New Year's greetings to you, oh seekers, drummers on the drum of love, lovers of the great twisting, pulsing, unfathomable Mystery. Below I offer you a New Year's spiritual exercise to try as deeply as you want to.
New Year's Eve and Day are are filled with promises we make to ourselves to change. I love the impulse of this mythic exercise, but if you are like me, New Year's resolutions rarely stick. So, I avoid the word "resolution" which smacks of heavy old Christian moralism, a word that says you must hunker down and defeat that devil in you. I like the phrase New Year's Evolutions. In that spirit I offer you an exercise to try if you want to.
Find your 99(9) names for the Holy
The wonderful history of humankind is a history of naming the holy. The tragic history of humankind is a history of forgetting that the Holy always has more names than we can count - that our small set of sacred names for the Holy arise out of our language, our cultural framework and the landscape we live in - all of which evolve and change drastically again and again. The Koran lists 99 excellent names of Allah, names like The Opener, The Bestower, The Creator, The Judge. An exercise to try: start your own list. Take a few moments to scratch down a few names of the holy from your own experience, your reading, your tradition. Then as your days move forward, try to be aware when you have an experience, large or tiny, of the Holy, and name that experience, and add it to your list. You will begin to assemble a list of powerful, beautiful names and phrases. Here are a few from my list:
-The one who tears me loose from those important thoughts so I can once again marvel at my children's laughter which is the song of the creator.
-He who comes with a candle in the night of fear.
-That which moves my fingers on the drum.
-The one who comes to call the flowers open in April.-She who strips the flesh from my bones so that I may learn to not be afraid of gleaming in the moonlight.
-The one who sings the trees to sleep, and sends dreams of fragrant blossoms hidden within.
On and on it goes. For extra credit, erect a large chalkboard on a wall in your house to keep your ever-expanding list. Save room for the last name, "The one who erases all" and when it's time, erase and start over. Share the list with others. Add some of their names to your list. Have a "Names of the Holy" wine party. (Make sure to add "The one inside the wine who jiggers open our laughter" to your list) For those who desire discipline: Establish a time each day, in the early morning or end of the day, where you meditate with the mantra "What is the name you want me to know now?" Call out, ask. You can sit in silence repeating the question, or you can drum. Or go outside, close your eyes, turn in a circle or three, calling out the question, pause, open your eyes. Maybe the name that arises will be with you for a day, or a week. Maybe some will become stronger for you than others. The list will grow, you'll forget some, and read them later and be surprised. You'll be uncomfortable at some of the names. At about the number 73 you will begin to understand a secret. (It may take a higher or lower number for you for the secret to be revealed.) Of course I can't tell you that secret. You will have to discover it yourself.