Musing on a Warm January Day

IMG-0671.jpg
Moss and lichen cling summer green to the January lilac

It’s a gray day here in New Hampshire. Raining when it probably should be snowing. The temperature, warm enough to open windows. My phone tells me it’s 59 degrees outside. Soon it will be 60, but tomorrow will bring a nearly 30 degree drop in temperature, and on Tuesday it should be snowing.

Yesterday, when I was out with the dogs and my son in the balmy air, I recalled walking in Boston more than twenty years ago, in January. It was a surreal day. Ninety degrees in the city. In January. A few years prior, there was an April Fool’s snowfall that dumped two feet of snow on my car in Providence. The weather has been extreme for decades now. Yet it still feels strange. Surreal.

I am not comfortable with this new normal. Now, most days, the atmosphere sparks with the unpredictable. Or, rather, what shouldn’t be predicted. It can be incomprehensible how we cling to old ways, even when we should change them.

Last night, my husband and I watched the movie Tolkein, and more than anything else, I was grabbed by the scenes of war. No wonder, I kept thinking, he wrote what he did. I was filled with frustration as I watched scenes I try to avoid in books and movies of a senseless and barbaric act we’ve woven into the fabric of humanity since nearly the beginning of our time here on Earth. To the victor goes the spoils of the greatest number of lives extinguished.

In these moments, I’m acutely reminded of the chaos of our chosen existence. The swirling darkness that lives inside of us. How we strive for power by killing life. The irony is sometimes too much to bear.

Outside my open window, it sounds like a tropical symphony. Birds sing as though it is spring and the lichens on the lilacs wear a stunning shade of aqua beside a vibrant green moss. Looking at it brings me comfort. It soothes my troubled heart. As does the happy confusion of wild birds in January.

Nature accepts more easily than I do, and I am grateful that I can turn to its soothing balm to temper my troubled soul. Acceptance can be hard to embrace these days. It can feel as helpless as it is freeing. Inside of it, though, is the knowing that I have chosen to be here in this time, as we all have. To play some uncertain role that I often cannot define. To move through each moment with an intention to cling to more grace than anger. More love than hate. And more forgiveness than resentment. And, what a challenge for this we have been given.

 

Finding the Light inside the horrific #australianwildfires

australia-62823_1920.jpg
Australia. Photo Credit: Pixabay

It hurts my heart to look at the photos and I know millions are crying with me. There is no grasping for logic inside this incomprehensible tragedy, as there is none. We can blame ourselves, and perhaps we should. Ignorance turning a blind eye for too long. Greed over-riding altruism. But, when it comes down to it, most would not have wanted what we are facing right now: an Earth, our home, filled with incredible and horrific suffering. I am thinking right now of the wildfires raging through Australia, as they have raged through California, Alaska, and so many other places across the globe in recent time. So many lives lost, millions of animals and plants gone. The innocent, suffering the worst.

We can blame ourselves, and perhaps we should. But, little good comes from looking backwards unless we are willing to change the patterns of our ways. In the midst of this horrific tragedy, I see the enduring light of hope. Eyes being opened, where they have been shut. Hearts joining in their collective sorrow seeded from love. That light that unites us all, igniting to extinguish the murderous blaze.

It was the late Fred Rogers who urged us to “look for the helpers (heroes)” when the unspeakable occurs. Right now, at this moment, the world is filled with them. Locals opening their doors to homeless wildlife in need of shelter. The wealthy and not so wealthy sending funds towards the efforts to abate the flames. Countless hearts joined in prayer and song calling for rain. And, all those firefighters risking their own lives to save another. This is love.

And, in some incomprehensible way, perhaps it is needed. A friend on social media made the observation yesterday that when a photo of Australia had appeared on her screen upside down, she thought it looked like a heart. It does, in a way. A misshapen heart breaking open. It also looks like a woman’s pelvis, expanding to birth. There are legends about Australia and the sacred lands in and around Uluru. Some consider these ancient lands to be the womb of Earth, and I find myself wondering if this incredibly painful rebirth we are experiencing is part of an awakening. Or, at least a call to an awakening. The future is shaped by our hands, just as the past was. How much more can the heart endure before it breaks open into love? Not just for the self, but for the other, in whatever form that other takes.

