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Hello Friends,

Today is “The Feast Day Of Mary Magdalene.”

A lot of the Goddess worshipping folks, men and women, make a whole lot of this day — but I’m not keen on feast days. Too Catholic, too dripping with stuff that puts me off.

One thing I find fascinating, though, is that these Goddess folks enshrine motherhood — which is, well, okay — but this seems to mean it’s important that they must say, over and over,  “Mary of Magdalene was never a prostitute. Ever.”

Yeah, decent theology 101, when you understand that nowhere does the text say that Mary was a prostitute, it’s a cultural myth, created by Pope Gregory in 591. Got the lesson at Harvard Divinity, but it’s even in art history lessons. For example, check out Scarlet Woman: The True Story of Mary Magdalene by Waldemar Januszczak.  (As an aside, his art history insights are extraordinary. I recommend anything he produces. Huge fan. His take on the much maligned Rubens is extraordinary, as are his insights on the Rococo and the Renaissance. Brilliant analysis.)

But I’m in a pissy mood today, and what irks me about privileged [white] feminists making sure to clean up Mary’s rep is that it’s a ‘patriarchal’ bifurcation:: purity and pollution.

Mary prostitute = bad.

Mary not prostitute = good.

Make sure to cast The Mother as pure and powerful.

The Whore, well, who knows what they think. I’d like to ask, but I have other hornets’ nests to kick today.

White feminism is a gnarly creature, and perhaps worse when drenched in spirituality.

Despite white feminist Goddess spirituality, not because of it, I’ll lovingly honor Mary Magdalene today, the woman that the Catholic Church finally recognized as Apostle to the Apostles.

She was the first to bear witness — if you believe the story — and tell all the men the truth, and not one of them believed her.

A woman telling a group of men the truth and not being believed.

Because of power.

Sound familiar?

Nope, she wasn’t believed,  But when they saw for themselves, they took over, claimed the message, and shut her down.

Peter always struck me as a jealous and controlling.

But here’s another take on this his-story: Mary’s true spiritual gift was in being recast by hatred and the greed for power, and she carries hope in her miscasting for millions and millions of women marginalized by sex work.

Maya Angelou, who had a brothel and was a sex worker in her early years, amazing how we bury these facts, once told a story. She was at book signing, and saw a girl in line. She described, in the gentlest way possible, that the girl was obviously a working girl, and had probably worked all night. She had her false nails, false lashes, and the rest, itself a stereotype. Angelou said, “The girl came up to me, handed me her book to sign, and said, ‘you give me hope.’”

Angelou was teary eyed when telling the story, and knew what the girl was telling her. ”That’s it., right there,” she said, “That’s all of it, isn’t it?”

Love wins.

If you’re interested in a different take on Mary of Magdalene, check out Mary Magdalene.

I had a hard time getting into it, and I didn’t enjoy it the first time I saw it.

On a hunch, despite myself, I watched it a second time. I changed my mind with the second viewing  — and I agree with Allen’s review on Ebert.com:

There is a strong, crucial sense of mania within “Mary Magdalene” and its vision of a movement. Tahar Rahim and Chiwetel Ejiofor, especially—both who could lead biblical epics of their own—say the words of the Apostles that we know, but with such a bursting exuberance that we know they’ve completely drunk the Kool-Aid, and then some. These men are so desperate for a resolve to their pain, as Mary learns in her quiet, haunting conversations with them, that their lives have become an open-arms embrace for a kingdom that’s only as real as their faith. This is never seen as a criticism against the Apostles—instead it’s an incredibly honest take on full-fledged worship, and another example of the staggering compassion that “Mary Magdalene” has for the people in its story, and what they represent

To Mary Magdalene, and the millions to whom she gives hope.

 

Windows Of Perception: Primal Scream

“Everything is but a path, a portal, or a window opening on something other than itself.”
-Antoine de Saint-Exupéry


My new landlord’s 
been great at getting stuff done, and he embodies how many men see themselves: a doer, taking care of what needs to be taken care of, and making sure everything is done right.

He hunts, fishes, rides a Harley, and won’t vaccinate, because, I’m assuming, Real Men don’t vaccinate.

He also put up bird feeders in the garden, cleaned out the wild area in the back, and he lets me grow anything and everything I want.

He informed me last year after buying the building that one of his first projects would be replacing the porch windows, “you don’t need so many windows,” he told me.

I’m slow at metabolizing input, I’m too busy taking in the stuff that highly-sensitive introverts take in, including remembering this phrase that for him meant nothing.

Read that again: he told me that ”I” didn’t need so many windows. Not that he as landlord wanted to create a better living environment. He didn’t ask me, the person who has lived here, who has told him about every quirk and nuance in the building, and who has made this place attractive and solid, a space that made him want to purchase the building.

No, he didn’t consult the woman who in less that six years created a heaven-Eden-sanctuary that makes this old, otherwise shit-hole building probably the only decent rental within 50 miles.

My commitment to myself while living in conservative, rural Maine must constantly navigate this area’s egregious poverty and thoroughly-entrenched-in-and-happy-to-be-so-ignorance.

Side note: I’m no longer trying to help others by way of church involvement or in any organized manner, as I had tried; we must all find our own way. My criticism of the bad is now a simple practice of what I believe to be the better.

Growing food in an obscenely poor area, riding an electric bike, walking-running all over, in an area where everyone suffers from every imaginable preventable disease, including covid, this is what I do, because I live in some of the worst of what white-misogynistic-American-capitalism has created for itself: sickness, ignorance, economic ravishment.

