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Pathway

Pathway

The pathway through which infinite awareness assumes the form of the finite mind is the same pathway, traversed in the opposite direction, through which the finite mind loses its limitations and stands revealed as infinite awareness. – Rupert Spira

Dancing Butterfly

Dancing Butterfly

Have you ever watched a butterfly dance?

A friend brought me a beautiful bouquet of Mexican Sunflowers and sat them on the ground near us as we began a socially distanced, outdoor chat. I had just received word about the death of dearly loved friend and was a weepy, snotty mess.

Ingrid tenderly listened while I told her all about my experiences with Cheryl’s bright and joyful energy, generous and loving heart, and selfless spirit.

In the midst of our conversation, a lovely Monarch butterfly lightly wafted through our air space and gently landed on the deep orange-hued blossoms. We were both immediately awe-struck by this sacred moment. Our delicately winged visitor was in no hurry to leave and she lingered with us in reverential silence for at least 20 minutes, gently and slowly flapping her ornamental wings.

I steadily became aware of Ingrid softly praying. When she finished, our lovely guest gleefully flitted and fluttered; playfully bobbing up and down, weaving back and forth, and looping side to side. After her holy dance, she landed daintily and dawdled a while longer. Shortly thereafter, without fanfare, she lifted skyward yawing as if to wave good-bye. We waved back thanking her for her visit.

After Ingrid left, the fullness of grief landed on me like a lead balloon immobilizing me. In a brief text exchange with my cousin, explaining I how I felt, he responded:

Even if you can find only a tiny space to do this in, ask yourself what are you believing…? Without any looking for an answer… Just the tiny space of the question…

No expectation… Nothing… Just be in that tiniest little space that is made apparent by such a simple question, a question you are inviting something else to answer, if it wishes, in its own time, or not…

You are in total not-knowing, just this question that comes and goes, leaving you in its spaciousness… Hang out there, let everything pass through you, all the feelings thoughts images memories and sensations…

So, I did and that is when I heard it, like a needle stuck in a scratch on a vinyl record, repeating the same line over and over again.

“I can’t believe she’s gone.”

Everybody acknowledges grief differently and there is no timeline for working through the heartache and pain. In the wake of deaths due to COVID, there could be, at a minimum,  anywhere from a half a million to a million or more beloveds experiencing the grief of losing a loved one—and that is just COVID deaths. That number does not include those mourning the total loss of their homes, belongings, and/or possibly business’s due to fire and flooding or other unforeseen circumstances. We are living through unprecedented times of affliction, suffering, and loss.

What is there to do? How do we move forward? Where do we go from here?

I followed my cousin’s advice and sat in the awareness of not-knowing, letting the question “what am I believing” come and go in the spaciousness, allowing all the feelings, memories and sensations to pass through. Eventually, the needle moved and fluid freedom returned.

About grief, the mystic poet Rumi says:

I saw grief drinking a cup of sorrow and called out, “It tastes sweet, does it not?” “You’ve caught me,” grief answered “and you’ve ruined my business. How can I sell sorrow when you know it’s a blessing?”

Maybe this is what David was saying in Psalm 30 verse five, “Weeping may linger for the night, but joy comes with the morning.”

Situations and circumstances do not necessarily change for the better overnight, but maybe you will experience a dancing butterfly while you wait.

Squirrelly

Squirrelly

The desk where I sit to read my Bible in the mornings is situated near a window that overlooks my backyard. Easily seen from this window is the birdfeeder built by my grandfather hanging from a black metal pole and the bird bath that once belonged to my grandmother.

I was reading from the Torah book of Leviticus when I became distracted by the antics of a squirrel at the hopper. As much as I tried to concentrate on God’s laws and festivals that Moses was describing, I just could not stay focused due to the hilarious activities outside my window.

Squirrels are amazing creatures. Because they can rotate their ankles 180 degrees, they can point their hind paws backwards which enables them to climb down trees head first. This ability also comes in handy for hanging off feeder ridges upside down while eating with their front paws, which is what my little friend was doing.

While the feeder gently swung back and forth ever so slightly, my furry suspended friend nibbled away. Something must have startled him because he did this monumental swirling acrobatic flip from the feeder into the nearby Crepe Myrtle bush. As I watched him fly and then tumble through the limbs of the bush, I was scared he would become impaled on one of the branches. Thankfully he landed safely and after a brief second to make sure the coast was clear, he excitedly scurried across the ground, easily scaling the thin iron pole to the nirvana-inducing smorgasbord.

