Ellen Sauer

Keeping the Peace

That phrase – Keep the Peace. It’s been something I’ve done all my life. I’m a mediator. A Libra. One who seeks balance and consensus. I meditate and pray. I hold spaces for love and hope and healing. Rocking the boat makes my heart race and not in a good way.

For a long time, peace meant balance for me – quiet, still, conflict free. Shhhh.

But these days it means something different.

Peace = Connection. When I feel really truly peaceful, I feel the connections to everyone and everything, seen and unseen, sublime and raucous, healing and hurtful. I see the massive web of connectedness of which we are all a part and I walk it around with meWe are all connected in the deepest, most intricate of ways – each of us to every one and every thing, seen and unseen. There is not one thing we do or action we take or belief we hold that doesn’t affect the whole. That’s my peace.

We are never not connected. It’s just that we lose touch with the connection. We forget. We operate from a space of individual rather than collective. We think we can pick and choose our connections and thus feel like we’ve mastered its art. Joining the right church, liking the right Facebook pages, having the right friends, donating to the right causes. We connect so easily based on shared gender, color, age, geography, education, religion, sexual orientation, economics, politics.

We love to belong. We actually really love being connected. We just forget that those connections extend well beyond what we think we know. They’re everywhere. EVERYwhere. With everything and everyone. We are connected to the people who go to churches other than our own. We are intricately entwined with folks who like Facebook pages that frustrate us. We are as connected to the friends we know and love as to the friends we don’t yet know. We are instantly connected to those who are obviously like us AND those who are different (with definitions of ‘like’ and ‘different’ yours to name.) Everyone. You can unfriend, you can ignore, you can minimize and dismiss all you want, but we’re still connected.

Seeing these connections is peace. Seeing forgotten connections is peace. Illuminating those forgotten connections is also peace.

And so now when someone suggests I Keep the Peace, even though I know they are suggesting I quiet down and refrain from rocking the boat, all I hear is an urgent call to action.

Yes! Keep the Peace!

Shed light on the forgotten connections.

Do not rest, do not quiet down, do not ignore.

Remember.

We are servants here on this planet. Our goal is to remember how connected and superbly sacred each and every one of us is. Too existential for you perhaps? Then this:

We are here to ensure that every single person has the ability, the invitation, to feel connected to the whole. They may choose to say ‘No thank you’, but they must be welcomed.

To that end, our servitude is to dissolve any obstacles that get in the way of that connection – stereotypes, preconceptions, oppression, poverty, biases, false structures of rank, self assuredness, hopelessness and on and on.

If you are reading this and thinking you already got this, i.e. you’re already clear on connection and are waiting for everyone else to get it. Yeah, I am familiar with that feeling. But no. This is not someone else’s work to be done. This is yours, mine, ours. There’s always another layer to peel away in this density of humanness. Uncover and define where you are still afraid, what angers you, who you think is evil, who or what you consciously separate from – start there and dive in. Read about, watch, talk to, meet, understand, learn the history. Find something on which to connect. Tough for some, yes. Try connecting on your shared lack of connection – your shared fear of seeing shadowed connections. It’s a start.

To really heal as a collective – to keep the peace – I believe we have to intentionally allow our awareness of connections to transcend the obvious. There is so much more.

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In Summary…Staying Open

This past week in blogging and posting I highlighted what I’ve been doing this entire past month, that is, intentionally staying open – reading every thing I can get my hands on, listening and learning, sifting through, speaking up and writing it down.

The word of this week (and actually this whole time) has been Enséñame. A prayer from Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés meaning ‘Show me. Teach me.’ You can read my short blog about it here.

The poem of the week was Rumi’s Chickpea to Cook and I shared it on my Facebook page. I posted this: Read More

Enséñame

ensenamequote

I periodically pick up the very full and alive book Untie the Strong Woman by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés just to hear her deeply resonant voice relaying the ancient truths of her ancestors – the mothers, aunties, grandmothers who know. Sometimes I just plop open the book wherever it falls and some days I go to page 191 and reread her one-word prayer: Enséñame.

“Whatever we need to see, be shown, be inspirited by – the summons is the same: 

Enséñame.

Please show me. Please teach me. 

Aymen. 

Aymen,

Aymen. 

