Category Archives: Life

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

January 19, 2017

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD…

You know the song…

I see trees of green, red roses too
I see them bloom, for me and you
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
I see skies of blue, and clouds of white
The bright blessed day, the dark sacred night
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world.
The colors of the rainbow, so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces, of people going by
I see friends shaking hands, saying how do you do
They’re really saying, I love you.
I hear babies cry, I watch them grow
They’ll learn much more, than I’ll never know
And I think to myself, what a wonderful world…

…Actually though, the music that surrounded me was the whisper of my skis, the happy songs of some little birds flitting about in the sunshine, and Vivaldi’s Four Seasons playing softly through my ear buds as I glided through the woods…

I keep stopping, just to absorb the beauty surrounding me. Perfectly pristine white snow sprinkled with sparkly glitter stretches smoothly out before me. It is marred only by the ski tracks. Sparkling and blue shadowed, it covers the floor of the woods like a frosted cake–one can only guess what lies beneath the smoothly sculpted mounds and gullies. Here and there I spot the tracks of deer and tinier creatures. A rabbit. A squirrel? Some sort of tiny mouse, his long tail marking where he scrambled.

It is quiet here. The loudest sounds are my skis and the crow singing some happy crow song. Vivaldi is light in my ears, and I glide on. I top a small hill, and as my skis carry me down, my eyes rest on the trees. The white birch, touched by the sun, are like white neon poles standing among the rest of the undressed forest of dignified charcoal greys and browns and black. Here and there small groups of green-needled pine keep watch while the others sleep. As I glide by, I breathe in their breath and I am grateful for them.

The sun and the sky are a watercolor wash of blue and buttercream. A few clouds, thinly transparent stretch across the expanse. They look like they are melting into the icy blue water of the sky.

At the overlook, I lean on my ski poles and look down on the harbor of my city and beyond to the Great Lake of Gitchi Gummi. Such a busy busy world down there with its ships and train yards, tall stacks spewing white steam marking the  industrial plants, business buildings clustered at the center of the long narrow stretch between these bluffs and the water, and houses and highways and bridges spanning the harbor–little tiny cars zipping back and forth. The sun gilds the water golden. It is another water color painting.

“Remember this,” I whisper. “What a wonderful world! It’s so beautiful–so breathtakingly, achingly beautiful! Whatever comes, remember this. Show up seeing beauty no matter where you find yourself. Make it. Create it. Show up with Love. It is all around you, all the time, just looking for a way to flow into the world. Remember this.”

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REVELATIONS IN THE ER

LOVE IS THE “BOTTOM LINE”

January 7, 2017

“Life is fragile.” “Life is precious.” “Don’t take life (or your relationships) for granted.” Common, rather overused cliches, even if true.

And then suddenly one afternoon you stand up from placing a plant on the floor, step back, are in the middle of a sentence asking your husband something, and you can’t finish the sentence. And then you realize you can’t move. You can’t talk, you can’t move.

It only lasted a minute, less probably. But when I finally could move again and talk, I felt strange, almost like I wasn’t fully in my body. Husband’s eyes are huge and he is insisting on calling 911, or at least taking me to the ER. I said, “I’m still in my pajamas! I’m not going anywhere without taking my shower and getting dressed! And besides, I’m fine now.”

But I knew what had just happened wasn’t okay. Then, I started doubting exactly what had just happened. I seemed fine now. But during my shower I realized I again felt “off”–like my body was a stranger. I started to cry and didn’t know why. I was trembling, and didn’t know why. I reached up for my shampoo and my right hand suddenly decided it wanted a vacation. It obeyed, but rebelliously, like a child dragging it’s feet and trying to go somewhere you’re not, and only because it could hear the wrath of God rising inside me and got scared.

Me and my hand argued for the next 10 minutes as I finished my shower and dried my hair. By the time I tearfully headed for the closet it had given in and decided to act normal again. As my husband drove me to the ER, I sat on my side of the car shaking violently–from cold or fear, or maybe just cold fear. This fast, I thought, this fast I could end up being unable to write, or maybe speak, or walk.

