Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earth Beings

The Mystery within...
Robin Wall Kimmerer, Botanist, Native American and author of “Braiding Sweetgrass” spoke at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, WI to a sold out crowd.  The title of her talk was "What Does the Earth Ask of Us?  She led us to see all of nature as composed of different beings--all with rights.  Kimmerer said the language of imperialism views nature as an “it”, as capital and commodities for personal gain.  This can lead us to a language of extinction for all of earth’s beings including us humans.  

To demonstrate how the language of imperialism pervades our lives Kimmerer showed our group fifty corporate logos on a screen.   All of these logos were easily identifiable for me. They ranged from fast food chains to farm implements and many others.  Then she showed a screen with a corresponding number of plants.  I was stymied.  Although I have deep respect for nature, I don’t know many names of Mother Nature’s beings.  I understood, in a new way, the pervasiveness of imperialism and its effect on Mother Earth. Learning to see all Earth’s beings as kin is a sign of respect and deepened my appreciation for all who surround me.  

Kimmerer told us efforts are underway to include rights of all of earth's beings similar to the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1948 which begins:  “Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world…” She acknowledged the granting of human rights still has a very long way to go. Nevertheless, some progress has been made.  Likewise, granting rights to the earth has to start somewhere. Kimmerer said the land isn’t broken; it is our relationship with the land that is broken.  Granting rights to Mother Earth’s beings can deepen our appreciation and care for them.  We can learn to minimize harm, ask permission to take only what’s needed, use every bit, and reciprocate the gift.  See Rights of Nature.org for more information.          

What the earth asks from us is gratitude, respect and restoration.  There is powerful alchemy in gratitude for Mother Earth, our home, and all her beings that sustain us.  Making a list of what we are grateful for allows us to be happy with less.  Gratitude for what has been given includes  reciprocal giving back through good care, prudent use, and just protections. Gratefulness for Mother Earth and all her beings can also be expressed through the arts and music. In addition to being our residence, Mother Earth is also the source of our identity and knowledge.  The alchemy in gratitude for Mother Earth’s many gifts can transform us.

My cousin Sally and I were grateful for the opportunity to hear Robin Wall Kimmerer’s talk and for the outstanding hospitality of Holy Wisdom Monastery’s staff in feeding us exceptionally well, both in mind and body, and for providing comfortable overnight accommodations.  But most of all, I am grateful to the fragrant lilac bush outside our bedroom window, and the majestic willows that lined a great pond, home to a huge chorus of frogs, that sang us into deep, restful sleep—thank you all!   

Sunday, April 29, 2018

Unconditional Love

The Mystery within...
Could life’s greatest journey be learning to accept and love everyone and all things unconditionally?  Stepping-stones to that end, or puzzle pieces I have found so far, has shown me that breathing from my heart, where the Great Mystery resides, helps me think and act from my heart, appreciating how hard life can sometimes be for the other, and myself. My heart breathing/thinking can lead me to unconditional empathy.  Unconditional empathy leads to unconditional kindness toward the other, and myself.  By learning to be kind to myself I came to know the transformative power in kindness, and also came to understand I will never regret being kind to others. Unconditional kindness can foster reciprocity and lead to friendliness with whoever or whatever comes my way.  Accepting what is, being empathic, kind and friendly to whoever or whatever shows up in my life looks like a lesson plan for loving unconditionally.  This is the transformative work of a lifetime requiring much forgiveness, patience and trust.    

Could the hard to love be here to teach how to love unconditionally?  Could going high when the other goes low shrink our egos and open a path toward mutual transformation?  Could breathing and thinking from our hearts grow empathy for the absence of transformative hardships in the lives of the hard to love? Could being patient in the face of oppression highlight the importance of tolerance, respect and sharing?  Could responding to violence with loving compassion teach we can’t go wrong with its hopeful forbearance?  Could being of generous spirit, wanting good for the other, highlight what is important in life?  Could being forgiving of self and all others grow us as peacemakers?  Could not blaming, shaming, or imposing guilt when wronged open our hearts to the bigger reality of the Divine Mystery within?  Could believing justice will be kind and accomplished over a period of time comfort us?  This is the transformative work of a lifetime requiring much forgiveness, patience and trust.  

Be curious about the hard to love and their role in our lives. It is how we come to understand the Great Mystery’s work in our lives. 

The poet Rumi understood the paradox of unconditional love: 

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent 
as a guide from beyond.

What if the hard to love are here to teach us how to love unconditionally?

Saturday, April 14, 2018

Unconditional Empathy

The Mystery within...
I am always in a state of becoming more—hopefully more loving. I’ve been reflecting on how choosing to be empathetic leads me to be more kind and loving toward all others and myself.  When I stumble, I can make that part of my dance that grows me through empathy. Joanna Macy, in an On-Being interview, suggested we be present and fearless with our pain for it eventually reveals our connectedness and love for the world. Understanding empathy as accepting my own shortcomings, and those of others, does move me closer to unconditional love.

Unconditional empathy is possible when I breathe and think from my heart.  A paradoxical sense of well-being comes from genuine empathy for my own shortcomings.  Making my darkness visible does lead me to want to choose light.  Hopefully, my empathy for another’s shortcomings could lead him or her to want to choose love.  Perhaps unconditional love lies in my ability to empathize how hard life can be sometimes for all others and myself.

