Monday, January 24, 2011

Finding our way back to the Garden of Eden

"The beauty of the female is the root joy to the female as well as to the male, and it is no accident that the goddess of Love is older and stronger than the god. To desire the desiring of her own beauty is the vanity of Lilith, but to desire the enjoying of her own beauty is the obedience of Eve, and to both it is in the lover that the beloved tastes her own delightfulness." C.S. Lewis

Catholic theologian Ronald Rolheiser points out the..."fundamental task of spirituality is to help us understand and channel our sexuality." The word Sex comes from the Latin root = and the verb "secare" literally means to "cut off", "to sever", to "disconnect from the whole." Therefore to be "sexed" essentially means to be cut off, severed from, to be amputated from the whole.

He goes on to remind us that sexuality is an all encompassing energy inside each of us creating a drive for love, communion, community, friendship, family, affection, wholeness, consummation, creativity, self-perpetuation, immortality, joy, delight, humor, and self-transcendence. Sex becomes an energy inside us that works incessantly against our being alone.

Sex is an expansive energy and we are healthy sexually when we have all these things, not just when we are sleeping with someone. A person can have a lot of sex and still lack true love. We can be celibate and still have community, family, friendship and creativity. Sexuality is as much about having friendships as it is about having lovers. Indeed as Rolheiser states, "It may be painful to sleep alone, but it is perhaps even more painful to sleep alone when you are not sleeping alone."

The Greeks did not ask one aspect of love to carry all the others. Their understanding of "Eros" had six systemic dimensions:

1. Ludens - love's playfulness, teasing, and humor
2. Erotic Attraction - sexual attractiveness and desire to have physical union
3. Mania - obsessiveness, falling in love, romance
4. Pragma - sensible arrangement in view of family, life, home and community
5. Philia - friendship, soulmates
6. Agape - altruism, selfishness, sacrifice

"Mature sexuality is not simply about finding a lover or even finding a friend, its about overcoming separateness by giving life and blessing it. Its about giving oneself over to community, friendship, family, service, creativity, humor, delight, and martyrdom so that God can help bring life into the world. It is also the pulse to celebrate, to give and to receive delight, to find our way back to the Garden of Eden where we can be naked, shameless, and without worry and work as we make love in the moon light."

Rolheiser explains that..."all these hungers, in their full maturity, culminate in one thing: they make us into co-creators with God. Mothers and fathers, artisans and creators, big brothers and big sisters, nurses, and healers, teachers, and farmers and producers, administrators and community builders....Co-responsible with God for the planet, standing with God and smiling and blessing the world."

Here are four of his fundamental principles that I strive to live by and hope to pass on to the next generation:

1. Sex is sacred and never simply a casual, neutral act, it needs respect and it thus builds the soul as a sacrament and brings God's physical touch to us...conversely if not respected it becomes a perverse thing that begins to disintegrate the soul. In a committed, loving and covenantal relationship sex is sacramental and part of the couples Eucharist. A privileged vehicle of grace. (Casual sex is often destructive of true community, and often of the individual soul as well. It can never be casual, but it is either a sacrament or a destructive act.)

2. Sex by its nature needs to be linked to marriage, monogamy, and a covental commitment that is by definition, all-embracing and permanent. Sex outside of marriage is a schizophrenic act. By its nature it speaks of total giving, total trust, and total commitment. Thus, if real trust, commitment, permanency, and unconditionality are not present within the wider relationship, sex is partly a pretends to give a gift that it does not really give and it asks for a gift that it can't respectfully reciprocate.

3. Sex has an inner dynamic that, if followed faithfully, will lead its partners to sanctity = God's energy within leads people to sanctity. Young people initially want sex, yet love creates a new desire, and sexuality demands not just sex but intimacy, exclusivity and commitment as well, leading to marriage and children and how much they change our outlook! Children grow and community expands and adults continue to mature, mellow and ultimately bless...Sex followed in fidelity leads to sanctity. Desire, working through us, if followed faithfully, keeps opening us up further and further to gracious adulthood.

4. Sex requires a healthy chastity - which is not the same thing as celibacy. It doesn't mean that one does not have sex, nor that one is a prude. Chastity is first of all, not even primarily a sexual concept, though, given the power and urgency of sex, faults in chastity are often within the area of sexuality. It has to deal with all experiences - it is about the appropriateness of any experience...ultimately chastity is reverence and sin, all sin, is irreverence. To be chaste is to experience people, things, places, entertainment, the phase of our lives, and sex in a way that does not violate them or ourselves. To be chaste is to experience things reverently, in such a way that the experience leaves both them and ourselves more, not less, integrated. Conversely, we lack chastity when we cross boundaries prematurely or irrevently, when we violate anything and somehow reduce what is. Sex, because it is such a powerful fire always needs the protection of chastity.

