Over my fifteen years of retreat work, I have come to recognize what women (men too, for that matter) are hungry for; gifts of listening, empathy, touch, prayer, intuition, wisdom, celebration with ritual and table as altar, and food as healing, all offered in a context of natural beauty and community. These are the very gifts women have been known for giving best but have not fully valued in themselves or on one another because of not being properly valued in our culture.
I call these gifts the “hospitality of heart and h-earth.” They embody the nurturing, life-giving aspects of the divine within us, between us, and in nature. Without them we are dead. And because these gifts are not being recognized and valued and cared for as the divine gift they are, we ARE dying.
My awareness of this has dawned over time as I struggled to make conscious what I, and MorningStar, were being called to embody. It has not been easy for me to accept the simple, humble gift of hospitality of heart and h-earth as being “enough” in a society which, a) doesn’t value hospitality in the spiritual light of healing that it is intended, and b) judges “success” based on income, possessions, and visible power or fame. I have none of these, and I probably never will have.
Yet what seems to strike a deep chord of longing in those who come is the need to not only experience these gifts of hospitality, but to create lives which incorporate this value as central to their living and working.
However, most of us experience a great resistance in ourselves to claiming the need for and valuing self-nurture, and valuing the gifts of nurture we give to and receive from one another and from nature. We have become conditioned to see these gifts as inferior or less important to the more “visible” gifts of power, wealth or fame. And we have seen our need for nurture as a sign of weakness.
Yet if we are to avert a more wide-spread devastation of life on this earth, then these spiritual gifts of heart and h-earth need to be reclaimed and honored as the divine gifts of healing they are meant to bear.
It appears then, that our human task is to become more consciously aware of our cultural and internal conditioning which devalues gifts of heart and h-earth. To remain unconscious of this devaluing, we tend to allow ourselves and our environment, to be “sucked dry”, depleted. We operate out of an unconscious expectation that we are to give, and give, without self-nurture, and that if we give enough, things will change…and we will find the validation of self we are unconsciously hungry for. And that we can take and take from nature and there will always be enough, without discernment of her needs.
Is it any wonder that breast cancer is rampant and that ecological disaster is a reality? Women continue to struggle with finding “place” and “voice” which provide healing and integrity for ourselves, for others and for nature.
It is my experience and understanding that as we personally face and consciously grieve the misuse and abuse of these spiritual gifts, and gifts of the earth (including our bodies), and learn to “husband” (cherish, protect, promote) these “feminine” or relational values, we would ring to the world the healing it needs. Isn’t this what Jesus came to embody, teach and empower us to live? This is the kin-dom come which turns the dominant cultural world values upside down. This is our journey to spiritual consciousness.
Unfortunately, most of us realize there is little emotional, spiritual or financial support to move in this direction. But it has been and is my experience that as I trust my own deep longing to experience hospitality of heart and h-earth and seek it for self-nurture, I enter the realm of Mystery, which guides and provides.
As I open to this matrix of Mystery I am led to embrace my humanity. By facing my needs, urges, feelings and the ways they may have been and are held captive and misused, I am given the opportunity to set my spiritual gifts free. But we need each other’s support, encouragement and willingness to travel this path together in order to overcome our sense of isolation and despair.
We have all been given gifts for the healing of the earth; for building up the kin-dom. And essential to claiming these gifts, our very beings are to become centers of hospitality where our own humanity can find acceptance, value and nurture. Compassion is meant to begin at home and flow out from there.
As we come to accept what we have been given, and in gratitude offer what we have to one another, we experience abundance. This is a continual flow to us and from us of what is needed.
In this trust we are empowered to create, or to find the context, which best honors our own need for a whole, nurturing environment where our gifts of healing can flourish without inordinate fear of not having our needs met. We will have what we need, (not necessarily what we want) if we are listening deeply and respond trustingly – and work together.
For me, the hospitality of heart and h-earth is meant to be a Way of Life, giving birth to acts of justice, integrity, peace and love, right where I am. And to do this with the consciousness that it matters, that it truly does make a difference, is to choose Life.
“The age of the leaders has come and gone. Every (person) must be his (or her) own leader now. You must remove your projection, and contain the spirit of our time in your own life and your own nature, because to go the old way and follow your leader is a form of psychological (and spiritual) imprisonment.”
-Laurens VanderPost, Jungian Analyst