Hafiz invites, “Come dance with me.”  Perhaps radical kinship with all others grows from unconditional empathy for each other’s missteps, and moves us from blame to understanding.  Let us enjoy dancing with one another and cherishing what is right in front of us, our mutual original blessing as children.  


Every child has known God,
Not the God of names,
Not the God of don'ts,
Not the God who ever does
Anything weird,
But the God who knows only 4 words
And keeps repeating them, saying:
"Come Dance with Me."
Come Dance.
-- Hafiz (1320-1389)

What if it's all in our dance with one another?  



Saturday, March 31, 2018

Unconditional Kindness

The Mystery within...
There is a sign behind the desk at my health provider’s lab where I check in for blood draws that says, “ You will never regret being kind.”  I love that sign.  Along with unconditional friendliness, unconditional kindness seems to be another important piece in completing my love puzzle.  I have learned that unconditional kindness toward the other begins with first learning to be unconditionally kind to myself.    

Learning to be kind to myself first was a slow painful process leading to my eventual transformation as told in “God Never Hurries.”  So much of my early life’s training was focused on utter selflessness that I came to know as a very unhealthy way to live.  The paradox is that I came to know the unconditional love of the Great Mystery, which lives in you and me and all things, through my struggle to unlearn selflessness.  I now know learning to be kind to myself teaches me to be kind to all others.  

Undoubtedly there are times when it is necessary and right to put others ahead of my own wants.  And figuring out when that is appropriate appears to be a lifetime task.  And since each of us is unique, with our own needs and gifts, so too are answers for what is appropriate in our individual interactions with the other.

I’ve been pondering unconditional kindness and friendliness because I’m wondering if they can lead to unconditional love, especially for the hard to love.  There seems to be one more key ingredient needed for loving the hard to love--unconditional empathy.  Empathy for the hard to love’s early training making it difficult for them to minimize their ego, know what is ultimately important in life, and learn sharing, tolerance and respect for others different from themselves.  I want to be able to unconditionally love the hard to love because I want us all to know how to become peacemakers.

What if the hard to love are here to teach us all how to love unconditionally and bring about peace?  

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Unconditional Friendliness

The Mystery within...
In her little book the “Pocket PEMA CHODRON,” she writes of “unconditional friendliness.”  Putting those two words together opened my eyes, mind and heart to show me how my LovePuzzle eventually comes together.  My learning to befriend all others and all things that come my way, knowing each moment is part of a lesson plan to grow me in unconditional love, is an awesome realization.  It sounds so simple. Friendly acceptance of whatever or whoever shows up in my life is my starting point in learning how to love unconditionally.

Unconditional friendliness begins with myself and leads me to know I can never go wrong with self-compassion.  It’s just the friendly thing to do for me.  Forgiving myself teaches me how to forgive the other. It highlights my need for good self-care and acknowledges my inner worthiness so I can know the inner worthiness in all others and all things.  My belief in myself gives me courage to know and write my truth.

Love is a big multifacited Mystery that is sometimes hard for me to wrap my finite brain and experience around.  But unconditional friendliness seems to be more heart thinking that leads to action.  It allows me to touch the Mystery within and lets the Mystery within touch me.     

“Be kind to one another” is how Ellen DeGeneres ends each of her television broadcasts.  Every time I hear her say it I feel the transformative power in her simple request—a request presuming friendly acceptance of one another’s differences and a mutual learning because of them. 


What if unconditional friendliness is how we learn to love unconditionally?        

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Love Puzzle

The Mystery within...
I am coming to know love is a big puzzle I will spend the rest of my life putting together.  I write because writing helps me find and test pieces of that puzzle.  I asked for one tip for loving this week and was given two important puzzle pieces.   One is breath and the other is heart—the tip was breathe from my heart.      

Consciously breathing from my heart does help me:

            Think from my heart.

            Act from my heart.

            Trust my heart.

            Have empathy for the other and myself when not   acting from the heart.

            Know the Divine Mystery lives in our hearts.

There is never a day goes by when I wouldn’t make progress with my love puzzle if I remembered to breathe from my heart.  The day is full of opportunities to find another puzzle piece when I understand all things and everybody help me put it together.    


What if we asked for and shared one tip for loving each week?   


Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Hard to Love

The Mystery within...
It is hard to love the hard to love.  It’s hard to:

            Go high when the other goes low.

            Be patient in the face of oppression.

            Respond to violence with loving compassion.

            Be of generous spirit wanting good for the other.

            Not shame, blame, or impose guilt when wronged.

            Be forgiving of self and all others.

The blessings in loving the hard to love:

     I can't go wrong with sheer compassion toward the other, and myself, trusting in its hopeful forbearance.  

     My heart opens to a bigger reality of the Divine Mystery within.

     My ego shrinks and a path opens to self-transformation.  

     The important and unimportant things in life become obvious.

     Advocating for sharing, tolerance and respect become no brainers.

     I can grow as a peacemaker.  

What if the hard to love, and our own faults, are gifts to teach us how to love?