A New Song

Greetings, fellow travelers!

early.morning.snow.magic

Yes it has been a long and silent month here. The struggle to find ways to adapt has moved to a deeply personal level and my energies have been focused elsewhere. I am ok, yet many I know are not. And, the ongoing warfare between narratives troubles me- it has stifled my ability to write coherently. Oh, I continue to journal almost everyday, but rambling rants do not a blog post make! Yet, like the glittering magic of the sunlight on snow, I am finding glimmers of hope. Not long after my last post, I started an online class on the intuitive energy of colors which has helped me reclaim my love for drawing and painting. Not that I’ll be hosting a gallery showing anytime soon, but I am finding great joy and even comfort in my creative efforts.  And slowly but surely the words are coming back as well, as are the migrating voices of Spring. 

Morning symphony
testifies Diversity
is Divine’s desire

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

So Long 2020 and “thanks for all the fish*…”

So fellow travelers, today there will be a pervasive narrative of “Goodbye and good riddance to 2020.”

 

Before we take that on as our story know this:
Yes, I too will move forward from 2020 with tremendous relief because, make no mistake my friends, the past year was just the beginning. This first year of the new decade set in motion seismic shifts in human consciousness which are creating much needed changes across every system in society, all across the globe.
As with all significant change, there will be pushback from the status quo and attempts to distract us from the potential of greater good. Do not be drawn in. Change is inevitable, focus determines its trajectory. Our energy is too valuable to waste on senseless conflict and our focus must not be co-opted. Be mindful of what holds your attention.

With all its chaos, suffering and loss, 2020’s true gift has been revelation. We cannot heal what we do not acknowledge. Now, ignorance is no longer a viable excuse.  We either accept the intolerable or we help each other up off the ground and walk through this portal into a new year with mindful intent to not only embrace change but to consciously participate in creating it.

Walk gently on the path and let Love light the way. See you all in 2021.

Editorial Note: * The quote in the title references Book 4 of Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhikers Guide to the Universe. Its a strange and humorous series which makes complete sense after experiencing 2020.

In Search of Magic

So fellow travelers, rising well before dawn to greet the Solstice, a glance out the window in my meditation space revealed this gift

a moment which provided the last key to finding what seemed lost.

Tis now a season
made strange and unfamiliar
by required distancing
in full contradiction with
the inherent nature of the day
when gathering together to celebrate
the gift of Love made manifest on Earth 
is everything

indeed the only thing
on your list this year
and the one wish which will remain

not granted
So you search long and hard
far and wide
past and present
for that  “magic of the season “
and just as doubt weighs heaviest
The glow of snowkissed lights
 clear tones of a favorite song
sweet cinnamon cookies and tea

fragrant wafts of balsam
and just now

a gentle Angel’s kiss at dawn
There at last you find it
right where it was hidden all along
Peace
Love
Joy 
Magic is indeed alive and well
deep in your heart

Walk gently on the path my friends and blessings of the Season to you all.

Digging Deeper

So fellow travelers, last month I promised a post on my core experience of Christmas “becoming” magical.

Honestly, this year, I find myself digging deeper than ever to feel that magic and, knowing I am not alone in this, I remain committed to creating that post. As it germinates in the creative sanctuary of my heart, waiting to sprout words in my brain, a cold front pushed temperatures back to more seasonable digits and our first winter storm slowly turned the view from my studio into a snow globe.

I recently started spending an hour in my writing space everyday, as the “golden hour” sets in not to write, but to simply watch the light change as it surrenders to ever earlier nightfall. The cycles of nature are a reminder to me that change is the only constant in life. Day to night, season to season, the waxing and waning moon, all continuous cycles. The experience is infused with profound longing, and inexplicable joy.

To surrender to the inevitable changes in life is to cast hope into the future, like seeds sent forth as a plant’s last gift before it too becomes part of the Earth. For the first time in my life, I witnessed all of humanity struggle against the force of wave after wave of change over which we had so little control. While the tide is turning, this global transformation does not end with the flip of the calendar and a change in the year’s end digit from zero to one. When we emerge from the other side of the effects of this pandemic, our lives will look and feel very different, which is why there has been such deep persistent resistance to accepting what we know we all must do. For humanity to move forward, we must embrace the opportunity to participate in creating a more equitable, more compassionate and yes, more hopeful life for our fellow travelers. Clearly not everyone has embraced this, however I earnestly believe the balance tips in favor towards the willing as creating enough force to shift the narrative for our future.

