Ode to Gaia

There are so many ways to string words together and so many words from which to choose to make meaning. I can’t winnow them and that makes hard work of editing my first self-published art book . An expanded version of the handcrafted Ode to Gaia I made a year ago, this one has 64 pages instead of 40. includes 12 additional paintings and a new drawing for coloring in. This time, Ode has a subtitle.  I thought it was: Calling Forth our Imaginal Selves.

Two months have passed since I chose that subtitle. I never once considered changing it, until last Friday. My writers’ group met then. They’ve worked on the book with me before, but this time suddenly the subtitle was being bandied about. New strings of words popped in that living room like a bouquet of helium balloons. One enthused: “ I like, ‘A Love Song for Life on the Planet.’” Others glommed onto that one. I did too. It’s inviting, warm & fuzzy and reminds me of the fraternity boys singing under my dorm window a long time ago.

But later…That new subtitle title seemed redundant. An ode suggests the potential for love song. Gaia already implies a living planet with life on it. That subtitle doesn’t hint at the deeper purpose I have in mind. Yes, I want readers to fall in love with the miracle of being alive on Earth. But the greater significance is what that love demands of us.

Love asks us to commit to the beloved and that changes us. We don’t know what will be asked of us or how our lives will be changed by loving.  Loving someone or something often calls for sacrifice, curbing our own enthusiasm, at least for a moment, for the good of the other. We’re asked to be generous with our time and resources, to do whatever it takes to support mutual thriving, to nourish the relationship. Loving calls forth empathy and compassion and those feelings sometimes hurt. To love deeply means also we will be deeply affected by the loss of what we love. We may grieve. In my North American dominant culture, we are not taught that grievng is a blessing that cracks the heart open to deeper loving, greater wisdom.

Many hold love at bay because they don’t want to deal with the hard stuff, but I see no reason to fear it.  Systems theory and contemporary science reveal what the ancients knew all along: everything is connected. Thus, I know that my commitment to nourish and protect the beloved, also nourishes and protects me.

 

So if we love life on Earth and we know Earth is hurting, we need to do something to heal the wounds. And that means changing our consumptive life style. Ode to Gaia poses a series of “What if…” questions to inspire new possibilities for how to live that nourish our human relationship to life. Frankly, I’m asking humanity to grow-up. It’s time to move beyond our adolescent, self-centered behaviors, and choose instead to live within the living limits of this glorious globe. We have no way of knowing whether we have already tipped beyond the carrying capacity for human life on Earth, but without changing our ways NOW, human catastrophe is inevitable. The planet will thrive without us. Species now on the verge of extinction will flourish again and plant life will take back urban sprawl.

Remember, Gaia doesn’t need us. We need her!

Homo-sapiens is not the final form of human evolution. Imagine us humans with our heart intelligence aligned with our belly wisdom which collaborates with our brain knowledge and sensory awareness. WOW. We can become a wiser and more fully functioning version of who we have been. So I want that sub title of the Ode book to state clearly that I’m calling for a commitment from modern humans to do whatever loving life requires. Maybe that’s it:  Making a Commitment to Change our Lives for the Love of Life.

OR

Ode to Gaia: Changing our Lives for the Love of Living

Ode to Gaia: Calling Forth our Commitment to Change Because We Love Life.

Ode to Gaia: A Call to Humanity to Commit Ourselves to Life.

Ode to Gaia – A Call to Midwife the NEW Human

Ode to Gaia – Calling Forth the Eco-Centric Human

Ode to Gaia – Choosing a New Story for Humanity

Do you see what I mean about all those words…

What think ye?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Deep Dreaming

In the Fall of 2017, two women sat at my art table learning the skills of drawing. Their eyes sparkled like enthusiastic kids’. They’d just discovered how to see again.

Learning to see what truly lies before you changes your life. Seriously.  It brings you to being present here and now with unveiled, unfiltered, focused awareness. Like a Bodhisattva. Then you add the gift of identifying a new skill. Your hand holding the pencil CAN follow the path of your eyes as they trace the outline of what they see. On top of that, the brain collaborates. Recognizing the relationships among the shapes, the actual proportions of what connects to what and where, allows you to find your accuracy again..

The women giggled with delight at this dance, this wholeness.  One of them bubbled up with an idea. “I want to try my hand at painting. Could you show us how to paint like this? In the moment, in the now. We could have big panels, more students, move around, stand up. I can even provide a larger space.”

