Sunday, January 30, 2011

Keep Your Head in the Heavens and Your Ass on the Ground

Today, Asheville, North Carolina is giving me a big wet kiss in the form of a beautifully warm day; short sleeves and sunshine after the bitter cold and snow. But it is a deep deception; it is a lover who lies. Because it is not spring; it is a momentary respite in the depth of this winter, to keep us from slashing our wrists. I welcome and I embrace the lie.

Accepting the fickle nature of the indifferent weather seems to mirror a shift in my own nature toward a deeper appreciation of the dance between spirit and matter. I was trained, like you, at an early age to separate my spiritual life from life in this body.

The extreme embodiment of this pattern allows you to function however you will day to day, spreading unconsciousness and deceit without regard to the life of your spirit. In this paradigm your spiritual aspect may be attended to only on Sundays, enduring the sermon or confessing in the booth.

I was forced to face this conflict early in my young adulthood when I had the rare privilege of studying with Native American teachers. They would look me squarely in the eye and tell me that in my culture, what we would call “religion” they would call “a way of life”. They did not separate their spiritual life from the rest of their living, and they found it laughable that anyone would try.

I came to understand that everybody has a religion, even the atheist. Your religion is what you do, day in and day out. Your every thought, your every word, your every step is a prayer. And we are always praying.

Now those of us who have immersed ourselves in the spiritual often find that we have become disconnected from our life in this body. Sometimes it seems our practice takes us out of our bodies to journey to the stars and we have lost our connection to the earth.

I am remembering that I do face all of existence when I look at the stars, and the heavens seem to represent my origin and my destiny. But I cannot forget that I am inextricably connected to the earth and this human interlude. It is important. We have chosen this life for a reason, not the least of which is to live completely and to fully appreciate this gift.

We are not just toiling in the illusion until we are called home for supper. We are not sitting down and waiting to die.

Our planet is undergoing a profound shift in awareness. It is not even enough to wake up to the reality of our spiritual nature; we must also wake up to our soul’s purpose in this body. Many of us have chosen a rigorous curriculum in the Earth School and we are working out what it means to be in a body.

So today I enliven my senses. I feel the sunshine on my face. I take the hands of my fellow journeyers, and I appreciate the touch of another. I breathe in the fragrance of the Carolina pine and the piles of decaying leaves. I enjoy the lilting clouds and I bless the earth beneath my feet. It is good to be alive.

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