thunderstorm

it is wednesday morning. glorious thunderstorms.

the skies are sharing in this powerful, heartwrenching time of acceptance. hannah died six days ago.

through her death, there has been access to Love. the veil, thin and at times, completely dissolved. it is a holy time. all is sacred.

in times like these, all is here to support. i want to remember this reality. it is evidence.

there’s been the rain, the thunder. rosemary for eggs, the cardinal, skunk, and raccoon–both babies and flirty. Lily dog. Stanley, the prophet with the shofar at the park. hummingbird. movie milk duds with meg midday. even what is not is holy: Living School in-person at Albuquerque.

and with each breath, each single encounter with Life, there is evidence of a love story so encompassing…words fall short.

Hannah, my sweet apricot poodle mama dog loved us so completely, so absolutely, so unconditionally, changing us evermore.

changing me, evermore.

now, together we occupy this chrysalis time of change, taking on new forms within the womb of the Great Mother.

there is the universal pattern of life: life/death/rebirth. order/disorder/reorder.

let it rain down. the thunder is the amen.

true religion

a couple of weeks ago, i attended a friend’s consecration in her new gig as a priest. the ceremony was beautiful, a time of honoring a new story in the chapter of this community. during the sermon, the meaning of religion was offered, returning us/them to the purpose of faith community. it was pointed out that the term religion originates from the Latin root “ligare” which means “to bind”. religion–just like the term “ligament”–is the connective tissue that re-binds us together in the web of life.

the reminder was timely and has stayed with me these last weeks.

i’ve never considered myself a religious person. like many, i’d refer to myself as “spiritual but not religious” and i’d emphasize “religious” with a longer-than-usual draw and likely, a squint of the eye as my eye is doing that as i write this. i’ve held religion as bad, wanting to dissociate from it. for sure this has been in large part to how it’s been weaponized to oppress and dominate. this is happening today. and, the return to the intention of religion helps to be with the impact of it, rather than to fall back into shame/blame/guilt around it.

i remember an onbeing interview with Krista Tippett in which John O’Donohue spoke of the importance of religion in liberation and justice. he said, “memory is to individuals what traditions are for communities.” he went on to say that religion holds the traditions; religion connects. and then a challenge: “And I think it’s a critical question, always, for somebody who wants to have a mature, adult, open-ended, good-hearted, critical faith, to conduct the most vigorous and relentless conversation that you can with your own tradition.”

which brings me to Howard Thurman.

Howard Thurman’s Strange Freedom has been working me. i’ve stayed with the excerpt from Luminous Darkness for a couple of weeks now, allowing it’s wisdom to wash over and soak in. Thurman is this kind teacher whose slowness and depth call for slow and deep time. the reading of this piece has felt profoundly timely given this nation’s current political and legal climate, with the supreme court acting as it is, threatening and changing civil laws and the insurrection hearings underway.

Thurman wrote this piece in 1965, against the backdrop of the Civil Rights Movement, in the same year of the historic Voting Rights Act and March on Washington and Public Accommodations Act. his writing focused on liberation and the role of both the laws and the prophets.

Thurman writes:

The external symbols of segregation–the wall, the ghetto, the separate locale as a mandatory restriction binding upon groups of people because of race, color, creed, or national origin–cannot survive modern life. The emphasis here is “external symbols”…So much emphasis is placed upon the fact of the existence of the walls that the symbolic fact of the walls is ignored or is an unknown quantity…” 

selah.

it serves to take a breath here. to take in the revolutionary nature of what he is saying. that the walls themselves—the external conditions that segregate and separate–are symbolic.

he continues:

“…It must be remembered that segregation is a mood, a state of mind, and its external manifestation is external. The root of the evil, and evil it is, in the human spirit. Laws which make segregation illegal may or may not attack the root of the evil. Their great function is to deny the binding character of the external symbol by giving it no legal standing. They alert the body politic to the variety of external manifestations of the mood, the state of mind, and declare that whatever such manifestations appear, they are not to stand. This is most important because it calls attention to that of which segregation is the manifestation. As such it becomes a tutor or a guide for the human spirit. The law cannot deal with the human spirit directly…

the external reflects the internal. we can point fingers at our leaders (our presidents, our bishops, our school officials) and one another (our partners, our parents, our children, our neighbors, our colleagues) and this misses the entire point. how we see determines what we see.

there is no separation between the external and the internal. it is an illusion to believe otherwise.

which is why, when we heal ourselves, we heal the world. when we do the work of reconciliation from within, that reconciliation is reflected in our outer worlds. this is the focus of the book Quanita and i co-authored; it’s a very different approach at reconciliation than orienting primarily to repair with the other. repair with the other comes from a changed relationship with other, with self as source of relationship.

and to continue, he goes on to write:

“The issue is a moral and spiritual one and falls within the broad and specific scope of morality and religion…The first step in giving the kind of new orientation that will bring one into moral focus is the loss of fear. When the relationship between the groups is devoid of fear, then it becomes possible for them to related to each other as human beings and have far more that unites them than divides them...”

selah.