More morbid thoughts rushed in on the heels of those. This fast I could have to leave this life I know in this body. Inside I started screaming–“I’m not done! My kids still need me. My grandbabies still need me. My husband still needs me. I’m not done with the work I came here to do. I can’t leave; I WON’T leave…and I need my body whole and functional!”

When we got there, I marched into that ER shaking like a dry leaf in a strong Autumn wind–but on my own two feet. By sheer force of will I passed every damn test they gave me. As the afternoon wore on, with CT scans and blood work and a hundred questions to answer, as mad and determined as I was, I couldn’t stop shaking. I also felt embarrassed. “There’s nothing wrong with me,” I thought, “and here I am in this hospital, having all these tests and upsetting my kids.” Per my request my husband had notified them since I didn’t know what was happening to me, and unbeknownst to me, news of the event was hitting Facebook scaring the bejeebers out of my friends.

As I lay in the ER for the afternoon, I thought about my family–I thought about the petty things I can get my undies in a bunch over. I thought about the relationships in my life that are wounded. I’ve heard it said, and I’ve agreed–none of that matters! But now that truth had taken a deep dive to somewhere inside me that suddenly made it imperative. Really, all that matters is love. Is connection. We are connected whether we want to be or not because everything that exists is interconnected. Kinking the flow of love, tying knots in the cords that connect us heart to heart–why? Why do I judge? Why do I defend? Why do I need anyone to be other than they choose to be? Why can’t I be content with who I am in this moment of my life experience? Peace does not elude me–it is I who bar the door.

Tests were inconclusive since I no longer had any symptoms other than a headache. The ER doctor figured it was probably a Transient Ischemic Attack–a mini-stroke that’s not really a stroke. If I understand correctly it mimics a stroke but resolves quickly leaving no damage. They said that the CT scan showed an area in my brain’s right frontal lobe that was damaged–“missing” as the doctor put it–which my husband said might explain a few things–that indicated a minor stroke in my past that I have no memory of, probably because that part of my brain is missing. They let me go home because there seemed no reason to keep me. I had to promise that I’d reduce my stress and come back for more tests.

Once home, I found myself immersed in a rushing tide of love and concern and prayers from family, friends, and even strangers via the FB posting my daughter had done. I sat and cried from the humbling truth of how much I am loved by so many. It was a deeply personal realization of how much love and goodness and caring there is in the world–perfectly imperfect people caring about other imperfect people, stepping out to offer support and sending healing energy through their thoughts by just being willing to care about someone they may not even know.

My mother taught me that love is about showing up. When you love someone, you show up. Practicing love, means you show up. I suppose that means that to love even ourselves means showing up for ourselves. Certainly, a whole lot of people showed up for me in my tiny little crisis. At first I felt ashamed and embarrassed, as if I didn’t deserve it since really, I was okay and nothing terrible had happened. I had to let that go, and just allow myself to be filled up with gratitude–for my life, for my health, for my body that allows me to experience life in this world on this planet in this time…and for all those people, these many many people in my life who love me. I don’t think I realized even how many!

It rather undoes a person. It reduces you to your own “bottom line”… What is my life going to be about? What do I want my legacy to be when that day comes when my body decides it’s done and isn’t persuaded to continue? The ultimate result, or outcome of my life, what do I choose to make that to be?

A long time ago I decided that the specifics of the story of this planet and the Universe and who is the Creator of it all and how will it end and by what means, though interesting since there are nearly as many stories and myths and opinions with proof to back them as there are people, was far far less important than whether and how I lived in accordance with the essence of all those teachings and beliefs. Whether it is the admonition in sacred texts of numerous religions and spiritual practices to Love, or the call by those awakening to the Light to raise our vibrational frequency to Love so we can evolve, it is still about Love. Every belief system, at its core, is about love as far as I’ve been able to ascertain.

So what does it mean to love? To love your enemies as yourself? To love your neighbor as yourself? To love yourSelf? To love the Earth? To love the Creator?

To love even if you expect to be saved from a dying earth by the Rapture or E.T.s?

