Crossing the Chasm

November 3, 2020


Well here we are. And we wait to see who we declare ourselves to be as a people, as a nation. Yet regardless the outcome of this election, the path forward calls for healing and reconciliation. Because regardless the outcome of this election, we are a nation deeply divided and polarized. Yes. There will be obstacles in our path.

As chilling as is the prospect of a continuation of the current administration, there is another obstacle I find even more chilling. It’s what got us to this polarized place. And we are complicit, albeit unwittingly. It’s time to get our wits about us.

Dennis and I recently watched A Social Dilemma. It was beyond sobering and I highly recommend it. As Netflix says about it, This documentary-drama explores the dangerous human impact of social networking, with tech experts sounding the alarm on their own creations. It features former executives from Google, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Instagram. Each and every one responsible for creating the social media landscape. Each and everyone now raising the alarm over what it has become.

The dangerous impact is the tracking of every move we make on any of these platforms and using and selling that information to corporations and organizations who want to shift and shape our perspectives to their agenda whether that is selling us stuff or a political ideology. What’s most relevant to our current political and cultural polarization is the use of this information to feed us information specifically tailored to our personal and cultural beliefs and profiles. So we see vastly different information from one another. Those on the left get the narrative of the left. Those on the right get the narrative of the right. The result is that we are not working with the same information, but information that selectively reinforces our world view.

These executives are very clear that this has been at play in this election cycle. The polarization increases and the chasm gets deeper and wider. The outcome of this election will not change that.

Of course current executives in each of these social media platforms dispute this perspective. As they would. Their fortunes, their vast fortunes, are tied to this commercialization and commodification of us not as consumers but as products.

Grim. Yes. But only if we are not aware. Because only from a place of awareness we are able to understand and navigate this chasm. Only from a place of awareness can we be more discerning about our engagement with social media. And only through awareness and discernment will we be able to step around this obstacle in our path and come together around what we hold in common to begin healing and reconciliation. 

The way forward, the only way forward, is in crossing the chasm.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Note: The film offers several ways to mitigate the social media impact. We have now turned off several of our notifications in Facebook, including the marketplace notification.

A New Start

November 2, 2020

An awakening to new possibilities, a new start.
Time to emerge and take the first step.

 

 

A dear friend was meditating on the election and drew this card from Jane Brideson’s wonderful new oracle deck. First Shoots. 

“May it be so,” my friend said. Indeed there is great hope and possibility in this and we need a new start.

There is such polarization and anger. And we need a new start.

We need a new start across this nation but the first shoots must take root in us. In our families and friends and communities.

A friend in Ireland just sent a piece and the timing was perfect to include here. A House Called Tomorrow by Alberto Ríos. For indeed, the bad do not win, not finally, no matter how loud they are.

You are not fifteen, or twelve, or seventeen—
You are a hundred wild centuries

And fifteen, bringing with you
In every breath and in every step

Everyone who has come before you,
All the yous that you have been,

The mothers of your mother,
The fathers of your father.

If someone in your family tree was trouble,
A hundred were not:

The bad do not win—not finally,
No matter how loud they are.

We simply would not be here
If that were so.

You are made, fundamentally, from the good.
With this knowledge, you never march alone.

You are the breaking news of the century.
You are the good who has come forward

Through it all, even if so many days
Feel otherwise. But think:

When you as a child learned to speak,
It’s not that you didn’t know words—

It’s that, from the centuries, you knew so many,
And it’s hard to choose the words that will be your own.

From those centuries we human beings bring with us
The simple solutions and songs,

The river bridges and star charts and song harmonies
All in service to a simple idea:

That we can make a house called tomorrow.
What we bring, finally, into the new day, every day,

Is ourselves. And that’s all we need
To start. That’s everything we require to keep going.

Look back only for as long as you must,
Then go forward into the history you will make.

Be good, then better. Write books. Cure disease.
Make us proud. Make yourself proud.

And those who came before you? When you hear thunder,
Hear it as their applause.

So we nurture those new shoots. And we listen for the thunder.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Rage On

November 1, 2020

Sugar and spice
and everything nice.
That’s what little girls
are made of.

Is there a woman in our culture for whom this was not a cornerstone of cultural conditioning? The seeds were planted early and the roots are deep. And then layers got added.

We were told that nice has no place for anger. And we believed it. Even when we choose a spiritual life journey we are told that somehow we are supposed to rise above this most basic and intrinsic human emotion. Just breathe and smile and meditate.

