Our Violence Calls

DSCF7428aI awoke today in the dark pre-dawn hours to the news of the Las Vegas shootings. A familiar and heavy pain in my heart deepened as I groaned, “Not again!” I scanned my social media accounts over my morning coffee, scrolling through comments that have become heartbreakingly commonplace: “When will it be enough?” “What is wrong with this country?” “How bad does it have to get?”

Amid posts filled with heated debates over ineffectual gun laws, rampant hatred, and mental illness rise the cries of hearts like mine, those that have grown weary of these all too familiar tragedies. We want something to be done. The ache of loss and grief has become too great. We pray for it to just please… stop.

Anger surfaces. We wonder why our leaders, while mouthing their regrets, do nothing to stem these terrible violent massacres of our brothers and sisters. Still, we summon the grace to offer up prayers of sympathy and support, to find deep compassion for all who are impacted by yet another horrific display of violence. I search my heart for meaningful solutions but any answer that comes seems woefully inadequate.

Perhaps the answers we search for often come up short because the violence we see on a daily basis is the result of many, many years of oppression and emotional suppression. There are few safe places where we can admit to our anger and hatred and desire for revenge. We often find little generosity to express our neediness and feelings of inadequacy. We may lack the courage to admit just how much we resent our demanding children, our indifferent partners, our needy parents. With little tolerance for our aching exhaustion or acrid bitterness or the bottomless grief, we shove these unwelcome thoughts and feelings deep into our subconscious. In an effort to soothe our ever-expanding fears our minds want simple, straightforward answers, though our hearts know that none exist.

It frustrates me to no end to admit I do not have satisfactory answers for these complex, layered issues that have been centuries in the making. The causes of violence are complex and charged with emotion. In order to continue to put one foot in front of the other and continue to live a meaningful life I must enter my inner landscape and to honestly confront  my feelings regarding these events that triggers so much grief and rage and sorrow. I must become aware of the dark emotions as well as the light ones. I must both find my joy, and confront my own violent thoughts. I must learn to embrace all of me. I must face whatever this violence calls out in me.

We are emotional beings. Though we often pride ourselves on our ability to reason things out, 95% of our decisions are made for emotional reasons. Little happens in life without either an emotional impetus or an emotional reaction. Yet we remain strangers to our rich inner landscapes.

Here’s what I know about the dynamics of emotion:

All emotion calls for expression. Emotions by their nature demand movement (expression). Whether we express our emotions in balanced or imbalanced ways depends upon our relationship with them; in how we have embraced them, or abandoned them.

Suppression always causes imbalance. The minute we begin to suppress or judge or deny any emotion, we drive our feelings into the dark recesses of our fearful minds where they fester and become caustic.

Disavowing our suppressed emotions separates us from our power. When we cannot or will not own our dark thoughts–the ones where we carry a secret desire for revenge or hatred or punishment or indifference, we remain impotent in affecting a change. Since all emotion demands expression, our denied dark thoughts are destined to erupt–either internally or externally–with varying levels of intensity, the most extreme of which is violence. When we cannot or will not confront our denied emotions we often take out our unresolved feelings on those we love the most.

Expressing our emotions requires the courage to become vulnerable.  We all need a sacred witness to our pain. The most courageous thing we will ever do is to admit to ourselves, to God, and to another human being the truth of our darkest feelings. This should never be done casually, however, or without assurance that who we reveal our failings to has the integrity to hold our confession in confidence with a compassion that is free of judgement.

Having compassion does not condone action. We can find compassion for another soul whose heart has been crushed beneath the weight of their destructive behaviors without absolving them of the responsibility for their actions. We can also do this for ourselves.  We must learn to tenderly love our most wounded selves while being fully accountable for our words and actions. One way of creating peace in our hearts is to offer a means for restoration for the harm we may have caused others.

Forgiveness is the key to compassion. Forgiveness is a deep letting go of our attachment to our pain. It is not the absolution of another’s hurtful actions. It does not mean that our pain was not valid or that our heart was not wounded. Forgiveness unties us from the belief that we are our painful past. To forgive ourselves is the most courageous and healing thing we will ever do.

