The Light Behind our Story #ChooseLove

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Today’s messenger calling for transformation and the return to the unfettered soul

If you choose to, you can see an outer world filled with terrible things. A world on the brink of, or perhaps even over-flowing, with chaos. A world where fear, and all its ugly faces, rules each action and reaction.

Or, you can see a world whose essence is love. A world that, despite pockets of darkness dominated by fear, has at its core only light. If you breathe into the core of Earth, the mother of your body and your home for this life, deep through the multilayers of soil, stone, and water, you will reach a core of light. If you breathe into the layers of your own body, through the skin that sheaths your essence, through the tissue and the bone, you will reach your core of light. A light that is a seed of the very same light in the core of Earth, and of the very same light that exists in the core of each being. Its essence is love. The energetic vibration of creation.

Yet, the mind and body that would encompass this essence easily traps fear. Fear that nestles into tissues and creates the density of disease, distrust, hatred, and paranoia. Along with the false belief that the “me” is separate from the “all.” A fear that breaks apart the light so that its vast web looks as though it is filled with darkness.

We are each so much more powerful than this fear we like to hold onto. This fear that creates separation in a struggle for self-survival. It is but a mere shadow of our true self. And, like all shadows, it is a mere illusion of the truth. Fear looks for separation, love is defined by union.

Instead of holding onto fear, and losing oneself in the shadow of its darkness, why do we not reach inside to find the light of truth? That pure essence of love that threads through each and every one of our beings? Why do we fear who we are? Why do we fear love itself? Why do we fear the true, vast, and limitless expanse of our being that continues on past the death of the layers that would contain it?

Why do we fear the free, unfettered soul?

Perhaps the why is not as important as the habit it has created. Overtime we develop a pattern of holding onto traits and behaviors whose origins we cannot always fully recover. Instead, we simply adopt without consideration of why we are continuing in a pattern that is destructive of the self and the whole. It becomes comfortable, like a tattered and worn blanket we refuse to give up from our childhood. Or, an old coat we’ve worn for so long, we cannot imagine stepping outside the comfort of our home without it. Even though the coat, like the blanket, is no longer of service to us.

Do you ever dream of being naked? Or of lifting your feet into weightless flight? Do you fear one and not the other? It’s a funny thing, this holding onto what our soul calls us to let go of. This returning to the unfettered essence of love that we are is so simple, yet complex in the unraveling it requires and all the letting go of habitual patterns and behaviors. False beliefs dying to the one truth that is you.

Why am I writing these words, calling for love? For the simple turning inward instead of outward as we try to navigate our way through the layers that appear to trap us in density? Because we are in the midst of an age of upheaval. The repetition of the old patterns of fear have repeated to a level of accumulated density in this world that we choose to share, causing a hold of fear that is seemingly tighter than the love that binds.

The Earth and each one of her children is crying out for reunion. For the return to love and unity. It is not my intention to talk of the ephemeral. Of some ideal that will never be achieved. My words are simple, their truth not complex. Nothing is ever gained by fear and hatred, but more fear and hatred. We can cower and ring our hands in dismay, or we can start turning inward to the truth and allowing that reflection to mirror back to us each time we turn our eyes outward. We can simply be, each day, ever more present to the truth of our essence, or we can move that truth into action, rippling the energy of love through our words and movements. Righteous indignation is still fed by fear, even if the outward display of it is for a greater good. Fear feeds fear. Anger feeds anger. Love feeds love. It’s simple math and physics.

Years ago, I found myself lying on a couch for three hours halfway in another realm as I listened to the words of my essence. We all have this voice within us, and it behooves us to listen to it, at least now and then. The words that stayed with me, that haunt me each day are these: “You can always find the light behind the story. Find the light behind each story.”

As I looked through my lives and the greater life around us and ahead of us, I realized these words were not intended for my survival, but for the survival of each and every one of us. If we choose to hold onto our collective fears and all the trappings that have bound us and harmed us, we will get more of the same. There is always light behind the shadow. There is always that core of essence that is love, waiting to be seen, grown and illuminated.

