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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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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Get to Work

August 21, 2019
Los Angeles, CA
Weather:  clear, warm/hot

“Who is asking?”

This question is such a great question because the query opens up the possibilities of so many paths to deepening one’s understanding.

What is “understanding?” It is realizing that everything is as it should be, given the conditions we find ourselves facing.

How did we find ourselves facing these conditions? That is where we enter into the recognition of the infinite — how many things had to happen to bring us to this moment? It is mind-boggling.

Today,  news was released that the US government will indefinitely hold children in custody conditions if they are caught crossing the so-called “border” at the southern edge of the place of the Planet we call “California.”  This is so interesting. Here’s what it looks like on the ground:

 

 

The so-called border

Yes, this is the reality of the so-called “border”

Yes, this is the reality of the so-called “border”.  It is a plaque, set in cement and at this point, there are all new things that manifest:  language, culture, cuisine, physical differences in the majority of humans that are populating the space/time of the part of the Earth that has been set up as a place called “Mexico”.  Literally, it is a line in the concrete.

And this is what it looks like when you are “returning” to the U.S. from the Mexico side of the Earth:

 

Another view of the border

The border when you are “returning” to the U.S. from the Mexico side of the Earth

Yes, that’s razor wire and those are hundreds of cars, sitting in neutral, creeping up to the stations where passports and people are examined by agents of the government who believe that such apparatus will keep families from being united.  

Some agents recognize that the migration as a product of conditions of violence and threats of death;  or poverty that has been created by government policies that discard the poor; or environmental conditions that have left the natural resources of a region fallow.  Most have a job to do, so they enforce policies like the one announced today.

What is there to do?  Find ways to bring love and compassion alive in the face of heartlessness and willful apathy and ignorance.  

How?  

For the Earth: Recognize that we are the Earth herself and that we all are living beings are intimately related in this inescapable network of mutuality. Contemplate a whole picture of the Earth from space and feel what evokes in you. 

For others:  be gentle. Find a way to kindness and examine your role in creating whatever tension or conflict may exist in relation to others.

For oneself: get quiet — go into the great silence and see what you see; understand what you understand.

Get to work on building that bridge that is one of the hardest to achieve — that’s the one that goes from head to heart.

Support the Gifts of Love and Compassion in Action at www.gocompassion.orgwith donations that will go to a sanctuary for Haitian, Honduran, Salvadoran, Cuban and Guatemalan, Mexican families migrating to peace and security.

 

 

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Zero to Infinity

Smiles still there . . .

Last night, the weekly meditation came to an end, and many things came out of a 45-minute sit in which two new people entered the space. The end was not just in the cycle for this one sitting, but it was also the end of a cycle of this space which had held us every week since late 2014. The next space awaits and it is in a part of Los Angeles that is feeling a transformation in its infrastructure, a shift in its population, and a change in culture – change never ends.

At the end, we introduced ourselves and two women appeared who had come for the first time. One was wearing an electronic ankle bracelet – she had served 23 years in prison and was then detained by ICE and then was released on bond and a condition of release was wearing this device. The other, had served 15 years, and her identity was zero – in other words, upon release she was somehow not given any instruction on what to do as a person who had entered the prison with an identity that was in limbo because immigration processes were in progress and never finished. Her release was without any indication of her “status” – she lives in the world but has no “official” identity. As we chatted, I learned that both women are oriented to life with nothing – but hope.

What is it about hope? It makes it possible to dream. What is it about dreams? It is a portal to infinite possibilities. What is it about possibilities? It invites a person to make choices, moment by moment. And what is the way to stay in the moment with love, compassion, and equanimity? There is only one way to enter stillness and empty space so that everything can open, and that is through meditation. The two women felt this. They knew nothing about meditation. They had no idea “how to do it”. But somehow, they had a sense that they should come and see what might happen if they were very still, for a very long time, with a group of practitioners who could help “hold space” for themselves and others.

Zero-to-Infinity-2

Joy!

There is a kind of richness that is not calculable in material terms. It is the beginning of entering into a different ecology and economy than what is conventionally recognized. The ecology of gifting time, energy, and compassion, the economy of relationship and connection with others, and the possibility of seeing more clearly what direction to take when those forms of wealth begin to build. The two women, though imprisoned for half their lives, upon release felt there might be something important to understand and they made a choice – to simply be in silence.

