The Burden Basket

Jamie Sams is one of my favorite Native American teachers. Her books have brought me numerous insights over the years. Today I would like to share from a chapter she wrote about Burden Baskets in her book, Sacred Path Cards.

Native American women were never asked to bear a burden heavier than their Burden Baskets could handle. When the Burden Basket  was not in use, it hung outside the home for another reason. Native American etiquette is very different from other cultures and demanded that custom being honored by all Tribal members.

It is obvious that the flap of a Tipi, Karen, or Wigwam  cannot be knocked on like a door. To receive permission to enter the Sacred Space of any Native American home, whether Hogan, Tipi, Longhouse, Cliff Dwelling, or Earth Hut,  it was necessary to scratch lightly upon the door. Since every dwelling was the Sacred Space  of the family, if there was no answer, entry was not permitted at that time. The family could be eating a meal, having a Family Council, or just wanting some privacy. The decision was always honored. No feelings were hurt because the idea of Sacred Space  was understood. Give permission to enter was granted, the Burden Basket was the reminder to the guest to leave his or her personal complaints or problems in the Burden Basket before entering another person’s Sacred Space.  The customer was honored, or the visitor was barred from entering that dwelling ever again.

To be in the present moment and to be willing to be a welcome guest requires strength of character… The internal strength necessary to keep our own counsel and bear our own burdens without inflicting them upon others,

To have compassion for the burdens of others, and yet not take those burdens on as our own, requires a strong heart. Great sensitivity is necessary for impeccable timing in knowing when and how to speak to others. Personal Balance brings the self-reliance we need to be in present time.

Today I am inviting you to consider one of the areas you might examine, clarify, and be willing to develop a deeper compassion for yourself and others.  This is an invitation to experience that depth of inner strength that brings you into a place of abiding in and living from the truth of who you are.

Love and Peace all ways.

Trust Is Not A Gift

I raised my children before computers and cell phones. As they began to venture out with friends, spend nights in other people’s homes, etc., I began setting boundaries, telling them to check in with me, and being sure they had change for pay phones. One of them asked me why I didn’t trust them, after all they were my children!

This is when I began to teach them why the virtue of trust and being trusted is so valuable….because it is earned. It is proven by a history of behaviors that have shown others that they would consistently do what they said they were going to do. Now that they would be making many decisions on their own, they needed to show me that they would consistently keep agreements with me and live up to the expectations those agreements created. I also taught them the agreements must be spoken and agreed upon by everyone involved, i.e. each of them and their father and me.

I remember saying to them “I don’t trust you because you exist. I will trust you because you show me that you can be trusted.” Then I reminded them that they grew to trust me because when I said I would do something, I did it.  Over and over again.

Trust is not a gift. It must be earned.

May each of us find ourselves trust-worthy today. Blessings.

An Old Thought…

This comment  was made by Charles Dickens. Wouldn’t he be stunned by the way we communicate today!    His comment more meaningful now than it was when he made it:

Electric communication will never be a substitute for the face of someone who with their soul encourages another person to be brave and true.

The only thing I would add to his thought is that this is even more true when there is the need to resolve misunderstanding or conflict.  Text message cannot communicate the tone of your voice or the feelings on your face and in your eyes.

Enough said. Blessings of love and light, dear hearts.

Laughing With A Friend

Do you have a friend that enjoys life? A friend with whom you relax and find yourself laughing at the ridiculousness of life and, quite honestly, at yourself and your fellow humans?

Do you have a friend that you laugh with on a regular basis because you just “get” each other? I’m talking belly laughs!

Do you have a friend like this?

Perhaps you can find one…or be one.

Just a thought.

Laugh With A Friend

There is nothing better than laughing with a friend – except laughing with more than one friend! Last week I had lunch with three friends and the laughter flowed without restraint. We were all so funny! I have no idea if the other patrons in the restaurant would agree but, as far as I know, no one asked that we be thrown out. Last night I went to a screening of the new film “Finding Dory” and we were laughing before we even arrived at the theater. Then we laughed with the entire audience during the film. Then we laughed on the way home as well as in her parking garage! I came home smiling and went to bed relaxed and at ease with myself and my world.

This morning that is all that is on my mind. I am blessed with friends who love to laugh and, together, we create opportunities to laugh (and I mean belly laughs!). The friends on my mind this morning are all in their 60’s and 70’s. We have paid our dues and had our joys and our sorrows. As we continue to ripen (yes, I said “ripen” because none of us are wilting with age!), we know the importance of being present and appreciating our moments and our days. There are still challenges because life is what it is and we are not the exceptions to the rules. We also know we can move through the intense times and return to the laughter and that is our preference.

We have life, we have each other, and we can share the laughter with friends.

Life is good when we laugh with a friend.

May you be blessed with laughter, friendship, and love today. Peace.

