Archives for category: The Earth

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Thoughts over the last few weeks: THE LIGHT IN ALL THINGS

In times of great intensity, it becomes obvious that it is natural to love. That spark is ignited that connects us, the heart aches and comes alive. What life demands of us, what the world demands of us creates a field of resilience and taps into a deep strength and source we all have.

Here are some things I have been doing to move through what is one of the most intense times I have experienced in my life.

Connect with our field of resilience. When we walk through where we are and it is not the same, the air shimmers with new light. We are hesitant and scared and feel vulnerable, and there is no place to go where we are not ourselves. We are at this time, in this place. We extend blessings and repeat, May all beings be safe. May all beings know peace. May we all come to our hearts and reveal the truth in them. The field glitters with the ice of winter, a premonition of a space that surrounds the present moment and allows it to expand. We want to hear and listen and talk and feel the truth of what is happening and it can be hard: the moment moves away from us again and again. It is hard to hold it. We’re sad about so many things and a lot of times, this gathers and is immovable. We stop feeling for some time, until we remember our hearts are beating and we can become aware of our breath filling our body. We remember that we are alive and wonder what that means. The space inside the heart can be filled with sadness and it can be filled with peace and it can be filled with love. The heart is big. We forget that so many times, especially the heart. We forget that there is space around us and we can breathe.

Live each day. We can only deal with what is in front of us in that moment, on that day. There are knowns and there are unknowns. The knowns are right there. Take it day by day, minute by minute.

Go where we are welcome. When we are with people who welcome us, when we welcome other people, we create community.

Continue to love. This is not about being an idealist or fantasist or hippie. To continue to love is one of the bravest things we can do. Love is open- open-hearted and open-eyed.

Do one thing. If we can’t think of what to do, we can do one thing that feels good or that is hard in a challenging way, not destructive way. Do one thing.

Go outside and look up at the sun and know that it gives us life, gives all of us life.

Move. Walk, stretch, work out, dance, sing. Move.

Know that it is possible to feel hope and fear at the same time.

Know and honor boundaries and respect all the ways we deal. We need to respect the way others make sense of things and that their way may be different. It’s important to create safe spaces for dialogue and express what we’re feeling. And to give ourselves and others the space we may need. To both be there and give loving space. To let others know we’re with them, see them, love them, and acknowledge that we all have different ways of getting through. The community we form is one of love and light and honor and compassion. To move through this as truthfully as we can and to make even more room for ourselves and others. Everyone’s path is different. We can deepen our commitment to each other and the understanding that we are all a part of each other.

Turn to the love we have inside of us. No matter where we are, it is our choice to turn to the love we have inside of us. This is not a romantic notion—it is the truth of who we are and to keep going there again and again when we feel like there is nothing left and we are so tired and afraid, that is courage. That is strength. Tuning into the energy of love and seeing how it expresses itself is a noble and ethical act. Every time. Every time we are kind, it has ramifications and it matters. Every time we speak the truth, it matters.

Everything we do is a triumph.

Look for Part 2 soon!

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The shadow.

I’ve dreamed it all, the mountains and the light, the light going behind the mountain, the dark descending as if it would never be light again, the shadow of trees, the shadow of my own dreams as nightmares, morning light burning around the edges of the curtain as I lie, half-awake, half-asleep. This is the full dream. There is no half-dream. The dream is whole.

The shadow is in between the blades of grass.

The shadow is in the light and the light is in the shadow.

When I am afraid, there is always light. There is light in my fear. Fear and comfort are the same, there is comfort in fear, they go together.

The shadow reaches across the barn. The shadow is in the barn.

The shadow is in the black around the sun.

There is no full shadow in nature. Humans create full shadow around them. In nature, one is contained in the other. If I am quiet, I see the break of light in my shadow. The full shadow is created by the mind. It does not exist in the body or the spirit or the spirit world or the natural world.

The shadow is there to separate things – not as we understand separation – to separate as to create time, to differentiate periods of time.

Sit and watch the field with me, the grass blowing in the wind. There is no place in nature that is all shadow or all light.

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The center of the storm is a quiet place. Many around here think of it as death. When they talk about it, which is rare, they look downward and their breath comes hard.