Their contagious enthusiasm leapt right into my heart. “What would you call a class like that?” I asked.

“Deep Dreaming,” she immediately responded.  Shivers of ”Yes” raced along my arms.

A few weeks later, four of us gave it a try. Wildly exciting, we decided to ask a few more friends to join us and in January 2018, eight of us began. In preparation, we original four built large wooden panels for everyone, primed them, even made eight easels so we could all stand to paint.


We quickly realized that we were traveling together in new territory. Co creating a new world, a new – perhaps old – way of being in community.. pilgrims on a journey, the painting process brought tears of grief and tears of joy, laughter, mutterings and natterings, stories, poetry and blessings and singing spontaneous song: Paint on top of paint on top of paint. No need to be afraid.

 

 

 

 

New words are coined. ARTangels popped out as someone tried to say, “It’s as if archangels are looking over us.” At another session the word Creageous tumbled forth. We latched on to that one as if our lives depended on it…and they do.
Creageous – adjective – describes those who act creageously ( adverbial form ).  Those who say, “ NO WAY…I am not patriarchy’s daughter. I belong to earthsky, airsea, galaxyinfinity, eternitynanosecond.
Those who say, “ YES, I am who I am.” Those who claim their  right to be more than they thought they were by making leaps of faith in trusting Creator to show them the way forward, following their heart’s footsteps and embracing the wisdom of unseen energies, ancestral spirits, and other living beings at the same time s/he values science and technology.

Creageous may be applied to humans entering the next great round of evolution for our species. Barbara Marx Hubbard calls the evolving human, homo-universalis. Other thinkers call us the ECO-centric human. Those who follow the path of creageousness call the new human creageougenic!

Related states are: courageous, creative, outrageous, advantageous and awe-inspiring.

Creageousness – noun:  the complex and all encompassing state of being in the flow, experienced by few modern humans whose souls are straight-jacketed by narrow cultural definitions of normalcy to which most urbanized and westernized humans aspire. Creagousness provides courage and comfort for those who know life is not theirs to control, mystery abounds, grief and love are ubiquitous and essential emotions, making art heals and juiciness prevails.

What do you think?



 

 

 

 

 

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Singing Ourselves Home

In February 1983 I experienced the vision of my lifetime. Ripped open to seeing, hearing, knowing, experiencing the true nature of reality – all that is hidden from my normal awareness, I knew vividly, undeniably, a bone deep knowing beyond all doubt that has sustained me ever since.

The truth I experienced is this: the universe is held together by vibration. The vibration is sound and its “friction” creates light, everywhere sparking light sparkling while the music emanates from absolutely e very thing…all the music of all the worlds of all time were known to me and it was glorious. Unreportable and unrepeatable in this limited world of so-called matter but nonetheless REAL to my awareness.

Coincidentally, only last week, I learned a little about our electromagnetic spectrum which includes the world we see with our eyes, the familiar rainbow light spectrum that we see when the sun shines. A Nova PBS documentary called Earth from Space showed me that the electromagnetic spectrum, if it were a ribbon, would stretch from NYC to LA…thousands of miles long.  This energy spectrum includes radio waves, infared, X-ray and ultraviolet and a host of other wavelengths whose names I do not know and we cannot see with our eyes alone.  Without technological support, 99.99999999% of that energetic ribbon of possibilities is beyond our awareness. Mathematical computations and computer graphics reveal a lot of it but the electromagnetic spectrum visible to us ordinarily is only the width of a dime on that long, long ribbon…That fact makes my mouth drop open with awe.

For thirty-five years my creative life has been devoted to trying to illustrate the vision I had in 1983. I always fall short in my estimation because that is the nature of expressing something ephemeral in “concrete” form. Creative expression suffers from that truth because it is so hard for most of our egos to bear imperfection, but bear it we must because we need to be engaging with that mysterious, miraculous web that sustains the balance of life on this planet.

 


Which brings me to Monday this week, September 04, 2017. I am  midday through an online class with Chloe Goodchild, a mentor of mine whom I met about fifteen years ago when I lived in Missoula, Montana. She came there to offer a weekend workshop called the Naked Voice.  The course she’s offering with the Shift Network is called Liberate the Voice of your Soul and each session includes optional break-out groups after the session in which you are randomly placed with 2 or 3 others from around the globe to practice singing together.

 

On Monday I decided to try an afterclass break-out group for the first time. Untethered by a fifteen minute time frame, this is what happened:


Pregnant silence follows our singing.

