What Do You Hear?

I missed last week, sorry. I had a post started and just got really sad. It contained thoughts on the current state of being here in this country and it was hurting my heart. This blogging life is interesting in that lessons often freely come forward. Like today. I had no idea what I was going to write about and I felt bad for two reasons. 1) I didn’t have an idea, and 2) the creative spark seemed to be flat and that upset me.

However, the Universe spoke to me when I was quiet and listening to music by Dev Premal and Miten.  (In the Light of Love)  (Be The Light) And it is Sunday—-as the child of a minister I have ingrained religious memories, even though I do not go to church.

The filling of my spiritual well comes from other more personal sources these days. So, on the one hand I do not physically go to church, on the other hand, I carry many of the teachings with me all the time. If I remain open in heart I am given insights that speak to me, and have meaning.

Today I was “given” this quote from Alice Walker:

“In each of us there is a little voice
that knows exactly which way to go.”

I believe if we are internally quiet we are able to hear the Higher Source. Sometimes I receive guidance in dreams, sometimes from Nature, sometimes from synchronicity. (Synchronicity)

So, this being Sunday and all, today’s synchronistic pairing of Alice Walker and The Bible gave me this:

“For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink,
I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me,
I was sick and you healed me, I was in prison and you came to me……
Truly I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.” 
Matthew 25: 35-40

You may infer that these are related to the current happenings and tone in this country. And it eats me up inside.

I work with preschoolers. At the time of 9-11 the school I worked at was near the airport. I spent the day comforting young children who ran to me in fear every time a plane came in for a landing. I was heart broken. Their fear of planes was all consuming. They were not able to separate things out. All they knew was fear and they were now living in fear.

Fear has many faces. Some we need to look right in the eye. Some fears are less substantial. How do we know which is which? As Alice Walker said: there is a little voice inside of us. If we are able to listen free from the tumult of time and fear of “others” and circumstance, we will discover which way to go.

If we take to heart the words from Matthew, we are reminded what matters most to our spiritual side.

If……..our hearts are open.

So, enough of this for today. Feel free to share your thoughts and ideas.

Enjoy this early summer Sunday. Here the birds are singing and the flowers are blooming. May we all find a quiet place to rest awhile and listen to the spirit voices that speak to us.

 


 

 

Advertisements

Without Hesitation

Years ago we went panning for gold in Alaska! We knew the chances of finding any was slim, but the prospect filled us up and we spent a lazy afternoon in along the edge of a creek wrapped in happiness and sharing laughter. The chant “gold, gold, Gold, GOLD!” over of each pan that swirled just at the edge of the creek held the same magical possibility every time. Hope never faded.

We knew, of course, even with hope springing eternal, that we would not find any gold. And because of that we never contemplated what it would be like if we did find one of those enormous chunks that make headline news.

And we most certainly never entertained the idea of what we would do if someone came walking along and  asked us for that chunk.

There is a “folk” story…variations found in countries and in languages around the world called

“The Wise Woman’s Stone”

A wise woman who was traveling in the mountains found a precious stone in a stream.

The next day she met another traveler who was hungry, and the wise woman opened her bag to share her food.
The hungry traveler saw the precious stone and asked the woman to give it to him.
She did so without hesitation.

The traveler left, rejoicing in his good fortune. He knew the stone was worth enough to give him security for a lifetime.

But, a few days later, he came back to return the stone to the wise woman.
“I’ve been thinking,” he said. “I know how valuable this stone is, but I give it back in the hope that you can give me something even more precious.

“Teach me what you have within you that enabled you to give me this stone.”

walnut heart

Sure, this is a teaching story. So let’s think about it as such and learn. Instead of making a run for it, the man found he could not live with tricking and taking and returned to the woman. What he really wanted to know, and to have, was how “to give without hesitating.” To no longer cling and protect, to covet and take. Even with the potential of being secure for the rest of his life, he chose to return the stone and to try to attain something intangible.

There are people in the world today who do this every day and we rarely hear about them. Instead we are bombarded with words and actions that profess the opposite of this story.

