Tag Archives: Oneness

AWAKENING TO THE SILENCE OF SNOW

“A snow day literally and figuratively falls from the sky-unbidden-and seems like a thing of wonder.” Susan Orlean

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Back in the days when I taught full-time, a snow day was truly a gift from the Divine. To have the day off, I didn’t have to get permission, find a substitute, or prepare another lesson in advance, nor did I have to leave the house. It was a free vacation day, and I always felt that I could do anything I wanted that day, even when I had papers to grade.

Love the Silence of the Snow

Now, what I love is the silence. The way the snow wraps around the earth, the trees, and buildings. Bare brown branches become beautifully outlined in snow and silhouetted against a blue sky. The snow becomes a blanket of diamonds as it reflects the sun’s light.

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Snow Days Are For Snuggling

It is a snuggly morning, and now I have a snuggly partner, my husband. We linger under the warm covers until hunger hits and then we eat pancakes with eggs and oatmeal. The dog who is let out to “do her business” finds a lot more business to do than usual, sticking her nose into the snow up to her eyes, trying to find a scent that tells her this is her usual place.

Snow Is For Playing

The teenager across the street is trying to learn to ski on the small slope from the street to his house, but soon his friends arrive with an array of winter equipment, none of which they actually use. Before long, it becomes party-time and they disappear into the house.

The daily parade of dog walkers has begun thanks to the city that was well-prepared and cleared the street rather early this morning. The little dog that is of a strange mix and usually wears a sweater has on red shoes today. Our dog, which is out in the yard and usually barks loudly at this one, just sits and stares. I suspect the little dog’s outfit doesn’t fit with her fashion sense, but she’s too polite to express her dismay.

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The Silence Of Snow Connects Us With Spirit

It is strange how something as cold and wet as snow can create the feeling of warmth, but then I am reminded that when I meditate, I often reach a point where I feel warm and protected, aware of that peace of being in touch with something greater than myself, that loving energy of Spirit.

It is not a day for deep mental meandering. It is a day just to be.

How do you like to spend a snow day? Please comment.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                               ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

AWAKENING TO THE POWER OF PEACE

“Peace is not merely a distant goal we seek, but a means by which we arrive at that goal.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

multiculturalism-freedom-equality

Is there peace within you and in your life? How do you create it? If it is not there, what are you willing to do to have it?

The recent violent events in France have been horrifying, especially now that we know some attacks were connected but planned to appear random. This kind of violence and death always create fear around the world as we wonder when this will happen near us.

Peaceful Protest Is Powerful

But what is astounding is the way the French and many others have reacted with peaceful protests supporting the freedom of speech that was vilified by the attackers. To see millions of people willing to expose themselves to possible violence in order to stand up peacefully for those who were killed brought me to tears. I suddenly realized this is how we defeat those who use violence in an attempt to destroy anyone who disagrees with them.

Peace Creates Peace

Martin Luther King, Jr. was right. Peace is the means by which we create peace. In the 60s he demonstrated the power of this. In our own lives, we may have done the same by remaining peaceful when others rail against us. Being peaceful in contentious situations creates a situation where the other person’s anger is dissipated by our unwillingness to participate.

Violence Does Not Solve Problems

The most obvious reason why violence does not solve problems is to look at the multiple wars taking place in our world now. Are they solving the problems that exist in these regions? Clearly not. The fighting continues because all sides want power over the other, and that desire will perpetuate the conflict. The only real solution is to learn to respect the ways we are different and work peacefully together.

We Must learn to See How We Are All One

In 1994 I traveled to West Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Grant for teachers. After a long, sleepless night on an airplane, we landed at 7:00 am in Dakar, Senegal. As I stepped from the plane, I expected to feel the uniqueness of being in a foreign country. What I felt was the opposite. I was overwhelmed with the feeling of Oneness—that we were all part of the same world, regardless of our ethnicity, religion, or language.

