Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Spirit Message for the Pandemic

I have previously on a different blog written about a prayer practice I have of offering up a question in prayer and then opening various spiritually meaningful books and receiving their answer.   A while back I did this asking God:  What would you have me know about this pandemic?  The answers below speak to me of viewing the pandemic as a spiritual event, of examining how we live in the world, understanding the dying which is happening more now, as part of a cycle of life and death that is part of the human experience, how to face our own potential mortality and that of those we love.

Below are the messages I received:
From the Book Emmanuel II: "As you learn to perceive with an open heart, what seems to be taking place on the physical plane of your world, it becomes time to speak.  What? Anything your heart tells you.  To whom?  Anyone who will listen.  The moment you speak from love and not from fear, you assume the mantle of leadership..your responsibility is to hear your own hear.  this is a schoolroom for learning how to love what appears to be absolutely unloveable."

From Thomas Kelly in a Testament of Devotion  There is an experience of the Eternal breaking into time, which transforms all life into a miracle of faith and action.  Unspeakable, profound, and full of glory as an inward experience, it is the root of concern for all creation, the true ground of social endeavor. This inward Life and the the outward concern are truly one whole and were it possible, ought to be described simultaneously.

The Prophet by Kilbran  The section of Freedom
"You shall be free indeed when your days are not without a care or your nights without a want and a grief, but rather when these things girdle your life and yet you rise above them naked and unbound.

The Book of Emmanuel I: the door that unlocks the soul into incarnation can fufill many purposes; teaching others ass well as self.  When a life is designed to serve both ends then the cause and the call are magnificent.  At those times, the higher wisdom can say "And this is necessary now". ....Can a soul learn from a type of fear so pervasive that there is no space for understanding?  The soul can learn.  Perhaps the human being cannot.

Wayne Dyer The Power of Intention:
With self as a focal point, you sustain the illusion that you are your body, which is a completely seperate entity from all others.  This sense of separateness leads you to compete rather than cooperate.  Ultimately its a "no-match" with Spirit, and becomes a huge obstacle to your connection to the power of Source. 

Michael Singer The Untethered Soul.
This is how negative cycles happen.  You actually take a piece of your stuff, which is nothing but deeply seated disturbance from your past, and you implant it in the heart of those around you. ...This is how people ruin relationships and destroy their lives.   Do you doubt that a single blockage getting hit in your heart could case a fall that lasts a lifetime?  I has been known to happen...when a block gets hit, its a good thing.  It's time to open up internally and release the block energy.

If you fall along the way, just get up and forget it.  Use the lessons to strengthen your resolve.  Let go right then.  Do not rationalize, blame, or try to figure it out.  Don't do anything.  Just let go immediately, and allow the energy to go back to the highest center of consciousness it can achieve.

Friday, May 8, 2020

I sent you a warning....

Have you heard the joke about the man who is in a flood and he is on the roof of his house and he prays for God to save him?  First a log goes by, then a boat, then a helicopter.  Each time he says no he is waiting for God to save him.  When he finally drowns he angrily confronts God and God says to him:  “What did you want?  I sent you a log, a boat and a helicopter and you turned them all down!

I feel in this pandemic situation that God is saying; “Well I have been trying to warn you.”
In 2011 I sent a draught so severe to the Southwest that the Churches prayed for rain as the cattle died.

I sent you innumerable hurricane’s: Sandy, Katrina, Harvey, and Dorian...over 410 billion in damage. I sent Mathew to destroy Haiti and Maria to destroy Puerto Rico…and all you did was turn your gaze away.

I sent you record flooding last year devastating your breadbasket

Last year I sent 6,782 separate fires to California alone burning over 2 Trillion dollars worth of homes.

And when that did not get your attention, I burned a whole continent of Australia, over 100 billions worth.

But still you said:  “Too bad for those people”.
So now I have sent you Corona – a problem so global that no one can ignore it, so deadly that no one can minimize it.  I have brought you to a halt, I have joined you at the hip….and now do I have your attention?

I, Lynn, need to be clear, I do not believe in an Old Testament God who is vengeful and all powerful and goes around smiting people.  I believe in a Mother Earth, a Universe that is intelligent and an eco-system of which humans are but one player in an intricately and yes divinely woven interdependent and quite perfect system.  But due to a reductionist error in both how our brains process and in how the great theologies of the world have worked, we have seen ourselves as separate from and above or in charge of nature, and it has lead to catastrophically bad choices.
For that reason I want to learn the lessons Corona is trying to teach us.

