The Spirit of Hope
It is Spring Eve, she said to all the Doubts.
Gather around! All of you.
One by one, she called their names aloud:
Like little mice in a fairy tale gone wrong
they congregated at the hem of her garment.
With kindness and fierceness in her voice,
She continued to call on all that prevents:
Gather around! All of you!
and you too, yes you! Mediocrity. Cynicism.
and Just Joking. And you!
Unwilling to change. Unwilling to look.
Unwilling to see what is needed.
Unwilling to Hope.
It is nighttime and the fireflies
are the only thing lighting the room,
and when all the parts of all of these
were gathered at the feet of the Blessed Mother,
this is what she said:
It is Spring Eve, and you all know what that means.
As I speak these words, the Spirit of Hope
is being renewed. All of you have your part
in the Great Way of how all things work:
To alert us and teach us – to guard us and to warn us –
to remind us – to get us to pay attention –
to choose differently and to overcome.
And for this, I thank you.
However, in any given situation, once your part is done –
your presence is no longer needed,
nor does it serve.
Now, I am calling forth your elder twin cousins:
Old Patterns! Come! and Not Enough! Come!
With a swirl of dust they came in.
The chatter of all the others increased,
getting louder and louder and…
This is how people feel when you are all in the room!
The rooms of their hearts and minds!
They cannot even hear themselves think.
Hearing my voice is even harder.
Because you are all so demanding.
My Children try everything to quiet you.
Prayer, therapy, anger management, workshops,
spells, potions, mantras, self help books, doctors, drugs,
television and escapism of very kind.
Everything! All to try to quiet you
so they can be at peace with themselves
and the uncertainty of all things.
But it is their job to do the work! shouted Blame.
They have too much baggage to get started, quipped Non-Action.
They cannot do it! exclaimed Fear.
Whatever, muttered Mediocrity, with a shrug.
I’m not going anywhere, said Old Patterns nonchalantly.
ENOUGH! Silence! ALL of you are here to serve,
not to be served. And it just so happens
that you are not in charge. At all.
Those gathered began to cower.
I declare the First Day of Spring to be forever more
dedicated to the SPIRIT of HOPE.
I declare the First Day of Spring to be forever more
presided over by the POWER of LOVE.
Those gathered began to dissolve.
And then she released her decree.
I do hereby decree:
CREATIVITY shall illumine our minds and hearts
to choose powerfully, on our own behalf,
the way of being that enables us to live the most vital life.
CREATIVITY shall reign as the antidote
to all patterns of thinking that do not serve.
CREATIVITY focused with the intention of creating wellness
will inform us about the highest good of all.
By the time she finished speaking the last word
there was nothing left but a tiny pile of sparkles and dust
in the middle of her kitchen floor.
She got out the Great Broom of her Grandmother
that her Grandfather had made
for just such an occasion and she swept the tiny pile
into her solid gold dustpan.
She opened the kitchen window, and with a great breath
she blew the contents out the window.
They swirled up to make their own constellation
and spiraled into the cosmos.
She called that configuration What Was.
And she set the Seven Sisters to watch over them.
Then she sat back in her rocker
with a cup of rose petal and jasmine tea
in the newly created stillness of What Was,
her silver cat, Jupiter curled at her feet.
And she meditated upon What Was To Come.
She knew that Creativity would do the trick.
It always does. She mused.
In our soul resides the spark of the creative fire
whose activity, when tended, will light the path.
And one does not have to be an artist,
to do this creative work of Banishing the Doubts.
But if one will choose to use the tool of creativity
as the approach to the work of being well—
progress happens! We gain access
to our own inner resources and reasoning.
And that is connected with
the Wisdom of the Great Creative One,
Then the choices we make are empowering.
We must all learn to deal with these influences-
no matter what one calls them-that distract, and accuse.
We must learn to banish them.
We must learn to practice wellness as a way of being.
Gathering her turquoise shawl
around her hair and shoulders
in the quickening dawn she says,
It is my job
to keep those influences that harm
as far away from my children as possible,
and to provide them the tools to do the work with me.
Tools like Faith. Practice. Wisdom. Study. Art Making.
Song and Dance. Hope and Creativity.
She lights a candle for her night watch,
going over in her mind and heart the week ahead,
always mixed with the pain of Death,
and with the joy of yet New Life.
Then there is the power of the ritual
of observing her Son’s journey –
it’s parallels and consequences
in the physical and spiritual lives of her other children.
So much left to be resolved.
So much that just cannot be explained or understood.
Still, New Life continues and flourishes.
That is what her Son brings. Resurrection of the body and spirt.
Life is filled with them mystery of how it works together for good.
Death and New Life. Side by side.
Sorrow and Joy. Despair and Hope.
She wants her children to know
that New Life is possible!
And, no matter how bleak it might look,
it is happening every second.
She wants her children to know
that they do not have to understand everything
in order to overcome.
The Creator is always with every single one of you
She walks into her garden – smelling dew and dawn.
Daffodil, Narcissus, Hyacinth, Red Rose, Lily, ah, the Star Gazer.
The Sun is about to get up. It’s first slim rays glimmer
through the cherry blossoms and cast light on her hands.
She looks at her hands,
appreciating them for all their handiwork.
That white robin flies to her window sill, and watches her.
She raises her arms and opens her palms to the sky.
Her heart flame illuminates the dawn.
She lifts up her voice.
COME RENEWAL! COME FORGIVENESS!
COME All YE FAITHFUL! COME HEALING!
COME BLESSINGS! COME NEW LIFE!
At the sound of her voice
all over the world
the tulips poke up their heads.
Little lambs, saying their little baaaaah,
stumble to their feet.
