links in the ancestral chain

This is the season for imagination and celebration of ancestors: Halloween; All Saints’ Day; All Souls’ Day; Día de Muertos, Day of the Dead, for those of Mexican heritage; Diwali, a Hindu celebration of lights; and Zhongyuan, a Ghost Festival of traditional Buddhists and Taoists. We take time to think about how our ancestors may have directed our lives. There is significance in creativity and vision whether for survival or for fun; in honor, gratitude for, and discovery of meaning in our ancestors; and in an understanding that accepts dying and death as a part of us.

For many, the world seems to be a tense and unyielding place. We are constantly striving to multi-task, reach goals, and, at all costs, thrive.  We are products of our own drive, society’s expectations, and cultural beliefs. Halloween is the perfect time to take a break, unwind, don a costume, and recall earlier spooky stories—maybe imagine what it was like to be an ancestor on this day.

Halloween dates to a seventh century pagan festival, Samhain, meaning summer’s end. This was an ancient Gaelic celebration that honored the end of the harvest. It was also believed to be a time of year when the veil between this world and the spiritual world became thinner. Good and evil spirits were thought to be part of the environment. People wanted to protect their crops and livestock from possible negative influences.

In extending hospitality to the spirits, people offered bonfires, place settings at the family table, food and drink, and costumed visitations to their neighbors. Imagination and the urgency to ward off any evil spirits created opportunities for distractions and socializing. Serious intentions expanded to solidarity, safety, and harmony.

During the ninth century, the Western Christian church moved the observance of Samhain to the day before the Christian celebrations of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day in the early part of November. For many, this pagan day merged with the holy days to become Halloween; however, many churches continue to witness the annual All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day as separate celebrations.

All Saints’ Day, November 1, celebrates the souls of those loved ones and unknowns who have died during the previous year, along with those exemplary souls who were influential in religious history. Since heaven is a state of mind and we are all connected, it is a good time for us to recall our ancestors and the ways in which they were meaningful to us as well as how they lived their lives. Do some of their traits live on in us?

I think of my Grandma Millie and how she was never too busy to listen or converse with me as if I were the only person in her world.  I also heard stories as we planted, weeded, harvested, and canned produce from her garden and made crafts like candy cane tree ornaments. It felt important to be recognized for being helpful and creative. She saw something in me that I didn’t know was there. In reverie, I sometimes imagine what it would have been like to cook with her in a contemporary kitchen with all the amenities—how excited and amazed she would have been. I am grateful for the enduring power of her influence. As a Gran, I look for ways in which to validate my “grands” to follow their hearts. Knowing that everyone has talents, gifts, or important words to offer, we can also honor those souls who were among us yet remain unknown.

November 2, All Souls’ Day, commemorates all souls, living or deceased, regardless of positive or negative circumstances. Let us be grateful for the gifts that each of us represents, for compassion and understanding of any shadow components, and for forgiveness of the humanness in each other. This is unconditional love. Knowing the shadow side of someone and loving that trait into light anyway is the realization of no separation. Benevolence begins with imagination. Loving shadow traits may not be easy, yet it is worth the effort.

Several other celebrations honor ancestors. Mexican Día de Muertos is an annual festivity scheduled for October 31-November 2, where celebrants welcome their beloved ancestors to be with them. The living pray for their deceased family members and friends, wear bright costumes, dance, and prepare special foods. They know that death is a natural part of life and, by facing this reality, they make peace with the inevitability of death. Because of this, they minimize their fear and dread. The 2017 Walt Disney movie, Coco, beautifully and tenderly portrays this remembrance.  We can imagine these aspects and sense oneness with all who celebrate their ancestors.

Diwali, meaning “row or series of lights,” is a Hindu Festival that is celebrated throughout the world. It honors new beginnings and the triumph of good over evil and light over dark. A religious observance, the celebration coincides with the Hindu New Year. This five-day Festival of Lights honors fortune, knowledge, light, the New Year, and love between siblings. Lighted candles, fairy lights, and oil lamps are placed inside and outside of homes, in front of public buildings and line streets. Fireworks are abundant. Though not everyone celebrates Diwali, we can use our imagination to feel the meaning of the festival. When we imagine, we use the functionality of our higher brain, and our energy vibration raises the overall vibration of the planet. Goodness increases for everyone.

Zhongyuan, a Chinese Ghost Festival, symbolizes the fall harvest and the rebirth of ancestors or ghosts. It is believed that their earthly families forgot to pay tribute to them after they died and, if they were treated poorly when they returned, great misfortune would descend on the family. Families offered prayers and food. They also burned items made of Joss paper which represented materialism in the afterlife. The more paper that was burned, the better for the ancestors. Lighted, floating lanterns were thought to guide the souls of the forgotten ancestors to the afterlife.

