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Two Timely Online Opportunities

As this sea-change of a new year gets underway, this comes to call your attention to two timely opportunities for further Wisdom study and reflection along the lines of inquiry I’ve opened up in my two “post-election” blogs this past fall. Coming right up on January 15, our beloved Wisdom brother Bob Sabath will be leading an 11-week introductory exploration of the Gurdjieff material anchored in Nicoll’s Psychological Commentaries on the Teachings of Gurdjieff and Ouspensky—arguably the most immediately practical access point to this great canon of transformational material. As Bob rightly points out, this is a “soft launch” into the great, wide world of Gurdjieff, geared toward illuminating practical inner skills, and cross-referenced by parallel passages in Christian lectio divina. It’s a beautifully thought-out exploration and will get many of us working and thinking together in this new terrain. I encourage you to join in. Click here for the link to the full details and sign up procedures for this online study work group. A little further down the pike, beginning February 27— for Ash Wednesday—I’ll be launching a Lenten e-retreat based on Gurdjieff’s “Obligolnian Strivings,” the heart of the Beelzebub’s Tales material I’ve been referring to in those

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Christmas Eve Meditation on the Incarnation: A Reflection for Our Times

In the tender compassion of our God * the dawn from on high shall break upon us, To shine on those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death, * and to guide our feet into the way of peace.   We are living in darkness and in the shadow of death. You don’t need a degree in environmental studies, political science, or international relations to know that the world is in a terrible mess. And despite our own efforts to put our own “best foot forward,” our own personal lives aren’t exactly perfect either. These days, insecurity and a profound sense of dread are palpable; they are everywhere around us as well as within us. We may pretend that life goes on as usual, but the smarter part of us knows better. Indeed, the encroaching darkness and the shadow of death threaten to trample our hope and strangle the breath right out of us. But out of the deep gloom comes a promise, and it is born out of the compassion of our God. It promises that the dawn will break and that we will be delivered to an unimaginable peace and freedom. While the source of this

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Day of Babette’s Feast

Dear Wisdom friends, Wow! What an amazing heart outpouring from all of you! I feel the energy, the strength, and most important, the clarity. I believe that in the space of merely a week we have already become a “morphogenetic field” out there in the cosmos. And the space which the “conscious circle of humanity” needed to have occupied is now activated and beginning to make its presence felt. I see that many of you are already gearing up for the deep dive into Beelzebub’s Tales, so I did want to briefly share with you these few clarifications and tips. Teaching and reading groups are already starting to self-organize, both formally and informally, on the ground and in cyber space. I hope that by shortly into the New Year we will be able to put together a resource directory helping our keen band of wisdom seekers find their way to the most appropriate venue. But meanwhile… First, you should all know that I will myself be offering a Lenten e-course with Spirituality and Practice on “The Obligolnian Strivings,” the heart of Gurdjieff’s brilliant vision of human purpose and accountability, and the ethical climax of the first book of Beelzebub’s Tales.

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Words Formed East of Eagle Island

I would like to set out a cautionary expansion of Cynthia’s words. I was spared being in the United States for the election. Despite best efforts I wasn’t able to reschedule teaching a graduate seminar on peace agreements at the Bethlehem (Occupied Territory) Bible College. A little over half of my students lived amidst the walls, barbed wire and guns of no real peace; the rest were from around the world. It was my first time in Israel, my first time in Palestine. Many observers including a number in the Clinton campaign itself date the swing against Hillary to her comment about the “basket of deplorables”. I would venture a guess that there was at least one loud “I” in most of us that said, “Yes!”, followed by the thought that maybe she shouldn’t have said it. The latest vote counters say that where Hillary ran far behind the Obama pace and lost the election were in the smaller cities, villages and towns of the upper Midwest. Most of us know people there or maybe we are descended from them. They are not the stuff of brown-shirts or pre-modern darkness. They are a neglected demographic who feel left behind by

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Your Comments to My Post-Apocalyptic Blog Post

I am still on low to non-existent solar power on Eagle Island, but I want you to know that I am moved, encouraged, and overjoyed by this outpouring of response. In proper Advent fashion, I'm pondering all of this in my heart, and will be back on this blogspot in the near future with further clarifications and musings. In the meantime, I can feel that the BODY of our presence is already out there, quickened, and that its presence on the scene is now already a reality...for which I give thanks from the depths of my heart. Blessings,

