the fires are burning

 

I’ve been enjoying the deep swim into poetry, and I raised my head to look around…and oh my goodness. Our world seems to be descending further…into a darkness that I was hoping we were going to slowly transcend and into more light. I still believe in the presence of the undercurrent of this loving, peaceful energy. It is intended to restore health and healing to our wounded world and all its sentient beings. Perhaps we will see more of this descending slide before the ascending that is below the radar will be more visible.

While we are caring for ourselves, tending to our wounded hearts and caring for others, I pray we keep our eyes and hearts on the movement toward a more peaceful, loving co-existence that is sustainable for all. It will take time, and a commitment from us all to seek better ways to lovingly support ourselves and each other.

The recent events in Minneapolis have touched me deeply in so many ways. The senseless loss of another life at the hands of officers sworn to protect and defend is deeply painful to see – over and over again. The burning fires in that city carry a deeper meaning that is within all of us – even if we choose to ignore or believe it doesn’t apply to us. The fires represent a smoldering, unseen and unheard (by us) rage. We often do not hear our own painful raging – deep within – as we seek to understand why we may feel as we do. Or we project it onto those closest to us without knowing, consciously, its true origin.

As I watch the pain of the people in Minneapolis, I am also reminded of the pain in many cities and places through the world. These flash points are calling to us. They are reminding us that our role is to do our inner work – to heal ourselves and to speak up about the injustices continuing to be perpetuated by patriarchy worldwide. To not do our work and to then rage against the injustices, is to act from resistance (fear) rather than from love.

In the midst of the pandemic we have had an opportunity to slow our pace (with the exception of ALL of the frontline workers  –  medical personnel, grocery workers, food processors, truck drivers, teachers, other first responders; not to forget parents with children at home) and do some serious self examination. Have you attempted this? Have you squandered the opportunity?

The fires are indeed burning. The situation in Minneapolis and other places is an out-picturing of what we are still individually and collectively, carrying inside. It is reminiscent of Charlottesville (2017), and so many other places.

May we soften. May we see others. May we hear them. May we sow seeds of love rather than continue, from our silence, be complicit in what continues to unfold before our very eyes.

Tina Malia’s Heal This Land, came to mind this morning, once again, as I observed the state of my country and other parts of he world. I offer the beautiful poetry of her lyrics as well as a video, so that you may hear the words. The resonance of the song is hard to brush aside or dismiss. I hope you read the lyrics, and then listen or do both simultaneously.

Music can be medicine for our weary souls. Feeling the resonance of the words, the music, can begin to heal us. Feelings are the language of the soul.

Let’s go there, my friends…let’s heal this land.

 

The fires are burning

So reach for me
Like the petals of a rose
Bloom in it’s season
Gentle and slow
My body is the mountain
The ocean, the river
The sand and the soil
The life giver
So come on now, my friend
Speak to me
Help me understand
Let us walk together
Take my hand
And we will heal this land

We will heal this land

Do you hear the call?
We will heal this land

If you could only believe

time

Stress is a perverted relationship with time.

– John O’Donohue

My dear readers, I feel we can all acknowledge that we are experiencing something we haven’t seen – and on the scale we are seeing it – in our lives.

I have revisited a conversation that Krista Tippet (of OnBeing.org) had with John O’Donohue. Perhaps you know of him, and if you do not, may this serve as an introduction to him and his amazing and beautiful perspective on life. This conversation was one of his last interviews before his death in 2008. For me, it makes his message and the words left in his legacy of writings a timeless gift…and is timely for us now.

All we have is time...and this conversation has so much to offer. It is 52 minutes in length, and I encourage you to set aside a little bit of your time to listen. If you can find a place where you will not be interrupted, and you can close your eyes as you listen, perhaps you will hear with more depth. If you prefer to read, there is a transcript available at this link. However, I hope you will listen. The conversation is rich and beautiful.

Wherever you are in the world, please take very good care of yourself. Remember that we are all in this together. WE, each individual comprising the whole of humanity, are the leaders of our lives. The choices we make in leading our lives at this time matter. Our choices have always mattered…and perhaps we have the opportunity to reflect at this moment in time, on the ways we have led our lives, as a step forward into a future borne of difference choices for leading our “one wild and precious life”.*

 

John O’Donohue — The Inner Landscape of Beauty

 

Namaste.

