Soul’s Breath

Soul’s Breath

I wrote the first version of my poem “Soul’s Breath” in 1979.  I decided to use it to introduce my blog earlier this year because I wanted to draw your attention to the “ONENESS” of humanity, how when we strip away all superficialities, people are far more similar than they are different.  While we’ve heard this before, many of us have a tendency to fixate on the differences.  I believe this tendency is our greatest human challenge- an unmet challenge which has helped cause divisiveness and has eroded our civilizations throughout  history.  Yet if we can alter our perspective to define our universal human qualities, we will recognize what I call the holiness in humanity, our best qualities, our very best attributes:  our consciousness, our communication abilities, our compassion and our conscience- the Four C’s- consciousness, communication, compassion, and conscience.  By first recognizing these attributes in ourselves, we can move toward recognizing them more easily in others.  And by embracing the holiness in our humanity we can join hands to rebuild our eroded foundation and so create an atmosphere of serenity and joy for all of us.

Thank you for joining me.  If you’d like to see “Soul’s Breath” in written form, scroll back to my first blog.

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WEEDS

Once upon time many years ago, I bought my first house. Sitting on a wooded acre in the Pennsylvania countryside, my house represented the realization of a long sought dream. I lovingly repaired, furnished and decorated my house, creating a comfy retreat from the rest of the world.

One can do that with a house. Houses in and of themselves are dead things; the only life they have are what one creates within its walls. Nature however cannot be so easily designed to reflect human intervention and preference. While my house began to mirror my visions, my yard was filled with weeds! I went to work beyond my walls into Nature’s domain.

For weeks I raked, seeded, and weeded. Yet while I enjoyed being outside, I had never developed a green thumb, and the wooded setting added to my challenges. I persevered- and kept failing. No lush grass grew, and weeds multiplied amidst spindly sprigs! Instead of redesigning Nature to suit me, she showed me who was really in control! So of course I rebelled and doubled-down on yanking weeds. Eventually I became irritable, no longer enjoying my yard. Everywhere I looked I saw only the cursed WEEDS! Negativity had wheedled its way into life beyond my yard.

Then one lovely spring morning I happened to notice the lilac bush behind my porch was in full bloom. While I had seen it before, the fragrance and vibrant purple-ness had been dismissed with my casual, “isn’t that nice.” The liveliness of bees sipping nectar from the tiny flowers had caused concern, not wonder. But that morning I was moved to take a closer look, choosing to pay attention and incorporate what I saw and felt into my “yard view.” I felt uplifted! Realizing my negativity had become over-dramatized and malignant, I walked around my yard seeking more of the exquisite unseen, the beauty hiding right in front of me. Determined, I relegated the weeds to their proper place in my consciousness; for awhile, I would ignore them and welcome only the profusion of beauty before me into my thoughts. Very gradually, my negativity dissipated; I changed.

Nature had NOT changed of course; the weeds kept growing. It’s not as if I hadn’t known my attention would have zero influence on THEM, while they had the potential to affect ME. Nor can I claim to have been ignorant about how persistent negative thoughts can have- what else?!- a negative impact on my perspective. But I had temporarily forgotten to use one of our most valuable human assets: CHOICE!

As human beings, we learn from our experiences and create our personal world views based on those experiences. Yet it is within our power to choose how to define them and incorporate each into our lives. [See my Blog: Personal Truth.] Therefore it is imperative to pay close attention day by day- even minute by minute- to the following:

1. Innately, we have CHOICE at our command.
2. Our choices determine what we learn; WE define our experiences.
3. Our definitions have a broad impact on our thoughts, feelings, lives.
4. Our definitions are subject to CHANGE at any time we choose!
5. Remember the above when Life appears to frown your way.
6. MOST IMPORTANT: Remember the above when Life blesses you.

Weeds will always be a part of our lives. The holiness of our humanity will always be a part of US. Our choices determine which aspect we encourage to thrive.

Born to Love- the Strength in Humanity

Born of love,
Born to love:
Knowing that love
Makes us free to be
Lovers of love,
Free to give love,
Free to share
In eternity-
By nurturing love,
Cherishing love
Inside our hearts
Just to set it free.

Born of love,
Born to love:
Knowing that love
Must be free to be
A nurturing love,
A cherishing love-
Love that can see
What it needs to see-
The peace in love,
The promise in love
For all whose hearts
Trust its sanctity.

