Saturday, October 30, 2010

Nature Uniting Us, Elections Dividing US

(Although this is written with Middle Tennessee’s May 1st flooding in mind, it applies to anywhere there’s a crisis or natural disaster uniting us juxtaposed to elections dividing US.)

The six month anniversary of the May flood nears as we find ourselves on the cusp of an election. I’ve been pondering these two events, one of nature, one of humankind. 

Not so long ago, one brought us together uniting us, offering an opportunity to bridge political, religious, racial and economic divides while one more recently intentionally separates us by playing on these divides.
In both, images were and are used to motivate us. During the time of the flood and immediately afterward, images prompted us to reach out and show compassion. Good will flowed as strangers helped one another.

The beneficiaries were individuals, families, communities and ultimately the human heart as we were Tennesseans at our best, baptized into a greater understanding of people around the world who have lived through natural disasters.
More recently in the weeks leading up to the election, commercial images have been used to serve up attacks, perpetuate untruths and stir mistrust in an attempt to manipulate and separate us, to get us to forget the lessons learned and experiences shared during the flood. Money flows while business and political bedfellows help one another buy America. The beneficiaries are special interest and lobbying groups and many corporations.
I’ve never really cared for the phrase ‘acts of God’ used in insurance policies referencing acts of nature such as the flood. I don’t believe in a God that ‘acts’ in this way. Yet I am mindful there is a grace to these events for they shake us and for a time awaken us empathically and remind us of what’s really important.
Crises remind us on a deep level that we are more alike than different whereas elections seem to thrive on getting us to forget these differences.
Regardless of who wins Tuesday, we each have the privilege of deciding how we hold the lessons from the flood. In the privacy of our insides, we each get to decide what governs the territory of our individual heart and mind. We can choose to remember the connections made and lessons learned in May or forget them. Regardless of who wins Tuesday, we each get to decide whether to live from a place of greater awareness and love or to live in reactivity and fear.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 30 Oct. 2010

Monday, October 25, 2010

Sudden Sadness, Sending Love

(I wrote this Sept. 11th after the experience the night prior. It wasn't until writing it that I realized the day was 9/11. I read it recently to a friend who said, "Do not edit. Send, Dawn, send." So here goes.)

As I washed dishes Friday evening, a sudden sadness came over me accompanied by the thought that in that very moment someone was contemplating how they would kill the President. I immediately said a prayer of protection for President Obama and his family. I prayed that hate and fear would be eased in the world.

I thought this all quite strange, this sudden sadness, this frightening thought. Then I realized in every moment someone is plotting to take a life. Plotting seems a strong word but human beings are making choices whether through an overt act of violence or an indirect taking of life as happens in boardrooms where certain groups of people are seen as expendable and less than.

My prayer was not enough. I went outside and sent the energy of love and peace around the world. I sent love to those who hate. I sent love to those filled with fear especially those whose actions are fueled by fear and they don't even realize they're afraid. I asked that President Obama again be protected as well leaders with whom I disagree.

It is so simple. How easily we forget. We are built for love.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse

The Woman Who Buries Things

I am the woman who buries things. A fawn, a fox, many birds including a hawk, a butterfly, firefly, three June bugs, a squirrel, earthworms and a mouse one of my firsts. Just last weekend there was a raccoon.

My first was actually Templeton my cat of eighteen years. I held her in my arms for seven hours the day she died. After she passed I held her longer.

Why is it we are so quick to carry off the dead in their bodily form? How is it we allow others to swoop in and take them away when their spirits have just left, their bodies are still warm? My friend Nancy told me she and her family stayed with her father recently for three hours after he had died. I later said, "That's what I want. Someone around who isn't afraid of death but is willing to be with me or what's left of me on this plane even after I'm so called gone." I'm not convinced I'll really be gone.

At first I resisted the burials mentioned above. I didn't resist them as much as I dreaded the sadness they stirred. I didn't want to cry yet I answered a call as these animals showed up in my yard or in the road near my home.

I remember late this summer seeing a dead bird and instead of thinking 'Oh, no' I thought, 'I get to honor this bird.' I am slowly getting 'it.' The animals are also honoring me because they know as they're laid in Mother Earth, I'll thank them for coming here, for giving us the opportunity to hear.

