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Friday, June 22 2012

       Ten years ago, in a former lifetime, I wrote this short essay.  As I re-read it, I'm struck by how old challenges recycle and how familiar themes repeat in my experience of self, nation and globe. The piece feels as relevant to me now as it did then.


Joining the Giants

        Spring break, second week of March, I’ve just returned from a short family vacation to Giant’s Ridge, where downhill and cross country skiing gracefully share a small mountain in northern Minnesota. 


        I’ve been challenged lately.  World events weigh heavy.  Old personal (and perhaps transpersonal) stories of fear and not-good-enoughness are grabbing my inner headlines, blaring at times.  The impulse to scream bloody murder competes with the wish to burrow down in some safe hideaway, where I can retreat from it all.  Both impulses, I recognize, originate in younger parts of me.


        On our second day out, I found a couple hours for a solitary cross country ski.  Conditions were perfect:  bright blue sky and cold, crisp air.  As sunset neared, I arrived at a spot where the energy was palpable.  It felt like a sacred place.  The area was densely populated by young poplars, ten-to-twelve-footers.  To my immediate left was a tall granite ridge, around which grew a stand of stately Norway pines.  These trees were grown ups.  They’d been around a while.  As a community, they were quietly making their presence felt.  I basked in the positive energy of the place and softened to being nurtured by this gathering of elders. 


        Further ahead, and still on the left, a huge, ancient white pine towered over the landscape – alone.  This was clearly a grandparent, perhaps a sole survivor, in robust health.  I felt a beckoning.  As I drew closer, the beckoning became a message: Join the giants.  There was a shift in my belly.  My whole body felt the “rightness” of this request.


        This was not an appeal to ego.  I was not asked to stand above others.  I was invited to fellowship with the earth and its creatures, to soul connection, to deep rootedness, to quiet presence.  I was invited to stop apologizing for myself, retreating, hiding and playing small.  I was invited to let go of drama, outrage and judgment – to stop warring with myself and my nation, with others and other nations.


        Perhaps, all of us are called at this time to show up in a big way – strongly, safely, serenely in partnership with the universe.  Joining the giants has little to do with physical prowess, brilliant intellect, charismatic personality or positions of power and prestige.  It is a connecting to source, a tapping of ancient inner wisdom, a softening to love. 


        I believe we’re at a crossroads.  Our planet needs us – right now – to attend to what’s important, to access our larger selves, to join the giants who have been around for a long time.



Posted by: AT 10:08 pm   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, June 14 2012

       Attempting to rise above the gender in which I reside and say something about a "between-ness" I see leaves me a tad uneasy.  While research in the area regularly reports that there are more differences within genders than there are between them and while no pattern holds true for all couples, I believe there are some themes worth noting about the gender-related collisions of everyday relational life.  



Gender Fender Benders


       "If a tree falls in the forest and there's no one there to hear it … am I still wrong?"  Six guys in the boundary waters howled, hearing Steve's quip during one of our regular conversations in the woods about the hazards of relationship.


       "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle."  Quoting this bumper-sticker, 30-some years ago, my colleague Michele laughed merrily and assured me that the women she knows consider it to be quite the hoot.


       There's truth in the hoots and howls – and an edge to the stories we carry about relationship.  I recall these jokes and wonder about residue buried within us – not just from our personal histories, but also from centuries of gender-related experience – old stories, old wounds.


       Centuries of oppression have left women with a residue of indignation – rightfully so – and, perhaps with that, a sense of righteousness.  That same history can leave men vulnerable to a shame about being bad or wrong.  I remember an old nursery rhyme declaring that boys are made of "snakes and snails and puppy dog tails", while girls are "sugar and spice and everything nice".


       Centuries of masculine privilege have left a residue in men that we deserve to be advantaged in the rules of engagement – that somehow we matter more and should be catered to.  I wonder about a corresponding vulnerability in women about being expected to serve, about not mattering, not being important.


       Collisions are inevitable as these vulnerabilities encounter each other, as stories of "I'm not important" meet stories of "I'm wrong".  Complaints, defenses, attacks and counter-attacks fly, as each partner fights for legitimacy.  Each fights for the dreaded story not to be true – especially for it not to be true in this most important of relationships.


       Collisions are painfully repeated, but eventually they teach us compassion – for ourselves, for each other, and for the wounds we carry.  Over time, in conscious relationships, collisions become gentler and fewer – humbling reminders, perhaps, of old routines and the stories that fuel them – common stories, uniquely expressed.


       I'm reminded of the somber narration ending each episode of a 1960's TV show about New York:  "There are eight million stories in the naked city.  This has been one of them."







Posted by: AT 08:39 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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