March 26, 2010

Shalem v'Ometz Lev (Wholeness and Courage)

Lots of things to ponder...


"Only when we see that we are part of the totality of the planet, not a superior part with special privileges, can we work effectively to bring about an earth restored to wholeness." --Elizabeth Watson

"Shalem" means "complete" or "whole" in Hebrew. It's derived from the same root as "Shalom", or "Peace". To me this means that peace is something beyond just the absence of conflict; it is the absence of lack. Peace comes when I let flourish the awareness of my connectedness with God, the universe and all that I see around me. Getting outside of myself is the only way to become whole.

I'm inspired and intrigued by my friend Helen, and her re-newed impetus to paint birds as messengers of peace. Read her delightful story here:

Alexandra Nechita, the child prodigy "Picasso posing as a ten year old", has grown up - and the dove of peace is still very much a part of her visual vocabulary.

"Perhaps there is this greater movement of artists and activists in healing our world and understanding their role as healers."


For me, the messengers of inspiration are.... bees. My name means "bee", and I have always felt a special affinity with bees. They don't sting me, they came out in droves to witness my wedding...

And yesterday, I had a special visitor.

After I was released from jury duty, I sat on a bench near the Alamo, a place I love to go, to think about meaty concepts like Courage and Freedom. There's just something special in the air around the Alamo; in the stillness at this "shrine", I always feel the weight of history.

So, I was sitting there sipping an over-priced raspa (is there any other kind? I mean, it's just ice and food-coloring...), when a little bee flew into my cup, landed inside the rim and started licking up the sticky pineapple flavors inside. I discovered that bee tongues are the same color as human tongues. The realization filled me with a fearfully-wonderful delight, and hasn't stopped doing so.

It's funny, but I feel as though I've discovered another Name for God.... Who Creates Fleshy Bee Tongues.

I know this is a bit of a non-sequitor, but where Helen and others have been awakened to Peace, I feel like the concept of "Courage" is being impressed upon me lately. I was looking for a good bee-photo to tack onto this post, and found out that Bees have often been used in coats of arms as symbols of Courage, among other things.

Fear has been a constant in my life since childhood - though the older I get, the less I fall under it's sway. I think that's because the experiences of my life have brought me to a fuller understanding of Love, which, in it's perfect form, drives out fear. So this new connection to Courage makes sense to me. I would have balked at all this a few years ago, when my heart was harder and I was a great deal more self-righteous. But Love has been opening doors for me....

Is this part of my "Speaking the truth that is in my heart"? Is there something for me to paint, or sing, or dance for Courage?

"Ometz Lev" is Hebrew for "Courage"; it really means "Strengthening (of the) Heart". To fear is to be faint-hearted. I think Heart-Strength must comes from the same place as Wholeness... A realization of interconnectedness with God and all creation. Getting outside ourselves to feel and know how vast is the Goodness and Love put into creation, and to know that we are part of it. Surely, this should drive out fear.

"Russian writer Vasily Grossman wrote,

'Human history is not the battle of good struggling to overcome evil. It is a battle fought by a great evil struggling to crush a small kernel of human kindness. But if what is human in human beings has not been destroyed even now, then evil will never conquer.'

I consider this kernel of human kindness to be the reflection of divine love. It is what Quakers call the Inner Light, the guiding presence of God within us that can never be extinguished."

--Phillip Gulley & James Mulholland, in If Grace Is True

So, Wholeness and Heart-Strength.... birds and bees.... It must be Spring.