Every morning heart and habit take me to a chair in my study where I can relax and simply be with whatever is arising in the moment. It’s a time of peace and opening, even or maybe especially when my mind is roiled by problems it thinks it needs to solve. Once the candles on my altar have been lit and I’ve taken a few slow easy deep breaths, I am usually able to sink into just being there. A large cup of nettle leaf tea, a string of prayer beads, and my journal are my only companions.
Sometimes my body hurts with one or another of its myriad stresses and strains. I’ve learned that if I move a little and stretch before sitting down, I can find relief and balance. Sitting becomes easier then. It’s my very own morning yoga, a series of movements from my dance training, physical therapy exercises, and a bit of study of yogic asanas. I do what feels right in the moment and what I have learned works well for my muscles and joints. Added to this is the awareness that the sun is rising into a new day.
A central practice for me is what I’ve come to call meditative writing. It’s a form of journal writing and is always a part of my morning practice. I write in a medium sized notebook with blank pages (no lines). It’s a well-made bound book, the kind ostensibly used by Ernest Hemingway and other famous writers. I love the feel of it, and the unlined pages give me the freedom to record whatever comes to me in whatever way I like.
I note the day, date, and time. If it happens to be the birthday of someone close to me, I note that and send them a silent wish for happiness. If I’m engaged with a formal mantra sadhana, I note the number of the day of that. There’s a flow to it all and to any writing that follows. Any subject, thought, or feeling is eligible for the page. I’ve learned not to edit or censor what comes, but simply to write it down. Even if it’s upsetting. Even if I’m not sure what it means. Even if it seems like it doesn’t make a lot of sense.
Meditative writing gives voice to an intuitive stream of consciousness, a heart stream if you will. It isn’t served by the rational, analytic side of my brain. It comes from more of a whole body brain, the place that occasionally produces songs and poems. The intuitive stream of consciousness is in touch with timeless realms of existence. It is actively receptive and open, which allows it to form questions and receive answers that might not otherwise be accessible. It advises gently and wisely and occasionally firmly. It opens to a deep joy of being, even when it makes me cry.
Pauses occur where I am dropped more deeply into meditation. Breath slows or asserts itself boldly; there are fewer thoughts. I’ve learned to go with the flow of this, letting go into nothingness, relaxing and resting, letting the natural rhythm of the stream guide my mind. Eventually I “come back” to the sitting and the writing. Or, I sense that I’m done for that time and I get up and go on with my day.
In these challenging times, it’s easy to feel scattered, ungrounded, disconnected, and overwhelmed. A morning practice strengthens and aligns you from within and can have a powerful corrective impact on your state of mind and ability to function. It can empower you in surprising ways and increase your effectiveness in the world. Some of how that happens is a little mysterious, but that makes it all the more intriguing and even fun. I heartily recommend you give it a try.
If We Die
You shall know, my sons, shall know
why we leave the song unsung,
the book unread, the work undone
to rest beneath the sod.
Mourn no more, my sons, no more
why the lies and smears were framed,
the tears we shed, the hurt we bore
to all shall be proclaimed.
Earth shall smile, my sons, shall smile
and green above our resting place,
the killing end, the world rejoice
in brotherhood and peace.
Work and build, my sons, and build
a monument to love and joy,
to humor, worth, to faith we kept
for you, my sons, for you.
January 24, 1953
I was eight and a half years old when Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were executed by the U.S. government on June 19, 1953. I remember being at a hootenanny fundraiser sometime around that time. The visual memory is shrouded, but my emotional memory is clear, almost too clear. It was the moment my child consciousness took in that Michael and Robert, the two young Rosenberg sons had become orphans (adopted later by the Meeropol family), and that everyone in the room that day was living through a terrifying time. I felt shockingly sadder in my young self than I’d ever felt before or knew was possible.
