Unknowing

So fellow travelers, there are moments of clarity when awareness shifts and without being sure how, why or even what has altered, something unsettled or unspoken is resolved. These little miracles of consciousness are easily missed if our hearts are not open to experiencing what cannot be explained.

Walking silently along trails, listening for birds, watching for signs of the change of seasons a few days ago, I heard a signature call. An immature bald eagle circled overhead, then tipping its wings to catch the wind, glided effortlessly away.  In the distance I saw the far edge of the lake begin to disappear in a low band of snow.

~ in the valley of unknowing, trust evaporates like mist ~

I felt more than heard the words and somehow the phrase brought me tremendous comfort. Puzzled yet grateful for the peace it brougt to a mind so muddled and weary from weeks of irrational changes at work I repeated the phrase quietly. Maybe speaking the phrase was a way to integrate the peace it brought into my soul. I left the trails that day feeling as if a question I had not yet asked had been answered. Even without comprehending this experience I fully accept it because I have learned these moments of zen will in time reveal what I need to unknow.

Faith accept release

Set burdens down walk away

Joy awaits live free

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Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

Random Bliss

So fellow travelers, work has been whackadoodle (shout out to fellow blogger Tom Atkins for finding the perfect descriptive terminology.)

Going into week three of this chaotic spin it’s starting to take a toll on me.  When incidents I’d normally consider as “outliers” keep happening,  I find myself starting to question my perception and grasp on reality.  Tom’s blog piece brought me back to center with his reminder we have to keep seeking peace.

So on my way to work yesterday morning when I caught a glimpse of the waning crescent moon, in the velvet pre-dawn sky, I stopped to take it in. Diamond bright in the crystal clear frost bitten air it sat cradled perfectly in the arms of the giant sycamore that stands as our front yard Guardian Spirit.

I did not go back inside to get my camera, but I did take the time to fully absorb this moment of bliss and then, mindful there was a poem stirring in all that joy, I snapped a shot with my phone.

Bliss

random

fleeting

yearning

listen

calling

hear me

find me

see me

 be me

heart lit

holding

mem’ry

soul filled

 Thank you

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

 

 


 

 

 

Hiding in Plain Sight

So fellow travelers, for those of us who find solace and sanctuary on the trails and byways outside,  March is a tough month to get through in  Upstate New York.

A favorite tree in a snow covered field  a few days before the Vernal Equinox.
Once in a while, a little miracle comes along to remind us that Spring will arrive here too, eventually.

Today, I found one reminder blooming brightly in the staff room at work.  I’ll take this little miracle with a heart full of gratitude.

Oh! Good morning Spring

Hidden here in plain sight Hope

waiting to be found.

 

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Introducing WordPress.com for Google Docs: A New Way Forward for Collaborative Editing

Sharing for fellow wordpress bloggers with the full disclaimer I have not tested it out yet. I do plan to try this in the next week or so. If you have feedback please do post your experience the comments!

The WordPress.com Blog

We are happy to announce WordPress.com for Google Docs, a new add-on that lets you write, edit, and collaborate in Google Docs, then save it as a blog post on any WordPress.com or Jetpack-connected WordPress site. Your images and most formatting will carry over too. No more copy-and-paste headaches!

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To get started, just go to the Google Web Store page and click to install it.

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Three Birds Blue

So fellow travelers,  last week a run of unseasonably warm weather had me out on the birding trails well ahead of season.

 I recognized the chirrup of a song I usually do not hear until Spring has sent Winter well on its way. Looking up I spotted three bluebirds sitting on a wire, taking in the afternoon sun.

Bluebirds, in  February

And not just, one but  three!

A rhythmic dance of words emerged as I took mental pictures to help me sketch later on:

Three birds blue

On a wire

Puffed up chests

Sunlight bathed

Hawk cries high

Sudden flight

Farewell friends

Spring still sleeps

Snow must melt

I will wait

Your return~~~

Winter is back in full force now. Lake Effect snow rushing in ahead of a roaring cold front with  64 mph. Brrrrrr. I’m hoping my three friends are hunkered down in a safe spot til this storm passes. Seeking sanctuary. A sign of the times.

