get in touch with what is really important to us,
what it is that brings us joy,
what our values are.
By making time for that still point,
we express a love for ourselves that
we are important,
and that love will filter to all we come in contact with.
Jan Rule, Proprietor
LIFE IS A TEST
Life is one big test - an ongoing "final exam".
We are given the talents we need, with many chances to succeed.
If we only knew what to do, and what was false and what was true.
As it turns out, we are just stewards, renting this life, managing our resources, charged to do our best, using our talents to increase the harvest.
And we do get graded - not by some absolute standard or within some bell curve;
But against ourselves - how well we used what we had, helping others get a better grade.
~ ~ ~
The Gift of the Divine Spirit
Key to a spiritual life
Key to a life of peace and joy
This gift adapts itself to all these attributes.
It quickens all of the intellectual and emotional and physical faculties.
It increases, expands and purifies our passions, all things bright and beautiful, our affections, what we hold dear and
adapts them through wisdom to be used properly, to their lawful use.
This gift inspires us. We then develop our character. We cultivate and mature these values: our joy, our tastes,
kindred feelings and affections to all living creatures, great and small.
It inspires loving-kindness, goodness, generosity, tenderness, equanimity, truthfulness, non-judgment.
We act without expectancy, but from unconditional love.
This gift will develop beauty of person in form and feature. It encourages health and vitality.
It strengthens us and gives us determination and courage to walk our path toward enlightenment.
In short, it is marrow to the bones, strength in the loins, joy to the heart, and it will bring light to your entire being.
When you are in the presence of such a person you feel safe. Their countenance will shine like a sunbeam and when they leave,
you will feel that you have encountered an angel.
Their very atmosphere diffuses an excitement and a warm glow of happiness and peace and attraction to the hearts
of other who have kindred feelings.
This is how love is spread through the Holy Spirit.
This is how we can create our heaven on earth!
SO BE IT!
God bless you with Love and Peace and Joy.
- Jan Rule at Stillpointe
~ ~ ~
A Pledge for Grateful Living
By Brother David Steindl-Rast, O.S.B.
- In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome the illusion of ENTITLEMENT by reminding myself that everything is a gift, and thus, to live GRATEFULLY.
- In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome my GREED, that confuses wants with needs, by trusting that enough for all our needs is given to us and to share GENEROUSLY what I so generously receive.
- In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome APATHY by waking up to the opportunities that a given moment offers me and so to respond CREATIVELY to every situation.
- In thanksgiving for life, I pledge to overcome VIOLENCE by observing that fighting violence by violence leads to more violence and unnecessary death, and thus, to foster life by acting PEACEFULLY.
- In thanksgiving to life, I pledge to overcome FEAR which is the root of all violence by looking at whatever I fear as an opportunity, and thus, COURAGEOUSLY to lay the foundation for a peaceful future.
~ ~ ~THE BENCHMARKS OF AN EVOLVED CONSCIOUSNESS
- Living in ways that enable all other people to live as well, satisfying your needs without detracting from the chances of other people to satisfy theirs.
- Live in ways that respect the right to life and to economic and cultural development of all people, wherever they live and whatever their ethnic origin, sex, citizenship, station in life, and belief system.
- Live in ways that safeguard the intrinsic right to life and to an environment supportive of life for all the things that live and grow on Earth.
- Pursue happiness, freedom and personal fulfillment in harmony with the integrity of nature and with consideration for similar pursuits of others in society.
- Require that your government relate to other nations and peoples peacefully and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing the legitimate aspirations for a better life and a healthy environment of all the people in the human family.
- Require business enterprises to accept responsibility for all their stockholders as well as for the sustainability of their environment, demanding that they produce goods and offer services that satisfy legitimate demand without impairing nature and reducing the opportunities of smaller and less-privileged entrants to compete in the marketplace.
- Require public media to provide a constant stream of reliable information on basic trends and crucial processes to enable you and other citizens and consumers to reach informed decisions on issues that affect your and their lives and wellbeing.
- Make room in your life to help those less privileged than you to live a life of dignity, free from the struggles and humiliations of abject poverty.
- Encourage young people and open-minded people of all ages to evolve the spirit that could empower them to make ethical decisions of their own on issues that decide their future and the future of their children.
- Work with like-minded people to preserve or restore the essential balances of the environment, with attention to your neighborhood, your country or region, and the whole of the biosphere.
~ ~ ~Reconnecting with Mother Earth
13 Ways to Help Heal the Land
By Chris Dodge
Extrapolated from ML Mindful Living: Home, Health Harmony
These endeavors are also necessary for the health of the earth. Only when we’re disconnected from the land can we remain unaware of how we abuse our common home: carving it up, imposing monoculture and rectangular grids. Humans out of touch with the land excel in paving, damming and digging up everything in sight, and then learning too late, if at all, of the consequences.
