Eros. A Beautiful Thing.

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Eros. It’s a beautiful thing.

I’ve often felt this underlying sense of grief that I cannot name. Sometimes it’s just a sense that I don’t want to be here. Not in the literal sense, but more of a kind of distancing from life. It’s like a contraction, like a pulling into myself. Which isn’t a bad thing at all. Everything contracts in the universe. Everything. And it expands. It’s a cycle of expansion and contraction.

But what I’ve noticed lately is that much of my pulling inward was learned. I learned to suppress my power – my Eros – because as a young girl it was much safer to relate through my powerlessness. I was a full-on force of nature when I was small – as we all are. Right? Do you remember this? Feeling like you were so alive, so full, so present, so much in love? I remember it at about the age of 3, maybe 4, before I started to see that the big people (adults) preferred little girls to be much less ‘active’ shall we say.

When I think of Eros, I think of the energy of Yes, the energy of life. Think about small children. They are all about the YES!

Eros is the ‘YES’ inside of us. It’s our vitality. Our yearning. If we’ve been down, depressed, grieving, sad, we can be out of touch with Eros, our life force. Suddenly when we come into contact with it again, we feel alive again.

Eros is the energy of change, that aspect of creativity that is a spark of consciousness desiring to be born. Osho once said, “God is in the new.” Eros is our dance with the Beloved that takes us out of complacency and into the arms of the mysterious force that cracks seeds, pushes sprouts through the soil, and thrusts the blossom open.

Eros is intimacy, magnetism. Eros is growth. Eros is joy and abundance. Eros is the cherry tree in full cherry! (I love Neruda’s, “I want to do with you what Spring does with the cherry trees.“)

Eros is our power. Power from within. And when we are not in touch with it, we are sad creatures.

Eros has been drawn down into a small, small sliver so that so many of us now think Eros or the erotic is simply about sex. It includes sex for sure, but it is so much more. And I feel we are suffering as human beings here in cultures where this is so because we no longer know Eros as the fullness that it is.

I often write of wholeness, but I haven’t written of fullness as much. I in my own journey I see how important this coming back to fullness is. I remember when I sat with Brigid’s flame in Kildare, Ireland, how the one thing I felt was fullness. The feeling was clear and distinct.

I’m now embarked on a spectacular dance with Eros. A full-on immersion into what this is. And this is taking shape in two ways – at least two right now.

sweetpeaswscriptpageheaderOne – Spring 2017 Writing Raw

This circle will be focused on Eros & Joy. It begins March 14th. The early-bird price ends tonight, March 4. We are going to have fun in this session. Not that the other ones are not, but this is the first time I’ve declared a focus for the session. Find out more and register here.

Two – I’m creating a podcast all about this exploration of Eros.

I have no idea where it will take me – or you my readers. I’m nervous about it, to tell you the truth. But as Fritz Perls once said, “Fear is excitement without the breath.”

I’d love to know what questions you have about Eros and invite you to contact me so I have some great places to begin my exploration.

 

Right now, we need to rekindle, even catalyze, Eros because it is the force that blossoms change and we are in the midst of a deep cycle of death and rebirth. What is coming and how can we midwife it? Through embracing Eros in our lives, through opening to the source of Eros within us.

Stay tuned…

 

 

 

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And Then She Moves

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“Let me open like a flower”, she says.

“Just breathe, and I will open.”

“Let me stretch and yawn. Allow me to soften, soften, soften.”

I feel her words in my flesh, echoing in the chambers of my heart.

In response to her voice, I try to soften. I discover that trying to soften actually isn’t softening. The trying causes even the slightest tensing up of muscles. I can feel this. I can feel that I do not ‘know’ how to soften. And with this, I relax and breath. I breathe into the place that feels hard, the place that is tight and constricting. My breath knows how to soften flesh, and even how to soften my mind.

I do not have to ‘know’ how; my body naturally wants to soften. When it isn’t believing the tight thoughts I tell it, its natural state is soft. Mary Oliver knew this well. The animal of my being is soft. She has a soft animal body – except when she believes my thoughts – old, outdated thoughts that are really about the past or the future.

My soft animal body lives here, now, in the soil of life. She doesn’t like it much when she gets yanked around across time that doesn’t exist except in a mind that’s forgotten its part of an animal (a naturally soft animal at that) and part of life.

When it feels separate from flesh, my mind tries really hard. A really deep rut was created in my mind when I was young. The rut was thinking I had to try hard to be understood, to find the right way to do something, to make sure it was ‘the right way’ to do it. And, then, to put a bunch of effort into it. Lots of effort. Tight stomach effort. Clenched jaw and neck effort. Determined thinking effort.