That was the gift I received from living in New Orleans, a unique culture very different from the one where I was reared or I had lived. I was not Catholic. I didn’t drink much alcohol or like to party. Most people I met had not gone to college and had never lived anywhere else. Worst of all, I couldn’t eat most of the popular food because of dietary intolerances. I just didn’t fit in.

Even in my work, I was different. I taught in a girls’ Catholic high school for five years and then in the New Orleans public schools for another five years where all my students, except for one, were African-American. I traveled to two or three schools a day teaching gifted students who lived in the inner city, some of the worst poverty-stricken parts of the city.

During those years, I was constantly challenged to expand my thinking and to have my opinions challenged. I had to get along daily with people who were very different from me and who saw life in a totally different way. Ironically, those differences were what enriched my life and made me a more tolerant and accepting person.

We All Need To Feel Powerful

We all want to have a certain amount of power in our lives. We need to have more than the necessities of life to enjoy life, but when peace is at the center of our lives, we don’t need to control others. We don’t need them to be like us in every way. It is this peace that the people who do violence lack. Ironically, it is the feeling of powerlessness that motivates their actions, for if our sense of personal power is strong, we don’t need to harm or control others.

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Inner peace is tremendously powerful, for it allows us to accept what is and not react in ways that would create a negative situation. This is the peace that will change the world, for it allows us to accept the way in which others are different from us without judging or feeling the need to change them.

When I was in Africa, for example, the importance of family was paramount, and it reminded me of the closeness I experienced growing up with many members of the family living in the neighborhood. I was also very touched by religious practices that were intertwined with nature, for my closeness to nature has always been at the core of my spirituality. I was surprised by all the ways I felt connected to this culture which on the surface seemed so different.

Controlling Others Is an Illusion Of Power

This is why it is so important that we be willing to learn what is true about other cultures. It is also why we need to look more closely at our own culture and repair what is damaged. There is a reason why some young people are drawn to violence in the inner city or choose to join radical groups in the Middle East. They feel powerless, and by destroying others, they feel they are winners.

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But they have won nothing worth having, for that power is an illusion. Lack of a loving family or mental illness is usually what creates this need for power, yet our government wants to cut the funds that support those with the greatest need. If we want to stop violence, we have to give people the support they need to create meaningful lives. No one in this country should have to go hungry.

As this year begins, let us each in our own community find a way to empower those in need and practice peace in our own lives. Each life matters. We don’t want any more of our children growing up to become terrorists. We need to love them and teach them to find peace within.

© 2015 Georganne Spruce                                           ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Environments of Love – Wayne Dyer, Creating A New Earth – Eckhart Tolle

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

May this year bring all you desire and especially peace, love, and joy!

St Francis under a blanket of snow. Photo:Georganne Spruce

St Francis under a blanket of snow.
Photo:Georganne Spruce

AWAKENING TO RITUAL

“The purpose of ritual is to change the mind of the human being.  It’s sacred drama in which you are the audience as well as the participant and the purpose of it is to activate parts of the mind that are not activated by everyday activity.”  Sharon Devlin

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Do you like to participate in rituals?  Do you ever create your own?  What do they mean to you?

When people suggest I might do a ritual of some kind to heal a problem, I usually resist.  It isn’t that I don’t like ritual, but I often find that I can’t seem to get involved with it to the degree that it becomes meaningful.  Despite that, I have had several very meaningful experiences with it where the ritual took me to a very spiritual place.

Chanting May Create A Loving Feeling

Chanting is a perfect example.  When I try to chant by myself, it seems to go nowhere—not even to the nowhere it is supposed to go.  When I am with a group and singing a chant, I am carried away into a warm, fuzzy centered place where I am one with the group and it feels like the love of the holy is flowing within us.  But creating one’s own ritual can also create deep meaning and connections.

One of my first experiences of creating a ritual took place in Nebraska when my two dear women friends and I were parting ways.  One was heading to Omaha, another to Texas, and I was moving to Denver.  The thought of leaving each other was painful and we found ourselves withdrawing because we didn’t know how we could say “goodbye.”

Creating Our Own Rituals May Be Very Meaningful

Then we realized that we needed to create a “goodbye” ritual.  The following is a description of the ritual from my memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness.