A land where dreams go to die.

Back to the main story: last week the windows went up.

My landlord hired the son of a friend for the work.  Apparently, the friend has been pretty nasty over the years to his kids resulting in big problems.

The one son — I’ll call him Jake — is a nice guy, hard worker. When the landlord decided that I had too many windows and talked with Jake about work, wanting to help Jake and his family out, Jake proclaimed in wild enthusiasm that he was able to get free windows for the job.

Jake, too, can do a good deed.

So two men with big ideas and good intentions made my space “better.”

The porch is now dark, has small windows with bars, yes, think fascist prison, and I can no longer go out there any time and feel the trees, experience that oneness anytime day or night,  oneness with the birds, the sunflowers, watch the sunrise over the road, or meditate in the morning sun.

A Porch With No View

I can’t take the house plants that suffer indoors through the winters to their favorite porch spots, where they happily take off for a few months of growth. Nor can I grow seedlings upstairs now, because there simply isn’t enough light

The upstairs portal between myself and the garden has been closed.

It’s a different space, a different vibe, a different energy.

There are so many things that need to be done here, so many, many things.

But I didn’t need so many windows.

******

I’m angry and exhausted.

Let’s be clear: I understand this change is the price of renting, for not having the money to buy a home, having chosen the long-haul, hard road for my life.

And I’m also aware that I may come to like this change, with time. Survival is adaptation. And I’m not just a stunning survivor, I’m a high priestess who invokes and understands life’s magic.

I also know that from this kind trauma — and this is a huge trauma, requiring lots of words and emotions to work through — regenerative energy is born.

But reality has nearly infinite entry points at any moment, and there’s one I can’t ignore, as I scan the headlines, my life, the lives and stories of my friends and clients: men hate women.

I’ve heard gay men say-write, “they hate us,” and I metaphorically rolled my eyes in silence thinking they should quit being victims,

I thought they were being drama Queens.

Today, I get it.

The ‘they’ are the forces that shape who goes into the room and decides on our individual and collective windows.

Windows are a primary metaphor for voice, decision, power.

What views we hold, what perspective matters, what we chose to see, what we chose not to see.

I want to be clear, also, that my landlord is basically fantastic. He’s no slum lord, and for this I’m grateful. He goes above and beyond to keep a tenant that he’d be a fool to lose in this part of the world, and he knows it. He was raised by a single working mother, and, perhaps, for this reason, he’s been dutiful to me, a single working woman.

But I listen to men, watch them behave, see how ‘their women’ behave around them, and I see how weak patriarchy has made them, how independently decisive and violent and ignorant they must be to be “men.” How many dumb decisions they make because they don’t collaborate or communicate, because their “executive decision making” goes willingly and strategically unchallenged in their limited perception.

See also, history.

I’m a survivor, so most of my life I’ve navigated around male hubris like all women, but there are times when it’s all a bit much.

In other words, these past few days echo the trauma of Hillary Clinton’s loss to 45, because this country preferred a white male wanna-be demagogue to a woman of experience and intelligence.

The light is too bright, the pain too raw, reality laid bare.

From one perspective, with these new windows, these ugly, rinky-dink portals to perception, there’s nothing and no one to blame; it’s simply change, it is what it is. And all is well, and I’ll adjust.

On the other, from a different entry point, it’s the same old shit: two men deciding the life, fate, and literal every-single-day perception of a woman, after they finish the job and get out of here, high-fiving themselves on their goodness: the landlord for being a good landlord and taking care of business, Jake for getting free windows and doing a great job.

And I’m not bringing up any social status differentials here, either.

If I were a man, this window game would have played-out differently, no question; and chances are, if I were a man living here, I might have been like the guy downstairs, 40-something, who smokes pot all day, goes shopping with his Mom, and never does anything. Ever.

But I’ve invested my time, energy, and heart, a very female thing to do, in creating a space that supports pollinators, our local ecosystem, the community, and myself.

Nurturing that space included a portal from upstairs, the joy of watching the robins play every spring, summer evenings in the rocking chair, I counted eleven bird species one languid evening, and knowing this property and house better than anyone.

I’m a woman, I create a home, not a house, a sanctuary of space, peace, open heartedness.

That portal was closed.

By men.

****

What does it mean to say that men ‘hate’ women?

It means we are invisible at best, and often to be punished, because what the hell. It means that our voices only matter when they serve the male principle, can be pummeled into the fascist-patriarchal world view, even the best of them.

It’s exhausting.

Look at the headlines.

Look at the little tiny windows men give to women to look through, so they can be good and strong, and then they can be great with themselves and who they are.

High five.

My landlord made another throw-away off hand comment to me,the other day, as he left with a smile on his face pleased that he’s not a slumlord, “all you need is a man.”

No, I thought to myself, because we cannot say these things out loud and be polite, I need bigger windows.

 

The Tempest, Rodin

Mothers’ Day: The One And The Many

Hello friends,

Today many folks celebrate Mother’s Day.

This entry, however, is about Mothers’ Day.

I’m reflecting on three lines of thought, and perhaps these thought strands will give you something.

First strand:

I had a  conversation yesterday with a dear friend who chooses to be child free. We talked about the happiness and freedom we experience as child free women, no regrets, perfect peace in the choice and how being child-free has happily played-out in our lives.