I am the woman who buries things and each time I am given a gift, the gift of uncovering my long buried heart. What in your journey allows you to feel the uncovering of your heart?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse - 25 Oct. 2010

Friday, October 22, 2010

The Song that Plays through Time (pt.2)

I’ve been thinking about ‘the Song’ to which I referred in the last Musing, the Song that plays ever so softly through time not forcing itself upon us but running quietly through our lives.

One of the verses of the Song that I’ve come to recognize in my own journey relates to beauty, not the makeup and material beauty that’s promoted and pushed by advertisers, but the beauty found in nature, in acts of kindness and the beautiful unfoldings in life.

Beauty was in the ethers even before we arrived a month ago at the Grand Canyon’s Backcountry permit office. Due to lagging energy, I had severely delayed officially requesting a permit. Upon submitting an application three weeks prior to our trip, we learned campsites in the canyon are booked a year in advance. We were informed a site might be secured in person due to last minute cancellations.

We showed up with the intention of getting a permit knowing we'd be disappointed and relieved if space wasn't available and excited and scared if space was available. A site was open ten miles down to which we excitedly and apprehensively said 'yes' and quickly paid twenty dollars.

This was beauty to me. I had wanted to hike Bright Angel trail for a year as well as sleep in the canyon during the Autumn equinox and full moon. Not only was there beauty in the process of showing up but we were met by facets of beauty everywhere from the elk bugling as Jerry said, "We need a send off" to the stranger, a kindred spirit, who took our photo and celebrated our adventure as three days later we again reached the top. (I had wished while hiking up, up, up that someone at the top would greet us and revel in our accomplishment.)

In between there were a dozen deep blue dragonflies that landed around me and on me as I cooled off in a stream one afternoon, a deer that grazed at our campsite, a cluster of bugs dancing mid-air thousands of feet above the Colorado river at sunrise and hearts in stone, on the trail and in the rock walls, as well as the walking hearts of fellow hikers who offered encouragement, stories and food along the way.

Often deep beauty involves sadness as happened with my father’s beginning his dying process five years ago this very time of year. I visited my parents regularly as my father after a year of intensive chemotherapy ended his physical life in a hospital bed at home with hospice care. Early on I would sit by his bedside and sing to him all the hymns of my childhood. When I ran out of those, I'd sing songs from my women's drum circle then cycle back through hymns again. (This was new for me. I was not a singer of songs in the presence of others.)

One afternoon as I sang I asked if I could hold his hand. To my surprise he said 'yes.' At some point after a song, he said "That's beautiful" then took my hand and placed it on his chest where I felt the most intense heat I had ever felt between human hands, this heat exchanged between us. I was being allowed into the energy and power of my father's heart, a heart like that of so many men, hidden throughout their lives from those they love and maybe even from themselves. This was a potent experience and gift of beauty.

Beauty was what unfolded regarding the house that found me just over five years ago. I don’t think of myself as materialistic thus I never dreamed I would grieve regarding a house, but I did. Upon crossing its threshold, I viscerally knew I was to live there. I had never felt this way about a place. After long deliberation, we made an offer, an offer that was trumped for another’s cash. We lost the house. I wept and was stunned having been certain this space called to me only to learn of my father’s dying. Over two years after his death and many trips to my mothers, the house found me again. There it sat a ‘for sale’ sign on its little spot of land as if to say, “You should have known I would come back around. It wasn’t time when we first met.”

Beauty was walking the streets of LePuy in Southern France on the eve of my birthday suddenly weeping for an unknown reason yet knowing deep within that my soul had felt much sorrow there. Beauty was one of my traveling companions quietly taking my hand and walking silently side-by-side along the sidewalk with me in LePuy.

Beauty was recently looking out the window wondering if the three bats we’ve dubbed Betty, Buddy and Benji would show up one more time before winter sets in. On cue they arrived, all three of them flitting and dipping about the back yard. Their dance brought tears to my eyes reminding me of the preciousness of life.

