And a big thank you to Tara Brach...as if on queue, she speaks here much more eloquently to what I've been writing about.
Immigrants Welcome Here…I saw this sign high on the government building in Madrid in 2015 as a taxi rushed me towards the airport. My heart read the sign and responded with a sense of peace.
One morning last week I saw signs of a mouse in my house….scat on the counter and there, under my sofa cushion, a small pile of kibble from my dog’s bowl tucked between the cushions.
That evening I pulled out my “live” mouse trap and placed it on the floor with almonds inside and went upstairs to bed. Within moments I heard the soft clang of the door of the trap. With a slight annoyance, since I was already in my pj’s, I went downstairs and picked up the small cage. Inside was an energetic, large eyed mouse….so sweet. Though I knew it would likely be a less than cogent move, I skipped quickly across the dark street and opened the cage for the mouse into the rocky hillside. This would likely be less than effective but, hey, its done.
I went back inside and set the trip again and went to bed.
Early in the morning after a wakeful night, conscious of the trap, I went downstairs to find another mouse in the trap. Was it the same one? Who knows. Though it was only 5:30 am I pulled on some pants and jumped in the car with the cage and drove a few blocks away and released the little guy. Apparently they have their ways to navigate back home, but I thought this might be far enough away to prevent a return.
With a smug sense of success and what I thought of as a kind move on my part I returned home and began my day. I set the trap again, thinking perhaps there were several mice in the house. For two days I caught no more mice so I put the trap back into the corner of the kitchen storage area. Subconsciously I felt an energetic brush of my hands together as if for a job well done!
On THIS morning, however, a lesson of Biblical proportions appeared, literally from above…burst in on my bubbles of righteousness. In my morning routine walk to the kitchen, my eyes blinked as I saw a tiny form on the floor near the door. I bent down to find a tiny baby mouse, eyes still held closed, body still warm and moving slightly…an intricacy of divine mammalian life. I picked it up. I looked closely at it and imagined that it has crawled out of the nest …hungry…alone…seeking its mama.
My heart sank. No doubt I had separated this tiny mouse baby from its parent.
How was I not like what our president is doing now on the border to Mexico? You might say, its only a mouse. yes, it is a mouse. It is also a child, a baby, a helpless life dependent on another.
We can so easily disregard something in an effort not to feel what we have done. I did this, this morning. I thought, the humane thing to do would probably be to kill it, but I couldn’t find that in me, so I placed it outside in the garden and went inside. About an hour later I couldn’t shake the feeling of what I’d done. I kept muttering apologies to the world…I felt awful. I was hiding. So I went out and picked it back up. At least I could hold it and tend it as it died.
I picked it up and put it in a little nest with fur in it. I held it first in my hand as it wriggled and seemed to be nosing for its mama.
I watched my desire to “get on with my day”.
I felt like a monster in that. I saw the dark movement of my shadow aspect that couldn’t be bothered to be with this small death.
Inside, I looked around and couldn’t figure out where the mouse nest was.
Then, an hour or two later…suddenly, another tiny infant mouse was in the same place. I realized in the moment that it had fallen from above. I looked and looked and could see no way for it to have fallen from anywhere that a nest could exist.
I knew though, from the mark on the floor, that it had fallen from above. I was shaken by this mystery. I picked this one up too and held it. Whispered to it. Held them together. Later I saw a small crack by the heater vent above and imagined that this is where the nest was and these tiny ones, now without a mother and so without food or nourishment, were wiggling themselves into their own great fall.
I placed a pillow on the floor where they’d landed in case more fell and placed the tiny bodies in my garden again. In the coming hours, they passed.
My heart ached.
I felt ethical and moral when I had marched for the immigrant families on Saturday…feeling that I wouldn’t ever do such a thing. So much lays hidden to us…so many blind spots we have that we don’t consider and can’t even see.
How many times have I separated families, caused deaths to infants, turned away from death because it is too painful to look at? I realized that I was more adept at looking at death after the fact, than during the process. I have heard myself say that my fear was not of death, but of dying. And so it is, I do not want to watch it happen. I feel so powerless there. I see now that at times I have been blind to how I have participated in hurting others. I don’t want to see how I have hurt others. I am avoiding my own pain in not wanting to see theirs.
I sit here now, looking at the empty pillow by the door…wondering when the next small life might land there. Will I take the time for it? Its strange how so many of us see lives as less important when the creature is smaller than us or if they are less like us...a different race, religion, gender, sexual preference, species...
I ask for forgiveness. I give thanks for waking up to what I was doing so unconsciously. I apologize for my mistake in this.
