My Heart Echoed His Heart

If You Really Pay Attention
by Paula Underwood

When I was a little bitty kiddy, about five, my Dad began a process … anytime somebody came and said something to us, my dad would say, "You remember what he said, honey girl?” I would tell my father what the person said until I got so good at it that I could repeat verbatim even long presentations of what the person had said.

And he did this all the time.

Finally, one day there was this old gentleman, Richard Thompson. I still remember his name, he lived across the street. And every time my Dad started to mow the lawn, there came Mr. Thompson. And so I would stand out there.

Dad says, “You might come and listen to this man, honey girl. He’s pretty interesting.” And so I listened to him, and then my dad would say, “What did you hear him say?” And I would tell him.

Well, eventually I was repeating all the stories he liked to share with my dad verbatim. I knew them all by heart.

And my Dad says, “You’re getting pretty good at that. But did you hear his heart?" And I thought, what? So I went around for days with my ear to people's chest trying to hear their hearts.

Finally my Dad created another learning situation for me by asking my mother to read an article from the newspaper. He says “Well, I guess if you want to understand that article, you have to read between the lines."

I thought, "Oh, read between the lines. Hear between the words."

So the next time I listened to Mr. Thompson’s stories, I tried to listen between the words. My Dad said, “I know you know his story, but did you hear his heart?” And I said, "Yes. He is very lonely and comes and shares his memories with you again and again because he’s asking you to keep him company in his memories."

It just came out of me. In other words, my heart echoed his heart.

And when you can listen at that level, then you can hear not only the people. If you really pay attention, you can hear what the Universe is saying.

--Paula Underwood, clan mother of the Turtle clan, Iroquois nation

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posted by ashley


Friday, November 28th - National Day of Listening

This is fabulous... I'm looking forward to participating.
StoryCorps is declaring November 28, 2008 the first annual National Day of Listening.

This holiday season, ask the people around you about their lives — it could be your grandmother, a teacher, or someone from the neighborhood. By listening to their stories, you will be telling them that they matter and they won’t ever be forgotten. It may be the most meaningful time you spend this year.

StoryCorps is asking the whole country to set aside one hour on Friday, November 28th, to record a conversation with a friend or loved one, and I wanted to encourage you to participate. You can read more at http://www.nationaldayoflistening.org

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posted by ashley



Carrotmob Makes It Rain from carrotmob on Vimeo.
Carrotmob Website

What power do we have to create change with our everyday habits of spending money? What's possible when we organize together that isn't when we act on our own?

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posted by ashley


Learning From Others

I feel so fortunate that my life includes opportunities to learn from and be with children. Here is a bit of learning that I journaled about the other day. One day as a school counselor, a fortunate human being, sharing, relating and exploring in an educational community.

Today I learned about bravery.

These children are so brave to reach out to someone and ask for help with emotional problems. To accept and surrender to a feeling state that isn't serving them and to vulnerably reach towards another and ask for help.

I learned from the teachers, honoring their bravery to open up and be willing to learn in public, from their peers.

I learned about gossip from a group of third grade girls. They discussed some of the reasons that people talk about other people... For "Something to do", because we're bored, and because it can help to strengthen a bond with another person by talking about a different person. I felt humbled hearing the clarity they expressed of some of the reasons why gossip happens... and how those self-serving intentions can effect the well-being of others.

And I learned about how deeply someone can be touched (I can be touched) by a thank you that bellows out straight from the heart. It amazed me how profoundly I was (and still am) effected when I reached out to a family, helping them to have a resource they needed. I was on the phone with a grandmother when a 5 year old un-promptedly called out a "thank you" that was the most heartfelt, genuine expression of gratitude I have ever heard.

It still echoes through my core, vibrating as my cells, sparking and fueling a current of hope and life's vitality.

