Sunday, November 13, 2011

The foundation of hope

"In workshop after workshop I meet people (many of them no longer practicing Christians) 
who despite all theological indoctrination about the complete otherness of God 
have stood their ground, firm in their innate knowledge that at the foundation of the soul, 
at that point vierge, something of our being presses deep into the heart of God 
and begins to swim in the infinite ocean of God's mercy.  
That ocean is our source and substance, 
the ground of our own arising, 
the foundation of hope.  
Those who experience it may leave the church, 
but they do not leave this ground.  
Once experienced, it is undeniable."

--Cynthia Bourgeault, Mystical Hope


Megan said...

This mystical hope is not exclusive to Christianity...

About 3 or 4 years ago, I was adrift in a sea of humanity with nothing and no one to hold on to. I felt battered by the ebb and flow of my life and all that entailed; I literally existed pretending to live. I was afraid to feel, afraid of being vulnerable, afraid of needing, afraid to engage with others as that seemed to invite the visceral pain that had permeated my life thus far. I thought that closing myself off from others would keep me safe; but it only served to isolate me as I could not close the door on one feeling without closing the door on all the feelings that I craved so much.

Then I went on a retreat and was introduced to Quan Yin, the Goddess of Mercy....a cement statue through a screen door. It felt sacrilege to me to believe in a cement statue, like what was so different than worshipping the golden calf. Then I decided that all religions had their accoutrements to some degree and golden calf to one is not necessarily the same in another; and did it really matter anyway?

I couldn't take my eyes off of her; it was like drowning in an ocean of love and acceptance. Showered with all the love I had denied over the years to keep myself safe. She is always there for me, no matter what I need, no matter what I feel....she is always there and for the first time in my life, I felt a deep sense of peace. Remembering that day brings a smile to my face and a feeling of acceptance for who I am, even when I am struggling to find that peace again.

In my life, those that follow Christianity threw me away when I didn't turn out like them. I have been called names, told I was an abomination, had slurs thrown at me, threatened with bodily harm. I realize this too is not exclusive to Christianity, but when it is done in the name of God, it tends to turn people away.

Diane Walker said...

Dear Cheryl --

Thanks so much for sharing that wonderful moment! I have a Quan Yin statue made of clay who watches over my computer as I type. She was made by a friend, and I fell in love with her face (in fact, I've just purchased another, larger one). But I never knew she was the Goddess of Mercy -- which is just so appropriate, because I am listening to Cynthia Bourgeault talk about the Divine Exchange.

"The word "mercy" derives from the ancient Etruscan word merc; the words commerce and merchant share this same root. And so at heart, mercy means some kind of exchange or transaction. It is a connection word....the root meaning of exchange ... depened through the French word for thanks, merci, to grateful response and kindness of heart, and finally to the compassion and forgiveness."

Thomas Merton adds that mercy is about passion, fidelity and strength: "It is ultimate and unfailing because it is the power that binds one person to another, in a covenant of hearts." ... So when we think of mercy, we should be thinking first and foremost of a bond, an infallible link of love that holds the created and uncreated realms together.... it is literally the force that holds everything in existence... in the words of Psalm 103, "we swim in mercy as in an endless sea."

Megan said...

It is a connection word...the root meaning of exchange... It is literally the force that holds everything in existence... How true Thank you Diane.

I too have a Quan Yin on my computer brought to me from a friend visiting Nepal, and another on my computer at work carved from rose quartz.

Louise Gallagher said...

And you have both inspired me to go and find my own Quan Yin to put by my computer so that I can be connected to the beauty of both of you.


Diane Walker said...

If you're looking to acquire your own Quan Yin, I heartily recommend you check out work by Anita Feng; here's her Etsy site:

I first met Anita because I was looking for Buddha statues on Etsy. Turns out she is a delightful person, a zen master as well as a gifted potter, and lives only a ferry ride away... I treasure the few visits I've had with her, and have not been able to resist her work: at last count I have 6 of her pieces, and have also given some as gifts...