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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.

THE THUMPER RULE

December 2, 2015

MY GUIDING BUNNY

Some people have Spiritual Guides in human form–counselors, priests, pastors, teachers. Some people have Spiritual Guides in the form of Spirit Beings, like Angels or other Beings of Light.

I have Animals. Sometimes real ones. A dragonfly brought me a message one spring day when I was trying to resolve a problem. She flew right up to me and hovered about a foot from my face…she just stayed there until finally the “aha!” broke through to my consciousness; then she flew off.  Another day  when I was particularly edgy and cantankerous I went for a walk and inadvertently walked into the middle of an entire herd of deer. Deer Medicine is all about Gentleness and Grace. I stood stock-still, with silent tears rolling down my face. Two young ones actually walked towards me, stopping about eight or ten yards away. After about 15 minutes, they all slowly wandered off and I went home, gentled, graced and peace-filled.

But my Animal Guides aren’t always real.  I have a Tiger and a Bear and a Wolf in my Mind’s menagerie. The Tiger’s name is Jack and he’s the one teaching me that there aren’t any parts of my Self that I need to kill off…it’s more about integrating. He’s taught me that Ego’s aren’t monsters that we need to keep caged somewhere deep in the dungeons of our psyche. They just need to learn when to move over and let the more Enlightened One of Us drive the bus.

But this isn’t about Wolves and Tigers and Bears. No. This is about a Bunny. Yesterday, Thumper got loose from the Bambi set and came wandering into my bathroom. I had just scrubbed the floor an hour previously, but there I was wiping up a pile of whiskers. Evidently my husband had dumped the whisker bin from his electric razor mostly on the floor, with some on the toilet seat and in the sink, just to keep it interesting. I think he meant to put it in the wastebasket, but he was probably looking at something else, his brain three steps ahead of his body. Sometimes his brain is actually out the door and three blocks down the street before his body leaves the house. You can imagine what he doesn’t notice then! Frowning, I could feel my body tense as my mind furiously wrote up the negative incident report that I would surely deliver as soon as he came upstairs.

Suddenly, there was Thumper, shyly peeking out from behind the wastebasket.

I eyed him suspiciously.

“Hello,” said Thumper.

Wow, I thought. I haven’t seen Bambi in maybe, oh, 25 years?

“What are you doing here?” I asked.

“Well, ummm, I just came to remind you what my father taught me. It’s pretty good advice, ” said Thumper.

He ducked his head shyly. His foot started nervously thumping. And I remembered.

“If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nothin’ at all,” said Thumper and I. Together.

“You know this one?” asked Thumper.

“Yeah. I guess I do,” I said.

“Cool!” said Thumper. He loped out of the bathroom. Then he quick stuck his head back around the door-frame. “Don’t forget, now!” he said.

And he was gone.

I finished cleaning up the bathroom and joined my husband in the kitchen where he was making smoothies. I opened my mouth…

“Remember!” whispered an invisible Thumper.

I shut my mouth.

I never mentioned the whisker mess.

Not once.

I have been thinking a lot about my new Thumper Rule. My life will be so much more amazing because my focus will be on all the good stuff. I’ll bet I’ll smile more. I might even discover humor in the nooks and crannies of my life.

Thumper never said ‘If you can’t say something nice to someone…’. He simply said, ‘If you can’t say something nice…’ Period. About anything or anyone or to yourself.

Does that include the weather do you think? And stupid drivers? And insurance regulations? OMG–does it include politicians?!

I just finished writing a letter to someone because they had written one to me and it required a response. It took me 4 days. I had to keep applying my new Thumper Rule so I had to keep deleting shit–stuff– and re-framing, ah–stuff, and…Whew! What an exercise! It was like running a fucking–um–an exhausting–marathon. But different.

IF YOU CAN’T SAY SOMETHING NICE, DON’T SAY NOTHING AT ALL…

 

HIS MAJESTY’S KINGDOM

September 9, 2015

WHAT I DID DURING SUMMER VACATION

I didn’t write much this summer. I created other things–things that didn’t involve words. I built kingdoms and sat at the bottom of a Lake. I ate goat meat and met people from half a world away.

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“Come and see! There’s an Elf-wood and a Dwarf mountain and a lake and an ocean in my backyard!”