 

 

*With honor and gratitude to Mary Oliver for this oft used phrase…out of context. In its proper context, in her poem “The Summer Day” we can find so much beauty…to reflect upon as we view our outer world and consider our inner world (the realm of our very souls).

one step, then another

You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.

 – Thomas Merton

There are so many things happening in our world today. I wonder if you are as curious as I about how it will unfold day after day. It is clear that many are coping in a variety of ways that are supportive of the human spirit, dignity and are grounded in love. The videos and stories that I come across that show people reaching out –  offering music, buying groceries, checking on others, etc. – provide a reminder of just how resilient and longingly supportive we can be.

It is in stark contrast to a story I read over the weekend about the apparent spike in gun sales. People are believing they must protect their families, apparently. And from what, I wonder? If fear or hunger showed up at your door, would you meet it with a gun? Fear meets fear, and rarely is there a good outcome to that meeting.

Being in community – if only virtually sometimes – keeps us from spending too much time inside the part of our brains that can spin up some pretty dreary thoughts and things which separate us from those whom we love, love us and may need our loving assistance.

When you are a Bear of Very Little Brain, and you Think of Things, you find sometimes that a Thing which seemed very Thingish inside you is quite different when it gets out into the open and has other people looking at it.

 – Winnie The Pooh

I choose to believe in humanity. We are decent and truly wish to offer only our best to each other. It is the learned fear that often gets in our way; blocks our hearts and closes us off to those who can support us or to those who may need our support. It’s the small things that can make a big difference.

Allowing a senior at the grocery store with only a few items, compared to your larger order, to step in front of you in the checkout line, is a small thing that can make a big difference. Respectfully acknowledging others – even from a distance (“Good morning,” “Take care,” “May I get that item down from the shelf for you?”) can make a difference for anyone.

Offering our best in any moment…even a smile…can be a powerful gift of hope and light in an otherwise seemingly dark period. The people on the front lines – health care workers, grocery store staff, first responders – need our cooperation and appreciation. A simple “thank you” accompanied by a smile can go a long way to supporting them as they walk through long and tiring days.

I am reminded of one of the tenets of the twelve step programs, “One day at a time.” There are also five Reiki Principles or positive affirmations that are useful anytime, and perhaps especially in these time of great change and upset of our daily routines. They are:

Just for today I will live in an attitude of gratitude.

Just for today I will not worry.

Just for today I will not anger.

Just for today I shall do my work honestly.

Just for today I will show love and respect to all living beings.

Great guidance for everyday practice and living…and perhaps now we can begin a practice of affirming these while things are not the same, we are not moving at light speed through our days and continuing to distract ourselves from what is important.

Wherever you are, dear readers, know that I hold each of you in my heart. As I offer prayers of gratitude for the opportunities that this can offer, I offer gratitude for your safety, peace and reconciliation. May you find calm in nature, and peace in stillness. These will reconnect you to your deepest heart.

One step, then another step…

In the stillness of the quiet, if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.

 – Howard Thurman

 

 

an invitation in the new year

What a man takes in by contemplation, that he pours out in love.

 – Meister Eckhart

As I watch the first snow of the season fall from the sky, I cannot help reflecting on the beauty of it and what it compels us to do, if we will allow it – to slow down, breathe, observe and reflect/contemplate.

The snow is quiet. It falls ever so softly from the clouds above. And yet, the planet it falls upon is anything but soft and quiet. This juxtaposition gives me pause…as I seek to stay out of despair. Compassion for the worst behaviors among our fellow humans is, at times, extremely tough to dig for and offer. Yet, these are the moments and places that call to me from the wounds within – the places which are still hurting; the places where perhaps traces of grief, unprocessed, still exist.

As I continue to cultivate my inner observer, I’ve begun to notice a few things that I wish to offer here…with an invitation for you to consider their meaning, from your perspective or experience. Comments are always welcome, and I believe that the more we explore together – which this medium allows us to do without being in the same room – the more we learn with the possibility of evolving our perspectives on long held thoughts or beliefs.

