Welcome to Reflections from the Mirror Project

This space—Reflections from the Mirror Project—is to capture how the conversations in the last year and 2019 are shaping the shared narrative emerging out of California’s experiences of health, wellness, and well-being.  Hopefully, questions that will help leadership training, support new policy ideas, and create new collaboration models will be a part of the sharing of conversations.

We wait to see what the journey presents as people, places, and insights begin to merge in this unique and vibrant state, California.

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Not Just Another Saturday

inglesias-embajadores

Children’s handprints from the video of Iglesias Embajadores del Jesus te da la Bienvenida Refugee shelter in Tijuana, Mexico by Lilli Muller

We started at 7:00 a.m., the drive to Tijuana’s sanctuary for refugees living at the southern border. The trips are the same in many ways and so different each time. 

The sameness is in the route, the time investment (usually 16 hours), the vehicle filled with supplies and generosity from strangers who know that people are waiting for the next chapter in their lives, to open. 

Waiting is the thing that is prevalent at the church – some have been at the sanctuary for months.  One woman and her two sons who are 16 and 11, traveled from Honduras after death threats were made against her older son because he helped to stop the beating of another teenager in their village.  The family was given a day to leave their home.  Otherwise the threat of death would be carried out.  The people of that town had seen it before and conditions were getting worse, so they decided to flee.  Her goal was to save her two boys and find a place where she could work and they could finish their schooling.  Theirs is a modest dream, but in today’s climate of fear, almost an impossibility to realize.  They made it to Mexico and because the mother has a sister in southern California, she petitioned for entry into California.  Their wait so far:  7 months and counting.

 

 

Imagine living in a place where there are about 250 people, about a third of whom are children, and the mix of humanity speaks Spanish, Creole, French, and English – many have been through trauma to make the journey to this sanctuary provided by a church that sits in one of the poorest valleys in Tijuana.  The pastor and pastora are doing what they can to live into the meaning of love.

The irony of crossing on any given Saturday is that within the short distance of less than half a mile at the International Border, one sees the fast food, insurance, and hotel industries thriving on the U.S. side; and upon crossing, immediately one can see nothing of such enterprises and surely will see people on foot, walking on the freeway heading for places unknown.  The landscape is scarred by a rust-colored wall of metal slats.  Today it is two layers deep and carves its way all along the so-called “border” to prevent crossings – and supposedly more safety and security for the north.

Once in the valley, there is evidence of compassion, humanity, and care.  It’s not by an stretch, ideal.  The conditions are cramped, and constantly dusty and smells of human presence;  yet, there is laughter among the children, aid being brought to treat illnesses that are common this season, and meals being prepared for the hundreds of mouths to feed, both adult and children.

The situation is overwhelming.  Sometimes, one has to wonder whether the trips are worth making.  Then, there is something that happens, something revealed that makes it all worth the effort.  On this trip, and artist named Lilli brought a moment of brightness into this world of waiting.  She shared her gift and made it a real expression of compassion and love.  What was it worth?  Truly priceless.

So at the end of a day, it seems that even though the situation we all face is impossible to solve, for some like us, there is nothing lost or compromised in doing what we can to ease the suffering that so many face.  In fact, this is the place where “doing is being, and being is doing” – and it’s not just another Saturday south of the border.

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Finding Time and Space

Finding Time & Space
For Love and Grace

With all that we are seeing in the world today, it is too easy to feel overwhelmed.  Technology has made it possible for convenience to become our way of life and the experience of being together, face-to-face – has started to fade for many.  

With Zoom, Skype, and FaceTime, we can have an experience of digital connection in real time.  These tools are great for overcoming physical distance;  but there is still something that doesn’t quite make it across Electro-land.  The words and expressions are there; but the touch, the warmth, and the energy isn’t the same, is it?

Creativity connected to nature, Kona coast

Creativity connected to nature, Kona coast.

Once a week, in Los Angeles – a vast space that takes much time to traverse – there is a time and space held for those who want to experience once again, what it is like to know something profound, but not specific…it’s a feeling, not a knowing.  The feeling may be one of acceptance, of goodness, of courage, of determination, of compassion and wisdom. And this arises out of silence shared in community.  No teaching by anyone, no reading to contemplate, nothing but shared space and time — these are the great teachers.  And for the shy one, the effusive one, the forgetful one, the creative one…there is reconnecting to the spirit of belonging to something much greater than an identity, a political view, or even the idea of being a human.

The space and time is there to show each one a way to move inward in times of searching for outward signals of how to live in a place of gratitude and caring with great determination in “not knowing.”  This can only happen in the moments of pause, quiet.

In music, the thing that brings alive a composition and its rhythms are the spaces that have no notes – the rests.  Without these, there is just one big, chaotic, unending noise!

People who are looking for a way to bring meaning, sense, rhythm and joy into their lives, need to know something of the value of silence.