And I told her this: I never wanted to be a mother — there were windows in my life when a family and children seemed possible, when I was younger, but I always chose in the direction of my education and intellectual-creative development. Deep in my bones, in my knowing, raising children was never part of this life’s journey.

When  I played with dolls as a child, I liked Barbie — sexist, perhaps,  but she also held the ideas of autonomy, choice, and style. My Barbies had a big, lovely hand-me-down-house, given to me by a family friend. It wasn’t fancy, but in my imagination, it was a castle. And my Barbies had dresses, lots and lots of stylish dresses.

My grandmother’s handiwork perfected the art of Barbie dresses with scraps of old cloth and crochet hooks. When folks from church came over, they commented, “that’s the best dressed Barbie[s] I’ve ever seen.” The running church joke about the Barbie dresses complimented my grandmother’s impeccable craftsmanship, but it was also a fact.

Barbie had her own place, and she dressed to the nines,

Ken remained in his swim trunks, and was he ancillary in the fantasy narratives.

He appeared in the castle only to be with Barbie on her terms.

They had no children, and I never played at raising babies. Perhaps because the women I was raised with worked, I never observed infant or child care. Yes, I had baby dolls, but they were for sleeping, comfort talismans, not make-believe babies for whom I had to care, feed, and change.

No diapers for me, I had Barbie and her wardrobe. That’s what I liked, at least when it came to dolls.

***

Second strand:

Heather Cox Richardson’s re-post today that rightly recognizes how the idea of Motherhood is being politically twisted — quelle surprise — in these days. I invite you to read her Facebook post in its entirety here.

From her entry:

I told this story here two years ago, but I want to repeat it tonight, as the reality of women’s lives is being erased in favor of an image of women as mothers….
If you google the history of Mother’s Day, the internet will tell you that Mother’s Day began in 1908 when Anna Jarvis decided to honor her mother. But “Mothers’ Day”—with the apostrophe not in the singular spot, but in the plural—actually started in the 1870s, when the sheer enormity of the death caused by the Civil War and the Franco-Prussian War convinced American women that women must take control of politics from the men who had permitted such carnage. Mothers’ Day was not designed to encourage people to be nice to their mothers. It was part of women’s effort to gain power to change modern society.
The Civil War years taught naïve Americans what mass death meant in the modern era. Soldiers who had marched off to war with fantasies of heroism discovered that long-range weapons turned death into tortured anonymity. Men were trampled into blood-soaked mud, piled like cordwood in ditches, or transformed into emaciated corpses after dysentery drained their lives away.
The women who had watched their men march off to war were haunted by its results. They lost fathers, husbands, sons. The men who did come home were scarred in body and mind.

 

Cox Richardson shows why Mothers’ Day is a more powerful animal than Mother’s Day. The former is about the political and sovereign strength of women, the latter is a construct that demands gender specific ideas to buttress social norms that don’t do much for mothers, mothering, or living children. In the latter, mothers and mothering are mired in stereotypes, expectations, and subjugation.

***

Third strand:

My spiritual-imaginal explorations have led me to an evolving devotion to The Divine Mother, the one who births all creation.

More precisely, She’s called me to herself, again.

The Great Creatrix, the vast invisible darkness from which the Universe herself expands, unfolds, who dances through the whole of everything, including our small, ephemeral lives.

The enormity is stupefying, this Great Mother Of Everything.

For too long, our World Religions have been male centric, male dominated, male privileging.

It wasn’t always so, the Great Goddess was our first original devotional object.

She was respected, honored, referenced, cherished, held in our hands as talismans to bring Her to our minds and hearts at every hour.

Our first dolls were the great Mother, figurines not to be cared for as dependent girls, but the One Source who cared for us, nurtured us, protected us, eroticized life on her terms:

Barbie Of Wllendorf

Sloppy assertion? Do I have enough information to claim anything about any of these mysterious figurines, let alone the Willendorf? Self-serving rhetoric?

No more self-serving than the recently leaked SCOTUS draft, or any of the violence, domination, and anger on display in the name of ‘values.’

The wisdom and mystical traditions of these new patriarchal religions, all of them are new in comparison to the goddess, all the writings, saints, epiphanies, and revelations revealing the nature of Reality always understand that that the mystery beyond words is neither female nor male.

If anything, the mystics privilege the feminine, and nature’s generative, healing resilience as the means to living in our True Nature.

The Holy Spirit herself is an old Sophia artifact, the Mother meeting herself in the Immaculate Conception: the idea of human sovereignty written in female humility and devotion.

The evidence for such a radical recasting is in the texts and in the ancient practices, if we carefully clean the accumulated debris from the artifacts like spiritual archeologists, instead of rehashing old narratives and expecting a new result. Doing the same thing and expecting a different result is the definition of insanity, not personal or collective transformation.

But getting the Great Mother’s face back in our collective consciousness isn’t easy.

Men walk into rooms with their given-at-birth-collective permission slip, “made in the image of.”

Women have to wrestle their made-in-the-image-of from ‘the powers and principalities of this world” (Paul’s epistle to The Ephesians).

But another layer comes to light in one’s evolution when one recognizes that we really are from the dust — the earth, the Mother — and to dust we return.

We come from her, we go back to her.

Everything comes from her, everything returns to her.

We live on death. Our bodies are the bodies of stars, dinosaurs, animals, rocks, trees, flowers. Everything is connected, everything is recycled and life and death are illusions in the deepest sense. Life and death are constantly circling ouroboros style in this great cosmic life dance, that has never been ours, only Hers.