What do we have within us that would allow us to just give…..? To give without thought of hesitation? Would we give only to someone we know or love? Would we give only with the understanding of an equal exchange or reward? Would we give only to people of like mind and beliefs? Would we hold tight and walk away?

How strong are our fears? How strong is the fear of uncertainty? The internal drive to protect and to keep?

It is difficult to do in this time in history in this country, but imagine yourself walking and finding a precious diamond or ruby, large enough to provide for you and your family for the rest of your life. No more wandering. No more want or hunger. Security and comfort are yours now. Forever. A fellow traveler comes and you generously share what little food you have. Then they see the precious stone and boldly ask for it.

Without hesitation you hold out your hand and give it to them.

IS that you? Could/would you do it? Why or why not?

Now, imagine you are the person receiving the stone. Inside you are giddy. You cannot believe your good fortune! But, by sunrise you are again in front of the woman. This time your hand is outstretched and you are handing her back the treasure of a lifetime. You no longer want that security. That wealth.

You seek instead to attain something intangible. You want what it is that allowed the woman to give away the precious jewel without hesitation.

What is it? Do you want it? DO you have it? Can you, we, attain it?

 

 

It Rained This Morning

We are in the middle of a serious drought here in central NYS. This morning I awoke to the soft pattering of rain.

There are the folks who say “Uh oh climate change.” The “others” say “Good thing it’s just weather.”

Lenses. We all look through lenses. Rosey colored ones. Dark colored ones. Clear ones. Lenses that help us make up our mind and decide if it is weather or climate change.

I lay in bed, eyes closed, no lenses in use. Just listening.

rainThen the lenses popped on. “Oh, we need this rain! This great! Rain Rain Rain!” and in the other breath, “Crap. There go the plans for the day.” Both understandable. Both true. After actually opening my eyes the lens that was now focusing was the clear one. “I am glad to have my daughter home. Her friends are so fun! Maybe it will just be a relaxing day playing games and eating good food.” All lenses focused on different, real points of view. I just had to choose which one to look through.

Every morning I make a point of taking a few very deep breaths. Slow and long. Pulling in the fresh, clean air and exhaling the stale, depleted air. I try to take a few minutes to get grounded for the day. My thoughts are not so different from the ones at night. Focusing on gratitude and compassion. I always give time to remember how many people are suffering in this world and as in the Buddhist doctrine, pray for all living beings to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.

And I never, ever forget a wish for peace in the world:rain bells

Prayer For Everyday For All Creation

Let us see one another through eyes
enlightened by understanding and compassion.

Release us from judgment so we can receive the stories
of our sisters and brothers with respect and attention.

Open our hearts to the cries of a suffering world
and the healing melodies of peace and justice for all creation. 

Empower us to be instruments of justice
and equality everywhere.

~Collectively authored by Millionth Circle Initiative,
5th World Conference on Women & Circle Connections.

 

I choose to look through the lens of understanding and compassion. It could easily be anger and fear. Or, longing and desire. Or, day dreams and wishes. Or, judgment and blame.

I want to understand. I want to be compassionate. I strive to be released from judgment and grow understanding instead. I try to hear the real life stories of people who live life similar to mine as well those whose lives are unimaginably and fundamentally different from mine. I strive to grow respect over ridicule. And to hear. Always to listen and hear and never become deaf. I try to use the clear lens, but sometimes I forget and the judgment and comparison begin. Anxiety may arise. I may even begin to turn or look away.

Anyway. I am grateful for the rain. I obviously can’t make it rain or choose where it will fall. I know it is needed, that it is helping to refresh, feed and cleanse the world…..even if it is just this little part of the world right now. And I know I don’t have any kind of power like that, but I do have power and choice. I choose ever day to help the next generation learn what conversation and communication is. I help them understand the power of their words. Words that can hurt, deflate, cause fear or pain. Words that mock and humiliate. And words that can ask to be forgiven, heal, comfort, uplift. And you know what? These very young children learn this and they grow and they become compassionate, forgiving, and uplifting to their peers. One mother told me her 3-year-old talked her through a panic attack by helping her do mindful breathing.

