Friday, February 20, 2009

Trash & Treasure - Messages in the Mess

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. On cue, Jerry stopped and yes, had a bag, one of our many cloth ones, in his truck.

Within a half mile of foraging, this modern day hunter/gatherer's bounty included a filled bag as well as a portion of a car fender which I carried in my 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 pacifer 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 'pacifiers,' a myriad of food related ways in which we potentially pacify oursevles from candy, beer and soft drinks to the more health conscious water and nuts. I'm not anit-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 the 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 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 the messages in the mess were exhausted, 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 thoughfully. The tiny pink pacifier represents the birthing or 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 consciousnesswe've participated in being the beast and through consciousness we're birthing 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. In every seeming mess, there's a message. That's Good News - Dawn, the Good News Muse
P.S. Be part of the cloth bag revolution started by Nashville's Green Bag Lady. Featured on CNN, Teresa VanHatten's given away over 3,000 cloth bags of donated fabric to folks in a multitude of countries.
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

Jumping Jacks of Joy

A year ago tonight my heart leapt as I peered in the window of my neighbor's home. I don't make a habit of looking into neighbor's windows. I had reluctantly walked down the street to view a kitten that had been described as 'embodying love.'

The last thing I wanted was a new kitten. My cat of nearly 18 years had died just two weeks prior. I told my neighbor earlier in the day when she called to say she thought his kitten was 'mine' that I just wanted Templeton back. I wasn't seeking a rebound cat.

Debating whether to walk down the street, I asked Templeton what I should do and immediately heard, "Listen to your heart." Templeton in her last days had provided me with a crash course in presence and love, showing me how I had ignored my heart for much of my life. Inside I knew that everything I espoused learning during her last days would be useless if I didn't obey this inner voice and at least give this little creature a glance.

In Depak Chopra's novel "The Return of Merlin' Merlin states, "We are living a mystery. Hopefully we are not too busy to miss the vital clues." That night I got a clue.

My heart literally jumped when I saw the lively calico kitten chasing the wire toy shared by the little girls in the room. Templeton had had three paws and was active but never this active. I couldn't imagine this hyperactive bundle living in my unchildproofed home. Yet my heart jumped. I felt it move inside my chest. I held "Patches" once briefly but she squirmed to get down and continue playing. This cat had no attachment to me regardless of my heart's calisthenics.

I went to dinner and considered the options. If I didn't agree to a one night sleepover, I would always wonder if I had missed something. I returned to get "Patches."

At five am the next morning, I lay in bed sadly thinking, 'I have adopted this kitten. I have opened my heart, the heart that two weeks prior had felt such sorrow, yet I have not been adopted.' On cue, Patches crawled from the foot of the bed and curled up under my chin purring loudly. I lay there smiling. The adoption was in process.

Patches became Mystery who has truly been the embodiment of love. In the beginning she would look at me with her head cocked as if to say, "Dont' you get it? Templeton sent me to ensure your heart didn't harden."

She's right. I now know those little jumping jacks of joy I felt when I saw her told me my heart was more alive than it had ever been thanks to Templeton's teachings as she passed. That is the Mystery. The heart through deep presence alchemically changes sorrow to joy.

Imagine the shift as we become attentive within and without, attentive to see, hear, feel and sense the clues to the Mystery that's unfolding in life in this time through our bodies, hearts and minds. (If you'd like the story of Templeton's teachings, email me at and I'll send it to you.) That's Good News
- Dawn, the Good News Muse

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Kiss - Loving the Unlovable

Rodin sculpted The Kiss. Faith Hill sings, "This Kiss." Jesus was betrayed by Judas' kiss.

This is my kiss. Although the photo doesn't do justice to the actual pucker on the lips, this kiss hangs on a tree in my front yard facing the street. As I walked up my driveway from a recent morning walk, The Kiss caught my eye. I notice it often but this day I really saw it. It caught my heart's eye for I had been thinking of love a lot or the lack of love in the world. I had been somewhat haunted by how I concluded my January 23rd Musing.

It read: At any moment, with presence and mindfulness we can return to our hearts and open to who and what we find there. In doing so we return heart to the world." Within hours of writing that, I was reminded of the severe lack of heat in the world.

I had just begun "Three Cups of Tea," Greg Mortensons’s inspiring story of building schools for girls in Pakistan’s mountainous villages when my heart sank. The newspaper carried a story of the Taliban’s resurgence resulting in the destruction of over one hundred schools for girls in the areas of Afghanistan and Pakistan. I momentarily wondered,’ “What’s held in the hearts of those who destroy these schools?’

This news was shortly followed by my coming upon an interview with Siddharth Kara discussing his book "Sex Trafficking. In 2007 alone over 91 billion dollars was made through the trafficking of adults and children. My simple story of opening to my own heart seemed insignificant compared to the hearts of those harmed by the illegal trading of human bodies for sexual purposes and monetary profit. What could have happened to the hearts of those who use women and children for their own gratification sexually and financially? One’s heart would have to be numb to use people in this manner, not to mention the numbness of trauma with which the victims are accustomed to living. I went to bed disconnected and numb, for me primary ingredients for guaranteeing an emotional morning hangover.