Do I want mice in my house? No, but neither do I want to make innocents suffer by my desire for convenience. Obviously this is not the same as dividing families at the border, but it is so much the same, and a lesson for me. It was helpful guidance in my desire to see more of my blindspots.
When I think back at the sign I saw in Madrid, I ask myself the question of whether immigrants are welcome in me when it comes to mice, to allowing others to share my home, in including and even inviting some seemingly foreign thought or feeling into my heart, when it is uncomfortable or inconvenient.
Can I hang such a sign on my heart?
Immigrants are welcome here.
Aren’t the majority of us immigrants into the US? Into many countries? How many of us are native?
We so want to hold up the stop sign to things that are “Other” to us….whether inside of us or outside.
As painful as this was to experience my desire not to see what I’d done this morning, I am grateful for waking up to it.
This is the task, is it not?
To see how much we are like those we call Other, and to stop long enough to see...and feel.
“Perhaps our most important task at this moment in time is to not avert our gaze, to not allow ourselves to be numb to the world. I think being numb is another form of suicide.” ~Terry Tempest Williams
It has been too long since I’ve written here.
The cauldrons in which I have been being cooked have been hot and the burns in my heart are healing and working to stitch pain into learning and meaning.
This morning a memory bubbled up to the salty surface of my awareness. Strangely, it is a memory that not another person in my family currently recalls and yet is as clear as day in my mind.
I can see my small second story bedroom with my bunk beds in the house I grew up in Des Moines, Iowa, and our little dog Twink’s ever present four leggedness. I can almost smell the roses and lilacs on the east side of the house and the old yellow and green glider on the brick patio outside.
I remember that there was a day or two or three in a particular summer month where my 8 or 9 year old body suddenly lost its ability to move on its own and if I recall correctly there was a loss of feeling as well. The story once went that I was taken to the doctor and there was no rhyme or reason found for the why of this. I remember being carried from room to room by my Dad, and feeling frightened and even some sweet and subtle closeness as a result of my Dad’s warm body just a little more frequently pressed up against my limp body. It all returned as quietly and mysteriously as it had disappeared and I am left to share my memory with you all these decades later.
What was that and what gifts did it bear?
Why did this memory get spooned up into my conscious now again? As I stir and stir and am stirred again and again by the recent events of the world out there, and my inner challenges and conundrums, there does seem to be a common spice that surfaces that has to do with feeling and seeing, or the lack there of. I smell the scent of questions in moments of apparent choice or longing to take action paired up with the old patterns of paralyzation….as well as a sense of a deeper darkness pervading our inner and outer worlds.
A groan erupts involuntarily out of my body just now as I feel the weight of this very old and worn out pattern in me. The place where I have too often numbed out or gone into hiding, unable to believe that I have what it takes to move appropriately or speak with any value.
I never connected these places, but was that one young body’s response to the internal experience of feeling numbed out in the face of too much pain or being paralyzed in the face of an impulse to take action in response to painful inequities and disregard in the world around me?
I’ve always experienced myself as sensitive…I’ve heard myself say “too sensitive” at times. I am aware of a kind of coping strategy that perhaps I began back at that time, that allowed me to numb out to the pain that I felt so acutely in the world around me…especially around voices that were not heard or understood and so disregarded.
When I did allow the feeling…the hearing…the searing pain of the world, I felt inept to know how to respond…too small, not intelligent enough, too unsure, which resulted in imagining that to act would be an arrogant and so, unattractive or unacceptable move on my part.
In these times when the global news is so horrifying I am sensing that we are amidst a rampant epidemic whose symptoms have everything to do with numbing out to the painful news that seems to be in every direction. Once upon a time, not so long ago, we humans knew the news of only our small village, at times the news of what was happening out 20 miles or so from home…but most often we only knew the events of a very small group of people or even our own family. In this time of global technology, we are invited to be witness to, even force fed news from the entire world.
I do not believe that we as a conscious species actually has evolved enough to know how to assimilate such extremes of news and graphic descriptions of violence…and yet we feed ourselves that voluntarily on television, social media and in the theaters. Do we actually understand what is at hand and how we must usher ourselves into a kind of off gassing in order to not be skewed and damaged emotionally by absorbing such scenes and stories of abhorrent behavior towards others.
Recently a friend of mine revealed his distress to me when he realized he’d been in denial about the emotional impact of his aunt’s growing dementia. He realized he’d gone numb so that he was not even believing the reality of what this might mean to their relationship. Is what we are seeing a kind of automatic shut off valve occurring in us when the actual pain of the events in the world get too big, too much, too real? Does our emotional intelligence just decide to turn off the emotion? Or does it loose the capability to differentiate between what is real and something to respond to vs. something in a fictional movie? Have we hit our limit to responsibly or reasonably take in the painful events of our world and so are seeing the fall out of denial and inaction in our lives?…so many choosing to be “too busy” attending to things that are easier to assimilate and have control over vs.something so huge and vile happening out there in the world .
