Monthly Archives: September 2014

GUERRILLA GARDENING

A POCKET FULL OF SUNLIGHT

September 29, 2014

I was reading a Facebook announcement posted by my son-in-law for a guerrilla gardening event he is holding at the library where he works.  I remember how much fun he had last Spring when he got a group of enthusiastic youth from the community together and made a pile of seed bombs and then went out through the neighborhoods “bombing” all kinds of unlikely places to make them IMG_6854beautiful this summer.  Now they are going to go around the town planting spring bulbs and other things that will bloom come the spring.  I love the concept.  We’re encouraging our youth to sneak around–or go boldly in broad daylight–doing small things that nurture beauty and life and respect for the spaces where we live and work rather than defacing and uglifying them.  

It occurs to me that this is a great metaphor for another type of guerrilla gardening that every single one of us can do every day.  Every morning fill up your pockets with sunlight and plant seeds of Light and Love through out the day.  Good idea?  

As we move from moment to moment through our day we are radiating energetic frequencies.  These energy frequencies will have a lower or higher vibration depending on our thoughts, attitudes and intentions reflected in our emotions and amplified by our words and actions.  Spiritual teachers have been telling us for centuries that this energy we emit shapes our experiences and impacts the world around us.  Now science is demonstrating the physical truth of this.  

An entire community of people might believe that it would be far better to have lovely green spaces throughout the city than to leave them empty, full of trash and weeds, or to cover them up with dirty concrete.  But, someone has to go out and actually plant the seeds.  A group of kids need to throw seed bombs into the vacant lots instead of trash and plant bulbs along the   fences instead of spray painting ugly words.  Groups of us have to go out with rakes and shovels and trash bags and heal the areas that have been beat up.  We each need to choose to discard our trash in the trash can instead of dumping it in parks and on lawns and public sidewalks.  We have to do stuff.

An entire community of people might believe that it is better to love than hate.  Better to encourage others than to criticize them.  Better to be kind than to bully.  But, it is one thing to talk about it, another to live this way.  This is when I am reminded yet again that each waking moment of my day I am actually choosing how to be in my world.  Every day stories make the rounds about persons practicing Random Acts of Kindness, or doing gratitude challenges, or bringing people together to create peaceful solutions to conflict.  More and more of us are choosing to take up the tools we need to clean up and heal the spaces inside us that have been beat up and are ugly and smelly, to plant seeds of Light within our own hearts, and then in our environments and within our families.  We have to do stuff.

It is not easy work.  Old habits of mind are stubborn.  It is difficult to remember that our emotions are a result of our thinking not the other way round.  Our egos are highly skilled at defending us from every perceived threat; this does not always work in our favor.  Fear is sneaky and leaks in wherever it finds a crack or crevice unattended.  Most fear is not the healthy stuff, but the paralyzing ooze from the Dark Side.  

Yes, I like the idea of filling my pockets each morning with seeds of Light and planting them every chance I get throughout my day.   It is a good metaphor to help me when Fear spins out her silky lies, or the hackles on my Ego rise.  Slip my hand in my pocket and pull out a seed of Light–truth, love, gratitude, faith…plant it.  Move on.  It won’t blossom overnight.  Like the vacant lots where those excited kids threw their seed bombs, it will take some time before the seedling breaks the soil, stretches to the light, grows leaves and buds, IMG_8674Proof Sheet  and finally opens to full flower.  But this is where it begins.  There will be no harvest without the seed.  But with each seed there is hope for us and for our world, a promise that we can indeed create a world of beauty and love.  

Go ahead.  Fill up your pockets with sunlight or starlight.  Do some guerrilla gardening today.  Plant seeds of light and love.  

 

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EXHALING

September 26, 2014

EXHALING

I take a deep breath, hold it in for a second or three and let it slowly out, a balloon collapsing inside me. I turn the corners of my mouth upwards in a smile. I suppose it looks like a smile. The knot in my solar plexus stops tightening.

