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Fierce Softness: Life IS Sacred Service

   A Teyuna Mamo with    Mary Gaetjens of Harmony with Earth Mother Initiative in Columbia

A Teyuna Mamo with Mary Gaetjens of Harmony with Earth Mother Initiative in Columbia

You carry your worth in your heart. Complete, constant, and impartial love radiates through you to all creatures. Gregge Tiffen (The Collected Works of Gregge Tiffen: Echo – Sept. 2012)

Teyuna mamos and zagas exist in deep communion with every living thing, a state they’ve preserved and grown since what is for most westerners time immemorial and what is for them easily recalled through living tradition. (Earth Law Center Website - https://www.earthlawcenter.org/blog-entries/2018/6/teyuna-foundation-launches)

Have you ever been in the presence of fierce softness? I imagine that in being with the Dalai Lama or Thich Nhat Hanh one might experience a sense of ‘fierce softness’. Historical figures such as Jesus or Ghandi likely held fierce softness in their presence. Gregge’s quote above begins to describe what I think fierce softness can be.

I’ve been with people who are fierce. Heck, sometimes I’ve been fierce in ways that are not so positive. I’ve also been with individuals who radiate love and softness. I aim to do the same (and, being human in our culture, I often miss the mark).

Until last week, I’d not experienced the two together: fierce AND soft. Perhaps the seed was planted by Sharon Blackie’s book which I wrote about last week (http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/reclaiming-softness). For sure, the book opened me to what I was about to experience here in Crestone at a ceremony for three Teyuna mamos and, two days later, at a healing ceremony that they offered.  

I don’t yet (and may never) have words to fully describe my experience. Powerful, healing, amazing, transformational are each accurate, but they miss the mark of complete expression. I’m integrating their words, the exercises we did, and their presence to make meaning and apply it my life.

For now, ‘fierce softness’ best describes the energy I experienced and received as these elders guided us through a powerful exercise to connect with the earth.  In both of my encounters with the Teyuna every word, every action, every step was clear, gentle and showed heartfelt and powerful intensity.  It was clear to me that they listen deeply to Mother Earth and respond with exactly what is needed in each moment.

The intense care for people, the planet, and for every living thing was palpable. I felt that I witnessed life as it is meant to be lived: in reverence and deep communion. That is ‘fierce softness’. That is service to life.

The Teyuna understand that as caretakers of the planet, we humans must take care of and heal ourselves in order to fulfill our sacred responsibility. No one can do it for us. The journey is an individual one, unique for each of us. As we heal ourselves, we heal our relationship to Mother Earth. We begin to live life as sacred service to our home rather than as a race to see who can collect the most toys and do the most harm.

Fierce softness. I’m exploring what it means to live from that place. Where is my softness needed – in my life, in the world? Where do I have the opportunity to soften? How might it look to be fierce in my softness? This week I invite to learn more about the Teyuna – here https://www.earthlawcenter.org/blog-entries/2018/6/teyuna-foundation-launches or watch the movie Aluna (available on Amazon.com) about their journey. And, I invite you to reflect on bringing ‘fierce softness’ to your expressions of life.

   The Fierce Softness of Grandmother Pine lives on.

The Fierce Softness of Grandmother Pine lives on.

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Reclaiming Softness

   Prickly Labyrinth Path

Prickly Labyrinth Path

Your voice was meant to be a lullaby giving comfort to the weary and security to the young. Gregge Tiffen (The Journey Continues: Economical Rates of Progress – August, 2010)

The Eco-Heroine’s Journey … is a path to understanding how deeply enmeshed we are in the web of life on this planet. … it is an antidote to the swashbuckling action-adventure that is the Hero’s Journey: it is a woman’s journey, based on a woman’s way of being in the world. Sharon Blackie (If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging)

I just finished reading a book. I didn’t want it to end. And, I wanted it to end so I could begin to discover what it will come to mean in my life.

Sharon Blackie’s If Women Rose Rooted changed me – with my permission, my invitation in fact – in ways that today I only sense. I know few, if any, words that would do justice to how this book touched my soul. Read it!

