Category Archives: Forgiveness

Change Isn’t Easy and Healing is Hard Work — Part II

November 27, 2016

HOW DO WE DO THE  DIFFICULT AND PAINFUL WORK OF CHANGE AND HEALING?

…We are confronted collectively as well as personally with choosing the way of Love and Compassion and Kindness and yes, Forgiveness on a local, national and global scale. How do we do this? This is what I wrestle with in the dark before dawn.

I move through my day, practicing smiling–meeting the eyes of strangers I pass in the park, greeting them. I pay attention to the beauty around me in this moment. I watch the children playing with happy abandon.

Finally I tentatively sidle up to the latest headlines.

Sometimes I weep.

Sometimes I push back at the stress and bury myself in my work and then find myself yelling at some technological device that isn’t cooperating with me–or my husband because he’s conveniently at hand.

Sometimes I close the news feeds and immerse myself instead in reading about the good things people are doing in the world and am moved to do the small things I think I can do: donating money to a school for Native American children and to the Central Asia Institute educating girls in Afghanistan and Pakistan; renewing my membership in the Sierra Club which works so hard to protect our lands and the animals that inhabit it; signing petitions, writing to the President and donating money for Standing Rock. I check in on  the Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) as they continue their stand against the Military-Industrial Complex (MIC), [MIC–an informal alliance between a nation’s military and the defense industry which supplies it, seen together as a vested interest which influences public policy; something Dwight D. Eisenhower spoke strongly against].

The other day I took a break and went to see a fun movie. Comic relief.

But it is another morning and I have again awakened in the dark before dawn, fighting the panic and the grief and the deep dread of my helplessness. None of it seems like “enough”. And it certainly doesn’t seem like enough to focus on love and kindness in a world so terrified and rattled.  Yet, I know how difficult even this seemingly small work is. I sit with this in these quiet grey hours. Slowly, with the awakening dawn I  realize that no, it is precisely this that really matters. Without it, nothing else will change much or for long.

We’re reading all over social media and the internet and in magazines,  hearing on talk shows and discussing across kitchen tables that we must stand up for and protect those who are being targeted for harm. We must mobilize to put a stop to the raping of our Earth and oceans. We must protect the animals and plants and trees as well as our fellow human beings.

My throat swells up with the suppressed tears of despair. How do we do this? How can I do this? How do I stand in opposition to so much and love at the same time? How do I do this without acting from the same angry and arrogant attitudes as those who perpetrate the harm?

We just elected a man who passed himself off as someone who would make America great again–hearkening to a time when we were more prosperous, safer, stable. But when was America like that? For whom was it more prosperous and stable and safe?  Have we learned nothing from history? How many of you have watched the Netflix Original documentary “13th”?

During the period of change between what has been and what will be there is a time of chaos. There has to be. We certainly can thank Mr. Trump for this at least…he has shaken us out of our torpor. We can no longer think that somehow it will all come right while we go about our lives. We have to do the work to make it so.

But then we run smack into those who also have been awakened but think that what must be made right, or the methods for doing so are deeply contrary to ours.

Some view Trump as a sainted leader, others see him as a ravenous wolf who pulled the sheep’s wool over the eyes of those angry and desperate for change. Both say they have “proof”.

Many said despite his flaws, he was the man for these times in order to save the unborn innocents being slaughtered because of our permissible abortion laws. Others said, “if you want fewer abortions, look to improving how we respect and treat our women, our mothers and families and our living children–here and around the world.”

Still others strongly claim that they have the right to choose what they will or will not do about a pregnancy. Will their views be changed with a law? Will we really stop abortions with a law? Can the Supreme Court actually overturn Roe vs Wade? Would they really even attempt it?

I propose that a deeper, more fundamental issue regarding the abortion argument lives in our overall attitude toward life. Where in our American culture do we see deep respect for all of life? Can we really blame those who see no problem with aborting a fetus when we as a nation condone drone warfare, [see the documentary National Bird] and when we raise false flags so that we can make war on a people–killing their men, women and children in order to gain access to their resources? When we dehumanize black and brown people? When we allow torture and oppression and view those of another religion with judgment? Is the problem really about having abortion be legal or illegal–or is it about our failure to respect life.

Who among us can claim a deep respect for all of life?

Even your enemy’s? Even the family member you just ripped apart with your words?

In only a few weeks post-election Mr. Trump has named to his future cabinet men and women who actively and vocally support a white, supremist nation–a white ‘Christian’ nation (what does that even mean, really?)

