The Disarming of a Crusader: Memories of My Mother

She called herself a crusader, as far back as I can remember…and as Mother’s Day approaches, I am thinking once more of my mother’s folders upon folders of writing and correspondence.

Leadership in the Maryland Back to God Movement, volunteer hours spent with the National Federation for Decency, donations and letters to innumerable similar organizations. Op-eds supporting Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, letters and essays on abortion, school prayer, pornography… writings on every conservative hot-button issue imaginable.

In those same bundles of files are also her environmental campaigns: passionately advocating for the trees in the City and in our neighborhood. For the preservation of green space. For protection of the Chesapeake Bay, of national parks and wildlife, of alleycats and retired horses.

And then, radiant spiritual meditations such as The Mystery of Love….or her extended memoir piece, “Recollections of an Ethnic Childhood in Baltimore”…or laugh-out-loud humor pieces such as “Die Comes Before Diet” and “I Married a Workaholic.” In two packed file cabinet drawers I have a multilayered, nuanced, intensely complex portrait of a fiercely independent-minded, deeply spiritual woman who fed every creature that came to her door, who held firmly to the teachings of old-school Catholicism and scorned the label “feminist”…but held firmly that women were responsible for protecting the Sacred in art, culture, and politics. And protect it she did, with all the ferocity of her Confirmation saint, Jeanne d’Arc.

Like her namesake, she was a mystic; born “with a caul,” she spoke of having had visions: when her beloved sister died of alcoholism, she stormed heaven with prayers until she saw Jesus cradling Aunt Olga as a lamb, and received the message that all was well. I believe that was not the only vision she had…and she certainly had the gift of foresight.

But that mysticism was firmly reined in by dogma and politics. When I became involved in the Charismatic movement as a teen, she came in with me to be sure it wasn’t a cult. We studied together, were “baptized in the Spirit” together…it was one of our closest times. But Campus Crusade for Christ came in and we both were swept off into evangelicalism, albeit from different perspectives: I saw the narrowness of a succession of fundamentalist churches and fled first to Quakerism, then Earth-based traditions; for her, a fusion of experience and dogma led to an ever-deepening love affair with the political Right.

I see the foreshadowings of today’s polarization of the nation in her writings at that time….her 1977 piece, “While Gentle Art Languishes,” for example. It started off with a line in the sand

“I hate liberals, radicals, leftist activists, activist leftists, and all others of that ilk. While my ideological persuasions are, of course, involved, I have an even more compelling reason for hating them. They and the brand of mischief they are dedicated to fomenting are preventing me from peacefully pursuing my chosen avocation of creative writing. They are like fiendish imps of the perverse creating discord, controversy, confusion, and always a deliberate state of unrest. All of this, as a matter of conscience, demands of a patriotic, conservative American a prompt and impassioned defense of whatever traditionalism is currently being attacked. As a result, it turns out that before the Muse can be indulged, duty always seems to be demanding protesting letters to Senators, Congressmen, editors, TV networks, local politicians and/or bureaucrats, schools, churches – the scenario is repeated continuously. The end result, of course, is that my creative writing is neither created nor written……”

Originally submitted to the Baltimore Sun, it was rejected (which she interpreted as a sign of that paper’s liberal bent and the unlikelihood of her being published there….despite their publishing many of her op-eds and letters to the editor). It went on to be rejected by the National Review, the Foundation for Economic Education, the Boston Globe, and other publications before it was finally retired to her files with “Unpublished” firmly written across its first page…..the only unpublished manuscript I found among her files.

Why point up this one, bitter, early article out of her long and well-respected writing career (albeit minimally paid….when she wanted to retire on disability from her work as an executive assistant, she was forced to prove at length that her writing was a hobby, yielding an occasional windfall of pin money, not in any sense a second income)? One reason, mainly: it puts in specifically personal terms the moral outrage that lay behind her political writing….not to mention the delicacy of the dance we shared over the decades that followed.

How did she, a conservative Republican Catholic, feel about having a daughter who married a Quaker liberal and ultimately made a living writing for businesses, nonprofits and individuals matching my mother’s list of hates,  signing endless petitions to vent her outrage at the actions of a government representing the unholy religious-political marriage my mother seemingly supported?

We never talked about it. We tiptoed around the elephant and donkey in the room. Oh, there were openings – one year she asked me to buy her the latest Ann Coulter book for Christmas while I asked her for Starhawk’s Webs of Power – but neither of us took it any further. Out of love and respect for each other, we bought and gave the requested books without comment, hugged and kissed beside the Christmas tree, and that was the end of it. We asked each other to edit our op-eds, and gave critiques that were grammarian, literary, and studiously neutral.

