BECOMING (BLESSING)

The conversation, Becoming (Blessing) occurred on December 13, 2020. Becoming (Blessing) centers our conversation as we enter into the final month of 2020, a year that has been delineated as Pre-COVID and COVID. A year in which, as Pat mentioned, “we are beckoned to step into the unknown of our own becoming.” Enter, Explore, Return, Listen – words from Pat’s cards we have shared in communion. Occupying this virtual space we become a blessing to each other.

Woman holding a white flower

Cristina began the conversation by reading a prayer of blessing from the Diné. The poem is called Walk in Beauty.

Walking in Beauty: Closing Prayer from the Navajo Way Blessing Ceremony
In beauty I walk
With beauty before me I walk
With beauty behind me I walk
With beauty above me I walk
With beauty around me I walk
It has become beauty again
Hózhóogo naasháa dooShitsijí’ hózhóogo naasháa dooShikéédéé hózhóogo naasháa dooShideigi hózhóogo naasháa dooT’áá altso shinaagóó hózhóogo naasháa dooHózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’Hózhó náhásdlíí’
Today I will walk out, today everything negative will leave me
I will be as I was before, I will have a cool breeze over my body.
I will have a light body, I will be happy forever, nothing will hinder me.
I walk with beauty before me. I walk with beauty behind me.
I walk with beauty below me. I walk with beauty above me.
I walk with beauty around me. My words will be beautiful.
In beauty all day long may I walk.
Through the returning seasons, may I walk.
On the trail marked with pollen may I walk.
With dew about my feet, may I walk.
With beauty before me may I walk.
With beauty behind me may I walk.
With beauty below me may I walk.
With beauty above me may I walk.
With beauty all around me may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, lively, may I walk.
In old age wandering on a trail of beauty, living again, may I walk.
My words will be beautiful…

Click to hear the prayer spoken in Navajo by  Wanye Wilson, a Navajo member.

Linguistic Note: The word “Hozho”  in  Dine’  (roughly translated) Concept of Balance and Beauty. Consideration of the nature of the universe, the world, and man, and the nature of time and space, creation, growth, motion, order, control, and the life cycle includes all these other Navajo concepts expressed in terms quite impossible to translate into English.   Some Navajos might prefer the term: “Nizhoni” meaning  ‘just beauty.”

Written by Robert S. Drake, for Tom Holm, PhD, University of Arizona American Indian Graduate Studies Program, Native American Religions and Spirituality.

During the conversation, Lynn shared a poem she wrote that interwove the stories and sharing from all those attending the previous month titled, “Nepantla” (which refers to the space where differing or divergent realities can merge and make sense of the world in mutually beneficial ways).

Pat focused her conversation about “Blessing” by sharing the story told in the movie “Collateral Beauty” and integrating her own insights into the discussion. We need to look around, particularly within the darkest, deepest periods of grief and observe the collateral beauty around us.

Counting Blessings

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Lately I have had difficulty keeping track of time. The summer is passing by so quickly and each day is full of activities and things to accomplish. I have many self-imposed deadlines coming up and the prospect of getting everything done seems impossible. In the past, I would have felt anxiety and stress. I would be worrying about all the work ahead of me and feeling guilty about my upcoming vacation. I would be berating myself for taking on too much and not having enough time to enjoy my summer. A part of me would feel miserable and another part excited about the opportunity to get away from the daily burden of to dos hanging over my head.

Right now, though, I feel only calmness. It’s a detached state of mind where a part of me is observing all the activities I am involved in without feeling the rollercoaster of emotions I am used to experiencing. It is a strange sensation, especially because I realize I may not complete all the tasks I had hoped to accomplish by the end of summer.

Perhaps part of this sense of inner calmness comes from knowing that in twenty-four hours I will be on route to Spain to celebrate my fifth-year anniversary of being cancer-free. I am meeting up with my sister-in-law who is also a cancer thriver and who just completed radiation treatment. We are celebrating our precious lives and counting our many blessings.

