Her + Faith
Why is this blog called Our Lady of the Red Thread?
Thank you for visiting my on-line journal exploring art and faith and beauty and possibility! My ministry is to serve where I am able and to awaken my heart continually to Love more deeply. The main focus of my work in the world is centered in creativity as a spiritual practice, as well as the work of intentional creativity and it’s role in the path of healing.
For over ten years I have worked in the arena of art, teaching, and visionary business, to bring heart, to bring the spirit, into the lives of thousands of women. Most of my projects and websites are free of my “Christian” voice as it is my profound desire to make my work available to people from all faiths. However, at long last, and by special request from my closet Jesus lover fan club, I have chose to create one place where I will explore my Christian faith.
My faith is…unusual. As is the faith walk of most serious seekers! Threaded with challenges – like including the Feminine and being a visionary artist. Being wild. Being often irreverent, while also working continually to create reverence. The Christian walk has within it, a paradox which can only be approached with the eyes of the heart, because it is like two spinning spheres suspended in mid air, each one granting the other the power of it’s slip stream. One has to keep one’s eye on both or we will get lost in one sphere and lose the other, or simply cease to see what it is all about. (Imagine putting on a pair of spectacles with only one eyeglass and trying to see. The perspective is all off. Christianity is like that too!) Right and Left brain functionality is called for if one is to truly even begin to comprehend the mystical complexity forming the beautiful message and work of the precious Jesus Christ. And what his own Mother has to with any of it. (Who knew? Thankfully, someone kept a vigil for Our Lady!)
Christ says that the greatest among you will be the servant of all – whether you want to be the greatest, or you already are the greatest, whether you are the servant or you want to be – the paradox remains unresolved. It is only through practice in the life of God – the participation in the fullness, as the Orthodox Church suggests, that one may begin to have a semblance of understanding dawn upon their soulscape. And even then, it is hard to see all that it can mean. But love is not hard to see. And thankfully, God is love. So let’s put on our eyeglasses with both lenses and try to SEE and SEEK for what this is all about. I am not saying I know – cuz – I don’t. But I have chosen this path for a reason – and it is glorious to my soul. WHY? You will have to keep reading to find out as it unfolds within these cosmic pages of stardust called the world wide web. But for now, let’s just say, as my mother has often says, we have tried all the alternatives and we find Jesus to be the “best deal.” Who he is and what he has made avaialble to us provides a path of healing, and a future as bright as we can imagine. And I am not just talking about some utopian far away heaven, I mean a bright future now, as in right now – or tomorow morning. We GET to participate in the LIFE OF GOD now – that is something I have been discovering since going to the Orthodox Church starting on December 21, 2008. I am not sure where I am headed from here, but I trust Creator will lead me where I need to go next!
And so it is my desire to share my love of God, and my own struggle and faith walk to BE a Christian woman who LOVES the Mother. If anything I share could bring to light something hidden for someone else – or cause someone to consider Christ who lost him long ago amidst the patriarchal reckage of Christianity, or invite someone to consider Mary’s roll in all this – then that is sufficient. What does Mary have to do with the red thread? Click on the red thread tab to hear the story…but for my part I have done the red thread ceremony for about eight years at almost every single workshop. In one of my posts I will share about that – and how it came to be such a central part of my ritual and practice.
You could call this a warning, a heads up, that yes, a Christian woman is on the loose – sharing her faith unashamedly with the world. I have been strongly advised that it might be dangerous to my reputation. That I should put my name as the blog and promo name instead. Promote me first, in other words. But alas, I am not the star at the top of my world – God is. Mary is. Jesus is. And that is WHY it is called, Our Lady of the Red Thread – instead of the Shiloh Sophia Show. How boring. I am not here for me, the joy of my life is the side benefit of being a servant of the Most High – a beloved of the Almighty. I had once wished for a name that represented what I do better than servant, but in fact, I am here to serve and I am proud to call myself a servant. Both of God – as well as of bringing the fruits of healing to people hungry for self expression.
My views are not the views of the Cosmic Cowgirls or Palm of Her Hand – which are gorgeously diverse women from all faith walks. We like it that way. We are not about integrating spiritual beliefs – the only things we hold in common is our desire to bring healing, end suffering and offer creativity as a path of healing onto the altar of humanity. So forgive me in advance for any way that I might offend someone – however, my red thread ramblings will continued to weave through this world wide web in the hopes of sharing some love with some of you….
To read about my very first red thread ceremony: http://ourladyoftheredthread.com/2008/12/12/tonatzinthe-red-thread-and-cosmic-cowgirls/
However there are many personal reasons WHY this is an important theme in my life which will develop as I continue in the blog journey. For now – check out another red thread story, from another part of the world – the motherland of my very own roots.
A Russian icon from the Novgorod School, dating to the first half of the twelfth century. It is now held by the Tretyakov Gallery in Moscow. The icon is commonly known by the name the “Ustyug Annunciation.”
One of the distinctive features of the Orthodox tradition of depicting the annunciation is that Mary is usually shown spinning, as opposed to the western European tradition which often depicts her as reading. In this icon, Mary is holding a drop spindle, spinning a crimson thread. Here is a close-up of Mary’s hand, holding the drop spindle:
What is certainly most remarkable about this icon, however, is the way that Mary is shown already cradling an image of the infant. This is not a child in arms, but a mystical image which she seems to perceive and embrace with her right arm, as the child is spirited into her from God the Father who can be seen above, surrounded by cherubim and seraphim.
The icon is associated with a famous legend about Saint Procopius. Here is one version of the story: “It was before this Icon that St Procopius of Ustiug prayed and performed many miracles. A fool-for-Christ’s-sake, Procopius was in a long shirt during a time of terrible winter weather in Ustiug. No one wanted to give him shelter and even a group of dogs huddling together ran away when they saw him. For this, Procopius prayed and thanked God. He was then given the gift of inner warmth and was saved from freezing. Holy oil came from his hands as he prayed before this Icon.”
Here is another version of the story of Procopius, in which he saved the city of Ustiug from destruction: “In the year 1290, the blessed one, in the course of a week, went about the city calling the inhabitants to repent and pray that the Lord would deliver the city from the lot of Sodom and Gomorrha. No one believed him. All of a sudden an ominous cloud appeared in the sky. It grew and grew, so that the day was turned into night. Lightning flashed and thunder rolled, shaking the walls of buildings, so that human voices could not be heard. A foreboding of destruction came on. The inhabitants rushed to the cathedral church, where the blessed one was already praying before the icon of the Annunciation of the Theotokos. Before everyone’s eyes, a miracle occurred: On the icon, myrrh began to flow, as a sign of the mercifulkindness of the Mother of God performed over the city. A fragrance filled the church. Myrrh from the wonderworking icon flowed to such an extent that the church vessels were filled with it. Those anointed with it received healing from various illnesses. After this, the stifling air became fresh and the sun peeped out. Twenty versts [13.25 miles] from Ustiug, at the Kotoval dale, the clouds burst forth with hail and lightening. Hail broke the age-old forest to pieces, not bringing harm, however, either to man or beast. In memory of the city’s deliverance from destruction, the celebration of the Ustiug Icon of the Mother of God was instituted.”