One Billion Rising~~Dancing is Revolution


1billionrising“Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent.”

Hello all!  It’s what my friend Janet calls Activist Shaman time, and she’s probably right.  But if this isn’t about healing, then I don’t know what is.

Here are the facts of the case and they are undisputed:

One in three women will be raped or beaten at some point in her lifetime.   Really take that in.  Look around your office, your school,  look at your group of friends, look at the women in your family.  One in three women.  One third of women, many of whom you know and love.

As someone who has worked in trauma therapy, my personal opinion is that the number is much higher, because that 1/3 is from women who can admit it happened.  Because this is an atrocity at every level of life and impacts every single one of us, male and female, children and adults, we are joining the One Billion Rising Event.  Feel free to pass this along to others who may be interested.

Here’s the info.  If you are going to organize anything, please let us know, as well as the organizers of 1BR.  Leave your info in the comments section and we’ll post it.  Thanks.

ABOUT ONE BILLION RISING

ONE IN THREE WOMEN ON THE PLANET WILL BE RAPED OR BEATEN IN HER LIFETIME.*

ONE BILLION WOMEN VIOLATED IS AN ATROCITY

ONE BILLION WOMEN DANCING IS A REVOLUTION

On V-Day’s 15th Anniversary, 14 February 2013, we are inviting ONE BILLION women and those who love them to WALK OUT, DANCE, RISE UP, and DEMAND an end to this violence. ONE BILLION RISING will move the earth, activating women and men across every country. V-Day wants the world to see our collective strength, our numbers, our solidarity across borders.

What does ONE BILLION look like? On 14 February 2013, it will look like a REVOLUTION.

Q. Why dance?
A. When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness. Dancing insists we take up space. It has no set direction but we go there together. It’s dangerous, joyous, sexual, holy, disruptive. It breaks the rules. It can happen anywhere at anytime with anyone and everyone. It’s free. No corporation can control it. It joins us and pushes us to go further. It’s contagious and it spreads quickly. It’s of the body. It’s transcendent.

Q. Why should I join?
A. To show the world that we want to end violence against one billion women and girls! By being a part of One Billion Rising we will all discover our solidarity and the scope of this issue. We will come to know that ending violence against women is as important as ending poverty, or Aids or global warming. We will come to see that it is not a local issue or particular to any culture or religion or village or age. We will come to see what is possible. When One Billion bodies rise and dance on 14 February 2013, we will join in solidarity, purpose and energy and shake the world into a new consciousness.

ONE BILLION RISING IS:

A global strike
An invitation to dance
A call to men and women to refuse to participate in the status quo until rape and rape culture ends
An act of solidarity, demonstrating to women the commonality of their struggles and their power in numbers
A refusal to accept violence against women and girls as a given
A new time and a new way of being

SIGN UP TODAY

*2003 UNIFEM report entitled “Not A Minute More: Ending Violence Against Women,” or 2008, the UNITE To End Violence Against Women Campaign, initiated by UN Secretary-General‘s Office

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World Hunger Day Fast for Charity


Hello all! I know it’s been awhile!  Things are good here and I’ve been out living life instead of blogging about it.  More to come on a recent trip and much more.

In the meantime, I wanted to update you on some things that are coming in October.  This time of year is traditionally about honoring the cycle of the seasons, pausing to reflect on our abundance and blessings, and preparing for winter.    To call attention to the ways in which many people on the planet are unable to take part in the abundance of harvest, UN World Hunger Day is held every October.    Also called World Food Day in the US, it is a time to come together to move towards a solution to end world hunger.

I know, I know.  It’s a crazy time of year.  Some say it’s not possible to end something as huge as world hunger.  I say, we do not have a supply problem on this planet.  What we have is a distribution issue.  There is already more than enough to go around, for all of us.  Enough food.  Enough time.  Enough love.  Enough money.  Enough.  Enough to share.  Enough to know you are already blessed and abundant, right here, right now.  It’s more about mindfulness and awareness for most of us.  But for some, it’s only about being aware of their stomach growling, their physical hunger, their need for food, their need to feed their children.

I also think many of us hunger for much more than food, but often use food to fill the hole inside of us that says we aren’t good enough, that there isn’t enough for you to slow down and enjoy a meal or time with family.  I say there IS enough, and that there are many kinds of hunger.  I think a lonely, spiritual hunger can be as bad, if not worse, as physical hunger for many of us.  But above all, I believe in abundance and living as if there is already enough to go around for all of us.

