Archive | grief RSS feed for this section

He Carried a Vision of Love Alive in the World

chris head shotSomeone incredibly dear to my heart and soul
left his body on Wednesday.

A spirit buddy. A soul friend.
A guide. A mentor.
A lover of life.

One who sought to “open eyes and entice hearts out of their prison into accepting a simpler, more loving way… I want to hold their hands and say, “don’t worry, we really can be fully ourselves, love makes its own way. Let’s laugh and enjoy one another and be caring, and vulnerable, and alive, and free.” ~ Chris Weaver

Chris held space and invited us into magical places, inside ourselves and out in the world. He modeled ways to live a more loving, compassionate and interconnected world. He was devoted to helping children be as fully alive and whole and connected to loving community as possible. He focused his attention on the places where children gathered. Including his sons.

Chris was a teacher. a father. a husband.
And so much more.

He was a wordsmith…
a poet
a writer
a storyteller
a metaphor maker

He could paint words that evoked worlds.
Co-creating cultures that felt like family.
He was a wisdom weaver with the elements.
It’s been said, that Chris was magic.

He carried a vision of love alive in the world.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I haven’t had a real conversation with Chris in about 13 years.
I don’t know where he was in his life journey.
But I do know that he experienced life deeply.
He was a feeler. He was awake to the joy and the suffering of living.

And when I knew him, he had old, old patterns. Patterns that could pull him into dark and isolating places. Sometimes those places were called depression. He was committed to learning to navigate those patterns.

“sometimes i feel like my dramas are like boats. they go somewhere. if i forget that the ocean is love, & is me, then i’ll stay on the boat (down in the hold, banging my head against the wall). but when i remember that it’s just a boat, then, well…maybe instead of dissolving it back into a wave of undifferentiated love (always a fun option), right now maybe i’ll just stay on the dramaboat & use it, follow it a bit further, find out what it is teaching me, let it shine & surprise somebody…

… and i sure remember my own version of the panic of feeling myself circling back into the prison-boat of my own depression (clang)” ~ Chris Weaver | 10.13.04

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

shofar-temple-mount-rosh-hashana-tallit-prayer-jerusalemYesterday was Rosh Hashanah.
I have not celebrated this religious holiday in many years. I felt called to go to services. The Rabbi spoke of the symbolism of blowing the shofar (a ram’s horn). Its sound is raw and piercing. It sounds pained, like crying. It is also a triumphant sound of joy and celebration.

She told us that it’s meant to remind us to pay attention and be alert to the raw truths happening around us.
To listen to people when they tell their own stories.
To hear the cries of those who are suffering.
To hear the mothers wailing for their lost children, even if their children are your enemy.

In her sermon, she connected this to the need for us to hear the declarations that Black Lives Matter and the accounts of how Palestinian people are suffering. We must listen to their stories in their own words. We must allow ourselves to hear and feel their cries.

After services I went to the river for a ritual (another tradition on this holiday). When I returned home, I learned that Chris had passed. I hear in his death that he was suffering. I feel shock rippling through his community. I return to the stories of the shofar.

Chris gifted us with so many different ways to experience life, love and beauty.
And it feels like perhaps he kept people protected from seeing the depths of pain and suffering that he also felt.

Some of the most amazing and magical people on this planet, who love so deeply and see fiercely how to make this world a more loving and just place, these are also people that are suffering deeply on the inside.

In my grief, I am also praying with all my heart, that we who are living,
…that we will get better at hearing the raw cries of those that are hurting,
…that we will see other options than to isolate ourselves when we are hurting,
…that we will shake up the patterns that have so many people unaware of how difficult life is for others,
…that we will give more loving attention to the realities of living with mental and emotional challenges,
…that we will grow in our abilities, as communities, to love and care for one another.

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

To my dear friend, as you transition to greater freedom…

Thank you for the beautiful gifts of living, loving and experiencing life that you have shared with so many of us. Our hearts and lives are forever changed for the better. May the love you cultivated be of profound support in helping those who loved you dearly find solace and peace as we adjust to you no longer being in physical form. May we always feel your presence. Rest peacefully. Fly free, dear one.

 

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

A few windows into his life:

Read full story Comments { 4 }

May we place our hearts with you…

Awake in the darkness of the night… I’m feeling… my heart traveling the terrain of trauma and love erupting fiercely on this globe, erupting fiercely in the hearts of so many dear souls.

