clearskies, bluewater

Insights, reflections and creative imaginings for our awakening world


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Heart wide open and vulnerable

Do any of you feel like you are on a roller-coaster emotional ride these days, Dear Readers? I know I certainly do. One day, one moment up, or at least holding steady, then the next– bam, slam, and down again. Awake again at 4 am, I finally decided to get up and at least make an attempt at something other than sleeping. The buzzing from an old fluorescent light in the kitchen kept me company until there was a horrendous crash, bringing the framed picture on the wall over said light, down into the kitchen sink below in pieces. Weird, right? Until some moments later, our landlord-upstairs neighbor and friend Bob knocked on the door, asking if we could hear a strange buzzing noise. This was just after 5 am. Sheepishly I mumbled, ‘oh, yeah it is the old kitchen light I have on, couldn’t sleep, so sorry,’ and quickly turning it off again, proceeded to sit in the darkness with only the computer screen for company. Not the best way to begin a new day.

Today was a whirl of emotional states, mostly on the low end of life’s spectrum. I watched myself go through grief, anger, overwhelm, confusion, blahness, and other such things. By the aftLove-quote-elephantjournalernoon I was so tired of myself that I walked over to the part of town where others are also experiencing similarities, known as Colfax Avenue. At least there I could see that I am far from alone in my suffering. First I went to the women’s place, which is a large three story building containing kind-hearted volunteers and helpful women who are helping other women who aren’t having such great lives at the moment. There I received information about all the various services and resources available to me, made a couple of appointments for next week, and left feeling slightly better. From there, I walked a couple of blocks down to Urban Ministries, which is a truly wonderful place. They offer help for the homeless and basically anyone who needs some humanity, in the form of a food pantry, legal aid, help with obtaining ID and birth certificates, job information, computers, the use of telephones and one’s own voice mail box, and access to other resources a person who is down on their luck might need. Today I was there to see about using their food pantry, seeing as ours was a bit empty, as well as my purse. An hour later, I had been given not only an amazing and healthy array of all kinds of wonderful food (thanks to the local Whole Foods market who gives their nearly out-of-dates and perishables to them each week), but also a very kind and friendly young woman was there to listen to my rant and my rage today. I entered nearly in tears, and left with profuse blessings on my lips.

The past weekend I attended a Kadampa Buddhist meditation and talk. The leader spoke about anger, and its cousin, aversion. She said that whenever we have the impulse of No, I don’t want this, and want to push it away, that is a form of anger which has not yet manifested outside of ourselves. As always in Buddhism, the invitation is to look at whatever it is that comes up in the soul, or the mind, acknowledge it, and then simply let it go. Simply let go. Of course, this is the tricky part. Today as I spoke with the young intake worker at Urban Ministries, I realized a kind of vehemence in my words. I had thought I was simply discouraged, sad and frustrated, yet my words once out of my mouth, told me how very angry I am, how helpless I feel. There is so much need in the world now, so many hurt humans walking around not having a clue what to do, where to go, how to fix themselves or anyone else. We are a broken people. Yet, if we ourselves are okay enough, getting by alright, managing our lives even barely well enough, then it becomes easy to simply forget our less fortunate brothers and sisters on the street. What I am finding out now, living in Denver, is that there are many people who are in need. And there are many people who are doing what they can to help. There are hundreds of charity organizations in the greater Denver metro area, working at every level to raise up our brokenness, to offer help, both material and emotional, to the youngest, the oldest, and everyone in-between.

As I walk through the streets on these mostly sunny January days, I see myself reflected back in all the faces– on the bus, in line at the grocery store, everywhere I look I see the human condition. They are me and I am them– we are all part of a great organism, we are each important to the whole. If the man on the street is without a home, money, and self-respect, then a part of me is also. Conversely, it must also be true that the ones who are extraordinarily blessed with wealth, beauty, and every material object their heart desires, also dwell within me somewhere. Inexplicably, it is much more difficult for me to experience them inside of me than the ones who are hurting. Obviously I still have much more soul work to do.

My heart is wide open and vulnerable now, more than ever before. Perhaps this is why I have days like today, where I so profoundly feel the pain of the world within my own personal anguish. Yet I would rather it be this way, than to have a closed heart and mind, unable to empathize or be compassionate. There is nothing else to do: once one’s mind and heart are awakened, there is no going back.


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Musings, shocks and obscenities

Hello again Dear Readers! Here it is, a double whammy weekend, with the summer solstice and June’s full moon as bookends, along with Saint Johns Day (Sankt Hans, here in Denmark), otherwise known as Midsummer’s eve. High summer, call it what you will, the fact remains that for us north of the equator, it is the apex of the year, the longest days, and the light is unfathomably bright.

Guess that’s why one of the blogs I read today spoke of possible ‘shocks to the heart’ around these days. I realize that I have hardly been blogging at all lately, and when I do it has not usually been about anything very personal. It isn’t because I am not aware of the immense changes happening, both within and without, but more perhaps because of all this energy… it is nearly more than I can handle, at least in a way to be able to write about.

The darkness that we humans have been living with and under for all these long eons of time simply has nowhere left to hide, in a manner of speaking. It’s all coming out in the open, collectively and personally.

Because I am so interested in the evolution of the soul, including my own, I have a strong desire to evolve, ascend to a higher level of being, and finally and truly realize my own divine nature as one with all-that-is. But, as all of you who are on a similar path already know, this path is fraught with difficulties, all stemming from our long-held belief in the illusion of being separate from our source.

In order to strip away that illusion, we must do the work. This work involves every level of being, from the physical to the emotional, mind, soul and spiritual. No wonder I am tired so often these days!

One such shock to my operating system came in the form of a roundabout conversation between my husband and I this evening. We were speaking about Art, Beauty and the Erotic, which went along fine for a while, and we were both feeling well about what was being shared. But then something shifted in the dialog, and it ended up with him telling me about some news articles he had read in one of the Danish newspapers, concerning pornography and young people. So he felt the need to inform me that the vast majority of the youth in Denmark find out about sex by watching hard-core, American pornography. He mentioned one or two particulars concerning this topic, until I had to ask him to simply stop. This little news item gave me a most unpleasant shock to my whole system, and as I am writing this blog tonight I am actually making an effort to work through what this is actually about.

