Notes on the Journey

Friday, May 19, 2017

"I Am Not Your Negro"

I just saw the film "I Am Not Your Negro" by Raoul Peck.  It is about James Baldwin and Negros in the United States.  It was inspired by James Baldwin's unfinished novel, "Remember This House," which looked at the issue of race in America through the lives and impact of Medgar Evers, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King, Jr.  It is a brilliant film, and is a knife to the heart.

This film made me realize how much we are the product of the culture in which we are brought up, the lens we are taught to view life through, the values we are entrained to by our families; how imprinted we are in ways both large and small by our surroundings, what we see and what we hear, what we are encouraged toward or discouraged from.  I do not consider myself a racist.  I was brought up in a liberal family, in a city that was racially diverse, to believe that all people are equal.  I still believe that, but I also realize that, as much as I'd like to deny it, racism rears itself within me.  It's subtle and can still be unconscious and, as an adult, I'm more aware of it and more able to recognize and override it, but it's there.

My father held and practiced the most liberal view between my parents.  My mother had racist views that she mostly tried to hide, but instilled within me none the less.  A whispered word here or there.  A warning given.  An action taken.  Children are very observant, and my mother's behavior affected and shaped me, as did my father's.  A certain fear was instilled, erroneous perspectives handed down, ways of being taught.  I'm a combination of my father's acceptance and liberalism, and my mother's fear and closet racism.

I'm an adopted child and am descended from the Native American Southern Cheyenne tribe.  The pure Native American blood was a few generations back, but my mother at one point admitted to me that she had worried that I would look "like an Indian" when I grew up.  She was afraid that my skin would turn too brown, that my eyes would darken, that my nose would become too prominent, that any number of things she deemed "Indian" would make themselves obvious in my appearance.  How strange to tell your child these things.  How strange to burden a young mind with these types of distinctions.  These concerns from my mother in terms of what I looked like, and therefore how I reflected upon her and who she was, were only the tip of the iceberg in terms of inappropriate things she decided to share with me as I was growing up.  I've often looked back and wondered what she might have been thinking when making the choice to so negatively impact me.  But, I've come to think that it wasn't a conscious decision on her part to inflict damage.  It was just who she was and she didn't realize that some restraint and discretion in terms of what she told me might have been prudent.

There are images in "I Am Not Your Negro" that are painful to see.  I was born in 1950.  I remember what was going on racially in the fifties and sixties.  Memories of injustice and violence will always be with me.  But, it's not all in the past.  The film helps us realize that, as much as we'd like to think we're farther along than we are in terms of racism, it is still very much alive.  The backlash of those who were so threatened by the election of a black President of the United States is being felt right now.  President Obama and President Trump are two ends of the spectrum.  The conservative pendulum has swung back with a vengeance.

The United States is a country built on slavery, racism, greed and genocide.  These are things that can not be denied.  We all carry this legacy in our very DNA.  We've been shaped by it and continue to be shaped by it.  And, in large part, it continues because there is such denial in our culture about these influences.  Awareness is the first step toward change.  And, in order to change the racial, power-over-others, mentality that pervades the United States, we must become aware that it's operating and how it impacts everything.  None of us are innocent.  We're all responsible for the culture of our country.  We're all complicit in how our culture is shaped by what we allow and what we don't, by what we condone and what we punish, by what we encourage and what we discourage.  Each and every one of us must look within and root out the causes of our own contributions to our continuing racist, power-over-others society.

The question James Baldwin says that each of us must ask ourselves is, "Why do we need niggers?"  What does it say about us and our society that it was built on such inequality, such disregard for our fellow humans, such a lack of respect for Life itself?  How did it ever become acceptable for one human to own another?  What makes it possible for one human to perpetrate violence upon another and excuse it due to a difference of skin color...or sexual orientation, or religion, or economic status, or gender, or any number of issues?  The list is long.  Why must we put ourselves above anyone for any reason in order to make ourselves feel better?  Why do we have such a difficult time with those who are different than we are, on any level?  Why is it so hard to accommodate a difference of opinion, or way of life?  What is the fear that makes us want a homogeneous society?  These are some of the questions that are in front of us.  How are we to go forward as a country?  What values are important to us?  Who are we as Americans?  What is it we want for ourselves?

James Baldwin moved to France and lived in Paris for many years.  In the film, he says that by doing so he was able to eliminate the terror of racial violence that he lived with every day on the streets of the United States.  He says that he didn't miss the United States at all.  But, what he did miss was his family, and black culture itself.  And, he was ultimately drawn back to the United States because he felt it was his destiny to be a witness to and document the stories and issues of the racism of the society out of which he came.