These words  – without definitions – have been floating around in my mind as I consider the state of the country I live in at this moment.

Authenticity
Conformity
Projection
Responsibility
Fear
Love

I could write so much more about each of these, to offer my perspectives on and my observations and feelings about them. However, I wish to leave the door between us for conversation to be open without my perspectives to filter them.

I do wish to offer that fear keeps us from engaging with others in a variety of ways. So I hope you will trust yourself and me enough to offer your thoughtful perspectives on any or all of these. I feel that if we hold hands as we cross the deep chasm that seems to divide us from ourselves and us from each other, we will make it to the other side – more fully ourselves – open hearts, open arms and open minds.

Thank you for being here.

Sending my love to each of you, wherever you may be, in this new year.

Let my soul smile through my heart and my heart smile through my eyes, that I may scatter rich smiles in sad hearts.

 – Paramahansa Yogananda

 

preparing…

As we get “caught up” in the busyness of preparing for the holidays, and the country prepares for the ongoing and increasingly tense machinations of our Congress in the upcoming election year, Nature is readying herself for rest. The Autumn has wrought cooler temperatures, longer days, blowing leaves and other such autumnal things. Our Winter Solstice in the northern hemisphere is days away. For those of you awaiting the Summer Solstice in the southern hemisphere, I wish you gentle breezes, enjoyable warmth and light.

The heavens have much to tell us about the energies above which seem to inform the energies we see and feel here on the planet (as above, so below). These last weeks have brought many challenges and there will likely be more to come.

This morning, I came across a poem by David Whyte that seems to capture where I feel I am…and I suspect many others are there as well.

I offer it here for you to read…slowly. May you feel what is there for you. May you feel acknowledged for what you may have been feeling and what may yet lie ahead as the Winter brings it seasonal rest…an opportunity for us to align with Nature’s rhythms and rest with her.

 

Sweet Darkness

When your eyes are tired
the world is tired also.

When your vision has gone
no part of the world can find you.

Time to go into the dark
where the night has eyes
to recognize its own.

There you can be sure
you are not beyond love.

The dark will be your womb
tonight.

The night will give you a horizon
further than you can see.

You must learn one thing.
The world was made to be free in

Give up all the other worlds
except the one to which you belong.

Sometimes it takes darkness and the sweet
confinement of your aloneness
to learn

anything or anyone
that does not bring you alive

is too small for you.

David Whyte, from The House of Belonging

 

May this season of holidays (holy days), bring blessings of love, peace, calm and quiet to you and all of those whom you love. I appreciate you for joining me here and wish you more joy, peace and abundance in the new year.

 

 

inner peace

What are you not doing that is somehow contributing to discomfort in your being…right now?

We hear…all of the time. Hearing isn’t listening…or not the listening to which I am referring.

I’m not speaking of the day-to-day noises from the myriad sources in the spaces and places we happen to be. I am speaking of the voice in our heart or from God, Universe, Spirit or whatever you use in reference to the energy that is greater than us, of which we are all a part. I am not speaking of the voice in the head – often referred to as the ego – which can feel like a secondary being within. I am speaking of the tender voice which inquires, guides or offers loving, supportive messages which are always there for us – if we slow down enough (deep breathing helps) to hear what is being offered.

“When you recognise that there is a voice in your head that pretends to be you and never stops speaking, you are awakening out of your unconscious identification with the stream of thinking.”
 – Eckhart Tolle

These last few weeks have been very challenging on multiple fronts and I am reminded in many moments that inner peace is mine – anytime, anywhere, in any situation if I can simply remember, accept and allow it to be what guides me rather than reacting to the multiple stimuli that feel pervasive lately.

The news headlines are very distracting and upsetting these days. The darkness feels intense and I know it will be a while before we collectively walk out of it by walking through it. The feeling that I must “DO” something is pretty intense at times, and yet I know that returning to my “BE-ing” is my greatest and healthiest contribution to the whole at this moment. Reminding myself of who I am, and all of the good that is everywhere on the planet is a much brighter way through the seemingly overwhelming (at times) darkness. AND…it is my inner peace which can be so intensely challenged.

