Soul Can’t Be Sold, Wisdom Can’t Be Bought

This, “reality show,” approach to life is getting stupid. People have to compete to prove they’re a good person doing good works? Really? Don’t we remember what happens every time humans play the, “my (religion/beliefs/practices) are better than yours,” game?

Why can’t the sponsors of this silly, anti-human, anti-heart, and anti-spirit, “contest,” share the wealth with all these people? Winner-take-all proves what, really?

Enough with the marketing of soul, the competition of, “spirit,” the packaging of, “wisdom.” Social media is little more than communication, the only other function it seems to serve is advertising, marketing, selling, selling, selling.

The ability to be packaged and marketed and sold to create a pile of wealth is not now, has never been, and will never be, “proof,” of the validity of spirituality or good works. The changes in the heart that affect the whole life and thus, the whole world cannot be sold, bought, packaged, nor marketed, they are the result only of personal attention to one’s own heart, one’s own spirit, one’s own soul.

But, there’s no profit in that, is there?

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Labyrinth Is Open

Labyrinth Is Open

The labyrinth at Superstition Mountain Campus, Central Arizona College in Apace Junction is open. Community members will gather at 6 p.m., May 2 with drums, sage, candles, sacred oils, holy waters, and open hearts to bless the sacred space and walk the labyrinth.

College students, staff, and community members have already been taking advantage of this meditative and calming practice since it was completed two weeks ago. A ribbon-cutting ceremony by campus dean Julian Easter officially opened the labyrinth, which is the first on a college campus in Arizona, the fourth in Apache Junction, and thought to be the twentieth in the Phoenix-Tucson area.

All are welcome. Join us!

The labyrinth project was midwifed by Rhonda Jackson, CAC/SMC Librarian and a learner in Heartwing Education’s Practical Mysticism and Ordination Preparation programs. It was her service project for the, “Mystical Practicum,” capstone course. Heartwing Education provided logistical and spiritual support for the project.

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Them, they, over there, those ‘monsters’, those bombers

Someone I know requested hearing only good stories about the recent tragedies, specifically the bombing in Boston. This has been a lot to take in, but today a good story came to me. Allow me to share it with you.

One good story in this is to remember that we are that, too. Whatever else anyone has done is within our abilities and capacities. When we look at another and see evil, we are seeing ourselves. There is no difference between us at the point each soul exists. But, it can be helpful to most as we grow and mature and evolve to start with this idea of, “them, over there,” and, “me, or us, over here.”

Promote the good stories of all who helped, but demonizing any, “other,” has no effect on them and a negative effect on oneself. Focus on the healing, not the pain. Focus on the the helpers, not those who created the situation that needed help. Ultimately, yes, forgive them all.

When Jesus was dying and he forgave his killers, forgave all humanity, he set the bar for forgiveness. Fortunately, he also said more than once that anything he did we could and would do.

Are we really to continue to pray on Sunday and seek revenge on Monday? Or, are we ready to grow beyond our fear, anger, and hurt?

Comedian and actor Patton Oswalt asked us to remember that when the bad happens, it’s up to us to look it in the eye and say there are more of us that are good, and we will win. By not giving in to our anger nor seeking revenge and by standing up to the darkness within and without, we will win. We all win. The prize is the polished heart that reflects the best within us, the light of the Divine to all around us. Light always displaces the dark.

They, over there, are us, over here. Our light is their light.

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What if prayer was alive?

It seems most prayer has become a visit to SantaGod. Give me, I need, We want, Show us …

What if prayer was an individual or communal practice of tuning ourselves to the heart of the Divine? What if we didn’t start with a cursory, “Yea, God,” and then move quickly to our shopping list? What if we simply sat in silence, holding the thought/feeling/idea of the Source of All in our hearts/minds/bodies and said nothing?

Prayer can also be movement, or singing, or chanting, or breathing alone or together.