I got an email the other day from Jennifer Meeropol, granddaughter of Ethel Rosenberg, for the Rosenberg Fund for Children. She asked for support for her father and uncle who are petitioning President Obama to exonerate their mother. I froze, couldn’t move, and couldn’t sign the petition. The sadness and horror, now over sixty years old rose up to block me. I felt incapacitated and unsafe, and too scared to put my name on their appeal to Obama.
I did sign a couple of days later, the delay no doubt caused by the nauseating undercurrent of threat that we’re living with now that triggered my traumatic reaction. More and more, the current times seem to parallel the anti-communist hysteria of the nineteen fifties, albeit with different personnel, formats and prejudices. The thugs and bullies coming into power seem a lot like the ones from prior days, as does the mean-spiritedness. It’s discouraging to say the least, but it’s also a wake up call.
How am I going to be in these new times? What can I do that will help to turn the tide in the direction of peace? I don’t have money to give, so my actions, which include signing all kinds of petitions, have to be more creative. I want to make myself available more than ever to help build “a monument to love and joy,” as Ethel Rosenberg so exquisitely and poignantly put it. I will do everything I can to strengthen and fortify my heart so that I can withstand whatever is in store for us. I pledge now to spend the rest of my life in this service, and to do it with the love that binds me to this world.
There can be no deep disappointment where there is not deep love.” — Martin Luther King, Jr.
I read Leonard Pitts Jr. this morning, which I do whenever the Daily Camera reprints his column. I’m usually inspired by his beautifully crafted essays, and this one was no exception. But… it is incredibly and powerfully sad. Synchronistically, what he wrote matched my mood, particularly the feeling of overwhelm about how much not good stuff is happening in this country. How really is it that the white cop who shot the black man in the back eight times was not convicted?
I find daunting the prospect of having to be more activist than I’m prepared to be. Are we really going to have Trump for president? People are writing to the electors who are set to meet in a week to decide our fate as a nation. Can I do it? Do I have the stamina to write all those letters? Is signing all the petitions I’m signing doing any good? Can I find the strength to be active and effective while burdened by a pervasive fog of sadness about the world situation?
I don’t know. I really don’t. Part of me wants to escape and stay hidden in the hillsides of my beautiful Boulder. However, the old but still young activist in me wants to get going and do the right thing, start moving mountains like we did in the sixties. Get loud and proud and relentless. Channel righteousness into social change. Stand for good. Etc. etc. and like that.
I have to honor the sadness first. That’s the only way I’ll be able to do anything. I’ve learned over this longish lifetime that emotions rule. I ignore them at my peril. They are the electrical signals that eventually show me the correct action to take, and the correct timing. If I’m deeply sad, which I am, I need to inquire within, ask myself what is going on and listen carefully to the answers I’m getting from inside. If I’m tired like Pitts, and I definitely am, I need to face into that and look for ways to contribute that don’t endanger my own wellbeing. I need to remind myself that it’s okay to be tired. It’s okay to be sad.
I do have every confidence that we will get through this dark period. Why? Because I have lived through numerous dark periods before, and because no matter what’s happening, life keeps going. I’m learning to accept what I have been taught, namely that whatever happens happens. Understanding this deceptively simple phrase includes knowing that I can’t know most of what’s going on most of the time, and that being too attached to what I think is going on is always unhelpful. I need to cultivate discernment. I’m not going to find my way in these strange times by being judgmental.
Love is the basis for the deep disappointment and sadness I feel, just like the quotation from MLK says. I thank Leonard Pitts for putting it at the top of his column. When I sit with my sad feelings, breathe and wait, maybe sing and write, what always shows up is the deep love I feel for the world and for people, the earth and all living beings. I look to that love to show me the way.
Linda Hogan, DWELLINGS: A Spiritual History of the Living World.
Lorraine Anderson (ed.), SISTERS OF THE EARTH: WOMEN’S PROSE AND POETRY ABOUT NATURE.
Steven Foster and Meredith Little, THE ROARING OF THE SACRED RIVER: The Wilderness Quest for Vision and Self-Healing.