Birds begin their chorus of song.
Whales send up flurries of sea water.
Buds break open.
Children begin stirring….
COME SPIRIT of HOPE!
She calls into the gold pink morning light.
And she feels that all is well.
She returns to her kitchen
and hears the stirrings of her beloved,
she pour his cup of coffee.
Good Morning My Beloved! Happy Spring!
They smile and kiss one another.
She puts honey and cream in the big white mug of coffee.
As they sit around the kitchen table, he says
We have such a busy week ahead! (Holy Week)
The whole kitchen and the whole earth, and you, are glowing!
I can see that you have already gotten us off to a mighty start!
Oh yes, she replies, smiling. Oh yes.
The Spirit of Hope – Shiloh Sophia McCloud ©2008
Easter Letter From Reverend Shiloh Sophia McCloud
Dear Friends of This Beautiful Garden Earth,
It is with a heart full of love, gratitude and possibility that I write the words of this note and the words of the above story.
I love Holy Week, and I am always blessed and amazed by the spiritual energy of new life that is present. No matter what tradition one practices the spirit of this week is present for us, and hopefully, HOPE is in our hearts. Through the increasing sorrow and tragedy that we all face and the world faces daily, I wonder – now what is it we are doing here? And what is it we are missing? What is it we can do to make change happen? And as various ideas rise into view in answer to these questions – it occurs to me again the profound gift of asking the questions at all, and as Rilke so beautifully states, we must love the questions themselves.
In my studies and ordination as Reverend, I spent Holy Week with my woman Bishop. It always amazed me how seriously she took the energy of the Easter Resurrection Story in terms of using it to parallel our own life-death life stories at the level of soul work. She showed me, through teachings and ritual, the importance of returning to the rich dark of earth – letting go –
and dying to what no longer serves. And staying there for a few days to consider… and on the Saturday night before Easter morning, I remember we lay prostrate on the ground of the sanctuary and took watch through the night. She stayed awake all night…and I did my best! And the joy of what happens next – that we get to move on – free – forgiven – released of burden – in body and spirit – to be made whole and new again, despite the odds. We get up again. Believing, hoping, dreaming of transformation. This for me is one of the blessed teachings in Christianity. Christ’s teachings point to laying our burden down – and being a new being – and his love creates a pathway for us to choose life! No matter what has happened, the power to move forward anyway, is granted – most especially at this time of year. Jesus models that for us through the Easter story. And Mary – his Mama, endures the suffering one of the greatest losses – losing a child – but then is witness to the miracle of life in his rising. And therefore, she too is resurrected in her spirit. So the story represents both bodily and spiritual renewal. I find this truly exciting!
Sharing with the people on the in my community and list is always a gift to me – as I it creates the opening for me to offer my work to the world. It creates that amazing pressure that forces ideas to form – and for the “artist” to show up. Which is what I am always trying to support others in doing, showing up for their lives, their creations. And yes, I am often concerned,
Is too much? Will they get it? Do they care?
What if they don’t like the Christian part? What if they don’t like the Blessed Mother part? What if I offend? Will they think I am off my rocker to focus so much on creativity as a path of healing? These are good questions for any artist or minister to ask – because it forces the work to go to new places of integrity. And so, how can I share my Easter painting and story with you and not share that for me, it is about Jesus’ journey to the grave and out of the tomb?! And about his mother’s journey of witnessing that – and her subsequent work in us.
And so I am sharing it! And I invite you to do the same – share with others your stories that inform your life – that makes up who you are – that informs your rituals – that brings you new life. My work is ALWAYS an invitation to the good work of becoming who we are – and I must model that myself in order to ask others to do it!
I was only 24 at the time of my Holy Orders and Ordination and did not digest fully what I was learning – or what my ministry would become. But years later it is still coming into my heart how necessary it is for us to LOOK at our ways, our lives, and ways of being – suffering we cause to ourselves, and to others, suffering others may cause us, and the suffering of the whole world. And then to bring the Spirit of Hope to that suffering wherever we are able. I believe the practice of creating is one of the ways that can happen. When I sat down in the early morn to write the Spirit of Hope story I had no idea what would come. Although while I have been working on the painting I have been catching glimpses. She is in that moment right after she has learned that her CHILD lives.
When I am painting or writing, I pray that those who receive it will be blessed and then I let in what wants to be spoken. The Blessed Mother voice today was much in children’s story form – and I felt a closeness with Her during my process. I hope that what I am sharing with you somehow reaches you through the cosmic web ways and brings you a blessing that you may be needing right this moment.
And it was so clear – that when I am speaking of creativity, it is NOT about being able to call oneself an artist – although that is good too. But about creativity as the spiritual practice, the mechanism through which to process the unsolved mysteries which knock on our door and pull at our heart. The pathway to personal illumination.
“Be Patient Towards All That Is Unsolved in Our Hearts and Try to Love the Questions Themselves.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
And so – I invite you –
to sit down with your own cup of tea and consider –
What can I release? What no longer serves?
then open that window and blow it out. Then get your journal and begin to CALL IN what it is you need to bring wellness to your own life. Which of course brings more wellness to the others in your life. Risk a little, and draw an image of what it would feel like to have more wellness, abundance and personal peace. Just play there in your journal – and allow your creativity to come into your body and spirit. It does not matter if it is smart, charming or good. It matters that you create.
And creating brings one into the now faster than any thing I know of. Because you are face to face with you in the most intimate moment – a moment when you are soul searching and soul reaching – and you are creating about it. Let the critic out the window too – and just be about feeling good for a half hour.
With Easter Blessings,
Reverend Shiloh Sophia McCloud
Minister of Sacred Arts