Thursday, May 27, 2010

We're All Packing Heat !

Tennessee's legislature continues to use their time pressing for gun legislation known as open carry laws. If the law is passed we would join over thirty states to have some type of legislation regarding allowing guns in bars, restaurants, state parks etc.

In the last week, I've quit keeping track of the law's status for the truth is we are all "packing heat"- the power of love is the heat of the heart. It's pretty simple. Regardless of legislation and regardless of where we live, we each get to choose how and if we will use our heart's love.

With the flood a month ago, Nashville and Middle Tennessee in particular is presented with a beautiful opportunity, an opportunity money cannot buy. The rains broke open our hearts, blurring boundaries and lines as Democrats helped Republicans, youth helped the elderly, Christian helped Muslim, North helped South and somewhere I'm sure a tea party person or two helped a liberal and vice versa.

Out of our crisis we've increased connection crossing zip codes, race, gender, age, income and religion, our usual fear-based divides. Out of our crisis we've the opportunity to now consciously cultivate these new connections by carrying open hearts and choosing to act with the power of love.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Dusting off the Imagination

"Plant something. Feel the future."
-sign at Bert Driver Nursery, Smithville, TN

"I'm dusting off my imagination
-Stephanie Garner

The above quotes caught my attention in the past few days, the first while driving past the great Bert Driver nursery in Smithville and the second on my friend Stephanie's facebook page. Both reminded me immediately of a recent photo and story from my eighty something friend Russ.

Russ plants seeds as he dusts off his imagination daily by writing a poem something he's done for at least ten years. Prior to this, and still occasionally, he works with wood, making beautiful cutting boards, spreaders, and rattles. Russ patiently calls forth beauty from wood and words. (I personally know this takes patience. I drove to Russ' workshop for a brief period in the Nineties to try my hand at wood working. Wood was not my medium. I was impatient just as I had been with clay in the Eighties. Now I know its not the medium, it was patience I needed for I similarly get impatient with words although I keep at it with word working.)

Russ recently read poetry to a class of local elementary school children in his area. He read silly poems like Shel Silverstein's "Ickle Me, Pickle Me, Tickle Me, Too" and told a story. He dusted off their young imaginations which I suspect were already collecting dust from our culture's focus on video games, tv and computer. Then as children delightfully do they began to ask questions like "What is that wire above your ear?" Russ told them about his cochlear implants for hearing.

As time came to a close.....well here are Russ' words as to what unfolded: "When the time was up one boy rose from the floor and came at me with a big hug. Then five more sorta charged at me, and then another until I think all of them had had their say. I was overwhelmed with this demonstration and wasn't sure what it was all about, but it made my day and probably my week and month - maybe even my year."

I immediately knew what it "was all about." These delightful kids were dusting off Russ' heart reminding him of the beauty of joy, love and appreciation. These children were captured by Russ and he obviously was captured by them because he returned home, to his wood shop, and made rhythm sticks for the children. He and his neighbor Rita then taught rhythm through songs of "old" to these kids. Remember "Twinkle, twinkle little star?"

Earlier this week at the school years end, these same children visited Russ and Merle's home for popsicles and a walk through their 'zoo' aka their yard filled with animal art made from rusty parts and assorted finds and a photo op standing on the bridge Russ made.

Here they stand, young seedlings on a bridge in the present heading into the future, their imaginations fertilized with curiosity and wonder through art, nature, song and popsicles of course. These seeds will grow into the future of next week when one of these children spies a star and this time hums a song or taps a rhythm inspired by the moon. These seeds will grow into the future of a thousand tomorrows when an artist opens shop to sell his wares and a drummer plays her first gig or becomes a vet.

The alchemists of old wrote of the Great Work. I think this is the great work, old inspiring young and young inspiring old while planting seeds in the present that will grow and be felt long into the future.

It is time. Dust off your imagination and start a love affair with life.

-Imagine the Shift! Dawn, The Good News Muse May, 28, 2010

* Enjoy Russ poems and see his work at

** A camera was not available when the original hug took place. The hug was reenacted when Russ and Rita taught rhythm to the class. I supsect the reenactment was ever bit as loving as the original 'charge' as Russ called it.

Song for a Starling - In Memory of Men

I've been perusing journals to honor and reflect on my trip to France last year. Besides a thousand photos, I've journals of varying sizes in which I made notes.

One line recently caught my attention, a question I had jotted in a tiny notebook the morning of my birthday which started in LePuy in what is called the Deep Heart of France.

The question read: How can we get blackbirds to sing in America?

Yes, I learned during my trip that blackbirds sing in France. I heard them repeatedly. (My friend Vera says they sing in Germany too and I believe her.) On this particular morning, I sat on a curb outside our hotel at 5:00 am in a tiny triangle of a park filled with fairy roses. I cozied up against a pink cluster as the rising sun cast a similar pink in the sky. A blackbird was in its nest to my side. I could have spent all day there perfectly content on asphalt surrounded by roses and blackbirds.

Instead I left tokens of gratitude, dried rose petals from my father's grave and a crystal bead, at the base of the rose bush then boarded our little travel van driven by dear Pedro for further ventures into France's Deep Heart.

It has been a year and I have not forgotten the singing blackbirds of France. Periodically I take out my little recorder and listen to the files I recorded of their song. My mind calls up the lyrical sounds even as I write.