Hal Zina Bennett, THE LENS OF PERCEPTION: A User’s Guide to Higher Consciousness.
David LaChapelle, NAVIGATING THE TIDES OF CHANGE: Stories from Science, the Sacred, and a Wise Planet.
Adyashanti, THE WAY OF LIBERATION: A Practical Guide To Spiritual Enlightenment.
Hermann Hesse, SIDDHARTHA
Those are some of the many hundreds of books that have crossed my path. Also, I would be remiss if I neglected to mention my own book, Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion. That one you can find here.
Blessings and love to you. Happy reading!
Open to the Spirit… open to your heart… take time to listen… take time to be in the Heart of the Mother…
“Joyful medicine.” That’s what I said to a friend who asked me how the Day Quest went yesterday. Joyful medicine is the essence of what I call “the Quest work.“
I go to the mountains to seek solitude, rest, and renewal. I consult with the land about life’s conundrums and difficulties. I have done this for thirty years, ever since my first vision quest with David LaChapelle.
During the summer months, I escort others to do the same. We sit in circles on the ground. We sing. We sit quietly. We pray. We engage in reflective exchanges called mirroring. We sit in the lap of the Earth Mother and come back to our true nature. The painful splits in our being are given a chance to heal.
You can talk to the trees, I say to my people. You can ask them to help you. You can welcome the more than human life forms into the circle of your heart. If you walk and sit quietly without thinking, you become open to the love and communication that is always present in and amongst the hillsides. If you listen patiently, you can receive the bounty that is available there.
It feels like magic, but really it isn’t. It’s reality. The gifts that flower from this practice enrich the lives of the participants. They also hold the promise of a better, more peaceful world, as the people bring back stronger, clearer versions of themselves and apply themselves to what life is asking of them.
My Quest season is almost over for this year. It will renew itself next summer as long as I am still blessed with good health and there are people who heed the call to come home to the Heart of the Mother.
A bow of gratitude to The-Spirit-That-Moves-In-All-Beings-And-Things.
I’m now blogging from my Earth & Sky website. The Life Choices website has been merged into this one. All my online offerings are now in one place.
This post is kind of a test to see if all is working properly. You can help by letting me know if 1. you received it, and 2. it looks okay to you. I welcome any and all feedback and suggestions.
Being with Earth and Sky is about embodied experience, multiple levels of reality, and conscious awareness of how we move through our lives. I will write with all that in mind.
My plan is to write more broadly about a variety of topics that interest and fascinate me. I want to expand upon some of the issues raised in my book with an eye on delving deeply into ways for us to move forward with a higher awareness of how we want our lives to be.
I’ll approach things personally as well as professionally, maybe include some poetry and song, and come from the deep heart. I’ll aim for my thinking mind to be in service to that.
I hope you will stay with me as I make this shift. I wish you well in all that you are and do.
I wrote Life Choices: The Teachings of Abortion to support the next evolutionary step towards a global consciousness of love and peace. I wanted to bring the conversation to a broader, deeper, spirit centered perspective about the impact of legal abortion. I wanted to show how abortion is helping to bring in a collective consciousness centered in love and caring. But not love and caring in the abstract. Love and caring in the context of life and relationships and the life and future of the planet. Love and caring in the context of the lives of real people.
I wrote the book to bring abortion out of the shadows where patriarchy has kept it for centuries. I wrote it to help women know that their personal experiences happen in a historical context and that they are not alone.
I wrote the book to reclaim the word life. Because, there is no such thing as abstract life. Any life form on our planet exists only in relation to other life forms, and in an intimate relationship with death. Life must be nurtured, and the health and wellbeing of the nurturer given the highest priority whether that is an individual woman or the earth as a whole. Nurturing the nurturer naturally includes recognizing her power to choose how and when she goes about doing the nurturing.
