Ask Your Mama
The What, When, Where, Why How and Who of Ceremony
by Mama Donna Henes, Urban Shaman
Dear Mama Donna.
Recent political events have pushed me to the point of despondency. I am completely crippled with feelings of helplessness and inadequacy. There is so much that I want to see improve in our country and in the world, but I don’t know where or how to begin. What is a girl to do?
Depressed in Dallas
Dear Mama Donna,
I attended a candlelight ceremony for peace on the beach in Florida yesterday — only 30 people but hey, it is Bushland and I've signed two petitions today as always, and hope to be at the demo tomorrow. What more can I do?
Frustrated in Florida
Dear Mama Donna,
We here in Europe, watch the current events with horror and wonder with despair where are the States going? What can we do? Not much, watching from the sidelines. Maybe you have some ideas.
Disillusioned in London
Dear Depressed, Frustrated and Disillusioned,
First of all, don’t be. Depressed, frustrated and disillusioned, that is. Know that you are doing what you can and that it counts. Every single solitary thing that we each do and say and, especially, think really does count. More than we can ever believe.
Some might argue that we don't have any choice in this upside down dangerous world and that we can't effect what will happen. But even if we can't immediately alter the course of human events on the world stage, we can certainly create change in our own lives and in all of the lives that we touch. And our thoughts are the seeds of that change.
Dr. Christiane Northrup writes, “Use your thoughts wisely. Understand
their power. Thoughts have a tendency to become their physical equivalent. This is one of the fundamental laws of the universe. Another one is the law of attraction, which states that 'like attracts
like.' Because it is consciousness that creates reality, the kind of consciousness you hold — your vibration — actually creates the kind of life you're living.”
So our first order of business must be to stay positive. To entertain only positive possibilities. To imagine only affirmative alternatives. To surround ourselves with wholly uplifting, life-affirming people and influences. To align ourselves solely with the greater good so that our actions will be born of only the finest of our best intentions.
Far away there in the sunshine are my
highest aspirations. I may not reach
them, but I can look up and see their
beauty, believe in them, and try to follow
where they lead.
—Louisa May Alcott
What we all have to do from now on is to stay alert, stay centered, keep connected and most important of all, keep talking. Talking, writing, protesting keeps the light of truth and tolerance shining upon the hidden agendas of governments, industries, institutions and individuals. Silence, like the dark of night, shelters nefarious deeds. Silence forgives violence.
I have been haunted recently by the words written by a Protestant minister after the downfall of the Nazi regime. “First they came for the gays. I am not gay, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Gypsies. I am not a Gypsy, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Jews. I am not a Jew, so I didn’t say anything. Then they came for the Catholics. I am not a Catholic, so I didn’t say anything. When they finally came for me, there was no one left to say anything.”
Make a statement.
Make a stand.
Make a difference.
In light of the widespread oppression, manipulation, intimidation that surrounds us today, we most certainly need to say something. We need. In fact, to talk to everyone who we meet, actually engage on a human level with those who we encounter as we make it through our day. Not just our families, friends and colleagues — those of presumed like-minds — but the shoe repair guy, the waitress at the coffee shop, the post office clerk, the bag boy at the super market.
A good example is Dianne, one of the wonderful people who regularly attends my healing circles. She not only prays for the homeless men and women who live on her block, she calls them each by name. I am so impressed and inspired by her personal outreach to the “untouchables.” Everybody is, after all, somebody.
If we ignore, exploit or patronize those people whose lives intersect with ours, how can we expect international relations to be more civilized? We need to walk our talk wherever we go, whatever we do, remembering always, that by doing so we do make a difference. Let us each be a sun, sending our caring energy out into the world, shedding light wherever we go. You never know whom you might touch with the radiance of your warmth.
I have an outgoing message on my answering machine that doesn’t even say, “Hello.” It just starts right in with, “You know there really is still a chance for peace and that chance will definitely increase if we each do our piece. So let’s make peace — in our homes, in our own hearts, in our relationships, in our communities, in all of our dealings and in the world. Peace be with us all.”
Much to my surprise, the very people whom I never would have thought would respond favorably, have. The overwhelmingly positive reactions that I have received from workmen, telephone solicitors and service personnel has been an important lesson about the necessity to reach out beyond the boundaries of our biases, assumptions and expectations.
A few weeks ago, I came home to a message from the plumber who was making an appointment to fix my sink. After listening to my taped pep talk, he answered in his gravely Brooklyn brogue, “Yeah, what is this war all about, anyway? Why are we fighting those people? They never hurt us.” This, from someone I would have assumed to be a proponent of the war.
The electrician, another guy who really shocked me, loves the message and calls in daily just to hear it! Once I was here when he called and when I picked up, he complained. “Let me call back again,” he implored. “I want to hear the message. It makes me feel good.” The reason, he explained, is that it is not political. It is personal. And it touches his heart.
But why was I surprised? People are just people, after all. When you think about it, all people are of a like-mind when it comes to living a life unthreatened by hatred and violence. The urgency for war only seems enticing when it is waged elsewhere. Ask anyone. "Do you want bombs and missiles to blow up your house?"
Every parent has the right to put her/his child to sleep each night without any risk of that child being shot, trapped in the midst of some hostile crossfire — be it in Iraq, Afghanistan, Ireland, Angola or the South Bronx. No one wants to live and work in a war zone — in Palestine, Bosnia, Zimbabwe, the World Trade Center or East L.A.
So, buck up and say what is on your mind. The more you do so, the more empowered you will feel.
We become just by performing just actions,
temperate by performing temperate actions,
brave by performing brave actions.
*Are you cyclically confused? In a ceremonial quandary? Completely clueless? Wonder no more. Send your questions about seasons, cycles, and celebrations to CityShaman@aol.com.