Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing,
there is a field.
I'll meet you there.
When the soul lies down in that grass,
the world is too full to talk about.
Ideas, language, even the phrase each other
doesn't make any sense.
- (Sufi Poet Rumi)

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Seeing Conflict from a Bird's Eye View

Nancy Burke Loving a Hundred Year Old Amazon Parrot in her Home

I have recently returned from several weeks of being among bird people, attending bird veterinarian conferences, bird breeding conferences, avian veterinary clinics, and pet bird owners of flocks. There was a time when I could not have spent enjoyable time amongst them, for I thought they were "wrong" for keeping wild birds in captivity. Through the deep work of Compassionate Communication I have learned to see that these people are not wrong, nor am I. Life flows through them just as it does me, striving to bring appreciation, beauty, companionship, and nurturing to their lives. They love birds, I love birds. I care for birds, they care for birds. The difference is, and the potential conflict is, that they choose to do so by keeping birds in cages in their homes, or treating captive birds in their clinics, while I choose to work with wild parrots in Latin America. Our strategies differ, but we are interdependent with one another, not separate, but worthy and lovely. We share life. Because I appreciate our common humanity and might empathize with them, I can be among them, and even more important to me, love them for who they are and keep my heart open to the beauty that is their lives. Striving to relate through common needs does not mean that I do not mourn their strategies. Indeed, after several weeks of being among captive birds and hearing of their hard lives in captivity, I am ready for a break. My heart hurts to witness such suffering. This also doesn't mean that I don't tell others what is going on in my heart. Indeed there were many such discussions. In that sharing, my aching heart does find relief, for at the level of universal needs, of mattering and seeing that other species matter, we were able to connect.

By seeing our discomfort as being at the level of strategy, and not at the level of universal needs, we find ways to empathize with one another, support one another, and hopefully help one another see that we matter so that we can work in ways together that reflect the needs of all beings.

Where do you disengage from others because your strategies differ?

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Now Is The Time

I stopped the car and ran back and across the road

and picked up the box turtle, who only

hissed and withdrew herself into her pretty shell.

Well, goodness, it was early in the morning, not too much traffic.

Rather an adventure than a risk, and anyway

who would give aid to such a shy citizen?

Who wouldn't complete the journey for it, taking it of course

in the direction of its desire: a pinewoods

where, as I learned, the blueberries ripen early.

Probably she had thought, in the middle of the night-

Ah, it's time.

Sometimes I think our own lives are watched over like that.

Out of the mystery of the hours and the days

Something says-Let's give this one a little trial.

Let's say, put a turtle in the road she's traveling on, and

in a hurry.

Let's see how her life is measuring up, that lucky girl.

So much happiness, so much good fortune. Ah, it's time.

The Measure - by Mary Oliver

Not even a month ago coming back from a day swimming in the springs on my birthday my spouse and I moved a large female gopher tortoise from the middle of the road. We took a little risk to scamper quickly to save such a precious life along a fast paced road. That same month we moved a box turtle as well into safety. Yet, in our own yard, a small girl tortoise I found dead, smashed by an exiting car in our own driveway. We live at the end of a dirt road in the woods, and it seemed such a rare thing that tortoise just happened to be in the wrong place and the wrong time. She was not as lucky as the other two.

Maybe that's why we humans stay within our shells and do not travel about or journey from our sameness and tameness into wild sacredness. In the night a dream comes to us and with the sun's rising we feel perky with possibility. Then what happens?Somewhere along the line we falsely intuit that we don't measure up, or other's don't, or reality doesn't. Don't you think that it's time to cross that road and get into that field beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing?

Now is the time to know

That all that you do is sacred.

Now is the time to understand

That all your ideas of right and wrong

Were just a child's training wheels

To be laid aside

When you finally live

With veracity

And love.

Now is the time for the world to know

That every thought and action is sacred.

This is the time for you to compute the impossibility

That there is anything

But Grace.

Now is the season to know

That everything you do

Is sacred.

-Hafiz, A Sufi Poet

What might you do or where might you go if you knew that everything you do is sacred?

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Holding Bejamin - Holding Each Other

Holding Benjamin

A Poem By Mary Oliver

August 2, 2010

No use to tell him that he

And the raccoon are brothers.

You have your soft ideas about nature,

He has others,

And they are full of his

White teeth

And lip that curls, sometimes,


You love this earnest dog,

But also you admire the raccoon

And Lord help you in your place

Of hope and improbables.

To the black-masked gray one:

Run! You say Run!

You say and just as urgently, to the dog:


And he won’t or he will,

Depending on more things than I could name.

He’s sure he’s right

And you, so tangled in your mind,

Are wrong,

Though patient and pacific.

And you are downcast.

And it’s his eyes, not yours,

That are clear and bright.

I once read an article about the violence between siblings. Brothers can pound horribly on one another – it is their way. So when I think of the raccoon and dog as brothers, and also caught in a terrible predator – prey cycle, I think of course, it is their way. Then I think of the human companion who feels the suffering of the one, and the responsibility of the other, and ultimately shame and guilt plays tag with acceptance for what is our way – to be complex social creatures who navigate in confusion the harm that we interconnected siblings inflict upon one another. We want there to be a right way and because we cannot discern how to meet everyone’s needs, we feel inadequate. What if we could move beyond wrongdoing and rightdoing as Rumi suggests in his poem?

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing,

There is a field.

I will meet you there.

When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.

Ideas, language, even the phrase each other doesn’t make sense.

We could lie down in that field and play, and as we rubbed our noses in the fresh dirt and smelled the flowers, our hands would linger upon a half-buried bone, a sign of the carnage of our past and of our future. My prayer is that we do not run from that field, but stay engaged with reality and one another – no wrong doing, no right doing, but sure as heck a lot of pain and discomfort. My eyes are bright with living this possibility well, of helping each other hold awareness and acceptance of not a soft nature, but of a terribly beautiful whole and hard nature.

Do you think that predation and prey is an inevitable cycle in our lives; or, can we use our evolution possibility to support collaboration even more than competition?