Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 47 Tao Te Ching Chapter 2

We are working with the Tao Te Ching in the meditation group that I’m a part of. This was only our second night working with it. There was a passage that stood out to me in relation to peace. It is the end of the second chapter. This particular version is from the translation by John Wu.

He accomplishes his task, but does not dwell upon it. And yet it is just because he does not dwell on it that nobody can ever take it away from him.

When we were sitting in meditation after reading the chapter aloud, I found much peace in those thoughts because for me they were about release and non-attachment. You simply do what is yours to do and keep moving forward. You don’t dwell upon it.

How wonderfully peaceful. It is sometimes difficult to do, to not be attached to outcome, but there is also such peace in it. No worrying, no planning, just living the life you are creating. We are so trained to expect a result that when you don’t expect one you almost don’t recognize at first that sense of peace that comes with it.

Simply another step in the practice of peace I suppose, until I can become like the Sage in this same chapter and manage my affairs without ado.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 46 A Smile and a Song

This morning I was walking along and I heard the voice of a little girl singing. I caught sight of her as I walked up a hill. She was maybe four or five and standing in her front yard singing with gusto. I was on the other side of the street but she saw me coming. She called out, “Here comes a lady.” I smiled to myself and as I got closer smiled to her. She was radiant, completely in her element standing there surveying the street and singing to the world.

As I got closer she smiled, waved a little shyly and said hi. I responded in kind. She asked me if I lived there. I pointed and said, “No, I live over there.” She looked where I pointed and said, “I can’t see it. Where?” I told her you couldn’t see if from where we were. We smiled at each other as she wondered where I lived that was so far away.

I continued on and she burst back into song. I couldn’t help but smile. Here was this bright, shiny light sharing her radiance with anyone who happened by, with the trees and the grass, the birds and the sun. How lucky we all were to hear her song today. Hers was a voice ringing with joy and confidence. She didn’t seem to have an intention for sharing her song, she didn’t sing louder or even keep singing as I walked by, so she wasn’t trying to impress anyone. She was simply completely in the moment singing and greeting a passerby. It was a joy to share a moment of greeting with her.

It’s amazing how much closer children can be to their joy, how much easier it is for them to be in the moment. They can teach us so much about observing and being. She certainly taught me about the gift of an innocent and heart felt smile and a song, both offered without hesitation. Thank you little light!

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 45 Lesson in Love

My children teach me a great deal about love. After we went to the screening of I Am last Friday my eleven year old was thinking about homeless people and how to help them. She struggled to find words for what she was feeling. I waited for her to find them. She said, “Well if you just walk right by someone who needs help it’s like you’re ignoring your sister or your brother and refusing to help them or to give them what they need.”

Now, as an adult I struggle with this issue. For a couple years I worked with the homeless population in Savannah. I have an idea of some of the things that contribute to homelessness and I have an idea of how difficult it is for people. I’ve never had to live it, so I can’t begin to truly know how it feels. I also know about the guy we helped out with some cash one time on the street in Savannah who had a hard luck story about being out of gas and stuck. We met him again a week or so later with the same story. When we called him on it he got angry at us as if it were our fault he had used the same story on the same people. So how do I reconcile her need to help her brothers and her sisters with what I know?

In the face of her earnest desire to give and to give from love, the choice is simple. I will give from love without judgment, for what is given in love is a gift that may work in ways I can’t begin to imagine. What we decided to do was give in a way that felt right to us. We bought a gift card to a grocery store. The next time we pass someone who we can’t just pass by, we will offer the card with love. Then we will buy another one knowing that love moves in mysterious ways.

What a blessing to have daughters who teach me so truly about love!

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 43 I Am

On Friday I went to see a screening of a film I love. It’s called I Am. It’s a documentary by the director Tom Shadyac. He made films like Ace Ventura Pet Detective, Bruce Almighty and Liar Liar. Very funny films! I Am is not a comedy though, it’s not fiction either. It’s about a journey that began from pain and desperation but ends up with inspiration!

I had the good fortune of seeing the film initially at a screening in Washington, DC that included a Q & A with Tom afterward. I was impressed with his answers to the questions. I was impressed with how he seemed to be trying to live what he believed.

What I like most about the film is that it is a testament to why I am doing this Pledge of Peace and Love. It confirms for me the power of living from the heart and the impact that has on the world we live in. It reminds me that each choice I make for love or peace is a choice made for all of us, a choice that impacts the whole (even the yogurt!). There is discussion of that impact from a scientific perspective that is fascinating. The power of love and compassion should not to be underestimated. We have the power to change our world for the better, one thought, one heart, one action at a time. The conclusion of the film is a powerful reminder of that.