“When the moon was full, we went to the sand pits where we used to swim. We brought with us tokens of the life we had shared: flowers, tea, rocks, shells, dryer lint, unfinished pot holders, orange water, herbs, a fan, and a feather. We played instruments, and Carolyn, with bells around her ankles, and I danced. Donna, with her curly, sandy hair, watched, looking like a wild lion with a morning trumpet rising like a horn from her head. In this sacred space, the moon goddess blessed us, shining clear and bright in the darkness. The water was cool and serene, and the sand was soft beneath our feet. Our burning candles were hidden from the road by a small dune, and while we were there for two hours, no one disturbed us. My friends were like two sides of myself: the daring beast and the mystic. Speaking, I honored them.

North Platte river

The Nature Conservancy

‘Donna, the Leo, you give me strength to speak my own name, to believe in my beauty; you are laughter in my life; you are the fire of anger that sets me in motion; my defender, sister traveler, my comforter, my equal, my loving friend. You are the flower of celebration.’

‘Carolyn, the Sagittarian, you make the cycles of nature sing in my soul; you help me see the beauty, the humor in simple things; you are constancy, you are calm, you show me humility and forgiveness, my sister traveler, my equal, my loving friend. You are the simmering fire that warms the tea we drink together.’

I would never forget the peace of that night when all good forces in the universe came together to protect us, when we brought the ancient into the present and transformed it with our love.”

Rituals May Connect Us At The Heart Level

Many years before I visited New Mexico for the first time, I subscribed to New Mexico Magazine.  I was fascinated with the landscape and the Native American culture and art.  I don’t know why I felt such a deep connection to a place I had never seen.  When I finally moved there, it was for my health, but while I was there I experienced a deep heart-level connection with its original people, and some need that I cannot explain was filled.

One day a friend and I drove to see Chaco Canyon.  We spent the night nearby and drove into the canyon well before the sun was up.   It was the morning of the summer solstice and we stood at the edge of Casa Rinconada, a giant kiva, waiting for the first light of day to flow through an opening and strike a small window within on the opposite side.  The black sky sparkled with stars and slowly lightened along the horizon.  Time seem suspended as the light flowed across the sky and through the window into the center of the kiva, gradually moving its spear of light  through the dark opening of the window and illuminating it.

Rituals May Feel Timeless

I was flooded with the sense that I was connected to the many generations of people who have witnessed this coming of the light on the first day of summer.  This site was the ancestral home of the people now known as the Pueblos, 19 groups of which reside in New Mexico.  They were also the ancestors of many of the students I taught from the various pueblos.  What I felt was more than the sense of connection with the people and land but also a connection with time as a timeless concept.

chaco Ruins

Rituals Connect Different Cultures

In 1994 I traveled to West Africa with a group of teachers, and while we were there, we visited a village where the chief was away.  It is a tradition in Africa to greet visitors with a particular tea ceremony.  Because the chief was away, his teenage son welcomed us and led us to a domed structure build from tree branches where we sat on the floor, and he performed the ceremony.  The tea was brewed three times and passed around the circle.  The first time it is bitter like life.  The second time it is sweet like friendship.  The third time it is syrupy like love.

St. Louis, Senegal

St. Louis, Senegal

This was the second time we had experienced this ceremony, and both times we felt the warm, welcoming greeting of those performing it, but it was the chief’s son who impressed me so much.  He was a teenager much like those I taught at the time.  I thought how lucky he was to be trusted with such an important ritual so young.  It was another step in his learning to be a man.

While I felt a sense of Oneness with the Africans we met on the trip, I also felt honored when they shared their rituals with us, and wondered if the lack of ritual in most of our lives was part of what separated us within a community.  These rituals, like the other rituals I’ve experienced, are ways to put us in touch with earth, sky and humanity without us needing to find words spoken in the same language.

