Sunday, September 27, 2009

Sunday Sounds - Sailing to Philadelphia

Today's offering: Mark Knopfler and James Taylor, "Sailing to Philadelphia" from "Sailing to Philadelphia."

I can't tell you all the ways this song moves me...two amazing singers...soul-stirring instrumentation...and oh, those the lyrics...the story...the way my heart and soul and gut can feel the dreams, the fear, the excitement...yeah, it's just a killer song. Knopfler says he "respectfully distilled" a Thomas Pinchon novel about Mason and Dixon into this two minutes of musical bliss. All I can say to that is, yes!

If you hear something you like on Sunday Sounds and want to support the artists with your own copy, please visit Heartsong Recommends... and purchase from Amazon.

Sailing to Philadelphia - Mark Knopfler

I am Jeremiah Dixon
I am a Geordie boy
A glass of wine with you, sir
And the ladies I'll enjoy
All Durham and Northumberland
Is measured up by my own hand
It was my fate from birth
To make my mark upon the earth...

He calls me Charlie Mason
A stargazer am I

It seems that I was born
To chart the evening sky
They'd cut me out for baking bread
But I had other dreams instead
This baker's boy from the west country
Would join the Royal Society...

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon line

Now you're a good surveyor, Dixon
But I swear you make me mad
The west will kill us both
You gullible Geordie lad
You talk of liberty
How can America be free
A Geordie and a bakers boy
In the forests of the Iroquois...

Now hold your head up, Mason
See America lies there
The morning tide has raised
The capes of Delaware
Come up and feel the sun
A new morning has begun
Another day will make it clear
Why your stars should guide us here...

We are sailing to Philadelphia
A world away from the coaly Tyne
Sailing to Philadelphia
To draw the line
A Mason-Dixon line

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bright Yellow Conversations

Days come and go
work flows in and out
and blends into continuous shades of
gray and grayer.

We put on our corporate masks
take on our business casual aspects
and don the drab mantle of
political correctness.

Then you drop by
and for a few minutes
we talk with each other
not at each other
using real words
about real things
in a real conversation.

A spot of bright color
appears and spreads
right in the middle of my day.

Thank you, friend, for
speaking truth
laughing freely
having the courage to offend
when truth is offensive
turning on the light
and throwing a brief but beautiful
bucket of colorful conversation
against the plain backdrop
waking me from the restless sleep
of the terminally careful.

Dedicated to friends and colleagues who understand that real conversation doesn't tiptoe around; it wears big boots and wades right into the scary places, where all good conversations start.

Wishing you bright, bold, colorful conversations...everyday!

Photo by Linda Davenport 2009

Monday, September 21, 2009

May You Never Hunger

In Wiccan ritual circles, it is traditional to share a bit of food and drink near the end of the ritual. The plate and cup are passed to each participant with the words, “May you never hunger,” and, “May you never thirst.”

It’s one of my favorite parts of ritual…but I’ve always been nagged just a bit by the words. To never know hunger…to never thirst…isn’t quite right.

I don’t know that changing a time-honored and much loved ritual tradition is in order…but the thoughts beg to be shared so share them I will…with you…here.

My wish for you…

May you know enough sadness
to deepen your joy.

May you experience fear
that you may know your own courage.

May you feel loneliness
that you may cherish company.

May you be acquainted with death
that you may live fully.

May you experience hunger
that you may understand enough.

May you thirst just enough
to sweeten your cup.

Blessed be, my friends…and may you live in gratitude and abundance.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Sunday Sounds

Music plays a big role in my life. I've always felt that no one really knows me until they know the music that moves me.

So...with a tip of my pointed hat to Sitara Haye for the idea and without further ado...welcome to Sunday Sounds. Each Sunday I'll post a piece of music. There's no theme, no buried motive...just the music I love. Selections will be heavy on the singer/songwriter side of things; I love good lyrics, and there are some amazing lyricists I can't wait to share with you.

I hope you enjoy Sunday Sounds. If you like something you hear and want to support the artists with your own copy, please visit Heartsong Reommends... and purchase from Amazon.

 Now...tell me...what music moves you?

First up: Chris Smither, "Origin of Species" from the album, "Leave the Light On."

