Lasting Loving-Kindness

Love takes many forms: family, friends, life partners, animal companions, Nature, Spirit, humankind…the possibilities are endless. Sometimes our lives are so busy that we don’t even realize all the love that comes our way on a daily basis—or the love that we send out. In actuality, our planet is a virtual web of loving connections. Human consciousness and human experience are held together by that web of light within us and all around us. In times of crisis or challenge, that light shines brighter, and we become super-aware of how love and kindness support us in small and large ways.

Gestures of kindness sometimes go by so quickly that you may not fully take note of them: a stranger in the street smiles and says good morning, a neighbor brings you homemade soup when you are not feeling well, an old friend sends flowers for your birthday. A loved one expresses unconditional love by accepting you just as you are. These are the acts of love that help us live our lives with a positive outlook, even in times of pandemic, conflict, and loss. Every generation has faced such challenges, and yet humanity has survived. The human spirit raises its bowed head, looks into the eyes of another, and feels uplifted, able to continue living.

By consciously acknowledging these acts and then living from a similar place, we revitalize the dynamic of human interaction, not just in one place but everywhere. The energy of loving-kindness can circle the globe in a nanosecond. You may think a smile is a small gesture, but it has the power of the heart behind it. This is why we have survived as a species for thousands of years. It is the spirit of love and compassion that has carried us forward in spite of discord or disease. No matter what we have faced personally or collectively, we are still here. And in spite of everything, we are evolving.

Today, in the midst of daily news flashes about gun violence, injustice, or environmental crises, we need these positive moments of connection that touch (and open) our hearts. The evolution of humanity and the planet depend on such openings, which strengthen our commitment to possibility, to the power of the human spirit. We are a resilient species. Here we are, standing strong in the face of all that seems to lead us in the direction of defeat and pessimism. Something as intangible as a kind word and a gentle touch may be the key threads that weave the fabric of a positive future.

So don’t give up hope in troubled times. Your neighbor is right next to you. We are all in this together, we residents of Earth, sons and daughter of Gaia. Take a moment for kindness in your life, for the love that connects you to others, to life itself. It will sustain you through challenges and fill your soul with light and your life with joy. There is nothing as strong or lasting as the love that expresses itself through kindness, acceptance, and compassion.

Hope, Love, and the Web of Life

“I don’t know about hope, but I know about love…. Our job is to learn to love.”
—Robin Wall Kimmerer

In this time of heartbreaking political tumult and ecological grief, where do we turn for wisdom or comfort? For a reason to continue, in spite of how the world looks? This past weekend, I had the great honor and blessing of attending a program with Robin Wall Kimmerer, author of Braiding Sweetgrass. She is a botanist, professor, member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation, and beyond all else, a wise and caring soul. Repeatedly, during those three days, she asked the question: What does Mother Earth ask of us? Not what can we get, but what can we give? We are living in a time of shifting focus: from taking to giving, from self to community. Earth herself teaches reciprocity and connection. This is our heritage and our guidepost, if we pay attention, if we drop the cloak of self-centeredness and don the cloth of humility.

We are One, we Earth beings. All of us, plant, animal, human, bird, insect, stone, soil. Our lives and our destiny are interconnected. The web of life that holds us can be torn, but it can also be mended. Mother Earth is a gentle and forgiving presence in our lives; she is also a fierce protector of all of life. We cannot continue to destroy the environment and our living connections to one another. So many of our hearts are filled with grief now, for the visible and invisible ways the planet appears to be falling apart. “Grief is the measure of our love,” Robin said. “We can be the rain on one another’s grief and dryness.”

Her words carried such poignancy and power because she has dedicated her life to Earth wisdom, and she is also a descendant of those who walked the Trail of Tears, which forced native nations to leave their homelands and walk endless miles to reservations (in her family’s case, from Wisconsin to Kansas to Oklahoma). All ties to their specific sacred place on Mother Earth were broken. The grief of that severance continues to this day as indigenous peoples work to regain their ancestral lands. Earth herself was violated by similar cruelty as colonists took what they wanted from the land. We inherit that terrible history and are living with the consequences, that lack of reciprocity between human and human, between humans and Earth.

Reciprocity arises from love, and in spite of the violence that has torn, and continues to tear, the world asunder, love persists. When all hope is lost, love persists. When grief breaks our hearts, love persists. Love and grief together can heal the brokenness. Whether or not we believe that healing is possible, our job is to love. We came here at this specific time, on this specific planet, to be the love that persists, in spite of everything. Injustice and inhumanity exist, but so do compassion and kindness.

