Monday, March 20, 2017

Equinox Blessings!


 Vernal Equinox: a time of Balance.  The Balance of darkness turning towards light.  A time to turning outwards after a winter of reflection.  A time of action following, this year, a winter of action. 


Whoops!  Many of us have been more active this past winter than we have been in a long time.  What do we do now?

How can we reflect this changing cycle?  If you are like me, you fire yourself up for an action and before there’s a chance to sit back and reflect, a new action claims our attention.

How do we find Balance?

Clarissa Pinkola Estes is frequently quoted saying, “We are made for these times….” 
Indeed it seems that we are.  We charge into the fray feeling empowered among our sisters and brothers working together. Idyllic? Yes.
Then we turn on our device-of-choice to find ourselves called back to the streets, the phone, the letter-writing desk, the meeting, the workshop.  The possibilities for action facing us seem endless.

We need a strategy that allows us to be our best selves; to keep on keepin’ on because the world needs us.  Perhaps your strategy is to make phone calls.  Maybe your strategy is following specific trusted news sources.  Or do you answer the call that sends chills up and down your spine?

In whatever way you answer the call of today’s world, take this moment when the darkness and the light are equal, and find your inner balance.

Some years ago, a group of us met in a friend’s field to celebrate the Equinox.  The invitation suggested that we wear boots because the just melting fields were muddy.  New life was springing up around us.

Our hostess invited us bring some good-sized stones, one for each thing that claimed our attention.  We lugged our stones out to the field where she had mowed a circle in last year’s fallen grasses.  She had several large, flat stones piled in the center of the circle.  Next to them was a long, pine board.

We acknowledged our space as sacred, invited the sacred elements and allies to accompany us as we turned the Wheel of the Year.  Then our hostess gave us our instructions.

“Place the board on the pile of rocks so that it is balanced.
Place your stones on one end of the board.  Place as many stones as you need to account for the activities that claim your energy.  Name the activities as you place the stone on the board.

“Now.  Stand on the other end of the board.

“Where do you need to be in order to balance your stones?

“Can you balance your life?  Are you too far out on the edge to balance your stones?  Are you too close into the center?

“What do you need to do to be in balance?”


It was a remarkable exercise.  We had to look at the things we thought were important.  Was the lengths we went to in order to achieve this balance how we wanted to use our life force?

We were a lot younger then.
We fell off a lot. 
We laughed and giggled and got quite muddy. 
But we got the message.
Which stones did we need to keep, which were less important?  What did we need to let go of in order to bring our lives into balance?

Today we might try this on a tabletop.  Using pebbles rather than rocks.  How do we need to take care for ourselves in order to balance our offerings to the world? 

As the world invites us to step up and into action, we need to choose our battles.  And rest in between.

Let us take this moment, this Equinox, to imagine our pile of rocks/responsibilities/desires. How we might balance them with the energy we truly have available.

And then let us show up with our full energy available.  To each aspect of life that we know we can take on!

Happy Equinox!

Sunday, March 5, 2017

Persistence


“Can we be like drops of water falling on the stone
Splashing, Breaking, Dispersing in air
Weaker than the stone by far but be aware
That as time goes by the rock will wear away.

And the water comes again…..”
                              By Meg Christian*

Persistent as drops of water.  That’s exactly what we are when we speak out and stand up for our rights. As living beings.  As women and people of color, disabled and able-bodied, LGBTQ and gender fluid.  Coming together as neighbors of differing races and faiths standing strong in our hope of a life-affirming future.

We can become like water.  We can boil with anger, surge with conviction and flood the restraints of denial with our determination.

Like drops of water, individuals merge when the call comes, rising up and connecting.  We take to the streets.  We write letters, make calls and show up at legislators’ offices.

A couple of weeks ago, discussing with a few friends how we might influence the direction the world, we riffed on the concept of Persistence.  Someone started talking about water.  What water chants did we know?  How might they fit in with our desire to be persistent?  Then we remembered the chorus to The Rock Will Wear Away (lyrics are above).

Quickly we put together a bowl of small rocks and a jug of water. O.K., so the rocks in the living room won’t actually wear away.  But believing in the power of metaphor, we visit it daily, singing the song and watering our rocks.

