This has been the Biggest Summer Ever for me, so it has taken some time to get back to writing. So much has changed, both inner and outer, in my world. First, congratulations to all of the 49,000 students that are back at school (here in Portland), and all the families, teachers, staff, and administration that support them. This is no small thing, teaching/supporting the youth of today, and I am grateful that you are taking on this challenge.
For me, today has been about integration. With so many changes over the summer, I am now able to land and find how all of these experiences are opening up my world now, in this moment. One major change that I shared earlier is that my mother, Nancy Lower, died on May 14th. Just this morning, I was taking some time to unpack a box of her jewelry that we had sorted when we were in Utah for her memorial (in July). I was feeling waves of gratitude, then grief, as I pulled out some of her beloved earrings and necklaces. She had a LOT of them---it was one of her passions, collecting jewelry. It really reflected her love of color, art, travel and God. As I sat and had a good cry, I noticed that one of the cats was trying to eat something on the floor. They love to eat anything and everything (brother and sister, turning two this Fall, so still very much kittens). I bent over to pick it up, discovering it was one of Claire's baby teeth! Omg. Really? I went right from crying to laughing. God/dess has such a sense of humor. A small, white tooth, I'd left on my dresser months ago, brought to me as a reminder of the impermanence of life, and to not take things too seriously!
So, how do we integrate and thread our lives together again after changes, large or small? We feel. We breathe, and we notice the Space that is created from feeling and breathing. The mind wants to create pictures and spin stories from the past or the future. We can watch the spinning and come back to the feeling/s. Easier said than done, no doubt. This is why it's called a practice: the more we practice returning to the Space, the easier it is to not get caught in the Story. The tendency might be to jump away from the feeling/s and move on to the next moment. Or it might be to judge the feeling/s for being there in the first place. Simply feeling the feelings, allowing them to move through us, and then noticing the Space that is created, is a beautiful practice of compassion, and patience. Be with the moment to moment awareness of ourselves as the Space that encompasses everything, the Stillness that holds all of the constantly changing experiences of the senses.
I've spent most of my life seeking the Truth. When I was 19, I became deeply aware of this seeking (more on that later), but I have memories of sitting in church, praying and crying to know God/Jesus, to be deeply connected to something that could be called God, even though I wasn't really sure what that meant. For decades, the mind has held onto the notion that if I'm "good enough," as close to perfect as possible, then I will feel better and better and eventually won't have to feel all of these crazy, challenging feelings at all. For most of these years, this tendency was not conscious. From childhood, there was formed an inner "holding," a waiting for the "good" feeling/experience/state that would then be maintained and uplift me above the Muck of Life (the painful, ever-changing emotions and sensations of the body).
Another layer of this misunderstanding was shattered recently when I was on retreat in Hawaii, and I could feel how this holding/waiting was based in fear and wasn't allowing me to be present with the ever-changing flow of emotions. Part of me was demanding that it all just stop, so that I could be wrapped in silence and stillness and stay there, protected from all the words, all the movement, all the changes, so that I could finally be free and know God. Fully know God. Even for a moment. Through self-effort (the retreat focused on timeless love) and Grace, I was able to release another piece of this "holding" and allow life to flow through and around me with greater ease. A subtle and powerful letting go, allowing the unfolding of the present moment to be perfect, just as it is. When the cat found the tooth, and the flow to emotion shifted, it was seamless, nothing that I was doing right or wrong or needed to change, since I was able to stay with the feeling. We ride our feelings back to the present, again and again.
When we are attentive to our own inner world more and more, we start to see the connections between our inner process and what is happening on the outside. There is no separation. Love wants to bring each of us back to itself, and is guiding us in every moment. So let's listen, deeply, to the guidance from within. Let's be honest with ourselves and with those around us. Let's notice the connections, the threads that Love is weaving (like the cat, the tooth, and the laughter). If we're getting too serious about "doing it right," or "getting it done," love will give us a wake-up call to Let Go and Let God!
Welcome to my Blog!
I am very excited to begin this journey with you. It will unfold over the months and years, but today is the launching of this new avenue of exploration for me, and a way for us to stay in touch. I've been wanting to write a blog for years, and now is the time! Thank you for following me and I hope to hear from some of you as you read my musings.
15 years ago today, I was at Providence Hospital getting ready to have my first baby! Happy Birthday to Aria Elizabeth Lavenue, born at 6.11 pm on 7/14/04. We are so blessed to have you in our lives and amazed as we watch you grow into a confident, smart, strong, talented young woman. May your next year be full of love and joy and exploration and maybe even a Driver's Permit (omg!).
I choose to name this blog Harmony because it is the beautiful combination of being fully myself while being fully balanced within my community, be that the family community, church, country, or the world. To create beautiful harmony, one must become absorbed in the overall sound that is created, not dwelling on one's own sound entirely, yet not abandoning it either. Harmony is the ability to hold my center amidst the constantly changing pulse of life. It is to live the balance of self and others, knowing fully that we are one and that my "part" is essential to the whole. It is honoring that on the path to Enlightenment, the small self (the ego) will come to know the the True Self (God) through connection to others, through the day-to-day details of this life, not just through personal spiritual practice.
In my early years of searching for Truth, I would fantasize about going to live at an Ashram (I spent some months at one while visiting India, more on all of that later) and felt that being there was the fastest ticket to knowing God. Through marriage and raising two girls, life has clearly presented a different path to knowing God, and through it I have grown in more ways that I could have ever imagined. The harmony in my life now has come through embracing the paradox that in my heart I feel I am a monk, a devotee who longs to know God through each action of each day, and in my day to day life I am a mom, a wife, a teacher, a sister, a daughter, a minister, a singer, a dancer, a healer, a meditator, and a regular person, just like everyone else. To know Divinity is to be fully human. Earlier in my seeking, I spent years just wanting Divinity only please, the humanity stuff was just too messy! Thank heavens that has changed.
My purpose in having a blog is to share deeply with my community how Spirit moves us toward love, over and over again, in small and large ways, and to do this with humility and humor. Topics may focus on music/sound healing, movement, meditation/mindfulness, mysticism, and how we can allow this to influence our lives during the Trump Era:
For many of us, the current political mayhem has brought us to hunger deeply for Truth. Truth in politics yes, but also a deeper Truth that is within us, to manifest in the world through our thoughts/actions. We can feel the tensions around us and within us, the tension of a world swimming in Duality: democrats vs. republicans, black vs. white, rich vs. poor, the list is endless. This is the playground where we play everyday. Yet there is something within that longs to heal these rifts, to bring people together to create harmony whenever and wherever we can. This longing has a million names, but I like to use the word Truth. It is impossible to capture God/Truth/Spirit in one word because it comes from a place that is wordless, so please substitute your favorite word for Truth, if need be, when you read along. It is to this Truth that I dedicate this blog. The Truth that has called me to be a minister, a singer, a healer, and to share my version of wisdom about how we can be in this world, with ourselves and others.
Stay tuned as this writing journey unfolds. And may Harmony tap on the door of your thoughts, or maybe nudge you in your dreams tonight....