We have the examples of mystics throughout the ages and from around the world who assure us that prayer is worth the time and effort even if we experience nothing since there is nothing we can do to curry favor and gain results … all come to be by grace, by the working of the One within and without us in Divine time, not ours. Because of this, is it not better to continue to seek to improve our heart/soul/mind connection with the ongoing practice of prayer even if the, “answer to prayer,” is no, or later, or even silence?

For most people, religious or spiritual practices are what they turn to when they have no other idea of what to do. For the first Christians, the practice of prayer was their first, not last refuge. And, for many of every faith tradition it is this that makes prayer alive and vibrant. We may do well to model what it means to turn to prayer first instead of last and what it means when prayer is not a shopping list, but a time of communion, community, quieting, tuning into the song of the Universe, and in that way making even regularly scheduled prayer meetings a time of greening, abundant joy and not dry obligation or repetition.

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What Spring Brings

This has waited until after Easter because I didn’t want to get caught up in the Easter/Eoster/Ostara/Ishtar, etc., debate. Don’t want to debate at all, in fact, but do appreciate deep, sincere, and even intense conversation.

For almost half my life, I’ve lived where there are perhaps two seasons; dry and wet, hot and hotter, cool and less cool. In a very real way, Spring is just a date on a calendar as are Summer, Fall, and Winter. When I left Western New York to return to California, a former co-worker asked/said, “Aren’t you going to miss the winter, I love the four seasons.” My reply? “Then you can shovel all my snow.”

While cool weather has proven in the long run to be easier to adapt to (layers, layers, layers!), the warm and even not (but not too hot!) are easier on my physical body. Let’s set aside any metaphysical speculation about why. Simple biology and physiology sometimes do provide the answers we need. A tendency toward auto-immune reactions including joint inflammation and pain (arthritis) has resulted in narrowed comfortable temperature ranges. Watching dietary triggers has gone a long, long way toward keeping this in check, but the numerous soft-tissue injuries incurred as a child and young adult that were, “walked off,” did their damage. Staying out of temperatures below 50 degrees (yes, F … not fully facile in C) and above 90 seem to be what is best tolerated.

Does this matter? I lived in San Diego for a number of years and enjoyed the climate of, “clear, sunny, 72,” for the ease in function and in wardrobe it provided. Apart from the seasonal affective disorder the lack of sunlight brought on, both Monterey and San Francisco also proved to be very much within my comfort zone (going to where the sun was shining was a simple solution).

What does any of this have to do with Spring? The weather, dear ones, the weather. Spring in the temperate parts of this continent (North America, which does include Mexico, no matter what some geographers are trying to tell us) brings back weather in the 60s and 70s.  Clearly, my body chooses to seek out Spring year-round … who am I to argue?

Spring brings renewed blossoming, even here in the desert where plants like sage bloom after almost every rare rain, even or especially during the summer monsoon. Just now, the wildly overgrown prickly pear in my neighbors’ yard is full of glorious yellow flowers which will yield the eventually-deep red, juicy pears that become so much jelly and juice and ice cream (!) once processed with heavy gloves and fire … it’s not for nothing they’re called prickly pear.

Spring brings the intense, UV-dense sunlight that burns Nordic skin like mine in 5 minutes and blisters it in 15. There’s a reason my ancestors up near the Arctic Circle lived with easy access to tasty, oily fish like salmon, cod, and herring. Vitamin D shows up in many ways, so risking melanoma isn’t necessary even in the desert. Funny how that works, isn’t it?

Spring brings greater outdoor experiences to many who shun snow-related activities. The majority of us in this homogenized culture are now encouraged to wear clothing that we in the hot and not-as-hot or even just spring-like parts of the continent wear year-round. As a motorcyclist, I can ride year-round, especially in winter as daytime temperatures in the 60s and 70 in December make for very pleasant riding. The trade-off is that the roads fill with snowbirds and become very, very dangerous places.