It is not easy to look… to turn towards the heart breaking events of the world and not be devoured by the pain or the guilt in our seeming lack of ability to make a difference to those in that arena. How do we do this and then not go numb to things we can attend to and make a difference to? This is a steep learning curve.
To stay distant and choose not to look may be dealing another impactful blow. Are we growing metaphorical cataracts that prevent us from being able to see our own darkness…our own blind spots? That IS the definition of blind spots…we can’t see them, but it is time to look for them, not to allow our denial take us deeper into blindness.
It seems the shadows are getting deeper. We must become our owl selves and learn to see in this darkness. We must say yes to our wolf wildness and be fierce and loyal to life and a wide range of authentic response.
Evolution can go many directions…it can degenerate our wise ways of responding or it can give us resilience and greater capacity to feel, to take action, to see in this darkness.
Pain is a participatory ally if we allow it to move us and open us.
Seeing can be a guide; an activator.
Compassionate and courageous action invites change.
Let’s do this together.
Remember....Strong back, soft front.
“Bearing witness to both the beauty and pain of our world is a task that I want to be part of. As a writer, this is my work. By bearing witness, the story that is told can provide a healing ground. Through the art of language, the art of story, alchemy can occur. And if we choose to turn our backs, we've walked away from what it means to be human.” ― Terry Tempest Williams
We are living in a time when we are asked, whether we are conscious of the asking or not, to bear witness to the hurt and the heart of the world.
About two months ago my courageous dear friends Angela and Molly invited me to join in an offering they felt drawn to create as a kind of care package honoring the refugees of the world. They asked me if I would stitch it into a ceremony…to bring my great love and respect for ceremony in to surround and hold sacred their offerings of poetry, photography and story. Their hearts were trained on the refugee crisis and they were choosing to both bear witness and in so doing, not to avert their gaze, no matter how painful it became.
They wondered if I felt drawn to join them.
I immediately said yes, mostly for my love of these women and ceremony, with less attention given to the topic for which this would be a benefit….the global refugee crisis.
As the weeks tumbled onward, I began to notice just what potency this act had. I have often playfully warned people who sign up for one of my transformational programs, that the work begins the moment you say yes to coming. I am reminded now just how true this is. It was happening to me. This yes, to creating and holding ceremony for such an immensely rich offering, has worked me…it has called me to task…to look, to listen, to feel, to be stunned by the immensity of this crisis…to be slayed by my own descent that I hardly recognized nor knew how to be inside of while I was mired in it. Isn’t it strange how a woman can guide others in such moments in time but when she is abducted by that very same abyss, can find herself absolutely bewildered inside of it?
Day after day I found myself wallowing in…in something I could not identify. I found myself fascinated by the question of my inner refugees…my inner homelands…my sense of being an exile for so long.
I read things like the fact that there are 65 million refugees and displaced humans in the world at this time and that annually less than 1% were resettled.
I watched my friend, Angela be pulled to the greek island Chios to bear witness at the refugee camp there last year and work to serve the people there.
I was chewed up and swallowed by words:
REFUGE … TO SEEK REFUGE.
What is it like to be unable to find refuge?
To climb aboard a small boat with all your family, often not knowing how to swim, open and exposed to waves and elements, with little food or water, in hopes of making it to …somewhere "safe"?
What was it like to be forced to leave one's home and life to travel long distances, often by foot, to a place where the people didn't know your language or understand your ways?
I was stirred in a pot so big and so hot that I couldn’t lay any sense upon it.
So I swam and swam in the pot…swirling, adding salt water, bubbling and fuming.
I could find no recipe to follow…no bowl to be spooned into.
This crisis is both a global epidemic and an extremely personal one.
Those of us creating this event asked ourselves, “how DO we bear witness?”
How do we bear it?
The grief and heat of truth simmered in us.
Making ceremony was one answer and we do it because we don’t know how to bear it otherwise. We realized we had to offer up what we could with beauty, and enter consciously into a communication with something greater.
As I cooked in this invitation to bear witness in these times to the so muchness of pain in the world I realized how huge this task was.
For the majority of our existence on this planet humans have done this witnessing. As awful it has been for countless humans to witness their families, animals, homes and villages in their breaking and demise, suffering and torture, it is entirely different now to do this globally. This is the first time in our existence that we have had to somehow find the strength…the muscle…the kindness and love and compassion in us to bear witness to an entire world that is in so many forms of pain, despair, upheaval, loss, destruction, extermination, suffering and dying. With the advent of technology we were bequeathed an immense task…to bear witness to loss far beyond our own...to see it globally.