In ancient times, this word, Aymen, meant, ‘Let it be so. May it come to pass.’ And thus may it be for us all.”

So yes, whatever we need to see – not what we hope to see or want to see, but what we need to see. Please start me there and please help me stay open to the needed space of learning that follows. 

Calling All Angels

Photo image above courtesy of my friend, Kate Haen.

I spent the afternoons this week in my art studio with k.d. lang. Her voice so soothing and deep and her tempo smooth – just right for my creative mood. I had nearly exhausted her Spotify playlist when I stumbled upon this one – Calling All Angels – a duet she did with Jane Siberry.

I stopped what I was doing and just stopped. It was written five years ago, but it feels like it is for right now. For today and tomorrow. This moment and the next.

I have listened to it so many times now. Each time I felt my collective of angels expand. The first few times I opened to the sacred images of the Virgin de Guadalupe, Mary Magdalene, Eve – anchored in me early and thus surface often.

Then I felt my ancestral angels – those that have experienced the “sweetness of the leaving” yet walk with me now and again.

I heard Mother Earth ask to join in with her story, much larger than this blip in time. Reminding me of her ability to heal with her resilience and beauty and asking for my conscious healing for her in return.

Who else? There are more. Deeper still, the angels that call to me from their own past-trodden, powerful paths of honest living – the leaders of movements, the pioneers of justice – encouraging me to be a warrior, to “step out onto the road of hope”, gently and with purpose.

And then the angels I walk with right now in “the beauty of the light upon this earth.” Real live angels. Badass angels. Humans reaching out to each other with their visionary voices to protect and remind. And alive but so-worn angels who have been bravely traveling along this road of pain and suffering and uncertainty for so long and who now allow me to join them with a new openness.

The more I listened, the more they came. In droves. Seen and unseen. Named and unknown.

I’m calling on all of them. Envelope me. Embody and embolden me. “Walk me through this one. Don’t leave me alone.”

Lyrics: 

Santa Maria, Santa Teresa, Santa Anna, Santa Susannah
Santa Cecilia, Santa Copelia, Santa Domenica, Mary Angelica
Frater Achad, Frater Pietro, Julianus, Petronilla
Santa, Santos, Miroslaw, Vladimir
and all the rest

Oh, a man is placed upon the steps, a baby cries
and high above you can hear
the church bells start to ring
and as the heaviness, oh the heaviness, the body settles in
somewhere you can hear a mother sing

then it’s one foot then the other
as you step out onto the road of hope
step out on the road
how much weight? how much?
then it’s how long? and how far?
and how many times oh, before it’s too late?

calling all angels calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels calling all angels
we’re tryin’ and we’re hopin’
but we’re not sure how…

ah, and every day you gaze upon the sunset
with such love and intensity
why it’s ah, it’s almost as
if you could only crack the code
then you’d finally understand what this all means

ah, but if you could…do you think you would
trade in all, all the pain and suffering?
ah, but then you’d miss
the beauty of the light upon this earth
and the sweetness of the leaving

calling all angels calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels calling all angels
we’re tryin’ and we’re hopin’
but we’re not sure…

calling all angels calling all angels
walk me through this one
don’t leave me alone
calling all angels calling all angels
we’re tryin’ we’re hopin’
we’re hurtin’ we’re lovin’
we’re cryin’ we’re callin’
cause we’re not sure how this goes

Intelligent Trees

I rented a movie last night – a documentary called Intelligent Trees. Did you know that trees actually prefer to grow slowly in groups rather than quickly alone? And not homogeneous groups. Rather, groups of varied species together like birches with elms and firs. We often put them in a position of growing alone when we plant them in our yards willing them to grow fast so we can enjoy some shade, but their preference is to be in mixed groups and grow together slowly because that’s what’s better for the tribe. They actually share their own nutrients through these amazing neural networks – far more entwined and intuitive than just a root system – so that their tribe grows strong together. They know they’re stronger together.

Researchers call the oldest, most mature of each clan the Mother Trees. Always the mothers, yes? The mothers teaching the importance of tribe, of sharing the best of themselves to enable the most viable growth, of pulling the others along to be stronger.

I think we’re smart like trees. Sometimes we think we’re planted alone and that the goal is to grow as fast as possible and shine the brightest. And sometimes we want to root ourselves in groups of our own kind, for fear we are too different or our nutrients not the same. But when we remember that we too have this incredible network of connection between and among us – far deeper than the neighbors we can see and well beyond the reaches of social media – we thrive.

