The divine calls us all into being out of itself.
We are meant for it:
That is the point of the spiritual journey.
The journey puts us on the road
to realizing and actualizing who we really are
in our ultimate being.
—Wayne Teasdale, The Mystic Heart
Growing up in a traditional Catholic home, my child self got a clear picture that God was a big, powerful, male being out there somewhere and the purpose of my life was to seek and serve Him. My second grade Baltimore Catechism told me so: “God made me to know, love, and serve Him in this world and be happy with Him in the next.” The way to seek this God was to hold the right beliefs and the way to serve this God was to choose only the right behaviors.
A startling yet comforting mystical truth is that we do not initiate the search for the Divine. The Divine seeks the Divine in the Divine’s perfect place—in and through and as us. It’s been a long, slow evolution for me to realize that God is not out there; God is in here. And I don’t have to struggle to seek the Divine; the Divine isn’t hiding from me. And my job isn’t to work hard to serve a distant divinity; my job is to feel, embrace, and return the loving Presence within.
But, as many times as my adult self has repeated the truth that God is within, I was still startled when I read in Wayne Teasdale’s The Mystic Heart that we do not initiate the search for the Divine; the Divine initiates it, and—this is the really exciting part—the Divine seeks us not to fix us as lost lambs flailing and failing in a wounded human condition, but as divine beings. Teasdale writes that all spiritual practices “are about inner simplification, a process the divine initiates in us and brings to completion in time.” (Emphasis added.)
The Spark Of Divine Love For The Divine
This spark of divine love for the Divine in and through and as you has brought you here. And soon it will open the spiral and set you on the mystical path. This spark is the same spark of love that called Moses, Mirabai, Rumi, Francis of Assisi, Kabir, Teresa of Ávila, Hildegard of Bingen, Paramahansa Yogananda, and all the mystics through time. And now it is calling you, as it has been calling you your entire life.
Welcome to your first adventure on the sacred spiral. On this loop you will feel that divine spark of love and respond with a sacred desire of your own heart. You will meet your guides and companions, consider the wonders of the spiral, and finally, enter the spiral and experience it for yourself. To help you open to all the beauty and possibility of this first spiral walk, I offer you six deep soul explorations. Each exploration begins with something to read, followed by several sensory, imaginal, and soul writing activities. Think of these offerings as a spiritual smorgasbord. Taste all that look appealing and experiment with others. This is your sacred spiral adventure; listen to the guidance of your soul and follow where she leads.
Deep Soul Explorations on Loop One
- Feel the spark of divine longing in your heart.
- Declare your sacred desire and embed it in a special talisman.
- Consider the wonders of the spiral.
- Meet the guides and angels who will accompany you.
- Invite a master-teacher companion to walk beside you.
- Open the sacred spiral and walk the first loop.
Feel the Spark of Divine Longing in Your Heart
The secret immensity of the soul is the longing for the divine.
This is not simply a haunted desire for an absent, distant
divine presence that is totally different from us.
Our longing is passionate and endless because
the divine calls us home to presence. Our longing
is an echo of the divine longing for us.
—John O’Donohue, Eternal Echoes
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Do you feel a spark of divine longing? If you are uncertain what that sensation is like, consider the moments when you feel a pull to pray or a physical need to be still and quiet or a visceral urge to create something or a passionate desire to comfort someone or tell them you love them. These are soul calls. Recall two or three memorable soul calls. Drop down from the story in your head to a full-bodied memory. How did you feel when the soul call rose up in you? Did the call originate in your heart or did it surface somewhere else in your body?
Soul calls can be felt anywhere. When I feel the call to create, for example, my hands tingle with an itch to write. The urge to pray rises from a deep well in my heart. When it calls, I simply must stop and pray. When my soul wants quiet and solitude, the call rises from somewhere in my intestines. If I don’t attend, it gets louder and louder until I stop and listen. As you relive your own soul calls, notice where they reside in your body and ask yourself a few questions. Pause after each and notice how your heart and body respond:
- When I pray, who is praying?
- When I create, who is creating?
- When I comfort, who is comforting?
- When I love, who is loving?
Yes, you are praying and creating and comforting and loving; but at the same time, do you feel another presence, a divine presence, too? When you pray, do you feel something moving through you that you know you didn’t generate completely on your own? When you create something, do you stare at what you’ve done sometimes and wonder: Who did this? When you comfort someone, do you wonder how you knew what to say (or not say) to soothe their pain or ease their sorrows? And when you love, really love, do you feel an energy, a power, a pulse moving from your heart to theirs and back again until your two hearts beat almost as one? It’s tangible, isn’t it?