It feels like a daunting mission and yet a moment in the opening of a recent livestream show with my five favorite musical humans, Switchfoot, brought up this quote:
“Now is no time to think of what you do not have. Think of what you can do with what you have.” Ernest Hemingway / The Old Man and the Sea. *

So for now I offer this chance image, captured on a recent walk and the words it brought :

Winds of change roar in
Faith takes hold digging deeper
Reaching for Earth’s strength

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

*Editorial Note: This quote is similar to one I first read in Theodore Roosevelt’s Autobiography originally published in 1914. “Do what you can, with what you’ve got, where you are. ” The quote is always attributed to Teddy (who stands as my favorite US President) however he clearly stated the quote’s origins as Squire Bill Widener of Widener’s Valley, Virginia. It remains one of the foundations of my personal perspective.

Sunset Zen

So fellow travelers, catching a sunset never fails to give rise to a wave of emotions for me.

Gratitude is always a component, even if it is simple gratitude for a challenging day’s end and the gift of a chance to rest. November’s short damp days often end with cloud cover so thick it obscures the setting sun. So the vision of banks of grey clouds turning rosy pink the other day created a moment of insight and these words~

Swaths of grey blush pink
from the setting sun’s kiss and
promise to return

The constants of sunrise and sunset are my reminder of a Promise: no matter the darkness we pass through, the Light will return. In my teens I came across a quote which radically shifted my perception of life. The phrase from The Greek Philosopher Heraclitus, “Panta Rhei” is usually transcribed as “Change is the only constant,” although it actually means “everything flows.” Which, in fact, it does when we relinquish our resistance to the inevitability of change.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way


Red Angel

So fellow travelers, when I reach the edge of emotional resilience nature is the sanctuary which brings my energy back to  center. 

One special find on the Acadia trip.

In general, I proactively make healing time in nature a regular part of my routine, even if it’s just the daily walk times with our dog. Since our  return from the early October trip to Acadia, my creative focus has been in total disarray just like the trip’s blog entry which remains in narrative limbo. Like the haze from wildfires, there is a peripheral anxiety which permeates my days and a growing awareness that this energy I am feeling is far larger than my own. It comes in unrelenting waves so persistent I have been pushed to seek a more powerful arsenal of coping practices. That quest has led me to profound discoveries about myself, which in turn have brought me to a place of clarity about what’s happening in the world around me as well. This awareness has not quite coalesced into description yet, but a moment on a long hike created an experience which reflects what it feels like.

Trekking along a path, my dog and I rounded a corner and there, illuminated by a ray of sunlight, was a tiny red angel standing perfectly upright among the fallen leaves. Feelings quickly flowed into these words

This one chose to stand
small but fiery bright lit by
compassion and love

The world is changing; there are multiple narratives playing out. We are alive in this crucial turning point for a reason. That reason differs for each of us and none of us can say what is true for anyone but our own self. Yet collectives are made of individuals so the choices we each make matter more than we give ourselves credit for. There is power inherent in every act of kindness and compassion, in each word spoken to raise awareness of injustice and each hand extended in peace. The power of many individual actions builds into a wave  which can overcome fear and hatred with the unstoppable force of unified Love.

I’ve only surfed a handful of times, but if the tide is changing and surf’s up, I’m willing to ride the waves.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

Deep Dive

So fellow travelers, as we hit the long slippery slope leading to election day here in the not-so-United States I reached a point of near desperation to comprehend what madness is driving the hatred flying around.

When the demise of my 02RavCamper kept me home bound for several weeks back in September, I found myself needing a diversion to ward off the depression brewing from giving up several weeks of camping plans. Since retiring last June, I’ve looked forward to Fall camping because this year I could finally camp for  long stretches of weekdays when the campgrounds and trails are quieter. While my search for an affordable vehicle did take up much of my focus, I found myself with just enough spare time to become increasingly aware of the high emotions flying around as election campaigns ramped up, despite my conscious choice to limit time on social media or TV news.

“Get Curious,” is a phrase I hear often from a trusted mentor in personal development. As a kid with an insatiable curiosity about everything I was often told I asked “too many questions.” Finding a path of growth where curiosity is not only encouraged but brilliantly supported has been a gift beyond measure.

So, what better way to master the anxiety driven by vitriolic emotions than taking a deep dive into the psychology of hate. It’s like the moment just before I start a particularly challenging hike.

