Category Archives: Wholeness

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

November 27, 2016

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

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

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

Finally I tentatively sidle up to the latest headlines.

Sometimes I weep.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

This is difficult work.

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

Change isn’t easy. Healing is hard work.

Love one another.

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CREATING A NEW WINESKIN

May 5, 2015
(I wrote this 3 weeks ago while traveling to Chicago on the Megabus. I thought I had posted it. Today I began a new post and then realized that I had NOT posted this from 3 weeks ago! Eeeek!)

NEW WINE INTO NEW WINESKINS

My husband and I are preparing to embark on an exciting, but no doubt difficult adventure. We are going to do a 21 day Intense Detoxification program that includes a nutritional component of very healthy green juices, herbal cleansing teas and soups; body work to aid in eliminating the toxic waste that has accumulated and gotten stuck in the organs and tissue of our bodies, and self-care through walking, resting, meditation, stretching, detoxification baths and so on. It’s not difficult once you piece the information together and line it all up on a calendar, but that has taken some research and work to accomplish. Of course, then there is the doing of it.

Fortunately for us we have been making changes in our diet and lifestyle over the years, so we don’t anticipate that it will be traumatic, nor that we will have to radically change anything once we have completed the 21 days of detoxing and reintegrated into normal eating habits. There will be a few minor adjustments to our diet where we have grown lazy, or where we may notice sensitivities that weren’t apparent in our customary day to day diet. Also, and maybe because of those changes we made over the years, although we are having some difficulties, we are not in the midst of a scary health crisis. I don’t wish to wait until that point.

I have been frustrated with the health issues that I have been developing over the last few years; issues that regularly get blamed on the aging process. Screw that! From what I have read and what makes sense to me is that the reason we experience these things as we age is because our body is wearing out from too many years of overloaded systems. Bodies, like houses and cars and tools, if ill-cared for, or subjected to environments and forces that are difficult to “weather”, will wear out and deteriorate faster than those well cared for and maintained and kept in optimal condition.

With our stress saturated lives and all the unnatural things in our soil, our water, our air and our food it would be difficult to maintain a toxic free body even if our lifestyle and diet deserved an A+ for health consciousness. Recently I began to study more about the symptoms of toxicity in the body, and what to do about it. I am “textbook”. What I am reading and observing in the people around me is that indeed, much of what we attribute to aging is about bodies loaded with natural and unnatural  toxins that it can no longer deal with. Eating “better”, or exercising more by themselves aren’t going to do it. If they could, I would be in much better condition than I am. So I’m going to do something about it. I told someone when I was turning 50 that I refused to “get old”. “Not gonna do it,” I said. Now I’m 60. Still not gonna do it. At least not in the traditional way and just gradually wear away. Or rapidly wear out.

As I was preparing my lists and calendar and reflecting on the benefits I expect to experience from this detox program I thought of a proverb that I am familiar with; “No one pours new wine into old wineskins. Otherwise, the wine will burst the skins, and both the wine and the wineskins will be ruined. No, they pour new wine into new wineskins.” (New Testament). Old wineskins have been stretched to the limit as wine fermented inside them and then dried and became brittle. Reusing them would risk causing them to burst from the pressure of the fermentation process of the new wine.

Perhaps this is a bit of a stretch, but it made me think about how often we do this sort of thing–we try to improve a situation without first attending to the underlying cause of the difficulty–digging out the roots, cleaning it up, repairing the foundations.  We “look for love in all the wrong places” because we don’t know how to love ourselves, or are unwilling to do so. We look to the approval and rewards that others will give us to bolster our self-worth without believing in ourselves–so our sense of worthiness is fleeting and can evaporate quickly. We might go buy new clothes to feel better about ourselves, but without attending to the body we are putting them on. It’s like getting all new furniture without cleaning the house. Putting perfume on without taking a bath. Like the ruptured wineskin, the new situation or relationship or purchase is spoiled because we haven’t attended to the underlying issue that is problematic. We haven’t prepared a new wineskin.

I realized that my bafflement with why I would still have some of the health issues I do when I have done so much to improve my diet, my exercise, my attitudes and thinking was directly related to not having helped my body clear out the garbage left from years of bad habits, poor food choices, chronic stress, anxiety, negative thinking, etc. Having developed congestion in body organs sometime past, they can no longer do their job efficiently or thoroughly, and so the toxic waste of my cells, along with the toxins introduced into the body, accumulate and begin slowly to wreak havoc. Despite the positive changes, my body cannot adequately deal with what has fallen into disrepair, and the hidden stores of toxic waste. I have made new wine, but my body can’t utilize it efficiently until I clear away all this old stuff, creating a new wineskin, of sorts.

Truly we are fearfully and wonderfully made! I am amazed to realize that our bodies have, in a sense, the same service functions we see played out in the world around us. Plumbing systems, garbage collection systems, super highways that all these cell workers travel on to take care of the business of keeping our bodies functioning at as optimal a level of health and well being as possible. And like those systems out in the world around us, they can develop blockages and traffic jams. Consider what happens to a city if the garbage collection system goes offline or the dump site is full and overflowing! If the superhighway gets congested and the emergency vehicles can’t get through, what then? If the sewer system backs up?

I am learning another level of what it means to love and care for mySelf, honor mySelf–this body that is the house where my eternal, divine spirit dwells. I like to think about the intelligence of these cells in my body, how they have specific purpose and yet somewhat a life of their own, too…choosing at times to do things that are not in the best interests of my body as a whole; or playing the hero and going above and beyond their job description to keep me going. I think about how these cells are me, and I am part of them, and yet, we are also separate. And then I think about being a cell in the body of the Creator, and the Creator being part of me, we are combined together. And I think about the Universe…maybe it is a cell in the great body of an even greater Creator…  how far does it go? Infinity…