Meanwhile home in Tennessee, I could not write with similar fondness of our blackbirds as this past Spring, blackbirds, starlings and grackles descended upon our bird feeders like never before. I initially wrote of this in "Loving Black and Blue."

After that Musing, words came to me which I quickly noted. I first titled them "Song for an American Starling ." I recalled them upon seeing the question: How can we get blackbirds to sing? These are the words that came to me.

I am so far away from home
Came here a stranger as families roamed
I feel so lost without a land.
Somebody help me, if you can.

The heart is deep and it is wide.
It carries pain I try to hide.
I'm looking for someone
to redeem these lonely sons.

Soldiers died in foreign soil.
War is hard and it is toil.
Yet the heart goes beating on

finding wings on many a song.

Blackbirds and sparrows were brought to this land by our ancestors as reminders of home. I sometimes wonder if our blackbirds don't sing because they are homesick, strangers here in this land.

Homesick strangers reminds me of a plaque I saw in Orleans Cathedral southwest of Paris. The plaque honored the half million Americans who gave their lives in two world wars and the 67,581 of them who died on French soil, their bodies never found, never returned to American soil. Yes in time they returned to Mother Earth, but I find myself still thinking about those men and wondering if their spirits aren't homesick like the blackbirds just on opposite sides of the Atlantic.

I also found myself wondering if the collective American soul fully grieved these losses. Let's be honest. We American's don't really grieve. The funeral is held and we're suppose to be over" it" when in truth the dark days, the days of missing, of loneliness have just begun.

I found myself wondering how this chapter of our history is connected to the lost or misplaced heart in our country as well as its continued impact on our world. Since WW II we have gone to war repeatedly not for the same overt reasons, yet war is war, lives are lost and grief still buried.

Hearts abound commercially in ads during certain holidays.  Likewise we open our hearts relationally when we're "suppose" to feel loving during these times.  Then heart's relegated to the sidelines. The grief locked in the stoic heart when it is far from home be it the blackbird, the soldier or one's own is a lonely heart.

How do we call the men of whom I read home?

Maybe it isn't the blackbird that needs to learn how to sing, but instead our hearts, yours and mine. Heartful singing, just as grieving requires a vulnerability we are not taught, a willingness to dive into our deep hearts and embrace our feeling selves as men and women.

No one said this to me while in France, but I felt the deep sorrow and grief the French have known as wars have ravaged their land. Yet I also felt their joy. I suspect they've been to the bottom of the deep heart where all feels lost, loved ones and land, and they found their way back to love and joy. This is so evident in their appreciation of beauty in valuing the soil, the animals and plants. They (or at least the areas in which I traveled) value living and they value the feminine.

Maybe, just maybe, if we allow ourselves to journey the path of heart, of feeling, we would sing the spirits home of these 67, 581 men. I imagine calling their hearts home to the soil of our collective hearts and in doing so free ourselves to discover the beauty of our deep American hearts.

-Dawn!, The Good News Muse, 19 June 2010
reposted 11 November 2013 
* Click here to hear what for Veteran's Day I've retitled:  "In Memory of Men" 
* After writing this piece, I found that blackbird symbolizes primal feminine energies and that the color black symbolizes the feminine. Now I am certain our discovering our deep hearts allows our blackbirds to sing.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Messages in the Mess

During my morning walk, I pondered how folks refer to the world as being in a 'mess.' I've heard the word mess used in reference to the Gulf Oil Spill, to the ongoing political dynamic in which we seem stuck blaming and passing the buck, to someone's marriage or status as in "you know he/she, well they're just a mess."

Now in Middle TN, we have our mess birthed by the May Day Flood. I do not mean this cruelly toward those who lost so many personal possessions as well as loved on
es, but now we've mounds of belongings, personal and prized, headed to who knows where as someone decides where all the mess will go.

Our flood was
the latest in a string of natural 'messes' beginning with earthquakes and volcanoes.
Maybe Mother Earth is saying, "May Day, May Day.
What if this great mess which seems like the Mother of all messes, the mess of the ages, at least the recorded ages, holds messages for us if we are open to listen? What if Mother Earth really is crying out for us to wake up, to stop trashing her and referring to things as a 'mess' but to also start acting in ways that show our gratitude for this home she's given us?

The story below crossed my mind. It seems even more applicable now....

Lately on morning walks, I often wish I had remembered to bring along a bag in which to collect trash. Earlier this week while walking and wishing, I heard a honk from behind me. As if he had read my mind, Jerry stopped and yes, had a bag, one of our many cloth ones, in his truck. I grabbed one.

Within a half mile of foraging, this modern day hunter/gatherer had filled her bag with trash and carried a portion of a car fender in her free hand. This probably didn't qualify as legitimate foraging. Foraging implies hunting. I took no more than three steps from the sidewalk to pick up each item collected.

The most unusual of my finds were the smallest and largest objects, a tiny pink pacifier lost possibly by a strolled child and a car fender, black and plastic with a partial frame still attached on the backside.

Walking along, I studied the fender. Suddenly I realized its shape was that of a head, the metal frame being the open jaws of an animal. Curious as to what else I might discover, upon returning home I laid out my collection to find a telling assortment of things, a collage to our petroleum-based culture.

As the photo shows, I had an assortment of modern day 'pacifiers,' a myriad of food related ways in which we potentially pacify ourselves from candy, beer and soft drinks to the more health conscious water and nuts. I'm not anti-eating or any of the above food stuffs, but it only took a moment to realize my mess held many messages.