The film will be released on DVD in the US on January 3, 2012. I would highly recommend it for your path of peace and love. It inspires me anew each time I see it. I’m grateful to Tom Shadyac for sharing his pain and sharing his heart. His journey illuminates us all.

You can find out more about the film at http://www.iamthedoc.com/.

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 42 Thanks Giving

Hmmm, with the holiday weekend I’m sadly behind in my blogging! I will try to catch up a bit.

My intention, as you might have guessed, was to blog about gratitude on Thanksgiving Day. I was apparently totally in the moment of living the gratitude and so didn’t stop to blog about it!

Gratitude has been on my mind this month in general though. I’ve witnessed friends posting on FB about it every day in November. It’s a topic of discussion on Thanksgiving in my family. My brother asked us to write ours down this year and put them in a bag. Then we each chose someone else’s to read so we would perhaps not feel so put on the spot about speaking our own gratitude. I’m not shy about expressing mine though. I have so much to be grateful for!

One of my favorite quotes is, “If the only prayer you said in your whole life was, "thank you," that would suffice,” by Meister Eckhart.

I believe that’s true. Thank you. My goal is to begin each day with those words, not just Thanksgiving Day. I don’t remember every morning but when I do I begin the day before getting out of bed with the thought, Thank you for this day. I follow it with the thought, Let me be a source of love (or peace) in the world today. For me those things naturally go together. If I am living from love and peace and making choices from that place then that state of gratitude comes naturally. It works the other way around too I think. If I’m consciously living in a state of gratitude then feelings of love and peace are a natural outflow of that state. I think either way it takes practice, like my practice of peace and love, but as you practice it gets easier, becomes more of a way of being rather than something you work at. I’m getting there one step at a time.

I’m grateful there are so many others walking with me along the path of peace and the path of love. I’m grateful for the lessons in my life that gently help me practice. I’m grateful for the amazing people in my life who make it so very easy to live from a place of love because they radiate love to me every day. I’m grateful for the teachers great and small who have taught me about living love and living peace. I’m grateful for the opportunity to live this life and see it from a place of gratitude which always leads me to feelings of joy, awe and wonder. I’m grateful to you for reading this and walking your own path of love and peace.

Thank you. Merci. Danke. Grazie. Gracias. Děkuji. Asante. Teşekkür ederim.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 40, Occupy Your Heart

I didn’t see this one coming. It doesn’t surprise me though if I look at it practically. I made a pledge to live and write about peace and love. What could be more a more natural result than a pledge to live each moment from the heart? And so from my morning walk recently, Occupy Your Heart was born. I am grateful.

I pledge to occupy my heart! Join me! Feel free to share it – your heart and the statements below.

Occupy Your Heart

Occupy your heart is a movement, is a way of life dedicated to living from the heart, living always from a place of love. The place we must always begin is within our own heart. It is the greatest gift we can give the world, the only way we can truly create change for the better. We let our heart be our compass. We let our heart lead. We allow our mind to work freely for the heart’s purpose. In all this we know we are contributing to a beautiful world for all.

We look from within with love upon others and see the humanity, the heart within them, knowing we are all one family, knowing there is no separation between us, no artificial boundaries that can keep us from love other than the ones we create and build ourselves.

From a place of love we create a new world.

We create a world where every creature that shares this earth is honored, where the earth we live upon is revered and protected.

We create families that are defined by the love within them. Safe spaces to be the true expressions of love that we are, where that expression is accepted and welcomed.

We create governments that serve the people, all the people, with compassion and respect. We create these governments by serving on them, by voting and speaking our hearts, by participating. We create governments where all voices are heard and honored.

We create institutions and corporations that are built upon a foundation of love. We create prosperity and social consciousness at the same time. We create corporations that have the good of the whole at heart and still provide a product or service that is needed.

We create communities where love thy neighbor is the way of life. We create neighborhoods where all are safe and welcome, where all have a home. We create schools where children are honored and nurtured and where knowledge is shared with respect by both teachers and children.

We create a world of love where none doubt their own worth, their own contribution to the whole, where all feel safe and know they are loved.

We create this world by beginning with our own hearts, by creating from the love within ourselves and sharing it unconditionally.

Lynda Allen
November 18, 2011

Monday, November 21, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 39 Cleaning out the Pantry

Practicing peace on days like today is a challenge. Nothing particularly bad happened, just a day with lots of little frustrations adding up to a big ball of frustration! That’s when I have to work the hardest to remember my peace. I have to consciously think about it each moment and remind myself to return to it, remind myself that I have a choice. I don’t always listen to the reminders right away though, but hopefully I get there eventually.