Amen....enjoy the challenge!

Adapted from Ronald Rolheiser's great book - The Holy Longing.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Hasta la vista baby......Annie is off to Spain!

Here is our Celtic Commissioning liturgy for Annie Reynolds - 16 January, 2011

"Community cannot take root in a divide life. Long before community assumes external shape and form, it must be present as seed in the individual self: only as we are in communion with ourselves can we find community with others. Community is an outward and visible sign of an inward and invisible grace, the flowing of personal identity and integrity into the world of relationships." Parker Palmer

LEADERSHIP: To be a leader one must have and embody a vision of where one wants to it is not a matter of knowing or believing one is right; it is a matter of taking the first step.

MENTORS & APPRENTICES: They are partners in the ancient human dance of the spiraling generations, in which the old empower the young with their experience and the young empower the old with new life, renewing the fabric of the human community as they touch and turn.

AUTHORITY: It is granted to people who are perceived as authoring their own words, their own actions, their own lives, rather than playing a scripted role at great remove from their own hearts.

IDENTITY: Our identity is an evolving nexus where all the forces that constitute our lives converge in the mystery of self: our genetic makeup, the nature of the men and women who gave us life, the culture in which we were raised, the people who have sustained us and harmed us - in the midst of this complex field, identity is a moving intersection of the inner and outer forces that make us who we are, converging in the irreducible mystery of human beings created in the image of God.

INTEGRITY: This is whatever wholeness we are able to find within that nexus as its vectors form and reform the patterns of our lives. Integrity requires that we discern what is integral to our selfhood, what fits and what does not - and that we choose life-giving ways of relating to the forces that converge within us. By choosing integrity, we become more whole, but wholeness does not mean perfection. It means becoming more real by acknowledging the whole of who we are.


Annie will you embark on this journey to Seville, Spain, with a spirit of adventure, and as a steward of your unfolding vision to live abroad, while embracing a new culture, a new language, and a new people? I WILL

Annie will you continue your generational dance, and as much as you are able, apprentice yourself, while empowering with new life, those Spanish mentors that God gives you....and likewise accept personal empowerment from their collective experiences and wisdom I WILL

Annie will you continue to author your own words, determine your own actions, live your own life, refusing to play scripted roles, so that you may cultivate your God given authority? I WILL

Annie will you continue to explore the subtle dimensions of the complex identity of your life, and in this process of self-discovery seek to bring the inner and outer forces into harmony, at the intersections of your heart, mind and will? I WILL

Annie will you read avidly, and explore new and traditional works, embracing the challenges of being on the forefront of global trends in the marketplace, while creating new ways to do "old things". I WILL

Annie Reynolds, with God as our witness, we release you and we bless your....go with grace to Seville!

Let us pray (all in unison)
Almighty God....
Sun behind all suns,
Soul behind all souls,...
Show to us in everything we touch
And in everyone we meet
The continued assurance of thy presence round us,
Lest ever we should think thee absent.
In all created things thou art there.
In every friend we have
The sunshine of they presence is shown forth.
In every enemy that seems to cross our path,
Thou art there within the cloud to challenge us to love.
Show to us the glory in the grey.
Awake for us thy presence in the very storm
Till all our joys are seen as thee
And all our trivial tasks emerge as priestly sacraments
In the universal temple of they love. Amen.

Be Thou my vision, O Lord of my heart
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art -
Thou my best thought by day or by night
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.

Be Thou by wisdom, and Thou my true word,
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.

Riches I need not, nor man's empty praise,
Thou mine inheritance, now and always,
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

High King of heaven, my victory won,
May I reach heaven's joys, O bright heaven's Son !
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be by vision, O ruler of all.

We all love you Annie!

Friday, January 7, 2011

Red Rover Red Rover Send Annie Over - Seville, Spain

Please join our Open Hand community for a pitch-in feast, Sunday, January 16th at 5:30pm, as we commission Annie for her upcoming I.U. Spring semester abroad in Spain.

Bring a side dish or desert and we will provide the rest including Spanish wine and meats. We will be celebrating at the Crane's - 3174 N. Delaware - our inaugural community gathering in their historic and recently updated home. (Thanks Jeff and Leah - can't wait!)

As they say in Seville,
Que corren los toros!!!!!!