suffer the children

A culture that doesn’t recognize children as part of the collective is a culture prepared for its own demise.

In the United States, we still view children as property. They are like furniture: you can do with them what you like, including removing them from one family and giving them to another, at will. Their feelings don’t matter much and what’s in their best interests is only significant from an adult’s perspective.

There have always been adults in the USA who rallied against this domination and oppression mentality. But, since most of them do so from a distorted understanding of childhood, themselves, they often produce just as many problems and issues to overcome as their counterparts.

This is because viewing children as “other” is always detrimental.

Children are not fully-grown humans, but they are humans. And, their needs are the same needs of fully-grown humans: food, water, shelter, care, fun. These are the needs of every, single human on Earth, and some of the grown humans are constantly devising new ways to deprive other grown humans of those needs. And, when the grown humans are denied, so are the still-growing humans.

That’s how it works. And, most of us know this. It’s astounding how many fully-grown humans say they are working for the betterment of the situations of other humans. There are many, many non-profit organizations set up to offset the harm of for-profit organizations. But, like anything set up to counter a thing, they present the same harms.

Because the problem isn’t in the answer, the problem is in the question.

We are constantly asking: How can we make this better? And, the answers we devise are varied and multiple and, once implemented, bring more harm than good.

We see this over and over and over, but we don’t stop asking that question. The question leads us astray time and time, again, but instead of putting down the question, we dig in deeper.

This is the behavior of fully-grown humans who never experienced an appropriately human childhood. It’s tantrum behavior. It’s immature and irrational behavior. It’s reactionary.

But, if your childhood was spent reacting to the whims of the adults around you instead of forming thoughts about your life and experimenting with and discussing those thoughts with the children and adults around you, all you know and habituate are patterns of reaction. You don’t quite learn the difference between responding and reacting. You see them as the same thing, both valid.

Earlier today, I read that people cannot think in solitude. I would have laughed if the author hadn’t been so disturbingly earnest. The article was about the importance of schools, the necessity of schools.

But, schools have never been a necessity. Schools were derived as tools of indoctrination, and indoctrination promotes reaction not response.

Schools are not necessary, even in so-called advanced civilizations, because they don’t provide a single, human need… in a well-formed society. In a well-formed society, everyone’s needs are met: they have nutritious food and clean water, they have comfortable shelter from the elements, there are humor and games, and affection is the norm. In a well-formed society, this is all a given, not something to be earned, because well-formed societies recognize that human needs are human rights. None of that requires schooling and the younger humans will be educated in the needs and desires of that particular society, the one to which they belong.

The belonging is crucial. When we create schools, have we created spaces in which young people learn how to belong to the human family, how to belong to one another? Or are those spaces dedicated to teaching them how to belong to companies and organizations and put them in direct opposition to the human family and even one another?

Isn’t it time that we fully-grown humans started re-educating ourselves and re-examining our motivations, so that we don’t keep asking problematic questions?

When all your needs are met, “doing better” is a foreign concept. We have normalized the ridiculous, because that’s how we were taught. But, maybe it’s time to center our cultures, societies, and communities (and everything they produce) around the greater good of the younger of us. Imagine how much of what we’ve normalized will become obsolete in that world, a world where the needs of the children are truly prioritized and viewed as the needs of humanity (because they are).

We have been raised to normalize a false sense of progress. The fully-grown humans are not so fully grown… yet.

To fully grow into our human potential, we will need to prioritize a fuller human experience. That, like our lives, begins with youth.

photo courtesy of these children in Ethiopia and Trevor Cole of unsplash

answered prayers

Life is funny. It’s also amazing and beautiful. I think that when we don’t focus upon beauty, it’s harder to notice it in all the nuance of living. To focus upon something is to notice it more often. And, just because you’re noticing something now doesn’t mean it wasn’t always there. Attention is a gift that we get to use as we wish.

I’m going through a phase of maturity. It’s funny how we talk about that with kids, but we don’t discuss it with adults. We love watching children mature and we expect it, but when it comes to adults, we expect the opposite. We expect stagnation. Long, long years of stagnation until, suddenly, the adult is “old” and we expect them to have gained wisdom worth sharing with us.

