Practicing a New Year of Consciousness

beach 2The days leading up to New Year’s Day are usually filled with reflection: newspaper stories run the top stories of the year; web sites run the top photos of the year; most of us in one way or another reflect on the year past. When we make our resolutions for the coming year, it’s usually about giving something up, forcing ourselves to change things that seem harmful.

For most of us, the year has been a mixed bag: grief and joy, failures and celebrations, deaths and births, fierce storms and delicate sunrises. We have prayed for peace and hoped for an uplifting of consciousness in a seemingly futile gesture.

What if nothing needs to be forced to change? Forcing ourselves to change is the very thing that gets in the way. What if changing only means practice? For example, to learn how to type on a keyboard, you have to practice.

Perhaps the best thing any of us could do for the collective lifting of consciousness is to change our focus from the “collective” to self.  What if, instead of hoping the world will change, we change ourselves and the way we communicate to the world through others?

What if we were to practice bringing awareness into our communication? Anytime we use language, we have the chance to practice a different way of using it. Self-observation helps us discover what needs to change and how to go about practicing that change.

What if we were to add something to each and every communication pattern? For example, adding the practice of a quick pause before saying something. What if, in that pause, we’d practice taking a breath to give ourselves time to respond instead of immediately reacting?

If we were to practice saying, “Help me understand what you mean when you say…(fill in the blank)…” instead of assuming we know what the other person means because of our own experience, might we avoid so much of the discord in our families, loves, lives, work relationships?

Another phrase to practice might be, “This is what I heard you say…(fill in the blank). Is that what you mean?”

By acting (speaking) and therefore, being, different, can we change the world’s consciousness? What if being was about being eternally present?

Some call this “present” witnessing consciousness; others say centering prayer. The words for it aren’t important—the practice is.

Daily life with all its changes spins around like a storm circling. But we can stand in the calm center. We might not be able to avoid all the debris falling around, but we can, with practice, constantly return ourselves to a calm center, constantly lifting consciousness, one person at a time.



Let there be light….

Let there be light...
Let there be light…

My dear friends, thank you so much for following me, even when I’ve been absent so much this fall. Thanks for coming back and for hanging in. As I am hanging in! Not completely lost just yet.

And so I send you light – light for your spirits and your homes, light to enter the darkness, light to bring warmth and peace.

May your winter holiday, by whatever name you call it, bring you lightness of spirit in this time of changing lives, changing times, changing landscapes.

And that, dear readers, is my wish for you…that you also be a light in the darkness for others.

I’m reminded of a children’s song we sang in Bible School, oh so many years ago: “This little light of mine; I’m gonna let it shine….”

May your light so shine that others may see your good works, to paraphrase another favorite song.

And may your holiday bring you and those with you a measure of peace and joy.

From my family in the house, Cliff, Janet, Stephen, Nathan, Kyong, and the many family members not here, Michael and Kristina, my sisters, brother, nieces and nephews, in-laws and outlaws, Merry Christmas.


A Summer Morning

Heat clamps the top of the willow beyond my window. It rarely dances these days, its mornings as still and weighted in the locusts’ singing chants as I in the calling summer voices of memory – bailing hay in the early mornings – itch and heat singing in my eyebrow’s mist, sweat running scratches down my arms. Who knew, through a youth of tractor and truck and livestock accidents, that I would ever be this old – too old for hauling hay, for tossing ninety pound bales above my head onto a stacked trailer. That, too, passed although I never believed it would.

We slept outside under the stars those oppressive summer nights, escaping our stifling upstairs bedrooms in the farmhouse to battle the attacks of mosquitoes. The sky lay so close; we stretched up our hands, stars just out of reach between open fingers. I learned to wonder at immensity, to watch the trail of a falling star…where did it fall to?… to track the passage of planets and constellations as the night rolled our sleeping mats into morning.

I knew the coming and going of the moon’s passage in my body. Now I look at the calendar to know. I knew to watch the clouds’ tumbling pile at the horizon; now I watch the weather channel in a city life circumscribed by houses and trees.

At the bottom of the draw, close to the woods, I’d escape the blasting heat from the tractor’s exhaust and walk into the shade, kneel at the spring to drink, an elfin sprite let loose, the water cold and fresh, spouting from a pipe pushed into the bank’s cleft by a hand I didn’t know, to splash my face, feel the mossy stones cool beneath my hand. Roll on Jordan, roll on.

There was no way to predict or know what I would become, only my restless curiosity pointing.