This past year I have written more online. I have used social media to ask the questions my heart ponders or frets over, share the news that crosses my path, and to articulate the ways I make meaning of the world around me. The responses from people reading my words have helped me see more clearly some of the ways I embody elements that Chani Nicholas speaks to in the Virgo call to service below. I am honored to be alive in this way and to show up and serve. Thank you for being on this journey with me. I always welcome feedback about ways I do below that are helpful/effective or not. May we amaze ourselves in the days to come as we recreate ourselves…
“You are our beloved nerd. Our expert. Our sincere seeker of the facts. The one who will ask the right questions. The one who can separate the truth from the rest of the information. You are discerning, unfazed by pomp and circumstance. You seek to understand the systems of nature we live within, looking for the beautiful, naturally occurring alchemy that uses every aspect of creation to recreate itself. You know nature’s efficiency. You know how to value the clean machine that is our earth. You know how to value the wisdom of the body. You teach us all manner of natural remedies. You know how to locate and remove what is unnecessary, toxic or ill-fitting. You know what is wrong with a thing because you know how to think critically about it and everything else.
This year we will need your compassionate critique. We will need your analysis. We will need your natural talent to deconstruct the ill-formed theories that have no place in a fair and just world. You are no fool and this year will have no shortage of foolish ideas. Bless us with your ability to cut them down to size with nothing but logic.
We need you to remind us that success isn’t about the applause we receive but about the quality of work we are able to produce in service of something greater than ourselves. You work for the sake of the work. You know what it is to be humble. To be wrong. To be worried about getting it done well. Help us to be thoughtful, concerned, hard-working citizens. Help us to remember that we will make mistakes so we might as well become dedicated students to the wisdom we most wish to embody.
In exchange, we will calm you when you feel like you need to fix everything. This situation is beyond broken. It is not your responsibility alone to figure out the whole mess. The future needs us all.”
by ashley on December 4, 2016 in beauty, Ceremony, change, Gratitude, Healing, history, Indigenous People, Oppression, prayer, Ritual, social justice, Solidarity, spirituality, Standing Rock, The Elders
Deep gratitude to all those involved in this. Please may we create many more opportunities for healing and forgiveness from the horrors of our past. Confession. Healing. Forgiveness. May we learn from our mistakes and never repeat them. May the power of our prayers and ceremonies continue to weave a new world.
“BEAUTIFUL MEDICINE AT STANDING ROCK! Where else in the world do you see this level of healing? DAPL doesn’t understand what they are trying to crush, which in a sense means they don’t understand themselves. This movement is trying to set past mistakes right to create spaces of healing. Healing historical trauma, restoring sustainability to Mother Earth, clergy denouncing the doctrine of discovery, THE PEOPLE TRYING TO forgive, heal, move forward together instead of being in denial. This movement is needed but DAPL only sees $. #NoDAPL” ~Prolific the Rapper
I write this post as a prayer… an invocation… one deep breath after another… allowing the prayer to fill my cells, creating spaciousness and love within me.
I stand at the edge of my own personal universe.
The rhythms and contours of being a human – the unique constellation of being me, Ashley Cooper, coursing through my cells.
Solid… I feel my feet on the ground -
my commitment to be here and be my path.
Shaky… I feel eruptions of unknown, doubt and fear - a chained fence guising as my companion, a crutch I lean upon.
Vulnerable… I feel raw and revealed -
standing at the edge of faith and uncertainty.
Inspired… I feel called by a mission that brings me to tears and fills my soul with inspiration and motivation
It’s time to JUMP
This is the dance of transformation. I am not yet this new version that I feel emerging through me and I am no longer the old conditioned puppet of habits and historical contortions. I am both of these still.
Glimpses of bold action guided by empowered thoughts and reverent listening. Feeling a centered, radiant soul: breathing the fire of her battle cry, powered by divine life force, vital energy of love, friendship, joy and togetherness. Breathing deep in sacred unity and feeling moved by our collective wisdom. Out of the way. In service. Listening. Guided. Surrendering. Trusting, trusting, trusting.
And the little voice says: “I’m there. I did it. Hard work pays off. I’m here. I’m home.”
Just as quickly as she speaks, the earth shakes, territory unknown. Looking around, I find my butt thumped on the ground, bruised from the fall and feeling afraid, doubting. Trust slid out beneath me. Old thoughts of not good enough, confusion, fear, loneliness take over. I’m here. Again. I’m familiar with this place.