Beauty arrived again as we drove into a neighboring town the next day. In the middle of the road lay a dead raccoon. We were silent. On the drive home, I heard myself say aloud, “I have to bury that raccoon” as Jerry said, “That’s what I was thinking too.” We returned shovel in hand to get the dear animal or one of its kin that aggravates us so, raiding our bird feeders and digging up everything we plant. We planted its body next to the spot where we had placed the dead fawn months prior. Beauty was in our hearts but also around us for there was no trace of the fawn. Mother Earth had lovingly taken its body. All that remained were the twigs with which we covered it. Those same twigs and pine needles now cover the raccoon.

My father’s dying, our hopes of hiking, the loosing then finding of a home, even the burying of an animal – all of these in some way involved showing up in my heart while also letting go. This for me is beauty.

You know how I said early on that Beauty is one verse of the Song that runs through my life? Beauty is all the verses. Beauty is the Song of my life. Tears of joy and sorrow polish the singer, the heart, that lives inside.

When we hear it, the Song that plays through life sings us home to our deepest, truest Selves.

Imagine the Shift of discovering each day verses to the Song that plays through your life.

-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 22 Oct. 2010

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Song Played through Time (The grace of getting do-overs)

Remember in childhood receiving or granting do-overs, the opportunity in a game of kickball or softball to try again? Do-overs came to mind as I navigated my Monday morning walk last week.

A few blocks up I noticed two men sizing up a tree, a tree I suspected that was about to come down. Things of this nature are not easy for me. I've worked at making peace with the workmen sent regularly by the utility company to trim area trees near power lines often resulting in an entire side of a tree being shaved. I try to think of these chainsaw wielding men as poet John Wright references. In one particular poem he writes "...let loggers (or in my case tree trimmers) be druids specially trained and rewarded to sacrifice trees at auspicious times.....let chainsaws be played like saxophones."

This particular morning the tree these men examined looked at least outwardly very worn, leafless and lonely. So many green and growing things have struggled due to the summer drought that ironically followed Nashville's May flood. Our summer weather pattern reminded me of our human tendencies toward extremes, all or nothing, black or white, rain or dry. These extremes seem to have taken a toll on this tree.

I walked on, turned around at the mile mark and proceeded home until I heard the sound. The whir of a chain saw, I mean saxophone. I had just the night prior heard David Sanborn making magic with his saxophone at the Ryman. I did not think of these men as making similar magic but I did immediately realize there was a magic of sorts afoot.

Their "music" provided an unexpected auditory cue taking me back to this past June when on yet another morning walk I passed an extremely large shrub being pulled up by its roots in a neighboring yard. That particular morning on my first pass I judged the young men doing the deed and I equally judged myself for not having the courage to walk over and do the thing I felt called to do, bless the shrub and invite it to let go with ease. Even during the same walk when I came upon the young men pulling up a second equally large and beautiful shrub granting me a do over, I allowed the fear of being called 'that crazy lady' keep me from being me.**

This morning, months past the first do-over, my heart's tempo picked up in excitement and apprehension. I was getting a second do-over, the one wished for in the prior situation. I was getting an opportunity in front of three strangers to love a tree, to love a tree as it was passing while feeling no embarrassment.

Whereas in June I allowed my fear to prevent me from being me, this morning I heard myself say to the owner of the house who was now outside also that I wanted to say good-bye to the tree. I walked over, kissed my palm then laid it aside the trunk of the elm.

This morning I not only got to love the tree, but also meet the man who lives in the house, the man I've said hello to occasionally in passing but whose name I've never known. Hunter, a kindred spirit, tells me he's tried to keep this elm alive for sometime and that he intends to plant another tree nearby.

This grace-filled morning a dying elm, a neighbor and two saxophone playing druids gave me a synchronistic opportunity for a do-over. I not only got to love the tree, but also love me. Rather than betray myself as happened earlier, I was true to me. I walked home feeling beautifully free.

Although a week has passed since my encounter with the tree, I awoke in the night thinking, 'There is a song played through time polishing the singer that lives inside.' This song for me orchestrates the magic woven through daily life offering do-overs.