In an entirely different space/time reality that simultaneously unfolded as the meditation group was sitting in quiet in Los Angeles, were the events and occurrences taking place at a migrant and refugee community in Tijuana, Mexico. Hundreds of migrants from Haiti, Honduras, and Guatemala arrive as families in a location that is in the countryside and what do they find? They find a safe place to rest, a place to shower, a place to have a warm meal, and kindness, compassion, equanimity in the midst of chaos. In this space, where two pastors (a couple) and their 15-year old daughter, have lived into service to all of those who seek stability at a moment in their lives when violence, starvation, ecologic degradation left them with little choice but to depart from their homes, they find the most valuable thing they need now: peace and humanity.
Loving kindness, deep faith, and realization about the purpose in life being to care for one another while on this planet, wherever one may be – materialized into a small church/sanctuary and this is where many migrant families have landed. The decision to build a church in the middle of nowhere, based on some deep calling was the decision that took this small family from zero to infinity.

Zero-to-Infinity-3

… and laughter

How?

Because as the pastor and his family was making choices that kept moving toward establishing a sanctuary (without knowing that was what it would be), another person was making choices of his own about what he would do – as a proudly undocumented and unafraid migrant witnessing the terrible consequences of a government’s policy to take children from their parents or caregivers upon arrival at the so-called border in southern California and Texas. That person was a friend who people call “Pancho or Panchito.”

With no strategic planning process, no credentials of any kind other than a commitment to live a life of service, no currency – greenbacks or credit cards, and no idea of exactly what he might encounter, a huge choice was made out of recognition that his life’s circumstances, his commitment to grow compassion and kindness among people, and a purpose that was beyond his own life – Pancho began a pilgrimage to meet the migrants at California’s southern so-called “border”. It took 95 days or so. And he had the benefit of many others who could never make the same choice, but trusted that Pancho’s decision was right and from their own spaces, they made it possible by providing counsel, connections to housing, company for a few days on the walk, washing and showering opportunities, and so much more – love.

Once he arrived at the line between what is known as California and Mexico, another choice had to be made — knowing that no papers could mean no return to Huichin (the original name of East Oakland), he made a choice: he carried the earth flag and walked through the gates that led him to the next chapter in life. — A chapter that is infinitely more meaningful to him than anything else he could have planned, saved for, or competed to get: He is in service to the sacred act of migration. He is the first and only full-time volunteer at the sanctuary, now operating as a place of faith/worship and as a nonprofit called the Foundation of the Gift of Love. (translated). And how interesting it is, that the name seems to match the Gift of Compassion. Maybe a choice needs to be made to co-create a new kind of non-physical bridge between love and compassion in this moment.

Zero-to-Infinity-4

… and peace

The two women former inmates in California’s prison system come to mind. They talked about their choice to come into the meditation circle this week – it was moving and gratifying to realize how powerful holding space can be. There is no materiality in this act, but it is so powerful.

In the last conversation of the day, Pancho called. He shared in excitement that there were 30 children sitting in a circle one night – meditating; being in silence, sitting full lotus (flexible little bodies!), and after 10 minutes, he asked, “So what was that like for you?” Generally, they all said they felt more peaceful, and calm. One boy said he felt like he was in the presence of God. Kids get it, so fast!

And the looks of sadness and despair and worry with kids melt away when one small act of caring is shared. Pancho sent photos of the resilience and joy that erased the sadness and fear when a group of children were taken to the beach for a few hours. The smiles, and the antics – you would never know, they had just been part of a grueling journey to safety and were living in complete uncertainty about where life will lead them, next.

In making choices as conditions unfold, all of us find ourselves in a place where we may help something to emerge that needs to exist – but doesn’t yet exist in the world now. How to get there?

One main mode of operation: meditation (or silent prayer, or silent reflection, or any other name one might wish to give this practice of moving into a place of silence, no action, no reaction, nothing).

Not too much thinking, planning, calculating, but deep entry into a place where the essence of who you are can be revealed.

And that revelation may look scary or impossible at first glance, but if one knows who they truly are, and can begin to cultivate a way to take that inquiry deeper and deeper, the possibilities are infinite as to what may emerge!

Posted by admin in Mirror Project