I’m not quite there yet even as I write this. However, just the act of writing it is a reminder and I can feel the peace returning. Mostly I can feel it returning because I’m thinking of that little baby earth and what it might be feeling if the ripples of my frustration reach it. Here’s the difficult part I always return to, surely if my ripples of peace contribute to nourishing the baby earth then conversely my ripples of frustration do not nourish it. It’s kind of like feeding the baby junk food. It can only grow in an unhealthy way from a diet of junk, just as I can only grow in an unhealthy way from a diet of junk.

I guess I will have to take a moment and let go of some of the old stories that are playing in my head and release the old fears that come with them. Sometimes I guess you really do just have to walk right into the pantry with the trash can and just start throwing things out. It’s the only way to make room for the new, healthy items you really want. If I let them linger there in the dark on the back of the shelf they will only be a source of temptation to relive that old pattern. I will have to be more thorough this time in looking in the dark corners and cleaning things out.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 36, Love Thy Neighbor

My blogging begins early today. Earlier this week a prominent member of our community passed away. He was a developer, a business man, and a philanthropist. To me he was one thing more, a neighbor.

Did I know him as a neighbor as far as going to cookouts together, or waiting at the bus stop with our kids? No. But by being his neighbor I learned a wonderful lesson about love and an important one about judgment.

I am ashamed to admit this next part, but I will because it’s an important part of the learning. When I first moved into this home 14 years ago I was still at the end of my righteous indignation phase. I was pretty good at it. And here I was living down the street from a developer that it seemed owned everything in town and who was responsible for Central Park and that horrendous eyesore the Central Park sign that blots out the sun. How could the word park be used for it when there used to be farm land there (and a golf course) and now there were parking lots and big box stores galore? Surely I had much fodder for my indignation! This is the part I’m not so proud of, I even thought of him as the Onceler from Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax.

It took a long time for that attitude to shift in me. First, I became less righteous and more neutral. But it wasn’t until the last couple years that I actually began to see him as a neighbor. I walk by his home a lot in the mornings so I found he came into my mind frequently. As my morning walks became a form of meditation for me I began noticing how I walked past his home, what thoughts I was holding in mind as I did. I began thinking of him as a man, with a family and a heart. I began thinking of him as someone who was doing the best he could, just like the rest of us. I began remembering that we are not separate, that the separation had been in my own thoughts, in my own heart. It didn’t mean I had to agree with every choice he ever made, but it meant that I had to remember to begin from love no matter whether I agreed or not. I had to remember that I had no way of knowing what was in his heart as he made his choices. I could only know what was in my own heart as I made new ones in relation to him.

And so I did make new choices. I chose to radiate love every time I walked past his home. I surrounded it with that love as I walked by. It felt wonderful! I didn’t have to carry indignation with me on my walks and in my world. It only weighed me down. It was so much more joyful to carry love and let it flow freely from me, and that’s what I did every time I walked past his house.

It never occurred to me to wonder whether or not he really felt it, it just felt so good to give it. Then on Monday morning as I was walking past the house I felt this sense, this thought that reached me and said, Thank you, I do appreciate the love. It made me smile and I nodded toward the house and said, I’m glad.

A couple days later I heard that he had passed away. I stopped when I heard the news and wondered if he really had said thank you the other day, if maybe he had been in a state of grace at that moment and could genuinely feel the love I was sending. I’m glad to think our relationship ended with love. Rest in Peace Mr. Silver, thank you for the powerful lesson in love thy neighbor.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 35, Yes!

I have found that one of the most peaceful choices I can make on this journey is willingness, simply saying yes. So much has shifted in my life by the use of that one word. Trust me, there are times when I have said it reluctantly and times when I have said it through gritted teeth with a great deal of resistance, my eyes rolling at the heavens (just ask Christine!). Yet, always I have said it, and meant it on some level. I have been willing to shift, to learn, even when I didn’t know what the lesson would entail. Sometimes it’s been easy and joyful and other times a bit more challenging to say the least. But I wouldn’t be where I am or who I am today if I had said no.

One of the surprises I found was how much peace there was in saying yes. It takes a great deal more energy to resist through no. There is release in yes. There is work too, but the work begins from a place of (mostly) surrender. Even the times when my jaw was set and my hands were on my hips, the yes came from a part of me that knew better, that knew the peace in yes.

