Category: relationships


Don’t think for a moment that the plants don’t have the ability to communicate with you! Sometimes to share wisdom and sometimes to tell you off when need be! This really happened to me..

The Greening Spirit

Plantspeak

In various herbal conferences I have attended, I was always intrigued when certain teachers and indigenous speakers would make references to hearing the plants sing, or receiving messages from them about how to use them for healing. As far as I knew in my long years of gardening it had never happened to me… at least not yet until one summer when I unexpectedly became a wandering minstrel gypsy with a performing Ecuadorean family of musicians as their co-ordinator, unintentionally (but rather cavalierly) abdicating my role as garden mistress. That was the summer I finally “heard” the plants…only it wasn’t a song…it was an indignant lecture and chiding.

Attentively planting and raising my heirloom vegetable plants from seed in early spring, I looked after each stage of their emergence and growth with great delight. Planting them in the rich prepared soil of the side garden, I looked forward to seeing them begin…

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Mandala Fam Dark Moon

Ah Cancer! Motherhood, Fanily, Nurturing, Food, cooking, the Tribe, gardens, memories and heritage, the home.

Once a Mother, always a mother…this is one strong experience I have learned over the many years I have shared with my daughters since they first popped out and into this world until..well, right now! They are mothers also in the ongoing process of learning how complex a job it is to usher and guide another human being through life and I have loved watching them unfold into this role. I have seen a documentary in which the Dalai Lama himself said that the most important job in the world is that of the Mother..and being an astrological Cancer-rising woman myself, I would have to agree.

My daughters have always been an exquisite delight as I was raising them and I have loved them dearly. There has been laughter, warmth and comfort and I have been blessed that they are fine, funny, responsible and gifted women, mothers, and wives.

But no family is without challenges and heartache and over the years we have had times when things worked exceedingly well between us and times when there was struggle or temporary distance and stresses, grasping for undertanding, grasping for appropriate words to challenge or address perceived slights or disappointments. Add to the mix of “life”, the divorce between myself and their father, my own struggles in single-parenting for many years and the re-arrangement of family loyalties and connections in the course of their own marriages, the balancing of me and their father and in-laws…well, sometimes heartache and frustration are an inevitable part of the  family mix until we learn to share needs and hurts diplomatically, truthfully and gently for the good of all, which surely does take practice! (Knowing when to remain silent and just let it go is a skill as well)

After one such time of challenge in relating in new ways, the dark moon/new moon in Cancer allowed me to look at where we were and re-evaluate and re-new what was important for us as a family and as mother and daughters.

Our family times together with me and the girls doesn’t happen as often as we’d like, living in three different states and they with full-time jobs and families. To bring us together at a time when life may have drifted us apart I called on the word “respect” to remember that in the time when they are now adult, responsible and meeting all kinds of demanding requirements of their own lives and relationships I must “respect” the changes of new family connections, time commitments and responsibilities that re-shape our own original connection.  Anyone who lives in a family knows that words are not always crafted well under duress and both  giving respct and claiming respect for oneself in interactions  is an important part of  “relationship-ing”.

In this mandala, the ocean for me represents the vast sea of emotion that is part and parcel of the connection between my daughters and myself. Compassion, tears, cleansing, moods and tides flow through our lives. Especially true when astrological Cancer is part of the emotional make-up or phase of the moon.

In this mandala, a tablesetting and delicious food…always a virtue of Cancer…has always been a part of our life… cooking and eating together when they were growing up was a priority of our family life and is always a highlight when we manage to get together all…”You (or I) are coming for a visit? What shall we plan for our meal!”. Communion around the dinner table is such a healing ritual….a ritual that is much compromised in this fast and over-scheduled culture.

In this mandala, books and knowledge…always part of our homes. Books, books for grownups, and for children!

And over our heads, the flower Echinacea as a protection and healing totem…Echinacea that stimulates the immune system to be strong, resisting toxins and illness that periodically weakens us or brings us down. Echinacea that stregthness our ties as Mothers and Daughters, with the children ..daughters and sons…the family connection….

