Monday, December 31, 2018

In Gratitude

The Mystery within...
I am so very grateful it’s finished, my next memoire. I handed it off to my publisher, David Gawlik of Caritas Communications, today. My manuscript left with the title, “Both and Things”, but now I’m not so sure that should be the title. I still have time to change it. It is definitely about the paradoxical nature of everything, that everything is a both and thing, that all troubles can eventually lead to good, especially learning how to love unconditionally.

At the close of my new memoire there is a long list of people I acknowledge who have helped form and inform me thus far. Maybe the real title is hiding in the last two sentences of my acknowledgements that end the book. They read, “Perhaps my deepest gratitude belongs to all those who have ever given me a hard time. They have driven me to reflection, searching for answers for how to love the hard to love unconditionally—a lifetime opportunity.”

Maybe my new memoire’s title should be, “Driven to Reflection—Learning to Love Unconditionally”

I wish you a blessed New Year and invite you to read the poem by the famous Anonymous, "New Year Resolutions", that is listed in the Comfort Messages of my blog under the heading Ego Training. 

What if we all were driven to reflection?  

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Post Election Gratitude

The Mystery within...
It’s over.  The campaigning.  I can turn on the T.V. now without being bombarded with cruel and bitter campaign ads.  For that I am grateful. 

I am grateful I found the Dane County League of Women Voters website with their list of questions posed to all candidates running for office in the State of Wisconsin on how each proposed to serve if elected.  I have long longed for such a service.  I am grateful I learned how to find and print a copy of the ballot I would be handed at the polls so I knew ahead of time who would be on my ballot for my district.  I felt better informed when I voted.  For that I am grateful.  

Voting is much more than a civic duty--it is a spiritual exercise.  Governance affects the quality of life, the health and well-being of us all. Education, livelihoods, healthcare, equitable tax distribution, care of the environment, justice, and war or peace are all dependent on how we vote--how we care for one another and the earth. We need a caring economy to be in healthy relationship with one another and the earth.  I am grateful the tide appears to be turning toward understanding our responsibilities for one another's and the earth’s health and well being.

And I am grateful that I am learning to practice sheer compassion for those who govern with self-serving policies that leave so many to struggle without adequate food, shelter and safety.  Breathing from my heart helps get me in touch with Sheer Compassion.  When I remember to do that, I am grateful.

What if we all understood voting as a spiritual exercise and learned to breathe from our hearts to practice sheer compassion toward all?         

Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Letter to the Editor

The Mystery within...

I decided to post the following letter to the editor that I submitted to two local papers. If it doesn't get published, at least it will be read by someone. Even if you do not live in my state, or country, consider we are all in this together for a more just world.  

* * *
I was privileged and proud to attend the first ever Ozaukee County Democratic Party fundraising dinner at the Cedarburg Cultural Center, October 17. There, “Pickin’ Up Speed,” a Bluegrass band playing down to earth music, entertained a sold-out crowd.  Bright blue, star-shaped balloons moved gently above tables where committed, enthusiastic citizens, all longing for a more just order in our government, shared a meal, and heard shining new democratic stars speak of equitable service to all.

The three Ozaukee County Assembly District candidates were introduced—Chris Rahlf, District 60; Liz Sumner, District 23; and Emily Siegrist, District 24. These three women encouraged my heart in knowing we are moving toward more equal representation through integrated gifts that both male and female bring to governance. US Congress District 6 candidate Dan Kohl spoke as well as Mandela Barnes, candidate for Lt. Governor. Congresswoman Gwen Moore from Milwaukee was the keynote speaker. 

Each speaker reflected Democratic values—respect for the dignity of all, a call for more equitable tax distribution, critical infrastructure maintenance, returning science to environmental management, investing in our children’s education, mental health, and providing adequate, affordable health care for all. Congresswoman Moore’s humor and pathos also gave us deep insight into the critical need for change in whom we elect to represent us.  