So it’s really no surprise that anger, and indeed rage, is currently a huge issue for so many of my spiritual sisters. Within this time of conflict and polarization, we believe we are not supposed to be angry, let alone enraged. Yet in these times, how could we not be?

In my Crone book, I wrote about this. I was writing for my elder sisters, but it applies to all of us.

It’s easy and certainly most comfortable to consider those times when we are filled with the energies of love, joy, peace, generosity, courage, determination, and compassion. But there is as much power in the energies of anger, fear, pain, and even grief. For within our lives and life experiences these energies forged a strength in us and they are essential warp threads for weaving wisdom. 

Anger. Our anger becomes an expression of moral outrage directed at injustice. We find the courage to reclaim our moral authority and we trust our intuition to be a discerning guide in expressing our rage. In our anger we become outraged and outrageous.

We are awash in injustice. Our rage is not only totally appropriate, it is essential. It is time to be outraged and outrageous. It is time to claim our moral authority.

A friend asked me what the ancestors say about rage. An excellent question. Of course the only requisite for being an ancestor is being dead. And there are many who inflicted injustice and harm on others. Those are not the ancestors I work with. But from those I do work with there is wise counsel.

Rage. The most important thing is not that we have rage but what we do with it. And what we do with it, how we express it, must be rooted in service to the greater good. We are but one strand in the great web of life, a part of the great harmony of all life. And our actions must reflect that spiritual knowing and grounding. Yes. Our ancestors had rage. But they worked with their rage as a tool for mending rents in the web and resolving discord in the harmony. In this, their rage was a source of power. Their counsel? To embrace our rage as empowerment. Sacred empowerment.

Rage is a natural and needed response to much of what is unfolding in our nation and around the world. It is for us to pick up the tools to mend the hoop. It is for us to step into our sacred empowerment. It is time to rage on.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

The Plot

October 31, 2020

Lose the plot.
To no longer be able to act normally
or understand what is happening
To act in a disorganized, chaotic, or irrational manner.
If someone loses the plot they become confused or crazy,
or no longer know how to deal with a situation.

“We are listening to some USA news here and seems like Trump has totally lost the plot. He really should be removed on grounds of insanity and irresponsibility!!!!.”

This recent email from a friend in Ireland echoed what I heard so many times during my recent six weeks there. It was probably inevitable that so many wondered with deep concern what is going on in this country. Lost the plot, was a frequent reaction. It’s an expression I came to know as far more condemning than it sounds.

I think it’s painfully clear that this administration and allies have totally lost the plot. Especially any plot line based on this country’s fundamental values and principles. Yes. We have not nearly realized those guiding principles to full potential. But we continue to strive, even haltingly.

While so many of us try to make our way through the maze of horrors inflicted by this administration, we do so with both clarity and conviction. As we are now just days away from the election it’s clear that the majority of Americans have not lost the plot. Nor will we.

And it’s clear that this is exactly why republicans are doing anything legal or illegal to steal this election. They won’t win in a fair fight. This maze will likely get darker, more foreboding, and more challenging to navigate in the days and weeks and months ahead. But navigate it we will.

Because we have not and we will not lose the plot. We’ve got this.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Civil Statue

September 30, 2020

OK. So it’s not really a statue. It’s a scarecrow. But it serves the same purpose. 

Key Center. Not really a town. More a collection of retail and service businesses with a library and charity shop thrown in for good measure. But there is absolutely a sense of community here. And every year at this time scarecrows pop up all over the place, mostly reflective of the sponsoring business or service. This year there is one notable exception. Ricky the Flagger.


For the weeks and months that a new bridge was being built on our local state highway, Ricky the flagger was a bright light greeting every single person in every passing vehicle. A wave, a broad smile, and sometimes a tip of his helmet. Spreading infectious joy. People loved him. He became so popular that the local community put up a FaceBook page in his honor. 

And then he was gone. Apparently being that friendly isn’t in the job description and his popularity caused other road workers to be disgruntled. Read jealous. Ricky was fired. Oh, the community was outraged and protested the action, demanding that he be brought back. He wasn’t. There is even talk about the completed bridge being named Ricky’s Bridge. It won’t be, at least not officially. But it will always be Ricky’s Bridge to locals. 

I suspect this may not be the only year that Ricky’s scarecrow image is part of Key Center’s Halloween landscape. As it should be. In these times we need statues that honor those who are courteous and civil. Those who bring out the best in all of us.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com 

The Tribe & Fire

September 23, 2020


A friend sent me this a few weeks ago. I created this graphic and then let it sit. In the context of what’s unfolding in the States it seemed not the right message. But now, as I count down the last few days before I fly back to the States, it is exactly the right message.

