Tuesday, October 25, 2011

To Understand Others We Need to Connect with Ourselves

The past three months have been filled with opportunities of peace, transformation, and teachings that speak to the heart and move to the outer worlds that surround me. In my mind I make note of potential blog pieces, but then time swallows me whole leaving little time to organize reflections and create written images. However today is the day I commit to writing and sharing the vibe, finding those spaces in between getting ready for One Woman show in Toronto (stay tuned), being a temporary single mom and organizing for journey back to Grenada! I commit to writing and sharing the past powerful experiences that continue to evolve into a larger commitment of personal and social change.

Last month I took part in an Open Space forum at the Coady International Institute. One of the small discussion groups was led by a catholic priest and community activist from India and a community educator and activist from Papua New Guinea. Their topic was on gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender rights. I was moved deeply by Father’s open hearted and brave introduction to this discussion; “As community workers and agents of change, we need to look deep within ourselves to see where our own oppressive attitudes, and assumptions come from and explore how we can work to transform these attitudes in order to open our hearts and minds to the whole of human race regardless of sexuality, race, class, disability, religion. If we call ourselves human rights activists then how can we disassociate ourselves from any part of the human race that does not fit in with our world view” He talked about the GLBT groups as a vulnerable group in our global society and that we needed to continue breaking down the walls of personal and societal discrimination. Father’s courageous words felt like an extended burst of rain pouring down on a parched wilted garden.

My mind moves to the Being Brave: Transforming our World retreat I took part in early August and how Father’s words were a clear example of finding the courage to examine one’s own mind and committing oneself to breaking down cultural, societal, religious conditioning and exploring one’s own interior landscape as a means to social transformation. How can we recognize our own fears, our own anger and sadness, our pre-conceived notions of ourselves and others? How can we slow down long enough to really see what is going on in our minds and thus what is going on outside our minds? How can we feel other people’s sadness, anger, jealousy, greed, hate, if we can’t feel our own? And why can’t we feel our own?

Pema Chodron says the foundation of empathy is to be able to see our own confusion, addictions, longings, aggressions, pre-judgments, self-doubts. She says getting to know our own humanity allows us to work with one another in a less judgmental way, allows us to see the full human complexity within ourselves and others, “a kinder heart towards human fraility.” Pema also made clear that none of this works If you don’t like yourself. She says we need to make friends with ourselves. If one is unable to recognize the inherent strength and goodness in oneself then difficult to see this in others.

The teachings of the young catholic priest and the Being Brave Retreat relate to transforming society, sharing teachings that could bring about an era of courage in which people could experience their goodness and extend themselves to others. May these teachings take root in you and others leading to the possibility of a future full of hope, equality, equity, strength and goodness. .

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

i give thanks and praise

i give thanks and praise to Grandfather sun for sharing his warmth and generosity over the holiday weekend;

i give thanks and praise to fire soft colours begging us to pay attention, to gather, to walk, to dance, to sing underneath a canopy of sun drenched delicacies of orange green yellow red mauve and purples;

i give thanks and praise to global family from Tanzania, Uganda, Ethiopia, Ghana, Nepal, Zambia, Sierra Leone, Grenada, Russia, Germany and Canada celebrating life, community, holidays of thanks ;

i give thanks and praise to Cameron Lake where Maya and i draped ourselves across the warmth of the water’s dock talking, laughing, documenting our thankfulness to Mother Earth;

i give thanks and praise to this path of generosity, this path of peace that runs deep in all of us begging us to pay attention, to pay attention…..