It wasn’t because our relationship was equally pro forma. Despite all appearances, I believe we both knew that we shared a foundation that went deeper than political demagoguery…that the right-left rift was superficial at worst and that we were in deep alignment at a spirit level, where it really mattered. I gave her Sue Monk Kidd’s The Dance of the Dissident Daughter one year…but when she quizzed me later on my fascination with herbalism (nudging toward an inquiry about spellcasting), I was wary. Eventually we had deep theological conversations in which she sought to understand what I believed and why – but she ultimately admitted that she found it too challenging and retreated into her conservative comfort zone.

That core alignment was never so clear as it became at the end. Nine months after my husband passed, and after years of rigorous cardiac self-care and two bypass surgeries, Mom had a heart attack, falling and hitting her head, causing the beginning of her decline. I’d already begun to pursue my master’s degree at that time, and when Mom was in hospice a year later, I showed her some of the reports I’d written in the program. They began by thanking her for teaching me to value and connect with the natural world and hold it sacred….and went on to lay out the framework underlying my spiritual understanding.

She struggled to follow my reasoning, stopping midway through with a sad smile and saying, “I’m not up to reading this, I’m sorry. But what I clearly see is that you have a vocation. It’s not the one I would have wanted or chosen for you, but it’s clear that you have a vocation.” She stopped and said slowly and with great intensity: “And I want you to follow your vocation.”

That was her blessing, and our last deep conversation. My father was a constant presence when I visited after that, mandating stilted small talk and precluding mother-daughter sharing. She passed peacefully in her sleep, two weeks later.

The hospice called that morning at 6:00 am to let me know; Dad and I came to say goodbye and do the necessities. When I came home afterward, I walked in the door and asked the house – Where’s Mom here? Where is her energy in this house?

As if she were standing behind me in the flesh, I heard her say, “I’m right here with you. I’ll never leave you.” Not as a ghost, stuck on this plane, but as a living ancestor protecting the generations that follow. Feeling her energy, all I sensed was our deep spirit connection – all the conservative Catholic dogma, the hard-right political ideology, had fallen away. She was as I’d always known her to be.

She is one of my guides to this day.

Happy Mother’s Day, Mom. I love you.

One Perfect Tomato

This year, as I watch the headlines – wildfire here, floods there, a typhoon, hailstorms, drought, vanished sea ice in the Arctic, millions of hectares clearcut in Brazil – I have been witnessing the most extraordinarily gracious and gentle weather in our part of Baltimore. Warm – but not stifling – days, balmy nights, plenty of soaking rain – California weather, I’ve called it.

I spend afternoons on my front porch swing with my computer, watching the catbird and cardinals – and a new bird, looking and acting like an acid-washed starling – working over the suet, and the hummingbirds buzzing around their feeder with their anxious-sounding little chirps, occasionally whirling over to check me out, just a few feet from where I sit. Crickets chirping, the sound of traffic distant on our dead-end street.

This is perfection, I think to myself. The black-eyed Susans and echinacea and phlox overflow their corner of the rain garden; my backyard is a jungle with plaintain and red clover and lemon balm and mugwort spilling over the perimeters and the veggie garden awash in insectary and medicinal herbs among the veg plants.

“Thank you,” I tell the spirit entities of the land. “I love you. Thank you for all you do to keep this land green and healthy.”

Everything is overgrowing its boundaries. The cucumber vines wrap almost all the length of the garden fence and have wandered into the tomatoes and beebalm. I have been madly picking fat yellow cucumbers that expand in diameter, not length, turning green only as they grew overripe. Cucumber soup and felafel, my mother’s cold beet-and-cucumber soup, cucumber salads….I want to share them, try pickling some but these cukes grow too fast! They are on the edge before I realize they are ripe.

I step though the gate, brushing past the borage and the bean vines with their foot-long crimson fruit. Perfunctorily lift aside the squash leaves – these two plants have been blooming like overworked lawyers in love, trying to book a mating time between their male and female blossoms. It’s August and they haven’t hooked up yet, despite my efforts to hand-pollinate. It’s not pollinators that are the problem here – I see plenty of ground bees, moths, butterflies. The problem is timing. I imagine the blossoms immersed in smartphones and planners, watching excretions and temperatures, not looking up until their would-be mates have faded.

At first glance I see nothing – withered stumps where female blossoms died unfertilized. I move on to look for cucumbers…and then notice, almost under my feet, a length of dark-green, smooth – squash!

I feel like a middle-aged mother greeting her in-vitro firstborn. Eyes wide, mouth agape until I realize I’m likely to swallow a mosquito. The baby is about six inches long – big enough for picking, but I’ll wait till tomorrow when the latest batch of cuke soup is gone. This squash may be the only one I harvest; it deserves special treatment.

