Monthly Archives: November 2014

WINTER COMETH

November 11, 2014

WINTER COMETH IN THE MORNING…

Snow. Storm. The Winter King has arrived halfway between the Autumn Equinox and Winter Solstice.  Of course, here in the Northland, he’s pretty much expected anytime once the cutouts of jack o’ lanterns come down and the pictures of Pilgrims and turkeys go up.

My husband, David, took a photo yesterday while shoveling and posted: “Winter, embrace it or move!” He took photos and brought in wood for the fireplace. I made gingersnaps, soup and bread. Today we went skiing.  IMG_2817

FaceBook was full of postings today about the weather and the snow–love it, hate it, celebrating it, forgive it. There were pics of cozy fires burning in wood-stoves, people baking cookies and gathering to watch movies.

Of course, there were also the sad reports from those who crunched their cars skidding down hills, hit the ditch spinning out on icy highways, nursing strained muscles from shoveling. Then there were the disappointed folks who missed classes and meetings and dates.  Shops whose sales were bleak and empty tables at the restaurants.

My nephew, Nathan, was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia. Growing up he visited relatives in Minnesota every summer, but only a few times did he come in winter. The first time he was six years old. His four year old sister thought all the trees had died. Down at the park that they played at in the summer Nathan was awestruck by the fact that the water in the river was hard and we could walk on it. “Where did all the turtles go, and the frogs?” he wanted to know.

Fast forward a dozen years. He and I are driving down the steep hillside of Duluth, snow piled up on the boulevards. “You know,” he said, “one of the things that is so weird about you guys here is that you’re always talking about the weather. Everyday. Constantly. Everyone comments what it feels like, good or bad, or what it’s going to be like tomorrow. You even have channels on TV just for weather!”

“You don’t discuss weather in Bogota?”

“No. Never.”

“But you have weather reports on your news programs, right?”

“Nope. Nothing. I never heard people talk about weather until I came here.”

“Huh. Wow. Is the weather so boring in Colombia?”

“Pretty much. It’s always the same. We have rainy season and dry season. Temperatures vary a little. But not too much changes.”

Of course, Bogota is also full of flowers. Everyday. All year. Looking out my window this morning the neighborhood is frosted with white. Not a sprinkle of lacy powder, but the eight inch thick stuff, piled, drifting, blowing. Two days ago there were swaths of gold and burgundy mums in my garden. Shrubs still sported red and yellow leaves mixed with the fading green. The mountain ashes held their scarlet berries up against a brilliant blue sky. The birch had shed their golden leaves into piles on the still green grasses, their white barked limbs glowing in the sunlight. Some apple trees up the road where I went walking, though naked of leaves still held golden apples. I ate one; still sweet and crisp. It was the last of Autumn, the colors bravely holding their own as the season slowly faded.

Two days later it’s a black and white world. The only natural color: some red berries, russet leaves clinging hard to a few trees, the green of pine needles the blue sky.

Yep, we Northerners talk about the weather. No two dFirst Skiays quite the same, interesting and full of surprises. Up here Nature is constantly busy parading the cycle of life through our midst, keeping us on our toes, flexible and changing. To be truthful, most of us wouldn’t have it any other way!

Advertisements

SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

November 11, 2014

I SUPPORT OUR TROOPS

I support the men and women leaving family and careers to go overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan to “serve their country”. I support them because I wish they didn’t have to go. I support them to remain safe, and whole and return able-bodied and able-minded, and most especially, able-hearted.

I support our troops. I support these men and women and pray that they will awaken deeply to the preciousness of all life— to the interconnectedness of all life—to the equality of all people and cultures. I support them to find ways to do good while they occupy a place that isn’t theirs to occupy, to do good to their fellow American service men and especially the women and to do good to the citizens of the country they are occupying. I support these men and women because whether consciously or not, intentionally or not, they are now in unique positions to bear testimony and Light to the world—to stand strong and courageously opposed to the continued mindlessness of killing and oppression. They are the most powerful witnesses for peace the world could hope for.

Several years ago I watched the testimonies of veterans at the Winter Soldier summit before Congress. One of the speakers was a co-worker of mine. These men and women spoke courageously of the crimes of war, of the violence and abuse that was not limited to being directed at “the enemy”, but was right at home within the barracks and the training fields. I will never forget the tall young man with the bright blue eyes who said that before he went to Iraq he was excited–he wanted to “go blow shit up!” Now he was ashamed of all that he had indeed blown up. This beautiful young man had shot an old woman under orders “in case she was carrying an explosive device. She wasn’t. She was just an old woman on her way somewhere and I shot her dead, bleeding out in the street.” I have read about the work of veterans against the Vietnam war, the Iraq war and the Afghanistan war—what they have seen and done and learned. Today I read the current suicide statistics of returned veterans—“every 65 minutes a veteran dies from suicide. That’s 22 per day!

