Thursday, 25 June 2020

Enabling your spiritual cloud drive

Sometimes you write to me to ask for prayer when you’re going through tough times — whether a long-term slog through family challenges and responsibilities, or health struggles, or difficult times of transition. And of course I will pray for you if you ask me to.

But I thought it might also be helpful to explore an immense source of energy and strength available to us. I’d like to make clear that I am not a master at accessing this; it is there for me, but mostly I have relied on the grace of divine kindness, and on serendipity, in opening its flow into my heart. I haven’t got a system; I don’t know what to do except ask and hope and trust. But I do know it is there — and not just passively there but actively reaching out a helping hand to us.

I think of it, or maybe one should say ‘visualise it’ in a few different ways, and if I explain them all then it may help you to get a handle on what I mean.

Jesus taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come in Earth as it is in Heaven.” 

In the more modern forms of the Lord’s Prayer, we say “on Earth”, but I prefer “in Earth”, because it balances with “in Heaven” — it’s about two realms — which is helpful in this context. 

Think of it like a tree — a big oak or a cedar of Lebanon or a yew tree; something with strong spreading boughs and a correspondingly strong spreading root system. The roots are in Earth and the boughs are in Heaven. In between there isn’t a big space with nothing but fresh air — the roots and branches aren’t separate. The tree trunk connects them (obviously). It is a highway between the roots and the branches, a conduit of nourishment. The Earth nourishes the branches in Heaven, and the dew of Heaven nourishes the whole tree all the way down to its roots in Earth.

We are in Earth, you and I. We are root people. Earth is our home and it is hard for us to imagine any other. But we are part of the whole tree, and the Heavenly aspect is joined on to us, connected to us; we are part of it. We send nourishment up to it from the realm where we are at home, and it nourishes us and keeps us well from its airy, dewy, Heavenly dimension. Here in Earth, we root people for the most part can’t see the boughs and the leaves or even the trunk; we just experience its influence, it is there for us.

I know that is true. Now I want to lay before you something I don’t know is true, but I think is true — I sense is true. I might be wrong; you’ll have to see if it resonates for you.

I believe each one of us here in Earth has a spiritual kindred, belongs to a tribe or clan or family of souls. At any given time, some of us are in Earth and some of us are in Heaven; and we support and help one another. The integrity and courage and compassion that can only be exercised in the Earthly realm with its challenges that belong specifically to physical being (poverty; vulnerability to aggression and accident; the frailty of infancy and old age; disability and sickness; limitation), these increase the wisdom body of our whole family of souls, fitting the ones in the Heavenly realm for the demands of their Earth journey. There is nowhere else to learn this wisdom but Earth; they are relying on us to deepen our skills and mastery.

But equally, they are able to nourish and support us from the Heavenly end of things, seeing our need, coming to our aid, adding in the freedom and joy and light, the better vista and wider perspective that belong to the Heavenly realm. There is a massive great trunk connecting us all the time and allowing constant linking in and interaction. 

I believe the children who are born into Earth through our bodies choose to come through us because of what we can teach them — and sometimes those are hard lessons, because our children do suffer at our hands, through our ignorance and immaturity of soul. Sometimes the fully awake ones may be born down into our unconsciousness to give us a chance to wake up and come alive. Our children are not our property, they are our co-workers, and also our teachers; they are on the team. They come down from the light world into the root world with a tremendous burst of buddha-nature to advance our development and insight.

As well as the image of a tree, I find a placenta to be a useful image. We are not alone in our lives. We are fed and surrounded by our Mother. Spiritual Being is our Mother, carrying us, nourishing us, providing the environment for us to grow. What we are is drawn down from, created from, what she is; and yet, you are yourself and I am myself and your Mother is herself and my Mother is herself.  The nature of Spirit that forms and carries us is particular and specific. We are not left to our own devices, cast adrift; we are not test tube babies. We are enfolded in the womb of life, and our experience is unique, because our Mother and our Self is unique. But there is interconnection.