IMG_2602I nudge myself. Okay, okay—yes, the sun is shining through the dining-room windows lighting up the giant jade and the spider plant and all the other green growing things that share this space with me.  The prayer plant has opened wide and turned itself toward that light. The living-room has filled up with a rosy glow and through the windows there I see the maples flaming across the street.

IMG_2616

Deep breath in, hold, slowly exhale. The knot inside loosens a bit. I turn the corners of my mouth upwards again as I notice they have slipped back into a tight-lipped line, matching the tightness in my eyes. Softening, softening.

I take a long pull on my green smoothie. I taste apple and mango and banana. It is thick and sweet and dark green with spinach and kale and chard and powdered greens. Next to me is another glass filled with cool water. I hear the shower running in the bathroom. I hear the dishwasher swashing in the kitchen. I think of women who are trudging blocks or miles this morning to fill a dirty bucket with water to bring home to their children so they can have a little to drink, a little with which to cook their meal, a little in which to wash.

Unpaid bills stare at me from across the desk. There is no money today with which to pay them.

I inhale the crisp autumn air of early morning. I exhale the last of the knot in my gut.

I am cutting brilliant chrysanthemums from my garden.  IMG_2607

My eyes are smiling.

TO RUN WITH WOLVES

TO RUN WITH WOLVES

September 23, 2014

Serenity
This world is filled
With so much pain
And so much joy pours down like rain.
I lift my arms
And drink it in
And every day begin again.
     Grant me the serenity
     To accept the things I cannot change
     The courage to change the things I can
     And grant me wisdom–that hard bought wisdom–that holy wisdom
     To know the difference
When this world’s love
Meets this world’s hate
Which one will win I cannot say
I can’t control
What others do
I only hope it’s love I choose
     Grant me the serenity…     Words and music by Neal Hagberg

I am meditating as the sun slips above the lip of the horizon.  Breathing in love and light; breathing out the knot in my gut.  I am stronger this week.  But the scouring winds of change still howl.  I’m seeking that place of safety and silence deep down inside; listening for the quiet voice of Spirit.

In my mind I come to the creek in the middle of the forest where I come so often to Listen.  It has always been a green and sunny season here…the water bubbling and tumbling, the tall pines whishing in the wind, soft moss cushioning the banks.  But as the image of my quiet place comes into my mind……it is winter!  Even in the midst of a meditation where my mind chatter never shuts up I feel the lurch of shock at the sudden intrusion of this winter image.  The creek and the little waterfall are frozen; the ground buried under glittering snow; the sky grey and heavy with cloud.  There is a small fire burning.  I feel a second lurch of shock for next to it lies the Wolf who even when I sense his presence in this inner space, normally keeps back in the shadows of the trees.  Only a few times has he come fully into my presence to speak.

wolf-photo

My mind chatter goes silent.  I look around wondering what this means.  Stillness, absolute stillness.  I notice that other Beings who are often present in this place with me are absent.  Solitude.  Is this winter image a message that I need to retreat into the frozen stillness between the dying flames of Summer and the new life that will come maybe with the Spring?  It has never been winter in this place before.  I sit by the fire, and look at the Wolf.  He looks steadily into my eyes and places a single word in my mind.  Stasis.

Stasis?  That means a lack of movement, doesn’t it?  Balance, but not necessarily positive balance.  Uncertain, I look up the word in my dictionary app.

Stasis:  1. The state of equilibrium or inactivity caused by opposing equal forces.

Jaw drop.  Light and Dark.  Love and Fear.  Joy and Despair.  Peace and Rage.  Indeed, have I not been stuck between these forces?  And haven’t I indeed allowed the paralysis of fear to keep me spinning in unproductive drama–frozen as it were?

Stasis:  2.  Stagnation of the flow of any of the fluids of the body, as of the blood in an inflamed area or the intestinal contents proximal to an obstruction.