Yes, to things that will feed and free my soul, yes to things that honor the self, yes to learning (gently please!), yes to expanding my awareness, yes to living the life I know I want to live even if I don’t know how to get there. It turns out that how to get there always begins with yes. After all it’s got to be more difficult to see the path in front of me if my arms are folded across my chest and my eyes are stubbornly closed with my no. Yes, opens my eyes and peacefully opens my way.

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 34, Nature's Symphony

My internet connection crashed yesterday so I can only plead for understanding in missing yesterday’s post! I know what I was going to write about though; the rain.

Yesterday morning I went for a walk in the rain. I love walking in the rain, especially a warm rain. It wasn’t exactly warm, but it was lovely. Nature is such an incredible resource of peace and joy that I can find a way to tap into every day if I only look around me. For example, the other day I was feeling nervous about something I had to do and not much seemed to calm me down. As I was setting off to drive to my destination I happened to look up and above me an eagle was flying. I immediately remembered that I wasn’t flying alone and returned to a place of peace. It was an amazing gift.

The gift of nature yesterday was the rain. It being fall, there were many leaves on the ground. The rain fell, tap, tap, tap upon the fallen leaves. I started to notice a rhythm. I found that the sound changed based on the type of leaves I was walking over. Some had a harder, crisper sound and some made a much gentler tap, tap, tap.

I smiled to myself the whole way as I listened to the morning’s concerto. As I neared the end of my walk the percussion section was in full swing and I passed a bush full of singing birds at the same time. What an amazing harmony they created! I felt so honored to be the recipient of their beautiful music. It was a most peaceful way to begin my day, by walking through nature’s symphony.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 33

Tonight in our meditation group we worked with the mantra Ong SoHung. It translates as Ong - The Creative Consciousness of the Universe, SoHung - I am that / I am Thou. We used a recording of it by Guru Singh. In and of itself it is beautiful. But there was beauty beyond that as well.

It was such a joyful experience listening to the recording, chanting along with it and hearing the voices of the group all at the same time. Part of the mantra is said to open the heart. It certainly does that!

I haven’t adequate words for the blissful feeling it left me with or the feeling of the energy of creation that seemed to fill the room. I can express my gratitude though. I’m grateful for the love that guides our meditation group always to a place of peace and light. I’m grateful for the shared experience of the group that always provides insight. I’m grateful for the peace it brings into my life and into my home each week. I’m grateful for the individuals who show up each week in person and in Spirit. I’m grateful for an open heart that is willing to lose itself in the bliss of the moment. For it is in that bliss I find the creative consciousness of the Universe, and find that indeed, I am that!

Monday, November 14, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 32

On my walk this morning I noticed a flower, a beautiful white flower, sticking out from under a fence. I smiled at its beauty and was grateful that I had looked down at that moment to witness its beauty. After I was passed the flower I wondered if anyone else would notice its light before it finished its life cycle. I was grateful to have been able to be there to witness it. I’m sure the flower would have bloomed as brightly, as grandly, had it been alone on a rocky slope because that is just what it does. Yet, still I wondered if sharing it’s beauty made it shine a little brighter, just as it had brightened my walk.

Then I began to wonder if that is the greatest gift we can give; being witness to each other’s beauty. Surely each of us has beauty within us whether it’s hidden carefully behind walls of hurt and pain, long since forgotten along with innocence, simply veiled behind a difficult day, or shining radiantly forth in the wilderness. What if just one person looked at the troubled child and saw his or her beauty? What if one person when passing a homeless person on the street looked past the label and saw the light? What if I saw the beauty in you and allowed you a glimpse of it reflected back in my smile?

The lesson of love I learned is that there is a gift to both the source of and the witness of beauty. The witness carries ever the touch of that beauty upon the heart and in the memory and the source carries forth the joy of having been seen.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 31

I had the pleasure of seeing the play Rent today at the University of Mary Washington. They did a fabulous job. I had never seen it before and was moved to hear so many messages of love in it. There was reminder after reminder to live and love life to the fullest in each moment.

It also reminded me how lucky I am to have such amazing people in my life. I spent last weekend with my three sisters for our annual Sisters’ Weekend. It’s a weekend I look forward to every year because it is a joy to share time with my sisters. We have continued the tradition for 12 years and spend most of our weekends together laughing. Spending that weekend with them also made me think about all the wonderful women in my life and what a blessing they each are.