This is the dance of TRANSFORMATION
Being conscious of this process, I don’t experience it as a magical step into a new world. I’m not suddenly taking flight as a new butterfly. It’s a gradual growth. Feeling new life emerge as me while old habits weaken. Awakening to new ways of being.
Tears pouring forth as I grieve and mourn. There is sadness in my body. There is wounding that needs to heal. There is a little girl who wants to be seen, heard and loved. There is love that has been trapped. Healing is necessary and essential. Facing these realities are scary, humiliating, illuminating and ultimately freeing.
And… I’m opening, returning to the beauty of myself, embracing the light and the shadows, loving my own face, owning the radiance of love that I am.
I am walking the edge between these worlds, feeling my cells reconfigure as new form sprouts within me, around me and as me. I am stepping beyond the walls of me and growing as the Soul I’m here to be.
Thank you for witnessing me on this journey. With love and gratitude…
Walking along the beach, I’m drawn into the bramble of a small grove.
Explorer’s eyes wide-open. Shells and sea creatures washed ashore catching my attention. A scanning gaze joltingly stops at a large dead bird. A pelican’s body, twisted and strewn out. Recently deceased as is evident from the perfections of life still intact.
I’m drawn in by its beauty. The elegant lines of its head, its feathers, fur, colors, shape. And yet… I’m scared to approach it. I circle the perimeter, maintaining a wide distance.
Why? Why must I stand so far away? Why am I afraid to approach this dead bird?
I stand with reverence. A moment of prayer. May you pass peacefully along on your journey.
The beauty beckons me forward. I’ve never been able to be so close to an animal such as this one. To gaze at its lines and shapes, to drink in the size of its life and presence. And yet I’m resistant. With fear. Why this fear?
I realize that I am afraid that it might not be totally dead yet. If I get close, I may see it move, last grasps at life. Its shape hints at an unexpected death. I project suffering. I recoil from fear of that suffering. If I get close, I might personally feel it. It will make me suffer too. And perhaps even the irrational fear that death will jump up and take me too.
I don’t want to see it suffering because I don’t want to suffer.
I don’t want to die.
I don’t want to feel that pain.
So I stay away. I stand back. I create distance.
Somewhere inside me I have been programed that I am doing this for my own protection.
I disagree. Not right now. This moment of beauty and death is calling to me.
I breathe with the realization that in this moment I am afraid to get close and genuinely feel what-is if there is a chance that I will feel suffering.
I must walk in. Walk closer. Push beyond this internally polarized force, repelling and invoking.
I flash to bigger picture, parallel patterns. In order to invite growth, change and transformation I believe that we have to start by accepting what-is, and then discovering what we can love about what-is. Often situations that are in need of transformation and change have a coating of suffering that surrounds the core. To face what-is means to be with that pain and suffering, to feel through that contraction and seemingly awfulness… for only in that acceptance is there room to travel beyond into the opening and fruits of possibility.
And so on this solstice day I dance with the balance of beauty and death, suffering and possibility, my own personal fears and universal patterns. May the light grow increasingly more abundant and may I discover new acceptance in the caverns of the darkness.
“Your identity is not equivalent to your biography. There is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there’s a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you, and I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.”
~ John O’Donohue
“In the Celtic tradition, there is a beautiful understanding of love and friendship. One of the fascinating ideas here is the idea of soul-love; the old Gaelic term for this is anam ?ara. Anam is the Gaelic word for soul and ?ara is the word for friend. … In the early Celtic church, a person who acted as a teacher, companion, or spiritual guide was called an anam ?ara. It originally referred to someone to whom you confessed revealing the hidden intimacies of your life. With the anam ?ara you could share your innermost self, your mind, and your heart. This friendship was an act of recognition and belonging. … In everyone’s life there is great need for an anam ?ara, a soul friend, in this love you are understood as you are without mask or pretension. Where you are understood, you are at home.” ~ From John O’Donohue’s book Anam Cara
Walking in the Forest
Walking in the forest
a radiant feeling pounces
on my misty
my bad thoughts.
Good memories leap,
alert, brought to my mind
by a cool breeze.
Then they sleep.
Magic flows through me
like a child running on cool summer grass.
by Tevon Dubois in A Child on The Island: The Ageless Wisdom of a Ten-Year-Old
p.s. I will return to actually writing posts here some day. It feels like it will be soon, but we shall see!