As he gears up to put the oil pipelines through that the public have stood against, it comes out that Mr. Trump has invested heavily ($500,000 – $1 million) in the Dakota Access Pipeline alone, as well as other companies engaged in these dangerous oil endeavors. An article published in June of 2015 presented data on over 3,300 incidents of crude oil and liquefied natural gas leaks or ruptures that had occurred on U.S. pipelines just between 2010 and early 2015. These incidents had killed 80 people, injured 389 more, and cost $2.8 billion in damages. They also released toxic, polluting chemicals in local soil, waterways, and air–damages that can’t be measured except over time. In October of this year a pipeline run by the same company trying to put the Dakota pipeline through ruptured in Pennsylvania and spilled over 55,000 gallons of gasoline into the Susquehanna River. And that is not the first time this company’s pipelines have ruptured. But if Mr. Trump has somewhere near a million dollars tied up in just the Dakota Pipeline, where do his interests lie?

If we are to know someone by the fruit of their life, it would seem that those Mr. Trump calls friends, and the money he stands to make personally by the policies he supports, his disrespectful rhetoric, the 75 pending lawsuits against him  including fraud and sexual harassment, all  call into question whether the fruit of his life is real and healthy, or artificial and poisoned.

The country is erupting with fear, hate, division. It has even affected our children and our schools where bullying and fear and the language of hate has increased in sync with first the campaign, and then spiked even further since the election. I have sat with teachers talking about the increased incidents of bullying and hate language and the fear of their young students. One teacher said that the day after the election several of her immigrant students came and tearfully said that they were worried that either their parents were going to be taken away or their family would have to go on the run…something they had had to do in their home country before coming here as refugees.

Is Trump and his rhetoric and methods solely responsible for all this fear and all this hate that has erupted? Some say, no, he’s being maligned and misrepresented.

Some others who also say no say that he has simply torn the veil of pretense off the ugly truths that have bided their time waiting for release.

It has also exposed the depth of naivety on the part of many who have not looked much deeper than their own mental constructs of the world and what makes their life feel safe and comfortable.

But watching closely, listening to him, it seems that he has also directly incited an irrational hate among those who are impressionable and for whom being angry and rebelling against ‘the system’ seems like a good idea.

Fighting ‘the system’ is a good idea–it is broken in many ways, on that just about everyone could probably agree. Let’s remember that Mr. Trump has benefited and profited from this system, and though it remains to be seen, many think he has every intention to continue to benefit from it–changing only that which will further benefit him and those whose ideology he shares. Would a Clinton administration, or any other for that matter, have been guilty of the same? Quite possibly, to some degree. However, none of the other candidates had as a goal to re-create America into a white, supremist Christian nation at the expense of all those who aren’t of European descent or who are not “card carrying Christians”. None of the others blatantly disregarded the evidence of the destruction and havoc we are wreaking on this planet. None of the others threatened to bomb the shit out of any country spawning terrorists–fuck the collateral damage.

Yes, our political system, our education system, our Energy system…our military policies…they all need to be re-made. But what is needed and how we accomplish it is where those who have given their trust to Mr. Trump and those opposed to him seem to have parted company. Unfortunately, the way we have parted has ripped deep gashes in the fabric of our nation–our communities–and for some, our very families.

As we’ve heard before, change begins with each one of us. Like never before, we have got to take this seriously and attend to our own attitudes, our own prejudices, our own divisive mental constructs, our own fears and grudges. Until we can each open up the flow of love from within us, we will be subject to fear and all that it spews. Until we can listen with genuine respect to views in opposition to ours, we won’t be able to make even one tiny stitch to mend the ragged rips and tears in the fabric of our communities. The thoughts we think and the words we speak will either ratchet up the fear and division, or power it down.

It is a tricky dance, loving while standing firm against that which causes harm. Loving while being reviled, or beaten or jailed–or while watching this done to others. Loving while risking the comfortable life we’ve known in order to speak up and care for those for whom this comfort and safety have been denied. Loving and supporting those with whom we may not personally agree–but realize that it is not right that they are denied basic human rights and dignity.

This is difficult work.

We have always been called to the way of Love, but now it is imperative that we respond. There are very few mañanas left to us before it becomes impossible to turn back. Love the Creator and all that has been created because the Creator is inside of all that is; love the Creator and this Creation with all your heart and mind and body and soul.  And love your neighbor as yourself. These are the two greatest commandments and within them is contained all the laws and dogma and prophets…of every religion, of every spiritual practice, of every culture.

Change isn’t easy. Healing is hard work.

Love one another.

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WHEN YOU ARE ENOUGH

WHEN YOU ARE ENOUGH

February 17, 2015

I am holding you, says the Creator. You are surrounded by benevolence. You have been given the great gift of choice—it is no wonder that your desire for freedom and the power to choose for yourself what you experience in life is so fundamental to your existence.

Why then do you deny it to others?