In The Heart’s Code, Dr. Paul Pearsall names this invisible, tangible energy L-energy. This subtle, information-rich, energetic force emanates from the heart and is picked up and remembered in every cell of the body. L-energy may be a new term, but it is hardly a new discovery. When Pearsall investigated the multicultural history of L-energy, he found that “indigenous peoples and ancient religious systems have given it over one hundred different names and base their healing systems on it.” In Hindu philosophy, it’s prana. In Chinese culture, qi. In the kabbalistic tradition, yesod. In Christianity, the Holy Spirit. This life-force energy, by whatever name, is ancient and universal. But what is it?
A famous Hadith Qudsi (saying of Mohammed) may hold the key to the name and nature of this tangible vibration of life-force energy and the key to the spark of love that opens the spiral, and the key to the purpose of this sacred spiral walk to remember your soul’s purpose. That’s a lot of keys in just a few words. But what words!
I was a hidden treasure and I loved to be known,
and therefore I created the world that I might be known.
Many books have been written to attempt to unravel the mystical meaning of this saying. While the Hidden Treasure Hadith may be theologically dense, what if, at the same time, it’s straightforward—even simple? What if it means exactly what it says? What if the spark of divine love that opens the spiral is a mirror reflection of the spark of divine love at its center? What if the divine spark of love at the center is a breathing pulse of the love of the Creator flowing through all creation? What if that divine love reflects forward and backward, up and down the spiral, so that the original spark can see and experience itself in all it has created? And what if that desire of the divine treasure to see and experience itself is planted in the most perfect place it can nestle and grow—perhaps the only place it can nestle and grow—the human heart? If so, that means you are the divine longing. And the spark of divine love is alive and breathing in your heart.
Does this idea set your heart on fire? Here are a few activities to help you discover what your heart knows about the magical, mysterious spark of divine love. Explore any or all and experience this divine longing for yourself.
Sit with mystical questions like these, relaxing the need for answers:
When I pray, who is praying?
When I breathe, who is breathing?
When I gave birth, who was giving birth?
When a seed sprouts, who or what is doing the sprouting?
Has your childhood image of God changed over time? Are there aspects of that image you’d like to hold on to? Aspects you’d like to release? Perhaps you’d like to draw or doodle how your image of the Divine has evolved. Sit with your drawings and notice how they felt to your child self and how they feel to you today.
Draw a spiral with a few inward loops.
Add a symbol that represents a spark of divine longing at the opening and again at the center. Put your finger on the divine spark at the opening of your spiral. Imagine a sparkle, a tingle, a divine smile under your finger. Then, trace the inward flow of the spiral, feeling the warmth growing as you get closer to the center. When you get to the center, rest your finger on the warmth vibrating there. Go back and forth a few times, feeling how the divine spark of love changes or doesn’t change.
Next, place the forefinger of one hand on the opening spark of longing and the forefinger of your other hand on the center spark. Imagine, sense, or feel the divine longing flowing up one arm and down the other, connecting human and divine longing in your heart.
Whenever you feel the urge to pray, shift what you’re doing, or reach out to someone, stop for a moment and notice where this feeling is arising in your body. Put your hands where you feel the urge and ask yourself, Who or what is feeling this feeling? Is it me, only me, partly me? Is this a spark of divine longing?
SOUL WRITING AND DRAWING
Speak John O’Donohue’s earlier quote slowly, chewing on the words. Speak the Hidden Treasure Hadith the same way. Are there other succinct statements about divine longing you’d like to explore? Perhaps “I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine” (Song of Solomon 6:3), “The Father and I are One” (Gospel of John 10:30), or “Thou art that” (Upanishads).
After you’ve ingested a few rich quotes, have a conversation with your divine Voice about what these words stir in you. Don’t be surprised if you also feel the urge to draw. Mystical concepts are shy and often hide from words, but will peek out through drawing.
©2017 by Janet Conner. All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission of the publisher, Conari Press,
an imprint of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC. www.redwheelweiser.com.
Find Your Soul's Purpose: Discover Who You Are, Remember Why You Are Here, Live a Life You Love
by Janet Conner.
Finding your soul’s divine purpose, says Janet Conner, is not just one thing, it is a whole package of things including gifts, talents, teachers, symbols, stories, and even shadows, wounds, and woes. Unwrapping that package is why we are here and is what enables us to live a life infused with meaning and joy. In seven chapters, the author leads the reader on a journey of self-discovery.
About the Author
Janet Conner is a writer, speaker, teacher, retreat guide, and radio show host with one compelling message: what you seek is inside. She is the author of Writing Down Your Soul and The Lotus and the Lily. She created The Soul-Directed Life radio show for Unity Online Radio. She lives and writes in Ozona, Florida, a tiny town on the Gulf of Mexico. Visit her at www.janetconner.com.
Watch a video: The Perfect Prayer (with Janet Conner)
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