I live in France now; not for the same reasons that James Baldwin did.  But, I do understand the freedom from racial violence he experienced while he was here, even though I am not black and can't even begin to know the level of fear he did.  But, when violence is present, it affects people of all races and persuasions.  It is absolutely true that violence to any one of us is violence to all of us.  In a society where violence is as prevalent as it is in the United States, everyone lives in fear.  For some that fear runs deeper than for others.  For some that fear is denied.  But, it is present, and it affects all levels of life.

The United States is in crisis.  Many of our traditional values are at risk; values that have been held so dear they've been written into our Constitution.  Much of what shapes our identity as Americans is in question.  Our present trajectory, which continues to be based in racism, violence and greed, will only create our ultimate destruction; and, due to our global impact, the possible destruction of our planet.  I'm not being dramatic.  According to many scientists of varying disciplines, we have already crossed the threshold of destruction from which there is no return.  But, I remain an optimist.  I still believe in miracles.  I still think it's possible to turn it around.  We just have to decide to do it.  We have to decide what is really important.  We have to decide that our planet and our values are worth what it will take to initiate and sustain the change necessary to pull ourselves back from the brink of destruction and learn to accept each other and work together for the common good.

We are at a choice point that is writ large for each and every one of us.  Racism and violence and a fear of diversity are pieces of the pie.  We've pushed ourselves into a corner where the decisions we make now will not only affect the generations that will come after us, but the very life of the planet herself.  I'm not sure why humans need a crisis in order to change, but here we are.  This is no time to deny or hide or think things can either go on the way they are or go back to what they once were.  No.  This is a time for awareness, responsibility, creativity and change.

The old ways are dying.  New ways are being born.  Old patterns of power, greed and destruction are leaving as those who hold them die and take them off the planet.  Children who are wired for this change are being born and bringing with them new solutions to old problems.  Our society seems to be doing a very good job of trying to suppress the difference and the brilliance of these children, but it is a losing battle because the new Life will prevail upon the old.  There is a lot to be done, and a short time in which to do it, but I remain convinced it's possible.  Humans love the last-minute save.  We love the drama of pulling it all back from the edge.  Well, we've created a doozy for ourselves this time, and the clock is ticking, but I'm convinced we're going to make it.

If you have not seen "I Am Not Your Negro" I would highly recommend watching it.  It's a wonderful, intelligent and thought-provoking work.  It will move you and touch you and challenge you.  Allow yourself to open to all that it triggers within you.  Thanks Raoul Peck.  And, thanks James Baldwin, for all you were and are...wherever you are.  You're still reaching through and teaching us and lifting us up.  On wings of angels, Brother!    

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Grief

My tears flow freely this day.  It is a gray and rainy day here.  My friend just lost her beloved dog after many close years together.  It has touched my heart and triggered my own sadness and some needed grieving.

Grief and sadness have been my constant companions in this life.  I was born with this shade of gray that has always colored everything, inherited from my mother in whose sadness I gestated.  I used to think that this overlay was something that I could work through, or release, or transform, or transmute, but I no longer think that.  I now realize that it just is what it is.  It gives me an empathy, a compassion, a deep sensitivity that I might not have otherwise.  It has shaped me and informed me and grown me in ways both large and small.

It's an interesting choice to come in and live a life through the lens of sadness and grief.  But, how else to know these feelings intimately?  How else to understand their impact?  How else to have the measure of joy and happiness, than in contrast to sadness and grief?  I have fought the sadness and grief for most of my life, but today I surrender to them.  I let them truly have their way with me.  I let them move and fill me.

What does it mean to be fully human?  I've come to feel that it means fully embracing all the experiences, all the feelings, all the sadness and grief as well as the joy and happiness, all the disappointments and frustrations as well as the victories and successes, it is love and loss, it is the full gamut of gifts that Life can bring and lay at our doorstep.  It might seem counter intuitive to welcome in the sadness and grief, the pain, but life is not complete without it.  When embraced, there is an exquisite sweetness to sadness, grief and pain.  In not denying them, we can open to their gifts.  Gifts of remembrance, of lessons learned, of regret and remorse, of deepening, of expanding, of understanding, of letting go.

I grieve the loss of all those I have loved who are no longer with me, human and otherwise.  I grieve the loss of opportunities not taken.  I grieve decisions made from ignorance and fear.  I grieve mistakes that can not be made right.  I grieve the times my heart was closed and could not be pried open.  I grieve the loss of my country and all that I thought it to be.  I grieve cold-heartedness and cruelty.  I grieve stoicism and endurance that suppress the authenticity of experience and dull its intensity.  I grieve resistance and denial to what is true.  There is so much that deserves to be grieved.  And, it is only in opening the dreaded floodgates to what can feel like overpowering grief, that it is able to have its space and move through and bring its gift of understanding, cleansing and release.