We are not meant to heal alone. At times, the weight of our shame, bitterness, rage, grief, and fear can be crushing . Loneliness amplifies the burdens we carry. We can feel shunned and unloved, that we don’t belong. It may seem as if there is no way out of our darkness and we slip further into despair. Without others to offer compassion and encouragement or to present another perspective to our problems, it’s easier to entertain thoughts of harm to ourselves or others. One of the most courageous things we will ever do is to ask for help. The next most courageous thing we can do is to offer help to another in need, no matter how uncomfortable it might make us.

DSCF7799aPerhaps the thing we need the most to quell the explosion of violence in our communities is the thing we need the most in ourselves: To be heard. To be seen. To be honored. To be understood. To be loved. To belong.

Perhaps what we need during these very trying times is to examine the ways we have both embraced our emotional selves, and where we have committed self-abandonment. Spend a few moments today examining your heart space for all the thoughts and feelings this most recent tragedy has triggered. Try to do this self-examination with tenderness and compassion, and, with utter honesty.

With Much Love,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

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In Preparation for Winter: A Time to Turn Inward and Hide

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me lately. I don’t want to do any of the things I normally do. I just want to run away and hide.”

I’ve been hearing these types of statements a lot recently. Friends, colleagues, healers, and clients alike have reported feeling overwhelmed and exhausted by everything from repeated natural disasters to the simple tasks of their everyday lives. But what if there is nothing wrong with us at all? What if instead, our desire for retreat is just our internal wisdom telling us it’s time to prepare for a much needed season of rest?

DSCF2895.JPGHere in the U.S. the season of Harvest is complete and Fall has arrived with Winter right on its heels. Fall is where we prepare for the fallow season of Winter. In Five Element wisdom, Winter embodies the processes of hibernation, death, gestation, and stillness; it is the season where doing nothing is the right and perfect activity. These forces are at play in both the natural world, and in our inner landscapes.

But pressed by internal and external demands for continual productivity, we often fear (the core emotion of Winter) the very idea of slowing down, of taking a break. Though we want nothing more than to quiet our minds and our activities, to retreat into our self-constructed caves of isolation, rest, however, is not a culturally acceptable season in which to linger. Deep rest, however, is exactly what our bodies and spirits crave and Winter’s rest is the perfect prescription for the weary ache that seems to be embedded in our very bones. .

“Imbued with the qualities of contemplation, reflection, meditation, and conservation, enveloped by Winter’s deep rest, we can come to more fully appreciate the core essence of life itself. With its long, dark nights, Winter is the perfect time to work on our inner landscapes. When we make good use of this rest we remain more resilient to life’s changes, able to move with the unexpected without fretting unduly over an uncertain future.” –from Soul of the Seasons (c) 2017, Melody A Scout

Every living being on the planet requires a season of rest to build resilience, and for restoration and rejuvenation. When we press ourselves into over-work and over-stimulation we create imbalance. An imbalance in the season of Winter can show up as anxiety, hyper-activity, fearful striving, adrenal exhaustion, aggression, and mind-racing. Overwhelmed by our busy schedules we may believe we don’t have time to rest, but rest is exactly what we need.

Mother Earth wisely knows the importance of quality rest. The natural world retreats as most signs of life go into hiding. Forced growth and activity during this season would result in death for many beings, so all unnecessary activities die away during the Big Sleep that is Winter.

Fall’s purpose then, is to prepare for the coming Big Sleep by setting aside the necessities that can sustain us both internally and externally. Much in the same way we save for a vacation by carving out time and resources for time off, we can make plans to ensure we have the means and resources necessary for regular periods of rest. Taking small daily breaks that restore body, mind, and spirit, getting quality sleep, and setting aside periods of time for napping, meditation, and contemplation can help us to build resilience and avoid burnout.

As Winter looms on the horizon, take some time to consider the following questions:

What can I do now to prepare for an extended season of rest?

How can I incorporate seasons of rest into my every day schedule?

How do I avoid or resist rest?

