Category Archives: Light

THE LIGHTHOUSE

ON BEING A LIGHTHOUSE, A STREET LAMP, A CANDLE IN THE NIGHT

June 28, 2015

“Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.”  – Anne Lamott –

I read this quote this morning, and the following commentary: “So, you want to save the world but don’t know what to do or whom to serve or where to start? Breathe deeply. Feel your own vitality. Connect with the essence of who you are, what you love, what has broken your heart open, and what gives you strength. Be fully who you are–no resistance, no shame, no blame–and shine.”

Doing Restorative Circles with juvenile offenders is heart-breaking and joyous work. Once a young girl who found our Circle to be the first safe haven she’d known in a long time, began to crack open the hard veneer she hid inside and share her stories, her fears, her dreams. One night after an especially intense Circle, I went on a long walk along the Lakewalk. My heart was heavy with the weight of a burden I had no way to resolve. I knew that this girl, as well as most of the young people who came to our Circles, had to return to homes and classrooms that would be unchanged, even while they struggled to change themselves in the midst of these environments that had tangled up their lives in the first place.

The Lakewalk cut through a park, and as I passed beneath a streetlamp, the light went out. Strange. As I moved across the dark path toward the next pool of light, the streetlamp behind me blinked back on. As I approached the next streetlamp, it happened again. Very strange indeed; was there a lesson here? Heading toward the next streetlamp, it remained on and I came into the pool of light, passed through it, back into the darkness, heading toward the next pool of light up ahead. And so I moved through the park, light by light.

I looked back at the streetlamps winding along the pathway through the park. I realized that I, and others like me, were like these lights in the darkness of the lives of the young people we worked with. Each one of us providing a pool of light, of safety, of comfort for as long as that young person was in our care, or our classroom, or our program, or our home. And then, they had to make their own way again. But I saw that there would be other lights along their path. It wasn’t up to me to provide light all the way down their road to the end. It was only my job to make sure my light was shining in my own little space.

The world gets changed one person at a time. The Darkness is vanquished one light at a time. No, lighhouses don’t run around looking for boats to save. They simply stand there–shining. It is enough.

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OPEN THE DOOR AND COME ON IN…

OPEN THE DOORS, AND THE WINDOWS, TOO

Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…
– Judy Collins – “Song for Judith”

It was the summer of 1972 and I was staying with my aunt and uncle. I was struggling with severe depression at that time in my life. Home alone one day, I put a record on the stereo that had been sitting out; a singer named Judy Collins–I’d never heard of her. I sat sipping lemonade listening, watching a boy and his dog playing in the parkway across the street.

Judy sang Amazing Grace and I began to cry. Where indeed was this God, this Being that I’d grown up hearing loved me so much? Was there any grace in my life I could call amazing? I was indeed lost…yet to be found. I was certainly blind to whatever goodness there might be in my small world.

I remember shooting an arrow heavenward–one of those “Is anybody there?” requests.

And then Judy began singing another song. She was putting words to exactly how I felt:    Sometimes I remember the old days
When the world was filled with sorrow
You might have thought I was livin’
But I was all alone
In my heart the rain was fallin’
The wind blew and
The night was callin’
Come back, come back, I’m all you’ve ever known…

Suddenly “reality” shifted, and although my physical human eyes could not see them, I sensed the Presence of what I will call Beings of Light…maybe Angels…and I felt waves of love wash over me as surely as if I’d been standing in the ocean with waves of water rolling over me. I felt joy bubbling up from somewhere deep inside me–

And Judy’s voice filled the room and my heart:
Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…
And when I see you happy,
Well, it sets my heart free
I’d like to be as good a friend to you
As you are to me.

I played that song over and over again. I remember tears streaming down my face. I remember standing up and opening my arms wide. I remember twirling around, lifting my face upwards. I have known all these years, that something started that day. Something shifted inside me. Something opened up to that Force that I have never known what “name” to call It–God? Goddess? The Creator? The Source (of Life and Light in the Universe)? Spirit? Father? Mother? That song, that moment, was like the kiss that awakened Sleeping Beauty; my deeper consciousness–my soul–my spirit…was awakened that day.