Gesturing a blessing over its speckled length, I turn to the tomatoes, not expecting to find anything but blossoms and baby fruit. I’ve picked one huge tomato to ripen in the window, after seeing it hang green for weeks in the heat. It was easily four inches in diameter; any others would be easy to spot…

And there is one! One enormous yellow fruit, hiding under the leaves, as big as my palm. It comes off readily in my hands.

I admire them as the sun glances off its skin, setting it glowing. Its heady fragrance rises along with that of the warm basil plants next to me.

And suddenly the beautiful, fragile, glorious, suffering world narrows down to this one moment: a small jungle of a garden producing these rare, glorious fruits in the face of tragedy and disaster around the world. I hold the tomato up to my nose, take a deep breath  of its aroma, reach down to pinch four leaves off the basil plant.

I want to immerse in this tomato and its green companion. I want to taste and absorb the golden sunlight shining in its skin, the earthy-spicy-sweet flavor of its flesh. We go into the kitchen and I wash and slice them, thanking them for their beauty and vitality. Put them in a Sunday-dress-up bowl and take them out to the porch swing.

The sun is bathing the porch with its golden glow. The birds are winging in for their evening feeding. I sit on the swing, watching them, taking one bite after another of perfect golden-green balmy rare, perfect-summer sensual delight into my mouth, savoring it, being nourished by it like a cancer patient savoring a last meal.

I will cherish this property and its green and feathered and winged and four-legged and burrowing beings as long as we share life. And – if this is the last summer of delight – I will savor and share and immerse and give thanks for every blessing this land gives. Until this summer, until I faced the awareness of coming loss, I have never truly savored or given adequate thanks for the fruit of the land I tend, or the beings who support its production.

One Heart, One Mind – A Cry and a Flood of Solidarity

At two-twenty one morning, after a week of horrific news from Standing Rock, Washington, Aleppo, ecosystems of the world, I was numbly clicking through Facebook posts so I didn’t have to go to bed, lie there staring at the ceiling, and possibly get waylaid by the despair that had been building in me since….I’m not sure when, probably since the brutal attacks started at Standing Rock.

The Facebook post wrote itself…and touched off a flood of support, empathy, and wisdom: 104 “likes,” 64 comments (some long-extended commencolorful-1320721_1280ts spanning hours or days) and one share…not to mention the personal connections made and deepened off the thread. Six days later, the “likes” and responses continue. I am astounded..at no time have I ever been so raw in my FB sharing; nor have any of my posts touched such a chord. Never have I been gifted with such solidarity, support and wisdom. I am awed, humbled, and deeply grateful for so many soul-connections, unknown until now.

As friends have been posting their own struggles with depression and despair since then, I’ve been tagging them on the post, so they could share in the wealth of solidarity…and finally realized that it would make far more sense to copy the post and comments (with their makers’ permission) here.

Let it stand as a testament to human connection in a time of growing isolation, a demonstration that even when we humans feel most alone, most direly isolated, we are not alone; others are sharing the struggle, suffering with us. We are all truly connected in this world, we all do share in the sufferings and delights of others at profound levels, whether we realize it or not.

I have (for obvious) reasons, posted only a select few of the comments; for each one here, there were many variations on “You’re not alone,” “I hear you,” “I’m struggling too” and “Standing with you,” many punctuated by heart icons. What a blessed festival of love.

___________________________

Phila Hoopes
December 14 at 2:22am ·

 This has to stop. I am lying here on my sofa at 2:20 a.m., clinging to our sharing, our grieving here, each share a bearing-witness, each click a prayer. Dry-eyed, choked silent, feeling the knot of world-pain growing in my chest, in my throat: Aleppo, Standing Rock, Washington, the rainforests, the oceans, the…….all of it. Too much to begin to comprehend, too much to bear…and yet as a human with a heart I cannot shut it down and go to sleep; I cannot stop this vigil of solitary grieving, this silent, ongoing scream of desperate, directionless prayer that does nothing practical (or does it?).

This is the worst time, when the phone is running out of power and bed is beckoning my body, but I cannot think of letting go even this tenuous FB thread of connection to people who together are suffering the connection to the world’s pain and fighting the causes in such wee-hours ways as we can – a petition here, a letter there, a donation somewhere else, prayers and Reiki ongoing – does it make any difference at all? The demons set loose on the world would have us believe it does not – meanwhile trying to keep up the energy to do our own work of service for the world.

