Monthly Archives: February 2012

SAWABONA…I SEE YOU

February 15, 2012
Whatever is occurring in the present moment is what we need to deal with right now. Staying with our real experience of ourselves and our situation will teach us exactly what we need to know for growth. (The Wisdom of the Enneagram, 346)

Her black eyes snapped at me across the table.  “No, you don’t have to think this way.  You’re White.” 

I thought that I understood “white privilege”.  I thought that I understood the friends that I have that are not white.  My awareness of the color of their skin and the ethnic identifiers molded into the flesh of their dear faces is no more or less important to me than their height and their weight and the sound of their laughter.  Because of our common desire to bring healing to the world through living and facilitating a restorative life-style, I think without thinking that we share the same corrective lens prescription in order to see the world with 20/20 vision.  

When I come to the table with these women, what is important to me is how our hearts and minds connect.  I don’t think about the differences in our heritage.  I don’t think about how these differences shape the meaning we attach to events, to language, to communication and decision making processes.  They are “just women”, as I am a woman.  They are my colleagues.  They are my mentors and my teachers and my friends.  I see them as wise.  I see their accomplishments.  I respect and admire their courage and their strength.  I have learned much from them.  I treasure their support.  I trust them.  I am known by them. 

She leaned across the table toward me, trying to make my white brain understand.  “You get to think this way.  You’re White.” 

Today I realize how very shallow is my knowledge of these dear women.  There are entire chapters of their stories that I do not even know exist; chapters that are outside my ability to ever fully understand or comprehend.  

Today I am made keenly aware that the differences in how we have been enculturated DO shape the meaning we attach to events, to language, to communication and decision making processes.  Today I am more cognizant to what respectful inclusivity requires; to the clear need to check and recheck our assumptions, our perceptions, our semantics.  Did I not know this?  Of course I knew this!  I teach this!  But today I am pressed to go much deeper.  Today I wonder about the lenses I wear as a white woman when I am with my friends who are not.

Someday, if my love is true, my heart faithful, they might allow me to sit with their pain and their grief.  If I am willing, they might be willing to release upon me their stuffed up, stifled and swallowed rage.  I would have to be as strong as the rocks upon which the waves break and crash, and as yielding as fertile soil.  I would have to embody all the thoughtless, insensitive, defensive, abusive and racist white people that my friends have encountered, and still remain the woman who sees the precious, brilliant jewel glowing inside their dark-skinned bodies. 

Today, I grieve.  Old wounds in the hearts of my friends are bleeding again because I have perpetuated living life and doing business according to the way of the white man.  On one level I didn’t know; it was not intentional.  But at a deeper level, I knew something was not okay about the decisions being made, decisions I participated in making.  And I did not stop.  I did not step forward to stop others.  I didn’t “have their backs”.
Today, I grieve.  I am connected to these women on a level that pays no mind to the dense energy that is our bodies.  Therefore, when one is hurting, we all hurt.  When we tear the fabric of the field of energy into which we are all woven, we tear apart our own soul. 
Today, I grieve.  I only hope these tears will heal my blindness. 
Next time I sit across the table from my friend, may I see her.  Fully.
Sawabona. “I see you.  I respect you. I value you. You are important to me”.
Shikoba.  “Therefore, I exist for you”.
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I CAN SEE CLEARLY NOW

February 13, 2012


I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.

I can see all obstacles in my way.

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)

Sun-Shiny day.


I think I can make it now, the pain is gone.

All of the bad feelings have disappeared.

Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)

Sun-Shiny day.


Look all around, there’s nothin’ but blue skies.

Look straight ahead, nothin’ but blue skies.


I can see clearly now, the rain is gone.

I can see all obstacles in my way.

Gone are the dark clouds that had me blind.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)

Sun-Shiny day.
….by Johnny Nash.
I was sung awake by Fairies this morning.  I could not remember the rest of the lyrics, but the refrain was stuck on repeat in my mind: It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright,
Sun-Shiny day.  The sun in fact was shining outside, etching the houses with early morning Rose Gold.  I felt physically light; happy blood coursing through my body.  I felt like I’d swallowed a sun.
It is my birthday.  Someone wished me happiness for my “new year”, something we often wish each other on our birthdays.  I smiled because a soft secret was unfolding inside me.  I AM HAPPY!
Perhaps this sounds a bit lame to my readers who are able to jump out of bed nearly every morning, filled with curiosity, a smile on their lips.  But my readers who understand that sheets can sometimes weigh up to 500 lbs. know the significance of getting up one morning and feeling that a deep well of happiness has opened up inside of you.
 
