A Voice for the Voiceless

Image credit: http://images.slideplayer.com/1/2655/slides/slide_4.jpg
Image credit: http://images.slideplayer.com/1/2655/slides/slide_4.jpg

 
In just twenty-three hours on my

Facebook feed I’ve seen a

bloodied orangutan hands raised in an

attempt to protect its

face, savagely beaten or

trampled underfoot by logging machinery –

I’m not sure which as the caption on the

picture didn’t say. Bloodied to

death or thereabouts because it

happened to “get in the way.”

 

Small wonder when in the last

twenty years we (as in homo

sapiens – the human race) have

single-handedly

destroyed ninety percent of the

orangutans’ home – for what?

Palm oil. Ruthless destruction of

ancient rainforests with an unparalleled

diversity of life so we can have

margarine, soap and packaged

bread with palm oil in. Really?

Me, I’d rather have the

rainforests and their biodiversity

intact instead.

 

A dog with some German Shepard

in it stretched out on the highway,

its eyes – now that the spark of

life is gone from them – as dark

as the tarmac it lies upon. Its

companion – fur matted in the

rain – keeps vigil at its

side, licking the stiffening

body of its friend. Is this

grooming a mark of love and

respect, a leave-taking? Or

an endeavour to revive, to

lick the life back into

him? I’ll never know, but

either way the cars speed

by unheeding, uncaring;

oblivious to the

dogs and their pain.

 

A polar bear a sack of

skin and bones, chronically

enfeebled from weeks without

sufficient food, suffering the

discomfort of an injured leg –

and what slim hope does she

have of finding food in the

weeks to come when we (homo

sapiens – the human race) have

elevated the temperature of the

planet so much that the sea ice

where she and her companions

find their seal prey has

diminished so rapidly that

it’s been at a record

low for the past eight years?

 

I see these things and

I am grieved, sick to

my heart. What monsters

of destruction, what

harbingers of death

we have become.

 

And what strikes me in all

of this is not just the blatant

disregard for the planet, for

animal life, for any

life except that of our

own; but also the fact that

both the rainforests and the

oceans are largely enigmas

to us, huge swathes of land and

water that we have hardly

set foot in, full of a

multitude of life forms yet

unknown.

 

Do you know of any other

animal with a hand so

far-reaching that it somehow

manages to destroy habitats

and ecosystems it has

barely explored, bestowing on

them such irreparable harm?

 

Do you know of any other

animal that has left such

deeply imprinted footprints

on our planet – the echoes of

which will resound for

hundreds, maybe

thousands, of years?

 

When did we forget that

we are one with nature?

 

When did we lose our

sense of awe, appreciation

and respect for the other

animals, for the miracle of

life all around, for our

life-sustaining Mother Earth?

 

When did we lose

respect for ourselves –

become marauders, destroyers,

the poisoners of our planet –

instead of the custodians our

ancestors and the indigenous

peoples knew to be?

 

Have we, in our single-minded

race for ‘progress,’ lost sight of

the fact that we, like all the

other animals, are only

granted the gift of

life through the upholder of

all that breathes on this planet, our

beautiful, sustaining Mother Earth?

 

Can we really imagine

that our bank accounts, our

cars, our jobs and our kitchen

refurbishments are going to

save us when the forests are

gone, taking with them the trees

that breathe out the life-

giving oxygen we breathe in?

 

Can we really believe that

our smartphones, our degrees,

our encyclopaedias full of

knowledge, our modern conveniences

and our pensions will do

anything to deliver us

when the temperature of the

planet rises above a level that is

bearable for human life, and the

melting sea ice results in such

high sea levels that ocean

waters cascade into our homes?

 

When we ruthlessly

routinely destroy

the trees, the air, the

water, the soil – the very

ecosystems of our planet, how

can we hope to save our

fellow species? How can we

hope to save our own?

 

When are we going to

stand up and accept the

responsibility for trying

to put right some of the

devastation we have done?

 

Are we, in fact, going to

do something about it

while there’s still time;

while we still can?

