2022 the year we learn to listen to love
Week 1--in which we explore the radical possibility of love
Friends, soul writers, mystics, and lovers of prayer,
I am writing this first Notes from the Field for 2022 on January 1. If you’ve read The Lotus and the Lily, you know that January 1 has been a sacred soul day for me ever since I made my first mandala on January 1, 2010.
Ordinarily, I’d spend today soul writing and praying and waiting to hear the name of my year and the image to draw on my mandala for the year.
But this January 1, I feel called to do something different.
Over the last two weeks, my Beloved Mother Sophia has already whispered the name of my year and shown me the image for my mandala. So I am spending my soul day writing this letter for you.
Because it feels important—really important—to talk about the radical possibilities that await us in this year with her strange bouquet of triple twos and slightly terrifying astrological portents.
On the surface, things don’t look very pretty.
As the song goes, “the weather outside is frightful.”
And oh my Goddess, it is. It’s freezing where it never freezes. Snowing where there shouldn’t be snow. Streets are bare where there should be two feet of white. And fire. Wild, out of nowhere, fire. This time it’s Colorado. We hold our breath, wondering if our town is next.
It’s the third year of Covid.
If this is the third year, and Covid is still in full bloom, then we’re missing something. We’re not seeing something that wants to be seen. Not hearing something that wants to be heard. And certainly not doing something that wants to be—needs to be—done.
Arundhati Roy articulated this “something” perfectly:
“Historically, pandemics have forced humans to break with the past and imagine their world anew. This one is no different. It is a portal, a gateway between one world and the next. We can choose to walk through it, dragging the carcasses of our prejudice and hated, our avarice, our data banks and dead ideas, our dead rivers and smoky skies behind us. Or we can walk through lightly, with little luggage, ready to imagine another world. And ready to fight for it.”
What is that other world—a world so beautiful, it’s worth fighting for?
If Arundhati Roy articulated the problem, bell hooks articulated the solution.
“I believe wholeheartedly that the only way out of domination is love, and the only way into really being able to connect with others, and to know how to be, is to be participating in every aspect of your life as a sacrament of love.”
When bell hooks died on December 15, I saw Parker Palmer eulogize her online with this quote from her. Those words flew off the screen and into my body. I cracked open and this phrase, “a sacrament of love” penetrated and permeated my cells.
This is my antidote to Covid, to chaos, to fear. This is what I’m going to hold on to all year. This is how I’m going to travel light.
Only holding onto “a sacrament of love.”
So now you know the name of my year. And my mandala: Her Sacrament of Love.
bell’s phrase sent me online to find her books. I am starting with All About Love, which came out in 2000. In it, she begins by defining love. Because, as she says, definitions matter. As someone who is redefining prayer, witch, and matriarchy, I love a woman who’s brave enough to redefine love. bell hooks writes:
“Definitions are vital starting points for the imagination. What we cannot imagine cannot come into being. A good definition marks our starting point and lets us know where we want to end up. As we move toward our desired destination we chart the journey, creating a map. We need a map to guide us on our journey to love—starting with the place where we know what we mean when we speak of love.” All About Love p 14
But when bell did the research, she found someone had already defined love for her, Scott Peck. In The Road Less Traveled in 1978 Peck defined love as:
“the will to extend oneself for the purpose of nurturing one’s own or another’s spiritual growth…. [L]ove is an act of will—namely, both an intention and an action. Will also implies choice. We do not have to love. We choose to love.”
Throughout All About Love bell hooks talks about what love looks like in action. Love, she says, is a combination of trust, commitment, care, respect, responsibility, and truth-telling.
She quotes Parker Palmer:
“To be fully alive is to act…I understand action to be any way that we can co-create reality with other beings and the Spirit…. Action, like a sacrament, is the visible form of an invisible spirit, an outward manifestation of inward power.”
I wonder if it was Parker Palmer who planted this word “sacrament” in bell, who in turn planted it in me, and I would love to plant it in you.
Now, when you hear the word sacrament, you, like me, might initially flinch, because this word, like so many, has been coopted by one religion to mean their ceremonies, their rituals.
But sacrament is far more ancient than the Christian religion. It means simply sacred—a sacred character, symbol, or pledge.
Or as Arundhati might have it, sacrament is the very light luggage we choose to carry to imagine another world into being.
Since bell hooks died, I’ve been lost in deep soul writing and deep soul reading about becoming a sacrament of love. And laughing at myself.
Because I’ve been playing in these sacramental fields of radical love for a long time.
On January 1, 2017, for example, I sat down to do a little soul reading before I made my mandala and stumbled upon a glorious description of Thomas Merton in the introduction to A Thomas Merton Book of Hours by Jim Finley. I threw down the book and wrote this prayer, which I have now said every day since.
That means today was the 1,827th time I've said this prayer. And it still feels brand new.
“I surrender so completely to Sophia’s Love
that when I begin to speak,
my voice and Sophia’s Voice
merge in a harmony of grace, beauty and love
that causes hearts
to stop, stir, awaken
and surrender to love.”
And that image at the top of this letter?
I commissioned it in 2018 shortly after prayer artist came through and I was writing (or more accurately receiving) boatloads of prayers that were really lyrics for love songs. And now, it looks like I have the perfect place to use it.
And the name of my year?
You can thank bell hooks in part for that. But also Star Sister Marcia Wade.
Marcia and Emma and I recorded a radically different astrology “forecast” for you. A forecast unlike any you’ll hear anywhere else. And a forecast that may hold seeds of the love you are looking for.
In her “non-forecast forecast.” Marcia takes us on a deep dive with Venus—goddess of love—and Pluto—guru of death and rebirth—and completely transforms our experience of both celestial beings.
And teaches us a thing or two about real love.
Together, bell’s sacrament of love and Venus and Pluto’s dance of radical love—loves that can imagine a whole new world—became the theme of the next 52 Notes from the Field:
2022—the year we learn to listen to love
- Because love has a story to tell that we have not heard before.
- A story we have not been willing to hear.
- Love has much to tell us about the radical new world we can co-create together.
- And so much to teach us about how to travel light, carrying only the luggage of love.
Come and walk with me, as we take step one in a year of real, radical, transformational love.
Next Sunday, I'll invite you to join me in the first prayer intensive for 2022, Free Your Voice, a radical love prayer intensive that opens our eyes and ears so we can hear the voice of love and begin to speak with the voice of love.
All this week, I'll be sending personal invitations to members of The Lotus and the Lily and The Return of the Witches pilgrimage. If you've been in either of those intensives, watch your email.
Next Sunday, January 9, I'll open Free Your Voice for all my other subscribers to register.
Until then, listen to Marcia Wade's brilliant conversation talking about astrology not as prediction but as a “field of possibility”, and a radical field of love at that!
to walking gently in this first week of a year of radical love
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