V Is For……..

Three disparate pieces came together today which prompted an essay.

The first was a stanza from a William Butler Yeats poem which I’d cut out and saved with other odd pieces of paper, thinking to write about it’s significance for our world today. It was stuck to my journal this morning and I read it again.

The second was a morning’s scroll through Facebook where I found a page for Cool Earth, “a charity that works alongside indigenous villages to halt rainforest destruction.” One of the projects is the Cacao Cooperative, an indigenous village group, which is planting cacao and making more money from chocolate than they did logging, thus preserving rainforest. No doubt some corporation is still making money but the hope is there for the indigenous villagers and for our earth.

The third piece was watching V for Vendetta,  a film from 2006, while I was on the treadmill and thinking of how much of that movie seemed a precursor for the “fear sells” political propaganda of today.

Disclaimer: I’m not advocating an overthrow of government or violence.

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;/Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,/The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere/The ceremony of innocence is drowned;/The best lack all conviction, while the worst/Are full of passionate intensity.                                                         William Butler Yeats in the wake of World War I.

There’s a lot of things falling apart these days regardless of where we look: neighborhoods, schools, the Mid-East; refugees pouring into Europe from Northern Africa conflicts; the conflict in Eastern Europe; Southern voters losing the right to vote without picture IDs; the Kansas legislature unable to come to fairness in taxing its people or educating its children; police behavior ending up on YouTube; to say nothing of the United States Government completely unable to come to the center on any piece of legislation. The center does not hold.

V for Vendetta, which some may remember, is an interesting look at what can go awry when people are fed on fear in order to consolidate the power of those in power. We’ve all seen way too much of fear whether from politicians running for office or ISIL political fighters beheading people, the world is gripped in fear. Fears for safety. Fears for climate change. Fears of drought and flood. Fear of the other whom we do not understand. Fear of our neighbors or the sirens on our street or the demonstrators against police actions. And yet, few of us are directly impacted by these actions or inaction…the people in those situations are impacted, but most of us aren’t in those situations. And yet, we fear.

Fear consolidates power.

But then there’s chocolate. Regardless of the money some company or corporation makes importing or selling the chocolate, the people in the Amazon are growing it. And selling it. And making a living. And not cutting down trees. That’s hope. Here’s one site that sells chocolate from the Amazon. You might also want to check out the work Cool Earth is doing. Growing cacao in the Amazon is a V for Victory.

Bottom line, I still choose hope. And no, not a Pollyannaesque blindness. Rather a realization that if Yeats wrote those lines at the end of World War I and stuff still has kept going, it will keep going now. I can do small things: I can wave at my neighbors; I can be kind to others; I can stop shopping in Kansas as a small and perhaps insignificant protest; I can conserve gas when I drive and I can support alternative energy. I can vote. I can care. And I can order chocolate online although that’s perhaps more self-serving than anything else…but I can.

I can pay attention to the things that work and release the things that don’t.

And I can keep reading and finding the hope. Here’s another stanza from Yeats:

They set up a noise like crickets/A chattering wise and sweet,/and her hair was a folded flower/And the quiet of love in her feet.

I can walk quietly in hope.

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Reaching for Hawaii, Gathering Mexico

Sisters at Sunset

I’ve had some trouble re-anchoring after my visit to Hawaii. It’s the same trouble I have when I visit Mexico, both Mexico and Hawaii being lands where I’ve lived and where my spirit found peace and comfort. Even more, where the balance of feminine and masculine energies come together in a wholeness I don’t experience in many places.

When I lived in Hawaii in 1992, I’d already lived in Mexico for three years, and I felt confounded and amazed from time to time about how much I remembered Mexico in a sameness that nurtured me. The ocean and beaches of course, but also the craggy land and the cattle and goats roaming free across scrubby land. The wide-open and often barren stretches of land. And when I speak of Hawaii, I’m talking about Hawaii Island rather than the entirety of the island chain.

It’s taken some time of wondering and thinking to come to a theory of why it’s difficult for me to be back. The only one that makes any sense is to say that the strength of both feminine and masculine energies feeds me in a way I’m not fed in the center of the country.

People who visit Mexico and Hawaii, even New Mexico for that matter, have a tendency to say “how beautiful” without really considering what they are saying. Yes. Each of those three places is beautiful. But they are also each fierce and tough. And while I have lived in each place, and don’t want to live there full-time again, I do yearn for that balance of beauty and fierce that softens my shoulders and puts a glide in my step.

They are easy places for me, who is tough and gentle, to feel at home.

Palenque

In Mexico, and in Hawaii, the sacred is an everyday part of life rather than an after thought or a Sunday church service. Perhaps because in both places, a ruling class came in and took over and the indigenous peoples held on to the sacred quality of their life as a refuge. But for whatever reason, the sacred is a part of the air and wind, a part of the scent of sea or desert or jungle. And the ancient sacred lives comfortably alongside modern religions. There’s no separateness. There is only a recognition of the whole.

In Palenque, in the depths of jungle green and misty clouds, the sacred rumbles just below conscious hearing.

And the divine feminine is a visible part of the whole.

At the famous Painted Church on Hawaii, the church building is justly famous for its colors and murals, and in the cemetery below, among neatly lined up white crosses, a lady stands on a natural rocky formation with a kneeling figure below her.

This is probably a statue of Mary although no name is given it on a plaque beside the rock. She could as easily be called the Lady of the Waves as she stands between the petitioner and the waves of the wide sea behind her. People have prayed to the divine feminine and asked for protection for countless centuries, long before Christianity.

Is the Protestant energy that founded this country responsible for the current “War on Women?” An anti-cleric, anti-Catholic history in this country may also account for the lack of wholly and holy feminine energy in all our lives, even today.

I wonder if that’s why a President’s wife is so important. She represents a feminine power source close to the top.

And that brings me to laughter. In Mexico and in Hawaii, laughter is close to the surface and bubbling over into conversations all the time. Laughter is a part of life. Laughter is a part of everyday living and conversations, sometimes just a conversation with self.

Old Man Laughing

This man from Mexico laughed all the time as he talked to me and as I struggled to make coherent sentences in Spanish. He laughed in delight at my clumsy attempts and he laughed to encourage me. In Hawaii, people laughed all the time: while dancing hula, shopping for gas, dropping a bag – oh, oops. And we talked story. By buying a container of pickled ginger, a simple purchase, I also bought laughter and stories of family and grandchildren.

And maybe, at base, it’s the mystery I miss. A mystery of why and how, the mystery of being a human on this life journey with other humans, a mystery of jungles and sea, of craggy mountains, and hidden walks.
And maybe what I’ve learned in all this musing and looking at photos and wondering and writing, is that I ask why all too often. Too often I try to figure things out, a very American characteristic, it seems. Maybe I just need to live in the mystery and let all of the rest of it be as it will.

Just look over my shoulder…and laugh.
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