Seen symbolically the jaw-like frame represents the dying industrial beast we've collectively created consuming without consciousness as to what we put into our bodies as well as into Mother Earth and the atmosphere.

Of course, most everything I collected was packaging. Only a short time ago, foods were packaged in their skins and peels which were often eaten for nutritional value. (Now we buy vegetable washes to remove chemicals from the peels and place them in garbage disposals or garbage cans.) From magazine covers and runway models to boxes and containers, we've become a packaging oriented society. Outer's been valued more than inner.

The products my imaginal animal in the photo consumes makes me also consider what we now produce and how we value production. We formerly valued the hand-made. We needed it for survival whether it was crafted, quilted, grown, sewn or thrown (as in pottery). More recently we've valued the technical, which allows me to write and send this story around the globe in seconds. The hand-made has morphed into the hand-held ie. the cell phone, computer and gaming devices through which we text, twitter, facebook with friends in this dimension and face-off with x-box creatures from other dimensions.

The value of products is determined by how much a share of stock increases which is connected to cheap labor (from those worlds away) and materials (from earth) rather than how inter-connected something is to the web of life or its true nutritional value if it's a food product in the case of my collage.

As I thought I had exhausted or seen all the messages in the mess, I realized the deeper message. What if the imaginal beast is spitting out what it no longer wants, not just spewing packaging into landfills, but saying, "Enough. Come on, people, quit competing and controlling. Get cooperative and creative. Get out of the package of small mind. Break open the package of your unused capacities."

Then I got another level of the mess. My car fender beast is black, representative of our shadow (unconsidered actions) but also symbolic of the void from which all new form arises when we marry consciousness and creativity thoughtfully.

I like to think the tiny pink pacifier represents the birthing and rising feminine energy present in men and women as we open to learning from one another and working relationally and collaboratively.

The treasures in my trash or the messages in what I considered a mess reveal the Old Story giving birth to the New Story which is the Whole Story, not a story of black and white or good and bad, but a beautifully evolving story. Through our unconsciousness we've participated in being the beast and through consciousness we can listen and birth another part of the story.

Imagine the shift if next time you take a walk, you foraged for the experience awaiting you. Take time to see what's beneath the obvious. Listen to your experience for in every seeming mess, there's a message and to me that is very good news.
-Dawn!, the Good News Muse, 5/20/10

P.S. Learn more about deeply seeing the New Story with Jean Houston through Social Artistry, a new paradigm for the leader in each of us especially needed in these times.

Middle Tennessee poet Russ Peery forages for experience on daily walks then writes about it. Check out Russ at

Monday, May 17, 2010

Fleur de Lettuce

I've known Jay for nearly a year. On the linear time continuum, he's a fairly new friend, but on the big Time continuum it seems we’ve always known one another. Jay owns a nursery, but he also trades his eggs, or better said his hens’ eggs for my blueberry jam. This weekend he surprised me with this beautiful head of star romaine lettuce.

Upon arriving home, I took it out of the bag and oddly thought of the tower of Babel from a large illustrated Bible I won for selling so many somethings as an eight year old.

As I continued looking, I saw theFrench fleur de lis or in this case the fleur de lettuce.
Wait, to be truly honest after the tower and before le fleur, I stood in my kitchen and said aloud, “This symbolizes a penis rising out of a vagina.” I nearly edited that because it seems so strange but that is what I saw and said.
Now I look at the photo and see how I came up with a tower. I see structure, leaves layered upon one another like floors of a building reaching skyward, kin to our modern day multi-storied towers, from which we look out surveying the kingdom, modern man’s way possibly of still trying to reach or be God.
I also realize how I saw the male and female anatomy in the lettuce. I was seeing the masculine and feminine and there’s nothing actually strange about that. We don’t talk of food in this way, but this is how we are fed. Like the feminine, a seed lies in the soil, the stuff of Earth’s womb, receptively receiving until it is time, like the masculine, to take action. The star romaine models a balanced masculine and feminine birthing fruit from a joint endeavor.

I decided to read a bit about the fleur de lis and discover it has appeared in many civilizations and means not only "flower of the lily” but also “of the lotus” and signifies, “perfection, light and life.” What a beautiful, a holy trinity - the lily, lotus and lettuce.
Then I recall Jay said this was a star romaine. I went in search of the star and there it was on the part of the lettuce that had been nearest Mother Earth. I think of stars as being of the heavens and the Universe, but stars are energy and light. This makes me truly smile. The stuff of the stars lies in the dark, in the dark earth providing energy for the growth of the plants, nourishing our bodies and minds.

The beautiful head of lettuce, just as the fleur de lis, is truly perfection, light and life. The star romaine reminds us that we may seek God in the heavens, but the energy of the Divine is as close as our feet, loving home to us, providing the foods we eat.
Regardless of how we got here, Nature speaks a language that if we listen deeply we hear, a language of perfection, light and life found in the lily, lotus, lettuce and us.

It is not Babel. It is beautiful.
-Dawn! Imagine the Shift! 5/17/10

Friday, May 14, 2010

Nashville - Our Moment in Time

Nashville made it to "Time" magazine this week as "The Moment" of the week. I'm not ungrateful for the coverage, but I've a different perspective as to their referencing our city being destroyed.

