What is Spirit Work?

Every time of the year’s hectic, but holidays are particularly crammed full of day-to-day responsibilities; specific-to-the-season needs; and the usual background din of our own internal monologue about it all: what do I need to do, what have I not done, damn I’m tired, am I hungry? The list goes on…but throughout it all, our Spirit walks in the form of our body & mind, our breath keeps coming in and out (like the tides). If we ever stop and listen, there’s silence (and true peace) to be had.

People spend 40-50-60 hours at work; when they can, they exercise; and we spend a whole lot of time “getting around” – driving – hustling from here to there, being with family, doing for family.

Meditation (and indeed Shabbat, in Judaism) was invented to stop the not-so-merry go-round and take a pause to savor the stillness. That’s a very important part of any spiritual practice: to be able to get off the tread mill of life and take a look at it – and/or yourself – reflect on what is being, let go of the doing.

If we put as much energy into that as we do everything else, what might happen? Well: less would get done in the world (and our lives), which might end up creating a net increase in stress (since we really DO have a lot to get done, each one of us).  But what if there were another net gain, something we could “get” that actually enabled us to come back to the fray renewed – in a different way than a good night’s sleep would afford you?

Granted, better rest in the prone position would be improved if so many of us didn’t rob our psyche of true downtime by consuming coffee and the like. Sometimes our attention on getting things done and being more awake, more alert, can actually detract from the foundation of actually BEING awake and alert, focused and ready for the world.

But that’s another conversation, worth pursuing, but not the main point here. The main point here is that cessation is a bit of a preparation for death: when you really can’t DO anything more, the book of our life has been written, and it’s done. You look back at it and say: did I spend all the time I could and should have on all the stuff that really matters?

Say you were to go back, like a third party, and watch your own life in slow motion, or say it were stopped, and you could walk around the room (and figures) arrayed at any given time, and say: I would love to have done this differently, or “let me place this item here, so you don’t trip and fall over it.” What if you could spend a little more time with this person or that, or have said kinder words, been more generous of spirit. That would make you feel better about your life, wouldn’t it?

Spirit Work is just that. It’s using the pause-time to scrutinize parts of yourself, maybe even hold that part of your body that’s ill. Dealing with dis-ease is not just a medical matter, nor even something that can be dealt with (solely) through an alternative health modality…it’s sitting with it and trying to understand why it is, where it is, and how come now? There might be a logic to it’s arrival. And there may be none. Can you sit with those two possibilities? Can you breath more energy, love, and forgiveness into that part of your life?

Maybe there’s something you’re struggling with: a duality of sorts – should I do this or should I do that – there is some decision to be made. Can you give equal quality time to each possibility? Can you spend ENOUGH time reviewing – or just observing – the options?

Look proportionally on the amount of time we take to make money, eat (and prepare!) food, and if we’re lucky, do physical activity. Those are all necessary things, to be sure, but by comparison: how atrophied is our time in the Spirit World, alone (or you could do this with others) – not religiously in community (which can be great too, but is no substitute for what I’m talking about) – I’m talking face to face with your own, lone Soul…making sure that you’ve dotted your i’s and crossed your t’s (whatever they may be).

In reading this Blog over, I thought: is there more to say? Have I ended it prematurely? To be sure, your life will most likely end before you’re good and ready, and we all dread it passing under difficult circumstances. So why not take this (and many more) opportunities to do YOUR Spirit Work?

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Why Rock and Why Now?

Why Rock…and Why Now?

To start with a Religious Tradition – since that’s most people’s “gateway drug” into (or away from!) Spirit – you might know (or want to know) that in Judaism, there is an annual celebration of The Trees. It’s called Tu B’Shvat…and yes, I’m talking about the actual “arbors” growing tall and green, particularly in the summer, and out of doors.

trees in autumn

Trees in Autumn (c/o Google Images).

If that’s acceptable, and Christians have adopted the pre-Christian tradition of creating a shrine with a pine at Christmas, then why shouldn’t there be an annual “turn-over” time for “The Stones,” or Rock? I’m not talking about bringing a cairn indoors (though I do take one specific New Hampshire smoky onto my porch at this point in the year). The idea is not necessarily to create a ritual or celebration for the occasion (though both are certainly in order!).

What I’m talking about is sensing and acknowledging a particular time of the year for its unique, transformative quality, and pairing that time period with the bedrock and craggy backdrop of our lives. Rock is beneath our feet, all around us in the hills, and above us in the highest mountain peaks.

Not to be spooky, but this recently snapped image of tombstones reminds me of how they're employed to signify the eternal memory of a gone soul, and yet the grander context - the eternal cliff behind them - bears testament to why we even choose grave stones to be remembered by...they'll always be around (photo by Kyle Russell).

I’m proposing that this begins within days of October 20th. Maybe that’s on account of my living in a place – New England – that’s truly witness to the 4 seasons. The harvest time is pretty much done, and Halloween (or All Souls Day) is nearly upon us.

The Pagans previously (and still) – as well as the Christians (in a secular capacity) mark a time when “the veil” is thin between the worlds, and spirits are to be pacified with treats (or offerings), lest they turn on (or trick) us. Hence: the festival of “trick or treat.”

Rock (yes, down to those small pebbles we trod on outdoors) predates every human imagination by innumerable eons. How can we pretend to be more important than them?

