Tag Archives: Supernatural

Ladders to God?

 Painting by William Blake in the British Museum, London, England 

Jacob’s Ladder from Genesis 28: 10-19 describes a dream of the prophet Jacob who sees angels ascending and descending from heaven to earth and is told God will always be with him.  There are many interpretations from Judaism, Christianity, and Islam: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jacob%27s_Ladder

Last night I meditated upon Father Joseph Tetlow’s four spiritual dynamics, from his handbook, Choosing Christ in the World. The dynamics he describes are:

Christlife–people who live selflessly for others out of their Christian understanding.

Humanism (natural)–people who want to help others out of their common humanity.

Sarx–people who choose pleasure no matter the cost to anyone else or to the planet.

Darkness–people who choose evil.

I saw these dynamics as rungs on a four-runged ladder with its base immersed in a dark pit full of tar. The bottom rung was broken.

People, I thought, born into the world are on the second rung of sarx, a life of the flesh. It is quite a distance from the bottom rung of darkness, evil.  People on this worldly rung, sarx, are on the surface of the world which is full of awe and wonder, a place to be enjoyed, a place to relish, and also a place of superficial awareness. Here on this surface plane of the earth, we meet many others, and we can choose to fellowship with them or use them for our own selfish pleasure.

In The Guardian, a TV series, I was shocked to see a porn/prostitution ring that kidnapped young girls and boys, drugged them, forced them to do unspeakable things, raped them, filmed them nude, and moved them from place to place to avoid being caught. Not only were the perpetrators stepping on the broken rung, all those who frequented such a place, or bought the porn, etc were also stepping on that rung, in a descent into perpetual darkness.

But to enjoy life and love others enough to share what we have is a step up towards the next rung, that of humanism. The rung of humanism led atop a mountain where one could see the whole world, and awesome though it was, it was also from this view, seeing how much people struggle between life and death, both physical and spiritual, that many choose to try to alleviate the suffering, and are indeed humanists.

Above them was the top rung that disappeared into the clouds.  Here, people united with God in the sun, becoming bearers of life-giving light. Here was Christlife.

This representation of the spiritual ascent to God is Biblical and also masculine. I am wondering what a feminine view of spirituality might look like? Perhaps a spiral? It would arise from birth, from bringing into the world, rather than climbing up a ladder of success. It might go around and around in an embrace of all that is good.  How would evil look in this spiritual representation? Perhaps as a broken loop–dropping one into an abyss, into the void of nothingness, not of an ineffable God, but of invisibility and helplessness. Christlife might look like birth, messy and painful, the rising up of new life with immeasurable potential.

Meme The Blue Caravan

  

  

In the “Next Big Thing” blogging meme, an author answers ten set interview questions and then tags five more people to do the same. Here’s my contribution. 

1. What is the working title of your next book?

The Blue Caravan

 2. Where did the idea come from for the book?

This is a sequel to my novel, Emily’s Shadow.

 3. What genre does your book fall under?

Mixed genre: supernatural, mystical, historical

4. What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition?

For Emily, I’d like Keira Knightley; for Merlin, how about Bill Clinton–he’s adaptable. I googled up and coming actors for the rest. Peter: Jay Baruchel; Fawn: Lizzy Caplan; Bernard: Emile Hirsch 

 5. What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

Something supernatural is about to wake up mystical abilities Emily would much rather bury. 

 6. Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?

It’s under contract with Double Dragon Publishing.

 7. How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript? I’d begun it some time ago, and had about 40 pages written, but when I settled down to complete it, after a lot of rewriting and rethinking, it took about a year.

 8. What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Some Cost a Passing Bell by Lee Barwood which is about a young girl with strange psychic abilities.  

9. Who or what inspired you to write this book? An interest in mysticism, Merlin, and Rom.

 10. What else about the book might pique the reader’s interest?

Emily can see Merlin when no one else can. He wants her to help Fawn, but Emily wants nothing to do with her supernatural powers. Also, there’s a scene at the Holy Ghost Ruins:  

 

I will be adding other excellent writers who you can check out!

Read Geoff Nelder’s–author of Aria, Left Luggage–answers: http://www.christinastclair.com/blog_tours

Geoff has a wife, two grown-up kids, an increasing number of grandkids, and lives in rural England within an easy cycle ride of the Welsh mountains. He taught Geography and Information Technology for years until writing took over his life. Geoff is a competition short-fiction judge, and a freelance editor.