One thing is obvious: I am quite naïve about what is happening in the mainstream world, by choice. The thought that young teenagers (and probably even children, who knows how old) are learning about sexuality by seeing professional ‘actors’ performing the most lewd and often degrading sexual acts in this part of the world (and I suppose in much of the western world) makes me really, really sad. And it shows me again, just how much the darkness of human nature continues to unfold and unfurl, and be exposed to the light. Of course, it has to be exposed, out in the open in order to become transparent, before it can be transformed into the light, into something higher, into a more loving way of being human. It seems to me, hardcore pornography has nothing whatsoever to do with love, and in fact is quite the opposite. One can ask, does sexuality have to be connected to love? Obviously the answer is no, at least that is how it has played out in the world for eons. And, consequently, sex has been misused, misunderstood, and become something both taboo and flaunted in the west, to this day.

when does erotic become pornographic?

when does erotic become pornographic?

Just type in, well nearly anything, into Google images, and if your filters are off, sexual images, mostly of women in various stages of undress but also of men, will undoubtedly come up. Breasts are especially popular. We seem to be fascinated with nude bodies, especially women. Given our society’s huge fascination with sexuality, we still don’t really know all that much about it, past basic mechanics. What makes one image pornographic, and another sacred? It is a question worth pondering, dear Readers.

During the time I have lived here in Denmark, I have come to see that in this part of the world, sexuality and nudity are much more accepted as a natural part of being a human being, that people here have no sense of shame about their bodies or the sexual act. During the late 1960s, when the sexual revolution came here, it came to stay, apparently. Never in my life have I seen so many news articles, in the ordinary, mainstream papers and magazines, about sexuality. Age makes no difference– there was a magazine article this past year about older couples and sexuality, where they had interviewed, and photographed, several nude older couples. Not your ordinary fare in a comparable American magazine!

We're never too old for love and sex

We’re never too old for love and sex

Yes, I know it is 2013, for goodness’ sake. By now ought we not be beyond guilt and shame concerning the human form, and for liking, wanting, and thinking about sexuality? The answer is, yes and no. Yes! To going beyond guilt and shame. But No, to simply saying, Everything goes, everything is permitted, at basically any age. What kind of society are we building, by allowing very young adolescents to see people treating each other like a commodity, something to be used and thrown away, or worse, to be abused, hurt, exploited, and all the behaviours that stem from what is NOT loving? You can see the result of that the world over, the sex slave trade is alive and well in many areas of the world, especially the poorer countries. Yes, in 2013.

Honestly, dear Readers, as I write this tonight I feel more and more that I have real reason to feel appalled by this news. Exploitation of one human by another is NOT the way to build a better world and future. Of course we are moving forward and cannot go back to forbidding behaviours: that is what the extremists in all the world religions are still doing, and we can see the disastrous results thereof. It is important to work for greater understanding of human sexuality; not to repress or deny it, but also not to use it for commercial gain by making it seem attractive when in reality it is terribly degrading and worse than animalistic. I realize this is a big topic, not easy to approach in a short blog post. Still, I make the effort this evening because I feel that sexuality is one of the Biggies that we need to bring into the open and discuss and work on in our world. We need to heal our collective sexual wound, one could say, before we can live on a higher level. As always, your thoughts are welcome here.

(photo credit: http://gwynethcolleenphotography.blogspot.dk/)


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More Women Rising in Sudan

For those of you who are interested in ending violence to women in this world, a beautiful and poignant film about the Rising movement in Sudan, a land where women have very few rights and humiliation towards girls and women is still lawful, including the threat of being stoned– in 2013.  Please take the time to watch this film, and then send as many prayers and healing to the women and men  and children of this very troubled area of our world.  namaste, Leigh

from  One Billion Rising blog: ( http://onebillionrising.org/blog/entry/khartoum-rising)

Last February 14th, more than a thousand young women and men rose together to demand an end to violence against women and girls in Khartoum, Sudan. Organized by Salmmah Women Resource Centre and Open Mike, together with the support of civil society women’s organizations and youth groups – Ahfad University for Women in Khartoum became the site of an extraordinary rising in a country where participation in public spaces by women is not easy – and where laws that continue to humiliate Sudanese women and girls, and remove their dignity, and where discriminative legal systems are still in place. The university rang with cheers as the women and men danced to “Break The Chain” – opening a five- hour program that included Sudanese dance and music by performance groups Nuba Mountains dance, Makaan, Sudan Roots and Solo Band.  On One Billion Rising Khartoum, Fahima Hashim, Director of Salmmah Women Resource Centre said “the way it has been taken, the way the energy transferred and travelled – and the involvement, even of the people….they just took the idea and made it their way”. Sudan is Rising to end violence against women and girls! Watch their Rising in this incredible new film.


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Your mother should know

“Let’s all get up and dance to a song that was a hit before your mother was born. Though she was born a long, long time ago, your mother should know.” –The Beatles

Of all the relationships in one’s life, none are more connected to the heart than the relationship to one’s mother. No matter what kind of mother you may have (or had), it seems to be the one that goes the deepest. Today, dear Readers, I wish to wax a bit about my mother. Her name is Joyce. And it is certainly true that she is a character.

Joyce was born and raised in New York City, just in time for the Great Depression. She was an only child, close to her parents, and stayed close to them, especially her own mother, her whole life until their respective deaths. When not yet a teen, their family moved upstate to a town called Kingston, along the Hudson River. There she finished growing up during World War II, took a brief business school education, worked for the telephone company (think one, ring-a-dingy), met and after a few short months, married my father who was handsome, charming, hardworking (and working for her father’s clothing company) and had fallen completely in love with her. They married in 1949. She was twenty-one, he was twenty-six, America had emerged victorious from the War, and the future was bright.