 

 

The Loss of Cause & Effect… #Mindfulness

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It kept me up three nights ago. My mind became busy and I got to thinking about mindfulness. I’m sure you’ve all heard the term by now. Mindfulness. “Paying attention to the present moment.” “Living fully in the present moment with awareness.” Sometimes “without judgement” is added. While searching the Internet, I came across this video on the Greater Good Magazine website featuring Jon Kabat-Zinn defining mindfulness in his words.

In the video, Kabat-Zinn talks about living the “story of me” without the realization that there is, in actuality, “no me.” Although I am not a follower of Kabat-Zinn, or any of the many mindfulness gurus out there today, I like what he has to say in this brief video. It’s not a new revelation, in fact it’s very old. His words echo the sages of long ago who carried forth the wisdom that there is, in essence, no “me.”

Three nights ago, I let this mind that inhabits “me” process the concept of mindfulness in terms  of “my” perception of the current state of the world. Not so concerned with the “me,” but the “we,” my mind thought about the mindless actions that permeate our collective existence. In particular, I was thinking about the consequences that result from a mindless existence, or, rather, an existence so focused on the “me” of the ego that all else is neglected. The president of the United States is the archetype of this type of existence. The mindless ego unchecked by self awareness.

Last night, I had an hour in the car with my fourteen-year-old son, who initiated a conversation that, in essence, centered around mindfulness. He, like me, is deeply troubled by the world we live in and the mindless movement we have spiraled into, despite the current attempts to make “mindfulness” the “in thing.”

What’s the purpose of mindfulness if we can’t get passed the concept of the self as all important?

Since my eye-opening experience attempting to teach mindfulness to Montessori school teachers, and later yoga to their equally unmindful students, I’ve given a lot of thought to what “I” think mindfulness truly is. Simply stated, a mindful existence includes the realization that there are consequences to our actions, words and thoughts. The law of cause and effect is nothing new, but it’s been essentially forgotten in favor of our “me” obsessed world.

Am “I” breathing properly? Am “I” paying attention to the bird outside my window? Am “I” living in the present moment with full awareness? 

This is a start, but not an end. This “I” living in the present moment must, eventually become aware of the “I” that is trying to live. Who am I? The I must eventually ask to fully understand itself. What am I doing? What am I thinking? What are the consequences to these thoughts and actions? How do I effect not only myself, but the world around me?

Until, eventually, the I realizes that there is no I, but a vast, limitless “we.”

The day before my sleepless night, I had been in a waiting room eavesdropping in on a conversation that was occurring at the front desk between two educators. When I over-heard one of them mention teaching in the town I live in, comparing the students to inner-city kids, my interest was piqued.

What I heard, in essence, was the frustration of an educator trying to teach in a classroom without consequences filled with kids living in the myopic world of “me.” And, I thought, it’s not only me, before I thought, how pervasive this disease of “me” really has become.

When I attempted to teach yoga to the Montessori children who exhibited rudely defiant behavior, I inquired about whether there was anything I could do to thwart their disrespect. What I discovered as that we are living in a time when, despite our obsession with “mindfulness,” there are few, if any, consequences to our mindless actions. How can we teach mindfulness behavior if we don’t teach the law of cause and effect?

When trying to discover the root of a group’s behavior, we must always look to the leader. It’s rather obvious that the leader of our “free” nation is living the antithesis of a truly mindful life. Instead, he exhibits all the rude, self-centered, and dangerous behavior of the ego out of control.

While I was not sleeping the other night, I thought about how the majority of the teachers at the conference I was invited to present at where not interested in, and in fact seemed to harbor a severe aversion to, engaging in self-awareness exercises. I realized that there really was no point in me trying to return to teach yoga to their students. Before yoga asana, must come a deep awareness of mindfulness and the laws of cause and effect.

I’ll admit, it’s not a “fun” process to really and truly examine the self and the self as a part of the whole, but it can be a deeply rewarding and enriching process. When one realizes that the self is simply a conglomeration of experiences and reactions to those experiences, folded into a cellular body, a process of detachment and non-judgement can result that leads to fascinating and enlightening discoveries about not only the “self,” but the self as a part of the whole.