I have no answers this day, only the empty relief of allowed grief.  My system feels spent and oddly quiet.  There is a kind of peace that is starting to extend itself.  I find solace in watching the wind blow the trees out my window, and the birds flying freely within it.  The soft gray light of the afternoon is soothing.  The warmth of the room I sit in cradles me.  The bells tolling in the distance comfort me.  I'm relieved that this day has been given over to what is moving through me.  I'm grateful that nothing calls me to it this day but this grief.  I'm grateful for no distractions.  I'm grateful that I've grown large enough to contain what lives in me and makes me who I am.  I'm grateful for the gift of this day.  I'm grateful for the tears that continue to flow unabated.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

More Than Enough

This liminal space between Christmas and New Year feels like a gap in time.  Like I'm between worlds.  If you're aware of numerology, you probably know that 2016 was a "9" year, which means an ending.  And, 2017 is a "1" year, which is a new beginning.  But, it doesn't feel like a normal ending and beginning, it feels like more than that, it has a deeper gravitas to it; not so much like the end of another year, but the end of an era.

I'm feeling some sadness for what has gone, for what will never be the same again, for what is irretrievable; and, some excitement for what's coming, the unknown, the unforeseeable.  I'm grateful for this week of quiet interlude in which to rest and reflect.  Uzes is very tranquil and fewer than usual amounts of people walk the streets.  Most of the restaurants and lots of the shops are closed now.  It's cold and clear and the wind is blowing.  The trees are bare and everything seems like its hibernating.  This is the Uzes I love.

The older I get, the more I love the winter.  When I was young, I loved the sun, the heat and the activity of summer.  Fall has always been my most favorite time of year, but summer held great resonance.  Now, it's fall and winter that speak to me the most.  I enjoy the cold, in a way I didn't when I was younger.  I like the internal nature of winter.  The starkness of it.  The essential bareness.  There is a rhythm of life and seasons that I'm connecting into here that I've been missing for a long, long time.  Modern life, in all its relentlessness, can blind us to the natural rhythms of life.  To find those rhythms, to feel them and flow with them is a great gift.

This move to a new country has required a certain amount of focus and study...new language, new ways of doing things, new people, new everything...and, this much newness takes a lot of energy.  This week I have no classes or anything that has to be done, which is a wonderful relief.  I've spent time with friends and allowed myself to just sit and enjoy the open space of not having to do anything or be anywhere.  I've started to focus some energy in a new direction in terms of my living space.  For those of you who know me well, to say that it feels like time to move again will come as no surprise.  It hasn't been my plan, and it still might not happen, but I'm looking.  After a year in my current space, as much as I love it, things have been revealed that either need to be addressed and amended, or a move needs to happen.  I'm not sure which it will be yet, but looking at some other housing options has been interesting.  I'll stay in Uzes, but am looking for quieter and cooler.

I love to bake.  It's a very relaxing and soothing thing to do.  I just took the last few chocolate snowball cookies out of the oven to cool and the apartment smells delicious.  Laundry is going through its cycles in the washing/drying machine, the sound of which is punctuating the afternoon.  I'm looking forward to cleaning the floor...yes, looking forward to it...weird, I know.  There are days I can't think about the floor, but today I'm looking forward to interacting with it.  Today, I'm feeling grateful to this floor that supports me so beautifully in my life here, and I want it to be clean and shining.  The dust bunnies try to hide themselves in the corners, but they aren't safe for long.

The soft light of mid-winter angles in the windows and shines patterns of brightness on the wall where no art but the art of life makes it mark.  For the first time in many years, my walls remain blank white canvases.  The open space of them invites contemplation and rest.  Sophie, my most beloved cat companion, sleeps on her warm electrical pad that I've recently bought her and slipped into her favorite cat bed on the sofa.  She's barely been off of it since it arrived.  It's so satisfying to give someone a gift they enjoy so much, cat or human.  Today is one of those days when I'm very aware of the simple richness of my life.  Today is a day when gratitude has taken over and pushed everything else aside.  Today my heart is at peace.  Today I'm aware that all is well.  Today the absolute brilliance of Life in all its forms shines upon me, and it's good.  It's enough.  It's more than enough.  

Thursday, December 15, 2016

The Power of Art

One never knows the vehicle that will transport one to another awareness, or deeper awareness, or release, or transcendental moment.  Tonight, for me, it was a book called "A Sudden Light" by Garth Stein.

