Prayer

Prayer—reaching outward

reaching inward

reaching toward something

more real than I find myself to be—

reaching toward a light in darkness

toward a confirmation in the midst of doubt

toward fulfillment in a time of emptiness

toward something other.

 

Prayer moves in emptiness

moves below emptiness

to a place of silent stillness

where there are no words

no feelings

but a sense of completion

as my “I am” dissolves into the Other.

 

Ann Glover O’Dell

13 January 2020

Light in Darkness

It is significant that Christmas is celebrated by us at the winter solstice–the point of shortest daylight and longest night.  The nighttime represents our unconscious–the dark, hidden part of us that must birth the new being within us–the Christ into our personality.  This birth comes only after a period of gestation within the unconscious womb.  The long dark winter represents the long gestation period.  The new birth occurs when the darkness is the longest, out of which comes the dawn of a new life.  Only after the longest, darkest period in our lives can this new birth occur.

In the mythological story of the soul–the Christian Nativity narrative–the conception takes place in the spring, the time when nature exhibits her greatest fertility.  Birth takes place in the season when nature manifests no sign of life.  Most vegetation seems dead.  Even light–the source of life–wanes to the point where the days are shortest and the nights are longest.  It seems that light is being swallowed up in darkness, that life is being consumed by death.  But out of this darkness–this womb of winter–comes something new and wonderful–hoped for, longed for, desired above all, yet not dared expected.

Darkness also represents the unawareness of our conscious to the light within us–the abundant life Jesus said he came to give.  Jesus is the physical person who represents the spiritual person of God that wants to be experienced within each of us.  The darkness of our conscious awareness to spiritual matters is such that it does not understand, expect, or even “have a clue” to the inner light that continues to shine in our soul even though we do not see it, do not experience it.  We must finally experience our fill of darkness–become sick and tired–even despairing of looking for some sort of light to warm and illumine us.  We must finally come to the “dark night of the soul” and cry out for light in order for God to be able to make us see and experience the light he placed within us before we were born–the light he begot us with–his own holiness.

Winter is the worst time to have a baby–cold weather, lots of germs and disease going around, little sunshine.  It is difficult for a newborn to get a good start physically.  Winter is the best time for a baby to be born for non-physical reasons: it puts a ray of hope and joy in the midst of our bleak mid-winter–a ray of human light into the short days and long nights of the year’s end.  In the winter of our lives, when the days are short, light has faded from our lives.  We need new light, a new kind of light.

How does birth of a newborn connect with the winter solstice?  Think small.  On the shortest day of the year, in the smallest amount of light, is born the smallest unit of human life.  Solstice and the birth of Christ come together to point us to a celebration, not only of what has happened, is, and will be in terms of the patterns of earth and sun and a special baby born one winter’s night in a cattle stall, but of something that is designed to occur within our individual lives.

Not only do we celebrate the mid-winter’s lengthening of days and the Christ-Child as the “Light of the World.”  We also celebrate the possibility of the coming of a kind of light the kindles a fire within us on the altar of our hearts–a fire that we shall never stop tending because of all that is provides for us: light, warmth, life, joy.

Womb Work

In Genesis we learn that out of the womb of darkness and chaos God birthed Creation.  Out of the womb of the ark, new life began after the flood.  Out of the womb of the great fish Jonah was given a new opportunity for life.

So out of our inner spiritual womb God wants to bring a unique Creation that only we can experience–His own holiness, placed within us before our birth.

In one sense Mary represents a part of each of us–the Virgin Womb–our Spiritual Womb–unused, undisturbed, unfulfilled–awaiting the planting of the spiritual seed–the seed of conscious insemination–our conscious desire for something new to be born in us.

God was preparing Mary’s heart long before the angel came to ask permission to plant the seed within her.  God has been doing the same with us.  And the message is the same! ‘Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!’  Each of us is God’s favored one, his special, precious Child, to whom and in whom he wants to communicate great joy.

The physical is always a symbol for the spiritual.  What we need is a spiritual frame of mind to perceive it.  The physical rite of passage from virgin to initiated participant in sexual enjoyment–the fullest possible expression of human physical joy–gives us a clue to the kind of spiritual ecstasy God wants us to experience on a spiritual level.

This spiritual pregnancy is a different kind of pregnancy.  Many biological children are conceived accidentally.  Not so in our spiritual virgin womb.  This conception can only occur intentionally–where our conscious gives permission to have the seed of new life planted.  Our conscious will not only must want new life but must give permission for the incubation period to be as long or as short as needed, and for the birth to take place wherever it chooses.