I have a wonderful friend in my life whom I refer to as my Heartmate - it was the only word that adequately described our friendship, connection and love for each other. We have walked beside each other for the last 11 years. We have been through major life transitions together and have shared our joys and sorrows. She has helped me remember that I can fly when I have forgotten. I even wrote a poem for her called Leaping. She has held my hand and my heart every step of journey. She is a blessing beyond measure and it is a joy to know her. I treasure each moment we spend together.

There are many blessings in my life in the form of friends, who each provide light, love, wisdom, joy, commiseration, a shoulder to cry on and inspiration. They are each a source of love in my life and I am deeply grateful.

To all my friends who provide wonderful opportunities for love to be shared, thank you. It is a joy to practice a path of peace and love with you.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 29

I received a wonderful gift of love this evening. Someone dear to me simply held the space of peace and love for me while I wasn’t in that space myself. It had been quite a hectic afternoon and evening and I was running very late for a dinner party. I was bringing a dish that needed to be prepared and cooked and I didn’t arrive until after the appointed time, so I knew I would be delaying dinner for everyone, and I wasn’t even dressed for the dinner yet! I was not in a happy mood when I arrived.

The fabulous man in my life could see and feel very clearly where I was and luckily he was in a more peaceful state of being. He hugged me even though I couldn’t really receive it, looked me in the eye and told me he loved me. Then he went about the other things he had to do very peacefully. I don’t know if he knew it but I could feel that peace radiating from him. Slowly I was able to let myself feel it more deeply and eventually was able to allow myself to align with it. I don’t know that he did it intentionally, but on some level I know he knew it was what I needed; just to be able to feel a reminder of peace.

We really can help each other along our paths of peace. Of course there will be times when we aren’t feeling peaceful, and while we can hopefully center ourselves again, it is wonderful to have someone who can be that beacon of peace to help guide us back to a safe and calm harbor.

Sight to See now available!!

This is in a way a post for the Pledge of Peace and Love because this novel was a work of love for me.

In celebration of 11/11/11 I am happy to announce that I published my novel Sight to See through Amazon.com for the Kindle!!! It's available here. If you don't have a Kindle, not to worry, you can get the Kindle software for free to read books on your computer here.

It is such a joy for me to finally be able to share this story. It was an amazing adventure writing it...

Years ago for the second year of the Project Greenlight competition I wrote a screenplay called "The Badianus Manuscript" and submitted it. The script made it into the top 250. Some of the feedback I received was that it would make a good novel. So foolishly I thought ok, I can do that. And I did.

Writing the novel was a wonderful process. It was like taking dictation as Dawn came and sat with me and told me her story. It was quite a journey, filled with incredible coincidences - including the hurricane in the story being name Hurricane Juan and there being a Hurricane Juan that year! It came to a beautiful conclusion with a trip to the Hopi reservation in Arizona to visit a woman there who had been willing to read the story for me for authenticity. At the reservation I found a church without walls just as I had written about in the story, though I had seen it in my mind I had no idea there was actually one on the reservation!

Here's the synopsis of Sight to See: Dawn Saunders, a young woman of Hopi ancestry, is on a spiritual quest to discover the true meaning of her gift as a seer. Dawn’s journey begins at a tender age. In a dream when she was eight she saw her father struck by lightning only to see the image come vividly to life soon after. Consequently, Dawn considered her sight to be more of a curse than a gift. By the age of thirty, Dawn’s gift urgently demands her attention through a series of dreams and waking visions. Drawn by the power and spiritual nature of the visions, Dawn sets out upon a journey that will teach her to trust herself and her ability to see. In her dreams and visions she is visited by an ancient Aztec woman and an eagle who reveal to Dawn both the past and the future. The dreams and visions lead Dawn to her Aunt Meredith, also a seer, in New York City and eventually to a connection with a grandmother Dawn never met, whom she inherited her gift from. She also encounters Juan, a 450-year-old Aztec man who is strangely familiar to Dawn, and Juan the category 4 hurricane. Dawn must choose between believing in herself and her ability to see, and questioning her own sanity. Overcoming her doubts comes at a high price, as it takes standing in the eye of the storm to alter Dawn’s sight and enable her to see clearly.

There are so many that believed in this story along the way and who have read it for me and encouraged me. Thank you!

If you read it and enjoy it share it with friends or post a review! Enjoy in joy! Lynda

*cover photo for Sight to See was taken from the Hubble telescope by STScI for NASA under Contract NAS5-26555.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 28

Today I had to practice peace quite actively. I was not feeling peaceful about the situation at Penn State. I’m sorry to see such an illustrious career end this way, but as I’ve been writing about throughout this pledge, we all make choices. A variety of people at Penn State made choices in relation to this incident, and as far as I can tell very few of those choices took into account a young boy who had been violently attacked. That left me feeling decidedly unpeaceful.

