Saturday, August 7, 2010

Becoming the Offering

Recently I had the privilege of spending time in circle with an African shaman, Mandaza Kandemwa, a Mhondoro (one who is in constant prayer on behalf of others) from Zimbabwe. I have known Mandaza for several years now and am always inspired by his teachings and wisdom but this year I was particularly moved and motivated by the things he shared.

We spent a weekend on a pilgrimage in our local Cleveland National Forest, learning from the land and Nature, seeking insight and guidance about what we can do to heal our beautiful planet. The information we received was simple, yet complex. In Mandaza's words, we need to "clean our own kitchens" first - it's not what we do that changes the world, it's what we become. We need to become the prayer, the tobacco, the sacred, the offering. But what does this mean?

During the weekend our group hiked into the forest, meditated in an oak grove and perched ourselves on ancient boulders that provided a panoramic view of the canyons and Lake Elsinore.  What needs to be remembered to bring about peace and healing? What do the ancient ancestors of the land have to teach us? What wisdom is held in the stones, in the plants, in the trees? Are we in alignment with the ancient ancestors of the land? Do we show respect for the indigenous people of this place? What is the appropriate protocol for working here?

We received many messages from Nature. "I Am" is in all of Nature. Creator is everywhere. Some of the information saddened us because many generations of people have been disrespectful and disconnected from Nature. This is true throughout the world. Nature is our teacher and yet humans have quit "listening." God/dess is speaking to us through the natural world. Our current global crisis is the result of our disconnection.

Throughout the weekend I was invited to reflect on my own "kitchen" and look at how I walk in the world. As I pondered this thought I found myself feeling uneasy and I silently became critical of other people in my life.  I was uncomfortable with my judgments so I meditated, wrote, reflected and prayed to uncover what was really going on. After all, this was a pilgrimage. 

My conscious desire is to be a peacemaker but what thoughts do I have about others and myself? What words leave my mouth? Are they thoughts and words of love and healing or do they pollute and damage? Our thoughts and words become blessings or's that simple and that complicated! It is a call to take personal responsibility first. There is no healing in blaming others, adding to the already prevalent fear in the world. Instead we must become the change we want to see. We must become love and become the hope and peace we pray for.

It was during a water ceremony that I realized that each of the judgments I was experiencing were not about others but about the unforgivable aspects of myself. People serve as reflections of ourself, the best and the worst. When we are unable to forgive ourself for the mistakes we've made along the way, we project that onto others and often find comfort in projecting our self-judgment on others. It was unnerving to see how unloving I am to myself, how judgmental and unforgiving!

But the grace of Divine Love is profound. As soon as I began looking at my own short comings as reflected through the mirror of others, I began to weep. If we are all mirrors for each other, if we truly are all one, and we are all part of the Divine, why are we so critical? Why do we see the worst in each other instead of the sacred? This has to change in order to find true peace and to walk as peacemakers. 

"The first peace, which is the most important, is that which comes within the souls of people when they realize their relationship, their oneness with the universe and all its powers, and when they realize that at the center of the universe dwells the Great Spirit, and that this center is really everywhere, it is within each of us." -- Black Elk (1863-1950)

I choose to be a peacemaker. I choose to reflect the Light, the love and goodness of all God's Creation. I choose to be a prayer of healing for Mother Earth and all sentient beings. All of Creation is one. Humanity is a part of the whole. We must step forward and join other like-minded beings in bringing about peace and healing. This is not something that any government agency or organization is going to do. This is a grass roots movement. It is time for us to join with our communities, our neighborhoods, and problem solve how we can become sustainable communities, watching out for our neighbors. The time is now for demonstrating true peacemaking. Become the offering. Be the prayer. Be peace.

May each of us become peace, may we become the offering. May we see the Divine in all Creation and may we be a prayer for peace. May we become the change we want to see. I leave you with an ancient Celtic blessing...

Deep peace of the running waves to you,
Deep peace of the flowing air to you,
Deep peace of the smiling stars to you,
Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,
Deep peace of the watching shepherds to you,
Deep peace of the Son of Peace to you.