The center holds.

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I want to forget the world. But I don’t. I want to forget nothing. The ears of the trees are bent to the wind. I break open like a fig.

Synthesis, integration, integrity, wholeness are not smooth and flawless – they are active, fluid states of being, requiring thought and presence and focus. There are bumps and creaks and turns in this process, not a fixed point of arrival.

There is a tiny bird above the field. There is a tiny field above the bird.

We are here, in this field of light.

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Loving is risky. It holds us down underwater until we break free into it, gasping for air, coughing. We disappear into it and reappear like little stars. We shame ourselves, as so many in the past have taught us to do. That to love so nakedly, so far into the bone, is dangerous and unrealistic. That it’ll change into gas and vanish as soon as we come up for air. We make up new words for sorrow when we lose someone. We approach death with a stick, pointing it before us as scry and sword. We inhibit and dowse ourselves in protection, following a path in the snow left by deer.

It has been a long winter.

We have spent the past two weeks hurting from things not said. We have spent the past two weeks gasping for air.

Falling again and again into openness and feeling around in the river for the driftwood I thought was a tree. Are you a tree? My mom said, about a guy I was hopelessly in love with in college: he’s like a piece of driftwood. So began my initiation into love, a piece of driftwood.

There is a pair of practices and journeys we do in shamanism called dismemberment and remembering. We go through the dismemberment, letting go of unhealthy attachments, illness, heavy emotional patterns, anything that we have taken on that we want to let go of. Then we ask to be remembered as whole, healthy, and illuminated. For a long time, I named it disintegration because the word “dismemberment” threw me and felt too violent. I was able to disintegrate my body into the night sky and become a star. It was lightening and releasing. Seeing myself and others in divine light, filled with the power and essence and light of the universe, of what we name as divine, is a deep and profound experience. It takes discipline and focus. It requires letting go of all judgments, thoughts, preconceptions, prejudices, conformity to which we hold ourselves and by which we define ourselves. It requires letting go of the body. We let go into the void and are born again out of nothingness.

The moth homes we build in yard torches and porch lights. The rough buzz of getting too close to the light. This is our whole lives. We live in half-darkness, leaning into the light and leaning away from it. We move into light. We lean into love and we lean away from it. And we keep coming home every night to the one we love, if we’re lucky.

Our homes, safe. We need to make safe homes.

We want to be safe. So much is consumed by this desire. We burn safe in a fire. We want homes that are safe, loves that are safe. Our parents will never die. Our families will never die. We know they are immortal. Our own death is something we think about so that we don’t have to think about what the death of someone close to us would do, rip our lives apart, rip us apart into the fragments we were before they made us. The starlight shining through little tiny holes in our abdomen. We are fireflies, dozens of them, finally released from the jar but we love the jar, we miss the jar. It’s transparent and clear and we can see out of it.

We look up at the sky at our grandmothers and grandfathers. We are their tiny hands, bony and strong, grasping into flesh and bone. We hold hands with them, remembering the light in their eyes and their smiles. They were the only ones who smiled just to see us, it seems. My grandmother’s face the purest joy I have ever seen when we first saw her at the airport after a 17-hour flight, then awake for more than a whole day and night. Halfway around the world from where we lived, we were home. I long for home so desperately now. Where I am has hollowed out. I exist in a narrow beam of warmth. I feel warm and expansive, the space here is not. When we no longer belong where we have been. When it is time to move.

Loving is risky.

We define ourselves by someone and then startle awake to see the impressions left on us. Sometimes, we sleep so deeply, we are still dreaming when we wake up.

We accumulate burden unconsciously. Consciously releasing the burdens, energy, and influence of others frees us. We are all one, and we are also here to explore the outer limits of our own being as we are given this life and this being for the time we have. Releasing frees us to love.