In fact it left me feeling quite disturbed as I heard and read more. Normally I don’t delve deeply into stories like this because I don’t find it constructive. This one though caught my attention. A university of Penn State’s stature treating a crime against a child with such little care for the child is unacceptable, unbelievable. Each person will have to live with the choices they made along the way, including Joe Paterno. Yet how does that compare to a child who didn’t have a choice?

In my less than peaceful state I wondered how differently everyone would have acted in the situation had the victim been the child of someone they knew. Where were the people who know they are all our children?

It was a sad day and yet I was glad to hear many voices of reason amid the din. Voices that said yes, he was a wonderful coach and yes maybe he wasn’t personally responsible, but didn’t he think about that child afterward and wonder why nothing was done? Integrity as a football coach isn’t the same as integrity as a human being. The well being of a football program isn’t more important than the well being of a child.

If there is any peace to be found in this for me it is in the hope that no other children will be harmed now that it has been brought to light, and that we may all be reminded through this sad situation that each choice we make is important and touches the lives of others.

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 27

Here’s the thing I’ve been reminded of again and again through this pledge and over the past ten years, the big picture is the little picture. What I mean by that is that the only way I can help change the big picture or make the world a better place, is to live it in my own life. I can’t shift the world but I can shift my world, I can make my choices choices for love and peace.

It was relevant this week because I was thinking about 11/11/11 and wow, shouldn’t I be at some big event on such a momentous date? The answer I found is that I should be with those I love. Love and peace here and now is the important thing on any date.

It was a loud message and I somehow just started seeing the big picture differently. Even the big names of the day talking about change and shift can’t change the world single handedly. They provide information and inspiration for people and then those people can take that back into their world and create their own shift. They can’t shift it for you, just like nobody can shift it for me but me.

However, I do believe that your choice for love makes it that much easier for me to choose love too. The more love there is, the more we can feel it and the more we feel it the easier it is to be in that place of love. Which brings me back around full circle to the big picture is the little picture.

Thank you for each choice you have made from love in your picture that brought love more into focus in my own.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 26

A choice for Love that I made yesterday was in relation to the meditation group that I host. As I wrote about last week I had a wonderful hallelujah experience and so went searching for a mantra to use during our meditation group that might reflect a little of the joy I felt that morning. I searched for one that incorporated hallelujah. I wasn’t sure what I would find or if I would find anything that would work. I was pleasantly surprised.

There is a recording called The Five Religions Chant, which goes like this:
Jehovah Jehovah,
Hallelujah Hallelujah
La il il la, la il la
Ra ay ma Rama
Saaat Naaam.

I was so excited to find it, not just because it incorporated hallelujah, but because it felt like the intent of it was the same as I felt that morning last week – all voices raised in joy using their own words for their gratitude and rejoicing. I was filled with love when I found it.

I did go through some moments of hesitation though about us using other people’s words for God in our meditation. I was cautious to not tread on anyone’s sacred traditions. After some thought and discussion about it I decided that if I returned to my original intention of love then it would be fine to use. I think that was the intent of the creator of the song as well. So it was with love that I sang the words to the Five Religion Chant. It didn’t transport me quite as much as my hallelujah day, but I believe each choice for love helps bring us all that much closer to that day when all seven billion of us raise our voices as one. Hallelujah!

Monday, November 7, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 25

The peace that I felt today was through beauty. It was also a reminder of a practical lesson about practicing peace learned years ago.

I turned a corner this morning and raised my eyes. Ahead of me was the steeple of a church shrouded in fog. Above the trees to the right of the steeple the sun was breaking through the fog with gentle rays of orange light. It was a gorgeous sight.

I had an interesting experience years ago with fog. I was driving along the Skyline Drive hoping for a beautiful view. Instead I saw ahead of me a cloud that had settled on the road.

The thing was that from the peak I was on I could also see the end of the cloud and the road in the light of the sun beyond that. Because of that preview, I reached the fog bank with the knowing that there was an end to it. I knew that all I had to do was keep my eyes on the road ahead of me and keep moving and I would get through the fog and return to the light. I also remembered that when moving through fog it doesn’t help to turn the light up brighter in order to chase it away; it would only serve to hinder my sight rather than help it. The best thing I could do was to continue to move gently, purposefully and peacefully through the fog with my eyes straight ahead and with the knowing of the return of the light as my guide.