Friends

Has the word “friend” lost some of its meaning to you because of social media? Do you think about the difference between a friend and an acquaintance? When I was in my twenties, I made friends quite easily, or at least I thought I did. What I actually did was make assumptions. I didn’t understand that an acquaintance becomes a friend over time, as we learn to truly listen, trust, and know each other. An acquaintance is a person I like and enjoy spending time with now and then. A friend is a person I do that with also but who also knows my sorrows as well as my joys. A friend will be there for me when life’s challenges start to overwhelm me. A friend will trust me with his/her sorrows and allow me to offer support when needed as well.

It has been said for many years that you are blessed if you can count the number of true friends on one hand. I agree. In the times of my greatest joys and my deepest sorrows, there have been just a few people that I turn to immediately. One listens and asks what I need. Another calls my name into multiple churches for daily prayer. Another will laugh or cry with me and know that is enough. These are my inner circle, my family of friends, and I am profoundly grateful for their love and faithfulness.

Understanding this difference between a friend and an acquaintance has allowed me to love and appreciate the people in my life without falling prey to hurt because of my own mistaken expectations. I love them all and they love me; the difference is the level of intimacy as well as the spiritual/emotional purpose of our relationship. When I am clear, my relationships are also. There are fewer misunderstanding, fewer pressures or demands. Life is simpler, easier, and more fun.

Love all ways, dear hearts.

Namaste.

In the Company of Love

What do you experience when you fall in love, whether it is platonic or sexual? Take a moment and remember that initial rush of meeting someone who wakes you up, invites you to interact with them in some new and exciting way. You laugh more easily, listen to that person’s stories with great interest, and you tell your own stories as though no one had cared to hear them before. You want to see that person, talk to that person, get to know that person. It is a vibrant and fun and wonderful time in a relationship. It is love taking root and beginning to blossom.

One of the experiences I have become aware of in recent months is that I am lighter, happier, funnier, more loving when I am in the company of someone I love and who loves me. In literature and films, this is usually portrayed as being the result of the other person making me happy, better, more complete. I see that differently now.

I am responsible for my own happiness, growth and completion as a human being. Why then do I give the credit to someone else just because I just met them or fell in love with them? Is that what I am doing? Because I recently uprooted my life by selling my home and moving to another state, I am very aware of not having my precious, wonderful, loving friends in my life on a regular basis. When I visit them, it is exciting and filled with love and laughter. I miss them and I miss the “me” that I am when we are together!

This was a revelation to me. It isn’t just that I miss a person. It is that I miss who I am when I am with that person! And I miss who we are together, what we create when we interact. Our energies unite; our spirits combine; our hearts dance. Oh yeah!

I am content with mySelf. I love my life and the time I am having with my family here. I am meeting new people and know that soon I will fall in love with new friends and form new experiences that make my spirit soar and my heart dance. No, it won’t be the same because each of us is unique, each relationship is different. It is wonderful that I do not have to lose what came before in order to embrace what is coming now.

To those I see less often, I love you and cherish every phone call, email and visit so please keep those coming. To those I have yet to meet and love, welcome to my life. My heart is open; my soul awaits your presence. Join me in the company of Love.

Aum shanti. Namaste.

Finding Others in Oneness

Last night I moved outside my comfort zone. I ventured into a unknown neighborhood, in a unknown town, to join people I had never met in a meditation/study group. My heart pounded as I got dressed and prepared to leave. Walking into a room, not knowing anyone, has always been a challenge for me.

As the daughter of a military man, the wife of a military man, and eventually as a single-again woman, I have relocated over and over again throughout my life. This experience of walking into rooms of strangers is not new to me. It has never become easy or second-nature to me because part of my fundamental nature is shyness and I am also extremely comfortable being alone with myself.

But I do it anyway because I must find new relationships and forge new friendships. This is necessary to my well-being. I need alone time and I am happy within myself. However, I know the value of be-ing with others and of loving and being loved in return. We are designed for this. We are profoundly connected in our souls and our souls seek to commune with one another.

Community can be 2 people or 50. It can be in a megachurch or at the family dinner table. Human beings thrive when loved, hugged, and when loving and hugging.

So, I walked into that room and was welcomed gently and warmly. I looked into the eyes of the people telling me their names and reaching out their hands. I saw the sweetness of their souls and I hugged them in return because I need to be hugged right now. There were seven of us sitting in a circle. We had tea and a bit of food; some snacking, others having a small meal having come straight from work. The evening unfolded as it began, gently and warmly. We meditated and then read a short passage from Rumi. Discussion followed and each person shared from their journey and from their heart’s desire for understanding and enlightenment. The time passed so lovingly that I settled into their presence with ease of heart and mind.

I have found a place to begin. I have met people of like-mind and I am looking forward to getting to know them. There is a similar group in a different home and town next week that I plan to visit as well. It will be easier because the host of that group was there last night so I have met her. I am quietly excited to begin this part of my journey. I suspect there will be familiar souls among those I meet, perhaps because our personalities or journeys are similar or perhaps because there are connections from other lifetimes. Only time will tell.