Imagining what it might be like to participate in this festival expands our consciousness. We feel oneness in light. Our connected energies and higher vibrations take us full circle.When we choose to visualize and direct our creativity, honor and discover meaning in our ancestors, and understand the deeper and broader aspects of dying and death, we are in the moment. This is our gift, and, at some point, our legacy.

“We are who we are because they were who they were. It’s wise to know where you come from, who called your name.”   ~Maya Angelou

From a higher vantage: Make time to thank your ancestors, regardless of perspective or underlying stories. Offer at least one positive comment for what lives on in you. Without ancestors, who would you be?

©2019 in the thick of things

engage without reservation

Oneness is challenging to understand and even more difficult to experience. However, I have witnessed it in several instances. One approach is to slow down, relax, and be in the moment. Then choose an object that appeals to the senses: a favorite flower, the spiral of a conch shell, or the song of a bird.  I set an intention for my energy to merge with that of the object. I ask to feel the oneness between us. Everything around me becomes timeless, and a warmth opens me. I feel my vision, and then body, reaching and merging with the object. I am suspended in oneness. Sadly, the sensation doesn’t last long because my focus changes to wanting the experience to continue, and then the feeling subsides. Yet I am elated to have experienced it for a brief time.

In a similar way, exploring the mystery behind the creative process also holds the promise of oneness. In my case, I clear all distractions and focus on new expressions of communicating. I allow all ideas to come to me as my creativity leads. My environment seems to disappear, and I feel ethereal. Timing and how this unfolds is never pre-determined. Work and rework are part of the process, yet the result is so gratifying.

Although no two creative experiences are the same, even for one individual, creativity connects me to something larger and grander. The scope of the idea does not matter. Thoughts from higher realms feed my heart and mind, and new expressions or ways of seeing are born.

Undisputedly, there are many myths about creativity. This dialogue between ego and higher Self explores ideas about the creative process and may also lead to a greater understanding.

Ego:  Why all this talk about creativity?

Higher Self:  Creativity is a way that everyone can align with a greater energy. The present moment calls, and the person moves effortlessly toward and within it. This is the zone of oneness. Expressing ideas in an original way gives an individual great satisfaction. Beginning with the unknown, something emerges.

Ego:  Sounds like change is involved.

Higher Self:  Yes, of the very best kind.

Ego:  Well, you know I prefer the status quo, structure, and known paradigms. Change makes me nervous; I’m afraid of connecting ideas to create something new. What if the result is criticized or [whisper]…I fail?

Higher Self:  Worrying about the small stuff (and it’s all small stuff) holds you back. It takes you out of the moment. It fills all the little spaces in your brain with doubt and blocks your intuition so that exciting, new thoughts go unnoticed. Don’t force thoughts, let them arrive when they will. This is not about your timing.

Ego:  You mean creative thoughts can come to anyone? It isn’t just a select few who are born with them? Or who have muses? Or who participate in a think tank atmosphere?

Higher Self:  Creativity takes place in the moment at-hand when nature, or anything, really, speaks to you—sounds, shapes, wafting aromas, the weather, a sunset over water, or a riveting conversation. Anything that catches your attention.

Ego:  Well, I like the tried-and-true past. It also gives me a foundation for the future. I think present moment creativity is overrated!

Higher Self:  Let me help you experience creativity. First, slow down and then connect with a greater energy of which you’re a part. Now think of something you’re passionate about: It may be one of the traditional arts or wood carving, decorating, making fishing lures, gardening, or photographing.

Ego:  Okay, I think I’m getting it.

Higher Self:  Right here, right now, let your brain and heart go wild. Let time be of no consequence; creativity often involves work and rework. The process may even take your breath away (for just an instant). Yet the result—the magnum opus—is monumental, if only for yourself, especially for yourself. The feeling is difficult to put into words.

Ego:  I like the “self” part but taking my breath away—I don’t know.

Higher Self:  Your imagination collaborates with mysterious energy to yield something new. What you create may even be good, useful, or unique to the community and beyond—or just for fun. Either way, give thanks and feel the vibrations of the Universe applauding.

Ego:  If creativity will make me the star of my own show where I can get applause and feel good, I may have to try it. Hummm, since I’ve been told that I am already creative, I will begin to nurture this quality by focusing on my favorite flower, the lily. Sensing oneness with its beauty and edibility, maybe I will be inspired to create a beautiful dinner entrée.

Thoughts…

Expressions of creativity surround you. Whether in nature or defined from within, know that you can engage without reservation. Feel oneness. Share.