But two steps down the backstairs Poppi says, “Stop! I’m sorry, you can’t come down here–I’m having a battle with Orc-Ants!”

“Ork Ants? What are Ork-Ants, Nonna?” asks five-year old grandson, Morgan.

“Well,” I answer, “you know what Orcs are, right?”

“Yeah. Theys like goblins and theys ugly and they kill dwarves and humans and elves and stuff.”

“Right. Well, Orc Ants are mean, nasty little creatures that come from the Orc world. They live in the ground, and they think elves and fairies and humans are delicious for dinner. Poppi discovered them marching up the alley into our backyard…probably coming to attack the Elves in the Elf-wood…or maybe on their way to the Lonely Mountain–there are probably Orcs in the Lonely Mountain. So Poppi is fighting them off.”

“With a squirt gun, Nonna?”

“Well, it is a sprayer…and it is filled with some nasty soap that they don’t like–it makes them sick. So they can’t fight and they will go away.”

“Poppi, I need a gun too! I want to battle Orc Ants!”

The battle raged for thirty minutes.

Afterwards, we surveyed the carnage. We took a strainer to the Lake and hauled out piles of Orc Ants. We took a hose and tsunamied the remainder of the forces down the alley.

And then we went to explore the Elf-wood and the Dwarf Mountain, looking for survivors of the Orc Ant Attack.

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It appeared that all was well. The Elves were hale and hearty. The Fairies were shyly peeking from their perches in the tree.

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The Dwarves apparently were out of town and missed the entire kerfuffle.

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The Forest Dragon, Fengore, was on site, preparing to take one of the Elves on a reconnaissance flight to get an overview of damages.

For several days, Morgan kept an eye out for the return of the Dwarves, and an eye upon the Lonely Mountain where dwells the vicious Purple Midnight…an evil Dragon Sorceress. There she guards her treasure, and her babies…  IMG_3382 IMG_3381 IMG_3379

And then suddenly, early one morning, Morgan woke up to the strangest music…it sounded a bit like mice singing tunes from the movie Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

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And there they were…the whole dozen of them…back from some adventure in some distant country… Hi Ho, Hi Ho… 

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And so it was. And so it went. The summer.

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Bike rides with Colombian Soccer players. Hikes to the creek to learn to swim with Morgan and Rowan. Dragon battles in the backyard. Fireworks and Thunderstorms. Sticky peanut butter on the front door. Picking raspberries.

And there were books. And there were boats.

I went diving in the Big Lake… My brother took me. I’d never sat on the bottom of the Lake before with 15 feet of water above my head…breathing. After they loaded all the gear on IMG_3358me, they said, okay, now stand up and take a great big step forward and just sort of fall into the water. Except the gear was so heavy I couldn’t stand up, none-the-less “step into the water”… I sort of launched myself, almost lost my mask, breathed water, choked and sputtered and wanted only to make it back to the boat. Okay, regroup…good to go…down we went…except Oliver had to haul me down and IMG_3361hang onto me or I would simply float back up to the top. Nuts to that…he sent me up top and loaded my weight belt with so much weight that when I let go of the boat, I sank 15 feet in about 15 nanoseconds. Sitting on the bottom, I looked around…  Now what? And so my first lesson commenced.

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And so it was. And so it went. The summer.

Working, water, weeds in the garden…and hiking with friends.

And in a puff of summer smoke, it’s over. It’s become memories. The gardens are tired and the leaves on the trees are losing their green. Last night I wore my flannel pajamas to bed. The school buses are back and the neighborhood ice cream truck has unwound its music box and unpacked its chests of treats. I am sitting at my desk with piles of papers and books waiting for me to return to my work. This work of words. This work of wading out among the stars, casting my net to capture a few shiny bits of Light to share with you.

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.

WE CAME HERE TO THRIVE

October 10, 2014

WE CAME HERE TO THRIVE

“I did not come here to this Earth to struggle or suffer.  Nor did you.  I came here to thrive.” 

Someone I greatly respect wrote this some months ago.  It has set me to thinking deeply about my own suffering and that which I witness daily around me; to reflect on what I have been taught about struggle and suffering.  Because, whether it is our purpose to suffer or not, we do struggle and we do suffer.  Some of us wear our struggles and suffering as a badge of honor.  I know I have at times.  But if we are here to thrive, if we are here first and foremost to experience love and joy, happiness and abundance, then we have to own that our suffering and our struggles are messes we create.  If we are here to experience love and create a world where all can thrive, then the suffering is the dross to be cleared away.

