First Steps to Findhorn: The Mountain Not Conquered

Be careful what you wish for, they say…and after a hectic re-entry following two magical weeks at the Findhorn Foundation eco-village and learning center in northern Scotland, I badly needed time to re-ground, re-center, and integrate all I’d experienced into my life and dreams here in Baltimore. And the solution was effortlessly manifested: a case of acute bronchitis that left me flattened on the sofa with a small pharmacy of meds, and just enough energy to contemplate:

What do I do when everything I say I believe – turns out to be true? When some more of the threads binding my allegiance to a materialist-reductionist, goal-driven construction of the world have snapped, opening perception to a living, conscious, and multi-dimensional cosmos, utterly independent of human agendas? When I have taken steps from the frenetic pace of a human doing toward becoming a human being?

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The path not taken (the steep cut to the right) and the path taken (the long line to the left)

The learning began on the very first day, as I checked into the Edinburgh AirBnb, was greeted and given directions by my hostess, and set off with a daypack bristling with necessities and plans to climb Arthur’s Seat, the extinct volcano presiding over Holyrood Park.

The one thing I didn’t bring, however, was appropriate footwear…

I barely noticed while pausing for a quick breakfast at The Southern on South Clerk Street or doing the touristy “step, stop, snap a photo” progress through the few blocks to the park….but once I reached my destination and looked at the winding, rugged stone steps leading to the summit, and the parade of lissome young day-trippers in tank tops, shorts, and hiking shoes ascending, I glanced down at my chic clogs with nearly zero tread and realized this probably wasn’t going to turn out as planned.

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Gorse – not for grasping

And indeed, before I’d gone 100 feet up the stone stair with shoes slipping, ankles wobbling, and acrophobia/vertigo/poor balance kicking in, I’d discovered that 1) the prickly gorse bushes lining the steps were not helpful for support; 2) wobbly middle-aged non-climbers were an obstruction to the parade of (very polite) high-speed summiters; and 3) if I was having this much trouble on the way up, the way down would be seriously hazardous.

My late father’s voice was echoing in my memory from long-past hikes – Don’t be such a fraidy-cat! – but humiliating as it might be to turn tail and retreat, I preferred a wobbly, painstaking way down rather than a high-speed tumble. Thanks be for the patience of the summiters as I made my slow way down against traffic…

Back at the bottom, I tested my shoes on the dirt paths toward the crags, watching the ravens and realizing: this day wasn’t about distinguishing myself in the eyes of other hikers, or in my late father’s judgment. This was my journey, and it was up to me to set the rules and goals.

Why had I come to Scotland, after all? I wasn’t here as a mountaineer to conquer an insensate geological formation. I was here on the first step of a pilgrimage to a spot on the planet where humans purposefully co-created with the consciousness of nature. How could I begin the journey in a spirit of cooperation with this environment?

In all honesty, I realized, getting quickly to the stated destination of a hike has never been my motivation: from childhood hikes to last year’s treks in the rainforest of Ecuador, I fume inwardly when led full-speed past amazing plants and sights on a myopic drive to destination XYZ, when I am longing to slow down and see what is around me. For me, the experience of the journey, the connection with the land, then and now, is what matters. 

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Judas-ear fungus (thanks to the RBG staff for the identification)

So I took a second look at Arthur’s Seat: was there a gentler path that would allow me to get acquainted with the mountain, on my own wobbly terms? And there was…

I followed it, slowly, in a child’s spirit of wonder and curiosity, feeling the trail firm under my feet. Taking note of the gorse, the blossoming trees, the lichens and mosses, and one breathtaking growth gleaming translucent as a rose on a sunlit tree trunk.  I greeted leisurely strollers and dog-walkers, watched the ravens flying below us….went as far as I felt called, and turned around and returned, impeding nobody’s ascent, when I felt the climb was complete. And saw and felt and experienced it all, as fully as I could….

…And returned to level ground, radiant, and made my way to the Royal Botanical Gardens.