 Publications include several non-fiction books on climate reflecting his other persona as a Fellow of the Royal Meteorological Society; over 50 published short stories in various magazines and anthologies; thriller, humour, science fiction, and fantasy novels.

 2005: Humorous thriller Escaping Reality. Republished 2013.

 2008: Award-winning science fiction mystery with hot-blooded heroine, Exit, Pursued by a Bee.

 2010: Another thriller received an Award d’Or from an Arts Academy in the Netherlands. Hot Air. republished in 2012.

2012: ARIA: Left Luggage science fiction apocalypse.

Geoff’s website: geoffnelder.com

Blog: geoffnelder.wordpress.com

 
 
 
 

 

Echoes or Roars?

image from: productionadviceco.com

Last night in my readings I came across an echo of one book in the next one I opened.

I am reading Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind, and though I often don’t understand the Zen concepts, the wisdom of the writer, Shunryu Suzuki, seems to reinforce my meditative practices of breath prayer and silence. 

So, last night I picked up Everything Belongs, by Richard Rohr, a Christian contemplative.  It’s a book about how prayer/contemplation deepens our awareness.

Rohr speaks about how Jesus calls us to “exactly what the Zen master calls his students to…”

In Zen, monks are called to a “beginners mind.”  Similarly Jesus uses the image of a child to call us to freshness of vision.  To see through the eyes of a child is not to be immature, it is to perceive life anew every day, without illusions, with playfulness, and with openness.

Another echo in this reading was from a retreat I took a couple of years ago.  Rohr mentions Pat Brockman O.S.U, a teacher and wise woman I had the privilege of meeting at a silent retreat in Milford, Ohio.  She was my spiritual director. With her, the meaning of wisdom and connectedness shone forth.  She’d been the one to encourage Richard Rohr, who was her colleague, to begin taping his lectures back in 1972 when audio tapes weren’t used for talking. Richard Rohr didn’t think it a good idea, but Sister Pat suggested he pray about it for a day and then they’d ask God for an answer.   They opened the Bible at random and lo and behold read “The sower went out to sow the seed” (Mark 4:3).  So they began making tapes and Rohr is now an internationally known author and spiritual leader.   

Rohr tells us, “We cannot attain the presence of God because we’re already totally in the presence of God. What’s absent is awareness. Little do we realize that God is maintaining us in existence with every breath we take.  As we take another it means that God is choosing us now and now and now….” (p. 29).

So often, religious people try to contain God in church, in ritual, in dogma, in liturgy, but God will not be contained by us, because God is the container of us–a wide open plain where lions frolic.

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A new novel I co-authored with Mandy Armstrong will be coming out next year–early. The seed for it was a ten yen coin.  You can read about it at: http://www.christinastclair.com/ten_yen_true

Miracles of Healing: Blog 1 Early Beliefs

 

This is a photo of Camden Cottage (photo credit: http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=1342), the house in Sydenham where I was raised.  I remember it well and the many times I hiked up the stony road which was the nickname for Round Hill, the street where this house was situated.  It was a grand house. I don’t remember it looking so decrepit and have wondered just when this photo was taken.  There looks like a modern street light which surely must have been recent.  In my early days, there was a street light outside my bedroom. Indeed, the window looking onto this light must be the very one I used to look out from when I was a teenager.

The house has been demolished so perhaps this was a photo taken right before it was torn down.  I’d been gone for many years but remember how upset my Dad was to lose his home.  It was rented, but he loved the place.  They moved to county council flats.  My mother liked her new modern warm apartment in Lee. It was no doubt much cozier.

I didn’t always sleep in that room.  My family, the Davis’s, lived in the Upper Flat. We entered around the back, and went through a common hallway that the Adams’ who lived downstairs, had to go through to enter their bathroom.  We went through a steel door off this common entrance into what might have been an old coal cellar.  It was where my two brothers and I kept our bicycles.  Then we went up stairs to the top into the sprawling flat that was full of rooms, hallways, alcoves, and cupboards.

When I was a little girl, perhaps seven years old, I used to sleep in a small room on the other side of the house.  It was painted pink–a proper little girl’s room.  Outside my room was a central room, like a portal to the other rooms in the house. A window overlooked our garden, a grassy weedy area where we used to play cricket. 

