Animals and human being:
Guest Post by Luanne Armstrong, novelist, freelance writer, editor & publisher
When I was a child, I spent much more time with animals than with people. On our small farm, animals were important and my father ensured that we learned to care for them properly. Animals were fed with care, and no animal was allowed to suffer needlessly. We cared for them and they fed us.
I felt at home with animals and was comforted by this feeling. I listened to my father's stories about animals and put them together with my own experience.
But people were mysterious. Because I spent so much time on my own, I wasn't sure quite how to behave around them and no one taught me. I was just supposed to know. But the girls in my high school frightened me. They passed notes and laughed at me for reasons I didn't understand.
It took me years to understand high school. It took me years to get over being afraid of people laughing and snickering. Of course I grew up and got over high school. As I grew older, I made friends with those same people. I learned how friendship worked and I kept learning about animals too.
I still sometimes prefer animals to people. They question less, they ask less, they seem to be contented just with my company. When I go out in the morning and evening these days, I carry hay to the horses in the pasture. The dogs come with me, and the half grown kitten. Often the huge brown goshawk that lives in the trees to the meadow circles over to take a look. The raven that lives up on the mountain also comes by. It's a great and peaceful moment, all of us at home together, and myself feeling contented and at the centre of things.
It's a truism that animals don't lie, that they reflect back accurately the behaviour of the humans towards them. But animals are clearly very intelligent and often play tricks on people. The only dog I ever had that lied to me was a gorgeous Siberian Husky named Angel. I came home one night to find her standing over my other dog, licking its face. When I took that dog to the vet, he told me that something had picked up my dog and shaken her so hard the skin had ripped on the inside of her neck. The only culprit available was Angel.
Animal researchers have discovered many ways that animals trick each other, from birds and squirrels camouflaging where they hide their foods, to chimps who negotiate sides in a conflict. But it is also true that working with animals demands that the person give them their best intention and clearest focus.
When I am working in the ring with my horse, the minute I lose focus or turn my attention elsewhere, the horse will know. If I come to the ring angry or in pain, the horse will know and reflect that back to me. Animals are intuitive and knowing far beyond our present comprehension of them. Working with animals can be a huge challenge or it can be therapeutic and healing and enormously satisfying. Animals communicate with us thorugh their bodies and actions. What they ask of us is just to pay attention, to be sensitive, caring and intuitive. If we listen, they teach us how to live more clearly and cleanly in our own realities.
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A Seed For Harmony
Submitted by Kendra Lee
On October 21, 2012 I travelled from Creston, BC Canada to halfway around the world. My destination? Jerusalem.
|Kendra, front row, third from left|
But I will start at the beginning, and tell you how I came to this journey. In March of 2012, I joined a global organization called BraveHeart Women. In June, there was a telephone conference call in which the founder, Ellie Drake, was speaking to a group of about 200 women. She shared her vision of bringing together women from conflict regions to create a gathering for women from Israel and Palestine. The purpose would be to 'hold a space' for these women to get to know one another as soul sisters rather than viewing each other as enemies. We, the western women, would fund raise and host this gathering.
When I first heard Ellie speak about it on the conference call, I knew I was to be part of this. I got goose bumps and felt myself energetically being pulled forward. When she asked if anyone felt called, I realized that I was destined to be a part of this. I also felt myself dig in my heels. I believe in that moment I had a flash of all that would be required of me, which meant moving far out of my comfort zone, and challenging myself to grow by doing things I have never done, nor thought possible. They were things which may not challenge others but were certainly tests to my own being. It would involve meetings after work for fundraising, planning, and detail after detail, when all I wanted to do was go home. My picture was put up on a poster around town - I was a nervous wreck over that one! I preferred being less visible. Speaking out in public was not my desire - I preferred being in the background. Fund raising? I had no experience in it, nor the slightest wish to do so. The actual trip and being in Jerusalem did not really worry me, in spite of being untravelled, although it greatly concerned others in my community. To me, it would be the reward after all the work!
I believe that once I felt the calling I started to carry the essence of the journey within, and people seemed to experience that. I found that speaking one-on-one was the most effective way of sharing and fundraising even though the weight of the fundraising commitment was huge and extremely daunting.