“…The burden of being black and the burden of being white is so heavy that it is rare in our society to experience oneself as a human being. It may be, I do not know, that to experience oneself as a human being is one with experiencing one’s fellows as human beings. Precisely what does it mean to experience oneself as a human being? In the first place, it means that the individual must have a sense of kinship to life that transcends and goes beyond the immediate kinship of family or the organic kinship that binds him ethnically or “racially” or nationally. He has to feel that he belongs to his total environment. He has a sense of being an essential part of the structural relationship that exists between him and all other men, and between him, all other men, and the total external environment. As a human being, then, he belongs to life and the whole kingdom of life that includes all that lives and perhaps, also, all that has ever lived. In other words, he sees himself as a part of the continuing, breathing, living existence. To be a human being, then, is to be essentially alive in a living world…”

selah.

that last sentence, once again: “To be a human being, then, is to be essentially alive in a living world…”

and then, he unleashes a wrath against Christianity its it failure to be…religious.

…Here at last we come face to face with the original claim of religion and here I refer especially to the ethical insight brought into the stream of contemporary life by the Judeo-Christian tradition.

It is most unfortunate that the trustees of this insight, namely the religious institutions, have failed singularly to witness to this insight. The impact upon the individual when he experiences himself as a human being is to regard himself as a being of infinite worth. Such a sense of worth is rooted in one’s consciousness which expands and expands until there is involved the totality of life itself. As important as is the clue to one’s self-estimate, as found in the attitude of others in the environment, this is not now what is at issue. To experience oneself as a human being is to feel life moving through one and claiming one as part of it. 

It may be that the experience of which we speak is not possible unless and until the individual sees himself as being contained or held by something so much more than he is that his life is brought into a focus of self-conscious meaning and value. Such an experience is possible only in the light of ultimate values and ultimate meanings. And this is what religion undertakes to guarantee: the extent to which Christianit is religious is the extent to which it would guarantee such an experience for the individual. …

Time after weary time, the church has dishonored its Lord. When I asked Mr Gandhi, “What is the greatest handicap that Jesus has in India?” instantly, he replied, “Christianity.” And this is what he meant.

ya’ll know i’m shaking my head and pounding my fists here. come on, Dr. Thurman! come on, Ghandi. say it again.

“What is the greatest handicap that Jesus has in India?” instantly, he replied, “Christianity.”

and then:

“The religious experience cannot become a dogma. It has to remain experiential all the way. The religious experience as I have known it seems to swing wide the door, not merely into Life but into lives. I am confident that my own call to the religious vocation cannot be separated from the slowly emerging disclosure that my religious experience makes it possible for me to experience myself as a human being and thus keep a very real psychological distance between myself and the hostilities of my environment. Through the years it has driven me more and more to seek to make as a normal part of my relations with men the experiencing of them as human beings. When this happens love has essential materials with which to work. And contrary to the general religious teaching, men would not need to stretch themselves out of shape in order to love. On the contrary, a man comes into possession of himself more completely when he is free to love another.” 

selah.

and that last line again: “On the contrary, a man comes into possession of himself more completely when he is free to love another.” 

continuing:

“…I have dwelt at length upon the necessity that is laid upon the church and the Christian because the Christian Church is still one of the major centers of influence in the American community. Too, the Christian Church claims to be under the judgment of God as it fulfills itself in human history. But it must be remembered that what is true in any religion is to be found in the religion because it is true, it is not true because it is found in that religion. The ethical insight which makes for the most healthy and creative human relations is not the unique possession of any religion, however inspired it may be. It does not belong exclusively to any people or to any age. It has an ancient history, and it has been at work informing the quality of life and human relations longer than the records and the memories of man. Just as scattered through the earliest account of man’s journey on this planet are flashes and shafts of light illuminating the meaning of man and his fellows, so in our times we find the widest variety of experiences pointing in the same direction and making manifest the same goals.

