Tag Archive: Communication


A walk at the beach, especially when the heart is heavy and sad, is never a disappointment. There are ALWAYS surprises and messages there for us when we have been cracked open emotionally and in pleading prayer have asked for guidance or a sign of hope that no matter what the issue, in time we will be able to move through the challenge.

We are in a very unsettled time here in the US as we experience the coming apart of our society politically, socially and most recently in the past week, another mass shooting of innocents with a weapon whose sole purpose is to kill as many as possible as fast as possible. Our American psyche has been battered this past year- and- a- half as we come face to face on a daily basis by internal corruption in high places and immoral and self-serving so-called leadership. But THIS issue now of mass killings over and over again has thrust us into a national and personal mixed cauldron of grief and rage as the people fight against a powerful gun lobby that is also determined to fight to the death to protect their own agenda and  profits.

A walk at the beach..with its wide and far horizon and the freshness of wind and consolation of the ever rocking ebb and flow of the tide…cannot solve the situation itself, but it can offer a break in the turbulence of emotion in difficult times, soothing our chaotic feelings and helping us to restore some sort of internal balance as we move through very uncertain and dangerous events requiring new decisions.

But as I said previously, when asking for heartfelt guidance and consolation in difficult times, we always receive an answer if we are aware.

And so for now,  a surprise message of guidance on a walk along the edge where the land meets the sea …the extra surprise when a message of compassion and hope was left in the sand as well… a gifted “communique” from the Universe.  Although created by human hands, the message left for all who might pass by ( even though I took it very personally as if  it were left for me) took on the energy of the Angelic. Which sometimes we humans are for each other, usually unaware that we have been so divinely commissioned.

SOMEone had been by before me …maybe it WAS an actual angel (?)…taking the time to craft this castle of peace. Maybe it was a prayer or meditation experience for them, maybe it was that plus a loving message for others as well to be still and Centered and not lose hope as WE lobby for a society of PEACE, not violence or war.

share Peace Castle COPY(3)

Who knows how long this had remained whole and intact there in the sand before the tide would in time come in and wash it away. As I continued my walk and then sat higher up near the  dues behind this little peace castle,  I watched several other people and couples come by, stopping to look down with surprise at this message. They each and all paused and gazed quietly as if at some holy relic in church, pondering for some long seconds before moving on.

It was comforting to see that no one maliciously attempted to kick or destroy it, but moved on ahead in their walk, leaving this creation to eventually dissolve into the Great Mother She-Sea naturally. In Peace.

There is deepest gratitude to whatever Human (or Angel) left this message.

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

 

 

 

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Every so often I need to write about the lost art of letter writing, which to me is a very sad indicator of a distressed culture, particular one that is originally and supposedly trained in literacy. 

Nothing can compare to the possible eloquence and depth of a personal  letter, thoughtfully composed with the express intention of intimate communication and deepening of relationship. A letter can connect two souls, hearts and minds in a way a dashed-off paragraph in an e-mail or a three-lined tweet can never do. And let’s not forget the bastardization of language, an inquiry of another’s well-being reduced to the single lettered laziness of a “how R U? ”

There is the revealing of personality in penmanship and unique handwriting and the historical treasure of wrinkled old letters and documents on parchment for the sake of posterity that cannot be conjured up and savored in sterile black and white print from a computer file.

Bringing us now to this essay’s main image of this sad abandoned mailbox. This was the mailbox out in the front yard of the home I used to own. My home,One time it was the receiver of a mix of the usual bills of homeowners and letters from family and friends…those personal letters so eagerly awaited when distance kept us apart from personal visits.

But then, over the years, technology changed (or rather, infiltrated) our culture,  people’s lives changed and the computer allowed a quicker “touch-base” communique easier on the run, but less informative. That mailbox became less and less receiver of the written voices of people, but more and more the temporary receiver of printed corporate billing and junk mail and flyers.

My mailbox began to lose heart.

Eventually the billing also went online, and that mailbox only became a holding place, until emptied, of colorful  and jumbled hastily stuffed-in fliers and paper junk advertisements which I refused to bring into the house.

Entered then the cultural change of a mailbox unit at the post office.

My poor mailbox was eventually overtaken by brambles and thorns..alone and abandoned by human connections, it became home to a small nest of bees. The happy ritual of going out into the yarden to check for a letter…a LETTER…or to say hello to the mailman…went the way of many of our rituals of belonging both to family and community.

