Today I went back to place I lived in Philadelphia. I haven’t seen since the day I ran away in 1968. That’s 50 years ago. It was an institution in Philadelphia called Stenton Child Center. My younger sister and I were supposed to feel fortunate that we were in such a nice place. Most of the places the state provided for abandon children were pretty run down. There is no place on earth that could be better than being with your own family no matter how difficult things are at home.
I didn’t know how I would react when I actually saw it. As we began to approach I felt only a moment panic, that quickly turned to curiosity. I couldn’t believe how much it looked the same after all these years. The memories so fresh in my mind and stories yet to tell. I couldn’t go inside because it’s now a shelter for homeless families, but I was okay with that because I felt like the monster it represented in my mind for so many years no longer had a hold on me.
On my way home I wondered about how this applies to what I wrote about yesterday in relation to place of shifting I find myself. Of all the different places I’ve been, this was by far the worst ground I’d ever worked in my life. But it’s also yielded the most growth in my life. It was a time of planting, growing, and nurturing. It was full of many cultivating opportunities that could have yielded many weeds, but instead continues to teach and bear much fruit.
I am not only in the winter of the season, but nature teaches another lesson in my life, that I am in the winter of my shifting cultivation. A time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, let go and chill out on a icebergs going with the rivers flow.
There’s something happening in me, and what it is, I can’t exactly see.
Something has shifted, and I’m not even sure what that means. Trying to make some sense of it I look up the word shifting. I’ve been through different stages, and on many different journeys in life, but this shifting feels unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Maybe I just never noticed it to this degree before.
Shifting means changing, especially unpredictably. That verifies the unpredictably change I’m experiencing, but I still don’t get what’s going on. I dig a little deeper into my research on the subject and I come across a diagram called “shifting cultivation.” No, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something that has to do with the human psyche. But, the idea of the shifting cultivation keeps pulling me into it’s explanation, and that Aha, moment hits me. The simplicity of nature at work again giving the answer through her example.
Photo from Shifting Cultivation-SignWiki
I am the cultivator of my life. I understand that now. I’ve been feeling a need for change for quite a while. I knew it was time for letting go, but of what I wasn’t sure. I mean being on familiar ground seems like the safest place to stay at least until we know where we’re going. All that time trying to work the same way I’d always done wasn’t producing anything worth giving away. So, the shifting happened abruptly, and left me with a feeling of being lost. Now that I can see, what’s happening to me, a whole new horizon of possibilities comes into view. It takes time to work new grounds taking a small section at a time. If you’d like to follow along with me I’ll share what my cultivating grows.
“When was the last time you told your story?” The question comes from a Native American Medicine Man.
Sometimes we keep telling, sharing or re-writing our story the way I have for so many years. We can’t help the need to release and express that which presses on our heart. People may get tired of hearing about it, but it is only through the telling over and again that we are able to understand it all. Mark Nepo adds that, “It is the sweat and tears of the telling that bring the meaning out of its sleep as if no time has passed. It is the telling that heals.”
I was encouraged by today’s reflective reading to close my eyes and imagine the passages that have brought me to the person I am today. It’s ironic that I come across this right now as I’m re-writing my story. I’ve actually been noticing how many doorways and thresholds I’ve crossed through. The deeper I go into these various places the more I see clearly as if no time has passed. The journey, this time, is not a walk I do alone. I am holding the hand of my younger-self. Something my wonderful therapist once taught me to do. I let her lead the way as she walks me back through each doorway of our story. While it can still be painful at times to live through, I am able to remind my younger-self that it is okay now because we made it all the way through. I’ve learned to thank her this time too. For the strength, perseverance, bravery and the faith it took to get through one thing after another. My hope is that when every doorway has been gone through noted, and the last word is the end. That the child in me will not only see how much she is a part of who I am today, but that she will let go and become as I am.
It can be any time or place…
When suddenly they start…
Those memories of yesterday
That so delight the heart…
They’re brought about by many things…
A treasured photograph,
A song’s familiar melody,
A child’s delightful laugh…
They bring a gladness to the heart,
A warmness to the soul…
They take an ordinary day
And somehow make it whole…
Those precious, priceless memories
That time cannot destroy…
They come and go and leave
A gentle, sentimental joy.
“Imagine what a harmonious world it could be if every single person, both young and old, shared a little of what he is good at doing.” -Quincy Jones
Trump makes the statement that his new administration is running like a fine-tuned machine. Imagine what a harmonious country we’d have if only we could believe it was true. Running like a fine-tuned machine is a great example of what the summation of Quincy Jones quote amounts to. Every single person, both young and old sharing a little of what they are good at doing. The key word here is, doing.
I was recently in a conversation with two of my longtime friends. We each have a different political standing, but after a short but effective conversation we all three came to the same conclusion, that we all need to bring it home. Another word on a level in which we can make a difference on a smaller more manageable scale. Each one of us sharing a little of what we are good at doing. Add our passion for what we believe and the openness to listen to each other allows us to take what resonates with us, and leave the rest behind. Just like my two friends and I did. It was about finding a common ground respecting each other’s belief’s, and keeping our friendship in harmony, without putting a wedge between us.