Goosebumps, a sure sign of being in the presence of spirit, rise on my arms. My nose tickles and eyes glisten. In fact, a few drops of water meander down my cheeks before the singing stops.

What just happened?

I, maybe we, feel so richly blessed and deeply stirred. I am still glowing two days later.

But what is this? Really, what just happened?

Online, four strangers, I among them, have just bathed the planet with blessings.

We didn’t plan to do it.

An Irish woman asks a Japanese man if he will offer his overtone chanting for us again so that this time we might sing along with him. He agrees. A polyphonic river streams from his mouth. Rivers carve valleys while song birds sing and screams of eagle echo off mountain walls and hot springs bubble and hiss. We three women close our eyes and swim with his strong current. Irish, English, Japanese and North American, our four voices weave and though we didn’t plan on doing it, we conjure a whole new universe.

My own throat releases as my song currents bobble, eddy and swirl with the three other singing rivers. Whistling even pours out of me but no one seems to mind. We sing for an hour,…or maybe a minute…, long enough to create a world where love is the ground, trust is our nature, compassion our heartbeat and co-creating the litany:

Alive, alive, alive, alive,
to be so alive together
we four,
separated by
continents, sixteen hours, genders and cultures
sing in real time
our voices meeting in that field
far, far beyond where the wisdom is.

YES
AND
THANK YOU.

****

 

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E Pluribus Unum

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Yesterday, Nov 22, 2016, e pluribus unum started whispering in my head…This morning, the words were clamoring for attention so of course I googled! Sure enough, e pluribus unum used to be our country’s traditional – though unofficial – motto from 1776 until 1956 when Congress passed an act adopting “In God We Trust” as the official motto.

Latin for “Out of many, one”, e pluribus unum once suggested that a single nation was emerging out of many states or colonies. “In recent years its meaning has come to suggest that out of many peoples, races, religions, languages, and ancestries has emerged a single people and nation – illustrating the concept of the melting pot.”  ( Wikipedia )

The promise of our country and the possibilities of our pluralistic culture represent the new world order in ways unimagined when the “new world” was first discovered.

As Americans, our subconscious knows that e pluribus unum is at the bedrock of our founding. But our history as migrants seeking freedom by killing off the population of people already living here for thousands of years, that terrorism tortures our souls, whether we’re aware of that shadow in our psyches, or not.

Those 13 letters still appear on our Great Seal – you know the one with the bald eagle holding an olive branch and arrows in his/her claws. The same general motif and e pluribus unum are still pressed onto the back side of our new shiny dimes. We touch that idea – one out of many – every day of our lives!

E pluribus unum leads me to see the statue of liberty in my mind’s eye…that iconic symbol of an American sanctuary  for all who are tired and poor and broken. Our culture is founded on deception and we are unconscious of living that duplicity. Saddled as a culture by a form of schizophrenia, we find solace in addictions, including violence to each other.

It hurts.

we-all-feel-it

Image above: We All Feel It by E. Van Duine

We are a country founded by invading European peoples. Founded in our search for religious freedom, we promptly destroyed the “religion” already extant on this continent, killing off whole nations of people, doing to them what had been done to us earlier when we still lived as if the God in all life mattered, when we experienced reverence for the forest, the rivers and seas, for the sun and stars.

Our nation’s newer motto states that we trust in God.  God made ALL of us and in his/her image too! God made humans in many shapes/sizes/colors, made an incredible array of creatures, gorgeous rivers, waves of grasses, blue skies – the things we sing about in our anthems – and yet the dominant corporate culture rapes and pillages those very same beauties in pursuit of profit and commits violence to the humans who courageously stand for the sacredness of the Godmade elements on which our lives depend.

We TRUST in GOD. Really??

The “dominant” American culture lives with a split at the heart of our Selves, a rent in our hearts. Is it not time to begin healing the wounds?

E pluribus unum/In God we Trust.

Let’s bring the true meaning of our OWN words to how we live our lives.

flight

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Ode to Gaia

Humbly I begin this blog again.

Life means more to me than ever, partly because someone near and dear has discovered cancer. I wait while she gets a biopsy this morning and watch all the humans, men and women, toddlers and elders, coming in for diagnostic imaging. I witness great kindness and good humor from the attending staff and marvel at all the patients who respond to the nurse’s question, while ushering them through the door for potentially devastating news, with “I’m fine, I’m good. How are you?”