The “I” easily forgets the “we,” as exhibited by the pervasive self-obsessed behavior that predominates our world at this time in history. We’re living a time that is artificially sped up and controlled by the false screen of the outer. With the tap of a screen a photo is taken of the “self” and then altered by another tap or two, to be artificially enhanced so that the “self” can appear more outwardly attractive than the “self” really is. Then the self awaits, mere seconds it can take, for the “likes” of the self to pile up. With a few short taps, the self’s words can be tweeted around the world and read by millions of followers. What a heady power trip that can be! Making the “self” feel all-important.

Then there is the flip side of this. The self that arrives at the self-realization that his or her individual self is not good enough. Will never be pretty enough, when compared to the false images of beauty held in front of it, or thin enough, successful enough, etc. And, so the self decides that its life is not worth living.

There is a desperate need in my own self to try, in whatever way my self can, to bring true mindfulness back to a world that appears to me so desperately in need of it. Behind the ego’s need for self dominance is fear. Fear of the self’s discovery of its own imperfections, and the often even greater fear that those imperfections will be seen by others. In the striving for the perfect self, the self fails to realize that perfection of the self will never, and can never be achieved, because the perfect “self” is, in actuality, the no-self.

When we realize we are beautifully imperfect, here to learn and to grow ever closer to love until the self becomes only love, life becomes filled with purpose and infused with the beautiful existence that is Life. We realize that each piece of life, our life, in fact, is a part of an intricate whole. No more than, or less than another, but unique in its conglomeration of parts and experiences. Our essence, in fact, realized,  as equally important as our neighbor’s whether that neighbor is a fellow human, an animal, insect, stone, or plant. When a stone is removed from the earth, a hole remains. We are each, individually, part of a vast and intricate web of life beyond the comprehension of our individual minds. Each of us with a role to play, a life to live, that is infinitely more enriching for the self, and the whole, when lived mindfully with an awareness of cause and effect.

 

 

 

Chocorua Part 1: The Journey There

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Chocorua in early August

Sometimes the spirits of the land study you before you are allowed to study them. Their secrets held inside the membrane of earth and stone until you have proven yourself worthy of receiving.

Before we left that morning, I sealed acceptance into my aura. There was the knowing that I would be given what I needed to receive and perhaps not all that I yearned for. There is no rushing the land and its protectors, but a grateful, open-heart is always accepted.

I had met Chocorua over the winter, when I had turned a bend in the road and found myself faced with its head of stone, balded in patches of white from the snow, looming before me. It was one of those moments when the body defies words. My daughter looked at me, and I at her, with the same knowing. Someday, I would return. There was no discussion.

We drove the rest of the way to her ski meet immersed in our own thoughts, my eyes blinking away the moisture bought on by our encounter with Mt. Chocorua. Why, I wondered, have I not seen you before? 

I have lived in NH since I was nearly five years old. The mountain I had just passed, a mere 1.5 hours from my childhood home. I must have heard of it, even “seen” it in my travels.  I have learned, thought, that we do not truly see until the land is ready to be seen.

And, so I found myself traveling the roads to Chocorua six months later. Now mid-summer, there was no snow, but plenty of heat. We had just over twenty-four hours for our trip, and this would be our first night away without our children, ages 14 and 15, since they were born. A strange way to celebrate a slightly belated 20th wedding anniversary, perhaps, but my husband, like my daughter, understands my desires even if he doesn’t entirely comprehend them. When I found out he had booked us a night in North Conway so we could celebrate two decades of marriage by hiking the legendary mountain, I was deeply touched. My only reservation was that we would not have enough time.

Which was part of the letting go.

The morning began with tension after the release that yoga brings. I had a morning class to teach, and when I returned home, it was to find my husband nowhere near ready to go. I have a long history with time controlled by the minutes that tick by on the clock. I loathe being “late,” in whatever circumstance that involves. It’s not easy for me to let it go. I had breathed acceptance into my body at the start of the day, and it was not going to allow me to forget it.

When finally we got on the road, an hour after I had hoped we would leave, my husband and I found ourselves doing our individual best to release the threads of tension between us. That is until twenty-five minutes into our journey he realized he had forgotten his dress clothes, and, true to his nature, blamed it on my long-battle with time. Once more I found myself breathing into acceptance as we turned the car around.

It was a mostly wordless journey back home. When we arrived our daughter, just recently having woken, greeted us with some surprise as she smiled above the top of the couch. We had now lost about two hours of the day, by my calculations with the clock, but my body knew it was what we needed. This test of letting go of what we tend to hold onto, if we could.

