Thursday, August 16, 2018

Talking To Trees

Lately I've been talking to trees. I live in a small apartment in downtown Toronto. For the first time in a year, I was allowed to open my balcony door. (It had been locked because of construction.) A few health snaffoos had made it difficult to get out for awhile so I was thrilled to be able to step out into the cool morning air. I just sat there and looked up into the trees -maple, oak, hemlock- in the small park right next to my building. I lost myself in the constantly moving light and shadow- a thousand shades of green. I felt each tree as a being, a presence reminding me of how I, like them, am a manifestation of the Mystery belonging to the Earth. I felt something I didn't even know was hanging on, let go in the centre of my body. I sat with the trees for a long time. And when I spoke the words arose of their own accord. softly spoken and salted with tears. "Thank you, thank you, thank you. ~Oriah (photo by Ian Patterson)


Friday, July 27, 2018

By the Light of the Moon

Full moon tonight and a lunar eclipse when the earth, sun, and moon line up with the earth between the other two. Lots of symbolic ways to think of this- for me, I see it as the moon reflecting a moment of complete alignment between the sun (often associated with masculine energies) and the earth (associated with the feminine)- a glimpse of the sacred marriage we long for within and between us. In my imagination the moon tonight mirrors our soul longing to find and know ourselves to be Beloved.

I am so grateful for all of your prayers and good wishes for me- it has been a tough month health-wise, but the migraine is lifting and my heart feels light.

May our deepest longing find us tonight- and may we have the courage to let it guide us in our lives and in co-creating the world. ~Oriah

Karen Davis' photos at Open Door Dreaming remind me again and again of the beauty created by the alchemy of sun and earth.


Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Just For Today

Thanks to a Facebook friend for reminding me of my own words from a year ago. Health challenges keep me focused on the present moment. Writing comes in small pieces, like the ones mentioned here. Old friends come to visit. I am so grateful for the day. These words are just for today. Just for this moment, this slow inhale. . . this soft exhale They are bits of green sunlight filtered through leaves Small shadows moving across the grass They are not for posterity They do not promise prosperity They do not pretend to be other than what they are: The way I get through The way I taste joy, bear sorrow, and feed hope The way I remember that each moment is holy These words are just for today ~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2017 Deep thanks to Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming for this photo. Somehow this little guy and his shadow just felt in sync with my words.


Friday, June 29, 2018

Finding Sustainable Action

How do we do this? That’s really always the question, isn’t it?

How do we effectively participate in meaningful change in our shared world in a way that is sustainable and true to who and what we are?

How do we stay informed enough to do what needs to be done without crossing the line into immobilizing overwhelm and despair?

I blew that last one more than a few times over the last two weeks. I took in too many stories and images of children being separated from parents and put in cages, of people fleeing violence being arrested. For some of us who were abused as children, even after years of therapy and healing, too much of this news lights up our Autonomic Nervous System like a Christmas tree. And when that happens, the thinking brain- the one that might come up with useful actions or remember where I put the keys I just had in my hand- is only intermittently available.

My dreams became violent, and the exhaustion went way beyond the “normal” that comes with CFS/ME. Migraines came and stayed for days. Joints and muscles screamed in the protest language of fibromyalgia pain. Brain fog prevailed- I got lost trying to drive out of a parking garage!

Still I was hesitant to limit my intake of news. I was having a hard time with it? What about the people who were living it!? Shouldn’t I at least bear witness?

Bearing witness can be important, but it’s no replacement for taking effective action, and sustainable, effective action requires energy and discernment. This is a marathon, not a sprint. I need to be conscious about what news to take in when. (Yeah, first thing in the morning or right before bed- really not good.)

And I needed to take action, to contribute. Once again, I remembered the words of Arthur Ashe: “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

So, I've been writing letters to politicians and agencies who could make real change- supporting them, challenging them, urging them to do what is needed. I've donated to organizations helping on the ground. And I've been praying- for those directly devastated by inhumane policies; for those working to alleviate suffering; for those in power- that their hearts be opened.

But it doesn't feel like enough. And again I run into the brick wall of my own present-moment limitations. You’ll notice that the second sentence in Ash’s sage advice is, “Use what you have.” Not- do what needs doing even if you do not have the resources needed to pull it off. My health challenges make going to large demonstrations, marches, and meetings unwise.

Meanwhile, because of what is happening in the US, refugees have been arriving here in Toronto in growing numbers over the last month. So, I started looking at volunteer opportunities with organizations that offer assistance to refugees here. I am still in that process- talking to organizations and seeing how I might participate even though my language skills are zip and my health is unpredictable. But I do have a willing heart, daytime availability, and a car!