Men are made for one another. In this grand discovery there is a disclosure of another dimension: the experience of one another is not enough. There is a meaning in life greater than, but informing, all the immediate meanings–and the name given to this meaning is religion, because it embodies, however faintly, a sense of the ultimate and the divine.

true religion connects us as spiritual beings to all of life; we become human through this aliveness, this sense of interconnectedness. it is this aliveness and interdependency, that sets us free and locates us squarely in right relationship with all else.

true religion therefore offers access into untapped, vital resources.

john o’donohue enters in again here, as if he and Thurman are in conversation in/through my heart/mind: “the spirit and soul dimensions are not luxury items, but are actually the very origins and sources which will enable everything to flow and unfold in a new way…the invisible world is a secret, hidden resource that can be released and excavated for the huge resources of spirit, guidance, for areas of ourselves that we’ve forgotten.

i hear the call to be more human/divine, to be the fullest versions of ourselves so that we can offer our gifts with and in love to the world.

and here, grace lee boggs comes on in with the last word (and perfect so as to offer her belated birthday blessings) :

“To make a revolution, people must not only struggle against existing institutions. They must make a philosophical/ spiritual leap and become more ‘human’ human beings. In order to change/ transform the world, they must change/ transform themselves.”

solstice and a revolution

summer solstice was tuesday. in the days leading up to solstice and in these days since, i’ve been so tuned in to the power of this time of year.

after all, humans have been paying attention to these astronomical patterns in nature since the beginning of time. we have devoted our lives to constructing sacred sites like the Great Pyramids and Stonehenge as a way of honoring these patterns. there have been festivals, rituals, ceremonies spanning humanity as a way to draw us into these natural rhythms.

because it matters.

there is meaning in being in rhythm with nature. feeling connected to something bigger than ourselves matters.

it is what it means to be alive, living.

as life would have it, our family was on vacation in st. helena, south carolina during solstice. there was intention around this. there was a desire to do as the sun taught us to do and to “stand still”. to put our feet in the sand, be with the ocean, and to slow down.

it was a beautiful time in a beautiful place.

for now, what i want to share on this, the day that Roe v. Wade has been overturned, is what evidence was collected by joining with nature’s rhythms.

the first day, there was Angela. i took this video before knowing her. she and her poodle made my heart sing–their freedom, their play, their joy. we’d just arrived at the beach and i felt like weeping at the beauty of it all.

afterwards, she approached me and her joy continued to overflow as she shared with me her skills for shark-tooth hunting. i was thrilled and went straight away to searching…after thinking i found one, i bounded to her–just like poodle–as she advised that it was not, after all, a shark tooth. she gave additional teachings on how to be sure. as we headed to our car later, i heard her calling after me. she came running my way–just like poodle–to gift me a shark tooth she’d just discovered. a tiny, itsy-bitsy treasure. Angela.

the next morning, i woke up and journeyed to the beach solo for the sunrise. it was quiet, peaceful, glorious.

as i began walking toward the shoreline, a voice yelled my way, “have you seen the turtle tracks?”

i turned and found a lone woman standing there, curly hair blowing wildly in the wind. her shoulderless turquoise dress flowing.

“show me!” i said and she simply pointed right in front of me.

i stood amazed at the very-obvious tracks before me; i was quite literally standing in the middle of them. i would have never known as i had never seen anything like these before.

she proceeded to tell them a bit of what she knew about the turtles as we waited for the volunteers to come and advise. she and i shared in a most sacred experience of digging up mama loggerhead turtle’s 100 eggs and relocating them to higher ground.

i know nothing else about her other than her love of life, of creation, of this mama loggerhead and her eggs. barely any words were spoken between us. and i’ll never forget her. her name: Skye.

later that same day, on Juneteeth, our family ventured to Penn Center, the first school for freed slaves. we were wandering around the property and a woman came up to us, pointing us in the direction of a map. i never caught the woman’s name but she and her husband, Mike were visiting from England to bury Mike’s father who had died just a week before. they were tender and raw, with hearts broken wide open. mike shared how his father had been a member of Mother Emmanuel Church and how they buried his father on the anniversary of Emmanuel Nine. He reminded me of the meaning of that event. and then as I spoke of the fact that we were together in this place on Juneteeth and Father’s Day, he asked me the meaning of Juneteenth. he, a Black man, me, a White woman. both of us speaking how we need one another to know these stories. as we stood in the place of Penn Center on Juneteenth/Father’s Day. he, offering love and encouragement and example to my son. Mike.

on wednesday, the day after solstice, i returned solo to the beach. i felt ready to listen more deeply. there was an inner stillness that i longed to be with. it was what solstice had been trying to teach me. i sat with Her. i asked Her to be with me, to speak to me. Her was God, Spirit, Life, the ocean, the sun, my Self.

just then, a woman appeared.

i’d noticed her blanket earlier–the lone item on the sparse sprawl of beach and wondered if the high tide had washed it up, a lost item at sea brought to land. turns out, it was her’s. she bent to pick it up, her dreads pulled back into a bright yellow headwrap. a bold floral sundress hung off her shoulders; a satchel hung around her neck like a necklace hungry for shell treasures. her shoulders were back; her head, high. she walked proudly, wisely.

she was the manifestation of the Her i’d been listening for. no doubt.

without thinking, i got up and walked toward her. i asked her if i could take her photograph. without missing a beat, she said “yes. but i don’t know why?” it was the kind of response that teased a question, her voice lifting at the end. but it wasn’t really a question. i answered, “i don’t know either.” and we both broke out in laughter. she replied, “sometimes we just don’t know.” and we laughed again. like old friends.

she went on to share a bit of her story. she had moved to Coffin’s Point back in 2004 from DC. her kids and grandkids are still there. her soul sisters are here. she’d visited years ago and knew it as home, knew she’d find a way here. and she did. been here since. loves the land, the ocean, the sound. the oyster beds and the mud. she laughed again as she said this last piece.

a moment hung between us and our eyes met. i do not know. and i know.

i asked for her name. Eve.