An epiphany is brewing deep inside me but I cannot articulate what it is…maybe it will come. I know it’s about the human condition. Our frailty and vulnerability parade before my eyes and I recognize that everyone of us is included in that condition…all the creatures, waters, atmosphere, plants…all of it . . .fragile and intimately interconnected.

When are we gonna get that!?

And make a change of heart about how we live on this planet?

I wonder why we do not care more…care about each other, about how we laugh and cry and break bread together –nourishing food, clear air, pure water…with life affirming story and song round the table of companionship.

I wonder why we do not care more for all the other beings who enliven our souls as we walk on this planet…all those on whom our psyche depends…without whom we would be bereft. What will we name our sports teams, cars and neighborhood streets when the animals are all gone? Think about that!

Which takes me to the Carmanah-Walbran Provincial Preserve on Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. I spent five days there in the clear cuts – brand new, 3 years old, 13 years old – and then time, too, in the remaining old growth where some trees are 700 – maybe a 1000 – years old. The difference staggers me.

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walbran-800x562I had already begun an artist’s chapbook – 40 pages long and about 6” x 9” – before I visited the clear cuts. But the experience there gave me a purpose that I hadn’t had before. A specificity if you will…to honor the trees on which our lives depend. To honor the creatures like the marbled murrelet and the pine martin who are threatened with extinction, just as we are.  And that’s a literal statement.  How many more trees have to be felled before the tipping point is reached and the oxygen/carbon dioxide ratio no longer supports us oxygen breathing creatures?

I call the book Ode to Gaia. There are seventeen Gaia paintings and a few new ones painted specifically for the book. This one in particular is my prayer for no more clear cutting. Called simply: S/He Who Breathes…

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Each bookcover is unique.

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Hand painted halos and pencil colored bits encourage you to color more. I call it a participatory book because there are two black and white pages inside that you can also color. The message is a loving one and a call to imagine new ways of living together while we still have the opportunity.

 

You can order it from me. $35@ or $32@ if you order more than one. Postage/handling for one book is $5.00 so a total of $40. For 2 or more, I’ll get an assessment from the post office…same if you live outside the United States. PayPal works fine. Just use my email and click on friends and family to avoid the fees. deborahmltn@gmail.com. Or a check to my mailing address. Email me for that.

With gratitude and humility,

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What is Sacred Activism – Part 3

As I dive into exploring my own expanding sense of what it means to be a Sacred Activist, I land in memory. Like sea grass undulating in dark green currents, I reach for the story to illuminate the memory. Right now there is only a glint from a gossamer thread. I look for words strung together to bring memory into view but instead story eludes me and I have only an inchoate feeling sense of what sacred activism means to me.

water blessing

And it is this. When an unexpected traumatic or conflictual situation rises before me, an unknown response waits inside. I ask myself what guides me – love guides me/compassion quickens me. Though I have said before that I have no choice, in the larger sense I always have choice. Do I choose to retaliate, to confront, to add fuel to the proverbial fire?

No.

I make an instantaneous choice in the moment based on my essential living/loving self and the situation before me.

Does fear rise, anger? Of course…but so quickly they could be the blur of a hummingbird’s wing, humor and cleverness and love rise too.

I trust that.

I learn so much about myself when I’m willing to be true to my natural instincts to support life wherever I find it, to be willing to be both actor and acted upon, engaging with yet simultaneously witnessing. I trust my instinct to build relationship, to move toward generating kinship rather than away from a risky encounter.

And moving toward a risky encounter may actually mean moving away from engagement so as to preserve the other’s life as well as my own. This is not surrender or weakness but the potency of my value system revealing itself in my behavior.

The memory surfacing here is meeting a mother bear on a trail loaded with huckleberry bushes. Her two cubs scrambling up a tree alerted me to her presence. My intention for that day’s hike was to reach a mountain pass I’d long wanted to visit but I stopped dead in my tracks when encountering the Momma whose side broadly faced me – her defense stance showing me how big she was. My friend hiking behind me almost slammed into my back I’d stopped so abruptly. I murmured, “Sue, turn around, NOW.” I apologized to the bear, turned my own back and began singing a song of apology, describing my leaving her space and promising not to return that day since I didn’t know how long she needed to be there.

This was her dining table after all, not mine.

Thread

My dear friend, Sue, responded with alacrity – no questions – turning and singing too. We never looked back and we were never followed. We never made it to that mountain pass but I was happy to make that sacrifice for the good of my soul.

