Thursday, March 2, 2017

Love and Compassion


The last few months have been marked by the collective shadow manifested through fear, xenophobia, inequality, lack of protection of the environment, and the absence of understanding for differing viewpoints and lifestyles. The anger and fear are apparent on both sides, both conservative and liberal. The shadow is BIG!

So how do we find our personal and collective center? How do we manifest the feminine principal of collaboration and compromise? There is no quick fix. There is no simple answer or one way for resolution. There is no room for a narcissistic perspective. However we must find a way to bring us through the shadow and into the light of the new age that spiritual leaders and mystics have predicted.

In order for this to happen, each of us must do our own deep work. We cannot lay blame on another person or system. We must ask our self what personal action is appropriate. Some will be called to peaceful demonstration and activism. Others will become prayer warriors, mentors and teachers. But all spiritual actions and solutions come from a commitment to peace. And therein lies the challenge! When we are confronted daily with the elimination of agencies that have protected groups of people and Mother Earth, how do we stay centered? How do we maintain a peaceful heart?

My Ancestors tell me to do my own work. When the shadow arises within it has many faces but I must look in the mirror and see the reflection. What limiting belief is ready to be released now? And how can I release it?

Meditation. Ritual. Prayer. Surrender. I am always guided to these solutions and reminded that this is a path humankind has walked since the beginning of time. Each cycle has a different face but the same issues are always beneath the surface. For humanity to evolve, change and surrender is required. This comes through personal and collective experiences that bring us to our knees, seeking divine guidance.

We are at a crossroad and it is essential that we seek spiritual wisdom. This comes in many forms…there is no one correct pathway. All paths to enlightenment are correct and it is essential that we support one another on that journey.

I’ve been reading The Book of Joy by His Holiness the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu with Douglas Abrams. These two spiritual leaders explore the nature of true joy and confront the obstacles to joy – fear, stress, anger, grief, illness, and death. Their simple yet profound wisdom brings a new sense of hope to the reader. We are responsible for our reactions to our challenges and experiences. Our reactions and beliefs create the world we live in. Now is the time to become both introspective and reactive, finding our soul’s pathway to peace making.

The Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu explain why they felt it was so important to write The Book of Joy at this time. The Dalai Lama shares:
“I think the only way really is, as we have said, through education. Education is universal. We must teach people, especially our youth, the source of happiness and satisfaction. We must teach them that the ultimate source of happiness is within themselves. Not machine. Not technology. Not money. Not power.” (page 297)
And Archbishop Tutu adds:
“Dear Child of God, you are loved with a love that nothing can shake, a love that loved you long before you were created, a love that will be there long after everything has disapperared. You are precious, with a preciousness that is totally quite immeasurable. And God wants you to be like God. Filled with life and goodness and laughter – and joy.” (page 298)
The book concludes with the Eight Pillars of Joy: Perspective, Humility, Humor, Acceptance, Forgiveness, Gratitude, Compassion, and Generosity. May each of us consider these aspects of joy and begin to reframe our fearful thinking, opening to embodying them within and without. May we become the change we wish to see in the world!







Sunday, September 4, 2016

Open Heart to Kindness


 "When you lend a hand, you open a way for your heart to touch the heart of everything. This is a wealth that only grows. While those we help may leave or die or simply grow into their own beauty and be loved by others, the closeness uncovered by kindness turns to light in the body, until the closeness generated by kindness makes a lamp of the heart." ~ by Mark Nepo, Seven Thousand Ways to Listen

This is a profound reflection of what is true about relationships and how the Divine can work within and without to create peace and harmony. Isn’t that the purpose of life? We never know what we are learning in the midst of giving or receiving kindness but when we step back and reflect, we are changed. 

I have been blessed to be the recipient of great kindness from others. Nurturing the friendships that I have developed over my lifetime has provided so many blessings! Long ago I recognized that tending to relationships with those who also value kindness resulted in trusted friends who I can process and grow with. There are times to give and times to receive. The key is an open heart and a willingness to take risks with your heart.

I want to open my heart to kindness. I want to give kindness freely and receive it equally! I want to experience joy and love and laughter with people I cherish. I count myself lucky to have so many kind and loving friends who value my presence and whose presence I am continually enriched by. Each friend is a unique flower in my garden I am so grateful!

May each of our hearts find others to open our hearts to "until the closeness generated by kindness makes a lamp of the heart".  

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Another Crossroad

Another crossroads is beginning to take form ahead of me. There’s no rush but I can feel the energy shifting and recognize the mix of fear and excitement within. I’ve been here many times over the last 66 years and some crossroads have brought tears and immense grief while others have manifested profound joy and fulfillment. All have led to evolution and transformation.

How often do I coach others in releasing their fears during a critical point in their life? How often do I encourage them to see the beauty in the transformational process of spiritual alchemy that leads them to a powerful transformational turning point in their life? How often do I ask them to allow the magic of Divine intervention to move fully into their situation and let go of outcomes? Daily!

Crossroads: a crisis situation or point in time when a critical decision must be made; critical point, juncture, convergence, intersection, overlap

So it seems that I am being reminded that life, especially a spiritual life, is not stagnant. Life is a living, evolving process and each crossroad brings the invitation to expand and grow! It is never about going back. Something bigger and better is calling us forward but we must accept the invitation. 