I was in the process of reading when I suddenly felt free.  Free, as in unhinged from the normal strictures of my being.  Free from efforting, or trying to be anything, or accomplish anything, or heal anything.  Just free.  I'm in the residual energy of this moment of striking clarity, and so I'm struggling a bit for words.  Because this moment was outside of words.  It was as if the title of the book became a reality for me.  In this moment, in this light, everything was okay.  All the anxiety slipped away.  All the concerns, all the thoughts, all the veils let go.  Everything opened up into this deep expansiveness.  I had no limits.  I was everything and I was nothing.  I just was.

It was like some gear shifted into place and the lock clicked open...in one second.  And, all I was doing was reading.  Yet, I don't want to discount what I was reading or its power.  The character in the book was having a transcendent moment, and it's as if the book transmitted that moment to me.  I have read other books that are transmissions of energy and/or information, although it's more unusual for this type of transmission to be embedded into a novel.  But, that's just it.  We never know where the keys are.  You decide to read a book and your reality changes.  Such is the power of art.  In this case, the art of writing that is so connected, so deeply felt, so authentic, that it has the ability to touch you and change you at a cellular level.

Another work of art that has changed me recently, releasing me from a wound so deep I thought I might never be free of it, is a painting that I've been in relationship with for most of the last year.  When I first saw it, it pierced my heart and brought me to tears.  The vibrant life it held reminded me of the life I had stifled within myself for so long.  I'd go in to the gallery to visit it, even before I bought it, and was always reduced to tears when I saw it.  After I bought it, when I'd go in to make a payment on it, because I'd put it on layaway, and the gallery owner would offer to bring it out to show it to me, I often would turn her down because I knew I would be reduced to tearful incoherence.

While the painting was waiting for me, a friend who reminded me of the person in my past who I felt had inflicted the wound I was unable to resolve, triggered an awareness within me that allowed me to forgive that person.  And, that allowed me to forgive myself for blaming them for something that wasn't their fault, but that had pushed me into a limitation of my own making that had lasted for years.  A pain that had been so all-encompassing that it had shaped my life, suddenly opened up and lifted off.  I was free.  And, the person I had held responsible for my pain and perceived loss for decades was free as well.

After this long-time pain moved through, I no longer cried when I saw my painting.  It no longer pushed me into my pain, because the pain was no longer there.  Now, when I look at my painting, it only gives me joy.  It makes me happy.  When I see the life in it, I feel the life in me.  And, I'm grateful to the painting, and to the artist who painted it, and to all art everywhere.

We're going through a global transformation that will push us to the limit of our endurance.  But, it's an alchemy we must be forged through.  We are in the birth canal, using all our strength to push ourselves into a new way of being.  And, we're going to be in this process for a while, so we're going to have to get used to the pressure.  We're literally reshaping our reality and creating a new world.  No small task, but this is what we came for.  And, one of the things that will help us through it is art.

Art reminds us that there is beauty when we've lost sight of it.  Art lifts us up and helps us see the best that Life has to offer.  Art lets us express the deepest parts of ourselves in ways that heal not only the artist, but the ones who receive the art as well.  Art crosses all boundaries.  It pays no attention to nations or races or religions or to any of the things that separate us.  Art brings us together, opens our hearts and connects us in ways that nothing else can.  It's amazing the power that a song or piece of music has to transport us and inspire us.  Sometimes, all it takes is a look at a photograph or a painting to lift us out of despair.  A few lines of a poem or a good book can touch our soul.

I'm grateful for every person who continues to create art and express themselves in a way that lifts us all up.  I'm grateful that artists are able to imagine and create in ways that are able to set us all free.  I'm grateful that artists can see into the essence of things and bring them into being in the world in a way that benefits us all.  I'm grateful to every person who lives their life as a connected whole, whose life is art itself.  Each and every person who is able to live life in this way is an inspiration to all of us and lifts us all up by their example.

I know there's a lot going on in the world right now that is hard to make sense of.  But, there is also beauty and kindness and compassion and understanding.  There is love.  And, there is love incarnate, which is art, however it shows up...in a person, in a painting, in a song, in a book, in a dance, in a look, in a touch, in a leaf, in a snowflake, in a wave.  The ways of love and art are endless.  Love and art are always expressing.  And, all we have to do is open to receive and perceive them.

My heart has been breaking over and over and over, day after day after day recently.  It has been pummeled and cracked and worn away and smashed into mush.  But, maybe that's what I needed to be able to open it, to be able to let the hardened parts of it be chipped away, to be able to feel the pain that has kept it closed for too long.  An open heart, and the inherent vulnerability that comes with it, is not comfortable when one is used to numerous layers of hardened protection.  But, for Life to be able to flow through us unobstructed, the protection has to go at some point.  Life has been brutally cracking me open lately, and I'm on my knees in gratitude.  Sometimes it's "A Sudden Light," and sometimes it's a long-time-coming light, but however the light comes to us is exactly the way we need it.  Hallelujah.            