When I feel separate from my flesh, flesh that hasn’t forgotten she’s a part of this earthly life, I harden with a sense of not belonging, a sense of having to protect myself from something unknown yet seemingly real.

But the soft animal? That’s not her way. She likes to lounge and from her soft body do what is in front of her. She likes to take in the world around her, to breath in the beauty of flowers and taste their fragrance. She loves to feel and then out of feeling do what she needs to do.

She likes to lick her paws, slowly, rhythmically, with great satisfaction. And then she moves.

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Nature is Light Made Flesh

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ten years ago…

It’s a brilliant sunny day in San Francisco. My boyfriend and I are, very slowly, making our way through the community garden near Fort Mason. It’s a really wonderful place because the people gardening there seem to love what they cultivate. You can feel it in the air. Flowers seem to flourish here. It could be the weather, too, and I can see the care with which each person is tending their patch.

We’ve wound our way through most of the garden, and as we come into the northwestern corner, just before we make our way up the terraced hillside to the gate to leave, I see a flower right before my eyes. Something in this flower draws me in. It’s the colors. It’s the light. And, it’s something more.

My eyes completely take this flower in. I don’t know what kind of flower it is, but it is tall and narrow in shape, and along the height of it it moves from deep purple, to indigo blue, to green, to yellow. The color flows in and out with no perceptible shift from one to the next.

In what is probably not more than a second of looking, I am filled with a profound sense of something that I have no words for. Absolutely no words. But, I am filled with it. My heart…my whole body is filled with it. A space even bigger than my body is filled with it. This space encompasses this flower. For a length of time that is outside of time, I am enveloped in something I have no words for, something that literally causes me to go speechless. Tears are streaming from my eyes.

The beauty of this flower as it moves from purple through to yellow has opened me to the wordless place, and I stand still, transfixed, transported, transformed. In this moment beyond moments, in this community garden filled with the most commonplace happenings of daily life, I come to know something profoundly beyond what my eyes normally take in.

My boyfriend takes my hand and asks me, “What’s wrong, Honey?” He sees my tears. He sees that I am not moving, transfixed in front of what looks like just another flower. I cannot speak. I try, but I am speechless. He puts his arm around me, and his touch slowly brings me back to the garden, to standing there with him.

The flower still looks extraordinary to me, but I am no longer transfixed nor speechless. I begin to try to tell him what I experienced, but again there are no words. Everything I say just sounds ordinary. “It is so beautiful. Look at the colors; how the gradually move from purple, to indigo, to blue, to green, to yellow. It is so incredibly beautiful.” Yet inside, the experience I am trying to relate is so alive with fire, with light, with life. The words cannot capture the feeling, but they do carry some of it because it is alive.

 

Back to now, ten years later…

In looking back, I see how my relationship with life changed, my relationship with flowers changed, my ability to ‘see’ changed.

The flower was filled with light, with a fire of radiance, a fire of light in every cell.

That experience stayed with me for a bit, and then it began to recede in memory…until now. I remember trying to understand what had happened. I tried to make sense of it. But, I don’t think that is necessary, even if it is what we tend to do. I feel experiences like this come when they come. I see now that all the while something was deepening in me: a relationship with beauty, with light, with immanence.

In that moment, I felt love. I felt the light of being streaming through me, streaming through the flower. In that moment, I cannot say what I was or who I was. The woman. The flower. The light. The fire. The love.

What birds plunge through is not the intimate space
in which you see all forms intensified.
(Out in the Open, you would be denied
your self, would disappear into that vastness.)
Space reaches from us and construes the world:
to know a tree, in its true element,
throw inner space around it, from that pure
abundance in you. Surround it with restraint.
It has no limits. Not till it is held
in your renouncing is it truly there.

Rainer Maria Rilke, translation by Stephen Mitchell, by way of my friend Barbara

 

To know this, in its true element, throw inner space around it…from that pure abundance, pure love, pure beauty [with]in you.

Why do I share this story with you? We are all this. This love. This light. This fire. This space. We are this force. We are this Nature.

Nature is Light made flesh.

Becoming aware that we are this is the necessary work of our time.

Becoming a Force of Nature is waking up to the divinity, the holiness of your own flesh, blood, and bones. To see this light within you, to see your own divine, sacred Self radiating and pulsing with life, and to see it in all of life. It is waking up to your body’s intelligence, and to your own beautiful self worth.

I’d love to have you join me for this summer course of awakening to the force of nature that you already are. We begin June 9th.

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Math, creativity, & fertile soil in the sacred temple underground

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Fertile soil rich with everything it takes for life to spring forth.  The soil must be tilled, fed, prepared, planted, watered, and acknowledged for the mystery it holds.