And the only way my own limits are bearable when I see how others are suffering, is to feel how I am part of community. Because no one can do it all. Because we need to take turns helping so we can all replenish regularly and find sustainable action.

This weekend I am going on an annual trip to a friend’s cottage with three other women. We have done ceremony together for over thirty years. We will sit on the dock, float in the lake, share meals made with love, and come to stillness together in ceremony. I have suggested a rule for this year’s gathering: No talking about the news except in the context of shared prayers. I am guessing that will lead to a lot of shared prayers.

So, I will be offline for awhile. I leave you with these words from The Talmud very much in keeping with Ashe’s advice:

“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world's grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.”

Blessed be. ~Oriah

Deep thanks to Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming for this photo I titled, "The Mirroring" when I saved it- as above, so below.


Friday, June 22, 2018

What Then Can We Do?

A poem by Wendell Berry to sit with when our hearts break for the world, for each other. My faith was formed in the crucible of a church that had posters on the walls declaring, "God is Love." Although I later learned from many traditions, my spirituality remains rooted in a faith that holds my feet to the fire of loving even when it is hard, even with those I may think of as "enemies." Wendell reminds me of what I knew and declared as a teenager looking at those posters- Love is a verb. Let it be what prompts and guides our action. ~Oriah

To my granddaughters who visited the Holocaust
Museum on the day of the burial of Yitzhak Rabin

Now you know the worst
we humans have to know
about ourselves, and I am sorry,

for I know that you will be afraid.
To those of our bodies given
without pity to be burned, I know

there is no answer
but loving one another,
even our enemies, and this is hard.

But remember:
when a man of war becomes a man of peace,
he gives a light, divine

though it is also human.
When a man of peace is killed
by a man of war, he gives a light.

You do not have to walk in darkness.
If you will have the courage for love,
you may walk in light. It will be

the light of those who have suffered
for peace. It will be
your light.

~ Wendell Berry ~

Another wonderful photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming

.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

Blessed Solstice

It's the longest time of light here in the northern hemisphere today. May the light of Grandfather Sun illuminate the shadow corners of our individual and collective psyche. May we face and be with what we see- both our unconscious, fears and our magnificent and courageous open-heartedness. (Some of us find it easier to face the former than the latter :-) ) May we receive the energy we need for our healing individually and for the healing of our shared world. Blessed Solstice. ~Oriah Much thanks for another spectacular photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.


Tuesday, May 15, 2018

The Courage To Be At Peace

Heard someone ask the question: "Do you have the courage to be at peace?" We tend to think of needing courage to speak up or take action. Stimulated by too much information in a world where there is so much to do to co-create peace and justice, and community and compassion what would it mean to be at peace, and why would it take courage?

Being at peace is not about being passive. It's about the still centre that helps us know where and how we might best contribute. It's about the inner quiet that helps us be responsive instead of reactive. It's about the balance within that is needed for sustained participation and contribution. It's letting our heart break watching news of violence, and still staying engaged.

Being at peace helps us work with others without the kind of white knuckle attachment that leaves us hopeless and helpless when things don't work out as we'd hoped.

Why would it take courage to be at peace? Because it means we will see and feel it all: the compassion and the cruelty, the hope and the despair. Being at peace is about not being distracted, is about being fully present where the winds of all that is beyond our control- sometimes light breezes and at other times a tsunami- are felt.

And that takes courage. May we have the courage to be at peace. ~Oriah

When I saw this photo from Karen Davis Open Door Dreaming I smiled and felt the stillness of this egret in my own body.


Friday, May 4, 2018

The Beauty that Sustains Us

It's Friday. I will go for a walk and buy a small bunch of daffodils to bring spring into my apartment.

My mother always said buying cut flowers was a "waste" because they would "only die." She did "plant" plastic poinsettias in the window boxes at Christmas. When I went away to college, if I had a couple of dollars left at the end of the week (I worked a couple of jobs) I would buy a small bunch of cut flowers at the grocery store- it felt like such a gift to myself.

Then my parents came to visit, and my mother saw a small potted rubber tree I'd bought for $1.99 for my room (I'd made sure there were no cut flowers), and announced, "That's it- you are cut off! You're not wasting our money on this kind of frivolous spending." She paused and then screamed at me, "Who do you think you are?!!"

It was okay- if it hadn't been that, it would have been something else and their financial support had been minimal, and I had my jobs. And, more importantly, to this day I love buying cut flowers - sometimes just one- as a gift to myself of the beauty that sustains me. Sometimes, as I put them into a vase I answer the question my mother asked so long ago, and whisper to myself with a smile, "This is who I am."

