There is a woman who has come to our group meetings at the shelter for several months. But last week she sat on the grass in the parking lot. “I can’t come today,” she said. “I would just cry.” But I invited her again, and she came.
We sat in a circle. A candle was lit. We sit in silence, finding a feeling of love in our heart. Thinking of someone we love. Or of nature. And then we go into this silence.
After the meditation, I saw her face had lightened. She was calm, she said, and in the meditation something different happened for her:
“I found a place that was like darkness, but not really dark. It was very peaceful. In that place there was no thinking. No emotion. I’ve never experienced that before.”
Deep in the heart is a place that we can live from. It’s difficult to find as there is so much that covers over this place. And so many distractions. But it is as close to us as a silver necklace. It’s like listening to a sound carried by the wind.
Several years ago I was in Oropa, Italy, at the shrine of the Black Madonna. I had injured my leg a few months earlier so I couldn’t walk up the steep steps to the church where most of the tourists visited.
Instead, I headed for a little chapel, a little off to one side where few tourists walked. It was built into the rock and I had heard it was where women had come for centuries to pray.
I pushed open the heavy wooden doors and stepped inside the darkened chapel. What happened was not anything I was expecting. Before I could orient myself in the chapel, I felt an energy activated in my heart, as if I had been struck in the chest. I was brought to tears. There was a deep sweetness to it. I looked around and saw a man sitting in silent prayer. A few women walking around quietly.
Behind a guard rail, was a niche in which stood a three foot high statue of the Black Madonna. The niche was painted a deep cerulean blue, with gold stars. Like the night.
And I ask, now, what will help us to claim this deep, dark mystery? How do we connect to it? To come to it deeply. How do we serve it?
Always, I begin with listening. We listen inside, and to life.
Last week, during the silent meditation with the women at the shelter, Ginny, who works with me, saw an image of a circle of lotus flowers, as many flowers as there were women sitting in our circle. And then she heard these words:
Women – reclaim your worth.
To me, this can be subtle, like how the woman sitting alone on the grass, felt unworthy of sharing her tears with the group, as if she had no right to her sorrow.
Or how we turn from our knowing, because it is harder sometimes to stand in what we know, in what our body knows.
But this we are learning, each of us in our own way. Because life needs us to live the power of our worth.