Without question, abortion is liberating and empowering for women. I wrote the book to illustrate this by including the stories of women I’ve known who have lived out the complicated pressures of deciding whether to bring life through their bodies at a particular time. I wrote it to normalize the experiences of unexpected and unwanted pregnancies, and to show that these pregnancies are for the most part unexceptional and common in women’s lives. I wrote it to show how brave and creative women are when faced with the judgments of a hostile world.
Anything that liberates women also liberates children and men. That’s also in the book.
Life on earth is part of the oneness of all beings and things. There is a Greater Consciousness of Being that is always present in our lives. Awareness of this is accessed in new and surprising ways by some women and men in their quest for healing around their abortion experiences. I wrote about that also.
I wrote Life Choices to show that the survival of humanity on the earth requires legal abortion.
- That pregnancy choice is tied to the movement for environmental stewardship and the care of the earth.
- That it is tied to economic equality and the movement from a property-over-people society towards a way of life centered in people and their intrinsic creativity.
- That it is part of the historic return of the powerful, non-patriarchal feminine principle that seats itself in a fierce guardianship of life and death.
Is there room for a deeper perspective? I hope so. Abortion is still legal in the U.S., but in some places impossible to obtain because providers have been driven out of business! This is outrageous and very scary, and I would imagine many people feel like we’re going backwards. I don’t think so though. Yes, it’s pretty intense out there, and occasionally morbidly absurd. However, we’re managing the daily insults and threats that rain down like sharp icy particles. The provider leadership knows how to navigate the territory and is doing a great job. There is a lot to learn and a lot to teach.
The political struggle is an aspect of the teachings of abortion. It is one of the avenues through which people sit up and pay attention to the importance of respecting and protecting the lives of women. It’s an incredible challenge, but in the end as with all big social movements, I believe peace and progress will prevail. We just need to stay as open, focused, and connected as we want everyone else to be. The political part is also in the book.
I have an offer I hope you can’t refuse. Life Choices is now available directly from me for $5 a copy plus shipping. You need to contact me directly to get the low discounted price. It’s also available as an e-book on Amazon.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!
THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR ALL YOUR SUPPORT OVER THE PAST COUPLE OF YEARS SINCE
LIFE CHOICES WAS PUBLISHED.
I HOPE THE BOOK IS A HELP AND AN INSPIRATION TO YOU AND OTHERS YOU KNOW.
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON THIS EARTH
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON THIS EARTH
MAY PEACE PREVAIL ON THIS EARTH
MANY BLESSINGS AND LOVE
The longer I live, the more I learn the beauty of each being’s way of navigating life’s changes and the spiritual openings that come to magnify and deepen each life.
How are you doing with the choices and changes life is bringing to you? Isn’t it amazing how caught up we are in the continuous movement of the Forces? For many of us here in Colorado, it’s been all about the Great Flood of 2013. We’re still recovering from the powerful waters that moved through our area in the form of the thousand year rains and the 100 year flood. For a while it was hard to think about anything else.
But life reasserts itself and moves on regardless of shocking events and traumas. It doesn’t allow us to stay any one place very long, but rather, commands us to continue on, receive healing, and apply the lessons we are learning from our experience. Life asks us to trust even when we feel like everything is going wrong. I wrote a guest blog post about this recently. Part 1 is here and Part 2 is here. The essay is also on my counseling website here.
The underlying theme of my book, Life Choices, is the importance of exploring and understanding how life on Earth really works. Choices made by women and men about sex and pregnancy are part of that, but the overarching teaching of abortion and its related issues is the way life is in relationship with itself through birth, death, and everything in between, and how individual conscious awareness comes into being through experience.
I can’t think of anything more important than learning how to trust. It’s almost impossible to navigate the twists and turns of our lives if we don’t. Trust often grows from surviving challenging experiences. Our experiences are tailor made to allow us to become more conscious and aware on all levels. As we open to what our experiences have to teach us we become more trusting. I’m speaking of deep trust here, the kind of trust we have in the changing of the seasons and the rising of the sun.
