Community: A Guided Meditation by Barbara Ardinger


Barbara ArdingerAs I read the blogs posted here, I’m more and more interested in the comments. They show that we and our readers are turning into a real community. For this reason, I’ve decided it might be fun to reconstruct a guided meditation on community from my book Goddess Meditations, which was published in 1999. Goddess Meditations was the first book I wrote after I moved to Long Beach in 1996. I’m rewriting the meditation because I know more now and writer better than I did back then.

Yes, we here at Feminism and Religion are a community, and in my opinion there’s nothing better than community. Individuals come together to form small communities. Small communities come together to form larger communities. And so it goes. Hopefully we’re building up to a world-wide community.

netLet’s begin. Sit comfortably, close your eyes, and take several deep, easy breaths. When you feel relaxed, call into your mind the familiar image of a fishing net. See a vast net that stretches up and down as far as you can see, every knot a sparkling star. See yourself in the center of this shining net, but know that each of us stands at his or her own center of the net. The stars revolve around each of us, they shine for each of us. This net has as many centers as it has knots that are shining stars. This net is our community. The Weaver of our net is the Great Goddess.

isis

Let us look upon our net and see who the Goddess has woven into our life today. Look at your closest circle of stars and name them. (They don’t have to be FAR bloggers. Consider your friends where you live. And you don’t have to stop with three.)

  • [name] – who cheers me when I am sad
  • [name] – who holds me when I am weary
  • [name] – who feeds me when I am hungry

Let us understand that no community is built at random. No community comes together by chance, for our wise Goddess gathers Her children with purpose and humor. Name more friends. (Again, you don’t have to stop with three.)

  • [name] – who walks beside me
  • [name] – who plays beside me
  • [name] – who works beside me

The word “community” comes to us from the Latin communis, “common.” A related word is “communion.” One meaning of “communion” is “a sharing of thoughts or feelings.” With whom do we brainstorm for our best ideas and reveal our most intimate feelings, if not our community? Another definition is “a religious or spiritual fellowship.” We are all of us part of a vast community that lives in the lap of the Goddess.

Look again at this net of our community. Consider the light of each star. See how far it shines, how it touches the lights of other stars, just as our fingertips—and emails—touch when we connect. We find comfort in the touch of a friend. Touching joins us, it links our auras. We are lighted by all the stars around us and we share the light. That light is thought, it is feelings, it is sisterhood and brotherhood. It is community.

The Great Goddess creates our communities, and in them we share our ideas, our passions, our hopes and disappointments. We share comfort and criticism. We share our work and what is in our heart.

Look again at the net. The lines of the net shine like the stars. See how they pulse like our veins and arteries as they carry the life-blood of our spirit throughout the body of our community. These lines carry our philosophies and beliefs. Let’s name more friends.

  • [name] – who stands by my side
  • [name] – who speaks truth to me
  • [name] – who listens when I speak

Our communities are as ever-changing as they are ever-enduring, as elastic as they are stable. We grow, and our thoughts and heart’s desires flow along new and different lines. We grow and find that one who was once our friend is no longer with us. We grow and blossom and find that we have grown into new communities. Bless the communities of our former friends and know that they have found their best places.

Look out upon our community and see the faces (or photos) of the people the Goddess has brought to us. See their hearts, their minds, their busy fingers, and know that our community has purpose. Know that our community is blessed by the Great Goddess, Who is Mother of us all.

After you have returned to ordinary awareness, give thanks for community. Resolve to keep your own communities in peace and harmony until their work is complete. Know that new communities form at their proper times. Know that the Goddess will continue to weave Her net and that community will always be with us.

Barbara Ardinger, Ph.D. (www.barbaraardinger.com), is a published author and freelance editor. Her newest book is Secret Lives, a novel about grandmothers who do magic.  Her earlier nonfiction books include the daybook Pagan Every Day, Finding New Goddesses (a pun-filled parody of goddess encyclopedias), and Goddess Meditations.  When she can get away from the computer, she goes to the theater as often as possible—she loves musical theater and movies in which people sing and dance. She is also an active CERT (Community Emergency Rescue Team) volunteer and a member (and occasional secretary pro-tem) of a neighborhood organization that focuses on code enforcement and safety for citizens. She has been an AIDS emotional support volunteer and a literacy volunteer. She is an active member of the neopagan community and is well known for the rituals she creates and leads.

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Categories: Community, Feminism, Feminism and Religion, General, Spirituality

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23 replies

  1. I too treasure our community. We have about 1000 readers a day, why do only about 10 a day make a comment? I personally would like to know what the others are thinking too.