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Winning, Losing, and Paying Attention

Watching a fishing show with my husband this morning, interested more in his interest and the lake scenery than the fishing, a sporting goods commercial caught my attention:

"Ignore victory; disregard defeat; look inward to what matters most."

When I look back on my life so far, there have been a lot of wins and losses. I can still feel the emotion...the elation of the win, the despair of the loss. But when I think about how my life is affected today, it's not what I won or how much I lost that has any impact. It's what I learned from the experience that remains.

I lost a job I loved, one that afforded me so many opportunities to grow and develop, allowed me to rebuild much of my nearly-depleted sense of self-worth, rediscover my talents, and find my creative center again. And I grieved that loss for a long time, and as long as I was grieving, focusing on the loss, I stayed stuck there. It was only when I let go of the loss and turned inward, examined my actions and emotions, took inventory of what I still possessed, had always possessed, that I moved forward.

The amazing win, the agonizing defeat...don't mean anything unless we learn something from them. And in the introspection, as we examine what got us into the winners' circle or the losers' bracket, lie the seeds of the next victory, the next stage of growth and development.

I believe that our purpose in life is to be the very best at being exactly who we are. All the wins and losses we accumulate along the way are just markers, stopping points that direct us inward for introspection, self-examination, and growth. It doesn't matter if you won or lost. It matters that you paid attention.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Be Amazed and Delighted!

What fascinates you? Captures your attention, fires your imagination, drives you to learn more, and creates in you a sense of mystery and wonder?

I was playing around in my photo editor this morning, working with a photo I'd snapped of a Gerbera Daisy in my garden after a rain shower a few days ago. I dropped out all the background and adjusted the colors for more or less pure primary hues - blue, yellow, and red.

While not exactly high art, the result made me smile. It reminded me of the fascination I had as a child learning the color wheel. The idea that all the beautiful colors in the world can be traced back to just three primary colors was extraordinary knowledge for me. I had the keys to the kingdom! I could make colors...glorious, unlimited, vibrant, rich, joyous colors...from just three little pots of paint! Oh, the messes I made with that little bit of knowledge!

My fascination with the properties of color never went away. While most of the other kids were worried about whether to sharpen their crayons or peel and color sideways, I was happily exploring opposites - green and red, blue and orange, purple and yellow - and finally figuring out the difference between red-violet and violet-red.

As I reminesced about my joy, I wondered: When did I last feel that way? As adults, we seem to lose much of the sense of wonder we had when we were children, and I don't know why. We certainly haven't learned everything! There's a world of knowledge, a universe full of miracles and wonders that, like the mystery of color, can capture and fire our imaginations. How do we let ourselves miss that?

So here's my wish for today: Let's be fascinated with something. Find a mystery and delve into it with enthusiasm and wonder. Let's close our eyes for a moment, and open them as the eyes of a child, amazed and delighted.

"Let the fascination come on and rain all over me..." - Melissa Etheridge

Photo by Linda Davenport 2009

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Love in Action - Here's a Plan

I found this quote this morning in my "A Word A Day" email from Anu Garg:

All I ask is this: Do something. Try something. Speaking out, showing up, writing a letter, a check, a strongly worded e-mail. Pick a cause -- there are few unworthy ones. And nudge yourself past the brink of tacit support to action. Once a month, once a year, or just once. -Joss Whedon, writer and film director (b. 1964)

What a great plan for turning passive love into an active verb. And Mr. Whedon hits on one of the biggest reasons why we don't always love as actively as we wish. It takes courage and effort to break inertia, to move from a body at rest to a body in motion. And his suggestion to do the only recipe for turning a body at rest, wanting to stay comfortably in that place, into a body in motion, one that wants just as much to remain in motion.

Thank you, Joss Whedon, for a well-stated call to action. Thank you, too, for Buffy and Angel and oh-my-yes Firefly and Serenity. But I digress. :)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Pain, Wisdom, and Love in Action

Your pain is the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding. It is the bitter potion by which the physician within you heals your sick self, so therefore, trust the physician and drink his remedy in silence and tranquility. - Kahlil Gibran

I attended a community ritual last night. It was a beautiful ritual about remembering where you come from, knowing that all that has transpired in your life, good and bad, has contributed to who you are. To forget even the painful parts is to disregard an opportunity to learn, to grow wiser, stronger, more whole. It was about forgiveness, not for the sake of the transgressor, but for ourselves, freeing us of a burden that keeps us from moving forward.

