Greetings from Stephanie Dowrick

images-13

Dear Universal Heart Network friends

We have our very first service of the year this Sunday 21 February, and if you are able to be in Sydney, it would be wonderful to welcome you: Pitt Street (264) Uniting Church, Sydney. (Nearest cross street is Park. One block from Town Hall.) Starting promptly at 3pm – so please come a little earlier if you can. (Kim Cunio is singing.) I feel increasingly we need community, not least to affirm values of kindness and inclusion that are sometimes difficult to locate in the wider world. What’s more, those communities need us! It is truly a case of giving and receiving being one.

We are moving towards quieter, more contemplative services – again, because this seems called for and much needed. Our “actions” need to arise from a steady trusting place, and for that to happen we need to know that place and “be there” faithfully. Wherever you are, and whether or not you can be with us tomorrow in body as well as spirit, this quotation from Quaker writer Thomas R. Kelly supports this (and us):

“We Western peoples are apt to think our greatest problems are external, environmental. We are not skilled in the inner life where the real roots of our problems lie. We are trying to be several selves at once, without all our selves being organised by a single, mastering Life within us… Life was meant to be lived from a Centre, a divine Centre. Each one of us can live such a life of amazing power and peace and serenity, of integration and confidence, on one condition – that is, if we really want to. There is a divine Abyss within us all, a holy, infinite Centre, a Heart, a Life who speaks in us and through us to the world.”

That quote is from his small book, A Testament of Devotion, which has been a true friend to me for decades now. In fact, many of you will know this quotation from my own work. It very much guided me in the writing of Seeking the Sacred. And just this morning I heard from a friend of a very untimely death, and as we sat together thinking about this, and about some of the immense suffering children are experiencing in our world, it felt as though a dark cloud had descended, yet we were also able to affirm for one another that we could and will hold those situations in the light of divine love, even divine unknowing. To be frank, I don’t think “everything happens for a reason” – at least, not for the kinds of reasons we can readily fathom. If that were the case, the injustices would defeat us. Perhaps like you, I affirm that we must seek to bring meaning to life as a whole experience. And I lean more towards the inevitability that some conduct in our world will be immensely harmful until enough of us care – and care enough. That makes it even more vital that we play our part quietly and faithfully in healing ourselves and influencing our small areas of life with as much hope and compassion as we can muster. This is exponential: as more and more of us play our part  in this healing – in the Jewish faith this is called Tikkun Olam – so that healing gathers and grows. We who have opportunities to reflect, pray, trust and rise up again at least somewhat from our sorrows, are enormously fortunate. And when there are times when we or others lack that, we can lean and learn together. We are all part of one extraordinary human family. Everyone “belongs”. Our greatest problems are not external; that’s simply where we see them most vividly. Our greatest gifts, as we know, are inward. As we claim those, and live them, the world outside ourselves will also heal and change.

Let me know at the service if you are a member of this Network! I always love to hear that. A reminder, too, of more frequent messages via my public FaceBook page. Also to book for the October Retreat at Mana – months away but because I won’t be there for Easter this year – sadly, sadly! – the October peace retreat is filling very fast.

To all, blessings of the heart. You are in my prayers. Greetings of kindness, Stephanie

12063457_839924632795584_6443747476983438521_n