Sultry and sophisticated was the style when my mother was a young bride.

Sultry and sophisticated was the style when my mother was a young bride.

They lived in a nice section of NYC for the first several years, enjoying all the pleasures of sophisticated city life in those years. My mother, though never an intellectual, was a sophisticated lady. She dressed immaculately, her hair and nails were always coiffed, red lipstick perfectly applied, she was perfumed and well-heeled, always. This was what she had learned as a very young woman, and remained so ever after. As a small child I remember being fascinated by watching her at her boudoir in the mornings as she ‘put on her face.’ She was very methodical, applying first pancake foundation, then rouge, eyeliner, color and mascara, eyebrow pencil, and finally the famous lipstick applied, first with a tiny brush to outline her shapely lips, then filling in with the stick. Rose red, cherry red, sensual, deep, gorgeous red. Red lips, red nails, black full hair. A shapely, beautiful, sophisticated woman was my mother during my entire childhood.

When I was seven years old, my father got a better position at a different clothing manufacturer and we moved to North Carolina for a couple of years. My mother tried to make the best of it, and decorated our brand-new, colonial style split-level house with her immaculate taste. The house was spacious and elegant, my parents were becoming well-off, and when my grandfather passed on during that first year there, my father did the right thing and gathered up my grandmother Rose and her things, and brought her down to North Carolina to live with our family. There she remained ever after, a third and beloved parent to me and my brother. A couple of years later my dad got an even better offer, and we all packed up and moved away to Denver, Colorado. It was 1972.

They ordered a new house from a brand-new housing development in the suburbs, and all that first summer we made the journey across the city from our rental home over to watch the progress as the workmen built our new house. It was fascinating to see. I remember one exciting Sunday afternoon, the Colorado sun blazing hotly down outside, in contrast to the white coolness of the house’s interior. It had been freshly spackled and painted, still smelling of new paint, the floors bare wood, our footsteps echoing as we walked through the rooms. What a miraculous thing, to watch your new home being created from the ground up! Finally the carpet (wall-to-wall, light green in proper early 70’s style) was laid, the finishing touches were done, and in mid-September we moved proudly into our shiny, pretty new house, and my mom made us a home.

The seventies went by, and Joyce did her best to adapt to the times. During the years in North Carolina, I remember her having some stylish clothing of the day, including thigh-high boots and even a fall (a kind of wig that adds length to one’s hair-do.) My mother has always enjoyed being fashionable. During the 70’s she took to wearing pant suits that were in fashion, always with the proper accessories and, of course, shoes. She certainly was a clothes horse and especially loved high-heeled shoes, which her small and dainty feet had no problem slipping into, unlike her daughter, whose feet grew larger, wider and certainly less dainty than hers.

Ah, the things one recalls about one’s mother! She smoked cigarettes throughout my childhood, in the house of course, like everyone did in those days. She was mad about crossword puzzles and pistachios in the shell. She was an avid reader, especially of spy and crime novels. She had a great sense of humor and the absurdities of life. She owned a gorgeous silver fox stole, which hung in the cedar-lined closets in the ever-cool basement, and which I was simply fascinated by as a girl. She also owned, and often wore when I was very young, a special grey fur coat (maybe some kind of special curly-haired sheep fur?) that was very beautiful. She kept most of her party dresses, along with the furs and many pairs of shoes, in those basement closets, and many times, for fun, as I grew old enough to nearly fit into them, I gazed at them, fingering the fine cloth, and with permission, tried some on for fun. Joyce also loved music, during those years my parents listened to all the popular singers from their generation, such as Frank Sinatra and those types, but my mom’s most favorite singer of all was Barbara Streisand. She could go into a kind of reverie as she listened to Barbara sing. Later on my parents became very fond of opera arias and listened to them together in their formal living room at certain times of the evening, especially after my father finally retired and they had lots of free time together.

After my father passed away, my mother was inconsolable. They were married for fifty years, and had loved each other truly. My grandmother was still alive, in her mid-nineties by then. For the next three years it was just the two of them still living in the same house we had all moved into all those years before. Finally, the summer before she would turn 99, my grandmother Rose passed on. Then my mother was all alone in that big house. When I suggested that perhaps she ought to downsize, and wasn’t she uncomfortable to be there all alone, she became offended. No, she shook her head, she would not leave that house, it had been her home for all those years, and Ralph (my father) had loved it, she was comfortable there, why move? My brother took to flying back and forth from his home in San Diego to visit her and keep an eye on the house. I had long moved away, had many adventures, moved around a hundred times, had three children and moved out of state. The neighbors, a very nice family with children, adopted my mother as their ‘other’ grandma. They invite her to all the holiday meals and family celebrations so she isn’t so lonely. Still, once my father died my mom stopped listening to the opera music, saying it was too much for her, reminded her too much of how much she misses him.

Now my mother Joyce is an old lady in her middle 80’s. She says she no longer recognizes ‘that old bag’ whom she sees in the mirror, and that inside she still feels like she always did when she was young and carefree. Her eyes give her trouble now, she had laser cataract surgery last fall which helped with her eyesight but now they feel uncomfortable all the time. She has taken up Bette Davis’ adage that ‘old age is not for sissies,’ and rather hates being old, but what can one do? Most of the old friends and relatives she once knew are long-passed on. Yet she remains; for whatever reasons Fate has decreed that she would be the remaining living parent in my family. I have not been back to Denver to visit her for some years, but we still write letters. I know that were I to visit again, it would be just like it always was, sitting at her round kitchen table still in the dining nook from 1972, I would feel again just like I always did as a child growing up in that house. People grow up, change, do a thousand different things, yet when it comes to one’s mother, very little ever really changes, especially on the inside. And yes, my mother does know all those old hits from before she was born, and still remembers most of them!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lIo219Z8R28&noredirect=1

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Turning pain to planting and power

“The basic concept of City of Joy and V-World Farm in Congo, an integrated vision and program is TURNING PAIN TO PLANTING AND POWER. How do we heal women’s bodies by healing the earth and heal the earth by healing women’s bodies.”Eve Ensler, Vday.org

Now it is another day. And today when I opened my inbox, I found something there which really gave me hope. It was a letter from Eve Ensler, the incredible woman who, through her courage, strength, vision and love (yes there is that L-word again!) is helping women turn their pain into power.