To be imperfect human beings, bombarded by so much…confused, wounded, stressed, afraid for our safety or that of others, grieved by the harm being done to the Earth and to people all around us…yet still, called to Love. What does that look like when someone tromples on my dignity? What does that mean at home in my kitchen? What does that feel like when I have to take in the news of great harm being done by powerful people?

For one day I felt that. The undeserved outpouring of love and grace and concern upon my small, imperfect Self.

I owe it to all those who poured their love on me to make good use of this life I was given. To exercise the discipline needed to create beauty and peace with sometimes just the power of my thoughts–directing them in a positive and loving way. And to utilize the gifts I have been given, honoring the sacred trust given to me to share. Shining my small light bravely into the world–not hiding it away in a closet, or under a blanket.

Love is my “bottom line”.

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.

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

November 24, 2016

INVITATION TO THE JOURNEY OF CHANGE

I have lain here in the dark before dawn morning after morning. I awaken in these early hours with a weight in the trunk of my body–as though someone had opened me up and filled me with stones while I slept. It takes me some time to breathe through the panic, to move through this murky mud of despair. I focus on the threads of light woven through this dark. I bring to mind the goodness spreading through the world–the heroic actions of so many people determined to act with compassion in a world filling up with hate and fear. I bring to mind the beauty of the Earth where I live. I offer gratitude for the many blessings, the privileges and the comfort that I experience everyday: I wake up in a warm and comfortable home; I have healthy food in my fridge and cupboard; I have hot and cold water at the flick of a faucet–water that is safe. There will be no bombs falling on my city, no military marching down my street, no blockades impeding my drive across town. I do not fear for the lives of my children or my sweet grandbabies.

Finally I am able to get up. To sit on my couch and watch the dawn slowly melt away the dark.

Last evening I watched a documentary that briefly summed up what is happening to our Earth around the globe. The massive dead spots in the oceans. The rate of ice melt in the Arctic and how that is effecting the currents in the Atlantic Ocean–the North Atlantic Deep Water (NADW) circulation that effects the Gulf Stream–which regulates the temperatures in Europe. Scientists are concerned that the NADW will stall and shut down, an event which  within a matter of a few years would plunge Europe into an ice age. The deforestation happening around the world is screwing up our oxygen levels, as well as causing droughts and deserts and death and suffering to millions of species of life. The plankton being killed in the oceans lowers (and in some cases eliminates) oxygen in parts of the ocean, which suffocates to death all the marine life in those areas. I watched footage of the atomic bombs we set off repeatedly in the not so distant past, both on land and in the oceans, and was reminded of other testing that has gone on more recently deep inside the earth and oceans. How can anyone think that this does no harm to the Earth? The film showed the increase in volcanic activity around the globe; the increase in earthquakes even in places where we have never experienced them in modern times. Some of this is thought to be the result of the explosive weapons experiments and also from the fracking we have been doing; our incessant drilling and mining and exploding of the Earth to get at what we want to “support our way of life”.

The film also showed the natural phenomenon that is contributing to the environmental upset the Earth is experiencing. We are moving into a new region of the galaxy which is exposing us to new levels of energy; the magnetic field around the Earth has been shifting and the Sun is dramatically increasing its solar activity. While it is true that this is disruptive for Earth and contributes to environmental changes, it is made clear in this film, and in other documentaries and relevant articles, it is what we have done, and are continuing to do to the Earth that has weakened her. We have made her vulnerable to destruction in a way she would not be if we hadn’t messed things up. When we are warned of an impending hurricane, those living in the target area prepare. They do not ignore the warnings. Preparing well will hopefully see them through the storm safely. Similarly we have been warned about what our reckless, irresponsible treatment of our planet would do…and we have denied the warnings, lied to ourselves that it couldn’t be true despite the evidence. We’ve continued our abuse of the planet and those that live here–plants, animals, birds, insects, marine life, soil, water and air. And people. All for money and “our way of life”. And that mostly for a very small percentage of the 7 billion people who live here.

