Thursday, December 31, 2015

Being Human

Recently I was pondering what it is to be human. What is it about this human life that is distinctive? What makes it different from the life of a cow, an insect, a rock, an ape, a river, a tree, or a flower?

It’s not memory or grief, because elephants have been shown to have the capacity for both. It’s not language, because so many creatures have a language all their own. It’s not music; have you ever listened to a catbird go through its whole repertoire with zest and joy? Having lived with cats for years, I’m convinced we are not the only ones capable of at least moments of self-awareness.  We’re not the only ones who care for our young, or live in family groups. I think we’ve all seen instances of the connection between a dog and a person that show we are not the only ones capable of love.

There are some rather dubious distinctions humans share. We are the only ones who seem to see ourselves as separate from our environment. We are the only ones who would knowingly drive ourselves to extinction by ignoring our impact on the earth we depend upon for life. We are the only ones who take pleasure in the suffering of others. We alone take more than we need, and give back to that source so little.

The dubious aside, surely it’s more than just our opposable thumbs that make us different! Some might say it’s our souls, but there is debate about even that.

So here is my theory. I think it comes down to two things; wonder and laughter.

One of our greatest gifts as human beings on this journey is our ability to look into a dark night sky and be filled with a sense of wonder at the vastness of the Universe, and the smallness of our individual lives. Then in the very next minute be filled with equal wonder at the immense impact one small life can have upon the whole. We can marvel at the almost unimaginable variety of colors, flowers, birds, insects, or trees. We can feel awe looking through a microscope at the tiniest building blocks of life, only to be awed yet again when we find a way to see inside those building blocks too.

As if the gift of wonder wasn’t enough, we also have the joy of laughter; deep, hearty, belly laughs, the irresistible giggles of babies, side splitting laughter among friends. One of the greatest gifts of laughter is our ability to laugh at ourselves. When we do the silly things that humans do, we can reflect on, and laugh at our own foibles. It is a gift that is often underused. It is an amazingly powerful gift because it prevents us from taking ourselves too seriously. It helps us to remember the immenseness of the universe in that night sky, and to feel joy for our small place within it. Laughter allows an outflow for that sense of wonder when it begins to bubble up inside you and needs an outlet. And when that wonder and joy, in the form of laughter, combine, a wonderful, uniquely human, alchemy takes place. Together they form imagination!

In that moment when wonder gives birth to insight, something so clear that you can’t help but laugh with joy, imagination is ignited! Your vision of what is possible in the expansiveness of the universe is clear. And in our uniquely human way, we can then imagine a shift in that universe, a whole different way of being and living, laughing all the while.

Imagine that!

May your New Year be filled with wonder and laughter!

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Love Is All We Need...

The other day I was reading a blog post about love that someone had shared. It compared the songs “All You Need Is Love” by John Lennon and Paul McCartney (who was left out of the article) and “Love Is Not Enough” by Trent Reznor.  I won’t go into the whole blog post; I’m sure you can find it and read it for yourself if you like. The author of the post is entitled to his perspective on Love. However, it prompted me to express my own thoughts on love, because I take issue with some of his assumptions. The reason I want to address it at all is because I think they are assumptions that many people make about “people like me” (my own quotes), who do find value in the words All You Need Is Love, just not in the way people might assume.

I don’t know anyone who thinks that love alone will solve all the world’s problems. Love is not meant to be a fairy tale idea of little bunnies helping you straighten up your kitchen (though that would be nice), while you await Prince/Princess Charming. Love is a verb. Love is an action. Love is not just an ideal, or words in a song.

For me the important part is that love is a starting place. Only starting from there can I change anything or solve a problem in a lasting way. Love is a place that I return to (as often as I can I remember), before I speak or act, and I wish more often before I drive. I don’t expect love to magically fix or change anything. I do expect actions done with and from love to change things for the better.

I don’t think love is the solution to all our problems, but I do believe love is the beginning of the solution to all our problems.  To me “All You Need Is Love” is about where I am living from, not about some idealized notion of how love or relationships will be. It’s not an excuse to not do the difficult work in life or relationships, but rather the internal strength that allows me to do just that. Love gives me strength to speak difficult truths, to peacefully stand up for what I believe in, to love my neighbor whether or not I agree with him, to admit when I’m wrong. Love allows me to recognize and let go of what isn’t life giving or loving in my life. Love helps me to forgive and be forgiven. Love allows me to help create a better world, because it will be a world that begins from love.

From my perspective, actions great or small done from and with love, are all we need.  

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Acorn Meditation

Here’s how the following insights from an acorn came about.

I set the intention this morning that our focus for meditation group tonight would come from some inspiration that happened during my day. Then I went about my day. I left work with about 30 minutes left before meditation and I was driving along thinking, "Hmmm, no inspiration so far. I wonder what we will do during meditation." A little further down the road I found that the image of an acorn popped into my mind. “Oh,” I thought to myself. “We will focus on acorns! Seeds! How lovely.”