It’s easy enough to talk the talk, but walking the walk is putting the talk into action.
So, what are you good at, and how can you use it to create harmony instead of discord between one another. You don’t have to run for president or do anything outstanding. All you must be is who you are, and offer to the world around you what you are good at doing.
Be the example in the world you want to see!
Today the first words I write in my journal is a chant from the 60’s. “The whole world is watching.” I don’t think I must explain why with all the confusion and unrest in our county right now many of us are caught in the anxiety it’s created. But what is it about this chant that feels so familiar? “I’ll google it,” I say to myself. This being one of the things I like most about the instant information we have at our finger tips.
I’m taken back to a time in my life that was full of unrest between people’s feelings, rights and beliefs. While its true we’ve come a long way baby, we’re still dealing with the same issues today only on a different level of understanding or should I say misunderstanding.
Hum! I hear the words of my Dad echoing back to me from a far, “history has a habit of repeating itself Connie.”
As I ponder the thought of this repeated history I realize it’s bigger than any one person. It’s an accumulation of all of us. But I also see the correlation to my own repeated struggles. How they come back to haunt me, wearing a different disguise, and always playing out under a different scenario. Eventually I come to see the similarities, and the lesson that it holds within it. I ask myself at this point what is it that I need to change within myself to see what this lessons has to offer me. I know that none of us likes to think that we are a part of the problem, but if we hold onto anger, frustration and discontent we add to the ball of fire it creates. It’s not anyone else fault what we feel or choose to experience. Whatever goes on inside of us that isn’t already a part of who we are, enters in from the outside. It’s the people we associate with, the things we read, what we watch on TV, and stream of information that’s at our finger tips. It’s the faith we practice and political stance we follow. Wherever our thoughts are is where we’ll find ourselves.
So, what have I learned from the chant that was playing in my head? What was it trying to tell me about myself? I realize that I’m one tiny being among the many, but the whole world is still watching. The whole world is still affected by whatever I add or take from it. So if I want to see a change in world for the better good of all human kind, than I must be the change I want to see first.
As I sit with my new journal in hand I pause to look back over a trying 2016 for me, my family, friends, our country, and the world. But instead of carrying the negative, sorrow and pain with me into 2017, I choose to let it go, and as the cover of my journal reads I plan to live the story I want to tell.
Standing before a brand new path I want only to take what I’ve learned and gained from my experience. The only way I know to get beyond the pain and sorry is to look for the good that remains. As always when I sit down to list all that I have to be grateful for, it never fails to show me that there is so much more good in my life than not.
I’m ready and packed for the journey with my positive optimistic bags full. I intend to make the best of each day I’m blessed with, and to continue to learn and grow from the days that bring me difficult paths to climb over.
I hope that your journey this New Year will be blessed, and that you are able to live the storys you want to tell as well.
Happy New Year!
“If you look for the truth outside yourself, it gets farther and farther away.” -Tang-Shan Liang-Chich
To me this quote is a great reminder to bring it all in. It’s also a great example as we wind down to the last 3 days before the election. We cannot make a choice based on all the conflicting information that takes us away from what we base our own truth on. How does each candidate resonate with my own belief and truths? There’s this inner knowing that we all have within us. It’s a nagging voice that’s trying to be heard beneath all the other noise that the ego entertains. Where does the ego look for its truth but from that which it attaches itself to on the outside?
What does this all create, but a division within ourselves. If there is a division within us then it’s going to create a division outside of us, and it spreads like a disease. It has already become prevalent in our country. Now the concern is that whoever gets into office, the division will continue. I don’t want to be a part of planting this seed. All I can do is pull out the negative weeds it’s begun to grow in me.
The bottom line for me is in the clarity of the statement above. Look for the truth within your heart and soul. Don’t let the ego lead you astray. Some would say I don’t’ rely on myself. I rely on God. Well where do you think God exist? Within each of us. He didn’t create us to push aside who we are. He created us that He could experience life through us and with us. But it takes our cooperation and willingness to work as One. I have learned in my own life that when I’m feeling that sense of division it’s a sure sign that I’ve drifted away from the truth within. Until I find my way back I become a part of the problem that contributes to the division all around me.
As Saint Francis so simply taught, having peace on earth, can only happen when we first find it in ourselves.
I feel like I’ve caught a illiness. It’s the dis-ease that’s going around. It’s no one’s fault but my own for allowing it. My immune system has been comprised by my lack of focus on the better things in life. My mind is foggy and my inspiration is zilch.
So I pick myself up, dust myself off and dig beneath muck to free my inner spirit. Like a bad cold it takes time and work to bring my true-self back. I think I need a good laugh to lighten things up. Anyone have a good joke?
Even lady liberty is frustrated with our country and it’s political system.
Maybe she’s simple embarrassed to be seen as the first symbol of freedom and justice for all?
Maybe she’s irritated with the two candidates running for president who don’t represent the county she has stood many years for?
Maybe she feels like the country she’s come to represent is falling apart?
Maybe right now she represents how we all feel?