I call my beloved sacred meeting place a few k’s from where I live in Sydney ‘The Rock, at Whale’s Tail Point” (you won’t find it in Google Maps under that name!). I love going to this place by myself, and with others, to create sacred ceremony in some form or other, or to simply sit in gratitude for the beauty and abundance of the nature. It overlooks the city and is swarming with birdlife and other small bush animals. The rocks in the cliff face are full of stories and records of the past, present and future. The trees and wind work in harmony to show you the way as you think and talk. It is truly a sacred dreaming space. I have similar dreaming-healing spaces in nature in all the communities spaces that I take my work to.
Some of you know I often walk the city, talking to the ancestors (those of the first peoples and my own) as I walk in gratitude, love, and with the intention to send out healing and light where ever I find myself. It is not unusual on these walks for me to drop into indoor ‘sacred ‘ spaces and places of worship to say prayers for those who need healing and support at this time, and to give thanks for those who have received the same. This week I have lit candles or attended sacred services at five different places of worship to ask for healing for family members, friends and clients who need extra holding, and at the other times, like early this morning, to give thanks after the healing for them came. This week I have been to a synagogue, three churches, and one cathedral, all offering different experiences. They are the places of worship for three different faiths.
Each of these spaces have had something different to offer for me as well, and I find myself reflecting on what this may be so I may walk the world in a more conscious way. What I have been reminded of is that religion can be looked at in both negative and positive lights. Once I may have not had been able to wonder into any church and feel welcomed, or feel the right that I could be there. I am grateful it is now different. That is a big step forward. I have to say I still felt the ‘masculine’ energy far outweighed the ‘feminine’ in most (not all) of these spaces.
The two services (different faiths) I attended were both led by men, though women were welcome as ministers of the faith in some way in both. I struggled, as I often have in the past, with the heaviness and negativity surrounding some of the words and messages during one service. The other was mostly in a language I couldn’t understand, but it felt more relevant and real. What I loved was the gathering of community who come to ‘look outwardly’ together so they can walk more consciously and meaningfully in the world. Both of the sermons were focused on social justice and how each one of can make our difference. One sermon was primarily about being brave as a witness and standing up for women and men and children who are victims of domestic violence, and the other reminded us that to truly honour the sacred teachings, we must see the sacred in, and honour and assist, all beings, especially in the homeless. A stirring image of a statue (housed at a church in Toronto) was shown on a large overhead screen of Jesus lying on a park bench was shown on the overhead projector as a visual reminder of this message (see the pic here).
While I have at times turned my back on organised religion, I also miss it. I miss the community spirit, the singing, the stories that stir your consciousness and others that cause a rebellion inside of you with the old doctrine and that tells you there is another more open and liberated way to walk. But I know that things have changed for me both inwardly and outwardly in visiting these spaces, where I feel and I am more comfortable than I have been in a long while to be in these meeting places.
I have loved hearing the minister in this morning’s service call out to the people to stand up and speak their truth and do something to assist change instead of just talking about it. Afterwards, I was walking behind a father who was speaking to his three young children about homeless people and how they must find ways to assist them, and not to judge them. My heart expanded.
And this is what gathering in sacred community spaces is about. Expanding your heart. It is not about right or wrong or sin or even worship. It is about looking outside of yourself and seeing that you are part of a whole. There are others who are willing to stand up and say, “I need this sacred space to come to, to reflect on myself and the world I live in, and to broaden my perspective on my purpose for being here”.
In the past, when I was a young child and even as an adult, I would attend ‘mass’ and take nothing in. The gospels meant little to me, though there were some that sat with me and that I liked. I rarely heard a sermon that stirred me. Now, I find the metaphors in the readings I hear are full of meaning, and most sermons (not all) really hit home. What has changed? There are a couple of things – outwardly I have witnessed that times has seen long needed change within places of worship and there has been a humbling of those is service as they realise that that the old ways of sin and judgement are no longer acceptable, and never were really. With so much corruption being illuminated amongst clergy of all faiths, pedestals have also been knocked down. However, mostly the change has been within me. I no longer go into sacred spaces because I have to. I go into them because they are immersed in me internally and I seek to reveal the sacred every day, and sometimes it shows up in the most remarkable places. I also love to gather in spaces that are dedicated to the sacred, I love icons and art and colour and crystals and gold and stained-glass windows and candles, all of which reflect the energy that arises when people gather to share deeply from their hearts in order to cleanse and renew the energy of their soul and spirit. For me holding shamanic ceremony or attending kirtan has replaced the old traditions I inherited and was initiated into at birth.
Walking away from this early morning service this morning, I feel more at peace. I feel more love. I feel more faith in humanity. I feel more encouraged to continue my path of service to the Sacred. I have felt this walking from all five of the sacred spaces of mixed denomination this last few days. And that can only be a good thing.
More about the starue Homeless Jesus here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Homeless_Jesus