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.


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.




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E Pluribus Unum


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.


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.


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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.






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…


Each bookcover is unique.




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?


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.


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.

grounding gaia (800x800)

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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What is Sacred Activism – Part 1

In the September/October 2006 issue of Spirituality and Health magazine, Andrew Harvey in an article on Sacred Activism is quoted as saying: When the coming crisis reveals itself fully, it will threaten us at the most fundamental depths. If we aren’t rooted in our spiritual identity, we will be driven into meaninglessness and despair unless there are people to say, “No, this horror can be healed through the sublime truth! We will survive and we will find purpose and joy and love through sacred practice and sacred action.” In fact, that is the whole point of the crisis – to drive us to that place where we, as a species, will have to go into our divine nature. The truth of our situation brings tremendous turmoil, a huge, sacred turbulence into the core of one’s life, but this turbulence is the condition for the flowering of more and more divine grace, divine passion, and divine energy…I know there is a way to be a conscious creator with God in this stupendous birth of the divine human taking place through the chaos of our time…and that is the way of the sacred activist. But the word ‘sacred’ carries with it the need for great inner transformation. Only when we have truly surrendered our will to God, only when our minds and hearts are shattered open by what we have created out of our ignorance, will we go deep enough to the divine within and bring out the energies of transformation.”

These elegant words speak the truth to me and at the same time turn me off!

I have to wrestle with my knee jerk reaction to words like ‘God,’ ‘ sacred,’ ‘divine,’ even ‘energies of transformation,’ words whose meaning I can appreciate only by looking beneath them, experiencing and defining them for myself. How many of us are willing to do that? Divine this and sacred that may be too easily dismissed by the masses of people in the industrialized nations of the northern hemisphere as new age mumbo-jumbo or too divine, too sacred, too spiritual for ordinary humans who live mundane lives.

I want sacred activism to spread far and wide, because the notion lights a fire in me. And yet the definitions don’t ignite the tinder, it’s the pairing of those paradoxical words that sparks.

Sacred by definition refers to anything connected to God or dedicated to a religious purpose, including embodying the laws of religion or anything regarded with great respect and reverence by a particular religion, group or individual.

Activism on the other hand is any policy or action of using vigorous campaigning to bring about political or social change.

So I ask myself what does sacred activism mean to me?

Sacred activism means I have no choice. WHAT? Yup, I said it. I have no choice. In 1994, I painted this picture called Inside Out inspired by a vision I experienced while holding an Ecstatic Wisdom Posture .

Inside Out

The image might have been called You Choose as my accompanying journal entry reveals:

Black and white Kachinas dance in the center of a circle. Suddenly a tiny orange and red Kachina leaps into the middle   I wonder where the women are.  I find them off to the side, standing in a circle dressed in black shrouds as they help a woman give birth.    Suddenly I see through the eyes of one of the black and white Kachinas.  As he swings his head from side to side, I see the desecrated earth and the green beautiful earth and I hear him chant,
“You choose, you choose, you choose.”
Then the animals come spilling through, their eyes peering out of the rainforest, watching us.  A huge heart rises in the midst of the circle of dancers.  I see its wounds and also that it is healing itself.  A river of green slashes through the heart, carrying heart energy and spilling green all over the earth.  I see that the green river has opened the heart so I can see the texture of its interior.  I am shocked to see it is the same texture as that of the molten “holy” rocks I saw yesterday in the Jemez Mountains.  I wonder if our heart’s interior simply mirrors the earth outside our bodies, if all our bodies’ parts and functions reflect the earth outside us.
Can that be right?
Is the earth really outside us?
Maybe, instead, the earth is ourselves turned inside out.

Years later, I understood that I have no choice. My head stays turned facing the green beautiful earth. My love for life is so deeply rooted in my coeur and so passionately cellular that I no longer have to question how I live. Can you appreciate what a relief that is – no more second guessing, no more equivocating, no more resisting…I am as I am…passionately in love with the miracle of being here on this tiny dynamic world floating in the unfathomable seas of infinity…that bone deep awareness of sentient presence all around me is always present guiding me, honing me, tuning me…

I have no choice – that’s the first thing that springs to my mindheart about what being a sacred activist means to me.