I squirmed under the weight of this charge.
It is so much easier to avoid (especially with technology)…leave the news off…turn away from that which causes too much pain; that which especially triggers my wounds...to turn the channel.
It would be easier…
but at what cost?
What muscle might we build in confronting the pain?
Perhaps this is the essential muscle for our time.
What if this is so deeply personal that in facing it we will heal our own pain as well as touch the world's?
We invite you to join us in this ceremony that will take place in Denver, CO on June 8 and Boulder, CO on June 9. Whether or not you live in that area you can join us . . . in your own way. And you can support this benefit and our wobbly-hearted action by letting us know that you are bearing witness along side us. We are sending all that we take in as dollars to two particular refugee recipients currently living in Greece…a Syrian family and a single young Kurd man whose lost is family and is in school to become a doctor.
He speaks 7 languages.
Below is our flyer and you can make a donation of any amount at www.facesofdignity.com. Every dollar makes a difference.
No amount is too small.
Every kindness makes a difference.
Please join us…We would relish your support, as would the world.
Be welcomed to share our flyer with any friends you have that would be
interested in coming
or in donating.
We had to do something…
this is it.
“When the suffering of another creature causes you to feel pain, do not submit to the initial desire to flee from the suffering one, but on the contrary, come closer, as close as you can to him who suffers, and try to help him.”
– Leo Tolstoy
Decades ago while in the wide open expanse of Death Valley, I had an experience that changed my life. It was subtle and centered in the depths of my somatic knowing, yet it has stayed with me and informed me in ways I can’t fully explain. It settled onto the ancient ocean floor of me, not unlike that landscape there, that was once an inland sea floor itself but now was exposed and in brilliant engagement with sun and wind and creatures who know nothing of gills or fins.
A group of soul guides in training were camped on a rocky escarpment on an east facing slope that rose slowly towards the grey, craggy, nearly unapproachable peaks of the mountains that framed this immense valley. To our south was a wide, welcoming, seemingly flat arroyo of tumbled rock, studded with creosote and other desert varnished plants. This arroyo at times was the channel for streaming water racing off the peaks, pulled by gravity’s insistent ways, to lower ground. There are places in that Valley that are actually below sea level where rocks that are hundreds of millions of years old wait. While we were there the entire landscape seemed entirely devoid of water.
There were 14 of us gathered there to study ceremony and rhythm. Our tents were placed carefully amidst cactus and rock outcropping above the arroyo and we had picked places along the rutted road that skirted the arroyo, to circle our therm-a-rest chairs and gear, to make our camp kitchen, and to meet and arrange our meetings.
We were insignificant in such a vast and primordial terrain…dots of life in an immense valley of death. This place was not to be underestimated. Though some moments we were shaken by a stillness that surpassed all understanding, it was evident that this place too could roar, could flick us around like a flea on a dog’s body. This rock laden place is continually moved and shaped and re-arranged by harsh winds, rain and snow. Other times, with the perfect recipe of moisture and warmth, this floor too could be carpeted with a florescence of delicate color…wildflowers in concert with moon, sun, stone, seed, water, cloud.
This was a dramatic and stunningly gorgeous land embroidered in mystery…stitched with paradox…and woven with clashing opposition.
It is an uncomfortable mirror for many humans.
One evening when the moon was high and nearly full, but smoldering in a thin grey cloud cover, one woman in our group was to enact a ceremony at the edge of the arroyo. We were all invited to participate, in fact, she needed us to.
While I remember little of the intentioned underbelly of ceremony, my body remembers with minute focus, the arrangement of our group there on the flanks of that great geologic majesty.
The woman arranged us with great care, in a way that would support her ceremonial vision. There are times when the place and the arrangement of components of a ceremony play an extraordinarily important part of our communication with Mystery. This woman had the women stand in a circle, shoulders touching, facing inward. The men surrounded us in a circle, looking outward….muted darkness around us…the silence of night life invading.
Readers; my friends, close your eyes now for a moment and imagine yourself in such an arrangement.
Can you feel it?
I felt the somatic message immediately on that night so long ago. In an instant, my body felt so many sensations that added up to wholeness in me…it was visceral, it was emotional, it was primordially embedded in my genes, it was amplified in my feminine wisdom and wrote an essential indelible message not to be forgotten.
This was the way of the feminine in relation to the masculine.
This was the way of the masculine in relation to the feminine.
This was vibrant, vital, balanced, generative, whole and empowering.
This was the sacred way of marriage within AND this was a vision for a way of living in community in the world.
I felt we had landed in a simple yet immensely profound embodied teaching.