Spring brings the migration of birds as they head back north. Our citrus and fig trees fill with flocks of singing birds who clearly enjoy the shade, the water, the insects, and then move on. This happens also in the Fall as they head south ahead of the snow and cold.

Spring brings a settling in before the, “oven turns on.” Get the yard, trees, bushes, and cacti sorted out before 6 months of daytime 95 and 105 temperatures. Last year we endured/enjoyed over a month of over 100 every day before, “cooling,” to 98 for a few days. It stays that hot at night now, too since the Valley of the Sun is increasingly paved and built over with suburban sprawl which means heat-retaining concrete and asphalt and houses and offices.

Spring brings renewal, new life, new opportunities. However, living in perpetual spring or spring/summer has shown me that renewal, new life, and new opportunities are ours to claim every day, in every season. We humans are not limited by the seasons as we awaken to our true nature. This is a process that transcends even the limits of climate and season. If anything, Spring encourages us to renew our renewal, to redouble our efforts at stillness to listen to the song of the Universe within and without. Spring brings us back to where we have always been if we allow ourselves to do so.

Spring comes without our efforts as does our inner growth, awakening, and yes, enlightening. We work to be still, we strive to be quiet, we stretch to stay centered, we move toward what we cannot catch by chasing … Spring brings a new sense of, “is-ness,” to the Earth that can remind us to simply Be.

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Love the Marines, Hate the (hidden but true) Mission

Let me start by saying as a veteran and as an American, I respect all branches of the military even while I hope they never have to be used again to promote corporate interests and that we humans may move beyond violence as a solution.

But, the Marines are lying. In their new ad campaign, they make the claim, “When you join the Marines … you are stepping into the boots of those who laid the groundwork of this country.”

This is very factually untrue. Those who laid the foundations of the United States of America were wealthy, educated, often slave-owning, white men. They tried first to convince the English government that they were capable of running their own affairs. However, this failed and the extreme measure of Independence and subsequent war were next. This succeeded with the help of the French who welcomed the opportunity to beat their rivals, the British.

The Marines have usually been the first to face fire. They have a proud legacy. But, to be a Marine isn’t to follow in the footsteps of wealthy businessmen and politicians. It is to be a tool of the policies of the businessmen and politicians. Gen. Smedely Butler (yes, a very highly decorated Marine) had this to say about that:

“I spent 33 years and four months in active military service and during that period I spent most of my time as a high class muscle man for Big Business, for Wall Street and the bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism. I helped make Mexico and especially Tampico safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefit of Wall Street. I helped purify Nicaragua for the International Banking House of Brown Brothers in 1902-1912. I brought light to the Dominican Republic for the American sugar interests in 1916. I helped make Honduras right for the American fruit companies in 1903. In China in 1927 I helped see to it that Standard Oil went on its way unmolested. Looking back on it, I might have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.”

No WMDs in Iraq. Securing the route of an oil and gas pipeline in Afghanistan. It continues.

Again, I respect the Marines. But, I guess telling the whole truth of what they too often face wouldn’t encourage enlistment.

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Ethics & Education

Ethics. That’s what’s on my mind and heart today.

Names removed to protect anonymity.
Question to me.
So it’s not ethical to write a paper for someone? Is it ethical to charge $18k to attend school for a semester to ultimately receive a piece of paper that society deems as acceptable enough to get a decent paying job and continue the vicious cycle of debt?

My Response.
Apples and oranges. No, it’s not ethical to write a paper for someone else. Each of us is called upon to do our personal best. There is nothing wrong in helping, encouraging, coaching another to reach their personal best. But, to do the work for them? It cheats them of the exercise, the challenge, and the success they achieve from doing the best they can.

The, “paper,” is more than a paper. It should mean one has met a series of challenges, faced them, engaged new material, new ideas, grown through the experiences, and is ready to enter a new array of lessons, challenges, joys, and successes. It is demeaned by it becoming a ticket to the future to be bought at any price. Too often today, that price includes the burgeoning market for research papers written by others, pressure on faculty to accept increasingly marginal work to appease the gods of, “student retention,” and a labor market that demands a college degree to answer the phones.