Memories now surface of other small encounters that reflect my notions of sacred activism:

conciliatory behavior to the man enraged by my dogs barking at him and his son as they walked by my fenced yard. I was so kind that he lost his ability to yell at me.

squatting down and sitting with my paranoid client crouched in a corner of her room, curled up with eyes closed and mouth rammed shut. I sat with her and shared a dream I’d had two nights before. I suddenly knew it belonged to her. She opened her eyes, began to uncurl.

standing in support of the Missoula women’s clinic after it had been firebombed and sharing with angry protestors about my love for the unborn fetus and the miracle of birth. They looked totally puzzled but shared eye contact and actually wanted to know more.

All these ordinary encounters offer opportunities for compassion to melt fear and anger, and thus we can all be sacred activists any where all the time…I’ve made my choice. Will you?

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What is Sacred Activism – Part 2

It seems propitious to be reflecting on what sacred activism means to me on an uncommonly hot summer afternoon in the Pacific Northwest. Yesterday I heard from a Montana friend that the water level is dropping in Flathead Lake, the largest fresh water lake west of the Mississippi River. I immediately asked if it was caused by high irrigation use. “Oh no,” she replied. “It’s evaporating.”

Sacred activism is the only path I can see for opening our hearts and writing a new human storyline in response to climate change, one that allows us to contribute consciously to the evolution of our species.

Because I have no choice about living according to my clearest truth, I have risked my economic livelihood to honor my integrity. I am rich beyond measure. Years ago, I already knew I would have no regrets on my death bed, an evolutionary shift for me and my lineage since both my parents died regretting that they had never fully lived because of their fears: lack of money and looking like a fool were the two primary plot lines that trapped them.

Sacred activism means living a life full of risk. Many of us do not want to risk opening our hearts to protect ourselves from feeling grief. And yet without willingness to grieve we cannot fully live wholeheartedly.

Opening the heart also leads to compassion. Compassions means to me that I feel the blow when another is struck. Imagine the power of compassion to change absolutely everything.

Opening the heart may also look like being a fool to someone else. Then the ego has to engage with shame. Myths have come to us through the ages about that risky kind of love. Kissing the frog and falling in love with the hag are two themes that come to mind. But remember magical outcomes occur when we’re willing to commit our boundless love, put our trusting selves on the line no matter what.

I remember back in the early 1980’s when I was still serving as a psychotherapist, one of my clients was a tough guy – a black hearted, grey hooded, obese, acne cheeked, dull eyed, knife holding adolescent punk who wouldn’t give me the time of day. Yet week after week he came to my office and sat, mostly mute. One day my heart melted. Overwhelming warmth and maternal compassion flooded me and spilled over on him. I don’t remember moving a muscle, scarcely breathing, but he felt it happening and looked up. He saw my expression and our two pairs of eyes brimmed with tears. We were both changed in a split second by wordless communion.

That’s sacred activism.

It happens with non-human creatures as well. One day on a beach I flooded with love for a spider. I’d been watching it through a high powered jeweler’s lens. Suddenly the spider looked up at me through the glass – we saw eye to eye – it raised its two front legs as if in prayer and I got the message: Stop invading my privacy. I felt not only compassion but shame. What gives me the right to treat another life with disrespect?

That’s sacred activism.

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Discipline is part of sacred activism too. Can you remain centered in love when all is chaos and anger around you? I participated in several peace marches over the years and noticed every time that they didn’t embody peace. The use of the word ‘march’ reveals the confused point of view. The chants they sang were militant. I just couldn’t join in because the staccato beat, raised voices and challenging words were combative, spewed under the guise of song. At one point, I stood practically nose to billy club with a guard a foot taller than I. We were unable to move, jammed together midst the mad swirl of chanting peace marchers. I knew I had to make a quick decision. I chose to breathe deeply, closed my eyes for a few seconds and remembered what I knew about love. Opening my eyes, I began singing only for him. Not a chant, not a love song written by someone else, but my own spontaneous song sharing the story of how I came to be standing in front of his billy club protected chest. I shared my story of being afraid and imagined he was too, told about my family and imagined his, expressed my dream of a world where we all had food on the table and shelter over our heads and enough money…I sang and I sang and I tried and I tried to make eye contact but his eyes were hidden behind the bill of his baseball cap. I never did see them before the spell was broken by an enraged peace walker. What I saw instead were tears rolling down his cheeks.

That’s sacred activism.

In another few days, I’ll return with Part 3.

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