Born of love,
Born to love . . .

We The People

“We the People

of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.” [Preamble as originally written at the Philadelphia Convention,  signed September 17, 1787.]

The Supreme Court’s Honorable Sandra Day O’Connor spoke about our Constitution:

“What makes the Constitution worthy of our commitment? . . . It is, quite simply, the most powerful vision of freedom ever expressed. . . Our Constitution has been an inspiration that changed the trajectory of world history for the perpetual benefit of mankind. . . What was revolutionary when it was written, and what continues to inspire the world today, is that the Constitution put governance in the hands of the people.” (-My emphasis.)

Evidence of this inspiration can be found in the United Nation’s Preamble to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  Founded in 1945 at the end of World War II, the Declaration was signed December 12, 1948.  It begins:

“Whereas recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,

Whereas disregard and contempt for human rights have resulted in barbarous acts which have outraged the conscience of mankind, and the advent of a world in which human beings shall enjoy freedom of speech and belief and freedom from fear and want has been proclaimed as the highest aspiration of the common people. . .”  [Full text on the United Nations web site. The UN currently has 193 member nations.]

 

As we celebrate our Nation’s birthday, let’s remember all those who birthed it. And let’s never forget that WE THE PEOPLE have voiced our desires for the rights we believe are inalienable to humankind.  We can only protect our own rights by ensuring the same for all others in our human family.

FIGHTING WORDS: OUR MISGUIDED CONSTRUCTS

Semantics are often trivialized in conversation. Yet the words we choose when speaking to another or in our internal dialogues reflect individual perceptions.  Words have a particular meaning to us. They often carry emotional undertones and reflect cultural concepts we embrace.

Consider usage of these similar words: argue, disagree, fight, and quarrel.  We may use them interchangeably, but of those four only “fight” suggests a conflict which may become physical as well as verbal.  On the other hand, when we think of the word “war,” our perceptions are very much alike.  “War” is used by most of us to describe a conflict engaged with the intent of causing harm.  We wage war on other people and groups intending to inflict some form of loss- loss of life, property, or lifestyle.  We wage war on cancer with the intention of eradicating damaged and damaging cells from  the human body.  We wage war on drugs with the intention of eliminating their abuse in our society.

In an earlier blog, I examined our concept of control and reiterated the fact that control over anything other than the self is an illusion. {. . . And Some Endeavors Matter Less!}  In a later blog, I made a case for fear of loss being our true motivation for choosing war.  I said we mask our fear and proclaim  a cherished ideal as motivation.  Then we identify a perceived enemy, convince ourselves we must attack, and try to gain power and control over the “evil other” before he can do so to us.  Yet power and control are fleeting, existing primarily in our minds. Thus, “we have warred with each other to protect an illusion, in an attempt to achieve an illusory and temporary goal.”  { . . .And War by Any Other Name Still Stinks of Fear and Death}

Now let’s add another concept within this framework: strength versus weakness.  People have a tendency to disclaim and mask emotions they perceive as “weak.”  {see my blog “I’m Okay! . . aka My Favorite Lie” }  We mask our fears in many ways because having fear is perceived as being  weak.  Anger is one such mask we use, believing it demonstrates strength.  Yet with few exceptions, fear underlies most of our anger.  We are afraid to acknowledge our fear because we have overlaid the perception of fear with our concepts of weakness and strength!  Ironically, our unwillingness to acknowledge our fears, to see them as such, is a common human weakness.  Whenever we mask an emotion or feeling and hide behind another, we are lying to ourselves.  Our actions and responses to life situations will therefore inevitably be inaccurately framed in our perceptions, quite probably to our detriment.  As they have been in our concepts and perceptions regarding war.

Throughout our history we have engaged in wars with each other believing a show of our perceived strength will provide a solution to our problems and ensure our security.  And throughout our history we have encouraged people to fight for the ideal we proclaim to be our reason for war.  When we “win,” when we have caused more harm to the “evil other” than he has inflicted upon us for a few moments in time, we proudly think it was a war well fought.  Of course those who have fought may not be around to enjoy the spoils.  And of course we realize we’ll have to maintain our spoils with another show of strength as new enemies present themselves. Again and again.

We must ask ourselves what we have gained from war.  Given that anything it has accomplished in our past has been temporary, requiring repeated wars to maintain or regain what we believe we need, we seem to have accepted war as part of life, our destiny.  Are we so convinced we cannot do better?  And how can we think of war as demonstrating human strength under these circumstances?