What in my life needs a good death?

Winter streamThe power encoded within the act of retreating from our everyday lives is perfectly reflected in this poem by David Whyte.

HIDING

is a way of staying alive. Hiding is a way of holding ourselves until we are ready to come into the light. Hiding is one of the brilliant and virtuoso practices of almost every part of the natural world: the protective quiet of an icy northern landscape, the held bud of a future summer rose, the snow bound internal pulse of the hibernating bear. Hiding is underestimated. We are hidden by life in our mother’s womb until we grow and ready ourselves for our first appearance in the lighted world; to appear too early in that world is to find ourselves with the immediate necessity for outside intensive care.

Hiding done properly is the internal faithful promise for a proper future emergence, as embryos, as children or even as emerging adults in retreat from the names that have caught us and imprisoned us, often in ways where we have been too easily seen and too easily named. We live in a time of the dissected soul, the immediate disclosure; our thoughts, imaginings and longings exposed to the light too much, too early and too often, our best qualities squeezed too soon into a world already awash with ideas that oppress our sense of self and our sense of others. What is real is almost always to begin with, hidden, and does not want to be understood by the part of our mind that mistakenly thinks it knows what is happening. What is precious inside us does not care to be known by the mind in ways that diminish its presence.

Hiding is an act of freedom from the misunderstanding of others, especially in the enclosing world of oppressive secret government and private entities, attempting to name us, to anticipate us, to leave us with no place to hide and grow in ways unmanaged by a creeping necessity for absolute naming, absolute tracking and absolute control. Hiding is a bid for independence, from others, from mistaken ideas we have about our selves, from an oppressive and mistaken wish to keep us completely safe, completely ministered to, and therefore completely managed. Hiding is creative, necessary and beautifully subversive of outside interference and control. Hiding leaves life to itself, to become more of itself. Hiding is the radical independence necessary for our emergence into the light of a proper human future.

© David Whyte: March 2014: Excerpted from ‘HIDING’ From the upcoming book of essays CONSOLATIONS: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

Melody A Scout is a Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner, Sacred Landscape Designer, and the author of the upcoming book, Soul of the Seasons which reveals the wisdom of Five Element medicine through the template of the seasons of the natural world.

The Art of Making Mistakes

Barb Psimas
Artwork by Barbara Psimas, Fine Artist

There’s no way around it, pursuing art and opening to our creativity involves risk. Any time we consider beginning a piece of artwork we must become willing to take a chance. We must become willing to enter into the unknown. We must become willing to be wrong. We must risk feeling silly or embarrassed, of making a mistake.

In my conversations with fellow artists of all types I find that we share similar anxieties or “fear Gremlins”, as author and researched Brene Brown calls them. Fear Gremlins are those insidious creatures who live in our psyches. Whenever we put our hand to a brush or a welder’s torch, a spatula, or the keyboard–basically, any tool of creativity–these annoying fearful critters of the subconscious begin to prattle incessantly, bringing to the surface our deepest fears and insecurities. They blather on with their accusations…

“Who do you think you are?”

“You can’t do that!”

“You don’t have what it takes!”

“You’re not enough! You’re not enough! You’re not enough!”

I’m sure you could add a few of your own.

In Five Element medicine Summer is the season represented by the element of Fire, and Water represents the season of Winter. Both Water and Fire are essential elements that support and nourish our creative spirits and, where we often experience the most conflict. In their balanced states Fire and Water temper and support each other. In the natural world the sun’s heat is tempered by the moisture in the atmosphere. Water sources such as seas, rivers, streams, and lakes, evaporate in the heat of sunlight. Their moisture then falls in the form of rain and snow over great areas, replenishing the earth, allowing plants to germinate and grow, for new life to begin. Forest fires reduce dead plant material to ash, fortifying the soil. These same fires are also essential in activating certain plants and seeds, allowing them to germinate.

Fire is the element that represents the emotional states of passion, joy, and creativity. Fire generates heat and light; physically, emotionally and spiritually. Our creative work requires warmth, tenderness, trust and deep courage, all important attributes of this essential element. Just as a physical light reveals the details in our artwork, spiritual light reveals the deepest recesses of our hearts. Expressing our creativity involves shining a light into the depth of our soul, revealing who we are at our very core.