This is where my kids would be saying, “OK Mom, we get it!”, but for my own learning I’m driving it closer to home.

Let’s seek connection – in our worries, fears, despair, hopes; in our shared pasts and futures; in the knowns and unknowns about each other. Let’s really believe in connection and see where it takes us.

Let’s seek to make ‘other’ part of our tribe. Whatever other is for you – what you judge, what you feel you already know or know nothing about, whom you fear, whom you despise or dismiss, whom you’ve never met. Seek other out – read, watch, meet. Listen, both intuitively and in actual hearing.  And hold the highest vision of the other while you learn who they are at their core.

Let’s seek to share the best of ourselves – our material resources, our time and attention, our love, our wisdom, our faith in each other. Our voices. Our protection. We are so intimately connected and thus only as strong as the most vulnerable, the most angry and hurt. Let’s help each other grow. Slowly and together.

We are always, always stronger together.

Believe them – then start healing them

I used to think this quote from the beloved Dr. Angelou was about me. I guess for a long while I was in a place of feeling misunderstood most of the time and thus wondering why it felt like nobody was hearing me, seeing me, believing me. “Believe me when I tell you who I am the first time, damn it!!!”

And then I gravitated to feeling these words as warning signs from others. If someone showed their true colors with words or attitudes, then it was a good idea to keep my distance. To protect myself. And likewise, if someone bared their soul to me, the goal response was to take them in and love them with no further proof needed or questions asked.

But now its meaning has morphed yet again as things often do when revisited over the course of years. Now when I bump up against someone and hear myself saying, “I can’t believe that he said that!” or “How can she possibly behave in that way?!” I trust that there’s more to their story. That there is indeed an underlying reason for what they’re showing me.

In their revealing there is revelation. If I listen. If I choose to feel that next layer. If I choose to release my expected or hoped-for vision of them and instead meet them where they’re at – a place where they could use a bit of understanding to help unravel their anger or self righteousness or questionable behavior and reveal, and possibly heal, their hurt.

In a nutshell, I strive to believe that they’re showing me the exact place they need me to start loving them.

One Step at a Time

rumi-path

“As you start to walk on the way, the way appears.” ~Rumi (Photo courtesy of Rudolf Rinner)

Whenever I embark on something new, my very first, knee-jerk reaction is to plan the life out of it. Whether it’s teaching a class, writing a blog or a book, creating an art piece, unraveling a pattern in me – I envision the end product. How will it look? How will it make me feel? How will it affect others? How can it be marketed, sold, reproduced?

If I’m lucky during this runaway process of my quick mind and eager ego, I catch myself before the idea suffocates completely. The turnaround time for this is improving. Which I consider good progress.

So I stop. I revisit the idea and its inspiration and just let IT carry me. Just a little bit at a time. What’s the next step? And then after that’s completed, now what to do? Write just one paragraph and wait for the next group of words. Glue down one corner of the collage and then stand back. Journal one dark morning and then carry it around for that day. So much develops in those in-between moments. Really good insights and ideas that I used to miss because I was powering through to my envisioned end.

Sort of like in yoga when you’re supposed to pause for a split second between the inhale and the exhale. Or when your mom told you to set your fork down between bites and chew 30 times.

Or, as I learned recently, when walking a labyrinth. So twisty and turny that I could only see a couple of steps in front of me. And then when I turned around to see where I had been I lost my balance and stumbled. So go back to slow and steady. One step at a time. Breathe in – pause – breathe out. Repeat until you reach center.

We just don’t need to have all the outcomes in place. We just need to do the next thing that feels right.

If You Want to Change the World, Love a Woman

We’ve endured months of incessant denigration of women with this campaign cycle – both from a candidate who has no true regard for women and toward a candidate as she seeks a position of power. It’s been deeply painful to feel as a member of this collective – as a woman.

There is a lot of silver-lining awareness that comes from these extremes that allows all of us to see what still needs to be addressed and healed. This is good. And there is a lot of legislation, past and current and surely in the future, that aims to elevate women and protect them. Also good. All progress toward reaching a state of empowerment and independence.