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.

Undiscovered country

It is indeed “easier in the woods” Shared with profound gratitude for Jennifer’s ability to glean wisdom from grief.

The Trailhead

This afternoon, I received the news that my friend died this morning. I’ve known for some time that he had a deadly and rapidly progressing condition. So the news was not unexpected, but it was still surprising in how ferociously piercing it felt. He told me last week it was about to happen, but there was a part of me that clung fast to denial. That’s the part of me that sits here, now, and wonders how someone can send me a message one day and be gone on another. It’s perfectly plausible and entirely common, and yet it still seems amiss.

During these last few months, I strained to minimize the gap that had opened between us, the one that inevitably appears between one person who belongs very much to the world, and another who is preparing to exit it. It was important to me that we remain on…

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Road of Omission

So fellow travelers, a zen moment of awareness from yesterday’s trek in spring weather.

 It’s late February

Here in Upstate NY, if spring weather shows up in March, we consider it early. 

Spring weather in February is well, it’s just so unnatural, frankly it’s unnerving.

Then again these days what isn’t?

Don’t get me wrong. This birdacious seeker of sanctuary is deeply grateful to be walking paths usually buried in several feet of snow and hearing red wing blackbirds not due to return for a couple of weeks.

Signs of a changing world.

Not a comfortable thought.

Then again these days what is ?

Here’s the haiku which emerged as I walked the path processing recent interactions.

It’s safe and smooth this

Road of omission a straight

Line to the desert

Often more meaning is present in what’s not said than in what is.

Walk gently on the path my friends for kindness matters.

Becoming Conscious

So fellow travelers,  have you ever committed to do something and afterwards realized you have no idea how you are going to pull it off?

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Smith Rock State Park, Oregon

In one of my first posts of this year, I wrote about not allowing fear and anger to cloud compassion.  Compassion fuels kindness and kindness is my chosen focus in life.

Being a rather strong willed human the gentle aura of kindness might not be the first frame of reference people associate with me.

After all, “Though she be but litte, she be fierce” * was the runner up choice for my Senior Yearbook quote. One does not hear people described as fiercely kind and compassionate.

Com~passion : communal(shared)~ strong emotions.

Passionate emotion comes easy to me, compassion has taken more focused practice. On so many levels this is why I feel the increasing weight of my choice to act from compassion, particularly because I have yet to master the art of managing anger with compassion.

In a TED talk given in 2015,  psychologist Russell Kolts describes the practice of using compassion to empower oneself to deal with the things which frighten us most about our world and ourselves. He considers compassion as a form of courage which helps us face our greatest fears and recognizes anger as a way of avoiding the things we fear most.

Anger is exhausting. Fear is debilitating. They take a tremendous toll on our spirit. Yet, how do we not feel aggravated when facing an increasingly mean-spirited wave of self centered oppression, when invoking kindness is labeled cry-baby liberalism, expressing concern for those less fortunate is equated with socialism and women speaking up for social justice are told to sit down and mind their place?

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Eye in the Winter Sky February 2017

Mindfulness– the practice of training oneself to become fully aware of the experience within each moment. What am I feeling about what my senses are taking in? What are those feelings telling me about myself?  Mindfulness allows me to acknowledge those feelings and recognize the fears and hopes within them. This process slows the impulse to react, giving me a chance to rebalance,

breathe

to BE

and by BEing I consciously choose the feeling that infuses my actions.

Anger becomes determination, fear becomes temperance, impulsive reaction is replaced by conscious action; taking action becomes easier because the weight of negative emotions has been lifted.

It’s taken a two week battle with a flu-like respiratory infection to make me fully aware of how far I had wandered from my balance point.  When a day at work required a hour of sleep to garner the energy to heat soup for dinner and a walk around the neighborhood with our dog felt like the three mile lake loop we are accustomed to hiking in warmer seasons, being flattened to such a state of simply exisiting, brought into sharp focus the cumulative effect several months of stress has taken on my body, mind and spirit.

