Friday, February 25, 2011

On Being Stirred by Bill Murray, Magic and Answering the Call

Back Story: The "New York Times" December 2nd interview with Bill Murray referred to Mr. Murray as the "folkloric equivalent of a leprechaun or fairy godparent."  The interview prompted me to dig around in my blog for one of the Musings Mr. Murray inspired in 1996. Written in February 2011, I reread it this morning and was once again stirred.  Here tis....

"We are at this time in history standing in the Will Call of the World."  

When was the last time you felt stirred?

Fifteen years ago today my personally being stirred had landed me in Chicago alongside my partner and three young nephews. Actually the five of us didn't land we had driven to Chicago under the guise of going to museums. Our real intent was about to be made known at high noon.

Christian, Matthew & Kirk before they knew we were going to the game.
At Noon (moments from now as I write) we were at the United Center for a Chicago Bulls game with the Orlando Magic. This was in the height of Michael Jordan's career during a time in which Chicago had a waiting list for those wanting the option to buy season tickets. Three months prior, I had gone on a ticket finding mission and was ultimately promised tickets through a player's grandmother. When I doubted the goodness of this gift she repeatedly reminded me "Ask and you shall receive" and "Honey, you just have to have faith and trust." That faith and trust took us on a ten hour road trip with three little boys none of whom knew the real motive for the trip to our destination.

I was hungry, hungry to create a fond memory for my nephews as they lived through their parents painful divorce. I was hungry because I had allowed my heart to be open and stirred.

Joseph Campbell in outlining the hero's journey talks about how the hero in every story receives an initial Call, a call to step beyond one's comfort zone or cocoon.  I stood waiting for our tickets (my nephews thought we were getting souvenirs) in the Will Call area of the United Center when I heard my name called. The hurried crowd parted as an official came toward me. Assuming I was a con artist, he told me to take my children and leave. There were no tickets for us. I calmly asked him to tell the player that his grandmother said she would be sure the tickets were there.

Tears rolled down my face as my nephews excitedly quizzed me: Do we have tickets for the game? Are we going to the game?

At that moment unbeknownst to me there was another open heart, a heart willing to be stirred in the United Center's Will Call area. Suddenly through my tears I saw a ticket extended toward me.  It's owner had a voice I immediately recognized, a voice that said, "I'm so sorry. I only have one ticket left but I want you to have it. You have to stop crying before you make me cry."

Bill Murray hugged me and fled. There's much more to this story. Suffice it to say, the grandmother, our original angel in disguise, was right. 

But what matters most fifteen years later is my remembering that heart, my heart that was originally stirred. I want to glimpse, remember, embrace and return to her.

How open is your heart? How hungry are you to be engaged, really engaged in the messy, deep, rich, beautiful, painful journey of this thing life?  How do you experience being stirred? (By being stirred I do not mean the type of stirring that goes on politically these days as corporations and politicians try to stir our fear of one another and co-opt our hearts.) When was the last time you allowed your heart to be opened to be stirred by compassion to another's need?

We are at this time in history standing in the Will Call of the World.

The Heart is calling, calling to to be remembered through you, through me. How will we answer?

Imagine that Shift.
-Dawn, The Good News Muse, 25 Feb. 2011
and 4 December 2012

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

They're Here - Are We Listening?

Mid-February these little green nubs

poked their heads through pebbles.
Then in six days blossomed into

crocus, called by my Mother
Earth's most welcomed flower.

Reminding me of babies,
new children of Earth,
come here mouths open to be fed.

Wait. What if they're here to tell us things instead?

We're the ones to be fed.
Are we listening?

-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 23 Feb. 2011

To What Are You Drawn?

Today as I perused stories, notes and journals. a question trekked through my mind: To what are you drawn? This was quickly followed by: How do you experience 'being drawn'?

Although I've pens usually scattered everywhere, the only writing tool to be found was a coloring pencil. Quickly on a scrap piece of paper, I scratched out in fuchsia the two questions and my first quick remembrance, then another.

Moments later, I could no longer peruse stories for I was drawn to flesh out what I recalled.

The first experience that came to me of 'being drawn' was to the painting "Truth" in this past Winter's exhibit at the Frist. "Truth" was a nude woman standing I suspect around six feet tall on a canvas reaching nearly to the ceiling. Her outstretched hand held high a mirror reflecting brilliant white light. I was drawn to Truth especially her mirror. I imagined its light filling my body and me in turn filling it. I was so taken by "Truth" that I visited her seven times and ultimately came to visit all the paintings in the "Birth of Impressionism" exhibit six times.

The idea of 'being drawn' prompts me to consider what happened between me and these works. It happened from within yet it started without. Something in these paintings reached out to me and in turn I felt a response, a reciprocity reaching for them from within my body. I physically experienced being pulled toward them. My visits weren't prolonged, but when I did visit I would stand or sit appearing very still on the outside yet knowing I was actively engaged on the inside. This created a spaciousness of time. Ten minutes could stretch into forever. Each visit, I spied something new be it a distant sunset in one painting, calloused hands in another or French phrases in script around the edge of two frames that I didn't notice until my seventh and last visit.

The other very different example of 'being drawn' that occurs to me was of recently holding a hawk. Driving outside Nashville, I noticed a large patch of white feathers on the interstate roadside and immediately took the next exit in order to loop around and get whatever type of bird this was. The bird was a beautiful, white breasted hawk that had only been dead a short time. Although I initially placed it in the floor board beside me, I could not leave it there. I cradled it in my arms the remainder of my drive.

