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Views from the BorderlandSubscribe to Views from the Borderland this coming year and receive four journals chronicling David Spangler's mystical explorations of the unseen dimensions of our world. Plus he hosts two week-long, online forums where subscribers can share their thoughts and experiences with him.

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Your Calling is to be Here

By Julie Spangler

“Your calling is to be here. There is no higher mission, for each of us is a gateway that can open to allow the Beloved to step through. To give expression to the Beloved, to be that gateway, is why the universe appeared. It is the ultimate Call.” —David Spangler

One day when my daughter Kaiti was about 5 years old we were driving home together, just the two of us. As often happens at such times when we are alone with our children, our conversation was more intimate than usual. Sometimes personally, sometimes philosophically, sometimes answering questions. . .. The question that came up that day was “Who is your favorite child?”

Anyone who has more than one child does their best to not play favorites. For me, with our four kids, there was not one that was better than another. Sure they were all different from each other, and each provided his or her own challenges designed to push parental buttons. But each one is equally treasured for who they are, unique and individual. And each child reflected his and her own individuality even before birth, each one coming in with their own personality and their own different individual needs.

So I was always aware that this particular child came in with a need to feel special. Kaiti once told me that she, the third among four,  should have been an only child. I thought this recognition of her need for complete attention was a remarkably astute bit of self awareness for one so young. (And I reminded her that in that case she should have chosen a different family, as her brothers were here first. . .which gave her pause.)

So this day, on this drive, when this child asked me, “Who do you love the most?”. . . many responses ran through my mind:  the diplomatic “I have no favorite, of course!”; the tease, “Aidan!” (wink, wink), the affirming, “You are my favorite.”, or even the tuneful, “The one I am with.” What I did instead was ask her a question back. “Are you wanting me to say you, sweetie?”

Her answer surprised me a bit at first, but then it didn’t. “No!” she said, tearing up, “Because I would feel bad for the others if you loved me more!” We went on to discuss the different ways we love and the ways we can love different people. The love may not be exactly the same, but it is quantitatively just as much.  

We all need to feel that we matter. Some traditions liken this need to egotism, an over-inflated sense of self which we must guard against: “I need to be more important than everyone else.” It is maybe there in some part of the ID or even part of the survival coding in our DNA. But I think the need to matter is also embedded in the inborn function which creates identity— that part of us which can say not only “I AM” but also “I AM HERE”. It gives rise to the need to be seen, to be loved,  and is a response to the deep innate need to be part of something that is bigger than us.   

In his book The Call, David Spangler says that we matter because we are here and especially when we can be fully consciously here. The call to be part of something bigger than ourselves is actually the call that was answered by us when we took life. And that call is, to quote David, ” the call to treasure and value and love one another and all the other creatures and things of the earth. It is the call to acknowledge and to act from that knowledge that each person is just as valued and just as loved as the next, and all are invited to participate in the communion of that love. . ..”

A deep call from spirit may not be a call to do something specific and spectacular. It may simply be a call to show up and love. In our home, which ever of our children shows up when the front door opens and they come in, a warm and loving shout of greeting meets them. When we show up, love is there to greet us, and we matter.  

“The call actually comes from the person standing in front of you, who in their heart of hearts is saying “Will you …value me?…Will you see the sacred in me, the sovereignty in me?  It is my action in response to that call that draws me into a loving space.  It is what opens me to experience the background call of the universe.”  —David Spangler


Do you feel that you are of value to our world and that you have something to contribute? Would you like to deepen your understanding of how you matter? Join us on March 1 for a free teleclass on The Journey Into Fire, where we will explore our unique, human journey. For more information or to sign-up, click here.

    

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Work as an Act of Love

By Freya Secrest

“Work is Love in Action”. . ..

Findhorn Garden photo, courtesy of Freya Secrest

This phrase came up during a breakfast conversation when my children were home visiting during the holidays and has been very “alive” for me since then. It is a phrase that comes from my time at Findhorn. It was the principle through which we were encouraged to engage our daily work (in the garden, kitchen or office) and pointed to the attitude at the heart of Findhorn’s co-creative explorations with nature as well as within their human community – let all your work and effort be a loving act. It was a good lesson for me in my youth and has interwoven itself through my life as a useful attitude to bring to every enterprise.

During that morning conversation with my children, ‘work is love in action’ was connected to exploring new entrepreneurial ventures they were each starting. What brought juice to their commitment to day to day duties – often very mundane, but so necessary to get a new business venture going? How does one bring enthusiasm and meaning to daily and repetitious responsibilities? What might help their initiative to root and succeed, bringing fulfillment in both present effort and long-term goals?