“In Hebrew, “pay attention” is literally translated as, “place your heart”. Placing our hearts requires effort. It requires us to focus beyond the chaotic white noise that fills so much of our lives… Placing our hearts means imagining a world where we see people for who they really are, where we seek to understand the lived experience of those around us, from their perspective. Not with judgement, but with compassion.” ~ Rabbi Will Berkovitz

Under the gaze of this new moon, I feel the grief and warrior-ship of my trans and non-binary community after the loss of Scout Schultz this week and Derricka Banner last week. May we place our hearts with you. May we see you as you are, whole and beautiful. May we love you as you are, courageous truth tellers.

I feel the dark and confusing places that the human mind can travel to, those moments when purpose and peace and connection feel stripped away, when we are struggling with our mental and emotional and physical health. May we place our hearts with those of you who are in this struggle. May love seep into the cracks, overshadowing the pain, and illuminating the light of your own precious soul, igniting the places where you can feel the divine breathing through you, where you can feel lightness and see how incredibly valuable your presence here on this earth is.

I feel the fear and trauma as storm meets earthquake meets fire meets flood. As people?’s lives are uprooted, loved ones lost, homes demolished. May we place our hearts with you. May we continue to turn to one another and extend a helping hand. May we build home together. May we see beyond our differences and awaken to our abilities to help make this world safer for one another… in times of crisis and also in the ordinary moments.

I feel the weight of exhaustion, the personal toll taxed upon those who daily are impacted by forces of oppression — systems that are trying to hold you down, trying to keep you from fully expressing the profound aliveness of who you really are, dampening the opportunities for your genius and gifts to be contributed to this world. May we place our hearts with you and tell the truth about these systems of destruction. May the fierceness of our gaze cause these systems to incinerate. May the power of our imagination and our commitment to one another grow brilliant webs of relations grounded in love, justice and equality. May we all know freedom and liberation. May we cultivate a more loving and compassionate world for our children to grow up in.

Thank you for traveling with me into these feelings and prayers. Thank you for being willing to sit with the dark and the light. Thank you for placing your heart and gifting your attention. Thank you for dreaming into the power of our togetherness… May it be so. <3

Read full story Comments { 0 }

Rev. Barber Speaks Truth on Systemic Racism and White Supremacy

Read full story Comments { 0 }

What Can You DO to Stop These Murders

The family of Jordan Edwards speak on the terror of police murdering their son.

Our complacency in allowing state sanctioned murders, executions and violence to go unchecked is among the many things that have paved the way for basic human rights for health, dignity and respect to be stripped away from all who are not wealthy and/or White. We who have not pressured city councils and police departments to demand the end to police profiling and murder, we who have not held these institutions accountable for concrete change, we who have not insisted on consequences for murder, we are complicit in the deaths of innocent human beings past, present and in the future. Innocent Black people continue to be murdered for the pre-existing condition of being Black. Children are terrorized and traumatized for the pre-existing condition of being Black. Restricting access to healthcare for poor, sick, marginalized people is just the next step in state sanctioned murder. It’s been happening and now more people may be included in the circle of those deemed “okay to kill.”

Every city council and police department needs to be having public dialogue with explicit actions they are taking to ensure that this HORROR STOPS NOW and instances like this are not repeated. Transparency is essential. This city in Texas is no different than any other city in the U.S. Jordan Edwards, a 15-year old child was executed, shot in the head, for being Black and his brothers were terrorized having to witness their brother’s execution and then be hauled off to jail for being Black. Black mothers and fathers, parents of Black children, are being terrorized by these public executions of their babies, their people. We are being governed by inhumane, egotistical savages and I believe that every person who is in a position of power needs to be demonstrating what exactly they are doing to change the course and govern, protect and serve in ways that are humane for EVERYONE. We who are being governed are accomplices to murder and will eventually be victims as well if we don’t act to change this course.

What can you do? Make self reflection a priority and find the place inside yourself that can accept that you are playing an active role in allowing the world around you to be the way it is. Talk to people you know in positions of power. Use your own positions of power to influence positive change. Write and call your local council and police departments and ask what are they doing to insure something like this doesn’t happen again in your city. Demand answers. Give money to Jordan’s family or one of the millions of others whose lives have been violated, either through state sanctioned murder, inhumane deportations or over policing for being Black, Brown or poor. Give money to people and organizations who are standing up for just and humane treatment of people. Give your money and time to organizations who are supporting those who are vulnerable. Call your senators and insist that they stop the vile attack on people who are sick or poor with this healthcare bill. Talk to your friends and children about race. Meet new people. Be kind to strangers. See the good and humanity in people who are different from you. Deepen your practices and abilities to navigate through anxiety, fear and stress so you can stay grounded as you deal with the horrors of our realities. Pay attention to beauty. Listen to and learn from nature. Live and love boldly. Be you while being fierce against injustice, hate, cruelty and violence.

