Easter Sunday Talk for The Celebration

Purpose, Personal Destiny and Passion: What We Love Makes Us Who We Are

 What’s love got to do with it? I believe love has everything to do with it.

The lyric from Tina Turner’s comeback hit asks the right question, but her answer is different from mine. The love I am talking about this morning is not a second-hand emotion. The love I am talking about is what thrills us. What makes us happy? What makes us feel a little more alive?

Let me give you an example of what I am talking about. I’d like to share this poem from my recent book, Love Enough, (Red Mountain Press 2014) entitled, A Child Falls in Love with a Storm.

In this poem, the child is not simply thrilled by the intensity of the storm or the sudden shift in the weather. Yes, she feels the rain on her skin. But the child is also a metaphor for innocence and for that innocent sometimes lost part of ourselves, for in this poem, innocence is completely alive in that moment when the storm rolls in. The girl is not thinking, Oh, I wish I were dry and safe indoors. She rushes out into it to experience it fully. She feels what is truly happening. She is fully present with her senses. She is connected. Connected. That is a key point.

An old Zen Buddhist saying, and I am paraphrasing, is: When you walk in the rain, get wet. In other words, be where you are. Feel what is happening. Do not turn away. Do not dismiss what is real and true. Be fully alive. Pay attention to your life. Wake up.

The storm wakes the girl up. It shakes her world. Death enters the poem. And that is real. We live. We die. In that line, the poem unfolds. It is no longer simply about innocence but about spiritual awakening. For all that happens in between our birth and our death is an opportunity for awakening. The girl realizes she must live fully, embrace her life, or die. When we are just going through the motions, numb and indifferent, caught in a rut of repetitive thinking and doing, are we dead inside? The girl loves the storm because it wakes her up. This is the kind of love I am talking about today.

A remarkable word in Ojibwe is Bimadisiwin. This single word can be translated as “having the courage to live one’s life fully through all of one’s senses.” This is what love invites us to do. The very root of the word, courage, from the French, cour means “heart, innermost feelings.” Our emotional bodies have so much power to help us fulfill our purpose. But we get sidetracked in anger, bitterness, jealousy and frustration. I am learning how to turn away from these consuming emotions toward joy through love.

Take a moment, don’t think too hard about it, just jot down a few things you love. Think of people, places, times or situations that have made you happy. When have you felt most alive and connected? Make your list and hold onto it.

Spring is the season of rebirth. Ancient symbols of rebirth include the egg and the rabbit. So we celebrate today with colored Easter eggs and floppy-eared bunnies. That is appropriate. The egg represents all possibility, as yet unrealized, unformed, the ovum in the ovary. The egg is potent symbol of our raw potential. In the West African spiritual tradition of Ifé, a raw egg is cracked over the crown chakra to ignite a rebirth of consciousness for the initiate who will become a priest or priestess. What is your highest potential? What is the as-of-yet unrealized egg you are carrying in your consciousness?

The fertile rabbit, ancient symbol of the Goddess, is curious and inquisitive. The rabbit lives close to the ground, close to the mysteries of the plant world. Each spring seeds burst open sending fresh shoots up from beneath the soil. The fruit trees flower in the orchard. New life abounds. It’s amazing to witness a forsythia bush bursting with yellow from branches that only a week ago appeared dead. It is Persephone returning to her mother, Demeter, after a cold season in Hell. It is the Celtic Goddess Brigid opening her green cloak to bless the land. Bring those flowers into your heart. What lies dormant inside you that longs to burst into bloom? What is your truest desire?

A beautiful song in the Ojibwe tradition speaks of the magic of invoking your true desire every night before sleeping. I would like to share it with you. . . Kamino . . .

What is your heart’s desire? If you desire world peace, you begin by making peace in your own relations, peace within yourself. If you true desire is to heal, you begin by healing yourself. We have an opportunity every spring to realign ourselves with our truest love and longing.

We cannot forget the Christian story that also unfolds this weekend. The arisen Christ represents the possibility for each one of us to awaken the Christ within, to experience our own divinity and our unique relationship with God, Goddess, Creator, Great Mystery, Allah, Holy of Holies. The divine expressed as the light or hidden fire within each one of us.

Christ’s message was a message of love. Love your neighbor as yourself. This teaching has three messages. One is to LOVE your SELF. Not to disregard or punish yourself for your imperfections. We are imperfect human beings. The message is to forgive, to be patient, to Love Your SELF.

A second is to LOVE your neighbor. Now sometimes my neighbor gets on my last nerve. So how do I love despite differences of opinion, lifestyle, belief, behavior or attitude? How do we choose love and not go to war with our neighbors, our families, our co-workers? How do we choose love – not once but over and over again, everyday?

First we have to choose not to make anyone the enemy. In the words of the late poet laureate of Minnesota, Meridel LeSeuer “ no mother births the enemy.” So you have to actually refrain from participating in the cultural practice of making enemies. Do not make the homeless, the ill, the police, the other political group, your sister-in-law, your boss, the enemy. Make no one the enemy. To do this you must choose to love your own life regardless of the circumstances of your life. For that is the essential message: TO LOVE.