This is one of my favorite mandalas…

**** Note: This series is being prepared for a book on the Dark Moon/New Moon, how to form a monthly gathering, the dark moon mandala art project  and journaling with the moon mandala.

Mamma GroupieFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

MoonCircle Three

Ah! The Dark Moon/New Moon in Libra. Libra: one-on-one commited relationships ie business partners? Professional and client? MARRIAGE? (also ­art, harmony, beauty, balance/imbalance, dependency/co-dependency, negotiation vs autonomy, gracefulness, diplomacy, and nice-nice for the sake of peace at all costs).

Journaling:

I have spent a good part of my adult life in partnerships and a bigger part of it as a single. In each of those two states I have been fully “in” it as it unfolded.  And I have learned important things in each……relationship with other and relationship with self.

The experience of being single and “in charge of myself and decision-making” without having to negotiate with another has afforded me the deep silence and extended times of chosen solitude necessary for the creative expressive part of my life’s calling. This freedom is an intense personal need that has only gotten stronger as I have gotten older.

The single life allows me the quiet and mental space in which to hear the inner promptings of inspiration and creativity. Just like the woman in the mandala alone in the greenhoouse planting beautiful flowers or the the woman taking time out to sit back and just be, without guilt or having to follow another’s schedule, I have  treasured the autonomy of being “single” and have somewhat chosen this in spirit if not in reality. I think. Because..

I also know that the warmth and sharing of devoted partnership or one-on-one intimacy is equally precious …when it is working at its best….in shared commitment and loyalty,  hugs, family time, conversations, brain-storming, task-sharing in the household, private games and shared jokes and humour, the history of trials and steadfastness…gifts, all.

Perhaps it is possible to have both, but I have yet to solve the challenge of that and though I am grateful to have experienced both, I am not sure exactly what it is the path that is truly the right one for me as I get older… now.

In this Dark Moon/New Moon in LIBRA mandala, my feelings gravitate towards the two images of the solo moments. Perhaps it is that as I have gotten older, have been partnered/married I am not now willing to give up large portions of my soul just for the sake of “peace” within relationship that threatens that. The partnership images are enticing…but it would definitely have to be the right person who would allow me to take periodic sanctuary into my own private personal soul-space.

Maybe it is a lifetime exercise in all relationships to work with the balancing of “self and other”.

Dark Moon Picasa twoFrom Christine, the Greening Spirit

Eyes See You

                                                          Eyes See You

Yesterday while finishing up the transaction in line at the grocery store, the young clerk handed me my change and the receipt. As I took it, I did something shocking. Smiling,  I caught his eye  as I said “thank you” and for the briefest second or two a flash of human connection happened which startled him before he shyly smiled back his eyes locked with mine.  Not just a clerk and a customer and a quick  “have a good one”  but an actual rich moment of recognition, appreciation, acknowledgement and respect between two strangers.

How rare that is these days, as we mindlessly look away from people,  and out or down into distractions…hand-held phones, I-pads,  lists, or the never-ending agendas and self-talk in our mind  blinding us from really seeing and “being-HERE- now” in the present situation. How equally rare it is to  “wake up” amd turn away from those many other things crowding awareness of who is right in front of us…to consciously break away  from distraction for a moment to actually turn and LOOK at another directly eye-to eye to SEE and be SEEN.

It’s a tricky thing,  this eye-contact because we are stepping into the area of intimacy, vulnerability and the momentary revelation of our deeply personal tender human-ness. As it is said “The eyes are the doorway to the Soul”.   To not look at all into the eyes of others is to dismiss them and be only partially present. But to turn and look directly for even a second too long breaches necessary personal boundaries and is rude and even worse, invasive.

But when we can, to turn and let our eyes truly see whom we are talking to, or to risk the exposure in letting ourselves be seen fully for even the briefest moment can be the healing balm of connection in the often fast, soul-less pace of modern life. A “sparkle” in the ordinariness of the day.