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

And Now, It Begins

I found out this morning that Trump had won the presidential election in the US through an email from a friend.  I immediately felt like someone had punched me in the stomach.  I got suddenly nauseous as adrenaline moved through my system.  I wanted to deny that it was the truth.  I wanted to think that my friend was mistaken.  We love our delusions.  I didn't want to admit that the bubble had burst.  Burst completely wide open.  But, no matter what I'd like to hold on to, life as we've known it is done.  We have been launched into a period of transformation and transmutation that would seem to be the Armageddon that has been talked about for eons.  We have reached the final confrontation of light versus dark.  It is now in stark relief.  But, that's the point.  We are shocked.  The blinders have been ripped off.  The shadow just punched us in the face...hard.

As the initial rush of adrenaline fades and moves through my system, sadness takes over and I allow myself to cry tears of bitter disappointment.  I didn't think Brexit could happen.  And, I didn't think Trump could be elected President.  But, the rose-colored glasses had to come off at some point.  Right now, I'm feeling a bit daunted by what I know is going to be required of us in the four years to come.  I'll get over myself.

I'm on the older side of things.  I've been digging deep my whole life, working to transform myself and transmute my shadows.  I'm tired.  But, I know I can only allow myself the briefest bit of rest.  I've been feeling that I'm only just now starting to really come into my own.  I've been feeling that I'm only just now starting to walk into the deeper purpose for which I came to this planet at this time.  I've been feeling grateful for all the personal, internal work I've done previous to this moment in the knowing that it has prepared me for what will be required of me in the now.  And yet, the shock of today has not moved through yet.  I've not stabilized from the stunning realization of a Trump presidency and what that means for all of us.  But, tomorrow is another day.

What I know, beneath the tiredness and the shock, is that I will rise to the occasion.  We all will.  We will all recover ourselves and stabilize.  We will pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off.  We will join together.  We will do what needs to be done.  The best in all of us will prevail.  We're going to be called upon to rise up in ways we could never have imagined.  And, we will rise.  We're going to be called upon to be strong.  And, we will be strong.  We're going to be pushed to the limits of our stamina and focus, but we will dig deep and roll up our sleeves and do what we came here to do.  For many of us, this is what we've been preparing for.  We're just entering the birth canal.  It's going to take us four years to get through it, and we're going to be asked to be more than we ever thought we could be, but we're going to birth ourselves into something better and brighter as we come out on the other side.  Breathe.

Difficult times bring out the best in us.  It is in difficult times that we are called upon to rise up and be the best that we can be.  It is in difficult times that we find our strength and our courage.  It is in difficult times that we find out who we are and what we're made of.  We are heading into such difficult times.  It's going to take everything we have to turn this crazy runaway train around, but we will do it.  We are up to the task.  Yes.  We are.

As I read on Facebook recently--and I apologize for not remembering who said it--we are in an Evolution, not a Revolution.  Things must change, but not in the way they've changed before.  This time, we must walk the path of the heart.  Violence is not what we want.  Confrontation and resistance is not going to get it done.  This time, it's the feminine joined with the masculine.  This time it's going to look different than anything we've seen throughout our historical past.  Trump, and everyone who voted for him, are standing in the mirror of our shadow so that we can see it in undeniable form.  We have to see it so that we can own all of what is being imaged for us.  So that we can accept it within ourselves.  So that we can love it free and integrate it into our wholeness.  As Matt Licata would say, we need to slow down, slow way down, and get deeply, quietly curious about what's showing itself to us.

Our nation is soul sick because we've been in denial for too long.  It needs all the love we can muster so that we can see our way forward.  This is not a time of division and separation and isolation.  This is a time of coming together and union and compassion.  And, we are going to find our way.  We are going to reshape things and find solutions that work for everyone.  We are going to work even harder to protect our planet, because we have to.  I don't know why humans seem to need to be pushed to the brink before we jump into action and pull ourselves back.  Maybe it's our seeming love of drama and the excitement of a last minute save.  But, whatever the reason, we're here.  And, we're going to pull it out.

Take a day to mourn and wallow around and scream and rage.  Let it all move through.  And, try not to project it onto everyone and everything around you.  But, tomorrow, we need you.  We need your heart.  We need your prayers.  We need your good deeds.  We need your strength.  We need your perseverance.  We need your truth.  We need your engagement.  We need you to show up in the best way possible.  How each of us is going to be asked to show up will vary.  But, we'll know it when we see it.  Some of us will speak out and say the things that others are not able to say.  Some of us will notice things that not everyone sees.  Some of us will pray without ceasing and be the container for all that needs to happen.  Some of us will be the feet on the ground.  Some of us will protect the children and animals.  Some of us will run for office.  There are endless ways that each and every one of us will be inspired to act, and all of us will merge together to bring about the world we know it's possible to create.  Together.