This is the time when I wish for a sweatlodge to wring the salt water and pain from pores and eyes while surrounded by others similarly releasing. To hear prayers from others echoing my own. To know that somewhere, somehow, this giveaway of heart makes a butterfly-flap of difference, shifts the balance even the tiniest fraction of a millimeter toward the light.

Comments
Sucely Lucifera Hernandez <3 It does. The Moon bears witness to our pain at the same time as she sheds light on it.

Casey van Bronkhorst You are far from alone. Let the thread of connection act as a very slow recharge cable, linking you back to us all with the faintest and most delicate of energies. You are heard. You are, softly, appreciated. Rest if you can; sleep if you must, but savor the hidden strength of that cable. …Run with us, if you’re too tired to stand. We pace in the earliest hours. We listen, though our ears are too weary to accept silence.Grief is a needle and thread that stitches you back together after a phenomenal loss. Occasionally, as it does its work, it sticks you, catching you off guard. That’s part of its process, though, as each bit of pain is a healing moment but it may help keep your empathic talents in perspective at the moment when you feel like reaching out and grabbing someone’s pain from them.

Cate Raphael  Send out that which you desire and turn it over. It’s so easy to get caught up in all of the drama and the emotion of it, it happens to me too. But then when I go into meditation and be very quiet and focused and send out what it is I wish to see in the world , I remember that it is all happening for a reason. The best thing we can do is to take care of our bodies and our spirits , so that we can raise the energy, raise the vibration in this crazy world filled with turmoil. You cannot control people places or things you can only send out the energy that you want to receive. That is how healing works. If you are unable to physically help then work on raising your own energy so you can help with the healing ! You are draining yourself, and that will not help anyone but it will hurt you.

Karen Starr So many of us are reeling at the state of the world at this moment. And it is hard to know where to focus and how to best be of use. Especially for empaths this is a very hard time indeed. However, I think we need to cultivate a calmness that allows us to move past the grief and outrage to find the wisdom to direct our action. So many beings are depending on us and we have more allies in the natural and spiritual world than we can possibly imagine. Each day, each hour there is only each of us doing our best to relieve some small part of the suffering around us as best we can. Sending you lots of love, Phila.

Christel Libiot   I hear you sister and yes there is so much going on in the world, everywhere, at so many levels.. It seems the hope of “better” is so tenuous. And more than ever we need to show up and stand strong as the peaceful warriors that we are and come together to energize the emerging paradigm of Oneness and Right Relationship with All Our Relations, supporting a new establishment of a World that Works for Everyone. We have the power to do what is necessary. Let’s gather; let’s do it!

Sue A. Phillips  I am there with you too. One day despair, the next day hope. I am working on standing in my loving warrior space – I get there for a little while, then I am overcome with a depth of sadness that has me running scared – retreating into my little one who can ignore reality for a while. I honor all sides of myself along this very difficult road. We must move out of FaceBook to the real world and start standing together- for support, yes, but more for the strength of our warriors standing in all of our collective glory to protect Mother Earth and our sisters and brothers . The hard part for me is how to start the process.

David Alan Tyner  Phila, your witness is heard, your sharing felt, your deep compassion appreciated, yet most significantly your hope is kindled and enfolded. We who are letting ourselves be sensitive to this often overwhelming life, must find some way not to be crushed by its weight and expanse. Thich Nhat Hanh has helped me take Andrew Boyd’s challenge to somehow find a solution and to become it, piece by peace.

The Four Qualities of Love, by Thich Nhat Hanh
CREATIVESYSTEMSTHINKING.WORDPRESS.COM

….”The second aspect of true love is karuna, the intention and capacity to relieve and transform suffering and lighten sorrows. Karuna is usually translated as “compassion,” but that is not exactly correct. “Compassion” is composed of com (“together with”) and passion (“to suffer”). But we do not need to suffer to remove suffering from another person. Doctors, for instance, can relieve their patients’ suffering without experiencing the same disease in themselves. If we suffer too much, we may be crushed and unable to help. Still, until we find a better word, let us use “compassion” to translate karuna.”
http://andrewboyd.com/the-agony-of-being-connected-to…/

….“Oh well, blankets for land is a bargain indeed,
And the blankets were those Uncle Sam had collected
From smallpox-diseased dying soldiers that day.
And the tribes were wiped out and the history books censored”
~ Buffy Sainte-Marie 

…. A close friend just mentioned obliquely who knew of Buffy Sainte-Marie, the lyricist for Donovan’s “Universal Soldier” ? And I burst into tears remembering her as the one who told my near empty younger slate of the story of blankets, that forever changed my life and perception of First People’s struggles, being beyond any misery I could ever imagine. Still trying … many decades later.