Yes, the losses are deep and many - homes, possessions, businesses, churches, musical instruments, crops, pets, wildlife, trees and lives have been lost. The depth of loss is nearly unfathomable but Nashville and the surrounding communities were not "destroyed" as the story referenced. We will only be destroyed if we allow it, if we ignore the amazing energy present here.

Think about it. Nashville is the Athens of the South, home to the Parthenon and Athena, Goddess of Wisdom. We are home to educational institutions including Fisk, Nashville's first university opened in 1866 and Jubilee hall built expressly for educating African Americans. We were integral to the civil rights movement. We are Music City, home now to a myriad of genres and musicians. We are the hub for numerous publishing houses. We are the Buckle of the Bible belt. We are home to many of the Lost Boys of Sudan and a multitude of immigrant groups. And last but not least, this summer three art-related venues host the amazing glass works of artist Dale Chihuly.

Nashville is home to creativity, voice, faith and ultimately the heart. Loss only robs us of this if we allow it to.

Yes, we have been immersed in water and we must take time to grieve. We have like Mr. Chihuly's glass been through the fire. But if we allow the tears in our hearts to fall, the fire in our hearts will rise and Nashville will a play an important role in the rising of the heart in this world in a most beautiful, miraculous way.

Hold with me the grieving, rising heart in Nashville as we meet the unknown in love and in hope without fear. This truly is our moment, our moment in Time.

-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 5/14/10

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Cinderalla had Glass Slippers. I've A Wicker Dresser - The Dynamics of Good Will

Earlier today, I left Gil's office. Gil is my acupuncturist, a dear young man who only has to check the pulse on my wrist to tell me things about my physical, emotional and soul self that I think no one knows but me. Gil gently smiles, at times slightly tilting his head with an even slighter frown, and shares what he feels in my energetic pulse. There is comfort in hearing aloud what inside I know.

I had not seen Gil for several weeks until last week's rains. No, I did not see him because I had been directly traumatized by the rains. I saw Gil because my body physically responded to everything. Suddenly my shoulders and back were like rock and my neck was in pain. I was so energetically depleted at times that I could hardly get out of bed. Even the guilty voice inside my head could barely whisper that I should be out lifting loads, passing out food or tearing out drywall. My body called a halt to much of my doing. I was forced to be. I prayed, meditated, sent love to strangers and animals. I called to check on those who crossed my mind and I was blessedly forced to take care of me.

My chiropractor saw me not once but twice. A massage therapist who I synchronistically met pummeled me brutally but lovingly and I saw Gil and did so again this week. (I never care for my body to this degree. There's always an energetic excuse. Not enough money or time are always the top two and that must change because I've come to realize in a deeper way that the way we care for ourselves often mirrors our care for Mother Earth, but that's another story.)

Today as I left Gil's office my phone rang. Judy my neighbor had found a white wicker dresser. For nearly two years, I have been looking for a used white wicker dresser with six drawers. Judy has done all the seeking. My neighbor and personal shopper has regularly scoured yard and estate sales and the newspapers looking for that dresser. There have been a couple of near finds but the price or height have kept me from committing. Judy has kept looking.

Today Judy tells me Good Will may have the dresser I'm seeking. I thank her and tell her I'll look another day. She persists and calls back. In minutes I am driving to Good Will with Judy to look at a dresser something that once upon a time I really wanted. Yet this day I don't quite have the word for what I feel. How can I want a piece of furniture when in the flood so many have lost so much? How can I be potentially happy when so many are so, so sad? I think of the verse: "Ask and you shall receive" as well as the energetic dynamics of intention. How can a power Divine busy his or herself with me and a dresser when there are so many more important needs?

Yet I am happy because I know to resist looking at this dresser blocks something important. I am quietly, excitedly thinking this may be 'the one.'

As we navigate side streets, Judy tells me the dresser isn't in the best of conditions. I lower my expectations, but walk in and for fifty dollars find the dresser I've been seeking waiting there as if to say, "What took you so long? Cinderella got her shoes. You've got me."

If Gil had been checking my pulse at the time, he would have felt my joy. He would I suspect have said, 'Your heart is strong" for I was happy. Yes, I bought the dresser but more importantly I was happy because my open heart accepted a gift for which I had been asking.

When the heart is strong and I don't mean strong as in controlled and hard, but strong as in alive, awake and real, we can accept whatever comes our way even a wicker dresser for which previously I would have felt guilty accepting as others suffered.

This is why I had to go to Good Will. To not do so, would block my heart's energetic capacity to receive good will. To not do so, would have stopped a cycle set in motion nearly two years ago, a cycle of which a stranger of good will passed something on which was discovered by my neighbor of good will. I now set a new cycle in motion as I in good will pass this story on to you in the internet ethers.

I am reminded of my friend Diana saying, "I say 'yes' to everything I think of. I don't do everything. But I say 'yes,' because someone in that moment may need the energy of my 'yes'."

So I joyfully say 'yes' to this dresser and all it represents because my receiving completes a cycle. I joyfully say 'yes' and accept this dresser because I feel its rightness in my heart, soul and mind. I joyfully accept this dresser (it's beginning to sound like we're getting married) because there is reciprocity in the Universe and I know my joy will be felt streets and zip codes away by someone who in this moment is feeling sorrow. And joy and acceptance are vital in the midst of loss and deep levels of change.