We are living on a planet in a dimension of duality, where all things have their opposite and we have been given the ability to freely choose between those opposites.  Even the teachings of so many Wise Ones and Religious traditions aside, we see the evidence before our own eyes that all of the Universe conspires to create Life–and where we see life thriving, whether it is a body of water, a garden or a child, we find plenty of what will nourish that life, including love.  Love in all its forms seems to be at the heart of Life itself.  Doesn’t it make sense that we came here to learn what Love is?  Where could it be better understood and experienced than in a place where we can also experience it’s opposite?

So, I agree.  We did not come here to struggle and suffer even though we will experience these.  We came here to thrive.  We came here to Love.  We came here to contribute good to this world.  We came here to be Light.  We came here to be filled up with joy and happiness.  We carry within us the essence of the Creator of all things– the pure energy of Life.   Why would we ever wish to choose to be miserable, filled up with anger and hate, to radiate energy that weakens and destroys?

Criticism creates an energy that does not feel safe, and those experiencing it instinctively engage their “fight or flight or freeze response”.  The energy of criticism and judgment is destructive.  I have suffered the fallout of this kind of energy, and I have too often turned it on others.  It has never once helped to nurture life.  What we are drawn to are those who radiate love, compassion, kindness; it is within this kind of energy that we are able to grow, to change if need be, to become our best selves.  It is within this kind of energy that life is able to thrive.

Love, kindness, joy and gratitude, these are the badges of honor to seek.  This is what I am here to experience, what I am here to do.

I am learning that it really is a matter of choice.  And I have been given the amazing gift to do so–to choose.

TO RUN WITH WOLVES

TO RUN WITH WOLVES

September 23, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ahhhhh…  Breathe in.  Breathe out.

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

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

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

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

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

I don’t know.

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

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

Both perhaps.

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

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

 

WINNERS NEVER QUIT

WINNERS NEVER QUIT

September 17, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And help comes.

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

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

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

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

Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.

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

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

Quitters never win.  Winners never quit.

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

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

Which only leaves one other possibility.

FOR MY HUSBAND, DAVID

August 5, 2014

Dear David,

Seven years ago today I stood on a sandy beach of Lake Superior in front of a Circle of family and friends and made a promise to you.  While you held my shaking hands, I said that for as long as I live I will choose to grow in my understanding of Love and my ability to allow Love to flow through me.  I promised that I will never abandon my choice to learn to Love from the deepest place, unconditionally.

I also promised you that always I would love you to the best that I am able.

The God in us was smiling that day even though he may have winced once or twice knowing what lay ahead of us, for such a promise will reveal all the obstacles that are hindering that Love from thriving.  And oh my, what obstacles we have encountered and tripped upon!  What wounds we have suffered trying to find our way!

I told you something else that day on the sandy shore.  I told you that you were like the earth beneath our feet…and I was the water contained within the bowl of you.  Like the Lake, some days I will be serene, or a bit playful; others frenzied and stormy, raging perhaps; others rolling and purposeful.  But always, always, contained within the bowl of the earthen shore. 

Indeed, I have rolled–sometimes right over you as the wave rakes the sandy shoreline.  I have stormed and raged.  Sometimes I have been serene, even playful.  Like the earth, though it’s sandy layers shift about and the pebbles tumble and roll–you have remained, steadfast and strong.

You have watched me keep my promises.  I have never given up my pursuit of that great Love that is the breath of the Creator…that which enables all life to thrive.  I have had to remove a lot of obstacles–release a lot of fear–open doors long closed–forgive.  I have not always loved you well–but I have loved you the best that I was able.  I too, like the great Water I also love, still remain, here, in the bowl of your embrace.

Seven years.  There is something magical and sacred about the number seven.  Among the meanings that it holds is the sense of completion and perfection.  This is our seventh year.  And it is contained within a year of sevens–2014.  We have sensed a shift this year; a shift between us, within us, in the unfolding of our lives–individually and together.  Good shifts.  Shifts away from old energies, old “stuff”.  It feels as though we have indeed completed some very difficult work, individually and together; as though we have sweated and hacked out way through a densely overgrown forest path and find it opening into a luscious meadow with a sparkling stream flowing through.  On one side there is a vista overlooking a craggy mountain valley…some clouds are drifting lazily, a few shredding themselves on the tops of massive fir trees.  There is a root-studded, stony path winding down the mountain along the stream.  There is another winding up the mountain above us.  We have to choose which we will follow.  Down into the fertile valley–or up to the mountain heights?