Perhaps our small actions ripple out into the larger world.  Perhaps through our persistence change can occur.

For me this is what it’s all about.  We hope to achieve a desired goal as a result of our actions.  But we don’t truly know our impact in the long run. 

Persistence.  That’s the key.

I tell an anecdote from Rebecca Solnit’s Hope in the Dark**.  She tells how Dr. Benjamin Spock (the famous 1950’s baby doctor) passed a small group of women picketing the JFK White House on a rainy day.  The women were protesting above ground nuclear testing that caused radioactive fallout in cow’s milk and breast milk.  Dr. Benjamin Spock had been uninformed about this issue before but he was so inspired by the womens’ determination he investigated.  About 6 months after seeing the women protesting he used his considerable influence to spark a movement that ended above ground nuclear testing. 

The women hadn’t known the impact of their actions.  But they kept showing up.  Even on that rainy day.  Sometimes we don’t know our impact either.  But we keep on keepin’ on.

We do what we do because we have to. Our words and actions answer to an inner calling that doesn’t let us off the hook.

It is a measure of our courage and value that we stand up and speak out.  It matters that we show up with our opinions.  It matters to us.  And it matters to our world. 

The rocks that stand in our way may appear to be formidable boulders.  But we are many and our persistence is unending.  In time, drop by precious drop; action by action, the water will wear the rocks away.

This is Natural Law.  It exists beyond the province of human kind. 

Water persists. 
And so must we.


* Listen to The Rock Will Wear Away by Meg Christian: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XUzukX2dWhg

** Recently Solnit recently offered a free on-line version of Hope in the Dark.  Check it out herehttp://www.peace-ed-campaign.org/free-ebook-rebecca-solnit-hope-dark-untold-histories-wild-possibilities/

Friday, February 17, 2017

Tending Our Fires


“Fired up
Ain't gonna take it no more
Tired up
Ain't gonna take it no more...."
lyric by Holly Near





Fired up then tied up. As I surf today’s political waves all too frequently that’s how I feel. 

The Women’s March in Washington D.C. with its Sister marches around the world energized us giving us hope. They were followed by a barrage of proclamations, Executive Orders, and the ensuing protests.

In Canada, where I reside, we have our share of political betrayals.  From reneging on his campaign promise of electoral reform to supporting the construction of two pipelines all the while maintaining that we can protect our waters, Trudeau’s appeal is wearing thin.

The news twists and skews events to promote fear and sensationalism rather than understanding.  It seems essential to remember who I am and what I know in order to navigate daily events.   To help me out, I turn to the Elements of life.

Today I am thinking about Fire and how it warms us and keeps us going. Fire can also get out of hand and return as the Great Destroyer.  But that destruction leads the way to rebirth and unexpected growth. 

Let’s hope so…..

Start with the Embers; the Fire in the belly maintaining warmth between the flaring up of Flame.  Glowing Embers give us endurance for the long haul.  They are the glowing coals that can be stirred into life at a moment’s notice.

As activists, we need our Embers to stay strong so that they keep us going even when the flames are not yet lit. Glowing Embers represent our self-care; they are our long-term resilience; they are our persistence and perseverance.  The Embers give birth to the Flames.

Flames spring into action when we stir the Embers and feed them with action.  They do the work of change.  The Flames of our activism are the letters and post cards we write to our MPs or our PM, our Congress people or President; the phone calls; the signs we take out to the streets. Flames are our presence in the streets.

The Arc of Fire is the inspiration we find when we gathering. Offering courage and support to imagine the next action.  It is the determination to run for office or to speak out against bullying, illegal actions, wrongdoing.  The Arc activates new Fires in each other, giving us strength to take another step.

And the Spark.  Ah!  The Spark is where the Arc lands to start new actions.  To take up the work from someone who needs to step back and recharge.  The Spark might appear anywhere.  Watch for it.  Be prepared to harness it to support your intention, your cause, your community and its action.  Run with it when the Spark ignites within you.

And when the day is done.  When the Arc has ignited new Sparks and they are being tended, that’s when we bank the Flames to heat us through the night, becoming Embers to carry us through the night.  To be rekindled in the new day.

