Sustaining

In the green awareness community I live in, “sustainable” is a word that is used a great deal. As it should be. It is a call toward something deeper than anything….anything….this culture offers. Do I need to put down one thing in order to lift up my ideal of sustainability? No, in this case, though, its a simple observable contrast. Our culture does not glorify what sustains us. Look at what we eat and buy: hamburgers made from cows herded on the plains of the Amazon. Oh, you didn’t know the Amazon had plains? It does now. Thousands of ancient jungled acres cut down in order to raise enough beef to satisfy the unsatisfiable appetite of all fast food nations. And what do we buy? Trinkets and furniture which last a couple of years before we tire of them, toss them, and buy the next batch. True.

Yes, you are reading judgement in my above lines……I’d like that not to be but its all true. Even if I were able to offer the above without judgement, it would still be true.

And this lifestyle does not sustain us. It weakens us. It will kill us.

The other day, ok a week…a week has gone by…ok maybe two weeks, I dumped a large asparagus fern in the dining room. It’s lovely tendrils grasped me as I was tidying up and the whole thing came tumbling down into a dirt ball, cracked pot mess. I sighed, and walked away. In fact, I totally ignored the whole mess for over a week. Kurt, dear kind Kurt, offered to replant it but didn’t want to just swoop in and deny me of the joy of cleaning the mess. Or deny me an opportunity to actually touch nature.

Today! Today we cleaned up the mess. As we knelt at the apparent suffering of this gorgeous plant, he pointed out the root system, asking if I’d ever seen anything like it. Well, I had never seen an asparagus fern before I moved to this house so chances were really good I had never seen the root system.

The roots of an asparagus plant end in little water filled pods. They look like plump pumpkin seeds in size, shape and color….filled with moisture. Kurt explained that this their method of sustainability and they are not dependent upon the unreliable watering that either human or nature brings it. It will live a long time off of these pods. The pods are not their first line of water consumption, as they do enjoy being watered at intervals particular to them: Once every two weeks in the winter.

I think about what sustains me. What are my pods? Well, Kurt would be a pod of life sustaining moisture. My girlfriends on YS (its a secret name) who create space to explore the wildest nonlimits of spirituality as we seek what is truth and what is Sacred are sustaining. My practices of spiritual deepening which lead me under the surface of my daily life into the realm of Spirit and mystery. I’ve likely got enough fuel on my bones to sustain me a good long time should I only have bread and water to eat. But then that would run out.

Back to my little rant at the start, what in our culture, in our lives is surface and quick, and what is sustainable. Now, the next question is, what do you give your money toward? Your time toward? Do you drink up the regular watering and tuck a bit away down in your hidden pods for a day when the surface freezes, time stands still, and you don’t have access to the things that skim across your daily life? Are we actively preparing our sustenance?

I’ve recently made a small place of prayer in my house. I have large places of prayer in my house already, but I was lacking a place to go to with focused attention. There is now a small altar¬† where I can use the meditation stool that Kurt made for me, light a candle or 3, gaze at the moon out the window, or into the flame and go deep, deep within. This adds the life giving elements that will sustain both my surface as well as my hidden roots. These prayers are often just hummed, or breathed, or spoken in the vernacular of the space, taking me to silence. A minute? 20 minutes? The length of time does not matter as much as the depth that is plumbed.

Oh God of secret sustainment,

I turn to you

in times of the daily beat,

and you sustain me. You make me last. You cause me to

plump up in the waiting,

hold forth in the possibility,

set aside for the future.

 

Peace,

Amy

 

Dearest Cousin

On the day of my own birth, my cousin Doreen was already older than me by days. That was ok. She was always tinier than me and quieter and I would have followed her anywhere. Indeed I did! They had a two story barn with a great bay area where the tractors went. From up above she would swing out over that open bay on a rope, turning upside down, grabbing with her feet and letting go with her hands….like a 1968 version of farmalnd cirque du soleil. I could barely grasp the rope when it swung my way. Maybe, once….twice?…did I get a swing in. I followed her into the horse pen, out in the garden, gathered up mud, played with barbies. I recall a moment of dark girly cuddles as we quietly spent the night together, dreaming of becoming “vets” together. Now, our childhood of togetherness took place during the Vietnam War and there was always a phrase about, saying “Don’t forget hire a vet”. We would giggle at the double meaning which obviously applied to us. Doreen wanted to be a large animal vet, working with horses, cows, sheep…or was her love doggies and kittens? I didn’t want to be a vet, not really. I just wanted to imagine a future with her.

