for all that is yet to be....
in all things give thanks!
|reflections from the interior||
The Old and The New
We have almost reached the end of this year. It has probably been a year like no other we have ever experienced! In March we started joining together in prayer or silent meditation for 10 minutes each Saturday morning. Thank you to all of you who took a few minutes to stop and join with many others. Thank you for telling me that when you were participating, you felt the connection to others and a feeling of calmness. And thanks for keeping up the practice the entire year! I plan to keep it up next year and invite you to join me every Saturday morning.
I began 2020 by telling you that my word for the year was witness. It really became the touchstone for the year. We witnessed so many twists and turns all year and there was hardly any steady ground anywhere. Each time we began to think we might be seeing some kind of resting place, some things or everything shifted, and we had to adjust, again. From the Covid virus to the political insanity, to racial violence, to food insecurity, to unemployment, to evictions, to business closures, to rabid voices on social media, we have been attempting to hold onto our sanity in an increasingly crazy world. How has it been for you?
To witness became the challenge of a lifetime. If we think quite literally about “to witness” we had enough watching the unfolding of events to keep us busy 24/7 for several more lifetimes! For those of us who approach life seeking the meaning behind the events, we have earned an advanced degree in witnessing! What is the meaning behind the political battling? Behind the poverty and loss on so many fronts? Behind the angry voices calling for justice and reform? Behind the virus and the death and the loneliness?
More importantly, have you taken the extraordinary opportunity given us this year, as the precious gift that it is? We’ve been given the gift of silence and isolation. In that gift lies the opportunity to observe how we respond to the world. It is an opportunity for soul-searching, for a closer encounter with ourselves and our God and everything that we think gives meaning to our lives. Dwelling in silence we may discover regrets. We may want to choose to begin again or to recreate what has been into what is more fitting now. We may discover what activities really matter to us and what is no longer so important. We may discover all that is right in our world! We may develop a new way of perceiving people and events, relationships with others, with our faith and values, even with ourselves! We may be getting reacquainted with ourselves in an entirely different way and find the selves we truly are, long forgotten and hiding under layers of living! I hope you have received and accepted the ultimate gift of witnessing this year: that you have come in silence, and with patience, to know and love the precious unique being that you are!
We are living in contentious and unsettling times; in a world of winners vs. losers. A simple comment can start a battle that wounds and separates neighbors, friends, and family members. We all seem to be hyper-vigilant to catch that moment when we can say whatever we must in order to be right and to harshly judge or dismiss those we see as being wrong. We are tired and on edge. So tired!
But there is another way. The way of the Buddha and the Tao, of early Christian mystics and wisdom keepers. And the way of Indigenous Peoples. These are ways that are thousands of years old. Yes, there were conflicts and disagreements. But inherent in these ways is a different worldview and a different understanding of the Spiritual realms. We can again learn these ways of seeing and being. In fact, we must learn if, indeed, we would save ourselves and our universe.
For the better part of four decades, I have been blessed with deep friendships with Lakota, Dakota and Ojibwe Peoples. They have welcomed me, befriended me, taught and mentored me. They have shared their homes, their families, their food, their sacred ceremonies and oral traditions with me. They have made me a relative and have prayed with me and for me. These relationships are solemn and sacred, a lifetime commitment. I did not seek this way but it found me. It has given me a calm and peaceful center and confidence and trust in a non-dual universe, a circular worldview.
Most Native Peoples have unitive consciousness. There is life or Spirit in all things - in the deer and the buffalo, the butterfly and the flower, the waters and the rocks, sky, wind, rain and sun, the eagle and the bear, the fishes and the humans. All are in relationship with one another, none superior or inferior but equal in importance and reliant on one another. The Lakota term "mitakuye oyasin" means 'all my relatives' and implies all of these mutually supportive and interdependent relationships.
Foundational to this unitive consciousness is the knowing that all of life is sacred and that this Sacred is a constant movement or energy flow. A Lakota Spiritual Elder who was one of my first teachers often speaks these teachings saying, "Taku Wakan Skan Skan," which can be translated 'something Sacred is moving here.' But this translation does not convey all that Lakota Peoples know of the teaching behind the words. As close as our Western minds can come to grasp these teachings of relatedness, and Spirit in all things, and Sacred Moving is in the understanding of quantum physics or sacred geometry; scientific validation of ancient indigenous knowledge. We can speak of a holographic or holistic universe that is non-dualistic and each is a part of every other.
We are on the brink of creating a new world that is more loving and inclusive. It is long overdue. We are beginning to see with the eye of our hearts. Native prophesies have long spoken of these times. Our indigenous brothers and sisters have been waiting for us. They reach to us in friendship and love and inclusion.
In respect and appreciation of my Native teachers and friends,
I offer these words.
Does Raven exist apart from the Sun,
or Corn apart from Squash and Beans,
or soft brain-tanned Moccasins apart from
Sacred Fire and Buffalo?
Does the Tree exist apart from the Sky,
or the Waters apart from the Lands,
or the flutter of Butterfly wings
from Warm Winds,
or My Life apart from Yours?
