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Dogen & Francis Hermitage Update
January 2002

Mothering God – O Marvelous Exchange

What would it be like to experience the expression of creation from God’s perspective? Is every appearance of life a maieutic event, a midwifing birth from no-it-isn’t to yes-it-is? Is God the mothering Being-unto-Birth attending tirelessly every insight, every howling infant, and every death-rattling final gasp that brings one more being through the door of finitude?

When Jesus was told that his mother was waiting for him he asked who was his mother, really, who was his mother but anyone who heard and obeyed the promptings of the source of all Being, the Father. Contrary to the sketches of hurt usually ascribed to Mary upon hearing this relativizing rendering of her place in his life, I suspect she was delighted. If Mary is the woman so long touted as extraordinary in nearness to the unfolding of Christ, then she knew hearing Jesus’ words that he knew what she knew what we all will know when our time comes.

“O marvelous exchange!” proclaims antiphon 1 at 1st Vespers for January 1, the celebration of Mary, Mother of God, and the Octave of Christmas. “Man’s Creator has become man, born of a virgin. We have been made sharers of the divinity of Christ who humbled himself to share in our humanity.”

Don’t we all become what we create? In the Creator’s case, the Creator becomes the creation. What do we become? What are we creating?

As a new year begins at Meetingbrook we are creating space for meditation and contemplation, conversation, collation and recollection, correspondence, and simple engaged service. We are doing nothing special, really, nothing other than what anybody does who suspects or realizes that we have been made sharers of the divinity of Christ. And what is that? The divinity of Christ might be seen as the unbroken awareness that we are what God is doing – the unceasing revelation of God’s life and breath in this existence. Jesus knew it, Mary knew it – now, we are practicing what they knew and taught.

We practice the awareness graciously given us by these two wonderful beings. Presaged and predated by other marvelous and compassionate beings in Israel, India, Persia, and what would come to be called the Americas – this anawim (poor and lowly) woman and anointed son forged a new exchange – a new circle wherein what we will be and what we are is just ahead of what we’ve been. The straight road has turned around into itself and become a circular spiral where we no longer are straying from what and where we are – but are extending this being and place called who-we-are into a profound and deepening awareness of our shared origin. Point of departure and focus of destination have grasped each other’s hand and now twirl in ecstatic embracing dance at origin – a grounded, real, encircling earthly/heavenly origin.

That’s what a hermitage is and does. It creates a place of practice and then practices so as to be a place of practice. And so this New Year – we practice. Alone, together, with those we know, and with those we will come to know. This practice, this dance, this prayer -- this exchange of mothering creation with mothering creator – is the exchange taking place in solitude and community. As long as we can, we practice the presence of this exchange, one breath at a time.
We’ll be visiting a new prison when we continue conversations at Maine State Prison in February. Meanwhile, the windows for the Meditation Cabin are all nearly in, with door, flooring, and woodstove at ready to complete the creation. We want to buy the adjoining 2.8 acres this year and trust the money will appear. The Hermitage Harbor Room is ready to receive those wishing a retreat by the ocean. Call to reserve for a creative rest and retreat. It is available for all four seasons.
As we face backward and forward this January, let's surround and mother each other with creation.  Let’s pray for each other. Let’s practice with each other. Let’s exchange our life in the creation of freedom, peace, and love – the life of mothering God with us.

With gratitude,
, Sando , Mini and all who grace Meetingbrook,
1January 2002 



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