September - Hornets and Communal Contemplation


Having an appreciation for the beauty of animal architecture, I was excited to learn there was active hornet’s nest at La Vista. When I arrived, I was greeted by this scene: a hornet’s nest hanging from the tree and the area around cordoned off with three signs, KEEP OUT, NO TRESPASSING, and CAUTION! I was chagrined, and I would have preferred a sign saying, “You are welcome to view the nest safely from here.” However, I realize the danger is real. One hornet’s nest may contain hundreds of them, and unlike bees, once they sting, they don’t die; rather, they can sting over and over and over.


As I walked away from the nest and tried to go on with my day, the image wouldn’t leave me, for it spoke loudly to me as a metaphor for our human lives on Earth today. We have stirred up a veritable hornet’s nest and are living with the consequences: the climate crisis, biodiversity annihilation, a never-ending pandemic, and all the implications of each of these hornets. Daily, Earth and the whole Earth community get stung over and over in the wildfires, hurricanes, earthquakes, sea level rise, impoverished ecosystems, virus variants, increasing poverty and violence. If only we had been more cautious years ago when we were warned. If only, if only, if only.


But we weren’t, and here we are. How to live with this anguish? I found guidance for a way forward when I recalled a recent SSND conference Evolving Consciousness: From Separation to Communion. Our speaker, Nancy Sylvester, IHM, reminded us that the practice of communal contemplative prayer offers us a path into the future because contemplation invites us to shift consciousness, our own and the collective consciousness. It creates the possibility of waking up to our unconscious assumptions, biases and worldviews that created our mess and invites us to evolve, making the transition from separation to communion with the Great Mystery and all creation.


You are invited to join hundreds of people from around the country who practice communal contemplation for 20 minutes each morning any time from 6:00 – 7:30 with the intention of seeking, in the words of Ilia Delio, “new relationships of love that include Earth, all peoples, other religions, all planets and all galaxies.” What a specific way to become grounded daily in an ancient spiritual practice as we live in a hornet’s nest that will not pass quickly. I hope you join us. (For guidance on how to do communal contemplation, please visit Nancy Sylvester’s web site, Institute for Communal Contemplation and Dialogue,)

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