 

 

References:

http://www.idealistrevolution.org/save-the-orangutans/

http://www.worldwildlife.org/pages/which-everyday-products-contain-palm-oil

https://www.facebook.com/363725540304160/videos/977958852214156/
or
https://video.xx.fbcdn.net/hvideo-xtp1/v/t42.1790-2/11139048_977959258880782_480352605_n.mp4?efg=eyJybHIiOjU2NSwicmxhIjo1MTN9&rl=565&vabr=314&oh=c0e2aa83b5e8fda3e079d94b19beede5&oe=55DCABD5

https://www.facebook.com/kerstin.langenberger.photography/photos/a.463697036975575.115901.429056113773001/1045109095501030/?type=1

http://www.polarbearsinternational.org/about-polar-bears/climate-change#Affect

http://rsta.royalsocietypublishing.org/content/373/2045/20140171

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There Is Only Now

Be Here Now

 

When you get

mired

in the quicksand of the

past,

letting long-gone

people and situations –

 

regrets,

bitterness,

simmering resentments,

thoughts about what you should or

shouldn’t have done, could or

couldn’t have been –

 

hold you in their grasp

 

it’s as if in the

rooms in your head

the clock hands have

 

stopped

 

and you are stuck

forever

in a chamber of your

own making,

 

trapped

in a world you

cannot change.

 

Why lament that which

has already passed?

 

Do yourself a favor and

let it all

go –

 

breathe it out,

give it back to

Mother Earth;

release it into the

air, the soil, the wind,

the waves –

 

let nature take your

burden from you, whisking it

away on the wind like

dying leaves and,

in your newfound lightness

of being, you’ll wonder

what you’ve been so

attached to all this time.

 

 

When you let yourself get

noosed

by the lasso of the

unseen future –

 

fears,

worries, anxieties

taking residence

in your head

fueled by self-doubts

and insecurities –

 

it’s as if the clock hands are

spinning too fast

like an out of control

fairground carousel.

 

You ravage your

peace of mind with your

overrun imagination,

 

turning your greatest ally

into a bane.

 

Why agonize over that

which may never come to pass?

 

Do yourself a favor and

let it all

go –

 

breathe it out,

give it up to

Mother Earth,

release it into the

river, the ocean, the forest,

the vast night sky –

 

let nature take your

burden from you, borne

away like a dandelion on

the breeze and,

in your newfound lightness

of being, you’ll wonder

what you’ve been so

attached to all this time.

 

 

And as you inhale

come back to the present.

 

It’s where you are

all the time anyway,

 

You just don’t know it,

caught up in your stories of

Painful Past and

Fearsome Future.

 

Release yourself from their

binding grip as you

slowly, consciously

bring yourself back to the

Now.

 

Because it’s always

here you have

nowhere to go to

find it, and,

however many times you

lose sight of it, you only

have to seek it out again to

see it’s been here all

along –

 

it’s you that were absent,

you who forgot to bring your

presence to this beautiful

eternal

present.

 

 

Now is…

 

the time-place where you are

truly alive – where you can feel and

hear and see and

taste and smell; where you

can give and be given

love, know the

fullness

that you are.

 

the time-place where you can

be there – for

yourself and for others – in

wholeness.

 

the time-place where

authentic interaction and

conversation can be had.

 

the time-place where you

have the power to

change your life – one

decision at a time.

 

the time-place where

peace,

fulfilment,

serenity and

joy

abound.

 

When you take yourself

out of the present –

 

with your regrets and

lamentations, your

anxieties and fears,

 

you are removing yourself

from your life, from any possibility of

really living it.

 

It really is as simple as all

the masters have said:

 

Be Here Now –

 

where the clock hands are

out of the picture because

time – what’s that?

It doesn’t even exist.

 

It is always now.

It is always here.

 

And you, too, are always right here, right now.

Dark Night of the Soul

Picture credit: http://likesuccess.com/99686

 

At certain unforeseen

junctures in the

course of one’s lifetime

here on this verdant green, this

beautiful, nurturing, mothering

Earth,

an abrupt

unasked-for change

severs the

tightly woven

fabric of your life, ripping

away stitches that join together

seams; tearing to

shreds

the carefully constructed

life you know.

 

The Earth seems to

shift beneath your feet and what

 
once

 

was solid ground

fractures,

splinters,

disperses,

dissolves

 

leaving you stranded

with nowhere to plant

your feet, no firm

terrain to

root yourself in as

 

everything

 

you thought you knew,

all that you felt so sure of

 

falls

away,

 

dismantles,

 

crumbles

to dust,

 

disarray,

despair.

 

Leaving you

trying to keep your

head above water in an

ocean of loss and

confusion; a

fearsome sea of change

with the unfamiliar at

every horizon.

 

There are

no

recognisable landmarks to

navigate from –

you are

adrift,

unmoored,

 

a stranger in

your own life

 

you know

yourself

no more.

 
 

No one can say what

will preface this unmooring,

from where the squall that

undoes

the life you know

will come.

 

But come it

does and dark clouds

gather on the horizon,

blotting out the light.

 

You stumble and fall,

find yourself prostrate on the

ground, unable to

see your way through the

black as pitch

place you find yourself in.