You like to say, “Life is good and getting better!”  Too often I have rolled my eyes and shaken my head and chosen not to believe you–too afraid that it wouldn’t get better–and not happy enough to honestly declare that ‘life is good’.  But I watched you enjoying your life.  I watched you not get too worried when things were not as we would wish them to be.  I watched your life get better, filling up with many good things that you wanted to experience and do.  Thank you for teaching me that indeed, life is good, and it is getting better.  It will be as good as I wish it to be, as I notice that it is, as I make it.  I am learning from you that it will only get better if I allow it.

You like to say, “Let it go…”  I snarl at you sometimes when you say that because like a fish on a hook, I don’t know how to let go of the damn hook!  In the moment it’s got me and it’s taking me where I don’t want to go!  You repeat, “Just let it go”… I think I’m finally learning what that means.  And I think I’m getting better at recognizing the hook before I swallow it…more adept at spitting it out before it has  me…even at avoiding it altogether!  Aren’t you glad? 

I have learned that to be successful at Love really is about letting it go…letting all the “what ifs” and the “if onlys” swirl away in the stream of life.  Choosing to smile at the morning, choosing to allow love to flow.  Choosing in the afternoon and in the evening to release the expectations and demands, to forgive instead of criticize, to laugh instead of frown, to bless, to embrace.  I am beginning to comprehend in a tangible way that love really is about seeing in you the divine spark of God…the same spark that is in me…recognizing that we are both Beloved…what’s there NOT to love?

Seven years ago today I stood on a sandy beach of Lake Superior in front of a Circle of family and friends and made some promises to you.  Today before my readers, my family and friends, I choose again to publicly honor you, to renew those promises I made to you and to tell you with God and the world as my witness…I love you. 

Happy Anniversary, David.

SMALL BOY HEAVEN

SMALL BOY HEAVEN
July 30, 2014

My four year old Chicagoan grandson is spending a few weeks with us.  I have always loved roaming the woods and exploring the rivers and creeks that I have lived by throughout my life.  Now I live not far from Gitchie Gummi–Lake Superior–and never tire of the beauty, the power, the blessings and gifts that Mother Earth continues to give us despite our ignorance and abuses and negligence of those same blessings and gifts.  Sharing it with a four year old, though, is like adding frosting to a cake–it just makes it sweeter and more beautiful. 

We have introduced him to many “firsts”.  Riding on Poppi’s motorcycle up the hill to the wild blueberry patch–and picking a bucketful for blueberry zert (desert) and blueberry pancakes.  First ride in a canoe. 

Dropping a fishing line into the water and bringing it back up with a tiny sunfish wriggling on the end of the hook.  Camping–roasting hotdogs and sleeping in a tent and peeing in the woods.  First time petting a live chicken.  First time going to a dance recital and a children’s theater production (as in theater performed by 5 and 6 year-olds). 

This morning it was throwing stones in the creek and clambering over the rocks around the small waterfall in the hills behind our house.  

  
“Wow, this is so awesome!” he says as the canoe cuts through the water and he drags his fingers alongside, creating a mini wake.  He giggles hysterically and jumps up and down when he catches his first fish, a sunny no bigger than my hand.  Always observant, when picking slugs off our granddog Willow’s waterdish in the campsite he examines their ability to stretch and shrink. 

“Chickens have soft feathers!” 

“How does those girls put their legs so high in the air?” he asks about the ballet dancers…

Whispering…”Nonna, is there deer in these woods?  Will we see a baby deer?  Shhh, Nonna…” 

But there are adventures and firsts for grandparents as well.  We learned many new things this week.  For example: upon going into the bathroom one night to get his pajamas on, he announced to everyone that he needed his privacy because no one was to see his private parts.

“You can’t watch me change my clothes because you can’t see my private parts because you know my penis is a private part and you can’t see my penis because it’s a private part so nobody comes in the bathroom. Do you understand?”  He shut the door.

