Meetingbrook Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update,
Oh one, oh one, oh One
Mary, You birthed to earth your son, You birthed the son of God from heaven by breathing the spirit of God. (Mechtild of Magdeburg)*
What good is it to me if Mary gave birth to the son of God fourteen hundred years ago and I do not give birth to the son of God in my time and in my culture? (Meister Eckhart)*
We are the mother of Christ when we carry him in our heart and body by love and a pure and sincere conscience. And we give birth to him through our holy works which ought to shine on others by our example. (Francis of Assisi)*
What, then, is a mother to a child? A place. To a child a mother is a place, like a womb, both before and after birth. …Their simple instinct to see mother as a place is accurate; for what makes a mother a mother, literally and physiologically, is precisely a space, a hole. A mother is a birth canal, or a structure of flesh surrounding a birth canal, life surrounding life. She gathers, surrounds, and makes concave shapes because her body is itself a gathering, a surrounding, a concavity. (Peter Kreeft)#
Mother of God! The New Year, or new millennium, begins with a numerical chant, a mantra of sorts that seems to invoke the unity, oneness, wholeness we long for in this existence. January first, two thousand and one, (or, Oh one, oh one, oh One) is an apt beginning for the contemplative.
A Zen master might assign the date as a koan to be taken to zafu and floor sweeping as a current day “MU” – a response to the question “If my mother died before I was conceived, why is my dog snoozing on the bed?” A guru familiar with the interior uncertainty as to when the beginning of the 3rd millennium actually is celebrated might tell the disciple to surround the intuitions of origin with the date as a current equivalent to “OM” – (Oh one, oh one, oh One)!
Still, there are questions that long to penetrate into the open: Who is my mother? Where is my mother? If I am a man, or a woman with no children, how can I be considered a mother? How can death be a mother? Curious questions! To which I respond: Conversation with silence is mother!
We form a circle -- a concavity. We allow what is within to issue forth from our center into our midst -- a surrounding. We attend to what is presented and shared with care -- a gathering. And we ready our selves and each other the room to stretch and grow, to wonder and doubt, to express and escape -- to dwell in a safe place, to be a hole to breathe through for the duration.
Next month Meetingbrook will embark on A Confluence of Conversation –Considering the Personal and Communal, a monthly inquiry into matters cultural, spiritual, & dwelling place. In the spirit of a former collaboration, we will approach motherhood by participating in a gathering, surrounding, and concavity in two forums -- in the local community, and with the incarcerated.
Will we stand uncomprehending and dismayed? Or, breathing the spirit, birthing the son?
“Jesus said to his mother, ‘Woman, this is your son’. Then to his disciple he said ‘This is your mother’. And from that moment the disciple made a place for her in his home.” (Jn.19:26)
Even at this time of birth and beginning we must engage the koan of the dying Christ. “This” is son; “this” is mother! What, we ask, is “this?” What, who, will arrive breathing and birthing when “this” is embodied, realized, transfigured and transformed?
May each of us make a place, a home for each other!
Sweet mother of God!
December 2000 Update
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