Life is a creative impulse moving all the way through its arc of expression. You are life. You are a creative impulse in an arc of expression. You, too contain rich, fertile soil that holds the mystery of your existence and expression.

Sometimes, in order for your creativity to pour forth, the most powerful thing you can do is lay your creation at the foot of this sacred garden within you and allow it to grow of its own accord.

Math, Beauty, and the Unexpected

My path to a degree was a long, sixteen year process. I started at a small satellite center of Consumnes River College in Placerville, California, a small circle of portable buildings right behind Raley’s grocery store, affectionately nicknamed ‘UBR’ or University Behind Raley’s. For many of those sixteen years, I took only one class a semester as I was working full-time and raising my two girls. I took my first college Path class (after years away from school) in one of those portables.

For the next ten years, I took one class a semester. And then … my husband died. It was after his death, that I began in earnest to pursue that diploma. A few years later, just before I transferred to Stanford, I took my second semester of Calculus.

I had always felt math was beautiful, but in this class of Calculus I discovered that math had an unexpected beauty. My professor was a much-older man. He had a shy and kind demeanor and was soft spoken. I really enjoyed his teaching because he taught math with gentleness, and with a clear love of the subject. And, he taught math with poetry. At the end of each class, he would pull a chair into the center of the room, grab a book of poetry, and sit down, with great intentionality, to read one poem. These moments became very precious to me over the weeks we met together.

During one class toward the end of the semester, we were studying ‘series’. I won’t explain what they are, other than to say that if you follow them all the way through, you arrive at sine and cosine. I had learned of these two formulas many years before, but to witness how they were actually derived, organically and beautifully, brought tears to my eyes. The beauty was so clear, perhaps brought even more forward by the beauty of this man’s love of math and gentle heart. I sat in my chair and the tears welled up, thick and deep in my eyes, and then they began to fall. He saw them fall. He stood and looked at me for what seemed to be a long, long time, (although in reality what was probably only a few seconds), and then tears fell from his eyes, too.

We were sharing a love of math, but also a love of something so much greater – a love of that which is the source of math, beauty, poetry, life.

I remember feeling the joy of seeing something unfold, of watching the magic that is at the heart of creation. I had no idea that series would lead to sine and cosine. No idea. None. And, voila, there they were. Unveiled.

What I really want to share here…

… and I am using math and poetry and beauty as a way to do it, is the deep, deep creativity of the universe. It’s the same creativity that is at the heart of YOUR nature.

Sometimes, the unveiling is really deep. This depth requires time for creation to reveal itself. Sometimes, the depth requires darkness. This is the process of incubation. Sometimes, as the creative process unfolds, things are in the dark for quite a while before they appear.

Just this past week, 

Maryam Mirzakhani of Stanford University was honored with the top award in Mathematics, the Field’s Medal, which is often described as the Nobel Prize of mathematics. This Venture Beat article mentions Mirzakhani’s process of incubation in reference to math and the ‘depth’ of her process.

“Mirzakhani likes to describe herself as slow. Unlike some mathematicians who solve problems with quicksilver brilliance, she gravitates toward deep problems that she can chew on for years. “Months or years later, you see very different aspects” of a problem, she said. There are problems she has been thinking about for more than a decade. “And still there’s not much I can do about them,” she said.”

Incubation happens in the dark, beneath the soil, in a sacred place.

After entering into a question, or holding a problem somewhere in our mind, more often than not, we must give that question or problem some time in the dark to allow it to germinate, to sprout, and to grow. Newborns who are too small to live on their own are placed in an incubator until their vital body parts are functioning well enough on their own to exist outside of the incubator. And, the same is true for seedlings too young and tender for the harsh sun. They must be strong enough before they break through the soil into the light of day.

 

The etymology for incubation is this:

Latin incubare, the source of incubate, literally meant ‘lie down on’; and incubation once had the sense of sleeping in a sacred place or temple for oracular purposes.

Incubation is a vital part of the creative process; so much so, that when I begin a project, while my tendency can be to wait until I’m under a deadline, if I simply begin the project, I also begin the incubation process. This beginning doesn’t have to be developed, meaning I don’t have to do a whole bunch to get it started. I just have to begin. Beginning begins the whole process if I have a clear question or problem to solve, or vision to bring about. It’s the clarity and the holding that begins the incubation process. The question is clear. The vision is clear. The intention is set. The seed can do what it needs to do in the dark, because I have done what I need to do in the light.

Great significance for YOUR creativity

Consider your creation (vision or dream). It must be clear enough to begin. It can be as simple as a question. It can be a more complex vision. But it has to have specificity. Consider a seed. You have a seed that will grow into something. It’s not a vague seed – it is specific. It will be a specific type of plant based on the seed. The seed holds the creation. Your creation has a seed, too.

