How many students are there? Where do you live? Are you having fun? What have you been learning?
These are just a few of the many questions I’ve been asked since arriving in September for the Seminary training. Since most of the answers are easy— there are eight of us in the first-year class, the Holder House dorm, and Yes!—I thought that I would do my best to answer “What have you been learning?” in this article. Please note that this is a very brief summary, as each Main Lesson is five hours of classtime. I would be happy to go into more detail about the classes if anyone wants to email me.
Our first week’s Main Lesson was with our Seminary Director, Rev. Bastiaan Baan. The class was Finding Our Own Sources, and we talked about prayer and meditation. Besides talking about the basics, i.e., having a designated place
to meditate daily so that our etheric bodies are helped into the rhythm, and choosing one or two verses or prayers rather than having too many, we talked about developing “active receptiveness” and “receptive activity”; references
in the gospels to finding a quiet place within; and how what is gained from meditation and prayer helps us in our daily lives. We also talked about how meditation is the only completely free activity in our lifetime, how consistency is important (one stitch every day in a year makes a sleeve) and how meditating at night gives direction before other forces take over the ship, and in the morning because the morning hour has gold in its mouth.
Our next Main Lesson was Places of Ancient Initiation with Rev. Julia Polter, a priest and Seminary advisor from Boston. It was a fantastic Open Course week, with fifteen visitors as well as Rev. Liza Marcato (also a Seminary advisor) from Hillsdale, NY, joining our daily classes and our classes in the evenings. Julia and Bastiaan explained how for thousands of years, in different places, initiates from the mystery schools sought connection to the “Source,” the spiritual world, by undergoing initiations, and we saw slides from some of these locations. One of the guest participants is writing an article about this Open Course, so I won’t try to summarize it; however, my personal reflection in this class was a question about initiations in our modern life.
In the midst of the beauty and peace that we find in the natural world and when we are connected to our Source, the modern world is filled with challenges of “dragon-like” behaviors that cause chaos. It seems like an initiation for each of us to come to see the “dragon-like” behaviors for what they are, and instead of judging and labeling them (also “dragon-like” behaviors!), asking ourselves, “How do I connect to the spiritual world and bring love and understanding to what feels like chaos?” As Georg Kühlewind asks in his book Becoming Aware of the Logos: Is not this darkness there, perhaps, in order to make love necessary, to call it forth—so to speak—out of ourselves? In order that love might bridge non-understanding and thereby become?
Our next Main Lesson was on The Act of Consecration of Man. Bastiaan brought us into this class by asking each of us to talk about our experiences in the service, and then he explained the four parts of the service that are the next “evolution” of the four parts of the old initiations: Gospel Reading—“Coming into contact with death”; Offertory—“Passing through the elemental world”; Transubstantiation—“Seeing the sun at midnight”; and Communion—“Meeting with the upper and lower Gods.” He also explained that this ritual is not invented; it is a reflection of what is happening in the spiritual world. By bringing ourselves to this sacrament, we unite with our communities and with the spiritual world to support Christ in penetrating into humanity and into the physical material of the earth and transforming it into love.
In our Philosophy of Freedom course the following week (the first half of the book), with Rev. Jim Hindes from Denver, we had a thinking workout. Out of all of the recaps, this is the one I’m most unsure about writing, but I’ll try. To summarize the book so far: 1) We “train our thinking and our observing” by thinking and observing our own thinking and observing; 2) how we see things depends on the inner state of our souls; 3) by thinking, we unite with humanity and with the spiritual world; and 4) by thinking, we become free, and we have more options in life. (Jim is coming back to do the second half of the book, so I’ll see then if I’m on track with this summary.)
Then we studied The Christian Community Creed with Rev. Patrick Kennedy from Washington, DC. Wow. We went through the Creed line by line and talked about how it differs from the Nicene Creed (written in 325 AD); how it creates community and aligns us; how it also came out of the mystery schools; and how it takes us through time with the Trinity and then ends with a call to action for human beings today.
One section of the Creed that fits with the “life challenges” theme of this article is: He will in time unite for the advancement of the world with those whom, through their bearing, he can wrest from the death of matter. Through Him can the Healing Spirit work. Even though this verse is referring to souls who have already died, it’s also important to remember in our daily lives. When we are in the midst of a personal life challenge, we often experience a temporary loneliness, separation, confusion, or closing in. The Creed reminds us that during those times, Christ will help to “wrest” us from these feelings. If we approach Him and pray for those who are suffering, through Him the Healing Spirit can work.
It has been an amazing few weeks so far. Thank you for holding us in your thoughts and prayers. I hope you can join us for an Open Course soon!
by Linda Michaels
Picture: Class with Daniel Hafner