Approximately five seconds later he opened the door, and while standing in the doorway, hand on doorknob, and stark naked, held a conversation with me about what we were going to do tomorrow, etc., etc., etc. Then satisfied with the conversation he proceeded to shut the door and put on his pajamas.

Sequel to this story; Next morning:

“Nonna, I’m full. (4 blueberry pancakes w/ 1 bite left) I’m trying to eat it but my belly says (falsetto voice) ‘I can’t take anymo!'” 

“Are you sticky?”

“Yeah.”

“Go wash up, ok?”

“Ok”

  From the bathroom we received an announcement… “But don’t come in here guys, okay? Cause I’m washing my private parts. My fingers are private parts you know.”

Upon exiting the bathroom all fresh and clean, Poppi and Morgan proceeded to discuss how we could transport ourselves to the blueberry patch for more blueberries….so Nonna can finish making pancakes you see. We learned many new Spanish words for things such as motorcycle, blueberry, and dog. (My native Spanish speaking Colombian niece, Sharon, who is also visiting us, choked on a piece of pancake trying so desperately not to laugh).  One possible mode of transportation suggested by Morgan included Poppi, Morgan, Sharon, and Willow on the motorcycle. Nonna would have to stay home because there’s no more room. Poppi suggests taking the car?

“But that’s bo’ing!” says Morgan.

Then there’s new camping experiences for grandparents.  Morgan had a good night except when in a sound sleep he wriggled completely down inside his sleeping bag and woke up screaming because he couldnt get out.  He was trying to sit up…scared the bejesus out of us; Willow started howling. Once free Morgan immediately went back to sleep and had no memory of it the next morning. On the contrary, I was awake most of the rest of the night.

More adventures await all of us…there are the places he visited last summer when he was only 3 that we need to return to…the Lift Bridge and the Canal Park Seagulls and Park Point Beach.  We also plan to visit Jay Cook State Park to walk over the swinging bridge.  We might take him canoeing up at Thompson Reservoir and have a picnic on an island. 

His visit began with fireworks…15 minutes after his arrival last week the local ballpark set off fireworks which we could see and hear from our house.  We convinced him it was a special fireworks just for him–welcoming him to Duluth.  Willow instantly became his special pal and sleeps right next to his bed each night which he thinks is great and can’t settle until Willow takes her place next to him.  A perfect ending would be a fish fry at Great Grandma Pat’s.  And, if Auntie Sarah makes it home from California in time the thrill of meeting her horse and going for a ride. 

TO MY READERS:

July 19, 2014

MISSING YOUR COMMENTS

Dear Readers,

Perhaps it is because I am not technically savvy and I am not doing something on my blog site that I should be doing.  Or, maybe this isn’t the greatest site to have a blog.  But, as far as I can see, I have 4 Followers.  If you are actually in your internet browser reading this post on my blog page, “Musings from Mary” at http://soulfoodandroses.blogspot.com/, you will see in the right hand column that there is a place to sign up as a Follower of this blog.  It requires you to have a google account, I believe.

Above it is a place you can sign up to follow through your email.  I assumed that you were then alerted when I posted a new Musing.  Evidently, you actually get sent the posting into your email inbox.  If there is a place for me to know who you are, I haven’t found it yet.

This morning my mom mentioned that she had replied to the Musing I posted on Thursday.  She had replied to my Musing that was in her email inbox.  I never received the reply or any alert that one had been made.  Nor are there any “comments” on the actual blog site at the bottom of the post.  This got me to wondering if there have been others of you unknown readers who have sent comments/replies to me that I never received and know nothing of?

I will get some technical assistance to see if I just don’t know how to work with my own blog site.  🙂  But, in the meantime, my apologies if you have sent me comments and wondered why I never responded in turn.  And gee…I wish I’d received them!  Until I can figure out this glitch, I would encourage you to post any comments at the bottom of the Musing post in your internet browser…sign up as a Follower and not just through email so I know who’s reading my stuff…and, if you wish, contact me directly with comments through my personal email, NOT by replying to the email that Blogspot sent you with my Musing.

Thanks…

I send love and blessing to each of you!

Mary

P.S.  If any of you are chuckling because you know exactly what I am ignorant of and can help me rectify this…PLEASE DO!  🙂