Committed and enthusiastic candidates, or their helpers, may be at your door between now and November 6 to answer any questions you have and to ask for your vote. I hope you’re lucky enough to meet some of these down-to-earth people in person, if you haven’t already. They’ve all been working hard to earn your vote. Be part of the Blue Wave, picking up speed, for a more just government of the people, for the people and by the people. Vote Democratic November 6.

* * * 
What if we all had the opportunity to vote for candidates committed to the respect and dignity of everyone and a just government of the people, for the people and by the people?  

Sunday, September 30, 2018


The Mystery within,..
Life is filled with suffering, but also with beauty.  When I suffer I naturally seek beauty—a walk in the woods or on the beach, a bike ride down country roads, or staring up at the night sky or into an emerging dawn. Somehow being present to Beauty consoles me and imparts a sense of purpose to my suffering.  The hearings involving testimonies regarding President Trump’s Supreme Court justice nominee, and his accuser, personally disturbed on many levels.  I am grateful for the wooded path along the river, and my bike and country roads, that comfort me.

The sexual and psychological abuse I experienced as a child, and then later in my workplace, and again in medical settings, all came back with unsettling detail.  The darkness of perverse power is overwhelming.  Further suffering is guaranteed for bringing abuse into the light.  You are damned if you do and you are damned if you don’t.  I know the real fears of women who do not come forward with abuse allegations because of the added suffering that gets heaped on top of the initial offense. Somehow, understanding both sides of this suffering, those of the perpetrator and the victim, is key to understanding the way to love and peace.  So I have been walking the woods, riding my bike, and breathing from my heart to move me toward peace.

Understanding that most boys are raised in patriarchal systems has been helpful.  The dictionary defines patriarchy as “a family, group, or government controlled by a man or a group of men.”  It is more than daughters who suffer from the patriarchal model. Sons, and the whole of society are deprived of integrated gifts both genders have to offer. Someday, equal integrated shares of both male and female gifts will form the foundation for freedom, justice and peace in the world.

When I was halfway through writing my memoire, God Never Hurries, I got stuck and could not continue writing until I acknowledged my father’s abuse.  It was not well received by many.  But now, more than ever, I know it was the right thing to do.  I tried writing posts the past several weeks but couldn’t finish them, until I let myself write this one.      

If you have found events from the past week disturbing, I invite you to look for Beauty, breathe from you heart where the Great Mystery resides, and wait to be filled with empathy and compassion for all parties involved in this heart wrenching drama our country is experiencing.  I wish you peace.

What if we all learned to breathe from our hearts—would patriarchy cease to exist?  

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Grace in Governance

The Mystery within...
I have been posting to my blog/website since April 1, 2013.  In my March 2, 2015 post titled, Presidential Attributes, I listed five traits I wanted my next president to have.  They were:  1) emotional intelligence; 2) reflective 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 believe those are traits anyone running for political office should aspire too.  It now feels like we are at an evolutionary crossroad since how we govern, or allow ourselves to be governed, can determine our progress or decline as a people.  We need grace in governance.  

From November 4 to December 16, 2013 I summarized the evolutionary biologist, David Sloan Wilson’s book, “The Neighborhood Project—Using Evolution to Improve my City, One Block at a Time.”  It took seven posts to summarize Wilson’s book that uses scientific research to understand what furthers our progress as human beings.   The following links are to those seven post titles and the “What if…” question that ended each post.  

11/4/13, Life in a Pinball Machine “What if we all bumped into the more paternal and maternal among us more often?”

11/11/13, Who’s in Your Neighborhood?  “What if we all learned the right questions to ask that lead us to become more healthy and productive citizens?”

11/18/13, So Who Are We? “What if we reflected each day on our struggles?”

11/25/13, Siren and Flashing Lights  “What if we could always stop and reflect when bumping into unpleasantness?”

12/2/13, Transformational People  “What if we created a more positive environment through praise?”

12/9/13, Looking with Evolutionary Eyes  “What if we look with evolutionary eyes that go beyond self-interest; eyes that respect and highlight diversity, and search for ways to end global poverty?

12/16/13, Potential in Vacant Lots  “What if we all understood the role we play in each other’s evolutionary process?  