V+Day_City-of-JoyI am SO inspired by this woman!! She is creating a kind of revolution for women, giving them the courage and place to dance, to use their voices, their brains, their hearts and their Womanness to break out of long-entrenched cycles of violence and passivity in all corners of the world. Through Eve’s passionate dedication to lifting up women Everywhere, she has engaged thousands of people (some of whom have prestige, influence, and resources) to rise together and support the struggle to end violence and injustice towards Women. And that is no small achievement, dear Readers.

In honor of International Women’s Day on Friday, March 8th, I would like to present you with a few facts about women in our world.

  1. Women perform 66% of the world’s work, but receive only 11% of the world’s income, and own only 1% of the world’s land.
  2. Women make up 66% of the world’s illiterate adults.
  3. Women head 83% of single-parent families. The number of families nurtured by women alone doubled from 1970 to 1995 (from 5.6 million to 12.2 million).
  4. Women account for 55% of all college students, but even when women have equal years of education it does not translate into economic opportunities or political power.
  5. There are six million more women than men in the world.
  6. Two-thirds of the world’s children who receive less than four years of education are girls. Girls represent nearly 60% of the children not in school.
  7. Wars today affect civilians most, since they are civil wars, guerrilla actions and ethnic disputes over territory or government. 3 out of 4 fatalities of war are women and children.
  8. About 75% of the refugees and internally displaced in the world are women who have lost their families and their homes.
  9. Gender-based violence affects one out of three women and girls in the world.

Sources: http://www.dosomething.org/tipsandtools/11-poignant-facts-about-women-around-world, Amnesty International , US Census Bureau , Women’s Learning Partnership

The website Womensrightsworldwide.org has posted a list of rights that they support for all women worldwide. They state the following:

We believe that all women have certain inalienable rights that cannot be legitimately withheld under the guise of religious or cultural “laws” or “traditions.” All Women ought to have The Right…..

  • to not be physically mutilated

  • to not be killed in the name of “honor”

  • to not be forced to perform or submit to sexual acts

  • to choose whether or not to become pregnant

  • to equal education

  • to have an equal vote

  • to be literate

  • to not be forced to labor without pay

  • to choose their own religion, or lack thereof

  • to have equal access to medical care

  • to have equal driving privileges

  • to leave their home as they wish

  • to leave their country

  • to choose a career

  • to choose their own mate

  • to leave their mate

  • to take legal action against their mate or any citizen

  • to choose their own clothing

  • to be treated equally under the laws of their country

  • to listen to or perform the music of their choice

  • to read or write what they choose

  • to view or create art of their choice

  • to have the same freedoms as others (men) in their society

  • to have free and equal access to information

  • to own property

  • to hold public office

  • to enter into legal contracts

Women in the first world, where most of us live, already have obtained these ‘rights,’ at least in principle. However, there are far more women living in the developing world who continue to be denied these rights and others. It is for this reason that Eve Ensler and all who are supporting her vision are working so hard to help these women. She writes,

“We made a decision four years ago to put our energy into the grassroots women of Congo, to support their visions, their plans, their desires, their futures. To believe in their strength. To find the support for them to heal from gender violence of all forms, to be trained and educated in skills and their rights, to become leaders in their communities so that they could build a grassroots movement that eventually would be strong enough to transform this country and turn pain to power.

In one of our exercises I asked the girls to give themselves a new name, a name that would describe and carry the meaning of who they have become here and then to write their new autobiography. Some of their new names: Star, Light, Victory, Love, Sara (because she was beautiful and she worked), Queen.

There are real health issues here; aids, malaria, women arrive with all kinds of physical and mental problems and illnesses. Many have given up hope, have stopped taking care of themselves and are just waiting to die. Now they glow and shine with a transcendent beauty. Stars, Queens, Light. Their hunger to learn, to take in everything they are taught or given, their strength and their rising is breathtaking. I feel more inspired than ever to continue our work and to see how we can bring more and more girls into this process.

Joy_City_Vday.org

Today in the midst of a wild moment after the celebration of Dr. Mukwege’s birthday, 90 young women were literally dancing Christine, Dr. Mukwege and I down a path. I suddenly understood joy. It’s big, bigger than any one of us. It’s uncontrollable and it’s fierce. It’s more generous than anger and has the ability to make revolution because its tentacles and fire are infinite and it feels good.

I send my love and gratitude from that place which is the City of Joy,

Eve

To read Eve Ensler’s letter and get inspired, follow this link: http://www.vday.org/dearall


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Waiting on the world to change

Today’s musings are about various impressions I’ve had throughout the past days, the nicest being the simple fact that the sun has been shining upon us here for nearly three days. This has made the snow melt, the birds sing, and the first spring flowers bloom. Small yellow flowers which resemble a kind of buttercup, and small, white snowdrops are the first flowers to appear in Denmark at this time of year.

girl+flowers_early-spring

I find that no matter how many springs I have seen, the very beginning of the growing season never ceases to make my heart glad. I have never once taken this time of year for granted and have always seen its sacredness. New life, something to truly rejoice over. No matter how low I go during the dark, grey and lifeless days of January and February, I cannot help but find hope again when I feel the first stirrings of spring in the air and on the land.

