Last week, as I was fixing my morning coffee I looked out the window and saw my husband burning some brush in our fire pit. I had a pile of paperwork that I was planning to shred and decided to just toss them in the fire.
Once I got outside, I discovered that I had also grabbed a small notepad and as I tossed the papers into the fire I felt a tug of inspiration that urged me to make a list of things that I wanted to dispose of. Ya gotta burn it down, to allow it to rise up.
I finished my initial task and ran back into the house for a pen and a coffee refill. I grabbed one of our big, old heavy Adirondack chairs and hunkered down in front of the fire to spill it all out. These were things that I wanted to root out, look at in the light of day and then burn to ashes.
At the top of the page, I simply wrote “let go”. Here is my list:
Not fitting in
Crusty, old beliefs
Cultural knots and entanglements
Behaving as you “should”
This was stream of consciousness. Things that I felt were holding me back in some way. I didn’t over-think or take more than 10 minutes to compile the list. I then stood before the fire, read it aloud, asked for guidance from spirit and tossed it in to the fire.
Done. BAM! Burned.
I looked up and saw a big, beautiful hawk soaring overhead. I watched him for a few minutes and as he circled closer and closer, I thanked him for acknowledging my ceremony.
Ceremony and ritual are important parts of the human experience and in modern times, we often forget. There is no time or inclination any longer. Fewer and fewer of us attend church or any kind of spiritual gathering and we suffer for it.
There is something inside us, that has been there from the very beginning that craves connection with the Divine and we ignore it at our peril. I believe that is why we have such a callous attitude toward others and toward the Earth. We’ve lost touch with this spark, but we can make the time, even if it’s just us, all alone, to reignite it.
As I walked back to the house after my ‘cleansing’, I felt lighter, freer, empowered, calm, loved. I’d taken just a little time and made a connection with not only my soul, but with what animates it. Spirit and energy and God and creator are all around us, at all times. Tap in. When you feel an urge, as I did, follow it. Be with yourself, create some minor rituals and try to develop a daily practice, even if it’s 5 minutes, to connect with the thing that is greater than you.
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What the HELL is going on in the world? What is wrong with people? We could turn those phrases into a drinking game this week and we’d all be drunker than skunks if you took a shot every time those words were spoken.
It’s crazy right now, but the interesting thing is that even though we do have some common pains and worries, we don’t really have common solutions. Another mass shooting: one side calls for stricter gun laws, another for looser ones. Another instance of alleged police misconduct resulting in a civilian death: one side says police have a hard job and we should always respect that, while the other side says that the police are the enemy.
And the frustrating thing for me is that these issues seem to always divide along party lines. If you’re in one party, you must believe this, which will of course, be the exact opposite of those ‘idiots’ in the other party. Sound familiar? And then there are those who actually use their brains and their other emotions besides fear and anger, who reside in the Venn Diagram where our values and common sense and empathy intersect.
Unfortunately, the places where we get our news, particularly on TV, rarely enter that fairly large area of agreement. Not good for business. Much better to keep people afraid and angry and suspicious of ‘the other side’ because it’s great for ratings.
So, here we are. Stuck. Angry. Frustrated. Overwhelmed. Afraid. Dug in. Barricaded in our belief system, with no intention of learning about how others came to their world view.
Now, that is scary. A bunch of humans, glaring at each other through their tiny peepholes in the giant door that protects them from people who disagree with them. What a way to live, eh?
You know how on the internet or Facebook or whatever, videos of cute baby animals and baby humans tend to spread like wildfire? That is because we all universally (okay I know there are some of you with very dark and scared souls who refuse to enjoy puppies and kittens…which is a shame) feel a swelling of good emotions while watching them. They are cute and innocent and funny and we just wanna squeeze ‘em. That is because we are connected. By universal love. Massive, global warm and fuzzies.
There are also those stories and shares of brutality and pain and suffering that receive millions of views and hits. In these cases, we are all connected by that universal pain. We all feel it. We all suffer. We all are connected. Do you understand what this means?
It means that we have to begin to acknowledge our commonality, rather than our differences. We are connected. When one suffers, we all suffer. When one triumphs or feels joy and love, we all do. It spreads and covers us and lifts us up and knocks us down. We are all one on a soul level.
