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 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.  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?