Monthly Archives: June 2015

Sound and Silence: Opera Inspired Prayer

operaA hearty union of orchestra and voice surged through the summer hills. It enveloped the evening frog chorus, integrated the fluttering of leaves and the day-ending bird songs.   Walking up Blue Spring Road, the sun painting the sky behind me, the White River cast in shadows below, I too was drawn into the fusing Sound.   My heart beat, my breath, my footsteps were absorbed into the interplay.

I expected the music to spiral to a peak. I waited for the applause to come. But the reverberating synthesis of human, plant, animal and earth carried on. Unstoppable. Sustaining. Elevating. Filling every moment. Every breath. Every inch with Life-enthusing Sound. I wish you could have been there to be part of it!

The students at Opera in the Ozarks set this Heart-stirring experience in motion with their opening performance of Offenbach’s Tales of Hoffman. The Opera of the Ozarks is located at Inspiration Point just ¼ mile from my house where Blue Spring Road and Hwy 6 come together. It commenced its 65th season this June.

I don’t know much about opera. But that evening’s spontaneous enveloping vibration struck a chord with me. The very feeling it evoked in my body exposed the possibility of upping my own Heart Song. Of being more energized in and expressive of Clarity, Devotion, Joy, Caring, Humor, and Strength in my relationships and life’s practical moments.

Drawing on the Operatic embrace, I have begun applying the power of spoken prayer and affirmation in addition to my usual meditation. Here’s a some partial phrasing I created and have been speaking: “May Evolution Proceed Afresh. Light Expands. Love Prevails. Power Emerges. For the Good. For the Good.  For the Good.”

For me practicing prayer through out the day builds inner and outer momentum for change. It evokes the Heart’s vibration. It infuses the mind and body with the Desired Note and creates a resonant surrounding field. And over time releases the Heart’s Song across the hills of everyday actions and interactions.

What is your experience with the gift of Heart-full spoken prayer?

Sound and Silence: Encountering Voices of Grief and Hope on the Buffalo

neon mushroomsSunday I rested in the predawn stillness, waiting for the first bird songs. Sweet anticipation infused the Ozark woodlands. It played quietly on the whispering breeze and in my heart. What a magical time, this transitional interlude between night and day!

Steady snores grumbled over from the collection of tents erected by river-floating Texans a few sites away, but it didn’t matter. After two days of hiking in Arkansas’s treasured Buffalo National River area, my ears and heart were attuned to Nature’s finer rhythms and melodies and were harmonizing with the Heart’s deeper Sound. What a change from just days before!

Certainly being in Nature refreshes, recalibrates and renews. I was very happy to be walking with my brother who had traveled down from Chicago. Yet hiking in silence and laying in a tent alone at night temporarily amplifies the inner stories.   It gives unresolved hurts and struggles space to speak their pain. And their hopes.

As I move closer to legally resolving final ties with the spiritual community I helped create and chose to leave last November, I’ve encountered sadness, self-doubt, and inklings of new freedom . . . feelings that had been insisting on some attention but whose mouths I had temporarily sealed with the duct tape of work and other responsibilities. That is until the testing, healing days and nights on the Buffalo.

I listened to my pain, as my brother and I crested lush hills and walked along streams swollen by the remnants of Hurricane Bill. I listened to my Heart strengths and the parts of me wanting to change. I spoke admirations to the trail-crossing box turtle, the copperhead warming in sun-touched leaves, and the surprising neon mushrooms poking up along the way. Through the climbs and descents, I accepted that sometimes in transitional human moments the voice of grief mixes with the voice of anticipation, anticipation for the unexpected good yet to come.  Would you agree?  The resonant Sound that contains both voices is the courageous beat of the honest Heart, present in the moment, perfectly willing to release from the passing night and stretch into the arriving dawn.

With the Texans still snoring, I gave thanks for the Heart’s evolutionary wisdom and welcomed the whippoorwill’s morning song.

Food: When the proverbial cupboard is stripped bare, thrive on the Good

Beer Can LitterThis week a dear friend called and told me of enduring public demeaning by an angry spiritual colleague.  She had walked away with her emotional reserves stripped bare; her dreams of cooperation suddenly starved of possibility.

After countless prayers and uttered affirmations to the Heart, it’s a painful irony that spiritual circles can deliver devastating putdowns wrapped in packaging of “intuitive wisdom” justified by “Guidance.” Have you been there?  I have.  It’s a shocking, empty place to suffer.

Like this wasteland, most crises, whether deeply personal or planetary, are burning grounds offering a challenging gift: an abundant opportunity to regenerate and thrive. A key power point exists in choosing what to consume.

Avoid Self-numbing trash.   Revive and thrive on the Good.

I visited my friend the following morning. She is a strong, vivacious woman. She spoke lucidly about what had occurred and what she will do differently if another such circumstance arises. Still her anguished paleness shocked me. But by afternoon, her voice carried a note of heartiness.

