The Jesus Prayer has been part of my practice for a number of years now, and recently it has taken a deeper dive into the body with the introduction of Gurdjieff’s Lord have Mercy exercise. The practice moves into sensing “an echo” of the words “Lord have Mercy” in each of the limbs, coursing through the body and building in both sensation and feeling. Yesterday when the meditation ended, I gently opened my eyes and experienced the Lord have Mercy echoing, not only from within, but from every corner of the room, each object, from the barn outside the window, the field, the sheep, to the sky itself. It was a glimpse into the Lord have Mercy speaking through the weave of all life, all matter, animate and inanimate.
I have a few Advent prayers, and this exercise is one. I am fortunate to have a little group that practices it together weekly, augmenting my own personal practice of it. It invites me to listen to how Lord have Mercy sings through the body, and now, allows a glimpse of how it resounds through the whole of creation. It is a door to a beautiful Whole of interpenetrating worlds. Here in the north country, it is especially poignant with snow on the ground and the bare bones of trees piercing winter skies.
We each have our work this season. A personal walk into the intersection between our inner and outer lives. We walk between realms—dive down into the cold mechanical habits of being, find our uprightness again in the art and reason of daily life in the world, catch the scent of the gifts of the spirit that keep us on course as we navigate our days. The call from a mysterious Presence bursts into life through wider, deeper sensation, subtle feelings of tender mutuality, the ah ha! of a certain knowing coursing through our awareness. The experiential nature of this path is worth exploring and sharing with one another.
Advent is a time for listening, for bending an ear towards what has been gestating within that wants to issue forth and manifest now. In our community, “Wisdom Waypoints” is taking birth. I am enjoying how much easier those words are on the tongue than “Northeast Wisdom.” There is something static and limiting in the word “northeast.” It served a purpose for our little organization, signifying a reality of its beginnings. Pretty quickly it became a misnomer, and an ongoing struggle for several years. How do you change a name? Who are we really, and what are we becoming?
Northeast Wisdom was incorporated in early 2013, and became a bona fide non-profit in October of 2014. It has literally just completed its first seven-year cycle in the last eight weeks. At the midpoint of that cycle, the Northeast Wisdom Board of Directors became a Wisdom Council, reflecting a new sound from the center as the organization was growing up, stretching into new dimensions and expressions. Both broader and more consolidated, a sense of Wisdom Community was arising, and the Council’s job was changing as we attempted to catch up, name and serve it. More people in the community wanted to embody Wisdom, welcome it into our communities and into our lives. We were eager to work with it from the core of our beings, and listen to it find form from the center of a group in local circles. The work itself was being presented in more experiential and embodied forms—spoken about less as ideas and concepts and more as reality—the practice and path of transformation. These elements of course were within it all along and many devoted to Wisdom were shepherds to an arising coherent community.
“Wisdom Waypoints” expresses this reality in new ways. One of the finest intersections is with the movement of an ever-present stream of Wisdom, both ancient and new, surfacing and flowing on the planet—within which our own particular dynamic, ternary Wisdom lineage is following its course—within which each of us, on our particular paths, are finding our way in the current, alone and together. Myriad byways and tides have their flavor and fragrance, from the trickles of dark woods springs to the place where the two seas meet. We travel these waters, jumping in or taking pause on the bank to watch the flow. Another Advent practice: saying yes. Let it be. Yes.
Waypoints, is a navigation term coined in the English language in the late 1800’s to mark points or places along the way: landmarks, turning points, course changes. They are guideposts, ushering us from here to there and—as on St Brendan’s voyage—may become markers of our relationships to those points, as we go deeper and see with new eyes the places where we have been before. A waypoint helps us to know where we are along our particular course, in the great sphere of the planet and surrounding atmosphere. In fact, in a lovely reflection, waypoints exist in many dimensions, extending to time when figured in outer space. And, this is fun, the fastest way to get from one point to another is a route traced from the origin point to the endpoint within the sphere of the globe, our mother ship Earth. The journey is revealed through the Great Circle and is the most direct route from here to there. Our waypoints nest within a whole.