 

 

Read full story Comments { 0 }

What Do We Do?

Urgent messages are coming out of Aleppo, horrific violence against civilians (particularly women and children) has intensified. A genocide continues to happen and the world sits silently, including myself. I breathe and offer prayers and light a candle. May their souls escape the suffering… And I wonder… what do we do?

I will me honest, I don’t really understand all of the pieces and connections between Russia and Syria. What I gather is that people on the ground say that Russia is heavily involved in the inhumane mass torture and murder of civilians, while Russia says it is terrorists. What do we as global citizens do to join together to over-power the violence and hate-filled terrorism that is overcoming this world… and also our local communities?

Meanwhile (cause we only care when it threatens our own safety?), Trump has just announced that he has nominated Rex Tillerson, the CEO of EXXON, as the U.S. Secretary of State. Not only is that horrifying from big corporate OIL money being at one of the most powerful positions in our government, Tillerson was awarded Russia’s prestigious Order of Friendship by Putin in 2013 for his work with the Russian oil giants, further illustrating the potential ties between Tump and Putin moving forward. Is what is happening in Syria a glimpse into what could happen here? There are so many warning signs from points in history and realities in other countries that point to the possible future of the United States. Can we of good hearts find the vigilance to step out of our comfort zones, activate, and unite to truly make our communities safe against violence and terror? Starting now?

And then moving closer to home… yesterday a black man was found on the side of the road here in Asheville, beaten on his morning jog, and left there with a chord wrapped around his neck. This is terrorism. This is unacceptable. How do we stand up against the increase in hate crimes?

Last week Bryan Stevenson spoke about 4 things that are essential for us to do at this time in history. One of them is to STAY HOPEFUL, that we have to protect our hopefulness because when we become hopeless we become part of the problem. And it is our hopefulness that will motivate us to stand up when others say sit down, or speak up when others expect us to be quiet. My hopefulness rests in the power of all of us with good hearts… all of us who believe in human rights, in treating all people with dignity and respect, and in caring for our planet in ways that support its ability to be alive and healthy for our children’s children and their grandchildren.

And… those with good hearts have to be ACTIVE and ORGANIZE ourselves and do all that we can to connect with the good hearts in other people, particularly those who might be vulnerable to following orders of violence. As Renku sen said, “If you have some privilege, then you must risk it.” What sacrifices are we willing to make to protect the dream of freedom for all people?

 

Read full story Comments { 0 }

The Old Trans-forming into the New

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.

52482Tomasz Alen Kopera tearsTears 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.

AC b&w

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…

Photo credits – Click on the images to go to their original source. Transformation and tears art is by Tomasz Alen Kopera photo of me is by Erica Mueller

Read full story Comments { 3 }

Our Oceans Are Filled With Plastic: They Are Experiencing How Bad It Really Is


Five media artists, led by photographer Chris Jordan, are traveling to Midway to witness the catastrophic effect of our disposable culture on some of the world’s most beautiful and symbolic creatures. But even more, they are embarking on an introspective journey to confront a vitally relevant question: In this time of unprecedented global crisis, how can we move through grief, denial, despair and immobility into new territories of acceptance, possibility, and wise action?
~ The Midway Journey

Chris Jordan‘s wish “is to get out of [his] own way for long enough that the symbolic tragedy that is happening on Midway can speak for itself, on its own terms.”

“This morning I took off early by bike with camera gear on my back, and explored an abandoned World War II runway littered with the decaying carcasses of albatrosses—virtually all of their bellies filled with plastic junk. Talking and reading about it from home was one thing, but seeing it here in person carries a much different feeling. I made my first photograph, and felt myself sink one increment into the profound story that this island has to tell.” ~Chris Jordan

“According to U.S. Fish and Wildlife rangers, albatross bring almost five tons of plastic to Pihemanu/Midway every year. The ocean is permeated with plastic and, like dust floating in the air, it’s mostly invisible to us. Albatross concentrate this plastic junk in their bodies and deposit it on land when they die. A Hawaiian elder counseled us not to view the albatross or the islands as victims of plastic pollution. They have called this problem to them, she said, to deliver us a message. We are hit with this message every day. When can we say we’re receiving it?” ~Victoria Sloan Jordan

The Midway Journey Blog
More Photos from their Photostream
Follow them on Twitter

Read full story Comments { 0 }