The Bliss Blog

The Bliss Blog

The Great Peace March

                                                                                 

 

November 15th was the 25th anniversary of an event that shifted the consciousness of the planet. Dubbed The Great Peace March, it began with a hardy and heart-y band of intrepid folks whose intention was to promote nuclear disarmament. Although, a quarter of a century later, there are still missiles pointed like jagged-nailed fingers at each other (you know that image of when you point a finger at someone, there are 3 pointing back at you?), the message continues to ring true. Peace is possible, a small band of devoted people CAN make a difference, love trumps fear.

According the website On-line Archive of California:

“The Great Peace March for Global Nuclear Disarmament took place in 1986 starting in Los Angeles on March 1 and ending in Washington, D.C. on November 15. It was conceived by David Mixner, a professional organizer and political activist, as a protest calling for a verifiable comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, the non-militarization of space, a verifiable global freeze on nuclear weapons, and reduction in nuclear arms. In spite of staggering financial difficulties and administrative problems – Mixner’s ProPeace organization had to declare bankruptcy – the historic cross-country journey continued and 1800 people entered the capital. It concluded with a candle light vigil at the reflection pool and an interfaith benediction led by Rabbi David Saperstein.”- www.oac.cdlib.org
 
I don’t recall who told me about the March, but once I heard, I knew I had to be part of it, at least on a local level and planned to join in the final day in DC as well.  Although I was prepared emotionally, mentally and spiritually for the journey from Philadelphia to West Chester, PA  which was about 22 miles (as the crow flies…wishing I was a crow that day), I was unprepared physically. By the time I arrived there, sopping wet, since it rained that day and even though I had changed my socks several times, my boots had leaked and  my feet were so blistered and painful, it felt as if I was literally walking on bone. Small sacrifice, although I did need to take an additional day off of work, since I literally couldn’t stand. I enjoyed the company of my fellow marchers as we spoke of what peace meant to us, sang songs to inspire us and hugged alot to keep our spirits aglow. It seemed to work.
 
On the 15th, I drove down to DC with my cousin and some friends and the man who the following year would become my husband. I joked that this was our official first date and that once there, a true test of his flexibility and loyalty, was that he guarded the  door as I quickly ducked into the men’s room to pee, since the line to the women’s room was so long and I told him that “my bladder has no gender identity and when you gotta go, you gotta go.”
 
A more poignant test came earlier in the day. Michael was behind the wheel, and we were on the road near Havre de Grace, Maryland, a ways out from the nation’s capital, having left at the crack of dawn to join the marchers. There were blessedly only a few cars at that hour. What we witnessed remains with me clear as day, all of these years later. A car swerved in front of us, did a 360 degree turn, the driver slumping over in her seat, missed us and the other cars, and pulled over, as if steered by unseen hands, to the side of the road. We pulled over behind her and then behind us, a caravan of soldiers from Ft. Meade.  As we jumped out of the car, we saw a decidedly pregnant young woman who was on her way to reserve duty who had fallen asleep at the wheel. One of the men from her company, drove her to the base. Breathing a sigh of relief and a prayer of gratitude, knowing that we were all protected that day (and every day, I now recognize), we got back in the car and headed southward to BE PEACE.
 
After that experience, the rest of the day was a blur (except for the bathroom experience:). I often wonder what happened to that woman and her child and how their lives unfolded. Does she know what a miracle occurred on that day? I do.
 
May the Great Peace March continue in all of our hearts and minds~
 
The Great Peace March
Holly Near / © Hereford Music

Ancient eyes are watching in the night
The stars come out to guide the way
The sun still shines despite the clouds
 And the dawn is dusk is dawn is dusk is day

Farmers rise and dream to feed the world
The world awakes to feed the heart
Hearts beat while a thousand flags are waving
And the farmer sees a dream has played a part

We will have peace, we will because we must
We must because we cherish life
And believe it or not, as daring as it may seem
It is not an empty dream
To walk in a powerful path
Neither the first nor the last great peace march
Life is a great and mighty march
Forever for love and for life on the great peace march

Are you black like night or red like clay
Are you gold like sun or brown like earth
Grey like mist or white like moon
My love for you is the reason for my birth

Peace can start with just one heart
From a small step to leaps and bounds
A walk becomes a race for time
And a brave child calls out from the crowd

www.hollynear.com/peace_march.html

 

Meditation: The Complete Guide

Meditation - The Complete Guide: Techniques from East and West to Calm the Mind, Heal the Body, and Enrich the Spirit [Book]

 

Hard to imagine one book so content rich about such a subject as vast as meditation, but nearly lifelong meditator, professor and practicing Quaker Patricia Monaghan and ecologist,  author and yoga instructor who has studied world religions Eleanor G. Viereck have compiled a comprehensive manual to this ancient art. It is called Meditation: The Complete Guide which is celebrating its 10th anniversary  in this newly revised edition. They set the stage for the reader’s journey by defining what meditation is and what it is not. The first thing they indicate is that it is indeed a practice in which people are encouraged to engage. There is no one size fits all modality here.  They then shine the light on the idea that meditation is about fully being in the now. It is not, according to the authors; relaxation or self hypnosis. It is a portable tool that is not unique to any one religion AND it is not sacrilegious. The authors view nature as a cathedral in which to engage in practice and enchance its power.

The book invites the reader to sample from a veritable buffet, including “hesychasm”,  (chapter 20) otherwise known as The Jesus Prayer which encourages stillness,  brush painting (chapter 14) that brings with it the opportunity to allow meditation to create works of art, and candle meditation (chapter 25) which spans many traditions.  One of my favorites is the use of prayer beads (chapter 29), since I use a  japa mala  to count my blessings, chant a mantra or acknowledge meaningful people in my life by running their names and faces through my mind. Metta or lovingkindness meditation (chapter 10) is a backdrop, it seems for all other  styles.

