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Writing What’s On My Heart… & Why

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I am feeling called to write more. I don’t yet know the path and pattern that will help me carry though with this… but I have faith I will find a way that feels in alignment with all else calling to me. Your encouragement, suggestions of things you’d like to read from me, and gentle witnessing are welcomed. Accountability is probably a good thing too!! Below are some recent facebook posts that share core expressions of what’s up for me.

June 24, 2016

My desire~

  1. To bring down these harmful and oppressive systems and institutions that are violent, unjust, and destroying lives and cultures.
  2. To cultivate a world rooted in love, vibrating with healthy connections of care, respect, and shared responsibility for nourishing life, all life.
  3. To do the above in community, with family. Working, organizing, acting, praying, grieving, celebrating with people I love… being creative, witty, and wise as we find ways to do the above without using the master’s tools… to be spiritually guided by forces bigger than ourselves, helping each other to stay grounded and healthy, to stay joyful and loving, to take care of ourselves as we take care of each other, as we stay committed to change and freedom.

I believe we must be able to be with both— the intensity of the facts of what is happening on our globe right now and the ability to embody the world we want to live in. To the extent that we are able, we must sit with the discomfort and the angst, the rage and grief, of the news, verdicts, and faces of state-sanctioned and hate-fueled violence and the impacts of systems built upon an order of superiority, oppression, discrimination, and abuse of power. And we must experience and celebrate love, joy, connection and well-being. We must bathe in nature and loving relationships and the pleasures of beauty, art, touch, dance, laughter and celebration. This is all a learning curve for me… I am speaking to myself just as much as I am sharing with anyone who is still reading. I want to join in this challenge with all of you. I believe in your good hearts and I believe that as a collective we could actually make a difference.

From Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson

Let’s be about this work today. What will you do to get us closer to freedom, good people? ?#?letsdothis?
If you aren’t aware, a lot has happened this week.

July 4, 2016

Such a mixture of realities in my heart today… and lately. I haven’t had the words to shape into posts in response to all that is happening, all that I am feeling and experiencing. My relationship with social media causes me to feel a sense of responsibility to write when I am feeling intense feelings or am aware of significant events happening. As a big ‘feeler’ in the world, I am often called to share my experience… perhaps it will be an invitation for others to see a different perspective or tune into current events. Perhaps if I share how I am coping or not, strategies I am using or needing, it will be valuable for others who experience so much intensity in life. Sharing is also healing for me as it helps me not feel isolated in the intensity I experience. Lately, however, the feeling side has over-powered the public writing side as I sit with one mass tragedy or trauma or circumstance that baffles or invokes tremendous grief in me, one after another, while also attempting to live balance in my life and with those I love.

So without much commentary, here is what I am seeing on my facebook stream and in the news right now that impacts me. First hand accounts about what this holiday, the 4th of July, feels like for a slave, some Black people, some Native Americans. Warnings about how the fireworks impact people with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, those who have lived amongst gun fire and explosions and are triggered by the sounds. Pictures of fireworks, family picnics, fun times on the water. Insight about today’s new moon. Continued grieving for these mass killings happening every other day it feels like… in Istanbul, Dhaka, Baghdad, Syria. Hundreds of innocent people dying. Teachers protesting and being targeted for their protests in Mexico. Indigenous peoples of the global South organizing for the protection of the Earth, their people, and their cultures. Queer, LGBTQ+ People of Color making their voices heard about the inequities they face from all directions, the violence and lack of protection and security. Black folks standing up for their people, their right to live the promoted values of this country. And here locally, the grieving, anger and organizing for the young man killed by a police officer in Asheville 2 days ago and another young man killed on Sunday.

{…. taking a deep breath….}

May as many of us as possible truly ACT in ways that bring about Freedom and Liberation for all.

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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

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Sequoia Prayer

MY SEQUOIA PRAYER

When I feel tiny, weak and trembling
Or pulled this way and that by swirls of change,
Too insignificant to be of service,
Too “uprooted” to hold my ground,
.     I pray my Sequoia prayer.

Sitting quietly, breathing normally, becoming centered in the present moment–
in this holy instant –
My mind’s eye gradually forms an image of a giant Sequoia.
My Sequoia prayer takes form in my heart and soul
As the image forms and fleshes out to fill my being.

Centuries-old roots so wide and deep they have become part of the earth.
Supporting enormous, gnarled trunk that soars into the sky,
Eternity wrinkles carved into its surface, holding character markings for the ages,
Thick, porous bark skin covering the body, letting the trunk breathe,
protecting it from the fires that must come to support its growth.
Green leaves gushing out the top, reaching to the heavens,
Nurturing birds and other beings, offering up limbs as if in prayer.

Awareness of God fills my soul.
Sequoia image fills my being.

Spreading
.     Down into the Earth,
.     Deep into the Soul,
.     Strong into the body,

Breathing calmly. sitting quietly, praying trustingly, becoming
.     Grounded in humanity,
.     Rooted in God,
.     Striving ever upward,

My Sequoia prayer fills my cells, my lungs, my heart, my brain,
my soul, my being.

.     With love, grace and light.
.     With joy and hope.

.     With the strength of God I need to go on! Thank you, God!

Amen

~Dr. Monteen Lucas From Women’s Uncommon Prayers, an Episcopal Women’s Prayer Guide

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We Are All Truly Miraculous

An Evening of Poetry, Music and The Spoken Word at The White House May 12, 2009.

I’m incredibly moved and inspired. Beautiful opening performance by ELEW and Esperanza Spalding, soulful spoken word by Mayda del Valle and a powerful performance by ELEW.

“We’re here to celebrate the power of words and music to help us appreciate beauty and also to understand pain. To inspire us to action and to spur us on when we start to lose hope.” President Obama tells the crowd as he opens the evening.

“It is one thing for people to tell their stories in their own spaces and quite another for those stories to be welcomed in this space. Barack is president today because many people who thought their voices didn’t matter or wouldn’t be heard decided to show up on election day and vote anyway.” Michelle Obama

“Abuela, how did you pray before someone told you who your god should be? How did you hold the earth in your hands and thank her for it’s fecundity? Did the sea wash away your sadness? How did you humble yourself before your architect? Did you lower yourself to your knees or rock to the rhythm of ocean waves like I do?

“To be able to go in the White House and to represent my grandmother and my ancestors, it really means a lot. It’s a generation of women that don’t often get heard, you know, these old Puerto Rican women that no one ever really thinks about. To be able to use my voice to represent them on this kind of platform is really powerful.” Mayda del Valle

ELEW

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Some Little Tid-bits of Delight

A fabulous new find, Zooglobble – Kids music worth sharing – which led me to Tres Leches which is quite sweet (I really like Listen) and this fabulous kid hop song by Secret Agent 23 Skidoo, Gotta Be Me

My brother called me yesterday, excited to tell me that today is a day that the sun is celebrated in Judaism. This celebration comes once every 28 years. Christy shared some of the prayers and chants and a video of this sweetness. Birkat Hachama blessing

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Centering

Center the mind in stillness
Center the heart in love
Center the body in breath

Quote from 13-moon natural time calendar
Stone circle at Story House

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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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