We are at a choice point in our tattered past, unsettling present, and uncertain future. We can choose despair, or we can choose love. Ask yourself, “What does Mother Earth ask of me?” As I stood on a wooded hillside at dusk in Western Massachusetts this weekend, listening to the sweet song of the wood thrush, I heard the answer in my heart: Remember your place in the web of life; choose love.

Expansion, Not Decline

Is your body demanding your attention lately? Are your emotions on edge? Do you feel as if your health is declining, your sense of optimism impaired? You are not alone. Almost everyone I know has been facing some kind of physical issue or challenge over the past year or so, including myself. Breast cancer flipped my daily world view upside-down. Yet, as I gradually learned to experience it with a peaceful, accepting heart, calm arose within me to face whatever I needed to without despair or negativity. My soul guided my body, mind, and feelings throughout. Sometimes we have to pass through depression or emotional upset to reach that overview, but it can happen. This is the challenge of these times we are living through, especially during a global pandemic.

How can we come to see physical pain or illness in a positive rather than negative light? Perhaps by seeing it as a cleansing or clearing of your physical form so that your soul can shine more fully and brightly. These are times of expansion, not decline. We are welcoming the complete embodiment of the soul in our bodies. Physicality is the densest part of you, and it will be the last to transform. The heaviness of form is being overhauled to receive the lightness of formlessness, our natural and eternal state. The key to an easier transition may be to view physical illness or pain as metamorphosis, a path to clarity and fulfilment. You are shedding your identity and your past and walking into a new vision of life and yourself. It may feel intensely challenging, but if you look closely, the doors are opening. No matter what is occurring, your soul chose this life path for your greater evolution. Welcome to the Great Shift on Planet Earth.

This applies not only to physical difficulties but to the overall political/social turmoil in the world. The entire planet is experiencing a cleansing. A new Earth is being born. And birthing pains often accompany such a major event, personally and globally. So hang on: you are not deteriorating; you are expanding. Hard to believe at times, but we are being asked to imagine, and live, this vision of a new fully embodied soul, in our selves and our planet. We incarnated at this time for exactly this. Your physical body and Mother Earth herself are shedding density, welcoming conscious awareness of spirit everywhere. Even what seems to be the worst scenario holds within it a seed of awakening.

There is nothing “wrong” here. Nothing “terminal.” Neither age, diagnosis, nor life events can kill your spirit. Your soul is eternal; consciousness too is eternal.  You as beingness exist beyond time and space, beyond mind and emotions, beyond thoughts and expectations. The world is a temporary landing point for your evolution and expansion. We are all part of the divine unfolding of infinite consciousness. Even if you think things are bad or intolerable, there is something greater occurring beyond human understanding. You are journeying through ascension, not decline. Your soul knows the way. Relax and surrender to the cosmic trip God/dess has orchestrated. When you feel lost or alone, hold in your awareness a vision of our blue planet turning golden and our souls shining brightly in the cosmos. At the soul level, our hands are joined, circling the globe as one energy, one expanding light. In pain, sorrow, or joy, you are always part of this collective life spirit. Look up at the morning sky and recall the words of e.e. cummings:

“This is the sun’s birthday, this is the birth
day of life and of love and wings: and of the gay
great happening illimitably earth”

Say It Loud—Now!

With the passage of legislation in Florida restricting discussion of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, the “Don’t Say Gay” movement is gaining national momentum. Similar legislation is in progress in multiple states. Those of us in the LGBTQ community who marched for our rights in the 1970s­–1990s can hear echoing in our ears the rallying cry we chanted then: “Say It Loud: I’m Gay and I’m Proud!” The right to be who we are without fear or shame; the end of hatred and violence directed at us.

In 1975, a group of teenagers sprayed mace in my eyes for holding hands with my girlfriend in public in Cambridge, Massachusetts. In 2014, almost 40 years later—also in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and in public—my partner Anne and I were married after 31 years together. Massachusetts was the first U.S. state to legalize same-sex marriage in 2004. Huge changes in those years; huge shifts in the collective consciousness. Even rainbow lights on the White House when same-sex marriage became legal in all 50 states in 2015. And now this frightening backlash. But we cannot allow ourselves to be silenced again.