It is in this spirit that we approach World Hunger Day.  This year, for this world wide event, we have partnered with one of our favorite charities, Micro-Financing Partners in Africa, also known as MPA.   MPA gives micro-loans to those living in extreme poverty, allowing them to start a small business and work their way out of what once seemed like an impossible situation.  Their tag line is we give a hand up, not a hand out,” and that captures it beautifully.  In Kenya, they give loans as small as a quarter in US currency (seriously, $.25 can change a life!) and these amazing women start a business and lift themselves out of poverty and the slums.  They do much more, including a cow project and a soy milk factory, and you can learn more about those projects here.

This year we have started a team through FirstGiving to raise awareness and money for MPA and World Hunger Day.  We are fasting for 36 hours, during the day October 19 and ending the fast the morning of October 20.  We always joke, “why do they call it a fast when it goes so slow?”  and yet there is a deep spiritual component to fasting.  All of the religions advise it, and most have sacred times of year built around fasting.  If you do not feel called to fast from food, or do not feel ready or able to do so, perhaps you could consider fasting from TV or the news or soda.  Several years ago during Lent, I fasted from self-criticism for 40 days and instead feasted on acceptance.  It was one of the most transformational experiences of my life.

So think outside the box on this one.  The purpose at one level is to support MPA, but at a much deeper level, it’s to face those hungers within, to get in touch with things you might not be aware of or maybe didn’t want to face until now.  You can do this in any way you’d like, but the key is to be aware of some kind of hunger and be in solidarity with those who experience hunger daily without a choice.

If you are interested, you can  can join me HERE or start your own team by going to the MPA website and looking at the Hunger Fast page.   Feel free to engage in some friendly rivalry with family, friends or colleagues on this one. You might be surprised how many relationships can be built and fostered through this sort of commitment.  I also invite you to not focus on food but on your abundance and gratitude, your ability to join in with something like this, and the opportunities we all have to offer a hand up to someone in need.

Blessings to you and your families this time of year!

Peace,

Terri 🙂

Deserts and the Eight Worldly Dharmas


Hello all ! It’s been forever since I stopped by, so I thought I’d say hello.  Blogger Slacker, indeed!  Truthfully, I’ve been out living my life instead of blogging about it.  As part of those life adventures, I spent some time in the southwest, rambling around in the desert.   This picture was taken while hiking in the canyons of southern Utah, one of the most gorgeous places on the planet.

I was thinking about the desert and my Utah trip this morning.  I love the southwest.  LOVE IT.   And as I proceed across the landscape of my life, with grief from recent deaths, lots of shifts in many areas and a renewed sense of intention about some things, I was thinking about how the desert represents that journey for me.

Sometimes I look into the depths of my life and it feels like the desert:  Wide open, sort of dry in places, yet full of Light that knows how to get into the tiniest of cracks of the surface, into the deepest places inside of me, those places where there are just no words.  Only stillness, a deep stillness inside of me.  The desert is like that place… still, so still.  Not silent necessarily, but still.  It teems with life at night, when it’s easier and safer to be out, out of the harsh sun that gives life but can also take it away.  In the desert, the most common ways to die are from dehydration or drowning, hence this sign.  Paradox, paradox.  The desert is full of life, full of mysterious canyons and deep drop-offs, ancient dwellings full of art painted or chiseled into the stone walls centuries ago, the artists long gone, yet their creative spirit remains.  It’s also full of potential death if you are not prepared and observant, aware of your surroundings and willing to take care of the basics.

I think that’s part of why I crave the desert~~there’s nowhere (now here?) to go, nowhere to be, other than right here, right now.  The basics matter.  So when all else fails, sometimes it’s really important to remember the basics.  Like, water and food and shelter.  Like, fire burns and when it rains the earth gets wet.  Like, my safety is my responsibility.  Like, it’s important to know current and predicted conditions, because something happening miles away can sweep me off my feet in a second, a flash flood of emotion or information or experience, just as surely as a sudden storm in the sky.  My journey truly is my responsibility.

This is one of those interesting times, the kind when it all sort of flows and time bends softly and warmly around the looking-glass, the kind that feels somehow touched by the Divine yet is sort of emotionally exhausting in that same way.   I was thinking about all of that this morning, which led me to think of Rumi, one of my favorite poets.