Like my other experiences with ritual, this one brought people together in a simple way.  Sitting in that domed hut, I was amazed at how cool it was on a hot day with us crowded closely to each other, an experience not everyone in our group was comfortable with.  Although this village had just gotten its first electric-driven well, the community relationships in this village were what mattered most, not the things they had.  I was reminded of my own childhood where we played in many yards watched over by many parents while the parents performed their evening ritual, talking to each other on the front steps of our homes.

Rituals Take Us To A Deep Spiritual Place

Perhaps because rituals are predictable, we are able to slip away and experience the deeper connections with one another that we may not share in the business of our day.  Somehow, we each have to find the experience that will connect us meaningfully and allow us to activate the spiritual nature that lies beneath our surface.

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  (video) Summer Solstice Ushered at Ancient Sites, Senegalese Tea Culture, Create Your Own Ritual

INTERFAITH DIALOGUE EVENT

Grateful Steps Book Signing

Grateful Steps Book Signing

For several years, I was a member of a spiritual group that met once a month to share our spiritual journeys and to participate in programs that would teach us new spiritual techniques and expose us to a wide variety of spiritual beliefs.  It was one of the most enriching and inspiring experiences I’ve ever had, and I learned so much from what others shared.

I’m very excited about participating in the Interfaith Dialogue series on Thursday, June 19 at Grateful Steps Bookshop in Asheville, NC at 159 So. Lexington Ave.  I will present short readings from my memoir Awakening to the Dance:  A Journey to Wholeness.   As I read excerpts related to my spiritual journey, we will discuss the concepts presented and share experiences.  The event is free.

 My memoir Awakening to the Dance: A Journey to Wholeness is the story of a my search to find an authentic identity, creative expression, and a spirituality apart from traditional religion.  Although this spiritual journey began with attending a traditional church, I soon found that it was my love of dance and drama that really touched my spirit.  Through modern dance, I discovered the oneness of the mind body connection, and later began to explore other spiritual practices.  One by one, I enthusiastically explored techniques to release my fear, Buddhist teachings and meditation, Jungian dream interpretation, and Science of Mind manifestation techniques.  Each led me more closely to an authentic identity and a wholeness that transformed my life.

This is an opportunity to share and explore our beliefs, so please join us. 

AWAKENING TO THE HOME WITHIN

“Home is oneness, home is my original nature.  It is right here, simply in what is.  There is nowhere else I have to go, and nothing else I have to become.”  Tony Parsons

Home at Ocean

Is home a place for you or an experience?  What are the qualities you associate with home?  How do the experiences you have in a place affect your concept of home?

I didn’t grow up in one place and know it intimately as people do when they’ve lived forever in a town.  Not having experienced that, I can only fantasize about the security it must give one, a place where one truly belongs. But I’ve always been attracted to a wider field, to the infinite variety of cultures and perspectives of people who have risked and fallen over the edges where safety begins.

I’ve lived outside the box, often longing to want what is in it so that I would fit into the world around me more easily.  But whenever I’ve crawled inside and tried to stay there, I’ve been discovered as a fraud and turned away, rejected as unsuited for that particular mold.  Although it was painful at the time, I’m grateful for the circumstances that pushed me out into places where I learned things I would never have learned otherwise.

Cold Winters Develop Resilience

For example, living in Nebraska, I learned that many farmers (even those with mechanized farms) still planted by the phases of the moon although they never admitted it.  These were the descendents of pioneers who had survived the harsh cold deprivation of every kind and the unrelenting winds that howled so high and long that some went mad trying to settle this unforgiving land.

NE Snow

After my first winter there, facing over 30 straight days below 0, locked in a land of ice, I developed a new respect for my neighbors.   It took strength and perseverance just to walk across the street in winter.  The joke was that if the wind stopped blowing everyone would fall down.  But behind all that ice, I found plenty of warm hearts and prairie humor.

What We Resist May Persist

After my brother, his family and my parents all moved to New Orleans, I used to say I loved to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live there.  I wasn’t a party person, didn’t drink much, and ate healthy food; besides, it was sweltering all year round.  But, despite my original protests, I moved there because I wanted to see my nephews and niece grow up.  Seduced by New Orleans’ unique culture, I stayed for 12 years.