I changed my course and headed to a park where I knew I would find acorns. I picked up a handful, some with their caps and some without. I was filled with gratitude for the oak tree. I reached down and picked up a small acorn with its cap on and found that there was a second cap attached to it, but no acorn in that one.  I had a moment of hesitation, hoping that the missing acorn wouldn’t make someone at meditation feel sad. Yes, that is how my heart works. :-)

Before I had gotten out of my car at the park I realized that my phone was nowhere to be found, meaning that I would have to run back to work to get it. So once I had found my acorns I thought I was going to have to rush to work to get my phone, which we use as our meditation ending chime. As I opened my car door I noticed my phone on the floor. Yay! So now I had a few more minutes. The park was so lovely that I got back out of the car and went to sit under a sycamore tree that I like. I sat for a few minutes with my eyes closed and soon felt an urge to open my eyes and look around me on the ground. When I looked down I saw what looked like a beautifully carved bead.  Upon closer inspection, much to my surprise and delight, I found that it was a seed!  There were several of them around. I picked up a few and went happily off to meditation.

At the space we use for meditation I looked around for a CD we might use and came across one called Liquid Silk by Marina Raye. I tried it out and found that it was gorgeous Native American flute music accompanied by sounds of nature, including an owl! On the cover of the CD it said, “Journey to the Heart of Peace.” It felt and sounded perfect!

When it came time for our sit, I found myself called to the twin acorn caps. As I sat with them in my hand, I smiled. I discovered not only didn’t the empty cap make me feel sad; it wasn’t really empty at all. I was shown that the empty cap was actually filled with the possibilities of seeds already planted. Seeds that I had sown along the way, as well as seeds that had been planted within me by circumstances or by others. What seemed like emptiness was truly limitless potential, was life taking root and growing, flowering and bearing fruit. The other cap with its tiny acorn still intact was a reminder to be conscious of the seeds I sow each moment. It was a reminder to think of what is within me that I want to share and plant, nurture and grow; a reminder to sow seeds of loving kindness and peace.

So much wisdom in something so small, the perfect balance of emptiness and fullness. I am grateful.

Somehow beyond my understanding, this is for my friend Molly. 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Half and Half

Half and Half
Lynda Allen

Half daylight, half darkness.
Upon this equinox even the moon offered only half of herself to reflect the light,
leaving half lost to sight in shadow.
Like her, my halves are not separate,
there is simply a portion that is turned toward the light,
and a portion that is temporarily in shadow.
It feels right to enter autumn this way.

There on the border between light and dark, I can pause, and like the trees,
allow to fall away what is no longer life giving,
what can no longer provide nourishment.
When there has been a shift in the balance of light and dark,
the tree releases the leaf and it simply falls away,
and even in falling away yet creates energy and nourishment in a new way
for the tree that was its home.

Quietly then, I surrender into the stillness of half and half
in preparation for the fall.

 Copyright 2015 Lynda Allen

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Wild Divinity

I was at Water Street Studio for writing time yesterday and only got as far as one sentence in the middle of Beauty: The Invisible Embrace by John O'Donohue, before his words sparked a journey within me. The words that launched the journey were "wild Divinity." He used them to describe the ocean, but they took me far and wide. I'm forever grateful to him for the constant source of inspiration his words provide. 

Mr. O'Donohue, I know whatever form you have taken now,  you are enjoying your own journey of wild Divinity! 

Wild Divinity 
Lynda Allen

I want to live with wild Divinity.

I want the secrets of the night
to glow on my moonlit lips.

I want the scent of lavender on a warm breeze
to be my companion for a picnic in the summer meadow.

I want to hold the hand of God,
feeling the beat of Her all-knowing heart in Her fingertips.

I want to immerse myself in the mighty ocean
and celebrate each drop of water within her.

I want to be the perch for the hummingbird,
as he catches his breath for a moment between jousts.

I want to melt with the rocks in the heat in the Earth’s belly,
quietly awaiting my chance to soar, flow and transform.

I want to live knowing each moment is one I’ve never seen before,
nor will ever see again, filled with sweetness and sorrow, light and dark.

I want to be the ray of the sun breaking through the clouds
taking my own breath away with hope, possibility, warmth and light.

I want to be love,
unfettered and free,
tumbling and cartwheeling through the stone gray sky,
like an acrobatic snowflake,
only to land gently upon your outstretched tongue,
and melt slowly into you.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The Change

The Change 
Lynda Allen

Why do we not call it what it is?
Is it a loss too deep, too fundamental to who we are,
to call it by name, to look directly at it?
Instead we try to mitigate it,
we try to medicate it,
we try to moderate it.
Why do we not simply mourn it?
Why do we not wail, and weep, and gnash our teeth?
They hid us in the red tent when first the process began.
We learned the hiding so well,
that we hide ourselves again as it comes to a close.
We speak of it only in whispers and with dread.
Let us instead honor the passing
and celebrate the gifts that came into being through us.
Let us mourn the loss of our ability to bring forth life,
deep, heartrending mourning,
for the loss is profound.

Let us also dance and rejoice in reflection upon the life we gave birth to,
the glorious miraculous movements of the Universe
that created a womb of life within our sacred vessels.
Let us celebrate the girl, who bloomed into woman,
who transforms now into elder.

Let us sing our ceremony of celebration and loss into the loving arms of the wind
that it may be carried like a prayer of gratitude to the heavens.

As I grieve and release, let my loss now create a new womb within.
Let the Universe continue its glorious dance within this vessel,
transforming my heart, my body, my Spirit,
until my very being becomes
the womb of wisdom,
the womb of compassion,
the womb of love,
the womb of joyful creation.
New life born again through me.