THE LIGHT SHINETH IN THE DARKNESS

March 19, 2014

 Reflected light

“The light shineth in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it,” so promise the timeless words of St John’s gospel.

This morning the sunlight shone upon the mantle of our fire place.  I have felt the closeness of my son’s spirit ever since his passing when I see reflected sunlight.  It appears with radical unexpectedness in so many ways, and just when needed.  Light  is a subtle and beautiful way that spirit speaks, I feel, the nourishing light by which we all live from the source of life itself, the physical sun, spiritually  radiant with the Christ ‘Son’ of Universal life.   We are further sustained by finding white feathers at serendipitous times in unusual places letting us know it is a good and  lucky day just when our spirits need a lift.

As if to mark this recent passage of the anniversary of his passing  with reassurance and quicken my awareness of the ever present light protecting us, the pure white rays are shining there beside the picture of Gary and me holding the redwood Celtic cross which we made together when he was twenty three, only weeks before he found he had cancer. The other side of the cross is filled with holes for small vials to hold roses so it can become a rose cross.

I have never before observed the sunlit reflection I see today. The  light is raying down from the Sistine Madonna picture, the original painted by Raphael as the most exquisite image we have of the divine cosmic Holy Mother shortly after America was re-discovered,(1512). That ray of light shines down to the image Virgin of Guadalupe, whose world changing appearance as Holy Mary in the Western hemisphere came in 1531 just nineteen years after Raphael’s divinely inspired masterpiece. The terrible slaughter and sacrifice of thousands in human sacrifice was ended in Mexico when Guadalupe filled the hearts of millions there and beyond.

The Virgin of Guadalupe, the radiant rose of heaven was experienced by the gentle Juan Diego when she honored him with roses and then miraculously appeared as an image on his peasant garment woven of cactus fibers.  Guadalupe is the Virgin described in the Apocalypse, a picture of the soul for our time.  She is not carrying the child in her arms as in the Sistine Madonna, but she is bearing the child to be born. She is clothed in the radiant rays of the sun, while the dragon as we are told, is waiting below.  Guadalupe is an image of the Holy Mother that is there for all humanity, reaching down to the lowliest with ever present compassion, truly a bridge between earth and heaven.  I sense her  combining  the gifts of the black madonna and the heavenly star crowned madonna. Both images of the Holy Mother represent the challenge to us today  to birth our own true spirit out of the striving of our souls toward truth, beauty and goodness.

On this morning, the large crystal in the middle of the mantle is shone through by sunlight, yet casts a shadow on the wall, but ‘within’ that shadow of the crystal, there in the ‘darkness,’ shine two strong reflections  of light!  Indeed the light shineth in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it!  A reminder, I believe. for all of us to ever strive to receive the gifts of the Holy Ones and shine those gifts of love, light, and peace into our world.

 

 

 

 

ANNIVERSARY TIME OF OUR SON’S PASSING

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ANNIVERSARY TIME OF OUR SON’S PASSING

March 15, 2014

Today it has been one year since the funeral and cremation for our oldest son following his sudden and tragic death. I am raw with remembrance and seek balance and wholeness.

He made his home in Norway, a country he loved and there he died. We did not try to fly over there at the time, two of our other children did, Cameron and Mary, the cost of their airfares aided by an outpouring of community support. It was anxious waiting and grieving as we went from the shock of his death to the funeral day.

On this first anniversary morning of the funeral and cremation, it is a beautiful spring day here at the ranch. I awake at once hopeful, tearful, and distraught and do my morning exercises and eurythmy salutation (especially for those on the other side), in front of the beautiful original painting I have of Holy Mary and John, holding the body of Christ when first taken down from the cross. She is tenderly leaning over his head with abiding love, the strength of her enduring, grieving timeless, faithful heart surrounding her son. The glow of his golden resurrecting heart is reflected back on her countenance. I have told a friend that after years of doing work with death and dying I should not have been surprised that the “Pieta’ experience would come to me in my life as it has for so many mothers throughout time.