We've received the invitation.  Show up.  Rise up.  Lift up.  We can do this.  This is what we came for.  This is our work.  All of us are needed.  All is well.


Friday, November 4, 2016

The Sacred Service of Standing Rock

Those of us who came into the planet with what we now refer to as The Baby Boom, I call The Transition Team.  But, I'm now realizing that we were only the first of what will end up being a number of Transition Teams.  We came in to shake things up, to shake them loose, to initiate change, to crack it open.  I was 18 in 1968 and can only say how grateful I am that I got to be on the planet at that time and be old enough to be involved in the initiation of change that we brought about.

For my generation, there were extremes of expression that contributed to the cracks in the system we needed to create.  There were the militant ones who were very vocal, and sometimes violent, but whose voices were so needed in the equation.  We needed those who were able to express the anger and repression that we'd collectively experienced for eons.  We needed to hear the issues spoken out loud that were up for all of us.  We needed those who channeled the collective anger and got things moving.  And then, there was the other end of the equation with the "hippie" movement that initiated a big shove toward the idea that love was the answer and that it was important to "get back to the garden."  As active as some of my generation have been, it's now time for a new Transition Team to shake things up in a different way.  And, apart from shaking things up, the now generation also has solutions to bring to the table that weren't able to be put into play previously.  Because of what we did, they're ahead of where we started and will take us further forward in the direction we need to go collectively.

Standing Rock is part of this process.  My 3X great grandfather was Ochinee, a sub-chief of the Southern Cheyenne tribe, and he was killed in the massacre at Sand Creek on November 29, 1864.  I'm very activated by what's going on at Standing Rock right now.  Not only because I feel my DNA stirring, but because of the deep wound it brings up for all of us in terms of how we've collectively treated Native Americans since the beginning of our country.  The USA is founded on the genocide of Native Americans...because the immigrants wanted what they had; wanted to live where they lived; wanted to own land which, to the Native Americans, was impossible to own; and, who were driven by greed and wanted to profit from the land instead of care for it.  Those who came to this continent pushed the Native Americans back as they marched forward from the East Coast to the West Coast, agreed to treaties they never honored, and slaughtered and marginalized the native people.  These issues are not gone.  All of this is alive and continuing today and being brought into the collective consciousness through the events at Standing Rock.

I think there is a collective agreement in place with all the souls involved at Standing Rock to play out these issues for the benefit of the awareness it brings to all of us.  There are centuries of abuse and trauma being enacted yet again, only this time on a world stage with global awareness.  Only this time, we're all involved.  Only this time, we get to choose to handle it differently.  Even President Obama, in his detachment and concern for the monied interests, is playing his part.  The choice he's made to "let it all play out over the next couple of weeks" is made from the same mindset that the powers that be have had in regard to those on the front lines in conflict after conflict.  The idea that the harm that is happening to those involved is less important than rerouting a pipeline that should never have been built is the mindset we're in the process of changing.

Things have to be shaken up.  Some people need to yell and confront.  Some people need to pray and act as containers.  Some people need to sweat and smudge and purify.  Everyone at Standing Rock, on both sides, is fulfilling a very sacred purpose for all of us.  These roles must be played out for all of us to see so we can come into awareness about the issues and energetics we still carry that these events are embodying.  No matter who you relate to in this conflict, or where you are in how you feel about it, we're all being healed by it in the long run.  No matter how little things look like they're moving around it, they are moving.  Minds are being affected, hearts are being affected.  Some people, on the military side of the equation, have quit their jobs because they are refusing to perpetrate atrocities in the name of greed.  Movement is happening.

Vibrationally, things need to get stirred up.  This type of event, such as Standing Rock, starts the vibrational resonance that builds and results in real and deep change.  As upsetting as it can be...and, believe me, I'm one of those people who's intensely upset and affected by what's going on there...it's performing an important service.  Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton are also serving us.  I'm the last person who wants Donald Trump as president, but he's bringing up and initiating vibrational change in regard to a number of issues that would otherwise have stayed suppressed.  Life has chosen a very good change agent.  Because of Donald Trump's inability to act in a civilized manner, he's been a continuous well of richness in terms of all the issues he's activated.  Because of him, women are joining forces and saying "no more."  Because of him, we're looking at our election process and seeing that reforms are sorely needed.  Because of him, we're looking at armament, financials, violence, racism, xenophobia, bullying, irresponsibility and obstructionism in government, and the list goes on.