IMG_20160414_080820808_TOPI didn’t know it then, but that experience set the tone of the trip. It wasn’t about achieving popularly accepted goals, repressing the push-pull between the inner “I must/should/shall” voices vs. the voice of the limited – and sensible – inner child for whom depth of nature-connection always came first.

It was about learning to value my own unique perspectives and leadings… respecting my limitations and the gifts they offered.  Respecting my own journey and experience…

….and opening the doors to discoveries that couldn’t be reached during the single-minded pursuit of a summit.

“Joyous Repentance” by David Sparenberg

As we sink deeper into darkness approaching winter solstice, poet-playwright, actor, director & author David Sparenberg offers this breathtaking video “inviting all Sufis, Gypsies, poets, alchemists, mystics and lovers to come and have a look. This is an alternative to violence video, to the cult and culture…”

Reality Check

Questions I’ve been receiving in meditation:

What would you do if you could see that every fumbling step was a lesson, a priceless piece of the mosaic of your life?

What would you do if you knew that the paralysis you feel in the face of greed’s ascendancy is due to your own participation – buying gas for the car, oil for the furnace, etc., etc.?

What would you do if you knew that solutions ultimately won’t come from pointing fingers, blaming self or others, but from sitting in the cosmic dance of interconnected wisdom?

What would you do if you really believed Arvol Looking Horse’s words:” “Each of us is put here in this time and this place to personally decide the future of humankind. Did you think the Creator would create unnecessary people in a time of such terrible danger?”

What would you do if you really, really, in-the-real-world-really believed that you were one cell in the Divine Body of creation, with an irreplaceable part to play?

Taking the Risk of Sharing Our Stories

Four years ago, in the midst of studies towards my Master’s degree, I birthed the precursor of this blog on the free WordPress platform. What a journey has taken place between that time and this!

At the beginning, I had no idea of where the journey would take me. I only knew that I was waking up to the reality – not just the single, catechism-shattering experience that I’d had in childhood,  but the everyday, sublime-and-mundane Reality —  that we exist in a conscious cosmos.

And along with that awakening came the calling to, somehow, integrate and share both that experience and that Reality.

Thanks be for the circles, and friends, and teachers, who shook me free of the Catholic-schoolgirl impression that such an experience was bizarre and unique, and the Reality…well, theologically incorrect at best! It’s taken a long time for me to realize that that experience is both archetypal and universal, and that it genuinely reflects REALITY, the mystical core of both shamanism and religion, and the guiding ethos of this inter-aware, interdependent creation.

It’s a challenge to stay in that awareness, and to share the journey from a place of personal authenticity, seeking, and ongoing discovery, when the risks of vulnerability and spiritual self-revelation are terrifying. And a very humbling task indeed, in the knowledge that the personal discoveries that are cracking open one cage after another in my mind are the mystical equivalents of 1+1 and a-b-c. It’s a wild ride between “wow – this must be shared!” on one hand and “who do I think I am?”on the other.

I’m deeply grateful for – and challenged by – the teachers who have encouraged me, affirming that each person’s shared story validates the experience of others, and gives others the courage to share their own experience in turn.

Looking at the mess we’re in as a species – and the devastation we have wrought on this planet – the human journey is about waking up to recognize and choose to walk in Sacred relatedness with the nonhuman awarenesses and wisdom that surround us. This awakening and re-connection to our brother and sister beings, I believe, is the key that can ultimately save life on Earth.

So to affirm, and live, and share, the truth of Sacred inter-being, at whatever bare-beginning level one understands and experiences it, is no longer an option but a necessity.

This blog traces some of my own path, and the events and people whose work speaks most deeply to me. It is one step in the evolution of a project further exploring the experience of conscious connection to the Divine embodied in creation.

I invite your sharing of your journey in response!

The Challenge of Bearing Loving Witness

This past Sunday, a sparkling and bone-chilling day, I went out to the woods with a good friend – a wise man in precarious health, who walks with Death pacing his footsteps. We were going in hopes of meeting with others, to join in a loving circle for the Earth. We waited; no one came. Eventually we went to the spot we’d chosen for the ritual, and after some heart-to-heart conversation on the way things were going in the world, offered our own energy-gifts and prayers to the Mother, and left.