“I’m resting at the base of my altar,” she said. “I’m watching the trees and the sunlight. I have talked to another supportive friend.”  She was feeding on the Good.

Do you know what truly nourishes and revives you? What replenishes your vibrancy, strength, and Heart? And what, in contrast, undermines your well-being despite its appetizing appeal?

Meditation is one of my go-to renewing “foods.”. I’m also actively training to choose push-ups or a power nap over even brief facebook carousing.  The latter while appearing relaxing, stretches me into all kinds of de-energizing, extraneous details.

Can you engage your fit choices in an instant?   Practice when your days are easy. Practice when a day is hard.  Seek help when needed.  Next time an interaction or event raids your cupboard of cherished confidence, plans, or friendships, you’ll be better prepared to thrive your way out of the emptiness . . . and, as I’ve been learning in karate, perhaps to avoid the situation in the first place.

One situation we cannot avoid is our planetary circumstance.  Choosing to thrive on Good may seem a tiny bulwark against macro economic, technological and political forces promoting endless consumerism and a rush toward an ecological wasteland. But it is a choice within our power, and thus it is an essential, nourishing, goal-fit choice to make.

Food: Loving to Eat Well When the Emotional Munchies Strike

Garden Peas and Chard I Love to Eat.

Breakfast. Lunch.  Dinner. Snacks. Hors d’oeuvres. Tasty, fresh food is a treasure, especially when shared with friends.   Over the years I’ve focused on bringing more vitality, joy, and wholeness into my diet. I prefer eating vegan. Mainly because I feel clearer, lighter and leaner; also because of my concern for animal suffering.

Eating vegan isn’t the best choice for everyone; I get that. What does seem key is stoking the instinct for what truly nutrifies, particularly when contrary, munchie forces are at play.  I suggest as well that experimenting with food excels as an actionable metephor for finding and choosing what fortifies and alternately de-energizes many aspects of ourselves: our creativity, relationships and Heart’s Desires.

This past week I started the 3-week alkalinizing experience outlined in Kris Carr’s book Crazy Sexy Diet: Eat your veggies. Ignite your spark. And live like you mean it. My friend, Carrie Marry, who offers intelligent, heart-full health coaching, turned me onto this resource a few years back.   The book contains a lot more than information on alkalinity, but this is the part I use.

There are two main things I appreciate about Carr’s approach. One: I (you) actually get to eat. No days and days of just drinking lemon water or juices. The focus is on food choice.   On a day to day basis I find my food selections stand pretty solid. But undertaking this 21-day alkalinity shift shows me where I am weak. And this brings me to appreciation number Two:   I value what I call the agonizing liberation. By that I mean those cellularly palpable, difficult, revelatory moments when I’m craving the easy fix . . . the popcorn stress snack at work . . . the emotionally comforting chocolate . . . the quick energy boosting slice of small-batch brick oven baked sourdough dipped in olive oil.  Not that popcorn, chocolate or hearty bread necessarily constitute poor choices. However, the habits and feelings that sometimes push me toward them indicate deeper, entrapping imbalances.

In these cleanse crises, I try to exercise evolutionary strength. I make myself pause. I let my body remember the tastes it truly desires:  Fresh. Centering.  Vitalizing. I recognize the stresses and needs pushing toward the surface and affirm that they are better faced from a healthy foundation. I put down the popcorn, sip my luscious green smoothie, and reach for the quinoa salad.  Yum.

Earth: What is Our Legacy?

lilyinpattisgardenThursday in meditation I wondered at the ongoing legacy of Earth within our solar system.   What lasting effect flows from our complex and changing biology? From our human creativity and ignorance? Questions within which I could see and sense possibilities, but could not definitively answer. Perhaps you’ve gathered some clear insights through your contemplation.

Our individual legacies do, however, wait within the realm of dream-able and actionable.   It’s never too early or too late to begin preparing soil, planting seeds and encouraging the blossoming of our contributions on earth. Now is the perfect moment!

Grand public legacies inspire and benefit the common good. But can also intimidate. Don’t let the heralded donation of a thousand acres, dampen your cultivation of a bed of lilies that pleases the Heart and delights the imagination of friends and neighbors today and into the future. I am reminded of this each morning as I enjoy the progressive coloring of my landlady’s lovingly constructed landscaping.

Private legacies pack immediate and enduring potency. A meal with neighbors gifts understanding. An honest conversation between lovers bequeaths trust.  Listening to stories of an aging parent transfers family riches.   Pursuing the Heart’s inspirations with full gusto releases a wealth of enthusiasm and stick-to-it-ness, especially when the journey’s core ideas, hardships and successes are shared in conversation with friends.

I find building such intimate legacies requires fitness in valuing and claiming small moments.   Small moments filled with great Heart, free from technological distractions and virtual allures. Small moments rich in authentic human-ness.  Small moments, that whatever our destiny, whatever our fate as a species or a planet, shine together as a bright Earthen legacy.