What if we all made a list of the grace we want in our political candidates?    

Saturday, August 11, 2018

Be an Informed Voter

The Mystery within...
The following was my letter to the editors of the News Graphic and Ozaukee Press:  

I have sometimes voted with trepidation because I didn’t always feel well informed when marking my ballot.  I long for a requirement that all candidates provide a succinct summary, not more than three paragraphs, on how each one plan to serve us if elected.  This information would be readily available to all.  I’ve been told, “That will never happen.”  But I did get one good tip to educate myself, which was to go to There, you can enter your address and see a sample ballot for the district in which you live.  (Current gerrymandering of district boundaries makes this information important so you will know which candidates will now appear on your ballot.)  The upcoming August 14 primary field of candidates is narrowed since we can only vote in one party.  So I copied, pasted and printed my chosen party’s sample ballot for my area, and then went to work searching the Internet for my area’s candidate information.  I’m now better informed.               

I see great paradoxical promise in the scary political turmoil of our time that can give us all pause to reflect on our past, present and future.  How our politics, and we as a people evolve, really lies in our own hearts, minds, hands and ballots.  Author Parker J. Palmer links politics to our humanity in his book, “Healing the Heart of Democracy:  The Courage to Create a Politics Worthy of the Human Spirit.”  Following are some excerpts of his thoughts that will give you an idea of what makes real democracy possible when we understand:  “…we are all in this together…profoundly interconnected…accountable to one another; …practice deep hospitality…invite ‘otherness’; …hold tension creatively…to expand our hearts…to generate insight, energy and new life; …speak our truth checking and correcting it against the truth of others; …companionship of two or three kindred spirits can help us find the courage we need to speak and act as citizens.”
It is easy to get totally discouraged with the messiness in our politics.  But we the people can help create a politics worthy for all.  Have sheer compassion for another’s fears.  Know it takes a healthy village to raise a healthy child to create a healthy future for us all.  What if our scary political turmoil is designed to awaken us to a new era of understanding and growth in our humanity?   

Please take time to be informed and vote August 14.  

Tuesday, July 31, 2018


The Mystery within...
What a great focus we had for reflection for this summer’s weekend Women Gathering retreat--the many different thresholds crossed in our life, and what new threshold currently awaits us.  Cathy Gawlik and Dawn Zak, from Way of the Willow again lightly and skillfully led an incomparable group of women seekers in helping one another grow through sharing our struggles, and understanding it is our troubles that grow us in grace and wisdom.  Prior to our gathering we were given a Jan L. Richardson quote to reflect on: “And there are times for leaving; times when the holy thing to do is shake the dust from our feet and leave behind a place that is not meant for us.”

To help each of us reflect on the past thresholds we have crossed we strung either multi-colored glass or wooden beads of varying sizes, shapes and colors on a cord. Each bead we chose was a symbol of a past significant threshold we had crossed. Reflecting on my past thresholds, within our sacred circle, I was overwhelmed at just how hard life has been sometimes.  Through our sharing we became intimate with our own and others’ past pain and present fears.  I had Pema Chodron’s book with me, “When Things Fall Apart—Heart Advice for Difficult Times” and shared this quote from her:  “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth.”  And each of us did just that in unique and unfathomable ways.  In the process of our sharing we were touched with sheer compassion for one another.

My fear of ridicule and getting dirty in a fight was exposed and brought into the light.  I am now making peace with my fear by simply speaking or writing my truth and then showering any ridicule or criticism I might receive with sheer compassion for my detractors’ fears.  I want to advocate for thinking with our hearts and not our wallets to help one another live free, productive and healthful lives on a vibrant, healthy planet.  So the nest I was given to decorate in the OT (Occupational Therapy) portion of our gathering represents our home, Mother Earth.  I put a small sprig of white flowers representing me, the grandmother, who has some hard won learning. The feathers, joined together by two butterflies, represents the transformation that will take place when our female and male energies become more integrated resulting in a more equitable, peaceful world.  And the nine multicolored flowers within the nest represents all of us on this planet, and our nine different Enneagram spirituality types, each with a unique strength to be shared and a corresponding weakness in need of sheer compassion.  Accepting our fears, and integrating our spiritual strengths as men and women, is what this grandmother wants for us all and our planet. 