I am still processing the non-event. Was it my (admittedly fuzzy) directions? The short notice? The distance to drive? The chilly temperature? Or was it a simpler, deeper reason: fear of the event itself? Fear of stepping out of LOA lockstep and admitting the truth of what is happening, much less taking any steps in response?

I’d begun my invitation by doing the unthinkable: pointing out the dire situations we’re facing on all too many fronts, and the likelihood that some “negative” feelings (i.e., grief) could quite possibly be involved, and the need for prayers and love to be gifted to the Divine embodied in this precious planet in such devastating pain.

(I’m intentionally not addressing the scientific reasons for the event, which are abundantly documented in brilliant sites such as the Science and Environmental Health Network, Helen Caldicott, M.D.,  Words for a Better World, RAN.org, Commondreams.org, and many others, all of whose articles I share on Facebook.)

But why come out for such a sad purpose? Crowds have come out in positive action against Keystone XL, Monsanto, and fracking. CEOs, local and national legislators, SCOTUS and POTUS, and world leaders are barraged by incessant petitions. The planned removal of the fuel rods from Fukushima’s damaged Unit 4 requires trained nuclear engineers and operators willing to sacrifice their lives (or health at the very least), not ordinary citizens.

What can the ordinary person do beyond what is being done?

LOVE THE EARTH. Over and over again, this is the guidance I am receiving: LOVE THE EARTH.

In the past seven years I have stood by the deathbeds of my husband and my mother, dying of congestive heart failure, and beside the coffins of two aunts, who passed after battles with cancer. In this same period, I have held six of my cats while they died or were put to sleep (due to old age and cancer). I have received a hard education in bearing witness to the passage of a beloved.

While I do not believe that the planet herself will die, it is widely recognized that we are in the midst of mass extinctions in the sea and on land…and that these may quite possibly include the human race. Whatever life forms will survive or evolve out of these devastating earth changes will be very different from those we know now.

Like it or not, to be in any real sense human, we must recognize all that is in the process of passing.  Today’s blame-games and denial seem tantamount to squabbling over our Mother’s impending change, projecting the blame for all that is failing in her body…all the physical abuse and depletion she has suffered over the centuries of sustaining her greedy, willful children.

To clarify: not standing with her as we did at my mother’s bedside, engaging in the painful yet comforting interactions of apology, forgiveness, deep listening and loving and blessing, but rather retreating to another room to stage cathartic psycho-performances focused on her worsening condition and our own self-blame or self-justification, or the imperative of gouging one last demand from her.

What a horrible, futile way to spend the precious time as it ticks remorselessly past.

What if, instead, we humans chose to spend these days in intentional appreciation – yes, sending petitions, protesting, taking all the outward “warrior” actions, but also setting aside time to be spent as gently and sensitively as humanly possible, loving and nurturing  the Earth and her beings in the face of death.

Nearly two years before, I had taken another approach with my husband as he lay drugged and unconscious, fighting massive sepsis two months after heroic, experimental heart surgery. I engaged full-scale in LOA strategy, refusing point-blank to believe at any time that death was a possibility. I gathered teams of Reiki and other energy practitioners, and called on our worldwide community for prayers at each “bump in the road.” When the drugs could do no more, hearing the doctors’ urging to turn off life support was like reaching a sheer drop-off at the end of an elevated expressway …I was still racing ahead, but with nothing beneath me…falling, instead, through open air. There could be no conversation, no exchange of forgiveness and blessing – only my repeated “I’m sorry” between sobs as I watched his heart monitor slow, then flatline. It took months to come to terms with the reality of his passing. I still struggle to connect at a deep level, inwardly bracing myself for loss yet again.

But these were the deaths of single human beings…not the death of massive numbers of individual humans, plants and animals, entire species, ecosystems, even potentially life as we know it on Earth.