This vocanic plain in Galapagos symbolizes the original rock face of the planet, and being relatively "young" geologically, it shows - as do everything from earthquakes to tsunamis - that the earth is still in geological flux (photo by Kyle Russell).

I don’t mean to anthropomorphize – as if the hills had eyes – but I’m simply trying to attempt to identify the strata of rock as a whole to be a witness, an entity considerable in and of itself, as materially AND spiritually significant.  If time were a test of meaning, value and significance, surely our paltry spot on the historical time line would sideline us as being irrelevant, except, perhaps, for our unusual capacity (as a species) to bring the planet to its untimely (and undeserved) demise.

I realize the human race has MANY other redeeming qualities, which make it’s relative newness to the scene pale by comparison with the wonders the human race is capable of. Our capacity for love, thought, language, and compassion are paramount. But that’s not my focus here.

...from an aptly named emporium's entryway (photo by Kyle Russell).

As you can see from the title of this posting, I ask the question: Why Rock? And the name of this Blog? It’s Crystal Concentric. It’s a long story, but I’ve become a bit of a rock hound, and more than that, have been exposed to the notion (eegads!) of “Crystal Healing.” Which means, for the purpose of this particular “chapter” of my expression, that I take rock more seriously than merely as something to walk over.

More to come on the “Why Rock?” but now for some more on “Why Now?” The latter is timely (necessarily), the former is timeless. If time is the current moment, every other moment – past and future – partakes of the timeless.

As in the case with the ground itself (which is a blending of organic – dead, previously living matter – and the inorganic worlds), the first frost is “felt” deeply everywhere the Mercury dips down towards freezing. It’s a logical, scientifically measurable happenstance. Earth and stone get colder when the sun shines less on them. They “feel” different, even to our touch.

Plant growth is halted by the oncoming season - the leaves turn read - only the rock face stays constant (photo by Kyle Russell).

The longest day has passed and daylight is waning. No longer is stone a repository of the Sun’s heat (even during the day). It’s every mammal for itself – reptiles and fish will go dormant – many birds fly South. The leaves fall, and most plants will withdraw energetically into themselves. The stone – which remains (as it always has) – is the enduring foundation of the world. Through all the seasons, though it’s eroding gradually, it remains a constant nonetheless.

From a macro perspective, the world itself is an orbiting rock, a great big stone with a molten core, rotating around an even bigger, all-molten fireball of elements. Yet our planet is blue from afar, holding water on its surface. The water is shared in a give and take with the atmosphere. Life is safe (or in any case IS) here. As far as we know (scientifically), this is the only spot in the cosmos capable of hosting Life. That would make this great big rock we live on (and all its component pieces) a kind of significant phenomenon, well worthy of note.

Earth from Space (c/o Google Images).

I heard an interview on NPR with the author (Leslie Marmon) of  “The Turquoise Ledge,” and she mentioned the possibility that extraterrestrial life might have evolved differently elsewhere, choosing to lodge itself in mineral form instead of organically (to thus be more hearty over time and distances), but we wouldn’t think to look there (in stones) for signs of intelligence). Yet don’t we keep time with the steady vibration of quartz? And aren’t all computer components made up of earthly extracts?

Truly, the chance of there being extraterrestrial life is much higher than the likelihood of there NOT being extraterrestrial life (given the number of suns, planets, and galaxies out there). But the power of stones does not rely on the possibility of there being extraterrestrial, or perhaps even terrestrial intelligence lodged inside them. Nor does it rely on the perception of G*d (however defined) – or any holy books – to ascribe value or meaning to it. We hold THESE truths to be self-evident.

Goddess in Stone at Kripalu Institute (photo by Kyle Russell).

If G*d created us in “his,” “her,” or “it’s image,” then surely stone has got to be a primary key to that reflection.

The mere fact of the earth’s rocky crust being the foundation of everything we see and know, even as we gaze out towards the heavens, is intrinsically meaningful (and I would argue: valuable + spiritually salient).

The food we eat is organic, to be sure, but chock full of vitamins and minerals, which are technically non-living elements. All that is can be broken down to these elements – excepting spirit, our sense of meaning, G*d – and the energies that move the atoms within and betwixt one another.

Where do we draw the line between the fixed and the moving – the Creator and the created – the animate and the inanimate? Why is a galloping horse alive and the wind is not? That is not really a question for this (semi-)“treatise,” but it’s a valid one nonetheless, and one worth at least posing here (although just in passing).

Let us come back to “civilization” for a moment. Where does oil come from, all plastics, precious metals, gems and jewelry…things that make the world economy go round and round (and surround our artificial lives in nearly every way)? The earth, that’s where they come from.

What is the Lost City of the Inka if not a montage of painstakingly carved and laid stones (photo by Kyle Russell).

And what is the hardest, most solid, most eternal concretization of the earth’s image (or identity)? It’s stone.

Coming back again to society, where do we live? Figments of our imagination: architectural concepts are realized with iron beams, poured concrete particulates, hewn cliffs and quarries made habitable. The greatest skyscrapers and cathedrals are made of what?

What is the remaining vestige, for all to see, of the great pyramids, the Maya, even the Temple of Solomon…all are stone, all are rock.

So without getting into any additional spiritual conversation or overlays – discussing the potential personal utility of “power stones” to effect any kind of “change” in our lives – let us end this first communication by resting our case: that rock is worthy of a second look, not to be taken for granted, and certainly not to be trifled with.