For example by reviving an old and lost resurrection and Christ figure in the middle of the Cathedral and add bells and dance to the Liturgy.

Another way is to go WORDLESS in the “sermon”, in the tradition that upholds an idea of the Reformation giving reading skills and Bibles in native tongue to all – when all but that is the historically more accurate story.

A fifth way is to choose – in the middle of a culture that has become so fixated at explaining everything and thinking that science solves our problems – to do part one of my Doctoral Thesis as an performative piece of Art that leaves people puzzled and maybe a bit amazed.

A sixth path is to make the performative Prayer such, that all human forms of struggles around being an out-cast – mental, emotional, physical disabilities, questions of gender and extra chromosomes – are brought into the heArt of Christ-the-unicorn and declared in the words of the psalmist:

The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone;

this was the Lord’s doing, and it is amazing in our eyes?

THANK YOU! Ingrid Weckström for this wonderful way we got to co-operate around our final exams 😉

As this weekend has been one were we celebrate All Saint’s in Finland my thoughts have frequently gone to the Saints (people) whom have formed me into the person I am today.

As also, one of the articles I’ve seen shared on Facebook this week, is one that speaks about class differences in University context. (If you’ve missed it and know your finish you can find it here.) I’ve become quite aware of the cultures that are part of my roots.

In many ways I have always defined myself as a person who comes from a well-educated background – I grew up with attending Symphony Orchestra concerts on Friday nights, saw art-exhibitions as part of a “normal” weekend program and was for the longest time the youngest member of the Turku association of museum friends, planning to move into the Turku Castle once I grew old. With my grandparents I also attended ice-hockey games on Thursdays but if we ever strayed to ordering hamburgers from Hesburger, we would always come home and serve them from real china and use silverware in the act of consuming…

So I don’t know how highly these things mark on the social and cultural credit map, but I came at least – by my teens – to learn that few others seems to have had this kind of upbringing.

What was eye-opening, with the article mentioned above, though, was that even though all of the above, has strongly formed my values and attitudes in life, I am also 1/4th working class!

Of course I’ve always cognitively been aware of the facts that from my fathers side there were not as many whom had done their “ylioppilastutkinto” (Gymnasium level matriculation examination tests) and that my father himself never went further then an army education. Yet, emotionally and from a spiritual formation point of view, it was only through the examples that Mari shared in the article that I became aware that I’ve actually been formed also by working class ideals.

As an example I will share the morning rituals from these two cultures and how they still affect my practices today.

In the household of my fathers father the day starts early – at or even before sunrise. The aim is to get up as fast as possible, maybe eat a little bit of porridge but then head out into the world, in action. To work, is to do. It is something that happens at the wee hours when other people sleep. Work is most often some kind of physical labour and it contains effort that gives material signs of change. Just like Mari’s father, my grand-father would take care of the maintenance of several houses and their yards  – for me, he was the solemn ruler of Kingdoms with knowledge about secret pathways and keys to hidden places! In a similar way, my father – in his position as a Coast Guard – also symbolised the mystic knower who gave his life in order to serve and save others.

Once one, out of several work sessions of the day was ready, my grandfather would return home with fresh produce from the farmers market. This was actually something shared by both my grandfathers – they were the ones who brought home food and goods. They were also the ones who cleaned dishes. Indirectly in both systems, work (both within and outside of the home) is partly done in order to bring in material suplies that keep us healthy and clean.  In the case of my fathers father, though, this was a practice that had to be supported by several different tasks and efforts spread in many different places (spaces within a city).

Once we get to late afternoon coffee or early evening news, then one is allowed to stop – for a while. And my Fathers father would come home with a fresh number of ILTAlehti. This, was the reading practice of the day, and it was partly seen as leisure. Of course there were also “news” to be read, but the most important points of knowledge had already been gained in conversation at the market-place, earlier in the morning.

After dinner and evening news on telly, the day already turned into sleep. For the historic accuracy it has to be mentioned though, that my fathers father was married to a professional journalist, so these patterns were also interrupted by elements that are not part of the working-class pattern. Still it is also true, that actually my fathers mother was such a bohemian that she often got up only after one o’clock or closer to his afternoon coffee, so my experience of evenings at their place also contained many elements of more middle-class culture or even “aristocratic” patterns.