I’ve been thinking of Rumi a lot lately actually, and also about the Buddhist sense of the 8 Worldly Dharmas.   For the uninitiated, the 8 Worldly Dharmas are: praise and blame; pleasure  and pain; fame and disgrace; gain and loss.  Buddhism basically says that these become our attachments and aversions in life– we want the ones we enjoy or make us feel good.  Therefore we constantly seek  something outside of ourselves to hold onto, trying to do what it takes to feel good.  Conversely, we try to avoid the things we think will feel “bad.”  This creates a cycle in which we are forever caught in the wheel of life, trying to have pleasure, praise, fame and gain.  At the same time, we frantically try to avoid the things we perceive as painful, and so the cycle continues with us trying to seek an ever-elusive happiness that cannot be found outside of us.

Our whole culture, as well as our whole economy,  is based on the search for these things that we believe will bring us lasting pleasure.    We are led to believe that if we have the newest shiny whizbang or the right car or the right mate or the right beer or the right whatever, then–Finally! you can be happy.  And as humans we fall for that, over and over and over again.  But then that changes too, and the new whizbang goes out of style, the spiffy new phone becomes a dinosaur in a few months, you wake up with a lump in your breast,  the kids go to school or the person you love dies or the job you thought would be so good falls apart. And then, there we are, back into what is viewed as the opposite, the “bad” feelings, the aversions and the pain.

This happens to all of us at some point, and there are so many choices.   But one of the choices is to look in the mirror and ask some hard questions, like… So now what?  Who am I without my  stuff, my comforts, my stories, my attachments, my distractions, my toys, my “isms,” my work, my need for control?  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan Buddhist teacher, said,

“As humans we are always running after something— some pleasure, some reward, some way to avoid pain.  But here’s the real $64, 000 question–when all of that is over, how much have you ever really connected with yourself in your whole life?”

All of this led me to again ponder this Rumi poem…

Why Cling

Why cling to one life
Till it is soiled and ragged?

The sun dies and dies
Squandering a hundred lives
every instant

God has decreed a life for you
And will give you
another and another and another and another….

So today, I am thinking of many things, watching it all sort of spin by, lazy on its axis, watching it pass through in the most interesting of ways…I ponder the $64, 000 question and think of worldly dharmas of pleasure and pain, attachments and aversions and all of the many ways in which they disguise themselves.  I love Rumi’s take on the clinging, somehow understanding that it is in the letting go, it’s the fall into the soft spots of the heart and soul that bring us to new life.   It’s not just about who you are, but who you are becoming, and if you are OK with that.  And, like the child crying “do it again!” to a fun silly grown up trick, the sun will rise tomorrow and we get to choose all over again.  And how cool is that?  Always another chance to accompany the changes in life.

So today, I am pondering the desert and this garden party of philosophers and poets, and I thank them for their contributions to my life and soul.  And I offer thanks for all the changes and chances to do it again.    I hope this finds all of you happy and at peace.

Grief is its own Medicine


“Grief is itself a medicine.”                        ~~William Cowper (1731-1800)

I went to visit my dad over the weekend.  It’s been almost five months since my mom died and Saturday morning we went to the cemetery.  It was an overcast Ozark day, one my mother would have called “dreary.”  Too many days in a row like that and I start to get sort of squirrely, but today I found the starkness of the country landscape beautiful.  It seemed like a good day to go to a grave.

My mom is buried four or five miles back on an old country road, in Clubb Cemetery, outside of Zalma, MO.  The road is a dusty, red dirt affair, full of remnants of the red clay that is in and around the area.  You have to drive slowly so even though it’s not far in miles it takes about half hour to get there.  I find the drive beautiful, the landscape dotted with old barns, some abandoned white churches with steeples still intact, wide open fields and woods.  My dad was born and raised in an old house on one of those hills, near a place called Pond Creek.  He attended a one-room school house and they didn’t have electricity in that part of the world until the mid-1950’s, when he was about ten years old.  His dad never lived in a place that had running water and my dad didn’t have it until he was nearly twenty, when he came to St. Louis to find work.  His mom died when he was a teenager and he and his dad farmed and hunted the surrounding land for years.