For a while now my muses (surely I must have more than one!) have guided me to reflect on the nature of the feminine, a part (and only a part) of which is the softness so missing in today’s harsh world.  Blackie’s book arrived right on time to deepen that reflection, shining light on ideas I’d not yet considered and deepening my understanding of familiar themes.  

Having a sense of roots in a (geographic) place is a key point woven throughout the beautiful stories Blackie tells. My love this place from the vastness of the valley to the stunning beauty of the 14,000 foot peaks is no secret to anyone. I feel at home here, consistently nurtured by nature, and sometimes challenged by her harshness. From time to time, I’ve had a hunch there was more to know – really know at the deep soul level. Blackie’s book has inspired me to discover not only more of the stories about people and place, but to listen – really listen – to the land, the trees, the furry and feathered inhabitants. Perhaps, an awareness of the unseen, unheard beings in these woods and waterways will grace my knowing.

“Step out of and more deeply into your habits, your routines. Deepen your awareness.” I feel the subtle nudge of this message. And, I respond.

This morning, Cool Hand Luke and I forged a new route on our morning walk. When we returned home I walked the labyrinth as I often do. Today, though, I walked it barefoot. After dozen or so steps, each slow and gentle my feet seeking any softness they could find on ground made prickly with dried pine needles and broken pine cones, I sank first one foot, then the next under the surface. Softness! I found the softness of sand beneath the brambly surface. Softness! Like the crab soft under its hard shell. In the softness of the sand I experienced the softness of crab, symbol for the zodiac sign of Cancer, and this on a day when the moon is transiting that sign. Softness!

My journey continues, reclaiming softness and bringing my soft side more fully into the world. Not a particularly new or different journey, but the path has new illumination. I carry the beam, fueled with gratitude and joy and curiosity for this moment, the next, and beyond.

   Come on Mom. It's not that prickly!

Come on Mom. It's not that prickly!

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Discernment in a Chaotic World

   Luke says 'a dip in the creek helps sort out the world's craziness'.

Luke says 'a dip in the creek helps sort out the world's craziness'.

Truth and spiritual awareness need no trumpets or drums. Gregge Tiffen (Do The Angels Take a Vacation? – August, 2007)

What is true for each of us is that which inspires and deepens our awareness of our true power.

This week amidst reflecting on a question about what inspires my sense of personal empowerment, I realized (not for the first time of course) just how disempowering the world’s messages are. The so called ‘news’ with its negativity, discord, confusion, conflicting information and disparate opinions that scream their version of what is true often fails to inform much less inspire or empower.

Beyond the news, everything in the world seems to calls for our attention jobs, family, friends, politicians, people in business who have something to sell. Take a look at your email in-box, your social media account, text messages, voice mail, and advertisements in places too numerous to mention. 

Are you inspired or empowered by what you see?

Or does the vista contribute to a sense of angst, confusion, chaos about conditions ‘out there’ beyond your control?

So, how the heck do you begin to know what’s ‘true’?  Within that question is perhaps one of the great opportunities of this time: learning the fine art of discernment – not what’s true ‘out there’, but what is true to you and for you. What are your criteria for discerning what to allow to enter your space (yes, you do have control over that!)?

If you know your criteria, are you rigorous in honoring them? (I’ll be taking some action in this regard this month!).

If you aren’t sure or your criteria could use buffing up (I’ll be doing some of that too!) give some attention to identifying the knowledge/tools/skills you have to guide you.

A great starting point is remembering the truth of what Gregge suggests in the quote above: truth is not boisterous or external, rather it is quiet and inside. The goal is to find your truth. What is true for each of us is that which inspires and deepens our awareness of our true power.

Here are some other ways to develop and sharpen your discernment:

  • Engage curiosity, letting go of the need to know, understand or be right
  • Be open to other possibilities – open mind, open heart
  • Develop your instinct/conviction and listen to it while being open to making adjustments
  • Befriend paradox – in a world of infinite possibilities two ideas that appear contradictory may each be true even when they seem to be polar opposites
  • Be gentle (with yourself and others)
  • Avoid win/loose conflict, competition, and confrontation
  • Look to nature, her beauty, her rhythm

Enjoy the journey to discovering and expanding all that which is true for you!