Hillary Clinton is also serving in another way.  She's bringing up issues of integrity, female power, greed, corporate investment, using political office for personal gain, and again, the list goes on.  Both of our current candidates are perfect for the time, as uncomfortable as they both make us in different ways.  Without either of them, we wouldn't have the chance we are currently being given to look at all the issues they both bring to the fore.  For those who pray, endless prayers are needed for all the players now on the world stage of awakening, on both sides of whatever situation you might be aware of or involved in.

It is my feeling that we have some years ahead of us to become aware of the issues that have been sleeping and to wake them up and move through them.  But, I feel that in about 4 years, we'll start to see things tip in a way that will allow us all to move forward differently.  We have to be strong in this interim period of transition.  Those of us who can, need to hold the pole of where we're headed collectively and form a compassionate container for all the change that needs to and will be taking place.  It is not an easy task to balance all the chaos and confusion that this type of monumental collective change requires.  It is not an easy task to witness and be present for all the horror that is taking place.  But, the darkness has to be seen.  The darkness has to be owned, integrated, accepted and loved free.  This is exactly what so many of us came into the planet to do.  This is our work.  We were born to do this.

I have personally, just within the last week, finally come into an awareness of things I've been holding and hiding from and suppressing for most of my life.  Things are moving that I wasn't sure were ever going to show themselves in a way I could understand and own.  My heart is opening in ways I could only have hoped for previously, because it is getting broken day after day after day.  I'm getting worn down.  The type of pounding we've been experiencing, in the election and in numerous other worldwide events, is necessary in order to wear us down, to wear away the resistance we have to all of what we need to see.  Even though it's not easy or comfortable or pleasant to confront, all the issues we see in the world exist in each one of us personally.  They're different for each of us.  We all get triggered by different things.  We're all involved in or aware of different issues and situations.  But, for all of us, in whatever way it's showing up, we're being given a golden opportunity to move through a huge backlog of misperceptions, constrictions, resistances and limitations.  We're being given an opportunity to leap forward in a quantum way.  And, even though this type of vast and substantial change might be challenging, it is a gift of immense proportion.

What's needed?  Notice where you're triggered and what's being brought up for review.  Notice what you're feeling drawn to in terms of where you feel you might be of benefit.  Witness what's happening with compassion for all involved.  Do whatever you feel drawn to do to help balance the energies at play.  Be present to what's happening without numbing to it.  Pray, do ceremony, create rituals, form groups, discuss, be curious, engage.  Each of us will have to discover the ways that work best for us.  Each of us will be called upon to confront our own issues in our own ways.  Each of us will change and transform in ways we can't even imagine right now.  Step up when you're called to and in whatever way you're called to do it.

The Native Americans at Standing Rock are serving as a wonderful example in terms of how they are dealing with the violence and imperialism and greed they are being faced with.  They are being peaceful and relying on prayer.  They are dealing with the issues at play in a deeply sacred way.  They are embodying principles for all of us to be inspired by and to follow.  They are sacrificing themselves on the altar of collective change and awakening.  Honor them for their amazing service.  Honor them for their personal sacrifice.  Honor them for what they've held for all of us for time immemorial.  Honor them for their strength and courage.  And, honor the perpetrators of violence as well, because without that pole being held, this mirror couldn't exist.

We're going to see amazing and wondrous change in the next few years.  We're going to be called upon to step up in ways that many of us won't see coming.  To use a term that Glennon Doyle Melton coined, we're all "Love Warriors."  We came in to play this out.  We came in to heal ourselves and our planet.  It might look dark right now, but it's true that it always looks darkest right before a breakthrough.  We're on our way to a breakthrough.  And, we're going to make it.  We've taken everything to the brink, but we're not going to go over.  We're going to pull it back.  We just need to keep going.  Hang in there.  Trust the process.  All is well.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Time to Turn it Around

I just watched a documentary on YouTube called "The Burning Times."  It's an important film for anyone who would like to understand how the misogynistic society we now live in came to be.  And, the first step toward changing something, is to understand it as deeply as possible.  Ignorance is not bliss.  Ignorance and denial only perpetuate the continuance of ignorance and denial.  It's time to climb out of that rabbit hole.

Many of us lament the current state of things and wonder how we got here.  There are reasons, and all of them are based in fear.  Fear of the thing that is unknown or different.  Fear of an idea.  Fear of being wrong.  Fear of not having enough.  The list goes on and on.  Fear has managed to gain quite a strong foothold.

