Category Archives: Endurance

Endurance: Consulting the wood stove oracle

Love

A friend invited me to a 2016 personal visioning gathering held last weekend.   She promised snacks and wine.   Also art supplies to give the vision form — an opportunity not directly in my skill set, but playfully appealing nonetheless.

A deep cold surged in the night before, and as I often do on those penetrating frosty eves, I settled into the narrow stretch between the wall and the wood stove.   Ruby, my  wonderfully plump companion cat stretched along side me; together, we soaked up the warmth.

That toasty wood stove nook lends itself to pondering, dreaming, meditation, questions and answers   I hypothesize that over the winter weeks it’s become invigorated with creative expectation.

Do you have a go-to space you’ve super-charged with wonder?  For insights?

Simply thinking of the visioning gathering initiated an easy flow of goals, projects, and initiatives for the coming months.   I jotted down the list in a small notebook I’ve taken to bringing with me when entering the wood stove realm.  At the top of the page I wrote  the heading “Carry the Vibration of Love”, and I re-considered my list in that light.

Love can be an amorphous ideal.  A word often exalted and deprived of  its everyday application.   To love is a gift.  A vocation, a commitment that expands and grows, taking many forms, filling a new year’s list. . . .  challenging, healing, enlivening  . . . perhaps endlessly day after day.

At the 2016 visioning gathering I picked up a magazine from a stack designated for collage making.   It was a random home and garden publication.  I flipped through the pages.   “Love”.  “Love.”  “Love.”   “Love.”    Caught my eye.  Again and again and again.   I smiled and reached for the scissors.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Endurance: Googling “Chakra” on a Wintry Day

IMG_20160110_121141266

Google gave me 25,600,000 entries in .42 seconds when I typed “chakra” into the search bar.  That’s a lot of ideas at my finger tips.  A lot of knowledge.  Some wisdom.  And undoubtedly a full collection of images, depicting the swirling spinal energy centers identified in spiritual traditions as a convergence of body and soul, matter and consciousness.

Despite the public ubiquity of chakra material, I find the subject to be quite personal and requiring an individual approach.  Perhaps you have your own story to share on this outlook.

I was counseled early on in my spiritual quest to be aware of the chakras, but not to focus specifically on developing them.  That felt right to me, primarily because I was a spiritual novice and sensed my path would be one of slow endurance rather than rapid progress.  So through trial and error over the years I’ve concentrated on cultivating values and health.  On finding purpose. And taking action.   Perhaps my chakras have changed in color or shape over the years, perhaps not.

Still the ideal beauty and evolutionary promise of the chakras, as symbols of the Human journey, stay with me. I was reminded of this beauty today on an early afternoon walk, when I happened upon a gathering of icicles touched by the Sun’s rays.   A momentary convergence of form and light.

 

Endurance: Claiming the Power of the Black-Eyed Pea

blackeyed peas

Somewhere, somehow, at some point in time a Tradition begins.   A practice, coupled with beliefs or even wisdom, passes from generation to generation and arrives in the modern day.  The originating impulse endures, although likely obscured in the telling by palatable contemporary desires and interpretations.

The customary eating of black-eyed peas and greens on New Year’s Day dates back a few centuries in the American South.  I had never heard of or partaken in this holiday ritual prior to moving to Arkansas.  But I’ve come to enjoy it (minus the ham hock), especially given the freshly cut collards, mustard greens, and kale available from our local farmers.

The  black-eyed pea is said to have originated in North Africa and is believed to have crossed to the Americas with Spanish explorers and the slave trade.  On-line sources and Southern-born friends explain that welcoming abundance and an appetite for wealth stands at the heart of the tradition.   Apparently the greens, specifically collards, represent dollars and the black-eyed peas symbolize coins.

I prefer an alternate story. The black-eyed pea or cowpea is a nutrient-packed legume that grows well in hot, challenging climates.  Collard greens sweeten after the first frost and are rich with vitamins.  On January 1, looking toward the horizon of a New Year, toward a winter yet to be completed, toward freshly set goals and renewed commitments, what could be more filling, more energizing and endurance-affirming than a celebrated meal of black-eyed peas and tender collard greens?

Happy New Year, Everyone.

 

 

 

 

Endurance: Making Community Commitments that Strengthen

Leatherwood CreekBuilding individual endurance for heart-full living involves multiple interwoven commitments. I’ve written about seven of these over the past seven weeks. 1) Refreshing clarity of Purpose and one’s part in Life’s unfolding story. 2) Finding common ground not just in vision but also in relationship. 3) Speaking up. 4) Resting and stretching the Heart. 5) Immersing in Beauty.   6) Drawing on Earth’s regenerative powers. 7) Rooting through action.   I’m certain you have your own trusted favorites discovered and cultivated through your individual studies and lived journey.

 Would the same practices apply to a family or larger community?   Here I find through simple observation and the vicissitudes of my own decade-long intentional community experience that, when entering the realm of “group”, complications necessarily emerge. Complications of diversity, coordination, commitment and conscious intent.

Still I wonder how does a family or community refresh its endurance for healthy, heart-full living?   It’s a question, I believe, that has many answers.   I contemplated its possibilities one evening on the banks of Leatherwood Creek.   Hints of dusk were gathering and the frogs were just beginning their evening song, as the clear water scurried below my bare feet in a rain-fed rush.