How do the two connect? As I see it, faced with death, we have four basic options:

  • To despair, blaming self and others, wallowing in the expectation of loss
  • To relentlessly and remorselessly deny the inevitability of any ending
  • To value life more highly and live more purposefully, resisting death as long as possible while seeing it as the wise advisor who gives meaning to life
  • To connect with a larger picture in which nothing happens in isolation and everything is connected, in which death may be the gateway through which an individual’s – or a species’ – influence and impact transcend the body…as I came to see it was for my mother and husband.

It is easiest, least risky, least painful, to choose the first two, focusing on the patient as object or victim, focusing on the external body, disease process, and overwhelming physical needs, imagining and projecting the patient’s experience (or distancing oneself with the platitude “I can’t imagine what you must be going through”), or worse, speaking of the patient as if s/he were an empty, unaware thing in the bed, rather interacting directly with the whole person as a total mind/body/spirit entity.

It is terrifying to engage with another human being as they stand with their toes curled at the brink of the unknown…hanging ten at the drop edge of yonder …how much more terrifying to engage directly with a planet whose compromised ecosystems are in similar condition…  especially when this whole culture is based on the belief that the Earth is an unaware, unconscious object? Couldn’t this be done by indoor workshops or energy circles, safely in centrally-heated rooms?

My experience: reading a hospice handbook on the dying process – even doing a guided visualization on death — is very different from standing at a loved one’s deathbed with eyes and heart open. Reading of a rainforest being slashed and burned is very different from sitting in a secluded glade and feeling the screams of a single tree being dismembered by loggers, or struggling through deep muddy tire tracks and crushed underbrush to touch the stumps and shreds of trees hauled away. Reading even the most heart-wrenchingly written petition on the death of our watersheds is very different from standing on the cracked earth of a dried-up streambed and bearing witness to the dying trees and silence of wildlife dead or fled.

The wisdom of the imagination is very different from the wisdom of the heart and spirit connecting to the wisdom of the Earth – in the moment, on the spot, having the courage and vulnerability to bear witness to devastating realities and listen without theory or preconception or interpretation to the guidance of the Earth regarding appropriate and necessary action in response.

What results from this distancing, I ask? Consciousness can be righteously raised in theory with no resulting actual action, personal cost or long-term outward effect.  There are those who say that the brain does not know the difference between reality and ritual (or process)…while this may be true for some, I have not experienced this beyond a very limited degree. A guided visualization or process, like divination – I say – is necessarily limited by the inward filters of the person visualizing…unless support is given to weaken those filters and facilitate an opening to new insights.

I say – for Pity’s sake – it’s time to go out to the woods and the water, to love, to grieve and to bear witness, to invite the wisdom of the Earth to speak in sacred space, and to listen!

At the very least, this wisdom can speak of meeting extinction with dignity, “not go(ing) gently into that good night.” At best – witnessing the Spirit-based actions of Idle No More, who is to say that Earth wisdom, if humbly and sincerely sought, may not guide us to answers? And who has not heard of the “exceptional patients” who were given weeks or months to live, and who, supported by love and prayers, made a miraculous turn-around?

The next Loving Circle will be offered on the Sunday after Thanksgiving, again at 2:00 p.m. The place in Maryland will be announced within a day or two. Watch for the Facebook event and Calendar event here.

Loving Circle for the Earth

Trees from the boreal forest of Alberta, Canada, cut and stacked like matchsticks to make way for a new Tar Sands excavation.

I usually do something at this time of year around the Day of the Dead/Samhain/All Souls, toward honoring our ancestors. This year, however, I have been haunted by accounts of the dying of the ocean…the razing of the forests for Tar Sands and toilet tissue, for oil and hydropower…the massive injustices being perpetrated by the U.S. government.

I’ve been silenced by sheer overwhelm at the enormity of the social and environmental destruction…and I have heard so many others expressing similar feelings of overwhelm and despair.

The words that have kept coming back to me are: “We need to be loving them in their passing.” Not only fighting to save the beings that are dying, the species that are being extinguished, the planet herself in the vast wounding of extraction and contamination, but also sending them specifically LOVING energy in the recognition that it may be too late.