My friend Pearl, who died a year ago last Christmas, used to speak all the time about what she called “the people upstairs”. And I find that another very helpful visualisation of what I’m describing. We here in Earth, the root people, are downstairs in the house of life; but we’re not living in a bungalow. There’s an upstairs too, and a huge, sweeping, glorious staircase connects us. We are aware of the people upstairs, if we pay attention we dimly hear them moving and speaking. And when the time is right in birth and death, one of us will come downstairs to join the root people or go upstairs to join the light people. 

In the Bible, the letter to the Hebrews speaks about this phenomenon as “the cloud of witnesses”. It’s in chapters 11 and 12, and I recommend you to read the whole of it, but here are snippets (from the RSV):

Chapter 11, v.1:
Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.”

Chapter 11, v.3:
By faith we understand that the world was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was made out of things which do not appear.”

Chapter 11, v.13-15, which touches upon our interconnection, and how the Heavenly realm is our place of origin and primary home, and our time in Earth as root people is a sojourn:
“These all died in faith, not having received what was promised, but having seen it and greeted it from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth. For people who speak thus make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of that land from which they had gone out, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one.”

Chapter 11, v. 39-40, which touches upon how our family members upstairs in the realm of light depend on us who live in darkness to nourish and strengthen them, as well as them sustaining and helping us:
“And all these, though well attested by their faith, did not receive what was promised, since God had foreseen something better for us, that apart from us they should not be made perfect.”

Chapter 12, v.1-2, which reminds us to make use of our umbilical cord, our staircase, the trunk of our tree, to strengthen us in our task as root people:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.”

And in Chapter 12, vs 12-14, expressing how this unifying structure conjoining Earth and Heaven is for the manifestation of God’s Shalom:
“Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.”

In modern times, the development of electronics and the internet also give us the perfect visualisation of what I’m describing, in the i-Cloud. Our computers and phones can connect to the i-Cloud, for back-up and storage. It’s there for files that are too big for our devices to handle. It’s there to keep things safe that we might need later. It’s there as a tool for connection and communication, for enabling and empowering. If you want to use it, you have to go into your device’s settings and enable it.

Now, you are not a computer and nor am I. You are not a machine or a device or a tool to be used. You are a living being who proceeds from the mind of God, and you are rooted in Earth as part of the life of the universe, the cosmos. You (as Max Ehrmann put it, in Desiderata) are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. Not a computer.

However, that said, there are similarities brilliantly helpful for us in thinking about the i-Cloud; except it isn’t a thing, it’s alive. It initiates.

We can draw upon its strength in facing the challenges of our lives, and send our wisdom and reality up to it. It is a store of hope, and a place to put stuff that’s too big for us to handle, stuff that would overwhelm us and crash our personal system. We can send it up there, and download what we need as we need it.

And the correlation, the stairway, the tree-trunk, the umbilical cord between Earth and Heaven is invisible, just as the connection between your phone and the i-Cloud is invisible but is there nonetheless.

There’s something else here we should pay attention to. Viruses, parasites, diseases and all kinds of opportunistic pests. They can invade and destroy. 

A friend of mine who grew up in the South African bush has a memory of when the ants came, a massive invasion, that would have eaten the wooden house they lived in, destroyed their dwelling. His mother lit a ring of fire all around the house, and kept it burning until the ants had gone on their way.

In our bodies there are ways to build and strengthen our immune system that defends us against the viruses and bacteria and fungi that take us down if we don’t manage our Earth house correctly.

In the same way, the invisible realm has its viruses and parasites, its bacteria and fungi, against which we need to be defended.

They are not bad — evil. Nothing is. They have their place, but it is not inside us. For this reason, I do not recommend you try to enable your spiritual i-Cloud through ouija boards or channelling or spiritualism. Don’t reach out into the unknown asking, “Hello? Are you there?” Don’t just download anything in the hopes it’ll all be okay.

Our strength and protection is in Jesus. Our safety is in his Name. In his death on the cross, he opened for us the new and living way.  By his body, his life stretched out upon it, he made the cross into our Heaven tree, the bridge between Heaven and Earth, the staircase between upstairs and downstairs, the safe and virus-protected access to the i-Cloud, the realm of light.

Go through his Name. As the Bible says in Proverbs 18.10: “The Name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous runs into it and is safe”. 

Go via the Name of the Lord.