My dad is an old country boy, a decent and kind man, a southern gentleman at heart.  Even after all the years he lived in the city, he always thought of this place as home.  I am in my forties now and live in the heart of the city.  While I love the convenience the urban life affords me, I find as I get older I crave the solace of the country.  My soul resonates deeply with the land here.  I suspect this is at least partly because life is slower and the pace kinder here, not so connected to the rat race.  The older I get, the more I realize that being in the rat race mostly just turns people into rats.  I got off the mainstream hamster wheel years ago, but have yet to find a way to reconcile my living being made in the city with my soul being made in the country.  In the meantime I go back and forth a lot and have a big garden to play in, sort of an Urban Homestead.  It will have to do for now.

Lost in this thought, I was surprised when we arrived so suddenly.  Clubb Cemetery is small, about the size of an average city lot.  It’s not much bigger than my front yard, surrounded on all sides by hardwood forest.  The woods are dense here, full of oaks as hard as the stones and boulders surrounding them.  Sometimes I think it looks like a bowling alley for drunken giants, with fallen trees scattered like pins everywhere, rocks strewn all around them like a child hurling his toys down a hill in a fit of glee to see how far they can roll.  It’s a gorgeous place, a quiet final resting place for people long gone, headstones dating back to the  early 1800’s.  There are old Civil War grave markers there, although no one knows who lies beneath them, the details of their lives long gone but the stories not forgotten.  The Missouri Department of Conservation has taken over the land but my dad’s family still maintains the cemetery, cutting the grass and tending the graves with care and respect.  Every Memorial Day the family comes and they clean the cemetery, straighten up what needs to be taken care of and have a prayer and a picnic under the pavilion near the edge of the woods.

My dad’s grandmother was a Clubb and on the way over he tells stories of his growing up, stories about these people now resting in this garden of stones, stories of people I had heard about but had no true connection to until my own mother was laid among them.  I sit on the back of the headstone where his brother Glenn lies and stare at my mother’s grave marker, feeling a multitude of feelings, memories and thoughts washing over me in waves.  My father is not comfortable with much display of emotion, so I do not cry when I am there with him.  I just sort of sit in The Big Empty of grief and listen to him talk.

They haven’t come out yet to chisel in the death date and this is beginning to irritate him.  He talks about needing to spread grass seed in the spring, because the heavy equipment tore up the earth in digging the grave.  These are not the manicured lawns you may be used to seeing if you live in a city or visit a large, professionally tended cemetery.  This is a small place in the middle of nowhere, surrounded in every direction by dense woods.  The way the funeral procession brought her over was almost five miles in the other direction, but still down that same red dirt road, dust blowing all over the hearse and cars behind it, ground as hard as the rocks in it after a long, dry summer.  I’m sure it took a lot to dig the grave and a lot was disturbed in the process.

My dad frets about the grass, channels his emotions into “doing,” a very instrumental griever.  He was a good caregiver for her in her final years and I think he is beginning to sort of live his own life again.  This gives me a sense of relief; I was not quite ready to begin taking care of him too, as selfish as that may seem.   I think about all of these things while he picks up sticks and small rocks and flings them into the roadside ditch.  His cousin and her son came over the morning my mom died and cleaned up the place, used a weed eater to make even the ditch and roadside look nice.  I love the country way of doing things, an interdependence here that makes it seem like family and community still really mean something.  The sense of it is tangible in small acts of kindness and respect, things I find tremendously reassuring in the midst of what at times seems like a world gone mad.  My mother would have been pleased.

The drive back is always easier than the drive over, the weight of the anticipation of seeing her fresh grave and the rush of feelings is always strong for me.  We pass the open fields again, remnants of old homesteads still evident by the stone chimneys seemingly rising up out of nowhere, by the random pump handle along the side of the road. No doubt water would still flow if you needed it, and I’m sure at times people do.  Deer and wild turkey abound here, as do deer and turkey hunters.  Cords of wood line the sides of the homes, for it is all they have to heat their houses in the winter.

The sky is stark, and I am mesmerized by it today for some reason.  It’s like an Ansel Adams picture come to life, still black and white, the trees as gray as the sky beyond them.  The occasional white branches of sycamores or the green of the pines and the cedars stand out against the cloud cover, making it seem almost surreal.  The sumac is tall this year, fodder for deer and other game, a glorious deep burgundy color with oval pods hovering tall above the thinner stems beneath them.  Soybeans and corn are staple commodity crops here and in recent years they have begun to grow rice as well.  Rice is a pretty crop, not one people think of as growing in southeast Missouri, but it grows in abundance here and is gorgeous to behold.  Some of the farmers have put in winter wheat and it is coming on, blanketing the otherwise barren landscape with swaths of emerald green, like an Irish angel sent to give some life to the otherwise quiet fields.