I wonder what beauty my mother longed for but would not allow herself.~Oriah


Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Beltane Fires

Blessed Beltane- a celebration of the fire that cleanses, the spark that ignites our passion and purpose and ecstatic longing. I wrote this on Beltane many years ago:

The Moment Before

I want to touch the sharp taste of the moment in between, the second just before, the place where the breath catches in anticipation.

It's the scent of heat held in the air between two mouths reaching for each other, hungry. The shine of moisture on slightly parted lips just before it melts into the wetness of the other.

It is the skin that tingles waiting, fine hairs at attention, reaching aching. It is the places that have not yet been touched but know they will be. It is the smooth, quivering paleness of the inner thigh as the outer is stroked and kneaded. The muscles of the abdomen tightening the back arching slightly, begging: come here, quickly, slowly.

There, in that moment, do not take your eyes from mine. I am here, awake, reaching to be met. Do not touch me and keep your soul out of your fingertips. Die into me or do not come into me at all. Ever after is in this moment happily or not.

Sacrifice the daydream. Dare to hold the desire for a great love. Be with me.

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House

I love the fire in the sky in this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Heart Restoration

Small and unexpected flash of insight this morning while doing a Kundalini yoga exercise for opening the heart: an open heart not only allows us to receive others and the world with curiosity and compassion, it also helps us feel old hurts we have (usually unconsciously) held there, and let them flow out with the exhale. No "once and for all" claims being made here- just an observation from the surprise of noticing small aches- like bruises on the heart- and letting them melt away to be replace with a rose-coloured wholeness. ~Oriah

I had labelled this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming "Heart chakra" because of the stupendous colour- just seemed right for this post. :-)


Thursday, April 5, 2018

Waking Up with Joy

Some days, grace saturates my dreams and follows me into wakefulness. And I am quietly alert, smiling even as I open my eyes filled with a joy that does not deny the pain of the world or the trials and tribulations of one small human being. And I am filled with awe at having a life to live, of being an ensouled body/embodied soul.

I cannot make this happen- it is a gift that cannot be earned. And, of course, there are other mornings, mornings when I wake up worrying for the world and those I love, trying to pull away from small aches or searing pain, wanting to lodge a complaint with Anyone-In-Charge.

Remembering this makes me smile this morning as I whisper into the half-light, "Thank you."  ~Oriah

Another spectacular photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming


Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Sitting, Settling

The Grandmothers of my night dreams, old women rapped in wool shawls and bright blankets, their black eyes gleaming in the firelight, never use long sentences where three words will do.

Lately, it’s been, “Sit and settle.”

I think of Lao Tzu’s admonishment to be still and let our mud settle, consider what we should or should not “settle” for, remember how I did not fight for a fair settlement when divorce was desired. I wonder about settlers and settlements, ideas of staying put, settling down, settling in for a long and unavoidable wait. . . . 

I turn back to the Grandmothers full of questions.

One of the oldest speaks before I make a sound. “Oriah.” I turn to her and she speaks slowly as if to someone hard of hearing. I hear the sigh behind her words and see her small smile. 

“Sit and settle.”  ~Oriah (from a dream last night)

Another beautiful sunrise photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.


Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Being Home

Sitting at home reading, I paused to stretch for a moment and thought, "Ah, it's good to be back home." The thought startled me because, well- because I haven't travelled anywhere. And clearer than the thought was the feeling- that feeling you get after a long trip. No matter how well the trip has gone there is a lovely letting go when you return home and sink into the scent of familiar rooms, notice the way the late afternoon light brings out the dark wood grain of the tabletop, the way your bed feels warm and welcoming.

I'm curious about this feeling- why it arises now, in what way I have perhaps wandered from my "home" - inner or outer. If you've read any of my writing you know that I have faith in our deepest longing. And perhaps all soul longing could be described as wanting to go home- to ourselves; to a sense of belonging; to knowing our own belovedness and feeling the presence of the Beloved that never ceases to reach for us.

I don't know what made this feeling arise when it did, but I do know that we don't earn our homecoming- it is a gift, grace, unearned and unconditional. For reasons I do not understand, in that moment, as I set my book aside and sat quietly I became available to something that is possibly always there. And for this, I am deeply grateful. ~Oriah

The wonderful photos of Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming always remind me that this earth is my home.