The first one, just incredible gratitude for all that I am so privileged to have: my health, still a job, food to eat, and a roof over my head that I own that will be mine even after other hard times go by.

I want to learn to slow down and be still and hear what the earth is telling us, that it is sick, very, very sick and needing our help.  Global emissions are already down 5%
I want to notice the way it tells us all our fates are linked as one.
I want to notice God’s cry to care for the least of these among us in this time of suffering.

I want to take up the demand for a jubilee year – for the forgiveness of all debt, to let us start from square zero to rebuild, not for some amongst us to start from square negative 10.

I want out of the destruction before us to rise up like the phoenix to build a new society, one based upon justice and humanity out of the rubble of the disaster we have wrought with policies that have made it worse.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Who Am I?

Who am I? is an exercise in the Alternatives to Violence Project three day workshops on non-violence.  In the exercise, on 10 tiny slips of paper one lists all of the "identities" that one identifies with.   Eg: Mother, therapist, Quaker, woman, activist, etc.    Then one places them in order of importance with least important on the bottom.  Then you are invited to turn the pile over taking the least important one and "throw it away" - feeling into what it would be like to no longer have that identity.  Then you throw away the next one, sensing into that.....and so it continues.  The instructor manual warns to leave people with 3 identities and only suggest they could release the final 3 if it felt right to do that.

This is an exercise I did dozens and dozens of times in my time as an AVP facilitator.  As the pandemic swept in bringing the ban on travel to and from Europe, and stay in place recommendations and then orders....as events cancelled ranging at first from long distance travel and conferences to events over 100, and eventually....EVERYTHING, I found myself in a life size game of Who am I.
First releasing my vacation trip, then the conference for 180 people I had planned for months for the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day, then a workshop to be given in Portland, and then Friends General Conference and the workshop I was to give there.  Later even more painfully I would surrender the local Earthday parade: Procession of the Species, and FolkLife - a Memorial Day weekend of fun I have attended every year for 32 years without fail.

I was sort of surprised how easily the identities/expectations fell, although some were harder than others.  But there was simply a feeling of falling into a new world, an alternative reality in which none of those things existed and where nothing involving human contact existed.  In the liminal space which I had entered where everything and anything (both bad, unexpected and even good in a new way) seemed possible - these old identifies seemed almost irrelevant.

Since then I have listened to a number of people who have service identities who have been unable to serve in their accustomed ways because of stay at home orders, talk about how hard it feels to not be able to help, but even more strange how lost they feel without that role (identity).  As it so happens I believe that it is deep in our DNA in response to crisis to help others - this after all from our first tribal time was how we survived.  And it is the thing I most detest about this crisis - that its very nature forces us to go against the instinct to help.   However, when serving other people goes from being an impulse to an identity - one which one is profoundly uncomfortable with, than perhaps something else is actually happening.  Many people are also having to release the identify of "busy" which for many is also a defining identity and find new experiences of how to be connected to other people - both the ones under their roof and the ones they cannot see in person.   We are being forced to find other ways of both entertaining and exercising ourselves - ways more simple and perhaps basic to original human existence.

Some people talk about when things go back to normal.   I hope they don't; I hope we will learn some things from this gigantic game of Who Am I.   As was always the case with Who Am I there is the opportunity as you throw away external identities to find, or notice again, ones own more core spiritual identify and to discover the eternal nature of the soul that is always with us underneath the external wrapping.   To know more deeply who we really are.

Sunday, March 29, 2020

Cyber Worship and Traveling Among Friends

I have spent years doing political organizing over Zoom, but when I have even suggested doing a committee meeting over Zoom friends have been very resistant.   Now however in this brave new world of pandemic crisis has forced us to do something that even with liking Zoom I did not think would be a good idea: have worship on zoom.   And Friends are surprised that it is working pretty well.

The first week my Meeting did this we were visited by someone who grew up in the Meeting who was from Italy (and in the midst of a very scary time for Italy).   The Meeting also supports a project in Uganda to support Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered people in a country that will kill them for the "Offense".   We were able to be joined from a woman from Uganda from that project.

