Monthly Archives: December 2013

The Woman of the Light

EarthCreecher’ features another guest blogger, Mary Ann McDowell,  for our series in Advent reflecting on the incarnation.  If you would like to take some time in this busy season to stop and mediate on the energy and meaning of this season for you, we would love to hear from you too!  Submission guidelines can be found here
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Incarnation. I looked at the word on the page.

“Incarnation: a person who embodies in the flesh a deity, spirit or abstract quality.”

Nope. Not me. No chance. This has been a year of change for me. I left an abusive relationship just over a year ago. At this time last year, I would not have named it that, but that’s what it was. A year ago, I was not the woman I really am. I cowered in corners, didn’t speak much, kept opinions to myself. I was stupid, I was weak, I was incapable. These were the voices in my head, and they mirrored the voices of someone in my life. I was terrified. I was convinced that those voices were right. I was going to fall on my face, and fail, yet again. My world was dark, and I was in so much pain, an almost constant dull ache that grew and swelled and subsided, but never really went away. Then something happened.

Through those pains and through the darkness, I could see a glimmer of light, a small pin prick in the distance. I turned towards it. It was far away. I felt the darkness closing in around me as I pushed my way towards that faint glow. It was a difficult road. So often I thought that I would not be strong enough to make the journey. The light seemed beyond my reach. But then, I could see someone in the light.

A woman beckoned me towards her. She was bathed in the light. I was immediately drawn to her warmth, her strength, her compassion, and her beauty. She gave me strength to escape the darkness, and as I did, she folded me into her being. I had given birth, and I had been born.

“Incarnation: a person who embodies a deity.”

No, that word didn’t fit….. My soul emerged from that darkness, into the light of a new day. I was reborn. Although I was still in the same old body, the rebirth of my soul certainly felt like a reincarnation. The world around me had begun to take on a new light, new colours emerged, new beauty. I was very much like an infant trying to make sense of her world. People began to see me in a new and different way; I really was a new person.  And as such, I began to live in new ways.

I began to be intentional in my life and in my living. I reconnected with many from my past who had been important to me, and I connected with others who quickly became important to me. They all saw something in me that I did not yet see, I was still struggling with the old voices; I was still living just on the edge of that darkness. These wonderful people in my life supported me when the darkness called again. They drew me out.  They helped raise this child.

There were times when I could see the beautiful woman from the light, beckoning me once again. She was there only fleetingly, and I began to feel the need to find her. She had rescued me, and I wanted to thank her. Then there came a time when I couldn’t find her anymore. She had shown me the way, and I was grateful to her, but she had disappeared when I emerged. I started to sense her, more than see her. She was with me, still elusive, but with me. The negative voices started to subside – all but one.

This voice was the voice in my head that said that I was unattractive, that I was ugly, that I was unworthy of love. When this voice spoke, all others were drowned out. So many people confronted that voice, and told it to go. It diminished, but it was still there. At times the woman from the light seemed completely absent. I would see her when the voice wasn’t there, but when the voice was strong, it seemed to drive her away. Then one day, quite by chance I saw her out of the corner of my eye, and she was close.

I looked again, and was in disbelief. She was here; she was in my reflection. “That couldn’t possibly be!” I thought to myself. “She is so strong, so compassionate, so warm, so beautiful. She is not me….” And then I stopped. I thought about all of the things my friends and loved ones had been saying. They were not describing the me that I had been seeing; they had been describing this woman who I felt had been eluding me all along. This woman, this divine woman who had saved me – this woman was me. I am the warm, strong, compassionate and even beautiful woman that had been here all along. Incarnation: the embodiment of the divine. Yes, I had given birth, and I had been born. The divine, which dwells in me had been born in me, and I in Her.

Mary Ann is a mom, food banker, part-time student, blogger, and seeker of the divine feminine.  Her blog can be found at mamcdowell416.wordpress.com and you can follow her on twitter @mamcdowell1.

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Advent Reflections: Pain is Determined to Be Heard, by guest blogger Kate Green

This is the first reflection offered in our advent series on our experiences of incarnation.  To submit a piece for consideration please email Jessica at jessicajcreech@gmail.com and see the guidelines here.

