Today I started to clean my car in preparation for my trip to Illinois and the Institute for Sacred Activism.
I found two of my church’s hymnals in the trunk. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve walked out of church with the hymnal in my hand. I didn’t realize these were still in my possession until I started this “cleaning out the car” project, but I have corrected my ways. Now, if I find myself unlocking my car door with the book under my arm, I take it right back inside. This is not some little collection of papers but a real book, and the two of them in my trunk gave me pause. If I bring them in the house will I ever get them back to church? And if I don’t bring them in the house, do I want them traveling to Illinois with me?
This was a pleasant little pause on a fine and sunny fall day. I’ve had others as I ready myself to go, and since I just responded to a friend who asked me why I was going, I thought it might be a good time to follow up on my post about Creation of the New with the story of how it relates to my desire to attend the Institute.
To set the scene of the writing of Creation of the New, I have to tell you that it came at the end of my period of solitude. That period began in late 2003 when I first felt myself drawn to its orientation if not the full-out practice of solitude. This happened pretty much through recognizing, as I read a Thomas Merton essay on the subject, that I was indeed being called, and had been for a while. This was a great relief, and I took it very seriously, in large part because I figured nothing else was going to sustain that feeling of relief.
It wasn’t until the summer of 2006 that I actually experienced prolonged periods of solitude though. That was the summer that my husband completed the building of my cabin in the woods behind our yard, and the first summer that our coffee shop was fully out of business. I was able to quit doing just about everything other than taking my mom to church on Saturday night, and I sometimes would describe my solitude by saying I rarely got in my car more than once a week.
About midway through this lovely summer, as I was doing a private retreat based on the 40 Days of The Dialogues, I had one of those amazing experiences that don’t sound like much when you tell about it, but that feel nearly miraculous as they happen.
I was journaling, as is my way, about my retreat feelings. What I often did, and still do, is address Jesus as I journal. I call him friend or brother and write “to” him, and every once in a while I would feel a response well up. I’d call these my “conversations with Jesus.” But this time, the message that arose felt like it would be the end to these conversations. Perhaps I was reading that day in The Dialogues that asks if we are beginning to hear the many voices of the dialogue. My message, at any rate, was clear. It was time to hear the voice of Christ everywhere and in everything, and to hear the Christ voice within myself as well.
Shortly afterwards I began to write Creation of the New, in a way that felt almost as “receptive” as had A Course of Love, even though it was not the same at all. The voice, for one thing, was not the voice of Jesus, but my own. The feeling of receptivity was more about the flow of the writing and the content, as if they were of one piece. I didn’t stop and “think” about what I was writing, I didn’t have a clue of where it was going, had no intention of starting a book – nothing like that. It was more as if there was a vision that needed to come through me…and was coming. It was most peculiar, both in method and content.
The vision felt, at first, very cataclysmic…so much so that on the first day of writing…as the initial pages drew to a close, I ran in the house to turn on the television and see if something was going on. That was the way it made me feel – as if something was happening – as if at any moment the air raid sirens would go off and there’d be some “end of the world” announcement as of a nuclear attack. And strangely enough, when I turned on the TV, which had last been on the History channel, there was a program on about the apocalypse. I was flabbergasted and shaken. It was just one of those documentary type deals, but merely the fact that it was on in that moment felt eerie.
The rest of the writing of Creation went on much unchanged although the feeling of imminent catastrophe began to leave me.
I was about halfway through with Creation when Andrew Harvey comes in, and it wasn’t “in person” or anything like that, it’s just that the day after sharing Creation of the New with my friend Mary, she brought over her copy of “Spirituality and Health” because an article in it, about his vision, sounded just like mine. We sat on the floor of my cabin and she read out loud to me. His language, but even more than that the feel of what he was saying, corresponded so precisely that we both had goose bumps. I’ve wanted to meet him ever since.
This summer, almost exactly five years later, I began to feel compelled to publish Creation of the New. Then, as I began working on it, I happened to see that I could tune into an interview Andrew Harvey was giving. As I listened to him, I felt absolutely certain that it was time that we meet, as well as more certain than ever that it’s time to share Creation of the New.
Creation of the new is spoken of a lot within A Course of Love. The urgent need for our return to who we truly are is mentioned more than once. We’re charged with elevating the self of form, and told we are to be forerunners of the new. If Creation of the New had come in the voice of Jesus as the fourth volume of the series, I wouldn’t have been surprised, and I would have published it much sooner. That it came as it did was a big surprise. It took some time for me to work up the nerve to publish it.
Still…it makes some sense to me. If we are to be the voices of the new…well…I guess we have to start to listen to each other.