Sometimes it is easy to believe the skills of reflection and discernment required when we work on our personal issues cannot influence the world we share with almost 8 billion other Souls. In this vast mix of religious beliefs, governing procedures, racial differences, environmental issues, gender discoveries, economic divides, and cultural mandates, the individual desire to evolve beyond reactivity into responsiveness may seem like a luxury none of us can afford. We have created a world in which we experience relentless pressure from every external source of information to abandon our inner lights, our discernment, our powers of reflection, so we might find meaning by merging into groups that assure us we are incomplete and inadequate unless we join them.
Celebrating the girls and woman who evolve, who begin as quietly obedient and become warriors of change.
Celebrating the boys and men who evolve, who begin in positions of power and privilege and become advocates for social justice and gender equity.
Celebrating all in transition from one gender to another or to many.
Celebrating patriarchy’s end and its simplified binary of man-woman.
Celebrating the new ways of governance replacing this archaic dominator model.
Celebrating full access to full services.
Celebrating our voices raised in support of healing.
Celebrating Post Traumatic Growth the world over.
Celebrating our shared experiences as Earthlings.
As headlines insist on the inevitability of a war that may pull the entire world into a pattern of destruction we – Earth and all Her Inhabitants – may not be able to survive, we know there are people who have faced the worst and found solutions by working together toward a common goal. Rather than watch videos of interviews with individuals who thrive on conflict and want to humiliate one another, we can learn from people who support the health and well-being of all. After hearing the rhetoric that suggests war is not only inevitable but the only way to solve conflict, in my search for the antidote to this belief I discovered an obituary of Dr. Paul Farmer. Through his obituary, I found Bending the Arc, a documentary that explores the birth of Partnerships in Health, a global outreach NGO improving healthcare and lives everywhere. Continue reading Bending the Arc Towards Justice and Peace: Our Common Purpose
Recently, like many people alive during these tumultuous times on our beautiful, fragile, resilient planet, I have felt the tug of despair. So many of Earth’s family members are suffering because of extreme weather events and extreme human reactivity. In this atmosphere of frightening instability, I’ve found it tempting to slump into the false belief of my impotence in the face of so many overwhelming challenges. In these moments of fear and discouragement, I forget that I can reach out to others, offer prayers for those whose needs I recognize, or simply read or listen to something that reminds me we are as capable of offering kindness as we are of doing harm. In performing these small but restorative acts, I contribute to the Love, Joy, and Peace that are the antidotes to despair.
When people have been seriously traumatized – I count myself a long-time member of this vast group – we often discover an inner Guidance System that leads us to comfort and beauty, harmony and safety, against all odds. This Guidance System operates in our every day lives and manifests as simply as, “I feel great here.” When we decode “feeling great,” we discover we have gravitated to experiences that accept us as we are. This sense of acceptance is demonstrated by our physical-emotional-intellectual-spiritual ability to respond to what is, to be present, to immerse ourselves in the flow of life.
From a very early age, I felt this profound acceptance out of doors, in our garden, at our neighbourhood park, and on the beach at Point Pelee. The sense of acceptance I experienced when ice skating, swimming, wandering in silence, and staring up at the sky from my bed of autumn leaves, summer grasses, or snow taught me that no matter what misadventures might be happening among the adults who were charged with my care, I could step out into what I have come to call The Eternal Mother, my Earth Home.
As I aged into adolescence, I learned to look up, to search out the moon and the planets, to connect with their rhythmic steadfastness. Parents might disappear, but the moon was always somewhere above the horizon and ready to shine on or play peak-a-boo with me. When I learned of the moon’s magical phases and their relationship with the sun, the most steadfast of heavenly bodies, I began to understand how light . . ., sunlight, made a profound difference in my life. I felt better when I could close my eyes and offer my face to the sun. I felt better when I could shed clothes and wander around seeing, scenting, and eventually sketching the world in which I found contentment and belonging.
Eventually, I learned an Old Celtic Prayer that honoured the connection I feel to the sun. I continue to say this prayer pretty much daily, my face upturned to the eastern horizon, my hands on my heart as I recite the words:
You, who are the source of all power,
Whose rays illuminate the world,
Illuminate also my heart,
That I too may do your work on Earth.
When I say the third line, “Illuminate also my heart,” I describe the biggest heart I can on or around myself. If I’m in a confined space, the heart I describe is over my torso. If I’m standing in my garden, the heart I describe includes everything my wide open arms can include, right down to my feet and the Earth supporting them.