We have a small balcony off the bedroom and I step out to feel the morning, the healing sun and wind on my face, the breeze through the oaks and pines. Just at that very moment, one of our black cows comes trotting by on the road, and behind her is a little red calf. The first calf for this year. I audibly sigh the mother cow’s name,”Oh, Tippy.” She is named for the white brush of her tail. She brings us this sign of new life, her calf is like a red glow shining against her jet black side, skipping along , nurtured and safe in the invisible circle of the embracing mother’s bond.

I put on my son’s shirt for this day, one my oldest daughter had saved from the trash where Gary had left it in his last visit here. It is a pale blue and white fine striped work shirt he had given up after building a new gate for her at her home. The threshold… a gate from one side to the next. Little did we know it would be one of his last acts here for us.

He was a Master builder, brilliant and generous in his creativity at every level, and leaving a legacy of finely built homes, and a family of five children, mostly grown. Today is his oldest daughter’s birthday. He also left a legacy of having endured an entire adulthood of illness; Hepatitis C from blood transfusions during cancer surgery as a young man, then when that was conquered after twenty years, a critical heart valve replacement, (a metal one because he was young), and a pace maker. These devices haunted him with their passionless and uniform mechanical ticking and battery driven heart beat. He’d joke about it, but when standing close to him, our heads laid close to his heart, we could hear it too. Through all his adult life he worked with super human strength to build homes and provide for his family. Despite his suffering, the aura and energy he gave to the world was one of light hearted optimism, always lifting the social mood around him to levity, and encouraging others to lighten up and not to take oneself too seriously. He was the master of practical jokes, his huge grin was irresistible, you just couldn’t get mad at him despite his mischief.

There are seer friends who have given a deeper view and insight into my last year. One described that first week after Gary’s death as a time when he not only was in a new state just having gone across the threshold, but the outpouring of grief, shock, rage and love at his going from those left behind was threatening to overwhelm him and hinder the sheltering love he would want to send back to to his family.

It was then, so they told me, he sought refuge with the mother, with me, to center, get his bearings, back to home base, the mother’s heart, the origin place of love and safety. For that is what mother’s do. I was staggering to carry it all as best I could through that week, longing for revelation of a higher meaning in it all. The seer further explained that in taking in his suffering then, an imprint was made on my life body, my strength and vitality, and this would be a factor in bringing about my own heart issues five months later. Certainly I had my own health situation but it was deepened by taking this on, too. But that is what mothers do.

We carry our children in our womb, giving them life from our creative bodily substance, hold them in our hearts and in our arms, and through all the outer difficulties, hold the picture of them in their higher self, their true being, just as Mother Mary did when her son was scorned, vilified and crucified. Keep the faith. That is what mothers do. How could we do otherwise, or even think of not being there for our children? Creating safety, providing the genesis chalice of their bodily creation, this and unconditional love, we are privileged to do all this for our children. Without such mother deeds, human life as we know it will not go on.

So here at White Feather Ranch, the new calf brightened the anniversary morning for us and we took a ride in our ancient, rattling, jeep, bouncing out across the eighty acres of land, enjoying the green hills alive with the promise of spring everywhere and checking on the other cattle. A great blue heron flew and circled near us, Out at the dove cage, a new white dove held forth. A year ago, our sole white dove, a female, had sat alone and quiet while I stood in an hour’s meditation before the rising sun, trembling before this funeral and cremation day. Looking from that rising sun and back to her quiet white body, I was surprised and comforted as a rosy magenta color settled over her wings, an after image created in my eyes by looking from the rising sun, the back to the aura that rested upon her. At the time, I imagined the rosy color a mother’s love, invisible, embracing, a mantle of life giving warmth. That dove remained with us until I had my heart surgery, the same surgery as my son’s, and then she disappeared.

Now a new white dove is there, a male this time, his dark bright eye is filled with a spark of purpose and confidence as he parades and displays his snow white handsomeness while wooing a lady dove. New life.. new vigor. new energy in the service of new life.

