes even fragrance

            as would-be orchard laborers

            determine if we’re worth

            the time and trouble

            to sift and sort for sale.

Even I

and you

and he

            forget we are not

            quality controllers

            in the large warehouses of humanity

            where clock time works against us.

The message is the thing

            that seeks to penetrate the rind

            for transformation of the seed capsules

            to let burst forth the flavor of the core.


From Celia’s Images from a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

On what “works” in work for me:  “This morning I was very sleepy and relaxed–a little numb.  As a result I slowed down at work to great benefit.  I need to stop falling all over myself to get my work done.” Yet, the very next day, I wrote, “I seem to anticipate work and have a hard time doing that.  I don’t handle a million things to do very well.” Yet, though I clearly recognized this in 1992, I still haven’t truly accepted it and planned my work accordingly. 

I have a pattern of taking on more and more, getting “swamped,” and pulling back—only to repeat the same dynamic.  I may be addicted to an adrenaline rush which my body can’t sustain over the long haul.  So I end up anxious, and my husband does therapy for me over breakfast. Not fair to him or my real Self. 

A Course in Miracles says that the first obstacle that peace must flow across is the desire to get rid of it. (T-19.IV.A.1:1) 

How true!

God’s Listening Ear

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Breaking Bread

Am I engaged in eating

when another I might feed?

Must both the giver

and receiver dine together?

And if I

not hungry

simply want to share

is table fellowship required?

But if no food have I

not even for myself

might my meal partner

have some to share with me?

Or if we two

have no fresh bread

to break and eat together

might there be

a different kind of meal?

A breaking open of ourselves

revealing sustenance?

A spirit sharing one with one?

And wafting through the meal

aroma of the Father’s favorite food?


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

“Lead, kindly Light . . .

Keep thou my feet: I do not ask to see

The distant scene; one step enough for me.”

–Arthur Hays Sulzberger

Simply put one foot in front of the other and walk.  This is the secret of getting over an enervating malaise, if it is only mildly debilitating.  Truly pathological depression is going to require something more: usually biochemicals as well as a good listening ear.  (And God has the best Listening Ear of all.)

Keeping Pace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Martyr

Don’t call me martyr!

I abhor the name!

Daring

to dissect what motivates

to label action

to pass judgment on behavior

pieced in hearsay quilts!

Don’t tell me who I am

for you don’t know!

You cannot read my heart

and if you could

would miss the wisdom

from the depths of pondering

and placing

self-absorbed requitement for existence first.

Don’t nominative my life with fickle flattery

that cheapens everything I hold most dear

and spreads a sense of soiledness throughout my soul.

Don’t speak to me of

what you might call sacrifice!

I shun the word as prostitution

of my own free will

and sure damnation

of God’s wealth of joy.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Norman Vincent Peale counseled pacing in daily life (though he did not call it that).  If in God’s own time, it is not there, it was not meant to be there.  This also works to mediate against precipitous action.  I don’t know that it would work in a life-threatening situation, but in my own life and work, I know that considered action and going with the flow (not bucking the tide) is what gets the job done.

On what really counts in life:  “I’ve wondered if putting A Course in Miracles into practice in a fast-paced and demanding life is the best thing that I could do.  But I don’t think life is meant to be as fast-paced as we live it.” 

Work

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Buried Treasure

The God of terror and of joy

   has buried deep within

     the unimaginable

         to frighten and release

            in its own time.

Perhaps we once knew what it was–

  knew and were not strong enough

    to deal with that reality

      so like the single talent one

          entombed it well.

And through the years

   we grew and changed

     and as time passed

       forgot the nature

         of our buried prize.

We came to distrust

   hidden substances

     in their un-knowing

       and then to fear

         and then to hate.

We bought large locks

    for dungeon doors

      determined now

        to keep enchained

          the secret there.

But it too grew

   and finally outgrew

    the closet chamber deeps.

The concentration pressed against 

   the world of consciousness

     and would not be contained.