I have hope for better days to come. Australia is opening another doorway for us, just as all past tragedies have. We can enter it holding hands, find the scattered pieces of life inside, and do what we can to make our world whole again. We can, because we must. There is no longer a choice. Another doorway for us. There is only one. In essence, there has only, ever, been one. The one through the heart. Let us step through it together. Let us change our broken ways and mend this broken womb so that we can find a rebirth of what unites us all.

The Face in the Smoke #writephoto

smoke.jpg
Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

The face of the chief rose above the naked arms of the trees. Her body of smoke illuminating the burnt forest below. Beneath her, squirrels dropped their nuts and ran to keep ahead of the flames. Rabbits and mice dug deeper into the earth to find refuge from the heat, while the beetles clung to the bark and burned. The deer and coyote had left when the first ember crunched the dry leaves with its orange teeth, but where was man?

“Wake, my children. Wake and see what you have done.”

Her words came from the voice of no sound. Rising from the heart of Earth, they broke the barrier of time and space as they wove into the membranes of deaf ears where their vibration was felt in the cells, stirring the unease of truth inside bodies that had become numb.

“Wake and remember.”

Her specter rose with the smoke until it filled the black night.

No one saw her, save for one. A girl-child had lingered, letting go of her father’s hand as he pulled her to safety. And, somehow in his hurry, he had released her while he chased after fear. She stood defiant against the blaze as she gazed up at the ghost of her ancestor. Listening to words no one else could hear.

“I hear you, Mother,” she shouted her voice into the night, lifting her words to the sky. “I am here.”

I wrote this inspired by Sue Vincent’s prompt, #Fume, in honor of Suzanne at Being in Nature, whose passionate plea for change fills the pages of her blog. She lives in Australia where wildfires are devastating the land and the life that depends upon it. She shares my sentiment that it is imperative that we acknowledge the effects of climate change and make real efforts to slow it down. 

 

We Are God’s Hands

help-1300942_1920 “It’s in God’s hands.”

The words took hold of me while I scrolled through Facebook, that place where I can only spend so much time before frustration builds. The words came from a woman responding to a post about the climate crisis.

I sit here, a day later, thinking about the convenience of this claim. How often it is used to excuse our personal actions, or inactions. This letting go of control and giving it up to whatever name we, individually, call the divine force that moves through all of us. It is a false claim. An untruth we choose because it’s convenient. To put up our hands up and declare that something is beyond our control is to give up the truth of our existence. We are not puppets in some divine play, we are the directors, the actors, and the story-tellers. We exist to be active players in this game we call Life.

We are God’s hands.

God is not responsible for the mass extinction we are facing and the rise of our oceans. God is not responsible for the fires ravaging the face of Earth or the hunger in the bellies of children whose parents cannot afford food to fill them. God is also not responsible for our individual and collective greed. Our hoarding of wealth and want for more. God is not responsible for the felling of our  rainforests and the bleaching of our coral reefs. God is not responsible for our choice to burn coal and fossil fuels over harnessing the power of sustainable resources. The responsibility is ours. Alone.

If we are going to claim to be children of “God,” or whatever name we call the creation that brought us here, we must also realize that as children, someday we must grow up and take responsibility for our individual lives. We must step outside the shelter of convenient excuses and realize that our hands are pulling up the roots, stripping our mountains bare, and turning the ignitions in our vehicles in the name of convenience. It may be an “inconvenient truth,” to admit that we are the masters of our own existence here on Earth, but it is the truth, nonetheless. We can either face it, or suffer the consequences of denial.

The Upside of Hate

th-1

I got discouraged for a moment. Perhaps it was a long moment, but I didn’t count the seconds.  Fear resided inside the words I read, and festering with that fear was hatred. It has become easy to hate these days in a world that appears to be ripping into shreds of immorality. That’s what we’re shown on the surface where we linger with sensationalism. The media prefers to grasp the hand of the monster that lives both inside and outside of us, holding it like it never wants to let go.

I had been scrolling through Facebook, that skewed version of reality where the darker side of humanity is allowed to run amuck with gleeful abandon. A friend was bemoaning a poll forecasting possible results for the next presidential election here in the U.S. The screen was awash with red. I could have pulled myself into her fear, but I decided I’d be better served to let go the hand that would hold me into the netherworld.

I believe there’s an upside to hatred, if we choose to find it. At the core of hatred is an insidious fear that thrives in its deoxygenated environment. It’s a terrible existence. This choosing to “live” in hatred. The fear of the “other,” and the “unknown,” deprives us of life and the soul withers inside its troubled shell. But hatred tells a story, as does the fear behind it. It tells the story of a history that is ours, but one we don’t have to hold onto.