  The Tree of Morning Light

The Tree of Morning Light

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Breaking Free of Comparison

   Evening Thunderheads - Bring On the Rains

Evening Thunderheads - Bring On the Rains

You are not separate from creative Source. … the creative Force of the Universe is creating without any evaluatory bent. … your greatest creative defeat is often that you have set yourself up in some kind of comparative mode that is working against you. Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: Creative Power Released – July,2011)

Comparison is a trap that has us believe that we are separate from Source and from one another.

Comparison and competition are antithetical to the Universe. Just look at nature. In the woods out back the pines don’t compete or compare themselves to one another or to the cottonwoods nearby. They simply (or not so simply if you dive deep into the science of these woods) live, breath, and grow with the season. They do so without regard to standards the world sets about how a pine tree should be. Likewise, they don’t give a wit about how they grew last week or last year.

It’s tempting to say pine trees have an easy life, but in a year of drought, I doubt the pine would agree. They deal with such challenges in their authentic way, honoring the pattern of the seed from whence they broke through the ground. They are tapped into the creative power that is the Universe without the blocks and barriers to that Source that we humans create with our awareness and our intelligence. (Yep, I find that humorous too!)

Universal humor aside, our awareness and intelligence are the ground from which the gift of free will is called forth. We say that we’re connected to Source, but the truth is we ARE Source. Free will is the right and responsibility to choose how we direct that energy. The more we know about and honor our uniqueness, our blueprint, our ‘seed’ if you will, the more ease we experience.

Sadly we live in a world that operates under the false belief that comparison is beneficial and that good, better, best are real measures of success. We compare our lives, our work, our financial wealth, our health (and the list goes on) with others. We’re surrounded by messages – some of them very well-meaning - that success means measuring up to whatever the world declares as standards (and it keeps us in chaos by constantly, often subtly, changing those standards). Rather than learning from what we’ve experienced, we often compare our experience today with that of last week or last year.

Personally, I unconsciously gravitate to comparison when I’m feeling a little off, having lost awareness of the reality that I’m not separate from Source. From this place, I simply don’t measure up to what others have done/are doing or to the world’s standards or to what I’ve done in the past.

Comparison is a trap that has us believe that we are separate from Source and from one another. Breaking free and staying free of the trap requires practice and awareness. From the point of awareness that you’ve fallen into to the comparison trap, here are some useful techniques for breaking free:

  • Move (stretch, shake it off, or better yet, get outside for a walk)
  • Touch the earth (a few minutes with my feet in the sand is a great elixir)
  • Remind yourself that you are not separate from creative Source and feel into that energy
  • Return to gratitude
  • Engage curiosity (how can I live more fully into what I know?)
  • Laugh (and the world laughs with you! – how silly of me to forget who I AM)

Enjoy a comparison free week!

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A Summer of Ease and (Self)Care

  As local as it gets - my deck garden.

As local as it gets - my deck garden.

There is no map for this pilgrimage we are on; there is no fixed path. And that is a good thing, because following the paths that others have set for us, the paths that the system confines us to – that is the cause of the problem. Sharon Blackie (If Women Rose Rooted: The Journey to Authenticity and Belonging)

Look for a new, but known, starting point beginning right where you are. Embrace that point of awareness. When you go from the point where you find yourself, the cells move into action and seek a new starting point. Gregge Tiffen (The Journey Continues: Time Travels – July, 2010)

I’ve experienced a flow of thoughts, words and ideas as this week’s post emerged. ‘What’s the focus?’ I wondered as my pen rolled across the journal where I often write the first stab. ‘Ease and (self)care’, ‘your experience of this summer’ came the response.

Huh? Say What? I’m not doing much this summer. I’m just reading, resting, and taking care of myself, restoring. In a flash, I see that IS the focus. Not only the importance of these ‘Three R’s’, but also of the choices I make/we make in how we live and experience each and every day. Am I (are we) living authentically or simply following the dictates of the world intent on leading us astray?

Each season holds different experiences for us. Some prefer one season over another. I have my favorite things about each season. This summer, I’m aiming to begin each day from a point of awareness about something I love: the cool morning air on my skin, the sounds and smells of the woods as they waken to the new day, the brightness of rocks cleaned by an overnight rain shower. I can sometimes taste the very life these woods represent to me.