I have heard some Christians say that the chaos and the destruction of our planet is  evidence of “the end times” as laid out in Revelations in the New Testament. If this is so, why, when it has always been within our power to choose to be responsible with this planet we have been entrusted with, why would we think it is “okay” to do what we have done despite the warnings and evidence of the destruction it has caused? Why do we think it is okay to continue to do it and then blame the results of what we have all chosen to do on God? Shifting the consequences of our irresponsibility onto those deemed immoral, those who do not honor our idea of the “true God”–saying it is “God’s judgment”? What we and this Earth suffer will be the consequence of our own collective choices to do what we have done to the Earth we were given, our own greed and irresponsibility, our own refusal to fully embrace and live in accordance with the greatest commandments outlined in every religion and spiritual practice on this planet–to Love our Creator, His creation, and to Love one another. If the end of this world as we have known it has come upon us–it has been by our own hand. We always have had a choice. We still do.

In the book of Micah in the Old Testament, chapter 6 verses 7 and 8 it is written: …“Does the LORD take delight in [the sacrifice of] thousands of rams, In ten thousand rivers of oil? Shall I present my firstborn for my rebellious acts, The fruit of my body for the sin of my soul? No, He has told you, O man, what is good…And what does the LORD require of you? To practice justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God.” Which brings to mind a well-known passage in the New Testament: 1st Corinthians chapter 13 verses 1 – 13. Here we are admonished that if we do all the “right things” that are considered by us to be righteous–from speaking in tongues, to studying all the holy texts, to having faith to perform miracles, to helping the poor and doing many good deeds, even sacrificing our comfort or our very life for what we believe–but yet, do not embody love, do not know love, do not open the flow of love to others and all that God has created…we are nothing. The passage goes on to describe to us what exactly this love looks like in action: patient, kind, not envious or self-seeking. It does not dishonor others in how we treat or speak of or to them, or even think of them. This love does not anger easily or hold grudges. It does not delight in evil, or the pain of even our enemies. This love always protects–everyone and all things created. This love always trusts, hopes and perseveres. The passage ends by saying that faith, hope and love yet remain–but the greatest of these is love.

A long time ago I began to wake up to how arrogant my “righteousness” was–how bereft of real love I was. My heart was closed. I wasn’t able to allow love to flow…like a garden hose turned on full strength, but twisted and kinked so that the flow was cut off, the water unable to make it through to give itself to the thirsty ground. Love was something I had a mental construct of and worked to behave in accordance with–but it wasn’t something that filled me, or flowed from me freely. I was the “noisy gong, the clanging symbol” of 1st Corinthians. I made a commitment at that time that I would take myself on a journey to learn this love. To open the flow and heal my heart .

I thought it would be easy. Just a series of decisions and choices.

The journey has been rigorous. Like climbing a mountain. Like deciding to walk across America for a cause with only a few necessities in your backpack, trusting that your needs will be met along the way. It brings to mind Jesus’ description in Matthew 7 of such a journey: “Enter by the narrow gate, for the gate [path] is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction and those who enter by it are many. For the gate [path] is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Or as I wrote recently to some friends, “Change isn’t easy, and healing is hard work.”

At one time I arrogantly thought that verse referred to the “few” who chose to be Christians–“born again”. But then I finally had to reckon with something else Jesus described in this same chapter: “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ In a later chapter he describes judging the nations and he welcomes into his kingdom many who are surprised and amazed because they had not even known his name (in other words, were not Christian nations?) But he says, “whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” But those who are being sent away cannot believe it–they consider themselves the ‘righteous’. But he says, “you did not help those who were hungry and thirsty, you did not care for the stranger in need, or ill, or in prison–and thus you did not do this for me.”

The tricky part is reconciling the good deed with a true flow of love from the heart. It’s all about motivation, I guess.

If the will of the Father–the Creator–by some referred to simply as “Source” is to Love, is to care for one another and for all things that have been created–why do we spend our energy and money and time fighting about whose dogma, whose vocabulary, whose story of creation is “right”? Part of my awakening those many years ago was noticing how truly loving and kind, merciful and humble were many people I knew or knew of who were not of the same religion that I believed at the time was the only one that was “correct”. There were so many who were far more “godly” than I was. I began to see how foreign really living the tenets of even my own religion was to me, and to many who I knew within my church.