As I have written about before, I experienced many dark nights of the soul going through my cancer journey. There was one night I will never forget. It was the night I spent in the darkness of my basement grieving the life I felt I was about to lose. That night I was gently, but firmly, shown two paths. One led to the end of my suffering where I would quickly slip away and out of my mortal coil to be one with the Light. I knew that if I chose this path I had little time to remain in the physical plane. Though I didn’t want to leave my husband, children, family, and friends, the exhaustion and pain I felt dealing with the cancer was almost unbearable. I was tempted to step onto this path and be released fully from the anxiety and fear that plagued me.

The other path, in some ways, was more difficult. It meant that I would have to choose life in a conscious and deliberate manner. Choosing life, for me, meant knowing I was fully responsible for all of my choices, actions, thoughts, words, and feelings. I felt the gravity of what choosing life would mean for me. It would mean no more bullshit. It would mean that I needed to step up to the plate, live in the present moment, and BE aligned with who I truly was. No more shrinking, backing down, or slinking into the periphery. By freely choosing LIFE I made the decision to no longer give away my power. I realized and acknowledged the incredible inner sovereignty within.

I remember thinking, “Oh shit. This is REAL.” I could feel the weight of my choice. God wasn’t playing.

By choosing LIFE I have chosen a more challenging path. The difficulties lie in making sure that what I say and do are aligned with the highest good. There’s a passage in the Bible (I just looked it up), Matthew 19:24, which reads, “Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.” In my view, even with wealth aside, it feels impossible to enter the “kingdom of God” IF, like me, you believe that the kingdom is not so much a place, but rather frame of mind or level of consciousness. How can I walk through the “eye of the needle” if my consciousness is not pure, if my heart’s intentions are not aligned with the highest good? This question makes me check myself again and again. Do I honestly believe and feel that I am being true to myself – my higher Self – in my daily routines and interactions? In other words, am I truly walking the walk?

Though I believe, in my heart, that the kingdom of heaven is open to ALL of us, I also have an internal knowing that there are ways to open our hearts here on Earth that will make it easier for us to fully experience (and understand) the Light that is constantly being offered. Being aligned with our highest good – our greatest most divine Self – is a huge step toward receiving and integrating this light. I interpret this biblical passage to mean our ability to be our highest Self without judgment of others or self (our Earthly personality/ego). It is to BE who we came to be by stripping off the protective layers, carefully constructed or forcefully imposed, and to KNOW we are living our lives from LOVE, not fear.

As I prepare for my trip tomorrow, I feel genuinely happy that I am HERE on this physical plane and that I chose LIFE when I had the opportunity to do so. I am aware that every day is a new opportunity to align my thoughts and actions with my higher Self and to be able to ask if what I am experiencing holds the intention of the highest good. I am blessed to be able to have these internal reflections and am grateful to have a space where I can share my heart. I am counting my blessings and am conscious in this NOW moment of the gifts this LIFE has offered.

With much love,

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Interview with Many Rivers, Dr. Lorri J. Santamaría, Ph.D.

Many Rivers_Photograph

Mini bio: 

Dr. Lorri Johnson Santamaria has her doctoral degree in Special Education, Rehabilitation, and School Psychology from the University of Arizona. She is a seasoned and accomplished academic in the fields of multicultural/multilingual education, social justice and equity in education, and educational leadership. She has worked as a university professor in Cal State San Marcos in Southern California and currently still works as a Professor of Educational Leadership in New Zealand. She has authored and edited several books in educational leadership and developed the theoretical framework, Applied Critical Leadership.

In the past year, Lorri’s life has taken an interesting and dynamic turn. Part of this story today is to capture Lorri’s unique, challenging, and rewarding journey with cancer.

We start today’s conversation, asking Lorri to share how her recent journey has shaped her views of spirituality, wholeness, and heart-centered approaches to healing. Then we ask her to extend the conversation to how what she has learned from her personal journey can be applied to transforming education and educational spaces. 

Links and Resources:

Many Rivers II Wellness  – This is a link to Lorri’s business website.

Newsletter 1: MRIIW Newsletter Spring2017

Academic Profile including publications.

Applied Critical Leadership_book

Web of Connection

What does it mean to be connected to others?

How does a “spirit of pure love” manifest within us and impact others?

In this video, we explore these questions by using Dr. Darren Weissman’s, “The Nature of Infinite Love & Gratitude” cards.

If you are interested in learning more about Dr. Weissman’s work, please check out the following:

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