Connected

“We are so intimately connected to all that is, so much so that the plural ‘we’ is meaningless. Indeed, ‘I’ is of equal nonsense. Find the courage to admit this truth, for to do so will unveil unspeakable unconditional love.”
~ Ha Chi Ming

Like the veins in a leaf that carry life-giving nutrients and send sweet morning waters to every cell they touch, we are an elemental part of all that is.

When we act in discord, when we wage war both inside our heart and with others, when we try to be ‘better than’ or say we are more knowledgable than another, when we push and pull to get our own way … we are simply tangling and knotting the thread that connects everything we witness – including ourselves and all that we desire. And in the end we are only left with a twisted wreckage of debris.

But when we recognize that we cannot ‘unconnect’ … that there is no way to dissever ourselves, and no matter what we do or how hard we try, our lives are – and always will be – an acutely entwined plait in the braid of this world, the universe, and all that exists even beyond … then we can use the thread of our lives to inspirit and strengthen the whole, rather than unraveling all that is. As always, the choice is ours…..

Friends….

“We must find time to stop and thank the people who make a difference in our lives.” ~ John F. Kennedy

In June 2015, the Silver Backpack (my original Subi) and I set out from near Ithaca NY to meet people, see new places, and to walk along side of others … listening and learning, hearing about their own journey and hopes and dreams. In the years since, I’ve sat with all kinds … all races, religions, orientations and political leanings. And I fell in love with each and every one of them. I’ve traversed 10,000+ foot mountains, wiggled my toes in two oceans, wound my way through steep canyons and across plains so wide they never seemed to end. And I’ve been witness to fields that hold every color known to the eye. And I fell in love with each and every one of them, too.

There were days and moments that held a depth of spirit beyond any words imaginable … joy bursting my heart wide open, and making me smile so hard and long that my face ached. And, there were moments that saw me tremble in fear and surprise. Times of pain and anguish – both physical and emotional – so deep that I wanted to stop, turn the car around, and find somewhere to hide forever.

When I left NY state that June, I anticipated being on the road for about six months … that was all it seemed my route and plan held. Actually, to be honest, I hoped I’d make it six months!! Never once did the thought occur to me that it would continue for five years and 35,000 miles. Never did I think I would criss-cross the entire country twice.

And now, as embarking on the journey that will take me home to NY once again, I will – by the end of it – have spent approximately 1765 days exploring. Exploring this amazing country, its people and its diverse lands … and myself. Without asking, or being invited, these kinds of journeys do that … they offer an education of the soul, and I’ve learned more about myself in these last five years than I had in all the years and decades before. Perhaps it is because I had the time to stop and think, perhaps because of the diversity of people and lives I encountered, perhaps just because I’ve grown older. The how’s and why’s matter not … it is the gift, itself, that does. And for all of those lessons, and the growth and understanding it brought, I am and will forever be deeply and profoundly grateful.

One of these gifts was a deeper understanding of the joy of family and friends. So this is a shout-out to all who so freely and openly welcomed me into your home and your lives; to those who traveled vicariously along side of me (via “Ravensong’s Ride“) as I meandered my way around this country. And very especially to my friends back in NY who had not forgotten or set me aside during those years away. I truly thank  each and every one for the many words of acceptance and encouragement. Every one I have met along the way, and at home, have filled my heart with gratitude beyond words, humbled me, and given me a gift I will not forget.

Thank you all, once again. Tomorrow begins a new journey, in so many ways. ❤

Dancing with Life….

“… we’re dancing animals.”
Kurt Vonnegut

I’m down to 12 days before I leave NM, and as I continue to pack up and get ready for the journey that will take me back home to NY, I ran across something by Kurt Vonnegut that – for me – is important to share. Over the course of these last five years of travel and exploration, when I announce that I am moving on to a new place (or old, as the case is now) I occasionally receive messages and comments stating things such as “I hope you find what you’re looking for/seeking…” Or, “I hope you find peace…” etc.

What really needs to be understood is that I have never been “seeking” something elusive, nor have I ever not been at peace. My journeys, and my many moves and travels have never been about “finding myself,” as many mistakenly assume ….… they have been about learning, reaching beyond my comfort zone, stretching my boundaries. They’ve been about people and their lives; about different cultures, lands, and customs. These tens-of-thousands of miles have been to explore and experience – as much as time and money would allow – all the various vistas and histories and lands, within this one amazing land and country. If I had the money, I’d probably keep going. But it’s just about all gone, and as I turn 65 in April, I’ve decided it’s time to go home to the land where many generations of my family lived and loved, married and farmed and raised families. And died, and were buried in the hills by those beautiful blue lake waters. I’ve learned so much these last 5 years, and have grown decades worth. My eyes have seen colors I didn’t know existed; my ears have heard the music of the earth and the universe, and my tongue has tasted flavors both subtle and explosive. I have been humbled, and my heart has been stretched and filled beyond what I ever knew possible. So, no, it’s never been about seeking anything … it was simply about dancing with life. Please take a second to read the following – it “explains” the point of these last 5 years better than I …….