Water, by contrast, is the element that symbolizes darkness, mystery, and the emotion of fear. Water is about caution and contemplation, stillness and gestation, risk assessment and fluidity. It is also where death resides. Our fears are here to serve us by alerting us to possible danger. They show us where we feel most secure and, what makes us tremble.

Water quenches Fire and Fire disburses Water. In this way, these two elements keep each other in balance and create an environment that is not only inhabitable, but pleasurable to live in. An imbalance in either of these two powerful elements can create havoc. Think: Forest fires and deserts, floods and avalanches. Spiritually, the element of Water tempers our enthusiasm and passion with time for contemplation and rest.

Though not unique to artists, one of our deepest desires is to live a life filled with warmth and juiciness, with  happiness and joy–but also with the calm reassurance of security. Experiencing a life such as this requires us to develop a delicate and dynamic relationship between the elements of Water and Fire. Too much fear (Water) and we’ll never pick up a tool. Too much passion (Fire) and chaos is the result.

Art is a container for our creativity.

Winter streamWater is of little use without a container. We need a cup from which to drink, pipes to carry water to our homes, rivers and streams need their banks. In art, as in life, one of the most critical aspects of creating is knowing where to begin and knowing when to end. We have to not only pick up a tool and give birth to our work, but also to give it a good death by finishing our art and then sending it out into the world. Or at least out into our living rooms.

Fire spread2Fire, on the other hand, provides the heat of passion that is necessary to carry out our creations. This essential element both warms our hearts and our homes. It brings light to our work, our vision, and our soul. Light shows us the unadulterated truth, revealing our flaws, and our brilliance. Both physical and spiritual light are needed to carry out our work. But too much enthusiasm (Fire) and we’ll keep working and reworking our art until it becomes a muddled mess.

An imbalance in either of these two elements inevitably creates difficulties. Too little Water and we become frozen, unable to take a risk, afraid we’ll make a mistake. Too much Water and our work (and our life) spills out everywhere, our art becomes watered down, soggy. Too little Fire and we lack the creative spark, we will find little joy in our work. Too much Fire and we work without ceasing, leaving only ash in our wake. We may create, but we as we do, we burn down everything in our path including our health and our relationships.

MistakeIf you find yourself stuck in either an excess or deficiency of either Fire or Water, consider how you might bring a little more balance to these elements.

If you are frozen and experiencing a creative block, try engaging with your creative passion. View great works of art and commune with other artists. Make passionate love with your beloved. Take small risks. Start out small. Paint or write for only fifteen minutes. Walk in the sunshine. Give yourself permission to make a mistake, permission to fail.

If you find there’s no beginning or end to your art, that your work (or your life) is in constant chaos, or that you tend to begin, and then discard your work too easily, (a Fire imbalance) try including periods of quiet contemplation into your routine. Sit by a body of water or listen to a calm and reassuring mentor. Spend time meditating. Take breaks. Sit in the dark. Trust that your art will be there, alive and well, when you return to pick up your pencil or awl or keyboard.

“Before every creation there must first be destruction.” — Pablo Picasso

Art is a continual cycle of death and rebirth. Ask any accomplished artist and they will tell you: creating art requires a continual balance between trust and vulnerability, between passion and the willingness to take risks. I am often challenged to find a balance between Water and Fire in both my writing and healing arts. I have found I need periods of solitude balanced with periods of lively interaction with friends and fellow artists.

I invite you to develop a more intimate relationship with your Fire and Water. Strike a good balance between your creativity with your caution, your joy and your fear. Make  a place in your life for both a season of Summer Fire and a quiet Winter’s Rest. When you begin to understand the dynamics between the season of Summer and Winter it cannot help but be reflected in your art, and your life.