It is a small but effective thing I do. But it matters. Just like this small amount of rain. I can pray my prayers and send my wishes of goodwill out into the world all day long. If I do not take some form of action I feel I am in part responsible if those prayers do not seem to be heard and answered, if the good wishes and kind intent seems to never go very far or anywhere at all.

In this world today with all the contentious and combative words, with all the posturing and flexing, with the all hatred that seems so much more fashionable than forgiveness, with fear that seems to be filling some of our lives rather than hope, all our lenses become covered with dust. When the rain falls near you, and cleans and refreshes your little bit of earth and washes the dust of uncertainty and fear off your heart, and fills you up again, which lens will you choose to dust off and put on, to walk out into the fresh and new day?

 

Where Do You Dwell?

I know it rarely ends well, so I try not to do it often, but sometimes I read the comments about articles on-line. I try to scan for ones that are free of hate and anger. I am not looking, I don’t think, (but probably am because most of us do..it’s in our nature) for confirmation bias. I just don’t want to read words of hate and anger. For goodness sake, I spend all day long teaching preschoolers how to use words that don’t hurt, even if they are angry, mad, sad or frustrated. Anyone can disagree with me, have differing thoughts or spiritual beliefs. Just please don’t label me, or call me names or insinuate I am not caring or intelligent.

But, I do read some of them. Sometimes I am dumbfounded by the frothing anger, the raging arrogance and the blatant racism and bigotry expressed. How can a soul hold so much anger, fear, hatred and not just explode? I cannot image knowing or having these people in my life. And we know there are others who may be just like these outspoken folks, but don’t seem to share their thoughts out in the open very often. What emotional and spiritual turmoil do they live in?

There were some articles circulating recently about studies on how the words we think and speak impact our impressions, interpretations and connections in life. Not really a surprise is it? It isn’t just about saying things out loud, it is also about the words we think but might not say out loud. If we are a closet anything, never admitting it out loud, the words and thoughts we keep to ourselves of course impact the kind of person we are. Our judgments, assumptions, worries, fears, anxieties and even our expectations, spoken or not, reflect in the person we are. The words that make up our thoughts (and emotions) determine our actions.

There is an article on Christopher Chase’s blog called Perpetual Curse of the Warrior Mindset. It begins with this quote from Albert Einstein,

“We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if mankind is to survive.”

I think it is time to take a look at where we dwell within our own thoughts and heart. Protected and private or blatant and assertive, where do we live when we are being honest with ourselves? Where do we retire to at the end of the day to process? Where do we step forth from in the morning to go out into the world?

Collectively, is it time for a new manner of thinking that is not born of fear, protection, possession, suppression, greed, materialism, war, militarism, distrust, racism, hate…? Not all of us harbor these things in our spirit, but in honesty, we do cling to some of these, or others. You know the words that come with these things: superiority, defend, collateral damage, mine, God-given, God-fearing, wealth, earned, deserve, what’s in it for me, undeserving, entitled, takers, thugs, scum, losers, socialist, not my problem, why should I care, go back where you came from, whore, sicko, psycho, homo, alien, migrant, Muslim, supremacy, foriegner, wetback, anchor baby…..add your own. It was difficult just to write some of these.

Is it time for a collective shift? Could we even do it if we wanted? What are we at risk of loosing, or never knowing, if we don’t try?

“In beauty I walk.
With beauty before me, I walk.
With beauty behind me, I walk.
With beauty below me, I walk.
With beauty above me, I walk.
With beauty all around me, I walk. ”
The Navajo

Most religious and spiritual practices have lessons on love and tolerance, as well as retribution and hate. We can choose whatever we want.

“Peace before me
Peace behind me
Peace at my left
Peace at my right
Peace above me
Peace below me
Peace unto me
Peace in my surroundings
Peace to all
Peace to the Universe”
RootLight

We get lost in our fears. We are swayed by thoughts and fears of hurt and suffering, of things being taken away from us or denied to us. We forget: we do not have to dwell in fear.

“But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. Do to others as you would have them do to you.” Luke 6:27-31

We each of us have the power to be a light to others. It is an image and belief we all know, “be a light unto others.”

