Saturday, September 7, 2013

Meditation Retreat on the Earth Element
With incense for the season and Honey Tasting
Hazelbrand Forest Hermitage
September 7, 2013

Just past dawn I opened the barn doors on each end. The filtered white light filled and warmed the cavernous barn. We started the retreat by preparing our space – finding our cushion/zabuton and zafu or mountain seat – or other, and making it ours. I lit the bamboo charcoal we will use for the incense this morning.
            Then, we walked out the barn doors to the grassy field. We gathered in a group and opened to the directions. East – Spring, South – Summer, Southwest – Earth,  Northwest – Late Fall, North – Winter. Then we added layers, Navajo directions and sacred meanings and Changing Woman, Celtic, Ayruvedic. By the time we had completed the circle and turned back to East we had a good idea of the energetic movements and meanings, colors, tastes, plants and personalities that inhabit each. How each direction is part of the aliveness of Earth, regardless of the “system” we use.
            The earth element, or phase, brings us balance, harmony, a center position among all the elements. It is the place of the Peacemaker, at this late time of summer, of ripening fruits, maturing wisdom, fullness of life. It is transition point between yang and the coming yin of fall-winter.
            Now we headed back into the barn, to our spaces. We bowed to the altar, we bowed to our cushion, we bowed to each other. And we sat.  We let the earth support us.
I lit incense – for this morning is propolis – the material bees make to seal their hives. It has an intense honey smell – the sweetness that symbolizes the earth phase. We use the incense to deepen our meditation, and we use our meditation to deepen our understanding of propolis.
One bell to begin meditation, three bells to end. Sit/walk/sit. Going barefoot in the cool morning grass for walking meditation– wow! It was cushiony under my feet, and wet. Ten minutes out and back, and we resume our meditation. The quiet deepening, a stillness overcomes us. One dog barks a bit, then a donkey (San Juan I am sure of it – I know the sound of his voice), and one lawn mover for a few minutes. But mostly on this September morning, birds, geese overhead, and Spider Woman watching us from her perch.

We celebrate the fullness of life today. That is the culmination of the Earth phase.
Thirty minutes break and we resume our conversation about Earth. About our Animal Bodies, about our kinship with all-that-is. I tell the story of Mitti Attar, the most precious perfume of the Lord Krishna, made from the first drop of water on parched dry land. The scent sweet, but deeper than propolis. With an edge, an earth edge. We touch it to our wrists and our noses and I sprinkle a few drops on the burning coals.
This is the illumination of the incarnation. Of the Divine becoming earth – mud – us. And so we sit in the stillness. Taking in balance, harmony, ripening fruits, wisdom, fullness of life, the stillpoint between yang and yin. Observing the incarnation as it has come to us.
Where is the Peacemaker in us? How can we use this time this morning to be a support to the Earth, as it has been a support to us? How might we begin again, with the turning of the wheel of the year, as we move toward introspection and deepening wisdom?
Then we physically eat the sweet earth. Honey – ten different varieties, scones, biscuits, breads, rice crackers, turnovers, homemade strawberry jam, apple butter. We sit together – on the floor, around on couches, and wonder about the Earth phase and its meaning for us as Peacemakers. As incarnation. As a sacred living.

The Rev. Cynthia Hizer

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

A kind of compulsion

September 4 2013

There is a kind of compulsion this time of year, to burst.
It seems we grow and grow and grow and ripen and ripen and open ourselves to love and life - to excess.
On hot summer days -
So hot the tomatoes burst if we touch them, which is why we don't pick tomatoes in the heat of the day.
So hot the volatile oils in basil leaves perfume  - the oils practically boil out of the cells and explode into the noonday air.
So hot passions overtake us, our reasoning faculties elude us, and we make rash, stupid decisions that a cooler head might prevent. A time for red lipstick and extra high-heeled sandals and painted toe nails.

This excess of heat and passion and volatility at some point has to combust into fire, into fruition, until it  finally has to -- exhale.
Yang turns back toward yin.
But before it does, in the afternoon, sometime past noon and before dusk, we have the harvest.
We have the exploding flavor of ripe juicy tomatoes and corn bursting with milk and cucumbers and melons and figs and grain and grapes turning into raisins. So much flavor, so much love, so much pure bliss, so much light-headedness,
all held in suspension at this moment in late summer. Indian Summer. The time when time stops for a long pause, before yang exhausts itself.
The Earth phase of late summer comes into glory, a gracious plenty, the groaning board of contentment laughing at its own crazy exuberant abundance.