I’m already morning-challenged especially in winter when my coffee doesn’t stay warm and my dry skin itches. This particular morning when I sat down for my quiet time, also my writing time, all I found when I looked within was someone grumpy and irritable. I did not want to ‘practice presence’ as I had earlier written or ‘opening to who and what I find in my heart.’

Within thirty minutes of waking, Bogey my kitten was in time out for using the new television as his platform to access the fireplace mantel on which he’s not allowed. On the sixth trip to the mantel, he got stuck astride the television his front legs in the back of the set and his hind legs pawing at the screen clambering to find something on which to grasp. During rounds one through five, I had tried giving him positive attention, cuddling him after removing him from the mantle since a friend said maybe this was just attention seeking behavior.

Paper and pen in hand, I was angry with Bogey as well as myself. I take what I write seriously. The seeming absence of integrity in today’s world troubles me, yet if I’m not practicing what I write then I’m lacking integrity. I felt like a fraud. Between Bogey, cold coffee, dry skin and repeatedly adjusting the thermostat while intermittently wondering what the next gas bill would be, the last thing I wanted to do was be present to what I found in my heart let alone be open to it. If we’re all interconnected as quantum physics states and indigenous people have always taught, then I was personally increasing the anger quotient or grump-factor one thousand-fold in the world and I didn’t care.

I decided to Free Bogey and start over with a fresh cup of coffee while listening to rain on the tin roof of the sun room. A change of scenery might help. Listening to the rain without the pressure of having to do anything other than ‘be’ might induce a new mood in me and Bogey.

Bogey ran to his window perch and peered out the frosty window, a great vantage point for watching birds and squirrels. Wildlife meditation immediately calmed him. A geographical cure worked for Bogey, not me. I pressed the ignition switch on the small gas heater repeatedly, many more times than the five recommended. Nothing happened. I waited the suggested five minutes and tried again, waited five more minutes and tried again to no avail. Bogey was blissful while I accumulated negative karma watching myself become increasingly irritable just when I thought that was impossible.

Nothing cooperated. Was it too much to ask that my coffee be warm in a room that’s over sixty degrees while my kitten’s calm? Yes, at that moment it was. My need to control was in my face. It’s embarrassing to admit that I was this upset over the nuts and bolts of one insignificant morning in my small life when children are being used for sex and new schools are being destroyed. To be open in this moment to who I find within is unpleasant. To be in this moment without struggle seems nearly impossible. It’s at this juncture that I heard, “A walk would do you good. It always does.”

I bundled up to go outside despite the tantrum my insides were throwing. My walk was the perfect example of what my friend Kay Dayss recently shared: “Doing juices being.” As soon as my umbrella opened, I received something better than rain on the tin roof. The rhythmic pattern of rain on my umbrella brought me home to myself. This is big for someone who not so long ago was ‘allergic’ to being in the rain. The events of the morning had conspired to get me out of the house and no, not ‘singing in the rain,’ but certainly thinking of song, one particular song.

Steve Conn sings, “You’ve got to love everybody, that’s all you’ve got to do.” The rain fell on me as the pieces fell together within me. Loving everybody is the easy part. Loving myself is the hard part especially in times when my unlovable aspects are front and center. I considered calling Steve to suggest that he include a line that goes “You’ve got to love everybody, especially the ugly, unacceptable, controlling parts inside of you” or me in this case. Someone later said maybe he wrote quantum lyrics so the many characters to which he refers in the song actually represent parts of our unlovable selves.

What does this have to do with the Kiss? Upon seeing it today, I thought, ‘What a great place to have the kiss. It hangs on this tree quietly sending kisses to passers-by.’ Now I realize that I desperately need its kisses too. The parts of me that are known and unknown need to be kissed and blessed and yes, opened to as I had initially written.

If I concern myself with the lack of love in the world, yet love is lacking in my own inner world, I contribute to the greater disconnect and global misplaced heart. If I do not love myself, especially the parts deemed ugly, I’m contributing to self-loathing in the world, even the hidden self-loathing of those who profit monetarily from trafficking as well as those who spend their money in this manner. If these people knew true self love surely they wouldn’t treat another in this manner or put themselves in this position.

Is it possible that it’s not lack of heart or love as much as the lack of awareness that fuels so much of the suffering and strife in the world? Remember Bogey’s repeated attempts to scale the heights of the fireplace mantel? Bogey didn’t need my attention as much as my insides did. What if human trafficking is attention seeking behavior on a deeper level calling us to heal our sexual selves individually as well as the remnants of repression culturally which are used to sell goods as well as people. What if the path to understanding the heart of the trafficker begins with opening to what my own heart holds? What if change in the heart of the trafficker or Taliban member starts in my own heart?

Imagine the shift as we open truly to whom and what we find in our hearts, giving a kiss to all but especially the frightened, controlling parts. Future Musings I’m certain will come back to this. For now I authentically smile knowing that loving all the parts of me does hold a key to returning me to my heart and the heart to the world.

For the lyric's to Steve's song "Love Everybody" click on the title and to heart my interview with Beth Nielsen Chapman who co-wrote lyrics to Faith Hill's "This Kiss" click . Scroll down to 02/09/08 for an inspiring interview with Beth. For more on what's being done to address human trafficking as well as other issues affecting us all go to - Dawn, the Good News Muse