(I’ll continue this exploration about what sacred activism means to me as an elder in my next post. The final two posts in this series will look at sacred activism from the perspective of the young ones, the twenty somethings who are inheriting the world we are leaving them. I have learned much from witnessing their stories.)

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Sacred Activism: It’s TIME for ME and YOU

Sacred Activism brings my lifetime of experience into the main current of a strongly flowing river. I have spent much of my life stuck on the bank, unable to jump into the flow and to speak my truth for fear of capsizing someone else’s boat and thus threatening the stability of my own. I diminished myself with waves of false pride and inflated humility.

As was pointed out at the May 2006 Seattle Sacred Activism Conference sponsored by Wisdom University, to be a Sacred Activist requires community. Like the butterfly’s imaginal cells in a caterpillar’s cocoon, we need countless others like us to stand up to the resistance of the old ways of being. We need to inspire and encourage each other. So Sacred Activism gives me many jobs to do in addition to expressing myself personally. Sometimes I need to hold the tiller, sometimes read the compass or hoist the sail. Occasionally I may even serve as the Belgian Schipperke, barking the rats away from the barge. I need the support of my comrades and they need me to “exhort, compel, guide and inspire everyone of us to become…tender hearted…fire-walkers…” ( paraphrased from Andrew Harvey/ Spirituality and Health magazine, Sept/Oct 2006.)

And step onto those glowing coals I must. Will you come with me?

WomanTree( Experience the song by Jean Anthony that inspired this painting “Reaching for the Last Hemlock”. )

At the Seattle Conference, Barbara Marx Hubbard was one of the speakers. Her description of what she knew as an adolescent reflected my own childhood knowing. She calls it conscious evolution which she describes as: part of the trajectory of human evolution, the canvas of choice before us now as we recognize that we have come to possess the powers that we used to attribute to the gods…We are poised in this critical moment, facing decisions that must be made consciously if we are to avoid destroying the world as we know it, if we are instead to cocreate a future of immeasurable possibilities. Our conscious evolution is an invitation to ourselves, to open to that positive future, to see ourselves as one planet, and to learn to use our powers wisely and ethically for the enhancement of all life on Earth.

I see the planet, the universe, the whole of IT as my lineage. I am an ancestor, we are all ancestors of the future and as a person alive now, I contribute to evolution by my choices.

As an only child of intellectual, unhappy and reserved parents, in a family with no reverence for ancestry or extended family, where the only mention of God was to disparage religion, I “grew myself up” befriended by the wood beyond my backyard. I had no human mentors to validate my reality which included the sentience of the non-human. But the world validated that for me. The willow was my best friend, snowflakes my wisdom makers, the compost heap my fecund mystery, my dog, the stars, the lily of the valley in the cellar window wells, all these were my boon companions.

One day in the early 1950’s, after the school bus had dropped me off at the top of the hill, I realized something was horribly wrong as I walked down toward home. It took me a few moments to “see.” On that afternoon blue sky rose above the roof of my house. That morning dark green had framed it, the crowns of maple, elm, tulip and ash, a few centuries old mixed deciduous eastern forest. During my school day, the wood behind my house had been clear cut to make room for the first ticky-tacky housing development in the western suburbs of Philadelphia…no warning, just gone. In an instant, I lost my bearings, my bedrock, my family without so much as an apology.
I’m not sure why I share that particular story again. Perhaps because the loss of the wood symbolizes the lack of engagement from which we modern, urban humans suffer… kept just below the surface of our consciousness that loss is fundamental, alienating, and ubiquitous. The cutting of trees in one swoop, the harvesting of fish in a mile long net, the leveling of complete mountain tops, gunning down wild creatures from helicopters, all reveal our lack of awareness that our lives depend on the complex interdependency of everything around us. When we rape a landscape and pillage a species, we violate ourselves.