Choosing war is giving up.  It is a denial of our most valuable assets, our most potent powers: our minds, brains, our intellectual capabilities.  It is also a relinquishment of the holiness of our humanity, our humanitarianism. Choosing to war with one another is our major human weakness. Renowned leaders throughout the world have tried to convince us of exactly that, including:  Nelson Mandela; His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama;  Martin Luther King; Mother Theresa; Sister Joan Chittister; Mahatma Gandhi.  All have lived lives which demonstrated to us the power of peaceful reconciliation with our fellow man, and we have  loved them for doing so.   What has prevented us from hearing their messages?

Let’s hear them now, through the holiness of our humanity.

 

 

SEASONS OF WOMAN

She . . .

Charms- pouty, kissy mouth,
Trusting eyes, a blessing;
Arms and heart so open,
Knowing she is loved.

Grows- mind filled with wonder,
Bending to life’s breezes;
Centering her heart,
Knowing she has worth.

Gives- bearing babies, baring soul,
Teaching- learning, above all;
Heart breaking and becoming,
Knowing she is strong.

Reflects- wisdom sought, wisdom earned,
Life’s nuances, a delight;
Arms and heart still open,
Knowing she has loved.

. . . she.

 

“A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL SMELLS AS SWEET”

 

. . . AND WAR BY ANY OTHER NAME STILL STINKS OF FEAR AND DEATH

Name any conflict in human history: Roman and Viking wars of conquest; Christian Crusades; the American Civil War; Salem witch hunts; World Wars  I and II; the Vietnam War;  KKK assaults; ISIS attacks.  And on and on. Yes, they DO all belong in the same category!  Each and every one was a conflict between the righteous on all sides, in the name of an ideal which each hoped to perpetuate.  Yet in every case the ideal, the supposed purpose of each conflict, was in actuality a mask to hide the fears of all participants.  Each fighting group organized themselves around a fear they held in common: fear of LOSING a particular lifestyle to which each had aspired or become attached.  Historically, our solution to assuaging this fear has been to gain power and control over the “Evil Other,” so the “Evil Other” could not assert dominance over “US.”  Every individual on Earth has roles in both camps!  We seem to be stuck in the mindset that gaining power and control will make our lives and lifestyles secure and eliminate our fears.  Yet any thoughtful examination of our conflicts throughout history shows this mindset is illusory, delusional. Power and control are fleeting, temporary. Whether they last for a week, a year, a century, they come to an end one way or another.  Damage to the conflicted parties on all sides is permanent.

Whether war is waged between spouses or families, ethnic or religious groups, or among nations, we continuously choose to fight and assert our “rightness.”  I repeat: our ideal-our rightness and righteousness- are merely masks for the fears we have of losing the control we perceive is necessary  to maintain our desired lifestyle.  Yet the control we fear losing is an illusion as well. {See my Blog entitled: And Some Endeavors Matter Less.}  Which means throughout human history we have warred with each other to protect an illusion,  in an attempt to achieve an illusory and temporary goal!

The warring spiral perpetuates itself in a downward cycle, sort of like the water swirling  in a toilet bowl as we flush it.  The water goes down and down, through the pipes, delivering the waste to a sewer.  In the same manner, our persistent and delusional mindset is flushing us toward a wasteland from which we may be unable to return.  As a human community we must create a new perspective to deal with our fears.

Having fear is normal, innate.  Expediently reacting  to our fear can be lifesaving.  Traditionally we think of our fear response as having two alternatives: fight or flight. “Fight” is perceived as a show of strength, while “flight” demonstrates weakness.  However, unless one is within seconds of being run down by an uncontrolled vehicle, murdered by a gun-wielding drug addict, or on some beast’s menu for lunch, we have time for a THIRD response.  We can stand firm and face our fear. We can look at it for what it is, evaluate its possible effects on our lives, and consider how to best address it.

We must embrace the holiness of our humanity- our innate goodness, empathy and humanitarianism- while challenging our  intelligence and insight to create a new, more realistic perspective.  Then by standing firm and facing our fears, we can claim our most potent power as human beings, thus incorporating all the best of our capabilities.  We will see the futility and weakness inherent in warring as a solution to our issues, and become capable of  creating solutions which reflect our best selves, our souls.

NEVER FORGET:   D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944