Eve gifted me the embodiment of solstice’s teaching.

the next morning, our last, i made a final visit to the beach for sunrise. i wanted to give thanks. to give reverence. the rising sun stopped me in my tracks and i took my seat, noticing a solitary man photographing the magnificence. i took a few photographs of him watching Her.

She rose, illuminating Life.

and the photographer turned to head back up the beach. his work, done. as he neared me, his light began spilling out (as a dear friend puts it), as if the Sun’s radiance poured into him, uncontained and uncontainable.

“did you see?”!

and we began laughing and almost dancing with joy. he proceeded to share with me some of the magical images he brilliantly captured/created. there was awe. his name, Simon.

his light continued to spill out, sharing with me the magic behind his brilliance, his craft.

and just like that, a soul connection. a soul friend.

we belonged to one another. we were family.

in times like these, it is easy to buy into the delusion that laws determine who we are and what rights we have and how we are together. yes, laws play a role. and like Jesus said so many times in his sermon on the mount, “the law says ___; I say…”

our humanity is not bound by the law.

when our hearts are open, when we are still enough within to be in right relationship with all of creation, then we cannot help ourselves. love pours out of us through sharing of resources, self, gifts, talents, skills. sacrifice becomes gift.

solstice and joining in nature’s rhythm offers evidence of the power of the human heart, of the human spirit.

now, we need these lessons. we need to remember. we can choose. the choice is ours. and no one can take that away.

Grace Lee Boggs’ voice echoes in my heart/mind here: “movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.”

it is up to us.

let us rise like the Sun, spilling light all over this mad, suffering and beautiful world.

thank you, Angela, Skye, Mike, Eve, Simon for the evidence you offered of the power we have within us.

initiation

my son’s high school graduation is tomorrow. today, marks pentecost in the Christian tradition. last night, was a night of magic as sister-friends and i planned a Feminine Wisdom journey. tomorrow, i begin a week-long Intensive in the Living School.

all this to say, initiation is on my mind.

initiation: the act of growing from one version of ourselves into a fuller, more integrated version. ultimately, moving from being earth-led to spirit-led.

in the weaving of this story, i want to begin with Thomas, my son.

he’s my middle child, my only boy. we’ve always communicated with clarity and understanding as if we are one. his birth story illustrates this perfectly: i told him it was time to come (my brother was in town and i wanted him to be here for the birth); and he came. we worked together during the birth like old dance partners, perfectly in sync. it was my first natural birth and he taught me to trust in myself and instilled in me a strength and courage in which i’d always draw. he came into the world with ease and beauty and took immediately to my breast. the origins of our connection was other-worldly; we had walked together for ions.

we still have this connection. the kind of connection that is evidenced in glances across the table, communication that calls for no words. his heart awakens the mama bear in me. i remember when he was just a few months old, sensing his tenderness and wanting to protect him from this world and what it does to our boys and men. so, i fattened him up. we still laugh about this–how fat he was a baby! i wanted so much to protect him.

i know that we receive not the children we want but the children we need. i’ve learned this first through his older sister and the ways in which mothering her has grown me, called me into fuller and fuller versions of myself in and through my love for her. as mothers, we are responsible for supporting the initiation of our children and through this process, we too are initiated. it’s a constant process of letting go, forgiving, grieving, and welcoming life that is unimaginable in its beauty.

on the eve of this rites of passage–both Thomas’ and my own–i am weepy. grateful, humbled, awed, heart-broken-wide-open at the beauty of it all. i do not yet fully know how mothering Thomas has initiated me. for now, it is not for me to understand. it is for me to allow.

i appreciate this awareness as it comes on this day of pentecost. i’ve come to cherish this day in the Christian tradition. it is a day that marks the birth of the Church, when the Holy Spirit filled the church with power and drew thousands of new believers. it was the church’s initiation. and by church, i mean here Jesus’ definition: “where two or more are gathered.” in other words, it was a communal initiation. a communal rites of passage.

throughout Scripture, Jesus refers to two forms of baptism: both by water and then by fire. baptism by fire is baptism of the Holy Spirit. it is initiation and what moves one into discipleship or a spirit-led life.