This is not a nine-month pregnancy.  The gestation period varies with each individual. And birth does not take place in a hospital labor room.  It may take place in your own home, on a trip, or in a distant place.  Your spiritual birthplace can be anywhere.  Your womb will know the time and the place.  You may be, in fact, already on the road to Bethlehem.  I hope so.

 

God’s Message

An ancient Christian theologian penned this couplet:

“Of what value is God’s message to Marie [Mary, mother of Jesus]

if He has not the same message for me?”

God is trying to give us the same sign, send the same message to each of us.  He wants a special birthing to take place in each one of us, each of us being his unique, holy, precious, only begotten child.

I was told by a former pastor that the pain in me had a message I needed to hear.  He sent me home to have a written dialog which revealed that something new wanted to be born in me, and something had to die for the new being to emerge.  The process awaited my permission.  It depended entirely on my consent.  God does not birth himself into our consciousness without our cooperation.

God wants to birth Himself into our awareness in such a way that we possess our own Immanuel, our own internal God-With-Us, God-Within-Us.

God’s signs are around and within us.  If we don’t witness one, God invites us to ask for one, our own personal sign.  The message to Mary is God’s message to us.  He awaits our permission.

 

Your Kingdom

The Magi had been informed in their study that a new king would be born in their lifetime and a special star would appear in the heavens to indicate the birthplace.  They waited and watched until they saw the star.

We are kings of our own kingdom, rulers of individual realm.  We are not watching for a star because we’re not interested in a new king.  We don’t want any competition for our throne.

But sometimes when we’re most introspective, we realize we would like something new and wonderful happening in our lives—we’re not sure what but something that will give us a kind of joy we haven’t experienced in a long time.

We need not look for a star in the heavens.  Our sign is within us, beckoning us to the manger deep in our weary spirits, lighting the way for our conscious awareness to see something new, waiting for us to arrive so the new birth can be witnessed and celebrated.

Don’t be afraid to follow your sign to the place where only you can be reborn.  All you need to do is give permission for the new king, your own benevolent monarch, to be born in you—to give you peace, to make you a co-creator with God in establishing a new kingdom of justice and love.

Hurry!  The world needs the new you!

Ann Glover O’Dell

January 2018

Your New Name

God wants to rename you.  God wants your name to be Emmanuel.  In your heart of hearts God wants you to be able to rename yourself.  And the only way you can authentically give yourself that name Emmanuel is to experience God within you—to such an extent that you know beyond doubt that God is with you and within you.

The Jesus story is our story—the story of each of us as God’s holy child, born to testify to the love and grace of God.  Jesus came to testify to who God is and who we are.  Jesus’ life story showed us the love of God and the divinity as well as humanity within every human being.

Isaiah is your prophet!  He is predicting all the names that will belong to you once your godchild is born in you.

Wonderful Counselor—you will be able to counsel others on how to connect with their Inner Wisdom—on how to participate in the birth of their own godchild.  What a gift that will be that you will have to give others.

Prince of Peace—you will find a kind of peacefulness in your personality that will make you a new person.  And the peacefulness that you experience will be evident to others who will want to know how you obtained it.  You will have opportunities to help others to become peaceful people.

Emmanuel—God with us.  That will be your most important spiritual name.  It means God is with you and you are able to be with others in new and loving ways.  You will be God’s representative to those with whom you come in contact.  You will be able to rejoice with those who are rejoicing without envy over whatever has happened to them to cause them to be joyful.  You will be able to grieve with those who are in sorrow without losing your balance.  You will be able to be compassionate to those who need comfort, encouragement, and guidance without trying to control them.  You finally will be able to be your genuine, original self, full of grace and love, God’s child.

Ann Glover O’Dell

December 2018

 

Godchild

What a beautiful word.  Godchild is primarily a term given to an individual, a young child, whose spiritual life we agree to take responsibility for (and sometimes to become legal guardian of in case of parents’ death). The term suggests a reminder that this individual is God’s child whose spiritual as well as physical being is unique and special.

What about our own inner godchild?  That’s the part of us that God wants us to find and watch over.

God imprinted us at our beginning with his image—indelibly. Frederick Buechner reminds us that we have “the mark of God’s thumb” on us.  The world has covered it with debris of all sorts.  But the imprint never dissolves or disappears.  Just as all mammal infants experience the imprimatur of bonding, our souls are permanently bonded with God.

Our task is to let God destroy the debris, the detritus of our lives, so that what is in our holy place can come forward—so our godchild can emerge and become the motivating force of our new lives, become the all-pervasive essential characteristic in our personality.

What a perfect time Christmas is to ponder our own holiness.

Ann Glover O’Dell

June 2018