We passed a curious sight on the way back and my father actually stopped the truck.  Sidebar—for the uninitiated, there are only a few modes of transportation here, trucks and what you may think of as a car.  Here, however, they are not called cars.  For the most part, anything not called a truck or tractor is called a vehicle, and it is pronounced “vee-hick-ill.”  Do not confuse this or you will be confused when attempting to ride with someone.

So back to the topic at hand.  My dad actually stopped the truck and said, “Now, look at that.”

I wasn’t sure what I was looking at, so naturally I said, “What?”

“That,” he said, pointing to an open field.  A ratty old trailer was perched on stilts, high above a cornfield, near the edge of the woods.

“What’s that?” I asked again.

“Well, I imagine it’s his idea of a deer stand.”

“What’d he do it like that for?” I asked, innocently enough.

“Well personally, I think he’s ate up with the dumb-ass.  I mean, look at that.”

Now. Two things.  First, my father is 68 years old and has hunted and fished his whole life, in his younger years as much as for survival as for sport.  He has probably forgotten more about deer stands and deer hunting than I will ever know.  Or hope to, for that matter.  So I do not have the clinical training to ascertain if a ratty old trailer perched on stilts is a fitting deer stand or not.  But apparently not.

But as for the second part of this equation, I have worked in and around clinical mental health for years, hold a masters degree in a related field and make my living doing such things.  This is an area in which I feel qualified, or at least I pretend to be.  I can, therefore, assure you with no hesitation whatsoever that my father has a rare diagnostic ability when it comes to spotting anyone afflicted with the dreaded malady known as Being Ate Up With The Dumb-Ass.  If we had been in mixed company or around some of the churchier folks among us, mostly Baptists, he would have dumbed down his clinical assessment and said something like, “Well personally, I think the boy’s cheese done slid off his cracker.”

But it was just the two of us, so I got the full clinical evaluation and diagnosis.  If you have ever lived or worked with someone suffering from the dreaded malady known as Being Ate Up With The Dumb Ass (as you surely have), you know this is an affliction for which there no known cure.  Furthermore, the more you try to cure it, the worse it gets.  So in general it’s best to just leave it alone and let nature take its course, as it surely will.  Because the Universe is a kind, generous and largely harmonious place, I find that most people in this state of affairs are blissfully unaware of their condition and if no one tells them about it, they’ll never know.  Which often seems like the kindest way to handle it.

So we drove on, more relaxed than on the way over, pointing out the sumac and the cattle laying down, which indicates further “falling weather,” as it is called here.  It was cold, cloudy and we had just been to my mother’s grave.  I’ve been there many times since she died, but for the first time I felt relaxed afterward, in awe of nature and the turning of the seasons.   I laughed with my father on the way home from my mom’s grave.  Grief is its own medicine, and it was a beautiful day.

Hope yours is too!

Happy Solstice and Merry Happy Everything!


Hello all 🙂  Happy Solstice!  This is probably the last post of 2011 and  on this Day of Light,  I wanted to say hello and thanks for another great year.

I also want to acknowledge what a difficult time of year this is for many of us, all over the planet.  So in this powerful time when we celebrate all of what it means that Light comes into the world,  perhaps a gentle reminder to  breathe and let yourself rest a bit.  Breathe and allow it to  replace that holiday tension with a holy relaxation and sacred calm.   This is the time of year when we are reminded to replace the fear and darkness in us with a gentle, childlike Light; when we are reminded to replace the coldness within us with a loving warmth; when we are encouraged to believe in miracles and new life again.

It’s been a crazy few weeks in the world.  Crazy few months, now that I think about it.  Governments overthrown, governments on the brink of shutting down, people dug into positions and ideologies that are hard to overcome sometimes.  It’s a deep time in our world, in our communities and in the deep places in our hearts. In times like this, when so much happens so quickly, when a lot of  what we see and hear  is negative or argumentative, I think it’s important to slow down and remember that deep inside, we are all good people.  For every person out there who is out to do someone harm, there are ten more who truly will stop to lend a hand.   In times like this, I often think of this essay from This I Believe.