One final word.....
 Fire, in order to be effective must be contained.  So build your circle of allies well.  Know your intention as you prepare to stir the embers of Fire into life.  Hold each others' back.  Plan and act.


P.S. Although the metaphor is mine, this would be incomplete without a nod of gratitude to T. Thorn Coyle who first introduced me to this way of understanding the power of Fire.
There is also a version (I think out of the Reclaiming Tradition) that includes Ash as an aspect of Fire.   To extend the metaphor, Ash fertilizes the soil for new growth.




Thursday, February 2, 2017

Imbolc Blessings to all!


“Welcome Brigit            
Brigit is come
Brigit is welcome              
Welcome Brigit
Brigit is come
Brigit is welcome
Welcome Brigit…..”*

Intoned seven women dressed in white gowns and red cloaks approach from the north.

Intoned seven men in red trousers and white blouses with red cloaks approach from the south.

When they reach the clearing each procession continued round the circle, sun-wise, until the circle was complete.
And then the women walked again until they were placed woman, man, woman, man describing the circular clear in these mid-winter woods.

A thin sliver of the new moon peeked through the clouds.  Stars shone upon the gathering.

In the center of the circle stood three facing out towards the circle and forest beyond, a fire at their backs.

The first holds a pen and larger book.  The second a chalice of sacred water.  The third a chalice of flame.
The three faces of Brigit.

Each speaks in turn.

“I bring the gift of inspiration that your words may flow true and reflect your heart.  That your ears may hear that which is said.  They you may have true and hard conversations when hard conversations are needed.  That you will speak and write so others can hear your message the passion of the Bards of old to light up the beauty of your soul.”

“I bring the Sacred Flame that burns at the heart of the world and in all beings.  The flame may warm your hearth and cook your food.  But the flame can also destroy.  Guard it well.  Use it wisely. 
“And should your soul yearn to flower, I also bring the heat of my forge to temper you and bring you to a clean, clear edge!”

“And I bring the Healing Waters that refresh, offering life and love itself.  The waters heal all manner of ailments from the body and heart to the soul.  From the personal to the public and political.  The waters nourish plant and animal life alike.  Drink and be awakened, refreshed!”

Two now speak.

“The healing waters and the sacred flame also offer a glimpse of what may come to pass.  Look deeply into the Waters; gaze long into the Flame and see what you may.”

So saying the three moved out to the people on the edge of the circle, passing from one to the next.  She of The Pen and Book went towards the northeast; She of the Flame towards the south; and She of the Waters towards the northwest.

Each woman and man inscribed their names in Brigit’s book that she may gift them with the power of Right Speech.

Each one warmed their hands at the flame and gazed long into the dancing light to find the parts of themselves that might want tempering.

Each one dipped their hands in the herb-scented waters, cleansing and rejuvenating themselves.  Then they looed deeply hoping to see what the season may bring, what they may bring to the season.

The circle complete, the three returned to the center speaking, “We are Three.  And We are One.  We have brought you our gifts.  Now is the time for your offerings to us, the yourselves, to community and your world.”

One by one each woman and man stepped into the firelight and spoke.

“I pledge to write daily and send my writing out into the world to offer the words of my heart and soul,”  offered one.

“I pledge to write three letter of postcards to my elected officials each week.  And to send them.”

“I pledge to run for office in my local community.”

“I pledge to gather a group of like-minded people in my community to sponsor a refugee family.”

“I pledge to work at the local soup kitchen weekly.”

After each pledge the Three-in-One rang the anvil with their hammer three times sealing the bargain.

Pledges made, the company sand and danced round the fire, round the Three-in-One, Brigit.  They sang until their voices lost the words.  And then they sang pure sound.  The creatures of the night; the coyote, the fox, the raccoon, the owl sand with them or held silence as was their habit.  Until the people also came to silence.

And in the silence a wondrous golden light grew and grew.  Moving from the Three-in-One into the hearts of each woman and man who had gathered, honored and pledged.

And when the people remembered who they were, the Three-in-One had vanished, but in each person’s heart was now kindled a renewed flame.

Some bathed themselves in the golden light that remained.  Some stood still in awe.  Some bend over to touch the earth, offer Her a portion of the same energy for Her healing.