 

And as the darkness

envelopes you in its

all-pervading presence

you wonder if you’ll

ever

lay eyes on light again.

 
 

Try not to fear the darkness of this night,

try not to resist the plunge into its

impenetrable depths, steer

your way out too soon…

 

Lean into the wind, open your arms wide

to the storm, allow its spray to blow right

through you, drenching you in

its frenzy.

 

Open yourself to receive its

deluge, giving yourself permission,

the time and the space needed, to feel it all –

the hurt, the pain, the fear, the confusion, the

darkness, the revulsion, the brokenness, the

unknowing, the compulsive longing

for something

beyond

it all.

 

Allow yourself to know the depths of darkness as

intimately

as the light,

 

To know the dark night

of your soul and

love yourself

through it all.

 

Give yourself the time and space

to really look into each of the

emotions inscribed on your heart

allowing them to stay as

long as they need –

not condemning,

accepting them as they are.

 

Accepting all of you.

 

Allow yourself to look

deeply and honestly into

who

you

are – the

darkness as well as

the light.

 

 
For just as the seed starts to

germinate deep beneath the

soil in a total absence of

light, so days of

darkness are fertile soil, rich in the

conditions necessary for the

germination of the soul.

 

Knowing this,

the Infinite part of you

knows:

 

the savagery of this

storm is not in vain.

 

The vast and infinite creative

Source

that spoke into being not only

you

but also the storm in

all its ferocious

tumult

does not know the

meaning of the word

arbitrary.

 

Everything has its purpose.

 

Every experience is

here, now, to lead you to deeper

knowing, to stretch you

open into more

expansiveness, to bring forth

greater authenticity of

being, to precipitate the

evolution of your soul

 

extending an invitation

for you to migrate from

the shadows into

more of the light.

 

The storm that pelts you with

pebbles of pain was

ordained

before you were born to

awaken

in you

the impulse for

change.

 

This time of darkness, the seeming

absence of light

carries within it the seeds of

metamorphosis –

your metamorphosis.

 

It is the wounding,

inconsolable darkness that

breaks us open, lets in the light.

 

Without the darkness of the storm,

who would choose to embark on

such an unnerving voyage.

 

This is change with a

capital ‘C’ –

 

the undoing,

the unbecoming

of all that you thought you knew,

all that you thought you were.

 

The storm is offering you the

chance to wash away the old, to

purify yourself with the

salt of your tears, to come into deeper

knowingness,

a more truthful relationship with

who and

what

you are.

 

And what it asks of

you is that you willingly

yield with an open

heart and mind.

 

So don’t try to escape the onslaught of the

storm or be afraid to see what’s there…

 

Looking deeply you see the

pain and desolation are nothing less

than a slightly-muddied mirror

reflecting back at you something more

you’re ready to know, to be.

 

Suffuse yourself in it all,

softening the mirror’s

opacity as you

courageously look with

fearsome honesty,

bringing stillness and clarity to

what were once

whirlpools of

concealed thoughts and

emotions, hidden beneath the

surface of where you

dared to go.

 

Persist with this journey,

diving deeper within, and

the entire Universe will

open up before you as you

discover the

expansiveness

of who and what you

really are

beyond the limits of the

human mind with all its

knowledge and understanding…

 

Attune to the part of

you that exists beyond the

illusion and

Know in the

innermost depths of your

being that the storm is

not the affliction

your mind thinks

it to be.

 

It is a

gift of

exquisite

grace –

 

here to awaken,

to cleanse,

to lay the fire that

is kindling your rebirth.

 

Trust in the

Infinite wisdom that

resides within,

 

trust in the guiding

hand of Source and

Know that this is

 

all

 

unfolding

exactly

as it’s meant to be…

 

Know that the darkness of this

storm shall pass; the clouds will

break up, disperse; and the

warmth of the sun’s light will

seek you out again.

 

Know that after the pitch

blackness

of night a beautiful

dawn awaits you –

 

urging you to

surrender, to

fervently

receive its light.

Be Still – There’s a Time to Be Active and a Time to Rest

Heron

(I wrote this, for the most part, a couple of weeks ago now but it can take me a while to finish my often lengthy posts and I feel this one is always of relevance).

I had great plans for Monday morning, the first morning of a fresh new week.

I was going to get up with the alarm, do my morning practices and attack the day with zest.

I was going to do the washing, walk my dog, do the last little bits to prepare for my afternoon classes, sterilise some jars, make a phone call, answer the mails in my inbox, get behind the pottery wheel and create.

After that, if time allowed, I was even thinking I could get a start on cleaning my house and/or work on a half-finished blog post, depending on in which direction my mood led me.