Consider planting a seed. You have to till the soil. Perhaps add nutrients. Make a hole. Place the seed in the soil. Cover it so it is in the dark. The darkness is what it needs to do what it needs to do.

It is the same with your creations. They must have time in the dark. They must have time to lie down in the sacred temple below the soil so that the divine mystery can do what it does – unfold spirit into the flesh of matter.

The creative process is a Whole process.

Reason and intuition, mathematics and poetry, sunshine and dark soil underground: creativity is the continual marriage of yin and yang. Both are necessary for health and wholeness of any beautiful aspect of life.

Just as we need to honor women in the realms of math and science, we must also honor the yin, or feminine, in these realms, too. For the most part, we are taught that simply working hard on a project will bring forth innovation and creativity. But this is only half the picture. When we acknowledge the power of incubation, that which happens underneath the surface of things, in addition to working hard on a problem, and we then consciously cultivate this sacred power, we bring our awareness to wholeness and the cyclical nature of creativity.

If we truly want to be creative as a people, a species, we have the opportunity to come back into right relationship with something we have tried to control for hundreds of years – the mysterious nature of life. What would a right relationship look like with this sacred place beneath the soil, this place of incubation? What happens there beneath the soil, while set in motion by our hard work and attention, is wondrous. We attempt to explain and prove what it is, but can we also meet it with wonder? The wondrous is right in front of us, all around us, within us. While we acknowledge our hard work and smarts, can we also acknowledge the sacred, too?

To truly be in relationship with the sacred means we bring back wonder and humility to the equation. It means we lay our need to control down, and instead, listen and receive.

An understanding of a creativity that acknowledges and incorporates the sacredness of life might actually bring forth the sacred intelligence of life that could save us from ourselves.

 

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For Life’s Benefit

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We live with many powerful beliefs in our culture.

 

Life is conquerable, controllable.

We are entitled to a ‘good’ life.

What gets in the way of the ‘good’ life is a burden.

If we don’t have a ‘good’ life then there is something wrong with how we are living it.

Do whatever it takes to get over, get rid of, move past, the bad stuff…so we can get back to living the ‘good’ life.

 

But this IS the life. All of it is life.

The truth is, we aren’t entitled to anything. We don’t deserve anything. We are given life with each breath. And we live until we don’t breathe anymore.

 

Last week, my grandson received a new heart valve. He’d had two open heart surgeries in his first two years of life (his first on his first day of life). After his second open-heart surgery when he was just two, the doctors told us that researchers were working on a valve that could be delivered to the heart by catheter through the artery in the groin. It seemed like science fiction that he might not have to endure another open heart surgery when this valve wore out.

Eleven years later, this past week, that’s exactly what we experienced. He received his new valve without having to open his chest again.

His life is not easy on many levels. Multiple complications from that very first day of life have presented him with a life that has its challenges. But this life is his life. It only seems it should be different when we compare it to some damn ‘ideal’ of what life should be, a fictional ideal that is paraded around our culture on a daily basis, but an ideal that just doesn’t exist.

Yes, on the surface, some have it ‘easier’. Yes, on the surface, some have it ‘harder’. But none of those comparisons actually help in the living of one’s life. And, at the most basic level, the comparisons are not logical, because life doesn’t compare. Life just creates and lives its creations.

What does help is how we hold life. Do we see it as a burden to try to get through? Do we see others problems, or our problems as something to fix so our lives will become the glistening, gleaming perfection we’ve been told they should be?

Or, do we live them in open honesty, at least with ourselves. Do we tell ourselves the truth? Do we allow ourselves to see the messiness of human love that we are, love in a human, frail body, attempting to live as if we are perfect, while all the while denying the divine imperfection that is our humanity.

Life isn’t supposed to feel ‘good’ all the time. How do I know that? Because it doesn’t.

What I discovered this week was that I was holding things in my life as if they were a burden. I was tired of grief, tired of pain, tired of feeling as though another shoe was going to drop. A part of me wanted that easy, gleaming life. But I came to see that it was this very perspective that was causing it to feel like a burden. I was making it happen in my own mind. I was pushing life away, rather than drawing it near to me.

As the day of my grandson’s procedure (yes, they call it a procedure instead of a surgery because he didn’t have to be opened up!) grew near, I realized how damn lucky I am to be his grandmother. And after the procedure, as I sat next to him in recovery, as he slept and his heart beat with gusto, I laid my head and hand on his heart and felt the life move through his body. I felt the pleasure of being with him, the tenderness of the moment borne from joy and elation that he had a new, vibrant lease on life, that he was alive.

I touched his shoulder and kissed his forehead. And, I simply sat with him and felt grateful.