What is wisdom but the result of maturity?

I made two prayers in deep earnest this past week and I’m glad I have the clarity to see that they’re being answered. It used to be that I would pray and then spend time feeling despondent because I thought my prayers were being ignored. Back then, I didn’t understand that answered prayers don’t always look the way you want or expect them to look. I mistakenly assumed that if a prayer wasn’t answered the way I wanted to see it, that meant it hadn’t been answered.

Part of maturing is understanding then accepting that things don’t have to be the way you want them in order for them to be true.

I think our societies and cultures are going through a maturation phase right now and I’m not sure how we’re faring. There is a lot of pushback against progressive, humane ideas and there is also a lot of nonsense being promoted as progress. Diversity of thought is still one of the things I find most interesting about humanity. No one is creating these things we call thoughts or ideas; they just descend upon us. And, we nurture them and take their growth and assimilation very personal. But, they don’t even belong to us!

Maybe our maturity doesn’t belong to us, either. Maybe maturity is a function of grace. I can accept that all I’ve done is prayed to be a better person, to have more clarity. I just desired and asked and focused. I accept that I haven’t done anything wholly unto myself.

That is maturity. Accepting that we aren’t living this life by our power alone is maturity. It’s humility. I used to think humility meant thinking I am less than, but now I know it simply means knowing that I am not all there is, that I am not the most. And, not being the most does not inherently equate to being less than.

For years, I could not understand or accept that. But, through grace, I now understand (and I don’t mind understanding or standing under something, because I know the power of bridges) and accept that humility is about perspective, not size.

With that humility, I can see answered prayers with more clarity. When I ask for support focusing upon my business endeavors and an opportunity for community disappears from my life, I don’t have to lament the loss because I remember the prayer. I am humble enough to accept the rationale that the more time I spend in community, the less time I’m spending on my business endeavors. I can greet that shift (because it’s not a loss) with a “Hallelujah”.

With that humility, when I ask to more fully understand why something happened to me in the past and I keep feeling the urge to watch YouTube videos that touch on more fruitful ways to move through loss and purpose, I understand that my prayers are being answered.

Some would call it coincidence, but I’ve lived enough to accept that there are no coincidences. There is only grace.

In this moment, I appreciate the divine guidance of my life. I appreciate the prayers that have been prayed for and over me. I appreciate the clarity and insight and maturity and humility I have been able to apply to my vantage point.

What a beautiful lens grace and humility and maturity create. It reminds me of those oft-lamented rose-colored glasses.

If this is what wearing rose-colored glasses is like, I’m okay. I’m going to rock these babies!

Image source unknown.

parenthesis

you are

the mango

and

the tree,

the fruit

and

the fruiting,

the juice

and

the pulp.

you are

the roots

and

the soil,

the water

and

the thirst,

the tree

and

the grove.

(do not)

let us pull you from yourself,

divining your essence while

disposing your vessel

(do not)

let us bask in your glory while

denying your rights

(do not)

let us light our way with your brilliance while

casting you into the shadows.

you are

the before

and

the after,

the now

and

the then,

the beginning

and

the forever.

(do not)

let us in.

Oester weekend

It seems that mainstream Christians forget that Yeshua wasn’t a Christian. He was of the Hebrew faith. (Pretty sure he never referred to himself as a “Jew”.)

Because Yeshua’s Sabbath began on Friday evening and lasted through Saturday, it’s safe to say that Yeshua was not hanging on a cross until Sunday. If the stories we are told about being up there until the Sabbath are to be believed.

Now, there’s a lot of difference between Jesus and Yeshua, so mainstream Christians are free to do what they want. They haven’t taken vows of poverty, like one would expect from a Yeshua follower, but we have to remember… they don’t actually follow Yeshua.

Modern Christianity is, at best, the following of Paul, a reformed mass murderer.