Human rights are in jeopardy world-wide. In the United States, immigrants and Asians have also become targets for hatred and attack, along with Jews, Muslims, and people of color from diverse cultures. Hard-won women’s rights are threatened as well. ”Make America great again” translates as the desire to erase from existence anyone who doesn’t fit into the dominant patriarchal paradigm (white, Christian, heterosexual). This is the face of fear of difference, growing stronger and more widespread. I am reminded of the oft-repeated quote by Martin Niemoller regarding the systematic purging of groups in Nazi Germany: “First they came for the socialists and I did not speak out because I was not a socialist.” He continues naming group after group and finally ends with: “Then they came for me and there was no one left to speak for me.” Chilling history lesson. It’s on each of us now, at this time, to speak—to “say it loud.” Don’t wait until you are left standing alone.

So here we are, witnessing threats to the growing universal acceptance of all peoples. What we thought we had moved beyond is once again at our front doors. Anita Bryant was not the last antigay vigilante. The Klan still exists. But giving up and living in denial is not an option. We were born for these times, like it or not. And we came here to do it differently. Not with fighting and aggression but with peace and kindness. The individuals who act from hatred are filled with pain themselves. In our hearts we have to hold empathy for all.

So I urge you to “Say Gay,” to say “Black Lives Matter,” to say “Stop Asian Hate.” Say it with conviction but not hostility. I encourage you to speak with truth, love, and compassion to everyone you encounter in your life, whatever they may believe. And to live that truth every day. We must continue to remind ourselves that love is stronger than hate, and fear is an illusion that can dissolve in the presence of a courageously peaceful open heart.

Soul Presence

The world is changing so fast we can hardly keep track of it. Reports on what is or isn’t happening clash with one another on a daily basis, both in the media and among those we know. “Reality” as a perceivable, agreed-upon entity no longer exists, if it ever did (the emperor’s clothes have disappeared). Time as we knew it has also ceased to exist. So how do we navigate this seemingly chaotic and uncertain path before us? One clue is that it is no longer a place for human identities (names, family roles, job descriptions). What lies ahead is completely unknown and can only be approached as a spiritual mystery and soul adventure.

We are moving ever more rapidly into the time of Soul Presence. It’s been a long time coming. And I don’t just mean since the flower children of the 60s called out the Age of Aquarius. I mean millennia. Thousands and thousands of years in the making, with incarnation after incarnation of spiritual seekers and masters moving forward and shining an ever-brighter light. Today we have finally reached the era of collective enlightenment. No more gurus, priests, leaders, or authorities of any kind. It is dawning on each of us that we carry the wisdom and light inside us. God is within, not sitting on a distant throne issuing orders. God and soul are one. We living beings on a living planet are One.

When we awaken fully to that oneness, our separate identities and polarized world views will dissolve. Our souls will emerge in full presence and meet with loving-kindness and compassion, instead of the competitiveness and self-centeredness that formed our old personalities. The harshness of ego gives way to the softness of soul. Fear of survival and the illusion of control are replaced with trust in a perfectly designed divine unfolding. That is why so much is falling away and there is no longer truth or time. We have no idea what is ahead, but more and more we can see a light shining, from within us and from the Earth herself. “We are stardust; we are golden,” Joni Mitchell wrote so many years ago. And the flowering garden of light in our future is being born from that golden stardust that makes up our souls.

When you begin to align completely with your soul, you see and live with God vision because there is no longer a perceived separation. God/dess and Soul are one experience. Within you arises a growing commitment to peace, love, and generosity of spirit. The self apart from other no longer exists. We replaces I. Heaven and Earth come together in our consciousness and in our experiences. Heartening to think of, but how do we live it in the days ahead? Imagine it and it becomes real.

What would such a world look like to you? How would you live without an identity—neither parent nor child, employee or boss, one gender or another, one opinion or its opposite? What would life on Earth be like without rigid parameters but only fluid Presence? This is where we came from; the soul emerged from this dynamic place of pure being and unconditional love. This is the divine vision for humanity, actually for the entire cosmos. And beneath all the arguing voices and warring factions on the planet, this is what exists now. We’ve never really been separate from one another or from our Source. It was an illusion we lived out for the experience of individual karma before returning to oneness. God came to Earth as each of us to immerse itself in all the possible variations of consciousness. How else could we then know the ecstatic coming together that is oneness of Spirit? At the soul level, we were aware of the greater overview or design, but as separate incarnated personalities, we’ve been finding our way for millennia. And now is the homecoming.

So look around you and let go of everything you’ve known before. Forget the past and live in the present moment. The soul only knows Now. Within that is infinite possibility. Presence without limitation. “Eternity in an hour” and “Infinity in the palm of your hand” (William Blake). God vision, which lies at the heart of everything in the universe. The wise words “Let go and let God” were repeated again and again for a reason. We are finally hearing them clearly. When you surrender completely, there is nothing else. Soul Presence. Remembered paradise.