My decision to close the bed and breakfast marked the beginning of a new way of experiencing summer. With no guests and daily chores to attend to other than my own (and Luke’s) life maintenance, I’ve declared this a summer of ease and care: ease, care of self, and care about our world. My declaration wasn’t a goal or planned. It gently emerged from sitting with (and in) the question ‘What’s next?’ and from my willingness to accept not knowing.

 A longing to read, a need for rest, and my sense that personal restoration is important for each of us in these chaotic times are my summer friends. I’m reading more (and more deeply) than ever in my life. I’m napping and allowing myself to sit quietly gazing at the woods. Rest and reading are restoring in their own ways, and to them I’m adding soaks at the hot springs, nourishing local food, massage, and – perhaps most important of all – a commitment to no rushing, no pressure, no worry. While keeping abreast of current events, I’m putting my attention on the countless positive messages and actions that are occurring around the globe 24/7. This I what I want the Universe to magnify.

Some might call my summer a ‘vacation’. I’m experiencing it as engagement in deepening a new way of being, experiencing, and expressing me: taking the energy of each day, directing and using it to create the day with ease and care.

So, ‘What’s next?’? For now ‘This’. And, that is quite enough.

   Napping Mentor, Cool Hand Luke, doing his 'job' well!

Napping Mentor, Cool Hand Luke, doing his 'job' well!

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NO LIMITS!

   Early morning beauty as we blaze a new trail.

Early morning beauty as we blaze a new trail.

Will is the means by which consciousness exercises itself. (Are you getting enough exercise?) Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Awareness ­– July, 2009)

When you use your energy to control conditions or elicit guarantees you give away your power and limit the ways in which the Universe can support you.

I’m fascinated by this concept of free will.  As a result of exploration and experimentation, I’m coming to better understand how to use its power, not as a force over something or someone, but as a divine gift that we’ve each been given. It’s also a paradox and a challenge in a world designed to control – but that’s a musing for another day.

This day I want to share the insights and deeper understanding that I’ve experienced this week, mostly from the nearby fire (click here if you missed last week’s post - http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/facing-fear-exercising-will). This tragic event has proven to be a gift for me personally, and it continues to offer insights and new awareness.

While I’m heartbroken for those who lost property or were evacuated, I’m thankful for the courageous fire fighters who have this monster (almost 108,000 acres) at 83% containment and for all the agencies and individuals who have stepped up to provide information and support to those directly impacted. My wish for all is that in time each can look inside to discover the knowledge, insights, and wisdom that surely is within.

When I take time to be fully present and aware of my senses, I discover the multitude of choices that present themselves in each and every moment. They come in many forms each in its way calling for my attention: Luke nuzzling my leg suggesting that it may be time for a break, the smell of smoke inviting me to close windows and to worry about the danger of fire, basil about to bloom telling me it’s time to harvest, thoughts about future direction and finances inviting me to worry, social media posts suggesting anything imaginable and some that are beyond my imagination. The list is endless, infinite like the Universe. Where will I focus?

I’m grateful for my growing understanding that where I put my attention is an act of will to which the Universe then responds and magnifies. Last week when I experienced fear of fire in our drought stricken woodlands, I was able to direct that energy to learn more about the nearby event itself, how such events are managed, and the terminology and technology used to communicate conditions to those in harm’s way. As my knowledge grew, my angst eased. I now had information and knowledge to call on if ever it’s needed.

There’s no one ‘right’ way to exercise will of course. Another local woman took on educating the community and visitors about the fire bans in place. Noticing a dearth of signage about the bans she printed posters and cards to distribute to local businesses and lodging providers. She had large banners made to post at key locations throughout the community, far more visible and informative than the meager signs put up by local government.

That’s what exercising will looks like. And, this one was a pretty good workout.

As is Its Way, the Universe continues to respond. The community rallied in support of this citizen initiative financially and in other ways.

And, I’ve been gifted with insights, ‘ah-ha’ moments that have application far beyond my fear of fire. Enjoying the morning coolness and beauty that surrounds me on a walk with Luke, I experienced such a moment that led to this insight:

When you use your energy to control conditions or elicit guarantees, you give away your power and limit the ways in which the Universe can support you.

