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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New world, new tools

I’ve said before, “We can’t birth a new world using the tools of the old.” We are seeing numerous examples of this as we humans move along in the birthing of a new age.

Life as we knew it is changing. Yes, the nature of life is constant change, but the magnitude and quality of the changes through which humanity is passing is different than in the past.

We see mass movements of, “the people,” in countries in Africa and the Middle East where governments and regimes have been marked by repressive, autocratic, and dictatorial systems. Aided by the swift and almost ubiquitous communications of social networking, people organized themselves to not just show displeasure, but to stare down the bullies and thugs that were their leaders until those leaders blinked and stepped aside, as in Tunisia or Egypt, or revealed themselves to be psychotic brutes as in Libya.

In Europe, educated, underemployed, and concerned citizens have also taken to the streets to demand justice be served upon those whose criminal activities helped shatter economies. However, in the U.S., those who rigged the rules, flouted their cozy relationships with regulators and governments, and pilfered billions from individual pensions by way of the artificial real estate bubble not only walk free, they paid themselves record bonuses and continued to pour money into the pockets of politicians who promised to weaken even the modest reforms passed in the last two years. No protests, no gatherings of the newly-unemployed, just more fear about losing more ground.

We see newly-elected Republican governors and legislators openly attacking the last working people with any real voice and influence: public-sector union members. As a country, we say we value education, but begrudge teachers anything other than slave wages. We say we value healthcare, but allow insurance companies to keep us from creating a healthcare system that reaches all citizens and expect nurses to allow their collective union voice to be silenced. We see a Wisconsin governor concerned about, “advancing the cause,” and not serving his citizens.

It took this last act to push Americans into mass protests against those who already have the power and a voice at the table … the very wealthy who control 99 percent of our economy. In a rather stunning and callous miscalculation, Governor Walker targeted those public-sector unions that historically support the Democratic party and exempted those that supported his party, namely police and firefighters. However, the latter joined the protests because they recognized they would be next. If a state can destroy collective bargaining by one group of unions, all unions could lose the right to collective bargaining.

When I was younger, I remember a conversation about the pensions paid to retired civil service employees. Someone said they were excessive, but someone else supported not just the pensions, but unions for such workers by saying, “would YOU want to work for the government your whole life?” The salaries are lower than in the private sector, the work can be harder, and yet, there was, and is something honorable about working for the rest of us. So, yes, after working for an agency of the government, it was and still is appropriate for pensions and benefits to be fair since those workers work for all of us.

I challenge students, and now extend this to everyone, to truly follow through with their beliefs. If they believe unions and collective bargaining are not good, then do not accept anything that has come to pass because of unions. This includes the weekend, or any day off at all apart from a half day on Sunday and perhaps a full day off on Christmas or Thanksgiving Day. It includes a work day shorter than 14 hours long. It includes any safety gear. It includes child labor. It includes health insurance.

The protests against draconian destruction of collective bargaining are just the latest in a cultural war that has continued since the first union action over 100 years ago. The Cause of Governor Walker, the Kochs and other oligarchs and autocrats, Wall Street, the Republicans party is the same as the cause of the Rockefellers, the JP Morgans, the mine and factory owners, etc. Collective bargaining forced them to adopt practices of fair pay, fair and safe working conditions, and yes, spreading the wealth downward from the robber barons to their workers.

The rich have never voluntarily taken any action that helps the society in which they live or the lives of their workers. Philanthropy aside as it’s motivated more by a need to game tax laws or for public relations than by any genuine desire to help create a viable middle class or to improve the lives of the poor, the rich seek only to gain more wealth.

As the abomination that is the corporation has become the dominant social, political, and cultural entity on the planet today, this gathering of wealth by the wealthy has only accelerated. Since the corporation is motivated only by quarterly profits, when the cost of labor in one part of the world becomes high enough to begin the creation of a middle class, the corporation seeks out a labor market that is less costly. We have seen American manufacturing jobs move first to Mexico, then to the, “Asian tigers,” and finally to China where the massive population can provide very low-cost labor in very unsafe factories for decades to come as the totalitarian government ensures worker compliance with corporate needs.