There is something we talk about in shamanism called stealing souls. It is a habit we have. When we get so close, are breaching someone else’s space, we inadvertently steal a part of someone else’s soul. In Sandra Ingerman’s Soul Retrieval workshop, we did a journey and ritual after our soul retrievals to release the souls we had stolen. It was one of the most freeing and beautiful experiences I have ever had. I journeyed to ask whose souls I had stolen and asked for a ritual to release them back to the universe until they are ready to be called back and returned to the person to whom they belong. While my partner drummed behind me, I looked out to the mountains beyond the creosote and yucca and Joshua trees hugging the parched earth with their roots and I blew bubbles for each person whose soul I was releasing. I do a practice called H’oponopono, a Hawaiian forgiveness practice, in which I list people’s names and forgive each one in turn and ask for their forgiveness. It is powerful. It is life-changing every single time we forgive and release.

The drought in California and all of the Southwest goes on. The lessons of the desert I brought home with me. What is survival and what is beyond survival? Nature strives to live, to protect life cycles and natural balance. It produces flowers and bees and stardust and blood.

We are given so many things. We are given the natural elements of the external world, air, earth, fire and water, and the corporeal elements of heart and bone, all made up of the same matter. We are all made of the same elements. We strive for survival and what is beyond survival.

We must be compassionate witnesses. This includes being kind to ourselves. Compassion begins in our own hearts. True wealth and true freedom come from this spring: compassion, faith, reverence, gentleness, kindness. True love comes from this spring. We are ready to love. We love because it is the only thing to do. We love because breathing underwater is exhausting. It is not in our nature. We return again and again to the place of breathing, to letting things be, to our natural place in the wild.

In a world where there is such inequality and the quality of lives is so disparate, it is up to us to right the ship.

It may start with dread and fear and despair. And then we get sick of dread, of constant fear of the wrong things, of living in fear, of the mire of being pulled down into the darkness over and over, of the denial of freedom and courage. We must move into a place of freedom and courage and stand up for those for all living beings. When one of us is not free, we are all not free.

There has been a shift from pain to joy. This is a simple shift in mechanical terms, but the work it took to get here is immense and complex, like a maze. The truth of joy, now that it is apparent, is simple and comforting and bright and gentle. I have lived my life for meaning and to understand—mostly, why I have been allowed to have such a good life when so many others suffer unspeakable horrors. I am not sure how to live when there is a lack of freedom, oppression, prejudice, hatred in the world. It seems a simple thing, to live a life, but it is not simple at all and the body and psyche move along the boundary line between life and death as if coding a sacred text that cannot be read until the next generation.

Fear is a delicate and powerful emotion. It serves a healthy purpose and it can also lead us away from our true calling, what we feel is right, the courage to speak up for our beliefs. Fear has served me well in my life. A lot of times, I have been afraid of the right things. I have always had a healthy degree of fear that alerted me to real dangers and led me away from them. And it has also driven me down into darkness from which I thought I would never emerge.

I am trying to write clearly and honestly about something that is very new to me, a desire and commitment to joy. I have been committed to having depth, meaning, love in my life. But joy has been elusive. I have been happy, but being truly happy has scared me. So the fear and joy were together and never far from each other. Now I move into being joyful without fear. When I say I am committed to this, I am committed to joy for all beings. I do not think of joy or pain or fear as being only personal emotions. We are connected so deeply with each other and we are affected deeply by each other.

All of the pain and joy that we feel is a connection to other pain and joy and it is also a connection to light. We are connected through our pain. When we feel pain, it connects us to every other being that has been alive, and everything is alive, we are connected to the whole world, the entire universe. The glimmering bursts of color on the horizon, beginning out of nothingness, a blackness that is pronounced and certain, and like all certainties, fades into its other shapes–doubt, sunlight, faith, day, morning, sunrise, stretching over shining orb to create again and again the beginnings of existence.

