Monday, March 30, 2015

Project Belonging

The Mystery within...
I had a dream last night about a project to get everyone, everywhere to learn and speak a language of belonging.  It was one of those dreams when upon awakening it quickly fades from memory.  But I seem to recall the whole world was involved in creating a belonging language and just before awakening I was in a classroom of young children who were excited to be working on this project.  No doubt this dream was the result of listening to john a. powell’s conversation with Krista Tippet last week on how we might open up our anguished race conversation into the spiritual work of self and belonging.

Powell was right when he said we do not yet have the words to speak what needs to be said about race relations in America.  I looked up belong in my Thesaurus and most of the synonyms left me cold with references to card carrying members.  There were some words like respect, regard, concern, involve and touch that fit with powell’s focus on the spiritual work needed to promote belonging.  I believe the language of belonging will come forth when we all know, on a gut level, how deeply we are connected to one another and the natural world.

My knowing of this deep connection came when fear and intuition led me into nature where I encountered an Energy that told me to “Be not afraid” and led me to trust I would be shown the way to work through my struggles with my aging parents’.  I was shown my complicity in my troubles and gradually found ways to change myself--the only person I really can change.  It seems fear permeates both sides of race relations in America today.  Perhaps asking to know our complicity in this trouble will eventually lead us to a caring language of belonging where we all fit together. 

What if everyone everywhere worked on project belonging?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

No Words Yet

The Mystery within...
My ears perked up when I heard Berkley law professor, john a. powell, an internationally recognized expert on civil rights, civil liberties, structural racism, ethnicity, housing, poverty, and democracy say we do not yet have the words to speak what needs to be said about race relations in America today.  As one who searches for right words I found that fascinating and challenging.  Powell spoke to Krista Tippet in a Live Video:  A Civil Conversation with john a powell on how we might open up our anguished race conversation into the spiritual work of self and belonging.  He said language is never quite right but we do need language.    

Powell said:  We need a language of belonging for the human condition is about belonging. When we interact with each other we both change.  He asked how do we come together and learn together?  How can we make belonging infectious?  He acknowledged that the mind categorizes, and asked how do we become aware of our categories and have fun with them?  He said we need a caring economy to be in relationship with others.  Powell sees the culture of whiteness as the hard nut.  Slavery is about America.  How do we help whites find a new identity and believe in something other than ourselves?  We need to become aware of our unconscious signs of bias and work to overcome them.  The Civil Rights movement is as much for the white soul as it is for the freedom of blacks. We need to trust we will be shown the way.

What if we all searched for the right words to guide us in right relationships with one another and our planet?           

Monday, March 16, 2015


The Mystery within...
Unchurched is a word I have been hearing lately used to describe people who are no longer card carrying, dues paying members of a religious sect.  I don’t much like that word used to describe those of us who have left formal religion.  During a discussion between Arthur Zajonc, a physicist and contemplative, and Michael McCullough, a professor of psychology, on Krista Tippet’s On-Being Program, Mind and Morality:  A Dialogue, it was said of people who have left formal religion they have stepped out of the little church of virtues and have stepped into the virtues of the big church.  I really like that analogy. 

I love the big church’s virtues.  Knowing that all of creation, everything and everyone in it, is holy, helps me look for the Divine Mystery everyday.  Knowing that all of creation, everything and everyone in it, is connected, gives me pause to reflect on how my actions affect everything and everyone.  I love the freedom to be curious and to question everything.  I’ve become comfortable with knowing that answers only raise more questions to be explored.  I love the challenge of reflection and looking beyond trouble and hurtfulness.  I love knowing I belong to the big church.               

Other points that touched me in the discussion between Zajonc and McCullough were: we need to allow for differences and to explore them in safety, with respect; morality is our relationship to others and the world; empathy and compassion activates moral progress; there is no good argument for treating people differently; the fact that we can choose to separate ourselves from one another, and live and learn in a monoculture, is absolutely poisonous; education should teach us how we are going to be together as a human community; and we need to use our attention wisely.  

What if the little church of virtues and the virtues of the big church got together?

Monday, March 9, 2015

Spirit Animals

The Mystery within...
My August 5, 2013 blog titled “My Spider” told of how I came to know, and be grateful for my totem spider that appeared to me while on a “Women Gathering” retreat.  I wasn’t at all sure I wanted this spider spirit until I began to understand what it was asking me to suspend:  judgment of others and myself; anxiety for things undone; and the need to be perfect or right.  And after I learned that my spider is the keeper of the primordial alphabet, and teaches one how to write with power and creativity, I was in love with it.