This is the basic teaching of every single major religion and spiritual path. Love your fellow beings, for they are you. But, it’s hard, isn’t it? Everyone is so flawed and complicated and imperfect and blah, blah, blah.
We are at a tipping point. I believe that this is a time to awaken to the clarity that is available to us. I would not presume to know how you will do that, as we are all on our own path to awakening…or not. But, if you feel like things are not working, begin to question your beliefs and the collective beliefs we’ve taken as hard truth.
That is step #1. Question everything. What you have carried around as a belief for years and years is probably not really based on anything but what you were taught by other flawed humans. Core beliefs can evolve, despite the conventional wisdom that says otherwise. We’ve seen a huge evolution in our lifetime on various issues.
What have we been taught as Americans? Growth, progress, technological supremacy, military superpower, USA is #1, work over family, we know best as a nation, might makes right, money and wealth is the ultimate goal, we have dominion over the earth, etc.
A lot of us are questioning those values because they don’t seem to be valid any longer. We are fat, sick, mired in massive debt, destroying our environment, working longer and harder for less, feeling as if we have to aspire to great wealth, but not having the means or training or education or connections to achieve it.
So, re-think. Re-tool your belief system. Maybe fulfillment comes from a more nurturing place. Maybe you’ll begin to feel those connections to all things on earth, including other humans that you don’t quite understand. Love yourself, find yourself, connect with your soul.
Find a way. We’re all depending on you.
For an audio version of this post, click below
Love Wins. The celebratory statement after the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing marriage equality was handed down this past week. What a beautiful statement in a world that is, as it always has been, burdened by hate. Two simple words that, if taken to heart can transform our existence on this planet.
Which is why I’m here to co-opt that phrase for my spiritually evangelical purposes.
Those two words are what we are missing as we struggle to find our way forward in these very confusing times. The world seems to be exploding in violence and conflict. We are in the middle of another potentially explosive racial divide here in America.
Last week, 9 people died at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina when a young, white man who was motivated by racial hatred, shot them while telling them they “had to go”.
He spent over an hour with them in Bible study, where they welcomed him into their church and their group with open arms. When he was arraigned on these murders, various family members of the victims showed up to tell him that even though their hearts were broken, they forgave him and would pray for his soul. Love wins.
This is what religion teaches. These people live their faith in a way that most cannot or will not. Most of us call immediately for revenge before justice. We want to strike back at those who cause us pain. It’s all about ‘getting even’. Jesus advised turning the other cheek. Buddha said hate doesn’t dispel hate; only love dispels hate. Dr. Martin Luther King told us that only love can drive out hate. Yet, in times of great pain and anguish, we ignore those who we admire for their wisdom.
I honestly believe that some of the events of the past week may be the beginning of a tipping point toward love winning. I’ve felt such despair over so many global events and issues. I don’t even need to list the things that are happening that cause me to want to weep or vomit every time I read or watch the news. You know. You feel it too, but you feel powerless.
This is why this past week is so powerful. In just a few short years, gay marriage has become not only accepted by a majority of Americans, but it is now the law of the land. I know that many are not happy about it and try as I might, I cannot understand their opposition. How can allowing more commitment, more love, more families to form ever be a sin? How can allowing all of our fellow humans to have the same legal protections that straight humans have had, be a bad thing?
You can of course, remain true to your religious beliefs by following them. All of them. Because it seems to me that Jesus’ main message to his flock was Love Wins. In the face of anger, crime, bigotry, hatred, insults, misunderstanding, miscommunication, impatience, somebody cutting you off in traffic or irritating you by paying with a check at the supermarket, Love Wins.
That’s it. Two words that we all need to adopt as our mantra going forward. WE are the ones that have to fix what’s broken. Don’t rely on politicians or pundits or various know-it-alls who populate our media and culture. YOU. ME. We have to start loving our fellow humans, particularly when they irritate or insult or even attack us.
