EMBODYING CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS
By Gena Davis
SAINT JULIAN PRESS BOOK REVIEW ~ RON STARBUCK
“This is my body” are the opening words you will find in the introduction to YOGA MASS ~ Embodying Christ Consciousness. The words are a reminder and a remembrance of the same ones spoken by Jesus at the Last Supper. – Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” ~ (Luke 22:19 – NRSV)
These are also the words spoken during Eucharist – The Great Thanksgiving. One of the major sacraments celebrated within the Episcopal Church and other Sacramental–Christian traditions. A sacrament is an invocation of and an encounter with the Holy Spirit – God’s Holy Presence. Sacraments are “outward and visible signs of inward and spiritual grace.” YOGA as a prayerful divine practice (praxis) may also be experienced as a sacrament, where someone encounters God’s presence.
HOW do we see the body? How do we imagine it as something holy and whole? How do we participate in an interfaith dialogue that honors our own faith and the faith of others? How do we learn from another faith and from one another too? And how can we share our faith in a – Creative – Healing – Wholesome – Holy – Sacramental Way – that opens up new spaces and possibilities within us and in the communities where we live?
SPACES we may discover within the vast eternal openness across all creation, where God rests and where we experience God who is and always has been ~ the Alpha & Omega. God who as Spirit – Truth – Counselor – Comforter – Healer – Teacher – Redeemer – Revealer – Reconciler, who rests within the sacred spaces & openness inside us each where the Divine Mystery of God dwells. God who is real, who is responsive, who is love – compassion – empathy, who is everlasting, and whose presence is actively at work within the world across many faiths and sacred traditions.
As a Christian, or someone from any faith or spiritual tradition, you will find a response to these questions and thoughts in YOGA MASS ~ Embodying Christ Consciousness by The Reverend Gena Davis, with a forward by –The Very Reverend J. Pittman McGehee. The author is an Episcopalian and an ordained Episcopal priest in the Diocese of Texas, serving Grace Episcopal Church in Houston. She is also someone who has been actively engaged in an interfaith dialogue, and in helping humanity to understand what this means.
The 21st century is fully upon us now, humanity as a whole is encountering pluralism and multiculturalism at a faster pace – unknown and unseen before in human history. We see this at work across the world, on the Internet, in the daily news cycles, through massive human migrations from one place to another, and across faiths where people are coming together in an interfaith dialogue. The enduring beauty of this book is how it offers to the faithful a new paradigm, a new creation, and a new way of being. It offers us an opportunity to celebrate humanity’s many interconnections by learning from one another in an open interfaith dialogue. There is nothing to fear here, and everything to gain. I am reminded of this verse from 1 John 4:18 (NRSV): “There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear…”
AS 21st Century Christians, many of us, are being called to reimagine and reframe the “Good News” of the Gospel into a deeper understanding of the Divine Mystery and how the Holy Spirit is actively at work within the world. And how the Holy Spirit is calling us into a new and enduring relationship with one another. What many of us have discovered is a revelation, an unveiling and revealing of God as Spirit & Truth, found in an interfaith dialogue. A dialogue that is radically open, radically inclusive, and yet, grounded in the historical and orthodox tradition of the church.
As theologian, Paul F. Knitter, once elaborated in a sermon quoting philosopher–theologian–colleague John Cobb: "Jesus is the way, that is open to other ways. Jesus is not the way that excludes, overpowers, demeans other ways; rather he is the way that opens us to, connects us with, and calls us to relate to other ways in a process that can best be described as ‘dialogue.’”1
In her book, YOGA MASS ~ Embodying Christ Consciousness, Gena Davis, offers traditional and orthodox Christians something new, a refreshed vision and mission for the 21st century and the people of this century. By bring together, two ancient spiritual traditions and practices (praxis), she is returning something timeworn and fresh to the world. She has given us a deeper understanding of both the old and the new grounded in Christ, in an expanded vision, a new vocabulary, a new liturgy, and a renewing sacrament.
She has given us a new way to encounter and appreciate what we may learn from one another across spiritual traditions and faiths. She has given us a great gift of faith, because she has come to know the presence of God in whom “we live and move and have our being” at work within the world. God, as Christ taught us, consistently calls us to be in a healing and loving relationship with one another. And to realize that this is true for all of creation, where everything that is, everything that comes to be, and continues to be, arises out of our relationships with other beings.1 This is what happens throughout all of creation, across an eternal space, in what is known and unknown, seen and unseen, visible and invisible – as it arises across worlds without end.
"You are the light of the world. A city built on a hill cannot be hidden. No one after lighting a lamp puts it under the bushel basket, but on the lamp stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven." - Matt. 5:14-16
“All who find freedom from clinging to desire, sin, separation, and sorrow, free from the incessant flow of their thoughts, are like shining lights reaching final liberation in the world.” - The Dhammapada 89
"The light of the body is the eye: if therefore your eye be sound, your whole body shall be full of light." - Matthew 6:22 "-
In his final words under the Sala trees, the Buddha gave us these words. “Make of yourself a light.”
PEACE ~ SHANTI ~ SHALOM ~ SALAAM ~ NAMASTE ~ AMEN
SAINT JULIAN PRESS, INC.
Notes & Book:
by Gena Davis (Author), J. Pittman McGehee (Author)
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: BalboaPress (April 21, 2017)
Gena Davis is an Episcopal priest, yoga educator, and founder of YogaMass, serving a mission congregation in Houston, Texas. Her ministry is grounded in contemplative practices. She is a spiritual director, meditation facilitator, retreat leader, and a Benedictine Oblate with the World Community for Christian Meditation. Finding herself in the sacraments of her faith tradition and on the yoga mat, she dreams for all to discover their true essence.
RON STARBUCK is an Episcopalian, a Poet and Writer, and author of There Is Something About Being An Episcopalian, When Angels Are Born, and Wheels Turning Inward, three rich collections of poetry, following a poet’s mythic and spiritual journey that crosses easily onto the paths of many contemplative traditions.
He has been deeply engaged in an Interfaith-Buddhist-Christian dialogue for many years, and holds a lifelong interest in literature, poetry, Christian mysticism, comparative religion, theology, and various forms of contemplative practice.
He has been a contributing writer for Parabola Magazine. And has had poems and essays published in Tiferet: A Journal of Spiritual Literature, an interview and poem in The Criterion: An Online International Journal in English, The Enchanting Verses Literary Review, ONE from MillerWords (Feb. 2016), and Pirene's Fountain, Volume 7 Issue 15, from Glass Lyre Press (Oct. 2014). A collection of essays, poems, short stories, and audio recordings are available on the Saint Julian Press, Inc., website under Interconnections.