When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place. And suddenly from heaven there came a sound like the rush of a violent wind, and it filled the entire house where they were sitting. Divided tongues, as of fire, appeared among them, and a tongue rested on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other languages, as the Spirit gave them ability. —Acts 2:1–4

initiation. in which each of the disciples were open to and willing to receive the Holy Spirit, individually and together. and the power that came!! it was unbelievable, unimaginable.

Now there were devout Jews from every nation under heaven living in Jerusalem. And at this sound the crowd gathered and was bewildered, because each one of them heard them speaking in the native language of each. Amazed and astonished, they asked, “Are not all these who are speaking Galileans? And how is it that we hear, each of us, in our own native language? Parthians, Medes, Elamites, and residents of Mesopotamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya belonging to Cyrene, and visitors from Rome, both Jews and proselytes, Cretans and Arabs–in our own languages we hear them speaking about God’s deeds of power.” All were amazed and perplexed, saying to one another, “What does this mean?’ But to others sneered and said, ‘They are filled with new wine.“–Acts 2:5-13

one thing that strikes me in this story is the speaking in tongues and that each could understand the other in their own native language–meaning beyond words expressed and understood, a heart-to-heart communication. and when this power is generated, it attracts and awakens others. we know this now to be true not only spiritually but also scientifically. energy attracts energy.

i’ve experienced this power. the power that comes in opening our hearts to something beyond us, in community. and what comes from this experience–the knowing, the connection, the mystery. i believe it is this power that comes from these experiences that is growing our humanity. it is this power that is compelling our evolution. it is this power that is initiating me/us.

last night, some sister-friends gathered at my home to be with a vision that we’ve been holding for some time. we began with opening our hearts. this was not planned or scheduled or an item on the agenda. it’s the kind of heart opening that comes with a desire to be human, to be real, to be true. the three of us, across age and race and background difference, shared stories uniquely ours. we spoke in tongues. and as we did, we each other understood one another as if we were speaking in one another’s native tongue. the stories were particular and transcendent.

as we wove and followed the threads, tracing the vision that we’d been holding and was holding us, a mama dear joined us. speaking yet in another tongue. silence fell on our raucous bunch as we listened to all she had to say to us. there was a lot. she was a diva and took her time with us. it was magic.

it felt like pentecost. Holy Spirit filling us, as church.

today, i had plans to visit a friend who was celebrating a big milestone. there would be travel. and, despite the fact i’d had this on my calendar and heart for weeks, i realized i needed to be home today. i needed to be still. with my crew, in my place.

it’s all too easy to move so quickly by our own life’s milestones–the big, the small–to show up for others. to be the good friend, the good (fill in the blank).

how can i/we be present to my/our own lives? and allow life to have its way with us? to open to and receive the Holy Spirit so that we can awaken to the power within us? so that we can awaken and enliven?

today, i’m following the guidance of our recent and profound teacher, the diva deer who made another visit this morning, providing a refresher course to her teachings: nourish, move slowly, release the shit (literally–this was quite a dramatic teaching, let me assure you!), and walk gracefully, step by faithful step.

i know we are all being prepared and formed with purpose. what that purpose is exactly, is none of our business. it is our business, to allow it.

tomorrow i will begin a week-long intensive in the Living School, studying with wisdom elders of the Christian mystical tradition lineage. and i will witness my baby boy graduate from high school.

come, Holy Spirit, come.

homegrowing

this week i’ve been spinning threads of story related to home, inspired by last week’s celebration of birth.

in the weeks leading up to hosting the celebration, i went through a thorough and deep spring cleaning. drawers, closets, shelves all received attention as i followed the impulse to shed. my daughter returning home from college and this party on the horizon seemed to align perfectly with what felt like my own cycle of growth and together, this all called for a cellular rearranging. it was serious; it was deep. i took something like twenty bags of donations to goodwill.

marie kondo’s tidying wisdom echoed as i carefully touched items throughout my home, choosing with intention what stayed and what went. i felt like i was breathing life into my home.

and into my self. because with each choice, i was becoming. a newer version of me coming into being.

as the day of celebration drew closer, the relationship with my home–this place— became more and more vibrant. it was as if i could feel her arms wrapped around me/us, a deep sense of being held and protected washing over me as i carefully remembered all that had led to this moment.

i remember once hearing toni morrison say that place is more than a backdrop to story; place is an essential actor.

curiosity grew around this place that i’ve/we’ve called home for the past six years. this plot of land on the corner of highland and madonna, in a river town that still feels distant. a place that has increasingly known both as chosen and choosing. i know that we are here–precisely in this place, in this time–with purpose.

there’s many layers to this.

first, we chose this place to centralize our family. in the years before moving here, we were spread too thin, scattered. at that time, the five of us were in five different schools, in five different school systems across the city. it was too much; we needed to simplify. we came here, where our family began–in the place where our first child was born. a place we knew we’d be outsiders, a place that felt familiar and strange. we came back to Kentucky.