We all agreed that doing something we loved increased energy and stamina; but to choose to make any chore-like activity an action of love stretched their idea of work into new territory. Talk of love was not unfamiliar at our family table, but for these new entrepreneurs it suddenly had new relevance. That their goal to create a successful business could be furthered by expanding their view of love created an unexpected resource of energy and power for them.

For me, that conversation has inspired a New Year’s re-assessment: where do I bring love into my habitual actions; where do I forget to? Where can I polish my love-in-action skills and improve the odds of success in my own projects?

In this, David Spangler’s reflections on Spectrum of Love have been helpful to me. He posits a view of love as a continuum that at its simplest expression is honest perception, in which I am willing to just see another, draw them into the field of my conscious awareness and know them to exist. From there David’s spectrum recognizes a series of stages expressing love as connection – acknowledgement, honoring, appreciation, caring and affection and beyond. Any one of these experiences are part of his spectrum of love – each one gives shape to a different depth of connectedness with the surrounding world.

This spectrum of love model affirms different entry points in my ability to connect with others in my world and creates an attitude of respect where I can focus my love-in-action intent in any given situation. For example, with someone who has social values widely different from mine, I look first to connect through the doorway of perception or simple acknowledgement. By allowing myself to acknowledge the person as just themselves, I can look for a connection point beyond our differences, finding perhaps a common interest in a hobby or family activity. I look to enter the spectrum of love at a place where engagement and connection is possible and honest to each of us. (For someone more familiar to me, I have a wider range of experience to build upon. If I feel disconnected through a thoughtless word or deed, I can reestablish my connection by recalling something I appreciate about them from another situation.)

Making my daily activities an expression of love-in-action in this way has been ongoing since those early Findhorn days. It is a choice to bring the juiciness of connection, joy, and pleasure into the daily tasks before me. It creates a spirit of partnership and has encouraged me to give that mysterious force called ‘love’ a working definition, a handle that allows it to inform my world. At this point, “Work is Love in Action” becomes MY work to put love into action. It is a moment-by-moment choice I make to connect and to make that connection go as deep as possible within the scope of a particular situation. It is an attitude that seeks to support the best in myself and the world around me.

That does not mean I am always passionate about an activity in itself, or deeply resonant with every person I work with, but it does mean I look to honor a personal standard of how I engage with each person or activity in my life. Making my work an act of love-in-action is my responsibility. It is a strategy of connection, a path for participation in a loving and living universe.

Though it takes some courage and determination, success in work through making it our love-in-action emphasizes ease and not pressure and builds from a yes-and attitude. It refreshes and regenerates our lives with enthusiasm and joy, and flows out from there. It is with interest and respect that I see my children step forward thoughtfully to make their work now an act of their love, caring and commitment.


 Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

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Be Still–But Don’t Freeze

By Mary Reddy 

I live in the north. It is winter. I wake up hours before dawn and think about what it means to begin anew. The house is especially quiet on winter mornings. No open window means I hear no birds clamoring to announce the sunrise, no soft soughing of wind through the woods. Through my window, I cannot yet see the mountains on the horizon, but I know they are heavily wrapped in white, resting meditatively beneath a chilly cloud cover. 

Stillness belongs to winter. I look to these quiet morning hours for insight, a time to reflect. How do I want to re-orient my life? Everything seems possible at this still point of winter and yet, in the habitual march of the minutes and hours of my days, I see everything old continuing. Each moment replicates a history of daily moments that stretches back for years. The way I move to brew my coffee, the way I choose to sit in the same spot to drink it, next to the reading lamp near the big window that opens in these pre-dawn hours onto darkness. The way I greet my husband when he rises, the handful of breakfast foods I choose to eat, the particular sweater that I am drawn to wear this morning out of a handful of sweaters whose colors comfort me. I am woven into a net composed of so many repeated moments, of actions and interactions. Sometimes I feel them like a weight on my shoulders. How much can I truly change?

But that heaviness is fleeting. I recognize it as part of a cultural story we tell ourselves every January about self-improvement through discipline and making resolutions for change. That story posits a never-ending tug-of-war between habits or routine and desires to improve and begin anew. Instead, I think in terms of course corrections.

What do we know about change? In our human experience, we may say change requires a certain kind of movement through time. Let’s say its opposite is inertia. Yet inertia is not necessarily a state of immobility. I learned to my delight in high school physics that it’s the tendency of matter to continue as is, whether resting or in motion, until or unless an external force intervenes to change. Everything old continuing is a kind of inertia. 

Seems we cannot hold completely still, ever. My brothers and I used to play a game when we were young. Out on the grassy lawn on a long summer day, we’d start spinning like tops, spinning but also trying to move laterally as well. Zig-zagging around, trying to avoid a collision with a tree or each other, we’d laugh out loud with dizzy delight. The more frenzied the movement, the better. Then one of us would yell “Freeze!” and we’d stop abruptly, desperately trying to hold whatever contorted position our spinning body was in at the moment the command was issued. Of course, utter stillness was impossible. The winner was the one who only wobbled a little but stayed upright, the one who did not fall down. 

