personal reflections

The Seven Whispers

When I was on Whidbey Island this summer enjoying my Peer Spirit Circle Practicum I picked up a few of Christina and Ann’s books. As I read The Seven Whispers, short memorable phrases that author Christina thinks of as whispers of spiritual common sense, I made a few notes on the singey stuff. Singey? You know; the words that heated my soul and singed it a bit:

1. Maintain peace of mind

Loved Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching of one breath to let go, one breath to be here, and one breath to ask now what? To practice this at some point, everyday, because this seems like a good time as any to maintain peace of mind.

2. Move at the pace of guidance

The practice of clearing a space in the day and night, making ready for insight. Chritina practiced this as 15 mintues in the morning and 15 minutes at the end of the afternoon, sitting in silence, with two questions she posed to her soul. A kind of vipassana meditation and returning to the breath. The delicious question “how do I move at the pace of guidance no matter what speed the world asks me to move?”

3. Practice certainty of purpose

The powerful story of the tree of our own life that is growing inside us. If the tree grows too small we shrink and wither around it and turn into a shrub. If the tree is too big it becomes a giant oak that tears us apart. We grow in constant tension so that we and our lives are the right size for each other. Asking myself what is the next right thing?

4. Surrender to surprise

Every day we need to notice when and how spirit is tring to get through our little fantasies of self determiniation with some other message. Chart the day and look for the unexpected.  And to help practice spiritual surrender, three responses to surprise: notice what is really happening, work with what is really happening, accept what is really happening. That being spiritual doesn’t save us from anything, but being spiritual allows us to hold whatever happens in a spiritual way. You can only serve the light to the extend you can stand the dark.

5. Ask for what you need and offer what you can

We become spiritual traders of life’s energy, time, abundance, and interrelatedness. Trading is practice in mindfulness. It slows us down so we may notice the opportunity present in the moment. Through acts of spiritual trading we learn to see that everything is an exchange. Christina believes that we in the West will be challenged to look at the question of what we really need and what we have the obligation to offer to re-establish balance in the global human family.

6. Love the folks in front of you

We didn’t grow up together. My people don’t know your people. Our diversity may be obvious or subtle. We are brought together without a sense of choice, for reasons we may not understand, often in structures we did not create. Who are you, and what of who I am will I share with you? Loving the folks in front of us is a practice that lowers our blood pressure, teaches us not to take things personally, and helps to keep our hearts open rather than slammed shut.

7. Return to the world

We cannot bring spirituality into the workplace without bringing Nature in. Christina had an intention statement taped inside her journal and a list of questions to ask God about the next portion of her journey while she was on a vision quest – what is the intention statement and the list of questions I’ll take with me to Bowen Island later this month? And believing that the covenant made with the angel when we are still in the womb is  not about leading an ordinary or extraordinary life, but about leading whatever life we have with extraordinary attention to God’s call and our response: our call and God’s response.

And at the very end of this gift of a book, Christina writes

May we be of service

to whatever goodness is trying to happen in the world

in these terrible and wonderful times.

3 replies on “The Seven Whispers”

I opened this page days ago and it sat in the browser waiting for a read and I definitely read it at the right time. 🙂

The first few phrases made me solidify what I’ve been feeling for a few weeks and it’s that I find it challenging to walk this abstract journey without actually going anywhere. Maintaining peace of mind and moving at the pace of guidance is very challenging for me because I’m not usually physically going anywhere or feeling much change around me and it’s actually change that helps me maintain peace of mind. It follows that I find it hard to consistently feel purpose or that what I offer in the world is sufficient. That might sound a bit dark and dire, but it’s more literal than dramatic. 🙂

Perhaps going for a good long walk and moving at some kind of non-abstract pace is a good start.

Thanks for keeping that browser tab open, Dave!

Something in what you said prompted me to open The Seven Whispers and page through the chapter “Move at the Pace of Guidance” again. Close to the beginning are the words “Speed is some guy running through the airport shouting into a cell phone. Pace is going around the block with a three year old and noticing everything the child is noticing. When we move at pace, we have time to question and time to listen for answers before moving on. When we move at the pace of guidance, it occurs to us to wonder what plans the Divine might have for us, in the midst of the plans we have for ourselves.”

I wonder if that dark and direness you alluded to is what is sort of scary about moving at the pace of guidance instead of speed (or change); being able to sit with those feelings of insufficiency, or frustration of if we are doing the right things, or not knowing what we should do next. To sit with our breath and make ready for insight. Starting with a slow walk full of noticing sounds like a lovely way to begin!

Indeed! Thanks for quoting that section.

When I move at speed, I actually don’t respect where I’m going at all and the end result of getting somewhere is “Oh, great, whatever – gotta go!”

A pace is actually quite intimidating – so more walks, indeed. 🙂