For many nights, I’d look out that window and I’d see a man come and stand below and look up at me.  I remember feeling very frightened.  It wasn’t just the idea of a strange man–in those days, London where I lived, was very safe.  No, I was frightened because this man, who was so very real to me, was not visible to anyone else in my family.

I’d run to my mummy and daddy for comfort. They saw no one.  But I did.  They told me it was my imagination.  Perhaps.

It was not until my brother looked with me and comforted me by telling me there was nothing there that the apparition went away.  Perhaps he’d helped shut my third eye that could see across the veil.

To be continued…

Read Eleven Plus–a novel about Lesley who must struggle to gain acceptance.  It is based on another of my childhood experiences.  Much of the setting is in Camden Cottage.

Price: $5.25

Available from Amazon Kindle:

Eleven Plus

Also available from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/terrible-toes-christina-st-clair/1113731064?ean=2940014538039

Books for Sale

 
  Christina St. Clair, award winning author, former shop-girl, chemist, and pastor, is currently a spiritual director, Reiki Master (don’t read too much into the title master!), wife, animal lover, and writer. She says, “Boring life? Let’s not do duty. Let’s do awe! Take a look at your own complexity? You might be amazed. Life leads us into so many interesting and sometimes difficult crossroads where we get to choose what now, what next? As a student of mysticism and spirituality in all its incarnations both religious, secular, and new age, I want to understand what life is about, what is truth? I am still seeking, but I am offering to any who are interested my insights weaved throughout my essays and stories. I hope my writings might add to your already surprising lives.”
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Wisdom of Julian of Norwich

As I continue my reading of Revelations of Love by Julian of Norwich, I continue to learn from this amazing fourteenth century mystic.

This woman is only thirty years old, sure she is going to die, and so are those at her bedside. The priest is there to give her the last rites.

Even as she feels her body failing–her lower extremities are completely dead, and a numbness begins to overtake her upper body, making it hard for her to breathe, unable to feel anything–she fearlessly approaches death.

Then the “showings,” as she calls her revelations from Jesus, begin.

At the same time, he showed me something small, about the size of a hazelnut, that seemed to lie in the palm of my hand as round as a tiny ball. I tried to understand the sight of it, wondering what it could possibly mean. The answer came: “This is all that is made.” I felt it was so small that it could easily fade to nothing; but again I was told, ‘This lasts and it will go on lasting forever because God loves it. And so it is with every being that God loves.’

I saw three properties about this tiny object. First, God had made it; second, God loves it; and third, that God keeps it. Yet what this really means to me, that he is the Maker, the Keeper, the Lover, I cannot begin to tell.

Revelation of Love, Julian of Norwich edited and translated by John Skinner. New York: Doubleday Image Books. 1997. 9-11

When I think about the significance of Julian seeing a hazelnut, I understand this is a common object from her time, something hard-shelled containing within it a tasty morsel. I remember from my girlhood enjoying Cadbury’s hazelnut chocolate. Very tasty indeed! Hazelnuts are rather small and perhaps that is how Julian viewed life–as something contained. Certainly, her life as a woman in medieval times allowed her only limited choices. Yet, this symbol of the hazelnut reveals God’s immense love, that God is found in the “homely” (this term, used by Julian, means domestic and ordinary things), and also shows that although we are our bodies, there is a greater spiritual reality. God is the ground of our being and much more. God is wholeness and God is mystery. When the hard shell is cracked, the inner morsel is revealed. And it is good!

Following is a meditation to practice the love of God.  

Practicing the Presence of God Meditation

God’s love is awesome, beyond our imaginings, and yet we can and do know it through the love we experience in our daily lives.

Sit quietly listening to meditative music. Bring to mind an experience of love in your life. It can be a time when you felt deeply touched by the love of someone else: friend, mother, father, neighbor, a pet, being in nature, in a choir, etc. Or it can be the sense of love you feel for someone else: child, pet, group, family, the ocean, etc.  The goal is to allow yourself to not only think about this love but to also feel this love.

You are the beloved of God.

Ten Yen True

 

Ten Yen True: of Monks and Mystery

Years ago a friend told me that any time you find a penny it means an angel is nearby to help. At the time, we were stuck a hundred miles away from home in the pouring rain at a gas station. Our borrowed van would not start and we had no idea what to do. There were just the two of us and we had no money to spare. The penny we found had been run over by numerous tires and was flattened and dirty. 

But an angel showed up. A real live young man who proceeded to replace the starter for us for free. He was a true Godsend. I will never forget his kindness.

