Jack and I just finished teaching a retreat at the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria de Montserrat in Spain, known to the Catalans as Montsagrat, “Sacred Mountain.” In pre-Christian times, the Romans built a temple here to honor their goddess Venus. A sense of reverence blesses our retreat as we sit on this mountain suffused with the power of thousands of years dedicated to spiritual life.
Inside the basilica, occupying the highest place of honor far above the crucifixion of Jesus is an ancient wooden statue of the Virgin and Child called the Black Madonna, found hidden in a cave in 880 and venerated by countless pilgrims ever since. She sits far above Jesus on the cross, reigning majestically over all the saints in serene elegance. The beauty of a Black Madonna, an ancient and timeless image of a woman with a child in her lap dominating the grand basilica and its institutionalized patriarchy, is a symbol of the what the world needs now, an uplifting of women, men, all people. It is a timely reflection of the principles of July 4th, declaring that we all are created equal, with inalienable rights to life, liberty, happiness, and a government that respects and protects those rights.
The practice of mindful loving awareness taught at InsightLA and around the world honors the freedom, dignity, and worth of all beings. Like the Black Madonna’s miracles of mercy and love, our practice invites us to sense the sacredness of life and to hold ourself and the interconnected web of all beings with compassion and love. May we care for the world and honor everyone in it. Happy Interdependence Holiday!