Contrasting this with my maternal grandfathers, truly high-lights the cultural patterns of whom I have become. At my grand-mothers I would wake up to a kitchen filled with reading. As soon as I stepped out of my bedroom I would enter the kitchen, where a open fireplace was cracking and breakfast table filled with delis was awaiting my arrival. After one had stilled the initial belly hunger, one would preside to the equally important intellectual hungers: My grand-father with Turun Sanomat and my grand-mother (even though she was fully and only finish-speaking) with the morning issue of Åbo Underrättelser. In both cases these papers were subscribed to and brought into the household by the morning postman, so that nobody had to dress up and leave the household in order to gain this key element of the day. On top of these two, there were also magazines, like Suomen Kuvalehti or Kotiliesi, that would arrive on weekly basis and be part of the morning conversations. Because, this exercise in reading, was no leisure time – this was a practice of social and cultural construction! The discussions would range from correcting errors in the language of the journalists, participating in the decisions about the usage of  tax-payers money and political discussions, either through just sharing thoughts about these with each other, or then writing opinion-posts to the editors. The conversation could also be a mere practice in formulating opinions and making descriptions around the latest books, theatre plays or musical concerts, in order to be able, in other circles, to make conversation about important topics in the world.

Even though, the reading was seen as some form of societal work, I was also allowed to read fairy-tale books or novels – as the education of my imagination and cultural literacy was just as important “work” for me, as a child. I presume that the unwritten line, might have been crossed if Aku Ankka was brought into the room, as cartoons surely were “mere entertainment”. Maybe in the weekends, that would have been fine as well – especially for me, as a finish-language practice.  Otherwise, even in my father’s home, cartoons were kept for bathroom breaks 😉

This morning ritual, that included some conversation – even heated such – was mostly kept in silence and would last, a minimum of an hour, sometimes even two. There was always a second serving of coffee and no rush to get anywhere. In many way’s it feels like the “productive” part of a day, couldn’t start anyways before mid-day. I presume that when my maternal grand-father still had a full time job, he must have left for the office earlier, but I don’t remember my grand-mother going to her part-time work and other charity meetings, ever before noon. Even my own mother – during her whole work-life – only entered her office at 10!

Partly, of course the later staring time, did reflect into a longer evening. Yet, on the other hand, as nobody needed to go to several places in order to preform their work-task – instead the work “came to them”, this was not entirely true. The work coming to them, would be either in the form of clients that arrived at their office or the fact that work, were papers or books waiting for them in the office space. Work did involve a lot of sitting and it did make people tired sometimes, but mostly it was still something enjoyable, not a weary task that had to be performed.

There is a wonderful story in my baby book, where I tell my aunt, at the age of three:

Kindergarden is nice, but then I will go to “real work” so that I can get money, food and a sailing boat. I will not have time to go to school, instead I will get my own office and sit in my mothers chair. Mom can go to school instead of me!

But a bit later I did change my mind slightly, as I came to understand that I need school in order to learn to draw Cats and speak english!

The last comment is especially funny, as I did understand english already before school started – it was only the practice of speaking it, that morning Cartoon channels couldn’t give me.

Finally also the skill of drawing cats seemed to have been gained as most of my I art works from childhood contain many of them and even among my first literary works there are books about and for my cat Knutte.

In oh, so many ways, I am truly grateful for all of these rich structures that continue to support me in choosing to create the kind of life I see worth living!

Last week me and my colleagues had a Kick-off meeting of the Autumn. There my “boss” and the professor of Systematic Theology asked us, that are on the “last run” of our PhD thesis work; how would we describe our own growth during the last four years?

Partly this kind of questions are quite complicated and not that easily answered. I blurted out something about the fact that once I listen to younger students talking with each other I notice what they seem to think are good and convincing arguments or how they think a good argument is constructed, I can notice that for me, this used to be the case, but today I value differently. Yet, it isn’t easy to evaluate once thinking capacity…

What I did notice though – once the question had been aloud to simmer for some days – is that I’ve grown hugely, in my attitudes to my work.

First of all, I’m OK to call it work. I used to have an obsession about wanting to PLAY all the time 😉 Now, my work IS full of PLAY, yet it is also a lot of effort – work – energy investment. AND actually I LIKE the fact that I am investing!