Such a lovely idea of pennies being from a nearby angel has stayed with me. Now I always pick up copper coins and I am always grateful to feel there is a protective force, my guardian angel perhaps, looking out for me.

When I got to England last Spring and stayed with my niece, Mandy, since it was only for a few days, I did not unpack my suitcase but left it open on the floor of her daughter’s playroom–the room Mandy had given me as my bedroom.

I loved that room so full of stuffed animals, games, and toys. It seemed a place chockfull of innocence, play, and love.

Rummaging in my suitcase, I came across a coin. It was clearly oriental but I had no idea where it had come from or who had put it there. It seemed mysterious, but I suspected Mandy was playing a joke since I’d recently published a book with a colleague in China.

“Very funny,” I later told her, holding up this coin to show her in the lounge. 

She looked at me as if I’d lost my mind. It turned out she had not put this coin in my case and when she asked her daughter if she might have put it there, the little girl shook her head.

Flabbergasted, we began to speculate how a foreign coin got in my suitcase somewhere in transit from Kentucky to London. We also wanted to know just what country this coin came from and wondered if it might not be an Olympic Village coin or perhaps a Chinese one, but our speculations were incorrect.

Mandy’s husband found a photo on the Internet. The coin turned out to be a Japanese ten yen piece.

It was the beginning of a novel Mandy and I co-authored. The title Ten Yen True came to Mandy in a moment of inspiration.

The whole process of writing this novel seemed inspired: it proceeded rapidly and was full of energy, fun, and humor. We could say it was as if we were helped by angels. Or maybe it was the Japanese monk who showed up to help us…

We are currently looking for a publisher. Are there any angels out there?

To read the prologue, go to http://www.christinastclair.com/ten_yen_true

Seekers, Buddha, and Church

As I continue with my reading of Pure Land Buddhism, I am impressed with Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on recollection. He says, as I understand it, that when one meditates on Amida Buddha, the Buddha of compassion, it is important to recollect all that the Buddha stands for. It is not a matter of saying a name over and over again, but of allowing this particular name–full of deep meaning–to fill our very being.

In Christian practice, this is also very important. When we meditate upon Christ, it is okay to say hey, Jesus has saved me. Okay. Hallelujah! Then comes an opportunity to engage with the deeper Christ with whom we are seeking unity. Here is the Christ upon whom we can lean and seek and ask to permeate our being with his compassion, wisdom, healing, love and strength, not merely to enrich our own particular life but that we may become centers of radiant holiness in all the lives around us. How? By being peace. By being compassion. By being authentic!

Church community offers us the big little ways.

For instance, Philip and I hosted the coffee fellowship after worship today. I was glad for the opportunity and also freaked out to have to “do food!” I am insecure about cooking and especially about serving a crowd.

Philip and I did our best, had it mostly ready, but I tossed and turned all night worried my cookies would be inadequate, concerned I’d got the day wrong, frightened I’d make a fool out of myself what with my Betty Crocker cookies, my package brownies.

File:Brownies with chocolate chunks.jpg

Philip made shortbread. I knew that was delicious. I baked my homemade French bread and prepared cucumber sandwiches. I hoped it would be okay.

I wanted everyone to enjoy the food. I wanted to let go of my anxiety.

The outcome? Well, since I was freaking out on how I’d manage to put on coffee, I was so grateful to Wayne for preparing the coffee (and Ryan for asking him on my behalf) I was so pleased people liked the food. Those who said we did okay, well thank you. It gave me confidence. It helped me overcome my anxiety originating from a childhood where we had no food to spare and certainly none to share. The church community, in this little matter of hosting the coffee fellowship, provided an opportunity for me to overcome deep-seated anxieties that keep me isolated.

To those seeking community try a church. You never know what you’ll learn.

Supernatural or Psychological?

http://www.meg-moir.com/2010/11/a-reminder-for-myself/sunrise/

Have you ever wondered what gave the Biblical Saul of Tarsus, the man who becomes St. Paul of the Bible, the evangelist, credibility?

The man was awesome and quite the personality, a highly educated, multi-lingual Jew who was also a Roman citizen. He was immersed in the Rabbinical teachings of his day, completely zealous, though not a Zealot, in his beliefs. Hence, he couldn’t stomach that Jesus person and his followers who presented a message quite radical to the teachings of his Judaic tradition.