Imagine the Shift as you awaken to and embrace the do-overs magically offered in your life each day.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 18 Oct. 2010
* from "Earth Prayers from Around the World" edited by Roberts & Amidon
** to read the Musing referenced "Magnets of Love" click HERE

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

One More Thought about the Bright Angel Trail

(This is a follow-up to "The Bright Angel Trail" posted Oct. 1st. I believe it was Flannery O'Connor who said, "You shall know the truth and the truth will make you odd." The following may put me in the category of odd but I'll choose odd over silent. - Dawn)

In the earlier Musing about the trail of Divine Love issuing from a morning glory and experienced while hiking in the Grand Canyon, I wrote that there's a "necessary living" to which we are called and that I hoped to continue listening to the flower and my trip long after the story was posted.

No sooner had I posted it than I heard something else, actually several things. I realized for me there's a necessary listening I must do and that I betray my purpose here on Earth and am unfaithful to myself when I'm not attentive on a quieter, deeper level.

It isn't uncommon when listening for me to hear things that I know I must share or release onto the internet air waves. These messages at times take a circuitous route. I hear something, jot it down, accidentally, intentionally misplace the jotting, then feel out of sync and disconnected until I realize I've allowed fear and apprehension to silence me.

This happened just after posting the Bright Angel story. I continued listening for I had been captured by the Light coming from the Morning Glory. I thought of how plants carry the light of the stars and that we ingest plants and in turn carry light likewise. Despite what my poet friend Mary Ann says, I edited myself since I've no science or astronomy degree. (Mary Ann says there's no need to explain what I write. That I just have to write it.)

Then I heard the third thing, the thing I noted on the back of a crumpled piece of paper, then placed at arms length literally on a nearby footstool and avoided for days. It reads:

"I imagine the Bright Angel of Divine Love in the eyes of a child about
to be trafficked or an animal about to be tortured. I imagine the light of that Bright
Angel being glimpsed, being seen by the dim but still present Bright Angel in
the abuser. I imagine this meeting of Light and Love initiating a great waking
up, a waking up that births a healing heard around the world, the sound of
Bright Angels being freed from their prisons of trauma and shame."

I set aside this notation fearing someone would think I had no business writing of torture or trafficking if I've never experienced it. Yet I am reminded of it daily through emails regarding the unconsciousable treatment of children, young men and women and as well as animals in our country and our world. (The global yearly profits from trafficking people for sex and forced labor is 31.6 billion dollars! Trafficking is the third most lucrative black market just behind drugs and weapons. These numbers are five years old and staggering!)

Leonard Cohen sings, "There is a crack in everything. That's how the light gets in." The first time I saw this in print I thought, 'There's a crack in everything including the hardest of hearts and that's also how the light gets out.'

I believe in invisible circles of life, light and love, circles of interconnecting reciprocity in which we live most of us unknowingly. I imagine a dormant, untapped reciprocity between the light longing to be freed, longing to get through the crack in the heart of a Bright Angel who was abused and is now an adult. I imagine that Light connecting with the Bright Angel in that person's potential victim.

Some will say this is too simple. I believe the unfolding solutions to so much lies before our very eyes. Some will say this can't be done. I believe we must try.

Won't you join me by offering your Bright Angel, your divine heart, to help turn up the power that's been dimmed in others for whatever reason so the Black Markets around the world become places of Divine Light.
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 8 October 2010
P.S. Colette Bercu founder of "Free for Life International" will speak on trafficking Friday Nov. 5 at 7pm at Scarritt Bennett Center in Nashville as part of "Sojourning Women - Women's Global Voices on Interfaith, Immigration and Violence." For more info click: Sojourning Women II.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Nature's Texting...

Long before pre-curled ribbon came onto the gift wrap scene, I loved running scissors down pieces of ribbon then watching it spring into curls to be placed atop a gift.

This Arizona plant and tree recently reminded me that Mother Nature likewise tops her children with ribbons, gifts for those with eyes to see.
-Dawn! Imagine the Gifts! 4 Oct. 2010

Friday, October 1, 2010

The Bright Angel Trail

Last week I was backpacking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon via the Bright Angel Trail. I’m not a regular hiker. The most regular I get to hiking is a two mile morning walk. And I’m certainly not a backpacker.

I attempted this journey because I was answering a call, a call sensed months prior. I knew I was to go to the Canyon, actually go into it and Listen. I didn't know why. I only knew I was to show up. I tried to talk myself out of this challenge due to continued exhaustion from earlier surgery and wanting to hole up somewhere and sleep. My hesitation was always met by an inner knowing that I would regret not following this mysterious call. By not showing up, I was aborting my journey.