Secondly, I have no need anymore to break the boxes.

Partly, due to the fact that the academic box turned out to be MUCH much bigger then I initially thought it would be. This box isn’t restricting me – I don’t need to break free. Except for my Nia practice, there has never been any workplace or task, that I’ve ever taken to do, where I wouldn’t have felt that I first need to break the box in order to fit in. In the House of my Father, there is PLENTY of room!

Partly, due to the fact, that I’ve come to see that if you want to learn something, you can’t start with breaking it. For me, this is HUGE – That I actually want to learn, the skill, the handicrafts and the art of being an academic. I want to know how it is done. I’ve come to see that the tasks of an academic are such, that I really want to know how they work, learn how I can work them and most of all, I appreciate them so highly that I am willing to invest and willing to put time and energy – effort – into practicing.

Finally, this is the biggest thing. THANKS to my years of hanging out with different kinds of Spiritual Discipline practices I actually know that effort and practice is needed, if one wants to master something. There is no thing in the world that just comes naturally or totally effortlessly and at the same time, has the complexity and beauty of a diamond. Jewel are made under pressure!

One of the biggest learning curves was just a couple of years back, when I noticed that just because I am one of those that work well under the pressure of deadlines or prefer to keep options free and open or to leave certain things to the last minute, this doesn’t mean, that these actual habits do not create stress. Stress might be labelled positive and negative, yet, to my belly, the PH still becomes sour. Once my blood is off from neutral, that effects everything. So, my first task was to create systems that enable me to stay relaxed – ALL the time! Actually, it turned out that it IS possible to ANTICIPATE things and thus surf the waves of life instead of drown under each unexpected new circumstance.

Anticipation required, in the beginning, a LOT of effort from me – I had to learn the limits of my powers. Some things I can have a say in and others I can’t – so no need to waste energy on those that are out of my reach.

Anticipation also works best, when there is a structure. Once I started creating structures I also came to notice that many of the things I imagined I wanted or was able to do, during a day or week, just aren’t possible. Structure pushed prioritising, which actually, counter-intuitively, gives me MORE Freedom – as limited options made me able to make choices instead of being the “slave under circumstances”.

Further, it has turned out that saying NO to things, creating structures and putting effort into staying with mundane tasks or things I do not “feel” like doing, liberates space for FLOW. If everything is easy and simple, all the time, FLOW actually does NOT arrive to help me out. PLAY requires that I am on the border of my abilities, yet relaxed and capable.

FLOW is like Grace – I cannot create it on my own, nor can I demand it to arrive.

It is a Gift.

Every day is different and I myself develop and grow constantly, so there is no miracle pattern I can apply for FLOW or a state of PLAY to be with me every moment. YET, what I have learnt is that there truly are actual PRACTICES that, once I put my effort into them, they then, will draw or push me, into the sphere of FLOW. This is how I experience the co-operation of me and the Holy Spirit, with the help of Spiritual Disciplines.

Practicing my practices – Minding my business – and STICKING with it – is how I’ve grown most, during the last four years.

So, yesterday I promised to get back to this question of Dance or other practices that I have found in my research that people tell have helped them in becoming more aware or grow their consciousness.

The word from Richard Rohr that sparked this conversation off was:

Whenever we do anything stupid, cruel, evil, or destructive to ourselves or others, we are at that moment unconscious–unconscious of our identity. If we were fully conscious, we would never be violent, even in our thoughts, toward anyone. Loving people are always highly conscious people. To rely on any substance or habit is to become unconscious.

To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way–even our mistakes. To love is to fall into full consciousness, which is contemplative, non-dualistic, and includes everything–even “the last enemy to be destroyed, which is death itself” (see 1 Corinthians 15:26). That is why we must, absolutely must love. Only love is stronger than death.

So, first to head of with techniques or methods – more easily stated, practices that we can do – from which we might become more conscious about ourselves and also others and the world.

I gave the example of Ignatian evening “examination” which is a contemplative practice where we sit in silence and with the help of God take “account” over the Day that was. Basically it is a question of making me ask where I notice that I was within the Love of God and where I felt or experienced that I deviated out to my own path, away from God’s love. The examination is a kind of “tracking” of thoughts, feelings and actions along the day. The exercise includes both a part where we receive forgiveness and a loving possibility to re-connect out Desire to the Source of Life himself.

