I’ve admittedly led a sheltered, privileged life, so I’m aware that my perspective is skewed, but it’s still true that never in my 47 years of life have I felt so strongly the impact of the level of collective fear on this planet. Fear seems to be making headline news every day right now. Terrorist attacks are becoming a daily occurrence on every continent. Climate change that can lead to mass ecocide is escalating right when we’re swearing in powerful politicians who don’t believe in climate change. The Dakota pipeline is threatening not just the sacred, life-giving water, but the very essence of the seeds of planetary healing that the indigenous people of all nations have been holding through the horrors of colonialism for many centuries. The U.S. election has polarized our people against each other, not just in the U.S., but all the way in Bali, where I just spent two months. At this pivotal time in the evolution (and questionable survival) of our species, we are more divided than ever, right when we need to unify, to acknowledge the Oneness that links us, not just as humans, but the Oneness that links us to the mountains, the oceans, the rivers, the trees, the endangered and extinct animals, the Oneness that acknowledges that everything is sacred and conscious, that we cannot perceive mountains as dead rocks or rivers as unconscious water, that everything is spirit and everything is connected and everything is God/Goddess, so we cannot harm the water or judge our neighbor or even demonize the terrorists without inflicting harm upon ourselves. Just as an aspen tree appears to be separate but is connected at its roots to a community of aspen trees, we are inextricably linked to All That Is. We have forgotten (bless our innocent hearts). We have attached to the story of the separate self, and this forgetting has allowed us to commit atrocities against nature and one another. But we are remembering. Let us forgive ourselves for the forgetting and gently and humbly come back to the remembering.
As the sun is rising on the small Indonesian reef island of Gili Meno, off the coast of Lombok, I wade over the shallow coral until it is deep enough to submerge myself. Once I do, I am transported into another world. Nemo-esque clown fish with wavy, floaty, fanlike fins, like the most elegant couture. Tiny electric blue schools of moon fusiliers, long nosed silvery needlefish, brain-shaped coral formations, sunfish that swim on their sides, eyeballs facing up! It’s like a candy shop down there, with all these brilliant colors and shapes. It’s also like a meditation—the only sound is the sound of my own breath—in and out, in and out.
But then OUCH! What is that? My arm is burning. Ouch! Again! What is it? I can’t see anything, but the stinging subsides quickly. I pause, still looking for the cause of the pain, but I see nothing. So I keep swimming.
I’m in Bali leading a writing retreat right now, so it’s been strange to navigate this polarizing election from another country, where I am surrounded by not only native Indonesians but by ex-pats from all over the world. Given that we are supposedly the most powerful country on the planet, this election is not just about the United States. It touches everyone, and the shock waves of this divisive election are rippling all the way over here to Bali.
This morning, I posted this on Facebook and then Mind Body Green picked it up when it started to go viral. I wanted to share it with you here, because the more of us who remember that we are all in this together, the more we will meet terror with love and find one another in the space between stories.
From the bathroom at the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, where a terrorist opened fire, 30-year-old Eddie Justice texted his mother. "Mommy I love you. In the club they shooting. Trapp in the bathroom. Call police. Im gonna die."
For most of my life, love fit into boxes. There was “family love,” the kind of love you have for your mother or father or child. There was “romantic love,” the love of your soul mate or lover. There was love for animals, the kind of pure, devotional love you might feel for your pet. Love fit nicely into defined containers—until about 8 years ago. Then I started experiencing love in ways I couldn’t quite explain. It started with experiences in nature. I would gaze at a waterfall, and then WHAM. My heart would explode with butterflies and I would BE the waterfall and I would make love with that waterfall, as if I had just fallen in love. Tears would spill down my cheeks and I would feel so exposed I could hardly stand it. Or I would call in the Cheetah or meet a cheetah on safari in Africa and my chest would get cracked open as if I’d just had heart surgery. Love would burst out of me and through me and I would love those whales or that cheetah more than I had ever loved anything in my whole life. My whole body would be buzzing with love, a vibrating tenderness emerging from the sanctuary of my heart.