Before I leave you with a cut and paste from their website, a closing thought from me….I know this is a hard time for a lot of people, including many of you who read this blog.  With that in mind, a gentle reminder to breathe and be gentle with yourselves.  Keep the faith, sweet friends.  We are all we’ve got, and in times like this, I think it’s important to remember that we are enough.  YOU are enough.  Relax.  Breathe in deep.  Loosen your shoulders .  Let the Divine whisper reminders of sweet Love in your ears.  Remember that no matter what the news tells you, people are still good at their core.   Yes Virginia, there really is a Santa Claus and a part of you is still a child at heart, waiting in love and faith, able to redefine crisis as a dangerous opportunity and expect miracles again.

I hope as you read this, it helps you remember your own noble, essential decency and goodness.  In the coming year, a few aspirations….May you live your truth, stretch your soul, play and have fun, expect miracles, hug freely, open new doors wide and close completed ones gently.  May you encourage, empower and embody love, peace and know your own goodness.  This holiday season may you celebrate life and light, seize the day and dance when the music plays.   Happy Solstice, Merry Christmas,  Happy New Year and Happy Merry whatever else you may celebrate this time of year!

With that, I leave you with Robert Heinlein’s beautiful essay.

Our Noble, Essential Decency

I am not going to talk about religious beliefs but about matters so obvious that it has gone out of style to mention them. I believe in my neighbors. I know their faults, and I know that their virtues far outweigh their faults.

Take Father Michael, down our road a piece. I’m not of his creed, but I know that goodness and charity and loving kindness shine in his daily actions. I believe in Father Mike. If I’m in trouble, I’ll go to him. My next door neighbor’s a veterinary doctor. Doc will get out of bed after a hard day to help a stray cat—no fee, no prospect of a fee. I believe in Doc.

I believe in my townspeople. You can knock on any door in our town, say “I’m hungry,” and you’ll be fed. Our town is no exception. I found the same ready charity everywhere. For the one who says, “The heck with you, I’ve got mine,” there are a hundred, a thousand, who will say, “Sure pal, sit down.” I know that despite all warnings against hitchhikers, I can step to the highway, thumb for a ride, and in a few minutes a car or a truck will stop and someone will say, “Climb in Mack. How far you going?”

I believe in my fellow citizens. Our headlines are splashed with crime. Yet for every criminal, there are ten thousand honest, decent, kindly men. If it were not so, no child would live to grow up. Business could not go on from day to day. Decency is not news. It is buried in the obituaries, but it is a force stronger than crime.

I believe in the patient gallantry of nurses, in the tedious sacrifices of teachers. I believe in the unseen and unending fight against desperate odds that goes on quietly in almost every home in the land. I believe in the honest craft of workmen. Take a look around you. There never were enough bosses to check up on all that work. From Independence Hall to the Grand Coulee Dam, these things were built level and square by craftsmen who were honest in their bones.

I believe that almost all politicians are honest. For every bribed alderman, there are hundreds of politicians—low paid or not paid at all—doing their level best without thanks or glory to make our system work. If this were not true, we would never have gotten past the Thirteen Colonies.

I believe in Rodger Young. You and I are free today because of endless unnamed heroes from Valley Forge to the Yalu River. I believe in—I am proud to belong to—the United States. Despite shortcomings—from lynchings, to bad faith in high places—our nation has had the most decent and kindly internal practices and foreign policies to be found anywhere in history.

And finally, I believe in my whole race—yellow, white, black, red, brown—in the honesty, courage, intelligence, durability, and goodness of the overwhelming majority of my brothers and sisters everywhere on this planet. I am proud to be a human being. I believe that we have come this far by the skin of our teeth—that we always make it just for the skin of our teeth—but that we will always make it, survive, endure.

I believe that this hairless embryo with the aching oversized braincase and the opposable thumb—this animal barely up from the apes—will endure, will endure longer than his home planet, will spread out to the other planets—to the stars and beyond—carrying with him his honesty, his insatiable curiosity, his unlimited courage, and his noble essential decency. This I believe with all my heart.

Robert A. Heinlein won four Hugo Awards during his 50-year career as a science fiction writer. Born and raised in Missouri, he graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1929 and did aeronautical engineering for the Navy during World War II. Heinlein’s books include “Starship Troopers” and “Stranger in a Strange Land.”

Spiritual Fruits or Just Nuts?