Hatred is a ruse to lure us backwards into the spiral of the abyss. We can stay stuck there, or we can dig through the ruins and discover why the tower keeps collapsing upon itself.  It is a vulnerable journey, which is why we often choose to linger with the discomfort of fear. It yells a power that has no basis in truth, yet we listen to its words thinking that if we heed them we will survive, forgetting about the countless others that will perish. Forgetting that we too will starve for want of light.

But if we listen, really listen past fear to its origins, we get ever-closer to the true self. The self that wants to be healed. The self that wants to be held. The self that desires love. And, our tower begins to crumble its mighty fortress. The walls that would contain collapse. Smoke billows and the fires rage, until the flames abate. It may take a long time to put them out, but herein lies the beauty of creation. The alchemy of self exists inside ourselves. Collectively and individually.

Beneath the angry red screen that tried predict more hatred across the land, I felt the pulse of the vein of life. Life searching to be reborn. It’s been a long time. A really, really long time, since we’ve known how to live in harmony with the life around us, and that inner life that is the self as a part of the whole. Perhaps we need to give ourselves a little more compassion. When we look at the vast and complex journey of our existence in human form, we see the struggle to survive, but also to thrive. And in the searching and breaking down, we can relearn how to balance upon the thread of light that is joy.

Humanity has reached the stage of existence marked by The Tower card in Tarot. Its number is 16 in the major arcana cycle. Balanced on one side by The Devil, and the other, by The Star, The Tower card is the epitome of upheaval. To get to the light of the star, that inner, true light of the self, the devil within and without must be reckoned with. As much as we may fear the devil outside of us, we must come to realize that he only exits because of what is inside. The chains, as the card reveals, are self-imposed. We can choose to live chained to fear, or we can break the fortress and let the light shine through.

Becoming, in essence, naked to the true self, is a vulnerable act. It takes trust, courage, and a surrender in the knowing that love is the truth of the self and of Life.  If we reduce The Tower card down to its integral parts, we arrive at card 1, The Magician and card 6, The Lovers, in the major arcana. The Magician possesses the alchemical magic of the self, The Lovers, of the union of the opposing energies; the yin and the yang that exist in the individual self, as well as the self searching for union with another. If we join the 1 to the 6, to complete the reduction, we arrive at the number 7. Card 7 in the Tarot tradition is The Chariot. Here we see the individual reigning over polarity. The yin energies sit one side of the chariot, the yang on the other. The sun and the moon are in balance both within and without. Over the breastplate of the figure that is self, is a square through which the light of the heart is shining through. The light of the star shines on the crown of the head.

 

The Chariot card is card 7, though. It precedes The Devil, The Tower, and The Star in the cycle of life represented in the Tarot. The choice to reign with the force of the ego or with the peace of inner light is still subject to personal will. The number 7 is that magical number that speaks of transformation. Everything is possible, and so there is the promise of union through alchemy.

This breaking down and collapsing that is so prevalent in our time often feels fueled by hatred and the ego’s need for self-preservation at all costs, but when we look closer, as symbolized in the card, we can also find the light of origin. Lightning strikes the crown of power from the top of the tower and opens the pathway to the divine self. Enlightenment can occur through the upheaval, if the self allows it.

Through the rubble of fear and hatred, there exists around us and within us, so many seeds of this light. Stories of courage and truth abound as voices gain strength with the conviction that love is the essence of life. Young women are stepping into the light of the divine feminine energy in a manner the world has not witnessed for a long time. They bring to us the promise of balance as they break fearlessly the barriers of fear. There is a feeling of warrior energy, a warrior energy fed by the light of truth. Their voices are strong and clear, and the are joined by many others, both male and female, in a dance of union.  It’s our choice, collectively, how to collapse the tower and find the balance of life, but it all begins with the self. The self that stays mired in fear, or breaks the fortress to find the light.

 

The Hermit #Harbinger #WritePhoto

different-magpie-1.jpg
Photo Credit: Sue Vincent

The hermit curled his head into his folded feathers. It had a been a long day. Heck, who was he kidding? It had been a long century. He was getting old, too old to be doing this work. And, he was tired. The kind of tired that sets into your bones long before they are supposed to return to the soil. He blamed the humans. The hermit discovered the plague of their greed soon after they started pumping darkness into the veins of Earth five thousand years ago.