Life isn’t supposed to feel ‘good’ all the time, but it can feel real.

Life isn’t binary, a series of on and offs, zeros and ones, goods and bads, blacks and whites. It just isn’t. No matter how hard we try to make it that way, it isn’t.

Life isn’t a machine. It’s isn’t the enemy. It isn’t something to fix.
I am not a machine. I am not the enemy. I am not something to fix.

There is no good life waiting for us at the end of the rainbow.

Everything moves. Everything changes. We control none of it. All we can do is dance, open to what is here, do our best to be present to it, receive it, sit with it. We can touch it, love it, feel it pulsing, grateful to know it as it is. We can hold our life in our hands and know it wasn’t made for our benefit, it was made for life’s benefit.

This has been the greatest reminder for me…

I was not put here on earth for my benefit, I was put on earth for life’s benefit. Am I living this?

 

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When we love the whole human experience, we are the miracle.

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You have been taught many ways
To mend your broken heart.
But have you asked your heart
If it wishes to be mended?
::

We are a species teetering on the brink. War, Fukushima, financial markets collapsing, global warming, governments in complete dysfunction, etc. We have pushed our ways of greed and control and domination so far that we may have pushed ourselves right over the brink.

Power wants to promote fear, and asks us to believe that love, tenderness, and compassion are weak. But they are not. A broken open heart is not weak at all.

Yesterday, Author Andrew Harvey shared this on his Facebook page:

Dear Friends,

It is time for everyone to become aware of what is at stake in the unprecedented crisis of Fukushima. Please turn to the website below and share the information with all your friends.

In this shattering time, I find three things essential: deep prayer, profound attention on loving everyone in our lives with intense compassion, and renewed commitment to go on serving whatever circumstances God may decide to be necessary for our transformation.

Ground yourself in your divine consciousness, surrender to the mystery and pray for deeper and deeper trust in the alchemy of divine wisdom. Do not be afraid, for the Living One is never closer to us then in our hour of deepest need.

Love,
Andrew

 A few years back, I worked with Andrew Harvey through his Institute for Sacred Activism, where he taught us to blend our deep love for the divine with the creative impulse within us for activism.

I don’t know the truth of what is happening at Fukushima. I don’t know that any of us truly know. On one hand, it sounds like what could happen could be absolutely devastating to the human race, as well as so many species and flora, water systems, etc. On the other, it doesn’t serve us to become filled with fear about something that hasn’t happened.

Yet, these three things:

  • deep prayer
  • profound attention on loving everyone in our lives with intense compassion
  • renewed commitment to go on serving whatever circumstances God may decide to be necessary for our transformation

are needed simply because we’ve reached a point of crisis that our thinking just can’t resolve. Whether it be in response to Fukushima, or so many of the other grave situations we have created on our planet, these three things are exactly what we must do.

I would add that the third one – whatever circumstances God may decide to be necessary for our transformation – is what is at the root of our creativity.

As Osho wrote, “God is in the new.” The new is where transformation happens. And for anything to be truly creative, it must be transformative, meaning we acknowledge we do not know…and then we step, willingly, into the unknown.

::

The other morning, I was lying in bed waking up and contemplating how much my soul loves beauty – and then I felt the most amazing love holding me…love from the inside. It caused me to weep, the kind of tears that simply run out your eyes and down your face.

In response, I wrote this:

When beauty comes to live in your heart, love is the child that is born.

And then, I wrote this:

As I was waking up this morning, I realized something. I realized that what I love – true, deep, cell-vibrating love – breaks my heart open, makes me smile from my whole body, and in one single flash takes me home to what I’ve longed for and searched for all my life.

My heart does not want to mend right now. Rather, if I allow myself to go there, my heart continually moves toward grief, toward feeling what is here, toward love. It continues to move toward finding the deep well of organic compassion that the deeper recesses of the heart knows well.

::

I went to bed last night with a heavy heart. My heart has broken open so many times in my life, and last night my heart was heavy with the grief of what we’ve done to this beautiful world we’ve been gifted to be a part of. My heart was heavy with thoughts of what my children and grandchildren will experience in the coming decades. And, I realized that I am much closer to the end of my life than the beginning, even not knowing when my day to die will come. And in that realization, something softened. I realized I have lived a good life. I’ve been gifted with so much. It is easy to be in the habit of wanting more and more and more, yet in that moment of seeing a very possible painful future for my grandchildren, I realized that even if I spent the rest of my life in conscious service to the divine to be a source of love, I could never repay what I have been given.

 

Then, I awoke in the middle of the night with a very clear picture of what must happen. I was shown something profoundly simple, yet incredible beautiful. It wasn’t an image (or promise) of everything being okay. Instead, it was an image of what we are truly here for in these times.

