Navigating Ego Storms

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In a previous post I described an image I use for the state of being bound to the ego. Meister Eckhart uses the term ichgebundenheit to describe this state. In my image the eye of a hurricane recklessly swings me around its periphery, subjecting me to a destructive array of errant ego-blasts, each one taking me farther away from the calm of the eye. Divine Presence resides in that center, calling me away from the storms I conjure.
Thich Nhat Hanh likens the state to clinging to the top of a tree during a storm, not a very safe place to be. In a collection of meditations he shared with prison inmates,

In a previous post I have described an image I use to describe the state of being bound to the ego. Meister Eckhart uses the term ichgebundenheit to describe this state. In my image the eye of a hurricane recklessly swings me around its periphery, subjecting me to a destructive array of errant ego-blasts, each one taking me farther away from the calm of the eye. Divine Presence resides in that center, calling me away from the storms I conjure.
Thich Nhat Hanh likens the state to clinging to the top of a tree during a storm, not a very safe place to be. In a collection of meditations he shared with prison inmates, Be Free Where You Are, he shares the spiritual practice,”The Art of Handling a Storm.”

“The Art of Handling a Storm”

When a strong emotion takes hold of you and you can’t seem to let it go, get into a stable position in which you feel grounded (sitting with feet planted firmly on the ground, lying down.) Focus away from the storm in your head and turn your attention to the stability of your belly. Feel your hands firmly in place on your belly and begin breathing in and out. With each inhale say,”Breathing in I feel my abdomen rise,” with each exhale say,”Breathing out I feel my abdomen fall.”

Thich Nhat Hanh assures us that after twenty minutes of this we will feel strong and after a while the emotion will pass. I may follow this up with a mantra that brings me into divine presence, such as Julian of Norwich’s words,”All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well.”

May we all be well, friends.

Peace.

 

 

 

Photo Credit: https://www.google.com/search?q=trees+in+wind+free+clip+art&tbm=isch&ved=2ahUKEwimwsn12IXkAhWikJ4KHZPwAXIQ2-cCegQIABAC&oq=trees+in+wind+free+clip+art&gs_l=mobile-gws-wiz-img.3…8205.10155..11718…0.0..0.174.665.0j5……0….1………33i10j30i10.2L-WKL4lpUw&ei=wb1VXebdIKKh-gST4YeQBw#imgrc=JTbPelTwTNLzbM

August 8: A Juxtaposition

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Occasionally I research what was happening in history on the day I am currently living.  It often provides perspective and insight.  Sometimes it slaps me across the face with an alarming wake-up call.  Always, it calls for prayer and a spiritual practice of compassion.

August 8 Wake-Up Call

1. On August 8, 1945 The USSR, England, United States and France signed the Treaty of London which laid the groundwork for the Nuremburg Trials.  The charter defined three crimes:

  • Crimes Against Peace
  • War Crimes
  • Crimes Against Humanity

The Nuremberg Trials later influenced the United Nations Charter of Human Rights

2.  On August 8, 1925 between 25,000 and 40,000 Ku Klux Klansmen dressed in their white-hooded robes, marched for the first time down Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington D.C. At Arlington Park they stopped to burn an 80 foot cross and to initiate 200 new members. (Washington Post article by Terence McArdie 8-11-18) The Library of Congress photo of the march seems to show a contingency of military forming the cross.

3.  August 8, 2019.  We are still reeling from the hate-filled terror in Texas.  Has that march down Pennsylvania Avenue reached the White House?

Juxtaposition

The UN Declaration of Human Rights is a powerful document that can make a difference if we live it.  I will shape my spiritual practice around the concept of duality which is the underpinning cause of human rights violations.  If I separate others from myself perceiving their difference as inferior, I separate myself from myself and from the divine.

Breathing in, we are one.

Breathing out, I release separation.

May it be so.

 

 

For Your Pondering

The Washington Post article by Terrence McArdie 8-11-18

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/retropolis/wp/2017/08/17/the-day-30000-white-supremacists-in-kkk-robes-marched-in-the-nations-capital/

James Cone The Cross and the Lynching Tree

Sermon by Pastor Megan Ramer Seattle Mennonite Church

https://seattlemennonite.org/cross-and-the-lynching-tree/

Oh, America

Before we escape into more analysis…This time let us…

 

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sit in silence together

feel  it to the depths

until we know,

really know,

the place to which we have come. 

Then let us stand together and act.

 

RENEWAL

This post goes back a few years.  I was reminded of it now while much of the world is burning up from forest fires.  The earth does renew herself,  as witnessed in the terrain of Mt. St. Helens in Washington state, USA. If we renew our souls as faithfully as nature renews herself, there is hope for us.

