Monday, June 29, 2009

Five Minutes of Truth

A dear friend invited me to participate in a gathering wherein each participant would have five minutes to share their spiritual truth. No other guidelines were given, and each was to be listened to with respect and appreciation and without discussion. Unfortunately, through a communications snafu I missed the event, and I hope we follow through on plans to do it again.

I spent quite a bit of time preparing, thinking about my personal spiritual truth. The most difficult part was narrowing down something so broad to a five minute sharing. Perhaps not surprisingly, when I finally narrowed my focus to what I consider to the be the biggest "chunks" of truth, all the parts I would like to have included are really already covered by the big chunks.

I'm sharing my truth with you here. I think it's important for each of us to speak our truth, and for each of us to hear. We all know more than we give ourselves credit for. Knowing is our birthright. We've been deluded into believing that spiritual truth is given to a priest, in a book, by rule and much so that we've stopped listening to ourselves and to each other, listening to our intuitive, connected, knowing selves.

Thank you for hearing my truth. Now I want to know yours.

Five Minutes of Spiritual Truth

“God the Father” is a concept that was always just beyond my grasp. I tried so hard to pray, to turn my eyes heavenward, and was always left with the feeling that no one was home.

It wasn’t until I leveled my gaze, looking at eye level at everything around and inside me, that I met the Divine. I can’t remember who said it (wish it was me), but these are the words that best sum up my definition of the Divine: “Write on the face of everything, I Am the Living God.”

Meeting the Divine in everyone and everything, I have become aware of the dualistic nature of the universe…male and female, light and dark, rest and activity, active creation and passive receptivity.

Everything I need to know can be learned from the world around me. Nature teaches cycles of birth, life, and death every day. I watch the world reborn each year in spring, tiny life emerging from every piece of earth, every branch, every nest, cave, and burrow. I watch it grow strong and multiply, reproducing in the timeless dance of pollination, germination, and lusty, uninhibited sex. I watch everything around me grow into the mature lushness of June, the abundance of July, the fatigue of August, the slowing of September, and the dying process, beautiful in its own right, of October and November. I see the world, dead again at last, cold and seemingly barren through winter, resting, only to be reborn again in spring. Nature never tries to artificially prolong life. Trees don’t appear the least bit unhappy about autumn. The know when it’s time to rest. Walk through a grove of trees in late august and you can feel the exhaustion, hear the chorus of, “I’m still working but, Lord, ain’t I tired!”

When my father died on a December day a few years ago, he had seen his spring. He had grown into a strong, productive summer, spread seed, set fruit. He had pressed on through fall, growing more tired every day. When his winter came, he looked like a winter tree, bare of all the youthful green abundance, graceful bare branches ready for a well-deserved rest.

I don’t know what form his next spring will take (or has taken), but I know there will be a spring. Maybe it will be another physical manifestation, or maybe his second spring is in me and my brothers who sprang from and carry his seed. I don’t have to have all the details right now. I just know spring comes around every year. Nature’s lessons and the living god are visible in both micro and macro all the time.

I don’t like to speak of the Divine by personal name. I prefer “The All.” When I put a human name on the Divine, I automatically think in human terms. It’s too easy to end up with a gender and specific personality traits – jealous, vengeful, loving, angry, forgiving, exacting – effectively creating god in my image.

I believe there is “a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts,” a collective consciousness and transcendent aspect of the All. I do not owe obedience, fear, or allegiance to this consciousness. It’s not the Four-O god of my youth – omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent, and out-there somewhere. I am part of it. I don’t really know or need to know if I’m a cell or an organ or a whole system. It’s enough to know that I’m an integral part of the body of god. I am not god, but god doesn’t exist without me, just as my heart is not me, but I’m not much without my heart – or my liver, lungs, vagina, brain, colon, eyes, arms, legs.

I am sacred. Every part of me is sacred. Every loving human act is sacred. And my purpose in life as a part of the body of god is to discover and be the best me I can be. Whatever gifts I have, they fill a need in the larger body. If there is a mandate in my spiritual truth it is this: Do good. Increase love. Grow peace. Promote truth. Act with kindness. Do what you were born to do. Be the best you can be and promote the health of the larger body. Period. That’s enough.

I can affect change in the world. I am as intimately connected to the rest of my god body as my heart and mind are connected to the rest of my physical body. My thoughts affect my physical body in ways science is still learning and marveling over. My thoughts and actions also affect the larger body, the collective. Every act and thought creates ripples. Directed thought and action backed by will and intent can have concentrated effect, make stronger ripples. That’s magic, and I am magical. Knowing that power, I am accountable for how I use it. Every action, every thought counts.

Awareness and Gratitude are doorways to ecstatic union with the transcendent, collective aspect of the All. Albert Einstein is quoted as saying, "There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle." In my world, it’s everything. Awareness of the miraculous nature of All that Is raises gratitude in me greater than any “be ye thankful” admonition could possibly generate.

Gratitude and thanks are not the same. Thanks is an expression, a response. Gratitude is the daughter of Awareness and together they create a sense of humble wonder, a way of walking through the world with one word on my lips – yes – open to receive, to know, to experience.

Former U. N. Secretary Dag Hammerskjold penned words that have become my celebratory prayer and life affirmation, and pretty well sum up my chosen approach to life. “For all that has been – thanks. For all that will be – yes.”

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Something Moved Me

I got a comment from the lovely and talented Sitara Haye nudging me to get off my blogger's arse and write something. She reminded me that I don't have to be profound or even articulate...just write something. "Something has moved you in the last couple of months," she said.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. I love you, Sitara, and I still hate it when you're right and I have to get up off the proverbial comfy couch and jumpstart myself into action. Inertia, thy name is Heartsong.

