Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Arriving Home

Spending the past month traveling [on the road, pilgrimage, walkabout, however one names it], I've been fortunate enough to make a couple of pauses back home again. Several thoughts and insights arose from those pauses.

Foremost is gratitude for those who remain behind and continue to make that place from which I started a home. It's a place to which I'm happy to return. Not only the physical place, but also the comfort of family and friends. I recognize that everyone in it ~ from the baristas at Starbucks who know my name and my drink preferences to the musicians and other friends who follow me on social media to former co-workers asking for details ~ everyone reaches out with recognition and comfort when I return.

This particular T. S. Eliot quote has stirred my soul since I first read it in high school. Exploration includes travel, yet that is not all that it is. It encompasses much more than that. It's also the exploration of our surroundings in other ways. We step out into a new form of the world. We examine and try on new ideas, new thoughts, new identities. We watch ourselves grow and change into adults, partners, parents, friends. We move through our physical, mental, emotional, spiritual worlds ~ sometimes filled with care, sometimes crashing and burning, sometimes on quiet tiptoe. Even so, there is for each of us a resting place, a place from which we rose and a place to which we return. We may return to it as a different, changed person ~ but it remains deep within us nevertheless.

I used to think it was about returning to a particular place, home, neighborhood, city, whatever. As time continues to move forward in its ever plodding way, I believe it is more about that spot deep within us in which resides our personal and/or collective Still Small Voice. We can define It, name It however we choose: God, Goddess, Universal Mind, Creator, Higher Power, Allah, Great Spirit or even Lebowski. I doubt that It is particular about how we call It. Yet I firmly believe that It, that incredible Ineffable One, is the place from which we come and the place to which we eventually return.

What/How do you name your Still Small Voice? What are you currently exploring? What have you recently explored? Have any of the places you've explored changed in the recent past? Do you expect any to change in the future? Where did you start from? How do you feel about returning there?

Saturday, May 20, 2017


Resurrection. The reversal of what was thought to be absolute. The turning of midnight into dawn, hatred into love, dying into living anew.
If we look more closely into life, we will find that resurrection is more than hope, it is our experience. The return of life from death is something we understand at our innermost depths, something we feel on the surface of our tender skin …
We give thanks for all those times we have arisen from the depths or simply taken a tiny step toward something new. May we be empowered by extraordinary second chances. And as we enter the world anew, let us turn the tides of despair into endless waves of hope.
~ Molly Fumia

Sometimes, when we least expect it, we find that we've been carrying some dead thing around with us or some unknown, unspoken grief has raised itself into our heart or a wound thought healed resurfaces. When that happens, we generally cuss, either under our breath or loudly, and get upset that we have, once again, to deal with the bugger.

In actuality, the return or reopening of that thing we wish would leave us alone is a blessing. Like the cactus, it has sharp stickers that insert themselves into the tender parts of our bodies, minds and hearts. But also like that cactus, it has an extraordinary beauty that blossoms and brings us joy ~~ eventually.

A personal story ~
Once, while participating in a sweat lodge, I found myself feeling claustrophobic. I'd been attending lodges regularly for years and this had never occurred previously. In fact, I was often in the innermost circle of a lodge ~ closest to the hot stones, with other women crowding close behind me. This time, however, the feeling overwhelmed me. I found myself requesting to leave. Outside, I sat on a log next to the fire. The firetender quietly asked what brought me out. I shared my feelings and my surprise, and wondered if he had any idea what may have made that urge to leave so intense. He didn't have an answer for that. It was my issue, my challenge. What he said was, Give it to the fire. The fire will burn it out and send the ashes to Spirit. Just know that, whatever the issue may be, it will return even more fiercely next time. The difference will be that you will know how to handle it. Each time it returns, it will be less and less of an issue.

I followed the firetender's advice and found it to be true. Now, whenever one of those issues resurrects itself, I take it to one or more of the Elements ~ fire, water, air, earth ~ and release it. The trick is in the release. I can't let it go then take it back again by worrying about it. That requires faith that eventually joy and beauty will replace whatever pain or ugliness shows up, even if it takes time.

Getting to the resurrection of joy and beauty requires that we change, that we allow the pain, the fear, the loss to be very real and present in our lives ~ and then release it into the place of transformation and watch for the blossom.

What feeling returns to haunt you? How often has it returned? How does it affect your life? What element can you imagine releasing it to? How might you do that? Who might help you do that? What does resurrection mean to you? for you?