What then is this spreading desire among, “the people,” for democracy? It is for a voice in the decisions that affect everyday lives. In the U.S., “the people,” still have the legal right to gather in mass groups to express their opinions even though this right was strongly attacked by the corporate-aligned administration that preceded the current administration. It has taken unemployment at just under 10 percent, ongoing pillaging of the economy by criminals who clearly believe they are above any law, and the nihilist, neo-feudalist efforts to complete the destruction of collective bargaining rights to get Americans to move into the streets.

But, there is more here than commercial, fiduciary, economic, labor, or governmental concerns. There is a profoundly deep desire for a better world: for less competition, not more; for greater fairness, not less; for more equality, not more elitism; for shared governance and responsibility, not top-down orders and demands for obedience.

The great conflict in human societies over the past two millennia has been over the answer to this question, “what is the source of power?” For most of this time, the answer has been a divinity, a dynasty “blessed,” by a divinity, a bully who’s better at killing than his opponents, families descended from the aforementioned bullies, impersonal entities, and the state and all the variations of governments that place the state above the individual.

Then came the Enlightenment and its ideals codified into the U.S. Constitution. “We the People,” was and remains a radical idea, particularly when the individuals who make up, “The People,” start to realize they each and separately are the actual source of power.

At this time, there is a genuine increase in spirituality, not religion, that supports not only the individual and his or her full potential and power, but also recognizes that it is only when each person freely shares all they are and can be with everyone else, that each person achieves true power. We don’t lose independence or potential or power by sharing with others, we gain independence, potential, and power. We are interdependent and not because we are coerced by law or dogma, but because when we share what we have, we receive more than we give. The duality that says if one has power then one must give up power is false. The entire system of duality that has limited humanity for most of our history is beginning to be seen as the falsehood it is.

Thus, the vertical orientation of power through dictators, autocrats, oligarchs, and neo-feudalists is coming apart because real power comes from each person and, The People. It’s not pretty, but the extremes have to be seen before the spirit moving through humanity can be heard. A fruit-seller has to commit suicide after a corrupt cop bullies him (Tunisia). A generation of unemployed citizens have to tell their corrupt dictator that his son cannot succeed him and they want him to leave now (Egypt). Diplomats and military officers have to refuse orders to kill and support the killing of their own citizens (Libya). Neo-feudalist ideologues contemptuous of, “The People,” and supportive of corporate and oligarchic rule openly attempt to destroy workers’ rights (Wisconsin, Ohio, Indiana, New Jersey …). It has to become painful, and mean, and bad, and unbearable before there is the opening up inside to the voice of spirit that drives people to want to make life better.

The people in Tahrir Square simply showed up and communicated via the Internet to coordinate their responses. They didn’t show up with guns and other weapons. It was the same in Tunisia, is the same in Libya, and will be the same elsewhere change will happen.

The world in which we live has been defined by power exercised by some against other people. The world into which we are moving is being defined by power shared by all people. The former required armed insurrection to change regimes, the latter looks remarkably like the suffragette parades and labor rallies and strikes of 100 years ago and Ghandi’s, King’s and others’ peaceful refusals to accept what wasn’t right. As long as some people equate power with violence, some will get hurt. However, as we move into a world with horizontal organizations of shared responsibility and decision-making, we cannot use violence over others to achieve this new world.

I encourage each person to open to Spirit as they understand Spirit. I encourage each person to connect with others in whatever they they can. Social networking is a physical connection that can support already-existing spiritual connections. The means to easily communicate all around the world is helping accelerate the changes of heart that is already underway.

That those who believe in material wealth and vertical power are gathering more material wealth and lashing out at those who don’t have material wealth or power reveals more about the knowledge that their way of running the world is coming to an end than about the rightness of that way. There are reasons Jesus and other teachers warned about the gathering of material wealth and power as the purpose of the life and most of those reasons can be summed up in the understanding that material wealth is transient and true wealth lies in Spirit, however one understands Spirit. Since the world into which we are moving seems very much a more spiritually-based world, we cannot use the tools of a world of material wealth and power to help bring it about.

So, we see mass gatherings of people standing together in peace. We see them continue to stand in the face of force. We see them protected by those who choose to not use force against them. We see the strong protecting the weak and not preying upon them. We see the results of spirit moving among humanity as we take our next steps. We are seeing the new tools birthing a new world.

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