In the course of the ritual, two unrelated young people, one a teenager, one just barely twentyone, were sobbing. Knowing a bit about both of them, I know that their pain was genuine, the kind that, in both cases, comes from people they love doing things they can't understand. And it struck me that their tears, the pain they were feeling, was just as Gibran said, "...the breaking of the shell that encloses your understanding." I pray that they will keep growing, keep chipping away at the shell, and that they'll allow the outpouring of love from their larger community to hold them up while they grow through the pain.

Last night was an opportunity to witness many wonders.

When the young man was so obviously hurting, several men in the community stepped around the circle to enfold him, hold him in hugs close and strong, kiss the top of his head, speak to him softly. Men...big, beautiful, strong, loving men...doing what men in our culture have so often forgotten (or never learned) how to care for each other, to nurture their boys into men with both strength and tenderness.

The young woman received the same kind of support, more from the women but not exclusively. And in both cases, the parents...the young woman's father, the young man's mother...both standing beside their children and feeling that pain as surely and as deeply, were encouraged and supported, too. I remember thinking as I watched the young man and his mother that it must be like giving birth all over again for her.

Part of the understanding that comes from going through our children's pain with them is that it is their pain, their growth. We share the pain, but we can't take it away from them, can't do it for them, and can't lead them to wisdom on a painless path. In my experience, that's been the hardest part of being a parent.

Earlier in the evening, a beautiful young mother and wife with a disease that causes her terrible pain was sick. A number of us tended to her as best we could, using touch and energy work to aid her. Later, when the young people were hurting so, she was right there, comforting them, sharing her own precious energy to help them through pain when she has so much of her own.

Love is a verb or it's a lie. My husband says that frequently and I've come to understand the absolute truth of it. Love acts. There are times when the only act possible or advisable may be a silent prayer, but even that is a conscious action. Answering honestly, can any of us say that we always act in love? Do we always do what we can, when we can, including offering that heartfelt, silent prayer when that's all we can do?

I can't say it, though I wish I could. It's a goal of mine to use my hands, my voice, my strength and energy to be a loving force in the world. I have to remind myself frequently that I can't do everything, but I can do one thing...that I don't know everything but that doesn't mean I don't know anything...that if I can't heal or feed or hug or tend the world, I can heal or feed or hug or tend love...and when I have neither a dollar nor an hour to give, I have a voice with which to be an advocate.

I am but one, but I am not the only one. Love acts.

Friday, September 11, 2009

9/11 Remembering...learning...acting

I, like many if not most Americans, have had the events of 9/11 on my mind all day. My heart still aches for those who died in fear and pain, and the families, friends, and shell-shocked nation they left behind. That pain extends to the perpetrators of the attack, who also lost their lives in an attempt to fulfil what they believed to be a God-given mission. My heart aches, too, for the affect that event had on this country and the world.

My friend Sitara sent a private email that I found particularly insightful and on target. With her permission, I'm sharing it here. It's a powerful call to action that each one of us can answer and that, if answered, can change the world.

Please read with an open mind, an open heart, and a willing spirit. Let us build peace from the ashes.

Greetings, dear friends...

Today is the anniversary of a recent disaster: the bombing of the WTC in New York. As you go through your day, you are likely to see many references to this event, memorial services being held, news coverage and hype. There's even a ritual vigil at the Chattanooga Spirit Gathering this evening (if you're planning to attend).

Remembering 9/11 isn't about hyping our military or the war or terror. As much as it may offend someone to hear it, those that died in the WTC bombings are no different or more special than anyone else who is the victim of a violent crime spurred by hate and prejudice in which the victim loses their life. Those that died on 9/11/01 are no different or more special than those killed by gay-haters, wife-beaters, child-molesters, rapist-murderers, Neo-Fascists, or the good old boys down the road who don't want a black person on their block. We have funerals for people lost to tragic circumstances, but rarely do we have repeated funerals, every year, with the brand of Patriot Day slapped on the funeral event to muscle everyone behind the memorial lest they be branded unpatriotic.

So, rather than light a candle and sit passively by looking patriotic, I would like to ask each of you a simple question:

What do you do daily to encourage peace?

