To Everything There is a Season

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,

 
For millennia people have been observing the changes in the season, the hush of winter, the coming of planting seasons, the promise of a new day, by developing and collectively observing rituals. Rituals touch a deep place inside of us, reach down and stimulate archetypes which remind us of who we are in some timeless way. When the floods came, or a huge storm raged, and destruction was the result, the idea that these forces beyond our human imaginings have such power moved our human ancestors to develop stories about powerful gods and goddesses who were rolling bowling balls in the heavens. Somehow developing a relationship with the force of creation and destruction seems to have made the world a less unpredictable place. And so rituals to appeal to those forces became a part of the activities of their lives. Rather than living at the mercy of some alien force, our ancestors from various cultures made friends with the “gods” and developed ways of humanizing the forces, and made regular offerings to them. The seasons were managed by creating repeatable, regular ways of addressing these “gods”.  Each culture developed a different way of developing relationship with “the all that is”, with the life force which animates both them and all living creatures…and many different ways of understanding our world developed. Indigenous people have always had a relationship with the earth, with the seasons, with the breath of life, and have accesses that force through spiritual practices like meditation, prayer, dancing, chanting, giving offerings.
 
When organized religions began to form, they would take on elements of the rituals and incorporate them into a new organizational structure and cosmology. And new stories were constructed to support that mythic journey. There are times of year when there are many many observances which converge. The peak of these observances tends to come around the solstice, and so the deep midwinter Saturnalia, Hanukkah, Christmas observances make way, in the spring, for spring solstice, Passover, Easter.  I love a saying from the Baha’i tradition- “Worship the Light, not the Lamp”
This kind of says it all I think. We may understand the beautiful depth teachings of realized masters, gurus and sages but they are all bearers of the Light…the Light which shines in every one of us. It seems that there are some people who come into incarnation remembering more about why they came forth than others. Their mission spans lifetimes, as all of our “missions’ do, but somehow these deep teachers are in touch with their continuum in a way which allows them to speak to the conditions of our confused human world with timeless clarity.And so they lead the way for our remembering who we are.  We are all spirits on a human journey. And we each possess the spark of the Divine within.
 
At SANCTUARY NYC we have been observing the 64 day season for Nonviolence, and have had such a rich experience before we are halfway through. We began with the beautiful dance of Harold and Kate, to “The Invitation”, followed by the presentation of our Peace Tree., As we looked at the inner walk through the story of Kanu below and Kanu above, we recognized a deep connection to both our inner child voice and to the archetype of the mystical teachers among us. We continue to travel through the music of the African Diaspora with truly amazing expressions ranging from the powerful Haitian story song of Marine Persaud to the soulful jazz of Graham Haynes’ trumpet and African instruments. Jeremy Mage and the amazingly soulful Sounds of SANCTUARY NYC have brought forth original music,and have visited classics in a new way, with powerful, joyful, reverential amazing music. We have been dancing in the presence of the holy.
 
Our last big event to honor the Season will be a showing of the film “For the 7th Generation- The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers”, and will be shown at 4:30 on Sunday April 1, by the Producer, Carole Hart, followed by a Q & A and a Community Pot Luck. And then the following Sunday is Easter, or Transformation Sunday. 
This Sunday Rev. Ingrid Scott will be bringing the message, and the following Sunday we will have a community gathering/meeting after our Sunday service.
So get those Google calendars marked!! And get your spring on…
 
There is mystery and magic all around us.
With love,
Rev. Jane

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The Art of the Thing

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This month it’s about the art of the thing. Well, maybe it is always about the art of the thing, but this month in particular we are celebrating and leaning into the music of the African Diaspora, even as we continue to let the 64 Day Season for Nonviolence become part of our spiritual DNA. We are learning about the music of the thing…about how, when we stop resisting the river, the poetry flows.

