Rise in Peace. With our gratitude.

This week I’ve been reflecting on how grateful I am that Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. saw so clearly a world that didn’t exist yet but that he knew deep in his body and soul was possible. I am feeling profoundly grateful for those who have the stamina and ability to see a vision and give their lives towards it coming true. He modeled that to bring a vision to life, we have to see the truth of what is happening in the world around us. He gave us powerful and moving words to help others see as well. He showed that we have to strategize action that has an impact and ripples to create change. He continuously calls our hearts and souls and bodies to the mat to do better, to be better…

So today, I am feeling a blend of courage, truth-telling, facing the horrors of history and this present moment, the potential and pull of beloved community, along with the soft, tender, fierce and wise wisdom of the earth and the unique calling of each of us as individuals to live our purpose. I’m feeling animated by Holy and spiritual impulses. I’m feeling reverence, gratitude, and the heavy hands of ancestors at my back, both letting me know that I am supported, they are with me, and also firmly pushing me forward, there is no turning back.

I feel called to share these words below from Kai Coggin written about Mary Oliver, as they moved me and I also feel how we could shift this same sentiment to be focused on Dr. King’s legacy that he has left us… that still lives in us…

May we strive to be more like these people who have walked a path so that we may be walking our paths today.

“Look how much we all love her. Look how we mourn her here on our cyber altars. Let’s all strive to be more like her, to live the wisdom we all garnered from her words. Let’s learn the lessons she taught us in her poetry. Let’s love what we love, each of us announcing our place “in the family of things.” Let’s walk softly through the world “married to amazement.” Let’s be OF the earth, not on the earth. Let’s fly, let’s swim, let’s sit in silence, lets walk through grass wet with morning dew, let’s name each morning new, let’s kiss sunrises, let’s shake our wild wings open and soar in reverence to all the beauty that pulses around us.

Rest in Poetry. Rise in Peace.

Thank you, Mary Oliver. Thank you.”

15 Years of Writing Publicly

15 years ago when I started this weblog, the fact that I am easily amazed was more evident in an effervescent and silver-lining kind of way. As a 26 year-old school teacher, it felt totally appropriate at the lunch table one day when a 9-year old student looked up at me with wide eyes of knowing and exclaimed,  “Ashley, you need a tee shirt that says Easily Amazed!” I said, “You’re right!” as he had simply and clearly reflected back to me the passion and enthusiasm I had for life… and named this blog. I was quick to amazement in those days, awe tingling in my cells.

In addition to teaching at a Montessori school, I was in graduate school studying child-centered play therapy, school counseling, and transpersonal counseling. I was also having my own spiritual awakening (with all its own darkness and light) while being rather socially isolated living in Denton, Texas. Life was filled with reflection, depth, investigation, and I was in love with and curious about the unique expressions of being human, in awe of the living world, fascinated by our meaning-making, intelligence, and the unknowable, and excited by opportunities for connection and positive development.

Today, 15 years of life later, having followed the path of my calling and continued my inquiries into the ways of existence, I might say that I am more deeply committed … to truth, to healing, to justice, to love…. than easily amazed. My fierce commitment to seeing and healing from the truth has shifted my quick response from effervescent awe to a familiar feeling of heart-brake and bewilderment by the effectiveness and strategies of those who cause or perpetuate harm and inequality, and have been doing so for generations.

While my awe and reverence for life and the living world (which includes humans) and our interconnections is still a bright light within me, I definitely recognize that actively pursuing and facing truths that I was previously oblivious to has zapped out of me some of my effervesce… for now… and sharpened my ability to see more clearly what is going on around me. I trust that as I continue to wake up from the slumber that was socially granted to me along with my white skin and middle class socialization, as I re-ground and realize who I am, where I come from, and what it means to be responsible in this body and legacy I was born into and this purpose I am here to live, that as I root, my effervescence shines forth in new ways.

The other side to this anniversary that I want to mark is that today is also 15 years of my writing publicly. I remember the hesitancy when I decided to write a blog. What should I share? Who am I writing to? What is the line of what I share publicly, what is just for my own journaling, and what is for my intimate circle of relations? I know that at many stages of my life there were specific people in my mind who I wrote to. As I wrote, I would feel family members, loved ones, friends, colleagues, and people I didn’t know but whom I knew read my blog. I would imagine that I was writing to them personally, hoping that the time and effort I invested in bringing words to my perceptions and experiences would bring value to others in addition to myself.

In honor of this anniversary and journey of finding words that make visible the shapes and queries inside my head and heart, I want to thank some of the people who inspired and encouraged me in those earlier years. I have so much love and gratitude for the ways you helped me find confidence and commitment in writing — thank you, Chris Weaver, Thomas Arthur, Chris Corrigan, Christy Lee-Engel, Jeff Aiken, Meredith Krugel, Brandy George.

And thank you deeply from my heart to anyone who has read my words and let me know that you appreciate my writing voice.

 

May They STOP and Find Healing

Today is hard. Gentleness and love to all the women and all the souls who are also feeling that. I’m at the laundromat and there is a man that has a t-shirt on that says “Only YES means YES”. It’s striking to me how much it affects my nervous system to see a man walking around with a statement about consent and against sexual violence.

May we be evolving as a human race, may compassion and justice seep deeper into our practice of being human, may those that are wounded in such ways that they cause harm and use acts of violence and abuse of power STOP and find healing. May we grow in our abilities to be in loving, intimate and respectful relationships.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

 

Heroic

May we Dismantle Oppressive Behaviors and Embrace Mutuality

A prayer for every person who is devoted to social change that leads to a more just and humane world… May each one of us strengthen or develop our capacities to address tensions and conflict, receive and give feedback, and learn and grow from our encounters… may we stay focused on the goals of change for the greatest good and those most vulnerable, as we dismantle patterns of oppression and embrace healthy patterns of mutual relationships.

Confronting Racism and Classism

“Hard: Confronting Nazis.

Harder: Confronting everyday racism practiced by loved ones, colleagues, and people you share community with.

Hardest: Acknowledging and confronting your own racist tendencies.

All are necessary if we are serious about ending oppression.”
Maurice Moe Mitchell

For my own practice, replacing the word racism with classism is also true and important. I’m not sure what the parallel to Nazis is… Greedy Capitalist, Exploitive Capitalist?

Qualities of a Powerful Conversation Across Differences

Two weeks ago I had the opportunity to host 42 folks from Charlotte in an Art of Participatory Leadership 1-day taster around questions like: “What might we discover if we take a collective pause and slow down enough to learn together about where we are as a city? What difference do our differences make?” The theme of the day was around being a more equitable city. At the beginning, we spent time focusing on how we want to be together, our group culture. I am really interested in the difference between these two lists — between the qualities of a good conversation and the qualities of a good conversation with people who are different. What do you notice?