If you remember, the Name of the Lord in the Bible is “I am that I am”. It’s not a label, a moniker like Simon or Elizabeth. You cannot put a handle on God, The divine nature is both too magnificent and too subtle to label. Because God is not created, you cannot name the divine mystery. The Name of God is God’s own self. And Jesus, who was the Monad, the Cosmic Christ, the Only Son of God, also bore the Name of God, the I Am. 

He said: I Am the Way, the Truth and the Life. When we travel through him, we are safe-guarded, we journey safely in the new and living way. He provides our anti-virus protection. If you go through him, you will be safe.

So how do we enable it, our spiritual i-Cloud drive?

I’m not sure of all the ways, and I haven’t met anyone whose teaching on this I absolutely trust, but this is what I think.

We ASK. We turn on the connection by just asking. “Behold, I stand at the door and knock,” says Jesus in Revelation 3.20. “If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with them and they with me.”

We are what we eat. Our food is the building material of our being. When we sit down together with Jesus and share our food, we become one with Jesus. We manifest communion.

Jesus not only opened the new and living way, he is it. This is what the Bible means when it says (Colossians 1.19-20 RSV) “For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”

He is the vine, and we branch out from him in roots and shoots, and our life is secured by routing through him.

So, we ASK. We invite him in.

The second thing we do is PRACTICE.
Habit establishes and strengthens. If we make a habit of listening and noticing, of seeing the signs and asking for guidance, if we develop habits if solitude, silence and simplicity so the subtle air of heaven is not polluted by accumulation, acquisition, over-commitment and noise, we remain open to receive and to offer up


The third thing we do is BELIEVE. 
If someone has an i-phone and you tell then they can enable access to the i-Cloud in Settings and they won’t do it — they don’t believe you and they think you’re talking rubbish, well, that’s how things stay. Seeing is not believing — believing is seeing. Enable it and start to use it, and then you’ll see.

And lastly a caveat. Don’t run away with the idea that, when you’ve enabled your connection and you’ve asked, and you’re practicing and believing, everything will now be hunky dory and go swimmingly in your life for evermore. That’s not the point of it.  Remember that it’s here in Earth that we learn courage, faith, patience and compassion and integrity. How do we learn these things? Through adversity. The Cloud of Witnesses, the People Upstairs, the branches of the Heaven Tree, our spiritual i-Cloud drive — these are not there to remove adversity from our life, but to strengthen us as we pass through it.

As Psalm 84 says, “How blessed are those who, going through the Valley of Baca (bitterness, adversity), find it to be a place of springs.” The People Upstairs have a bird’s eye view; they can see where the springs are.

As Paul in 2 Corinthians 12 says: “He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ I will all the more gladly boast of my weaknesses, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The force is strong in a Jedi knight, not to help him sit on the couch eating pizza and watching re-runs of soaps, but for developing mastery as a warrior of the resistance. And yes, the Empire strikes back. The slime mould of Mammon is a problem. But resist; the Force will be with you.

Find the kindred. They are here, both in Earth and in Heaven, and the new and living way between those realms is open and found in Jesus.

Look for the kindred of the quiet way. They will be hidden, and their lives may be small, but they are with you.

I hope this is helpful for your daily practice.



Terra said...

This is a helpful post. I like your mention of "the people upstairs", and us being the root people, yet connected to the heavens and branches above.

Pen Wilcock said...



The Rev. Susan Creighton said...

Bless you, Pen, for your words of wisdom. Especially today, as I encounter yet one more thick tangle of the "thorns of anxious care" (Evagrius, 4th Century). Your words also recall me to the ancient Christian path of knowing that while we are "created in the 'Image of God'", our true calling is to be "transformed into the 'Likeness of God'". And while the journey along that path of transformation does indeed encounter nasty thorns and a multitude of 'viral' attacks (both physical and spiritual), the ancient tradition saw this as a path of asceticism, purification, and surrender (“Relinquishment”!) leading us to the very Likeness of God.

My musing on your words has also led me back to St. Paul’s teaching:
"For those whom God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son; in order that he might be the firstborn within a large family. And those who he predestined [CREATION] he also called [COVENANT]; and those whom he called he also justified [REDEMPTION]; and those whom he justified he also glorified [THEOSIS]."(Romans 8:29-30)

Pen Wilcock said...