we chose this particular place, on the corner of this street because a family had loved and lived and died in it over forty+ years. ripening it. breaking it in. preparing it.

we chose this place because it felt right.

partly, because of Gaia, the giant Cypress in the front. and Oak in the back, along with Lilac. and Gingko and Evergreens on the side. our home is surrounded by these trees, in this place that feels deeply exact–particular to/for us.

i know and love these tree beings. the kind of knowing that is generated in heart and belly and comes from relationship, communication. my recent peak in curiosity about this place compelled a different knowing and so i did a bit of research, turning to Ted Andrews’ Nature-Speak for information on these tree-kin. here’s a bit of what i discovered:

Cypress (keynote: find comfort in the home; new understanding of a crisis): the cypress is one of the wetlands and swamps, of places that lead to the underworld or infernal kingdoms. Going through a swamp means facing one’s fears, sacrificing for a greater cause. The cypress encourages us to explore the sacrifices that we are making within our life and guides us to a greater awareness that sacrifice does not always involve pain and suffering, especially when that sacrifice is made for something or someone we love. Its presence as a sign can stir the primal feminine energies, the creative forces that are static in our life. Cypress will help us manifest opportunities for healing. It helps us in understanding our crises, and it awakens the comfort of home and mother. (p263).

Oak (keynote: strength and endurance win out; open to new spirit forces): the oak tree was sacred to the Celts and Druids. it is aligned with primal male force, a powerful symbol of male energy, the yang or electircal aspect of the universe or individual. The Oak has strong ties to the realm of nature spirits…provides the energies to open the doorway to the inner realms and their mysteries in meditation, magic, and in real life. Acorns symbolize fertility and the manifestation of creativity…Oak trees provide strength…Now is the time to demonstrate your own strength and endure. The energy will be there to do so and as a result new confidence and new spirit forces will open to you. (p281-282).

Lilac (keynote: balance the spirit and intellect; contact with spirit is imminent): The Lilac will align and balance all of the chakra centers of the body. It awakens mental clarity for one wishing to activate the kundalini in a balanced manner and spiritualizes the intellect. Lilac draws protective spirits into one’s life; it has a strong tie to the nature spirits as they use the lilac’s vibrations to raise their own consciousness. The flower is fragrant and powerful and help harmonize your life and activate greater clairvoyance. The message of the lilac is usually very clear: this is a time to balance spiritual activities with intellectual activities. Spirit is close and willing to work with you. Now is the time to open and develop trust in your spirit guides. (p276)

Gingko: the gingko is the sole survivor of a family of trees that was around when dinosaurs walked the earth (190 million years ago). During the Ice Age, glaciers wiped out all gingkoes except in China. It is considered a living fossil with the ability to survive millions of years of change and even the soot and grime of modern cities. (p.246). It is considered a sacred tree and a symbol of resilience, health and longevity. A cultural icon, it is also associated with hope and fertility.

each one of these kin has offered specific medicine to my homegrowing during this season of my/our life. there is no question.

homegrowing. this is a new term that comes as i write this and as it comes, it feels so true. i love the idea of homegrowing. it resonates as precisely the endeavor i’ve/we’ve been up to…since the beginning of time?

“beginning of time” feels right insofar as it the endeavor feels beyond time and space. tyson yunkaporte’s wisdom around the circular nature of indigenous story comes to mind here: that there is no fixed beginning, middle, and end. that in reality, time is fluid and cyclical, folding in and over and through.

this place carries with it stories that weave with the now; stories that both shape and are shaped.

land holds history that is directly connected to the past and to the future. when brought to awareness, there is a sense of connection to the Big Story. i know that this place chose us as much as we chose this place.

my brain is inspired by my heart and belly here and so again, i’ve been doing a bit of research about this particular place. two threads i’m holding now, from history:

just a few hundred yards away from this place was the legendary Indian battle of which 500-600 graves of warriors were discovered. according to Indian legend, in 1749, a Cherokee chief betrayed a medicine man highly regarded by the Shawnee and Miami tribes, which led to the fierceness of the fight. their remains were found, where they gave their lives in honor of that medicine.

the state’s first white woman, Mary Draper Ingles, came to the area as captive of the Shawnee Indians; she later escaped from Big Bone Lick to the Ohio River and made her way back home to Virginia, some 500+ miles. alone, with one other woman.

there’s mystery in how these stories (including the unfolding of mine/ours) connect and how they relate…and, of course, they do. in part, because of this place.

living these days feels like a constantly refocusing zoom lens that focuses in on the particular and then back out to the cosmos. in, on each moment and choice before me, positioning me with enormous and essential value, and then back out to the Big Story where i am simply a grain of sand.

at times like these, such a lens of consciousness supports life. it allows me to include more and more of reality–the good, the bad, the horrific–in my experience of humaning. returning to tyson yunkaporte again, he defines trauma is harm without meaning. when we get that all has meaning–even when we don’t fully understand it–the hardest, most painful things can become incorporated into our self, our stories as essential threads in our homegrowing.

our six years in relationship with this place has generated love, life, and death.

i am/we are

homegrowing/homegrown. 

from this place, with this knowing, every encounter is purposeful and with meaning. everything and everybody belongs.

day of birth

written 5.22.22

Today is my birthday. I am 48 years old. There is that.