My old friend, depression, often lurks these days, and I embrace it and tell it that I am fine. I remember who I am…and I am NOT separated from LOVE, God, Spirit, etc. I am a part of it. My old friend then seems to disappear. I was once reminded that embracing that which we most fear will encourage its departure much sooner. I believe it. I know that ignoring it only encourages it to take up residence, again.

Inner peace begins the moment you choose not to allow another person or event to control your emotions.

– Pema Chodron

These are challenging times. Many are hurting and many innocents are leaving the planet for reasons not easy to understand. We’ve all chosen to be here at this time, even if we don’t believe that. We each make different contributions at this extremely challenging and very important time. The choices we make, the feelings that we have, the actions that we take, make all of the difference in the collective path forward. Creating, cultivating and maintaining inner peace is one the of the most important contributions we make to stabilizing the ship which seems to be rocking uncontrollably in the tempest of our divisions.

The recent death of Elijah Cummings was a surprise. I have previously mentioned in this space that I lived in an area which was included in his district for a number of years. A man of integrity and principle, he faced some intense criticism in recent months. His humanity was never lost to the vitriolic exchanges which have become commonplace in the public discourse. Many quotes are attributed to him and there is one that really stood out for me when I read it last week. “Our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see. Will we rob them of their destiny? Will we rob them of their dreams? No – we will not do that.” Creating, cultivating and maintaining inner peace is one the of the most important contributions we make to stabilizing the ship which seems to be rocking uncontrollably in the tempest of our divisions. For the future of our children and grandchildren, stabilizing the ship is paramount.

“How do I get there,” you may wonder. By first turning away from the distractions and tuning into yourself, you take an important first step. Whether is it busy-ness (also known as overdoing-ness), keeping a constant focus on electronic devices and the multiple apps (especially social media apps) you may have on it; anything that prevents you from being still or quiet – even for a few moments – all conspire to push away the inner spaces which long for your attention. Creating, cultivating and maintaining inner peace is one the of the most important contributions we make to stabilizing the ship which seems to be rocking uncontrollably in the tempest of our divisions. Your soul is calling….

These can be difficult steps to take, especially if you do not already have a practice which brings you back to yourself. Your practice may be journaling; it may be meditation; reading books which inspire the highest and best in us all; walks in nature – while listening to and observing the beauty of the planet; are examples of what can be steps toward enriching the inner life and cultivating that seeming elusive inner peace. Creating, cultivating and maintaining inner peace is one the of the most important contributions we make to stabilizing the ship which seems to be rocking uncontrollably in the tempest of our divisions. We each have the capacity to begin from within.

There are other ways to begin this journey inward as well. I also heard from a fellow blogger through a comment on my previous post about another tool for navigating these tumultuous times, “One thing that helps me is to give light to others.” Meeting people where they are; offering an open and listening heart; offering your light; are all wonderful ways to cultivate and maintain inner peace. There are quite a few compassionate listeners “out there” who, by the simple act of listening and witnessing another, facilitate the clearing of the blocked inner pathways. I am grateful for those in my life who provide this important support and assistance. We are not islands; we do not have to “muscle” through alone; and asking for help is always appropriate, is always right and is an important step back to ourselves.

Remember the entrance to the sanctuary is inside you.

 – Rumi

Let the sun shine from within.

 

sitting in darkness

 

The world feels very dark to me these days. My concerns are many and my feelings…raw. I look at the trees, slowly changing color, and realize that nature in the northern hemisphere is moving through shorter days and longer nights…more darkness. Enjoying the colors makes the transition easier to walk softly through. However, the conditions in many countries, including mine feel dark, deeply divided and deadly. In times like this we often wish to distract ourselves in any way possible or to simply “check out” to avoid the reality of the feelings these times can evoke.

I believe – even though it is challenging for me, too – that as individuals we have an opportunity to dive in. To dive into the darker aspects of our being…to plumb the depths of our psyche, our experiences. This is where we find the opportunity to heal ourselves so that our lights shine brighter. When I find my self in these dark times, I read, write and spend time just being quiet. Some of what I’ve read today has brought some solace and offered a crack into the lighter parts of my psyche by reminding me of my humanness.