This got me thinking.   This week I joined the Meeting I was a member of for 25 years before moving here.  Next week I will try to join the Meeting I grew up in, even though that will be a two hour time difference.....and waking up for 8am worship is a bit daunting.  My travels never take me back there anymore and so it feels like a gift this sort of possibility. I'm pretty sure I cannot get myself together to visit my favorite Eastcoast Meeting because that would mean starting worship at 7am my time. But just this idea that one can suddenly freely - without expense, travel or time - visit almost any Meeting....is actually quite awe inspiring.

Both last week and this week worshiping with different groups I noted that people who have health issues that makes it too hard for them to come to Meeting normally were joining us, as was also true of a Friend who lives far from any Meeting and sometimes travels an hour to be able to worship with us.

My Meeting also held a "community dialogue" which was a time for all to share about how they were coping. It went on for two hours with 25 people and was really lovely and rich.   My former Meeting was discussing how to use the "chat room" function of Zoom to have "Committee Sunday".  (Frankly in most Meetings where committees meet at seperate times- it is easier and each committee just gets its own link for its time.)  They were bravely considering if they could try Meeting for Worship for Business.

I will still always favor in person worship.   It's just part of how I feel about people.  But I am going to ask FGC if they can start offering online worship that runs every hour on Sunday across the US time zones AFTER the pandemic, so that those isolated or health challenged Friends always have a place to worship.

What a funny silver lining from a pandemic.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans by Kristin Flyntz

Those of you who read my last post will notice the similar theme here:

An Imagined Letter from Covid-19 to Humans
Stop. Just stop.
It is no longer a request. It is a mandate.
We will help you.
We will bring the supersonic, high speed merry-go-round to a halt
We will stop
the planes
the trains
the schools
the malls
the meetings
the frenetic, furied rush of illusions and “obligations” that keep you from hearing our
single and shared beating heart,
the way we breathe together, in unison.
Our obligation is to each other,
As it has always been, even if, even though, you have forgotten.
We will interrupt this broadcast, the endless cacophonous broadcast of divisions and distractions,
to bring you this long-breaking news:
We are not well.
None of us; all of us are suffering.
Last year, the firestorms that scorched the lungs of the earth
did not give you pause.
Nor the typhoons in Africa,China, Japan.
Nor the fevered climates in Japan and India.
You have not been listening.
It is hard to listen when you are so busy all the time, hustling to uphold the comforts and conveniences that scaffold your lives.
But the foundation is giving way,
buckling under the weight of your needs and desires.
We will help you.
We will bring the firestorms to your body
We will bring the fever to your body
We will bring the burning, searing, and flooding to your lungs
that you might hear:
We are not well.

Despite what you might think or feel, we are not the enemy.
We are Messenger. We are Ally. We are a balancing force.
We are asking you:
To stop, to be still, to listen;
To move beyond your individual concerns and consider the concerns of all;
To be with your ignorance, to find your humility, to relinquish your thinking minds and travel deep into the mind of the heart;
To look up into the sky, streaked with fewer planes, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, smoky, smoggy, rainy? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy?
To look at a tree, and see it, to notice its condition: how does its health contribute to the health of the sky, to the air you need to be healthy?
To visit a river, and see it, to notice its condition: clear, clean, murky, polluted? How much do you need it to be healthy so that you may also be healthy? How does its health contribute to the health of the tree, who contributes to the health of the sky, so that you may also be healthy?

Many are afraid now.
Do not demonize your fear, and also, do not let it rule you. Instead, let it speak to you—in your stillness,
listen for its wisdom.
What might it be telling you about what is at work, at issue, at risk, beyond the threats of personal inconvenience and illness?
As the health of a tree, a river, the sky tells you about quality of your own health, what might the quality of your health tell you about the health of the rivers, the trees, the sky, and all of us who share this planet with you?

Notice if you are resisting.
Notice what you are resisting.
Ask why.

Stop. Just stop.
Be still.
Ask us what we might teach you about illness and healing, about what might be required so that all may be well.
We will help you, if you listen.

Monday, March 16, 2020

The Corona Virus and Climate Change

So here we are suddenly thrust into a Pandemic.  Living in circumstances none of us could imagine even a month ago when the epidemic was sweeping China and Iran, etc.  We are living a crisis of a type that has not happened in any living person's memory (100 years since the last pandemic).   We are living a nightmare in someways made worse by how much of a global community technology has made us.  (100 years ago people did not fly in hours from one place to another.)

As I have been doing Joanna Macy's Work That Reconnects for 10 years I cannot help but see this catastrophe through that lens designed to help us face "the Mess we are in without going Crazy" or with Active Hope (the title of her last book).   It feels to me like sharing some of these thoughts would be helpful to others as well.

