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Contemplative Society Features Inter-spirituality Speaker

Vancouver Island September Event with Mirabai Starr, September 26-27
Volume 31, Issue 7,8 & 9, September 21, 2017
By

Liz Vickers, Victoria

Inter-spiritual author and teacher, Mirabai Starr, best known for her accessible and evocative translations of the Christian mystics as well as her worldwide contemplative retreats.

How about this? Melt. Soften in the fire of divine love and become nothing but light. And then offer that cup of emptiness to an overly full world. Renew your vow again and again: be a hollow reed through which the Song of the Divine may blow.
And then go to work. Where hatred has ravaged the land, plant seeds of love. When doubt cripples your loved ones, mend them with your own quiet faith. Do not punish anger, but meet injury with forgiveness. Take despair into your arms and cover it with a mantle of hope. When your heart is heavy, do not look for consolation: console others.
– From Saint Francis of Assisi: Brother of Creation by Mirabai Starr
 
     I first “met” Mirabai Starr when I took the 2014 e-course, “In the Footsteps of Teresa of Avila”, with her. The text for the course was The Interior Castle: St. Teresa of Avila, translated by Mirabai. Weekly, over seven months, our group met online and was taught by Mirabai for one hour. Gradually I came to know St. Teresa, and to love her warmth and approachability as she guided us through the stages of spiritual development. 
     I also came to know and appreciate Mirabai’s warmth and approachability. After the teaching, which always began with a meditation from a different faith tradition, we had the opportunity to phone in and speak with Mirabai. One week I plucked up enough courage, phoned in and introduced myself, and I said “I want what you have”. She laughed, and said she wanted what I had!
     I’m not sure what I have that she wanted, but I know that I wanted, and still want, the openness and depth of devotion that Mirabai embodies. Mirabai has a warmth that envelopes those she is speaking to. She is an amazing listener and has the gift of helping people to open up. She lives a devotional life, meeting The Holy One from all the different traditions in all ways and always. Of her latest book, Caravan of No Despair: A Memoir of Loss and Transformation, Cynthia Bourgeault said, “What a beautiful, heart-rending, white-knuckle, courageous and shamelessly transparent piece of work – a tribute to a fierce lioness of motherlove! I can see where Mirabai’s beautiful spiritual gifts emerge from”.
     Mirabai is also the embodiment of inter-spirituality. She is of Jewish heritage, has a Buddhist meditation practice, and she has a Hindu guru, Neem Karoli Baba, who is also guru to her close and long-time friend and spiritual teacher Ram Dass. 
     As it says on her website, www.mirabaistarr.com, “Mirabai builds bridges not only between religious traditions, but also between contemplative life and compassionate service, between cultivating an inner relationship with the Beloved and expressing that intimacy in community, between the transformational power of loss and longing for the sacred”. 
     This September, Mirabai brings her wisdom and warmth to Vancouver Island. On Tuesday September 26th, she will give a public talk in Victoria, (by donation) called The Feminine Face of the Divine, A Journey Across the Spiritual Traditions. This will be followed by a four-day retreat, One Heart:  Weaving a Tapestry of Inter-spiritual Community, starting September 27th at Lake Cowichan. For more information and to register for the retreat, please visit www.contemplative.org.
     I am so looking forward to learning from Mirabai in person. I still don’t know what I have that Mirabai could want, but I can find out by spending time with her in a group with teaching, meditation, embodiment practices, and silence with free time to spend on the banks of Cowichan Lake in September.