Read: stagnation of the flow of my life–the flow of love, the flow of my creativity–due to the obstructions built of the old energies still operative in my mind and heart; energies that wear away my body’s vitality and cloud my vision with false perceptions because they “feel” true.  Like feeling that the Source of Divine Love and Grace has utterly abandoned me–because I feel lost in the dark with a broken compass (in fact, I have been told repeatedly the way out), because I am without answers (in fact, I have been given the answers that matter in the moment), because one thing after another doesn’t work out according to my definition (or anyone else’s for that matter) of thriving (think tantrum, toddler style).

Ahhhhh…  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

So, this Winter in the core of my Being reflects my current condition–stasis, basically stuck–between Light and Dark, Love and Fear, Joy and Judgment.  My life cannot flow.  My writing cannot flow.  Yeah, well, duh….

There is nothing that I can do but continue to do what I already know I’m to do: release everything made of the old energy of fear and shame, guilt and regret.  Let go of all the dreams I have held in a white knuckled grip, even if letting go means their death.  Let go of my rage and anger and judgment, toward myself and others.

There is nothing left but to open, open up to everything I fear.  Open up to the nameless One, the faceless One Who refuses to be defined or confined to any one culture’s story.  Open to this Love that I long for but resist.

Release and open.  Relax.  Allow.  Remain carefully in the present moment and notice every blessing, notice everything that is imbued with life and beauty.  And be grateful.  Yes, truly grateful for what is in this moment.  Who knows what will come along a few moments from now?  Maybe the very dream I finally released to ride the wind!

A dear friend wondered once why this journey I am on that has taken me so deeply into the Universe that is within me never seems to come to resolution.  I didn’t disagree.  This is part of why I have been so discouraged and angry.  After all the work I’ve done to heal–shouldn’t I be healed already?  Wouldn’t I do more good putting all this energy into doing good stuff out in the world and cease spending so much of it on navel gazing?  For having chosen to set the course of my journey to the learning of Love and the living of Joy, why indeed has it been so incredibly, impossibly difficult for me to live easily from this place?  Having determined to live in a manner that allows me to thrive and therefore will enable me to help those around me and the world to thrive, why does the land of thriving seem no more than a mirage of water in the desert at high noon?

I don’t know.

Maybe it has to do with how prone we humans are to intellectualize so many of the beliefs we profess while not really working them into the skin and bones of our lives.  How much of my “hard work” was mental gymnastics, emotional angst and the gathering of lots of helpful information versus the real action of choosing a different way to respond to the situations I experienced in the moment I was experiencing them?

Or maybe it’s onion layers.  Peeling back the layers and layers of conditioning, of control-freak ego, of deeply entrenched and culturally reinforced beliefs.  Now I’ve come to the core.  Now there is nothing for it but to give way entirely to the Soul within me, “God Inside” as I’ve heard it said.

Both perhaps.

But the Wolf has returned for me.  The first time he came to me he challenged me.  He let me know that I would only be allowed to run with the Wolves if I chose to gather my courage and stand in my strength.  I think he was a little bit disgusted with my wallowing.

Now, several years later he has come again.  He has come to lead me out of this place of Winter stasis.  It is time for me to run with the Wolves.

 

WINNERS NEVER QUIT

WINNERS NEVER QUIT

September 17, 2014

“Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.  Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.  Winners never quit.  Winners never quit.  Winners never quit…”

Never?  Winners never quit?  Bullshit!  We quit all the time.  Because some days the unknown future is just too scary and the present is just too pain-filled with loss and disappointment and I have no desire to smile at the world.  I’m too angry to be soft and gentle and kind. Some days I’m just too tired to keep hoping for the change I want so desperately to see.  It’s a pitch black day of storms and I’m fresh out of faith.