The new Wisdom Waypoints website is a portal which opens onto many paths. A path for people just getting their feet wet, a path for those who have been in the territory and want to know more, a path for seasoned travelers who long for companions as they go deeper. We have begun clearing trails for people who want to learn more through book study, who love the ancient Christian Wisdom texts, and those who feel drawn to embodying Wisdom or the polishing and transformation of the heart. We have byways for people who want to pray together, and are exploring ways for those who want to bring inner and outer work together in action.
Wisdom Waypoints will provide a balance of offerings—walking with you to create together direction and spiritual nourishment to those who are hungry for it. Our original mission continues: to transmit, nurture, prepare and engage Wisdom, to a community that has grown to be worldwide, where all who are drawn to this lineage are welcome.
The new website is an invitation to join us to clear the trails, maintain paths, and follow streams into uncharted territories together. This means tracking with the community, which so beautifully is forming itself as so many have discovered and created ways to transmit, nurture, prepare and engage Wisdom. Launching the new website over the course of 2021 will yield greater community resources with clarity and ease of navigation. we are exploring novel ways to participate and engage in courses, develop fresh forums for group sharing and conversation; create avenues to receive spiritual sustenance and return, remember, refresh and renew. As well as supporting on the ground communities and retreats, Wisdom Waypoints will offer email, online and live internet group and individual opportunities, and mentoring and formation at points along the way.
Wisdom Waypoints is learning how to meet and engage with the world in new ways and on new fronts, while honing our work with the mysteries—ancient clues, living text and practices that have been given over centuries to take us ever more deeply into life in these amazing and challenging times.
An Advent practice which has accompanied me for as long as I can remember is pondering in the heart with Mary. The deep well within Mother Mary has been my beacon since I was a child. Her enormous holy heart—able to prepare with joy for her newborn and simultaneously hold all the sorrow of her intuitive knowing of what was to come. How to bear the beams of love, as Cynthia likes to remind us. How to keep turning towards the grief, the broken, that which needs to heal—without running in the other direction. How to stay present— embarking on the work that is the request, and accepting what is, as it is. What is it to say “yes” and “let it be” at the same time—in our living?
We have begun pondering at Wisdom Waypoints what it is to be travelers in these precarious times, what paths are ours to carve and what trails are essential to be walking now. For many of us this has been personal, for some it has been the subject of gatherings. As we leave 2020 behind and take our first steps into 2021, celebrating first the descent of night and then the increase of day in the northern hemisphere, the work of Wisdom Waypoints will be to stay awake to who we are becoming in reciprocal relationship with the Whole as we shape together a deeper, broader, more cohesive vessel to hop on and sail these waters together. Lord, have Mercy.
A Note from Northeast Wisdom/ Wisdom Waypoints:
Northeast Wisdom/ Wisdom Waypoints appreciates your contribution to our annual fundraising campaign. Every donation supports the mission to transmit, nurture, prepare and engage Wisdom, as we invite and welcome all who are drawn to this Wisdom lineage into community. Thank you to those of you who have already given. For those of you who would like to read the letter from Cynthia, and the note from Marcella and Matthew, and want to make a contribution now, please visit Contribute, here. We are still sending a copy of Cynthia’s latest book: Eye of the Heart: A Spiritual Journey into the Imaginal Realm, as a token of our appreciation for every contribution of $150 or more.
The Lord Have Mercy exercise referred to above was given by Gurdjieff and recorded by Joseph Azize in his book: Gurdjieff: Mysticism, Contemplation and Exercises.
Images from the top: The prayer shawl in the room, photo courtesy of Laura Ruth; The stone path curves by the river, photo courtesy of Laura Ruth; Khidr Where the Two Seas Meet, origin unknown; Virgin Mary with Light Within, origin unknown; image of Eye of the Heart book cover, posted on NEW by Holly Hough September 2020.