I feel the need though for a deeper awareness of how to change our relationship with women. Another layer beyond or alongside that of outward action and legislation and awareness. It’s a layer of sacred that is most often overlooked. A layer of sacred that we as women keep hidden in ourselves for fear of it being debased, abused, misunderstood, dismissed.

But we want you to both see it and strive to understand it. To help us feel OK about feeling and showing it. We know deep down that it will change the world. We want you to realize that too and love us, it, into being.

This writing by Lisa Citore captures that sacredness. It’s a long, meaty poem with so many blazing truths and nuanced messages that it takes several, slow, thoughtful read-throughs to really really feel it. It could be its own study guide to the sacred – the sacred feminine.

(I just had a vision…Wouldn’t it be amazing if groups of men started forming to study each sentence of this writing in an effort to really truly get it? And groups of women came together to embody each line in an effort to be braver about being true to themselves? But I digress…big sigh.)

The poem is written out in its entirety below, but please feel free to visit Lisa’s website to read it again along with her other writings. FYI…she also has one entitled If You Want to Change the World, Love a Man. Let’s do that too.

If You Want to Change the World, Love a Woman

If you want to change the world… love a woman-really love her.
Find the one who calls to your soul, who doesn’t make sense.
Throw away your check list and put your ear to her heart and listen.
Hear the names, the prayers, the songs of every living thing-
every winged one, every furry and scaled one,
every underground and underwater one, every green and flowering one,
every not yet born and dying one…
Hear their melancholy praises back to the One who gave them life.
If you haven’t heard your own name yet, you haven’t listened long enough.
If your eyes aren’t filled with tears, if you aren’t bowing at her feet,
you haven’t ever grieved having almost lost her.

If you want to change the world… love a woman-one woman
beyond yourself, beyond desire and reason,
beyond your male preferences for youth, beauty and variety
and all your superficial concepts of freedom.
We have given ourselves so many choices
we have forgotten that true liberation
comes from standing in the middle of the soul’s fire
and burning through our resistance to Love.
There is only one Goddess.
Look into Her eyes and see-really see
if she is the one to bring the axe to your head.
If not, walk away. Right now.
Don’t waste time “trying.”
Know that your decision has nothing to do with her
because ultimately it’s not with who,
but when we choose to surrender.

If you want to change the world… love a woman.
Love her for life-beyond your fear of death,
beyond your fear of being manipulated
by the Mother inside your head.
Don’t tell her you’re willing to die for her.
Say you’re willing to LIVE with her,
plant trees with her and watch them grow.
Be her hero by telling her how beautiful she is in her vulnerable majesty,
by helping her to remember every day that she IS Goddess
through your adoration and devotion.

If you want to change the world… love a woman
in all her faces, through all her seasons
and she will heal you of your schizophrenia-
your double-mindedness and half-heartedness
which keeps your Spirit and body separate-
which keeps you alone and always looking outside your Self
for something to make your life worth living.
There will always be another woman.
Soon the new shiny one will become the old dull one
and you’ll grow restless again, trading in women like cars,
trading in the Goddess for the latest object of your desire.
Man doesn’t need any more choices.
What man needs is Woman, the Way of the Feminine,
of Patience and Compassion, non-seeking, non-doing,
of breathing in one place and sinking deep intertwining roots
strong enough to hold the Earth together
while she shakes off the cement and steel from her skin.

If you want to change the world… love a woman, just one woman .
Love and protect her as if she is the last holy vessel.
Love her through her fear of abandonment
which she has been holding for all of humanity.
No, the wound is not hers to heal alone.
No, she is not weak in her codependence.

If you want to change the world… love a woman
all the way through
until she believes you,
until her instincts, her visions, her voice, her art, her passion,
her wildness have returned to her-
until she is a force of love more powerful
than all the political media demons who seek to devalue and destroy her.

If you want to change the world,
lay down your causes, your guns and protest signs.
Lay down your inner war, your righteous anger
and love a woman…
beyond all of your striving for greatness,
beyond your tenacious quest for enlightenment.
The holy grail stands before you
if you would only take her in your arms
and let go of searching for something beyond this intimacy.

What if peace is a dream which can only be re-membered
through the heart of Woman?
What if a man’s love for Woman, the Way of the Feminine
is the key to opening Her heart?