I could see that we are here to LIVE the Miracle – to BE the miracle. The miracle isn’t outside of us. The miracle is us. Living from love rather than fear is the miracle. Living as prayer. Moving from being meaning making creatures to love making creatures.

As I lay in bed, I remembered what The Course in Miracles says about miracles – that a miracle is the shift from fear to love.

Our lives can be an offering of this shift. But to really live this, we can’t choose what we love. If WE are the miracle then the shift from fear to love must be with our whole being for the wholeness of life.

 

When we love the whole human experience, we are the miracle.

 

When I discovered unimaginable beauty in the deep waters of grief, I thought I was going crazy at first. How could I feel beauty in this place? But when I let myself love that beauty in grief, I began to feel real and whole again. I felt as human as I did when my daughters were born, when I was alive with both physical pain and sheer unimaginable joy.

It was hard and it was beautiful. Right now we are living in hard and beautiful times, but we will only know the beauty and the full human experience if we feel what is happening, and we open to the whole spectrum of human experience. It’s the beauty of being human…not just in the good times, but in the hard times as well.

Those of us who’ve been sheltered for all of our lives with entitlement, privilege, and safety have known life from only these places…but life is a vulnerable proposition. Underneath a life of relative safety and ease, the rest of life’s experiences lay dormant simply waiting to be known. If we are to love life, it means loving the whole of life…the entirety of what it can mean to be a human being.

This is the miracle. Living this love in the midst of the turmoil, and feeling what it is to be connected, alive, human beings who love this planet, love each other, and deeply love life – right in the shadow of death.

It’s not to romanticize it. That’s not it. I wasn’t romanticizing Gary’s death. The very real living of the grief, the feeling of it deeply, there was the beauty of being human. Not just in good times, but in really, really hard times as well.

After all, death is always here…even when we pretend it isn’t.

::

A few months ago, I went to hear the visionary author, Charles Eisenstein, speak in the city. After his short talk, the audience asked him what it will take to make the shift from our current situation to the kind of world so many of us envision.

His reply? “It will take a miracle.”

As the audience took in his reply, my sense was that people wanted something more substantial. They wanted to be told of something they could do. That’s just my sense, but it’s what I felt. Sometimes that feels easier…just tell me what I can ‘do’ to fix things, and then everything will be okay.

But that isn’t what is true here. Although action is needed, it’s not the action we are used to taking that will shift us, because our current thinking keeps us acting in the same old ways.

As I saw what I saw last night, I had the ‘Aha’ around miracle. We’ve been conditioned to believe miracles occur outside of us, by some miraculous hand and that hand bestows them upon us. Instead, I see that what is new for us human beings is to come to know that our very lives are miracles, that when we shift from fear to the love that is at the heart of what we are we are a living, breathing miracle.

To face whatever comes with love is to love this human life – all of it, without condition, without demand – not just the pretty pictures, but the whole of it.

When I’ve been in deep grief in my life, what has happened every time is that I came to a place where I asked to be relieved of my own self-focus and self-concern. Each time I could see that the ways I focused on my own worries and fears simply got in the way of my ability to be helpful to those around me who really needed me. In those moments, when I prayed for this release, it was given. In that giving I came to directly touch, and share, a love that had no fear.

There is nothing for us to be waiting for. We ARE the miracle wanting to be lived. And, as Andrew Harvey says, “the Living One is never closer to us than in our hour of deepest need.”

 

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Beauty Marks

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“We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts are conscious of our treasures.” -Thornton Wilder

Conscious of our treasures

The other day, I unexpectedly took care of my four-year old granddaughter for the day. The first thing we did after she arrived at my place was to put on our raincoats and head outside for a walk. The rain had just about finished, and as it was moving on out, left in its wake were beauty marks scattered across places in my neighborhood.

Just outside my place, the neighbor’s staircase always holds an organic display of bougainvillea blossoms that have fallen from the vine. The bright magenta color grabbed my granddaughter’s attention and her little hands just naturally reached out to pick a couple up. I noticed that after she looked at them, she tucked them into her raincoat pocket.

Just about two blocks into our walk, we came upon these gorgeous eucalyptus leaves dotted with raindrops. As I knelt down to take a picture or two, my granddaughter’s little fingers gravitated toward these really big water drops.

She began to play with one in particular and as she noticed the way it moved about but didn’t break and fall apart, she began to giggle. She found this fascinating as she kept playing with the water. When we decided to move on, again I noticed her put a few leaves into her pocket.