On the other hand, I like moving once I get going (bodies in motion and all that)...prefer it actually, to thank you for the nudge.

Huh...I guess you moved me. Entry number one in my list of things that have moved me lately: Good friends who kick your butt in the gentlest and kindest of ways when you need it most. Thank you.

With Number One out of the way, the rest of the list follows.

Things That Moved Me (numbers 2 - 10)

2. My friend Indigo Satin (not her real name, unless you count her seems-like-forever-now internet and email name as real, which I do because it reflects her beautiful, flowing spirit and the deep, cool colors of her soul). As I type this, surgeons have just stitched her body back together after removing both breasts and a lymph node. She's in "recovery" at the hospital; the real recovery starts when her son and sister take her home to heal. She's beautiful, sensual, spiritual, sexy, smart, and soulful...and while I will miss the sweet, sexy, "baby's butt" cleavage she always seemed to have in her oh-so-lovely low-cut tops and corsetry, there is nothing that can dim the light in an around this amazing woman. I love you, Booful. (You can read her thoughts leading up to her surgery here, if you're interested; I hope she keeps writing as she recovers, though it may be a while before she feels like lifting arms to type.)

3. Our garden. Who would have thought, way back when Mom and Dad were sweating and digging and hoeing their little hearts out while I worked equally hard to avoid the sweating and digging and hoeing, that I would be such a garden nerd in my middle years? I love our growing, green babies! I love dirt! I'm even warming up to sweat, hoes, digging, and earthworms tilling the soil and pooping out nutritious goodness, goddess bless 'em. Compost is delightful. Weeding is an act of love. Yeah, I'm smitten...completely head over heels in love with it all.

4. Indigo Buntings. Beautiful, brilliant blue birds, blue all over except for charcoal gray outlines on wing and tail feathers. When one of these little fellows streaks by the window or rests for a while on the feeder or bird bath, my eyes can't drink in enough of the blue. They're like little drops of happy that sweeten whatever cup I'm handed on that day. For a moment, everything is a little more beautiful.

5. Mountains. The earthly ones, tall and strong and solid...and the people ones. People mountains are the ones you know you can go to when you're the one who needs to be heard, held, shored up. They're the ones who never listen superficially, just waiting for the chance to turn the conversation back to their own issues. They're the ones who, no matter how empty you are, they don't try to fill you up. They just accept that's where you are right now, that you'll fill up again in time, and all they have to do is love you while you work your way through it. And because they don't feel compelled to save you, they don't get mad when you don't heal on their time schedule. They wait, like mountains, timeless and unchanging.

6. Mountains. I know, I used this one already, but I'm moved by them in more than one way, and each one deserves its own number. It's my list. I can do that. When you look at the face of a mountain, the rock and dirt kind, you rarely see a surface that hasn't been shaped by events, some gentle and slow, some cataclysmic and abrupt. Volcanoes erupt, rocks slide, rivers run, fires rage...and the face of the mountain is changed forever. The mountain never tries to hide its face, no matter how ravaged or altered. The only regret ever expressed is by us, looking on, at the loss of some aspect of the mountain we were particularly fond of. We hate it when the rock slide changes the silhouette. We cry when fire turns a green mountainside into a ragged, charred expanse. Why is that? Why are we eager to hang onto things as they used to be? Seems a foolish thing to me, yet I catch myself wallowing in missing things that used to be instead of enjoying things that are. Mountains are good teachers.

7. Vulnerability. When people share less-than-favorite parts of themselves with me...fears, anxieties, feelings of inadequacy, loneliness...all the myriad of human worries and feels like such a profound honor. It's like they're laying down their shields, opening up and removing their armor, and standing naked and unprotected in front of me. That's huge, because we are all armed to the teeth. A single word, a glance, a shrug...we carry an arsenal that can wound as surely as any sword. Courage...not ignorance of danger or absence of fear, but willingness to be there amazing. Trust is a gift.

8. The tastes and scents of summer. Peaches. Sweet red peppers. Melons. Iced tea with fresh mint. Fresh, pan-fried, corn. Tomatoes. Salsa. Anything grilled outside. Ice cold beer. Salads. Fresh herbs still warm from the summer sun. The way the air tastes when you breathe through your mouth after an afternoon rain. Jasmine. Magnolia. Marigold. Heliotrope. Blackberries. Squash. Pool water (don't lie - you know exactly what it tastes like). Okra, tomatoes, and onions with cornbread. Salty kisses after a day of garden work.

9. Our daughters. The women they have become. The surprise of it all. I remember when Amybeth played softball...I watched her all the time and then one night I watched her play and she was moving so fluidly, doing the right things with skill and strength, and I found myself thinking, "When did she become so capable? When did she change from my baby girl who tackled everything with her baby hands and her innocent enthusiasm and not-yet-ripe clumsiness into this young woman, fast and strong and knowledgeable? Nowadays I see Amybear with her gardening and her spiritual path, strong from the physical effort of growing and tending plants. I marvel at Sarah and her animals, at Amybeth and her passion and unwillingness to accept anyhing less than making a positive difference in the world. It's not that I didn't expect them to succeed, to be amazing. I've always known they would. I guess I'm surprised by "...the quickslivery racehorse passage of time..." (Pat Conroy). I know they're smart, strong, capable young women. I'm just surprised that they're not babies anymore. Where does the time go?

10. The pure yes-ness of it all. I find myself moved to tears with gratitude and wonder, sitting on the front porch with Jim, hot, tired from a hard day of work in the yard, garden, house...looking out across the yard, watching fireflies, and thinking...this is all I ever wanted...someone to work alongside, to share a glass of tea at the end of the day, to love without reservation. It just doesn't get any better.

You were right, Sitara. Thanks for the nudge.