If you want to change the world…love a woman
to the depths of your shadow,
to the highest reaches of your Being,
back to the Garden where you first met her,
to the gateway of the rainbow realm
where you walk through together as Light as One,
to the point of no return,
to the ends and the beginning of a new Earth.

Speak Only Love

I attended a poetry reading a couple of years ago where a local poet, Ketu Oladuwa, read some of his work. All powerfully written. Spoken from a place of undeniable truth. One snippet cut me to the core and made me dig for a pen to jot it down. It was the following:

Don’t fight to overcome fighting.

Don’t politicize to overcome politics.

Don’t convince to overcome self-righteousness.

Step back from all of that.

Look, listen and love.

Then speak only that.

I’ve revisited those words so many times in the years since, their meaning shifting depending on the day and circumstance. But always feeling the need to heed its directive:

Step back from all of that. 

It stops me. Stops me when I get too entrenched in the battles. Too committed to an identity. Too intent on a proof. Too sure. Too familiar. Too attached. 

Step back from all of that. Look and listen. 

Look and listen and keep looking and listening until…until what? Until I lose the desire to speak. Until my mind is cleared of the thoughts and words that were bubbling at the surface – those quick answers that arise from tired certainty. Until my body no longer feels that tense worried stiffness of being ‘on’ and informed and alert and right. Until heavy calm replaces the desperate trembling. Until I can breathe deep and slow. 

That’s where the love is.

Wait for it. Be patient. I know I’ve arrived there when I feel gentler and forgiveness seems like a possibility that won’t break me. My body feels slower, thicker, less frenzied and more weighted. When I arrive there, the old words no longer hold their meaning and new ones come with careful, deliberate discernment – intentional words that convey and heal at the same time. 

Then speak only that.

We Were Made for These Times

It’s one week before the election and as things build to this climax of outcome, I’m finding myself quieter, less fearful, moving deeper into a space of trust. Headlines feel empty. Others’ expressed fears are absorbed without anxiety. My own worries from these past months feel more distant, less prominent. This is counter to what I expected.

Several weeks ago, I stumbled upon a writing by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes – Letter to a Young Activist During Troubled Times – and it’s been churning around in me since. I’m not sure how long ago she wrote it, but as is true of so much of her wisdom, it feels relevant whenever it surfaces. Thus, it resonates now and may explain this counter-intuitive reaction, that is, this feeling of internal peace as the external chaos builds.

Because, you see, I do believe I am a seaworthy vessel, made for these times. I feel and see the same in you.

“Regarding awakened souls, there have never been more able vessels in the waters than there are right now across the world. And they are fully provisioned and able to signal one another as never before in the history of humankind.

Look out over the prow; there are millions of boats of righteous souls on the waters with you. Even though your veneers may shiver from every wave in this stormy roil, I assure you that the long timbers composing your prow and rudder come from a greater forest. That long-grained lumber is known to withstand storms, to hold together, to hold its own, and to advance, regardless.”

And so what to do with these seaworthy boats of ours? How about we take them to sea. We are able to ride above and through the fear that is churning all around us. “When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But that is not what great ships are built for.” 

What does it mean to take our boats to sea? “One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Soul on deck shines like gold in dark times. The light of the soul throws sparks, can send up flares, builds signal fires, causes proper matters to catch fire. To display the lantern of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others; both are acts of immense bravery and greatest necessity.”

To be fierce – Speaking up boldly when our voices matter. Taking right action to serve and protect those struggling and in desperate need of our humanity. Staying fiercely connected to our inner moral compass, our true selves, no matter the regular pull to join the drowning under-swell.

To show mercy – Staying silent and vigilant when our words would only do harm or contribute to the cacophony. And always, always seeking the underlying reasoning, the cause, the wounds from which people act – not in order to chastise, but in an effort to understand. To connect. To practice true compassion. To heal them where they need it most.

“We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the strongest things you can do. It does not take everyone on Earth to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.”

So seven more days to practice holding this space of calm merciful presence and fierce action within the current tumult. Then seven more days to hone our skills. And then again seven more and seven more until it is our natural, intentional way of walking (or rather, sailing) in the world.

The photo and text in blue italics are directly from Dr. Estes’ article. If you would like to read the full text of her eloquence, you can do so here.

Regina Leffers McCaleb, Ph.D.

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