The insight came as I recognized a pattern of expectation – dependence is a more honest word – that certain people would do certain things to help me in the event I found myself in need. That is, I would be helped in a particular way. In that moment a series of thoughts converged to show me that seeking promises and making deals about the future limit how support can come.

Bam! I was placing finite limits on an abundant, limitless, infinite Universe.

From that awareness my will has a new base from which to operate: No Limits!  Now let’s give that some exercise.

   World's Best Trail Dog!

World's Best Trail Dog!

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Facing Fear, Exercising Will

   From a distance of 12 miles or so, the fire looks like an afternoon rainstorm. It's not.

From a distance of 12 miles or so, the fire looks like an afternoon rainstorm. It's not.

There can be no exercise of will when there is fear. Fear traps you …  If you ignore your fear there is no way for you to activate your will … You cannot afford to go through life fear oriented. You will not be in control of yourself and your life. …You operate beyond negativity when you are in control of you and not attempting to control conditions. Gregge Tiffen (The Language of a Mystic: Awareness – July, 2009)

I’m in the midst of facing a long running, perhaps life-long, fear at a new deeper level: fire and possibility of my home being destroyed as a result.  I’m prepared to take any action required as events warrant (and I’ve kept a ‘go kit’ and prep lists at the ready for several years). But this week I experienced a lack of readiness to exercise my will to be calm and positive. I found myself on the edge of a feeding frenzy of fear, and I don’t want to step over the edge or into the frenzy. Yet, I know that our safety requires keeping informed and being vigilant. Let the dance with self begin.

I needed to step back, breathe, and look within. I needed to face the fear beyond the level of physical preparation. I needed to remember who I am and what I believe. Beyond remembering the crippling and negative impact of fear, I needed to remember consciousness, that part of me beyond the physical.

We live in an ocean of consciousness that is boundless. All things in the ocean have available to them the same things. All of love, happiness, and freedom are available in the ocean of consciousness. … Your consciousness is connected to the Universe is the Universe! G.Tiffen

Beyond remembering, I now need to let that knowing sink into my being. Simply being present to my own senses and keeping abreast of relevant information about the nearby Spring Fire is providing daily practice in doing just that.

We’re not in any immediate danger. As the crow flies, the fire that has raged for eight days and as of yesterday has burned over 95,000 acres is 30-40 miles away. But pillars of smoke are visible daily just beyond the mountains to the south. This morning there is a thick haze over the peaks here. Peaks to the south and west are totally obscured. Overnight I heard doors and windows rattle as strong winds blew smoke into our community. I smell the smoke, and I feel the heaviness when I step outside. At times this week, I’ve tasted fear – my own and the fear I witness in others.

My senses remind me to be observant and to tap into the energy flow of consciousness, directing my own energy to operate naturally and easily no matter what – that’s a full time job in itself.

In the midst of readiness and awareness, this seems to be a time for extra kindness to myself and others, for listening, and for responding to opportunities to serve. It’s also a time to imagine gentle rains falling on the parched earth, protecting, healing and nourishing our planet and all life.

   A river respite along the Rio Grande, 30 or so miles from the fire.

A river respite along the Rio Grande, 30 or so miles from the fire.

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Independence Requires Letting Go Of Dependency

   The Freedom to Be Tree

The Freedom to Be Tree

Dependency is a basic violation of Universal law. The Universe operates on independence. The Universe operates on individuality. It operates on separation in every shape and form. … The minute you become dependent upon anyone in any way you no longer have any power to move forward in your own pattern, in your own blueprint, and on your own behalf. You come to a halt. Gregge Tiffen (Finding Freedom: The Meaning of Independence, July, 2007)

… we and we alone are the authors of our own freedom.

Reflect on Gregge’s quote for a few moments. You may discover a key to why you sometimes feel stuck, frustrated, or impotent. You may discover a deeper source of the pervasive angst in society. If you dig deep enough, you may discover as I have that breaking the bonds of dependence requires vigilance, courage, and commitment. Freedom isn’t a free ride. It’s not for the faint-hearted. Yet, it is your divine birthright.

Another Independence Day is approaching here in the United States, the 242th since a small band of visionary revolutionaries, some of whom had deep mystical understanding, declared independence and set a course for a new nation.  As we make plans to celebrate once again, I wonder if we/I really know what freedom is. Do we/I know the importance of exercising our independence? Do we/I even know how?