When we circled for a closing prayer, my heart was overflowing with gratitude that I had the courage to go outside my comfort zone. Perhaps some of you are on the brink of an opportunity to do the same. If so, take heart, breathe deeply, and go for it! I support your journey into the unknown and send blessings of joy to come.

Namaste.

Holding Hands

My mother and I held hands whenever we were together. Dad was stationed on Okinawa my senior year in high school. One of my most vivid memories is of Mom and I walking down a street in the village just outside the base. We were exploring the shops for the first time. As we always did, we strolled hand-in-hand as we looked in windows or went in to shops. We hadn’t been there long when I noticed people coming out of their shops and watching us. It was a strange and confusing experience. Later I asked our sweet housekeeper (having one was one of the ways Americans stationed there supported the local economy) why people watched us. It wasn’t because seeing Americans was a novelty. We had been a presence there since the end of World War II. She said it was because I was so tall – Okinawans tend to be quite short – and my mother had such red hair! And because we held hands, much like many family members did there. My mother made her transition almost 19 years ago and even now, when I think of her, my first sense memory is of holding hands wherever we went just as we were holding hands at her last breath.

I spent most of the day recently with a precious friend I hadn’t seen in a while. From our earliest encounters, as we formed this amazing friendship, we have touched and held hands as we talk. Our conversations are diverse and filled with laughter. It is as natural to lay my hand on my friend’s arm as I listen or for our fingers to interlace as it is to breathe.

Human beings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. We absorb love in many ways and one of the most powerful avenues is through our skin. My dearest friend stood at my side during the most intense moment of my life. She new I needed to know I was not alone so she silently placed the palm of her hand at the middle of my back and just let me feel her there. It was powerful. I took a breath and stood a bit taller and enforced a decision on behalf of another. Her touch made that possible. I don’t think I was ever so clear about how much she loves me as I was in that moment.

My granddaughter reached out for my hand for the first time a few weeks ago. She is walking now and is a very independent little girl already but she knows when she wants reassurance, a hand to steady her or guide her, and she reaches out. There is nothing quite like feeling that tiny hand take hold of yours, as those of you know who have had that experience.

This morning I am wondering why I don’t hold hands with more of my friends. Both sides of my family are openly affectionate and that is my nature as well. Yet I am not free in that way with most people. I do hug people a lot and often will make it a true hug not just a quick step in/step out movement. Now, I am going to revisit other forms of loving touch with people I care for and about. I need affection and I have lived alone for a long time so I think it is wise to sow what I would like to reap, yes?

Human beings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. Are you getting what you need to thrive?

Human brings thrive when affection flows freely and from the heart. Are you giving what your loved ones need to thrive?

Another Circle Emerges

A few days ago I had lunch with someone I had not seen or connected with in over forty years. We went to high school together in Washington DC. It was an all-girls school and we shared the same circle of friends. We also dated a lot of the same boys, which was a source of laughter to us at lunch. Even back then it didn’t create problems for us. I guess we were already into recycling and didn’t know it!

I was excited as I drove to meet her, wondering what the Divine had in store for us. A reunion neither of us attended a year ago brought me into contact with several from that circle formed so many years ago. On the drive I am sweetly curious about why she is the one I am actually going to spend time with. Why has Life arranged this? An adventure begins!

My heart leaps with joy when I see her and we hug and look into one another’s eyes. Memories rise as well as does the realization that I know nothing about this woman before me. What do you talk about after forty years? We begin with the memories and then share enough details to bring us up to date. We joyfully begin to discover we have more in common now than we did then. We laugh as we share how we “saw” each other as teenagers.  Two-and-a-half hours fly by and we must part.

This is when our hearts open wide because neither of us wants to part. We acknowledge the gift we have been given as the separate circles of our lives intersect once again. We hug several times and tell each other “I love you.”  Even now, as I type this, soft tears fill my eyes. We met in a Catholic School as young girls and shared that part of our spiritual journey. We come back together as spiritual women who have transcended organized religion. Our paths have been similar in essential ways and we find in one another a kindred spirit.

Another circle begins to form. It is one we will share as we consciously explore this time of our lives. There is no doubt we will see each other again, even though we currently live on opposite sides of the country. Divine Love is not limited by the linear concepts of time and distance. This circle now forming reminds me that circles rarely stand alone. They intersect and overlap. They connect us to each other. And…a circle never ends. Even when complete, it continues to revolve and it brings us time and again to exactly that place we are meant to be.

My gratitude is profound. There is such joy in enlightened friendship and in the depth and freedom of Love that flows in and through that friendship. Words are always inadequate at such times. So I will end with a personal interpretation (still true to a more precise one) of

NAMASTE:    When I walk the circle of my life from a place of oneness with my True Self and you walk the circle of your life from a place of oneness with your True Self, we are truly One.