Ever since that day I’ve always enjoyed fog. If my focus isn’t entirely on dispelling it, there is a beautiful stillness to fog. And as it lifts there is the incredible returning of the light if I will only raise my eyes to see it.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 24

OK, here’s where I get to be peaceful towards myself! I am giving myself permission to not have to catch up on the days I missed blogging while I was on my annual pilgrimage with my sisters! We get together for a sisters weekend every year and my focus was on them and enjoying our time together, not worrying about the blog. Therefore I granted myself special dispensation.

That doesn’t mean, however, that I didn’t learn something about practicing love and peace this weekend though. In fact, I learned a very important lesson – the more you practice the more opportunities you receive for practicing!

I had a completely unexpected opportunity to practice living from love while walking through the Atlanta airport. I was walking between gates and had two hours before my next flight. A young man in a Delta t-shirt stopped me and asked me when my next flight was. I told him the truth. At first I thought it was a survey of some sort. He started to talk about a free flight and sky miles I would receive and I looked up and saw behind him a sign about a credit card and realized what it was about. I wasn’t in a rush and he was polite and friendly so I didn’t try to escape but just stayed open and friendly in return. I’m really glad I did.

Right in the middle of what he was saying he looked down at my hand and said something about a tattoo. I realized where he was looking and was amazed he could have seen anything. I have a tattoo on my wrist but I was wearing a long sleeve shirt and a long sleeve jacket over it. I swear he would have needed x-ray vision to see it. Or perhaps he was just seeing with different eyes. So I pulled up my sleeve and showed it to him and he asked me what it meant. It is three infinity symbols with Chinese characters inside one of the infinities. I pointed to the characters and said it meant eternal grace in Chinese. I never know what kind of reaction I will get when I tell people what it means and I certainly didn’t expect the reaction I got from him.

He asked me about Grace and what it meant to me. I looked at him and he looked and sounded sincere so I began to tell him about why I tattooed eternal grace on my arm. I told him I had never found a definition of Grace that made sense to me. I told him I didn’t believe that God would grant Grace to one person and yet withhold it from another. I told him I started writing about Grace so I could better understand it. So he asked me what Grace meant to me now. I explained that for me it was about an awareness of a connection to the Divine within my heart and in the knowing of that connection allowing it to flow. I told him I think we all have access to Grace each moment but we build walls that block the flow of it. He looked at me and said, "Yes, we definitely all build walls."

I kept looking at him as we talked and feeling like there was this light shining on us right there in the middle of the Atlanta airport, like this opening of Grace had happened and it was so beautiful.

I told him writing about Grace led me to start an annual event called A Day of Grace. He asked me what we do at A Day of Grace. I told him we practice ways to take those walls down and allow Grace to flow. He asked me where I hold this event and looked a little disappointed to find it was in Virginia. I invited him to check out the website for A Day of Grace and read more about it there. I even told him that there is an email link on the site, so that after he read it he could write to me and let me know what he thought. It was a beautiful conversation and connection.

After we had talked about it for a while he looked at me and said, “I think I’ve received more from you than what I have to offer (referring to the credit card pitch) so forget about it.”

I was so deeply moved and truly hope he visits the site and writes to me. He asked for the address again before I left but I didn’t write it down for him. I will see if he follows up. It would be lovely if he does.

The whole conversation though was such a gift. I had recently been thinking about this year’s A Day of Grace, which will be happening on December 21st and here was this wonderful, unlooked for opportunity to talk about it and put the energy of it in motion.

If I had not been walking through that airport having been practicing love and peace so consciously I’m not sure I would have stopped to talk to him and taken the opportunity for a heart connection like that. What a gift I would have missed! But I didn’t miss it and I’m grateful that I have been practicing so that I could have the joy of meeting him and sharing a moment of Grace with him.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 20

It was just a typo, right? Wrong. It was a statement of truth that I didn’t realize I was making. I posted on my Facebook page today a link to the song Hallelujah by Jeff Buckley. I love his rendition of that song. There is such restrained power in it and even though it’s not exactly a happy song it makes my heart soar to hear him sing it. With the post I said, “I just seemed like an Hallelujah kind of morning.” Of course I meant to say “it” just seemed like, not “I”. Then I thought again. Actually I do feel like a Hallelujah this morning.

As I set out on my walk I wondered why that was. Then I remembered writing my blog last night. It was after 11:00 when I posted it and I was pretty tired. I put it out there and for a moment thought, “Why am I doing this?” Then I remembered that the reason I began the Pledge of Peace and Love was to help nourish the new baby earth I feel has been born and that I carry in my heart. When I remembered that, my heart glowed and my tiredness didn’t matter.