Like the Israelites who wandered in the desert for 40 years, the journey that began that day would take me a little over 40 years. One morning this year I woke up and knew in every cell of my body that something had shifted. Some part of me had opened up that had not been so before, like a dam that had only allowed trickles of life and love, light and grace, understanding and strength, suddenly gone. Nothing remained to obstruct the flow other than my own choices at any given moment. I could argue that this was always true, it is always about our choice. But there is a difference between fumbling for the door in the dark, and standing in front of  that same door in the full light of day knowing you only have to reach out and throw the latch and turn the knob.

Each cell in our body is surrounded by a membrane to protect it and to help give it form. I recently learned that even within our cells, there are membranes surrounding each part of the cell. What I understand is that these membranes, in addition to providing some protection and form, are the connective tissue that allow communication throughout our body. Think of it! These connective tissue membranes within the cells, surrounding the cells, layered then around our bones, our nerve, energy, and blood pathways, around our organs, around the outer most layer of muscle, beneath our skin…every cell, from the microscopic level to the fact that our skin is itself a connective tissue membrane on the outside of our body! Micro to macro.

But these layers of connective tissue membranes have to do something in order to pass along communication, nutrients, hydration, and all the myriad of functions our cells are responsible for: the membranes have to choose to “open”. They have to allow the information, the nutrients, the hydration, or the literal “electric” energy to come inside. They have to let down their defenses and become permeable to the process. Surprisingly, I am also hearing more frequently these days that our own consciousness–our own will–our own thoughts have much to do with whether these membranes will open or remain closed.

Yesterday I listened to someone share from both a spiritual and scientific perspective that there is also a membrane of consciousness that surrounds us energetically. He said that only through our “faith”, our “belief”, our “intention”/”will” can that membrane open to receive energy that is sent to us, or that we have called to ourselves through prayer or intention. When we ask someone to pray for us, or we ask for grace or healing, or we set intention to receive guidance or wisdom or perhaps, provision of needed resources–do we expect to receive? Do we have faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen” standing in the gap between the time of the prayer or the setting of intention and it’s manifestation? Do we believe we are loved, that the Creative Source of the Universe is benevolent ?

Belief, faith, trust–I am discovering that it is these that open the door. These make the membrane of consciousness permeable. This allows the flow of the Energy–the Light–of the Universe to flow into and through my life. This allows the flow of Love to well up from the Eternal spark of Life (or “God Inside”) me and to flow through me and out from me.

I have a planter whose soil has become compacted and hard. I water the plant, and the water runs right through–the dirt remains dry, compact, hard as cement. It cannot absorb any of the water. The energy of Love comes to us, often, but if our heart is hard and closed, that Energy disperses and flows off somewhere else.

Someone prays for us–the Energy of Grace, or needed guidance, or maybe healing comes to us in response. But if the doors are locked, the windows shuttered, the Energy disperses…and flows off somewhere else. I once asked a group of young students with whom I was working what they thought being “open-minded” meant. A ten year old girl raised her hand and said, “Well, it’s like having a door in your brain. If the door is closed and locked, nothing can get inside. But if it is open, then lots of new ideas and stuff can come inside.”

Open to receive help from someone instead of thinking we have to do it all by ourselves. Open to receive a gift, or a compliment instead of deflecting it. Open to receive someone’s love, however rough around the edges, instead of shielding ourselves from it because we are afraid we will be hurt or disappointed.

I have come full circle. Like the day in my aunt’s living room singing with Judy Collins with my arms flung wide, I often now will lift my arms and say–“I open, I open, I open…like the flowers to the sunlight, I open to the Light that is pure Energy that creates and sustains Life. I open, I open, I open…like the Earth to the rain I open to Love flowing from God Inside me, through me, out into the world around me–with grace and kindness and compassion. I open to Joy. I open to wellness and strength. I open to all the blessings that can possibly fill up my life today!”

Open the door and come on in
I’m so glad to see you my friend
You’re like a rainbow comin’ around the bend…

GENTLENESS AND GRACE

June 3, 2015

BECOMING GRACE; LEARNING GENTLENESS

I did it! I completed my 21 day detoxification program! The program required I abstain from eating foods; all nutrition was juiced, or made into healthy, cleansing pureed soups. There were also supplements to take. I stayed nourished and energized, but my body was allowed to focus it’s energy on eliminating built up stores of toxins, and to rest and heal. There were detoxing baths, lymphatic drainage massages, connective tissue healing massages, kidney flushes, a liver flush, colon flushes (colonics)…  It was intense. I went through two healing crisis where I was down for the count for a day; and a few days of lowered energy. Otherwise I felt good. I lost about 15 pounds. I learned a lot.