Writing a paper for another is just one symptom of all that is truly wrong with education today. The only way to do anything about it is to act from a sense of honesty, truth, and to demonstrate ethical behavior.

An education is its own reward only if it’s achieved on its own merits. Quality in education doesn’t have to be so expensive. But, if one decides to pay for the cachet of, “Ivy League,” education for the presumed benefits of such a college experience, then the cost will be high and one should accept that consequence of their choice. But, there are a wide array of affordable choices that provide academic rigor and quality learning.

So, apples and oranges.

Part Two
And to finish this day’s, “download.”
If one has no roots, one’s growth becomes stunted. We cannot build a new future with no knowledge of what brought us to the present. Otherwise, the same errors will be made.

It’s all just information. Do with it what you will. However, it really is true that, “Those who do not remember the past will be condemned to repeat it.” Each generation has the opportunity to improve the world, maintain the world, or tear down the world. The last two are easy. The first is very, very difficult as it requires knowing what hasn’t worked before and what isn’t working now.

That’s what education is supposed to be about. It is that only if one accepts that some of the information one needs may not seem immediately useful or relevant. It can take years for some of what is included in a college or even high school education to has relevance in one’s life. That’s because it’s foundational material. It is meant to be built upon by lived experience.

Most Americans seem to think that everything must come easily and all at once and that anything that isn’t explained in 140 characters is irrelevant. That isn’t how life works, though. A life is lived a moment at a time. It is grown and nurtured and requires hard, sometimes tedious work. As a musician spends hours playing scales and exercises and dancers spend hours repeated the same moves over and over and over again and farmers plow and plant and harvest and plow and plant and harvest again so it is with a life.

It takes time. It takes doing what isn’t easy or even clearly understood in the moment. It takes patience. It takes sacrifice.

All that brings joy when the fruit of the life ripens. Along the way there are joys and ecstasies if one is open to them. But, if one doesn’t take each step in turn, in order, then they are never offered and can never be experienced.

I understand I may seem to be just a preachy old woman with too much education and I probably fit dozens of stereotypes based in race, class, gender, ability, etc. No matter. All this may be lost on you. No matter. My hope for you is that you find whatever it is you keep running around the country seeking. My hope is the love you seek without finds you within. My hope is you become the woman you clearly hold as a vision in your heart.


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Resurrection, Restoration, Renewal, Rebirth

Spring brings much to celebrate with its themes of resurrection, restoration, renewal, and rebirth. This re-launch is part of that.

The focus of Heartwing Education is interfaith learning, understanding, and community building. This site includes course and program information, poetry, reflections on life, connections with others walking this path toward unity with all, and updates on activities involving Heartwing Education’s supporters and participants.


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Say Yes … to Serve

This week, I had the great honor to meet with Rev. Kyle Hutchinson, Doreen Hutchinson (his mother), and for a bit with Ken Hutchinson (father and husband). Kyle, Doreen, and I discussed the details of the legal creation of Earth Spirit Church.

Earth Spirit Church is a dream of Rev. Kyle that is coming into being. He did me the great honor of inviting me to become one of the directors of the church, responsible for the education programs. As I have learned to say Yes to Yes, I listened with care to my inner guidance, to the voice of the Source of All within, and said yes.

When I was ordained a cheraga (minister) of the Universal Worship, I knew in my heart of hearts that my service would primarily be of support, of counseling, of healing, of teaching. There was to be a church at some point, but I knew it wouldn’t be in the traditional sense of serving as a pastor with a pulpit. And so, in the fulness of time, I am now serving to bring a church into being.