When I thought of that moment this morning in my hallelujah state, I smiled and joy again radiated from me. I’m doing this for that baby earth and the now 7 billion people living upon this planet. Seven billion people. I absolutely glowed with joy as I thought of those 7 billion all raising their voices in an hallelujah (or whatever word of gratitude they use) at the same moment. Think of it, 7 billion voices singing gratitude, 7 billion hearts open wide, 7 billion souls united in joy. Wow! The feeling of that made me actually laugh as I walked. I figured anyone who saw me walking would have thought I had gone off the deep end so great was my joy.

I will let that vision of joy sustain me and yet will live here in this moment in peace and love. I think that is the only way we can create that future, is by living it here, now.

Loudly and clearly my soul answered my own question: that is why I’m doing this, that is why I’m doing my best to let peace and love guide me each day. For the 7 billion and for the One.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 19

Peace is just one breath away. That is what I remind myself of some days, days like today in fact. And when I remember to listen it’s invaluable.

Ironically Tuesdays seem to be my least peaceful days at the moment. The irony is due to the fact that on Tuesday nights I host a meditation group. With juggling two jobs, one daughter’s after school cheer class, the other’s various activities, blogging, life as a single mom, etc. I find there isn’t too much time on Tuesdays for cleaning up and preparing both physically and mentally for meditation group anymore. That has left me feeling less than peaceful on some Tuesdays over the past month or so. Being a firm believer in intention I have found it perplexing, because how can I set a space with peace if I’m not feeling peaceful? Thankfully, it seems that I have so far always found that place before the group begins, but why create that way to begin with was what I was asking myself.

Today was one of those days when I was feeling less than peaceful as the afternoon came to a close, in fact I was feeling quite overwhelmed. After some time of fretting and rubbing my face over and over as if I could wipe the stress away, I finally remembered to breathe. I had a rant going in my head but some small part of me remembered that there was another option. I’m so grateful to that small voice. I paused and took a breath. One simple breath shifted it.

It gave me the opportunity to take even a tiny step backward and look at it differently. Perhaps I could find a way to make things work better, more smoothly, less hectic. I do have two children who are perfectly capable of helping with things around the house. I could do the cleaning over two days instead of one so I wouldn’t feel so rushed. There were several things I could think of that might lessen the stress. The most important was just to remember to breathe. Probably my friends who join me on Tuesdays might not mind a stray cat hair or two around the house anyway. After all they are practitioners of peace too.

Next week we will see if I can practice peace for myself and create differently. I will try beginning with a breath and see what amazing things happen from there.

Pledge of Peace and Love ~ Day 18

I had a very practical practice of peace yesterday and yet it was a wonderful reminder how returning to peace can shift a situation. I had a dentist appointment. I’m not afraid of the dentist and the cleanings don’t bother me too much. It’s not my favorite thing to do but I do it dutifully.

This visit the hygienist used a different instrument. Usually they use the little pick to work at the plaque or whatever it is they scrape off your teeth. This time she used a motorized one that made that lovely sound the drill makes and of course creates a vibration when touching your teeth. It wasn’t necessarily more uncomfortable than the regular way I was used too, just different and equally uncomfortable!

As she was working I noticed my body. My hands, which had been folded gently over my stomach, were now holding on to each other for dear life and my whole body was tense as I resisted the sensations. I closed my eyes and thought; well I might as well practice! I focused on that anchor of peace within myself and knowing that it is always there. I let my body relax and centered myself in that peace. Soon I found that I could even focus peace on her fingers as they worked, knowing that sharing that peace could help us both. Of course, I had to return to that center of peace more than once but it was amazing how different the cleaning was when I was in that peace. The experience of pain shifted. I don’t know if she simply didn’t touch my gums during that time or if my perception of the pain shifted, but it no longer hurt at all. I’m not saying I would want to go through surgery without anesthesia or anything, but it was definitely a different experience when I was sitting there in a state of peace.

Practicing peace can be very practical.

There was another interesting moment before the session. We were talking about chocolate because after all it was Halloween. She explained that chocolate is not actually bad for your teeth because of the fat content, which apparently lessens the possibility of it creating tooth decay. She really never should have told me that! However, that wasn’t the interesting part. At one point in relation to the chocolate she said, “I don’t think anything God made can be bad.” That got my attention. In response I said, “I wish people would consider that in relation to people. They may not always make good choices but that doesn’t make them bad.” She paused and agreed. It was a moment that gave us both something to think about.