Today, like every other day, we wake up empty and frightened. Don’t open the door to the study and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground. Let the beauty we love be what we do.   ~~Rumi

I love this picture, taken when the Christ the Redeemer statue was under construction.   One of the New Seven Wonders of the World, it was built in Rio di Janiero in the 1920’s and is huge, overlooking the whole city.  It captures how I so often feel on the path and I look at it from time to time to remind me of what it symbolizes to me in my own life….I often think of the words of Jesus telling me that the kingdom of heaven is within, that all is One, that we are safe and all is well.  We are not abandoned here, we are not alone here, all we have to do is plug into that larger place within us that is unobstructed, open, free, full of peace and love.  Pretty easy to say,  much harder to really practice.

A lot of times I feel like that picture…there might be a Christ within, but it is under construction most of the time.  My Buddha Nature is always available to me, say the teachers of the dharma, but I have to practice skillfulness in cultivating those seeds in order to really taste the fruit they bear.   Anyone who has ever really tried to work with this knows there is a reason they call it a practice 😉

I have had enough training from teachers of many paths to have a certain perspective on things, a certain approach, my own beliefs and so on.  I work with a lot of people on a lot of issues; there are a variety of reasons people seek out a coach or healer.  But underneath the presenting reason, I  believe we are all seeking healing which leads to union with God, with our true nature, with our essence.  I wrote about some of this in a few posts on the Blessings Blog, about distance healing and how that works, spiritually and physically.   True healing has evidence of the spiritual fruits and I believe taking daily bites  of our intended fruit just scatters those seeds out into the collective to benefit all.  But we have to be intentional about it in order to fully experience it.

It is my belief that how I feel or remember an experience has little to do with the qualities of the experience itself.  Some people leave our sessions feelings relaxed or energized, feeling happy or crying as grief releases.  I don’t see any of those as good or bad or right or wrong.  It’s just how you feel in the moment.  Healing and growth aren’t always comfortable, but they are always optional and not everyone chooses it.  So how an experience feels in the moment doesn’t tell me a lot about the experience itself–not everything that feels good is good.  Cocaine feels good in the moment and crying often doesn’t.  But that doesn’t mean snorting coke is good and crying is bad.  So we have to look for the fruits of an experience over time.

Buddhism and Christianity approach this in different ways, but work with the same qualities of discernment and fruition over time.  You really can tell a tree by its fruits and pear seeds  won’t grow into apple trees.  Both traditions tell us that if we practice prayer and meditation, working with our own process around seeking that Light, that heaven within, your Buddha Nature, or whatever else you may choose to call it, then you can predict certain fruits.

The Fruits of the Spirit are Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control…

~~ Galatians 5: 22-23

The limitless qualities of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are your deep-down, ultimate reality,  and those are qualities that can’t be improved upon. If you’re not feeling particularly kind, compassionate, joyful, or equanimous at the moment, take heart: the Four Limitless Ones are there like seeds, waiting to be cultivated through practice—and, being limitless, they’re rich enough to be worked with for a lifetime.

~~Pema Chodron, Dharma Teacher

I find this incredibly encouraging.  I love that in every tradition, the teachers or prophets tell us we are good.  People or bad theology  may try to tell you something different, but that’s their own stuff–take it all with a grain of salt and look for the fruits.   This is why having community and teachers or spiritual directors is so important, why we are meant to grow together in community, rather than just try to figure this all out alone–sometimes our own stuff gets in the way and we either don’t hear valuable feedback to help us grow, we have our own blinds spots,  we can misunderstand something and turn it into a shame spiral.  Other people can provide valuable feedback,  but  it is important to be discerning about those fruits as well.  Ultimately, it doesn’t really matter what someone else says or does, what matters is how I respond to that and what I choose to believe about myself as a result.

Healthy spiritual traditions and practices  tell me that if I am truly on the path, my love and compassion toward myself and others will grow, not diminish.  So how it feels in the moment may be uncomfortable or make me face my deepest fears– and that can be a good thing.  But pay attention to the fruits, because what I’m working with and looking for to discern if choices and experiences are good for me are the spiritual fruits.   I am seeking to cultivate the seeds of spiritual fruits, but honestly sometimes I’m just nuts.  So cocaine may feel good in the moment, but the fruits won’t be sweet over time.  Crying, looking at my own reactions to things or facing some hard truths in life  may be challenging and bring up a lot of grief or old feelings, but over time that can yield a lot of compassion, inner peace and joy.  These things are predictable and proven methods of discernment.