When you have the opportunity, you build yourself a house, or purchase one that suits your needs and your aesthetic preferences. Because of this gift you were given, this freedom of choice, you are free to also build “mental houses”, mental constructs in which to house the World in which you live. You fashion your experience of what you call “reality” into constructs that make sense to you based on your culture, on what you were taught as you moved through childhood, on things you’ve read and the places you’ve visited and the things you have seen. For some, this house you’ve made for your World has remained much the same as when you first put it together. For others, your World-houses have undergone many renovations and remodels. But there is not one person on the Earth that does not have a World-house that he or she has built, or was given and complacently agreed to inherit without question.

Just like the neighborhoods in your cities, the mentally constructed World-houses are as varied as the people living on Planet Earth. But here is the problem. Most of you cannot see that those mental constructs of human, Earth-bound understandings of reality that are different from your own are just as beautiful and legitimate as yours. You tend to think that all the World-houses should be just like yours because too often you think that yours is best, or the only one built correctly.

The new word buzzing around the world is “one”. “We are one”, you sing. You are awakening to an ancient truth—that you are all interconnected and have been created from the same fabric; we are one, we are all related. Yes, you are part of the Earth and made of star stuff. Humans and animals and all the plants and the fish in the sea—you are all the children of Mother Earth.

This is true.

But, be careful.

When you look at your brother’s face and see yourself in his eyes, you must also see that he is different. You must look through his eyes and see the House of his World. You must listen to his heart. You must receive the gifts and the knowledge he offers you with joy and grace and gratitude.

You are all individuated drops of the Sea of God…flung upon the shores of this world to live and journey through many experiences until you are returned once more to the Sea. You are one—you are all drops of water from the Sea.

But you are each preciously different—a different cell from the great Body of God. The cells in your feet have a very different experience of the world than the cells in your hands, or the cells in your stomach, or the cells in your lips, or the cells in the memory banks of your brain.

Embrace your brothers and sisters for they have indeed come from the same substance as you. And  do not take away their gift to choose to see the world differently from you—to construct a House for their World that is nothing like yours. Do not assume that you understand or experience the world the same as they do. Offer your gifts and your knowledge and your ideas, and receive those shared by your brothers and sisters.

Listen to the hearts of the wounded ones—especially those whose ancestors were wounded by your ancestors.

Listen to the hearts of the wounded ones—especially those who have been wounded by the people who live in World-houses similar to yours, who peek out from the windows of your mental constructs of the world and are afraid of what does not look like what you have built together.

Listen to the hearts of those you have wounded.

Listen.

Receive what they tell you.

Open your minds to the possibility of creating a world together that will thrive; a world based on honor and integrity and compassion and respect.

Open your hearts and allow the Love that fills the very air you breathe to flow through your lungs and travel your bloodstream and fill your hearts.

Do not be afraid any longer. Fear has no power in the presence of Love and Compassion, no more than the darkness remains when we turn on the light.

Do not be afraid.

Do not despair.

If you do nothing more of consequence in this world than to do what you must do to allow Love to flow through you, for Compassion to be your automatic response to others, and gratitude to be the joy that lifts your heart each morning—you have done enough.

You are enough.

You are the Light of the World.

WE ARE ONE

January 27, 2015

THE PAINTER AND THE SONG

Off to the side of the stage, the bare form of the Lion emerges from the canvas, black and white strokes of paint, some splashes of deep emerald green, blood red, a streak of magenta, a line of sun-bright yellow.

As the music rises and falls, like waves running to shore scouring the rocks and stones, like the wings of wind gusting through the forest tugging hard at leaf and bough, life slowly fills the Lion. He begins to breathe. Soaring through the people gathered, the music whirls through the room, swirling the Lion’s mane as it grows full and thick, shimmering with every color broken from the Light. He opens his eyes, golden green pools gazing out at the crowd.

The music climbs to the stars pulling the singers and the dancers and the listeners in its wake. At the very pinnacle, with one last mighty explosion of sound and Light the Lion roars. In silence we plummet gently back to ourselves, the music echoing in the cells of everything it has touched, weaving us together with Love and Light. We hear in the deepest parts of ourselves, we are One.

We rise to our feet with shouts and tears and laughter; the applause thunderous. The Lion looks wisely down upon us, willing us to rise to the call to carry this Light, to sing this song, to remember every time we look into the faces of Others, whether friend or foe, we are One. He wills us to rise to the call to bury our fearful judgments and our terrified hate along with our swords. We are One.

We are One.

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The painting described in this post was done at Adam Sippola’s RISING POINT CD release concert party by artist Moira Villiard. You can see her work, including The Lion at http://mivala.deviantart.com/journal/

The song, One by Adam Sippola from his new CD, Rising Point can be heard on his website, http://adamsippola.com/music  Rising Point is also available for purchase on Adam’s website or at Electric Fetus in Duluth.