¡Oh noche que me guiaste!
¡oh noche amable más que el aluorada!,
¡oh noche que juntaste
amado con amada,
amada en el amado transformada!
After nine months of torture and imprisonment, Spanish mystic of the middle ages, St. John of the Cross, established a model of contemplation. In a small, windowless cell and without human contact, St. John had only bread and water to sustain him. And though he had little to no human connection, he was acutely aware of God’s love and presence. In the now classic poem that spans the range of traditions, The Dark Night of the Soul, is a song with lyrics that describe the development of intimacy with the Divine.
The contemplative visionary’s dark night is less about difficult, doubting, lonely times (which is how it is interpreted today) and more about increasing faith and love. St. John of the Cross explains that faith is a practice that “gives light to the soul, which is in darkness”. According to juanist theology in his poem, the soul is on a journey to union with God: “Union of the soul with God is attained when the likeness that comes from love is produced”.
Embracing the dark night means getting acquainted with “the unknown and the experience of not knowing with an open and humble heart, much more full of wonder and willingness than fear”, writes Zen Buddhist monk, Deborah Eden Tull. Tull describes endarkenment as embodied and relational invitations to deep listening, slowing down, creativity, connection, and reciprocity. The dark night reminds us that we are dependent on each other and the more than human world, from our breath to the care we offer.
The dark night invites us to go slowly, gently and with self-compassion. When I muster the courage to explore the intimacy of the inner dark night of my soul, I feel more brave to pursue intimacy with the external world, including with distant and proximate relations as well as with the natural environment.
Oh, night that guided me,
Oh, night more lovely than the dawn,
Oh, night that joined Beloved with lover,
Lover transformed in the Beloved!
~ Jeanette Banashak
Knitting Hearts Together
The following reflection is part of the final integration project of a recent SGTI graduate. We found it deeply meaningful and hope you will enjoy it!
As a fiber artist and new graduate of SGTI, I have found that spiritual guidance is continually weaving itself into my life. My interest in fiber arts is centered around understanding how different materials can be manipulated to construct various objects. Projects begin with a focus on choosing materials based on weight, texture, color, and other features so that as they are manipulated they create items that are beneficial and beautiful. It is interesting to view spiritual guidance through my fiber arts lens.
Creating yarn on a spinning wheel produces single-plies of yarn that can be difficult to use by themselves so single-ply yarns are generally combined with one or more other plies. This process allows the combined plies to twist back onto and lock into themselves forming a much stronger yarn. The SGTI curriculum, the readings, videos, and audio segments ply together in a way that strengthens and reinforces each individual part. Like yarn that twists and locks creating firm foundations, we have a solid place from which to continue to learn and grow.
The Japanese art of kumihimo, begins with different threads that are braided together to form a cord or braid. Sometimes my vision doesn’t always turn out the way I thought it might, and I find myself unraveling and trying again. Reworking something (although it takes longer) always results in the creation of something better. Small groups and VRI’s allowed us to braid people with different life experiences into something cohesive. Occasionally I experienced the need to unravel and try again, but like kumihimo, things always came together and created something stronger and more beautiful. Cords of kumihimo have been found that are centuries old, may this sacred work last as long.
The 3-dimensional qualities of basket making piques my interest in construction and turned me into a basket maker. I am intrigued by baskets because they are used to contain things. They create or delineate spaces – just as we attempt to do for our seekers. Seekers need safe spaces and we have been finding ways to create them. Gratefully our seekers stepped into our containers knowing we were students and trusted us and the spaces we were creating.
My love of fiber has its roots in the potholder looms of my childhood and although my current loom is much larger, it remains all about warp and weft. The warp on a loom are the long threads that are held under tension and the weft is drawn through, over and under the warp. The warp must be in place for weaving to happen and needs to be strong and accommodating of the weft. Jeanette and Jan, our supervisors, our year-long mentors, and our own spiritual guides provided the warp for our individual wefts, allowing us to create whole cloth.
Although our time together as a cohort is drawing to a close, I will be forever grateful and I’m leaving sharing my delight in knitting for another time. I must say however, that it is through knitting that our hearts come together in love.
~ Lisa Ray Janes
About this blog
Deepening the understanding, practice and importance of spiritual guidance-companionship across traditions.