Isn’t it time to choose more loving, joy-filled, play-full possibilities? That’s my call to you to be a Sacred Activist.

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Life Is Short

My apartment is on the second floor, so I don’t see who flings open my front door but I hear the footsteps racing up my stairs. My neighbor appears, breathless with excitement, “Deborah, Deborah, we’re calling all shamans. The tides have just acted wyrdly and the oil rig destined for the Arctic has run aground. We’ve got to support the kayakers praying out there on the water.” She bolts for the door so fast she forgets to tell me where.

I burst into tears of exuberance for miracles. The nature spirits are collaborating with human spirits. We CAN join forces, we can…


I feel as if I’ve contributed in some small way. Three of us went to the beach the day before to Make Artful Prayers, a project of Praying True, and to participate in the Global Earth Exchange, a project of Radical Joy in Hard Times. Added to prayers for the toxic beach and the forced removal of our Japanese American neighbors during WWII, we prayed for the softening of hearts and the opening of minds of all those involved with Arctic oil drilling. We prayed that the kayakers would be safe and be able to honor their commitment to respect and non-violence. We prayed that the corporate conglomerates – which are peopled by people just like us – would experience the surprise of their own cellular wisdom awakening.

At some point soon we have to say NO to more resource extraction, say NO to more ravaging of the forests and fields, say NO to more growth.

Unchecked growth is cancer
whether it’s in our human bodies or the earth body.

As an elder on this planet, I grew up before clear cutting forests and bulldozing wild meadows to build housing developments became the norm. I suffered the anguish of losing the wood beyond my back yard in one day – without warning. I came home from school and it was GONE. The grief for a nine year old dependent on that woodland for “family” was nearly overwhelming. Can you imagine what it was like for the deer and the rabbits and the foxes and the squirrels and the birds of all feathers? Can you imagine what it is like to be forced from your home as a Jew, or a Japanese American, or a Cherokee, or an Aschuar?  On this planet, we rob each other all the time
of our dignity and our birthright
in pursuit of money.

Limitless growth is cancer
whether it’s in our human bodies or the earth body.

oil rig
My Dad was an advertising man. One of his clients was a coal company. I learned a little about clean coal and dirty coal as a youngster. And I remember wondering about mining. ..digging all those tunnels deep underground. I wondered how the planet could handle the constant extraction – hollowing out for subways and tunnels for cars and draining underground aquifers to quench our thirst. The planet’s surface is a big swiss cheese and I still wonder when she’ll collapse on us.

Last Thursday I attended a lecture by Dr. Guy McPherson   titled: Responding to Abrupt Climate Change. He’s collated data from hundreds of scientists and presents a convincing argument for acknowledging rapid climate change as irrefutable. His bottom line: Life is short even if you live to 117, which was the age of the oldest known human being. You know what she said two weeks before she died: Life is short.

Life is short and our human species time on this planet may be very short compared to other mammals but that’s how it is. Since life is short, he suggests we honor it as the miracle it is while we live it. Choose to love and love some more. Love everything and everyone and make loving relationships your priority because when you die, as we all will, you won’t regret not having purchased the latest gizmo. You’ll regret not having ever told your son that you love him. You’ll regret not having stories… the kind of story made by remembering shared experience, where the first words are: “Remember when we …”

His other suggestion is: live a life of excellence. He said the word excellence needs to be defined by each person. For me excellence relates to integrity. It means I live a life that is congruent with my deepest yearnings, as authentic and transparent and real as I can be. And that feels so good.

Which brings me back to where I began this post: the call for prayers to support the kayakers and the oil rig and the Arctic waters and the call for awakening. Last night I attended a living myth – a gathering of community to welcome back the kayakers and witness their stories. This is the way it happens in the s/hero’s journey. In those myths, the return is honored by the s/hero sharing the boon of his/her travels and the community embracing the s/hero’s transformed Self.

I’ll tell that real life living myth next time.

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