Later I will joyfully haul this dresser home in a truck even as other Tennesseans have their lives rearranged and their things hauled away for my joyful "yes" will ease the rearranging of their lives as they make space for the uncertainty of what's next.

This story could go on and does as I smile realizing the local Good Will evidenced repeatedly throughout Middle Tennessee these days raises the energetic Good Will around the world for we are all connected.

Even now your joy, your heart's smile touches hearts miles away. We are in this together, this beautiful experience called life. May we all in our hearts say, "Yes" to Good Will.
-Let's Imagine that Shift! Dawn 5/13/2010

Monday, May 10, 2010

Salmon & Asparagus

For dinner I baked salmon and steamed asparagus, not an unusual meal for me. Yet tonight, I placed dinner on my plate and felt so strange. I ate salmon and asparagus while neighbors just over two miles away are now living with relatives or are in shelters, from their homes they are displaced.

Then it occurs to me, I eat foods like these regularly while children across town go to bed hungry. Families here in Nashville were without homes and lived in shelters, cars or what use to be Tent City long before the rains. I eat salmon and asparagus regularly while children and their families around the world go to bed hungry and homeless.

This is so hard to wrap my mind around, the inequity. Why am I conscious in this way now and not previously? Because it is in my own backyard. Seeing my eighty-year-old friend loose her home's belongings due to seven foot high waters that came rushing through and hearing she lives with her son in a neighboring county, her son who told me Saturday of seeing several houses wash down the river near him...this makes it real. It is not on tv. It is in my face as I feed my face. Not because I am uncaring, but because I know I need to care for myself in order to care for others. Others whose stories somehow I believe will feed my heart as I in turn hope to feed the hearts of others.
-Dawn, 5/10/10

Forgive Us For We Know Not What We Do

Over the past few months, a particular Bible verse has crossed my mind. Long before Easter, Jesus’ words as he died, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do" have periodically crossed my mind.

To be honest, I’ve heard something kin to his words: "Mother, forgive us for we know not what we do."

I would think this odd except the words or prayer have come to mind as I've thought of the string of recent environmental crises the first of which was the earthquake in Haiti followed by those in Chile, Turkey, China, Mexico and recently in Chile again. During this time there was a deadly coal mine explosion in West Virginia, the volc
ano eruption in Iceland then the oil rig explosion and resulting ongoing oil leak in the Gulf. This was topped off most recently by the Middle Tennessee floods.

Yes, I have thought, "Mother, forgive us for we know not what we do."

I have ignored the words of my inner voice until last week.
Within days of the deluge in Middle Tennessee, a friend sent me an article regarding deep oil drilling. I had naively assumed off shore drilling meant going however many feet to the ocean's floor and 'pop' there one found oil just beneath the earth's crust. Instead I learn that once we get to the ocean floor, we have the capacity to drill into the earth 18,000 to 30,000 feet or the equivalent of three to six miles give or take a few feet. I have often used the phrase "raping the Earth" but the image of drilling into Earth’s skin 3-5 miles is staggering. We truly are penetrating Mother Earth, raping her to sustain our way of life.

"Mother, please forgive us for we know not what we do."


evening I went to the public square to hear the symphony in a free concert graciously gifted to Nashville as the symphony hall had flooding problems. It was a gift for me in a way I never expected. As we spiraled down into the parking garage, I noticed a drawing of a bull’s head for the level in which we parked. I walked up the stairs and emerged onto the square to look down and see etched in the granite the figure of yes, a bull's head. Around it the word "Strength" was etched once on each side forming a box around the figure.

I remembered noticing the only other time I had been at the square a lion's head at the opposite end with the word "Protection" etched around it. I had been called to jury duty that day and took a photo of the lion as well as of the snake and lion figures around the top of the courthouse. Symbolically the snake has many meanings. I choose those related to wisdom, healing and transformation. The music played and I wondered how many noticed our companions the bull, the lion and snake offering strength and protection, wisdom, healing and transformation, traits carrying vital energies needed in any time but especially for Nashville and the world in these times!

The day after I stood in my kitchen making hamburgers and remembered the bull. I thought of all the cattle that give their lives for us. I thought of the mega-corporations making their billions while raising cattle so inhumanely, cattle that become our fast food burgers and 16 ounce steaks.
(Watch the movie, Food Inc. if you haven’t!) It occurred to me as never before that cattle come here in love and give themselves to us so we might have their 'strength.' We are given the gift of choice as to how we will use that strength.

Contrary to what many people think of cats, they have long represented the rising of the feminine offering protection. They have for centuries been considered guardians and represent deep understanding in the natural world. Yet they were killed thousands upon thousands in the coliseums of Rome and burned and drowned with their (usually) female owners accused of being witches in Europe and New England. Today they are still neglected, abused, tortured and hunted as trophies with their heads hung on walls.

How is it collective humankind so neglects the love the animals come here with ?
How is it we don't protect them as they protect, care for and nourish us?

"Mother, Father, Creator, we do not realize the gifts of your children the Animals. Forgive us for we know not what we do. May we shed our ignorant, arrogant ways like the snake sheds its skin. May we wisely use our strength and capacity to protect all your creeping, crawling, flying, swimming, walking, four-legged, feathered, furry, slimy, scaly, and yes two-legged kin.