Just a few minutes drive from my home down winding Hwy 62, Leatherwood Creek sparkles through Lake Leatherwood Municipal Park on the western edge of Eureka Springs. This city treasure was sculpted from the Ozarks beginning in the 1940’s. Its sixteen hundred acres hold a baseball diamond, soccer fields, nearly 15 miles of wooded hiking and biking trails, camping sites, cabins and an 85 acre lake featuring one of the largest hand-cut limestone dams in the United States.   Not a bad spread for tourist town registering a permanent resident population under 2500.   Popular locals, day visitors and overnight guests, the park’s landscape still invites the experience of feeling as if one “has the whole place to oneself”, while also offering space for group play and adventure.

In Leatherwood’s evening solitude, I realized I was sitting on and in and surrounded by an answer to my question.   A community’s commitments speak to the source, quality, and opportunity that its inhabitants have for building endurance and experiencing renewal. And perhaps even to the question of whether or not the community consciously prefers to endure at all.

I don’t have any scientific studies demonstrating that Leatherwood’s accessible green space, open water, sports fields, and tended trails positively impact the sustaining heart and well-being of Eureka Springs and its residents.   But watching families splash through puddles and gather in good spirits on that Wednesday evening for an informal round of soccer gave me the practical measure of proof I need that this park, this community commitment strengthens and builds endurance of heart and health.

Endurance: Draw on Great Powers

violetsBirthing great goals necessitates calling on great powers. Not powers separate from ourselves.   But rather pulsing reservoirs of creativity and vitality existing beyond our self-defined ring-pass-not’s.

Reaching into such reservoirs means trespassing beyond self-circumscribed notions of personal intellect, desire and strength. Stretching into the unpredictable wild of energetic interplay. Adventuring into intimate co-inspiration and opening to exponential uplift. I find this broadening applies equally to the completion of finite projects and pursuing long-term aims, such as living a transformative life rich with challenge, friendship and meaning.

Mother Earth is perhaps our most natural, go-to beyond-self resource. Simply touching Her with bare hands and feet pulls us into Her replenishing circulation and eases us out of our modern electro-magnetic overload. Plenty of “Earthing” websites will attest to this renewing phenomena, but how much more potent to check it out for oneself: squishing toes into a humble patch of untreated row house lawn, resting full body amongst the season’s lush wildflowers (mind the ticks and chiggers), or plunging waist deep into a brisk spring river. Moment upon moment of earth-touching recharges our endurance and boosts hope, courage and the sense of possibility — all essential to great pursuits.

I’ve applied this principle in a small way, as the weather has warmed, shifting to practicing karate barefooted on a stone patio interspersed with vigorous violets. I know my workday technologically-taxed mind and middle-aged body need the balancing, vitalizing terrestrial input if I’m to carry the strength and vigor necessary for my upcoming yellow belt test.

Earth also gifts other powers. She welcomes dynamic creative communion.   In concert with our eyes, our ears, taste, touch, smell and intuition, She widens, encourages and hones, inspiring authentic sculpture, cookery, and poetry among other arts. My friend, Lorna Trigg Hirsch, paints vibrant feminine images with expansive names like Cloud Flyer and Shooting Universal Stars; each a heart-sourced expression conceived through interaction with lake-sculpted stones, local caves, and plants.

In addition to the Earth’s biology and creative spirit, trans-personal power resides in the very intent of our goals themselves. This is the power of goodwill. A convergence of heart-held commitment and action dedicated to the good of another or to shared good. A power which, I have found, connects the human heart and effort to greater evolutionary forces and results in a cycle of tremendous creative outflow and renewing centripetal inrush.   Invocation and Evocation so to speak.

My friend, Miguel, playfully reminded me of the power of goodwill this week when he set out to make a unique birthday video card for a young relative. You can check out his unverified world-record-tying results here.

Endurance: Immerse in Beauty

merlot redbuds close upThis week a friend and I visited the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art in Bentonville, Arkansas.   Generally I’m not a fan of museums.  My solar plexus places them on a spectrum of extremes: stagnant warehouses or jostling super-centers. . . traps to be avoided or escaped. But Crystal Bridges promises vast windows, natural lighting and outdoor walking paths, along with an intriguing visiting-exhibit:  Van Gogh to Rothko.   World class expression in the american heartland.

I was not disappointed.  In fact I drank in the creative and natural beauty like a soothing, rejuvenating tea. The exuberance played in Giacomo Balla’s Dynamism of a Dog on a Leash.. The respect and compassion conveyed in Pissaro’s Peasants in a Field.  The surprising merlot redbuds tucked along sculpted walking paths and the always elevating dogwoods.   In their presence, stress knots tied and tugged by the demands of work and other life responsibilities loosened.   Opening the way for smiles.  Relaxation  Conversation.  Just what I needed.

Some spiritual traditions say that the solar plexus is the most powerful energy center in the human microcosm.  Sensitive.  Absorptive.   On the upside an unsung workhouse: clearing, processing, purifying, generating spontaneous giving and shared delight.  Also a potential pit for dis-ease and resentment.  Does your experience agree?

Beauty immersions lighten the solar plexus load.  Re-set overwrought sensitivity to poised tranquility.  Magnetize an overall sense of well-being.  Sustain health on the way of Heart-full living.

Of course beauty can be encountered in the closeness of one’s own home, favorite walkway or interior imagination. But sometimes, even (or especially) in a busy life, travelling outside the usual is worth the extra effort.