All before eating a late lunch and heading out for my afternoon classes at three.

Looking at it on paper like this, it sounds entirely possible. Or the first half at least.

But plans on paper don’t take into account the ebb and flow of energy.

I woke up on Monday tired, with a latent tension in my shoulders that spoke of the need for rest.

Even the day was gray; not a day for doing the washing – giving me an excuse for that one at least.

This compulsion of mine to make excuses for myself and my lack – in this case of activity – is significant, worth taking a few moments to delve into.

I have made huge strides in the areas of self-love and self-acceptance in the last couple of years. But my need to make the excuse reveals a part of me that is still striving to prove itself worthy through ‘doings’ – specifically, the amount that gets done; rather than allowing me to just be, accepting myself, however I may be, in each passing moment. Essentially it’s showing me where I need to heal, what still needs to be surrendered to wholeness.

But coming back to Monday… I don’t often neglect my morning practices. And I did manage to sterilise the jars… It goes without saying that I walked my dog; and I also cleaned her ears and slathered her in the aloe gel I’m using to combat her ear and skin problems and, of course, I got everything ready for my classes. Then I treated myself to an hour or so writing.

But all of that was after I’d stayed in bed way past my alarm and spent a couple of hours easing myself into the morning very, very gently… doing quite a good job of doing nothing really – zoning out on the sofa; eating breakfast; checking Facebook; a few gentle stretches… And on a weekday, a Monday no less – the day I had planned to get myself off on a good footing for the week ahead.

In the not too distant past I would have beaten myself up for this, spent the morning feeling guilty for all that I wasn’t getting done, making myself feel worse in the process.

But I’ve wised up to the self-destruction inherent in this. We encounter enough people who make us wrong during the course of a lifetime, without inflicting the same pain and guilt-ridden shame on ourselves.

As our body, mind and spirit are intricately intertwined – an integral whole, the words we speak to ourselves and the narratives with which we fill our heads literally determine our state of well-being. if we want to be healthy, happy and whole, we need to start loving and accepting ourselves as we are; not beating ourselves up for not being somebody else or some way else – in this particular case somebody more efficient, better at getting things done, and more successful at staying in alignment with their proposed goals for the day.

I have intoned these and other harsh words of criticism to myself more times than I care to count, their abrasive edges violating the sanctity of self. While the tendency to self-condemn is not yet extinct I now see it for what it is – a defunct narrative that doesn’t deserve to take up any time or space in my head. When I catch it knocking on my door, I make the conscious choice to send it on its way and to administer a dose of self-compassion instead. This, I have discovered, is what learning ‘self-love’ is all about.

A big part of it for me has been learning a new lexicon – one that is centered around building me up, not tearing me down. I am choosing not to negate but to uphold and uplift; to be easier on myself, kinder. To honor the person who I am with my limitations and to embrace the wholeness of me – that which I still want to label ‘bad’ as well as that which I can more easily embrace as ‘good.’

So on Monday morning I didn’t pay any attention to my to-do list. I declined to play the game that says there’s too much to do and not enough time to do it in. The one that has us obeying the clock, contorting ourselves like acrobatic circus performers trying to juggle too many balls at once; subjugating our body wisdom, the call of our hearts, the longings of our souls to the demands of All The Things That Need To Be Done.

I have played that game way too many times in way too many ways, and now, at last, it is me that is Done.

I chose instead to honor my body and its tiredness; to listen to its wisdom; to respond, lovingly, like a mother answering the call of her child, to its whispered plea for time and a place to rest.

(Not that I’m denying that there was still that part of me that questioned why I should feel so tired, what had my days done to warrant it; searching for reasons… never satisfied…)

Be that as it may, I acknowledged the truth of the moment: Whatever the reasons for it, ‘justifiable’ to my mind or not, the overwhelming feeling of tiredness was the fact of my present circumstance.

Ad really, why fight against myself?

What more futile resistance than that?

So I allowed myself to take the morning slowly; to stay in bed an hour past my alarm. I didn’t succumb to the notion that now that I’d got up late I had to rush through my day to get everything done, but instead allowed myself to be fully present, enjoying my walk with my slow senior dog – noticing the purple clover peeping through the grass; the patterns of the lichen on bark; the butterflies dancing duets in the air to inaudible music… Feeling the joy and release in my spine as I elongated it skywards, matching the trees with their strong, straight trunks.

Breathing in deeply I said a thank you to the Universe in gratitude for all I have; inhaling the expansive possibilities ahead.

And because I was fully present with myself and my world in this way I got to hear the song of the rainwater in the underground gutter; a gurgling that seemed to bubble forth from the belly of the Earth.