And so I left the familiar shores of my life, and set out on my journey–to become this Love that I saw written into the very fabric of the world. This Love to which every spiritual practice calls their followers.

I have watched this call to Love going out from all corners of the world. I have read of children and young adolescents starting programs and movements to practice Kindness and Compassion. I have watched a group of people from many nations and from different religions craft The Charter For Compassion and gift it to the world, beginning a movement within the Faith community to create unity and peace. I have watched as hundreds of blogs and other internet sites have sprung up to post quotes and articles ranging from the esoteric to the scientific about the effects of kindness, of positive thinking, of compassion, of joy–all things that we’re admonished to practice within the texts of all the major religions. I have watched the movements to protect the planet and all its creatures grow in strength and numbers. I am watching the increasing awareness of how interconnected everyone and everything in this world and throughout the universe truly is. I have watched what used to be obscure information about the science behind this interconnection and the power of our thoughts and words to create become mainstream information. I have read with hope and relief of the inventions and experiments going on that can not only replace our unhealthy sources of energy, fuel and food with those that are healthy, but also ways to heal the damage we have done.

And yet, despite all this Light, we still are bowing and acquiescing to the Darkness–to war and separation and greed and “the way it’s always been done”. We are still renting rooms in our hearts and minds to Fear–and submitting to his bidding.

Each of us have experienced situations where we have had to struggle through a personal challenge to choose the way of Love and Compassion. Of real, true forgiveness. [And, by the way, by forgiveness I do not mean ‘acceptance’ or letting the one who has done harm think it is ‘no big deal’, or that ‘it’s okay’; it’s about letting go of the hurt that we’ve nursed, releasing the debt we harbor.] But now we are being 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.

To Be Continued…

SPRING SONG

SPRING SONG

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March 20, 2016

I saw two robins in the slush during our Winter’s final tantrum the other day. They were fighting over what looked to be a worm. It had been raining hard in our part of the city, while snow buried everyone up over the bluffs. Our basement was leaking, proof that the ground was saturated and the earth soft–we knew this because it was easy to pound the metal stakes into the ground to put the deer fence back up around our garden. The tulips were pushing up above the earth–a beloved delicacy for the pregnant does who wander out of the snowy woods into the neighborhood where the snow has retreated, looking for the special treats they crave. So, it might truly have been a winter fattened worm escaping a flooded den. Do worms hibernate in dens? Where do they go when the ground freezes up? The scrawny robin won.

When my children were young, we went for our first ice-cream cone after we saw our first robins in Spring. It was a tradition. But I’ve become lactose intolerant. I bought some fresh strawberries instead that afternoon while it rained, and the school children were at home having a “snow day”.

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This morning the sun came up blazing rose-gold, announcing the first day of Spring. It is streaming in through winter streaked windows, inviting us to fetch our overshoes and go for a muddy trek in the hills. I am making fresh ground-buckwheat pancakes. David is frying bacon. There is a pitcher full of Green Smoothie on the counter filled with pears and pineapple, grapefruit and greens, ginger and celery and cucumber and avocado–we’re getting IMG_3258fortified for our Sunday migration into the bluffs. There are a flock of Redpolls taking turns having breakfast at the feeder outside the kitchen window; getting fattened up for their migration to their summer home in the Arctic–true northerners after my own heart!

I’m going to buy some daffodils from the Market today. It’s a tradition. A vase of Sunshine on my table. Last week we found some pussy-willows just beginning to consider opening up. This week they will be ready. Maybe we’ll find some today as we slog through the mud and navigate the swollen streams in the hills that climb up to the bluffs. From up there we can see our neighborhood laid out like a toy town. Beyond lies the harbor, the bridges, the Lake. We can see all the way to Wisconsin.  We’ll gather some pussy-willows, and fill up our house with Spring. Tonight we’ll go grill steaks at my daughter’s.

Tomorrow we’ll clean out the closets and put away the parkas and the skis.