And we did, gradually at first, as we settled back into an uneasy silence. My husband making the first offering of peace by placing his right hand on my thigh as he navigated the road back toward the mountain with his left. I felt the letting go as I met his offering with the wrap of my hand around his. Our journey now officially underway with all we needed packed in the car, even though later we would lament not having brought more. Not in terms of clothing, but in terms of supplies for the long walk ahead of us. In our determination to hike 3.5 thousand footer, we had not given much thought to the long, indirect path we had chosen to get to the top.  Chosen as though it was not a choice, because it was the path walked before the white man had landed on the shores of New England.

To be continued…

Slow Time

It’s been a week of slow time. Minutes unhurried as they spread languidly into hours that stretch the boundary of day into night. I find myself shedding worry easily. It falls like dead strands of hair ready to let go with the lightest tug. I do not miss its absence, but find myself welcoming the lift of its weight as it releases.

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I needed this week beside the lake, where my eyes can travel the surface of water to meet the rise of Earth before it gives way to sky. Clouds pass by winged travelers. Sea gulls catching gold on their wings, even though the ocean is miles away. They too care not for time or place. Blue dragonflies skim the horizon in search of mosquitos. A cormorant puffs out its chest on the raft we have just anchored as though we have brought it just for him. Another displaced traveler. Or, maybe not. I allow myself to believe I belong somewhere else most days. My home an hour away, holding a calendar of scheduled dates I choose not to think about while I am here. Trading it for this slow time beside the water.

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Most days, I slip inside the fluid molecules to swim. The build of heat releases and the body cools as it finds the memory of origin. I realize how much I need its enfolding.  When I return to land it is to feel the soft, sticky floor of pine needles beneath my bare feet. My soles will be blackened by the end of the week. Tattooed by the reminder of slow time that will inevitably speed up again.

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This week I have found myself thinking, when thoughts slip through the moments, of how much we carry and do no need. How even when we are meant to be relaxing and letting go, we pull out the phone to snap and share. To preserve and even boast, as though we must believe that our time is better than someone else’s. Forgetting that the less we carry, the freer we are. Forgetting that when we let go of all these attachments, there is no separation.

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When I open the artificial screen, I feel its drain. The body constricts. And, so I close it in favor of the easy breath outside doors and windows. Here, where light arrives from sources beyond our grasp, and I can soak in the vast expanse of being. Just being. Present sometimes with just the self, and sometimes with my beloveds and their companions. I find that it is not so challenging, here in this slow lake time, to be a parent to teenagers. To be wife. To be a woman in this stage of life called middle age. I find that it doesn’t matter what I do so much as how I present. That mostly, it’s this letting go. This slowing down, that matters most. This living in time and not through time.

Ladies’ Night

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Photo Credit: Pixabay

It doesn’t happen often. Almost never, really. But, last night I had the house to myself. My husband and daughter were miles away in Maryland for a lacrosse tournament (I am forever grateful he takes the ones with the long drives), and my son was away at a sleepover. So, after saying goodbye to my son and 8 or 9 of his friends who enjoyed two hours of relief from the sweltering heat in our pool after an afternoon of paintball, I dumped some shock in the water, gave the wet trail of feet on the floorboards a quick wipe with a cloth, and opened the door to my first guest to arrive.

Mind you it was not a large party. And, I wouldn’t really call it a party. A gathering of three dear friends is just about perfect in my book. No pretense. No frills. Just a few healthy goodies to share, a bottle of wine, and a never-ending string of animated conversation. It was just what I needed.

While we ate, we talked about dreams and meditations, visions and ancient sites.  We talked about what we are working on healing and releasing, and the little and not so little things in life that sometimes just need the the space of receptive ears to find sense and peace. The minutes stretched into hours too quickly, but no one wanted to leave. It was my bedtime before the wine was uncorked, and we decided the chlorine had probably done its job of clearing the remains of 10 sweaty teenage boys.

Swimsuits we donned and we headed out into the heavy night air to take a dip. Orion’s belt hovered over the tips of hemlocks and fireflies danced under their boughs. A perfect night for a swim, if you discredit the mosquitos. And so we swam. For a good half hour or more. Talking about portals and fairies. Pyramids and frogs. Strange, disjointed conversation that made sense to us.

