What do you want to “do” for Easter this year? Do you want to worship? Do you want to work? Or both?
Worship will be difficult in the pandemic. So you may want to focus on the inner work this year.
How do you define worship?
Worship, the act of reverent devotion, is communal, traditional, and usually is led by a priest. Yes, worship can be done in solitude and be spontaneous and inspired, but for most of us, worship has been shaped and defined by those with ecclesiastical authority (almost always male) and followed obediently by those without authority throughout the history of the religious culture. Usually worship honors a deity through ritual and has a yearly calendar that focuses on specific events in the story of the deity. Masses, meditations, prayers, and readings are all forms of worship. Worship is obedience to a sacred, beautiful and comforting form that connects your soul to spirit.
What forms of worship do you practice? How do you bring your own thoughts to your worshipping activity? What are your deep feelings about your worshipping…what happens in your heart as you engage in this formal activity? Is it more than a habit, a conformity to tradition, or a routine? Did you choose or convert to your form of worship or were you born to it? Does worship ever disappoint or not feel right? Has it ever left you spiritually longing or lost?
If formal worship and the company of others and the directives of a priest soothe your soul, you are blessed. Be grateful. But do not neglect your solitary inner work.
What is inner work?
Work…Inner Work is the deed of reverently lifting all the inner veils and penetrating the experience of “me” to reveal the experience of Selfhood. Inner work requires awareness, humility, perseverance and process. The most important element of inner work is questioning or the wandering path of the quest. Without a path of questions, the work, even with a devotion to a process like daily journaling, will be random and without a clear vision. You may learn things about yourself, clear your energies, discover your sufferings and wounds, but you won’t uncover your humanity, recognize your individuality or enter your own divinity.
Worshipping tends to be a ritual, sacred but not personal in its design. Work, as I experience it, offers surprising, undesigned, and utterly personal imaginations, inspirations and intuitions. My Easter is different every year.
For Christians, work leads to experience Christ Within and Christ-In-the-Moment. Inner work sees Christ as the Model and Template of Selfhood that we enliven within ourselves to connect with anywhere, anytime directly. Worship is the adoring of the Divinity and the story and lessons as guided by the theological knowledge, the design and practice of the church, and led by someone ordained. Work is an adventure on your own which may begin with an opening ritual and end with a closing one, but in between lives a great and patient mystery of Self-emerging.
In my many years of inner work, I have found a very powerful and empowering process of four sacraments — sacraments impart divine wisdom and bring grace to your heart and courage to your deeds. They are sequential. Take your time. These are practical sacraments, active through your own will, not dependent on any other individual or any dogma or any symbolic ritual. These intimate sacred acts will crack you open and allow imaginations, inspirations, and intuitions to come to you.
Having grown up in a culture of priesthood, it is often challenging to feel confident in celebrating your own personal sacrament. It may seem very radical and alternative to you. For centuries, we needed a priesthood and the direction of the Church, but clearly, now in the 21st Century, many are feeling the need to free their spiritual lives from religion.
Your Easter Focus…
Choose your inner focus. I like to choose something specific. In the Inner Festivals, I always offer possibilities and perspectives. With Inner Easter, I have the pdf you can download where I share simple descriptions of the Easter events and how you might begin to make them personal.
The four personal sacraments…
1. Questions Only…write down every question you have about a single aspect of the feast or festival. You may prepare for this inner sacrament by reading thoughts about the aspect to stimulate your own thinking. Do not judge your questions. Let them be wild and free. Surprise yourself. It is helpful to know that the Spiritual World only understands questions. The Spiritual World cannot hear or understand answers, assertions, declarations, demands, supplications, verses, etc. Only questions connect us to the attention of God as questions are filled with questing innocence and longing for wisdom. Questioning prepares your soul for receiving Imaginations.
(You can also approach this from the opposite direction…What questions are being asked of you? This will always lead you the Spirit Within your own being.) Practice the sacrament of questions. Feel the blessing of the quest.
2. Poetic Imaginations…spurred on by the questions you can open up your heart and imagine the content of your focus artfully. Sing, dance, draw, paint, sculpt, carve, collage, write actual poems. You can also create a diagram or draw a map. Imagine a recipe of all the ingredients. Sketch a garden of ideas. Work with metaphor. Yes, sometimes we find our way to the imaginations of others…to Botticelli, Bach or Martha Graham. Art will take you into the light or into the dark. Do not be hesitant. Be soft and tender, fierce and crazy. This work will prime your soul for receiving Inspirations.
3. Biographical Reflections….Now that you have awakened your capacity for imagination through questioning and for inspiration through working with metaphor and the arts, the time has come prepare for Intuition. Begin to perceive what dwells within and beyond your own personal experience. In each of our lives, we will find unique expressions of all the archetypal realities of the gods. Just look for them. Don’t be shy. Trust. Our lives are initiations filled with suffering and joy, miracles and teachings, sins and redemptions, deaths and resurrections. I offer many possibilities for biographical work in the essays. This biographical work allows you to release the narratives and recognize the meaning and purpose of each life moment, event and relationship.
4. Courageous Self-Expression…Bring some quiet attention to the experience of the questioning, creating, and reflecting on the subject of your focus. Begin to write about the truth, the beauty or the goodness you have discovered. Think of a virtue or a shadow (many spiritual gifts live in our shadows)…you just need to speak from your enlivened consciousness. It can be something universal or something very personal. It can be an expression of a single word or of several pages. The task is to integrate the three experiences into a heartfelt picture or insight. No one needs to judge or agree or praise. Just write and at some point share. In some way to some degree, this is the sacred expression of your developing higher consciousness, your Imagination, your Inspiration, and your Intuition. It will not feel familiar. It will not be a memory. It is not information, opinion, or belief. It is you birthing in words your own sacred self.