Our own melody…

 Some dark days, it is necessary to be a conjurer of beauty. We must compose our transformational tune – creating a melody that begins with sorrow and pain and which then transmutes it into gritty, defiant joy. That sort of joy is the stuff of sages, mystics, and even children. These wise ones know that with a shout, a skip, and a burst of undaunted love, a nightmare may give rise to a heroic and colorful journey.

– Karen Gatlin, December 2015

Illustration: Kay Nielsen, East of the Sun, West of the Moon

Shifts in Perception: The Subtle and the Extraordinary

Arches morning

What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us.
I mean the Angel who appeared to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers’ sinews grew long like metal strings,
he felt them under his fingers like chords of deep music.

Whoever was beaten by this Angel (who often simply declined the fight)
went away proud and strengthened and great from that harsh hand,
that kneaded him as if to change his shape….
– Ranier Maria Rilke, The Man Watching (trans. Robert Bly)

I am just home from a two week road trip visiting family and friends – visiting beauty here and there. It is also three weeks since I received my Level One and Two Reiki attunement and certification. And today I’ve been just soaking in the gratitude for all of it and for being home now, with my wonderful husband and partner.

The light has changed since we left on vacation. The morning we left, there were a dozen or so white-tail deer in our front yard as we headed down the driveway. Only a few yards away in the neighboring meadow, I said, “I think that’s an elk!” As we got closer, there she was, and there was the rest of a small herd eating grass behind her in the pine trees…they had been camouflaged. About seven miles down the road, we saw a larger herd of elk by a little stream and later that morning we saw a group of mountain goats. We were in awe. That set the tone for our trip. For the rest of our journey, we were soaking in the beauty – of creatures and fall colors, of the ocean, of spectacular geology, of our loved ones.

And now we are home.  The sun is shining at a different angle and there is a chill in the outside air. We turned on our heat for the first time. There has been a shift: of light, awareness, and vibration.

The day of my Reiki I and II attunement I was so excited as I drove there with my friend! I thought big dramatic things might occur over the course of the day. Instead, big subtle things happened. I felt the Reiki energy in the room as we were attuned and as we worked on each other – learning hand positions, mantras and symbols. I realized that the whole experience was not at all unfamiliar – it simply amplified or magnified a resource with which I was already familiar. And as we met our “guides” (which some call Reiki Masters or angels) – mine was very familiar – a being on whom I rely daily to assist me in keeping my balance. No new revelations there! My world view and perception shifted dramatically, however, the day I first “met” or became aware of her a couple of years ago. I had to open my mind to things I had previously dismissed.

Next week, I will experience advanced Reiki II, and in December, I have the opportunity to receive the Master level attunement. What am I learning? That the universe is filled with loving assistance and support for us. That love and life-force energy has the power to shift what we may have previously believed could not be shifted. It alters the unalterable. And it is all available right here and right now.

Perhaps not by coincidence, I have been preaching that message for years (literally). I am now learning that it is simpler and more profound than I previously dared to imagine. If we open to the Sacred, the Source, we are transformed – sometimes subtly, sometimes dramatically. In the process, our reality – our world – is transformed and shifts with us.

It is worth overcoming our doubts and fears. The miraculous is in our midst.

Windows at Arches NP

The “Other” Way Counts

I shall be telling this with a sigh Somewhere ages and ages hence: Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— I took the one less traveled by, And that has made all the difference.

                                   – Walt Whitman

The words of the poem, above, were printed on a poster that hung on my wall during high school. I think they were somehow emblazoned on my teenage soul, too, and have stayed with me.

I have so many friends and relatives who, in one way or another, deal with being “other” everywhere they go. They don’t quite fit. They don’t have a traditional career or any career. They are retired, but they don’t fit with the bridge group or the church circle. They are part of a spiritual tradition, but they don’t feel comfortable. They are not part of any spiritual tradition, but they know there is something more to life than what meets the eye, something deeper.

It isn’t a coincidence that my fellow sangha member, family members, classmates, acquaintances, and neighbors fall in this category. So do I. My life has been a richly woven tapestry – its patterns and circuitous routes often seeming without a unifying scheme. Good and bad, up and down, try this, now that, and so on. But as this website indicates, there is a common thread that runs through it all. I call that thread my spiritual path.

These days, I am integrating all kinds of things that I have learned from all kinds of places. I see the golden thread between traditions and non-traditions sparkling like crazy. One friend calls this “energy.” Yes. That’s it. Another friend calls this “God,” another “Vibration,” and another “Goddess.” Yes. Yes. Yes. Another says it is silence, mystery. One of my less spiritually-oriented friends calls it health and fitness, another “art.” Many call it nature. A teacher calls it the landscape of our dreams.

Each of these people is sorting out what it means to live in such a way that his or her life is in harmony with a higher purpose. They have each tried the traditional path and often it didn’t work, or some part of it doesn’t work. They were miserable. I say, “Yay, misery!” Very often it is a gift that sends us in our new direction.

Sequoia hikeYesterday, I was part of a discussion in which a room full of people shared this sense of “social dis-harmony” – or being out of step with traditional values. I could hear the struggle, which is often my struggle: the challenge to believe that our Way counts. Maybe a person gets paid for what he/she does, or maybe does not. Perhaps a person has a degree of fame or appreciation and maybe they’re completely unknown to the world. Is their way valid? Perhaps they have a plan or goal or perhaps they don’t. Maybe, instead of a goal, the present moment, lived mindfully or peacefully or with joy, is the whole reward.

I know that one thing I’ve learned on my circuitous route is that it IS real, it does count. I know this, because my pay is in my inner well-being, not cash. The real currency of this journey is good vibration, grace, peace, wholeness. Whatever our higher path or purpose, living true to it affects EVERYTHING.