 I press with all my might

   but cannot keep

      the stone from bursting forth

          revealing the white raiment

            of my twice-born soul.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

I remember in college hearing a professor mention that some character in literature “derived his meaning in life from work.” 

I immediately saw myself in those words.  But in recent years my journal has been filled with variations on the theme, “I have to get over feeling that I want to push-push-push at work.”  The problem is that I become obsessive about work when I am truly “into” it, but my emotional make-up screams at me that I need to lighten up. 

So I do—and the oscillations of greater and lesser work play themselves out over and over.  I would be better to seek a steady pace, not making the same mistake of work overload on a recurring basis.

It is hard for me to go easy when I see deadlines staring me in the face.  Yet this is just what I must learn to do.  The fact that the problem recurs proves that there is a better way for me to freely choose—and choose it I must.

Looking to the Future

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Washing                                 

Hardly recognizing I’ve been washed

   I catch the scent of sun-sweet cleanliness

     and wondering about the source

       don’t stop to ponder greater need.

Seeing that the new spring rain

   has made all Nature fresh again

      I leave to her the task of self-renewal

        and disregard my likeness to her own.

But restlessness o’ertakes me

  and I no pleasure gain from her fair form

    as I encounter winter in my spirit

      where new April life should be.

I cannot rise in rapture

  to match the show of beauty splashed about

    but witnessing new wonder

      feel myself begin to plummet to despair.

I question her concerning this

  and hear her say

    my clothes are soiled beyond restoring

      and I must discard all

        before I can be washed full clean.

I cannot readily agree to give up favored garments

  and cast aside what have become

    the ordered habits of my days.

Then I an inventory take

  of all these purchased,

    hand-me-downs,

      and old ones altered to conform

        to the image I’ve desired for all to see.

And realizing all are worn and dingy

  and no longer hold the shape and newness

    they once had

      still wonder what replacements

        I can find more worthy than these wraps

          I’ve clung to for so long.

While pondering this question

  I become so conscious of anxiety

    at present state I cannot find a

      single satisfying garment wrap around.

I think of all my dreams

  where I run free

    completely nude

      while all the others

        fully dressed

          stand by and stare.

And realize the message of the dream

  directs me to an inner casting off

    where I unhesitatingly

      walk about with barefoot spirit

        happy to be free

          of all encumbrances.

And thinking of the ancient rite

  of river cleansing

    seal of sacrament

      concluded with new convert

        wrapped in clean white robe.

I remember Nature’s words

  and tell her in hushed voice

    that I agree my washing need is great

and looking to her purgatorial source

  to take away my soul soil utterly

    I cease debating how or when or where

      some earthly pure white robing might occur.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Is suffering a choice?  Leigh says “yes”; Betsy disagrees.  And neither has had a particularly happy life.  But the fact that suffering might be chosen should give us the impetus to walk lightly along our paths.  As the sympathetic executioner is reported to have said to Socrates on handing him the hemlock: “And so fare you well, and try to bear lightly what must needs be . . .”

Sometimes the best therapy is going to work each day.  An easy attitude toward one’s duties is a remarkable coping mechanism. Should one resist, the force field may become stronger, and the flow all but gone.

David said that he thought I would be very good at library administration, but that I would be perfectly miserable in my work.  Yes, I too fear I would be in a place where no birds sing.

So I risk making a mistake by avoiding this challenge in order to travel peacefully along more pleasant pathways. 

After all, the A Course in Miracles says, “Heaven asks nothing.  It is hell that makes extravagant demands for sacrifice.” (W-pI.135.24:3-4) In the cool of fading evening, I think I will be glad I listened to the songs of birds.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Deliver Me!

Deliver me

            from indignation’s wrath that

              saps my creativity

                and true compassion

                   and poises on the brink

                      of righteousness so false that

                         I can see no way around my

                            puffed-up sense of rectitude

                               and blinded arrogance.