Two more spirit animals have now recently showed up very unexpectedly in my life in the forms of a golden Palomino and a black horse.  They appeared on the first thawing day of this winter’s frigid grip while I walked in a wood not far from my house with my yellow Lab, Oliver.  Oliver stopped and stood transfixed with something among the bare trees deep in the snow-covered woods.  I followed his gaze and there stood a yellow horse!  My disbelief doubled when a black horse soon joined it.  We all just stood watching one another until finally the horses snorted, and then Oliver gave one bark, at which the pair turned and ran north into a grove of pines. 

This little 17-acre wood, bounded by private residences, a bike trail, and the Milwaukee River is home to squirrels, birds, chipmunks and deer.  Not horses.  I figured they probably escaped from their paddock somewhere and were enjoying a little spring fling.  I thought somebody should know where they were so when I got to the bike trail I asked a couple walking there if they had a cell phone so I could alert authorities of the horses whereabouts.  Later that night I called the Ozaukee County Sheriff’s dispatch to see if anyone reported a missing black and Palomino horse.  The dispatcher said no and they sent two deputies there and found nothing. 

I looked on-line for the spiritual attributes of horses and found Horse Journeys.  I learned horses are symbols of freedom and will awaken and discover my own freedom and power.  They teach fear kills creativity and can lead me to trust my own inner wealth of knowledge making me aware all things are possible.  Horses can reconnect me with the natural world, encourage me to be in the moment, and inspire a heightened sense of awareness.  Some of the goodness horses possess leads to a balanced social order because of their heightened sensory awareness, self-responsibility, and support of the greater good for the whole community.  These spirit guides can help me claim my authentic heart so what I say, do, think and feel comes from love.  I also found a golden horse signifies the coming of a spiritual manifestation and action; and a black horse is symbolic of death and rebirth.  I am thrilled to accept these new spirit animals in my life and welcome their mentoring.

What if we all became aware of our spirit animals with messages for our life?  

Monday, March 2, 2015

Presidential Attributes

The Mystery within...
Listening to some of the presidential hopefuls test the waters this past week made me want to make a list of the human qualities I want my next president to have.  So far I have listed: 1) is emotionally intelligent; 2) is reflective in decision making; 3) knows our children are the future for our country; 4) has empathy and compassion for those struggling; 5) understands the pursuit of wealth for wealth alone will destroy us all.

I have recently finished reading, “The Body Keeps the Score:  Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma" by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.  He says there are choices to be made for a healthy society for which we all have a role.  He cites northern European countries successes with lower health care costs, guaranteed minimum wage, parental leave for both parents after a child is born, and high-quality childcare for all working mothers.  Outcomes from these countries are reflected in his following statistics: 

“Could this approach to public health have something do with the fact that the incarceration rate in Norway is 71/100,000, in the Netherlands 81/100,000, and the US 781/100,000, while the crime rate in those countries is much lower than in ours, and the cost of medical care about half?  …The United States spends $84 billion per year to incarcerate people at approximately $44,000 per prisoner; the northern European countries a fraction of that amount.  Instead, they invest in helping parents to raise their children in safe and predictable surroundings.  Their academic test scores and crime rates seem to reflect the success of those investments.“

From October 28 – December 16, 2013 I blogged my way through the evolutionary biologist and anthropologist, David Sloan Wilson’s book, “The Neighborhood Project—Using Evolution to Improve My City, One Block at a Time.”  My closing question for each blog read:

“What if we all focused on ways to apply the laws of nature to improving our lives?”
“What if we all bumped into the more paternal and maternal among us more often?”
“What if we all learned the right questions to ask that lead us to become more healthy and productive citizens?”
“What if we all belonged to a trusted small helping group and reflected each day on our struggles?”
“What if we could all stop and reflect when bumping into unpleasantness?”
“What if each day we challenged our self to catch someone doing something right, praising him or her, and smiling more?”
“What if we all looked with evolutionary eyes that go beyond self-interest; eyes that respect and highlight diversity, and search for ways to end global poverty?”
“What if we all understood the role we play in each other’s evolutionary process?”

What if you made a list of the human qualities you would like to see in our next president?  What would it look like?