Geography of the Soul

In an effort to protect our egos, we leave in our wake  a destructive landscape of regret.  Our acts of protection are as much an animal response as protecting their physical lives is for other animals.  The difference, of course, is that we can strengthen our egos sufficiently to withstand attacks and move beyond them for the sake of the common good.  The process of moving beyond ego creates a soul-landscape rich in variety.  Remnants of ego caught on jagged crags, conjure memories of lies to self and others; charred skeletons of timber stand in witness to courageous suffering endured, and hopeless suffering self-inflected.

Our soul’s geography resembles the terrain of active volcanoes years after they have exploded. Destructive lava flow has given way to affluent bursts of bold, bright, wildflowers- the acts of justice and compassion sown as seeds alongside germs of ego.  Patches of green miraculously inch their way through the bowl of impenetrable metamorphic rock.

Just as rock can be intrinsically altered by the flow of hot lava, so is the soul dramatically altered by the movement of the Spirit, and our response to her. If we trust the Spirit, and trust ourselves to grapple with our instinct to protect our egos, seedlings will dot the horizon.  Wildflowers, once extirpated by fear, will burst forth like fireworks on Independence Day.

I recommend frequent road trips through the terrain of our souls.

New Year’s Everyday

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Although we are not celebrating Rosh Hashanna today and the calendar may not mark the beginning of another year, I offer Marge Piercy’s poem to give us hope that every day is new and we can come back after immigrants are rounded up like cattle and congresswomen are told to go back to the country they were born in if they don’t like this one.

 

The head of the year

The moon is dark tonight, a new
moon for a new year. It is
hollow and hungers to be full.
It is the black zero of beginning.

Now you must void yourself
of injuries, insults, incursions.
Go with empty hands to those
you have hurt and make amends.

It is not too late. It is early
and about to grow. Now
is the time to do what you
know you must and have feared

to begin. Your face is dark
too as you turn inward to face
yourself, the hidden twin
of all you must grow to be.

Forgive the dead year. Forgive
yourself. What will be wants
to push through your fingers.
The light you seek hides

in your belly. The light you
crave longs to stream from
your eyes. You are the moon
that will wax in new goodness.

Marge Piercy

Meloncholia On The Borders

I simply have no words for the treatment of migrants at America’s southern border, so I rely once again on the words of poet Jack Gilbert and the sculpture of Albert Gyorgy to convey feelings intense enough to move us to action.

 

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THE ABANDONED VALLEY

Can you understand
being alone so long
you would go out in the middle of the night
and put a bucket into the
well so you could feel something
down there
tug at the other end of
the rope?

Jack Gilbert in Refusing Heaven

 

Wisdom from Parker Palmer

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It’s a soggy summer day in Seattle, folks, a day to silently drink in this pithy piece of wisdom and store it until the sun graces us with its presence again.

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Photo Credit: true self portraits https://www.newscientist.com/round-up/your-true-self/

“Restoration Area Stay Off”

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I have been feasting on the book, Whispers in the Wilderness by Erik Stensland.  That it was a gift from a friend who has great respect for restoration areas inside and outside, makes my stroll through its pages all the more poignant. In this book Strensland has compiled poignant photographs and reflections from hikes in Rocky Mountain National Park. He says this about restoration areas

These [signs] are placed in areas that have been heavily visited, where the feet of far too many people have worn down the grass and flowers to bare dirt, turning a place of lush beauty into an area that resembles a well-used football field….I find great hope in these restoration signs.  After years of watching them, I’ve seen these places spring back to life when they are given the space they deserve.

I learned how to give that space to a high school senior once.  Her parents had a brief get-a-way on the Labor Day weekend. You can leave a trusted eighteen-year-old alone for two days.  But this time a man broke into her home, raped her and forced her to drink poison.  Thus began her coveted senior year.  After a couple of months of constant police interviews, survivor support group, counseling, compassionate hovering of friends, parents and teachers she put up the sign for me to see, “RESTORATION AREA: STAY OFF.” I had seen her sitting on the floor before her locker and sat down beside her, asking the dreaded question, “So, how are you doing?”  She was in desperate need of being left alone for a while, to restore, to find her center and get back to it.

I could relate.  I was twenty-seven in 1976 when the group I was a part of gave over all of our power to an abusive psychologist who experimented with “Disclosure-Confrontation” marathon sessions. At one point in that journey I thought I was losing my mind, I so desperately needed space away from the others.  I found the courage to plant the restoration sign in the ground of my soul, and was gradually restored.

It’s a matter of timing and we need to discern what time it is.  Is it time to reach out with physical presence and words, or is it time to hold vigil in the quiet space we give the other? May we listen compassionately and wisely.

 

https://books.google.com/books/about/Whispers_in_the_Wilderness.html?id=5rbEAQAACAAJ

 

 

 

 

 

Photo Credit: pexels.com