We headed on down to my favorite cafe to have breakfast and green juice. Once we arrived, she immediately looked around for the place she most wanted to sit. We were the only ones there, so she had her pick of the place. She picked these high stools that faced a fairly tall counter. And before we ordered, she told me she needed to put her ‘treasures’ on the counter. She carefully reached into her pocket and brought out these bits and pieces she’d discovered on our way there. She handled them with such care, almost reverence. After all, they were treasures. They were each given their own spot along the counter, laid out with what seemed to be great intentionality. Once she was done, we could go order our food.

In watching her, I was captivated by the intensity of her focus, and by the way she was in relationship with these ‘treasures’. As we ate breakfast, she kept admiring her treasures. And, I found as I ate breakfast, I kept admiring her.

Life choosing Life

As a child, I, too, had treasures. Certain things always caught my eye. Certain things caused me to feel great joy and excitement. Certain things found their way into my pockets. And, when I take a look, I notice that those same things are still my treasures. What fills the soul with wonder and delight seems to remain so through our years. Each soul is drawn to certain things and experiences that remind it of its nature, of the qualities that it loves about existence and life.

Oriah Mountain Dreamer wrote,

Beauty is the truth of this moment’s fullness, it “is what pulls us toward life. It is what calls to us when we are in despair, seduces us into opening again and again to the possibility of love and laughter. It is the physical manifestation of the Mystery- God, Spirit, the divine- that surrounds and beckons to us every day of our lives. It is life choosing life.

We can try to make ourselves love what we’ve been taught to love, but ultimately if it isn’t a true treasure of the heart, it cannot bring us alive like our true loves.

We handle our true treasures with reverence. Somehow, we cannot do otherwise without causing great sorrow and pain to the soul. We can pretend, but we always know somewhere inside that we are pretending.

Children can teach us how to be alive again.

I noticed what called to my granddaughter, what delighted her, what she chose to be treasures. Life choosing life.

You are no different. You are life choosing life. Some things call to you, things that might not call to me.

How are you with this?

Do you honor that call?

Do you choose those expressions of life that your soul is reaching for?

Or do you tell yourself there are other treasures you ‘should’ be wanting?

There is nothing even close to the feeling you feel when you honor your soul’s treasures, or when you notice the beauty marks left as an offering at your feet.

There is a ‘rightness’ that is not at all about it being right, but everything about aliveness, pure aliveness. It is what is pulling you toward life, seducing you to open again and again.

Beauty marks us, seducing us to open so it can leave the heart conscious of what it loves.

 

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Little Flares of Coiled Delight

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“Life is your art. An open, aware heart is your camera. A oneness with your world is your film.” ~ Ansel Adams

The other day I had to pick up a new headset for my iPhone. I was down in Palo Alto, so I headed over to the Stanford Shopping Center. This is one of the most beautiful outdoor malls ever created…mainly for the flowers planted all around the center.

I hadn’t realized just how out-of-sorts I was feeling until I saw these Dahlias. As I stopped to really look at them, I realized just how much joy seeing the beauty in flowers brings me. They bring me home. I begin to breathe more deeply. I being to smile a soft smile. I feel joy, that soft easy joy that is such a field of contentment. This joy is the joy of an open aware heart that meets life without expectations.

Returning Home

In Women Who Run with the Wolves, Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes about the periodic need of women to go home, to return to the soul. Sometimes, we need to really get away to some place earthy and enchanted to remember the depth of what we are, and sometimes we can find a mini-retreat of sorts to reconnect to the soul.

As I continued to meander through the mall looking at flowers, I found this one. From the front, it is gorgeous in its openness. It’s not at all symmetrical. It has its own unique arrangement of petals. I loved that about it. Then, (and I don’t know what possesssed me to do this!) I looked behind it, at the back of it, and lo and behold! – there were these beautiful little curls that you see in the top image. I think she invited me in…

Seeing the coiled flares of delight she’s got going on behind her, sort of like under her skirts, caused me to wonder (I love the word wonder) what flares and curls and pink petals I’ve got stashed away, just waiting for a moment when the light shines upon them calling to them to come out of hiding. I know it’s something to do with bawdiness and laughter, delight and belly-shaking glee.

I know I’m shaking off the voices that have caused me to continue to believe that logic and reason reign supreme over delight and wonder, that having things figure out is much more important than settling down into the utter delight of not knowing a damn thing and being open to the delight of discovery, that clarity of argument will always win out over the powerful peace that comes when something is just what it is without the need to get anyone to understand. Ha…how totally devoid of delight, glee, and eros these voices were that I came to internalize!

How about you?

What coiled tendrils and flares are you keeping to yourself? What would others see if you were to give us access to those parts of you you’ve yet to unfurl, that you long to unfurl? Notice the uniqueness in this beauty. Where, and in what, does your uniqueness just wait to be invited out?

