Thursday, September 26, 2013

September's Interview: Marian Methner and Her Messy Spirituality

On the third Thursday of each month I will introduce you to someone whom I look up to as a spiritual friend and teacher. The focus of my questions is on their spiritual practices and what nurtures their deepening spirituality.

This month meet Marian Methner whom I met when we were beginning our training as spiritual directors through Oasis Ministries. Along with meeting Marian here, I hope you will read her blog Moving Out Granni. First, here's what Marian wrote about herself:

I am a 70 year-old woman making my own map through the next stages of life with cardiomyopathy (heart failure). This is not a failure of the heart, but comes from following an irregular dance beat, cutting through jungles, and taking the Big Hook in the Sky when It lures me in.
I dreamed once that I was going to a well for water. On the other side of the fence two men stood. They did not see me. I was invisible. I know myself behind the sun and wind-weathered face when I look in the mirror.

I am a grace-filled mother and what we name mother-in-law to people who came into my life through love. I claim the role of grandmother, sister, auntie and friend as well as gardener, artist, writer, and sometimes spiritual director.

You describe your spirituality as "messy." What do you mean by that? 
I am a process person and contrary to our beliefs, process does not flow from a to b. It is messy. Play is messy. Spirituality is messy when it is uninhabited by limits or rules. Here the Mystery truly enters in.

My life is a collection of bits and starts; therefore, my spiritual practices include bits and starts. I don't attend a church. I no longer believe many of the Christian stories that were a part of my young life. I delve into Buddhist and Zen practices and am intrigued by many Jewish teachings. I delve more deeply into women's stories of the Divine--the Mother/Goddess stories. I have been paving/playing/praying my own paths into the Mystery for at least 40 years. 

What do you identify as an ongoing spiritual practice?
Before I sleep and when I wake up, I give thanks.

In the morning I make coffee, and I take a cup to the back deck where I breathe in and out, noticing the apples on their trees or the rose bush that has grown too big to flower. This morning I noticed a newly blooming, very small sunflower and smiled back at her.

That tiny sunflower became my sanctuary for a few holy minutes. While I was busy preparing food and space for an overnight visit from friends, the day became a Sabbath; a slowed down honoring the holiness time. 

Along with moving through your day with awareness of the holy moments, what else contributes to the creation of Sabbath time in your life?
The practice of lectio divina, which is reading scripture
 and then spending time in prayer and contemplation with that reading. For example, this morning, a Saturday, I read from Soil and Sacrament, A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith by Fred Bahnson, and I spent time contemplating the following:
        As we entered the driveway...a sign read: 'It's time to
        slow down.' Judaism is a religion of time aiming at the
        sanctification of time....(it) teaches a person to be 'attached
        to the holiness in time, to be attached to sacred events, to
        learn how to consecrate sanctuaries that emerge from the
        magnificent stream of a year. The Sabbaths are our
        great cathedrals. 

Thus, sunflowers become holy, and cooking for friends days become Sabbaths. What else do you want to say about your spiritual practices?
My practices resemble what Bahnson says about a Jewish community he describes in his book. "We are a nonrabbinic community...When a rabbi is present, people don't step up as much. We're a community about empowerment, whether teaching people to grow their food or say their own blessings."

How do you empower others in their growth as spiritual beings? 
In my blog Moving Out Granni, I try to give voice to where I'm balancing on my growing edge. With my grandchildren, I try to channel my mother's loving self, not her or my own judgmental, cranky, sharp edge. Mother did caution "without a sense of humor we are lost." 

Not only do we need to step up and be vulnerable, we need to lighten up!

Who have been some significant spiritual teachers in your life?

One of my teachers is Matthew Fox. Fox teachers Meister Eckhart's Creation Spirituality whose essence is that God is our Creator, and we are made in This image; therefore, we are all meant to be creators. We each need to step up!

Another teacher is Angeles Arrien. She teaches that we must take off our masks; unzip our armor. 

What's in your current reading pile?
Soil and Sacrament, A Spiritual Memoir of Food and Faith by Fed Bahnson
How the Light Gets In, Writing as Spiritual Practice by Pat Schneider
Wanderlust, A History of Walking by Rebecca Solnit
The Golem and the Jinni, a novel by Helene Wecker

What other reading material do you want to recommend?
Original Blessing by Matthew Fox
Orion Magazine, a bimonthly, advertising-free magazine devoted to creating a stronger bond between people and nature. 

What other words of wisdom do you want to share? 
We are attendants at the wake of the old way, and each of us--through our actions, our thoughts, our work and relationships--is midwifing a new world into existence. This is our destiny, our meaning, our purpose, and when we come to our days with this awareness, when we sense the oak in the acorn of our beings, then we will have the energy to move mountains and shift the tides.
                                             Jan Phillips, No Ordinary Time:
                                             The Rise of Spiritual Intelligence and 
                                             Evolutionary Creativity

Thank you, Marian, so much for sharing a glimpse into your spiritual life; a spirituality that encompasses your entire life. You are a blessing in my life. 

An Invitation
What questions do you have for Marian? What contemplative reading have you been doing and how has it mattered in the way you live your life? 


  1. How do I handle the disappoint and withdraw of community I feel from other people--Buddhists, Catholics, etc.--when I only partially commit to a process or ideology and just continue along on MY messy path? Has this happened to you, and what do you say or do?

    1. I finally figured out how to reply to the blog and to this specific post. Yes, I've experienced withdrawal from community - but I'm an introvert. A teacher once replied when others wouldn't believe that, "She's a noisy introvert, she knows the Mystery and shows it.' I have 2 suggestions, since you asked - Skip joyfully along your path, kicking up leaves, and find a spiritual director. Nancy is a good start. Blessings, Marian

    2. Thanks for responding to the reader, Marian. Great advice--and thanks for your vote of confidence!

  2. Thank you so much for your question and comment. I know Marian will respond, but in the meantime the word that comes to mind is "compassion." Compassion for the response or lack of response of others and compassion for yourself. This morning I was reading a blog I follow, Mapping the Mystery, and in today's post she says, "we are not ever alone; we just may not have met our tribe yet."


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