God in the Vine- a meditation

‘I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me, and I in you, you will bear much fruit. As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Now remain in my love…’

This is a little paraphrase from John’s Gospel. It’s a beautiful one to ponder because, for me at least, it evokes captivating imagery of oneness with our Creator.

The Vine…I love this image of God; I get a picture of roots intertwining with the earths soil, a part of the endless cycle of death and rebirth. It’s a picture of closeness, of imminence. God is not content to visit us with a glorified and overpowering presence- then leave. God is found in the very fabric of our existence, inseparable from our humanity as beings who need food, water and sun to nourish and sustain. Love has literally put her roots down right where we are, sustaining us moment by moment. In the words of teacher and mystic, James Finlay;

“Love is our origin, Love is our sustaining ground and Love is our destiny”

But then Jesus says, “Remain in my Love”

What does it mean to ‘remain in love’?

Although in the cosmic sense we are never separate from God, there is no doubt that there is a part of our being that is prone to becoming discontent and distracted. We struggle to remain, rest, stay, be.

When I am not remaining or resting in the Vine, I wither and contract. My own energies, agendas and obsessive thoughts lead to feelings of emptiness. I’m trying to meet my own needs, be my own protector and Source. It’s like I’ve put myself in a jar of stagnant water on the windowsill with secondhand light.

In yoga Nidra, a practise where the goal is deep relaxation, the guide will often say things like, “become aware of your right foot, let it become heavy, relax…” and so on with other body parts. When we rest our soul and spirit in God we can follow the same lines. We close our eyes, and with open hands, we come to God with all of our frailties, anxieties and circumstances. We surrender the need for control. We accept the day before us as a gift. Every breath we take in is also a gift, as the Spirit breathes through us…..We relax, remain, be. We are held and nourished no matter what state of mind we are in. ‘To remain in love’ is the awareness of this everlasting truth.

Like the cycle of the seasons, the day becoming night, the insects, birds and animals are being sustained; We too are being upheld, moment by moment.

Whatever is in your heart today, that feels pressing or overwhelming… Surrender it to the Vine. Your only task is to remain in love.

Off With the Fairies-A Walking Meditation

Take a walk, if you will, among the trees. For there are times when a walk in the forest is much more than just a simple walk in the forest.

Take the walk slowly. Set your intention to be as awake and aware as possible. Because of this, or perhaps just because of a moment of grace, you may notice the shifts in the air. The breeze, the wind has it’s own voice, it’s own ebb and flow. It goes where it will and you feel it on your face, and through your clothes. Perhaps it is speaking to you.

The paperbark trees that line the path also have a voice, something to say. They are like quiet sentinels, gentle guardians…maybe a little protective; if they could speak aloud they might say; “Tread gently here”.

You keep walking, deciding to take a different path than usual, hoping to see things with new eyes (how wonderful is it to have new eyes!) Yes, a fresh perspective is what you need right now…you think: “Something may pop out into the forefront of my awareness, because I’m fully focused on being present right now!” Nature is truly a Gracious giver. You can come as you are, and she always offers all that she is, reflecting your reality but also revealing something more. An earthy groundedness.

So you come across an interesting tree, so gnarly with termite mounds, yet it is still standing. And it seems pretty content. You think it’s a good idea to stop there and just kind of stand looking at it as if to absorb what it has to communicate. Later on you will reflect on this particular gum tree, how it stood flanking he path, and how it somehow reached out to you. How you, and the tree, and God even, are all one. How loving compassion must be even more real and tangible than a nature walk. You realise the tree, in all it’s diseased state was offering a beautiful earthbound solidarity toward the experiences you are travelling through. The world is but a mirror. As as above, so below. The Divine is not untouched by suffering or illness, it would seem, according to the wise old tree.

You decide it’s time to turn back now, travelling along the same path you came. You notice that beside the trees are shadowy pockets of low foliage. It doesn’t matter that you can’t identify the bushy plants and ground covers, but they are like mini forest walks, mini worlds, with their own pathways and clearings. A hidden subculture of nature undisturbed by human hands. It’s really quite magical, like a fairytale.

IMG-1745 (2)There’s so much beauty and mystery in our world. We walk beside a multitude of spirit companions, each with a different task and possessing a unique aspect of the Source of all life. May you have moments of grace where you can sense all that is around you, every good thing that is supporting you and quietly offering peace and consolation. May you learn to stop for a while and look at the trees.