So on Saturday, while I was on a woods-walking retreat, the guidance came: to offer a Reiki/energy sending afternoon this coming weekend in an outdoor setting, specifically focused on sending LOVE via whichever healing modality(ies) we practice, to those beings/elements of our earth, known and unknown, that are so direly on the edge…or tipped/tipping already.

Part of this may look like grieving, and I suspect that some grief release may be involved for what has already been lost. But the deeper intent is to give the sort of love and cherishing that one gives a hospice patient – aware that all things end, that our species is responsible for too many ends, and loving fiercely those beings that remain.

Just that – LOVING. And who knows but that such love might make a difference?

So I’m inviting you to join me in spirit or in person on the afternoon of Sunday Nov 3, at 2:00 in the Avalon area of Patapsco State Park (see the location info below) for a meditation/healing circle for the Mother.

We’ll begin with a brief song/drumming ritual to unite our energies and intentions, and we will close with song and drumming, so please bring a drum or percussion instrument if you have one!

If you feel so called, you might also bring a small natural object (e.g., a stone, a crystal, a pine cone, a seashell, a handful of tobacco or cornmeal, worm tea, etc.) to charge with your loving intention and give to the Earth.

Or if you aren’t nearby, and want to take part at that time at a distance, please join us remotely. To register for this event, please go to https://www.facebook.com/events/175404279330553/.

Please share this invitation! For more information, email me at philahoopes @ gmail.com.

Thank you!

“Someday someone will isolate the frequency of love and build a machine to transmit it. Calling it Smith’s Healing Rays, they will charge to beam it at our injured parts. And we may forget it was ours all the time. But for now, we will call it TREE.

The fabricated TREE will not be as effective as what we can develop within ourselves. For TREE is individual, each person sending that love particular to her/his being and no computer can simulate the variety, tenderness and efficaciousness of the heart. TREE is particular, but it is also collective, not the act of one person, but of several, not exclusively an act of intimacy, but also of community. And TREE is not what we have associated with healing, the sucking into our own healthy bodies of a disease occupying another, but rather the loving saturation of the other body with the healing light originating in the heart.”

– Deena Metzger, TREE: Essays & Pieces

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Here is the webpage for the Avalon area of Patapsco:

http://www.dnr.state.md.us/publiclands/central/patapscoavalon.asp

We’ll meet at the Visitor Center and then go from there – for this reason, it’s important that you arrive at 2:00! There are two places where we could do the actual circle – at the Cascade Falls nearby, or right by the Patapsco. We’ll need to play it by ear, depending on the number of people (partiers, hikers, etc) in the area at the time and the energy of the group.

Patapsco State Park – Avalon Entrance
5120 South Street
Arbutus, MD 21227

Link: <https://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode&q=Patapsco+Valley+State+Park%2C+5120+South+Street%2C+Arbutus%2C+MD+21227&aq&sll=39.21972%2C-76.704998&sspn=0.110648%2C0.200157&vpsrc=0&ie=UTF8&hq=Patapsco+Valley+State+Park%2C+5120+South+Street%2C+Arbutus%2C+MD+21227&hnear&radius=15000&ll=39.247941%2C-76.68354&spn=0.110604%2C0.200157&t=m&z=12&iwloc=A&cid=14954589578245953755>

 

 

If the Cosmos is Conscious – Then What?

As I’m working ferociously on the final report of an Independent Study toward my Master’s, on bridging from a mechanistic to a mystical cosmology, a friend sent me this snippet of a lecture by Rupert Sheldrake on the consciousness of matter.

After viewing it, I invite you to share your thoughts in the Comments –

If Sheldrake’s view is correct, and the cosmos is analogous to a vast, living and conscious being, in which galaxies, planets, ecosytems, and organisms from whales to bacteria – all self-organizing systems – are conscious components (the viewpoint held through shamanic, ancient and medieval times up to the rationalist revolution of Descartes) – what is your role within this system?

Our Responsibility, Our Power

I shut down another conversation the other day on Facebook. Didn’t intend to do it…but my comment was one of those that are met with embarrassed averted eyes and even more embarrassed silences.