Today I walked home again along the edge of the farmers fields and the highway. The sky was blue and the sun shining. As I walked I noticed all the garbage that thoughtless, sleeping Danish people had strewn along the roadside: beer cans, sandwich wrappers, empty liquor flasks, papers…. and then I came across a magazine which had also been carelessly tossed down. It was a magazine full of nude and semi-nude young women in various poses, from simply welcoming to outright biology lessons. One picture was of a smiling young woman, gazing at the viewer over her shoulder, as a man’s penis was up inside of her crotch. Of course all the viewer could see was that part of him, and all of her. I couldn’t help it, I took the magazine, rolled it up tightly as I could, threw it down into the ditch, and kicked dirt and rocks over it until it was almost buried. And as I walked on, I pondered this. The magazine and the women had provoked strong emotions inside of me. I wondered about who those girls (none were older than probably twenty) were, what kind of lives they had led, what made them agree to be photographed in all their open glory, some while having intercourse, while knowing that all sorts of strange men and boys would see their most intimate parts revealed. I wondered about their families, their mothers and fathers, sisters and brothers and friends, and how they might feel knowing that their daughter (sister, best friend) willingly posed in those ways for a porn magazine. I wondered how those girls must have felt about themselves, to let themselves be used in that way in exchange for some money, maybe some alcohol and a few compliments along the way.

It’s not that I simply am a prude. Yes, I admit I do find pornography highly repulsive. But not simply because it shows people having sex or inviting the viewer to look upon their bodies. I find the human form very beautiful, and believe that lovemaking is a beautiful act, when it is. What I find intolerable is to see people having such little regard for the sacredness of the body, who see their own and others’ bodies as simply another commodity, easily bought and sold, traded for money or other things, as carelessly thrown away as those liquor bottles, cans and other trash on the side of the road.

Seeing those pictures of those women just made me incredibly sad today. Sad at the utter lack of people’s consciousness  here, to throw so much garbage out of their cars as they drive along the highway, to look at the most intimate area of a woman’s body and throw it carelessly away like it was just another piece of trash.

There is so much that is simply Wrong in this world right now. I really am trying to not get up on my high morality horse and ride, dear Readers. But I really do believe that as long as we collectively look the other way, saying “oh it is just the way things are, no big deal’” to all the obviously unjust things that are allowed to continue in this world, the world cannot and will not change. One example has to be that ludicrous Youtube video of the Korean guy called ‘Gangham style.’ The kids in the school showed it to me one day a few months ago. Later I found out that on December 21st, one billion views of that video had been reached. To me (and I daresay to anyone who has any inkling of good taste) this video pretty much sums up what is wrong in this world, all in one neat package. It is absurdity in the highest, an Asian man flaunting his materialism, his body, his garish women, in the most grossly obscene way. It is homage to American-style materialistic ugliness, and a billion viewers (I assume) think it is pretty cool to act that way. I asked the boy who showed it to me what he thought of that video, to which he answered, “ it’s funny.” Well, there is really no accounting for taste in post-post-post modern life, is there?

That’s my rant for today, dear Readers. I hope to go beyond this low mood I have been mired in lately, and find more positive themes to muse upon in the days to come. Until then, I wish you all a beautiful early spring, wherever you are.


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Deeply within and without

There is something about the last weeks of February which is simply paradoxical. On the one hand, it is unavoidably the season to go deeply within one’s soul and take yet another long look at what is living there and wishes to be freed. On the other, it is also the time to stretch body and soul, crane one’s neck upwards and apply the principles of vision, orienteering and guidance to one’s life: in short, to both go deeply within and without, cleaning the house whilst mapping out new journeys of the soul and spirit.

And so I am doing both, simultaneously. My dream life has been unbelievably rich, as I have been traveling to many places and meeting many beings, both known and unknown in waking life. On a soul-growth level, lots of work is being done to clear out the underbrush and lifetimes’ accumulations of emotional abuse, pain and suffering in order to move on and ever-upwards during this evolutionary journey we all are on. During the conscious hours of the day, my thoughts are mainly occupied with looking ahead to summertime and working to map out a plan for travel and volunteering in the British Isles. It is high time to go there, says my soul. We’ll help you find out the details, while you provide the commitment and energy to sustain the vision. Okay, then, I reply, I shall!

Healing-bodywisdomIn the meantime, I assume I am not alone in these soul-depths forays. A dear friend in the States wrote to me of a recent experience she had, where she honored and remembered her ancestors’ matrilineal line, and all the accompanying feelings of deprivation and sorrow that washed over her as she worked to release such ancient, painful memories still lodged in her own cellular memory. I read a deeply personal story of transformation by the blogger I mentioned in the last post, Venessa Miemis. I can well imagine that some of you have also been having similarly deep and poignant transformation experiences lately, dear Readers. These kind of experiences are difficult, often painful, and absolutely necessary. One thing that helps me through them is the stark realization that what I am remembering or re-experiencing, is not simply personal, but also collective. It wasn’t only me living that life, going through this or that humiliation, or carrying that life’s burdens, but I am also a conduit, doing the work for perhaps thousands of others, either in the past or possibly who are still encountering oppression, violence, dysfunction and other embodiments of fear right here, right now, in the present moment.

How exactly this works I cannot articulate, I only know that it is true. I re-experience and transform it for others as well as for myself.

Going though a dusty box of books the other day, I found again a cherished volume of poetry I got last spring while back in Wisconsin. Called Cries of the Spirit, it is a compilation of women’s voices full of powerful, moving and beautiful poetry and verse. So in the spirit of the season, and of the wider times we are currently moving through, I share with you some treasures from this book. One is an excerpt called Centering, by Mary Caroline Richards, which I posted last May, and I share with you again because I am struck again by its elegance and power. Another poem, by Marge Piercy, speaks to the theme of circle leadership, something I am thinking a lot about right now. Beginners, by Denise Levertov, speaks to hope and endurance in the struggle for the future of Earth and humanity. I hope you will read and enjoy these poems,  and take some time to contemplate their messages.