Deliver me

            from anger so projected on

              pale circumstance or conversation

                 so lightly entered into by another

                    as to be overwhelmed at my

                        unleashing fire and thunderbolt

                           from sources never intimated

                              by what would seem

                                 a casual exchange.

Deliver me

            from cheap facade–

              the painted harlequin of face

                that covers rage so deep as to

                  explode in unforeseen expression

                     inexplicable by me

                        or anyone who listens or observes

                          or hears a later telling of

                             the strange and puzzling tale.

Deliver me

            from table overturning in a

               self-appointed moment of smug

                 superiority of justice meted out

                   or conspicuous display of brute force

                        from dark imprisonment

                           in invulnerability’s easy guise                    

                             that camouflages craftily

                                the well-thought-out charade.    

Deliver me!


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

For me, too much stress brings on anger (and, all too often, resulting attack), whereas overwork linked with perfectionism brings on a critical attitude.  Knowing this suggests that I should consciously avoid filling my life with patterns that bring out the worst in me.  Knowing this, does it not follow that I should cultivate Peace at whatever cost to ambition?  It is best to observe what triggers one’s negative behavior, and then turn in the opposite direction.

“Stop and smell the roses.”  This everyday admonition invites speculation: If we don’t, what is the worst that will happen to us?  An unexamined life may mean less real living (as opposed to existing), especially if what happens always seem to happen to us, rather than being selected by us.

I Can Escape from the World I See by Giving Up Attack Thoughts

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Sacred Font

Forgetting that we come from holy water,

            that we once were the river,

                        we soon are frightened of its power, its depth

                                    and what might lie within.

Mammals we think ourselves to be

            and use the river to our own chief ends

                        unmindful of our once connectedness.

Rites of cleansing followed still religiously

            in ways prescribed by ancients who

                        perhaps knew something of the mystery

                                    but knew not how to give the secrets hidden there.

Dare we risk ourselves to plumb our

            inner ocean?  to let the whale devour

                        without assurance we’ll survive?

                                    to dream there might be life too deep to fathom

                                                and being tossed on shore we’d breathe again?

Perhaps the frequent washing of our souls

            that tears provide

                        might also give a glimpse

                                    of living water yet reserved

                                                for us alone within the sacred font.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Why do I seem to need to have permission to be happy—never to spoil it by worry?

A Course in Miracles says, “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23) Jesus means that the “real world,” a dream granted by the Holy Spirit, is without the conflicts that most of us experience in the modern, work-a-day, world.  The miracle comes about because of inner changes in a person. 

Even the most conflicted day loses its punching power when one looks out on the chaos from a soft and warm heart.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Holy Promise

The holy promise

   planted in the soul of each newborn

     reverberating through the lineage

       to those who hear the words aloud

            repeated by their elders as they learn

              the answers to the “who made you?”

                 and struggle with their own

                   repeated “why?” and “what now?”

                     and the tension of the sometimes

                        too taut tether cord

and planted, too, this covenant

   within the deeps of those

     who never hear the sacred sentence

       Scripture speaks to those

           within the confines

             of an orderly progression

                of confessional conscientiousness

                   where stories of the patriarchs

                      weave threads of continuity

                        irrefutable by time

this covenant

 announces from on high

   the ‘I will be’ and ‘you will be’

       resounding through all heartbeats

           transcending sacred writ

              telling all attentive

                 and declaring loud to deafened ears

                     and sending solace to the spirits

                          of those who never harken

                              to the inner urgings of their soul.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

The re-entry problems at work on Monday are not physiological or even psychological for the frequently cited reasons.  After “flight” on the preceding two days, the body gets up once again to “fight.”  And the more relaxing the flight has been, the more likely the fight will bring fears. 

One has let down one’s guard, and the ego doesn’t take kindly to peace.  It knows its days are numbered if its owner should ever learn to choose Peace consistently.

Why is it that so many of us are cowards in the middle of the night? 

If we could all learn how to separate “big deals” from trifles, we would certainly be well along the way toward living satisfactorily and peacefully.

Work Pressures

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Listening

I sought to listen to my Lord.