Easter has been coopted from pre-Abrahamic religions. As has Christmas. I find it funny that Easter/Christmas Christians go to church on the most “pagan” holy-days. But then, the entire religion was coopted from ancient African belief systems, so I guess coopting old European belief systems, too, isn’t that big a deal.

Yeshua would likely be appalled to see what’s been done in his name through the ages. But, I’d just remind him that it hasn’t really been in his name. It’s been done in Jesus’s name.

I wonder if that would make a difference to him.

Happy Oester!

not my story

All my life, I thought I was living my own story. But…

What happens when I realize I’m actually living God’s story?

A few realizations come out of this Great Realization. First of all, I finally accept that none of this is mine to hold.

This weight I’ve been carrying around? It’s not even mine! I can give it to whom it truly belongs. Now, I’m free. This isn’t even my story.

This guilt, this envy, this misunderstanding? I can put it all down. It’s not even mine, because… this isn’t even my story.

This story I call myself living belongs to no one but The Most High. I’m simply the vessel, the temple, the one sitting in the throne.

People often misunderstand what thrones are. They think thrones are the seat of power, but thrones ARE the power. This comes from a long history of worship of The Feminine Divine, actually.

She was the throne, and who ever sat in Her was in power because Her power now coursed through them. This is how the concept of kings came about. The men wanted to possess the power that had previously only belonged to women.

We see the remnants of this in the Hebrew faith and we see a reclaiming of this in Yeshua’s life. So much attention is given to His presumably male disciples, but he was taken care of (monetarily, spiritually, physically, etc.) by the women. It was the women who made His ministry possible and He acknowledged them and blessed them continuously.

When I think of my life, how do I fit into that story?

One reason I do not claim to be Christian is because I don’t claim the limitations of Christianity. I follow The Way, not Christianity. The Way is the story of God; Christianity is the story of men. (Problematic men, if we’re honest. )

My story could be the story of men, too. But, when I awaken from a dream and God tells me to “rise”, I know there is more to my story than that of men. My story is of The Creator, not the creation.

So, what men have done must not be my story.

The love, passion, and freedom I embody when I realize this life is not my story is incredible. I encourage you to try it yourself. Acknowledge that this isn’t your story and see what happens.

Acknowledge that you aren’t writing this story. Acknowledge that you aren’t in control of your life. Acknowledge that you aren’t the origin of your life.

And get to know Who is.

This is The Way. The only way.

Ase.

Dance for your God

Religion. It’s a full sentence, and I mean that in a couple ways.

I am descended from deeply spiritual people who were forced into a bad version of Christianity. I don’t think most people with certain Indigenous or African roots realize how deeply spiritual their ancestors were.

Sometimes, when I pray, my ancestors push into me and I start dancing and chanting and it never wants to end. Never.

I know my ancestors spent hours upon hours in reverent dancing and chanting… real worship. When it pushes into me, I can see them dancing. Dancing with the trees, dancing with one another.

The women. Do you know how much endurance they had?

If you’ve studied American slavery, you must have some idea. What other peoples, than African peoples, could have endured that level of torture and still built families and cultures?

None. This is a fact, not a desire to glorify those who were vilified by European Americans.

Africans weren’t the first attempt at American slavery. My Indigenous Cherokee ancestors were used beforehand. They died, they ran off, they rescued their people. This was their home and the trees were thick and on their side. And, they could not keep up with that level of monstrosity. They could not endure.

Bringing Africans here and using them was strategic. They knew the plants, they were physically larger and stronger, they were masters of so many skills. Entire civilizations of the type admired by Europeans had been built by them. European knowledge had come from them. Africa just worked better as the foundation for a new country.

Who else has that level of strength, power, and endurance?

Sometimes, I imagine what America would look like if those of us who descend from African ancestors threw off the yoke of Abrahamic religion.

I see a lot of dancing.

This world praises us for dancing and singing in the name of capitalism. Imagine if we did it only in the name of Source.

I dance and chant and hear the drumming.

I’ve heard true drumming in California, but mainly in my bedroom. The ancestral drumming that entrances you and keeps you moving. The drumming that shapes your body’s movements, so that the energy released by the drum finds companionship in your legs, hips, arms, and legs. They are in harmony.