The stillness of winter still contains movement. It’s only a veil covering the energies of change that continue to move and work their magic. Outside, the cold darkness knows it will give way to a wintry, filtered sunlight. The apparent silence of trees belies the low chanting of their roots, which will in time become a singing up into the boughs. The plants in my yard, invisible at the moment, will face daylight in faded amber and dun colors against an evergreen background. Their activity, though invisible to me, is no less vital than the above-ground growth in spring. And inside, the house waits for me, for the call-and-response of the coming day, when I’ll clatter about while my table calmly holds stacks of things to read and my rug continues to talk to me about medallions and pomegranates.   

Movement, time, inertia, the external forces that shift course, disrupt inertia and thereby create the new—how does this play out in my life? Inertia cannot resist an external force. The force I apply to the habitual march of the minutes and hours of my days is one of presence and love. To be in relationship with the boiling water, roasted coffee beans and coffee cup, with my favorite sweater, with my sleepy husband, with the lovely imagery of the rug and the patient window awaiting dawn’s light—to be present to all opens me up to wonder. Wonder invites hope. Hope stirs longing. My exquisite longing for a loving and peaceful world stands in contrast to its current chaotic state.

Sometimes, course corrections are all that we need. But these days threaten an upheaval. Events are disrupting the possibility of “everything old continuing”; globally, the prospect of chaos looms, whether in uncertain international relationships or challenging shifts in weather patterns. Rudolf Steiner, in his agriculture lectures, said, “If ever we want to make the forces of the cosmos effective in our earthly realm, we must drive the earthly as far as possible into a state of chaos.” The apparent stillness of winter may itself be an incubator of chaos, of the dark formless precursor to the seed’s bursting forth into a new form of being. Apparently frozen in a polarized state of increasing hate and conflict, we teeter on the brink of something new. I recognize in that frozen state our so-human resistance to change. Going out to meet the change breaks the ice. Hope teaches us how to balance on the chaotically shifting floes. Balance, like hope, is internal.

David Spangler recently wrote, “Hope doesn’t arise from what’s happening around us. It arises from us, from who we are, from what we can do and how we can engage the world.  We are the creators of possibilities and potentials; we make the opportunities for something new and better to emerge in our world.” In the face of this uncertain year, I find stillness in the eye of the hurricane. I connect with the power of my own hope for a better world. And it’s not a passive thing. I am charged with the power to meet change with love and a vision of a new world. Poised in the still center, I am ready for whatever it takes. 


 Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

 

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The Knight Of Fiery Hope

By David Spangler

A Visitation

I was sitting on a sofa in my home reading when a non-physical being abruptly appeared in the air in front of me. While this in itself was not unusual for me, the appearance of this being was. He looked like a knight out of a storybook, clad in shining golden armor, his face hidden within its helmet. On its chest burned a flame, as bright and radiant as a piece of sunlight. He said clearly, “I am a Knight of Fiery Hope! I speak to all humans. You are not entering a darkened age. You are entering a time when the Light of your creative spirit can manifest new vision and new life. Be what I am. Let fiery hope, not despair or fear, shape your world.” Having delivered this message, this being then disappeared.

As always when dealing with subtle beings, the felt sense behind an encounter or communication is at least as important, and sometimes more so, than the actual words that are used. The thought processes of such beings are invariably dense with interconnections and meanings, far more than can be accurately reproduced in a few lines of linear text. In this case, I was aware that what this being was saying had little to do with the future. He wasn’t saying, “Have hope for the future” or “Have hope because everything’s going to work out and your planetary problems will all be solved.” Rather he was describing a creative presence and potential within us—something “fiery” in the sense of being active and dynamic and something that holds open the door of possibility.

The Nature of Hope

Hope does not depend on external or outer events. There certainly can be and are hopeful things happening in the world that are seeds of change, of goodwill, of compassion, of vision and creativity. But many of the events reported in all the various media that now bring news of the world into our lives are not hopeful and can lead people to feel hopeless and helpless.

No, hope doesn’t arise from what’s happening around us. It arises from us, from who we are, from what we can do and how we can engage the world. We are the creators of possibilities and potentials; we make the opportunities for something new and better to emerge in our world.

Hope that lives in an individual because that person has a powerful vision and understanding of his or her generative and sovereign nature is important. It’s the kindling from which Fiery Hope takes flame. But the “fire” of Fiery Hope, that which enables it to be a force for change in the world, is fed by connection and relationship, partnership and collaboration. It is a flame rising out of what we do together as well as what we do as individuals. 