Thank you Buffy Sainte-Marie, one of my heroines.
“My country ‘Tis Of Thy People You’re Dying”
VIDEO HERE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wnuV9m7RahA

“Donovan – Universal Soldier”
VIDEO HERE:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A50lVLtSQik

LYRICS HERE
http://www.metrolyrics.com/my-country-tis-of-thy-people-you…

…It’s my honor to share this flame I imbue, as I’ve often been rekindled and know that this spark we share, goes back long past campfires, fighting off the Ice Ages.

… Geese share ‘point’ duty, as that initial sacrifice makes all others’ journey easier, which undermines the nominal leader/follower model with us all being leaders, just waiting for our time

…I talked to one of the creators of this app, and she assured me there are many healing circles that welcome men, although some do not and that’s also needed: 
http://www.findawomenscircle.com/
Find A Woman’s Circle: The Divine Feminine App

Carol Sheppard I understand and share in the mania of love, and worry, and needing to make even a flicker of a difference when all the forces seem to be saying that it is futile, with so many hands reaching toward fleeting connection and community that only faith says might make contact and matter. This is such a dark and difficult time and I pray to the spirits that somehow so much suffering may eased. Hard as it is we must hang on and do the work of loving fiercely and fully, especially when there is no evidence that it makes a difference. It is necessary to be the ones that do so, especially now. Sending you love and blessings ♡♡♡

Kerrith McKechnie I am with you. I think there are countless beings with us. We must be still so we can know our strengths and do what we must do. One tiny step at a time, but it IS a step, and we ARE together.

George Moore I’ve changed my prayer intention from putting an end to all of what is going on to allowing it all to ramp up to the point that finally tips the scale and creates worldwide peaceful resistance and economic revolution. By being peaceful resistors in the faces of militarized corporations, like the Water Protectors are doing, we can affect peaceful change. By not buying anything from the multi billion dollar corporations and buying locally from small businesses that only sell what is produced in your home country we peacefully cut the supply of green blood to the greed ridden billionaires and put them out of business. These actions will change the entire world. This is what I pray for, meditate on, and ask everyone to join me in.

After Findhorn: What Now?

We’ve all had the experience: going to a powerful workshop or retreat, having a “mountaintop” experience, then returning home….and the working-day world engulfs us. How to keep that high-altitude clarity, much less implement it?

So what has been happening in the months since I went to Findhorn?

On the most superficial level, the work I’m already doing has kicked into high gear, with a strong nudge from Spirit to polish up my Reiki attunements to turn longtime casual energy work for animals into an actual practice (set to launch September 1); and approval to participate in the Pachamama Alliance’s GameChanger Intensive. On a private level, I am continuing my permaculture work, integrating the Findhorn experiences of nature-spirit communication.

It’s all arising from the Findhorn experience of the planet and all her beings as alive, aware, and interconnected…the drive to be in service to them all…and the driving need to have a bigger picture, a deeper mission, into which all of these pieces can fit.

And today, a “heat dome” is baking the continental U.S. This morning’s intensive watering of the garden has evaporated like mist, and the poor plants are drooping…with Baltimore’s heat index at 109 degrees F, going outside is like walking into an oven. And we’re slated to have more of the same tomorrow. And this isn’t even the highest temp – Northern California and the TX/OK border are at 105, and New Mexico is registering 115.

I can’t get away from the awareness that this is a preview of coming attractions in a warming world where we have already pushed past the limits set in the (farcical) Paris summit. I look at my efforts to Partner the Water and wonder if next spring this will seem like a sad joke.

Yes, I’m sliding down that slippery slope into eco-despair again, feeling the plants gasping for water in the brutal heat.

There are no easy answers here.

REBLOGGING: “Mutiny of the Soul” by Charles Eisenstein

Charles Eisenstein‘s essay, examining the chasm that yawns between the social definition of a good life versus the soul’s definition, and our body’s paths of rebellion against the soulless life mandated by society, is critical reading for our time….particularly for anyone who struggles with depression, anxiety, or chronic-fatigue dis-eases (or, I might add, physical or psychological addiction). What are the messages our wise bodies are trying to convey?

____________________________

Mutiny of the Soul

Mutiny of the Soul

 

Depression, anxiety, and fatigue are an essential part of a process of metamorphosis that is unfolding on the planet today, and highly significant for the light they shed on the transition from an old world to a new.

When a growing fatigue or depression becomes serious, and we get a diagnosis of Epstein-Barr or Chronic Fatigue Syndrome or hypothyroid or low serotonin, we typically feel relief and alarm. Alarm: something is wrong with me. Relief: at least I know I’m not imagining things; now that I have a diagnosis, I can be cured, and life can go back to normal. But of course, a cure for these conditions is elusive.