And, this day represents so much more–some of which I know; some of which I don’t. And for that, I am grateful.

I am grateful to be alive. Grateful to be incarnate, now.

I know that today marks my birth forty-eight years ago. In Evansville, Indiana, the first child to Elizabeth and Tom, granddaughter to Wendell and Margaret, Charles and Alyne. It also marks yet another birth of self–a new/ancient version of me that over time, reveals her Self in ever new ways. There have been many re-births over the course of my life. Today feels different. Like truth that has been unfolding since before the beginning of time.

I believe we are born with purpose. I believe that all life is purposeful. Part of the journey in discovering the purpose requires us to forget–like the splinter in the eye that generates enough irritation/tension/trauma to get our attention. To wake us up. To return us home to ourselves, choice after choice after choice. Because love requires choice. And with every choice we make, there comes power, responsibility, freedom. Each choice carries with it a single grain of sand and slowly–choice after choice after choice–there grows a place within us that becomes home.

There is a cost to this choosing. There is loss of beliefs; the loss of old stories that have kept us feeling safe and secure and comfortable; the loss of relationships; the loss of jobs and positions and roles; the loss of forms that no longer fit. It is not easy. It is not meant to be. This is the path of transformation.

This is life. This is love.

To support our forgetting, we are told that belonging is fitting in; that our value is based on others’ approval; that pain is a problem to be solved; that comfort is preferred to discomfort; that uncertainty and surrender are weak; that independence is a thing; that death is the end of life. We must choose otherwise. Perpetually.

At age 48, I know life. I know death. I know birth. I know love. I know freedom.

I celebrated the birth of the book yesterday in my home with friends and family and those who have gone before and with those who will come. We planted flowers and blessed this place, pulled out the family china, used the cut-glass punch bowl for homemade lemonade, messed up the kitchen, drank Black Girl Magic champagne, danced to Barry Manilow, hung decorations in unpredictable (and very strange!) places, laughed and cried, played ping-pong and X-box, sat in circle, shared sacred stories, touched on hard truths, sat in reverence to the sacred, welcomed it all, awed at the rain and then the hail, laughed that the police were called on our riotous gathering, made deviled eggs and cucumber salad and fried chicken and homemade cookies, planted flowers and blessed this place, and reveled together…

as life continues to birth me/us

into who I/we are becoming

in this ever-unfolding story.

And as a Post-Script, glad to share this sermon from my dear friend, Rev. Phyllis Spiegel who preached today on Unfolding, with connections and witness to the celebration yesterday. What a gift!

And, a poem:

5.20.2022
There are days 
that bring you to your knees, wailing
at the unimaginable beauty of life. 
The purpose of each moment, each mistake, each triumph.
Every choice, every story, every body. 
And everything else but the power of this very moment 
falls away
leaving present only
the immediate and the eternal 
raw humility and emboldened power
humanity and divinity 
joined as one in the spiral of love. 

This was one of those days. 

5.15.22

The TV is running in the background–another episode of The Office
And i am by the river in New Richmond, with enflamed Sky
Praying to Mother and to Libbie and to the river otter
With gratitude for the grief and joy in setting Sun
Where the beginning, middle and end 
Are one.

graduation

yesterday was my daughter’s college graduation. it was one of those days that involves plans. big plans.

and, it was friday the 13th.

the day announced herself when kate ditched walking across the stage, receiving her empty diploma holder and hearing her named called

and choose instead a special celebration lunch with family which went…let’s just say, not as we imagined it.

it was a full day of this–finding the beauty in the unexpected and the undesired.

and as i sat on my back patio last night to write and be with my full mama heart, a bird pooped on me. i mean, it was ridiculous. and the perfect ritual to bless the day-beyond-imagination.

then, this bit of writing poured out of me:

Bittersweet

Today‘s big plans laughed at us
Mocking our arrogance
And offered instead a series of unlikely events
Each an off ramp to the unimaginable
Where love consumes all  
and nothing is left to waste

Not even the shit. 