Until I take the first few steps there’s always the option to get back in the car and drive to a local diner for a cup of coffee and a slice of pie. But, seriously, I’ve come all this way, going back without exploring what’s ahead just seems pointless. Those first few yards on the trail become my commitment to take on the challenge and meet the source of any fear head on. And that pie and coffee will be waiting when I get back down. (Photo: Blue Mountain Trail hiked in August 2018)

The past six weeks certainly have been vastly different from my original plans for this first Autumn in retirement. To be honest, this research “dive” into the psychology of hate has been exhausting and would have been impossible to manage if I was still working. I regret nothing, not the sleepless nights, not the painful personal insights, not the intense frustration of even needing to be excavating this graveyard of systemic dysfunction. I am exhausted yet profoundly grateful to have reached a point of comprehension.

Earlier today I came across this quote from Neale Donald Walsh which summarizes my conclusions:
The impulse to help each other is built into our genes; it is coded within our species. We have a “soul contract” to help each other. I’m convinced of it. We all, each of us, feel this impulse.”1
I know the immediate reaction is to think it’s impossible to believe this is true for people spreading hatred and engaging in violence.

However, the deeper I dove into the research on hatred the more evident it became that because humans are “wired” for connection, whenever we deny it and try to cut off that connection, it creates a downward spiral of shame, guilt and eventually an overwhelming fear. Left unacknowledged and unhealed those feelings fester until they explode as anger. On some level we have all been in that spiral; part of my exploration has been uncovering and healing those emotions within my own psyche. 

Understanding this has allowed me to step back from engaging directly in the fight around me. It is futile to try reasoning with anyone living with that level of fear and it is not effective to employ guilt in an attempt to change people already steeped in shame. People acting out of hatred are always in a defensive mode and that is not a state of being conducive to change.

Understanding does NOT mean I accept hatred nor does it absolve people who have chosen violence, oppression and fear mongering. Understanding has simply given me an acute awareness of when engaging is a waste of precious energy, energy better directed towards being an active participant in the kind of society I want to live in.

Angel sighting Sunset view from Cadillac Mountain Acadia Natl.Park 9.30.2020

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

 

1 The Storm Before The Calm. Book One: Conversations with Humanity series. Neale Donald Walsh. Random House Publishing

Autumn Flags

So fellow travelers, the colors of my favorite season are peaking here in Upstate New York.

Autumn waves its flags
releasing what’s done with ease
with joy I follow

This glorious season of ephemeral beauty and joy is too brief to spend indoors. The Acadia trip posts will just have to wait.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way

The Road Forward

So fellow travelers, September continued with it’s theme of significant losses. Thankfully, by Divine Grace, none were from the living. Still, the loss of a companion of a different sort created a domino sequence of changes which has yet again altered my path forward.

Farewell Little Blue RaVan

On the first evening of Autumn, after bidding farewell to the little blue Rav which has been my camping haven through this summer of disorienting losses I walked to a nearby road and watched the sun set. Once a year, the setting sun aligns exactly with the gap at the far end of this road and turns it into a golden pathway.

There’s a moment when
all comes in alignment and
the path turns to gold

In a year which has brought changes of a magnitude no one could possibly have accurately foretold, this ninth month became a crossroad from which there is no turning back. And as the saying goes, when the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Walk gently on the path my friends and let Love Light the way


Stretching Time

 So fellow travelers,  flipping the calendar a few days ago brought a moment of peace I was deeply grateful to take in~

For the first time in 21 years,  turning the calendar to August did not generate a rush of urgency fueled by the impossibility of “fitting in” all my planned adventures in the remaining weeks before going back to work at the end of summer.
Yes, eventually summer heat will give way to the welcome crisp air of Autumn, my favorite season for hiking and camping. However, this year, the end of summer does not bring an end to my free time because I retired last June. So I stood for a few minutes and looked with profound gratitude at August’s small white squares of days so graciously open to possibilities.
Of course as Pandemic2020 rages on in these not so United States of America, possibilities are not as easily translated into plans.  In this too, being retired has helped me embrace the simple joy of stepping into each day with a heart open to what the day has to offer. That is a big (but very welcome) shift for an organized, over-thinker who makes lists and starts packing weeks before a trip. 
In fact as I write this post, Isaias’ path up the Atlantic coast has shifted westward just enough to dump “tropical rainfall” here, which means delaying my intended departure perhaps until tomorrow for this week’s camping trip. No worries- my favorite little campsite is reserved through the end of the week and waits, just like Inner Peace, for me to show up and claim it.

Walk gently on the path, my friends and let Love light the way.