It’s nice to know that on this journey so many have come before me and will come after me.  It’s nice to know there are teachers, books, communities and practices to help me develop skillfulness, cultivate the fruits of the spirit and share that with others.   It’s so nice to know every tradition tells us we are already good and really just expected to be nice, to love, to extend love and kindness, mercy and forgiveness.  The Prophet Micah tells us,

He has showed you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God…

Yogi Bhajan reminds us,

Never compete, never compare and never confuse yourself with everything here. You have come from God. Be with your God and see the glory of God in all, big and small. God shall be with you.

Pema Chodron teaches on the Four Limitless Qualities,  reminding us that our basic goodness, our Buddha Nature, what others might call that Christ within, is always available to us because we already have those seeds planted within, we only have to nourish them.   I have a sign on my desk that reminds me, “Divine Peace and Love surround me and dwell in me.  I am safe and trust the process of  Life.”  I find that when I plug into the Divine Peace which always surrounds me and dwells within me, that I feel safe and can indeed trust the process of life.  But I have to practice it.  I have to decide which fruits I will choose to eat from today, which seeds I will nourish and cultivate over time.

I have a variety of Questions I ask the Blessings Coaching clients.  Here is a set related to these things….

Humans get angry or upset about a variety of things. What is upsetting to me may not be upsetting to you. What’s important to your spouse, boss, friends or family may not be important to you, or you may find a situation presents itself as the other way around.  Hurt feelings and reactions often result from unmet expectations and the fruits can be sweet or bitter.   Getting upset about certain things is human and normal—a full range of emotions is normal and healthy.  It’s when we get triggered and go to extremes in our unmindful reactions that it creates problems for self and others. So as I sit with these Q’s, what comes up in me?

1.  When I’m angry or upset, what do I do? Do I blow up or shut down? Do I just check out and run away—physically or emotionally leave?    Do I make choices or behave in ways I later regret?  Am I willing to take responsibility for this and change?

2. When I experience “negative” emotions about something or someone…anger, envy, jealousy, resentment, and so on, what do I do? Do I injure or harm myself or others?  Do I punish them physically, emotionally or spiritually?   Do I make it all about them? Do I spread gossip about them that is untrue? Do I slander them? Do I suddenly begin to speak ill of or blame someone I once praised? Do I ignore them?   Make snide remarks?  Engage in retaliation with destruction of property or something dear to them?  Do I retaliate with destruction of their reputation?  Do I lie to them in order to avoid them or my feelings about it?  If in a committed relationship, do I run up debt or spend money we don’t have to get even?   Am I willing to take responsibility for this and change?

3. If the uncomfortable feelings or negative emotions come into play and I am around children or animals, do I take it out on them? What about elders, children or people under my care or responsibility—do I abuse my authority and take it out on employees, helpless patients in a nursing home,  students in a classroom or the clerk at the gas station? Do I manage my own energy and emotions well, or does everyone feel my moods change and take cover from the storm?  Am I willing to take responsibility for this and change?

4. When I feel positive emotions like joy, for myself or others, can I celebrate that?  Can I celebrate the good fortunes of another, or does it turn into envy or resentment?  Can I celebrate my own good fortunes and my own life, or do I feel like I don’t deserve it and have to work harder than ever now?  Do I have balance between my ups and downs, or am I dependent on external circumstances for my own moods?  Am I willing to take responsibility for this and change?

5.  What do I do with myself when these things come up in me?   Do I run away, work more, drink more, eat more or less, hide in retail therapy or other addictions?  Can I just sit with the uncomfortable feelings without lashing out or shutting down?  Are the fruits of my experience bringing me to greater wholeness, or do they disintegrate me and create bitter fruit?  Do my reactions and behaviors when I am stressed create problems in my relationships, at work, and result in self-hatred, guilt or  shame for me later?  Am I willing to take responsibility for this and change?

6.  Am I willing to work on this, to take responsibility for myself and my life force?  Am I willing to grow and change?  If so, how?  When?  If not now, when?

These can be frightening questions, and are not meant to be worked through alone.  Find a teacher, a coach, a spiritual director, good therapist or community as you try to work through these things.  We are not meant to be here all alone, just working on these things for ourselves.  We are born into communities and what impacts one impacts all.  So know that working on these things and cultivating sweet fruit in life benefits not just you, but everyone.   If you have questions or would like more info,  feel free to make a comment or contact me directly.

Peace and blessings, have a great day!

🙂





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