Many many times since then I have returned in my imagination to that moment in moonlight where I remembered a way of being that was solid and loving and truly respectful in all directions; a way that brought out the true gifts of each. I have often returned to my body’s knowing from that experience, in times when I have dueled and struggled internally with what I recognized to be my more feminine aspects and my more masculine ways. I’ve always known I had and needed both, but have watched, sometimes in frustration, the complexity of the interactions within, my judgements and condemnations, and my leans and tendencies in one way or the other.
I’m aware that in using the words masculine and feminine we can bump up against all kinds of fear-based, discriminating images, and painful memories and wounds, and we can unfairly transcribe that into the images of men and women in our outer lives. While horrendous patterns and abuses exist and are very much in need attention, for this time let us turn our attention inward. Though we often are weighted as women towards the feminine and vice versa this is most certainly not always true and in fact, it can be the opposite. I want to invite each of us to examine the fact that inside of us, in the riches of our psyche we hold both!! We have feminine aspects and masculine aspects. We NEED both…this is part of our wholeness!
If it helps to use different adjectives, please do. We might see the feminine as more lunar, the masculine as solar, one more representative as darkness or night, and the other as light and day, one as more upward, the other downward. Find what words work for you, but please, do join me here in this inquiry.
I invite you to recognize these aspects of your inner family and to imagine interacting with them with the greatest respect. Yes, we have both polarities within and we also have them surrounding us. The mirror is there…sometimes smokey, sometimes golden, but clearly there.
We are living in a time when we are turning our eyes towards the places where a disparaging imbalance between men and women exists in the world. Sadly we forget, often, that this dynamic is alive inside many of us too. Yes there are women and men with all the unfortunate events of our histories being revealed, AND there is the inner world that holds its own versions of these stories.
I was recently horrified as I thumbed through the chapters of my life with a focus on how the patriarchy has been, and still is, alive in me, as well as all the small inequities that go on between my more masculine and more feminine voices. All the subtleties of my own collusion were lit up and with it a sickening realization of the part I play in this dynamic. I offer a humble prayer that we not only speak truth to power, but we also acknowledge and work with the way in which there is inequity in these relationships within as well.
In our fury to make the other wrong, we sometimes forget that the inner work MUST go on in unison with the response to the outer events. Yes, both are true, both must be investigated AND it IS time for us to find and return to the sacred marriage that is meant to be between these forces of beauty.
Can we return again to this simple concentric formation that I was a part of in Death Valley as an image of direction and invitation?
Can you find inside, your own lunar, dark, mysterious feminine aspects…can you imagine that as the wise inward looking circular shape of you…the receiver of vision, the eyes-closed-see-er of truth that arises from your inner worlds of emotion and sensation and sensitivity..of loving care and empathy…your anima, the one of you that is the creator on the inner level, who births life after nourishing and nurturing it into form. That intuitive, vulnerable alluring one of you… can you feel that inside of you?…the one that shapes projects with her keen respect for what is life giving?
Can you remember this place inside of you?
And now, can you also find inside your bright solar, directed, outward looking, Spirit driven masculine aspects? Can you remember the archer, the protector, the hunter, the animus, the manifester of you? …the focused, eyes open, light born, strong warrior, provider of you who can get a job done with seemingly super human powers if it is in support of the night and the vision that arises there.
Can you feel that one inside of you?…the potent, goal-oriented one of you who stands at the helm and tracks the way towards sustaining family, and village, and Life.
Can you remember this place inside of you?
Reach out to each of those…look respectfully into the story and experience of the other. Feel the pain of the rupture and loss here. See this as a sacred and vital union available within.
Then turn outward.
Yes, our world too has been fractured and warped, the origins of this union have been forgotten and fallen into disrepair all too often.
Can we tune our inner ears to find the muted feminine voice…lay in that reflective lunar glow and listen attentively to the wisdom inherent there? Can we love Her back into beauty? Can we hold Her and protect Her and open our hearts to what she holds in her fertile darkness?
And can we turn our eyes to see the immensity available in our mis-directed fallen masculine ways…can we lean into the strong light of him and open to his potency and protection? Can we trust him back into cogent intent upon this union and the care for the life-giving feminine within? Can we allow his purpose-filled light to support us?
Can we find trust again? And honor?
Can we be in service to the nourishing wholeness of equality, and the elegance of a balanced union…both internally and externally?
Can we return again and again to this image of concentric circled ways of being that is supportive, whole, radiating and life-giving, in concert with the dark mysteries and the light of Spirit?
What if, as the feminine rises, we are invited, rather than into further division, disregard and warring, to a wedding within??
The ceremony extends, includes, opens and awaits us…all of us.
The doors are open.
