Right Sized

In Grace, we are all right-sized. We carry what is ours to carry and tell the stories that are ours to tell, and we have faith that others will do the same.

Beauty is not measured in grams.

Love is not a quantity.

Grace doesn’t come by the yard.

We must look deeply into our hearts and find a way to move through the world that is right sized. Not puffed up, not contracted. Not seizing more than we need, but neither allowing our desire to be liked to keep us from making the changes we see as necessary.

Do not try to use the size of your impact to prove the importance of your incarnation.

What is yours to do?

To action only are we entitled, never to its fruits.” – Bhagavad Gita

Who are you? What do you want? And what is the thing that, if you don’t do it, won’t get done?

We fixate on that last question as if the answer is always something vast. We want to be important, to have an impact, to be assured that there is some purpose to our lives. We make music, or art, or books, or blog posts for our own pleasure, or purposes, but somewhere deep inside, we (probably) hope that they (or something) will be noticed. We want recognition on our paths, evidence that we have heard clearly… that way has opened, the the universe has conspired to help us achieve things. We seek soul mates, meaningful work, a place in society or the world, external confirmation, a clear answer that will convince us, finally, that What We Do Matters.

But we want Callings to come screaming out of the wilderness, with neon lights flashing, “Do This!” The sign from God, the burning bush, the voice from the heavens, a sign, a sign… please send a sign…

And what do we do with the signs, when they come (and in my experience, they do come)?

We turn away, doubt ourselves. Think that they are for somebody else, that we are not ready, that we were wrong, that we are mistaken, deluded, crazy. Or we fear that maybe such an answer exists, but only for other people. We see our heroes after their actions have borne fruit, and miss the fact that they had to get to where they are from somewhere, perplexed, wandering, searching.

And then, just when we are at risk of believing, of taking the risk… our small selves tell us that there is no answer, that this desire for Calling is a show of pretension. They speak up at the moment of desire, begging us to just take the boring job and learn to live within our means, playing out the game as assigned.

That’s what grown-ups do, don’t you know?

***

Is this your conception of calling, one in which it is some giant demand that asks you to move the universe from only your small footing?

Do you inhabit a world composed of geniuses where everybody else is expected to accept a supporting role? Must you be The One or nobody?

Then I invite you to contemplate with me the smaller questions of moment by moment living:

Who is going to eat your dinner?

Who will take the deep breaths to soothe your fears?

Who will do your exercise or sit on your meditation cushion following your breath?

Who will love for you? Hold your child when she weeps? Walk you through the processes of coming together and parting and coming together again, feel the pain and the joy and the ecstasy? Who will tell your stories?

And who will breathe your last?

***

This life, at the least, is yours alone. There is a world of experience out there waiting for you to show up. What, therefore, shall you do with it?

Can you meet each moment as a separate opportunity to show up fully, to do what can only be done by you?

My Outrageous Life (Poem)

“You don’t exist,” he says,
waving the Book that tells him so.

“You cannot. You cannever…”
He splutters.

But I do. I can.

And the longer I continue to
Exist.
Visibly.
Defiantly.
The Angrier he becomes.

“No!” he roars
Through bared teeth.
“Pray this way! Your existence
is
an Abomination!”

But the more I pray,
the more I’m OK.

God and me,
we’re likethis:
He talks, I listen.
I talk, he listens.

It turns out he (He? She? They?)
made me in his image, too.

You, with your spluttering god,
impotent rage…

Me, with the quiet power that
stirs a child to wonder at
this leaf,
that fuzzy caterpillar,
this mountain,
that star.
I’m sad that you cannot, cannever…

I walk in that beauty and
will not be cowed before
your demands.

You with the Patriarchs,
Me with the Poets.

Oh, yes. I submit.
But not to you.

Reorienting Towards Permaculture

“How did you wind up here?” I was asked.