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My Post-Apocalyptic Blog

Dear Wisdom friends, I want to make very clear to all of you that the “keep calm and carry on” tone of my earlier (immediately post-election) post does not imply that I’m feeling sanguine about the course of events now facing our country and our world. Quite to the contrary, I believe over the next several months we’re in for some hard reversals, probably harder than most Americans born post World War II have ever seen in their lifetime. I’ve been out here on Eagle Island for a few days of Advent deep listening, trying to second-guess myself. But the premonition remains. And it’s still Wisdom’s hour. Because I believe that those of us seriously committed to walking the Wisdom path have something to bring to the mix which most of our culture—either secular or spiritual—is simply not going to be able to get at. And it’s the missing piece, I believe, where clarity and resolve are to be found, if at all. As you know, the two main influences on my overall metaphysical bearings are Teilhard and Gurdjieff. From Teilhard I get the reassurance that deep hope takes place over deep time. So much of our human terror and

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Post Election Reflection II

Ring out the bells that still can ring Forget your perfect offering There is a crack, a crack in everything That’s how the light gets in –Leonard Cohen, 1934-2016   Dear Wisdom seekers, I’d like to share with you some reflections on what’s happening in this (post-) election cycle here in the United States. There has been so much pain and confusion these last few days, and at the same time I have felt an amazing upsurge of deeply grounded, newly energized, committed and emboldened hope, rising up through my heart as if from the heart of the earth itself--and I see it rising up and radiating out through so many others as well. I’m naming it an upsurge of “bodhisattva consciousness”--a deep and resolved commitment to work in the world for the liberation of all beings, and particularly for the most silenced and oppressed among us. After December 19th, when the Electoral College electors cast their ballots, it is almost certain that Donald Trump will be our president-elect. How did we get here, and what is happening? First, let’s scale way back and take the big picture, long-range view (or, at least, MY big-picture view!): this planet, this entire

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Lines of My Own Composed above Tintern Abbey

We’d arranged to spend a day of sightseeing on my most recent teaching swing through the UK, so the afternoon of November 7 found me in a car with my host Jackie Evans and my old friend John Moss, winding our way back to Bristol after a magical day of exploring some fabled holy sites and “thin places” in the picturesque Welsh countryside. Darkness drops quickly in November; the sun was already barely cresting the ridgeline when we rounded a bend in the Wye River, and suddenly there was Tintern Abbey. The sight does, literally take your breath away. There, nestled in the riverbed like a strange Gothic botanical, more growing out of the landscape than towering over it, stand the haunting ruins of a 12th century Cistercian Monastery, still largely intact. In 1536 it fell victim to Henry VIII’s Dissolution of the Monasteries edict, his brutal initiative to disestablish the Roman Catholic Church in England. Monks were deposed or slaughtered, the building was sacked and vandalized, its treasures were confiscated for the crown. Three centuries of peaceful and compassionate striving in this “school for the Lord’s service” ended in an orgy of violence. Over the centuries, the old stonewalls

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Post Election Reflection

I want to thank you all for the beauty of the work you are collectively doing around this election. There have been torrents of words already, and I am loath to contribute to the stream, particularly so many of you have spoken so eloquently and succinctly about it. Honestly, I think Bob Sabath pretty much nails it in his short reflection: that combination of courage, openness, forgiveness, renewed commitment, and compassion that will be required of each of us as we pick up the pieces and move ahead. I am so grateful to be working with you all in this bandwidth, with the tools and perspectives we have been gradually developing in our wisdom work over the past years. From Teilhard we have the reassurance that evolutionary change flows over deep time. Events which, viewed at the wrong scale (i.e., too close up), look like devastating upheavals actually turn out to be relatively minor systemic adjustments. Beneath the surface ripples and rapids, the river itself is still flowing smoothly in its channel. Hope does not divert course. From Gurdjieff we have the Law of Three and a powerful set of tools for processing and applying ( a.k.a., invoking, channeling, mediating,

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The Way Forward: The Book of Lamentations as Teacher

The Day after the Presidential Election After a fitful sleep interrupted by phone calls and texts from worried and distraught friends, I awoke this morning to the grim reality of the day. How could this possibly be? How could we have turned backwards toward hate, racial prejudice, sexism, and xenophobia? So many of us have been actively working toward a culture that could embrace the marginalized. And what about the fate of our earth, our island home? Have we just taken a giant step backward? For me it was a morning for grief and lamentation. Not surprisingly, I found the Old Testament reading from Joel in the morning office exactly on target: 15   Blow the trumpet in Zion; sanctify a fast; call a solemn assembly; 16   gather the people. Sanctify the congregation; assemble the aged; gather the children, even infants at the breast. Let the bridegroom leave his room, and the bride her canopy. 17   Between the vestibule and the altar let the priests, the ministers of the Lord, weep. Let them say, ‘Spare your people, O Lord, and do not make your heritage a mockery, a byword among the nations. Why should it be said among the peoples, “Where

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