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

The Gift of Watching and Being Watched

©2017 ML Monroe

When for too long I don't go deep enough into the woods to see them, they begin to enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the pinewoods of my inner life. I want to live a life full of modesty and praise. Each hoof of each animal makes the sign of a heart as it touches then lifts away from the ground. Unless you believe that heaven is very near, how will you find it? Their eyes are pools in which one would be content, on any summer afternoon, to​ swim away through the door of the world. Then, love and its blessing. Then: heaven.
~ Mary Oliver
New and Selected Poems: Volume Two

My final evening visiting friends in Arizona, I stepped out on the back porch with my cell phone softly belching 'on hold' music. The air was fresh, cool and clear. Birds chirped and chattered. I turned the noise even softer. Distracted, I walked toward the end of the porch. Movement in the side yard caught my attention. Two young mule deer munched on greenery. I ended the phone call.

I stood still, staring at the two deer. One kept turning toward me. The other moved forward to munch on the leaves hang in front of the face turned in my direction. Not a great move. The first deer turned from watching me to rise up on his hind legs and push his sibling away. As the intruding deer moved away to find his own green space, the first deer turned his gaze toward me, and stepped in my direction. I stood quiet staring back, watching him prance one, two, three steps closer. I lifted my phone, opened the camera, and took the above picture.

As Mary Oliver says, When...I don't go deep enough...to see them, they begin to enter my dreams. Yes, there they are, in the pinewoods of my inner life. I breathed deeply, held myself ​as still as my muscles could manage, returned the direct stare of the gentle mule deer.

The deer showed up strongly as I prepared to travel on from this place. This lovely encounter opens to several meanings. The deer sees between shadows and hear what hasn't been said. It is sensitive, intuitive and in touch with the mysteries of life. It has the magical capacity to regenerate as well as pass through life and obstacles with grace. Its gentle vigilance teaches me to stay relaxed, at ease and aware.

I'm grateful for the coming of the deer. Much of my travel has focused on Ancient Peoples sites and stories. I'm grateful also for what they have taught and shared about the animals and land around them.

What creatures have recently showed up in your life? What of themselves are they sharing with you? How will you incorporate their message for you? How often do you find yourself acknowledging or even noticing the elements of nature around you?

Monday, May 15, 2017

Scorpio Full Moon 2017

©2017 ML Monroe​
This explains everything. Scorpio, the fluid sign of depth, setting its edginess over the May Full Moon. As the saying goes, the energy feels like we're tumbling down the rabbit hole. Remembering, as with Alice, we have the sense that we're taking a long time to land.

Scorpio is about transformation, about reaching higher and deeper into personal consciousness. It carries the potential for attaining the heights of Divine consciousness as well as diving into the deepest levels.

No matter who you are, the impact of this Full Moon will last a long time as it gradually opens you to seeing and experiencing things in a new light.

Use this pivotal point in the year to embrace change and transformative shifts​ for personal forward movement. Days later, as this Full Moon energy fades, understanding will increase.

We often forget about out own inner strength and power which provides us with everything we need to step up and take responsibility over our lives. When we ignore or give away our power, we find ourselves sinking into whatever difficulties come our way. When we remember the vast wisdom and potential that resides within us, we can navigate and rise above the troubles. This Scorpio Full Moon is the perfect time to recall and time into that inner energy. We only need trust and engage the magic coming from the cosmos and send our wishes into the ethers at this auspicious moment.

Like the light of the moon coming through the branches of the tree, this Scorpio Full Moon shines light in through the darkness. It brings a new, deepened focus to all that needs to be transformed on our path and in our world.

What needs to be transformed in your life? What is bubbling forth into the light? How are you tumbling down the rabbit hole? How are you feeling about it? What new potential is revealing itself in your life?

Friday, May 5, 2017

Living Like a Saguaro

While on my first visit to Arizona, the friend who picked me up commented that we were driving through a saguaro forest. I'd never heard that term. When considering cacti, even ones as large as the saguaro, the term forest was an alien concept. So I asked her to pull over somewhere so I could take a picture. The do indeed grow in groupings akin to a forest of trees. The differences I noticed made me think about how we humans live together.

Look at how they form community: close, yet not. Much like the way we live. If we have choice, we move into neighborhoods because of their reputation for safety or friendliness. Yet we remain separate. We get to​ know our neighbors, yes, but we keep our prickly selves a bit apart, slightly distant.

The saguaros are also tall and erect. If I were to anthropomorphize them, I'd say they look proud. Which is also a trait we exhibit in community. Sometimes, that's an important stance to take. We show we can make it, we have a strong sense of ourselves, we are productive members of society. On the other hand, there are times when that pride can separate us, keep us from speaking our truth, telling of our need of others.

Also like the saguaro, we embrace the conditions around us and offer shelter for those who peck their way into our core. With no defense to keep them out, we take them on and protect them. We offer the deepest part of ourselves, no matter the cost to us. We share much in common with these stately, sometimes comical cacti.

What keeps you apart from others? What keeps you rooted in community? How does your prickly self show up? How do you act when it does? What do you do to change it? Or do you embrace it and remain apart? Who's made their way into your heart, you life, despite your prickly effort to keep them out?