A holistic vision of the world that includes acknowledgement of the subtle realms expands the possibilities of partnership to include not just other humans but the realms of nature as well, and it expands them to include not just physical beings but non-physical allies, too. It offers a scope for collaboration that is truly breath-taking. In so doing, it holds up the potential that the creative, life-changing, life-affirming “flame” of Fiery Hope can burn more brightly and more powerfully than we may have ever imagined before. We become participants in a world of Hope, bringing it into being, rather than victims in a world of hopelessness.

Fiery Hope

“Fiery Hope” is an affirmation that we are a source of hope because we are—or can be—a source of change and new vision. A particular course of events may be inevitable, but our response to it is not. We can respond in ways we could not have predicted or that a simple description of the event would have predicted.

Hope isn’t a wish; it’s an inner capacity, first to be open to possibilities for action and vision that refuse to be circumscribed or defined by circumstances and which thus can be transformative in the moment, and second, to add our energy to bring those possibilities to life through action of some nature. It is “fiery” because it taps into our passion, our commitment, our intentionality, our spirit.

Hope can change the future by opening us to new possibilities and choices which can make a difference; but just as importantly, hope can change ourselves. It can change how we meet events that cannot in themselves be changed for one reason or another but which can be altered in their effects by how we respond, especially by how we work together and care for each other. Hope can make us resilient as well as creative. It is “fiery” because in honoring ourselves and what we are capable of doing, we can burn away hopelessness and the sense of helplessness that comes with it.

Those of us of a certain age will remember Ecotopia, a utopian novel published in 1975. It tells the story of a new country formed when Washington, Oregon, and northern California break away from the rest of the United States in order to create a nation founded on ecological principles and technologies. It was hugely influential in the burgeoning ecological and environmental movements of the time. When its author, Ernest Callenbach, died, he left behind a farewell letter. It discusses the many ecological challenges and other difficulties facing humanity. He then asks the question, “Although we may not be capable of changing history, how can we equip ourselves to survive it?”His answers include mutual support, teamwork, altruism, working on behalf of the common good, and the “enormously creative” power of collaborative thinking, all things I’ve discussed over the years in various writings. But the number one survival quality on his list is hope. Hope makes all the other things possible by opening us to them.


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

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Dear Dorothy

By Freya Secrest and Friends

Our friend Dorothy Maclean is 97 this month and we celebrate a friend whose life and work has highlighted the sacredness within all incarnate life. If the work of Dorothy Maclean is new to you, perhaps the following reflections (from workshop participants and dear friends) will give you some idea of the impact she has had on those who know her and encourage you to explore for yourself through her books what she has offered to the world.

I think the way you, Dorothy, have touched my life the most deeply has been through your unwavering knowing of your relationship with God, the God Within. As you told my son once in a conversation at the dinner table, “I don’t have faith there is a God, I don’t believe there is a God, I know there is God.” In a time when using the word ‘God’ is often shied away from as outdated or limited, you have not been afraid to speak of your lived experience because the God you know is the “life force in everything.”

For me, your power as a model is that you held ‘ordinary’ and ‘mystic’ together, one experience strengthening the other. Sheena, your own teacher/mentor gave you the affirmation to trust in your inner knowing and follow its path and you have passed that gift along to all you have touched, from friends and family to the public through your many presentations, books and workshops. By stepping forward to share your encounters of the Joy, the Love and the Truth of the God Within, others, including myself, are affirmed in their own direct experience; we are stronger and the world is richer for it. You are a treasure! Happy Birthday, my friend – Freya Secrest

 “Thank you so much for the gift of your time. Your message of Love and God is a service to the world.”

Dorothy, one of my fondest memories of you is watching you swing on the hammock strung between two of our trees out our driveway. You were here holding a workshop. You were 89 or 90 I believe, an icon for me of aging with beauty, joy, and grace. When I first read about you and Findhorn in the seventies I felt connected. Close friends knew of my sense of you and gave me your various books of “messages” over the years.
 
When I found you holding a class in Issaquah I was there immediately, soaking you in. Your training with your inner guidance teacher was similar to my training, your connection with the Devas more lyrical than mine, yet I could always resonate with your truth deep inside me. I loved that you are a “just do it” kind of person and teacher. And I still use your technique of connecting with Awe, Beauty, and Love with clients to help them find a “God connection”.  
 
Although I was already communicating with plants, being in your presence cemented it into me and helped me to expand my exploration. That you love trees so deeply and were able to communicate their love to the human realm was truly inspirational. Oh my, I still read from your books and every one of your writings brings me reconnection and joy. How ordinary and extraordinary you are! –Christy Carl

Dorothy Maclean with Claire Blatchford

“I found myself coming more and more into my true nature and seeing everything and everyone as beautiful, including me.”
 