As someone who has been doing climate work now for 13 years I have been long been staring down grim scenarios for humanity and our planet.  The worst case scenarios all involve the total breakdown of society as the environment itself fails.  Logically there is a terrible economic fall out of such scenarios and the breakdown of various societal structures, but even the worst case scenarios did not see things like that happening for 10 to 15 years.  Some of those scenarios also envisioned old epidemics literally rising out of the permafrost or no longer enough vaccinations to suppress.

But what is actually happening is a scenario no one but a science fiction writer envisioned and would appear unrelated to Climate Change.  Yet Joanna's words still powerfully apply for me.  She has talked for a long time about non-linear time, the idea coming forth from quantum mechanics of parallel time, and she has said: our ancestors and our descendants are trying to help us, and the non human beings.  I had the dawning realization the first time I listened to her "why do I think all the solutions will come from the minds of humans living right now?"   During the sHell No campaign in the NW in 2015 - Kayactvists tried to stop Shell from parking a rig in Seattle and going up to Alaska and testing to drill off the coast of Alaska, and activists hung off a bridge in Portland to stop the ice breaker coming for repair.  I had several experiences then that felt powerfully to speak about what Joanna was speaking of.

The rig alluded the two dozen Kayactivists trying to block it in Seattle but by the time it got across from Port Townsend some Kayactivists - only 4 or 5 came out and it swerved slightly to miss them and ground.  It was only stuck a short time, but I felt as if the earth had reached up and grabbed it!  I felt as if the earth were trying to help.   Later, the ice breaker was damaged (apparently by ice) and had to be brought down to Portland for repairs...causing delay. (Again I felt the frozen ocean had reached up ripping the ice breaker and helping us.) It was further delayed as it left by activists hanging on ropes from the bridge blocking their path and by kayactivts that also darted out and blocked their path. That whole delay only took two days, but added to the time lost on the repair and Shell wound up not having enough time to do their test drilling and without that info their board cancelled the whole project (partly also aware of the negative public outcry.)  In the end I felt the earth had puts its finger on the scale and helped ups to win that battle.

For those of you very scientific this account will drive you mad.   This is a spiritual story.  It is a story of how beings from another time are conspiring on behalf of all life to save us.

What you say does this have to do with the Coronovirus?  Well I want to be clear I am not celebrating anyone's death.  I am not oblivious to the untold suffering that the virus is bringing by stopping the global economy in its tracks....but I will say this: look at a list of the industries currently in a tail spin:
airlines, the oil industry, cruise ships, the financial industry....all of these are leading contributors to climate change.  We are literally seeing as the flying and way less driving is happening as people are compelled to stay home the green house gases reducing and the deep smog over China lifting.  The eco system has produced a virus that is both reducing the population of the beings in charge of climate change and it is also changing our most climate destroying behaviors. 

Sure when the epidemic is over people will go back to flying and driving and spending money....but maybe just maybe we will begin to realize that much more telecommuting could normally occur, that it is crazy to fly across the country for a convention where we listen to a talking head that we could easily have listened to on a screen.   Maybe we will think twice about flying across many states to go to a sports game or watch a play.  Maybe we can hold flying a privilege for weddings and funerals and to see the dying.   Maybe we will learn how quickly we can change policies when we really KNOW we are in an emergency (she says with the anger of being told for three years that we will protect the trees next session or being told by portfolio managers that they know oil will become a stranded asset put policy prohibits divesting from it.)  Maybe in the ashes of this mess we will decide we might as well reconstruct things in a way that will survive climate change.  Maybe just maybe we can learn from this experience about the way we have been living and how we need to live.

Joanna Macy is a whole systems thinker.  One of the "games" she has us do in workshops to illustrate systems theory involves each of us secretly picking two people in the group of 20.  When we say go you are to place yourself equadistantly from those two as the group moves (that can be in a line or a triangle).  The group keeps moving and moving trying to establish this perfect equilibrium.  Then one predesignated person drops to the ground and the facilitator says: if you are connected to someone on the ground you must drop too.  Within seconds the entire group is on the ground.  This is a powerful lesson that we are all connected to each other in the web of life.   This is why the moment the ban on travel to Europe was  announced I knew our economy was going down.   I knew it would force airlines into bankruptcy, that as they lessened flights other things would go wrong, etc.  I knew that as we restricted movement in order to stop the spread of the virus that it would stop economic activity and close businesses, many forever.  This is the painful side of the generally beautiful truth that we are all connected to each other.