Love consumed all. On Friday the 13th and everyday. My baby is now a college graduate and we celebrated her becoming with more love than I could have ever imagined, much less planned.

mother/child, choice, and the Honorable Harvest

Yesterday, the day my son turned eighteen. As I celebrated the meaning of motherhood + mothering, there was breaking news of Roe v Wade standing on the precipice of being overturned by the Supreme Court. Nothing new in the story of reproductive rights in this nation, nothing surprising…and still a gut punch. 

Western Christianity has twisted and perverted the story of who we are as humans for over two thousand years. I want to (re)claim these stories, reclaim ourselves. I do not want to pass these decayed stories down to my/our children and my/our grandchildren.

The patterns of domination can be traced from and through the Genesis creation myths. Returning to them promises wisdom and new/ancient insight around what it means to be alive and what it means to create + bring to life.

Denying the selfhood of a woman with sole concern on what her body might birth is synonymous to how humans (mis)treat Mother Earth. We occupy the stance of takers, forgetting that life and love is mutual. Choice is central to mutuality and right relationship.  

Robin Wall Kimmerer names the Honorable Harvest as a principle that invites mutuality, right relationship. She offers a set of guidelines as a way to practice Honorable Harvest in daily life. It resonates with me today as I wonder how we might shift to a world rooted in right relationship: 

Know the ways of the ones who take care of you,
so that you may take care of them. 
Introduce yourself. Be accountable as the one who comes asking for life. 
Ask permission before taking. Abide by the answer. 
Never take the first. Never take the last. 
Take only what you need. 
Take only that which is given. 
Never take more than half. Leave some for others. 
Harvest in a way that minimizes harm. 
Use it respectfully. Never waste what you have taken. 
Share.
Give thanks for what you have been given. 
Give a gift, in reciprocity for what you have taken. 
Sustain the ones who sustain you and the earth will last forever. 

Imagining what it means to be truly pro-life and pro-choice, respecting the life of all…thanks to Mother Earth for showing the way.

origin stories

last night i listened to Brene´ Brown and Fr. Richard Rohr on her podcast, Unlocking Us. Fr. Richard’s point about our understanding of God as vulnerable–in addition to almighty–struck a chord.

today, i worked with a team on a zine focused on the Genesis creation story. the theme is around “who is my neighbor?” and we’ve decided to look at this creation story to consider what it teaches us about being part of creation, and being in relationship. returning to origin stories offer insight and wisdom into both the truth of who we are and how these truths decay and rot and can ultimately lead us astray. and then, back again.

John Phillip Newell’s The Book of Creation is serving as both a source of inspiration and a framework, moving day by day through the creation story. Newell’s Celtic wisdom offers a lens through which to encounter the story. it’s juicy.

as i was working on this (beginning with Day One: The Light of God), i noticed constriction when i came across this passage:

“The Celtic poet Kenneth White, known for his earth-related writings, or what he calls ‘geopoetics’, speaks of the ‘whiteness’ that is at the core of reality. It is a whiteness written in creation ‘like birch bark’, he says, or ‘like wave crest’. It glistens in the life of the earth and sea and skies. We may lose sight of it, or cut ourselves off from it, to the extent that we cease to believe that it is there, yet the light continues to shine. It is the ‘fire-body’ from which all life proceeds.”

holding whiteness in such a divine way elicited strong emotions, bumping against whiteness as has been handed down thanks to white supremacy. the reading felt clean, with no implications of supremacy or domination…it felt true. and…i had to sit with it. it was so different. i was suspect. and trusting. at once.

the text goes on–as if sensing exactly what was happening in my body:

“The light of the first day is an invisible ‘fiery power’, says Eriugena. From that inaccessible light of God all life comes forth, whether that be the morning light of the burning sun, the yellow brilliance of a sunflower growing from the dark ground or the glow of a starfish emerging in the depths of the sea. It is the light within all life, or, as George MacLeod says, the ‘Sun behind all suns’. Our eyes cannot see it, nor can human thought nor imagination grasp it. Contemplating the light that is at the heart of life takes us ‘beyond signs’, says White: into the light that is not the sun. Here, we are led towards what Eriugena calls the ‘darkness’ or unknowableness of God’s light.”

darkness.

whiteness and darkness, together, as the light.

it goes on to speak of the “Divine Dark” and to nuance Western traditions around “light”.

this brought to mind a quote from John O’Donohue that i discovered some years ago:

“We desperately need a new and gentle light where the soul can shelter and reveal its ancient belonging. We need a light that has retained its kinship with the darkness. For we are the sons and the daughters of the darkness and the light.” –John O’Donohue

expanding the understanding of God’s Light–the first utterance of the divine in life–to include light/darkness is to embrace our own humanity/divinity; visibility/invisibility; knowing/unknowing. it is to include it all in our experience of Life.

and there, is an invitation to relax into our Self. just as we are, now. with the faith there is no where else to be, no one else to be, ever.