As I read your book Choices of Love, so many passages remind me, Dorothy, of your wonderfully blue eyes, how you encourage as well as challenge all who speak with you, your incredibly tender tone with all that seeks to grow or share this earth with us, your interest in all spirituality that is eminently practical, and your abiding love for God:
 
“We (Eileen, Peter and Dorothy) have been taken as models, and our ordinariness is our strength: if we can touch something divine—and we did—then anyone can. The point is that anyone can. We are part of the sacred all the time unconsciously, or we could not draw breath or have a heartbeat or experience emotions or thoughts. To be aware of what we are, of our divinity, and to live it on earth is our loving destiny.”
 
“…when I followed constant inner reminders to do everything with love, I felt better, things worked out, relationships with others improved. I have experienced many examples of the practicality of choosing love or connecting with the soul level and of how the results of these choices changed my life.”
 
“Choosing love does not mean that we lose all discrimination or cease acting on behalf of the whole or of any particular situation. More clearly than ever we are open to recognizing inequalities, cruelties, harshness, and so on, and to taking any action for which we can be responsible. We need to follow our inner integrity with greater faithfulness than ever. We commit ourselves to the whole, to the planet.”
 
Thank you for the endless nourishment within the story of your life, your faithfulness to your chosen path AND your wicked sense of humor!  May you have a joyous birthday and all the cake you crave!–Claire Blatchford

“Thank you so very much for the loving workshop. I loved being in your presence and hearing your stories- so human and real. I see what a life committed to God and Love can look like – kind eyes.”

Dorothy, you have always been a model for me of loving the earth, and listening to earth wisdom, in deeply practical and real ways. That practical aspect has been so important to me. When I was first starting to explore spirituality back in the 1970’s at Findhorn, I found plenty of resources for learning about the spiritual concepts that I responded to intuitively. But there you were, saying, “Where do you find joy, and beauty? Just listen to the flowers.  Listen to the vegetables. Listen to the soil, the mountains, the landscape, the water, the clouds. Listen to the God within.” You had even listened to the Rue deva!  

You helped me to understand that these spiritual concepts weren’t only beautiful and uplifting ideas, they were living presences that could shape my life. I loved your no-nonsense honesty. It gave me permission to be my Self, and have my own experience of spirit.  I am still learning how to do that.

Thank you, Dorothy, for being in the world. Thank you for your own inimitable unique presence. I am so glad and honored to know you.  Happy Birthday! With so much love. –Rue Hass

“What worked well for me (during this workshop)? Dorothy – her presence, her voice, her reading, her smile, her bright blue eyes, her laughter.”

Whenever I think of you, Dorothy, I think of yellow, of basking in warm sunlight. The first time I met you was at a weekend class with David. Your book, To Honor the Earth, had recently been published and you came to share it with us. You wore yellow and you glowed. I knew your name and relationship with Findhorn, but only in a superficial way.  As years past we came to know each other, first as participants in some of David’s workshops, then as friends. I might have been in awe of you but there was nothing about your no-nonsense, down-to-earth presence that would allow for that.

We shared a wonderful and adventurous weekend when we went to the annual Fairy and Human Relationship Congress together. You were offering a workshop and participating in a panel discussion. On the rural road to the Congress, we stopped for a white male peacock who stood in the middle of the road. He unfurled his magnificent tail and displayed before us in the morning sun. Time did not matter in the presence of that magic.  And I will always remember our drive home, you and I in our little silver car whizzing down the ribbon of highway, the Cascade Mountains on either side, with Beethoven’s 8th Symphony and the 3rd Leonora Overture playing as loud as we wanted, both of us grinning.  Shining, full of life, ready for adventure – that is how I know you, Dorothy.– Madelyn P.

Happy Birthday, Dorothy. This month, and always, we celebrate you!


If you would like to “meet” Dorothy and experience her wisdom, please visit the Lorian Bookstore. Lorian also offers a self-study module with recordings of one of Dorothy’s workshops in which she leads you through her “Doorways” exercise.

2 Responses to Dear Dorothy

  • Dorothy,
    I never forgot or will forget your inspirational writing and sharing about the magic of Findhorn and the Devas and the gifts of Nature. Where does the time go? You look wonderful at 97! God/dess Bless you and your wonderful Soul. Happy Birthday! Louisa Calio

  • Dorothy is an Original: there’s nobody around quite like her. I heard her speak in person once, many years ago, and she was a very powerful presence. Her messages are inspiring and necessary.

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2 Responses to Dear Dorothy

  • Dorothy,
    I never forgot or will forget your inspirational writing and sharing about the magic of Findhorn and the Devas and the gifts of Nature. Where does the time go? You look wonderful at 97! God/dess Bless you and your wonderful Soul. Happy Birthday! Louisa Calio

  • Dorothy is an Original: there’s nobody around quite like her. I heard her speak in person once, many years ago, and she was a very powerful presence. Her messages are inspiring and necessary.