American soul and jazz poet, musician and self defined “Blues-ologist” Gil Scott Heron was a prophet who left us too soon. As a “Blues-ologist”, he defined himself as “a scientist who is concerned with the origin of the blues”. In his brilliant work on the album Small Talk at 125th and Lenox, the irony of the life of a person who sees the dominant culture acutely while having mostly the gift of art to nullify its’ oppressive influence on him, is expressed with many nuances.” The Revolution Will Not be Televised” is one of those pieces, and it is so interesting to see that in just 40 years since that was written in 1070, the revolution DOES seem to be televised…But now maybe the question is: which revolution?
The real revolution always begins evolution. We are creative beings, or as the brilliant Royo Mapes writes, “We are angels, and we’re struggling to be human”. But the art of the thing is about never losing track of the larger reality…even as we are doing this earth thing. The larger reality exists in the timeless realm of the ancestors, of the many worlds which exist simultaneously, multi-dimensionally, within the time frame we keep trying to fit into a Google calendar. The larger reality speaks to us through story and ritual and in moments of flow…when “time” is suspended and we are able to really feel our angel wings.
And the answers we glimpse in the realms, in the music, through the dance and in the drums, in the artistry of the painter or the photographer or the film, in the trickster presence and the seeming catastrophic events which turn out to be gigantic blessings- if we learn to listen to their gift- keep us moving toward unity. As above, so below. as within so without. The kingdom of God is within..
This Sunday Phoenix Rising will share a story with us from the African continent. we have a guest artist for the jazz focus of the music to work along with the really amazing Voices of SANCTUARY NYC and Jeremy Mage , and our message will dance with these elements. We hope to share it with you. 2 pm 86th and Amsterdam.
Keep creating,
With love,
Rev. Jane

“The Secret Place of the Most High”

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,

 
This month we are looking at the Power of Prayer. There are so many different understandings of what prayer is, but the easiest way for me to think about it is that in prayer, we re-unite with the “All that Is”. There is no need to plead or beg a force outside ourselves to hear us, as our lives truly reflect the inner prayer we say each second. We are always praying. Our words are prayers. Our thoughts are prayers. Our lives reflect our prayers.
 
A lot of us were raised in religious climates which told us about a judgmental God who was a little like Santa Claus- “making a list, checking it twice…gonna find out who’s naughty or nice”. So when we learned to pray, we were trying to figure out how to placate Santa. 
But when we recognize that we are created with each new breath by a loving creative force for Good, and that praying is our conscious alignment with that force, our whole idea about prayer shifts. Praying without ceasing then really means entering the “secret place of the most high” and is a lovely retreat and deeply restorative.
We then begin to recognize the importance of becoming aware of our habitual self talk…our thoughts and words…so that we are affirming the Truth of a loving God, and not reciting lack or limitation for our subconscious mind to hear. We begin to realize that it is more about what we are praying FROM, than what we are praying TO!
 
Just a little over 90 days ago, SANCTUARY NYC  sprang into life at West Park Presbyterian Church on 86th and Amsterdam in NYC. Some of us had been praying from a place of creativity and visioning, to allow what was birthing itself as our collective energies to become manifest. And on October 23rd, 2011, we got a chance to let that vision live! We made a three month agreement with our friends at West Park, to pay a very fair beginning rent of $1000 per month for three months. We also helped the church to raise additional funds to purchase a boiler which is now happily cranking out heat. We were blessed to have some financial help up front to get our website going, our newsletter hosting and office basics (like a printer and paper) going. And the fabulous Tony Sills provided us with kerosene heaters to get us through the cold holidays before the boiler was working.
 
So now we are at the point of negotiating a longer term agreement with West Park.  In order for us to really move into our offices, we will also need to do some construction. And in order for us to really be self sustaining as a full service all week ministry- which we already are- we will need to be intentional about raising a budget for that purpose.
We have been implementing ways for the community to become self supporting, and now you may Donate through the Auto Tithe function on the home page of the website. 
We have also already completed one wonderful four week class, I continue to hold weekly Wednesday evening counseling sessions in my office for a love offering, the ongoing A Course in Miracles Class taught by Royo Mapes and Glen Ganaway is thriving in the Session Room.
Our Sunday experience has continued to become its’ own very distinctive art form.
 
Rev. Ingrid Scott, the ministry team and I  gave ourselves three months to see if we were weather worthy financially, and the answer is not quite….but almost.
 
