In July 2018, at the very start of my sabbatical, I had the honor of participating in several temezcales (meso-american sweat lodges), at the invitation of my friend the Rev. Virginia Marie Rincon, as part of an annual summer "curanderismo" course offered by the University of New Mexico which offers students an opportunity to explore traditional healing of Mexico and the Southwest.
In the temezcal we sang this song:
Agua vital, purificame
Fuego de amor, quema mi temor
Viento del alma, llevame al altar
Madre Tierra, vuelvo a mi hogar
en el temezcal
[Living water, purify me
fire of love, consume my fear
wind of the spirit, carry me to the altar
mother earth, I return to my home
in the temezcal]
As a priest in the "Episcopal Branch of the Jesus Movement", I find an easy resonance with this song. I believe that not only all humankind, but all of creation is created and called to share in God's work of healing, God's work of creation and re-creation.
Scripture and liturgy alike abound with references to the elements of water, fire, wind, and earth.
I can't help but think of the waters of baptism, the purifying fire and rushing wind of the Holy Spirit, the earth from which we are formed and to which we return, remember you are dust and to dust you shall return.
As I continued to pray this song in the days following the temezcal, a 3 part series of movements and images came to mind.
With the first repetition of the song, I imagine myself as a seed, buried deep in the earth. I imagine rainwater drenching the earth, fire sweeping across the ground above me, consuming dry grasses and trees, wind rushing over the landscape, sweeping it clean. All the while, I remain buried: waiting, gestating, in the dark depths of Mother Earth, God's Womb or God's Heart.
With the second repetition of the song, I rise up to my knees, imagining that I am the seed sprouting up from the earth. A seedling, a "green blade rising", a tender shoot I remain rooted in the earth, but begin to stretch up towards the sky. I feel myself bathed in gentle raindrops and fiery sunbeams. I bloom and flower, and release seeds which are carried on the wind up into the sky, then back down into the earth.
With the third repetition of the song, I rise to standing. I imagine that I am standing in a pool under a waterfall. The cleansing waters of baptism wash over me. A fire rises from the earth, consuming and transforming fear (and all that is not of God) from within my body, belly, heart, mind. The rushing wind of the Spirit blows the ash of the fear and falsehood (aka Ego) that has been consumed to the four corners, and carries the golden seed of my True Self--the tiny, beloved Child of God, created in the image and likeness of God--up to the heavens, to the Altar of God, then back down to be planted in the earth, the Womb of God where I receive nourishment for growth once more.
In the videos below (recorded amidst the monastery ruins at Holy Island/Lindisfarne during my recent preaching group retreat) I demonstrate this movement meditation.
I invite you to explore praying with this song, these images, these movements, these elements in the days to come. Through them, may you come to know more deeply God's healing, creating, and re-creating work in your own body, mind, spirit, life, and community.
And I invite you to share what you discover in the comments, below.
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My name is Sylvia Miller-Mutia, and I am a priest in the Episcopal Church. I have recently accepted an exciting call to serve as assisting clergy at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM with a focus on outreach, evangelism, and family ministry. I continue serving as "priest at large" for the larger church and wider world, assisting the people of God in whatever ways I can, and developing new resources for spiritual formation to share. Prior to my current call, I served as Rector (aka Pastor) of St. Thomas of Canterbury Episcopal Church in Albuquerque, NM (2015-2018), Assistant Rector at St. Gregory of Nyssa Episcopal Church in San Francisco, CA (2010-2015) and Pastoral Associate for Youth & Families at St. Stephen's Episcopal Church, Belvedere, CA (2002-2009). I am married to Donnel (grief counselor, couples coach, artist, best dad ever), and we have three awesome kids, ranging in age from 8-14.