In Nia dance language we call this process Witnessing – a non-judgemental eye that just sees and reports back to me the “objective” facts of what’s going on. Then I can choose to do with them whatever I want to. One good alternative would definitely be to LOVE as that is the only frequency that had the capacity to Heal and make changes possible.

These two practices I have followed and found very helpful – if I am more loving and conscious as a result of the practice – only my friends and relatives can describe! and ultimately, for me, only God will truly knows when a practice brings love and when it has turned into a habit that actually make me unconscious instead.

Yet, there is one more thing I want to share!

The question that comes to mind is, is there a difference between this Ignatian practice and a more specifically “bodily” practice – one where the witnessing concerns physical sensations instead of thought, actions or emotions?

From my Nia dance practice, the answer would be YES!

To learn to listen to our bodily sensation and follow the voice of the body is to listen to a Voice that speaks Truth, in the present moment. The body never lies, it just is. Uncomfortable and dying, it may be, and also joyous and filled with pleasure, yet it always tells it like it is, here and now. The body cannot be in the future nor dwell in the past, it is exactly where it is and this is a rare power. While our emotion or our thought can be clearly affected with lies and dis-stortrions – they can come up with stuff that isn’t there – or plunge into memories and future possibilities to the extent that we can’t even make sense of what is what. This is what we mean in Nia about the Body being incapable of lies. The question is, if we are capable of receiving such messages!

and maybe there is also a question to be asked about, if this way of speaking about the body is only here and now, or if Mechtild would agree?

 

Tomorrow I will also share what I think Mechtild of Magdenbourg (the other research focus person of mine) would have to say about consciousness…

Inspired by my Dearest Friend Minna and her newly started Podcast I was reminded that I also, have a place where I share my insights and gifts of thought that come to me 🙂

I woke up early as I am in a writing phase of my research right now. During my years as a PhD students I’ve learnt to not take stress when the usually night-owl of me, is ready to meet the day with eyes-wide-open already at five or six in the morning. This isn’t a problem, it just means that there’s lot’s of creative energy in the air. Or like Clarissa Pinkola Estes put’s it: the angels or spirits of creativity are calling and I can choose to answer their call. Yet, they are also so generous that if I get tired and feel incapable of receiving more of their gifts, then I can tell them I need a break and they will come back later. There is no need to fear being abandoned nor is there a pressure to push into anything that isn’t ready to be birthed quite yet.

This morning I first dove into visioning the clothes I will make in the weekend, once the article that is now being written will be ready. The theme of this summer, up till September is the early medieval period and getting to know two mystics from that period: Mechtild of Magdenburg (c. 1207 – c. 1282/1294) and Richard St. Victor (died 1173). Hopefully I will get a grant to go and visit the abbeys and churches they were active at in Germany and France. Yet, I will start with just sensing life, as close as I can get, with all the ingredients that I can imagine they had during their sojourn on this planet.

The second source of my research, one that I will attempt to bring into dialogue with my Medieval mystics, are notes from the ethnographic fieldwork I have done at two dance courses. This morning, with the help of Richard Rohr this dialogue was initiated. He wrote:

“Whenever we do anything stupid, cruel, evil, or destructive to ourselves or others, we are at that moment unconscious–unconscious of our identity. If we were fully conscious, we would never be violent, even in our thoughts, toward anyone. Loving people are always highly conscious people. To rely on any substance or habit is to become unconscious.

To be fully conscious would be to love everything on some level and in some way–even our mistakes.“

When I read this my first thought is, that my Nia practice is full of habits or techniques that aim to make me more conscious. I also experience that I have become more conscious during my 13 years of dancing Nia. So, is Richard off or have I missed something?

In my research I’ve also encountered numerous testimonies stating that the fact that they have been dancing, has made them more conscious and more present. Also in spiritual path’s like that of Ignatian spirituality there is much emphasis on taking personal inventory in order to grow consciousness. So, I think that what Richard is wanting to say, is that there truly are practices that we can do, habits that we can start to foster in ourselves, that are going to make us more aware. Dance can definitely be a method for growing awareness. Yet, there will also come that one day, when the habit has served it’s purpose and if I choose to cling onto that habit, my consciousness will actually diminish.