The human body loves water, remembering where it came from. What gives it life. Had it not been for those mosquitos, we may never have gotten out. “I’d be in here all the time,” my friends remarked as I confessed I hardly ever venture in.

And so I began to wonder, why not? Why is it so easy to forget to nurture the self? To indulge in the not so indulgent pleasures of life? The pool, after all, is right outside my door. I clean it weekly, if not more, for the kids. Why not for me? Especially at night, when the air is still and the night opens the veil to the stars and all that hovers beyond this tiny planet we call home.

Excuses are easy to come by, and so is the over-looking of the magic that abounds if only the eyes would see it and the mind and body take time to still. There hasn’t been a lot of that stillness for me these days. Summers are always busy, filled with being a mother. Squeezing in some me-time usually consists of a trip to the grocery store or a few hours of paid work. Mind you, I love what I do for work and teaching a morning yoga class often adds a greater sense of peace to my days, but it is not the same as really and truly just taking the time to be present in the moment with just the self. Or, in the case of last night, some really good friends who get you.

It was nearly 11pm by the time we made our way back indoors. I thought the others might want to call it a night, but after we made our respective ways back into dry clothes, someone suggested playing a metaphysical board game I’ve had for a decade but have never used.

And, so another our stretched, or rather sped by while our tired minds tried to make sense of the four sides of cryptic-to-us directions in-between near-hysterical laughter, insuppressible yawns and sips of wine. It was nearly midnight by the time we declared a winner, even though technically, by those cryptic rules, she had not really won.

I’ll be lucky if I sleep at all, I thought as I closed and locked the door, and headed upstairs with one of the dogs on my heels. It was way past my bedtime and my mind was swirling with the evening’s conversations. Oh well, I thought, no matter. I wouldn’t have had it any other way. It had been a gift of a night, and I was happy to receive it.

 

Finding Home in the Body #Yoga #PastLives #Healing

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I am finding my way home through the body. Again, perhaps, but the path always changes as we circle into untouched avenues of the labyrinth of self. There has been the lingering question of home as a physical landscape calling me back. I have labeled it Albion, or what once was Albion, but I have been lying to myself. It is not a mere physical place that draws the deep longing out of me, it is the pure, boundless joy of being.

It is true I find home in the stones that hold the memories of long ago. They speak to me of a time when the stars touched Earth without dimension. I have called it magic, because that is what it feels like inside of cells that have learned to forget. Yet, it is simply the true state of the boundless self that knows that the one self is home only when there is no self defined by matter, space, or time.

We can live attached to concepts of structure as we walk a linear path to a false destination that can never be reached, and I have found this path to be lonely. I have struggled to free the desire to gather the lives around me into my arms and dance us all awake before Earth destroys us in her need to heal the wounds we have inflicted upon her.

The ancient stones remember what we have forgotten and that is why they draw me home to where the hearth fire inside is kindled in a landscape that does not judge or reject. There is only the embrace, welcoming the return.

It is not enough to return, temporarily, to sites that hold the memories of truth. These places are not outside my physical doorstep where I find myself tethered to a life that feels artificial in more ways than I can count. There are thousands of footsteps between me and the stones that call me home. I go to them to return, then turn back again to this physical place I must call home as I search to define it in a language long lost to our tongues. Too often I feel the structure of  nailed together wood painted on the outside to keep the self contained behind walls as though the boundless needs protection.

At night I find the freedom I seek in the daylight, flying through the glass that looks inward and outward. I soar easily to the ceiling and will myself back to the knowing that this too is false until the molecules of division give way and rejoin in the opening. Why, I ask, am I allowed to fly boundless only in the dimension of dreams? Why do a live in a time that has chosen to forget?

Days stretch false minutes and I find myself speaking the rote words of the mundane least others think me insane. Sometimes, I ask out loud, “When will this nightmare end?” Because, I must admit, there are days that feel like nightmares. The computer screen pulls me into the vacuum of humanity’s created chaos and I become entrenched in the darkness until I pull myself back to present surrounding me. The living, breathing pulse of the now where chaos becomes a complicated dance of cause and effect; of shadow and light; of the endless cycle of life. Each moment passing into the next, asking only to be let go.

