November 12, 2011

I received a credit card receipt recently on which the patron wrote:  “Currency is Love. Thank you!”

This reminded me of of a point Robert Scheinfeld made in his book “Busting Loose From the Money Game.”

He explains that if money were taken out of the equation in the exchange of goods and services, what remains is gratitude for receiving a good or service.  If you’re not actually  bartering, paying, or exchanging any thing, you would still express appreciation for whatever you have received. Right?

I’m trying to be aware that when I write a check, charge a purchase, or hand over cash for something, that I’m not spending, wasting, giving away, or losing anything. The act of ‘paying’ money is in fact how we receive something we want or need. It is the symbolic way of saying ‘thank you’. Thank you, Pacific Power & Electric, for illuminating my home and keeping it warm. Thank you Chase, for loaning me funds for vacations, dinners, and other things. Thank you Comcast, for the entertaining and education programming you provide.

Perspective is everything. Spending money is receiving.

Receiving is providence.

Currency is Love.



Dangling Part-Disciple

September 27, 2010

This isn’t the return of the prodigal blogger, by any means. I’m just trying to make a token effort in fulfilling my mission, which is to transmit information to whomever is listening (reading), and receptive. None of my ideas are mine, purely. They are little bits of of a bigger picture that my receiver is picking up.  Much of it pertains to my particular experience. Some of it is information I will never put to use- even though it sounds like I’ve actually done it.

For instance, the issue of faith. I tell people all the time that the universe will support them in their endeavors. They just have to step off the edge and see what happens. The universe is a friendly place, and why wouldn’t things turn out ok?  Stop living in fear, and follow your heart.

Sounds good, right?

I have no intention of stepping off that ledge. Do I look stupid? There are no guarantees. There are better, purer, more deserving souls on this planet who will never catch a break.  So I will not be tempting fate, not with my shitty karma.

Here is my dilemma. And truly,  it’s only a dilemma if I entertain the possibility of actually choosing one option over the other, and I’ve made my decision, but the thing is, I hate my job, and should have quit two years ago.

I have no respect for my bosses, and my workplace is a source of tremendous and overwhelming stress, frustration, rage, and fear.

All indications – making mistakes at work, adrenal burnout, nausea, contempt and that scoured-out empty feeling one gets when one’s soul has been filleted from their being–all are signs that I need to vacate the premises.

But I’ve stayed and put up with being treated poorly, having my modest raise taken away, enduring insults and condescending remarks, having to work under impossible scrutiny, and wondering if I’m going to be fired.

I’ve realized this year that the fewer things I have, the fewer things I have to worry about losing, this includes my job. But this is a hard economy, I don’t have a college degree, I’m 40 something, and have lots of debt. Without a solid backup plan, it would be imprudent to just walk away from a job that at least pays my bills.

As a pilgrim whose job and mission it is to test the friendliness and resources of the so-called Source, I just can’t bring myself to follow through on this assignment. I understand, wholly, that this is the point of my arriving at this juncture. But I’m so fearful that if I follow my heart and just depart from this situation I would be left dangling – jobless, penniless, and would lose my home, belongings –everything.

I know what I’m supposed to do.  I just  don’t believe that I’ll be ok.

Sweat Lodge

April 17, 2009

I am transformed here, and stripped bare.

…now when I think of all the red inside me,

I understand that I don’t bleed; I burn.”

–Cindy St. Onge – “Poems From the Grotto”

I participated in my fourth Inipi cermony yesterday. The number 4 is important in Lakota ritual, and my life path number happens to be a 4.  I should have been prepared for something auspicious.

I hadn’t drunk enough water during the day. That probably partially accounted for how miserable I was into the second round. But as that round got underway, I thought to myself, “this is never as bad as people say it is. what is the big deal? I’m fine. I can handle this. It’s a piece of cake.”

I could hear the arrogance in my own thoughts. The Inyan Oyate , or Stone People in the center of the lodge glowed red hot, and I thought about their suffering, their sacrifice. I was humbled.

This isn’t about how tough I am,  I thought, or about how much pain I can endure for the sake of endurance. It’s about being vulnerable and open and flawed and ultimately purified. I thought that if creatures as sturdy as stones could suffer the sacrificial fire for the sake of my transformation, the least I could do was admit that I was uncomfortable.

And that was all it took. By the middle of the second round, I was nauseous, light-headed, and felt like I would pass out. How hot it was in the lodge wasn’t even an issue by this time. I was at my limit. I was on the verge of asking that the door be open so I could leave.  But this is the purpose of the Inipi ceremony, to inhabit these borders, to push beyond what the body can endure, and to challenge what your mind has always defined as possible and impossible.

When I closed my eyes to try to think of something besides how dizzy I felt, I wanted to go to sleep, but I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. So I struggled against the heat, and wanting to throw up, and almost losing consciousness. This is where and  how the heat and the prayer transforms the pilgrim. The lodge was pitch black, but I kept looking in the direction of the door, a way out I couldn’t see, but knew was there.

The second round was mercifully divided into two mini-rounds because the heat was excruciating. After I had cooled down some, I realized that I had only experienced external discomfort in previous sweat lodges. This was the first time I had felt that misery on the inside, viscerally.