**after writing this in the wee hours of the morning, I opened my daily read of Mark Nepo and read his May 3rd entry entitled "Our Male and Female Energies". We are connected!
“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.” ~D.Whyte.
The gentle plash of the rippling waves on sand woke me from my sweet slumber on the island in Baja, and immediately I had to pee. I stumbled out of my tent into a world of wonder. I would not call it dark, though it was the middle of the moonless night. The black pocket of what we call night had been turned upside down by millions tiny punctuations of light, seemingly in every direction.
On wobbly bare feet I made my way to the stoney edge of the Sea of Cortez which is where we’d been directed to pee. My breath caught as my brain efforted to make sense of what I was seeing….was I looking up or down? There seemed to be no difference. Were the stars being reflected in the sea? Was I disoriented enough by this new environment to be hallucinating?
I clicked off my headlamp.
What was this wondrous world of star-full surrounds?? I was stunned and in awe. In every direction there were stars attended by the gentle nourishing sound of quiet water lapping.
As I squatted the starry phenomena came closer in. I noticed these stars moving…some darting off…others moving with the placid waves.
Suddenly I got it…. it occurred to me that these were not stars but rather something equally as enthralling and magnificent…this was bioluminescence! Tiny lights of life moving with and in the sea.
I had stumbled into a world of magic!
We live in a magnificent world…surrounded by miracles and yet, and yet… we suffer…afloat in a stormy sea of ache while all around us the world keeps making beauty.
In the small leaky boats of our humanity we paddle against the fierce wind that seems to endlessly barrage us with an onslaught of toxic stories. We are battered by them and our muscles are tested in their effort to continue on. Each of us struggle to navigate while the sting of salt water obscures our vision.
I bear witness to it far and near…. Attuned to the multitudes of stories of sexual and emotional violence, my sister stretches to contain these spoken horrors and is left drained. Sensitive to the assault of the disassembling stories of the multitudes of homeless refugees and other forgotten innocents, my friend’s inner fire roars in defiance. Vulnerable to the blatant disregard of the plight of Earth, our home and Mother, I falter in my resolve to protect and fall to my knees in a paralyzing disbelief….crumbling into tears.
Have the great scales gone off kilter?
Have we in an effort to self protect, slipped into a kind of anesthetized stupor that is meant to keep us safe from the pain but simultaneously numbs us to everything, or spills us dramatically into emotional toil? Are we filling the pin pricks of light with a black goo of hurt, thus disappearing the world that carries also, such great beauty?
Take heart my friends…let us build wisdom from the literal brilliance of bioluminescence that has been lighting up the dark and mysterious ocean for billions of years. Oceanographer, Edith Widder tells us that most of the animals in the ocean, make light. In the absence of light, we must become it. Most often in the ocean, the light seems to be for defense, finding food, attracting attention, or a fashionable flirtation.
But what if it is also for something more mysterious?
Whatever the reason for the creation of such light producing creatures, let us see them as guides for dark times. Though darkness is also fertile, it seems to often get the task of being the word to refer to the weight of turbulent times…..so in these times, what if we are being invited to shine our light even brighter? Yes, maybe it is a way of saying help or attracting nourishment or friends in the task, but it is also astonishingly gorgeous and can instill beauty in a world desperately in need of it!
The ocean is inhabited by a language of light. It captures our imagination and fantasy and intrigues us to know more and lean in. What if we use that same language of light in our dark ocean of these troubling times.
I do not mean light as a tool of denial or to slather a kind of airy fairy ultra sweet oooie gooey light onto things. Nor do I mean light as an experiment in self serving ego flattery. No, I mean it as an act of soul-initiating beauty, of love and creation. A light that truly illuminates us and others to our divine origins.
Years ago when I lived on a horse ranch in southern Washington in a small thin-walled cabin under the 7 largest Ponderosa Pines on the entire 1100 acres, I painted a quote in yellow letters on the side of the green fascia that faced the large communal garden. I loved this quote by Dostoevsky, and I wanted it to capture the imagination of the young children that came there for summer horse camp. The words were “Beauty will save the world” and was from the book The Idiot. Without having read the book, some deep moon child inside of me entirely grasped the heart of the quote and knew it was hers to pay forward. I wanted just this notion to eclipse the cultural idea of beauty and offer up another way to imagine the world and ourselves….especially the young women.
Bioluminescence, in all of its mystery and charm that has us dreaming into how we might bring our light into the world, is just the kind of beauty that could save the world.
Use your light and trust in its brilliance, it seems to say.
Back on the island my bare feet quietly found their way back to my tent there on the edge of Danzante Island in the Sea of Cortez. With bits of sand and memory, they carried with them a sense of fairies and magic and possibility, and the illuminated beauty of the dark worlds beyond us. I learned that this island is rich with a history of mythic ceremony and stories of once upon a time ritual dancing that carried the dead to the next world.