© 2019 in the thick of things

You are So Much More

How much evidence is needed? You are so much more was the message that my softened and surrendered heart received from Source less than a week ago. What did this message mean and where was it leading? Previous to the night of the message, I had spent five hours with a nonagenarian relative in the Emergency Room (ER) and subsequent hospital room as he continued to interact with a racing heartbeat. I wanted to be with him and his daughter at his bedside to connect with him through “Heart Talk”—an approach of support, “being” in oneness and, above all, shared love in the present moment. “Our work is to come together in truth. To become the perfect environment for each other’s recognition that there is no other, but just the One to be shared,” Who Dies? Stephen and Ondrea Levine, p.171.

I adjusted his blankets for warmth, placed my hand on his shoulder, looked in the direction of his eyes and began to speak through heart vibrations. His daughter offered a comment to add some levity that he should decide between Red Lobster and The Olive Garden as a dinner destination for the following week. As the medical team prepared to shock his heart with the hope of gaining a normal heart rate, his racing heartbeat suddenly began to drop significantly. Nosedive by nosedive, it normalized. I was reminded of my inner spark of divinity. It was Source working through me that held sacred space for whatever would be the appropriate healing for my relative’s situation.

Two days later while attending a Unity service, certain lyrics from “Hold On,” a song from The Secret Garden—a 1993 musical about death and loss—hijacked my attention. More evidence. Underlined passages resonate with me.

“Hold On” (excerpts)

“What you’ve got to do is finish
What you have begun!…

When you see the storm is coming
See the lightning part the skies
It’s too late to run
There’s terror in your eyes
What you do then is remember
This old thing you heard me say
“It’s the storm, not you
That’s bound to blow away”

Hold on…
Don’t even ask how long or why?
Child, hold on to what you know is true
Hold on till you get through.
Child, oh child
Hold on…

[When you feel your heart is poundin’
Fear a devil’s at your door
There’s no place to hide
You’re frozen to the floor
What you do then is you force yourself
To wake up, and just say
“It’s this dream, not me
That’s bound to go away”…

Hold on, the night will soon be by
Hold on
Until there’s nothing left to try
Child, hold on, there’s angels on their way
Hold on and hear them say
“Child, oh child!”

When you see a man who’s raging
And he’s jealous and he fears
That you’ve walked through walls
He’s hid behind for years
What you do then
Is you tell yourself to wait it out
And say “It’s this day, not me
That’s bound to go away”

Child, oh, hold on
It’s this day, not you,
That’s bound to go away.”

Again, You are so much more resounded in my heart, symbolizing an alignment with Source, my higher Self. When I focus on this alignment, my strength knows no boundaries and my path to enlightenment is clear. How much more evidence is needed? Yet, persuasive ego tends to derail me, although in fewer instances as time goes on. Thinking of my relationship with Source, I need only ask and then wait for guidance and answers to appear. It’s when I begin to doubt, question, and close my heart that things get murky. Staying in the moment and expecting to hear from Source, the next steps come to me. With a softened heart, I look to this as my reality, and situations that are difficult, worrisome or fearful—the dramas of life—are recognized as illusions. Perhaps it’s the day, the response, or circumstances. Each of these, not my higher Self, will “go away.” My higher Self is part of Source; therefore, I am steadfast and endure.

Over time, I believed that I had understood this concept, knew the right words to explain it, and could give examples. I see now that I had more living to do to fully realize alignment as a gift. It’s not important that circumstances have repeated themselves in a variety of ways to yield recognition or that understanding has taken a while to settle into my bones. When I set an intention to raise my consciousness and pursue alignment, it will happen. Timing is of no consequence. Source has a plan and is in and around me, always. Doubt came because I carried the alignment only in my head, vulnerable to Ego; now I believe in and hold the alignment with Source in my heart.

Then it was Tuesday. You are so much more defines connection. I received meaningful comments about the recently-held me! die? gathering; found the “right fit” webmaster, which was the result of completely trusting my intuition; and spent the day experiencing the world from the perspective of our eleventh-month-old grandson. Each precious moment offered endless gifts: smiles, exploratory movements and experimental noises created with his tongue, communication full of nuances, and the wonder and awe of earrings and zippers, to name a few. Even the moments spent reading Alaska 1-2-3 Counting Book for the fifteenth time renewed a fondness in my heart for his excitement as we approached that special page, and he exuberantly waved to nine polar bears waving back at him.

You are so much more goes beyond “correct” answers and possibilities—extensions of the mind. With the knowledge of Source alignment in my heart, I feel my thoughts, words, and actions through trust and patience, without strategy. The results are universally agreeable. Receiving awareness from Source in mysterious ways no longer surprises me. At 4 a.m. I awoke to “nudges” for this blog entry that ended in an obscure circle of light gently pulsating in my head. I know. Evidence is surpassed by joy.

Inwardly speaking: Set your intention. Ask your heart to lead you into alignment with Source. It will come to you in time. You are so much more than you think.

© 2015 Barbara L. Krause