I have been very blessed this past year to have been part of numerous sacred circles where woman have come together to heal. I can't help but feel that many of us are being called together to support and empower one another as we awaken to an inner wisdom that is calling us forth to face future, unburdened by our past. It is indeed time to move past our pain and sense of separation and to re-member who we really are.
I shared with a number of you my trip to the Ancient Bristle Pine Forests. The trees are among the oldest living things on the face of the earth. I sat with one and wept, rejoiced, but mostly I listened. It taught me something very important... twisted and knarled, yet so full of grace...like a dancer, firmly rooted yet reaching, turning towards the heavens?... No... towards the future. It whispered to me, "turn towards life... always turn towards life. Strip yourself of unnecessary burden. Face your future... naked! Say yes! Yes to Life!"
I am just beginning a new relationship with that simple three letter word "Yes". I've said it millions of times... I've been slave to the oughts and shoulds and worried so about what people might think. It has not always been my yes. So many unconscious "yeses" in my lifetime. My voice is emerging... my yes is emerging... slowly, a bit cautiously... but emerging just the same. Yes!
I believe I am not alone. Many of us are shedding old beliefs that no longer serve us and are opening to new possibilities. We are sensing that we must break ranks and step out into a new sunrise. We are not denying our past pain, but will not remain frozen in a place of fear and suffering. We are gathering the tools of transformation as we remember the ancient wisdom that resides within each and everyone of us. We are praying in unison now. We are un-drowning. Our tears become sacred, our stories make us one. We remember we are not alone. We are not looking back but within, to release our burdens so we can be free to fill the void with forgiveness, hope, compassion and love. We are praying together for patience, courage, humility and strength. We are coming together heart to heart, minds set with clarity of intention... the intention to heal in order that we may serve. We are remembering how to pray.
I place my prayer upon the altar
Scent of copal and rosemary
I am remembering the ritual
the soul has never forgotten
and like a flower, scented sweetly,
opens fully to surrender
Heart to heart healing
I am awake
I will never go to sleep again
I cannot sleep
even my hunger is fed differently now
the holy spirit fuels my appetite
I breathe in and savor a sweet nectar mystery
where hummingbirds hover
heart to heart I heal
sacred tears quench my thirst
the holy water cleanses me
and I become virgin for the first time.
(Written during a 5 day gathering with Elena Avilla, a curandera.)
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In a dream recently, I was expressing with great conviction wisdom I learned. I discovered the purpose of life and in the dream I said to a group: "The purpose of life is simply the pleasure of life itself!"
Awake, contemplating this thought, I realized it is very true and the deepest pleasures in life are often found in two ways: in relationships and through creative expression! Clearly these two central aspects of the human process are interrelated! And as they develop, we reap the reward of being more fully present with all experiences and finally enter into deep communion with life—sharing the special wonder of our common participation in it!
Relationship has two faces: inward toward the multiple aspects or characters often hidden in our psyche and outward toward a broadening spectrum of others. By others, I mean not only people, but all creatures, plants and finally, after ending common feelings of separation and defense, life itself. Being in "nature" is often so rewarding because we experience a sense of wonder in our relationship with the broad natural universe. With an open attitude, we see that everything seems to contribute to the beauty of life in its own way. I admit this often requires strength and imagination to overcome fears and limiting perceptions—often fears and perceptions developed and forgotten from earlier life stages. This is particularly true with regard to knowing and accepting one's self!
Creative expression for me is the ability to successfully explore and communicate about the mysteries found in our relationships. The mysteries exist in our emotionally guided perceptions from our inner and outer worlds. As we find form or means to communicate about what has come to our attention, the content of the mysteries may be revealed. If personal expression about "what is working us" is thwarted, we often become frustrated and eventually jaded in our relationships—relationships with both self and others.
Our most common and often richest form of communication is conversation. Simple honest conversation with someone or something we feel is present to receive from us is often all that is required to satisfy our deep human longing for self expression! This is partly what makes prayer so powerful! There is a holy something or someone present to listen and witness! An inward directed conversation or exploration allows us to occupy both sides of this sacred dialog.
As this millennium transition year closes, I am approaching my seventieth year after many conversations and life activities. I can feel the pleasurable call of simplicity, presence and intimate conversations with my fellow life travelers. It is a feeling of coming to rest, basking in the warmth of life's existing experiences. It also heralds the beginning of another new phase in my life in some mysterious way yet undeclared! In the short run, I do not know were it will lead. Time will tell as I continue to trust the process!