About our two legged kin.....Week upon week the church doors are flung open and filled are the pews. We say we love God. We sing we love God, while millions of children in lands far away and right here at home are God. They are God sleeping in the streets, looking for bread. They are God trying to wake us up to our interconnectedness. So many are hungry, homeless and orphaned due to war, illness and poverty leaving them vulnerable. And yes, they are God trying to find a way in, into our hearts to see if we can be broken open, be made vulnerable to the situations of others.

On Sundays, we say we love God, we sing we love God. Yet the rest of the week God's name is used politically and in the courts to draw lines, deem what is right or wrong and further create separation, fear and hierarchy.

"Father, forgive us for we know not what we do."

Here we are continuing to live what is often called the greatest story ever told and the story is far from over for the story was and is ultimately about love. Our hearts, minds and hands are the vehicles of that love.

Long after church doors are closed, help us keep the doors of our heart, the real church, open. Keep us open to the many opportunities for healing and for love in these times in this present crisis here at home so we in turn feel and show compassion for those in places far away.

Our hearts have been broken open and made vulnerable by the washing away of what so many called home, by the washing away of what we've called security, by the washing away of loved ones. In our vulnerability we are now part of the family of man, kin with those who live vulnerably day to day.

May our hearts not close once this crisis has passed. And when they do begin to close in judgment and fear give us wisdom to know and grace to call one another out, to call out our open hearts even when they're tired, hurting and afraid so we may be full participants in this new yet old story being told, a story of love, of loving one another and of loving Mother Earth, Nature and all her kin.

Father, Mother, Creator, forgive us.
It is quiet and I hear:
I do.
I do forgive you for I am Love.
You are each love too.

-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 5/11/10

The Feather

Two weeks ago I found a slender black feather in my pocket, one of many feathers I've collected over the years. Rather than keep it, it felt right to let it go. I placed it in my backyard.

This past weekend while cleaning up after the rains, I spied in the pebbles at my backdoor the feather, still slender and black and oh, so beaten up, but still a feather.

I am grateful to this feather for reminding me that no matter how beaten we feel or become, our spirits weather the storm because our hearts hold the power of love.
-Dawn! Imagine, Embody and Embrace the Shift! 5/10/10

Friday, May 7, 2010

Mukti & The Bee - We are all One. We are Community

Recently I came rushing across my deck thinking I was late for a call and what did I find but a carpenter bee. No, not a carpenter bee burrowing into the wood siding or trim of my home but a dead one lying on a stepping stone at the threshold of our backdoor.

I picked it up, held it in my hand and cried. Yes, I cried because only days prior had I shared with friends during a conference call the trouble I was having killing the carpenter bees flying around the eves of my house and the deck railing. I felt like a murderer taking the life of a living creature even if in the long run its tunnels might threaten my home. I do not like feeling as if I'm a murderer.

The friend facilitating the call told of mukti, a concept of which she had learned while on retreat and wondering what to do in relation to the mosquitoes swarming about her. The teacher shared that saying, "Mukti" when killing the mosquito liberated it or freed it from this physical realm.

Later that day, a carpenter bee came round while we were sitting on the deck. I told Jerry of Mukti and suggested he try it. (Notice how I was avoiding killing the bee?) Jerry's attempts failed as the bee darted from the broom's reach. I watched quietly knowing the job was meant for me.

He went inside. I picked up the broom and took a deep breath. Half-heartedly saying "Mukti, "I swatted. I felt cold and detached, but I swatted, never getting the bee. I could not accept the murderer in me. The bee darted out of site as if it knew I was not committed to taking its life. I thought nothing more of this until I found the dead bee perfectly laying in the middle of the step at my door.

Thus in the aftermath of the recent floods, I wept with joy while holding this furry black and gold offering with cellophane wings in my palm. Nature is sweetly, so intimately involved with us in such simple yet profound ways if only, if only we stop, notice, listen. I held the bee and listened.

I held the bee and knew the end of life is just part of the cycle of life. I need the hardiness and the heartiness to realize that when life is taken, new life is given. This is part of the Great Cycle in the Great Mystery. This too is part of mukti for me.

I held the bee and remembered how the day prior I lay so very tired and exhausted on my acupuncturist's table. I asked if he thought I had a heart blockage. He quickly replied I was too opened hearted for a blockage. He left the room. I knew my heart for so long off and on had been blocked, at times feeling like stone from lifetimes of pain. I lay on his table in the dimly lit room, weeping and stating aloud that I wanted to clearly know my team for these times.

I now smile with great joy for the bee before me even as I write is part of that team. Its presence broke open, yet again, my heart reminding me that all of Nature is my tribe. Nature is my child. It reminds me that I murder my heart when I close it and don't allow it to feel.

Moments later during my daily meditation call for which I thought I was late, I held the bee and and was held by the bee and by my cross country friends as I shared. They too are part of my team. Ramapriya who initially shared of Mukti mentioned the aspect of bees in relation to our food and flowers but also community. Bees are highly intelligent social insects that cannot live without community. I thought but didn't say, "I don't think I have a honey bee."

After our conversation, I realized someone had called in on my phone. I redialed the number and got Rosie, Ray's wife, in Georgia. Ray had honey for me that he wanted to deliver as he was driving up to tend his area hives having lived in Middle Tennessee for many years.