© phyllis boernke 11 November 2020
Congratulations, my family and friends. We didn't give up even when we grew tired and hope wore thin. We trusted ourselves and each other and the best in all of us. And now we are experiencing what Hebrews 11:1 tells us, "Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen." As we joined together, we surrendered into another force, a spiritual force, that underlies our very existence. That force carried us and supported us as it always does. It did not fail us.
There is so much I want to say. But for now I'll just say thank you. Thank you for staying the course and for allowing love to work in you and through you. And now let's take a break. We have the work of healing ourselves and each other ahead of us. For now, let's celebrate!
The best of me and you
I pledge allegiance to my family
and to you and your family
and to all individuals and families across the globe;
and to all of life – plants and animals on the land and in the waters and in the skies,
and to the oceans and rivers, the rocks and shorelines, the mountains and plains;
and to the planet on which we live,
one home, supporting our one family, human and non-human
in our diversity and magnificence,
one creation under God,
with respect and equality and compassion and love
o o o o o o o o o o
Early voting has begun. It’s time to let our voices show the nation and the world what’s in our hearts. It’s time to rise above our petty disagreements, our hates, our favoritism. Our anger and fear is front and center right now. But that cannot control our vote. We are better than that!
Don’t vote out of fear of what might happen if the other side wins. Don’t vote out of anger or desire to get even or to punish anybody. Don’t vote with an attitude of “I’ll show them!” Don’t vote party above principles. Have an honest reckoning with yourself and vote for the very best human being!
Think of the finest, most loving, smartest, least biased person you know. Maybe that’s a parent or grandparent, a teacher or spiritual leader, spouse or best friend or neighbor. What would you expect of them? What principles would they espouse, what platform would they put forth? Vote for those ideals and principles. Vote as if you are the candidate who is running. Vote for you expressing your highest ideals. If you were running, how would you want to be remembered? What would make for the best life for everyone and alleviate the suffering of all? Vote for the kind of world, the kind of future, that you want for your children and grandchildren and generations to come. Plumb yourself to your deepest depths. Listen to your conscience. Sit quietly. Think long and hard. Let your heart lead. Vote with all of the goodness that you are! Vote love! Vote love! Vote love!
For the first several nights of August I sat mesmerized as the moon waxed ever closer to her fullness. At the same time, I listened as words inside me emerged. Words seeking to give form and sound to this ineffable image, to translate it into tangible substance, if only for a fleeting moment. On the night of the Full Moon, the words below were ready.
I went into the wilderness
I found the full moon
at her reflection
in the placid lake.
For days I have been sitting with the words and images, being informed and taught by them. They ring of truth to me. I have read them over and over again.
Often I have gone into the wilderness searching for answers, for a way out of confusion, for confirmation, for guidance and direction. When I bring this restlessness with me I find only noise and wind, hard stones and barren ground. When I am able to settle into the stillness within, the winds subside and the stones support me in the ground of my being. I can listen. I know the answers I seek are found in the questions I ask. Asking what and how and why and when and where begets more questions or mercurial answers. In silence the myriad questions fade. The one essential question comes home to the fullness of its answer: Who Am I?
At last, I gaze upon my reflection in the placid lake.
This morning I watched the final journey of John Lewis across the Edmund Pettis Bridge. Thousands are honoring this humble man for his years of courage, truth, and leadership. He claimed his place in history and spoke truth where it had to be spoken, no matter the consequences or personal sacrifices. Those of us who live on after him, in these times, have the opportunity and responsibility to confront the same demons that John Lewis confronted, wherever we find them. Even close to home.
I’m picking up the pieces of my delusions,
each a shard of glass
wounding swiftly, without mercy.
So it must be.
It was so much easier to see the guilty without,
treat him with my self-righteous scorn
and justifiable hatred
and, thus, hold myself blameless.
After all, I didn’t pull any trigger.
But hatred is just as deadly.
My indifference and entitlement
and white privilege perpetuates
your pain, your suffering.
My Shadow side had moments of emergence
that could have been redemptive,
but I was so good at avoiding uncomfortable truths.
And finding someone else to blame.
“It’s too late,” my Shadow says persistently and loudly.
“See without blinders, your racism, your genocide,
your colonialism, your tenacious grip on the status quo.
Name it. Claim it. Don’t look away. Then, only then, in Truth, act.”
The Wise Ones say, “If you are still here, you have something to do.”
Act! Love! Now!
While you can.
As you must.
Turn the shards of death into
the jigsaw puzzle with thousands of pieces
How are you?
“How are you?”
“I’m fine. How are you?”
“I’m fine, too.”
How many times have we heard this common greeting between friends, neighbors, acquaintances? We’ve all heard it. We’ve all said it. It happens almost every time we meet someone. From those few impersonal yet pleasant words we move on. But what did we gain? We said the right words, performed the expected ritual, weren’t too intrusive, were just friendly enough. We encountered another human being but we learned nothing about each other.
Instead, consider this:
“How are you? Really.”
