My sabbatical, or spiritual renewal, is just around the corner. Preparing to be away from June 5 to September 5 has turned into a consuming part of my life these days. My impending departure seems to be on your mind too. I’ve been receiving many comments of support and some questions. The two top questions? What are you doing? Where are you going? I’m glad to say that I have an answer. I intend for this time period to be one of rest, retreat, spiritual renewal, empowerment for myself and the community, service, professional education, and spiritual education. What has come is a combination of many things, including just simply being home, meditating, practicing yoga, cooking, reading, and gardening. What has also come is a time of travel and retreat. During my sabbatical I will attend two retreats offered by Wisdom University:
Retreat 1: Sacred Number ~ the Matrix of the Universe the Fifth Liberal Art Arithmetica in Chartres, France with Jain, Carolyn Myss, Ruth Cunningham, Apela Colorado, Jim Garrison, Andrew Harvey, Karen Rivers, Peggy Rubin, and Banafsheh Sayyad.
Arithmetica is the study of the ancient wisdom within the energy patterns that create and unify all things and reveal the precise way that the energy of Creation organizes itself. On every scale, every natural pattern of growth or movement conforms to one or more numerical pattern of geometric shape. Following Pythagoras, the Chartrean Masters believed that study of Sacred Number was essential to the education of the soul. They knew that these patterns and codes were symbolic of our own inner realm and the subtle structure of awareness. To them the “sacred” had particular significance involving consciousness and the profound mystery of awareness.
Retreat 2: Mystical Andalusia, Garden Amidst the Flames, Ibn Arabi, Rumi and the Dance of Oneness in Granada, Cordoba and Seville, Spain with Andrew Harvey, Banafsheh Sayyad, and Jim Garrison.
O Marvel! A garden amidst the flames.
My heart has become capable of every form:
it is a pasture for gazelles and a convent for Christian monks,
a temple for idols and the pilgrim’s Kaa’ba,
the tables of the Torah and the book of the Quran.
I follow the religion of Love: whatever way Love’s camels take me,
that is my religion and my faith.
Give me ecstasy
Give Birth to the Beloved in me, and let this Lover die!
Let a thousand wrangling desires become one blazing love.
These poetic lines from the two greatest Sufi mystics describe the longing that leads the heart to break open and give birth to the ecstasy of surrender to a deeper experience of truth. Surrender your heart to dance, music, poetry, and the teachings of Ibn Arabi, known as the “Greatest Master” by Sufis, who opened up the Path of Knowledge, and Rumi, who opened up the Path of Love inspired by his beloved Shams. Open your being through the Sama (whirling), deep listening with the heart.
Can you see why I was so called to these incredible opportunities? I am in deep awe and gratitude for the consciousness of our community to create the field of support that allows me to experience these rich offerings with internationally known Master Teachers. I can feel the delight in my soul as I prepare for my pilgrimage.
For those of you who take my classes and think I give too much homework, you get your revenge. I have 7 books, several essays and multiple pre-retreat calls as required pre-retreat assignments. Plus, apparently there are 2 post-retreat papers due. One 12-15 page paper is to focus on one aspect of Sacred Number that weaves together my understanding of the material, experience and art. The other is a 15-20 page paper that distills my understanding of how the teachings of Ibn Arabi and Rumi can serve as a model for our contemporary challenges. I promise to share these with you for those who are interested. Have I mentioned that I love spiritual study?!?
Rest assured, while in Europe I also plan on relaxing and having fun. I’ll be in Paris for a week delighting in amazing food and wine and inflicting my broken French on the locals. I even have tickets to see one of my all-time favorite bands Depeche Mode in concert. Food will feature prominently in my European travels.
As Juliet says to Romeo, “Parting is such sweet sorrow, that I shall say good night till it be morrow.” Yes, we will be apart for a while. And, I know the experiences and time away will be powerful for both of us. I am heartened by the work the Sabbatical Team has been doing. They have been in conversation consistently for several months now, making sure all the areas they can think to cover are addressed. All of leadership’s intention is for our community to feel supported and held in the sacred field we know Unity of Tustin to be. That is important because sometimes people can project that it is just the minister who creates or generates the church experience. It is so much more than me. I am but one piece. During the summer we will get to see and even cultivate more the reality that there are many incredible souls who contribute to the life energy of Unity of Tustin. I am also happy to know that my friend Gail Hamley will be returning to Unity while I am away. She will be speaking during most of the summer. Plus we have some stellar long-time friends and first time friends of Unity who will speak and lead workshops. Please make sure to check out the Invitation of Love and Summons to Love entries. Dr. Marj Britt and Andrew Harvey’s four-day intensive will be an experience to be remembered. You aren’t going to want to miss it.
Holy Week (the week between Palm Sunday and Easter) is near and transition has been on my mind. The stories from the time period Jesus prepared to enter Jerusalem to the Last Supper allude to an energetic field surrounding Him that was particularly charged and activated. After the Passover meal (what we refer to as the Last Supper) the disciples ask where Jesus is going and He answers that where He is going they cannot follow. He tells them that He is going to prepare a place for them. “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” He also promises that God (the Father) will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, in His name to teach them all things and remind them of everything Jesus had taught. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
As I begin the journey of saying goodbye, I’ve been contemplating what I want to leave with you all. While the tone, context and global implications of my departure are vastly different than Jesus’, I can’t help but look to his example as I make final preparations. Jesus left His peace and said the Father would send the Advocate, Comforter, Holy Spirit. I send the Sabbatical Team, the Board, Gail, Master Teachers, and YOU! I leave my love. My heart, passion, joy, sorrow, dedication, service and so much more has been focused practically all of my life on Unity of Tustin. It’s such an intimate and deep relationship it feels like one or both of us are going off to college and our relationship will never quite be the same next time we see each other. We’ll both change, mature, find ourselves and grow into the next evolution of who we are meant to be. The foundation of our relationship is Love and that is what I return to. My Love I leave with you. The morrow will be here before we know it.