I studied the bee. Was I actually holding a honeybee, pollinator of our flowers and foods and provider of honey, a reminder of life's sweetness? Was I being given a message that I/We must use the present challenge here in Tennessee to be community long after this crisis has passed and continue to bee community with one another and with Mother Earth as is evidenced by the rains, earthquakes, Iceland's volcanic eruption, the continued Gulf Oil spill and the deadly coal mine explosion in West Virginia?

Sensing that 'class' was not over, I continued to hold Nature's precious gift. There was something else I needed to hear. Walking through my living room, I looked at the bee. Time stopped and in one brief moment it was crystal clear. I got the most important lesson of all. I carry the murderer in me. (Bear with me.) Yes, in my own heart resides the heart of the murderer, the sex trafficker, the abuser, the animal torturer, all the many political lobbyists and CEO's whose businesses promote the raping of Mother Earth. I am them and they are me. We are all One. I knew this Truth with such clarity that I wish I could pass on to you.

I could reference facts about quantum physics and how we are all entangled and intertwined, but I would only be doing so to give scientific legitimacy to what I know, to what in an instant I knew.

In that moment, I felt total freedom and love. The stone was rolled away. Realizing and acknowledging my connection with the murderer was personal mukti for me, killing off an illusion I didn't even know I carried and liberating me from separation with humankind. I thought, 'This is how Gandhi, Joan of Arc, all the many Saints and Mystics and Mary and Jesus did it; this is how the Dali Lama and the Indigenous people do it. They knew, they know, they experience that we are all truly connected, we are all One. We are all Love.'

I am in awe of the simple, yet profound ways in which Nature communicates and relates. When I could not kill the bee, it came to me. It laid itself at my door offering an opportunity for me to wake up as to how nature works with us and how love works. When I could not kill the bee, it gave its life for me.

Life is beautiful. We are not here by accident and the bee was not at my door's threshold by accident. Thresholds signal entry points and opportunities. We are living in times of change and challenge. Middle Tennesseans have crossed a threshold to what many do not yet know. I do know the recent flooding has activated an outpouring of love, liberating us from our separateness while offering freedom to love our neighbors regardless of color, age, race, religion, politics, gender or status.

May we all die to our separateness and fully wake up to our Unity.

As for the little bee, whatever kind it bee, both provide sweet nectar, one to feed the soul and educate us as to our interconnectedness with human and Naturekind and the other to feed and nourish the body and model community for Nature is part of our team. Earth is part of our team. We are all here as a team. Blessed. blessed bee.
Imagine that shift! Love, Dawn 5/10/10

We're in a State of Emerge and See !

(This came to me initially when Nashville flooded in 2010.  It has again been on my mind with all that's unfolding on the East Coast. May all see.) 

At lunch, I glimpsed news coverage titled "Flood Emergency Update." The word 'Emergency' caught my eye because I immediately saw tucked within another word - "emerge." Then I heard myself saying, "Emerge N C" followed by "Emerge and see."

I love words. They are simple yet powerful keys available for us to see the possibilities in times like these.

Imagine what is being held here in what's called a crisis in Middle Tennessee if we can hold and use this as an opportunity to Emerge, to come out, to bring forth new ways of being, living and relating to one another and to Mother Earth. 

Every emergency offers an opportunity for us to emerge and see the patterns, people and things that really matter.

Emerge and See with Me !
-Dawn! The Good News Muse 5/7/10 and 11/1/12

As Waters Subside - My Prayer

The rivers and streams overflowed their banks, giving our hearts opportunity to overflow with love, giving our hands opportunity to work acts of kindness, giving our spirits opportunity to send prayers and meditations throughout Tennessee.

Now that the waters are subsiding may love and all its many tributaries, compassion, kindness and generosity, never subside from the shores of new connections, from the banks of the Universal heart.
-Dawn! Embrace the Shift to Love 5/7/10

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Guys, Stop It! (or Where There's Lily, There's a Way)

(This story has been tinkered with for years then set aside in order to write something related to nature or my cats. Fear may be the real reason I've chosen pets and plants over people as a topic. Lily, as you'll soon understand, would say, "Aunt Dawn, stop it!")

Some time ago, I was hanging out at Lily's house with her parents. She and her sister were engrossed in a movie while the grown ups nearby talked and laughed. Suddenly we were silenced by "Guys, stop it!" Lily, sitting on the sofa still engrossed in her movie on the other side of the room, admonished us to tone it down. I personally thought, 'How cute' as we complied with her wish at least for awhile. Our volume gradually increased as was noted by Lily who shouted, "GUYS!" The four adults turned to see Lily standing on the sofa, hands on her hips and scowl on her face firmly but loudly commanding, "Guys, stop it." We did.

As I walked home later that night I thought, 'We should run Lily for president.' This was in 2007 as the prior administration piled up the now trillion dollar debt thanks to the Iraq war, profiting companies with deep political connections. Lily's authority and attitude in my book were exactly what we needed.

Over the coming weeks I fantasized about creating "Lily for President" t-shirts and a website.
Of course, if anxiety kept me from writing this simple story, how on earth did I think I could create a movement?

Nearly three years have passed and Lily's spunk has not faltered. Last Fall she quietly went out one afternoon and taught herself to ride her bike without training wheels. Shortly afterward she began to learn to ride her older sister's bike.

The saying "Where there's a will there's a way" should be "Where there's Lily, there's a way."