I’ve now returned to walking city sidewalks. I walk and listen.

Monday as I zigzagged through Hillsboro Village streets, I passed a brush pile enveloped in morning glories. I set out the next day camera in hand in search of that pile. I felt compelled to find it. Just as I was about to give up, there it was in the same yard where the Snow Goddess sat eight months prior during an infrequent Nashville snow.

This pile of dead wood covered in blossoming morning glories is an exquisite example of life and death, living and dying. The dead twigs and branches provide a framework for the flowers and ultimately sustenance for eventual new life as the wood and flowers gradually decompose. On this spot of Nature’s canvas, I witnessed death supporting life.

I snapped a couple of photos, hoping also to capture the star in each flower and returned home intent on sending out a tidy little short story.

I loaded the photos to my computer only to realize I was being gifted with much more.

See the light coming from center of the star? Death was not just supporting life, that life, the morning glory, was emanating Light.

I could not produce an instant story. As in the canyon, I needed to listen, to allow this morning glory to take me on a journey.

One of the things I heard last week early on in my trek was “We are all Bright Angels walking the Bright Angel trail.” I whispered this into my hand held recorder and forgot it.

Sitting on my sofa miles and miles away from the canyon, I sat with the morning glory and knew the Light it held is Love. Divine Love is the Bright Angel trail that each of us comes here as Bright Angel’s to walk and to carry.

In reflecting on the bigger picture of the wood and flowers, life and death, light and dark, I thought how often the Bright Angel within is most deeply contacted and brought forth in the darkest of times, how alchemically the pain of loss holds the opportunity for new life.

I thought of my dear friend who having lost all she owned and all that defined her, saw the Light of love in a child’s face, a Bright Angel in Africa intimately acquainted with death, rearing her younger siblings. That Bright Angel inspired my friend to be the diligent scribe for a musical for the children and elders of Africa. “I Dream” one of the songs from the musical debuts tonight as esteemed Broadway singer Ernestine Jackson presents it at the Washington DC benefit for Kenya’s Nyumbani Children’s Home.
I thought of the young man I met on my flight home from Phoenix, a young man whose family has lived through the unfathomable loss of their daughter and son, ages 3 and 2, to a rare motor neuron disease. During my flight I learned how this man and his wife, John and Laurian Scott, in two short years have created The Olive Branch Fund to increase awareness, provide families with resources and raise research monies for Brown-Vialetto-Van Leare disease. They’ve created ongoing, multi-city fundraising events for this cause, published Thisbe’s Promise a children’s show and tell book written by Laurian for her daughter who loved the myriad of animals around their Tennessee home and this past Spring attended the International Children’s Neurology Congress in Cario where Thisbe and Noah’s cases were presented.

This family and my friend have navigated great loss to emerge as Bright Angels touching not just those around them but answering a Higher Call to share their Light with others worldwide. As the pile of twigs and branches supports the flowers, these people have allowed loss and death to not only support life, but to help them ultimately emanate Light, the light of love and compassion, the Light I see streaming from the center of the beautiful morning glory.

I set off this week in search of morning glories. I was shown that we are surrounded by morning, noon and night glories, the glory of being Bright Angels showing and sharing love for and with one another in these times as well as with the greater Earth family.

I hope to continue listening long after this story is posted. For now I know that in all the dying in our world, so much unnecessary dying in our dear world, we are called to a necessary living, to each shine the Divine Light of love and compassion wherever we find ourselves on life’s trail. For we are carriers of Divine Love. We are all Bright Angels on this the Bright Angel Trail.

Deep gratitude to Sharon Mounu Riddell and to John and Laurian Scott for permission to write of them in this Musing. Please take a moment to be inspired by the two websites below.
-Dawn! Imagine the Shift! 1 October 2010

* The Angels of Africa Project - artistic projects using story and song to raise awareness regarding the orphan crisis in Sub-Saharan Africa. "I Dream" should be available at the site after tonight's performance by Ms. Jackson.
* The Olive Branch Fund- A Thisbe and Noah Scott Legacy