No, I wasn’t sharing the intimate details of my health,  sex life, or bathroom habits. I wasn’t evangelizing or objecting to the exclusive holiday greeting “Merry Christmas” or “Happy Easter” or what have you (though I do object to such exclusivity, early and often).

So what taboo did I break in this supposedly taboo-free society? I responded to a friend’s posting of Elaine Boosler’s comment: “When women are depressed, they eat or go shopping. Men invade another country. It’s a whole different way of thinking.”

I pointed out that even if women hold ourselves aloof from macho male militarism, as long as we are purchasing goods that are kept artificially cheap by American companies’ outsourcing to regions with lower standards of living, extracting fossil fuels, minerals, tropical woods and other resources from impoverished nations that are happy to sell off their virgin ecosystems for desperately needed cash, and employing workers in sweatshops at below-living wages, that we, the nonviolent women, are morally responsible for the militarism that protects the companies that provide these goods.

It’s the truth that nobody wants to acknowledge. It’s so much easier to blame somebody else – Extremists in Congress, the Military,  the unchecked Corporations otherwise known as The Bigs – Big Oil, Big Coal,  Big Agro, Big Pharma, Big Insurance, Big X – Big Y – Big Z  – when the truth is that none of these powerful perceived villains would ever have gotten their power or grown to their cancerous size without our buy-in…our votes (or non-votes)…our taxes…our energy and dietary and health care choices…our “therapeutic” shopping…feeding them.

But what other choice do we have in our society, we ask? Surely we need oil to run our cars, warm our houses, make the uncountable numbers of plastic and resin and synthetic-fabric products that fill our homes and offices and hospitals and …well, you get the idea…our society is based on petroleum products! Surely we need coal to keep our lights on and our appliances and  computers running – how can a few (hundred) mountaintops and valley ecosystems and species compare to the importance of keeping the power on? Surely we need industrial agriculture to feed our families – not to mention the hungry of the world, isn’t Monsanto solving the problem of world hunger with their genetic tinkering? And pharmaceuticals keep our symptoms at bay, and insurance pays for the rising costs of modern healthcare…well, some of them, anyway…

It all comes down to the core belief that we don’t really have any other options. We’re not in a position to argue – we just have to make the best of the godawful, toxic situation we’ve got, with the Bigs getting bigger every day, the planet getting more compromised every day, more ecosystems and species failing every day, while our balances of money – and hope – grow smaller every day.

And the popular solutions? Work! Shop! Eat! Watch television! Go to the movies or the casino!  Pump up that flabby sixpack at the gym or on WII Fit! Invade another country on World of Warcraft!  Ingest narcotic substances! Reality is a nightmare, so let’s go virtual, or numb out completely! And maybe before it all goes down, science will have found a way to get us off this planet to embrace mankind’s Destiny: despoiling other planets, having trashed our Mother Earth.

What a grim scenario…no wonder nobody wants to talk about it! With our eyes myopically fixed on the situation-as-it-is, our energy and our brainpower enmeshed in our jobs, we’re frantically scrabbling to save what we have, make small changes  (sure, we say, I’m eco-conscious! I’ve swapped all my lightbulbs and I’m a real nut about recycling!).  But God forbid we challenge any core certitudes (least of all our own) or consider making deep changes in our lives….

….because we can’t.

But what if we do have other options? Maybe, as theologian Matthew Fox proposes in Original Blessing, this apparent hopelessness, this paralyzing “I can’t-ism” itself stems from a self-negating certitude* that needs challenging: the certitude that we, ourselves, are somehow insufficient, powerless, not capable of self-motivation, self-management, direct connection with the Divine. The certitude that we need others, more powerful,  richer, more authoritative, more degreed, more ecclesiastically accredited, to employ us, direct us and control things for us.  The certitude that we are isolated individuals who cannot change our own lives… much less our society…much less our world. The certitude that we, alone, personally need to control and drive any change we initiate, and that this is a crushing, impossible responsibility.

As Betty Friedan wrote – “Men are not the enemy, but the fellow victims. The real enemy is women’s denigration of themselves.” Or rather, make that humans’ denigration of ourselves….