We've continued to desperately need Lily's message of "Stop it." When the car honchos flew to DC in their private jets as we were bailing them out, I wanted to shout, "Guys, stop it!" When that CEO spent more money than all the folks in an entire third world country will have in a lifetime to redecorate his bathroom, I wanted to say, "Guy, stop it!"

Every time I heard Sarah Palin or Michelle Bachman over the past year refer to 'death panels' as a means of scaring folks in relation to health care reform, I've wanted to say, "Girls, stop acting like those guys. Stop it!" Now when I hear of Sarah Palin firing up tea party crowds with her winking, folksy, gun referencing, gottcha rhetoric I want to really say, "Sarah, stop it!"

Lily's command seemed even more applicable in the recent months as politicians on both sides of the health care debate received hate-filled phone calls from voters on the other side.

I think of myself as kind and slow to anger , but these events ignite my inner-Lily. I imagine rising up, fierce and fiery in order to scare the bejeeesus out of these folks not to cause them harm but to get their attention. Then in an earthshaking, earth quaking voice, I would like Lily command, "Guys, Stop it! What are earth are you people doing? You can do so much better than this. Now stop it."

Of course what makes me think I would actually take on these people, when I haven't dared risk an interaction with my facebook 'friends' one who referenced attending a tea party to 'take back our country' and another being distraught that her tv reception didn't include Fox news.

I imagine Lily in one of her quieter moves nudging me and saying, "Hey, Aunt Dawn, you might want to start by taking on yourself. Stop being afraid."

And she would be right, right in more ways than one. This takes me back to the mid-80's when I went to Russia with a peace and reconciliation group. Little did I know there in was the problem. Everyone knows you can't reconcile and find peace with the Russians now, let alone in the Eighties. They were and are COMMUNISTS and SOCIALISTS, those two scary words tossed out by the right in relation to anything President Obama proposes.

Here I was returning home to Nashville a naive twenty-something desirous of sharing my encounters. I lined up talks, did a radio interview, wrote stories for my work and college-related papers and found most people curious as to what I had to say. Most people, but not all people. I wasn't prepared for one phone call and one letter received from two different people whose reactions were the same. Both in choice words suggested I did not love America, therefore I should leave the country. They verbally threatened me because my message of friendship threatened their belief system which needed an enemy.

These two interactions were part of the soup of my life prompting me to a great degree to give up my voice as well as my enthusiasm in regards to creating bridges between people of different cultures. I allowed two frightened people, a man and a woman to nearly silence me.

Lily I'm certain would say, "Aunt Dawn, you and all the folks who have been quiet for whatever reason have got to 'Stop it.' I'm not saying be hostile and angry, but you've got to find and use your voice in relation to these things. They are not going away."

I catch a glimpse of why I've been avoiding completing this story.

Lily's suggestion to start with myself would be right in another way. I think about the tea party folks and what possibly motivates them. I'm assuming they do not want change, nor do they want to be controlled (by the government) or to loose control. Well, bingo. Guess who else doesn't necessarily go running toward personal change, embracing it with great anticipation? Guess who else doesn't want to loose control nor be controlled? I need look no further than my mirror to find my kinship with these folks.

Quantum science has found that just like the threads of the spider web are all interwoven and connected, so are we. Therefore my resistance to the unknown and my fears of being controlled is connected to the resistance of the tea party folk. (It's becoming much clearer why I've procrastinated completing this story.)

Since my shadow is connected to the universal or collective shadow, I must tend my own shadow and own the many ways fear hides out in me.

Lily, whose name is one of the flowers associated with Mary the Mother of Jesus, would have a special message to us women. I can see her frown while adamantly saying, "Girls, Stop it! She would really take us to task reminding us we are the ones hardwired to care, to care for others, the environment, the plants and the animals. We are the gender taught to be concerned with relationship. We are vehicles for love.

Before she parted she'd look at me and say, "Instead of scaring the bejeesus out of folks, Be Jesus or Be Buddha, Be Mary just make sure you realize you're here to Be Divine."

It's really that simple. Let's stop fearing and more importantly...let's start loving! Imagine that or better yet start that!

For those curious as to how I could go on.....let's....

Stop treating Earth, nature and animals as objects and start being grateful that all of Creation is here to be in relationship with us.

Stop treating your body as an object and start looking at how you really relate to your body and being grateful it is the container in which your spirit lives.

Stop ignoring the foods you put into your body and the way animals and plants are treated.
Start with finding a farmer's market that sells local produce and grass fed, kindly treated cows and chickens for meat and eggs. Go meatless one day a week and don't enter the doors of a restaurant that sells a 16 ounce steak. That is obscene.

Stop contributing to the hobby of shopping in this country and start getting out. Walk, meet your neighbors. Be friendly to folks you meet. (I wrote this before the May Day Flood which ultimately prompted folks to wade out and meet neighbors who rescued them, cooked for them, lived with them in shelters, took up collections and donated in a myriad of ways for them!)

We must stop letting fear separate us and instead start owning our blind sides, our ignorance, our tendency to label those we don't really know. We must stop wringing our hands and instead use them for love, hold a child, plant a seed, feed someone hungry, wave to a stranger, help someone in need. We must stop being ignorant and instead get informed. Let's learn to use our will in creative, conscious ways!

I could go on but for now I'll stop and invite you to imagine Lily, hands on her hips saying "Stop it" to you. What would you stop? And what would you do instead? Imagine, Invoke and Embrace that Shift!
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 5/5/10