Time to hit the reset button.

Walk gently on the path my friends for kindness matters.

*Shakespeare: Midsumer Nights Dream Act 3 scene 2. No, I did not play Hermia,  to whom the line refers; I was perhaps not surpringly cast as the mischievous pixie Peaseblossom.

peaseblossom

 

 

 

 

 

From Chaos to Hope

“Heaven has no fury like the Great Mother scorned.”                                                                                         Vera deChalambert : Kali Takes America

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Study in Ice ~ Goddess Rising 

 

So fellow travelers, my post about setting boundaries received more responses than anything I have posted in the past few months. Seems like it struck a chord.

Most of the responses reflected common experiences and concerns about the increased disrespect, anger and bullying in comments on social media. I cannot shake the suspicion there are people in power who want it this way. When we are busy squabbling and tearing each other apart we become too preoccupied to be aware of what is happening around us.

Initially, being of the “spread light not darkness” philosophy, I stayed out of the diatribe, occassionally  offering a voice of reason in threds of particular concern. I am pretty adept at making a point without aligning the statement with a specific iedology, other than my mantra that “kindness matters.” Yet as this cycle has spun out, even simple statements about kindness have generated zealous attacks from both ends of the political spectrum.

Which left me shaking my head and wondering  “WTH has happened to us?”

Then I came across an article my sister-in-law posted. It’s titled Kali takes America.  You can read the full content here.  (full disclosure, the author Vera DeChalambert is not a fan of the 45th American President and that’s not the point I wish to discuss in any commentary following this post.) Ms DeChalambert invokes the imagery of Kali, the dark goddess of chaos bringing necessary clearing before progress can continue. As a student of religious mythology I am familiar with Kali (so familiar in fact I can almost hear Kali roar “Who you callin’ Myth, little girl?”)   In one version of her story, she is said to have gained her power by repeatedly consuming and then rebirthing her husband, Shiva, the God of Destruction.

Yeah, Kali is one terrifying Entity.

I tend to take intellectual interpetations of indigenous myths with a large dose of experiential skepticism.  Diluting the visceral aspects of Eastern traditions makes them easier to integrate into white Christian culture. Yoga is about physical well being and relaxation with little reference to the sexual nature of it’s origins. Tai-Chi is a meditative practice, not a martial art. Buddhism’s violent past is essentially unknown to modern day practitioners. Diffusion makes the cultural gap significantly easier to breech at the price of losing some core piece of original essence.

Know that I am or have been a practitioner of all these disciplines; their contribution to my spiritual path and inner strength is immeasurable. In my teens when most of my friends were self medicating with drugs and alcohol, the discovery of Eastern religions kept me from spiraling into the darkness of what I now recognize as bouts of depression. Eastern wisdom and practices kept my head above water. I am nothing if not grateful for this.

Still, I wonder how prepared our modern world is for the effects of unrestrained immersion in Kali’s world and I commented as such on my sister-in-law’s post. What followed was a heartfelt, mutually respectful exchange of interpretations from different perspectives. Our mutual conclusion was one of hope for an empowered grassroots movement focused on positive progress and diversity. Yet, Vera deChalambert maintains the price required to go beyond “false light” to find “true hope” is total immersion into darkness to transmute the realities of “discrimination, hate and oppression.” Not a toe dip in the murky waters of change, total immersion which is not likely to be an easy journey. DeChalambert alludes to this when she wraps her thesis in Leonard Cohen’s chilling masterpiece “You Want it Darker,” a dire but fitting anthem when you’re invoking Kali to “reanimate a discourse of hope.”

But a month into this chaotic Bully Driven administration it’s increasingly clear we have charted a course through some dreadfully dark, rough waters and those of us who carry compassion in our hearts must stand strong not only for ourselves but for members of society who have been marginalized all their lives. We will stand in solidarity against all forces that stand against us even as we hope justice will prevail and love will sprout from the seeds sown in the darkness of these days.

Sing for us from your heavenly respite Mr. Cohen. We’ll need your words to steel our resolve.