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Beginners, by Denise Levertov
But we have only begun
to love the earth.
We have only begun to imagine the fullness of life.
How could we tire of hope? So much is in bud.
How can desire fail? We have only just begun
to imagine justice and mercy, only begun to envision
how it might be to live as siblings with beast and flower,
not as oppressors.
Surely our river cannot already be hastening
into the sea of nonbeing?
Surely it cannot drag, in the silt,
all that is innocent?
Not yet, not yet–
there is too much broken that must be mended
too much hurt we have done to each other
that cannot yet be forgiven.
We have only begun to know
the power that is in us if we would join
our solitudes in the communion of struggle.
So much is unfolding that must complete its gesture,
so much is in bud.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Councils, by Marge Piercy
We must sit down and reason together.
We must sit down: men standing want to hold forth.
They rain down upon faces lifted.
We must sit down on the floor, on the earth
on stones and mats and blankets.
There must be no front to the speaking
no platform, no rostrum, no stage or table.
We will not crane to see who is speaking.
Perhaps we should sit in the dark.
In the dark we could utter our feelings.

In the dark we could propose and describe and suggest.
In the dark we could not see who speaks and only the words
would say what they say.
No one would speak more than twice.

No one would speak less than once.
Thus saying what we feel and what we want,
what we fear for ourselves and each other
into the dark, perhaps we could begin
to begin to listen.
Perhaps we should start by speaking softly.
The women must learn to say I think this is so.
The men must bother to listen.
The men must learn to stop dancing solos on the ceiling.
After each speaks, she or he will say a ritual phrase:
It is not I who speaks but the wind.
Wind blows though me. Long after me, is the wind.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Centering (excerpt)
by Mary Caroline Richards

But how are we to love when we are stiff and numb and disinterested? How are we to transform ourselves into limber and soft organisms lying open to the world at the quick? By what process and what agency do we perform the Great Work, transforming lowly materials into gold? Love, like its counterpart Death, is a yielding at the center. Not in the sentiment. Nor in the genitals. Look deep into my eyes and see the love-light. Figured forth in intelligent cooperation, sensitive congeniality, physical warmth. At the center love must live.

One gives up all one has for this. This is the love that resides in the self, the self-love, out of which all love pours. The fountain, the source. At the center. One gives up all the treasured sorrow and self-mistrust, all the precious loathing and suspicion, all the secret triumphs of withdrawal. One bends in the wind. There are many disciplines which strengthen one’s athleticism for love. It takes all one’s strength. And yet it takes all one’s weakness too. Sometimes it is only by having all one’s so-called strength pulverized that one is weak enough, strong enough, to yield. It takes that power of nature in one which is neither strength nor weakness but closer perhaps to virtu, person, personalized energy. Do not speak about strength and weakness, manliness and womanliness, aggressiveness and submissiveness.

Look at this flower. Look at this child. Lock at this rock with lichen growing on it. Listen to this gull scream as he drops through the air to gobble the bread I throw and clumsily rights himself in the wind. Bear ye one another’s burdens, the Lord said, and he was talking law.

Love is not a doctrine. Peace is not an international agreement. Love and Peace are beings who live as possibilities within us.

Related articles:

https://clearskiesbluewater.wordpress.com/2012/05/28/love-and-peace-are-beings-who-live-as-possibilities-within-us/


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Humans are rising

praying-woman-lotus-flower On Thursday, February 14th, many thousands of people all around the world rose up and danced, sang, marched and spoke out to call for an end to violence against women. This global action, called One Billion Rising, had participation from 207 countries throughout Earth. Although the main focus is on ending violence to WOMEN, it goes beyond simply one gender, and extends to violence against children and to all genders of people. Joining in this call were many groups working for peace and justice throughout all continents, races, and sectors of society. One Billion Rising is truly a global event, and it is ongoing. As their founder and spokesperson Eve Ensler wrote, “One Billion Rising brought together coalitions of groups and individuals that have never worked together before and galvanized new supporters and associations and masses of men who were not previously engaged, but now see violence as their issue. It did all of this while putting violence against women to the center of the global discussion. One Billion Rising has broken taboos, lifted the veil of silence, and inspired a radical outpouring of support to reveal the worldwide system of patriarchy, which sustains the violence. One Billion Rising has shown that violence against women is not a national, tribal, ethnic, or religious issue, but a global phenomenon, and that through this worldwide rising and support, survivors can be given the confidence of knowing that violence is not their fault.”

The basic premise behind this global action was to find some friends or a group of people, and come together to dance on February 14th. Tonight I spent over an hour watching Youtube videos of women, men and children dancing to end violence against women. I saw videos of dancers from the following places: Albania, Brazil, Hong Kong, Italy, India, South Africa, Bhutan, Berlin, New Zealand, Hawaii, Lancaster and Oxford, England; The EU parliament in Brussels; and in the United States, dancers in San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego and New York. And this was just the tip of the iceberg, as far as the amount of people who participated.

As I watched one video after the next, I was struck by the utter beauty and power of all the people who were dancing. People from the west, east, north and south, different races and colors and cultures, coming together to rise up and demonstrate that the human spirit is so strong, so much more than we have been led to believe all these long years; that together we are unbelievably strong; when we come together en masse and in love, we cannot be stopped. Humanity coming together like they did last week shows in an undeniable way that Love is stronger than fear, and that when we collectively say No More to insanity, violence, and corruption, we become like an ocean of unstoppable power.

billionRising-01.photoblog900

The article on One Billion Rising‘s website continues,

Groups worldwide joined the call to action, including marginalized communities such as migrant workers, domestic workers, urban poor, farm workers, the LGBT community, and the disabled. With tens of thousands of events – from the steps of British Parliament to the streets of Mexico City, from the expanse of the Brooklyn Bridge to living rooms in Iran, One Billion Rising was an epic event spanning the 48-hour period of 14 February across time zones. The campaign received the support of entities from the Dalai Lama to the United Nations, trended on Twitter, and inspired flash mobs across the globe, uniting people in a spectacular and unprecedented way.