Because the program encourages ending with a liver/gallbladder flush, my colonics therapist lent me the book, The Liver and Gallbladder Miracle Cleanse: An All-Natural, At-Home Flush to Purify and Rejuvenate Your Body by Andreas Moritz as it contained much more extensive information and better directions for doing the flush. Previously I knew very little about the functions of the liver. Reading her book I was astounded! Thinking like so many, that my liver is just fine and dandy unless I develop obvious symptoms of difficulty or disease, I had no idea how many small “hints” my body already is showing of a congested and unhappy liver. Having known people who have had gallbladder surgery and witnessed their pain, I did not suspect that I might be carrying around a load of liver stones of my own. I was. It was remarkable to experience passing (painlessly) literally dozens. According to the book, after the initial flush, one should do a liver flush once a month until no more stones are passed. I’m going to take this very seriously after witnessing what I was already holding and just how incredibly important it is to have a healthy liver!

I also learned a great deal more about colon health. I have paid only minimal attention to these two major organs in my body. But I now realize that they are the two organs most directly linked to our health; the cradle where disease is first spawned, and most linked to the negative aspects of aging. I learned that nearly all other organs and functions and systems in our body depend on these two organs to keep the rest of them functioning and healthy.

I think the thing I appreciate the most about my experience, though, is how much more connected I feel towards my own body-self. I feel kinder, gentler, more compassionate toward mySelf. I feel gratitude toward my body and it’s incredible wisdom and what it allows me to experience and do. I feel contrite at how much I’ve taken it for granted and how I’ve abused and warred against mySelf all these years. This first came forcefully to my attention early on in the program after my 2nd colonic. Determined to make this detox work, I was militantly going to make sure I got all the toxic garbage out of me. Directed to massage my abdomen during the colonic, I aggressively kneaded my colon and went 30 minutes longer than the average colonic. Afterwards, instead of losing weight, I gained two pounds. By that afternoon I was quite ill. The next day I could barely make it to my lymph massage. My therapist is a very wise, intuitive woman. After listening to me she told me that those extra 2 pounds of water had been reabsorbed into my system along with probably a lot of toxins–hence being so sick. She said, “Mary, you were to GENTLY massage…more like just laying your hand on your abdomen to encourage release. The idea is to relax and release.”

I realized then how difficult that has always been for me; to allow my body to do its work rather than beat it into submission. I wasn’t very good at listening and learning when not well. Instead I would be angry and feel betrayed by my body. It is time to call an arms truce and make war no more; to allow the flow of Life in and through me and all around me. To simply let go…  To enjoy who I am and be gentle and merciful and compassionate. I realize how much easier it will then be to be kind and gentle with others.

In her book The Call, Oriah Mountain Dreamer proposes that each of us have come to this Life to learn and then to teach (because after all, we can’t exactly teach something we haven’t learned or experienced, can we?) one primary attribute–one that can be summed up in just one word. Years ago as I read her account I had only to think for a moment and I knew immediately that my special word is Grace. This became a central theme in my personal journey.

GRACE: Favor or goodwill (kindness, kindliness, love); forgiveness, mercy, pardon; gentleness; elegance or beauty of form, manner, motion or action.

First to learn, then to teach; but I have also learned that the most grace-filled teaching is that which is done simply through living out what we believe.

In Native American tradition, the energy (medicine) of the Deer is Gentleness and grace. Where I live there are a lot of deer in the neighborhood. Often they wander through my yard, and occasionally when I walk in the woods in the hills above my house I will come across a few; sometimes I have even walked unwittingly into the midst of an entire herd of 20, 30 or more. It amuses me that too many times to be a coincidence, deer will walk into my space on a day when I need a gentle reminder to be gentle, to be kind, to be grace.

Now and then some light breaks through regarding having that grace for mySelf. Going through this Detox program was such a time. It was a pivotal lesson. I feel differently toward mySelf and my body. I will care for mySelf in a way I haven’t done before, and I will accept what and who I am with myIMG_7349 glory and my limitations, my beauty and my wrinkles, my strength and my weakness, my successes and my failings, my growth and my ripening.

I am becoming Grace.

And, beginning today, I get to re-introduce myself to chewing real food! Today I made a salad. It was delicious! Tomorrow I get to also have fruit! A mango! An organic grapefruit! And Sunday I get to grill myself a piece of salmon! Oh joy!

