Monday, September 30, 2013

Soul Treks

Soul Treks

On this warm and sunny end of September day I trekked through the woods.  Truly I didn’t want to walk today.  Not sure why?  It is a beautiful day.  The leaves are changing colors and the temperature is perfect.  My mind kept putting it off but my heart quietly and silently hoped that I would head outdoors.  Eventually, my heart won and I walked on the path, across the marsh and into the forest.  My soul and my heart are happy as are my lungs and muscles.  I never regret a walk in the woods.

Often times my soul knows what it wants to do, whether it’s a walk in the woods or writing an article.  My “to do” list real or imagined calls out to me much louder than the activities I love most.  Too many times they are pushed aside.  My soul wants to trek through this life and yet I keep it locked inside never able to reach its potential.  Today let your “soul trek” a bit.  Your whole self will benefit from a soul that is released and able to trek on this path of life.

Love, “with a heart of peace”,

Susan J. McFarland


Active Ingredients

Active Ingredients

                Sitting out in my back yard listening to the bird calls, watching the blue jay, cardinal, chickadee and red winged black bird nibble on bites of bird seed then fly around the woods.  The leaves are not yet out yet so I am enjoying the vision of seeing all the activity amongst the trees.

It’s spring in Michigan after a very long winter.  We are all happy to be outside finally after spending time in our inner chambers.  Although I love being able to snuggle up to a hot glass of tea and a book during the cold days and nights, my soul cries out even more to be “outside”, where fresh air abounds and where the natural world is alive with activity.  Life after all is about activity, but what exactly do I mean by activity.

Let’s start where “activity” starts, with insights or inner vision, ideas coming from the mind, not the brain or intellect that lead to greater understanding, awareness and ultimately Love.  I will call this “hearing through the silence”.  While the World certainly is not silent, we can be and need to be.  Ideally I would love to spend more time sitting in the comfort of my meditation room, light a candle, play some Douglas Blue Feather flute music, beat my drum and chill out for a couple hours or a couple of days.  But that is not how the world works.  Life of an active family requires that I be active too.  Excuse me, but the squirrel is chatting now.  I wonder what he is “saying”.  Isn’t that how life is, the moment of silence is often interrupted by a “chatty” squirrel.  And yet, if I “hear through the silence” I may learn a few things from the squirrel, or the birds or sister wind or Father Sky, not to mention Mother Earth.  I am not “in the silence” so much as I am “through” the silence, as the silence is ever changing, moving, growing and evolving, just like me and everything in it.  Silence is not stagnant; it is “active”, just like life.  So the first “ingredient” if you will to activity is silence.  You must be silent to be active.

Devoting a certain amount of time to spiritual thought and consideration does not always show in tangible results immediately. But you may rest assured that, sooner or later, there is a reward—every moment you devote your time and attention to spiritual revitalization will shine through your thoughts and actions.

–Hamid Bey

Let’s look at “act”, the process of doing.  I would like to call this “showing up”, which leads me to a love story I want to share with you, but I have to run as life calls and I need to pick up my kids.

So back to the love story, twenty six years ago this week (first week of May) my future husband asked me out on a date.  Twenty-two years ago this week we were married.  May’s a pretty cool month if you ask me.  My Mom also celebrates her birthday the first week of May.  May is about birth, growth, newness, life, mother energy and activity.  It’s interesting that my husband and I started our lives together, twice with dating and marriage in the month of May, ironic, coincidence?

When he first asked me out, the night before our date I didn’t think he would “show up”, so I had an alternative plan in place.  If you know me, you know I usually have a plan.  I once told him if I say I don’t have a plan I am lying.  Although I am trying to go with the flow and not control everything, letting Spirit lead, in the back somewhere I have a plan.  This night was no different.  I told my roommate be ready to “go out” if he doesn’t “show up”.  Well, long story short he “showed up”.  We dated for four years then we were married.  I am glad he “showed up”.  It reminds me that one thought, one decision, one action, one activity, can change your life.  You just never know which one, so you better at least “show up” for your life and “hear through the silence”.  Leading to my third point, “doing is Love”.