Cathy Gawlik’s husband, David, thoughtfully put the five poems Dawn and Cathy used to create the outline for our weekend into a booklet for us.  Lines from each poem that especially spoke to me:  Being Here, to live fully, we must take the path and keep sweeping it.”  We look with uncertainty “…something new is being born in us if we but let it.”  A Blessing in the Dust,“…feel the full weight of your gifts…” Blessing the Threshold,  “…This blessing has been setting the table as it hums a tune from an old song it knows something about, a spiraling road and bread and grace.”  Breaking Surface “Let no one keep you from your journey, … no lover who measures their worth by what you might give up, no voice that tells you in the night it can’t be done.”

We closed our weekend together the way we began it by calling in our ancestors and inviting them to be with us for our healing as well as theirs.  We again asked the four directions for blessing and guidance and thanked the Great Spirit, known by many names, for bringing us together in sacred circle.  And then we carefully took our sense of fragile wholeness back out into the world and our next threshold crossing.   

What if we could all welcome the truth our threshold crossings have taught us and continue on with a sense of fragile wholeness?

Monday, July 16, 2018

Spirituality and Politics

The Mystery within...
“I’m spiritual but not religious” is a term I’m familiar and comfortable with, especially given America’s current political/religious climate.  So what would a spiritual/political climate look like, feel like and sound like in America?

First of all many Americans, myself included, would have a lot less stuff.  It would feel good because spirituality thrives when sharing our resources with others who have too little; and it feels good to thrive spiritually.  Corporations would work continuously to protect the environment and also proudly display their philanthropic efforts.  All workers would receive a just and living wage.  We would grow in respect for all of life.  Healthcare would be exceptional, universal, and affordable for all. Care of the born would be understood as a societal task with aid to families needing help and quality education available to all.  Abortions would become very rare.  We would be tolerant of people holding views different than our own and open to changes that demonstrate compassion versus blame and bigotry.  The arts and entertainment industry would deepen our understanding of what it means to be a spiritual people.  And we who profess liberty and justice for all would ask forgiveness from Native Americans and Blacks for our past colonial imperialism.  Politician’s voices would resonate from their hearts in support of the above.  This isn’t an impossible dream.  How America evolves really is in our own hearts, minds, voices, hands and ballots.     

I see great paradoxical promise in the scary political turmoil of our time that can give us all pause to reflect on our past, present and future.  Will the quest for more and more money enslave some of us while others languish in poverty?  Can the over consumption and destruction of our earth’s resources become an urgent understanding for a more reasoned and protective stance; or will we continue down a self-destructive path of no return?  Can we see it takes a healthy village to raise a healthy child to create a healthy future?  Can we replace judgment with compassion for others’ desperate acts?  Can we be open to being changed? True forgiveness of the other, and ourselves, heals relationships and is a never-ending need. The ability to love creativity is what spirituality is all about.  It exists in all of us.  Find and nurture it. In my heart, mind and soul I see no separation between spirituality and politics.

What if our scary political turmoil is designed to awaken us to a new era of forgiveness, empathy, compassion, love and generosity toward one another?                                 

Saturday, June 30, 2018

Seagull Blessing

The Mystery within...
“Grandma, this was the most impressive walk I have ever been on.” Words spoken by my eleven-year-old grandson, Kason, as we returned to my car, tired, wet and muddy, but oh so impressed with our seagull blessing. It was my birthday. I had called my grandchildren to see if anyone wanted to walk to the beach with my yellow lab Oliver and me. Kason said yes to the invitation. 