It is also why it is so important for how we now respond to this.  It we act as every person for themselves we will create a hell.  Like the person who knew they had the Covi-19 and flew on a Jet Blue plane anyway exposing every person on that plane.  An unbelievably selfish act destroying the web they belong to.   But I also see people right now reaching out to get groceries and meds for those who cannot do it, and trying to figure out how to help those who are becoming unemployed over night. Several NBA players responded to the cancelling of their season by donating to replace the incomes for the season of the minimum wage janitors and hotdog sellers, etc. associated with the stadium.   We are all payed millions, but how can we help those who are struggling right now?

History is full of crises.  Crises that pivoted us as a people in a good way and crises that pivoted us in a bad way.  Example - the poor resolution of WWI leading to economic hardship in Germany made ripe the rise of Hitler promising a new bright future for Germany.  The worldwide recession was responded to by Roosevelt in a transformational way of creating social security, public works projects, unemployment insurance, etc.   We will choose what comes out of this crisis.  We can let the rich use it to snap up even more resources or we can recreate a society that provides universal health care, sick leave and maternity leave for all, and that begins to really seriously address climate change.  Some may find what I say to be an incredible tale of silver linings or fairy tales.  But we are the ones who will decide what the final outcome of this story will be.

Sunday, February 9, 2020

Surrender and the Serenity Prayer

My Meeting has been going through hard times.  So much so, that it has been hard for me to write for my blog.  I have been doing by prayer practice that involves asking a question and opening in succession books that have been sources of spiritual wisdom and seeing what they speak to me.  So what is coming up for me right now is about the serenity prayer:  “God grant me the courage to change the things I can and the serenity to accept the things we cannot and the wisdom to know the difference.”   This prayer has always been a struggle for me to get clarity around because, as I have written elsewhere, being raised Quaker I was raised with perhaps an inflated sense of what I/We could change.  Afterall we were the people who fought to get religious freedom for the US, to end slavery, to get woman the vote, to end the Vietnam war, etc.  We also are taught to be part of all the decision making of our Meetings and to feel that every voice counts.  

So when you carry that sense of personal empowerment and duty, it is very hard to draw the line of what can I change and what must I accept?   Also deep in the nature of Quakerism is the search for a perfected world, for bringing God’s Kingdom down onto earth.  After all we say to the world that we should act without violence, uphold the equality of all, speak the truth at all times, etc.   These are not goals most of the world pursues or sees as “practical”.

Therefore, in looking at huge disappointments I currently have with my Meeting in its ability to uphold our testimonies in the face of behaviors that are not congruent with them, the difficulty to say no when no needs to be said, or to challenge something when challenging it will be a struggle, I have mainly felt the need to DO things.   However, more than a year and half of doing, on my part and many people’s parts have lead to no resolution or peace.  

So I am now turning towards the serenity part of the prayer or the surrender part as I experience it.  I am touching into a deep learning in my years of being a therapist.  As a therapist you can offer people support, encouragement, guidance, healing, and sometimes inspiration …. But in the end they are always on their own.  They will make their own choices, even if inside of patterns, and sometimes those will be for growth and change and sometimes they will be to repeat destructive choices.  I have had to die to my own impotence over, and over, and over again.  

At first I hated that about being a therapist; but eventually I found something very true in it and actually when I stopped fighting it – something peaceful.  I was able to connect to the notion described in the Bible that the Divine Parent knows everything about us, every hair on our head, judges us not because of knowing the extreme complexity with which we act and yet is there for us, always available, always ready to start a new with us, always inviting us to go towards the Light.

When I would get in touch with that reality then I could understand better that sometimes I am just a witness to the suffering, other times I am holding their intention to grow and change till they can come back to it.  But mainly I could understand that I had reached the end of what I could do and had to rest in what was/is.   In my morning prayers right now I found words also about stepping back from the mind trying to solve everything, from ego or frenetic action.  The reminders to drop back away from the story and drop into ones true spiritual self.

I am still trying to understand what that means about commitment to beliefs that I hold as true.  I don’t think I can simply walk away from those values without abandoning the manifestation of Spirit as I know it.  I think it means still speaking the truth as I know it when I have the possibility to do so.  But I think it means having to drop the expectation or hope for Quakers to be any kind of perfected people.  It means that I will need to work in an intensive way with non attachment every day.