Children in meditation in Tijuana sanctuary

Children in meditation in Tijuana sanctuary

We call it the Great Silence – meditation.  It can happen anywhere, and can also happen as one deepens a practice.

When there is nothing, anything and everything has a chance of being revealed.  And for each one, the revelation is different because their lives are uniquely unto themselves.  And in the end, there is one revelation that all will encounter.

Finding this is why we hold space and time for nothing…but to be together.

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Beyond Imagination

beyond-imagination-1What happens when a person whose vision is so clear they can see in the midst of nothing, an entire transformation of both the material and ethereal? Does one believe and move in the direction of transformation or, is more evidence needed to quell the questioning, the doubt, and fear surrounding the invitation to take the next step?

Sitting in the parsonage of a church in Tijuana, and faced with the conditions of the place where over 350 migrants have found food and shelter, the conversation about making an agreement for the sale of property intensified, “No, we don’t need to put in a clause about extending time or return of this deposit – this is going to happen, I know it!” Said with a smile and steady concentration as the last touches of the two-page land purchase agreement was being edited on his laptop, this visionary pastor was about to go next door and hand over the first $5000 to the seller.

I was sitting across from both the pastor and Pancho, his first full-time outside volunteer. I was worried and the questions kept coming: “Are you sure you don’t want to give yourself the ability to extend your time for raising the next $42,000?”, “What if something happens and you just need another month?”, “Is the seller someone you can trust?”, and “Is this how it’s done in Tijuana – without escrow and a third party to hold the funds and take care of the entire transaction?” All of these questions were being asked even as the document was being put together. The next step was to bring the good faith funds next door.

The response was clear, “I already know that this is going to happen.” (Subtext, “I am just an instrument for something that is being asked of me in the service of love and compassion – and I have no doubt.”). He looked up and smiled some more, “I am not worried at all. There is no doubt that the property will be a school, a small clinic, and a space where the children can play.”

beyond-imagination-2The pastor and his volunteer – Pancho who had just arrived two months ago were with me. I arrived from my Los Angeles, urban office. And though I had legal experience with cons and local political struggles it was hard to understand what was happening. The pastor explained he had lived in this place for 25 years. For the past 10 years, his church was here for the local residents. However, in the last 3 years, he has been receiving migrants. Now with the governments of the U.S. and Mexico implementing horrible, inhumane policies related to asylum seekers and migrants seeking a new home for their families, the church was an essential safe place on their journeys.

beyond-imagination-3The camp is full of children who have no place to play. The sewage ditch serves as entertainment where pigs and piglets can be watched while standing on a small overhang. There is a dusty, unpaved road, it is the last 300 yards one has to travel before getting to the sanctuary and its two shelter spaces. The deteriorating road makes trash hauling impossible — so its gets burned, and the toxic fumes are a a big cause of concern for the people in the shelters.

In creating a safe space during times of crises, people do whatever they can. Some people stay informed, some wait and some people risk their very lives. All of this exists in this place.

A one-day trip to bring necessities and donations to this spot felt like a week-long journey. From Los Angeles on this side of what our friend Pancho calls “the imaginary line” or “so-called border” to the place where all this humanity is waiting for an answer to the question, “What’s next?” An incredible effort is being made to be in service to the highest aspirations of our existence – to manifest that which can be called humility, compassion, service to humanity, and love.

How one got to the place, how one envisions the future, what may happen if one turns left or right – doesn’t matter. That is all either memory or imagination.

beyond-imagination-4The only thing that is real is what is right in front of one at this very moment in the desert. The thing to understand is that every step can have huge consequences. The synchronicity that happens when certain conditions and events occur – karmic connections, both material and ethereal – create that which does not yet exist. And, the foundation for building the next thing has to happen without knowing for certain how things will unfold. There are those who live in this way – they are visionaries who are vested with an infinite amount of faith and willingness to work.

beyond-imagination-5A smile and greeting from the residents is precious to maintaining connection and peace. Mopping the floors of the main sanctuary – knowing that in the next five minutes many people will enter and cross that same floor in their dusty shoes, simply means the mopping will be constant and thankfully, there are people who are happy to do that job. Cooking food throughout the day and making sure that those who are in residence eat, is not just nurturing the body but also the spirit. And making space to rest — this is truly a gift for those who know that their journey is far from over. After all, this place is only a temporary resting spot — and we all need to realize that this is the case, no matter where we find ourselves in life.

For my part, bearing witness and offering that which I have capacity to contribute – with slightly less faith that the visionary – is to transmit as best as I can, to you the reader – who may not ever see, but can trust that all this is true.

What is needed next to deepen the resolve that good must come out of conditions of evil? What step can one take to ease the suffering that exists in the world right now, in this very moment, but beyond where your five senses can go? This is where consciousness can take you. This is beyond imagination.

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