The memorials being held are still mostly about the people holding them -- "Look at me! 9/11 is still important! I'm so patriotic! I'm so sad for the people who died and the families left behind!" But at these vigils, where is the money being taken up for Anti-Violence associations? Where is anything being done to change the NOW? A lit candle in the darkness does NOTHING except provide a bit of light to show the face of the person holding the candle. And if it's all about you, then it's not all about them, or the cause you're speaking out about.

We cannot bring about world peace by lighting candles. We can only bring about that peace by being the light. By becoming that force for good in the world, standing up for those oppressed, giving our time and money to organizations that mobilize for those goals. We bring about peace through our actions, and the first action must be seeking and embodying peace within ourselves so that we move in peaceful ways each day.

So tonight, I ask that you light no candle. I ask you to stand in the darkness and realize that you are the Light. I ask you to commit to one thing that you will do actively this year to promote and create peace, preferably in a way that extends beyond yourself. You may choose to pray daily, to volunteer for a local organization or make a monetary donation to a larger one. It's up to you.

Don't stand around holding a candle. Choose to be the fire that transforms the world.

Blessings on this day of action,
Lady Nefersitara

Photo by RickyDavid via Flickr

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Another Treasure Found

Today my old hippie soul rejoiced and laughed and smiled and nearly cried. The cause of all this ruckus? A beautiful blog I found today.

The Hippie Parade is full of love and peace and life and the ups and downs of every single day with your eyes open to look for love and peace and life. And even if you've never considered yourself a hippie, old or otherwise, you will find a blessing in the pure poetry and art.

Go there when you have some time to spend...and spend it.


Tuesday, September 08, 2009

The Work of Transformation

I am always looking for ways to better articulate things I believe, things I know...those bits of hard-earned (or generoulsly gifted) wisdom that have made such a difference in my life. For all the certainty I feel about these things, finding the words eludes me. As you can imagine, that's a frustrating state for a writer.

Once in a while, I come across another writer's work that accomplishes what I could not. I want to share with you the words of Christiane Northrup, M.D., from The Wisdom of Menopause. If you're a man, or if you're not at midlife or approaching menopause, please don't stop reading now! What she has to say here applies universally.

"This process of transformation can only succeed, however, if we become proactive in two ways. First, we must be willing to take full responsibility for our share of the problems in our lives. It takes great courage to admit our own contributions to the things that have gone wrong for us and to stop seeing ourselves simply as victims of someone or something outside of ourselves. After all, the person in the victim role tends to get all the sympathy and to assume the high road morally, which is appealing; none of us wants to feel like the bad guy. But even though taking the victim role may seem a good choice in the short run, this stance is ultimately devoid of any power to help us change, heal, grow, and move on to a more fulfilling and joyful life.

"The second requirement for transformation is more difficult by far: we must be willing to feel the pain of loss and grieve for those parts of our lives that we are leaving behind. And that includes our fantasies of how our lives could have been different if only. Facing up to such loss is rarely easy, and that is why so many of us resist change in general and at midlife in particular. A part of us rationalizes, 'Why rock the boat? I'm halfway finished with my life. Wouldn't it just be easier to accept what I have rather than risk the unknown?'

"The end of any significant relationship, or any major phase of our lives, even one that has made us unhappy or held us back from our full growth and fulfillment, feels like a death - pure and simple. To move past it, we have to feel the sadness of that loss and grieve fully for what might have been and now will never be.

"And then we must pick ourselves up and move toward the unkonw. All our deepest fears are likely to surface as we find ourselves facing the uncertainity of the future."

Thank you, Dr. Northrup, for this clearly articulated truth.

All that I can add is this: the process of transformation, of accepting our own responsibility and, in doing so, claiming our own power, is simple...but it is never easy. Transformation is hard work and, in my experience, it never ends.

Simple? Yes. Easy? Never. Worth it? Absolutely!

Monday, September 07, 2009

Participate in the Pagan Census Project

If you identify as Pagan in any of its various forms, please consider completing the Pagan Census Survey. This survey was first conducted 20 years ago and is being conducted again to measure change.

I'll be completing the survey later today, and I hope you'll add your answers.

And here in the United States, today is Labor Day. May the labors of your hands and hearts be blessed; may you always find something to be "about"; and may you know deep, restorative, rest. Blessings!