If you are fortunate to have the friend who asks, ‘How are you, really?’ or if you are the friend who asks, ‘How are you, really?’ you already know that you are creating a deeper conversation. There’s not much wiggle room here. There’s little room for vagueness and superficiality. Most of us actually long for someone to really listen to us, to really see us. It’s easy to hide behind, ‘I’m fine.’ A friend who says, ‘No, I mean, really,’ invites us to come out from hiding and tell the truth. And the truth is that most of us these days are living with a lot of sadness and fear. What is going to happen next? Will I be safe? Will my loved ones survive? Will I have enough? When will life be normal? First came COVID-19, then in the midst of that global pandemic came the murder of George Floyd and protests addressing much needed social justice reform. It is globally unsettling. Fear, outrage and sadness are being felt by everyone across the globe all of the time. There is a universal call for meaningful conversations. Shall we begin?
How are you, really???
What is this for?
Recently I’ve discovered Fredrick Beuchner, author and spiritual teacher. His book, “Listen to Your Life” seems to fit into our exploration of ‘witness’ of our own lives that we began this year. Sometimes the meaning of events in our lives seems inconsequential, obscure or easily dismissed. We barely notice them. At other times to witness does not seem optional. We are forced into the role of witness.
Just last week, very dear friends of mine had a fire. An outbuilding on their ranch, close to the house, was completely destroyed in minutes. The fire burned furiously hot and loud as chemicals, ammunition, equipment, tools, electrical gear ignited and exploded. But the winds were in their favor blowing the fire away from the house, the propane tanks, and the vehicles. The cattle and new calves were in the pastures, the horses bolted at the first sounds and the sight of flames. The dog sounded the alert. No one was injured, there were no lives lost.
Those are the facts. But an event of this magnitude stirs one to the soul. It could have been much worse; people or animals could have died, their home could have been destroyed or wildfire could have started and raged through dry prairie grass. Even though none of that happened, as the hours and days go by, thoughts tumble over one another. It is inevitable to want to place blame. To ask why this happened to me, now. To wring your hands in anguish about what could have been done – or avoided – to be prepared for this or to prevent it. And memories flood the senses. Memories of those who came before to build this ranch, to work this land, to endure floods and fires and blizzards, to see new life flourish and then perish. With memories comes the feeling that somehow you have failed and betrayed those ancestors and have not been a faithful steward of their legacy. A heavy burden is triggered by a singular event.
In less than a week my friends are pulling back from the immediate pain and asking the more difficult questions. The immediate and very personal feelings of disbelief, anger, guilt, and sadness are still very real and very acceptable and almost constantly present. There is much to sort out. And simultaneously they are asking, 'what is this for?' In the bigger scheme of things, what role does this fire play, what does it mean, what has it come to teach us. Fire is always a cleansing and purifying element. It comes to the prairie and the forest before new growth. Is it more than this? My friends are in their seventies and have begun the process of consciously choosing what’s important to keep and what to let go of. Perhaps the fire helped in its impersonal and indiscriminate way of choosing. Perhaps my friends – and each one of us – must choose and will continue to choose what is of value and what is not. Spiritual texts and leaders of all persuasions, from the Buddha to the Tao to Sufis to Jesus and Christian mystics, teach us detachment. Our small, personal self and all that we imbue with meaning, must be relinquished so that our larger God-like, Buddha-like essence may flourish. We may walk this path of attachment for a lifetime. Or we may choose to release our belongings and finally release ourselves into our true identity. At any time. Perhaps in a burst of flame.
Many of us are feeling helpless right now. We're advised to stay home, to protect ourselves, to cancel all the things we were used to doing when life was normal just a short time ago. While these precautionary measures will help us all, there is so much more that we can do, right where we are, right now.
Those of you who have been following my website posts are some of the most loving people on the planet! You pray, meditate, think loving thoughts, help others. And I think that right now, we have been granted a tremendous opportunity to expand our love in action more than ever. We can serve one another right where we are, right now. And we know that every loving action has a ripple effect which inspires others to be a little kinder, a little more loving.
Here's my invitation. Every Saturday morning, wherever you are at 11:00 a.m., just stop. Join with me and many others in an intentional pause for 10 minutes. If you cannot take 10 minutes, do what you can. If you want to pause for longer than 10 minutes, do so. During that intentional pause pray, meditate, visualize, chant, sing a hymn, play or listen to music, read words of inspiration, dance, think of loved ones, think of all the world, think of Earth - our home. We don't need to be in the same city, the same time zone, or even the same country. If you forget about it at 11:00 a.m., do it whenever you remember.
You don't have to subscribe to anything, or sign up, or live stream. Just do your best. We'll all be doing our best to increase LOVE in the world. Thank you! With all my heart, I thank you!
Let these words from Rumi inspire you and fill you with joy!
If you are seeking, seek us with joy
for we live in the kingdom of joy.
Do not give your heart to anything else
but to the love of those who are clear joy.
Do not stray into the neighborhood of despair.
For there are hopes: they are real, they exist -
Do not go in the direction of darkness -
I tell you: suns exist.