So, now my question of the day to you, is, what kind of practices to foster awareness will You want to have in your everyday life?

(tomorrow I’ll get into the dialogue between that of consciousness and what I think Mechtild would have to say about dance habits)

Yesterday the group that has been gathering since last autumn to protest against the government cut-downs in Education, Well-fare and University fundings amongst other things organised a Symposium.

Finally an invitation to not just protest AGAINST things but a possibility to Imagine what would be worth fighting FOR! and the exciting things was that I was asked amongst many others to share my Vision.

Later in the evening I got a request about being able to read my 5 minute speech – as I hadn’t written anything down I thought I’ll do a summary here (including also some things I didn’t have time to go into).

It’s always easier to be against things. We have much more at stake if we start to focus on what we could be for – what would be worth to really lay our energies on. Contrary to many other speakers today, I will actually use ALL of my 5 minutes to not say what is wrong but only speak about what I dream about. Even though my vision for the University may, from the point of view from some sound as very idealistic, it is actually built out of real-life experiences I have had during my time at University.

I would even say it is out-right Dangerous once we get together under some kind of Vision.

When it comes to visions, or finding INSPIRATION the only place I can go to is God and thus these two points that I will share with you today are both about God.

  1. The first thing I come to think about when I think about God is RELATIONSHIP. Relations and relationships are also central to me when it comes to University life. The thing that happens when professors or lecturers aren’t only that, but become people who listen to and give attention to my questions, my concerns and my dreams as a student. For example in the States – were I was an exchange student – we had a professor or actually two! who invited all their students into their HOME for the weekly meetings where we would sit and discuss books we had read or articles we were writing. We ate his cookies and drank tea from his cupboard, we didn’t need external finances or funds to do this. The professors there also took on their students in mentoring relationships.  Sitting weekly in coffee shops with us, asking questions that are Bigger then Life and taking time to be present when we wonder why we are here, what life is about and how we can reach for our dreams – together.

 

  1. The second second point is a more biblical theme. If we read in the Old Testament what purpose God had with humans on planet earth, we see that he has given us a three-fold mission. We are to be Priests, Kings/Queens and Profets. This would require quite a lot of unpacking, but I will give a short run-through:

To be created as:

PRIEST means that we have been put upon the Earth to reflect goodness into the world. We have also been made to see all the brokenness and sorrow that is in the world – gather it in and give it up, in order for it to be transformed. This reflecting of beauty, goodness and creativity is also something we can do at universities – partly as I already mentioned through seeing our students, co-workers and employees as equals who have needs and sorrows and gladness that we can take in and share with them. BE with colleagues and fellow students both emotionally, mentally and physically.  In another way this is done by us choosing to take something like for example what Patrik mentioned as a frustration over application-writing-processes and make it into something meaning-full. As an example I heard last week from a colleague of mine that Kristna Fredsrörelsen had had their annual board meeting just some weeks ago and instead of boring protocols and talking about yearly reports they had gathered each task that was to be done, into a workshop were people together came to realise the task at hand though poetry, music, dramas or other kinds of art work. In a similar way, there actually are extra fundings given right now at ÅA for writing research-proposals to Suomen Akatemia – so why not use this time and money as an opportunity to really take time to get together with the colleagues, invite other disciplines and be creative about what would be fun, interesting and meaningful to make together?  

KINGS or QUEENS – what is ment with this is that independently of our place or position in society, each and every one of us have a sphere of influence – some kind of power over things (resources) where we can choose to make a difference. It might not be money, but it can be your time, or your thoughts or your emotions. Wherever you are, there is some action you can take. For some we can actually take part in creating structures that – as was mentioned – open up the way for women, un-privileged or unheard voices to step forward. For others we can just choose to put our time and energy at certain tasks and ignore others. As mentors we can teach and help students to form routines and approach their time and studies in a way that they grow as humans, find structures that support what they really want to do and prevent them from going into tasks and systems they don’t want to be part of. Once again an example from my studies at another university; there the professors chose to always invite Guest-lecturers and visiting professors to at least have dinner in their home, but most often they didn’t accomodate anybody in hotels, instead people where invited to stay as Guests within the professors own home. On top of course saving a lot’s of resources to be used into other things and enabling more guests to visit as the cost of one visiting lecturer wasn’t that high – this make the lecturers feel so blessed that they wanted to re-visit, every single year and come, sometimes even on their own cost!