On this night I was ignited by this beauty that only exists in the darkness and was most surely carried into worlds beyond my own.
***Just today I reserved dates for not one but two Mind in the Waters events in the Sea of Cortez. Registrations will open soon! Watch for the announcements here if you want to give yourself this nourishing and wild experience!!
I am a consort to curiosity.
Curiosity has been a steadfast mate, guiding me on my destined path.
I am naturally curious, with ‘nature’ being fundamental in that I believe. Perhaps because I have been a child of wild nature all my life I was given the gift of living furiously in wonder Wonder evokes curiosity.
I remember that one of my dear teachers of nature-based work, Steven Foster, once told me that curiosity was one of the most important qualities that I must have in order to do well in guiding vision quests and other such Earth-based ceremonies. Being able to love unconditionally was another.
To be curious about another, invites their story…invites intimacy…invites wonder!! ‘In to me see’…when another is curious about me and asks, I get to see more about myself, and them!!
One of my own vision quests, nearly 18 years ago now, opened that territory for me and I learned SO much. I returned with a longing to be intimate with all things!! In opening to that, I have looked with fascination into a rich diversity of mirrors of myself, countless times.
It always leaves me grateful.
I have been left dumbfounded again and again in my life that in certain conversations, often with men, it was not uncommon for them to never ask me anything about me. Granted, I perhaps am so full of curiosity that I ask too many question of them, but this has been reported to me by other women as well.
I do not mean to demean men here, but it does leave me curious…again!! What is it that goes on there?
Is curiosity a more feminine trait?
Do people fail to ask because they feel it is prying?
I want to trust that people will take care of themselves and only share what feels right to share, so that may not hold water.
Curiosity is a gift, a show of interest, of intrigue. I am flattered when someone is genuinely curious about me…and when it is reciprocal, it feeds a mutual bond of humanity between us.
We live in a time overflowing with information…we can go to a computer for endless answers. But there is nothing more mysterious and wondrous and rich in feeling and story and vision, than another being…human or not. Perhaps if we were more curious about the world of another, we would be less likely to do any form of violence to them…we might see more of our similarities and less of our differences. We might see the wonder of a mystery that has us united as residents of this planet at this time.
Let’s not miss our chance to imbibe in the mystery that we call Other.
I am so grateful to have your company here.
In case you didn't receive the invitation from 'We Are Sacred Planet' via my email, I am letting you know here that you are invited to join me in a FREE online summit with 34 speakers on the subject of "Remembering the Truth of Who We Are". It began 3 days ago and you are invited to listen to any or all of the diverse group of speakers for FREE at the time of the airing, and for up to 72 hours after.
I was delighted to be invited to be one of the speakers and my video will be aired tomorrow...
Sunday, Feb. 11 at 1pm ET/ 11am MT / 10am PT.
My talk is entitled "Piercing the Veils to our True Wild Heart".
I'd be really happy to know you are out there listening!
Once again, registration is free!!
Thanks for sharing this with your friends!
I’m awakened not once, but at least twice or thrice from unnamable dreams in this eclipsed moon night
with a sense of overlap, edges, glazed boundaries,
nebulous border lines….
Relentless attempts at communication failed…
Questions never to be answered.
An ecotone of longings for connection,
the verdant swamplands of Others reaching for one another
A full blue blood moon obscured now by earth shadow
and even now
by the granite boulders on the ragged rock hillside behind my house,
is here…though her light is barely seen now.
We draw lines in the sand but sands shift and
grains sift over the limiting sides we take.
It is the last day of a month,
The dark just before dawn,
The blur between dream and awake,
The last shine of the fullness of moon.
I live in the swale where the numinous rain of what cannot be explained washes into the science of minds confined by facts…
I live on the edge of a community where the animal world mingles, surreptitiously with the human world…
I live with voices from the other worlds singing in blanketed dreams, unrecognized but whose eros slides in.
When I was just 18, on the edge of a becoming
I went with friends to the Boundary Waters to canoe and camp…
Boundary Waters, those chains of lakes that are the necklace of gems on the shoulders between one country and another…
I was unprepared for the mystery I would be captured by there and still to this day so many decades later, it is not an event my mind can name or even fully recall…
but my cells contain its wild way.
Caught in my blue irised portals
I watched immense antlered mammals
lumber slowly into the depths of lake waters,
disappearing below that mirrored surface
only to, with just as much adagioc ease and prehistoric grace,
reappear to the light with antlers now draped in vibrant green grasses..
its crown from the Otherworlds.