This kind of loving means we give up judgment. We are not better than anyone, and no one is better than us. Every life has the same potential for enlightenment, for courageous acts, for love. We are different, that’s all, and ecosystem science has taught us that difference and diversity are necessary for healthy biological communities. We are biological creatures. We are deep air animals craving warmth and light. Difference and uniqueness among and between us is precious and should be protected, even celebrated, by us.

Let me share another poem. My sister told me this is her favorite one, Widow in Muir Woods.

Here we see not innocence but weariness. There has been aging and loss. How does one recover from difficulty and pain? One immerses oneself into the body of the ancient world tree. In this poem, the redwood tree represents the Tree of Life. The Kabbalah, the Iroquois Long House, and many traditions speak of this mighty tree. The widow, who represents our suffering, gives herself to the darkness within the Tree of Life. She enters the hollow, empty place that has been seared open by lightning, representing sudden change. And she lets herself feel what it is to be alive, even to be alive in suffering . That is all. To feel again. Now LOVE is possible again. This is her moment, and our moment, of rebirth.

We do not necessarily love the same things. What we love is an expression of our unique way of being and seeing. Honor what you love. Honor what others love. Honor love no matter how curious it may be. Make more room for love in your life. Invite love to inspire you. Set an intention with your love card in your hand. Join your heart with the heart of Spring and allow a rebirth of love to enter your being.

As you open yourself to your new love story, I will share one last love poem with you. It is entitled, A Woman Falls in Love with a Turtle.

 Thank you, Dianne Deloren, for inviting me to join you today at The Celebration!

Spring Renewal Ceremony

1. Living Within the Seasonal Cycle

We see in the natural cycles of seasonal change that there exists a constant process of change and transformation: sprouting, growing, blooming, wilting, seeding, greening, flourishing, fruiting, subsiding, advancing, receding, wetting, drying, conceiving, bearing, birthing, breathing, living, maturing, aging, dying, and dreaming. And yes, we are part of this, part of the dream of this, part of all that is. We are an expression of nature.

The abundant evidence is that life occurs in a vast, mysterious, changing, and on-going universe. And yes, we are part of this universe.

We are the children of starlight as evident by the chemical composition of our bodies. We are literally made of stardust, including nitrogen, hydrogen, oxygen.

We carry the same materials in our flesh and bones as are in the soil itself, such as magnesium, calcium, lime, gold and silver. This is not simply poetic metaphor but literal fact.

How do we embody this understanding of ourselves as part of the enormous diversity of life in the ever-changing universe?

How do we live as part of nature?

In the lineage I carry, there are a number of ways to bring one into deeper awareness of our interconnected reality with nature and all that is. To pause and take the time to celebrate in ceremony the Winter & Summer Solstices, the Autumnal & Spring Equinoxes, to do this year in and year, to make it a regular part of one’s life practice, just as breathing is, this is one of these ways.

The Ceremonial Celebrations of the Four Quarter Days of the Solar Cycle help bring into greater focus the ongoing dialogue between self and life.

The purpose of these Ceremonies is to bring oneself and one’s life into greater alignment with All That IS. The intention for each participant is to touch Source Energy (however one might understand that) and renew one’s deepest relationships to Source of Life, Great Mystery, Great Spirit, Creator/Creatrix, God/Goddess, Diety, Self, Beloved, or by whatever name you know the Ultimate Being who exists within, around and between us.

2. Spring Renewal

The specific qualities of Spring Equinox embody preparation for a cycle of new growth.

The plants stir beneath the Earth, bulbs burst open sending tendrils toward the light. Bear rumbles and stirs in the hibernating cave of deep sleep, emerges to forage and feed the newborn cub. The ground softens with mud. The air shifts and Spring winds blow away the last of the autumn leaves.

On Equinox the sun is balanced in our sky. We experience exactly the same amount of sunlight as night dark. Throughout the flourishing of people here in the American Southwest when Chaco Canyon and related sites were at the height of activity, the Equinoxes were a time of profound celebration and observation. If we feel it in our bodies, we too, can experience the center of time, the still point, the moment of perfect solar balance. The architecture and petroglyphs in these ancient sites emphasizes this magical point of praxis. Unlike Stonehenge and other ancient sites in the British Isles that were created to honor the Summer or Winter Solstices, here where we live today, Autumn and Spring Equinox were considered the high holy days.

Our Ceremony will bring us into greater awareness and alignment of the profound opportunity available to us to re-experience balance in our own lives.

We will identify the old leaves still clinging to our branches and let them fall. We will also identify the growing tips in our own lives, those edges moving from the center of our being outward toward manifestation. What is awakening in us that will be able to grow toward the light? From the moment of Spring Equinox until we arrive at Summer Solstice, we will be experiencing a time of increase. Let us focus now. What do we seek to increase? Let us tend our inner gardens, choose freely what we will give our energy to now, and make room for this new growth.

Ann Megisikwe Filemyr