For the briefest moment, the precious gift or blessing of “Eyes See You”  between people…and SMILES… can, I believe, change the world within oneself, within the other and  in the World.

**** An Art installation: “The Artist is Present”…sitting silently gazing eye-to-eye with strangers…until… “a (familiar)stranger” from the past emerges…. exquisitely beautiful and moving…another Eyes See You……

 

220727_10151282433958396_866733424_oFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

Flower 4

I am a member of a wonderful Unitarian/Universalist community. Part of our Sunday service is this pledge:  

“Love is the spirit of this congregation, and service is our prayer. This is our great covenant: to dwell together in peace, to seek the truth in love….and to help one another.”

Time and time again I have witnessed these precepts in action in this group, gently pulling people out of isolation and into warm connection and belonging especially in times of need or challenge. A truly caring community free of dogma, as is the way of Unitarians, and full of kindness and sincere interest followed by action.

This past Sunday our interim minister, Rev. Jan, spoke so wisely and compassionately in his sermon about the experiences of “Loneliness and Intimacy”. He addressed the sometimes familiar feeling of sometimes being “alone in a crowd” or even “alone in a relationship”. He clarified the differences between men and women when it comes to “intimacy”, men sometimes associating it with a sexual relationship,but women often identifying its presence in deep sharing of stories, deep listening and being “heard”.

I loved all that he shared in his sermon and I KNOW that his thoughts and insights hit home with just about everyone who was there and have lived life alone and with others.

My own family knows that Intimacy is a deep need that is primary for me. Speaking the truth of feelings and experiences with each other, trying to live without judgement, attempting to understand each other’s viewpoints and perspective have been things I as a parent have attempted to teach my children as they grew up. In my later years, I found that the way of Unitarians matched my thinking about this. In my personal friendships and in the workshops I have facilitated, deep sharing, respectful listening without judgement have always been things we have aspired to and attempted to be mindful of. These things foster trust, true soul-filled connection and healing of spirit and emotions.

I am so thankful to have been blessed with friends with whom the treasures of “intimacy” in these ways have been a part of my life. I am happy when I have been able to offer that same treasure back in return. A win-win..we are all healed, and gently drawn out of the lonely place of isolation and disconnect able then to then express our full potential and unique gifts with the blessing from others.

Yesterday, while thinking of the words of Rev. Jan’s sermon which powerfully hit home and have lingered in my consciousness for several days, I went through my photos looking for a nature or garden picture to write about. Instead, I came upon these pictures of a past birthday of mine, and a dear dear soul sister who had stopped by unexpectedly to honor my birthday with a special gift.

Flower 5

This Soul-Sister, “Julie” whom I often call “Jewel-y” because she is a jewel, has been at different times “girlfriend”, “daughter”, “teacher”, “student,” “devil’s advocate”, or “vulnerable and open-hearted seeker”.  Over the years, these individual roles in our friendship have shifted depending on the situations of our very individual lives. A tender shining example of soul-ful “intimacy”… listening deeply to each others stories, challenges and successes, encouraging each other when down, celebrating with each other when up, holding secrets, offering alternatives, challenging decisions and actions that might  block our paths, and more.

Women know these kinds of friendships that sustain us through all other relationships with lovers, partners, parents and children…  Often Soul-ful intimacy may or may not be found in those other situations.

Each of us, my friend Julie and I,  have gone through some very serious and stressful changes in our individual lives over the past several years. We cannot get together much or connect as often right now as we give attention to new situations requiring deep focus and other connections. But I love these pictures of our friendship that seem to have captured the depth of sustaining  support, delight and unfolding that have, and always will, shelter us from the experience of isolation and disconnect in our lives when we might sometimes “feel alone in a crowd”.

btw: my birthday gift from Julie was that throw blanket in a wild animal print. We had been in our women’s group celebrating our wild creative selves and artistic self expression.. there were also cookies are for the sweetness of friendships…!

shawlFrom Christine, The Greening Spirit

 

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