And on my return to my house and haven I indulged in a second breakfast; enjoying the smell of the coffee topped with milk, its warm comfort; the sight of my dog sprawled out on the sofa; the time to just sit and be.

A beautiful way to spend a morning indeed. And not an ounce of guilt or shame in sight.

It’s true that it’s made easier by the fact that I live alone. My friends with families find it a lot harder to take this time for themselves, caught up in the demands of others’ schedules as well as their own. But I also think it’s a question of priorities and that on this journey that we are walking together, all carving out our own path, making ourself and our well-being our priority is one of the most important choices we will ever make and the only way we’ll ever be able to carve a path that remains to our liking.

Do you see a tree or a flower sacrificing its own well-being so that another can live? No. Each sinks its roots as deep as it can and reaches up towards the light, concerned only with its own blossoming… and yet from such vital self-absorption is born a joy that is felt by everyone who looks on that flower or tree with eyes and heart that see.

It is the same with us. It is when we honor ourselves by choosing what is right for us not what is right for everybody else that we start to live authentically, to be true to the song of our soul. And it is only when we are in alignment with our soul that we can really blossom, effortlessly touching the people we meet as our joy and authenticity abundantly overflow.

But while this choice to put ourself and our well-being and happiness first may seem a simple one on the surface, it is by no means an easy one to make…

The road that leads us to this deeply transformative choice is usually rocky to say the least – while we may be in a state of constant flux and change, it is not in out nature to choose to change until our present circumstances have become so unbearable that they push us to the edge of a ridge where we can do nothing save admit that where we are and what we have been doing thus far is no longer working; there is nothing for it but to try something else, some new way of being in the world.

And just because we understand this and make the choice, it doesn’t mean that this new way of being comes easily to us at first, or that everyone around us is also going to understand and/or appreciate it. We have to contend with the responses of others to our new aspect, and find a way to balance our own needs and our new commitment to our self with our interactions with those around us in a way that honors all.

People who are used to the ‘old’ us may not get on with this new version of us quite as much; they may see her as selfish, and/or lazy, and/or, depending on who and where they are at in their lives, may even see the change in us and our priorities as the root of all their troubles. It is almost inevitable that certain relationships and circumstances will drop away, and it can be hard to come to terms with this even when we implicitly understand that they are falling away because they are no longer in our highest good.

And of course we have to maintain our vigilance, observing our way of being in the world and catching ourselves when we fall back into old patterns that do not honor who we are; renewing our commitment to our self by making that choice again… and again… and again.

So no, I would never call it an easy choice.

Easy no;

the most important choice we’ll ever make –

yes.

This commitment to myself and my wel-lbeing is one that I’ve made, one that I’m making and remaking each and every day. I’m learning the first steps in the prologue, but it’s a dance that I haven’t yet perfected and I often stumble along the way, fall over mid-dance.

I do, however, know that in making this choice I serve not only myself, but also others. I have seen the value in looking after – really listening to, honoring and taking care of – myself first. When I do I am whole and at peace, at one with myself and with my world; and it is when I’m in this place that the people and circumstances I come across in my daily life receive the best of me.

And that is what I want to give.

Some of that peace, that wholeness, that joy in being overflows from my life into theirs and I interact with then with more goodwill, more love, more kindness, more joy; more of my light radiates out from my life into theirs.

And that is what I want to be – light and love, joy and peace, kindness and compassion.

As for Monday, when I rounded the corner towards the end of my walk bringing myself face to face with the river, there in the shadows stood a heron silently watching the world go by.

The heron alone I might not have given a second thought – herons are one of my favorite birds but they are frequent visitors to my river and I often see them paused in stillness, neutral observers of all that is.

But just across from the heron, where the river turns into a bed of stones, was a solitary kite hunkered down on a rock, quietly observing the river flow.

I see kites often, too. Wheeling and circling in the sky above. But this was the first time for my attention to be drawn to one resting on a rock. And in such synchronous timing, too.

“Be still” the wisdom of the birds said to me. “Slow down. Allow your body a time of rest.”

A confirmation from the Universe.

A stamp of approval for the way I was choosing to spend my day – honoring my body and its call for rest rather than subjugating it to the demands of my ego and ambition.

Reminding me that life is less about the quantity of our doing than the quality of our being. That pushing myself to complete my self-made plans within my self-made deadlines may be a good thing sometimes – it’s what enables me to get stuff done after all; but not when it’s at the expense of enjoyment of the process and/or to the detriment of my physical, emotional, mental or spiritual health.

The Universe honoring me honoring my commitment to my self.

Reminding me that it’s okay to just ‘be.’