On that day, a year past, I knew the cremation time was of critical importance. I had an offering to go into the fire here at the same time his body would, an offering of magenta pink silk, fragrant cedar boughs saved from our Christmas tree, photos, a white feather.

It was nearly unbearable, the anxious tension waiting to hear from Cameron and Mary at the crematorium half way around the world in Norway. At last the call came, they were there and ready to begin the process. I called out for them to wait until we could make the offering here at the same moment. I then gave the word (relayed by our youngest son on the phone to them) my command of “Now!” signaling the moment our son’s body would be consecrated back to the elements. Intense. Gut wrenching. Inevitable. A life cycle completed. The conclusion of a life on this earth. Finality.

Our youngest son, Colin, a eurythmist and I did the verse ‘Victorious Spirit’ before the leaping flames in our fireplace here at home. Then at the request of his father and me, he played uplifting tunes and lilting improvisations on the piano during the process to soothe our anguished souls.

Gary had often joked in life he wanted to cremated on a Viking funeral pyre or a wooden ship at sea. It turns out the state of the art crematorium where it did occur was built upon old Viking funeral pyres from long ago, the fired porcelain sharp bone chips found there dated back 2000 years.

My husband and I make a rich and tasteful lunch and eat out on the deck and listen to the doves cooing. We honor ourselves as parents of a very remarkable man that we so poignantly miss. Glancing down we see right by the door, the threshold again, a large millipede lying curled and lifeless. An odd unexplainable sign but it is like a small dragon, a picture of the dark forces our son has overcome in his passing. Courage was always a strong point for Gary. Beside us grow roses, their buds newly formed and poised to open in their fragrant glory, heirloom Castilian roses, like those from the time of the appearance of the Virgin of Guadalupe who gave roses to bloom forever in the heart of humble Juan Diego, and he to carry the picture of her, radiant in sun rays, on his peasant’s garment. That centuries old icon in Mexico is still giving comfort to millions of yearning pilgrims.

This day has a sunrise and sunset, like all others. We are here, alive, therefore anointed with the God given blessing of living, seeing, hearing, tasting, touching, ‘human merely being lifted from the no of all nothing’, (as poet e e cummings writes,) being human, and having a chance to create love and choose the life and attitudes and energies we leave in our wake to affect others and nature alike.

The blessed environment of beauty, nature and life supports us with the outpouring of God’s creative love, Mary/Sophia’s enduring wellspring of warmth and Life and a community of caring friends. Life goes on.

Nancy Jewel Poer, March 15, 2014

Ceremony of Thanks for Water

On March 22, 2014, we joined legions of others around the world for World Water Day, called by the the Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers…. offering sorrow and forgiveness for humankind’s disregard as well as gratitude for the water we all depend upon for life.   It was a beautiful spring day here at the ranch, shiny new leaves on the oaks, the hillsides covered in green grass.  This is the water from our deep granite well poured into a bowl, silver on the outside and golden within, a commemoration memento from the Golden anniversaries of my parents, and  Gordon and me.   How beautifully the Sun reflects into the crystal clear water!  We gave thanks and sent forth heartfelt blessings to our Mother Earth and prayers for the waters to continue in their blessing.  It is of deep consequence when we can all take these moments to see Nature and honor her and all the elemental kingdoms that make life on earth possible.  Here’s to joy and good health in each glass of the elixir of life!

Blessings,

NancyImage

 

 

 

Honoring World Water March 22, 2014

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Honoring the World’s Water, Saturday, March 22, 2014

The waters of the world are our precious gift of life that we have so sadly mistreated in recent times.   But we can bring a balance with joining our voices with others in prayer and gratitude.  The Thirteen Indigenous Grandmothers call us all to join in a simple prayer ceremony of honoring on March 22,2014.  See link below.   A wonderful cockney vendor in a market square in London once told me, “The most powerful things in the world are women and water.”  Here women deeply connected with the planet call us all the join them in whatever way we can to bring consciousness and balance.  Blessings!

http://inthenameofthemother.net/world-water-day-water-blessing-ceremony/

OF KARMA, A CALLING AND THE FOUNDING OF RUDOLF STEINER COLLEGE

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February 27, 2914

OF KARMA, A CALLING, AND THE FOUNDING RUDOLF STEINER COLLEGE

I am moved to write further of the founding time of Rudolf Steiner College for in the experiences I had then,  I believe there are some archetypal karmic moments that may be  prove supportive to others on their destiny path.