As I observe the political landscape, I see and hear demands for freedom. Fear that someone who is ‘different from me’ will take our freedom away is rampant.  It seems we’ve lost our understanding that the source of freedom and independence is not man or government. Rather, freedom is our gift from the Universe. Independence is Universal law.  Dependence is a violation of that law.

And yet we’ve created and continue to support dependence in our systems of government, education, business, as well as in our personal relationships. We give life to these systems and to other people when we depend on them as our source. We’ve become dependent on jobs, clients, government agencies and circumstances for our happiness and our well-being. We expect others to ‘be there’ for us, and we may be dependent on them needing us as well.  In doing so, we abdicate our freedom, our power to choose, and to express our authentic selves.

It’s no wonder that the level of frustration, angst, and fear has reached revolutionary proportions. We aren’t being true to our nature. We desperately want to find our way back. So we revolt. Many lash out at the ‘powers that be’ as if they are the source. Others wisely recognize that change starts within and that individual responsibility is key to the exercise of freedom.

A first step in taking responsibility is recognition that the tyranny of dependence is in part self-imposed. From that awareness we are in a position to declare our own, personal independence and begin to ‘unlearn’ dependence. This unlearning requires courage, awareness, commitment, self-honesty, and trust. It is not a project, but rather a life-long process.

We restore our independence by identifying dependencies we’ve allowed to creep in: awareness by awareness, step by step, choice by choice. We learn from experience and commitment that our independence is mostly an inside job, made more challenging in a culture that fosters dependence as a means to control.  Yet, in the final analysis we and we alone are the authors of our own freedom.

NOTE – this post was originally written and posted on 7-7-2016.  With a bit of refreshing, it still seems apropos today as I reflect on the sad state of governance and on our misunderstanding of the true source of our independence. http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/breaking-the-chains-of-dependence

   Thanks for Letting Me Roam Free on Our Walks Mom.

Thanks for Letting Me Roam Free on Our Walks Mom.

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Of Pests, Painting, Patience, and Peace

   'Patience Coach', Cool Hand Luke Skywalker watches over Mom as she prepares to paint.

'Patience Coach', Cool Hand Luke Skywalker watches over Mom as she prepares to paint.

We can never obtain peace in the outer world until we make peace with ourselves. … We cannot overcome anger and hatred simply by suppressing them. We need to actively cultivate the antidotes: patience and tolerance.  Dalai Lama

The more we practice patience, the greater our experience of the peace that follows.

So, remember the ants [click here if you missed last week’s post -- http://cindyreinhardt.com/blog/the-open-door-of-missed-opportunity]?

They’re still here. Despite negotiations, pleading, and non-lethal ‘strong arm tactics’ (they don’t like peppermint) to force them to relocate, the mound is still active. They no longer have trails toward the house. Perhaps that’s a sign that their activity is focused on moving (hopefully far away). 

But alas, another pest has surfaced here at home.  I discovered evidence of a mouse in the house this week. Respectful of the hantavirus mice carry and its presence in our valley, I reluctantly set traps. Not the catch and release variety.

Pesky pests. I struggle knowing that any violence I perpetrate against myself or another living creature contributes to the culture of cruelty and violence on the planet. And, these days that culture needs no additional contributions.

As atrocious acts of violence and cruelty are being ordered and carried out right here in the United States and around the globe, the main course that’s needed is patience and peace. To that menu we need to add generous sides of understanding, compassion, kindness, and love.

I wonder: if I can’t be patient and co-exist with pesky pests, how can I expect others to make peace with those whose differences surfaces fear that can only be extinguished with love?  Indeed how can I make peace with others whose views differ from my own?  How do we get beyond the zero sum, win-lose approach to life?

Patience is key.  This week my ‘Patience Coach’, Cool Hand Luke Skywalker has his hands full. Beyond the pests, a few other pesky events this week are reminding me of the prayer: “Lord grant me patience, but please hurry”. Preparing to paint the garage trim, I discovered the masking tape preferred not to stick to the stucco. High winds didn’t help. Last night, wanting to wind down and relax with a video, the site I preferred to watch wasn’t working. Ugh!