Walk gently on the path my friends. May kindness be our guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guest Post: It’s So Much More Than a Dream

So fellow travelers, in the space of these two weeks since January 20th,  I have taken on the role of moderator for two new groups.

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One is a labor of love, for a crew of local rescue volunteers (more on that perhaps in a future post, for now a few photos  of my recent overnight guests will have to suffice) and the other was born out the desire to support a small yet determined group of fellow local activists in these challenging times.

I know~ as one of my cherished blog followers messaged me recently~the beautiful photos and heartfelt haikus have taken a back seat recently to more pressing matters.

Because to me kindness, liberty, diversity, justice all matter.

Because All of Humanity matters to me.

All humans~ ALL ~not just people who look or think or believe or act like me.

Accepting people with opposing views does not mean I have to agree with their views to be respectful. It means I expect the same and as I wrote recently, I’ve been disappointed in that regard.  Accepting another person’s right to believe differently from me does not give them the right to force their beliefs on me or on people I know and love.

As I work my way through the actions needed to help put in place my piece of this global movement to secure liberty, diversity, justice and kindness for future generations I will be sharing the work of other writers who are crafting pieces which resonate with my heart.

And don’t worry~  there will be images and heartfelt haikus from me too.  I promise.

For now this Guest post from: Author Nadine Jolie Courtney

“There is very little I can say to change the mind of people who don’t understand why separating immigrants and refugees into “good” (white-skinned Christians) and “bad” (dark-skinned Muslims) is wrong and against everything that has historically made America wonderful.

But I’ll try anyway.

People saying “but we need to put ourselves first” and “Make America Great Again” seem to be missing the point. A crucial part of what makes America great is a unique ideal: the first amendment in our Constitution. It guarantees protection for the very freedoms now under attack, the very freedoms denied in totalitarian countries: religion, speech, the press. I’ve seen arguments online saying that America needs to only welcome those with similar cultures and beliefs, which–again–is missing the point. We are rejecting the singular ideals that lifted us up and made us great in the first place. We are rejecting humanity itself: the humanity of those suffering around the world, and our own humanity, too.

Refugees fleeing war-torn countries like Syria are trying to escape the terrorism that our troops and intelligence services fight against. They know its evils much more than we ever will. They have seen the ravages of war. They have buried their children. They seek a clean, safe place to lay their heads and raise their families and pursue their own version of the American Dream.

Things have gotten so politically ugly and divisive recently that it’s easy to forget we’re ultimately on the same team (even when it doesn’t feel like it). Those of us who are horrified by the direction of our country under our new President–and heartbroken that he chose to sign this executive order on Holocaust Remembrance Day–don’t support terrorism. We don’t want people coming to our beautiful, beloved America and hurting it or us. We’re not blindly bleeding-hearts…but we do *have* hearts. Our concern for human dignity doesn’t end at our front door.

We shouldn’t abandon our founding principles when the going gets tough: we should embrace them tighter. The Statue of Liberty reads, in part, “Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, the wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!” They are beautiful, poetic words–but they have long been so much more.

These words on Lady Liberty signify that those in their hour of need can look to America–the country of immigrants, the country of possibilities–and we will swing the door open wider, rather than slamming it in your face. We welcome all faiths, all cultures, all countries. Yes, Syrians. Yes, Muslims. We are a melting pot, and ours has more than one color and more than one flavor.

It is a scary world, no doubt. There’s a lot of darkness out there. But there’s light and goodness, too–both in foreigners and in us, on both sides of the political spectrum–if we can dig deep and be open-minded even when fear and anger is the easier option. Let us continue to lift our lamps beside the golden door.

Last thought: this is a photo that hangs in our house. It’s my Muslim Syrian grandmother hugging my Episcopalian nun mother-in-law at my wedding. It is an immigrant hugging the descendant of immigrants at an interfaith Muslim-Christian celebration of family and love.

THAT is the American dream.”

You can find more of Nadine’s work at this link

Walk gently on the path my friends and may adventure find you ready.