In 1976 I was 44 years old, and I had six children including five teen agers.
Now those were some lively years.  Oh, the food we consumed for one thing!  A half a loaf of bread and a quart of milk, that was merely a ‘snack’ for each of my towering sons when they got home from school!  The sixth child was three years old.

I had been teaching part time at the Sacramento Waldorf School that my children attended, where I taught painting (in all the grades) and had only recently asked my colleagues to please not add any new classes for the coming year as I simply had my hands full with what I was all ready doing. Well, that was obvious!  They very kindly consented.  It is pretty mind boggling to look back on, having five teenagers at one time and hoping to get them through a Waldorf school!

But the fall before the college was inspired, I had heard Astrid Schmidt mention her father, Rev. Carl Stegmann, and when I heard his name I knew I had to meet him.  Now that is a first karmic clue “I knew” – that irresistible voice that impels from within… ‘pay attention’ this is important. *

So Astrid arranged for me to meet her father when he was in Sacramento. Carl was one of the priests in the very first course given by Rudolf Steiner for what became the world wide Christian Community.

It was a hot summer day, and for some reason, probably because she assumed I spoke German (I am hopeless in the language) Astrid was not there when I came to meet Carl.  I drove up and he met me cordially at the door in a black suit formally buttoned up despite the summer’s heat.

I was a little in awe and and full of delight and anticipation, but soon realized that he was laboring to speak in English, a second language learned late in life. Thank goodness he worked so hard at it!  I mean our meeting was pretty funny.   We got out a few words, and lots of hand waving gestures and smiles and efforts at expressing good will.  I didn’t stay long but the voice inside that knew was fulfilled. A destiny meeting had taken place.

Following this, I became one of a few Waldorf teachers that came to his bi weekly talks in Sacramento.   One evening as he was speaking, I beheld a stunning shimmering violet light surrounding him, (another friend saw it too).  I knew I was in the presence of greatness. I carefully took notes of every lecture he gave.  On February 22,1976 of the next year the college was born as I have described.

One has to be impressed with the spiritual serendipity that came about to give us a  home for the college.  A swath of land and homes had been condemned by the state of California for a needed freeway access across the American river.  A subsequent State administration had rescinded the project, and properties near the Sacramento Waldorf school, came back on the market.  A far seeing group, Waldorf Education in the West of the World with Manning Goodwin of England, in consult with Franklin Kane and others had purchased the land “knowing” it would somehow be valuable for a yet to be created project in the future. Their foresight correct. We struck a bargain to buy it for the college.

So there the land was there waiting for our future; a small home, an old cement block building rumored to have once been a bow and arrow factory, a disheveled chicken shed with sagging roof and a tiny apartment at one end with grass growing up through the long unused toilet. The property in front of our lot was rented by a Hell’s angels motorcycle gang that had painted one of their insignias, (normally reserved for their black leather jackets,) on the side of what is now the eurythmy studio.  They also kept pigs whose pungent scent perfumed the heavy, hot summer air. (A year or so later we bought that property too, with some daring, hope and precious little money in our hands.)

When I first walked onto the property I experienced what is very often a soul reaction to up coming karma.  I looked with a weary shrug at the run down, overgrown property. Life had given me years of experience to know just what it would take to bring it to order.   I declared to myself, “I will teach here but someone else can clean up this mess.”

Our small founding group met in the abandoned factory, with peeling paint and doors sagging off the hinges, bunched together at one end under the dim light of a standing lamp plugged into what was probably the only working wall socket in the building.  I recall we had a small old sofa and folding chairs Christine Stegmann brought forth.

There we struggled together to bring the inspiration of the founding into reality.  What would we be called? How would we let people know we existed?      What would be our courses?  What should we charge? Remember at that time no adult education in Anthroposophy was taking place except a few presentations around the Sacramento Waldorf school the only school in the area. (Now there are many and the college has certainly helped to make that so).