We’re at our most spiritually alienated when we believe we’re in this alone, and that the end-game in this life is eternal salvation or awakened enlightenment.

No, it’s just Her world, Her dance, Her work, and we’re here to hold Her hands and listen.

Everything is impermanent, so are we; and we just keep getting recycled, over and over.

Yet, we hold the wisdom, grace, pain, travail, beauty, resilience, and achievement of these ancient, recycled memories in our blood, bones, flesh.

It’s part of what it means to dance with Her, again.

There is One Mother, but in these memories, we all hold the memory of all mothers, no matter our gender, no matter our gender identity. We are all mothers in the Great Recycling Project. Mothers and mothering takes on a whole new life, and to know this Mother opens the door for collective transformation.

***

I told my friend another story, yesterday.

At one point in my life, I sponsored five kids through Christian Children’s Fund.

It’s probably not a choice I’d make today, but I made it then. I didn’t go to church, didn’t believe in the teachings, but CCF had excellent Charity Navigator ratings. I believe in tithing, and I support children’s development.

The kids received one hot meal a day, one multi-vitamin every day, and they were taught to read and write in their native languages. (Side note: it was devastating to me when the 9 year old Polish boy wrote letters more sophisticated and informative than the 10 year old boy from Alabama. There’s a lot more to say about this, but it’s for another time.)

This wasn’t the only charity I supported. But it was important to me. They were kids I felt a responsibility for, kids with names, faces, stories to tell. They wrote me letters, drew pictures, and my generosity helped them and their families.

“If everyone in America could support just one child,” I’d think to myself, “the world would be a better place.”

One day, out of the blue, after many years of giving, I received a letter from CCF with a honorary certificate of some type, and a letter.

I’d earned some kind of donor status, which wasn’t on my radar.

But this is what blew me away: over the course of my giving, I’d managed to donate over 36,000 dollars to support other women’s children, through one organization. This didn’t include any of the other organizations I felt committed to.

I’m not sure what that means. I’m going to take a guess here, though, and say that there is more than one way to be a good Mother, no matter your gender or your instincts.

I believe in One Mother, and all of her children. I believe that the stars, the sun, the galaxies, the flora, the fauna, the pebble, the mountain, the Republican the Democrat, the misogynist and the Wiccan, we are all, all of us, made in Her image.

We are Her. And for this reason, all is worthy of love, all is lovable, and all of us are Mothers.

Until next time.

Notes On Skinning Soaked Almonds

Notes on skinning soaked almonds at 4:16 in the morning:

Standing at the sink and removing one skin at a time, I can’t think about everything I‘ve told myself that must be done by the day’s end. No. It’s this one thing, over and over, skinning almonds. Skin in one bowl, almond  in another. Skin. Almond. Skin. Almond. 

I resist the tedium. Why did I soak so many almonds? “You knew the time involved in skinning them, and why must you be picky when you have things to do, and life marches on. When will you learn to let go of every detail?” 

The chiding chatterer persists. She’s stubborn. 

I’ve got my agenda. My agenda’s important. Almonds, not so much. After a bit, I quit arguing with myself about the importance of standing at the sink peeling almonds, and finally give myself to the morning’s quiet and dark and task, one skin at a time. My mind sinks into a comforting rhythm, as my fingers do their thing. 

It becomes musical, this almond skinning, in the dark and quiet. Three notes alone in this song: the sound of my fingers breaking almond skins, the nuts plopping in their bowl, and my breath in the morning’s sweetness.

In the quiet, another kitchen sink epiphany visits. I pause, invite it in, then continue. Almond. Skin. Almond. Skin. 

Three bowls. One with broken skins, one with almonds, one now empty. 

I think, “Done already?  I was enjoying that.”

****

Almonds, cashews, Brazil nuts, sunflower seeds, pumpkin seeds, and fermenting bacteria, rested in a dark, warm corner, until the smell of old shoes permeates the room. That’s the sign that the bacteria have created a mound of cultured nut-seed meat whose smell is nearly intolerable in its mass, except when it‘s covered, sealed, and in the fridge.

This morning’s edible music: small scoop from odiferous mass, to which I added pink salt, fresh garlic, nutritional yest, and herbs from the garden saved in ice cubes, thawed, fresher than dried.

Served on the crunchy end of a fresh baked, seedy boule, with sun dried heirloom Purple Cherokees from last season, and fresh cut sage from the tent.

My why found its answer.

 

Nourish.    2022 © Julia Haris

Thay

The Wise One     2022 © Julia Haris

***

In 2002, Thich Naht Hahn visited Harvard

He led a day retreat at Memorial Church, a rare event, even then.

I attended.

Thay’s passing reminds me of this event; the intersection of memory and the present holds magic, a soul weaving not bound by time or space.

Twenty-years ago, I meditated with Thay.

I remember where I sat in Memorial, and I remember watching Thay teach. The Memorial Church podium remained empty, no top-down teaching, but the area in front of the alter at the bottom of the stairs held an elevated platform, with an oversized  maroon sitting cushion. Thay nestled into it, his robe folds becoming indistinguishable from the cushion.

I don’t remember what he said, or even the topic, now. I remember that his voice was soft and uneven, even then, and his accented words were staccato.

Twenty years ago, I sat with Thay, and I remember little of what happened  inside Memorial Church.

What memory holds, what’s fashioned itself in the nooks and crannies of my cranial lobes, was what happened when our retreat ended.