“To every action there is a reaction, whether it is realized or not, which will put you in the place where you belong. This very moment will have an effect upon your life for the effect of your thinking will produce an image, a condition, which will be fulfilled in the great tomorrow” –Hamid Bey

Listening to the radio one morning, I heard the DJ talk about a book.  Now I love books.  He mentioned it was a life changing book for him.  So, in my thoughts I decided to purchase the book¸ Love Does.  I “showed up” and bought the book and “showed up” even further and read the book.  I would like to read a quote:

This book is all about “doing”.  Not only thinking about doing but ACTually doing.  Yes, the World needs your help.  Yes, there are hungry children. Yes there are freezing elders in this Country. Yes, there are hurting animals.  Yes Mother Nature needs you.  This past week after visiting the humane society and a cat shelter I received information regarding helping the Sierra Club, an orphanage in Guatemala, the school Odyssey of the Mind Team, UNICEF for Syria, and numerous prayer requests.  I also encountered a stranded 3rd grader who needed a ride to school after her Mom’s car broke down.  Do you think of yourself as an Earth angel?  Well, you are!  This is your job!  I don’t care what you “do” for a living this is what you do for a Life.  Are you doing it?  Are you answering the call?  Are you “showing up”?  Are you Love in Action.  Are you the Active Ingredient?  Yes, you, you are the active ingredients, you are the main ingredient.  You need to “hear through the silence”, “show up” and do, because this is Love.
Love, "with a heart of peace,"
Susan J. McFarland 

Let us not forget that man is the expression of his inner being. If he has the depth of thought to comprehend his oneness with the divine plan, he expresses that degree of God-consciousness in his personality and in his actions. -Hamid Bey


Friday, September 27, 2013

The "Art Prize" of Life

The “Art Prize” of Life

During the month of September Grand Rapids, MI holds an extraordinary event entitled “Art Prize”.  Art Prize since its inception in 2009 has welcomed artists and art lovers to this competition.  Over $500,000 is awarded based on public and jury votes.  Artists from around the world enter their art for a chance to not only win the prize/s but also to participate in this new paradigm.  Visitors come from across the country and perhaps the world imbibing the art, the atmosphere of creativity and the communal experience that is Art Prize.  Art Prize has a life force that is unique and vibrant, much like art and life itself.

Art Prize is an experience.  Art Prize can be viewed for a few hours or over the span of many days.  It is your choice.  You can take in a little art or a lot of art.  You can visit familiar venues or venture into unknown territory within downtown and beyond.  There is traditional art, contemporary art and art perhaps not typically classified as art.  The viewer at Art Prize as in life holds the key to the interpretation.

For me personally, I attend Art Prize three or four times.  Usually with my family which includes two young girls.  Viewing Art Prize from a child’s perspective opens my eyes to new possibilities.  What my child loves at Art Prize or does not notice often differs from my opinion.  My youngest daughter’s favorite task is to collect all the voter cards, as each artist has a number to vote for and a picture of their work. Her hope is in creating next year’s Art Prize entry with the collection of cards arranged on a large piece of paper.  Approaching Art Prize and life with an open heart and an open mind will offer a child-like attitude to an often times routine encounter.   

On quieter Art Prize days, usually during the week, I visit Art Prize with my mother for a few hours.  We tend to stay in the familiar areas and visit the common sites.  This is a relief at times to be in this comfortable space.  This experience is different than chasing my daughter around in crowds trying not to lose her while quickly glancing at the art.  On a beautiful fall day, under the sunshine and cool temperature we casually meander through the town and the art among all the people enjoying the same, yet different experience.  

Art Prize, in my opinion is a beautiful representation of life itself.  Art Prize is a metaphor for the “art of life”.  In the setting of a thriving vibrant downtown area, bringing together people from all countries, states, towns and walks of life to enjoy an experience that is uniquely their own.  We all walk a different path through our “art prize of life”.  We all look at the art or life differently with our own unique perspective.  We engage as much or as little as we choose.  Yet, in this life we come together as a society to support, uplift and create.  Art Prize wouldn’t be the same if neither artist or art enthusiast participated.  What makes it special is that as a group we embrace the concept, the art, and the community thus creating our own “art prize of life”.

Love, "with a heart of peace",

Susan J. McFarland