Yet, sometimes we must circle backwards to go forwards. I have found myself once again traveling through lives passed to feel the chain around the black man’s neck before it can release the body’s constricted voice. My womb aches with the rape of the priestess, and so many more that I am surprised that it bore life. I breathe in love to release constriction as I look at the fence of bodies stretching back further than the eyes can see. How long will it take, I wonder, to free them all? Until I remember this pain that becomes a memory for cells constantly renewing themselves need not find a home in my body that wants to remember only joy.

Outside the structured walls of my physical home, I am drawn each day to the weeds beneath the blooms. Digging these hands of mine into the body of Earth to release the tangles of life that suffocate growth. I am not immune to the knowing that life must be taken to feed new life. It is equally cruel and beautiful. This surrender of death to birth.

I find a harmony in the cycle I help to create. Sometimes active participation is required to free the ties that bind, and so I move this body I also call home. I listen to its urgings, feel the lick of its flames as they rise through the belly. Summer allows the shedding of shoes, and I walk barefoot on the body of Earth to feel her heartbeat and the knowing that I am her child too. My cells are made from her elements. Pieces broken to be reformed. I cannot neglect this vital part of me.

Chaos lures the mind to disorder and the body to dance free. Yoga has become a necessity for balance. If a day passes without the body stretching the mind free as it heeds the call of release, I feel the fires inside smolder for lack of air. It is not easy for light to creep through dense layers. Cracks must open. Air must be let in. Prana follows the breath into the labyrinth as the body becomes the dragon raising its wings.  And that is when the soul soars home to itself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Box of Fear & Why I Believe We All Must Find Our Own “Religion”

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I  have recently received an email from a friend I met years ago at a metaphysical class. We were both searching and seeking a deeper understanding of life, like all who are drawn to unravel the mysteries. Now, she has turned to religion, following the urgings of a man she loves. I am not surprised, but there is a sadness to her desperation to be loved and accepted into a secure form of life.

In her email, my friend urged me, and the rest of the group of friends to which she sent the email, to follow her path as a born-again Christian so that our souls, like hers, could be saved. She has labeled us as “New Age,” a label I have never tried to own.

I don’t care for labels, and this one I find offensive and incorrect. Although I cannot speak for the others in the group, I consider myself a spiritual being who seeks, in each moment, to heed the inner voice of truth that aligns with the core Truths of being. I do not follow one guru, or worship within the confines of one sect. I simply try my best to live a life in alignment with love.

If that makes me a sinner in some eyes, so be it. Yet, it troubles me that is should be so. Perhaps, in some ways, I am fortunate to have not been raised in what feels like the confines of a particular set of beliefs. As the child of agnostic parents who leaned toward atheism, I had to find my own spirituality in my search for inner peace and wellbeing.

I can recall many sleepless nights lying in bed wondering if my last breath would lead to my oblivion. I would wonder if my life was meaningless as a mere conglomeration of cells adhered into a body with an intelligent brain that allowed me to think both rational and irrational thoughts.

It was only when I started to think beyond the confines of my brain, and stepped into the realm of the heart, that I found a home that stretched beyond walls into the vast expanse of being. My path has lead me to explore many teachings, which all possess the same core of truths. The yoga sutras, which predate all religions, echo the words of the oldest Egyptian texts. The furthest back you go, the more threads of common truths you find. This, to me, feels like home.

Yet, it is not my place to judge another’s beliefs, nor to where they feel most at home. We are, in essence, all searching for belonging. But, do we have a right to label others as incorrect and ask them to follow the way we have chosen? This troubles me. It reminds me that we are still fighting wars and killing each other because of our spiritual beliefs, the color of our skin, and the sexual physiology and orientation of our bodies. This is not okay.

The need to destroy and convert are premised upon fear, not love. At the core of all religions and spiritual teachings, from what I have found, is Love. That is all. Love. It is a calling to find home in the knowing that we are all born from and a part of Love, which unites all life. When I breath into the stillness of being that is what I find. It fills me with a connection not only to myself, but to all life. It reminds me that I am not above or below anyone else, I am simply a part of all life. That, to me, is enough. It is a coming home.