Oh God Make Me A Light
O God illuminate our heart with Light,
our heart with Light,
our ears with Light
and Let there be Light on our right, and on our left.
Let there be Light above us and below us,
let Light be in front of us and Light behind us.
O God, make us a Light.
The Prophet’s Prayer

This Little Light of Mine

The words we say to ourselves or say out loud, the prayers we offer silently or out loud, the thoughts we think and express, create the person we are.

“As we recite the words ‘ose shalom‘ (make peace)
we bow to the right, left and center,
bringing Peace to the entire world.”
Center for Jewish Spirituality.

Bring Peace To The World performed by BB King.

In many places in Asia when greeting another person, hands are place together over the heart, a slight bow is made and the word “Namaste” is spoken. It means “I honor the light in you.”

What if the words we thought and spoke out loud to each person we met or thought about resonated with the meaning of “Namaste”?

Namaste

Where do you dwell? In Light or in Fear? In Love or Hate? In empathy or apathy? In possibility or impossibility? In the status quo or in activism? In friendship or as enemies?

gandhi2

Gandhi

Goldfluttering

Where Does the Temple Begin, Where Does It End?

There are things you can’t reach. But
you can reach out to them, and all day long.

The wind, the bird flying away. The idea of God.

And it can keep you as busy as anything else, and happier.

The snake slides away; the fish jumps, like a little lily,
out of the water and back in; the goldfinches sing
from the unreachable top of the tree.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.

Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.

And thinking: maybe something will come, some
shining coil of wind,
or a few leaves from any old tree–
they are all in this too.

And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.

Like the nibbling, tinsel-eyed fish; the unlooping snake.
Like goldfinches, little dolls of goldfluttering around the corner of the sky

of God, the blue air.

-Mary Oliver

The very first sentence caused me to hold my breath for a moment. There are times when I feel that is exactly what I am doing: reaching for things I can’t reach, but never giving up. The idea of god is most certainly ones of those things….pretty sure my idea of god (yes, mine has a lower case g) is not mainstream. But I have written about that elsewhere in this blog.

I look; morning to night I am never done with looking.
Or listening.

For me this is being present in the moment. I have to work at it. I have to put energy into paying attention to the moment and everything it brings. I am able to to find peace of heart and mind, even in the midst of sorrow, turmoil and worry, when I am aware of the one moment that is.

“Looking I mean not just standing around, but standing around
as though with your arms open.”

frabel arms open

(Frabel glass)

I learned just his past Friday that if you stand around with your arms open (literally or figuratively) beautiful things come to you. Trust. Love. Joy. Laughter. Beauty. Hope. Innocence. Faith. Wonder. Magic. Compassion. Understanding.

“And now I will tell you the truth.
Everything in the world
comes.

At least, closer.

And, cordially.”

When we walk, sit, talk, listen….with our arms open everything comes. Cordially. There is no fear, mis/distrust, uncertainty. Everything comes kindly. Sometimes you have to have the presence of mind to accept it as coming kindly, cordially.

Even as I get so disillusioned with world events, and feel as if the sorrow fills me all the way up, if I can stop and open my arms, and hold them that way, WIDE open, my heart opens and all those things I long for come closer. But they will never continue to come closer if I cross my arms and close my heart in.

I will not stop reaching with my arms wide open for peace, compassion, acceptance, understanding, respect, equality, love, empathy, freedom. nonviolence, unity, enough, generosity, cooperation, hope, dignity, tenderness, softness, humanity, grace, humanness, intimacy, mutuality, partnership, service, gentleness, effort, closeness, community, inclusion, choice, to matter, freedom from fear, freedom from want, tranquility, passion, sense of belonging, freedom from violence.

Will you come and join me, goldfluttering around with arms wide open?

 

Love Liberates

I missed posting yesterday because I was painting my classroom. I didn’t have to paint it. I wanted to. A friend stopped by and asked why I was doing it and not someone else. I was a little dumb-founded. I was doing it on Labor Day weekend no less, because I love my job, the children I am privileged to teach and the parents who put their trust in me. I was doing it to create a space of beauty, comfort and security for the children and adults who spend their day with me. I did it out of love. It wasn’t even something someone else could do. I had to do it. It came from me.