Moving forward into the new, I have created a workshop called Trust the Sacred-Trust Yourself. It will debut on Saturday, December 7 in Boulder at Holo Being, LLC as a HoloLive! production. You can find more information here. You can sign up here. I am excited about this new form because it brings together the teachings that I share with private clients and out on the land during the annual vision quest trip. Learning to trust the way of things gives us a key to connection with ourselves, with each other, with earth, with sky, and with the divine.
I want to share with you my gratitude for some wonderful people and their work in the world. Here is a piece of writing that is both playful and serious thanking NASA (yes, that NASA) for using the word abort correctly. Accolades to Peg Johnston for this and other articles and for her ongoing steadiness in advocating for the health rights and empowerment of women. I’ve received tremendous support from Peg for the message I’m bringing through in Life Choices. She is someone who knows how to welcome everyone into the circle of care. Thank you, Peg!
Charlotte Taft is a brave leader in feminist thought. She and I are of the same generation and share a depth of understanding and love for the emergence of women’s consciousness world wide. Thank you, Charlotte, for your perseverance and leadership, and your long term personal support for me in the writing of my book.
When I hear the word Texas my mind goes immediately to Amy Hagstrom Miller. Amy has been in the news a lot lately because she is the founder and CEO of Whole Woman’s Health, a national provider of abortion services that began in Austin, Texas in 2003. While I don’t know Amy personally, I want to thank her for being strong and clear during the grueling fight in the Texas state legislature over abortion rights. She is an inspiration for all of us and especially for younger women looking to be part of the movement.
There is an incredible group of people who put out “the newsjournal of Catholic opinion,” aptly named Conscience. The group is Catholics for Choice. The journal is published three times a year. I’ve been aware of it since the 1980’s and it has kept me informed and uplifted through its progressive, thought empowering news and opinion. Thank you, Conscience!
I’m sure you’ve noticed how the current political climate in the United States is becoming increasingly hostile to providers of legal abortion. I am deeply impressed by the courage and fortitude of those who are isolated in states like Mississippi and North Dakota. Unfortunately, it continues to get worse in many places.
Not so in Boulder. Our community continues to be solidly supportive. A few weeks ago, I was invited to attend a board meeting of Women’s Health here in town. Susan Levy, the center’s director, asked me to come to tell the story of the founding of the then Boulder Valley Clinic in 1973. Most of the current board members did not know the history or how it was at the beginning. There will be a 40th anniversary celebration this fall. Time is moving along!
Speaking of time, it feels like I am entering a new period in my life. I’m approaching 70 and feeling an even greater depth of connection to All Life both personally and professionally. I feel it as a writer and a healer, but also simply as a person living on this Earth. I am lucky to be blessed with good health and a widening community of friends and colleagues. The Quest work I do (wilderness rites of passage for women) seems intent on continuing probably until I’m unable to walk the land anymore(!). Deep gratitude for this. The work in wild nature is truly the living edge of reality consciousness. Kudos to those who found the courage to join us for our most recent 9 day journey in July and also those who have come in past years. My only wish is that more people would avail themselves of the experience. By the way, dear activists and health care workers, this sort of retreat could be a great renewal of peace and strength to you (programs can be designed to meet your specific needs).
My sadhana, the unfolding spiritual practice that entered my awareness twenty-eight years ago continues to augment and guide me towards surrender to the workings of the Forces. That’s short for Forces of the Universe, a favorite phrase of mine that refers to the power and unity of all life. Further shortening gives us God, Creator, Oneness, The Powers, and Spirit. I’m grateful that we have myriad ways to name the greater consciousness of being. We humans in our infinite diversity seem to need many choices and colorful ways of expressing who we are. We see this all around the world and everywhere in our own country. It all works beautifully as long as we don’t lock into rigidity and into thinking only one way is the right way. The longer I live, the more I learn the beauty of each being’s way of navigating life’s changes and the spiritual openings that come to magnify and deepen each life. My intention is to increase the extent to which I share my perspective and my work with people.
Thank you, Everyone!