The notion of a cure starts with the question, “What has gone wrong?” But there is another, radically different way of seeing fatigue and depression that starts by asking, “What is the body, in its perfect wisdom, responding to?” When would it be the wisest choice for someone to be unable to summon the energy to fully participate in life?

The answer is staring us in the face. When our soul-body is saying No to life, through fatigue or depression, the first thing to ask is, “Is life as I am living it the right life for me right now?” When the soul-body is saying No to participation in the world, the first thing to ask is, “Does the world as it is presented me merit my full participation?”

What if there is something so fundamentally wrong with the world, the lives, and the way of being offered us, that withdrawal is the only sane response? Withdrawal, followed by a reentry into a world, a life, and a way of being wholly different from the one left behind?

The unspoken goal of modern life seems to be to live as long and as comfortably as possible, to minimize risk and to maximize security. We see this priority in the educational system, which tries to train us to be “competitive” so that we can “make a living”. We see it in the medical system, where the goal of prolonging life trumps any consideration of whether, sometimes, the time has come to die. We see it in our economic system, which assumes that all people are motivated by “rational self-interest”, defined in terms of money, associated with security and survival. (And have you ever thought about the phrase “the cost of living”?) We are supposed to be practical, not idealistic; we are supposed to put work before play. Ask someone why she stays in a job she hates, and as often as not the answer is, “For the health insurance.” In other words, we stay in jobs that leave us feeling dead in order to gain the assurance of staying alive. When we choose health insurance over passion, we are choosing survival over life.

On a deep level, which I call the soul level, we want none of that. We recognize that we are here on earth to enact a sacred purpose, and that most of the jobs on offer are beneath our dignity as human beings. But we might be too afraid to leave our jobs, our planned-out lives, our health insurance, or whatever other security and comfort we have received in exchange for our divine gifts. Deep down, we recognize this security and comfort as slaves’ wages, and we yearn to be free.

So, the soul rebels. Afraid to make the conscious choice to step away from a slave’s life, we make the choice unconsciously instead. We can no longer muster the energy to go through the motions. We enact this withdrawal from life through a variety of means. We might summon the Epstein-Barr virus into our bodies, or mononucleosis, or some other vector of chronic fatigue. We might shut down our thyroid or adrenal glands. We might shut down our production of serotonin in the brain. Other people take a different route, incinerating the excess life energy in the fires of addiction. Either way, we are in some way refusing to participate. We are shying away from ignoble complicity in a world gone wrong. We are refusing to contribute our divine gifts to the aggrandizement of that world.

More…..

It’s Kitten Season!

This is a public service announcement…

We are right in the middle of “Kitten Season” when every rescue organization and shelter is overrun with adorable bundles of fur.

Because of this overwhelm, many shelters can only keep the kittens for a very few days before putting them to sleep. So, at this time of year, taking feral cats or kittens to a shelter can be a virtual certain death sentence. Dedicated foster caregivers are worth their weight in gold.

It’s particularly tough for adult feral cats who have not been hand-trained…in most cases, they are considered “unadoptable” and put to sleep immediately because there simply aren’t the resources to hold them safely, much less domesticate them!

Are there alternatives? Yes.

If you have been adopted by a momma cat and her babies, and you want a no-kill solution – or if you’ve fallen in love with them and want to care for them yourself (you wonderful person!)- check this great Squidoo resource lens for a wealth of advice and resources:

How To Save Feral Cats and Stop Overpopulation With TNR

The author, Frankie Kangas, is a good friend and a veteran foster caregiver with years of experience in trapping and caring for feral cats. She’s an expert resource worth checking out!

For two great FAQs on helping feral cats in your area, see The Humane Society of the US or (for in-depth info) Alleycat Allies

For Feral Cat events in your area, check out the Alleycat Allies calendar.

For advice on protecting your feral colony against a disaster, see http://www.alleycat.org/DisasterTips

 

On Staying Sane in a Suicidal Culture

Reposting this terribly important essay from TruthOut, drawing inspiration from Joanna Macy and The Work That Reconnects on remaining alive, sentient, intelligent, and emotionally and spiritually connected in these horrifying times…

http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/24083-on-staying-sane-in-a-suicidal-culture#.U47mXPMVtFU.facebook

Please Add Your Voice to Protect Key Sacred Site in Aboriginal Songline

Please ACT, and repost on your blog if you have one!

Imagine your country’s national library – all the history of your nation and culture – as a living archive hand-carved by your ancestors into the stones at sacred sites around the perimeter of your nation, each site holding a precious, unique and irreplaceable piece of your people’s ancestral wisdom.