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9-11 and 11-9

By Annabel Chiarelli

Editor’s Note: The Lorian Association, as spiritual community, is nonpartisan, but our writers and readers come from diverse social and political backgrounds. With the nation so divided and the future on nearly everyone’s minds, it’s inevitable that some of our blog posts may reflect certain political leanings. Always our goal is to promote an Incarnational viewpoint. In the upcoming weeks we will be publishing blog posts from both liberal and conservative perspectives that offer insight into how real people in our nation are coming together and bridging divisions, even and especially the ones within themselves.

Tarot friends of mine have pointed out the correspondences between 9/11 and 11/9 and the burning, collapsing Tower card.

two-towers11

Tower tarot card on left courtesy of Dark Tarot http://www.darktarot.com/

In many ways, this election and its evolving aftermath remind me of my 9/11 experience, but not in the way you might think.

I was working in an office just 4 blocks away from the Twin Towers and was one of the many people escaping in that beige cloud of dust and particles that enveloped the whole area. We literally could not see two feet in front of us.
 
Rumors were flying, and as far as we knew there were other planes set to bomb all the major landmarks in New York. People were scared— to say the least.

And yet, in the midst of this tragedy and terror I felt the energy of fiery hope and joy–not the ordinary emotion, but the joy that is at the root of the generative mystery. I saw beautiful acts of humanity.

The director of my office, a family man with young children, had gone downstairs before the first tower collapsed to see what was going on and saw the towers burning with people jumping out of the windows. He could have easily cut and run to save himself for his family’s sake, but instead he came back upstairs to do his duty as the fire marshall of our floor, to warn everyone to evacuate immediately.

The building supers and doormen who waited in the lobby and handed out masks to all of us as we emerged from the stairwell.

The people who came with their private boats to help evacuees who lived in New Jersey get home.

The cabs who offered people free rides uptown.

The shopkeepers who handed out bottles of cold water to those of us covered in dust, making our way home on foot.

Our defenses were down and we were there for each other. Yes, there were a few people who thought only of themselves, a few shopkeepers who tried to take advantage of the situation by price gouging, but the vast majority stepped up and responded with love and human kinship. We were all in it together.

In a city where people go out of their way to avoid interacting with strangers, you could talk with anyone on the street and feel like you were talking with a friend. This most horrible day of my life was also in a strange way the most beautiful.
 
Right now a good portion of our country is caught up in anger and panic on the one hand, and gloating and denial on the other. I understand how that feels. Right after 9/11 and the spiritual epiphany of that day, the enormity of what had happened landed in my psyche with a huge thud and I descended into a dark period of worry and terror and rage. (Watching the news didn’t help.) I was furious with those who tried to lecture me about how this was karma, the result of U.S. foreign policy. I was furious with the perpetrators and with the people I saw on TV apparently ululating with joy. I was scared to ride the subway, sure that would be the next target. I was scared to go anywhere there might be a crowd.

But there was also some part of me that knew I couldn’t go on like that. Some part of me that knew that that wasn’t who I really am, who I wanted to be. “The Scream” (David Spangler’s name for negative energy on earth generated by human hatred, wars, rage, etc.) is powerful, and it feeds off of and abets our negative energies and emotions, but the Light is equally powerful, much more so in my experience. I think of that line by Leonard Cohen, “There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in,” and that has proven to be true for me over and over again, through the dark times I’ve been through, even the one that most traumatized me and shook my sense of safety and identity.
 
What I mean is that I’ve found it to be very hard work to dwell in anger and fear over the long term. The Light is always looking for any little crack to get in and it takes a lot of work to keep pushing it away. It took me a very long time to understand this, but I came to see that all I had to do was let the cracks open, to not resist under the misconception that somehow my fear or my anger would make me safer or stronger.
 
I am well aware of the ugly facts and the potential dangers that we face. But I am also a “responder,” a servant of Gaia and of humanity, and this is where the rubber meets the road. The principles of Incarnational Spirituality aren’t just intellectual concepts, they are very real presences. David hadn’t even articulated them yet, but I didn’t need that mental framework to know in my deepest self that they were there for us on 9/11 and they are here for us now.
 
However you are feeling about the election, I share my experience with you in the hope that you consider allowing the cracks in your life to open where the Light can get in. That is where real strength and courage and safety dwells.


Happy Holidays! Views from the Lorian Community is taking a short hiatus to honor the season and will be back in January 2017. Much gratitude to all of our subscribers, readers and followers on Facebook for your support this year!

Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.