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It was a love-hate relationship from the start, like trying to love a faithless man who, nevertheless, touches the romance in your soul and makes you laugh like Dionysus himself.  How could any writer not be enchanted with the French Quarter, standing on St. Peter beneath the apartment where Tennessee Williams completed “Streetcar Named Desire” or wandering through the dark, ancient alleys that inspired Anne Rice’s vampires?

In New Orleans I learned that punctuality wasn’t always a virtue, Mama was always Queen, a little lagniappe adds spice to life, and how to play like I was going to die tomorrow.

 Joy May Sometimes Hide Despair

I also learned about aching poverty, that some high school restrooms were so filthy kids cut class to run home and use a clean toilet, that school administrators had virtually no resources except hearts large enough to embrace the world.  I taught a crack baby turned 14 who could never sit still and saw the price everyone pays for allowing there to be a large, poorly educated underclass.  I taught kids whose fathers and brothers had been murdered and who mourned with despair when their favorite music teacher was gunned down.  I learned about anger and compassion.

All People Are One

Then I went to West Africa, traveling with other teachers on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant to study the literature and culture.  After flying all night, we landed with the sunrise in Dakar, Senegal on the edge of the Sahara Desert, and as I stepped onto the ground, I was overwhelmed with the feeling I was home in the deepest sense.

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Of course, the food was similar to the gumbos and jambalaya of New Orleans—most slaves brought to New Orleans had come from there—and I could hear the beginnings of jazz in the syncopated rhythms of the drums. But, it was more than that and more than the fact that humans originated in Africa.

Living Close to Nature Makes Us One

In that land, people still lived close to nature, the way I had as a child, eating from a garden and talking to the spirits of trees.  There, even Christians and Muslims integrated their traditional animistic spirituality into their daily lives.  These were people who offered the tea of friendship before they asked why you were there, whose lives were vibrant with the celebrations of rituals that gave meaning to each passage in life.

What Feels Like Home May Be An Illusion

Years later when I moved from New Orleans to New Mexico, I felt I had found my soul’s home at last.  Sunsets spread across the sky—hot pink turning to burgundy and orange melting into violet, indigo and deep space black.  On New Year’s Day, cold and crisp, the air was filled with the songs of the Corn Dance at Santa Domingo Pueblo, where the whole community danced together in sacred harmony.

adobenido.com

adobenido.com

But despite my love for this natural world and the indigenous culture there, in the world of my people there was no harmony for me.  Along with the beauty existed the reality of an earth blood-soaked with genocide, the energy of hate, and a need to protect lies.  Trying to speak the truth in my life and about the students I taught, I lost my friends, my spiritual community and my work.  The desert stripped me; my bones were burned bare by the sun.

Wholeness May Be Born From Pain

One night, in the midst of this pain and darkness, I dreamed that as I wandered through a new apartment, I found a darkened cave-like room with a high domed ceiling and rock floor.  Turning on the light, there stood before me a towering ancient cathedral, a holy place at the center of my being.  I learned I was finally whole.

I still sometimes envy those who live where their ancestors settled decades ago. But I know that if I had enjoyed such comfort all my life that security would have become a place for me to hide from the unknown.  Instead I have learned that we are all One, and I have a freedom I never dreamed possible because—everywhere I go, I’m home.

What is home to you?  Please Comment.

© 2006 Georganne Spruce                                                 ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles: Home Is Not A Place, Finding Home Within You, We Take Ourselves With Us Wherever We Go

AWAKENING TO COMPASSION

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.  Without them humanity can’t survive.” Dalai Lama 

Photo by superhua

Photo by superhua

Do you have compassion for those who are suffering in the world or only for the people you personally know?  Do you have compassion for yourself? 

Only Fear Separates Us From Others

We are living in a world deeply troubled by fear and separation, so how do we live with that day by day?  It is so easy to believe that our thoughts and actions have no consequence, but they do.