I left Memorial, I passed through the yard, and I walked out the gates. I remember the sun and a chill that brightened the blue, but the cold didn’t bite. As I turned from Quincy onto Broadway, I felt something approach me from behind, slowly at first — then peace broke the shores of time like waves, waves that washed in and thru me from unseen places. Endless streams dissolving inner and outer until there was only the ocean, a way of being that I’ll call peace, but certainly it is more.

Language limits us, limits the way we relate to things, it closes meanings and nuances long abandoned by culture for convention. Or is it the other way around? I don’t know. But I know that I’m left only with the word, ‘peace,’ and the metaphor of a shoreless ocean, as I hear ‘go as water’ from that same unbound space.

Maya Angelou wrote that we don’t remember what people say or do, we remember how they make us feel.

I don’t remember what Thay said that day, but I remember that peace.

To remember that peace, today, is abiding Soul work, the deep stuff.

Allow me tell you why I believe so.  I believe that we’re dissolving, we’re turning into collective goo, old forms dissolve, as new forms are born. We’re the butterfly digesting itself before its transformation. Or, as someone once said, you don’t put new wine into the old wine skins. We need new skins. Change isn’t easy. The fear of change, the stresses, the anxieties haunting us, we’re overwhelmed. To feel these things on the most visceral level is to be human, no matter who you are or what you do.

To remember that space which I’m calling peace, today, after twenty years, testifies to me of Reality.

For two weeks now, I’ve been living with high-voltage live wire nerves. random crying jags, negative bias overdrive, and to-the-bones exhaustion.

Some of us feel the exhaustion, without dealing with the day-to-day realities: the feelings and experiences of others we share, not just empathically, but as part of the collective, the collective goo.

Those who practice peace, faith, hope, no matter the form the intentions take, hold peace for others, as we have been held.

As Thay held me that day, and, now, today.

He wrote, “
There’s no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity.”

Thay dies, a memory returns, and I understand that memory a little better. That shoreless ocean remains, has always been, will always be. I’ve fallen and risen Phoenix like at least 99 times in those twenty years; together, we’ve been through more than a Apocalypse blockbuster.  This month marks merely one year since the Biden inauguration, and the dizzying speed at which we’re spinning may not slow down.

Thay dies, and the shoreless ocean that sought my attention twenty years ago returns its limitless energy to the world, promising time that her shores are not abandoned, and that from our chaotic goo, life comes, always.

Peace in every step.

Recorded from yesterday’s livestream, ‘Ceremony on the transition of Thich Naht Hahn,’ from Deer Park Ceremony:

Live stream, Thich Naht Hahn memorial ceremony, broadcast from Plum Village, Saturday 1/22 @ 8 pm ET /  5 pm PT

 

***

You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer. — Thich Naht Hahn

Oooppppss

Hello everyone,

I made a mistake in my earlier entry: I did not generate that pretty picture with an application.

When I went looking for a picture in my files, that one struck me.

I thought is was one of many app creations that I have stored, but when I went to find the app, nothing was making sense.

Took a close look at the pic, and it’s good! A little too good.

Did a reverse image search, and apparently it’s a bright shiny object from the web that I clicked and saved to Photos, and one that I probably am not allowed to share.

Don’t tell Eric Clapton.

Here’s a link to more bright and shiney quantum vibratory creations; here.

Happy New Year.

 

Star Shining: 2022

You’re a shining star, no matter who you are, shining bright to see, what you could truly be.  — Earth, Wind, and Fire

[Image Removed]

 

Hello Friends,

It’s an honor to say hello as we enter 2022.

It’s a gift to be alive, healthy, and safe as we navigate another year in a world filled with luminous discoveries and heart breaking losses.

I hope you are safe and finding comfort, as well as finding deeper wells from which to draw during our collective birthing.

I’ve missed you, but other things have been happening.

I’ll share them throughout 2022.

There will be a new web site, one that resolves a lot of the creative, psychological, and imaginal tensions that I’ve used this space to explore over the years: you have been part of that sorting. Thank you.

Given that January and February promise to bury us in apocalyptic news cycles, I wanted to share something from E.O. Wilson, who passed December 27.

Wilson was one of our great natural scientists (read about him here and here). Neither a cynic or pessimist, he wrote that scientists ought to “offer the hand of friendship” to religious leaders and build an alliance with them, stating that “Science and religion are two of the most potent forces on Earth and they should come together to save the creation” (from the Wiki link).

Wilson was insightful and conciliatory. But of course. You cannot work with and in nature and be a recalcitrant cynic — she doesn’t allow it. Diversity, infinite possibility, recovery, resilience, nature’s trove is life, life itself.

And nature’s intrinsic and unstoppable energies are necessarily our energies: we are made of Her.

Never doubt your greatness or strength, never doubt your elemental nature: the stuff of exploding stars, billions of years of evolution, great cosmic energies, the memories of your ancestors, and Intelligence beyond your imagination’s boundaries are the stuff of you.

Everything matters, everything has significance.

Everything.

This includes you, magnificent creature of earth, wind, fire, water.

I’m posting this entry early, as I’m observing a special three-day-new-moon-during-New-Year’s-weekend time of reflection this weekend. Many have written that what’s happening on earth is reflected in the sky’s stars; I’m respecting that calculation, while acknowledging the elasticity of meaning.

Feel free to join me — drop me an email and let me know if you do.