This is the hard stuff that we have to face as spiritual beings having a human experience. You can think and analyze and ask why, as I often do; as I constantly do. Let me do that for you, if you’d like; it’s a dirty job, but I’m happy to carry that burden. The bottom line is that we need to be more forgiving, more compassionate, more kind and more charitable to the other residents of this planet, be they human, animal, plant, etc.
This week gave us a beautiful lesson in the midst of tragedy and triumph for gay rights. Take this lesson and run with it. Spread it around. Re-think some of your beliefs. Share this blog post freely. Let’s start a bigger movement.
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I’m thinking a lot about conventional wisdom, mostly because I am rejecting a lot of it. Of course, conventional wisdom morphs all of the time, which makes it hard to even label it anymore. That’s actually a good thing I suppose because we do reject many outdated and often inhumane, oppressive or outdated practices.
But, all too often, conventional wisdom becomes tyrannical group-think. One example is the continuing nonsense that prohibits women from earning their full potential, financially, legally and culturally. Conventional wisdom tells us that women must be very attractive because that makes it easier for the dudes to put up with our ‘crazy emotional side’. It’s all about being hot and sexy and just a little subservient and passive. Don’t be too strident or pushy, ladies. Unattractive. And we gals are complicit in allowing this. Shame on us.
Another bit of conventional wisdom that I reject is that our ‘leaders’ are smarter and more competent than we are. They may have a certain skill set or knowledge base that many of us lack, but they remain human and are often victims of the human condition, i.e. they can be bribed and intimidated. They often put their needs ahead of ours. They often help their friends or sell their influence. They protect other members of their tribe/profession/institution. We see this with most of our institutions anymore. How many bad priests, cops, politicians, corporate boards, teachers, doctors, military personnel, etc. have been protected and surrounded, in order to cover-up immoral and illegal acts?
It kinda makes you want to drop out of the whole system doesn’t it? How many times do you learn of these things and practically scream “What is wrong with people”? If you answered daily, you’re not alone. And yet, we go along to get along, right?
That’s what’s bugging me. Everyone is scared. Scared to go against conventional wisdom. Scared to speak out. Scared of the direction we’re headed. We feel as if we’re caught in the stream of history and can’t do a damned thing. I get it. And I think in a sense that’s true. My latest incantation to myself is “what’s gonna happen, is gonna happen”. Fatalistic. I’ve surrendered. Sort of.
A big part of me still believes that if more and more people start to wake up and question conventional wisdom and authority, MAYBE we can make a dent. Maybe we can start to expose the incredible corruption that is happening to pollute the planet and in turn, pollute everything on it. Yes, that includes us. We are swimming in a toxic soup, 24-7. Our food is toxic, medicine is toxic, our homes/work places/cars/make-up/cleaning products are toxic. Is it any wonder that our politics, global situation, discourse and human relationships are also toxic?
And yet, we float along believing that those who are ‘in charge’ are looking out for us, protecting us from harm. Even though there is a huge body of evidence to the contrary. So, when do we peel off this layer of apathy? When do we shed our fears and begin to reject and question what we are fed, day in and day out?
If you speak of peace and say no more war, you are soft; you are anti-military. If you stand up for the poor and unempowered, you’re a socialist or a nanny. If you question or point out flaws or bad behavior in any powerful institution, whether public or private, you are subversive, dangerous and are shouted down. You are called unpatriotic. So, we hunker down and live with this growing insanity because it’s just too hard to change.
Here’s your call to action and you know, it can be as simple as the food or products you buy. You don’t have to march in the streets, although I think we need MORE of that, not less. Speak up. Share your thoughts and your values and your solutions.
Sit quietly and clear your brain and you will find that many of your entrenched, clingy and often, wrong beliefs will begin to dissolve into more clarity. I know this from personal experience. It’s freeing, but frustrating. Because you will see so much that’s wrong. So much of our lives that are controlled by misinformation, money, power and yes, evil.
Most people are good. Most people are just like you. They want to be good, do good and see the good. Make that your goal. Short term, long term. It will change you. You will begin to look for and appeal to, the good in people. That is compassion and grace and we lack it within our institutions and conventional wisdom.
Question everything. It’s okay to be a pain in the ass. In fact, it’s imperative. Do it.