“Try to be a rainbow in someone’s cloud.”
Maya Angelou

path

Love. It comes down all paths. Through all people.  It crosses oceans. It does not begin just at birth or end at death. Love leaves us sometimes in puddles of tears. It also propels us up seemingly insurmountable mountains. Love opens doors. Sometimes love teaches us that it is time to close one door so that we can open another. But it is always a door to love.

“The desire to reach for the stars is ambitious.
The desire to reach hearts is wise.”
Maya Angelou

I. Cannot. Stand. The. Amount. Of. Hate. And. Fear. That. Is. Thrust. Upon. Us. From. All. Sides. These. Days.

“Hate, it has caused a lot of problems in the world,
but has not solved one yet.”
Maya Angelou

I cannot stand the phobias. The righteous indignation. The call for war. The call for walls. The call to be armed. The rant of anti Islam, gay, trans-gendered….anti people.

“Love recognizes no barriers.
It jumps hurdles, leaps fences,
penetrates walls to arrive
at its destination
full of hope.”
Maya Angelou

I choose love. And let me tell you, there are people who make it hard to love them.

Maya Angelou talks about love. It liberates. Yes, it does.

Please listen:

 

One more….shorter:

http://www.oprah.com/own-master-class/Dr-Maya-Angelou-Love-Liberates-Video

My door is open. My heart is open.

“In the flush of love’s light, we dare be brave.
And suddenly we see that love costs all we are, and will ever be.
Yet it is only love which sets us free.”
Maya Angelou

Sounds

I wake up quite early. No matter the season, it is often still dark outside. Our bed faces the east, and there is a double door along the wall that is almost centered with the bed. Over the years the bed has faced many directions, but this is my favorite, east. I like to have my yoga mat facing east too. When I contemplate this, I think it is because it represents the beginning of the day, the coming of light, waking up. Looking out through that door in near darkness, complete darkness, moonlit darkness, fog, sun light, rain, snow,…..brings me a sense of peacefulness.

Sunday

During any season, with the door opened or closed, I can hear the murmurings of wild life waking up as the sun slowly begins to show her light at the horizon. Depending on the weather, the wind may make the leaves sing or the trees groan as they bend in response to the forces. A variety of animals trill, squeal, snort, howl in the early morning as “breakfast” is caught and consumed. Birds wake one by one. The slow, soft start of a myriad of songs and sounds gradually grows to a wild cacophonous symphony of Nature.

This is one of my greatest pleasures. Listening to all of Nature on Turkey Hill Road awaken.

The past few weeks there has been a new sound, a bird call that I am unfamiliar with. I think it is perhaps a young hawk circling the barely light sky looking for a small morsel to fill it’s belly. One morning I opened the screen to the crisp air and looked upwards, hoping to catch a clue as to the bird. I couldn’t see anything. I know I could use a bird song/call identification website to figure it out. But I haven’t and most likely will not.

Why?

In day to day life I like to “know” things. What’s next, what’s the plan, who will do what, when do I need to be somewhere, the answer to a question, how much money is in the bank, do I need gas, are my children safe and happy, is there life after death, why am I here? I NEED to know. Not knowing is not okay. Not knowing often brings Anxiety. Stress. Worry. Fear.

What ever this bird is, I do not NEED to know. Knowing if it is a hawk or another bird will not make a difference to or change my enjoyment and wonder. Lying in bed, in darkness, and just listening and not knowing, and not needing to know is comforting. The comfort takes away the tightening that comes with organizing, planning, preparing, thinking about, enacting, being responsible, worrying, anticipating, supporting, problem solving, all the activities of the day and leaves me with being okay, for a moment or several, with not knowing. It is difficult to find times during the course of the day when it is okay not to want to know for the purpose of feeling prepared and informed, safe and secure, at ease and calm.

It is a small, trivial thing, yet I accept the gift of this bird and her call as she flies through the barely lit sky. Unseen to me. Unknown to me. And I accept gratefully this moment, and this small  gift of not knowing.

“The less you know, the more fresh things become.”  Toni Packer