I got a strong message from the Universe last night, on a day of intense messages from Her. This is what She said:
"Everything starts/depends upon this: Generosity of the Universe, the ability to be open to Abundance; positive expectations, and awareness of beauty and love. Without it, ego will heat our tempers, making it hard for us to know (or keep track of) what we're fighting for. We will end up in conflicts for the sake of conflicts, losing sight of what's truly important. And/or we will feel blockage, unable to decide on any action at all. And/or we will find ourselves making an uncomfortable truce. We will feel feelings of defeat, but . . . (interrupting Herself)...oh, you get the picture! The point is, you've got to start there if you want to get to insightful intellect, to become the one who is helpful without sugar-coating your words, if you want the ability to bring calm reality to any situation."
Of course, our culture says that believing in Abundance, or that the Universe is generous, or having positive expectations, or tuning into beauty and love is frivolous, even irresponsible. We've all seen the meme, "If you're not outraged, you're not paying attention." The fact that this is presented as a binary (EITHER you are outraged OR you don't care) might be your first clue that it is false. A second might be that you hear it so insistently. A third might be how often it serves to create what it describes -- when people who want to work for a better world find themselves checking out because they can't deal with the despair. And a fourth might be how hard it is to actually do -- when something is presented as namby-pamby, the "easy way out," shouldn't it be, well, easy?
...many perceive there to be a split between being concerned with the realm of the spirit (prayer while kneeling, eyes shut, clenching a Bible) and concern with more material objects (bodies, land and possessions). That split goes to the very core of western civilization, toward the earliest assertion of a dichotomy that perceived something incompatible between spirit and body, between an essence of soul and an essence of physical carnality. That chasm affects us to this very day . . . . In our age, many identify a spiritual life precisely with an otherworldly attitude, one that looks upon physical things as somehow destructive, one which evaluates biological bodies as somehow less significant, and one which understands the core action to be in the realm of spirit, somehow distinct from physicality. We owe this division in large measure to the Greek philosopher, Plato, and to his student, Aristotle.
It's hard not to quote most of this excellent article on Embodied Spirituality by Rabbi Bradley Shavit Artson, dean of the Ziegler School of Rabbinic Studies at American Jewish University. He outlines how he thinks the soul/spirit became equated with the mind/thought and opposed to the body/material. He provides three examples of ways that perceived dichotomy has been helpful in the Jewish faith in particular, and then argues that its costs are far greater, because it devalues diversity, trivilializes social justice, and discourages concern and engagement with the environment and world around us. What a great example of the far-reaching effects of the binary and the interrelatedness of the body, spirituality, and justice!
Photo above by Roger May, text by photo session partner. From the Laid Bare project, which frames form and land together to explore loss and vulnerability. May is a colleague, my mountain "brother," and fellow both/and adherent (who believes, among other things, you can support coal and coal miners and also feel outraged and spiritually wounded by mountaintop removal).
Counselor/Coach, Consultant, Folklorist, High Priestess of Where Things Meet and the Places Between