And There Was Light

By Claire Blatchford, Art by Deborah Koff-Chapin
                                            
Shortly after the election I felt the need to reconnect with someone I admire, someone whose way of being in the world has always been an inspiration to me. I’ve actually never met this man in person—only through his writings—yet regard him as a close friend.

 Jacques Lusseyran may also be familiar to some of you. He is best known for his book And There Was Light. He was born in Paris in 1924 and became totally blind from an accident when eight years old. Yet he discovered early on as a child that, although he couldn’t see in the usual way with his physical eyes, he could still see. And this “seeing” could grow, expand, and move in different directions. Here is how he describes the start of this discovery in his memoir:

I began to look more closely, not at things, but at a world closer to myself, looking from an inner place to one further within, instead of clinging to the movement of sight toward the world outside.

Immediately the substance of the universe drew together, redefined and peopled itself anew. I was aware of a radiance emanating from a place I knew nothing about, a place that might as well have been outside me as within. But radiance was there, or, to put it more precisely, light. It was a fact, for light was there.

I felt indescribable relief, and happiness so great it almost made me laugh. Confidence and gratitude came as if a prayer had been answered. I found light and joy at the same moment, and I can say without hesitation that from that time on light and joy have never been separated in my experience. I have had them or lost them together.

I saw light and went on seeing it though I was blind.

This may sound rather poetical to you– Jacques’ writing is full of poetry—but for me, when I was 28 and first read of his different way of “seeing”—his words were more than merely lyrical, they rang true.  I, myself, am not blind but am profoundly deaf. Like Jacques I lost my hearing suddenly at a young age and began my journey into the discovery that there are many ways of hearing even if one’s physical ears are damaged. The larger discovery, though, was that I, too, found confidence and gratitude in the “radiance” Jacques describes. I was unable to name this radiance, this light, as he did till much later in my life. We can know and yet not know something– and when I first read his book — my immediate response was, “Yes, I am pretty sure I know what he’s talking about!”  This is why I go back to his words, and the way he lived out his understanding of and connection with light, that light which can be found within each and all of us, and especially when the darkness feels pronounced. As it does now in these confusing times.

Image Courtesy of Deborah Koff-Chapin at http://touchdrawing.com/deborah/

Image Courtesy of Deborah Koff-Chapin at http://touchdrawing.com/deborah/

In his book Jacques describes being able to “see” objects by way of the inner light. Because of it he was able to find his way not only around his home and the neighborhood he lived in, but when walking in the mountains as well.  The light stimulated other forms of seeing within him. For example, in his home or neighborhood, the felt sense of familiar objects around him, their placement, the spaces between them and their light– for all that is incarnated has light– enabled him to “see” and thus to move with confidence. When in the mountains an even deeper seeing was awakened in such a way Jacques could instinctively see the rise and fall of the land. He struggled to explain this seeing to his best friend who had normal eyesight:

The reality—the oneness of the world—left me in the lurch, incapable of explaining it, because it seemed obvious. I could only repeat: “There is only one world. Things outside only exist if you go to meet them with everything you carry in yourself. As to the things inside, you will never see them well unless you allow those outside to enter in.”

Especially helpful to me was Jacques’ discovery that, if he was angry or fearful, in short wasn’t attuned to the light, he had great difficulty, stumbled, banged into things, was unable to find his way. He showed me how I can become altogether deaf when I’m out of sorts, lacking in gratitude, oblivious to the radiance in the world and myself.

When Jacques was fifteen, Paris was invaded and the German occupation began. A year later, with a few close friends, he formed and headed an underground resistance movement of six hundred youths. Because of what his comrades called his “sense of human beings”  Jacques was chosen to interview all recruits. He could “see” into men, could see the light or the dark of the thoughts they held in their hearts. Being able to use this seeing for the good of his country guided him day by day.

I was madly happy to be doing this work, to have men in front of me, to make them speak out about themselves, to induce them to say things they were not in the habit of saying because these things were set too deep in them—suddenly to hear in their voices the note above all others, the note of confidence. This filled me with assurance that was very like love. Around me it drew a magic circle of protection, a sign that nothing bad could happen to me. The light that shone in my head was so bright, and so strong that it was like joy distilled. Somehow I became invulnerable.

From there Jacques’ story took him into Buchenwald after the one man he was uncertain about was recruited, and later betrayed Jacques and his comrades to the Nazis. That he came out alive– though mere skin and bones– and went on to become husband, father, university professor and writer was a testament to the Light within.

*

I hope at this point that I don’t sound as though I’m just writing a review of a book which is both luminous and incredibly suspenseful. What became clear to me as I tracked down my heavily underlined copy  is how very important the admiration connection is right now. It’s said we become what we admire. In this time of ugly words, thoughts and deeds I feel the need like a hunger: to draw close to the enlightened words, thoughts and deeds of those I admire —here and on the other side too.