Later in the morning I was gifted with the source of the persistent tune in my brain and the lyrics to the song.  I Can See Clearly Now by Johnny Nash. 
Last year I was gifted with a new friend who knows all about being joyful.  She is one of those people who smile all the time.  And it is genuine.  Not a nervous smile.  Not a “fixed face”.  A genuine, unconscious expression of her connection to joy.
She lent me a book about Joy, and later gave me an old cassette tape of a presentation that someone gave about joy.  And, I was gifted last year also with the privilege of taking an on-line course with the famous teacher, Jean Houston to help me understand my life purpose.  She talked a lot about joy.
 
It was a year of revelations for me.  A year of choices—to travel a path of Love and Joy and what it will require of me, or continue the rocky road I’ve been building for decades.  I, of course, chose the path of Love and Joy—wasn’t this what I’d been trying for 30  years to make myself into—a woman who lives from a healed heart of love?
I chose and God responded.  I was shown where I’d buried all the toxic anger and rage and shame that has been leaking its poison into my life for as long as I was aware enough to know it was wise to bury unspeakable thoughts and feelings.  Was I willing to dig that up and dispose of it properly?
I was shown a book of beliefs written in my own blood—negative beliefs that have nothing to do with the love and joy that are the fabric of the Universe.  Was I willing to give them up and write new ones?
I was challenged to practice love and joy in the face of my greatest fear—that I would be abandoned, forgotten, unloved.  Would I choose love and joy with no guarantees of outcome?
I was ready.  I said yes, and yes, and yes and kept my feet on the path.  Through the tumultuous spring.  Through the heat of summer.  Through the uncertainties of the Fall.  Through the confusion of the Holidays.  Into the dawn of this auspicious year—2012.
Yes, I believe I was serenaded into waking by Fairies…and maybe a few Angels this morning.  Perhaps they are the same ones who were around when I entered the world more than half a century ago. 
I think I can make it now, the pain is gone.

All of the bad feelings have disappeared.

Here is the rainbow I’ve been prayin’ for.

It’s gonna be a bright (bright), bright (bright)

Sun-Shiny day.
It’s Marvelous Monday, it’s my birthday, and it is gonna be a bright, bright, bright Sun-Shiny year!

ON BUILDING BRIDGES

January 25, 2012

Mistakes are the usual bridge between inexperience and wisdom.

~ Phyllis Theroux


ON BUILDING BRIDGES

Knowledge is information. It is cerebral. It is about “knowing stuff”. We acquire knowledge from books and from listening to lectures and by observation.


Learning requires that we engage in some form of action that involves application of our knowledge. We must experience the knowledge. It is a process. We read a recipe and then we chop and mix and simmer and season. Now we have learned what it is to make soup. We read about healing a relationship and then we gather our courage and speak of that which is in our heart to our friend, our beloved, our colleague. We are learning to make human connection that heals.


Engaging in the learning process of applying our knowledge involves many lessons. A baby taking his first steps does not run around the block. In fact, he falls down every few steps! The first number of times I share honestly from my heart my words and tone may be mixed with fear, anger and defensiveness. It will be messy. But how else will I learn to run if I do not first learn to walk? How else will I learn to forgive and to love unconditionally if I do not first release that which prevents my forgiving and loving? How do I release my negative energy and cleanse old wounds or new without first acknowledging my pain? Like the baby letting go of the edges of furniture, like the six-year-old giving up his bicycle training wheels, will I find the courage to release my old defenses and mistrust? Initially, how could I not be awkward, like the baby stepping out on his own across the wide expanse of the living room?


Learning involves making missteps. It involves falling off the bicycle a few times before riding down the trail. Before I grow proficient and wise I will burn the dinner, cut my finger, drown a cactus, fold a few loads of pink stained laundry, starve a hamster, show up to meetings completely unprepared and yes, cause a sweet child to cry. And my friend. And my colleague. And the tired waitress who I criticized for the messed up order.


Active application of knowledge is to learning what experience is to wisdom. I like the image of mistakes being the bridge between inexperience and wisdom. Each time I mess up in a relationship, if I am willing to step back and observe what happened, I gain a piece of knowledge—a board in my hand. If I apply that knowledge the next time I am in a similar situation with someone, I am learning—how to trust, perhaps, or how to love, or growing the quality of patience. I hammer that board into place, building my bridge. Each time I am given the opportunity to practice this new learning, I gain experience. More boards, more nails; the bridge is growing, reaching for the other shore. In time, my experience produces proficiency and skill in my ability to communicate—including being able to forgo judgment and knowing when to hold my tongue. The sum of my knowledge, learning and experience makes it possible for me to trust and to love much more deeply and unconditionally than that first day when I looked inside my heart and saw the mess that was there. My bridge is complete. I’m on the other side.


My life is an interesting study in bridges. All manner of designs, materials and lengths, some are currently under construction. Many are beautiful and complete and provide me access to interesting lands. A few that once were lovely have fallen into disrepair. Have you ever defaulted into old behavior patterns and had to learn again an old lesson?


Today’s Practice

Rather than seeing my mistakes as endpoints or failures, today I regard them as necessary bridges to eventual understanding.