My family, along with the support team and townspeople were especially supportive of me. They sustained me through their moral support and encouragement, as well as made contributions financially. While sitting quietly at the lake, I shared the concept of the trip with my young grandson as well as why it was so important. I must have mentioned the need to fund raise because after listening so intently he said, 'Grandma, I have lots of money. I will give you some'. And he did, proudly contributing $5 from his savings. My support team was instrumental in doing a dance/walk through town to raise awareness and funds, and I was touched by those who contributed throughout the efforts. This is a very giving community.
Although I had never been overseas nor traveled a lot, I projected the trip would go with ease and it did. The only part that worried me was actually finding my Braveheart Sisters at the airport in Tel Aviv. As I stood in line at customs I looked around at all the people and there, barely eight feet away, was Dr. Pamela, Ellie and family. How perfect was that?
It was wonderful to meet with all my new Braveheart Sisters with whom I had only communicated by email. We had shared our plans, fears, challenges and successes extensively and had supported each other in preparation for the journey, even to the extent of wardrobe planning. They had been a big part of my life for four months and I was delighted to meet them.
It was wonderful to have a day together to connect before arriving in Jerusalem. Adrienne and I played in the Mediterranean Sea, Taylor and I bought necklaces in the market, we spent time trying to find our way back to the hotel by bus . . . connecting, exploring, learning about each other. Travelling by bus to any of our destinations involved singing with Dalit, laughter and more time to form bonds of love and caring.
As we neared our destination I saw some of the ugly concrete walls that separate and control the divisions between the Palestinian and Israeli people. The feelings these walls invoked were powerful; how defiant I would be if someone told me I could not travel across the street. The contrast between this life and my own idyllic mountain freedom was intense.
|One of the walls, just outside the hotel|
At the gathering, the tension and nervousness of the Israeli and Palestinian women was obvious, as was the courage. I so greatly admired all these women for attending. We all had a common vision to work through our own fears and challenges to be there.
To be a part of this event was a gift. To feel and see the changes occurring was a larger one. Women who looked at each other as enemies and felt fear being around each other chose to be there because they wanted peace.
As the gathering progressed, we each received a new name - 'Harmony', along with a sacred geometry necklace. No two were alike, just like us. We learned how to drum together in harmony, to dance, to sing, to connect in circles. The barriers started to crumble, tears flowed, hearts opened, and connections were forged on a soul-to-soul level. We women began to see each other, not as enemies or foreigners, but as woman on a life journey, caring about each other, empowering each other and needing peace. I felt so honoured by these women - I felt they appreciated our commitment to them, our caring and our love.
|Drumming and singing together|
Near the end of the gathering Ellie had the western women in a circle facing out holding hands. All the other women were in an outside circle facing in to us. As the inner circle moved we made eye contact with each woman, a quiet moment of connection, to let our hearts express through our eyes our feelings of love, respect, gratitude and thankfulness. As I moved in this circle tears started to stream down my face; a woman in the outside circle saw this and immediately let go of the hands she was holding and hurried off to find a tissue. She came back to me and lovingly wiped the tears away. Another woman on the last evening grabbed me and announced 'You are my new daughter!.
|In the circle|
Before I went on the trip I wanted to create a card with the names of the people who helped to support it, but was unable to get it done. However, a beautiful young woman, Fiona McGregor, offered on the last day to make it. She had each name printed, coloured, cut out and then glued to the card. It had a big heart in the middle with a hand on each side holding the heart. Above it said 'We care' She created two of these, which I gave to the matriarchs from both regions. Both Hana and Antoinette were honoured to receive it, and said it would be displayed in a special place. Antoinette plans to take hers to the Nativity Church to receive a benediction from God and then in 2014 it will be returned to me (or someone from Creston BC) to bring back to our community, carrying this blessing.
|One of the care cards|
Our goal was to plant a seed for harmony and create a ripple that would carry back into homes, communities and eventually around the world. I believe we succeeded.
Post submitted by Kendar Lee, with Resonate Kootenays
Donations to further spread the harmony seed can be made at Resonate Kootenays
100% of all donations will be used to offset costs of this trip and future endeavours of Resonate Kootenays.