When we were in the 4th grade, religion and circumstance pulled apart our oneness, like pulling taffy until one piece stretches all it can before it is two pieces. I was bereft of a sense of my dearest friend, closest cousin, purpose in life. Yes, we got together when the family gathered, every now and then, but we no longer lived and dreamed together with frequency.

I think we would have slowly drifted into separate worlds had nothing else changed. But I think it would have been a sweet drift of developing lives, a comfortable drift between childhood and adolescence. We have not been a part of one anothers lives in our adulthood. We cannot track the names of each others children, know what fills each others days, or when one is swinging out over a bay of great life happenings.

Doreen is in the final days of cancer as I write this. Her family is praying for a complete healing, and so am I. I’m pretty sure that we define that in different ways, but it doesn’t matter. This past week has been one of being age 5,6, & 9 again. I have been in the flowers again, I’ve had my feet covered in mud needing to wash them off in the special place so we wouldn’t bring it into the house, and I remember her petite, quiet, mischievousness with the warmest and deepest of loves.

Swing Well my dearest cousin,

out over great expanses of time and space

family and a life well lived.

May your feet be covered in earth

that is sacred and moist and needs no washing off,

soil, mud, clay

fertile and flower-ful.

 

 

With a love that has no end,

Amy

(shared with a tender heart. use only with permission)

****

Doreen Snavely Nichols 10.9.1963 – 2.3.2013

benedictions

These prayers and blessings were written for the morning prayer time at Bethany Theological Seminary.

God of the wide waiting spaces

Of bounded sanctuaries

Of glistening candle flame

Urge us to wait, sit, flicker to the movement of your coming.

O Ever Leading Wonder,

Place an agreeable spirit within us

As we give thanks for the unknown

Yet to come. Amen.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

O Light of Life and Fire Divine,

Move us forward

From here to there

With understanding, wisdom, and confidence.

O Sacred Illumination

Set my heart aflame this day

To see as you see

To love as you love

To walk where you would have me go. Amen.

 

written by Amy S Gall Ritchie, use with permission

 

The Dual Core

It always feels good to begin something new, at a new beginning.

The year, the week, a job, a car.

Each time our family has upgraded a car (from VW Rabbits built in the 80s, to an ’89 toyota that we still drive, to various VW jettas, and currently a VW Beetle of 13 years) I’ve declared “We are NOT going to eat in this car.” It takes so little time before the crumbs are between the seats, there are coffee stains in the cup holders and Starbuck’s sleeves on the floor. And my youngest son just shakes his head slowly at me, saying “It happens every time.”

The hope of newness lasts only as long as I can keep the desire of old habits and patterns at bay.

I am currently on a deep and swift time of action, of newness, with a hope not of just changing the landscape of desire but to build an entirely new lexicon of patterns and habits. Because it is time to fly.

Time to fly into the core of my being. Here are some of the ideas I’m letting sink in:

  • healing myself can heal my children because of the strong bond between parent and child
  • I can change patterns that served me at one time but are now irrelevent
  • there are resources as numerous as the stars to see deeply in and know the inner core of myself
  • there is a tender balance between narcissism and self discovery, and we need partners to keep us in balance and hold us accountable or we do no one any favors
  • it is ok to receive

This is just my personal pearl list. Each day it is growing as I allow an openness to all the teachers who move in and out of my life.

So how will I keep the crumbs out from between my car seats?

I hardly even know. Except to allow the changes that are taking place INSIDE to also take place OUTSIDE. We all live with a dual reality and we an affect one but if we do not also affect the other the change will be limited and shorter lived. But….

if we honor the dual core system of our beings, the inner and outer, so above as below, the divine and the human, the sacred and secular……we are likely to not just change, but shed….shed in a way that we discover the YOU and the ME that has always been, always is, and is yearning to see the light of our face. And we do this for ourselves and one another. You know how it feels to be in the presence of one who lets love flow, leans toward compassion rather than judgement, seeks the well being of the other at the same time they are seeking their own well being. It feels good. I want to be that person. I want YOU to be that person. Spread the love change the world.

Oh God of ancient song and street beat of Skryllex,

it is your heart rhythm that I seek for calibration, reconfiguring, to be busted wide open.

It is your sacred story that is written upon the soft human warmth of my soul. Bring your light! Shine within! Illuminate through my skin and bone until my insides and my outsides are one. Amen.

Peace,

Amy