Upon reaching home, I was 'drawn' to holding this beautiful dear animal for nearly two hours. It's challenging to put into words how I felt but I think it comes down to beauty. I held feathered beauty in my arms, its energy open to me and mine to it. I cried some but most of all I honored the hawk. I sang to it and thanked it for coming here to fly our skies, for bringing its messages.

At times my mind would drift to other things I should be doing in order to be productive, my arm would grow tired or I would stifle a tear. Then I'd be drawn back to the experience of the hawk in my arms and be shown the subtle ways I leave the present and close off. The hawk held near my heart, reminded me to stay open inside, in my body, heart and mind.

The sun crept low and although I felt like I could keep holding this my child forever I knew it was time to bury it. We dug a hole in the exact place we had dug one eleven months and nine days prior to bury the first hawk. That beautiful reddish, brown bird had returned to soul and soil and this one was laid in its place.

"Being drawn" for me is an act of engagement, of staying open, aware, mindful, still and listening to the meeting of the outer and the inner. From this place, one sees and hears the many and rich layers all around us. "Being drawn" feels like rapture, to be taken by Beauty.

I wonder how our world might be different if we allowed ourselves to be drawn? How might we see and realize the beauty surrounding us, the simple beauties of Nature and Earth. How might our world be different if we learned to see and hear the many layers present in presence whether experiencing art, an animal or plant, our food or a beloved partner or friend?

As this Musing for now, draws to a close I find myself wondering: To what are you drawn? How do you experience being drawn?

-Dawn, The Good News Muse at Imagine the Shift
23 Feb. 2011

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Sacred Sweepers, Sacred Weepers

Over the weekend, I saw a photo on-line of women who had taken to Egypt's streets. They had taken to the streets to sweep, to clean them of debris remaining from the days leading up to the new transition to power and freedom.

This simple act of sweeping caught my attention as I thought of women, sweepers in my life and through time, my mother and grandmothers sweeping their porches and kitchen floors, pioneer women sweeping cabin floors, Native women clearing earthen tee-pee floors. Women now and through the ages have been sacred sweepers tending home.

Then I realized tucked inside the word "sweeper" is the word "weeper."

Everyone whose heart can hold the sorrow in the world is a sacred weeper, bearing witness to and sweeping up the bits and pieces of tears, heard and unheard through time.

Sacred sweepers, sacred weepers clearing space for returning home, Heart in the world today.

To Imagine: Something about routine tasks allow us when we're present to get into a rhythm. From this place, ideas and new energy often flow. Practice presence the next time you sweep, clean or wash the car and let yourself sink into the moment, the present. Or imagine yourself sweeping/washing cobwebs of fear, being in a rut, whatever holds you back so ideas, creativity and your heart can flow!
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 15 February 2011

Friday, February 11, 2011

We are Spirit Farmers

The first week of February, I was in Colquitt, GA home of "Swamp Gravy" a collaborative effort of the townspeople and mid-wifed by local social worker Joy Jinks and storyteller/director Richard Geer. Swamp Gravy was born twenty years ago after Joy and Richard met in NY at a conference. Colquitt, I suspect, hasn't been the same since. Every year for 19 yrs. the townspeople share and collect stories through a process with which the folks at Epic Productions assist. The stories are sent to a playwright who births a form which the citizens of Colquitt, young and old, black and white, male and female, perform each March and October bringing needed money to a small town, but more importantly returning spirit, creativity and heart to its people.

While in Colquitt, the group I was with had the opportunity to also meet Canadian Charlie Johnston who was completing the town's 16th mural, a peanut farmer ten stories high. (Last October, Colquitt hosted the International Mural Conference.) Charlie spoke with such passion as to the dance involved while painting these works. A literal dance is involved as his body is the brush when painting a mural this large, but there is another dance involved, a dance of spirit and the heart, similar to the one we've witnessed in Egypt's streets.

The next day tears filled my eyes when someone told me the peanut farmer mural is called "The Spirit Farmer." I wish the light were better so you could more clearly see the farmer pulling a clump of peanuts from the Earth. As my friend Karen noted, he does this with such reverence. It's beautiful to witness.

Upon returning home, I shared "The Spirit Farmer" with a group of friends. One person familiar with Egypt said the early Egyptians greatly valued ritual. I thought of farmers, how men and women here in the South, engaged in the rituals relating to the land. Farming before it became agribusiness was about more than survival. This was also how people connected to Spirit. I've letters from my grandparents describing their garden's goings-on as a testament to this.

My friend also shared that the Egyptian early creation stories were of life being born from clay and water from the Nile. I recalled Charlie the artist saying he painted each individual peanut in the mural above as if it were an individual person. He desired that each be unique, not cookie cutter taking the same form. Whether peanuts or people, both are from soil, watered by rains and brought to life by energy, the Sun and Spirit.

We are witnessing beauty in the world today whether it is the joy of the human spirit in Egypt, a connection through a simple kindness in a coffee shop between two people who are just meeting or the reaching out and crossing barriers as occurs during crises as happened in Nashville during last May's flood when people from all walks of life assisted those previously assumed so different from themselves.

We're all 'Spirit Farmers' whether we work with the land, technology, parent or teach school. Whatever we do, however we be, we've the opportunity to tend spirit, the spirit of love and connection or the spirit of fear and separation.

To be engaged as Spirit Farmers, means not just soiled hands but the realization that you've soul-ed hands, that you've reaching, digging, cupping fire-holding, life-sustaining, heart-growing energy whether in the garden and yard or the touching of others through words or a glance.

We are each Spirit Farmers in our own way in these Times!

To imagine and embody: How will you be a Spirit Farmer today? With what spirit will you tend - out of 'have to' or 'want to'?
-Dawn! The Good News Muse, 11 Feb. 2011
"Tending with love mends the threads of fear." DK