We can and must speak up and out and move forward in the direction of creating a better world, peace, justice, balance, equality. The price of silence is too high. It is a denial of our humanity to remain silent when we feel so much pain. We must breathe and speak to honor those who could not. We can be afraid to speak out, but the cost of this to ourselves, our own souls and our world is too high. We can create a stable foundation of joy, peace, acceptance and gratitude in ourselves and bring this into the world. From this place, we can be honest about the grief we feel about the injustices and cruelty in the world. The cruelty of others makes us even more determined to speak, more dedicated to justice and equality and peace. Gratitude and love does not mean denying feelings of grief, fear, oppression, frustration, anger, and hopelessness. Gratitude and love are about fully living in this human existence and taking part in it. We can fall into despair, we can become depressed. I have been despairing a lot lately. That bleak, sharp edge is always there. It is part of living in a world that seems crazy and horrible sometimes. But there is also always beauty. There has to be. We must make beauty out of the fallen house, the burnt trees, the thirsty desert, and the melting glaciers by honoring and helping and saving. We can choose to honor nature, the ground we walk on and that gives us food, the sky above us and the breath in our body, the rain, the snow, the fires and the closest star that keep us warm, all other life and living beings on the planet, which is everything. Everything has a soul and a life. We make the choice to honor and respect over and over again, each day, adding our voice to the sound of justice and peace and true freedom and equality and safety for all beings.

#blacklivesmatter

by Arielle Guy

The sleeping dances with images of the Devil. The Tarot cards reveal what has not yet been fully understood. August light is hot and dense, usually—but this summer has been mild, with nights getting cool and we’ve been able to open windows. Insomnia is like this—a deep, dark devil that uncurls itself like smoke. Not invisible, it is seen by the naked eye and startles us as we drift off. This is part of the Dreamland.

Here is the part that floats—the burned part of the skin that becomes numb. This is from being hurt one too many times so that all the petals close tightly around the bud. There is still light. There is always light. We’ve learned this. Through weather and trees and autumn and summer and depression and grief. The light is always there.

We feel it in our thumbs, as we stretch out our hands after a long afternoon of writing. We visit the wild grasses in times of war. We know war in our bones, the way we know peace. The air is gray with anxiety and the clouds are heavy. The rain comes and lightning and thunder. For several hours in the morning, the sky is bright and baby blue, the color of an innocence that no longer exists in the human realm. But then we come back to the place where the soul starts, an overgrown path, thick with weeds and large, flat, round stones. We make our way through the tall and taller foliage, the leaves are glorious and lush and a shade of green from the time when the earth was just born. This is where the path starts. We hear the low moan of unknown animals.

This is the way the earth changes. The earth and the soul. The way the trees bow away from each other to let in viscous rays of sunlight. Honey-thick, they pour down through this newly discovered ancient forest as we get lost on the unmarked trails.

The war has ended in one place and begins in another. We are hopeful people. We begin again and again, in a state of peace. We continue to breathe as others cease. Their breaths become part of a blanket that is held between earth and sky, disintegrating into stars and blackness, the eternal dark spaces that hold death.

We open up into a noncorporeal form without form, just light. The light becomes brighter and brighter. We stay here, floating and emitting, for a while. Then we return to do our work on the earth.

There are three worlds, at least. There are many worlds. We live with our feet on the ground of the earth and our lungs breathing in the air of the heavens. The air of the atmosphere. We build things. We tear them down. We are our own history and everyone else’s. We share heritage and identity and we are our own heritage and identity. We come to a place where it is cold and no one is there. We light a fire on our own in the vast, horizonless tundra. It is 60 below. We have on a parka and the only part of our form that is visible is our eyes, full of warmth and humanity and sight. The fire is bright and warm. We connect with our own soul again.

We find a pattern in the snow, in the sand, in the dirt. We trace it with our fingers, with a stick, with a branch. We become fossils. We crumble into the earth. These are our graves. These are our graves, filling with dirt as the people above ground sing and pray. They will bring food they cooked to the house for a week. The family will look through a veil of grief that will then fall apart to let in some light. For a while, the curtains and shades will always be drawn. Then one day, someone will tie them back and pull the string to raise the olive green cloth into accordion pleats at the top of each window.

We find a way to hold death against the window as a silhouette, a paper doll taking the shape of the inanimate. The animate taking the form of the inanimate. Sleep taking the form of a kind of death, beating against the windows as rain, as tree branches, as wind. The dead communicating with the living. We drift off to sleep to the sound of cars on the streets outside, idling at the traffic light then engines starting up again, driving away in the direction that all sound moves, toward silence and the dimension that exists beyond human thought. The place where death and life are indistinguishable and we have a cup of coffee on the sandstone balcony overlooking all the cities that have ever been.