One quote from John Lennon and Yoko Ono really resonated as I watch the great divides in my own country seem to widen. “Don’t hate what you don’t understand.” If only we might all slow down to consider that there is so much that we do not understand, and either do some research on our own or pause and allow processes to unfold without our taking sides or otherwise contributing to the hateful slinging of words swirling around us. Indeed, so many feel they are right and others are wrong. And Wayne Dyer’s words ring in my heart…paraphrased here: When you have a choice between being right or to be kind, choose to be kind. This seems out of reach for us when we are so angry or in despair from our own experiences and all we seem to see around us is more of the same.

Healing the hatred that may be simmering is an inside job. It is ours alone – no one else’s – to do. Until and unless we do our work on ourselves, we will find it extremely challenging to offer love, compassion and peace to those whose words and actions are harsh, disparaging and ugly toward others. This IS the work of our lives.

Some us, by nature feel these feelings perhaps a bit more deeply than others – and neither is right or wrong. We are simply different. Honoring our differences is foundational to being able to offer love, compassion and peace to those with whom we differ on perspectives, feelings and beliefs.

With gratitude to Anne Whitaker at Writing From the Twelfth House, I offer the following poem that she shared in her blog post this afternoon.

The Place Where We Are Right

From the place where we are right
flowers will never grow
in the spring.

The place where we are right
is hard and trampled
like a yard.

But doubts and loves
dig up the world
like a mole, a plow.
And a whisper will be heard in the place
where the ruined
house once stood.

– Yehuda Amichai

May we use the changing of seasons –  the natural seasons in whatever part of the world we live in or the storms of the political seasons – to create quiet time to reflect. As we contemplate our own dark feelings and experiences as a path or journey to finding our way back to the brighter light within…of love, we will find peace within. We need this for ourselves. Our fellow humans need this. Our planet needs this. NOW.

revisiting integrity

Two years ago, October 17, 2017,  to be exact, I wrote a relatively brief piece on integrity.  In the last few days, many issues and occurrences in the collective, as well as in the lives of those closest to me, point to the cracks in organizational foundations, seemingly built on integrity. I was instantly reminded of a specific quote that is contained in the aforementioned post from 2017. Please take a moment to read it. It is brief and seems apropos of the days we are in at this moment.

I also offer this – a response to one of those close to me, with whom I shared the quote contained in the blog:

“Usually the ones we want to hear or see will not get the message through the sharing of words or quotes. Like all of us, we have to learn from experience. The best outcome is for the experience to not be a devastating one for all concerned. Best to energetically wish them well as you move on to something even better. You had apparently outgrown this experience.”

We are living in times of great change – in the world and individually within ourselves. We are called to become the very best of who we are, so that we can engage when we felt lead to, and to do so from a place of our most authentic self, centered in our heart of love – which is connected to the All That Is (God, Spirit, Universe or whatever name you give to the powerful loving energy that is in and all around us). We are not called to dive into or otherwise create conflict. We ARE called to bring our best selves to anything we experience in each moment.

We are called to speak our authentic and deep truth with our compassionate hearts. We are called to observe ourselves and our experiences in order to know the wisdom that we inherently have – borne of our experiences – those which we call “good” and those which we call “bad”. All are for the evolution of our souls: the awakening of ourselves, our hearts from the mind controlling. sleepwalking unconsciousness to the empowered awareness of our consciousness, of our collective connection to one another.

Be Impeccable With Your Word. Speak with integrity. Say only what you mean. Avoid using the word to speak against yourself or to gossip about others. Use the power of your word in the direction of truth and love.

 – Don Miguel Ruiz

 

 

 

healing hatred…begin within

I was perusing a book, looking for a meaningful quote for a card for a wedding. On my way to a specific chapter, I found this:

“The source of violence is in our heads. as it would not be appropriate to ignore “just a little” cancer in the body, so it is not appropriate for us to ignore “just a little” violent thinking. A little cancer, unchecked, turns into a monstrous killer. So do small, insidious, seemingly harmless judgmental thought forms become the pervasive cancers that threaten to destroy a society.”