But soon the time had come.  And the women who had moved between the men began their processions, walking anti-sun wise this time as they gathered to leave this place made sacred with their rites.

And as they walked from this place, women to the north, men towards the south, they sang,

“We will never,
never loose our way to the well
of Her memory

And the power
Of her living flame it will rise
it will rise again!”*

*Songs from the Reclaiming Tradition. 
Welcome Brigit by Beverly Fredricks, found on the CD ‘In the Arms of the Wild’

“We will never” by Starhawk, Rose May Dance and Raven Moonshadow

Image of Brigit by Hrana Janto and is part of The Goddess Oracle deck, text by Amy Sophia Marashinsky

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Becoming Peace

Something stirs in your heart
you look up at the sky,
clouds scuddering by
watch a daffodil open
slowly.
Something stirs in your heart
you pass a news stand
violence in the
world of humans
violence against our Earth.
Something stirs in your heart
you reach out to take another's hand
seek the depth of their eyes
your heart opens
opens to the heart of the world
Something stirs in your heart.
You are becoming Peace.
Your every action begins to open
To Peace.

Gennie Brukner and i are offering a new day'long workshop supporting us on the path of the PeaceMaker.
Come and join us April 9th at Artspace in Toronto.  Details are on the Announcements page.



Become Peace. Within your heart and in your life!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

There is no time not to love.

Today's political climate in the U.S. seems to call for this quote from Deena Metzger

"There are those who are trying to set fire to the world
We are in danger
There is time only to work slowly
There is no time not to love."

While this quote has been with me for many years (I think she channelled it in the 1980's) it seems as true today as it did them.

However, perhaps today we have to move more quickly.
Quickly and decisively,
Mindfully
With courage and with
love.







Friday, March 4, 2016

Acceptance: ALL of The Moments Past Led To Now


We truly are the totality of all of our experience.  Even those things we don’t quite remember continue to be part of ourselves.  Even those parts that we might want to forget hang around until we open to their gifts.  Until we learn to love them.  None of it goes anywhere.  Each moment becomes a building block to make the YOU, you have become.



When I was quite small I had on-going pain in one of my knees which was followed by several years of treatment and surgeries.  Eventually I went on with my life.

I have had a good life.  In fact, I have had a really great life.  There were the growing up years.  Then the adventurous years.  Followed by the settling down years.  Having fabulous kids; living on the top of a small mountain; creating a career that helped to support my family as well as feeding my heart and soul.  I felt strong, proud of my relationship with power and with spirit, and confident that whatever came my way, I would in time learn to roll with it.

I took risks.  I leapt off of metaphorical cliffs.  I learned that I was resilient.  And that I could, indeed fly.  Even if the flying was sometimes preceded by significant period of crawling through muck.

So the other day when I learned that the knee that I thought was a long lost relic of my childhood had at last given out one might wonder, why I was shocked.

Now I find myself sitting in the unknown.  Again. After the dust settles from the adventures and hard work, the hard work remains.  Over the next couple of days I began to recover from the impact of reality and took stock of my life.  I discovered a few of things.

First, I had taken this past month of February to use my daily meditation practice to offer Metta, loving kindness. During my daily sit, I send Metta, prayers, in the form of benevolent statements to myself, to loved ones and friends both far and near, to those in need of support, to the challenging people in one’s life and eventually to all beings. 

Practicing Metta gave me something to fall back on: a sense of self-caring and self love that, I hope will carry me during this next trying time.

The other aspect of taking stock has been to acknowledge the wealth of personal work I have taken on over the years.  Dredging into the murky past to pick through and examine my old out-worn belief structures has offered an opportunity to care for and hold experiences that had previously caused pain.  Now my adult self has gathered the skills, perseverance and resilience to comfort and care for my scared young child as I negotiate today’s medical realities.

That, and the Breath.  A former student and now friend sent an encouraging reminder.  “Breathe in courage for the journey is hard.  Breathe out compassion because you (I) are doing the hard work of traveling this road."
Another former student, now friend, taught me an Aruvedic/accupressure massage that gives instant, if temporary, pain relief.

No, we do not leave our past behind us.  Each moment is very much a part of our present held in trust by the path we each of us has created for ourselves.  Perhaps we can see our past as a gift that the many moments of our lifetime offers to Now.