“Kurt Vonnegut tells what happened after he announced to his wife that he was going out to buy an envelope:

“Oh, she says, well, you’re not a poor man. You know, why don’t you go online and buy a hundred envelopes and put them in the closet? And so I pretend not to hear her. And go out to get an envelope because I’m going to have a hell of a good time in the process of buying one envelope. I meet a lot of people. And see some great looking babies. And a fire engine goes by. And I give them the thumbs up. And I’ll ask a woman what kind of dog that is. And, and I don’t know. The moral of the story is, we’re here on Earth to fart around. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, of course, the computers will do us out of that. And, what the computer people don’t realize, or they don’t care, is we’re dancing animals. You know, we love to move around. And, we’re not supposed to dance at all anymore.”

Honor the Road….

“If God gives you a watch, are you honoring him more by asking him what time it is or by simply consulting the watch?”
~ A. W. Tozer

Throughout the many years I’ve been writing and blogging, I have often spoken about the importance of honoring the unique person each one of us was created to be – whether you believe it due to genetics or spirit – and to be that person. That in not living true to who we are, we are dishonoring this creation. It has basically become my mantra, and I have talked of the need for learning to really listen to our heart, and our spirit, as they guide us into being the individually designed person that we are. A person with a unique purpose and path in this life.

But there is more.

We also need to honor the Road. The gravel-y, pot-holed, ridiculously grainy, bumpy road. The road where we ran out of gas, lost tires, felt more lost than ever, and at times thought would never end. We need to honor the road … the events both glorious and grievous that have come to us along the way, as these are the very things that have also given us the means of shaping us into the beautiful gift of who we are today. Yes, it has become rote to say we are grateful for the things that have happened – mostly because we feel they’ve brought us to where we are today. There are countless songs written about ‘the broken road’ … but these challenges – these roads where the GPS doesn’t work – not only take us to certain places, but can also help us recognize and become the unique individual human being we were intended to be, as well.

Many years ago, I briefly dated a man who I thought was everything I’d been looking for. He reminded me of my love for the woods and mountains, and of a piece of myself I’d long laid aside. The relationship didn’t last long, and when the inevitable breakup happened, I was devastated far beyond what it seemed I should have been, given the circumstances and short nature of the liaison. For years, I tried to understand the “why” of it all, and even though I could see many of the answers … a deep spiritual growth, among them, that led to my first website … there was still something missing. There was, or so I thought, a “reason” beyond what I could find. What I couldn’t see, all those years ago, was that the road itself – those challenges and questions; the oil changes and flat tires – it was all there to bring me to person I was to become. Not just to where I am now … but to who I am.

We all struggle, we all go back-and-forth between the ‘who’ we think, or are told, we are supposed to be … and ‘who’ we know – deep in our heart and spirit – that we, in fact, are. The road through those difficult times took me on a journey of breaking through the façades of life, re-birthing me as the ‘who’ I was conceived to be, right from the beginning. So to honor the road, with all of its twists & turns and sometimes seemingly insurmountable mountains – and to recognize and understand that it is a gift to us – is an important step in becoming all that we are created to be …… that person the DNA deep in our cells cries out for. To realize that it is all vital to our growth and our be-ing, allows our heart to be open to recognizing the signs as the next turn approaches.

But again there is more. And it is what trips up so many of us …  the stepping off.

Stepping off, as defined by Free Dictionary, is “a place or point from which one leaves for unfamiliar regions.” Without action – without beginning to do the thing that is you (ie: putting our foot on the gas pedal) – we sit stagnant, staring helplessly at all of the unopened gifts and lessons that our road and our lives, to this point, have brought to us. It is, in essence, distrusting … scoffing at … it all. “If God gives you a watch, are you honoring him more by asking him what time it is or by simply consulting the watch?” If we know, if we listen to the clamorous call from deep inside our genes, if we begin to truly recognize who we are – who we were uniquely created to be from the tiniest of molecules of clay that became “us” – if we know the gifts we have, and choose to continue turning aside from them …….. is it not like being given a beautifully wrapped present, only to wait, looking day-in and day-out at the pretty package, letting it sit unopened for all eternity?

Maybe it’s time to accept the gift graciously, open it, and step off into the beautiful world of being all that we are. ❤

The List and a Gift….

“Become more aware of what is truly worth your one, short, important life.”
~ Joshua Becker

For the last 10 years during the week before New Year’s Eve, I draft something called “The List”: It is a list of intention … how and what I expect (intend) my life to be like by the end of following year. It is not a list of resolutions, as those are things that rely solely on human willpower, and are, to be honest, often based more on what we think others believe we should have/be/do, etc. … rather than what truly delights our heart, or speaks to what we were created to do. “The List,” instead, comes from a deep-seated place within, and consists of things that bring profound fulfillment and soul satisfaction.