I saw a pie chart today indicating where our tax dollars are spent.  Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 10.22.59 AM

5.6% on Veteran’s Benefits to 55% on all that outfits us for war. Another 5.5% on the needs of government. That leaves approximately 35% for all the rest of our domestic needs: education and housing and health and social security and energy and science and transportation and food.

Clearly, I am not in support of war.

I do support the men and women who have been sent off to fight these wars our leaders and their corporate sponsors create.

When he was in office, former Congressman Dennis Kucinich proposed a Department of Peace. If we can have a war department, and a defense department, why not a peace department? Pour those dollars into making reparations and amends around the world to all those we have bullied and abandoned. Pour the big salaries into men and women who know how to make peace and build relationships and co-create plans with world leaders that will allow all of us to have enough to eat and drink and a roof over our heads and education for our children and medical care. Dismantle our own WMD rather than point our finger at some lesser brother for playing with the matches we invented.

Who better to ignite this movement toward reconciliation and peace and the possibility of prosperity than the men and women who were on the front lines, witnessing the carnage and the destruction and the grief that is war and oppression and occupation? May each “peacekeeper”, become a peacemaker.

Yes, I support our troops. I support their courage and their strength and the terrible personal journey each of them are on.  I support them to find themselves, to know themselves, to separate truth from lie, Light from Dark. I love and support these brave and battered men and women—dads and moms, husbands and wives, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters.

May each one, abroad and at home, be blessed this day with a measure of peace, love and happiness. May each one find the unique healing that he or she needs, and in turn, become a healer of the world.

THE END OF A LONG, LONG JOURNEY

WHEN YOU GET TO THE END OF YOUR HERO’S JOURNEY
YOU CELEBRATE…AND THEN SIGN ON FOR ANOTHER!

November 3, 2014

“We call upon our sisters around the world to be brave–to embrace the strength within themselves and realize their full potential.”  – Malala Yousafzai –

For two hours now I have found really important things to do other than write this blog post. I paid some bills. I sent a birthday card to my beautiful niece in London. I sent some emails off to two school principals asking to interview some of their staff for my book. I responded to some texts and emails. I finished the grocery list. I heated up some of my husband’s delicious curried vegetables for lunch. I did some laundry. I checked my to-do list a half dozen times. I found some chocolate. And ate it. I did a writing exercise after reading the article it was about. That was freaky. I was directed to turn the brightness of my screen down until I couldn’t see the words so that I would focus on the feeling of writing and write faster and not be constantly editing. I toasted a piece of my yummy, homemade gluten free bread. And ate it. I opened my blog page and looked to see who is following me. A bunch of folks I never met. That’s cool.

Okay. So, I want to tell you about this amazing weekend I had. I want to use words that will show you rather than tell you, but the words seem to have scurried down the cracks between the floorboards. Or maybe they curled up in the afghan since its only 63 degrees in here. Typical November day–grey. All the leaves fell down so the trees are bare now. The hillside looks like a charcoal drawing–smudgy lines and streaks of grey and black with a few wispy shades of brown brushed through.

I don’t remember anymore what it felt like when I woke up in the morning as a kid. But since sometime in my mid-teens, with extremely rare exceptions, I have always woken up with a knot in my gut. The older I got, the tighter it got. There have been days when I woke up and it wasn’t there. Those days are so incredible that I remember vividly what it feels like. Buoyant. Light. Happy. Easy. I think the last time I was in New York City.

Over the past nearly 20 years I have been on a journey; a quest I supposeSoulCard 6. I have wanted to experience healing in my body, my mind and my heart. Despite feeling a lot of love in my heart for others I have struggled to allow that love to flow outward to them, afflicted with criticalness and judgment, anger and frustration. I’ve been on this hero’s journey to become Grace, to learn to love, to be a light in the world, to make a difference for good, to be the change I want to see–all the time wrestling with these monsters that rage and storm through me. NO TRESPASSING signs don’t work.  They barge in whenever they feel like it.

I’ve studied positive attitude. I’ve studied how to change by changing habits of mind embedded in old belief structures. I’ve worked at it. I’ve worked hard. To my credit, yes, I’ve grown. I’ve learned things and I’ve dismantled old belief and energy structures that were not healthy and did not serve me or my relationships or my work. At one time in my life frequent depressions would flatten my life completely. I used to say it was as though a Black Hole was constantly orbiting my life. I was aware of its presence at all times, wondering when it would suck me into its fathomless depths yet again. But it has been many years since I’ve even sensed that Blackness, none-the-less become its dinner.

And yet, I have still not known what it is like to wake up naturally exuberant and happy and eager to engage in the activities of the day. I love better and deeper than at any other time in my life, and yet, my inner critic is a brazen loudmouth who never shuts up and feels it his duty to include others in his constant critiques. Particularly husbands.