 

Blessings and Grace,

Melody

 

Dealing with Fear: Staking Out Your Square Foot of Sanity

DSCF5507In the heated debates of the current political arena I find myself both incredulous and frustrated, sometimes hysterical with laughter and other times quaking in my boots. People are pairing off, dueling with harsh words of opposition or reciting endless lists of factual and imagined grievances of the opposing position. Sometimes it reminds me of the riot scene from the movie Young Frankenstein*.
Casual friends, social media acquaintances and even family members can barely stand to be at the same table with each other. High level discussions are carried on as if it were a life or death matter, and sadly, some of it is just that. I’ve found myself after one or more similar discussions, silently wondering (or aloud to others) about these frustrating on often unproductive conversations:
What could I possibly do to connect with this person? They seem so set in their beliefs and so vehemently opposed to any position except their own. Can’t they see the clear danger their cherished candidate/position is promoting? How can they not see what is going on?
I see by the numerous posts on social media and in discussions over coffee with friends and family that I’m not alone. Many conclude they may simply be light years apart from others in their core beliefs, that the chasm is just too vast.
But, the dynamics that underlay these often polarizing conversations may go much deeper than simply having differing views and core beliefs. The influences that support the divisive contention and resulting backlash is more complex than we might imagine: it may have to do with a biochemical response to fear that is produced by the body and the brain.
Fear-mongering, whether through the dispensing of it or hearing of it, has been used as a successful tactic in motivation and manipulation since the beginning of time and, it can be quite addictive. Fear creates a biochemical reaction in the brain that releases adrenaline and other stress hormones. These biochemicals are then released into the bloodstream resulting in a sort of hormone-induced high that gets us all jacked up and ready to take on any obstacle in our way. Once this “high” wears off we feel flat, spent. We may even feel melancholy or with a lingering irritation.  Some of the side effects of spent adrenaline include exhaustion, depression and anger, we may find ourselves unconsciously reaching for another adrenaline “fix”. It’s like watching a train wreck–we want to turn away but somehow we cannot avert our attention from the awesome and terrible gore.
Unchecked fear has some very curious effects and may leave people open to being easily manipulated.When we’re over-stimulated by fear, whether it’s a short-term intense reaction or more subtle but constant exposure over time, the brain begins to shut down the prefrontal cortex to conserve energy as mind and body enter survival mode. Logic and reasoning go out the window as the brain focuses on what it believes is the most immediate threat and what it can reasonably manage in the present. The greater the threat, the need for more singular focus. Everything else is put on the back burner. The mind perceives danger and reacts: it believes it is the time to set our defenses, not for waxing philosophical. It’s the mind and body’s very effective and essential way of keeping us alive when we perceive a threat.
In this ongoing state of threat, whether real or imagined, the individual is immersed in survival mode thinking and tends to grasp at any “fact” to support their position. If there is no voice of calm reason (internal or external) or time taken away from the steady diet of trauma-drama the ability to take in new information is curtailed. Everything looks dark, darker, and black. If we get caught up in the fear cycle we’ll engage exclusively with like-minded people, seeking out data and media resources that support our position and mirror our inner state of alarm. We’ll have little interest in the truth of the matter. In fact, those who oppose our beliefs may create more fear or even activate our rage.
So…what to do if we find ourselves stuck in this merry-go-round of fear? It’s hard to have reasonable discussions on highly-charged subjects when we’re not grounded, when our own fears have become imbalanced. Here are a few steps to help you stay grounded and open during fearful times.