“As the body’s defenses against cancer center around a healthy immune system, our chief defense against violence in America is our own individual efforts to cleanse our minds of violent thinking. Each and everyone one of us tends to be angrier and less tolerant of others than we know in our hearts that we should be. A healthy, civilized society can absorb some anger and dysfunction, as a healthy immune system can absorb some disease. But a massive buildup of anger and mean-spiritedness bombarding our social system day in and day out in millions and millions of individual doses overwhelms our societal defenses.”

“Violence is routed out of the world by being routed out of our minds. Hatred is diseased thinking. Just as a cancer cell was a healthy cell that then transformed, so is hatred, love gone wrong.”  

“Each of us is a cell in the social body.” Whether we are a malignant or a healing force is up to us on a moment by moments basis. With every thought, we decide whether to be a cancer cell or a healthy immune cell, whether to give in to the tendency to place blame on others or to be a vehicle for God’s love and forgiveness. Either we clean up the anger, or the anger will overwhelm us.”

These are excerpts from a book, published in 1994. The author, Marianne Williamson. The title of the book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage.

As I continued to read, I couldn’t help but think it had to have been written far more recently. And yet, here we are. The condition addressed here is not limited to the United States.

We are each responsible for our thoughts. We may be outwardly kind, and inwardly angry – judging other and self – and that is where it begins. The metaphor of hatred and cancer is one that makes sense. Cancer is a disease that we are generally familiar with. If you or someone you know and love has or has had cancer, what Marianne says here is relatable and compelling.

Let us all search deeply – our hearts and minds – to find those places of anger, or hurt, so we can begin to find the light within that can indeed transform the hatred into love; can add healing light to the cancer to transform the love gone wrong. The pace at which we seem to move each day, leaves many feeling there is no time for such things. I submit that to not make time to look within – to realize (real-eyes) where we harbor pain, anger, unacknowledged grief –  is to continue to add to the hatred that is boiling over in our country and on the planet. We can participate in our healing – individually and contribute to the collective – or continue live in an unsettled space within while projecting that discomfort and pain onto others. I’m reminded, yet again, of a question posed by an author I was in retreat with years ago (paraphrased); “What hurts you so much that you feel you have to hurt me in order to heal it?”

Make time…to listen; to plumb the depths; to be still, reflect, and feel. This is a journey that must begin in solitude and can continue with assistance from a compassionate listener or health professional. The most important step is the first one.

“Every step taken in mindfulness brings us one step closer to healing ourselves and the planet.”

 – Thich Nhat Hanh

 

To circle back to where I started this post, I did find a quote for the card. I returned to the place I had begun – to love.

Marianne Williamson’s book, Illuminata: Thoughts, Prayers and Rites of Passage is as beautiful a text today as it was when it was published. I refer to it often, and even found a passage I was honored to read at my son’s wedding last year.

the power of words to soothe

I recently re-read one of David Whyte’s books of poetry. I feel a deep resonance to his words and deeply appreciate his use of them. “The House of Belonging” includes a poem of the same nam, and  reading it always feels like a welcome home…to me, to my inner being as reflected in the outer world of the home I inhabit.

Toward the end of the book, I happened upon a poem I had forgotten about (on page 88). I offer it here for reading and thoughtful reflection.

 

Loaves and Fishes

 

This is not

the age of information.

 

This is not

the age of information.

 

Forget the news,

and the radio,

and the blurred screen.

 

This is the time

of loaves

and fishes.

 

People are hungry,

and one good word is bread

for a thousand.

 

I share this as a reminder of the power of words…kind words…to make a difference in the lives of many. When we speak words of fear (expressed as anger, judgement, etc.) the negative energy reverberates even as the words of love (expressed as kindness, support, etc.) do.

I share this as a reminder of just how hungry we all are for one good word among the many we hear each day.

May we make a conscious effort each day to speak words of love – kindness, peace, openness to possibility, safety.

Just imagine the difference we can make if we all choose to do this every day!

Love and peace to all.

 

 

*The House of Belonging; Poems by David Whyte; Copyright 1997; Many Rivers Press, Langley, Washington; 2019.