Imagine generations of your family visiting these sacred sites for family rites of passage, births, deaths, comings of age. Imagine your nation’s spiritual heritage being recorded and celebrated at these sites.

Imagine this happening for centuries – millennia – for your entire nation.

Now imagine a sand-mining company coming in to destroy one key piece of the whole – the piece that gave your women their roots, that connected them to their sacred power as carriers of the nation’s continuity.

Imagine a gash ripped in the organic integrity of your heritage, your past and future as a people.

That is what is about to happen in Australia, THIS MONDAY, 1/20.

The New South Wales government has approved the plans of a New Zealand company ‘Rocla Sandmining’ to build a mine on an Aboriginal Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place. This Songline is part of the Sacred Dreaming Track, and its destruction would destroy with it tens of thousands of years of Aboriginal heritage.

Her Majesty’s NSW Government has approved the company to go ahead with their stage 4 extension, which comprises a massive 30 metre deep hole gouged out of the ground that will destroy these precious, unique Sacred Sites completely.

When visiting the area of  the proposed mine, famous French Archeologist Jean Clottes said “This area of the Central Coast has the greatest diversity of Rock Art in the world that I have ever seen”. This diversity is part of what Rocla Sand Mines want to destroy. The Dreaming Track goes right around Australia through every tribal country, and is a common space which all can use to walk, hunt and gather, visit relatives, attend important meetings and participate in special Sacred Ceremonies. It has very great significance in telling Aboriginal History and living cultural and spiritual tradition.

The Dreaming Track must never be broken. Its ancient history cannot be lost.

It is a cultural treasure far more ancient than Great Britain’s Mitchell Library or the U.S. Library of Congress. This is an irreplaceable treasure of the history of the human race -lose it and it is gone forever. And that would be a shameful blight on the history of this land, and this planet.

It is essential that this Sacred dreaming track and its Songline never gets lost or destroyed.

And the Women’s Fertility Rites Songline and Teaching Place is not only a record of the past –it is a living site where children are taught the Song-lines, and ceremonies and rites of passage continue to be held…

….or they  did, until Rocla Sand Mining and the NSW Government decided last year that Aboriginal Women could no longer visit their Sacred Place for their ancient rituals.

This is cultural genocide – a repeat of a long British history of cultural genocide. And IF YOU ACT QUICKLY, you can help to stop it.

Remember – mining begins Monday 1/20!!

What can you do?

1.      Share this letter far and wide!

2.      Sign these two petitions –

3.      Write your own letter to:

Robyn Parker
NSW Minister for the Environment, and Minister for Heritage:
Phone (+612) 9228 5253
Fax (+612) 9228 5763
office@parker.minister.nsw.gov.au

Victor Dominello
NSW Minister for Citizenship and Communities, and Minister for Aboriginal Affairs:
Phone (+612) 9228 4333
Fax (+612) 9228 4392
office@dominello.minister.nsw.gov.au

4.      Help start a Twitterstorm – using the hashtag #savethesonglines, Tweet to @RobynParkerMP and @VictorDominello

5.      For ongoing information go to https://www.facebook.com/events/224523534398021/

The New South Wales government has been pushing back against protests – they have deleted at least one blogger’s expose – so YOU are a key part of putting out the word.

Please help in any way you can!

With many thanks and blessings,

Suzana Grau
suzana.grau@gmail.com

Phila Hoopes
philahoopes@gmail.com

(for Auntie Beve, spokeswoman for the Darkinoong and the Guringai People.

REBLOGGING: Highly Recommended: National Grieving Day

The following is reblogged from the website of the Rev. Dr. Matthew Fox:

We don’t deal well with grief in our culture. We are expected to move on quickly after our losses. But when we don’t take the time to acknowledge and deal with our grief, that grief builds up, anger builds up, joy and love are lost, creativity is stifled, and despair enters in.

And who cannot be grieving today about what’s happening to the earth and to the beings of the earth?

So I think grief work – practices and rituals for grieving within a supportive community – is a critically necessary for these days. Mystics in all traditions bear witness: the depth of nothingness is directly related to the experience of everythingness. We learn we are cosmic beings not only in our joy and ecstasy, but also in our pain and sorrow.

And I believe that Grieving Day, which was initiated in Ireland and is now a global event taking place tomorrow, December 3, is a key step toward healing individually and in community: while grief is most often suffered alone, in isolation, this event offers the possibility of grieving together, in compassionate community.

I invite you to connect with the leadership of International Grieving Day at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com, to explore events that may be taking place in your area, and to consider offering an event of your own.