I am told not to despair, not to give up hope.  Everything always works out, he says.  I am told to smile and be happy, to not allow my joy to evaporate (it leaves a salty stain), because life is good, and getting better, he says.  When I can’t write I am told to keep writing because it is a sacred trust.  I am told if I must rage to turn it on the Fear that is hell-bent to destroy every hint of hope and happiness.    But I feel despair in spades.  I could use those spades to dig my grave.

I sit to write and haven’t a clue what to write and nothing comes that isn’t saturated with self pity.  There is no laughter in me–only tears that leave those salty stains; I have tankers full of tears.  My feet are leaden, my heart is stone.  Rage is eating me from the inside out.  I ask for bread and I get a lesson in gratitude.  Not gratitude for the bread because the bread isn’t here yet.  No, a lesson in being grateful for all the things I DO have.  I ask for a fish.  I get more lessons that look suspiciously like stones and snakes.  I am sick to death of lessons.

Losing hope that my dreams will ever be anything more than fantasies, I feel them withering slowly, one by one.  The landscape of my heart is piled with empty husks in which my dreams once were ripening to harvest.  I have instead an abundant crop of lessons; lessons in gratitude,  lessons in being happy with ‘what is’.  One problem; ‘what is’ isn’t at all what I want and never will be.  I try, but I fail to ground myself with gratitude.  Tethered to the dead dreams, something inside of me is dying with them.  Weeping endures for a night, and a day, and another night and another…joy comes sometimes in the morning but leaves by noon.

I can’t help but wonder what the next lesson will be if I don’t get my shit together pretty soon.  Yoda said, “There is no try.  Only do.” The disillusioned, angry Tiger inside me snarls and I retreat with a book.  A really good book; it has 3 sequels.

After days, weeks, months, there comes an hour in the deep darkness as I wait for the f-ing rose colored dawn to paint the f-ing sky (I’ve been awake since 3 a.m.) when for no particular reason I find a few scraps of courage and timidly stretch out my hand and whisper, “Help. Please help.”

And help comes.

But it brings nothing new or astounding.  There are no miracles or flashing lights or angelic beings or even waves of energy or blankets of warm and fuzzy Love.  Simply reminders of the truths I already carry within me.

… Winners never quit.  I am loved.  I am blessed.  Joy is in me, all around me.  Let it flow.  Life is abundant and thriving.  Let it flow.  Love is in my every breath.  Let it flow.  Hold on…this will pass….

I know that there will be no new answers.  No new magic.  No way to dodge these lessons.  It is as though I am birthing a child.  Within me is the promise of life, of great joy, of great love; but first comes the hard and difficult work to bring this child into the light of day.  There is great pain in separating this child from my mother-body.  But if I am ever going to see the change I desire in myself and in the circumstances of my life, this labor must be embraced. The darkness must be lived through before the light can come.  The more I resist this work of birthing, the greater the pain and the longer it takes.

I weep, hoping somehow to dissolve the disappointments and the discouragement.  I run out of tears but the ugly knot is just as hard and I am still tangled up inside.

Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.

I rise.  I rise because winners…never…quit.  I gently kiss my unborn dreams and release them back to God.  Maybe the lessons for me are not so much about gratitude or embracing happiness no matter what is happening (or not happening) in my life.  Maybe the lesson isn’t even so much about choosing to love when I want to rage.  Maybe it is first and mostly about release.  Releasing.  Allowing.  Flowing.  Those are all action words.  No try, do.  To “try” conjures up an image of holding one’s breath while fearfully, timidly, attempting something.  To “do” speaks of strength and energy and movement and sweat.

For a few minutes in the glow of early morning I can see that this experience is part of my Journey, a loop, a detour I didn’t plan or understand was coming.  All my careful planning and visioning doesn’t seem to make any difference–this Journey takes me where it wants whether I will or won’t.

Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.

The light breaks up the darkness.  Maybe for an hour.  Maybe for a day.  But in this moment I have some bad news for the monsters.

I may have sat out a few rounds…but the game’s not over yet because I am not a Quitter.

Which only leaves one other possibility.