He walked into the Unitarian church dressed in a silk, collarless purple shirt, a tunic of sorts, and dark pants. I would come to recognize this same shirt the next day and the one that followed because he wore it like a humble uniform or sacred talisman. The man who accompanied him wore jeans and had the gait of a younger person, though he was grey, bespectacled and clearly in his seventies. The audience sat quietly, the way spectators about to witness a sacred union usually do, as the two made their way down the aisle.
But we weren’t there to witness a marriage between these two men; we were there to hear them speak about the Sacred Marriage of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine. During a hot July weekend in a small, South Louisiana city, mystic and poet Andrew Harvey and writer/scholar Matthew Fox poured out their passion for sacred activism –what they believe needs to be birthed now from the sacred union of the feminine and the masculine.
Judging by the size of the crowd, many in our city must not be familiar with the work of these international speakers, I thought. Harvey has sat at the feet of the Dali Lama and is a renowned expert on the Sufi poet Rumi and the author of many books, including “The Hope, A Guide to Sacred Activism.” Matthew Fox is an ex-priest who was excommunicated for speaking up for the rights of indigenous people and against the prevalence of pedophiles in the Catholic Church.
Both have dedicated their lives to social justice and are the embodiment of what they preach: love. And love in action. Their brand of love is rooted in activism–compassion-in-action–a fusion of deep spiritual knowledge, courage and passion. By their account, it is a love that is born from a marriage of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine.
Defining the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine
“Our Mother, the Divine Feminine is nurturing, flowing protective, loving from an understanding of oneness, wild, estatic, molten anger–and ruler of the Universe,” said Harvey. “Don’t sentimentalize her!”
Fox, described the Sacred Masculine as clarity, selfless austerity, strength, protectiveness and expansiveness–think Blue Sky or the archetype of the Sacred Warrior.
The sacred marriage of the two is the revelation of a dynamic love–a sacred love–the core power of our very own Universe.
Divine Love is the Love Child of the Feminine and Sacred Masculine
To the audience, Harvey preached with the passion of the sword wielding, fire spitting goddess Kali and with the tongue of a poet speaking sacred truth. “We are being asked at this time to embody the feminine and the masculine to evolve our own divinity and to give birth to love. Wild love. Reckless love. Ecstatic love!”
He circled about and I closed my eyes, imagining him wagging his fingers at us as he continued, “You are being asked to birth a new being in you as you grow up in a sacred marriage of the Divine Feminine and Sacred Masculine within yourself.”
Put love into motion, Harvey urged, throwing his hands out like a conductor commanding music from a crowd of musicians. “Our Mother is saying…don’t just tell me you love me, show me. Be filled with fierce, ecstatic fire, we need to turn up in her name to do what we can to help.”
“Your acts of kindness are iridescent wings of divine love, which linger and continue to uplift others long after your sharing.”-Rumi
Fox weighed in, urging us to think of love in less sentimental terms than what we’ve been taught. “Love is a dynamic creative energy. It is not an emotional or even mental energy–it is a dynamic physical, creative energy.”
I sat spellbound by the words, the-too-big to-swallow-in-one-dose concepts and the delivery of the messengers.
The scholars continued to school us. “Stop hiding! “demanded Harvey. “Stop supporting out of cowardice the deep systems that are destroying the planet!”
What Are You Risking?
I shifted in my seat trying not to feel the weight of that accusation. But the truth burned like alcohol on a dirty, open wound.
“The wound is the place where the Light enters you.”-Rumi
And I felt the pain of all of the times I swallowed my words to keep others comfortable and in an unholy instant I remembered the petitions I ignored, the political systems I abhor but endorse with silence, the injustices I turn away from because they are too heavy to hold.
I could feel myself outgrowing myself at the pace a toddler outgrows shoes. But still, I wrestled internally, reminding myself of the ways I quietly help or validate others, the ways I express love. I reminded myself of the donations I make to causes in my neighborhood and around the globe…how I send prayers and graceful words out into the world. Surely, I am making a difference in my own quiet way, I thought.
And then I heard Harvey shout out a shrill accusation, “What are you doing that really costs you something when you see madness in the world?”
Gulp. And I heard the words of a Rumi poem echo through the centuries….
“You have not dared yet risk your heart…”
Still, I wondered. So I raised my hand like a cautious, yet curious fifth grader, and asked one of the greatest mystics of our time the following question: “Can I still make a difference being quietly fierce, if that is my nature? Do I need to be a “Jumped-up Jesus, fierce and fiery like Kali, to make a difference? I write about hope and grace and peacefulness, and I think it helps others,” I offered somewhat timidly.
And then I asked this question: How do we hang on to hope in these times?
Rows of heads turned toward me and then back to the front of the church where the two spiritual leaders sat side by side on stern wooden chairs.
“Hope is gone,” Harvey said plainly, as though she has just upped and walked out of the church before our eyes to retrieve something from her car. “But you must go on…from a place of love–not hope.”
“You must do your best,” he continued to counsel me. “Focus on love, be ecstatic, embody the Divine.”
And then he looked at me with eyes that were meant to pierce through the veil of any remaining confusion and asked me this in front of an army of witnesses: Are you playing small? Are you coming from a place that is small, not risking? Do you really know your nature? Or are you being a good, polite, Southern woman?
“Stop acting so small. You are the universe in ecstatic motion.”-Rumi
I sank back into my chair and into those questions. And I have continued to sit with those questions since that hot summer day when Andrew Harvey basically told me I could be so caught up in the patriarchy that has schooled and cultured my southern-fried brain, that I might not be in touch with my own fiery, fix it or chuck it nature.
I also think he was trying to tell me that fierce love activated by the Divine Feminine is more than pretty words on a page. (Though I still believe she can be expressed as such. )
Fierce love, the love child of the Divine Feminine and the Sacred Masculine is about action. It is also messy and inopportune, and not always graceful or polite.
“Love is reckless; not reason. Love comes on strong, consuming herself unabashed.”-Rumi
I think I’m getting it. Slowly, in my own Southern, meandering way. Now, it’s about putting my Southern ass, and grace, into motion.
Stay tuned; my engines are revving. I think whatever is put into motion will be a labor of love. Divine love.
And you? How will you put compassion in action? Share with me and I will include some of your comments in a new blog.
Note: Andrew Harvey and Matthew Fox spoke at the Unitarian Church and The Red Shoes, a Center for Spirituality, in Baton Rouge, La.
If you’re interested in more thoughts on integrity, compassion and grace, particularly at midlife, read my book Tao Flashes .Or visit me at http://www.facebook.com/taoflashes or on twitter @taoflashes.