Not merely soil, the land is alive, and it thrives and suffers, neither infinitely lavish nor inexhaustible. Rivers run dry, forests are felled, and species die, aided by callused human hands. If we wish to counter the environmental terrors that face our planet, we must begin by fostering awareness and acknowledging harm. When we’re aware of how our actions affect the land, the lives of all who live on it are less likely to be imperiled. The more attuned we are to the vital connections that keep our system alive, the less likely we are to make bad decisions about using it.
Land use is right “when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise,” asserts Aldo Leopold in his seminal 1949 environmental tract, A Sand County Almanac. The Iowa-born conservationist proposed a new, healthy land ethic that would involve changing humans’ relationship to the land from conquerors to community-focused citizens of the earth. One can be ethical, he writes, “only in relation to something we can see, feel, understand, love, or otherwise have faith in.”
Now is the time to revisit Leopold’s cautionary words and look with clear eyes at the “world of wounds” he described, and just how wounded it has become: forest clear-cuts, erosion, mountaintop removal, farmland turned to condos, and widespread, growing losses of species – a result of thinking of the land as ever-bountiful. Imagine a world without butterflies, without birdsong, without elephants and tigers. Picture a planet without glaciers, snow and clean water.
We need to read and write and think. And then we must act (and, when appropriate, refrain from acting). We must open our eyes and dirty our hands. Get down to earth and humble ourselves. Let’s go outside and look around. Are we tourists here, or residents? Whose land is it? How many lives can it sustain? Who owns it? Maybe nobody does. Maybe we all do.
Read about it. A Sand County Almanac is a good place to start. But also: Eric Freyfogle’s Bounded People, Boundless Lands; Terry Tempest Williams’ Red: Passion and Patience in the Desert; Winona LaDuke’s All Our Relations: Native Struggles for land and Life; and John Muir’s My First Summer in the Sierra.
Know words used to describe it. Cutbank. Drumlin. Moraine. Chaparal. Check out a copy of Home Ground: Language for an American Landscape (reviewed in the May-June 2007 issue of Utne Reader).
Know its history. Who built the structure you live in, and when? Who lived there before you? What flowers flourished? “What better expresses land than the plants that originally grew on it?” Leopold asks.
Know who lives there now. It’s not just you. Not just your wingless biped neighbors and their cats and dogs, not just the gray squirrels and catalpa trees, or the deer and Douglas firs. Find out what insects and spiders live in your yard (and house), what weeds and worms, what lichens and moss. Become an amateur bryologist.
Know it in parts. Invest in a magnifying lens. Use it. Look at beetle antennae, lily stamens, grass roots. Examine parts of parts. Get really serious and use a microscope. What lives in pond water and grows in the snow?
Know it in art. Take photos of the same location in different seasons, in different weather conditions, at different times of day. Invest in a set of colored pencils and use them. Enjoy the work of those who paint or painted the land.
Sleep on it. Camp out. The land is different at night.
Learn the phenology of the land. When do flowers blossom? When do foxes den? When do fruits form and ripen? Keep a nature journal about the times of recurring natural phenomena – and find the answers yourself.
Find something new on it. One never enters the same woods twice. Just because you have seen mountain and black-capped chickadees before doesn’t mean that there are no chestnut-backed chickadees to be discovered. Be prepared for stranger things.
Let it be. Some places don’t want humans dwelling on them. Desert is not the place for golf courses. Tundra is not the place for roads. Read John McPhee’s The Control of Nature about Los Angeles canyons, their debris flows, subsequent wildfires, and the ill-fated, hubristic human attempts to forestall the inevitable.
Help it be. At this stage in humans’ relationship with the earth, simply letting things alone will be fatal, like practicing only the Hippocratic Oath – do not harm – when major medical attention is needed. Do some surgery: Identify and pull up invasive weeds, such as the spotted knapweed in my neck of the woods, tamarisk in canyon country, and buckthorn in south Minneapolis.
Support organizations working for healthy land. To name but two: the Trust for Public Land (www.tpl.org) and the Land Trust Alliance (www.lta.org).
Make your own maps. Put those colored pencils to use. Forget about the old borders. “At daybreak I am the sole owner of all the acres I can walk over,” Leopold writes. “It is not only boundaries that disappear, but also the thought of being bounded."
~ ~ ~
We all need a touchstone, a place in the center of our lives that we can touch from time to time, hopefully daily. The still point. It doesn’t have to be the woods. It can be listening to classical music in the dark, or The Who, Live at Leeds, played at high volume. It can be pottery. It can be running on the beach at night. It can be gardening. We need a place where we can come into close contact with something deep, meaningful and something that embodies love. By making time for that, we express the view that we are important to ourselves, and probably also that there is something out there beyond words that is important, that plays an ongoing role in our lives, even if it cannot be put into words.
In celebration of the Great Mystery of Life,
Roderick MacIver (www.herondance.org)