This kind of drumming and dancing helps you understand a basic truth about life: though the energy manifests in different methods, it is the same energy.

With my ancestors, males come through as well as females. I know what it means to say we are all one.

And, yet, the variety in our representation… this is beautiful and extremely significant.

Just as Source is multifaceted, so are we. Of course. Because we are merely (and significantly) representations of Source.

1.
3 persons in 1.
99 names.
1000s of names.

All represent the same energy. And people get so caught up in their beliefs, the face they’ve given Source, that they miss that they are surrounded by all the other faces of Source.

Yeshua said to love your neighbor as yourself because your neighbor is yourself. To think you can separate the colors the prism creates just because you have a preference for certain colors is not only ignorant, but dangerous.

I often wonder how many religious people know how dangerous and inherently violent they are, simply because of the beliefs they embody.

Your beliefs can turn you into a sword. And because your belief system is so messed up, you’ll convince yourself it’s good to be a sword.

This is the inherent danger of religion.

But when the dance takes over…

Salaam.

may I call you Harriet?

Have you ever known someone who has been in therapy for many years and still seems stuck on the same pain?

I have found that the desire to hold onto pain is often much greater than the desire to relinquish it. This is often due to fear. Who am I without this thought? How will I keep myself safe if I don’t behave this way? This is often due to confusion. I want to change, but I really don’t understand what you mean when you say I don’t have to live this way. This is often due to a true inability to move beyond what happened. I have to remain vigilant or it will happen, again. When you talk to me like that, I feel it all over, again.

The number one roadblock to healing is the way we have set up society.

When people have to worry about where their next meal is coming from or how they can keep a roof over their heads, it’s challenging to really dig into the work of healing. Luckily, I get little reminders of that sometimes. I will be happily trucking along and I slam up against communal rage and pain. I’ll forget to keep myself in my protective bubble and I’ll start taking on the dominant feelings around me. Lately, those feelings have been rage and depression and deep, deep grief.

When the world cries, I cry with her.

The other day, I was lost to despair and I felt annoyed by it. I used to be happy. What had happened to me?

Connection had happened to me. I am connected to all of us and so many of us are in pain. Who am I to remove myself? We are all one, whether we realize it or not.

One day, as I sat asking myself what was truly happening within me, I realized that this grief and depression that felt so heavy and real was not even mine. In my moment of deep questioning and close observation, I was able to shake free of the glum feelings that had overtaken me. I remembered who I really was.

Sometimes, I find myself pondering how I would be different if I had never known grief. Would I be able to do this work? Can someone who has never suffered assist someone else as they feel around in the darkness of their mind? Someone who has never experienced tragedy cannot know what to do to move beyond it and stay there. This is probably why so many people who have experienced deep sorrow and trauma become therapists and healers.

The trouble comes when someone who has not also known bliss is trying to guide someone out of their personal darkness. If you have not genuinely experienced the light, if you have not found it from a variety of littered paths, how do you know you’re actually helping the other person?

In 2011, I renewed my vow to be of service to humanity, because I knew that it’s easier for people to take your hand when they know you are with them. This is a tricky tendency among the wounded: they rarely trust those who have healed. They can’t relate. Even if they say they want a guru, they will find the one with the most troublesome past to overlook, the most nebulous life to look into.

We fall in love with who we are in others. No matter how that looks.

I am no stranger to the abyss and I am thankful for the occasional reminders of just how deep and dark it is, lest I begin to romanticize healing.

But once you know the way out, you only go there to help others find their way out. We each become Harriet Tubman on the Underground Railroad to our personal freedoms, returning many times to help all those who also realize they are ensnared.

May it always be so.

self

It’s funny how the things that happen to us shape us. Whether we want them to or not, the things that happen to us form us into ourselves. We can never be separate from those situations and events. We carry them in our cells, in our thinking patterns, in our postures, in our relationships.

All humans are are the combinations of situations and bodies bumping up against the situation-body combo of each other.

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