The community that is growing up centered upon Earth Spirit Center and now Earth Spirit Church is of all ages, all original spiritual paths, and is made of people seeking a place of welcoming, safety, community, healing, sharing, and learning. It may seem odd that in Arizona, a state well-known for official bigotry, narrowness, and a culture proud of its close-ness, there are people of openness, tolerance, spirituality, and who embrace non-traditional ways. But, as the apparent darkness increases in the culture, the apparent light also increases.

Earth Spirit Church will include “alternative,” healing modalities offered by practitioners, outreach to prisoners, young people, and GLBTQQI folk, community arts events, monthly Healing Nights, weekly community worship services, a growing range of classes, spiritual direction, Metaphysical fairs … As the needs of the community grow, so will the church.

My sense is that of floating in the flowing river, and of being in the gentle, easy water. There are rocks, but I will be carried past them and will not be harmed. Ya Fatah!

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Saying Yes to Yes

I was not raised to be a positive person. Yet, I find I can see the positive in every situation. I was not raised to be an optimist. Yet, I am truly optimistic in my outlook.

Last night, I was blessed and honored to serve a young woman who has been struggling to make sense of the current direction of her life. As we talked, I realized I was exactly the right person for her in this moment. No ego, just acknowledging that my life experience gave me what she needed to hear. There was no way to know this beforehand.

Later, a man shared with me his story of how he and his wife found exactly the right house for them by remaining open to the direction Spirit would send them. They didn’t know how perfect the house was until they began to talk with the seller and the series of coincidences in their conversation revealed the flow of the Divine in all their lives.

Both stories provide more evidence that when we say Yes, and especially Yes to Yes, Yes to positivity, Yes to Love, Yes to openness then we find ourselves precisely where we need to be, receiving precisely what we need, sharing precisely what needs to be shared with precisely who needs to receive it.

We can prepare for what may come, but we can’t really know what that will be. Preparing ourselves may require gaining skills or learning. Preparing ourselves may mean engaging in spiritual practices to tune and temper our hearts, minds, and souls. Preparing ourselves may include learning to wait, learning to listen, learning to become still. We most likely won’t know what we’re preparing for, but if our intention is to serve both the Source of All and humanity, when the moment of service arrives we will be ready.

My life path taught me hard lessons. As I look back, I see that I was given numerous opportunities to say Yes to the Divine Will. This comes easily for some, not so easily for most of us. While my heart knew to say Yes, my head kept trying to make sense of it all. I couldn’t. I had to let go completely of all my notions of who I am and who I should be and how I should be in the world. For me, this took long years of depression and finally, death.

I learned that some who underwent the same procedure that stopped my heart wound up fully dead. My resuscitation caused second-degree burns on my chest from the ever-stronger current. During the long minutes without a heartbeat, I encountered the three spirit guides that have accompanied me my whole life. Their message was clear, “you are not complete, you will return.” In light of that, a few blisters were as nothing. I was initially disappointed to find myself on the table in the cold medical lab, but as I returned to living, “normal life,” I found the little things really didn’t matter any longer. I was sent back for a purpose, even if I didn’t know what that purpose was.

Teaching opened to me. As the months turned to years, I gained skills and experience that joined with a  previously unknown passion. After a few years, at the moment I had achieved a title, responsibility, and leadership of a project dear to me, it ended with a reduction in force that included my position.

It was the moment to walk the talk. I said Yes to Yes.

Financial needs were met. My marriage was stressed and strengthened as we sought to remain in the flow of Spirit. The truth of friendships was revealed. Family relationships grew stronger. New opportunities provided new skills and experience. A new role of service became part of who I am and how I fit into the world. Yes.

There is no need to say No as, in truth, there is no No. Love says yes, even if it says yes, but later or yes, but in this way. Our challenge is to remain in that place of openness that allows Spirit to flow through us to heal, to comfort, to challenge, to teach, to serve the world in ways beyond our imagining.

How can we not be positive, how can we not be optimistic, how can we not have joy when we are doing exactly what we should be doing in the way we should be doing it? It really is as simple as saying Yes.

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