PROPHETS this means to be a voice that stands up against injustice, a voice that stands for the weak and unbenefitted. To not just go into the squares and market-places and raise our voices against criminal behaviour where-ever it is seen, or to rase questions about oppression and cruelty in the world, but also, like the prophets of the Old Testament – DO things differently! A prophet does not just speak about these things, he/she also takes action, like marrying a prostitute, or tearing sackcloth and throwing askes around. Being a prophet means that actively take part in creating new structures, we design new patterns for life and we help each other sustain alternative paths or make passive resistance towards systems we do not want to uphold. Once again this is about consciously re-distributing our re-sources but it could also be about ignoring certain tasks that are “required” of staff or personell at University or just using them as a way to do other things then what they originally where “designed” to do.

This is my Vision: to Live in Relationship and to Be a priest, queen and prophet where I am and in what I do. 

 

 

   

Sometimes, even the closest of friends can pass unloving comments or say things that really hurt.

Sometimes such things cut wounds that take a long time to heal – even years of soreness.

Sometimes the remark gets transformed and opens up new connections… This is what was bundled up for me, this Easter ❤

Often my most profound insights are such that once I want to tell about them they just seem so ordinary or self-evident, yet it is exactly these things that I myself take for granted, about me or the world, that carry the power to revolutionized relationships, once they are brought into new light.

This time, it was my practice of morning Contemplation. I don’t think there is a single person, who knows me even a little, who hasn’t realized that as a part of my daily rituals there is this space and time after I fall out of bed and befor I enter the buzz of everyday life, that I spend sitting on a mat, mostly in silence.

16 years ago, when this practice was initiated, the length of this period was some two hours and the exact physical streches, movement coreographies and breathing techniques were very firm. Today, it may be only an hour or so and even involves listening to a daily devotional in the company of others. Even the sight of open space or human interaction during this morning bubble, used to be as impossible as mixing oil with water. With wisdom comes change!

Some things have not changed though and that is the importance of this practice. I may not have been able to speak about it and am probably still today not fully capable, as I am yet a beginner. (Many say it takes over 10 000h to master something and I am only at around 5800 now)

This Easter encounter helped me find some new words and those I want to share:

Sitting in the stillness and silence of Contemplation, all of me is made and re-made.

It is here I sit and wait for a vision.

It is here I sort through my thoughts, insights, emotions, feelings, ideas and images of both what was and what is to come.

It is here I find out what true Desire is and sense how it shifts towards it’s Origin.

It is what forces coal into dimonds.

It is here that rumble turns into poetry

It is here that seeds hatch into Aurora Borealis

It is here I wait for an incentive for which step is the first one.

Here I find out which vision is worth pursuit.

It is here I stare into nothingness and let stuff drift away.

It is here I encounter the Life of the Creation.

It is here I am filled with courage to face what comes.

It is here I weep over what isn’t mine or what I cannot do.

It is here that lies are exposed.

It is here I rage over injustice, call out the things that hurt.

It is here I smile at tenderness, here I caress the soft and sweet spots.

It is here I lay down all I cannot understand or think I need to handle.

It is here I marvel at what IS

Rejoice over what is to Come

Give Thanks for all that was

– and on a more dark day reverse this order.

It is here I get the initiatives to how I may approach a Dream, be it mine or one I am a Midwife to.

It is here small parts and each detail is stitched together into patterns that make sense.

It is here the Songs and Stories of Old are sung in whisper, so that I may know which crossroad to choose and find my way in unknown territory.

It is here it becomes safe to not see, nor hear, nor touch, not smell yet dare to taste and KNOW that it is GoOD.

It is here I receive:

compassion when I have none,

truth when I am turning cold or hard,

intimacy when I draw away and detach,

Love when death covers things up

Light when everything is too exposed

Hope when I discover how far down the ground is or how deep the fall might be

Without this time of Contemplation nothing I am, nothing I have done, achieved, experienced or ever Longed for and gained makes sense. None of the Wins would have been, no Joy arrived, no Growth accepted.

None of the stories of my life or lives I have witnessed would carry significance without this time of Asking for Meaning and waiting for it to unfold.

And I would never ever survive all the unfinished business without this place of Rest and the Habitat of BEing with