The mystical, from which Christianity arose, and from which all organized religion has arisen, has been desired and feared and misunderstood by the majority.  Those who have mystical experiences and then try to explain them to others, have often misconstrued and mistranslated such events.  Or, the consciousness of the one who has the mystical experience, is different enough from those around them that, no matter the language they choose to use, they are bound to be misunderstood.  We can not bottle mysticism, it is individual to each of us in ways that are very personal.  We can only teach or share that which is of personal value to us, which doesn't mean that it will be of value to another, or that another will be able to understand it or put it into practice and get the same result that we have gotten.  And, real mysticism is alive and growing and changing all the time.  Real mysticism is of the now and connected into Life as we live it day by day.

Those who want what the mystic has had--a connection to and experience of the Divine--will often attempt to organize the experience into steps that are achievable for others to follow.  We try to make rules for the mystical.  Ten Steps to Happiness, The Five Things That Will Bring You Peace, Keys to Success, etc...these are not real book or video titles, they are titles I've made up to make a point, that we're still trying to capsulize what is essentially an individual experience.  And, once enough people believe our version of "how to get there," then anyone who tries another way, or believes another way, is often made wrong.  Such is the way organized religions begin.

We're coming up to the time of Samhain, All Hallows Eve, or Halloween as most of us now call it.  Many will choose to pretend to be witches when they dress themselves for Halloween.  Many children will be frightened, yet again, by people costumed as witches, pretending to cast evil spells on those around them.  This interpretation of a witch comes out of the Inquisition.  It is misogynistic, and creates a negative connotation of women based out of fear of women's inherent connection to the Earth and to Life.  And, however innocently, continues fear and misogyny for generation after generation.

Witches were, historically, those who were connected to the Earth and to the Divine.  They understood the laws of nature.  They used herbs for healing.  They birthed babies and tended the sick.  They comforted and served those of their tribes.  They were wise and were honored for their wisdom.  At the time when witches were honored as wise members of the tribe, the tribe was more connected to the Earth in general and followed the seasons, and lived by the natural cycles of Life.  Their rituals and traditions arose out of the organic celebration and honoring of their connection to the life they were living.  Sacredness was connected to all of Life.

Christianity has historically brought about more death and destruction than possibly any other belief system.  As it has been co-opted by those who want power over others, who are afraid of belief systems different from their own, and who seem to want absolute control over those within their domain, it has turned into a vehicle of limitation and abuse, especially of the feminine.  Yes, there are those, in spite of everything, who have found the Divine through Christianity.  And, we have much to be thankful for because of Christianity and what it has wrought.  But, it is necessary to look at and accept the wholeness of its influence, which includes many horrific things done in its name and the name of the one who inspired it.

As we need to see and accept all aspects of ourselves in order to be whole and free human beings, so we also need to see and accept all aspects of our institutions and belief systems.  In the same way that personal shadows control us, historical and institutional shadows control us in a larger sense.  If we are not able to look at the horror of our past, and accept and understand what has caused us to be truly evil to one another, then the horrific behavior will continue.  What are the fears and misconceptions that drive us to abuse and kill each other today?  Why, when we know better, do we continue to abuse our Earth and all of the species who inhabit her?  Why are some people driven by a lust of power and greed that is insatiable?  The answers to these questions lie within each of us and are individual.  But, they also lie within our societies and our collective histories, and must be addressed by all of us together.

How do we do this?  We do it by being open to each other and communicating honestly.  We do it by being curious of our differences and by being desirous to learn from them.  We do it by finding our own authenticity and then by sharing it through our vulnerability and willingness to reveal ourselves to each other.  We do it by lifting each other up instead of trying to control each other.  We do it by listening to each other and honoring each others' experience and perceptions.  We do it by agreeing to disagree and by allowing each other to live freely.  We do it by celebrating Life and its seasons instead of trying to control them and frightening each other because of it.  We do it by walking into the unknown and expanding ourselves instead of shutting down in the face of it.  We do it by being polite with each other and treating each other with respect.  We do it by remembering that we are all one and that we each carry the hearts of our brothers and sisters in our hands.  We do it by each act of kindness, understanding and compassion we are able to give each other in every moment.

We've all seen and experienced enough horror to last many generations.  It's time to say no more.  It's time to say enough to fear and death and destruction.  It's time to turn this runaway train around and take back the connection and sanctity of our lives.  Let's do what we can, each and every one of us, so that we can look at our world and not lament "how did we get here?"  But, so that we can look at our world and be proud of what we've created.

Our governments, our corporations, our institutions and belief systems are us.  They are not separate from us.  Things are the way they are because we've made them that way, or allowed them to be that way.  It's up to each one of us to create the world we want.  It's time to stop complaining and get busy.  It's time to grow up and accept responsibility.  It's time to stop blaming others and expecting someone else to do what needs to be done.  It has obviously taken the state of things the way they are to wake us up.  But, now we've got to get out of bed and get moving.  We are on the abyss.  No one will save us but ourselves.  We can do this.  We were born for this.  It is our destiny.