At our recent Cosmic Mass in Oakland on Dec. 1, we did, as we always do, a grief practice.

Grief practices invite the participants to enter the third chakra and go where we hold our anger and our sorrow and let the sounds out. This can be done privately by wailing with a drum or collectively by getting on “all fours” (actually all sixes) and putting one’s forehead to the ground (all “sevens”) and letting the sounds out of the third chakra; first listening to one’s own sounds; then, while still emitting the sounds, listening to one’s own sounds.

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From the National Grieving Day announcement on Facebook:

National Grieving Day initiated in Ireland and happening around the world on Tuesday, 3rd of December is a day set aside to honour and acknowledge grief in all its forms. Recent times have brought many losses – personal debt, communities losing jobs, businesses closing, young people feeling disempowered, losing a loved one, environmental disasters, personal dreams being dashed or national expectations and identity having to radically change course.

The day will include a series of events giving people an opportunity to reflect,dignify their loss and offer the release of what is felt at an individual and social level, awakening hope for the future. The events are gentle, non-intrusive and open to all.

Contemporary culture often does not allow time or space in our lives, in our world, for celebrating what’s been lost and the grief around it. This day is an invitation to meet that need, to offer events and places for those who want to take time to reflect and grieve their losses, small or big, old or more recent.

The National Grieving Day events will allow us to navigate discomfort and uncertainty and restore hope. The day itself is one of the darkest days of the year, on a night without even moonlight, which encourages us to embrace the dark in the knowledge that there that the light of new beginnings are born.

The spirit of people has arisen time and time again and it will do so once more. Let’s comfort ourselves, recognise what power we hold within and renew our strength and resilience through our individual and collective release.

If you don’t feel like joining a group setting, perhaps you’d like to light a candle on your own on the day to honour the grief you feel and say a prayer or meditate.

How people are getting involved…

  •   Join the group on FB (national and international pages)
  •   Celebrate individually with a candle, prayer, meditation
  •   Organizations can mark it with something aligned with their culture
  •   Come along to one of the grieving events
  •   Share details of the Day with your community and networks
  •   Suggest introductions for us to connect or talk with
  •   Host an event yourself

EVENTS: This is a decentralized, co-created day. There will be events all around Ireland, the UK, France, Netherlands and Australia with the list growing every day as people tune in and arrange programmes: see the global map for events. These include Remembrance Walks, Musical Mourning, Speeches, Ceremonial Fires, Sean Nós, Labyrinth Walks, Grief Circles, Keening, Ecstatic Grief, Poetry. The list is growing steadily!

CREATE AN EVENT: if you would like to run something in your community on Tuesday 3rd of December, please drop us a line at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com and we can provide you with resources, suggestions and outlines for events if you wish.

YOUR SUGGESTIONS: if you have suggestions or connections for us to make, please drop us a line.

EMAIL: keep in touch with us through this page or drop us a line at nationalgrievingday@gmail.com

Loving Circle for the Earth II

Loving Circle for the Earth – Stony Run Park & Wherever You Are

Friends, as we’re approaching Thanksgiving, our thoughts turn toward honoring the gifts of the Earth that sustain us.

And so many of us are so devastatingly aware of the headlines of species extinguished or on the verge…the hemorrhages of radioactive water at Fukushima, of oil in the Gulf, and of bitumen at the Tar Sands; the ongoing razing of the rainforests of the South and boreal forests of the North; the devastation of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines coupled with the non-response in the Warsaw summit – I have heard so many others expressing similar feelings of overwhelm.

And we’ve heard the warnings of the Elders and Medicine people.

The words that keep coming back to me are: “We need to be loving them in their passing.” Not only fighting to save them, but also sending the beings, the oceans, the planet specifically LOVING energy in the recognition that it may be too late.

So last month, 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 on the afternoon of Sunday Nov 24, at 2:00 p.m. in Stony Run Park just off Wyndhurst Ave in Baltimore – or remotely, by intention, from wherever you are.

We’ll begin and close with a brief song and simple circle-dance to unite our energies and intention…as this is in a residential neighborhood, we will not be drumming this time.

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.

The day is going to be cold, so DRESS WARMLY! If the group is interested, we may go to a local coffee shop afterward to warm up and share our thoughts and insights.

And if you aren’t nearby, and want to take part at that time at a distance, please join us remotely.

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

With appreciation,
Phila

“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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We will be meeting well into the park – follow the trail on the Charles Street side of the bridge and look for the red felt flag tied on a tree.

Here is a map of the area: http://www.mapquest.com/places/stoney-run-park-baltimore-md-265737256

If you have any questions, please email me at philahoopes@gmail.com …thank you!