Take care of yourself! This is the first rule in survival training: You can’t be of any use to others if you don’t take of yourself first. Go on a media fast. Put away all electronic devices, printed or other media sources. One 24-hour period a week would be optimal or, at the very least, create a media-free zone every day. The dinner hour is a great place to start. Taking a media break is not a denial of what’s happening in the world but more akin to a mini reboot of mind and spirit. This allows for a renewed perspective so we might more clearly see the greater forces at work.
Second, don’t forget to laugh, play, and have fun. Give your heart and mind a rest from the turmoil. Hug a friend. Have a long soak in the tub. Play with your dog. Have a water balloon fight! Do anything but engage in more  of what triggers your fear cycle. Having a few heart-felt moments can reconnect us with a sense of community and remind us of what’s really important in life.
In Five Element medicine Fear is the emotion that is associated with the element of Water. Being in, near or around water may help to sooth and calm your spirit and allow pent up emotions to flow more easily.
DSCF4206Find some areas of commonality. Believe it or not, most people’s core concerns, even those on wildly opposing sides, are often quite similar. If opposing parties can find even one shared common interest, the door may open to more expansive conversation. In doing so you just might see that even though you may vigorously disagree as to the possible solution to a particular problem, you are united in your concerns and aspirations. Talk about your fears and hopes, your dreams for the future. Sometimes just speaking about these things out loud and being truly heard by another can reset our fear cycle.
The true purpose of fear is to keep us alert to danger, assess the risks and take appropriate action. If we notice our fears are overwhelming us, simply talking about them with a compassionate listener can reduce our fear and the effects it has on our body, mind and spirit. By expressing our fears in a balanced way we can stay open to clear-minded thinking. In taking a moment to get quiet, we can more easily access our inner wisdom.
Be the calm voice of reason. People who are fearful often respond positively to reassurance or a kind word directed toward something that is uplifting to both parties. Remember there’s a lot more to this world than the horror show that is the political arena right now or the dire state of the world as reflected in the mass media. at the very least we can reassure each other that we all care about family, safety, and a better future for our children.
Fight Fair. If you must argue, to stand up for what you believe to be right from the very core your being, do it with someone you can trust not to throw you under the bus emotionally or intellectually. Frustration and anger are natural responses to unaddressed fear and arguing may be a way that some choose to express that emotional charge. Some (like me) thoroughly enjoy a good verbal sparring match if both parties can come out shaking hands and retain their respect for each other. Resist name-calling and inferences that the other party is ignorant or in denial or both. Don’t use shame to manipulate others or to denigrate their beliefs. Avoid trying to dominate another with your position or your righteousness, it will only create more resistance. Here’s a good rule to follow.: If you wouldn’t want it done to you, don’t do it!
IMG_2815Lastly, try to remember that we’re all struggling to find our way. In order to respond effectively in times of fear it’s important to stay grounded yet flexible, to stand clearly on what you know in your heart to be true yet remain open to seeing the world through another’s eyes. It’s important to hear others and to be heard. If you are truly grounded in your convictions, temporarily looking at the world through the eyes of another will not weaken your position but may just open your heart. Examine your core beliefs and don’t be afraid to have them challenged. If you cannot stand for your beliefs to be challenged perhaps they are not serving you as well as you thought. Try to find compassion for those that scare you the most. Honor and respect your fear, not to let it overwhelm you or render you immobile, but to alert you to what really matters in the present moment.
With Blessings and Grace to All,
Melody
*I highly recommend watching the movie Young Frankenstein starring Gene Wilder and Terry Garr.