My intricate shell bowl ears received
the piercing chimerical song of loons in love,
and wolves elegiac wail for his mated pack.
My nubile body lay on earth damp and
warmed by firey stories while skies reflect its colors unborn,
receiving the ancient whispers of way of living
Leaning one way and then the other,
Tipping toes into disparate mysteries
and allowing the sway to soak in.
Forty years later
my heart witnesses the confined and fearful minds of a boy-men
warring from a very white house,
shouldering the shimmering crown of misplaced power
and calling for walls to be built, guns to be raised, labels to be writ,
borders to be placed…
Lines to be drawn on papers to crush, define and imprison the world,
by keeping Others out.
Impenetrable boundaries make us smaller, less fertile, less alive.
The tidal influx of difference seeping into our
effort to separate,
ushers in the magnificence of complexity, wonder and mystery…
gifts us with not knowing and languages we must listen deeply to and invite…
feelings undefined that we must welcome and come to know.
It opens us and erases the labels we think we understand.
The moon is eclipsed now
Is it still the moon?
Strip the name off of the Other
and welcome intimacy.
Invite your heart to translate the penetration of the whale song that has
escorted immense intelligent families of distance and depth for eons?
What do we lose when we run from the liminal lands?
When we fall in fear when our lines in the sand shift?
When we go deaf to foreign voices calling us out?
When we close the door to what is different…?
The prison door slams and we grow backwards
just a little.
A crack of light now lies on the eastern horizon.
Border lands of invitation.
Last night was the longest night of the year….continually I pray that the darkness…be it the celestial dark period of winter or the dark night of the soul that I feel our country is going through, is fertile. This is a time where grouded emotions expressed and revealed can be medicine for the loss that we are witnessing in the world. With hearts agape with disbelief we see landscapes and human rights fall prey to greed…Bears Ears, Health Care, Arctic Wildlife Refuge, Escalante, fair taxation and the freedom to move around the planet, to name only a few. These lands and many others are vulnerable now to the extractive industries and the loss of their freedom to be healthy ecosystems, left to their own verdant wisdom.
May this time of dark nights quiet us and somehow inspires...that darkness does its job in carrying us to more light that will offer clearer vision for how to respond..
I bring you the words of poet, Ben Weaver. This new poem by this bicycling troubadour slays me.
A Wild Compliance
I’ve got maps spread out
all over the kitchen floor
headwaters splintering into deltas
whose braids are hollowing
my spirit of its untruths
the snow blowing down my collar
the rain leaking in through my boots
the river depositing silt into my hair
whittled down to sap
I’m letting the light in
however it wants to get in
Out in the darkness of the frozen lake
there are fish suspended
in the top six inches of ice
who will hold the dreams
of last summers' water
through the winter,
and then pass them along
in the spring when the ice melts
and water again begins to flow
The part of me that is Watercress
Wolverine, Lark Sparrow and Bluestem
has been waking
in the middle of the night
near the fork of a creek
at the foot of a hill
and cannot return to sleep without asking,
how far away are we
and what must we do
to collectively imagine
a liberated future;
where the way we live
does not compromise life
where watersheds are not choked
where human beings
are not wage slaves
and our value system
is based in generosity
These questions howl through me
like rivers and runaway witches
my life the voice to ask them with
my heart the tool shaping the resilience and renewal they reveal
As the tamarack bogs never refuse a Moose
my resistance is an act of love
and my questions come not in judgment
but in service of life, as an invitation
to hear all that is silent in the river
all that clings with the burrs and sunset
to the coyote's tail
that does not require one to
comply with an economy
willing to sacrifice the braids of our ecosystem
Red Fox, Monarch, Hawk,
White Bark Pine, Salmon,
Bears Ears, Lake Superior,
Kawishiwi, Menomonee, or Yellow Dog
for a deluded version of wealth
that enriches supremacy,
fear, complacency, and disconnect,
but instead complies with
the entangled lives of
Box Turtles and thunderstorms
ancient forests and the joy of
earths’ wild reciprocity.
To you here, reading my blog,
I deeply thank you.
It has been an amazing and challenging year.
Meeting the challenges were what made it so amazing.
Further investment in my authentic heart and work as well, made it extraordinary.
I am SO grateful to you who read my words…you who frequently or occasionally join my programs…you who listen to your heart and follow your soul’s call…you who tend Earth and animal and plant and ancestor…
you who are my friends.
We must be islands of sanity for one another while so much of the world is a whirlwind of crazed destruction and confusion.
I wish for you space and grace for yourself.
And deep love for the miraculous that abounds still in our midst.
And for kindness…especially now.
~May your days be Holy and bright~
I love you.
1. Becoming Seed
2. Blooming Forth