It has always been amazing to watch them come to fruition over the years … and to learn and understand why, if or when, they don’t. This year was no different. These last 12 months held several unexpected and difficult days, and agonizing decisions; and at the end, threw down a gauntlet – a provocation – insisting I go no further, unless I let go of my own presuppositions, shut up, and allow the heavens to tell me what it is I need to know. This year presented challenges and heartrending disappointments that, I admit, took me by surprise … reminding me once again we cannot always predict the road ahead, nor should we; and to remain open to the truth of what lies deep inside.

This year I felt quite proud of myself, having completed my List a week or so ago. Or so I thought. It was long and rather detailed, much like a child’s letter to Santa. But something wasn’t right, and I kept going back to it, analyzing, revising, elaborating, rewriting, slowly coming to realize it was, in many ways, repeating certain items on several past Lists … items that failed to materialize, or when they did, left me as uncomfortable as shoes a size too small. So, I put it aside and pulled a comfortable chair up to a sunny window … and sat. I sat as the sun rose high in the sky, and I had to remove my sweater. I sat until it moved to the west, and began to turn a thousand shades of pink and yellow. I sat until faded below the horizon and the air chilled my bones. I sat until the stars appeared. In the morning my email chimed … a Christmas gift wrapped in a handful of typed characters, a few brief words unwittingly reminding me of an elemental part of myself. A few days later a different note arrived, inspiration sent by a favorite website, offering wisdom I needed to hear.

******

So today I’ll sit in by the window again, this time watching the snow fall and sipping a cup of hot chocolate, as I begin to pen a new List. A much shorter one now, more concise, more honest, knowing there so much more yet to come in the year ahead. More joy, more adventure, more spirit, more love. Living Life with a heart wide open. Though none of us know exactly where the road ahead leads, or how long our journey here will be, my List will be ready by the 31st, and I know it will be a true one. It’s going to be an awesome year. And as my father would say, “Make it so, Sweetheart, make it so…….”

💖

Homily

“In winter, when the world shimmers at twilight,
And the moon gazes shyly through her veils,
I walk to my church in the forest –

Here are the pews, brown and tangled ivy,
Here the carpet of snow where footprints
Mark the only pattern.
Here a rabbit curls into her new white coat,
Sighing her warm breath to the winds.
Here are the stained glass windows,
The bare trees cutting patterns into the purple sky.
Here are the candles, wil’o’wisps and early stars.
Here is the stillness of crystals, of patient deer.
At the center, an altar to Persephone,
Carved into a towering oak tree –
Offerings of ruby pomegranates,
Garnets, the torn wings of a butterfly.
Here is the iced silence of winter,
The interconnected nature of all things.
Here is the promise of tomorrow, of flowers –
Here I whisper my prayers.”
~ Brittany Warman

*****

Take a moment this busy season to go sit on a pew of wood in the first ‘church’ of the Earth. Sit in awe of its stained glass windows dancing in the light, listen to the choir of chickadees sing. Stand in the silence, say a prayer. Welcome the answer … a hushed homily from the Universe, whispering words of truth.

Dawning….

“Come quickly. You mustn’t miss the dawn.
It will never be just like this again.”
~ Georgia O’Keeffe

5:10 AM. I sit at the open window, watching the sky begin to lighten behind “my” mountains, coffee in hand. Daybreak after the evening storms … the heavens hold no clouds. Orion rises slowly, his left foot twinkling, winking, sparkling, in the inky sky above, trees below backlit by a full moon. A comet streaks soundlessly into eternity. The neighborhood skunk pads up the dusty road and slips through the wires of the horse field across the way. Roosters crow and a coyote yips in the distance. I pull my robe up around my neck … high desert morning breezes are chilly. The air smells of abundant sage, juniper, sweetgrass and dew dampened earth, as it chafes at my cheeks. My coffee is getting cold, I guess I should go warm it up. But the horizon is slowly brightening now and so instead, I wait … watching it change colors … navy, light blue and then turquoise, washed with a faint dreamsickle orange and pastel pink, silhouetting the sacred, craggy peaks just a few short miles from where I sit. A sparrow chirps. An early morning commuter drives up the road on the way to work. The treetops rustle, waving hello as he passes by. It’s quiet again, aside from the sound of the wind.

I am at peace. But I wonder, as I gaze out at all of this silence – all this wonderment – understanding the massiveness and ultimate, inconceivable power of the Universe … the power to create and to destroy worlds in the pulsing of a heartbeat … how is it that we find ourselves so very lost in the pettiness of human living?

I shake my head in bewilderment as I head to the kitchen. I’ll return to the chair for a few more moments of sweet silence, as I wait for the chatter and clatter of life in the sun to begin….

Good morning, world. ❤

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