But what if we can come up with other solutions…or notice the solutions that already exist, right under our noses…solutions that might start with lightbulbs and recycling, sure, but go much, much deeper….? What if we start to believe that our imaginations, our intent, our love – not just our anger and frustration – can move mountains?

What if, when we (metaphorically) pray for rain, we start carrying umbrellas?

Awhile back I attended an afternoon symposium called Awakening the Dreamer, Changing the Dream, and just recently trained as a facilitator. It’s a multimedia, interactive program developed by the Pachamama Alliance, bringing together the best of millenia-old indigenous wisdom with the most visionary concepts of the modern scientific worldview to create an environmentally sustainable, socially just, spiritually fulfilling culture on the Earth.

In one portion of the symposium, we gather together with others in our community to discuss and discover what we are already doing – and can do. We link up our ideas, campaigns, organizations. Most important, we discover that we are not alone…that there is a groundswell of likeminded people stirring at the grassroots level, group after group arising to save one aspect of the planet, or to care for one group of the People…and another…and another…

We watch Paul Hawken’s “Blessed Unrest” speech and realize that millions of such organizations are working today around the earth…as the Achuar people who initiated the Pachamama Alliance say, it is the spirit of the conscious planet taking action to protect herself, and her life forms…inspiring people to do the work that is needed, guiding them along the way to find the right connections and resources…

We. Are. Not. Alone.

I could quote Goethe at this point, about the Universe acting to support us once we commit ourselves…but instead, I’ll close this post with a story.

Last week I went on a two-day retreat with a very wise and unassuming holy woman. I was struggling with my own forms of confusion and “I can’t-ism” – moving from work with one Teacher to seek a stronger connection to the Light within. In our conversations, she urged me to ask for inner guidance, and listen not only with my mind but also with  my heart and body…to sit in “eyeball to eyeball” conversation with Spirit, however I experienced Spirit, and seek the inner voice, not in desperation or begging or presumptive problem-solving, but in silence.

After our conversation, she sent me to seek and follow inner guidance for the day – whether  to sit indoors and read, meditate, and journal, or go outside to walk the grounds and connect with the Earth for grounding and direction.

So I went outside, asking for direction, noting the springs that arose from the ground and cut across the fields toward a wetland at the bottom of the property. Drawn to follow them, I stood at the bank of a small stream, barely a foot wide, and felt led to step over it, onto a small island completely surrounded by small separate streams. Ahead of me, two trees called to my attention. I approached, and between the trees found a pile of rusted metal junk, and felt the inner calling to remove it.

“How?” I asked, and the inner leading directed me back to the house…where my hostess was talking with her neighbor, a farmer who had been working  for years on cleaning up and restoring the wetland. He was delighted to provide a wheelbarrow and practical advice for the job.  My hostess provided work gloves and boots, and thus supplied, I had the pile cleared within a couple of hours, receiving further guidance in every quandary.

The message was clear: ask for guidance and it would come, step by step…if I consciously remained focused and aware. Whether I chose to say it came from God, Goddess, the Earth, the Universe, the Unified Field, what have you, the guidance came. I was not alone – guided by the Divine, the Earth, and helped by the People, and I could create a change. Yes, a small change…but a change, a beginning.

I believe that this is the key to real and lasting change, not on behalf of the planet, but in partnership with Spirit, the People, and the sentient Earth….and that each of us is capable of that partnership.

And I would like to invite your stories of similar experiences, if you are willing. If you feel called to share, please add them in the Comments below, or email them to me at phila @ soulpathsthejourney.org. Together we can create an empowering affirmation of partnership that goes beyond our individual abilities.

Thank you!

______________

* Matthew Fox, Original Blessing (Santa Fe, NM. Bear & Company, 1983) p. 120

Idle No More: A White Man Speaks

Powerful words on Idle No More from a non-Native writer and a human-rights perspective: “What other religious and non-religious whites would do well to remember that it doesn’t matter whether there is or isn’t a God. All that matters is that all human beings have certain inalienable human rights, and when the rights of even one human being are denied, it means that a statement has been made: All people are equal, but some are more equal than others.”
AHO.