On New Year’s eve this year, I made a decision (not a resolution) to write monthly letters to friends or family whom I deeply care for. I never know what I will talk about, but when I start writing I try to share stories or history or interesting things that invite dialogue.

So far only one person has written back. My brother. We still talk periodically on the phone, living 2000 miles from each other, but the letters elicit different thoughts to write about and to respond to. My children living very very busy lives (we hear that a lot, don’t we from our adult children?) have informed me that for now not to expect a letter as they are swamped with the responsibilities of family life, children, social events and have no time to skim a letter, let alone write one. I have to remember my days past when I sort of lived what they are living now but in simpler and slower style culturally. 

At least we have texting.

Still I know that spiritually and psychologically  a happy letter in the mailbox is a delight to see…and a surprise too..whether or not it is mindfully read in the moment.

Maybe I also know that I write a letter to them, for me, to allay the sometimes feeling of abandonment when we become…  well, you know..the Elders in the family apart from the mainstream of our once inclusion in active family life. I also feel that as an Elder in a fast-moving, superficial and skimming-over society, that I have a responsibility to share the stories ..our stories… for the sake of posterity.

Living now in an apartment complex, there is no lawn, no personal garden nor a mailbox by the road. There is a built in wall of mailboxes inside the building. My mailbox is only slightly smaller than my apartment, which of course is delightful..this my new home. But I will continue to write the letters, a practice akin to writing in my journal or on this blog. And if you are on the end,it would be grand to hear from you……. 

From Christine, the greening spirit

Moi 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am on FB/social media daily and interact with a number of creative people who are free-spirited and artsy: craftspersons, lovers of music and dance, writers, poets, painters,photographers,animal lovers,  yoga teachers…. and political activists in this chaotic time of challenging social priorities.

However recently this past year, showing up in my feedback stream are a number of posts (or comments) by persons of fundamentalist religious beliefs who are ardent about particular issues that they feel are dangerous, sinful, against God’s will or threatening to their biblical or dogmatic faith teachings. These passionate concerns include issues around pro-choice vs pro-life legislation, transgenderism, gay relationships, emerging women’s voices with access to public power for change, to name a few.  Let me say that altho we may differ vastly on what we think about these issues, both they and I have a common right to think what we will.

Debate that can often lead to arguments as to who holds the “Truth” are common although I try not to engage in that way, beyond stating what feels right to me…for me. What I ardently resist is the attempted legal imposition of fundamentalist  belief systems upon the rights of others to choose for themselves how to live a sane and hopefully moral life.

And I do not hold that there is only one valid spiritual path that is the one true faith for all and that that one path is a cure for all of societies ills.

As the prophetic priestly Matthew Fox often says of the world’s spiritual Wisdom traditions :  “One River, Many Wells”.

I teach a variety of courses at a local University and one of them, a course I describe as “a retreat in an academic setting” focuses on three words (plus one) from a poem by the Celtic poet John O’Donohue.  The three words are Silence, Stillness, and Solitude. I added the “plus one” as Simplicity. These words are practices that help us to discern a deep ability to access a personal  spiritual conscience leading to right and just decision making personally and in society.

A meditative exercise we do to demonstrate open-ness and respect for the many ways of finding a healthy inner guidance system without judgementalism born of fundamentalist hubris is the artistic creation of our Soul Mandalas.

Each person receives a black and white image of a complex mandala design. Everyone receives the exact same image (ONE RIVER). In quiet meditation to soft music, everyone colors this image. At the end of the exercise we display our creations and are awed at the diversity (MANY WELLS) and all and each one is beautiful, whole and unique. Yet the original pattern is identical. Each of us, given free will (and a set of colored markers) must personally create a life, a spiritual path, a Voice for what we stand for without demanding that everyone else believe as we do or denigrating others for standing up for justice from another angle. We each color in our mandalas without demanding that they are colored in the same way.

Often then a challenge comes back such as “well is MURDER a valid life choice, or GREED or LYING or Terrorism? And should we accept those? ”  Common sense and decency can answer that one. The issue here is about intolerance of diversity in how people make life choices that lead them to whom they were meant to be in the Creator’s plan for service and inspiration for others.

It is vital in today’s complex society filled with so many forceful “opinions”,  judgments and and sometimes “righteous” religious hubris, to craft honorable discernment through personal spiritual work and the humble practices of Silence, Stillness, Periodic Solitude, and Simplicity.

And it is also vital to keep the image of these multi-colored mandalas in our imagination and the wise teaching of One River, Many Wells.