My friend’s mother was driving us back to Victoria from Shawnigan Lake, and she was curious as to why I was all the way out on the west coast.

“Um. Do you want a conventional answer, or the weird one?”

“I think I can handle the weird one.”

“Well…”

Why I went to Vancouver Island to study Permaculture:

I’m taking a business development course from Hiro Boga called Become Your Own Business Adviser. It involves a lot of meditation and communing with the essences of things. A few weeks ago, the spirit of my business (Quest’s Cottage. Maybe.) appeared to me in the form of a permaculture food forest. “Hrm,” thought I. “That was unexpected. Perhaps I should find out something about permaculture if I’m going to use it as a metaphor. Or guiding principles. Or something.” So I wound up here, and I thought, “I don’t think I can learn this from a book. Or a website.”

Meanwhile, it was cold. And, as I am wont to do when I am cold, I was indulging in one of my favourite pastimes, looking at “other places I might consider living where it’s not quite so cold.” I believe I started with Belize, pondered the existence of Ecovillages in Canada, and wound up at the website of OUR Ecovillage… Which happened to be hosting a permaculture design course two weeks later… Which happened to be the Earth Activist Training that my partner took in 2011, whose praises he has been singing ever since… It also happened to be taught by Starhawk, whose work was instrumental in the birth of the Reclaiming Tradition, with which I do my primary spiritual practice.

That is to say, the universe pointed me at it, so I went. I make a remarkable number of my decisions that way. (I once did an entire degree because a college flyer landed on my feet just at the point I was asking a question about what I should do with my life. True story.)

Now, having returned home with a new and abiding passion, I’m trying to figure out how to pull all the threads of all my work back into a particular direction… even though I’m not sure what that direction might be.

It’s going to involve permaculture.

Permaculture is, I maintain, a technology that is situated, relational, and inter-subjective (that is, it relates to the world as though it has an existence independent of what we want to do with it). It is also an approach to design that is provisional, willing to accept information about its consequences and make changes. I believe that it provides the foundation for a new kind of economy, one that is hooked back into the fabric of reality. I’m terribly excited about it.

Permaculture is an approach to technology appropriate to a conscious universe.

(That’s a link to my own video called, “A Cosmology of Story.” I’ll have to make the next video now, since I keep showing people the intro.)

Leaving Home, Arriving Home

Yesterday I found myself waiting at the Victoria airport for a flight to Nova Scotia, pondering the question of home… I’m returning to the other end of the country, and it’s a big country. I remember when I was a student saying that I was going “home” for Christmas to my parents’ house, and then at the end of the break going “home” to my own space at university. I said then that home is wherever you’re not. Now that I own my own house, have worked the land, it is a much more clear-cut question. Home is this space around me.

Yet I’m a wanderer by nature. I have the capacity to settle in one place for long periods of time, but ever hearing the call of, if not the open road, at least possibility. In the wonder that is my life, I come home to a beautiful place, and it is filled with love. This morning the sun is shining, the breeze is light, and the river is sparkling in the sunlight. The trees are coming into leaf, the daffodils are out (finally!) and the plum is blooming. It is good.

Yet I’m experiencing post-travel wistfulness, having left heart-threads stretching back across the continent. We part, assuring one another that it won’t be long, we’ll stay in touch. This is part of my sense of home, too, these relationships that stretch across time and space. They criss-cross; my friend from New York goes to visit our friend in Toronto, and I feel strengthened by the knowledge that they are holding the web tighter, weaving, strengthening. I return to the land in Vermont and feel the link; I’m at home here, too.

This is a job for a heart-warrior, holding these threads. Refusing to allow the rawness of loss to prevent you from making the connections in the first place. Daring to love, knowing that, no, you probably won’t see many of these new friends again, not in this lifetime. You may never walk this path again, but you’ve walked it once.

Now.

This moment is past and it has left its trace upon you… hold open the heart, the ache and the yearning… hold it, knowing that there is beauty in it.