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Begin Again...Thoughts on Transformative Times


“Many of us are lost. We work too hard, our lives are too busy; we lose ourselves in consumption and distraction of all kinds and have become increasingly lost, lonely, or sick. We are no longer in touch with ourselves, our family, our ancestors, the Earth, or the wonders of life around us…this alienation is a kind of illness that has become a pandemic.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth

Ana Mendieta (American, born Cuba, 1948 – 1985) Untitled: Silueta Series, Mexico, 1976

LOVE LETTER TO EARTH

Love Letter to the Earth (2013), Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us of our weaknesses and asks us to fall in love again with the Earth. To do so, he suggests building mindfulness into every moment of every day, every action, every thought. In particular, he asks us to awaken our relationship to Earth, and take refuge in her beauty and stability.

During this transformative time, we can gain great solace and strength from watching the beauty and abundance of the Earth flowering before our eyes. We can experience connection and belonging by listening to the leaves move and the clouds pass by. We can heal ourselves by connecting to the Earth and listening deeply.

My journey to listening deeply began a decade ago when I experienced my own personal epidemic. I was brought to my knees. Loss of my academic job after 15 years of study and striving, my ability to have children, my mother’s passing, and two major surgeries but a few years apart, and the death of my beloved pet/child of 16 years. It all left me broken in many places. I had lost hope. What I learned from all of that was the power of resilience. Because I was left without joy, without connection and without hope, I had to rebuild my trust. I learned how to Begin Again…simply and slowly, by walking humbly with two titanium legs on Mother Earth.

I have told this story many times to my students. It lives in my heart demonstrating our ability to gain from loss, as a possible way out of despair. Learning the language of my spirit has given me the strength and resilience to weather any storm, even a global pandemic that could at any moment eradicate my life or my loved ones. I learned to walk again, with courage and strength, with connection to my truth and my spirit by offering gratitude each day for my life. It is a living prayer...pausing to connect with Mother Earth, Father Sky, the Holy Water Spirit, trees, plants, animals, wind, rain, fire, whatever part of nature might be near. Very simply, each day. These safe, eternal elements taught me to Begin Again…

PRAYERS FOR OUT PLANET

At this time our planet is on pause. Amidst the collective pain and suffering of loss, the isolation, the turning inward, Earth stands wide open. Here in the Pacific Northwest, the Eagles have been soaring over my seaside neighborhood for weeks. First Nation’s people of this region believe the Eagle carries our prayers to heaven. It is time for those prayers to wrap our lives in healing energy, and for those powerful Eagle feathers to lift our hearts.

Clouds carry silver linings…my grandmother always said. And isn’t this a time for the elders to speak to us of sacred things that bring us all, each and every living thing, back into balance. I thing of Poet Laureate, Mary Oliver, our contemporary patron saint of nature ~

All afternoon, Sir,

Your ambassadors have been turning into lakes and rivers.

At first they were just clouds, like any other.

Then they swelled and swirled; then the hung very still; then they broke open. This is, I suppose, just one of the common miracles, a transformation, not a vision,

Not an answe