OLLI Class photo

From Christine, the Greening Spirit

OLLI peace

 

 

 

 

The Letter

Perhaps it is the long cold isolating winter this year, or perhaps it is a seasoned Maturity marching to an old and distant drummer which is somewhat at odds with, and questioning of, the fast pace and material focus of contemporary life. Perhaps it is a personal longing for communication with grown children who live busy lives elsewhere as parents and professionals and a puzzlement as to how things have become so intensely busy that even a 3-line e-mail is too long to ponder and respond to with presence or care.
 
 It seems that the social forces want everyone to link up and “connect” but to do it as quickly as possible…get in and get out, skimming over the surface of life with sound-bites of information/touching base that become trivial because there is no time to pause, go deeper, reflect and dialogue for the fuller, more complex and truthful story. And that may be okay for some, but for others it simply is not enough to satisfy the longing for the treasured communication that was often inherent through the more personal presence and practice of letter-writing. In fact, I would go so far as to say that in these past several days of Winter isolation, I have been pondering the lost art of letter writing, as a sweetly archaic form of personal communication that is unknown to the generation of the 30 year olds and younger, and which has been almost forgotten by many who are older and now tech-saavy.
  
 
As a youngster and a teenager, one of my greatest delights was the rhythmic correspondence between myself and my beloved cousin Edmond in which we shared endlessly about books, youthful and deepening philosophical ponderings of the meaning of life, teasings and humor -an ongoing lively in-depth dialogue that started about age 10 and continued through his tour of duty in Vietnam and my marriage and new life as a wife, and mother. In a real sense, these letters to each other were like diaries in which we shared with each other great trust and patience, depths of intellect and for sure, depths of Soul in spite of our youth.

In my teens also, I had a handsome pen-pal named Sujit Banerjee from India who sent me marvelous and intriguing pictures of himself in school uniform, riding an elephant and visiting exotic holy temples made of polished glass and sparkling mirrors. How exciting it was to receive the mail and see his paper-thin air-mail letters with unusual stamps and to open it with news and Kodak photos from a place so far away in miles and in culture!

In the years of my marriage and motherhood 3 states away from my own family and my in-laws, letters flew back and forth on a weekly basis to both my Mom and Dad, and my beloved Italian Mother-in-law, Maria, filled with stories of our life and the babies, and the joys and struggles as a young couple while my husband attended graduate school at the University. My parents and my in-laws were connected to us and we to them across the many miles with those stories which gave them an ongoing “picture” of their children and grandchildren allowing us all to feel, know and experience the continued unfolding of our lives as family, through words, images, thoughts, sharings. And they told their stories to us too as parents do…you know, the weather, their health, the state of the changing world. In these letters, we spoke, were listened to and were heard. To get a letter, to open it and read it was a bright spot in the day, and no matter where we were, it was a a reminder that we were connected to those who knew us.

Not that ALL letters were sweet and warm…in times of family or relational stress, letters could come that challenged the calm, drew lines in the sand or broke the heart. However, the letter carried the truth of the moment of a situation and the truth emerging from the heart, and allowed one voice to speak without interruption, interception or deflection. The letter allowed a period of listening time, and if a bond was not irrevocably broken, a possibility for ongoing, albeit sometimes scary or courageous, reflection and dialogue in the service of reconciliation. The point is, the letter always had the potential for authentic communication…which takes TIME, and a certain spaciousness for thought…and perhaps, a certain conscious elegance that could nurture and deepen Relationship.

Of course, the teasing, passionate or longing and SEMI-PRIVATE e-mail or FB announcement of ardent devotion can never match the treasure and intimacy of the Love Letter straight out of the depths of the heart, to be read and re-read and kept secret and personal under the pillow or tucked away in a special box, with a key…to save for years if love is true. And if love is fickle, the solemn ritual of tossing the letter with its personal handwriting into a roaring fire is much more powerful and magical for healing than pressing the “delete” button!

Letters, letters of all kinds…the paper, the pen, the stamp, the time it takes to write, the time it takes to read…there is an element of beauty, honesty, respect and genuine contact and communication directly from the heart and head and through the hand that offers a human touch and presence that no e-mail, twitter or texting message can match.

And like taking the time to prepare and sit down with a cup of tea, the writing/reading of a letter is an opportunity for a centering “Time Apart” from the world, so fast and full of noise and invasive chatter about so many things that do not matter.

The Letter. It is an art and a craft worth reviving.

(Christine Phoenix Green, January 2011)

Coming up next

The Art of the Letter

Part 2

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