Flourish guilt-free in in these days.

We aren’t just the ones we’ve been waiting for, we’re much better than we realized.

It’s powerful to know that shining isn’t just allowed, it’s necessary.

Shine fiercely in 2022.

It’s the intractable rebellion needed.

”Shining star for you to see what your life can truly be.”

— JH

(This entry was originally published with the wrong E.O. Wilson links. Fixed.)

 

Yes

‘Offerings’          2021 © juliaharis.com

 

Hello, friends,

I’d like to thank you for following, sharing, and connecting these past 6 years — it is six, I believe.

It’s an honor to have you in this space, and as part of my life.

In that spirit, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving.

Despite the holiday’s origins and our skewed myths around it, Thanksgiving’s perhaps my favorite holiday.

Gratitude is the foundation practice for all of life: it changes our perception, and we learn to see what wants to be seen, because our sight’s unveiled.  Giving thanks opens the doors of wonder, magic, mystery, tenderness, hope, perseverance, courage, healing, resilience, and beauty.

It transfigures our cares and doubts and despair into provisions, if we are patient.

No formulas, no rituals, no doing, no achieving, no judgement, no opinion.

It’s the practice inviting us into joy and equanimity.

And equanimity’s greatest gift, stillness.

Gratitude is where our ‘yeses’ are conceived: yes to life, yes to love, yes to every transitory moment as a drop in the incomprehensible cosmic ocean.

It’s the shift from living to being alive.

That’s a bit of what I’m thinking about today.

And I wanted to share my thanks with and for you.

May you and those you hold dear make memories that matter today, your gratitude delivering a feast of yeses..

— JH

Five years . . .

Hello, friends,

It’s been too long.

I’ve had a hankering to post for sometime, but time and attention are gnarly creatures.

But today feels like the day, and I return by revisiting a previously posted essay.

For today is our collective and now infamous ‘Never Forget’ day.

Funny how so many committed to memory bury narratives of Hiroshima, Nagasaki, slavery, genocide, witch trials, and so many other atrocities under their annual ‘never forget’ narratives.

I’m reposting this essay that I wrote on 9/11 five years ago, because it seems even more important.

When I remembered this essay in today’s early hours, and then searched the site to find it, I couldn’t believe I wrote it only five years ago: 45’s first year in office.

Those 4 years — plus one of COVID —- seem like well over a decade.

I’m gobsmacked — only five years ago? That dissonance contains its own essay.

Not too much that I’d add to this piece, which I’m posting in its entirety.

With our abysmal failure in Afghanistan — who could have guessed — I believe the thoughts offered here are even more pressing.

Until next time. — JH

*******

 

 

9/11, Revisited

My mother called me that morning and said “Turn on the news, they are blowing up those towers!  Those towers in New York!  Turn it on now!” I then owned a television, a 13-inch in the living room.

Mom always woke early, but given the three-hour time difference between California and Cambridge, her call meant she’d not slept well, and she had too early turned on to the morning news.

It was a little before 9:00 in Cambridge.  I was in the hallway when the phone rang.

I picked up the cordless sitting in a bookcase.  With Mom on the phone, I walked to the living room and turned on CNN.

Within a few minutes, we saw the second plane go in.

Mom had talked about an impending terrorist attack for a few years, believed one was coming, and that morning she preached about what we saw together, 3,000 miles apart, and before any information was known.

Terrorism, no question. She invariably voted Democrat — and loathed Cheney in particular for being “a liar from hell” — but that morning she blamed what we watched on CNN as resulting from lax national security policies during the Clinton years. “The Democrats got lazy, they didn’t pay attention to national security. I knew this was going to happen, I knew it.”

(I later pointed out that the attack happened on Bush’s watch.  She somewhat revised her opinion, given her hatred of Cheney & Co.)

Terrorism. She knew it with the first plane, and she unconsciously knew that more than one tower would be hit, her use of “towers” when she called me was clairvoyance not simply sloppy speech habits.

After we hung up, I stayed glued to the television the rest of the day, hypnotized by the unfolding that poured through 13 inches, a reality larger than any screen could hold.

***

Classes started that week. I was numb, a stupor exacerbated by hypnotizing news scrolls, and cable television’s drama pandering.

I showed up for the first day of one class as it ended, something I’d never done.  I obsessed about my class schedules, book buying, supplies, and all the rest two months ahead of the first week.  But in that week’s daze, I showed up for this one class as it ended.  I  apologized to the professor, offering her only my lame 9/11 excuse, “I’m sorry, this has never happened before. I guess I’m shell-shocked from everything.”

When I write “I was numb” to describe my stupor, this does not mean I mourned lost American innocence.

We’ve never been innocent.  Ignorant, yes.  Innocent, no.

In those days, I held an unpopular narrative: I believed that American imperialism dictated we had this coming. Wasn’t a professor somewhere fired for saying that?

Our collective hubris, greed, and violence meant that karma waited patiently for us to change, to do better by others and the world.

Even at Harvard, or perhaps especially at Harvard, calling out American hubris meant knowing your audience well.  I rarely spoke so, because A-M-E-R-I-C-A. As socially awkward and defiant as I am, even I knew better than to speak this criticism to many, especially those in collective grief.

America, a deity unto itself, the Great God who bears consumerism’s gifts, the safe salvation of dogma, and all wrapped in the comforts of white, capitalist Christianity.  We still burn heretics in this country, but not with fire.  We oust them from universities, or diminish their right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness by ostracizing them.  At the very least.

