It is Independence Day here in America, in the year 2020, during a worldwide pandemic. Tonight, amid man-made fireworks, the skies will literally eclipse us with a Full Moon/Eclipse in Capricorn. This is an unusual third eclipse in the biannual eclipse season, which occurs every Dec/Jan and June/July. There are usually two eclipses each period, but today we have a third. We have an ultra-rare two New Moons in Cancer this month as well, reflecting an intense and repeated focus on emotions, our hearts, where we feel safe, and home.
What occurred in January this year, the Saturn/Pluto Conjunction in Capricorn (also ruled by Saturn), soon became this pandemic and all that has followed. Jupiter, the sign of expansiveness, joined Pluto on April 4th and again this past Monday.
In simple symbolic sight, the writing is on the wall.
Structures, foundations, all that is no longer sustainable, are falling, and there is a powerful karmic/cause-and-effect force to it. It is not personal, although we can be personally affected by it. It is not truly knowable either. It is both Law and Mystery – two distinctions that characterize the entity or phenomena known as God – to the extent that anyone can describe such a thing. Or, in the words of St. Augustine:
“Si enim comprehendis, non est Deus” – If you can understand it, it is is not God.
On February 20, 2022, (numerologists like myself are going nuts over all the 2’s in this date) – the United States will experience it’s first Pluto Return. Pluto is the slowest moving planet, and its transit is approximately 249 years. However, the effects of its actual station are felt for several years prior and after the exact event. Pluto is the God of the Underworld and rules death and transformation. It is not difficult to paint this picture, and, in fact, we are living in the midst of it.
I’m not much of a 4th of July celebrant. As an animal lover, I’m well aware of both the physical and emotional dangers of fireworks, not to mention the noise. But, I have been reflecting today about freedom and what it means.
I’m familiar with the constitution and certainly understand and appreciate those fighting so hard to defend it. At the same time, I recognize that these are not only different times, but we are different people living under vastly different circumstances.
It was quite reasonable to set up rules that allowed the individual to live freely 250 years ago. We are a young country of immigrants who themselves were young. It’s unlikely the elderly fled England to sail on ships for months in turbulent waters. Thus, we lack the ancestral roots and wise perspective that elderhood brings.
What motivated the first Americans (incidentally, an anagram for America is: i Am race) was the freedom to follow/be governed by self-will, which, while understandable, is perhaps also impossible when you grow to the billions in number. It is hard to believe that everyone should have this “right” when we’ve already far exceeded our capacity to live on the planet we’ve been entrusted with. At what point does stewardship and responsibility to each other and all of life become more important? Of all the structures, systems, practices, beliefs, and entities in question, the most unsustainable of all may be the human being.
Ecologist Thomas Berry wrote that to avert the destruction of our world we need to develop —
“ a sensitivity that is something more than romantic attachment to some of the more brilliant manifestations of the natural world, a sensitivity that comprehends the larger patterns of nature, its severe demand as well as its delightful aspects, and is willing to see the human diminish so that other life forms may flourish.”
“…willing to see the human diminish so that other life forms may flourish.”
These are hard words to read, mostly because they are true. We have long since overrun the world we inhabit. All of what we are now experiencing may be the result -the karmic (Saturn) price exacted for what we have taken. Not punishment, consequence.
So, where is our freedom? If it’s real freedom, it cannot be bought or sold, bargained for, or given away. It is unchanging and eternal and, well… free.
Thomas Merton writes of the freedom found in faith and following sacred rhythms, as described in this passage from his journals in 1965 on the brink of the Vietnam War:
“If I were more fully attentive to the word of God I would be much less troubled and disturbed by events of our time: not that I would be indifferent or passive, but I could gain strength of union with the deepest currents of history, the sacred currents, which run opposite to those on the surface a great deal of the time!”
In her beautiful work “The Interior Castle,” St Teresa of Avila discusses prayer and specifically the three stages of prayer as Recollection, Quiet, and then Union with the Divine. I wrote about the Prayer of Recollection in an earlier newsletter. It’s the next level of prayer that I think speaks to this issue of “true” freedom.
The Prayer of Quiet is an even deeper form of recollection which comes directly from God. As Teresa writes, it is:
“…accompanied by the greatest peace and quiet and sweetness within ourselves. With no effort, the soul drinks directly from God.”
We reach this peace because, while the other faculties of the soul remain available, our will is held captive by God, surrendered to the beloved not as a prisoner but as a refugee.
On this Independence Day, in the fullness of the moon and the power of its eclipse, I offer you The Prayer of Quiet, if only for a moment. As the mystics say, one who has encountered God, however briefly, is forever and for-the-better changed.
Perhaps true freedom is more about forgetting the self than saving it.
“The fullest freedom I had ever known, the greatest sense of security, came from abandoning my will to do only the will of God.”Walter J. Ciszek, S. J.
Jesuit priest who was imprisoned in Moscow and Siberia for 20 years during WWII