Change is peeping over the horizon with an invitation to consider what is waiting to be dreamed into being in my life. There is no certainty about the outcome. There are infinite possibilities ahead. All that is required of me is to open to new ideas and possibilities for personal and collective growth. As my work expands, so must I. My soul is calling me to consider new dreams. I choose to embrace the alchemical process of transformation and evolution that has guided me for all these many years. I choose to allow this process of change and expansion that is only an embryo within now - I choose to let it root and grow.

What crossroad is inviting you to expand? What adventure is beginning to take form in your life? How will you meet this challenge? Will you move forward, allowing a new dream to manifest in your heart? Or will you hide out of fear of the change that is calling you?

Be fearless! Embrace new possibilities! Grieve what is leaving and then allow the alchemy of transformation that comes when we receive the challenge! It is what we become that changes the world and each invitation to grow and evolve is not only a healing for our own soul but for the soul of our beautiful planet too!

Blessings of peace, love and light,
Gretchen

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Honoring Our Journey

The days grow shorter. The Thanksgiving feast is now a memory and my thoughts turn to the rest of the holiday season. The temperature has dropped and today I'm sitting at my computer wearing sweats listening to Christmas music while I enjoy the sound of rain on the patio. Bentley, my feline companion, has made himself comfortable on his favorite chair and we are both appreciating a quiet rainy day.

This is a festive time of year filled with celebrations, shopping, and family gatherings. But it is also the time of year to reflect on the lessons learned, honoring areas of inner growth and expansion. The soul's journey requires tending. 

It is also a time of reflecting on the relationships in life and how we nurture them. Relationships, like our physical and spiritual well-being, need to be tended. What needs to be released and what needs to be nourished? What changes do I want to make and what is working well?

As we move from late fall to winter it is important to note that winter is the final phase of the twelve-month cycle of Earth’s seasons. Like all cycles, winter holds evidence and clues within it about what came before, what is and what will likely be. The energy of winter is an ending and a new beginning. There is increasing darkness, the darkest point and then the shift toward increasing light.

At this time of year I look to nature to show me her rhythm, her way of "being." She is quiet. Her leaves cover the ground, decomposing. During the process of decomposition, the decomposers provide food for themselves by extracting chemicals from organic wastes to produce energy. The decomposers will then produce waste of their own. In turn, this will also decompose, eventually returning nutrients to the soil. These nutrients can then be taken up by the roots of living plants enabling them to grow and develop, so that organic material is naturally recycled. Virtually nothing goes to waste in nature.

During this season of quiet reflection and review, I encourage each of you to recycle your energies. Renew, refresh, and envision the richness of your journey to date and the possibility that lies before you. This is the season we are invited to go within and honor our personal journey. In the darkness of winter, may we find our own light. May we shine and, collectively, may we brighten the world.

Happy Holidays!
Gretchen

Saturday, August 15, 2015

Becoming Peace


 
Made from Bone 
by Mark Nepo
(from Reduced to Joy)
When I can be the truth,
it grows more and more clear
when it is necessary to tell the truth.  
That is, when I have access to the place
within me that is lighted, I don't have
to speak heatedly. I can just give away
warmth. When I am still enough to brush
quietly with eternity, I don't have to
speak of God. I can just offer peace
to those around me.  
A tree grows so it can convey wind.
It is not the wind. And a person grows
in order to convey spirit.  
They say that animals recharge
their innocence each time they hoof
the earth. And we are reborn
each time we touch what matters.
It has been months since I last sat down to write a blog entry. It's not that my life has been stagnant - quite the contrary - but it feels like I've been percolating, sifting through relationships and situations, preparing for something new to open. What new truth is being birthed within me? How do I walk this earth in a way that offers peace to those around me? How do I shift with the ongoing winds of change? How do I become truth and kindness in life's journey when I am triggered by situations and relationships that bring up the old limitations of my inner child? 

This is an ongoing theme for all humans and I'm no exception! My relationship with my father often resurfaces during one of these cycles and invites me to reflect on what is true and what is not. When there is a misunderstanding with a friend or family member, and it is necessary for me to retreat into myself for reflection, I ask the ancestors, "What is the truth behind this feeling? What is the lesson I am being invited to learn?"

I am grateful for the fact that both my parents wanted me and welcomed me into their lives. The fact that they didn't have a sense of who they were in the world must have been confusing but they did know that they wanted a family and believed that they would protect the children they brought into the world. During the first few years of life they showered me with love and affection.

But when adolescence descended, in my parents eyes, I became a child they no longer understood and my father's faith in his ability to guide and protect me was shaken and he was afraid of my encroaching sense of independence. My rebellion terrified him and he retreated into himself. The strong man I had depended on was floundering without a compass. But the foundation of love that I received as a child had given me roots and has allowed me to find my center through each storm and cycle in my life.

This ongoing cycle of death and rebirth allows us to be reborn again and again. Whatever our beginnings were, the lessons provided were exactly what we needed in order to become our soul's true self. If we tune into our inner knowing and follow that thread to our own truth, we connect with the Divine within and are able to shift with the winds of change. We are "reborn each time we touch what matters."

There is a beautiful song by India Arie called "I Am Light" that sums up the truth that Mark Nepo writes about in "Made From Bone."
I am Light 
I am not the things my family did
I am not the voices in my head
I am not the pieces of the brokenness inside 
I am Light 
I am not the mistakes I have made
or any of the things that caused me pain
I am not the pieces of the dream I left behind 
I am Light 
I am not the color of my eyes
I am not the skin on the outside
I am not my age
I am not my race
my soul inside is all light 
I am Light 
I am divinity defined
I am the god on the inside
I am a star
a piece of it all
I am Light 

May you continue to discover your own inner truth and become peace for you are Light!