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Excerpted from Handbook for the Spirit by Richard Carlson and Benjamin Shield (Editors). Copyright © 2008 by New World Library. Excerpted by permission of New World Library, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Believe, as all great teachers have told us to believe, that the universe is friendly; the universe is blessing us constantly."

  Matthew Fox, "Creation Spirituality"
in Handbook for the Spirit
Part 4

When I'm operating at my best, my work is my prayer. It comes out of the same place that prayer comes out of - the center, the heart. All work is meant to be heart work: it comes out of our heart and goes to the heart. All authentic work is an effort to move other people's hearts. And this can range from music to authentic and healthy religion to decent commerce to creating objects that human beings need. Work is the way adults return the blessing of being here to the next generation. Work is relationship. And other relationships, such as friendship and mutuality and community and intimacy, I hope also come out of the same center.

How do we get in touch with that center? Through paths one, two, and three, especially at that node between paths two and three. Between the emptying of the darkness and the creativity there's a silent stillpoint that we experience as our center, through which light and grace pour. And they pour into all our relationships. One way I pray is with Native American prayers. It's one of the most grounding and the most radical of all forms of prayer I've used. It has been the way of praying for thousands of years, and we ought to avail ourselves of such wisdom. I do a Native American sweat, and when I leave I always say A Ho Mitakye Oyacin, which means "to all my relations."

Native Americans constantly celebrate all their relations, which means relations to the earth, to the rocks, to the birds, the trees, the clouds, to all people of all races and all religions, and, of course, to divinity and to the spirits. But in our anthropocentric culture we hear the word "relation" and tend to think of relatives or lovers or other relationships with two-legged creatures; but the true mystical tradition says that our relations come out of the womb that birthed us all: the cosmic womb of God.

We can return to this womb in the Via Negativa, which is what happens in a sweat lodge; people come out of this experience of darkness and emptiness into creativity. To experience a personal cosmology, become a child again - not an adolescent, but a child - and thereby become a player, a playful being in the universe. Believe, as all great teachers have told us to believe, that the universe is friendly; the universe is blessing us constantly. Become unself-conscious (Eckhart defined mysticism as unself-consciousness). If we can learn to delight again and to play again, then we will learn wisdom again. That's how we accompany God through our journey and through this universe.

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