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Do dreams show us about our creative process? I believe dreams often show the way, act as a warning and provide insights for the process of creating our lives anew. To illustrate this is a recent dream: I am riding a bicycle on my way to school, nearing the Twelfth Avenue exit near Marina, when I see construction work ahead. As I am taking a side path around the site, I realize that I am bicycling atop a concrete wall carefully steering this narrow edge so as not to slide off. A big wind comes up and blows me into the air. There is the sense of flying, floating and nearing the ground. I think that if I pedal just right, I'll hit the ground without crashing. I am able to land and continue on.
One of the benefits of creativity is the ability to make anew. Sometimes our life is like a construction site-lots of big machinery (issues) moving around, kicking up lots of dust, noise and confusion. Detours take us off our course. There are signs to heed like "Road Work Ahead" which let us know life will be showing us its curves, slowing us down and taking us on another route. Sometimes it takes a while before we are back on path.
Why a bicycle instead of a car? Maybe I'll supply more of my own power and use a simpler way of navigating. The realization of my ability to steer atop a brick wall makes me think of my teaching job dealing with the bricks in the wall. The mirror provided by this dream has renewed my awareness and appreciation for this work on the road of my life. Since the dream, I feel more confident maintaining the growing edges of my teaching experience.
The dream is a warning that could mean changes or invisible forces pushing me to fly, float and land, on course, with my wheels continuing on and on. I find this comforting and confirming. I have limited flight time in my dreams: one time I spiraled up and another time I was floating while tethered to my mother. This time showed growth in my ability to go with the air flow as a teacher, dreamer and student of life. Being carried by the wind symbolizes a fresh, new experience.
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Barbara Rose Shuler:
"Leave your hometown and fly to Tashkent."
Thus begins my exotic itinerary that culminates in a 10 day trek through the mountains and valleys of Kyrgyzstan. Tashkent quickly gives way to other central Asian cities—Samarkand, Bukhara and Khiva, names evoking the old silk trades, turbaned Khans and the "great game," as Kipling called it; the jousting of England and Russia over much of Asia.
"Enjoy Tanzania!" beamed the ticket agent at the Monterey airport, apparently unable to wrap his mind around such a destination as Tashkent. Who can blame him? For most, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan sound as distant as Timbuktu.
My "hometown" recedes rapidly now as I fly over Greenland enroute to Tashkent in a Lufthansa 747 cattle-packed with travelers. Overhead a Disney film entertains passengers with talking cartoon dogs. The appealing four-leggeds are singing Mozart arias to me, however, courtesy of "The Magic Flute" on Channel 3.
I am thinking about the man sitting next to me at the terminal, an earnest fellow who clutched the latest very fat Harry Potter book while speaking on a cell phone in measured sentences peppered with careful verbs. He was assuring his listener that "the architecture of the software will tap superior Internet resources."
In the book attached to me right now, an English writer has just arrived in Tashkent, a long-yearned-for event in his life. Since childhood the cities, desserts and mountains of Central Asia had romanced him. He wrote these lines of verse as a teenager:
"Through the reveries of Poets
I have glimpsed the enchanted Land
and seen the Moon's pale fingers
on the towers of Samarkand."
The writer reminds me of the Harry Potter man. He too enjoys a magical otherworld—this one full of adventures of a bygone era—while crafting professional sentences about post Soviet realities in the cities of his dreams.
The creative spirit in us loves dreams, the promise of the new, the unknown. If we listen, we'll hear Timbuktu's of the Soul coaxing us gently, sometimes urgently to explore terra incognito which we map with our minds, hearts and experiences.
I'll be in Tashkent in 10 hours, but it is the mountains that beckon most to me, the Tien Shans, "the mountains of heaven" they call them—ancient, remote and completely unknown to me. It's late now. Time for a nap.
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Art techniques can be learned. Creative craftsmanship can be taught. Art making as an activity has been a most natural and intimately human form of expression, universally familiar through all cultures, all ages. Why then all the fuss?
Why do some of us feel the pull of that "other" level of creativity? The one which we spell with a capital "C," and approach with such heroic passion? The one for which we devise a kind of reverent shamanism?
Our studios become sanctuaries and retreats. We devise rituals of meditative self-purification to still the ego's chatter. We light incense, and candles. We carefully select exotic sounds—birdsong, rushing water, sacred music, drumming—background insulation in preparation for reuniting with a separate reality that lies deep within the silent Wisdom of our higher selves.
Engaging this Creative process is as illusive, intense, and all consuming as connecting with the I AM. And so we make ourselves illogical... whimsical... Intense... and All consuming...
Filled with doubts and uncertainty, one tends to avoid plunging into such depths, until the pain of not surrendering, exceeds the pain of the creative bends which inevitably follow such raptures of the deep.
The products created can seem unrecognizable as having come from our own hands... Yet the messages they embody for us, like our dreams, are an unmistakable travelogue of our own creative adventure. And—just perhaps—the evidence of our having dialogued, however primitively, with our Creator.
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