Jacques’ discoveries as a blind man not only helped me make sense of my discoveries as a deaf woman, helping me to connect with the essential wholeness that is within everyone of us even if physically different or chronically ill, they showed how we can be blind and deaf in more ways than the physical. The conditions we are in can blind and deafen us to the light within and without.  Jacques’ message is more relevant now than ever: And There IS Light!


How are you finding Hope these days and kindling the Light within? Please email responses to drenag@lorian.org.
   

Our Lives Belong to Us

By Mary Reddy with Pat Reddy

Editor’s Note: The Lorian Association, as spiritual community, is nonpartisan, but our writers and readers come from diverse social and political backgrounds. With the nation so divided and the future on nearly everyone’s minds, it’s inevitable that some of our blog posts may reflect certain political leanings. Always our goal is to promote an Incarnational viewpoint. In the upcoming weeks we will be publishing blog posts from both liberal and conservative perspectives that offer insight into how real people in our nation are coming together and bridging divisions, even and especially the ones within themselves.

On election night, when it became obvious that Trump would win, my body slammed into fight-or-flight mode. Adrenaline pumping high, stomach twisting—it took me long hours to physically calm down. I knew right away that I’d fallen into my childhood response of shunting strong emotion into my somatic field before I could even begin to feel it. Perhaps this served me well when I was very young. But as an adult, I’ve worked on opening to my emotions, because I understand how they serve me. I understand that they will not kill me or anyone else.

But sometimes the old pattern switches into gear before I can stop it. And I had one of those nights. As I lay sleepless, trying to soothe my body’s frenetic pulsing with measured breathing, I began to feel my emotions. They crept out of hiding. And they brought with them a great longing to be with people I love. Being together with loved ones felt like the most important thing to do in the face of fear and loss.

When the sun rose the next day, I spoke with people by email and by phone. My brother Pat sent me an email in which he wrote so beautifully about where he stood, that I asked his permission to share it more broadly.

img_16521“We still have power, individually and collectively, to shape and respond to our present and future. I look outside my window now and wonder if I will still be in this wonderful place in 2 years. There are so many aspects of our future, once seemingly stable, that we feel are up for grabs right now. The list seems endless, and our minds and hearts do what they are supposed to do in these circumstances. We freak out and look for an exit, but there does not seem to be one.

We have power, the power to dance with our own emotions and to dance with whatever the future brings. We have deep power. In my quiet space I will let my terror and revulsion, hopes and fears, dreams and gratitude flow into my consciousness without judgement or any attempts to control them. If this is a disaster, it will play out in slow motion, and fight or flight impulses will not be what get us through. When the dust settles in my psyche, I will look for that collective resilience that is part of our common nature. We cannot individually control what will happen. We each can go through our grieving processes and heal internally. Then it will be clearer to us how we should act. We will be able to let go of whatever it is we need to let go of. We will be able to choose whatever new thing it is we are meant to choose. Self care and at some point working together with all who share this connection to what is good and true will give us the power to dance with whatever comes.  

All I can do right now is surrender to this process. I am willing to not think of things I cannot control or join with others to fight them, whichever ultimately makes sense. I am willing to jettison aspects of my life or my expectations for my life or fight to keep them, whichever ultimately makes sense. I did not choose a future with Trump, and I will not let him defeat my spirit, but this morning I feel the terror that has gripped millions. An uninformed and fearful portion of the country has made a choice that puts all of us in jeopardy. I will not hand over my joy and hope to their fears. These are mine now, and I will do whatever I can to share them with those I love and those in need. I will do whatever I can to receive wisdom and strength from others. I will wait for those deep inner powers and faculties, deep in our souls where all things are connected. I must wait for them to console me, to show me my reality, and to take over the dancing when the shock and grief have subsided. These inner realities are much bigger than what just happened to us and more omnipresent. Our lives belong to us.”

Karla McLaren, in The Language of Emotions, writes about the great gifts our emotions offer us, if we wisely honor them and allow them to flow through us—especially the so-called negative emotions. Fear alerts us to focus our attention on our environment. Anger energizes us to firm up our boundaries or move into right action. Grief allows us to release, to let go, in the face of loss. Weeks after the election, I am once more feeling my feelings. And in that alive state, I am reunited with fiery hope. This is my life, your life. We are here together. Oh, the things we can do!


Views from the Lorian Community publishes essays from a team of volunteer writers expressing individual experiences of a long term, committed practice of Incarnational Spirituality (and the general principles shaping such a practice.) Views expressed do not necessarily reflect the sentiments or thoughts of any other person in Lorian or of Lorian as a whole. If you would like to subscribe, please visit our website and click on Follow Our Blog Via Email. Or email the editor:drenag@lorian.org.