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Grateful for the Hidden Monastery

Have you been to the sanctuary?recycling-The-Bottle-Chapel-at-Airlie-Gardens-North-Carolina.
The one with no walls or doors
that arises when you slow dance
with the moon, look into the eye of a beetle,
sense the tender touch of two hands,
walk on the street among those who move in protest?

Have you been tending the entry of a holy place?
Keeping the candle lit in a time of epoch change–
when prayer feels restless and old forms whither?

Have you been making art when fatigue beats at spirit,
busy days disarm grace, when leadership agitates
for its next holy trouble, when we don’t know what to do
but trek up and down the mountain of study and practice
and share ritual meals with friend and foe?

Have you been tending one of spirits hideaways where you offer prayers to the One who calms your religious anxiety
and that over-heated compassion born of Love’s insatiable desire?

Have you been working backstage as one of Joy’s stage managers directing the light and sound that is designed to free the solace begged by every breath?

Have you run to the edges, to the Well, the Rock, the Tree
anyplace where Holy eyes meet moist cheeks are kissed, wild souls are hallmarks of beauty, and courageous prayer is daily work?

Have you gone on in spite of being ignored, laughed at, told you want impossible things?

If so then you are a monk of a hidden monastery who like ants in collective obscurity create and recreate the billion sanctuaries
made by an inclined ear
a flute players breath
a deep hummed conversation
and blue tears falling into a common bowl.

You enshrine with holy affirmations the decay of silent forest beings, light blazing from a baby’s crown, and the beating breasts of dancers for whom every move is soul speech.

You erect temporary altars to greet each other as we travel the world so that before these markers we can bow at feet of our Unsolvable Life.

How lucky when you gather in twos or twenties to dance, eat, and tell stories that spring from the ER of soul, poems not shared at the office, visions too big for a single body.

Beloved mystics snakecharmers, master artists, fire tenders,
water bearers, gardeners, enshriners, inventors of prayer arrows and rare rituals, anything that lights The Way,
who make prayer strong with art, blessed are you when you let go into Love all the way, abandon your seriousness, laugh with relief safe enough as you expose the ridiculous tango you do with the Devotion that throws you upside down and sideways.

Beloved sisters and brothers who know the joy of 1,000 golden suns and the power of children singing, young initiates of beauty everywhere I see you. Do you see me?

If so, let’s pray that wings carry us when violence looms and
night waves come hurtling, that our tasks stay simple enough
that these holy strongholds grow in grace and glory, perfect like weeds, low to the ground, delightful, hearty and persevering.

Let us pray that the Great Love that rises in justice beauty, dignity, health, and freedom bloom insanely feral everywhere and make our work effortless, humble in spirit, and hilariously holy each Sacred Night and Day, now and each day forward. And so it is.

Cynthia Winton-Henry for Mystic Tech


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