By various means I tried to hear Him speak–

            a brightening breeze through leafed-out trees

            a bird outside my window pane

            a tiny stream o’er river rocks

            a sung word touching deep within

            a Scripture phrase speaking anew

            and my own pen bringing forth more

In these and more I thought I heard my Lord.

But then my heart, still restless, searched again

            for music far beyond the lovely singing

            for just one sacred word for mantra’s sake

            for inspiration wordless as a feeling.

And then my heart declared to me “search on!”

            to reach beyond the music to the silence

            to find the space beyond all sacred speech

            to journey safe beyond diverse distractions.

 I found the place at last

            filled with wonder dark and fathomless

            a stillness indescribable

            a place beyond all time and memory

            a depth beyond my wide imagining

            the center of my very self it is

where even consciousness appears suspended

there is where my Lord comes now to me.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

There is a point at which too much work to do becomes clearly counterproductive, because one’s stress level impedes actually turning out the work at a reasonable pace. 

In the midst of 800 junior high students clamoring for attention in their school library, I once said to myself (over and over, in a kind of refrain), “If I do nothing else, I will remain calm.” 

Of course, that affirmation actually put me in a frame of mind in which I could do something else.  Reverse psychology is a powerful protective device.

On the strength in remaining calm:  “When I’m not stressed, I think I can handle virtually anything.”

On solving problems:  “No decision can be really difficult unless we complicate the issue by worry.”

Truly to Live

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My Soul

My soul

            called forth

                         from me

                                     by that within

                                                and yet beyond

            called out

                         to be

                                    to fly

            called back

                         to follow

                                    the limitations

                                                of its transient home

            called up

                        to glimpse

                                     the more of yearning

            called on

                         to strive

                                    to pierce the breaking point

            called down

                        to dream again

                                    and there

                                                 within the dream

            called in

                         to break

                                    and from the broken pieces

called out again


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

One should make one’s living in a manner that allows true “living,” on the job as well as off. Serving as a reference librarian and book/periodical selector is the pleasant way that I spend my day, the way that I earn a living that doesn’t consume all of me but allows me to think and dream about other things. 

When I am stressed, I don’t make much progress in my spiritual life because I am too distracted. Maybe I should take the route that allows me to live comfortably (emotionally) because big bucks in some other job might make me financially secure but very tense, anxious, and maybe even unhappy in the daily work.

Choice to Write

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Beatitude

Blessed are the dead

    whose death comes peaceful as a slumber

        from a day of toil and song

Blessed are the living

    whose walks are filled with knowledge

        that each day might be their last

Blessed are those whose memories

    comfort with the absence

        of those gone before

Blessed are those whose heart strings

     play the melodies

        of unsung songs and voices

Blessed are the celebrants 

    whose lives memorialize

         the spirit of the absent ones

Blessed are the glimpses

    that quicken possibilities

        of joy that lie ahead

Blessed are the passionate

    who follow spirits leading them

        into the heart of God

Blessed are you

    whose open souls receive

        the gracious gifts so freely given


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

An experience in scholarly writing:  “I worked very hard last Monday, reading all day for my book.  I really didn’t enjoy it.”

Later on . . . ”Most of that work was fruitless.  I didn’t put it in my book after all.  When work becomes a dull ache, it is usually wrong.”

On second-guessing my life’s work:  “What do I really want to do with the rest of my life?  Is it enough just to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting on a daily basis?  Is long-range planning really a defense?  (The Course suggests that it is.)  (W- pI.135.14:1) Could I do my writing as well as have a more successful library career? 

The key to the latter would be ever-better interactions with the people I encounter everyday.  Sometimes I think the job of librarian really doesn’t accomplish much.  All of us work so hard on meaningless things; I see it all the time on the reference desk among the patrons, and I try to be tolerant. 

Healing minds in the sense meant by the Course has really become my preoccupation.  Knowing that, is it any wonder that I’m still tied to my very social occupation even though I’d rather write?