We called ourselves the Sacramento Center for Anthroposophical Studies. Two of the original group soon left for work reasons.  Month by month, huddled in our humble meeting space, we unfolded a plan and we took up our tasks. I designed a brochure with an image like a grail cup spilling over with light from the spiritual inspiration of the cross and the sword of knowledge, the sword of Michael.  Carl and Christine never wavered in confidence and encouragement.

But as summer was approaching and we had advertised our opening in the fall, I walked on the site one day and looked around and said inwardly (and vehemently,) “This is a lie!  We are proposing to teach about “the good, the beautiful, and the true” and this place is a mess!”

After one big work party to clean off the decayed roof of the factory, the faculty went away for the summer, Betty and Franklin Kane had other plans, the Stegmanns and Willi Sucher were elders, hardly expected to work in the brutal summer heat, Richard Lewis was busy with his church duties, and Michael Kohoviec, our bio dynamic farmer, was tending his garden.

So offended was my artistic and moral sense at this glaring hypocrisy we were about to engage in  that I ‘knew” I was indeed going to have to “clean up this mess” if we were going to be worthy of our name.  Karmic lesson number 2:  that which seems repugnant and antipathetic when you first meet it, is the job that may very well be yours.

Anyway, thus began one of the most grueling summers of my life.  My son, Gary, just sixteen, but incredibly capable, worked with me while my other teens held down the fort at home.  We had to start just after day light each morning to beat the debilitating heat, often over 110 degrees.   We  stripped, scraped, painted, designed, built facades of thin, cheap, but beautifully grained mahogany door skins to cover some of the rough walls.  As the redwood baseboards I selected were hard to stick to the cement blocks,  several of us worked  together holding them firmly to the bricks with our bare feet, until the glue would hold and singing “We Shall Overcome” . All the while the heavy pungent scent of hogs wafted through the windows.  Of course, we had no air conditioning!
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It took almost everything I had to oversee the home front and spend days on the job.
Gary with his brand new driver’s license gladly drove down town nearly every afternoon as we frugally got our supplies from a hardware store that would give us a discount.  We had a bed in the back of our old green van and I would crash every afternoon, while he drove. Far from being a right seat nervous mommy, I turned the driving over to him with absolute trust, for it was all up to him to get us safely there and back.  I was out of it.

A strange and challenging novelty was added to the mix that summer.  During only those three months, and never again in the years that followed, our neighbor across the street acquired a jack ass.  The donkey would bray incessantly and mostly at night.   Just as I thought I could drift off and re-group in sleep from the day’s labors, the donkey would go off.   The old song “Sweetly sings the donkey at the break of day” did not apply .  There was nothing sweet about it!   Not even close.  Obnoxiously squeaky and loud, it was impossible to ignore.    Karmic rule number 3 and 4:   Expect to be challenged for your commitment and It will probably get worse before it gets better!”

When Gary went back to high school I was grateful to have an early arriving student, an artist, Arthur Lisch, come to help me to finish the room. I drove to San Francisco to try to get the best prices for the magenta and blue curtains to add some dignity to the cinder block setting.  Other good souls had volunteered help with wiring and Astrid’s husband, Richard, installed a deep violet carpet. We bordered it with hardwood parquet.  I was criticized at the time that the carpet was not pure wool, but it lasted through twenty years of hard use.

Our meticulously created artistic work was dismantled after a few years to make way for  the need to expand with the building of Philadelphia Hall.  The wood grain in the panels we had constructed actually had the shape of the United States which was centrally placed on the wall. Two large angel-like figures reaching to the ceiling were on either side. We imagined the angels guarding all the work to take place in this room, made as gracious and beautiful and welcoming as we possibly could for those hope filled beginnings.

How eagerly we awaited our first students!  Who would they be?  Where would they come from?   How would they meet Anthroposophy?  They would be a most diverse group, in background, experience, gifts, talents and expectancies.   But nearly twenty of them did come and we were officially an institution of Anthroposophical adult education!