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    • It might appear to be easier if this blog succumbed to the “like” “don’t like” icons, meaning the authors of the blogs or comments to the blogs would feel better/worse about what they had written. But clicking a “like” icon doesn’t really tell the author WHAT was liked. It’s the equivalent of “Have a nice day.” What do you mean by nice? How do you define “nice”?

      I think it also takes a while to develop politeness on the internet. I was talking with some “of a certain generation” friends the other day and we were all bemoaning the loss of the written letter where you would have to take TIME to write the letter out and TIME to address the envelope and find the stamp and TIME to walk down to the mailbox and TIME to put the letter into the mailbox. And all that TIME gave you a chance to NOT MAIL the angry letter! Nowadays we have the fatal CLICK and the comment goes out and after I have a chance to calm down and think about it I am mortally ashamed of what I have written. There are some websites I no longer go to because I am embarrassed over my comment history. It took me at least two years (and is still an ongoing process) to develop an acceptable comment voice.

      Why I write a comment
      1. I feel the author has not properly defined something and I feel if I ask a question it will help the author refine her argument. I am ‘helping’ the author
      2. Something spontaneously bubbles up in me (is this the Quaker equivalent of the God moment?) and I just want to share it.
      3. The author has written something beautiful or thought provoking or made me learn something new and I want to thank her for it.

      Why I don’t write a comment
      1. The topic is too broad, or there are so many points of poor definition, argumentation, misinterpretation, omission of relevant facts that it would take too long to help the author.
      2. I doubt myself and wonder whether this ‘inspiration bubble’ is some kind of ego aggrandizement trick, so I keep silent.
      3. The author has written something I strongly disagree with but she still has the right to her opinion no matter how wrong-headed I think she is (because the reciprocal is I have a right to my own wrong headed opinions). Then I have a big long internal argument with myself for a few hours about why I think the way I do in contrast to the author.

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      • I agree with you about those dratted likes and don’t likes. It’s like a forced-choice test or a survey in which you can answer yes or no but not say why you gave that answer. Thanks for writing so clearly.

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    • Thanks Barbara for this wonderful meditation. I am not round goddess ravers enough nowdays and would love to find more in my location in rural Oregon- so I have more than three spots surrounding me. I think it is hard for us women, witch types to validate how important we are to each other and easy to get isolated. Working to break down that isolation by responding to your post.
      Deepest gratitude.
      Ellen Greenlaw

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  2. Barbara, thanks so much for the delightful meditation. It lifted my mood!! I love FAR. Regards our stars, Wordsworth says, rather mysteriously:

    “Our birth is but a sleep and a forgetting;
    The Soul that rises with us, our life’s Star.”

    In terms of a net as a spiritual framework, the Tao Te Ching (Chapter 73) also has a profoundly wonderful teaching where “heaven’s net” (integrity of the universe?) is understood as a vast, motherly benevolence —

    “Unorganized and yet good
    at planning, heaven’s net —
    vast, vast and coarse
    and yet nothing slips through.”

    The ancient Chinese philosopher, Ho-Shang-Kung comments: “The net of heaven has wide meshes and is very large: it overlooks the good and bad within us, though nothing escapes it.”

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    • Sarah, thanks for the Wordsworth quote and the teaching about the Tao’s heavenly net. That net seems to be a symbol that people all over the planet use. I guess everyone’s familiar with nets.

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  3. So beautiful, Barbara! Blessed Bees (who are also part of our community!) ;-)

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  4. Thank you for this directed method of bringing community into consciousness.. I love the “net” with interwoven knots…

    As for Carol’s question, I read an interesting blog post once, somewhere, and that person pointed out how easy the nay-sayers were to having their point (she did actually stats if I remember correctly). This set off a bell in my head about how to be a more active supporter of ideas that I find valuable on the web. I have since then made more of an effort to participate in conversations after I read a post that I think makes a contribution to well being whatever the issues and no matter my communal connection or random read.

    I mention this, only because at least what I learned from that was how frequently a good read is taken as a gem and tucked away under the pillow of sweet dreams and NOT a source of written feedback. So we are back to the old: no news is good news..

    In other words, it takes the kind of consciousness Barbara is invoking with this collective meditation to follow up with a comment as well.

    But otherwise at least you know folks are not receiving it negatively.

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  5. Really, really beautiful. Thank you so much for this.

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  6. “The Great Goddess creates our communities, and in them we share our ideas, our passions, our hopes and disappointments. We share comfort and criticism. We share our work and what is in our heart.”