Created in the image of God, but transformed into the likeness of God — I love that! Gosh, I could think about that for AGES!

Cate Nunan said...

I listened to this Pen and then sat, brooding, trying to absorb that image of the tree. I can understand clearly that there are kindred, and more so that they are of the Quiet Way and your description of what 'the cloud of witnesses' were was a complete revelation. Fin ally, that phrase makes sense. I think, however, that this will not be easy for me to do without overthinking it. I will try. I also love the sentence that the Rev. Susan wrote - yes, I could think about what that means for ages too. I think that Maud would be a person upstairs, I do often think about what she would do and then feel so much better. Thank you for taking the time to provide this resource. xx

Pen Wilcock said...

I once heard Colin Morris (a highly regarded Methodist preacher) say that in the end your religion is rooted in your imagination.
Equally intriguing was an occasion when a friend with a remarkable healing ministry, which often included a preliminary stage of words of knowledge, was asked to describe exactly how the inspired knowledge came to him, how he "knew" what ailing people were present and what their problems were. A humble, unpretentious, candid soul, he said cheerfully, "Oh, I just make it up."
Colin Morris didn't mean God was not real or only imagined, and my friend was spot-on in his words of knowledge and people got better when he laid hands on them for healing.
When you say "I think that Maud would be a person upstairs" — same category. We do not make up or imagine these things.

greta said...

so helpful indeed. i've always had a sense of those upstairs people who help in time of trouble and rejoice with us when we celebrate. my grandmother grace, who died long before i was born, and yet has always been a presence in my life. i've felt her hand over mine and i wear her wedding ring to remind me of that. there are kindred among the root folk as well. those gathered here with their musings and words of wisdom, friends and family who support and pray for us, random strangers whose kindness blesses on a difficult day. we are truly surrounded by a cloud of witnesses, in heaven and in earth.

when you talked about the placenta and the mother image, i thought about this prayer that i say upon awakening every morning. it is loosely based on the prayer given by our lady of guadalupe to juan diego:

you are here, mother.
we are under your shadow and protection.
you are the source of our life.
we are in the folds of your mantle, the crossing of your arms.
when you are with us, there is nothing that we need.

it has been a difficult day but with the help of all the kindred i have come through. i had my COVID test this afternoon. after hearing all the horror stories, i was braced for a painful experience but it went just fine. now i relax for the next four days, remaining in isolation until surgery on wednesday. i'm looking forward to these quiet days!

blessings to you, pen, and to all the kindred gathered here. you are all gifts to my spirit.

Pen Wilcock said...

I will treasure that prayer and keep it for ever. Two members of our household are calligraphers, and I'll ask one of them to make me a calligraphy of it.

What you said — "after hearing all the horror stories, i was braced for a painful experience but it went just fine" — is the heart of what I'm getting at; that this organic body of grace, "thy kingdom come in earth as it is in heaven" is about how the kindly and benevolent influence can permeate into the difficult things we go through, upholding and sustaining us, and glowing inside the experience to transform it by transforming us.

And my prayer for your today is that you will come back from your surgery, and any further steps of treatment, saying that exact same thing. May you be perfectly aligned in the flow of grace for healing and blessing. x

Cate Nunan said...

I am thinking of you for your surgery Greta, being in the folds of the mantle. That image really touches me, as does the one of being in the shelter of God's arms, as our Shepherd. I grew up on a sheep farm so I know what that literally looks like and it is a comfort. I know you will feel that comfort too and I am very glad that you got through the testing.

greta said...

thank you, cate, for your prayers. isn't it wonderful that we are gathered here from all over the world and yet we feel like 'family'? thank you to everyone for your good thoughts - i know that there are those who don't comment here but i pray for you as well. i also love the image of the Good Shepherd. we do like to be enfolded and led, don't we? it's quite comforting.

i love that someone in your family will use their calligraphy skills to write out the prayer for you, pen. i don't remember where i first came across the original prayer. it's been years ago but i immediately resonated with its imagery. i've changed it up just a bit to make it more 'my' prayer but the spirit is the same. when you get the calligraphy, will you show that to us, please?

sending love and thanks to all . . .

Pen Wilcock said...

I will for sure. xx