Where is that bawdiness in you, the place where delight, desire, and a good belly laugh are all that’s needed?

What mini-retreat might you have at your fingertips just waiting to take you home, back into the arms and lap of the goddess who delights in those little flares of soul?

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A Sacred Duty

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Rose

“There is a relentless search for the factual and this quest often lacks warmth or reverence.
At a certain stage in our life we may wake up to the urgency of life, how short it is.
Then the quest for truth becomes the ultimate project.
We can often forage for years in the empty fields of self-analysis and self-improvement
and sacrifice much of our real substance for specks of cold, lonesome factual truth.

The wisdom of the tradition reminds us that if we choose to journey on the
path of truth, it then becomes a sacred duty to walk hand in hand with beauty.” 

~ John O’Donohue

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Woman to Woman – Revealing Our Radiance

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Alla Sera
In my last post, Weaving a New World, I speak of telling a new story.

The story we’ve been living is not our own. It is one of conditioned behavior and beliefs. It is one of power over. It does not serve life – it attempts to dominate it.

This old story keeps us hiding our light, playing down our instinctive nature, not trusting our intuition. It keeps us ashamed of our sensuality and sexuality. It constantly reminds us that we can’t trust femaleness, either in ourselves or in other women.

This old story keeps us believing so many untruths. It keeps us in chains, so that our wildness remains tamed rather than free to express, create and love.

A new story

There is a fullness in all of life. It’s a power, a life force, a presence that simply can’t be put into words. There is no word, for words are removed from this fullness. Words are one-dimensional and this fullness is infinite.

This fullness is the new story.

This new story is a story of truth. When we tell our story, the truth of our experience, we are telling the story of life as it really moves and flows and loves.

The other day,

my friend and I were having an intimate conversation, both sharing things about ourselves and our lives that we’d not yet told each other. It was really lovely.

Then, my friend shared a deeper story, a story that was filled with an intimacy and vulnerability rarely shared in our world. The story had been kept close to her heart. It was tender. It was compelling.

As she began to speak, her body began to sway ever so slightly, her hands began to express what her words could not convey, her eyes closed as she felt into her story.

Words attempt to describe what we long to express, yet they cannot ever capture the experience itself. In watching her body tell the story, and in feeling her story in my body, I began to know the depths of what she was wanting to convey.

As she sat in silence once she was done, I spoke to her of the power of what she had shared, the powerful effect it had on me. I spoke to her of her brilliance and how compelling she was in her rawness and complete nakedness. I shared with her that her radiance was visible and palpable because of her vulnerability.

I watched as she heard what I was saying to her about the beauty of her soul. As she took in my words, her tears began to flow, as if something began to release in her.

The effect on me was profound. It felt as if the effect was profound on her, too.

I witnessed the struggle we go through to allow ourselves to acknowledge our sacredness, our beauty and worth. It was humbling to see how powerful our resistance is to acknowledging our own basic goodness. And, it was deeply moving to see, once again, how incredibly important it is for each of us to give the gift of witnessing and reflecting another woman’s beauty and worth.

How we long to relax into our own beauty.

How we long to settle into our sacredness.

How we long to trust what we know somewhere in the depths of our soul…that our sacredness is both exquisite and ordinary just as we are.

Despite what the old story tells us, vulnerability is powerful.

Despite what the old story says, telling another woman what you see in her, the beauty of the truth within her, doesn’t take anything from you, but rather is a powerful gift to both of you.

Despite what the old story says, when we tell our stories from our bodies, allowing the soul to speak in ways other than words, we begin to remember the deeper aspects and places of womanhood.

I’ve been lucky.

Not only did this friend offer herself as a mirror to me, I’ve had other friends willing to be this mirror, too. Women I know and love are willing to share with me what they see in me, and it’s had a profound effect on me, helping me grow into a woman with increased self-confidence and radiance.

While I’ve also had men who’ve loved me share with me, too, when women share something else comes alive. Things hidden that have been hidden are revealed. Things pushed into the dark have come into the light. A knowing of the feminine has come awake again in my cellular memory. And the light of the new feminine consciousness has grown just a little bit brighter.

When we trust ourselves, we can be mirrors to each other’s beauty. We can help each other remember what we believe we’ve forgotten.

This beauty also includes those things we don’t normally call beautiful. When someone reveals themselves, even in their anger and fear, sadness and grief, that is beauty, for we only really know true beauty when something or someone is real.

I know for me, each time I am invited into the holiness of a moment such as this, something previously hidden in me is revealed, for in these moments we are open to the grace that is always here.

Photo by Alessandro Pinna. CC license – AttributionNoncommercialShare Alike Some rights reserved

 

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