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LIKE A MATCH STRUCK

November 20, 2015

MORNING SONG

The Earth spins, and we turn from the stars and the deep dark of space into the grey light of dawn. I watch it come, slowly, melting the dark. There is pink now, streaks of watercolor across the dove grey sky. The songbirds are waking up. And then the sun scrapes the edge of the world and ignites the whole sky–a raging flame of orange and rose, shot through with bits of blue and violet. A flock of geese wing their way above the city, dark silhouettes against the flames. Like a match struck in a darkened room, the light flares, and then settles to its task. The flames fade as the Sun leaps over the horizon. The dove grey of dawn slowly becomes a thin, watery blue, darkening and deepening as the Sun climbs into the trees, and then sails over the rooftops of the neighborhood.

It is the fifth day of rain. Piles of storm clouds have sealed off my corner of the world. I sit at my window with my cup of tea, watching the world turn into another twilit day. But I remember; I remember when the sun scraped the edge of the world and the sky burst into flame.

 

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SAYING “YES”! TO LIFE

April 20, 2015

ON SAYING “YES”!

My fifteen month old grandson despises the word “No”. Even when the word is not directed at him he feels in his baby soul the obstruction, the obstacle, the closing off of the flow of his baby curiosity and busyness and quite reasonably, he rebels with every cell of his little Self. When we say, “yes” we are opening ourselves up to experience more of something. Maybe that is more work, more love, more honesty, or an adventure. “Yes” is a positive word that opens up possibilities. Saying “yes” often elicits gratitude from the one standing in front of us hoping we will open up.

Having long struggled with clinical depression, as I began to learn about the power of our thoughts, attitudes and words, I developed the habit of throwing my arms wide and (when possible) shouting, “I say “YES”! to Life!” If I couldn’t shout outloud, I’d shout in my mind and whisper with my voice. Usually, no matter how I felt about Life in that moment, one good shout would lead to another. I’d begin to at least think, and often verbalize what indeed I was saying “YES!” to in my life; what I wanted to invite into my experience. Yes to joy filling up my heart. Yes to love and kindness and forgiveness. Yes to healing. Yes to the work of the day. Yes to Grace. Yes to the lesson that perhaps I was embroiled in. Yes to being present in both the bitter and the sweet in my life.

This often led to thinking about the blessings and gifts in my life. Sometimes, saying “Yes!” would break me open, and the sorrow, the grief, the anger and confusion would pour out. Sometimes it would take me to the floor, to my knees, weeping; trying to make sense of the pain.

But I knew that if I could say “YES!” and mean it, somehow, it would open a way out of the dark places and into the light.

The other day, with the sun slipping up over the horizon and the birds having a breakfast party next door, I opened the window to a surprisingly warm Spring breeze and I couldn’t help a little shout out, “I say YES! to Life!” And I was suddenly struck by the strangest little Aha!

Conditioned as I’ve been to resignedly accept that Life will serve up the bitter with the sweet, I settled however uncomfortably into the belief that I must accept both if I’m to live fully, living out both the blessings and the hardships with awareness, presence and grace.

But the other morning, I mused: Saying “YES!” to Life, means saying yes to the LIFE that is in everything; every person and creature, every situation. It doesn’t mean glumly accepting an experience I’d rather not be having; it means looking for the Life that is in that experience. It doesn’t mean heroically saying Yes! to kindness and compassion while putting up with a really difficult person; it means looking for the Life in that person, however weak and spindly it might be. It doesn’t mean humbly accepting disappointment and situations that I suspect are either of my own creation, or beyond my control…it means seeking for the Life in those situations as though looking for lost treasure. The Life I find might be a precious lesson that increases my wisdom factor, or leads me away from an old, skanky rut in my brain, or out of a vicious cycle I’ve been recreating for years. It may be a breakthrough in a tangled up relationship or it might open the way to a new friendship. It might be a new perspective on an old situation. It might be the arrival of good news. It might be a new opportunity that my fears had previously blocked. It might be presents. It might be the manifestation of my wildest dreams.

Suddenly, Life looks very different to me. And saying YES! to Life, is suddenly not about “doing the right thing”, or about holding the yawning “black hole” at bay.  Life is suddenly become a grand adventure!  A treasure hunt that cannot be rivaled, not by the grandest pirate king of all. And with it has come a flood of light and peace and little streams of joy, watering the dormant seeds long buried in my heart.