Winter: The Other Side of Fear

Winter streamThe Winter equinox notes the official start of winter, or at least it says so the calendar. In Five Element tradition the season of Winter marks a time for rest, death, contemplation, and for entering the unknown. It is represented by the element of water and the emotion of fear. Water represents the womb of our consciousness, the place where our dreams can safely gestate until they’re ready to be borne into the world.  It is the quiet place where we can hear that “still small voice”.

The fundamental emotion of Winter is fear. Fear is often labeled a “negative” emotion, one we need to eliminate or dominate. To be sure, an unbalanced relationship with fear can lead to a path filled with panic, anxiety, suspicion, and mistrust. The experience of fear has an addictive quality to it, drawing us back, again and again to the things that terrify us. Fear sells. Think: Mainstream news and 95% of all advertising.

“When we fail to maintain our spiritual balance, when our connection to divine guidance is clouded or broken, we forget our Divine Destiny, God’s purpose for us. Without this inner knowing it becomes a struggle to make decisions that are in our best interest. As a result, we may run after money or material goods or relationships that do not serve our highest purpose. If, in order to achieve our goals, we go without sleep or decent food or we neglect important relationships,  we will only create undue stress on the mind, emotions, and body resulting little satisfaction once  those goals have been met.” – from Soul of the Seasons by Melody A. Scout

The emotion of fear can assist us in some very essential ways, however. Fear challenges us to consider the risks in our physical, emotional and spiritual survival choices, and then supplies the excitement of stepping into those choices. Fear pushes us to the edge, demanding that we reach deep within the dark corners of our spirit to access the wisdom we need in order to move forward. By facing our fears we can more easily access that creative spark, the creation of new beginnings, and, the excitement of birthing our dreams.

Following our dreams requires us to step off into the unknown, to say good-bye to old ways of being, to trust that we’ll be supported in our endeavors, and the confidence to know that we are enough.

Winter is the perfect time to contemplate the following questions:

What needs a good death in my life right now?
What dreams lay dormant in the mire of my past pain, frozen by the fear of disappointment?
When did I last take a deep and quiet rest in order to hear that “still small voice” of wisdom?

What awaits you on the other side of fear?

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I wish you a rich and cozy Winter.

With Love,

Melody

Melody A Scout is an author and Intuitive Spiritual Advisor. Her deep connection to the natural world has influenced her work as a Sacred Landscape Consultant and Plant Spirit Medicine practitioner. She is currently writing a book called Soul of the Seasons which explores the wisdom embedded within the seasonal cycles of the natural world and how to find balance and joy in both our inner and outer landscapes.

Thinking the Unthinkable

IMG_2815The recent events in Paris and now San Bernadino, CA ,and Savannah, GA are just the latest in the string of unthinkable losses that befall us each and every day. Somewhere on the planet someone is experiencing their own horrific trauma. Rest assured, whether we are consciously aware of it or not, we all feel it. No one is exempt from these gut-wrenching emotions, not even terrorists.

The mind simply doesn’t want to comprehend these hugely tragic acts of violence–that they are a part of our everyday world.Our collective unacknowledged grief begs for our attention. Violence and hatred find a perfect breeding ground of a denial that separates us from our grief.

The recent horrific events here in America and countless other locations around the world resurrect within me old feelings of anger, powerlessness, fear, and despair. So many questions have been running through my mind. What would I do during a catastrophic event such as this? How can I protect myself and my family? What do I do with my grief, fear, despair and anger over so much tragedy and loss? When will enough be enough?

As I prayed and meditated on these questions, questions that have been troubling me since 9/11, I asked God the following: In the face of senseless destruction how do we keep from being overwhelmed by our fear and grief? What do we do in the face of such evil, an evil that wants only to destroy? How do we deal with a group of people who’s credo is ‘We love death more than you love life.’?

IMG_2747
St. James church ruins overlooking the Potomac in Harper’s Ferry, WV

Here is the response that came to me:

“You can start right now by building and strengthening your communities at the most personal level. Develop more intimate relationships with your family, your loved ones and especially your neighbors. Build relationships that embody compassion, kindness, and affirming another’s worth. Learn to resolve conflict with an empathy that includes both the laughter of children and the wisdom of your elders. Create a space of honor, respect and value for all–a place where all benefit just from being there.  Comfort each other. Be a witness to another’s pain and grief and help them to bind up their wounds.  Create a place where together you can work toward the best and prepare for the worst.

“When you develop your communities in this way there’ll be no room for evil. By developing your relationships and becoming more intimately acquainted with all whom you encounter, you will KNOW when your brother or sister is in trouble. You will know when they become filled with darkness or are being led astray. In creating greater awareness in your communities you can help others become more aware of their needs and their gifts, their capacity for love and the depth of their shame. Of course, you will first have to do the same for yourself.”

Once again I’ve underestimated the power of my prayers. It was crystal clear; my responsibility to my community included a responsibility to myself.  I need to work toward the best, but prepare for the worst. I need to comfort and bind up my wounds in order to have the capacity to heal or comfort others. I need to resolve my personal conflicts with offering empathy and kindness to those who show hate. I have no excuses. There’s no reason to throw up my hands in despair declaring, “What can I do?” There’s always a soul to comfort and a spirit to lift, and that includes my own.