He didn’t want to feel like such a curmudgeon. In many ways he’d rather be flying blissfully unaware with the starlings. All they did was gossip and cackle about the other birds as they picked through the dirt for worms. The hermit wasn’t much for idle chatter, though. He never had been. Life would have been easier, he thought, if he had been born into a state of blissful ignorance, but life had chosen him to be a hermit. To fly alone as he surveyed the land and catalogued its history into memory cells. Now the weight was simply too much for his body. His wings were too tired to raise him off the ground, and instead folded inward, protecting the heart that was heavy with time. Soon his body would become one with the Earth from which he was born, and he found himself welcoming that day without sadness or trepidation.

Peace, he thought, finally I will be at peace. But what of the rest? Beneath his winged shoulders, blue feathers of truth betrayed him. It was not yet his time. He had agreed to be a harbinger of death, but also of life. And the golden child had not yet been born. The hermit must wait a little longer to pass on the memories in his cells. Only then could he rest in the knowing that someday the light would be returned.

For Sue Vincent’s #writephoto prompt Harbinger. Please click here to participate in the challenge. 

writephoto

Greta Thunberg Standing on the Fulcrum of Fear & Love #IChooseLove

seesaw-41961_1280
Photo Credit: Pixabay

It has felt, for many months, or maybe even many years, as though we are collectively teetering on the fulcrum between fear and love. Some days there is a slight tipping toward love, on others I feel fear pushing its heavy weight into our hearts and there is a slipping towards an abyss that I care not to imagine. Yet, how can we not face our darkness? There are nights when I dream of the Earth caving in upon us, her mighty tongue lapping us back into her dying body.

Two days ago, I sat in a circle of 22 children and talked about love and fear. Although they were no older than 10 yrs. old, some of them already knew of the science behind our emotions. Before I pulled Dr. Emoto’s book The Secret Life of Water out of my bag, one child offered her scientific observations on two apples. One was spoken words of hate, the other words of love. There was an unease to her giggle when I asked her which one had decayed first. Although there is a knowing deep inside each of us, it is sometimes difficult to allow ourselves to understand the effects of our emotions.

We don’t always want to own our energy, or the fact that our energy is intricately woven with all life. If we talk love to water outside of us, it forms into a beautifully exquisite crystal. If we talk hate to water outside of us, the water separates into an ugly mass striving for cohesion. To me it resembles a bacteria smear on a petri dish. Each day it is fed fear, more toxic colonies grow.  It’s worth thinking about what the water inside of you is doing, as I discussed with the children while they gazed at the photos of proof.

Everything, in essence, is energy. Somehow, over the course of thousands of years, we have learned to crave density. We amass wealth in the form of condensed energy thinking it will bring us joy, but we should all know that the tighter the wrap, the more difficult it is for the light to get shine through.

The scientific proof is there, yet many of us care not to see it. Just like the scientific proof exists, and has for many decades, that our climate is indeed in a state of crisis. A crisis brought upon by our individual and collective choices to push the lever towards greed. We care not, for the most part, to see what is going on outside of us or inside of us through the lens of science and truth.

This morning, I decided to scroll through a few comments on Greta Thunberg’s Twitter feed. I have been thinking about this courageous and brilliant young woman a lot lately, and how she has chosen to weather our collective storm valiantly without fear of personal attacks. Of which there have been numerous. One needs only spend about thirty seconds on Twitter to see there are nearly equal tweets on the spectrum of fear/hate as there are on the spectrum of love/reference for this truth seeker and speaker. I found myself amazed, yet not really surprised, by how many people self-righteously send out the energy of hate towards a young woman whose only motivation is to save them, and in the process herself and the planet we all share. It’s mind boggling in its essence. Yet, it’s not. Some of us really like our fear and hate. It makes us feel powerful with all its lies and self-loathing so that we forget that we are harboring and feeding a cancerous mass inside of us.

It would be amusing how much we fear the truth if it were not so disturbing. I have realized, over these past several days while thinking of Greta and all the courageous youth who are standing and speaking up with her, that somehow, quite miraculously it seems, we have birthed new generations who do not hold onto fear the way most of us do. Perhaps it is because they have not yet lived long enough for fear’s weight to grow into a cancerous mass inside of them. I like to believe, though, that somehow they were born with an immunity to it.  That finally, we are moving toward the light as we push fear’s weight into the abyss from which it came. If I don’t believe it, the alternative is unimaginable.