There were tens of thousands of events across the world including over 50 events in Turkey alone, over 100 in the UK and Italy respectively, and thousands in both India and the United States. In Manila, activities took place throughout the day from schoolyards to the streets. In India, events ranged from large-scale dance protests to bus drivers stopping the buses for 10 minutes in acknowledgement of the campaign for the safety of women. In the Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands including the Governor of South Kivu and residents of City of Joy danced with V-Day Founder Eve Ensler.

In Mogadishu, Somalia, over 300 men, women and children gathered. The mayor, members of parliament, civil society, and V-Girls were just some of the people who spoke at this historic event, which was followed by a powerful reception hosted by the First Lady. In Tripoli, Libya, activists chose to rise and reclaim the “Siraya castle,” where Gadaffi had made his famous speech during the revolution advising the people and mercenaries to “sing, dance and do as they please,” interpreted as a call to rape women. Throughout Latin America, thousands of activists danced at major monuments and world heritage sites.

All around the world youth rose. Students created art, staged their own risings, and wrote poetry heralding in the new wave of anti-violence activism. Schoolchildren staged flash mobs to the One Billion Rising anthem “Break the Chain” in classrooms and schoolyards, working with teachers, school administrators and their communities.

One Billion Rising is the beginning of the new world ignited by a new energy. It is not the end of a struggle but the escalation of it. NOW is the time to enact change. This is NOT an annual holiday, we are not waiting until 14 February 2014. NOW is the time to harness the power of your activism to change the world!

We celebrate these victories, and we hope you do too. Now ask yourself WHAT CAN I DO IMMEDIATELY TO END VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND GIRLS– and then go out and DO IT!

“One Billion Rising is a joyous recognition of the sacred and how it must never be made profane by any person, institution or government. Violence and oppression of women is the core wound that foreshadows all other problems in the world, from poverty to war to destruction of the environment. Rising is not only a dance, it is the birth of a future.” –Paul Hawken

http://onebillionrising.org/news/entry/v-days-one-billion-rising-is-biggest-global-action-ever-to-end-violence-aga

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Being made whole again through Art

We have to believe that if we do the very best that we can, and practice harmony with each other and with the Earth, that something larger will be served, though we may not see it….we may not see it…….Cielo Myczack (thanks to http://makebelieveboutique.com/2013/02/01/5103/)

This evening I walked home from the school, where I spent this pleasant Saturday afternoon in peaceful creative flow, painting scenery for our Alice in Wonderland play. The air was still and fresh, the first stars were twinkling, and the sky was lit with the perfect colors of a cloudless sunset; the red and gold giving way to that most glorious twilight blue only found on certain rare evenings here on this northern European island. As I walked home along the edge of the brown winter fields, I felt such joy rise up in me at the splendor of the evening, the sky huge above, the colors rich and rare, the stars bright and friendly. For a few brief minutes, I was not simply a tiny insignificant human living a somewhat frustrating existence in a foreign country far away from beloved family and friends. In that rarefied air of twilight, I felt my universality, my connection to the divine, and though they were quiet as usual, I tangibly felt the presence of benevolent beings in the spiritual world. I knew I was not alone, am in fact never alone.

Winter_Sunset

Once more, Art has saved me from myself. In the past couple of days I have spent hours with fat paintbrushes in hand, mixing blue, green, black and browns on stretched and gessoed cloth, creating scenes from my imagination and memory. I painted a forest, a shoreline with the sea and stormy sky, a long hallway with doors on either side, a hillside with a large tree and a little house on a hill. Time did not matter, the sun moved across the southern sky, and the colors, paints, canvas and brushes combined to give me what I so badly needed: a different world from where I usually live, one that came to life from my own imagination.

These days I am learning to have a deeper relationship with Impermanence. Although much of my life has been about learning to let go, to change and move and have new experiences, this time now seems to be about embracing the ever-changeability of life in a more profound way than before. Time seems to have lost much of its previous status and has become much more malleable than before… memories come up which I had long forgotten, from childhood, from young adulthood, from several years ago. They come up, and I see their images again in my mind’s eye, and then they disappear again just as quickly. Life floats by my vision like the river flowing alongside the rocks where I sat on a Saturday afternoon in Oregon’s hills, Colorado’s mountains, Denmark’s countryside. My daughter was a tiny baby, a toddler, a young fresh-faced girl, running across green grass in the rain. I saw myself as a new mother, a young single woman, a teenaged girl. Teachers I knew, friends I had, music I listened to then, as I pondered life and its meaning at fifteen, seventeen, twenty one…. it has gone by, so many days, endless days, black nights, some filled with friendship or lovers, some completely alone and filled with inconsolable longing for a home, a love that I so desperately wanted to have and never could have while in this human form. Turning again and again to art, to words, to music, to dance, to dreams, to the poets, the actors, the ones who had been there ahead of me, pointing a way towards something I could follow. A way back, or a way forward, to the place from where I had come so long ago I could no longer remember that road or how to find it. Yet it still existed, only I had forgotten. Color, pattern, rhyme, rhythm, dreamscapes, twilight– were all ways to experience a glimpse of that beloved home again, if only for a little while.

There can be no doubt: Artistic endeavor has the power to heal and make whole like nothing else that humans can do. Kahlil Gibran once wrote that “Work is love made visible.” I will be so bold as to adapt his words to say, “Art is Love made visible.” The end result is, ultimately, not so important. It is in the act of creation itself that we are made whole again.


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A day in the life

Got up, got out of bed, dragged a comb across my head… someone spoke and I fell into a dream.” Lennon & McCartney

In the story Starbook, by Ben Okri, a maiden from a tribe of artists falls in love with a dying prince. She has never met him, only dreamt of and so made a wooden sculputure of him. She becomes obsessed with her image of this prince, and dreams each night that he comes to her, stares at her mutely, and eventually goes away again. Again and again she waits for him to speak, to say anything to her in order to know who he is. Yet he can only stare. Eventually,

“the maiden understood the stare of the prince. He was looking at her with complete love, complete adoration, a love without beginning or end, a love greater than humanity, a pure love; but it was a love without knowledge, without understanding. It was a love without mystery. A love too pure for a creator. For it was a love without life, without suffering, without tears, without blood, without pain, without history. It was a love without time, without a story, without a journey, without complications. …In fact, it was a love that did not know itself, that had not grown, had not evolved, had not lost its way, had not stumbled and dwelt in the dark.