Long before Kason was born, a Shepherd/Husky named Bear and I would walk across a vast field, then on a narrow bare earth path that wound down into a deep quiet valley with a meandering stream winding its way out into Lake Michigan. A frequent destination for Bear and me was to walk north from the valley’s opening to the remains of an old car that still lies on the beach, now mostly buried in the sand. In God Never Hurries I wrote: 

“This one odd piece of misplaced wreckage never appeared to be offensive litter. It is more an arti­fact, a relic of time. I wondered what it looked like when it was new and fully in service. Who rode in it? Who cared for it? How did it come to rest in such an unlikely place? Who pushed it over the bluff? How long will it take for all the rust to melt into new life? I felt a kinship with this old departing soul."

I told Kason about the old car on the beach and we both want­ed to go there. Now we did not walk through the valley but on a wide gravel path to a wooden stairway down to the beach. (I miss the old dirt path and quiet valley route.) Out on the beach, recent heavy rains brought down intermittent mud­slides from the high bluff, along with some tree debris we had to crawl over, making progress to the old car awkward and slow. As I started to climb over yet more branches, Kason asked, “Grandma, is it much farther?” Then I was startled by what I saw on the other side of the debris—a seagull in great distress. I climbed down and walked toward the flailing gull, looked into the bird’s gray terrified eyes, and spoke gently from my heart. The gull stopped flaying and let me pick her up. One wing tip was caught in multiple fishhooks and a sinker all tight­ly wound in fishing line around its mangled wing. From my heart I said, “We are going to help you.” How? I had no idea. I gently set the quieted bird down on the sand. Kason unwound some of the extended fishing line that was also attached to a downed branch while I looked in my backpack. Not much there except some cookies, two water bottles and a mosquito net that slips over my hat that I threw in my pack as a last minute afterthought. As I gently slipped the still quiet gull into the netting, I again said, “We are going to help you” and then rest­ed the bird in the crook of my left arm. The seagull looked content there and I relaxed some as we headed back down the beach. 

Now, I just walked in the water around the mud and downed tree debris. And where debris went too far into the water, I would have Kason crawl over first and then I’d hand off our bird to him so I could use all my extremities to get me up and over. In the hand off I would tell Kason, “Gentle, gentle.” And amazingly our bird stayed calm. As I walked back down the beach, with the gull nestled in my arm, I thought of how many people in our world are hooked, bound, terrified and need help. A soft grief filled me.

When we got closer to the wooden stairs and started encoun­tering others on the beach, I would ask, “By chance, might you have a pocket knife?” They would look puzzled and then I would nod to the seagull in the crook of my arm, who was now starting to feel like a part of me. Surprise lit their faces. I explained the bird’s plight. With sincere regret responses were, “Oh I’m so sorry, no I don’t have a knife.” At the base of the stairs I remembered I once counted there are ninety steps up to the top. So we started our slow climb back up. Just as we reached the top a young man with a backpack came bounding up the stairs and said, “I heard someone needs a knife.” My heart leapt for joy for I now knew there was a plan. And then two Asian men up top offered nail clippers to also aid in the freeing. So while I gently held the seagull, others sniped and cut away the hooks, line and sinker. Pictures were taken and gratitude expressed all around.

For the best chance of recovery I knew I had to walk back down those stairs to release the seagull in the water. Standing in the water’s edge I felt overwhelmed with gratitude for the blessings our bird brought, who I have since named, Spirit. For allowing me to feel a part of Spirit and Spirit a part of me—for the kindness of the people on the beach who sent the young man with the backpack and knife, and the teamwork that cut our bird free. And for knowing we are all in fact one, here to help one another be free. After I gently slipped off the net and lowered Spirit into the water, she hesitated as if wondering if she could now move freely. I lit up with joy when she started to paddle. And when she was about fifty feet out into the lake she turned and looked at us. I said, “You’re wel­come.” Then Kason, Oliver, and I headed back up the wooden stairs and path back to my car. 

We are, in fact, all one. We don’t have to look too far to find others needing to be free from discrimination, greed, and poverty. Be gentle. Think and act from your heart. Trust others will come and help you help. 

What if we all got to feel one with one another? 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Repair Democracy and the Earth

The Mystery within...
Our democracy is broken because our electoral system is broken.  We no longer have a government of the people, for the people and by the people.  Until we get partisan money out of politics our democracy’s decline will continue to erode our freedoms and our ability to promote the common good for one another, our earth and all beings inhabiting it. 