It has been a long journey. Ever been on a long road trip and have your passengers begin asking, “Are we almost there?” And then, more urgently, “Aren’t we there yet?” It’s the same with these hero’s journeys. (Why do they call them hero’s journeys anyway? They so do not feel like anything remotely heroic!) “GThe Hero's Journeyood God, aren’t I almost there? How much longer? This sure looks familiar, haven’t I been here before? Didn’t I already cover this section? Wait a minute–I do not have to go down inside that, do I? Really? It’s the only way through to the other side? Oh shit. Okay, so I made it through. I’m still alive. I’m on the other side… …So how come I’m still not there yet?! How much further? How much longer? I’m lost. This sucks. I just want to be happy, like, really happy. I just want to be able to do life successfully, to love well, to be light in the world, to do good work. Consistently. I feel like I’m battering on locked gates and kicking at locked doors and trying to find my way through a veil of fog. ARRGGHH!”

Yeah, that’s a hero’s journey.  Maybe it got that name because if you manage somehow to stick with it until you actually do come to the end of it, however battered and bruised, the very fact you didn’t give up makes you a hero of some kind.Beyond the Door

Okay. Last weekend. While I was sleeping, I guess, I came to the end of it. I arrived. I finally made it through the locked door into another world. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t know why on Saturday and not last year or ten years ago or not until March 15th next year. It was now. I woke up and I could feel it in my body–something had shifted. It would be like having a pounding migraine headache for 3 weeks and suddenly waking up and it’s gone. Completely gone. It was like the morning I woke up years ago and I knew the Black Hole was gone. I just knew. And it was. And it never came back.

I feel light in my body. The knots and edginess are gone. The energy of those around me no longer feels like I’m trying to tolerate someone running their fingernails down a chalkboard. The thought of “work” no longer feels like an order to climb a mountain dragging a broken leg. Even thinking of the pile of bills for which there is no money elicits rising excitement to see how on earth this will all work out!

Whatever the blockages to the flow of Divine energy through my physical and emotional body have been, they aren’t there now. I feel love, warm and vibrant inside me. Flows of LoveI feel that love flowing through me and from me. I feel sorrow for the pain I have caused others–and oh, how clearly I can see it now that I don’t feel that knee-jerk egotistical defensiveness! I’m looking full in the face the ways that my self-absorption, selfishness, and especially all my fears have harmed others, but though I feel some grief and regret, I no longer feel worthless. Instead I feel renewed responsibility to do better. And I feel like I have the energy to do so.

The beauty in the world around me and in the people around me fills me up with happy joy! I marvel that so many people in the world wake up this way every day. I marvel at what we could all achieve in our lives and how much more loving a world this would be if we could all be free from the bondage of Fear that poisons and taints every aspect of our lives. Fear is the Dark Destroyer–the Dark Consciousness–the Father of Lies and Illusion.

I am free. For those of you who are also free–you are blessed. For those of you who wrestle monsters in the dark, don’t give up. Don’t give up. And hold fast the thought that even if you cannot see or feel it, there is a loving Presence that is with you, always.

All Through the Night
Sleep my child and peace attend theeThe Guardian
All through the night
Guardian angels God will send thee
All through the night

Soft the drowsy hours are creeping
Hill and vale in slumber steeping
I my loving watch am keeping
All through the night

While the moon her watch is keeping
All through the night
While the weary world is sleeping
All through the night

O’er thy spirit gently stealing
Visions of delight revealing
Breathes a pure and holy feeling
All through the night

Photos courtesy of David Jensen, Northern Visions Media
Soul Card images from Soul Cards 2 by Deborah Koff-Chapin of Touch Drawing

A FALL OF DIAMONDS

A FALL OF DIAMONDS

October 31, 2014

Bottle green she runs relentlessly at the shelf of cobblestones and the slabs of boulders. She falls back white and frothy, scrabbling at the pebbled beach, the stones rolling and bouncing. Along the slabs and towers of boulders she takes a run and heaves herself high into the air–ten, fifteen, sometimes more than twenty feet.  She falls back, a shower of sun-drenched diamonds filling up the grooves and gullies.  Exhilarated she bounces off the waves retreating from the shoreline and others coming in for their run. Like swaggering boys chest bumping, like two antler tangled stags, the waves collide and throw more diamonds into the sky. And the cobblestones roar and the waters crash and the diamonds fall.

Waves inside me roll and crash, battering the boundaries beyond which I cannot go–I cannot touch–I cannot control. Fear collides with compassion and all is reeling and roaring and colliding on the surface of my consciousness–throwing diamonds in the sky.  But deeper down, under the posturing and the macho chest bumping, the tumbling and twisting, I detect a  stillness. Below the chaos there is peace.

Perhaps in this now I can be happy.  In this now, and in the next now, stringing them together like buttons and beads on a thread, I might find many things for which I am grateful and awestruck, I might dare to believe that all will be well.  Once the chaos on the surface settles down what remains behind might be different than it was before–rearranged.  But maybe the changes will not be about loss, or destruction.  They could just as well be another way to see.  Something new to experience.

The Sea just rolled in a 20 foot jumper, showering me with diamonds even here below the tree where I thought it safe and dry. “Come and play!” she roars.