The great God of Christian American Exceptionalism must be serviced like a Golden Bull.

I never understood, nor do I understand now, the need to fetishize the tragedies of 9/11.  I’ve never understood the need to trot out this day every year, wear our victimhood like a shiny ornament, and decorate it in crying eagles, waving flags, and Jesus memes.

I’ve noticed that many folks who rarely do politics as public service coupled to policy and governance always manage to show up to “Never Forget.”

This does not honor those who died, it validates the victim narrative of those who need their nationalism served rare with a hot side of Christian values, while stoking Islamophobia.

Victimhood, a privilege.  A source of extremism, with The Book beside.

This victimhood has nothing to do with those who actually lost partners, parents, children, friends.

Many of these folks actually started projects to create interfaith dialogues on community healing and outreach, September 11 Families For Peaceful Tomorrows being one of the most inspiring.  Their motto comes from Dr. King, who wrote, “Wars are poor chisels for carving out peaceful tomorrows.”

9/11

I remember.  And it’s possible to recognize one’s privileges, and still be stupefied when horror and fragility bombard you through 13 inches of televised narrative. Our shared existential fragility shone clear to me that day and in the weeks following, perhaps because I owned no blanket embroidered with Exceptional Eagles or Easy Christian Morals.

I believe that life’s preciousness is not meant to breed fear or loathing.  It’s a call to deeper living, and creates a drive to carve respect and understanding from ashes.

Fear or love.

Too many chose fear; many who lost more than they believed possible chose love.

***

I no longer believe we had 9/11 coming.  But actions create ripples, and America resists looking at the many demons lurking in her closets.  In last year’s powerful essay, “The Falling Man,” Tom Junod discusses the iconic photo by Richard Drew:

 

Junod offers us another unspeakable crime:

” . . . the pictures that came out of the death camps of Europe were treated as essential acts of witness, without particular regard to the sensitivities of those who appeared in them or the surviving families of the dead. . . . They were shown as the photograph of the little Vietnamese girl running naked after a napalm attack was shown. They were shown as the photograph of Father Mychal Judge, graphically and unmistakably dead, was shown, and accepted as a kind of testament. They were shown as everything is shown, for, like the lens of a camera, history is a force that does not discriminate. What distinguishes the pictures of the jumpers from the pictures that have come before is that we—we Americans—are being asked to discriminate on their behalf. What distinguishes them, historically, is that we, as patriotic Americans, have agreed not to look at them. Dozens, scores, maybe hundreds of people died by leaping from a burning building, and we have somehow taken it upon ourselves to deem their deaths unworthy of witness—because we have somehow deemed the act of witness, in this one regard, unworthy of us.” [bold added]

We refuse to look at what would most teach us.

The falling man could hold us in his surrender to fragility as a powerful spiritual testament.

But we refuse to look, and we refuse to see.

If the terrorists hated us, it’s not because of our freedoms, it’s because U.S policies in the Middle East dictated by Saudi oil inevitably spawned a hatred born of poverty and ignorance.  It takes little leadership to join fear and ignorance into violence, as we should rightly know.

But we refuse to look, we refuse to see.

***

Many years ago, I had a class at Harvard Divinity with James Lawson.  A Methodist minister, after receiving his Ph.D., he went to India, trained on Gandhi’s ashram, came back to the states, and then accidentally met Dr. King in a coffee shop (a too easy summary).  They talked, and King told Lawson he needed him in the movement.

Lawson ended up leading King’s civil rights nonviolent resistance training.

(It was a privilege to study with Dr. Lawson, and visit him during office hours.)

Lawson once said to us during a lecture, “America is addicted to violence.  And it will never get over that addiction until it confesses and repents its original sins of genocide and slavery.”

Perhaps that’s what we’re witnessing now with the horrifying drunk uncle sitting at America’s helm, this grotesque caricature of our worst selves televised and tweeting in our faces 24/7.  At some point the addict must admit her addiction, must look in the mirror.  Perhaps we’re dealing on deep levels with our privileged stupor, facing our collective functioning alcoholic in the drunk-uncle-in-chief’s face.

But will we look?  Will we finally see that we have arrived at our United States of The Lost Weekend?

I don’t know if we’re at a defining crossroads.  I doubt it.  Change isn’t that easy, rarely comes in tidy packages.  But the unmitigated violence of Screeching Eagles and white Christian racist misogyny cannot hold.

Will we look, will we see?  Like “Families For Peaceful Tomorrows,” will we remember better?

Equinox

“. . . teach us to number our days, That we may cultivate and bring to You a heart of wisdom . . .”  Psalm 90:12

 

Hello, friends,

Today is equinox, and today the sun’s hours begin to outnumber the night’s hours in the Northern Hemisphere.

It’s the beginning of spring, a day of half light and of half dark.

Which is how I’m feeling today, full of light and dark.

First the light. Maine’s weather will be exquisite the next four or five days. Not too hot, not too cold. Just right. I’ll be reveling in this gift by getting some miles in.

Which leads me to another gratitude: getting my strength back.  For those of you who subscribe, know me, or have known me through social media, you’ve heard a bit of my challenges. Severe IT band issues, a fall down the stairs three years ago, an ice slip that left me with severe nerve damage two years ago (severe enough for foot drop, which has since healed) — in short, I believe I was stopped, because I needed readjusting, not by my will, but a Wiser will.