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Back in May, when my job involved being surrounded by little ones who were not my own, I hurt my neck. I assumed I slept on it wrong and pinched a nerve, but the sports med doctor I saw two months later assured me that, no, pain like I had doesn’t come about by sleeping, but by moving. It’s in the resting for hours later that my body had time and space to register the pain. And with that comment, a journey began in which God spoke clearly and distinctly to me, through me. Or rather through my body.

I started physical therapy a little nervous. I am in no way, and have never been (even when I played softball that one year in high school just because my sister did) athletic. I was feeling guilty and ashamed and sure the therapist would blame me for the pain I was in, due to my lack of caring for myself. I waited with trepidation until she called me back and we began. And she, well, she was amazing. She spoke words of life and encouragement and I knew, I just knew, that this was something way beyond becoming pain-free. This was something sacred.

“Don’t invalidate your pain. Don’t brush it off or think it isn’t a big deal. Don’t dismiss it by comparing it to others whose pain is worse.”

Yep. First session and she had me pegged as she spoke those words to me. A month later when the pain flared up again as I did some work in my son’s classroom, she reminded me that

“With movement, comes pain, and life involves movement.”

Life. Movement. Pain. There was something there and I needed to listen. I needed to start listening to my pain. It was telling me something, telling me that I was alive and that as one alive, there was pain. Pain that I was trying hard to brush away, to fix, to get rid off as fast as I possibly could. Deep emotional pain that was forcing itself on my body, determined to be heard.

I was thinking this morning of how I feel things so intensely in my body. How emotions move through me with power and force. When I am afraid, I am gut-wrenchingly sick-to-my-stomach afraid. When I am sad, each ragged breath is almost too much to bear. When someone I love is hurting, my heart literally aches for them. When my children valiantly walk their way through hurtful situations, I feel it deep in me. Pain is a felt thing for me.

I am learning that healing needs to be a felt thing for me. Many a day I’ve sat at my piano crying out to God with every movement of my fingers, feeling the release as they move along the keys. Too few mornings, I follow my PT regiment with purpose, feeling the release as each muscle pulls and relaxes. In quiet moments before the after-school rush, I breath deep, full breaths, feeling the release as my heartbeat slows and space for God to move opens up.

Having this body that moves and feels pain and breathes life, I am speechless when I remember

“And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” (Luke 22:44)

I close my eyes and try to fathom this Man feeling pain in His flesh. This Man walking, touching, laughing, crying, sleeping. This Man breathing life, one ragged breath after another. I think of how His Spirit moved through His body with passion, and at times with anguish, as the NIV says. I think of Him taking into Himself the pain of the world and really living that pain. Feeling that pain.

To live advent, to know Christmas, for me this year, is to let the Spirit have free reign in my body. I don’t know what God is birthing in me but I know that the same Spirit who hovered over Mary is doing something. When each step forward feels wrought with anxiety… when my soul burns within me… when my heart is stretched and pulled, I think of my therapist gently cradling my head in her arms, enfolding me with care, twisting and turning, not to inflict more pain, but to bring release, and I remember to surrender to the movement. I walked out of physical therapy pain-free but with the knowledge that staying pain-free was a precarious thing dependent in great part on listening to my body, leaning into what it is saying, and letting myself be fully alive in it.

Kate Green is a Jesus follower, mom, friend and neighbor who enjoys contemplative prayer, Coldplay, and the Detroit Tigers. She cares deeply about lgbtq inclusion and autism acceptance, and really can’t live without a constant supply of grace and coffee.  You can follow her on Twitter @cgmama.  

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Now receiving submitions for my advent blog!

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Calling all bloggers to submit a reflection on the incarnation for my blog this advent. Specifically share how you have experienced God in your body or conversely tell of your experience of the absence of God in your flesh. I love the theology of advent, particularly this idea that we are all created to be God-bearers. But I am curious about how one makes their body a sacred dwelling place in a culture that often devalues and objectifies the body. How do you handle this tension?  I also love the feminine implications of this reflection: let us all imagine ourselves pregnant with holiness. Write about how you carry and nourish what is sacred within.

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Filed under american society, christianity, church, culture, episcopal, feminism, spirituality

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December 1, 2013 · 7:50 pm