It was a love that did not know what it was like to live without love, how hellish, barren, deadly, dry, forlorn, how miserable, cold, lonely, empty, useless, bitter, agonising, tormenting, twisted and how ugly it was to be and live without love.

It was a love that did not know the ecstasy of one who finally comes to know, after all the darkness, what it really means to love, to have love in the heart.”

 

Sometimes we tend to fantasize about love, to attach a kind of idealistic and other-worldly importance to the concept “Love” which I think is what Ben Okri is warning us against in his story. We throw that word around so often that it is in danger of losing its real meaning. We use slogans like “Be love” and “I am love, you are love” “love is all you need” “love is the only thing which is real,” etc….. but honestly, dear Readers, who of us FULLY understands and knows what love is?

I so appreciate Okri’s passage about the prince who loved the maiden purely and without any knowledge of what love is, without having ever experienced the reality of love from a human perspective. When we come down from our lofty and often careless expressions of it, and feel the real, raw, and often excruciating pain of love from within these bodies, then the word ‘Love’ takes on a very different tone. Okri expresses it so aptly when he compares it with the experience of living without it: how hellish, barren, tormenting and ugly it is to live without love.

And, how hellish and tormenting it can also be to live with love’s pain within the course of a day. I want us to stop sugar-coating all of this feel-good lovey-dovey stuff, and get real about our lives. I, along with many others, can easily fall prey to the ‘just don’t think about anything bad and it refuses to exist’ strategy. Of course I don’t want to look at ugliness and horrors and bad news about what governments are doing to people around the world, to name just one small example. And normally I don’t, I simply do not let that kind of ugliness and horror into my consciousness. But sometimes it comes knocking anyway. Case in point: this morning.

Today my husband and I had planned a bus trip up to a city north of here, a water-town called Holbæk. It is Autumn Holidays week here in Denmark, so all the schools have a week off. It was a humble day trip to shop and do something a little special. All fine, so far. But. At half past 8 o’clock this morning, as I was sipping my morning Earl Grey and attempting to wake up before we got out the door and over to the busstop, my husband decided that I needed to hear yet one more news item about the latest evil wrought upon the American citizenry by Obama, that acolyte of Hitler. Ignoring my pleas and groans and even threats to not join him for our outing if he didn’t stop, he prattled on regardless of my feelings in his rant about the evils of the president and how he is the worst ever, far worse than Mitt Romney, for example, and ranking right up there with the worst fascist dictators the world has ever known. All this while I was attempting to eat my little breakfast and acknowledge a new day of my life! I suppose it is easy to guess how my day progressed after that non-auspicious start. I did accompany him to Holbæk, shopped for our groceries and sundry items, then took a walk along the harbor, which goes out to a fjord and is quite lovely. Yet I fought my own feelings all day long: fear, anxiety, foreboding, anger, frustration, more anger, helplessness. I told myself to focus on love, and peace, and forgiveness. I brought in white light. I sat with my anger and sorrow at the injustices and humiliations of the weak against the powerful darkness. I went through the wringer today, folks.

Of course I forgave my husband for his foolishness and insistence upon thrusting ugliness from the outer world upon my morning. But the damage had been done. And isn’t that really how it is with us humans? We unwittingly, for whatever reasons we can justify in the moment, hurt each other. As Okri writes, a love without life, without suffering, without tears, without blood, without pain, without history. It was a love without time, without a story, without a journey, without complications. …In fact, it was a love that did not know itself, that had not grown, had not evolved, had not lost its way, had not stumbled and dwelt in the dark. This kind of love is not one grounded in experience or the nitty-gritty of living. Let us acknowledge the labyrinth of love’s intricacies and strive to understand as deeply as possible that our questing for human evolution involves suffering, it is messy, it is painful, and sometimes dark and lonely. I read blogs which are so focused on ascension to higher levels of consciousness, and some saying all the time that the Great Moment is nearly Upon Us! When we will all be somehow magically saved, lifted into the higher realms, far away from all this pain and suffering, evil and darkness. When that magic day comes, nobody will ever suffer again, my friends, no! It will be a new Earth, a new Jerusalem, we will have reached some plateau of salvation and all the evildoers will be whisked away into some dark moon planet somewhere and dealt with accordingly. Well that is all well and good enough, but frankly, I don’t think so. I am not trying to be cynical nor skeptical, simply practical. Love isn’t some magic carpet ride to the Pleiades, it just isn’t. (well, okay I admit I don’t know if it is or not…. ) But. If we humans really want to make a better world, a more loving, just and free society of humankind, well then we have to accept that we are all learning how to do it one day, one heartbreak, one mistake at a time.

Will Obama receive his just desserts for signing horrific laws into being which utterly destroy any last vestiges of constitutional rights for Americans? Will Mitt Romney rot in hell for being an utter idiotic fool and puppet for much more darkly intelligent beings than himself? Nobody really knows. Our ideas of justice are a bit, well, in the toilet about now. Face it, we have got a real mess on our hands in the year 2012. Yes, focus on the Light! Absolutely work to bring more light and love to this dark world we are living in. It’s great that the Sun keeps blasting us all with intense rays of electro-magnetism, I say Bring it On! We Need It NOW. Please, send those bloody bastards to the dark moon to rot for eternity, they more than deserve it! Let the prisoners of conscience go free, jail the Wall Street criminals and all those corrupt politicians and lawyers and judges, and follow the lead of Iceland, the most sane society on the planet at the moment. They fired their government, said No Way are we going to pay for your greed and evildoing, and had a revolution. If Iceland can do it, well…..

It has been a long and wearisome day, dear Readers. I love you all, tonight from dark Denmark. Thanks for keeping your lights burning.