Most of my life, I’ve been at war with my body. Either eating disorders, binging and purging, over training, pushing through papers on little to no sleep, extremes of all kinds, some better than others. The raw food discipline for two years left me with great skills and insights — but my approach was still that of a warrior: fix this thing called the body. Inherently violent in my execution, if, like most things, well-intentioned in motive. Fixing “the thing” and her health.

I would add, as an aside, folks, please eat unprocessed or minimally processed  as much as possible: our so-called ‘food’ system is broken, and much like the American Taliban, it’s perverse, deadly, and based on woeful ignorance. Good takeaway from the raw food extreme, a better awareness of unprocessed food power.

But experimenting, pushing inappropriately, undertaking extremes to fix oneself physically, intellectually, spiritually, isn’t self-awareness, it’s often the false self blindly barreling through life, instead of letting herself being lived, received, and nurtured.

My COVID curriculum — what I’ve started learning this past year by staying at home, slowing down,  and reassessing  — has led me to advanced coursework in extreme self-love, understanding that my mind and body are one, as Thich Nhat Hahn teaches.

The joy of movement enlarges, the battle against one’s self for an arbitrary standard of excellence matters less.

Perhaps it’s that I’ve had enough recovery time, or perhaps my state of mind has transformed everything in new ways, but I started my Camino de Santiago challenge fearing that I’d never get back the movement I once had, but I seem to be growing beyond my fear fast.

The mind is a big old trickster, which we can use to our benefit. So rather than believe that I’d permanently trashed both knees, I just started moving slow and easy and breathing through the pain.  Stories on  The Conquerer Facebook group are shaking-up my slipping into giving-up, reminding me, again, how powerful our bodies and spirits are, and how resilient this beautiful gift I live my life in and through is. Breathtaking beauty, this body and its awareness.

So I’m grateful that I’m stronger than I have in a long time, and I’ll be taking full advantage of our weather — moving, breathing, being among the Maine trees.

Strong enough that sitting and writing this entry is difficult, because open roads wait.

The brighter the light, however, the darker the shadow.  Circling a theme we often visit here is ‘joyful participation in the suffering of the world,’ and this past week saw the American Taliban having a really bad day.

So eight people are dead, six Asian women.

As someone summarized on a Facebook post:

“Also watching the deplorable news coverage unfold , the excuses, and more than anything the intersection with evangelicalism and how the majority of white people are saying “but he attends church!” as if that is a reason he WOULDN’T commit mass killing instead of grasping it’s one of the main reasons he DID – because those churches are a sex-shame-vortex along with snakepits of racism and misogyny.“ (Source.)

The American Taliban, picking up his sacred gun when he’s having a really bad day.

According to the New York Times, here are the names of the Asian Eves, and their serpents, the temptresses that could not be controlled:

Soon Chung Park

Hyun Jung Grant

Suncha Kim

Yong Ae Yue

Delaina Ashley Yaun

Paul Andre Michels

Xiaojie Tan

Daoyou Feng.

Read it and weep.

I have no words. There is no confirmation yet on whether the American Taliban’s female victims were sex workers, but he thought so.

And here we get stereotypes of all kinds: Asians, Asian women, massage parlors, sex workers.  I suppose the sex worker tag grants the guy with an evangelically based addiction a get out of jail free card, because of temptation, so we’ll make it an Asian hate crime based on addiction. The women just magically disappear in this narrative. They always do. You probably know the name of the shooter, but not his victims. But playing the blame game isn’t that easy, because it’s not one thing, it’s all of them, and the root problem is Patriarchal religion and its erasure of women as full human beings.

(As I do my fact checking, I read that the shooter’s church has disowned him. Of course they did, because this is a cruel and terrible God, and they are saving their Evangelical backsides .)

What is important, though,  is that marginalized women who worked and ‘did what they had to do’ to support their families (this has been confirmed) were brutally murdered because . . .  Sex shaming, misogyny, racism.

There are a few books in this story, from where I sit, which is a different perch than most. Not books for this writer, though there are books, here.

But it’s easy to draw a line between the fundamentalism that sent me off to war against my body for most of my life, and the warfare the American Taliban waged against his victims this week.

The cause is the theologically bankrupt fundamentalist Patriarchal religion, and Its systemic erasure of women in deference to the male Evangelical God, the similar type of orthodox institutional animal that Jesus railed against, though it’s wearing a new coat.

Self-loathing, body shaming, desire controlling, mind numbing theology which promises heavenly ever after, but damn this life. The pro-life death cult that destroys men and women with a Bible in hand — cross reference 45’s theater of the absurd performance.

So I collect my connect the dot epiphanies, fold them up, tuck them into my pocket, hang onto the hope that each new day brings, and look forward to some good, long, loving, happy distances this week. I meditate on the sorrow, embrace fleeting joy, and hold these dear souls in my heart:

Soon Chung Park

Hyun Jung Grant

Suncha Kim

Yong Ae Yue

Delaina Ashley Yaun

Paul Andre Michels

Xiaojie Tan

Daoyou Feng.

 

All is impermanent, to be is to be grateful, and to be grateful beyond measure is to Be one with the life that carries you, however long or short that span,

Today’s picture was sent to me by a new subscriber, a new friend, and a devoted practitioner.

With deep gratitude for you, my dear circle, and the grace you give by Being.

Until next time, I’m counting the number of equinoxes that I may or may not have left, and holding that fragile number lightly, as I count the days before  me.

Peace, love, happiness. — JH