We are all energy—our actions, words, and thoughts are energy that we put out into the world.  If what we offer is loving and compassionate, that energy will help heal those who live in fear.  After all, fear is the only thing that separates us.

Differences Can Teach Us What We Need To Learn

I am very grateful that, in my life, I have lived in unique environments where I was always rather different from those who were born and raised there.  Because of this, I’ve learned to look beyond what is different in others to see what it is we have in common.  Even the differences have been valuable because they taught me new things about life and made me stretch and learn to adjust to a new environment.

I was fortunate to travel to West Africa on a Fulbright-Hays Travel Abroad Grant in the 1990s.  I was living in New Orleans, a place where the culture was deeply influenced by West African culture.  I saw the roots of its music, food, and the commonality of emphasis on family and community.

As for living in New Orleans itself, I learned to let go, have fun, and take life less seriously.  Those were lessons I needed to learn at that point in life.  The rest of my immediate family lived there, and it was a joy to be close to family after years of living far away.

During the time I lived in Nebraska, I learned that at a distance the landscape looked bare to a mountain-loving person like me, but in reality, there was a much more subtle beauty to that land.  You just had to pay more attention to see it.  The same was true of the people who tended to be not very emotionally expressive.

Photo by Wicker Paradise

Photo by Wicker Paradise

We Need To Look Beyond Political and Cultural Differences

I’ve also lived in New Mexico where the art and Native-American relationship to the land touched me deeply.  And I’ve lived in Washington, DC and its political climate.  But in each case, I learned something new that helped me understand that we are all different and yet all alike.  Our humanity binds us together despite the cultural or political differences, and it is our humanity that matters.

Compassion Heals Us

The Dalai Lama reminds us that we will not survive without love and compassion.  When we love our neighbor, we care about him or her.  We are concerned for his struggles.   The definition of compassion that I like the most is “a feeling of deep sympathy and sorrow for another who is stricken by misfortune, accompanied by a strong desire to alleviate the suffering.”  So compassion is not just about our feelings, it is also about what we do.

When we express compassion, we help others to heal by sharing our love with them.  We can bridge gaps caused by religious or political differences by focusing on our human needs.  By expressing this aspect of our humanity, we are saying we are all One, and that is what matters the most.  Healing ourselves and our society can only happen when we put aside the fears that separate us.

Fear Separates Us

On the national and international level, it seems that all the focus is on what separates us, and at the source of that is one thing—fear.   A spiritual teacher of mine also mentioned in the 1980s that unless we learn to release our fears, we will destroy ourselves.  But she also said that 1986 was a turning point when 6% of the population reached an awareness level that would allow us to heal our lives and survive as a species.

As wars rage, especially in the Middle East, her words are haunting because the need to control others has taken over our ability to relate to those who are different.  We are only concerned with being the person or country that has power over others.  But in most of these wars, a group that has been oppressed is fighting for freedom, and in some instances what they are doing may be the only way a correction can be made at this time.

Loving elephants

We Must Release Our Fears

One of the reasons, I teach workshops on how to release your fear is that releasing our fears is the only way to free us from the confines of insecurity.  It is only when we feel insecure that we need to control others.  When we feel secure within ourselves, it is natural to love and feel compassion and we reach out to others who are in need.  When we express this positive energy, we begin to change our world, person by person.

We may not be able to stop the international wars, but we can stop the wars in our own lives by learning to let go of the fears that create problems.  Letting go of those fears helps free us to love ourselves and others, and when love is in our hearts, we do feel sympathy for others’ difficulties and will choose to reach out to help in any way we can.

By Practicing Compassion, We Become Peacemakers

In this world we have allowed power and fear to control life.  What if we chose love and compassion instead?  We could save not only our own lives, but the world as well.  We have to be the heroes in our own journeys.

Current Release Your Fear Workshops – click Here

© 2014 Georganne Spruce                                                    ZQT4PQ5ZN7F5

Related Articles:  Small Acts of Compassion Can Save the World, Compassion Can Change the World, You can Change the World – ComPASSion Project (video)