It could literally take a lifetime to engage in these various practices,  as described in the book, but what a life well lived it would be.

www.newworldlibrary.com

 

Labyrinth

Like many spiritual practitioners, I chose to engage in a ritual to honor the numerologically auspicious date of 11/11/11 .  As timing would have it, I happened to be in Sedona, Arizona on Friday. In the midst of the Red Rocks vortices, which are said to amplify energy,  it seemed like Divine Timing. As much as it may appear to be ‘cosmic foo-foo’  to some, I have discovered that in the process of awareness of vital life force, I am strengthened and my intentions are magnified.

I had heard that there was a labyrinth walk near the home of the friends with whom I was staying, which felt like an immediate YES! to this fast paced soul who had dramatically slowed down in my week there. Driving on the main thoroughfare of Rte 89A, I turned into the parking lot of St. Andrews Episcopal Church.  I walked to the site, joining the growing gathering of gracefully aging hippies like myself; many enwrapped in colorful garb; works of he(art) themselves. The first person I noticed had a familiar face and with arms outspread, big grin across his face. I realized it was my friend Larry (a.k.a. Hugman) who had moved to Sedona a few years ago from Maine, but I met him 14 years ago in Pennsylvania when, as a clown, I entertained at his son Gabe’s 6th birthday party.  He pointed to the hat perched on his head and I recognized it as one my husband had made long ago. He called them Heavenly Headwear: Hats For People With Heads (the tag line came from a question asked by a friend…”who are they designed for?”, to which Michael had answered “People with heads.”)   Now nearly 13 years after his death, Larry still wears Michael’s creation. It is a blue and white batik design with a sun face in the middle. I smiled in remembrance since 11/11  was also the day that he had entered the hospital in a coma while awaiting a liver transplant. Five and half weeks later, he made his transition. This year, there is nary a twinge of sadness. I send him a blessing to wherever in the Universe he is at the moment.

Drums and other percussion instruments were made available to us and of course I indulged in this since it is one of my favorite activities, as we slowly encircled the painted blue design modeled after the labyrinth in Chartres, France.  We entered one by one, sent on our way by a woman who offered each of us the blessing of remembering who we truly are, as she invited us to gaze into our own eyes in a mirror that she held before us.  Slowly step by step, I moved through the winding path, at home in my own heart and mind for the first time in quite awhile. Quieting the chattering monkey mind that would have liked to have skipped through the path, instead I took step by step as if pulled along a stream. I was able to pause (of necessity actually) since the man in front of me slowed his pace, and not feel impatience, as if somehow I needed to move on to my next activity. This moving meditation moved me from the inside out.

As I reached center of the design, a yoga mat had been lain there and I felt called to place myself in child’s pose with the thought of the Rumi quote:

“Today, like every other day
I wake up empty and frightened.
Don’t go to the door of the study
And begin to read a book.
Instead, take down the dulcimer.                                                                                   
Let the beauty of what you love
Be what you do.
There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”

As I walked out the other side of the labyrinth, I felt a deep sense of peace wash over me and I knew I had indeed moved through a portal into a new state of being. Will the world change as a result of the numerical synchronicities?   Seems to me that more likely, it will shift because we are willing to do so. 

 http://youtu.be/TypAzKe2kAs The World Is What You Make It by Paul Brady

Spice For Living

While I was visiting my friend Dianne in Sedona, we perused neighborhood yard sales on 11/11/11/, since she was searching for fireplace tools.  We were guided by signs and arrows pointing the way to places that might have had what she was seeking, but I was drawn by something even more powerful…divine signs. We pulled up in front of a house with the garage door open and were greeted by a woman named Carol who wore a baseball cap with the words “Wally’s General Store” stitched on it. She offered fresh brewed coffee and home made cookies. In all my years of  yard sales, I have never seen that. She then went on to explain that there was a theme to this event. Her elderly neighbor had recently died; with his wife preceding him. They had no children and it seemed that his neighbors were surrogates. Carol and another woman; I think her name was Ann, cleaned out Wally’s house. He used to own a store in Oregon, so her garage was a re-creation of Wally’s place. Tools, kitchen ware, a blast from my past Charles Chips can were some of the items. Then one particular relic drew my attention. Small in stature; large in  impact. It is the illustration for this blog entry. The sides of the spice can carry the words “Ingredients: Faithfulness, Gentleness, Goodness, Joy, Kindness, Patience, Peace, Perseverence, Protection, Trust, Truthfulness and Unselfishness.”

On the back of the container, was a tale as sweet as the intended ingredients:

 ” THE STORY BEHIND LOVE

For many years, a man watched his wife take a locked box down from the cupboard. She would unlock the box, take a pinch, sprinkle it over whatever she was cooking, relock the box and return it to its place. One day, while his wife was away, his curiosity got the best of him. He went to the cupboard, took the box down and opened it. To his surprise, it was empty. He turned it over and on the bottom was written the word LOVE. Don’t keep your LOVE  locked up in a cupboard, Keep it within easy reach and use generously.   SO…..though not in your recipe book, into  everything you cook, put a big pinch of LOVE.

How do you integrate love into all you do?

When was the last time you sprinkled love all around and on people who may not have been aware of it?

 Do you withold that which is really the spice of life?

How about offering flavorful opportunities for folks to recognize that they are the bakers of the bread of life?

Are you willing to spice up your relationships with this condiment that knows no limitation or condition?

http://youtu.be/Jge668g6QAQ  Cook With Honey by Howdy Moon

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