In addition to getting partisan money out of politics, a condition to become a candidate for political office should be a requirement to provide a clear, concise, written statement on what the proposed candidate stands for and briefly state how his or her goals will serve us and our environment. These aspiring politicians’ written statements are to be free of attacks on their opponent’s character or ideology, and only state their positive agenda and why it is critical to the common good. 

In addition to getting candidates written messages to us voters, I suggest a six-week time limit for active campaigning.  A time limit on campaigning would necessitate clear, more concise thinking and presentations on the many serious issues facing our local, state and national governments.  Hopefully, more clear thinking and positive written documentation of candidates’ goals would curb some of the pre-election protracted bitterness we are all subjected to for many months on end—bitterness that does not inform us about the common good and easily infects us all.            

Since most media are also among the many who benefit from the seemingly endless barrage of negative adds paid for by special interest money, they would oppose limiting the length of time for active campaigning.  

But at least, we the people could start by demanding positive written goals from all political candidates and how each proposes to serve the common good so we can intelligently weigh critical decisions to be made in the voting both. Libraries and voting places could be required to have copies of all candidates mandated, clearly written, concise, positive only statements on how they propose to foster a government of the people, for the people and by the people.  And if a candidate really wanted to impress me, he or she could hang their qualifying positive statements on my door telling me how he or she plans to promote the common good for one another, our earth, and all beings inhabiting it.  

Tuesday, May 29, 2018


The Mystery Within...
I have found it difficult to write of late.  I want to write about belonging and have become painfully aware I was not schooled in a language of belonging—a language where all of nature, including humans, have inalienable rights and belong to the same Sacred Whole.  It make’s Robin Wall Kimmerer’s words ring true for me that the language of capital imperialism refers to nature as an it or thing for personal gain, not as kin. I am also reminded of Berkley law professor, john a. powell, who said 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 the right words, I better understand my difficulty in writing about belonging.  

But there were hard times in my life when belonging words came easily to me.  It was a time when I struggled mightily with my own rights—a time when I steeped myself in nature, was comforted and felt a strong kinship to the Sacred Whole. In my first memoir I wrote … It was a time of heightened consciousness and vivid dreams.  I awoke one morning with words floating in my head.  I did not remember a specific dream, but there were these words that wanted to be put together.  I reached for my bedside pencil and paper, and here’s how they became arranged:  

God is in the sunshine,
God is in the rain.
God is in the wheat field
And in the sky again.

God is in the birds
Who sing to you and me. 
God’s also in the puppy that
Plays so gleefully.

God is in the mountains,
God is in the sea.
But best of all, don’t you know
God’s in you and me.

And during that same period of struggle, my late friend Rosemary signed me up for a retreat titled, “Desires of the Heart” led by Wendy Cory.  She knew my pain needed it. Wendy led us in a meditation dialogue with our heart.  My question to my heart clearly originated in my mind. Answers did not.  I asked my heart if my work was to balance justice and love. The answer was, “Yes, you are coming to see my desire.  But I ask that you not storm ahead with a zealous plan.  Be relaxed and open.  Watch for signs I will give you and opportunities to make a difference.”  I thanked my heart for its wisdom and pleaded, “Help me. Hold my hand.”  My heart responded, “I hold your hand and all of you. Know that we are one.”  Now, in easier times, it is harder for me to remember belonging words in a culture that does not have an adequate language for them. Also, in easier times, it is harder to fondly remember the saving grace in pain and struggle.  But today I do and I am grateful.    

What if we all questioned what our Heart desires and remember pain and struggle can be a path to learning how we belong to one another and the Sacred Whole? 

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Earth's 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 bestow rights to the earth and all of its 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 and all inhabitants 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 these gifts.  See Rights of 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.  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 of gratitude for all Earth’s beings 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, restorative sleep—thank you all! 

What if we could know all of earth's beings as kin, here to transform us?   

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?