Photo collage Celebrating Children by Cocoabiscuit

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posted by ashley


Sailing Through This Puzzling and Beautiful World

“I want people to sail with me through this puzzling and frightening world. I expect to fail at moments on this journey, to get lost–how could I not? And I expect that you too will fail. Even our voyage is cyclical–we can’t help but move from old to new to old. We will vacillate, one day doing something bold and different, excited over the progress, the next day, back to old behaviors, confused about how to proceed. We need to expect that we will wander off course and not make straight progress to our destination. To stay the course, we need patience, compassion, and forgiveness. We need to require this of one another. It will help us be bolder explorers. It might keep us from going mad.” ~Margaret Wheatley

Thank you for this invocation, invitation and reminder. Thank you Ria at Seeds for a Happy Planet for the quote.

I also want people to sail with me through this beautiful and mysterious world. Sometimes we'll trust what is emerging, surrendering to the unknown wrapping its tendrils of possibility around life. Other times we'll doubt, shy away or be afraid, attempting to avoid or control the uncertainty of seemingly dark abysses. Sometimes we'll sail in solitude and sometimes with mates. My hope is that we always know we're held, supported and connected and that we stay awake to the beauty and mystery guiding our eyes wide open and our hearts' passions into action.

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posted by ashley


A Thread in the Communion Tapestry

"To paint is easy, to write poetry is easy, but to create a communion with the energy of another, a dancing communion, is the greatest and most difficult art to learn."
~unknown author, Kara shared it with me.

Below are thoughts and reflections all relating to this topic of communion. I've woven them together along one pathway though I sense there is a greater whole that they speak to which has yet to reveal itself to me. If anything is sparked in you, please do share, I'd love to hear.

Life is happening all around
in every moment
here and now

Energy of Other
swirling about

Sparks of holiness
Available for connection

Lights of grace
dancing in relation

What is communion?

Meredith writes:
When we move in close, and not shy from intimacy, if we were to approach an elderly woman lying on the ground wailing at the gate in the airport, will we know what to do? We are always uncertain, facing the unknown with another. Sometimes it can feel too vivid, too real and not predictable or within our control or comfort zone. And yet, the sensitive amongst us will feel another’s pain, and weep inside with them. We want to connect, to overcome boundaries that may have us protect ourselves form pain and risk, our own or that of another. In our exchanges we can feel our own aliveness, our energy almost tangibly. This is communion.
Actively feeling our own aliveness… experiencing the aliveness of others… interacting with the aliveness of existence… tangibly relating with visible and invisible energy that inspires expanding spheres of life awake.

What is this powerfully flowing current of life? How does it function?

Teresa shares Tenneson’s words, a thread in this inquiry:
Quantum particles (hearts, people…) once in contact (love, embrace, learning…) retain a connection (energetic link, stream of light…) even when separated, so that the actions of one will always influence the other.
In dancing communion we recognize that we are always in connection. The visible threads of relation may vary, even disappear, but the sparks of holiness continue to thrive within one another, always influencing the other. What might unfold in ourselves, our communities, our world as we (who are we? are you an active part of this we?) continue to deepen our practice of conscious communion? What happens if we surrender to its truth and its mystery?

Christy ponders how this energy plays out in groups:
I wonder if, as the "magic of the middle" lives through groups bonded by love and intention, that the group as a whole somehow maintains a steady incubating attention even as individual members lose focus now and then?
And Chris reflects (I recommend reading his whole post, it inspires me greatly) on what he is experiencing and learning right now in Belgium about gathering in circle, often a form through which communion emerges, and how it can serve passion into action:
The gift of the circle is that it somehow invites a much bigger sense of ourselves which, if worked with skillfully, can result in an event later that has a deep and powerful harmonic, a bass note of possibility that is indeed the group’s highest and unspoken aspiration for it’s own work, that transcends what is even known to be possible.

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posted by ashley



Somewhere, there are people
to whom we can speak with passion
without having the words catch in our throats.
Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us,
eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us
whenever we come into our own power.
Community means strength that joins our strength
to do the work that needs to be done.
Arms to hold us when we falter.
A circle of healing. A circle of friends.
Someplace where
we can be free.

STARHAWK, Dreaming the Dark
in Calling the Circle

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posted by ashley

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