On one level these little events pale in magnitude to the ‘big issues’ confronting humanity. But do they really? I’ve suggested before that there is no small thing in life. How we respond the seemingly inconsequential events in life is, indeed, consequential: cause and effect. Patience begets understanding, tolerance, peace. The more we practice patience, the greater our experience of the peace that follows.

If we truly understood and accepted this law our choices and actions would likely be very different.

How might I cultivate patience with the ants, with a mouse, with myself?  In those places where your patience is lacking, how might you?

PS - HAPPY SOLSTICE - Summer in the northern hemisphere, Winter in the south! 

  Not Quite Solstice Sunrise Over the Sangres

Not Quite Solstice Sunrise Over the Sangres

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The Open Door of Missed Opportunity

   Here Comes The Sun ... Sunrise in the Sangres

Here Comes The Sun ... Sunrise in the Sangres

You contribute to the situation by what you say. Gregge Tiffen (Open Secrets: An Honest Performance – June, 2011)

There is no small thing in life. Antsand their hills hold the potential to teach us how to climb life’s mountains, including the peak of creating peace in our world.

In our world that needs all the kindness and compassion we can muster, I missed an opportunity to be compassionate yesterday. Although I’m not beating myself up, I’m aware that an opportunity to be more of who I am is a terrible thing to waste. In noticing the miss, the door to greater awareness opened.

In hindsight I observed that when I’ve made a decision and am on a mission, I loose awareness of all else (focus is good and, like everything, has its shadow). That’s especially true, I discovered, if my decision is at odds which what I value. In this case ‘non-violence and honoring all life’ is what I say I value.

Yet, my mission was to purchase a ‘natural’ product to destroy a colony of ants. On some level, I set aside the fact that I wanted to kill, and I rationalized that using a commercial chemical formula was worse than my ‘natural’ approach. In my heart – the heart I ignored – I know that is false. Killing is killing regardless of method.

Negotiation so far had failed (Yes! I talked to the ants) but my missed opportunity suggested to me that perhaps I’d given up too soon (or perhaps my ant-speak needed to be clearer). Why are the ants an issue? I don’t want to experience the pain of another bite (they aren’t called ‘fire’ ants for nothing). I want Luke to enjoy his favorite outdoor napping spots without being attacked. And, I want the same for all my visiting two- and four-legged friends. But is killing the only answer?

As I write this, I’m aware of my ants as metaphor for viewing others whom we fear as ‘pests’ that need to be controlled. We try to dominate or conquer that which is different from us and those who we don’t understand. Oh life’s ‘little’ challenges! They have so much to teach us if we dare to be aware. But, I digress from yesterday’s missed opportunity that opened the door to this awareness.

I’m grateful to the Buddhist nun whose presence while I was on my mission to the local market provided the gifts of this reflection and the missed opportunity for compassion. She too was on an ‘ant mission’, going for the same product as I. While I was navigating around her to grab a box and go, she was standing in the aisle thoughtfully inquiring whether the product would kill or just deter them. She was aiming for the later: harm no thing. I quickly shared that the information I had was that the product would kill them. My missed opportunity for compassion continued as I responded to her question about what would deter without death in a somewhat frustrated tone, “I don’t know” and walked away.

I didn’t like what my voice and its tone contributed to this encounter. In hindsight I see that I didn’t want to confront my internal conflict. Heck, I’d made up my mind, let me buy the box of Borax and get on with my mission. Oh what a different conversation we might have had if I’d been aware and willing to engage.

The missed opportunity though gave rise to a deeper insight, to a commitment to pause and go back to the drawing board of the internet for a non-lethal alternative, including reopening ‘negotiations’ with these industrious beings. That’s the gift of aiming to honor my values, of being willing and aware, and of taking time for quiet reflection.

There is indeed no small thing in life. As part of the natural world which has so much to share, ants symbolize industriousness, order, and discipline. ‘Why would I want to kill THAT?’ is perhaps a story for another day. For sure it has my attention.

Ants and their hills hold the potential to teach us how to climb life’s mountains, including the peak of creating peace in our world.

  Sunset on a Smokey Day in the Valley

Sunset on a Smokey Day in the Valley

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