Sunday, September 06, 2009

Love is a Verb - Possible Dreams International

“Each time a person stands up for an ideal, or acts to improve the lot of others, or strikes out against injustice, he sends forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million different centers of energy and daring, these ripples build a current that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.” -- Robert F Kennedy

"Love is a verb or it's a lie." - Jim Davenport

When people put love into action, it's worth celebrating. Whether it's a tender word, a loving touch, a meal, a pair of shoes, or a silent prayer offered when no other action is available, acts of love ripple and vibrate the web of life.

The folks at Possible Dreams International are putting their love into action in a time and place where it is sorely needed. One of my heroes in the blogosphere, Maithri Goonetilleke, and his fellow doctors, nurses, and other caregivers have formed an organization to further the work they've been doing all along in Swaziland.

Swaziland is an area of Africa with the largest prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the world. According to Maithri, the community of Setiki in Swaziland has more coffin salesmen than grocery stores. The stories he shares in his blog, The Soaring Impulse, are stories of love, courage, and hope.

I know all too well the despair of feeling like I have no power, no way to influence and alleviate suffering. I don't have a lot of extra money. I can't go to Swaziland. Each time I think these thoughts, I remind myself that even when I don't have a coin or an hour, I have a voice. I can speak loving words; I can tell the truth; I can spread the word.

Please take a moment and visit Possible Dreams. Learn about this fledgling organization and the beautiful people they serve. They are love in action, a verb and a truth.

Spread the word.

Thursday, September 03, 2009

Come September (Love Lives On)

You’re leaving, aren’t you?



How many times must we go through this? I’m tired. I’m done. There is nothing more I can do here.

But I love you! How can you just leave like this? What we have is so…so…intense.

Intense…that’s a good word for it. Too intense. All on, all the time…nobody can sustain that forever. It’s too demanding, too draining, too…

Too what? Too much for you? Fine…go! And I don’t ever want to see you again!

[raised eyebrow] Careful…

I just can’t stand to see you go! Gods, we were hot! Sizzling days…steamy nights…fertile and lush and…

Yes…yes, we were all that and more. But don’t you see? It can’t last. It never does. Haven’t you felt the cooling? Our nights aren’t quite so steamy these days. Let’s face it…things change…I’m losing my luster and I know what’s coming for me…and for you. If we kept going like we have been, we’d burn ourselves up completely. No one can take that kind of passion, that heat, forever.

You’ll be back, you know. You always come back.

[smile] I will be back. And when I see you next, you’ll be rested, refreshed. You’ll have slept through the cold nights and walked quietly through the short days. Ahh, but that’s when I can’t stay away from you! Your heart will be young once more, your blood singing in your veins, open and aching for me. And I’ll come to you, young and fiery, unable to get my fill of you. I’ll take you over and over and…

Enough! Stop! If you keep talking like that, I'll burn up right now!

Ohhh...I know you have to go. Don’t think I haven’t noticed the changes in me, too…how tired I look, my color…I know you’re going. Just don’t forget…don’t get lost in the cold, dark nights when the wind howls.

I'll think of you every morning when I see the sun rise over the fields. I'll walk outside and see my breath…and I'll dream of the days when you’ll take my breath away. I know you’ll be back…I have to believe you’ll be back.

I’ve always returned and I always will. Love lives on. Rest well, Beloved…you won’t get much sleep when I come back. [grin]

I’ll be here, my Love…waiting…with a crocus in my hair and a daffodil in my hand. Just don’t be late, ok?

I never am. Look for me as the days lengthen again. You’ll feel me before you see me, in the sudden softness of the morning, the song of the stream bed. Your scent will change as I grow closer, and I’ll know you’re ready to receive me again. We’ll make love and babies and grow full and abundant together again.

Go…go before I beg you to stay. Go, my love…and hurry home.

All photos by Linda Davenport except top (valley overlook) by Elisabeth Hon.

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

Stop for Milk, Get a Cotton Candy Bonus

Cotton candy sunset, originally uploaded by Heartsong Images.

I stopped for milk on the way home from work recently. None too happy with having to stop, I was grumbling to myself as I left the store...but not for long. The All gifted me with a cotton candy sunset. What a lovely surprise!