    Having grown up in quite a judgmental community, I especially appreciate this paragraph. Thank you, Barbara.

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    • Even though I always hope any community born of the Goddess is filled with nonjudgmental people, it does in fact happen that judgmental people hang out in covens and circles, too. But there are fewer of them than in communities (churches) that like to focus on sins instead of blessings. The FAR community tends to be oriented in the direction of blessings. Which is itself a blessing because we’re a pretty diverse bunch.

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  7. First, thank you, Barbara, for this inspiring meditation. I did it and fealt a sense of gratitude at the end of it for my various communities – you all on FAR being one of them.

    Carol, your question has very much been on my mind since you made a similar comment on Nancy Vedder-Shults recent post. So much so that my upcoming post this Wednesday touches on this very subject – so perhaps the conversation will continue there as well. For me, commenting takes me so much time. I think in part because I really want to think through my comment before posting it; similar to what nmr mentions above, I don’t want to be careless or reactionary about my comments. And interestingly, this is true for me whether I have a praising comment or a constructive one – I contemplate so long before commiting to ‘click’ on my comment!

    Nonetheless, being more active in the comment sections of our FAR posts is one of the practices that I am working on. Being in conversation with you all is important to me – and moreover, it is an opportunity that I don’t want to lose out on! To have you all as a community is such a gift; I’m really grateful.

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  8. I love your guided visualization, Barbara, and the concept of our community as a net of stars, each at the center (and, of course, each NOT at the center from the perspective of the other stars). When writing an essay entitled “Goddess at the Center, Goddess Everywhere,” which will probably be my next article in _SageWoman_, I used the concept of Indra’s (infinite) net to evoke the Goddess. As I write there, “a jewel hangs at each intersection of the web’s strands, and each of these jewels reflects all the others. If anything disturbs the net – for good or for ill – it’s felt in every node. Much like the butterfly effect of modern physics, even a tiny perturbation of the net will affect the whole. Indra’s net represents the totality of the Goddess – the interdependent web of existence – while the jewels depict each individual as a part of that whole. She is all of creation – the net itself – immanent within each jewel, including me and the rest of the universe….Each of the jewels reflects the whole, but only to the extent that it is clear and transparent, something that is nearly impossible. Imagine how a scene appears as reflected through a teardrop compared to a piece of glass, a rounded spoon, or a prism. Each mirrors the view, but from different angles and with different distortions, resulting in a variety of depictions. But each one can add to our knowledge of what’s really out there.” I guess that’s why I love FAR so much. We each add to the understanding of how religion can become more balanced and more affirming of women, so that women everywhere have the right(s) to become more whole.

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    • Yeah, that marvelous butterfly effect. The first time I ever heard of it, all I could do was go, “Wow. That’s true!” We like to think we’re independent (and some of us are seriously dependent), but what we all are is interdependent. Thanks for your wise comment!

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  9. Thanks, Barbara! Planning to use this in our UU women’s group.

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  10. This is really beautiful. I practice Reiki (on my own, not a Master or anything) and when I am having difficulty, I imagine the energy coming from hands as starts going up into the cosmos so this image of catching stars is very beautiful.

    I would love to hear this as a recording!

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  11. This is a lovely meditation, thanks for sharing it, Barbara. I have been thinking about community a lot lately, so this really is a gift. I will be sharing it with my little family spiritual group.

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  12. Barbara,
    I too am a member of our local CERT team (Community Emergency Response Team) in Welches, Oregon.
    Fire a real danger right now- very dry and lots of wind. Floods, earthquakes and should Mt. Hood blow her
    stack, our community will need emergency help. Does you CERT meet regularly or did you go through the training just once? Communication is an issue here- NOTHING WORKS! Due to very mountainous terrain, wind, rain, poor electrical supply, bad phone lines, no cell phone coverage- we are experimenting with walkie talkies. What does your group use for communication? Feel free to email me off this list if you want. Ellen Greenlaw

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    • Long Beach CERT runs probably half a dozen free trainings a year. Then graduates attend monthly meetings, most of them at FD headquarters. Some meetings are additional training, most are speeches on things we need to know. CERT and the Red Cross also work together a lot. There CB radio classes, though I haven’t taken one yet.

      Sent from my iPad

      >

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  13. Thank you, Barbara! Great post, great meditation. I have done it. :-)

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  14. I enjoy what you guys are up too. This kind of clever work and exposure!
    Keep up the awesome works guys I’ve added you guys to our blogroll.

    Like

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