There were still two more rounds to go, each hotter than the last. At some point during the third round, which I’ve always called the  Skin Searing Round, ancestor spirits present in the lodge were sucking me into Lakota folklore as I envisioned the Great Mystery and Tunkasila playing tether ball with the planets.

This was the spiritual ass-kicking I had always believed the Inipi ceremony to be, but had never experienced until last night.

I am humbled and grateful.

Mitakue Oyasin

Station IV: Jesus Meets His Afflicted Mother

March 20, 2008


Chakra: Heart  Concern: Love, Empathy  

Illusion: I Hurt    Revelation: We Heal                                                                  

The depth and breadth of human emotion is vast and rich, and each of us is touched and affected and changed by this capacity to love, suffer, and feel compassion.ד

 Meditation: I am not alone. I love and am loved deeply.No matter what, Love is my safe and constant place.   

Seeking vs. Following

September 14, 2007

 I will have faith in man

that is hard to understand.

Show some humility,

you have the ability,

get right with me.

                             Depeche Mode

I watched a news story last night about Bishop Carlton Pearson, the Tulsa Pentacostal minister who burned bridges after declaring that homosexuals are not going to hell, as a matter of fact, no one goes to hell. His argument, in a nutshell, is that if God is truly an entiy who loves humankind unconditionally, then such an entity would not subject the very human and fallable objects of this agape affection to eternal damnation. His minsitry changed course from the age-old fire and brimstone, repent-or-else, salvation through Jesus or nothing messages to one of inclusion. He realized that God is everyone’s god, and such a great being would not, could not stipulate such parochial and limiting conditions for acceptance into the kingdom of heaven.

For this groundbreaking declaration, the bishop has lost friends, mentors, his congregation, and his credibility, and has been labeled a heretic among his former contemporaries, and the God-fearing faithful.

He understood, one day, that to be God-fearing was to be in a dysfunctional relationship with God. If one is seeking closeness to Christ, then the fear, the limitations, the conditions and stipulations must be disposed of. This man has experienced a rare event–rare in it’s occurance among fundamentalists: He had an epiphany. This sets him apart, as it should from his evangelical brethren and colleagues, because he truly and deeply sought, as pilgrims do, the closeness to his creator. His seeking spirit opened his eyes, opened his life, and he understands that if God loves us, then he loves us. Period. He doesn’t love us if, or doesn’t love us when, or but or because. He loves us absolutely. There is no cruelty in this love, no bargaining, no culling of earthlings based on faith or standing or degree of sacrifice, or who wears the biggest hat with the most flowers to church this Sunday.

So, I say to Bishop Pearson, bravo, good work, don’t back down. Jesus’ message and example of inclusion wasn’t popular either. You’re in good company. You’re being punished for refusing to follow a fear-based and hateful teaching. Wasn’t it Jesus who said something about a prophet not being accepted in his own land? Followers are not courageous and will never discover anything, about themselves, about the world, about God.

The seekers are the lonely and reviled lot, who in their hunger for truth will eventually know God.

Station X: Revealing Our Essence

March 21, 2007

In the biblical account, the tenth station depicts one of the many ways that Christ is humilated during his ordeal, by being stripped of his garments. He is facing the viewer, as he was in the very first station. His expression is nearly identical, but more resigned than afraid. He is weary of the whole affair, understandably. His robes are being torn off of him by soldiers, and in this particular representation, his left chest is exposed.

The Roman numeral X numbers this event. This is transcendance, with no ‘I’ anywhere in sight. This is the moment when one has released the outer trappings of physical existence, and has let go of transitory matters and affectations. And like Christ, , one discovers that when the illusory is stripped away that the heart is revealed; this is our essence, our glowing, pulsing God-light. Is it any surprise that on our way back down the chakra trail, we land at the heart here?

Station V: Giving and Receiving Unconditionally

March 15, 2007

His strength taxed and his flesh torn, Christ can hardly press on under his heavy burden. The sun is blazing, his throat is parched, and his eyes blurred and stinging from blood and sweat. He could die where he stands–and the Romans will not have this. At the fifth station,Simon of Cyrene is pressed into service, taking the cross from Jesus, affording the condemned man some relief.

This must have been a humbling moment. Certainly, he wouldn’t have asked for help, he would have continued on until his body wouldn’t move another step. If Jesus–a god, needed and accepted the help of an ordinary man, who are any of us to refuse assistance when it is offered? And how could we neglect to aid another in need?

It is a difficult thing to humble one’s self to ask for help, and to receive it graciously, but this lesson is such a blessing when one  surrenders to this wonderful opening and softening. The fifth chakra is located in the throat, which is the energetic and physical place of communication–asking for what we want and need, and is also the energetic place of receiving unconditionally. The symbol V, as discussed in the previous station, is feminine, as it receives.

 I realized while standing at this station one day, that I had no problem asking god for help and for answers to my predicatments, but I couldn’t ask another human being for help. I couldn’t confide in any of my friends or family that I needed help, or that I was scared or overwhelmed. But I realized that if god is in each one of us, then why couldn’t I swallow my pride and ask, ‘this is more than I can handle; will you help me?’ Truly, god answers our prayers and provides for us through the generosity of others. Letting the divine work through us when we’re called to help others is as much an opening to grace as allowing providence–in whatever form it takes, in answer to our prayers.