We realize that we had a bit of a momentum lul when the temperatures were routinely below zero..(inside that is.)   We also have been working to get our identity clear. 
So now we have heat and we know who we are!! Pretty good for 90 days.
We are excited to be partnering with the Association for Global New Thought in structuring our yearly calendar around their Seasons.  We are also delighted to be an Inter-spiritual Center, and would like to invite you to take a look at our website to see what that means at    SANCTUARYNYC.org
You may also download Sunday talks on the site and catch up on events and classes, and view our Spiritual Practices and Principles and Core Values on the site.
 
So back to prayer. This all has been, and continues to be a beautiful manifestation of deep prayerful knowing. How is it possible for us to have sprung forth ? We were in service of a big idea, and affirming our role as the channels of Spirit throughout.
And now we are moving to a next step.
We will be holding a negotiation with the West Park Session on February 28th, to discuss what it would look like for us to develop a longer term relationship.
After that, we plan to hold a congregational meeting to talk with you about next steps.
 
After last week’s Sunday service, a friend said to me, “I simply cannot imagine this not continuing and thriving! It is so beautiful! and creative and inspirational.”
In 90 Days, a miracle has been wrought, there is no question about that.
So now, let us step into the next phase of our development with purpose.
And praying to be in alignment with “The All That Is” is the best location I know of to find the answer to the next steps.
 
As the Prayer of Jabaz reminds us,” Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, neither has it entered into the heart of man (and woman) what G-d has prepared…”
Keep creating…
 
Have a great week.
See you Sunday,
With love and gratitude,
Rev. Jane 
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Let’s Face the Music and Dance!

Dear SANCTUARY NYC Friends,

 
This Sunday we have a great dance piece as a part of the service. Last Sunday Jeremy Mage and the Sounds of SANCTUARY NYC premiered two original pieces by Jeremy which literally took my breath away.  The Arts are alive and well and in this moment in history may just be the saving grace we are all aware is so needed for a world in turmoil.  The arts touch us in a place inside our hearts, and allow for a kind of cross cultural healing and communication which leads to transformation. Artists are born visionaries…they deal in the realm of the possible.  We are all creative, and artists take the step of deciding to make the source of their creativity be the driving force in their life. It is a deeply spiritual pursuit…perhaps the purest one.
 
One of the “dirty little secrets” of American life is that social class plays a huge role in every part of our world…maybe even more than race. Because we are inspired by the U.S. Constitution, which would seem to indicate that our basic belief system is about equality, we have pretended for two hundred years that the class divisions which separate us don’t exist. And now we are in a time of International upheaval which is focusing a laser beam on the class structure of many societies. It is not part of the American myth to be one of the countries facing this kind of self critique. The upheaval in our world caused by the economy going south, by corporate greed becoming endemic, and by Occupy Wall Street pointing the effects of all of this out to us is shaking folks up. And getting shaken up is not a bad thing.
 
The teachers so many admire, Jesus of Nazareth, Gautama Buddha to point out two, have dealt directly with social injustice as the core message of their radical teachings. Jesus was always pointing out the hypocrisy of the “middle class” and Gautama Buddha was a prince raised in luxury, who had to simply sit down under a tree to figure out how this whole lack of equality could be part of his worldview once he broke out of the palace and encountered human suffering.
An interesting thing sociologists have pointed out for years, is that the Upperclass and the Underclasses have more in common with tone another than the Middle Class does with either. Upper and Under class people have a critique of the larger scene, and are generally outsiders to the main action of the masses. Middle class folks are aspirational…wanting conformity, competing with “the Jonese’s” (whoever they are). And now the middle class is disappearing, and people are scrambling to figure out who they are. But in a “classless’ society, how do you even analyze what is going on??
 
So THAT is where ART comes in.  Art “goes there”. Art originates from the well of Oneness, and stimulates the best in our hearts…Even if a composer is a creep, his or her music can heal and carry you to the realm where we are One. You may not like the actor, or dancer or singer, or painter, but their ART has the power to remind you who you are…and “Whose” you are too. The artist may be dishonest, but his ART can’t be…or we feel it, and reject it at the heart level.
 
This month we will be celebrating the Arts of the African Diaspora, along with the Season for Nonviolence…They all go together. It’s about finding a creative way into the place where we stop the comedy of manners, and get real with one another. We are all in this thing together.
And what a joy that is when we finally just get it and dance.
 
See you Sunday,
Love,
Rev. Jane

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