You know what though? Chewing salad is a lot of work!

SPRING

March 21, 2015

WE ARE THE LIGHT OF THE WORLD

According to the calendar, Spring arrived yesterday. The snow respectfully packed his bags and departed, running down the gutters, disappearing into the dirt, gathering into puddles to complain a bit. The creeks have broken the winter seal and are merrily plunging down the hillsides, roaring through the culverts, climbing over boulders, shouting at the sky.

The departure of the snow has revealed dead, brown grasses, empty gardens, debris left behind by careless folk. Everywhere is muddy, smelly, and barren.

There are hearts whose landscape is chilly, blustery, muddy, without color or softness or sweetness, locked in the stubborn grip of dark Winter’s harsh and frosty presence.

Deep inside the Earth and the tree and at the bottom of streams, magic is stirring. Spring is quietly waking up the World. We who have weathered the winter anxiously wait for Her to get up, take her shower, get dressed, put on a bit of make-up, a bit of jewelry, and come to breakfast.

Deep inside a winter worn heart sometimes this same magic stirs. A tiny spark of life flickers into form, gently nudging with toes and elbows, whispering, “Wake up! Please, wake up!”

Sorrow and pain fill the world and deep darkness is desperately trying to devour the Sun. Still, the Earth faithfully spins out Her annual journey around Her lover, the Sun. He does not falter in smiling warmly down upon Her because the Love that made the world is an unquenchable fire in His heart. Some days the rains fall gently down, softening the Earth. She lifts her arms and drinks it in. See? The spring flowers are returning, pushing up from the earth, bursting from the buds upon the trees and shrubberies.

So might a heart choose to wake up again; opening to the fiery warmth of Love and the gentle rain of Grace. Dormant seeds begin breaking open, filling up the hills and valleys with Joy and Beauty. Darkness is diminished as it shrinks back from this new Sun that just ignited in the world.

On such days, the skirts of the Universe swirl in a happy dance.

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.

SNIPPETS

February 4, 2015…Happy Birthday to Meridith!

SNIPPETS

1. BALLET OF THE BIRDS

A large flock of fat birds are cavorting in the sky. Bird ballet. They, as one Being, flow south, bank in a wide arc to the northeast, swoop earthward, soar heavenward, bank again to the west, to the south, reverse, around and around, not one wing out of sync with the whole.

I stand transfixed wondering what these birds are. Large as crows–but they aren’t black. Small seagulls? Wrong time of year.

Suddenly the music has finished its final note and they fall inelegantly toward ground, alighting on the cable wire strung across the alley outside my window. Thirty pigeons on the wire, fluffing their feathers, jostling each other for room to catch their breath.

And then as one they depart across the rooftops beyond my sight.

2. THE STORY MAKER

Every morning she had tea and decided what story she would make today.

Do we think that Life happens to us; that every day unfolds according to the dictates of some hidden writer sitting in a stuffy room in a galaxy far, far away? Do we never suspect the writer is us?

3. THE SHIFT

She glowed. She had swallowed seven suns and every cell in her body was drunk with their Fire and Light. She smiled and the air crackled–angel hairs of fire running wild. One touch and reality would shatter.

She stood still. Only her eyes moved. She knew in the next breath, one turn of her head, the world would shift–like a kaleidoscope.

Like a kaleidoscope; every turning reveals a new story in color and light; another pattern to comprehend. There is no need to fear the turning. Light and Beauty never cease their dance with Love and Joy.

Shift.

4. COURAGE

Four fat pigeons are hanging out together on the cable wire strung across the alley. Meeting adjourns to the ridgepole of the house next door. They are lined up beak to butt like children waiting their turn to jump off the high ledge at the swimming hole.

The pigeon first in line hesitates at the edge, looking down at the deck below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left. He looks down again, wobbling his head up and down, back and forth. He steps back, forward, back, forward. He suddenly stands very still, slowly tips his head down, his body forward, and he falls off the ridgepole, head first! Three feet, five feet, ten feet and finally wings spread, flap, beak pulls up, and his plump pigeon body lands in the mess of birdseed strewn on the deck by the squirrel raiders.

Up on the ridgepole, the remaining three have each stepped up. Pigeon #2 hesitates at the edge, looking down at his friend below, looking out at the trees, looking right, looking left, looking down  again…and over he goes, deck-ward ho!

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.