Experiencing myself as an essential part of the natural, larger-than-human world has kept me alive despite my early, life-threatening trauma. Feeling this steadfast, unbreakable interconnectedness with the non-human world gives me a sense of kinship with animals and plants, earth and stone, that makes me more reverent than I would otherwise be. This natural-world connection reminds me that in spite of human failings, Life belongs to Itself and that whether others know it or not, I am and will always be a part of this miraculous expression of creative chaos that unfolds throughout our galaxy and beyond.
May we all feel this sense of belonging to the vast web of life as we know it. As the Light returns to the Northern Hemisphere, may we learn the dance of connection, of peace, of meaning, and of love. Happy Winter Solstice!
Until next time,
While I have called this post “When Sadness Comes,” I might well have substituted the word Rage for Sadness. In my experience, all feelings of anger and grief are inseparable although, depending upon care giver expectations, we may be unable to experience one or the other of these profoundly humanizing emotions. Some of us are born into families who permit the expression of anger but deny any grief that may lie below this emotion. And many are born into families where it is “safe” to express sadness, but absolutely forbidden to express any form of anger. And some, of course, must pretend a kind of cheerful neutrality regardless of what emotional landmines are detonating throughout the days and nights of family life.
Our journeys to wholeness require that we acknowledge and experience the feelings our early care givers insisted we deny, and this requirement is often very challenging. The reclamation of our forbidden feelings is a process similar to muscle building. We go through an initial period of painful resistance that requires we choose to persevere. Once we make this choice to reclaim our denied emotions, our new emotional breadth increases our emotional intelligence one hundred fold. This reclamation process takes the time and patience any worthwhile undertaking requires. Happily, energy tools, and specifically EFT, can be very helpful partners in improving our emotional literacy on the journey to wholeness.
My lovely mouser, Prince Meadowlark, who has been with me for sixteen years, recently reminded me of aging’s toll on the four-leggeds of the world. I’m used to thinking about the human experience of aging, ageism, and vulnerability, but his current challenges with sight and mobility remind me that animals too experience the erosion of strength and sensory acuity that leads to feelings of helplessness. Animals, however, require our expanded sensitivity to their well being and suffering. Beyond a plaintive meow, this wonderful companion cannot describe his fears, his heartaches, his frustrations over the circumstances robbing him of agency, and so, as his designated person, it is on me to interpret his needs, to meet these as best I can, and to comfort him when his experiences prove frustrating.
Signs of the improbable healing at work in our world just keep coming. One of these signs appeared in a recent edition of the News & Citizen, a local/regional northern Vermont weekly paper, announced by the headline, “From gang to crew: Black rower finds peace on the water.” Rowing is one of those sports Ivy League colleges support to ensure high enrolment. It is expensive and exclusive, so the story of an all black rowing team from west Chicago is startling news, as is the linking of three words: gang, crew, and peace.
In these turbulent times of political and racial divisiveness, one human experience is the great unifier: Loss. We cannot avoid it, individually and collectively, especially if we are engaged with the world through our work and media information choices. We see fires ravaging communities of trees and people, floods disappearing whole ecosystems and devastating towns, and humans suffering through the terrors of pandemic illness and death on every continent. Whether these losses are personal or witnessed, our awareness of them can positively impact what we think and feel and share with others. Recognizing shared losses puts us in touch with our common humanity. As difficult as loss is, it makes it possible to expand our sense of connection to others, no matter where we are in the world.
Reading during a pandemic can feel like a lifeline or leaking boat, depending upon what we’re reading and where we’re anchoring our sense of safety. For me, reading (even badly written opinion pieces that pass themselves off as fact) is one of my primary sources of meaningful perspective – at least I know what we’re up against along the intellectual divide when I read pseudo-journalism and its fear-based pieces that often read like SNL parodies of Naomi Klein’s terrifying predictions in The Shock Doctrine.
Omnivorous reading along with the kinesthetic pleasures of learning by doing have increased in value as I age. Some things, of course, I am unable to learn by doing. One of these, delivering a child taken from her German parents by Kiowa, and then taken a second time from her Kiowa people by the army to be returned to her remaining relatives, all before her eleventh birthday, is one experiential adventure impossible for me to know first hand. This child’s story, unfolding as it does in the wilds of Texas soon after the conclusion of the civil war – a lawless and terrifying time by all accounts – adds to my relief in learning of the narrative’s twists and dangerous turns through reading rather than through experience.