For this is what I’ve been experiencing here in Ireland. Another world and reality. Salve for the soul. Even behind the masks there is tribe. There is fire. So while this piece is written from a US cultural context, it translates into the Irish culture perfectly. Enjoy!

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

The Poet Soul

September 5, 2020


I met with our solicitor here in Ireland as we are buying out Jack’s half share in the cottage and signing the papers is a major reason for my being here. I was guided to the conference room to sit at one end of a long table. As the solicitor came in, settling at the other end of the table and organizing his papers, he gave me the standard spiel about their distancing and cleaning procedures including the fact that the pen they would give me to sign the papers would go home with me. However no masks were required at this point.

Then he stopped, leaned toward me across the table, and said, “I weary of the long sorrow.”

“Now, do you like poetry?” he asked. And with my nod he was off. He shared the source and history of what he had quoted and then launched into two other poems about the nearby coast line. “Do you know the Flaggy Shore?” he asked. I do. “I must down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky, and all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by. Now there’s that one and another which you must yourself take down to the Flaggy Shore and recite while looking across Galway Bay.” I wrote down the information about the poems and poets and then we turned back to the business at hand.

I smiled to myself. Only in Ireland. Only in Ireland.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

A Story We Need

August 31, 2020

 

In a tribe of South Africa, when a person acts irresponsibly or unjustly, he is placed in the center of the village, alone and unfettered. All work ceases, and every man, woman and child in the village gathers in a large circle around the accused individual. Then each person in the tribe speaks to the accused, one at a time, each recalling the good things the person in the center of the circle has done in his lifetime. Every incident, every experience that can be recalled with any detail and accuracy, is recounted. All his positive attributes, good deeds, strengths, and kindnesses are recited carefully and at length. This tribal ceremony often lasts for several days. At the end, the tribal circle is broken, a joyous celebration takes place, and the person is symbolically and literally welcomed back into the tribe.

It’s a wonderful story. And it turns out it’s mostly likely not true. Diving down the research rabbit hole, I discovered that although this story has been in circulation for more than a decade and even shared in the writings of esteemed authors like Jack Kornfield and Wayne Dyer, there seems to be no proof that this was in fact a tribal tradition.

Does it matter? With all the lies and false stories permeating our cultural and political narrative in this time perhaps this is one story that can feed us rather than tear us apart. This is one story that offers inspiration for the way forward.

This is one story we need.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Coming Home

August 21, 2020

Welcome home! Phone calls from friends and even the man I work with at the Hertz car hire desk in Shannon. And I am home. My life now is so much about being home both here in Ireland and at MossTerra. It’s good to be here to finalize work on the cottage. It’s good to be here away from the toxic energy that we live with in the States. In anticipation of my arrival, a friend here sent me this writing. And it speaks so much to this home coming. 

Summer winds are bringing rain. And this time I won’t be with a group of fellow pilgrims exploring sacred sites like the Carrowmore dolman in the photo. Yet within the sacred energy that flows from every landscape in Ireland, I can again touch a horizon of hope and possibility. Coming home in so many ways.

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com

Time To Take Off The Mask

August 14, 2020

I’m not talking about the COVID mask. And yet I am. 

I was at the grocery store yesterday. A young woman was stationed in the entrance. Her sole job to make sure that everyone who entered was wearing a mask. Store policy. After grabbing and sanitizing a shopping cart, I went over to her. I told her that I deeply appreciated her and the job she is doing and thanked her. She started crying. “Thank you so much.”

Like so many, Dennis and I choose to stay home most of the time. Grocery shopping is just about the only opportunity for in-person human interaction. And I’ve found myself talking more to others these days in grocery stores, the other day offering my suggestion about canned tuna to a couple who were clearly new to the brands. More often just saying hello. And like the young woman, most seem surprised and grateful.

It seems these COVID protection masks have become a barrier to human interaction. At a time when our nation is at war with itself. At a time when we are seeing the fascist destruction of our fundamental and founding principles and institutions. At a time when anger and hate and fear have permeated our national narrative. There is so much that separates us. Our COVID masks do not need to be part of that. As we navigate these treacherous times, we need our humanity. As we continue to wear masks to protect ourselves and others from the virus, it’s time to take off the mask of separation. 

Beannacht,
Judith – judith@stonefires.com