Out of a staff of about 25 at the Sacramento Waldorf School only three of us, Betty and Franklin Kane and I were ‘called’ to begin the college.  Most of the rest of the teachers there questioned why on earth we would take on further work when the existing school needed all the full time energy possible (and they were right about that of course).

Remember it was right in the middle of the Hippie era and a few of our students who were representative of the extremes then, would drift in and out of our classes    One conservative Waldorf school faculty member asked us with some exasperation, “What are you people doing up there?”  in response to a spaced out student  floating down to the Waldorf school, peace signs, headbands and all.

Young people then were boldly stepping out to challenge the accepted societal norms and my teenagers did some pretty hilarious mimics of the braless, Birkenstocked, tangle maned icons they saw.    They also loved flashing the peace sign.  But at the College, we kept on going.  What were we doing up there?  We were taking Anthroposophy out into the world of our time.  It was an interesting first year by any measure. We attracted visitors, David Spangler, one of the founders of Findhorn Community in Scotland,  and a leading Native American prophet of Hopi Prophecy that first year.  Our students learned about Anthroposophy, brought their impulses to share and took up inspiration for their lives.

Timing is key and the College needed its founding just then so we could get through the beginning years to be well prepared for very full years to come that changed many lives and educated Waldorf teachers.  How heart warming it is to have seen so many individuals inspired to take up their work and know that hundreds of wonderful children have had those teachers and have received a Waldorf education.   When we look back on those karmic callings and much that we never anticipated, there is a rightness that rests solid within that we were where we needed at just the right time.

That profound night when the flame of inspiration led by Carl Stegmann lifted the small group of us to found this college, we went around the circle, each one saying what we might teach or contribute.  When my turn came, Carl said, “And Mrs. Poer?” I hesitated to answer. It was a  real moral dilemma because I had just asked my teaching colleagues at the Sacramento Waldorf School my children attended, not to increase my teaching load.  How, in that light, could I justify volunteering for this new endeavor? Yet I fervently knew with all my heart I  should be part of this.  As I was fumbling for words Carl announced with authority that was not to be questioned, “When our circle comes together, you’ll be there!”
And so I was.

That is the way karma can work as well.  Not from the small inner unseen voice, but rather we when are swept into a role by another, in recognition, expectation, a role now requested or bestowed.   Carl’s statement was like Rudolf Steiner tapping me on the shoulder and saying, “Yes, you, now!”

With similar authority and a mood of hopefulness, Carl told me as we parted ten years later, “You will carry on my work when I am no longer here.”   I took it as a vow and have taught the Spiritual Mission of America (Betty has also) for over three decades, working to keep alive the awareness of his mighty intentions that Americans and the world should know the deeper calling of this country, a country that has had so much privilege in many ways, and therefore so much responsibility in the world.

I feel rewarded  through years of teaching the America work, that many students have moved from cynicism to some awareness of the strengths of this great nation along with the enormous struggle and challenges to realize the true ideals with which America was founded, ideals brought  both by the Iroquois and by the colonists of the revolution.  A great challenge for us all is to carry awareness of the intense battle we are currently in with adversary forces if those truths and ideals are to prevail.  I have been grateful to see students empowered in knowing the importance of being born and working here  in a country where we can freely choose our individual roles, however modest, each are significant in the great cosmic scheme of things.  For now is the time, as Carl always told us, “the most important time since Christ walked the earth”   “when the great decisions of world evolution will be made.”

As Rudolf Steiner College ever renews to its mission new fire of spiritual inspiration, new deeds, new programs, new people, new hope will come to be.  May all take up the work with enthusiasm and dedication as we did through the challenging times of the founding – our purpose was then, and is now, to be here to for the Future!  Our mission is to serve the Great Calling, and the great need for spiritually awakened individuals to stand ready, willing and able to hear the Spirit inspiration of the universal powers of Christ/Michael/Sophia and do the deeds our time in history asks of us.

Nancy Jewel Poer, February 27, 2014