by Pat Hoertdoerfer
Life hangs on a narrative thread.
This thread is a braid of stories that inform us about
who we are, and where we come from,
and where we might go.
One of the threads of my life came from my Grandma Sophie who lived on a farm in northern Wisconsin. She was the elder in our family tribe and every summer we gathered at her home. She was a down-to-earth, hard-working, always humming, practical idealist. Growing up I loved being there living close to the land and experiencing the abundance of the season – vegetables from the garden, eggs from the hens, fruit from the trees, milk from the cows. But most of all, water from the well. How delicious and precious it was especially at the end of a hot day. We would haul up the bucket and pass the dipper around, each drinking deeply. Then laying back we looked up at the millions of stars. We knew somehow that this earth was home and that we were all connected – stars, water, garden, wind, plants, animals, neighbors and all the love that surrounded us.
And still, after all this time,
The sun never says to the earth,
"You owe Me."
Look what happens with
A love like that,
It lights the Whole Sky.
I’m writing now at the close of the day of this summer’s solstice, which happens to feature the simultaneous arrival of our sun’s significant other—a fully radiant and vivacious moon. Both the physical and the metaphysical shine with an unmistakable presence this day and evening. This is the time within our solar year that calls our attention to the Light that fills the sky and feeds our planet’s many bodies and souls.
by Meg Newhouse
“At least two implications flow from our inevitable mortality.
First, because we will die, we need to pay attention to how we live.
Second, if we care about anyone, we need to think about
leaving something of ourselves behind.”
Susan Bosek, The Legacy Project
In January 2010 I visited the Olduvai Gorge in Tanzania, part of the Great Rift Valley, where the first humanoids emerged almost two million years ago. In the museum there I marveled at footprints of our earliest known homo erectus ancestors, preserved in lava and framed by an artist’s rendition of their little band running to escape the volcano that threatened their lives around 1.2 million years ago.
Most of us live relatively anonymous lives, leaving behind “footprints” that vanish within a few generations at best. I believe that we humans are hard-wired to find and make meaning of our lives, to make a positive difference, and to hope that some evidence that we existed and mattered lives on.
by Ron Pevny
“Please don’t let me die before I’ve had the opportunity to fulfill what I feel called to do.” Lying in that hospital bed, assaulted by waves of fear and bouts of irregular heartbeat, this was the prayer that most frequently arose from the depths of my being. Nothing is more likely to provide insight into what we deem most important than facing one’s mortality, and that week in May of 2007 brought me face-to-face with my mortality for the first time.
And what an emotional roller coaster of an initiatory experience it was. I remember that time as a series of poignant snapshots of the vast range of my emotional life: Ron—the runner, the health conscious dieter, the taker of the supplements that support vibrant good health, the teacher of healthy, conscious aging—laid low by terrifying bouts of atrial fibrillation; then the tumor on my lung found while my heart was being x-rayed, followed by the anxiety-filled wait for the results of the biopsy; the unforgettable deep peace and spiritual presence I felt for three weeks after the tumor was found to be non-malignant; unrelenting waves of fear, vulnerability and despair as the heart arrhythmias continued after the tumor, which the doctors thought to be the cause of the fibrillation, was removed.
in conversation with Joseph Jastrab
Anyone who’s ever met Charles Lawrence knows that you don’t just meet him; you enter into an experience of him. I rarely encounter anyone who speaks as if each word were his last. Such was the case in my recent conversation with Charles, which precipitated a sense of immediacy, a call to attention, which remained with me for days following our talk.
His initial callings led him into the fields of psychology, theatre and business until a series of “initiatory strikes” opened a whole new course at age 40; summoning him to world travel to meet with indigenous elders and shamans from Mongolia, Siberia, Australia to the jungles, deserts and mountains of Peru, Australia, Mexico, South Africa and elsewhere. His journey eventually led him to Hotevilla where he was adopted by Hopi elders, and has remained in close contact, for over 30 years.
I caught up with Charles, by phone, at his New York City apartment in between a recent return from Utah, participating in the 26th anniversary of a specialized version of the Shoshone Ghost Dance, and an upcoming journey to Finland to help celebrate the anniversary of a community he helped birth 20 years ago. I suggested we begin our talk with an invocation, having nothing in particular in mind. Charles immediately began singing – a chant inspired by the vision of Black Elk . . .