Thursday, March 1, 2018

Bearing The Unbearable

My dear friend, Peter, who recently lost his wife, Diana (also a friend,) sent me this quote. It takes my breath away with its honesty about the hardest moments in a human life:"To have finally dealt with suffering is to consume it into yourself. Which means you have to, with eyes open, be able to keep your heart open in hell. You have to look at what is, and say 'Yeah, Right.' And what it involves is bearing the unbearable. And in a way, who you *think* you are can’t do it. Who you *really* are, can do it. So that who you think you are has to die in the process.~ Ram Dass

For myself, in the worst moments my only hope of doing this comes when I can be very still and drop into a sense of being held by a Sacred Presence that is larger than and yet within all that is. My willingness to even try is encouraged by the incredible resilience I have seen in others who have borne the loss of children and partners, and severe pain in body and mind. My prayers in those moments are simple- are, for myself and others, "Help," and, "Thank you." ~Oriah

Deep gratitude for this photo of a thawing lake from Karen Davis from Open Door Dreaming. It reminded me of what happens when part of the body that has frostbite (for me growing up in Northern Ontario, part of my face, and once, a few toes) thaws. It can be a painful as feeling returns, but the sensation is what lets you know it will be okay


Thursday, February 22, 2018

Finding a Way Forward Together

Sometimes, if we can be very still, eyes wide open, silencing the inner commentary for just one moment, we might see somethings we're missing.

Like the crazy beauty and unbelievable resilience of human beings,

The resurrection of the sun each morning,

How even those we oppose- those with "positions" different than our own- love their children.

Oh, I'm not hoping or wishing for endless harmony. I never really was a Kum ba ya girl.

But, I try not to protect my heart by pretending the children who are dying in the war in Syria, and schools in America, and the young indigenous man shot on a farm here in Canada are not all "our" children.

And what would we not do to protect our children?

There are times to stand up and shout, and times to be quiet and listen deeply. Of course I've sometimes gotten that wrong-  had something to say when I needed to listen; hesitated to speak up when something needed to be said, or shouted, or sung by a solitary voice or in unison by thousands.

At night as I drift into sleep something touches me- a larger Presence, the Beloved, the God whose Love I have known since always- and I know that in some way, deep at the core of Life, everything is and will be okay.

Knowing this, I can see without fear that here and now, in this shared world, there are things that are not okay, things that sacrifice children, things that we must change.

Decades of experience has eroded my certainty that I have the solutions, but deepened my conviction that we can find a way forward together. ~Oriah


Gratitude to Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming for this image of the early morning light, illuminating the darkness.


Wednesday, February 14, 2018

A Gift for You

This link to a TED talk by Valerie Kaur is my Valentine's Day gift to you. In it Valerie reminds us-"Love is more than a rush of feeling that happens to us if we are lucky. Love is sweet labour- fierce, bloody, imperfect and life-giving; a choice we make over and over again." Her stories of being a mother, a person of colour, and a civil rights lawyer help us see that the love that refuses to exclude ourselves, others and yes, even those who oppose and hurt us, is revolutionary. That love can transform our shared world. 
May it be so. ~Oriah 


https://www.ted.com/talks/valarie_kaur_3_lessons_of_revolutionary_love_in_a_time_of_rage

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

To Love What Is Mortal

My friends, I had truly thought I would rejoin you here on Monday after my break from being on line. However, a dear friend unexpectedly died on Saturday and my heart has been fully engaged with that deep loss. I will return when I am able. The words that keep going through my mind like a mantra are those at the end of Mary Oliver's poem "In Blackwater Woods:"
"To live in this world you must be able to do three things: to love what is mortal; to hold it against your bones knowing your own life depends on it; and, when the time comes to let it go, to let it go."
May death, when it comes, remind us to live this wisdom with open hearts and minds. ~ Oriah
As always the beauty captured in the photos of Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming slows my breathing and helps me be in the moment.


Thursday, January 11, 2018

Sitting with the Silence and the Snow

I am going to take a little time off line. The body is asking to be unplugged from the world -or at least from the flow of electronic information- for a little bit, and I have learned (the hard way) not to ignore what the body needs. In the meantime, I leave you with the latest poem I have had taped to my bathroom mirror. I do this to learn poems by heart, so I can carry them with me, so I can recite them slowly to myself as I walk through the snow. ~Oriah
The Sound of Snow
She asked me how to describe the sound
of snow falling softly in the mountains.
I stood among the flurries until the tears came,
until I couldn't stop them. Not even
if I’d wanted to,
and I didn’t.
And, after a good long while, I replied:
“You must let your heart break for want of love.
You must listen carefully when it does.
Whatever it is you hear then,
that is it;
That is the sound of snow falling,
softly,
in the mountains.”
© 2014-2017/Jamie K. Reaser
From "Winter: Reflections by Snowlight"
Published by Hiraeth Press
Another beautiful photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.