I went back to reading about the year of Jubilee, the day of Atonement, and other sacred offerings when I was struck by God’s holiness. As I tried to reconcile the awe-rendering holiness of God in the Torah to the warmth and all-encompassing love of Jesus, the grayish-brown circus rodent continued his stunts.

He was once again draped topsy-turvy on the feeder when a huge Blue Jay swooped down like the Red Barron attacking Snoopy landing on the platform edge. This action immediately caused Squirrelly to frantically bail and retreat. I laughed out loud.

The juxtaposition of my trying to read what seems like a serious book in the Bible to the bushy-tailed escapades occurring outside my window appeared to mirror my inner musings of trying to resolve seemingly contrasting ideas about God.

Squirrelly was just too entertaining, so I closed my Bible and enjoyed the divine circus unfolding before my eyes. Several Cardinals came and went as well as my first ever sighting of a Carolina Chickadee. I was pleasantly surprised to see a remaining Robin mixing with the troop of Sparrows that socialize in the close-at-hand Spirea Bush. The Blue Jay had departed and Squirrelly, now earth bound, was feasting on the fallen seeds.

Have you ever noticed that squirrels look like they are praying when they eat? By using both their front paws to hold food to their mouth, they maintain a sacred posture of gratitude and peace.

I never did come to any mind bending conclusions about God and Her holiness.  What is there to reconcile when a praying squirrel inspires as much awe as any sacred writing? Sometimes you just have to stop and watch the squirrels.

Debate

Debate

“I’ve never been happier about being a Canadian.”

I received this text message from a friend this morning to which I replied:

“And I’ve never been sadder to be an American.”

Before I even received her text, I woke up crying. I did not watch the debate between Mr. Biden and Mr. Trump. Too much seemed to be at stake, so I prayed. I did not need to watch what I knew would be a loathsome and spiteful performance by Mr. Trump.  My friend’s uncharacteristically insensitive comment only added to my grief and quite frankly made me feel angry—no, not just angry … F***ING pissed off!

I could not imagine what would cause her to be this flippant.  I do not know the circumstances surrounding her citizenship status and have never thought to ask. I never saw her as “Canadian.”  I thought we were beyond labels. Our friendship is based on a spiritual kinship of caring for all God’s beloveds. We have discussed politics and share the same progressive bent, but her statement felt like she was kicking me when I was down.

In what identity of separation did I appear to be caught?

Her sentiment seemed to be lacking in awareness, compassion and kindness. What does one say when tragedies happen anywhere around the globe? When the building exploded in Syria, would one say “I’ve never been happier about being a (fill in the nationality)?” Does one think one’s citizenship or lack thereof will save him or her from dying of COVID? Would anyone really state he or she is glad to live on the east coast of the US while the west coast is awash with devastating conflagrations?

This is the problem! Too many people continue to see through the eyes of judgement and condemnation, as if one nationality, or ethnicity, or religion, or gender or any imagined identity of separation is better or worse than another—they are all delusional anxieties. Tragically, the US has a “leader” who inflames those labels of separateness and alienation to his demonic-like pleasure.

Some of you may be thinking that I prayed for Mr. Trump to lose the debate or that I prayed for Mr. Biden to win. I did not pray for either of those short-sighted and limited  outcomes! I prayed for the eyes and minds and hearts of all people to be open and to really see Mr. Trump’s true character.  I did not differentiate my prayers based on anyone’s citizenship or nationality.  I prayed for Mr. Biden to endure the onslaught of Mr. Trump’s satanic-like attacks—which Mr. Biden did with decency, empathy and great feeling.

I prayed for the choice that is before us and how our nation will move forward after all the votes are counted.  This 2020 US election is not about making America great again.  God forbid.   This election is about reducing/eliminating world wide suffering because Trump, like any despot, is utterly unaware of the interconnectedness of all of God’s creation.

My tears were a mixture of many feelings–tremendous relief that the debate was over. I was unaware of how much tension and disquietude I was holding within my spirit.  Millions of lives quite literally hang in the balance as we await the results of this upcoming election.  Another feeling was doubt. Can the hardest of hearts be softened? Can blind eyes really be opened? Can ignorant minds be unlocked? I do not know.  I am heartbroken and bewildered that any American needs to be convinced that Trump is not fit for office.

Mostly I cried because it is all so painful. We are a nation in mourning. Hell, we are a world in mourning and the last thing we need is a bully kicking sand in our face.

In the meantime, I’m going to talk to my friend, I’m going to celebrate the little things in life, and I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing—listening, praying, grieving, healing, being …

… that is more than enough for the times in which we are living.

I already voted, that was easy!