So what did he do? He persecuted the followers of Christ unto death.

But here he was walking along the Damascus Road, and in a blinding light he experiences something very strange and very difficult and life altering: He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”

“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.

“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.  “Now get up and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.”  Acts 9:4-6 New International Version (NIV)

There is a psychological term for this sort of reversal of thinking that manifests in a physical way:

Conversion disorder is a neurosis marked by the appearance of physical symptoms such as partial loss of muscle function without physical cause but in the presence of psychological conflict. Symptoms include numbness, blindness, paralysis, or fits without a neurological cause. It is thought that these problems arise in response to difficulties in the patient’s life, and conversion is considered a psychiatric disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders 4th edition (DSM-IV). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conversion_disorder#Treatment

Interesting explanation. Was Paul struggling with his own thinking and his own behavior?  Could such a powerful experience merely be a psychological correction?

Personally, I have no doubt this was a supernatural experience that cannot be easily dismissed. I believe Jesus really did confront Paul and turned his thinking and behavior in a completely different direction.

But even if you don’t accept the idea of the supernatural–what an amazing metaphor this is to explain how killing and persecuting people is an evil arising from a type of blindness that needs to be cured.

After Paul recovers his sight (several days later), what does he do?: 17 I did not go up to Jerusalem to see those who were apostles before I was, but I went into Arabia. Later I returned to Damascus. Galatians 1:17 New International Version (NIV)

Some scholars say this was in fact Mt. Sinai where he went to meditate. But no one really knows for sure what Paul was doing for those three years. http://www.ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Paul_Arabia_Elijah.pdf

Paul asserted that he received the Gospel not from any person, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ:  Galatians 1:11-12 New International Version (NIV)

I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel I preached is not of human origin. I did not receive it from any man, nor was I taught it; rather, I received it by revelation from Jesus Christ.

Paul becomes the Biblical evangelist who was instrumental in bringing the message of Christ to Gentiles.

Moon

A picture showing the legend of PAH taken from our Native American mythology archives. Illustration by Chas Saunders. Read the story below or search the index for more Native American Gods, Native American Goddesses, heroes, demons and monsters!

moon image: http://www.godchecker.com/pantheon/native_american-mythology.php?deity=PAH

In the creation story of the Pawnee people four major stars were said to represent gods. Pah was a Pawnee lunar deity and was male. His consort was Shakaru, a sun goddess. Together they produced a son, but the first human being in Pawnee mythology was a girl, the child borne of the Morning Star and the Evening Star.

This might sound like good news for women, but one sect of the Pawnee, the Skidi, practiced child sacrifice, specifically of captive girls, in the “Morning Star ritual”. They continued this practice regularly through the 1810s and possibly after 1838, the last reported sacrifice. They believed the longstanding rite ensured the fertility of the soil and success of the crops, as well as renewal of all life in spring. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pawnee_people

Archeologists and anthropologists have determined the Pawnee had a sophisticated understanding of the movement of stars. They noted the nonconforming movements of both Venus (Evening Star) and Mars (Morning Star). The Pawnee centered all aspects of daily life on this celestial observation, including the important cultivation cycle for sacred corn.

They built earthwork lodges to accommodate the sedentary nature of Pawnee culture; each lodge “was at the same time the universe and also the womb of a woman, and the household activities represented her reproductive powers.”[2] The lodge also represented the universe in a more practical way. The physical construction of the house required setting up four posts to represent the four cardinal directions, “aligned almost exactly with the north-south, east-west axis.[3]  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Pawnee_lodge.jpg

Give a book for Christmas, maybe one of mine?

Unexpected Journey (www.roguephoenixpress.com): historical coming of age novel about a shaman, a rich girl and a street girl who end up in colonial Philadelphia.

Kindle edition: $5.99

Available in HTML, PDF, and Mobipocket directly from the publisher:

http://shop.roguephoenixpress.ieasysite.com/productinfo.aspx?productid=UNEXPECTEDJOURNEY

  

Emily’s Shadow (www.bloodmoonpublishing.com): supernatural fantasy set in Cornwall, where Merlin made magic.

  Kindle edition:   $4.79

FREE: Misty, the London Pony,  is based on a true story. An illustrated children’s story is available as a free PDF download.

 

Champion, the Dream Horse, about Mara Sue, who lives in Kentucky, is poor, but determined to own the horse of her dreams.

Kindle edition: $2.99