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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When the sh*! Hits the Fan

Migrant farmer Pablo, Fabiola Vilchez, and master farmer Mud!

Migrant farmer Pablo, Fabiola Vilchez, and master farmer Mud!

This morning the weather is shifting and I am thankful to be able to write because so much has happened in the last seventy-two hours.

This is a time when the practice of meditation is needed more than ever.  The universe tries to show us, time and again, that there is no such thing as “control” over life.  The new flu, COVID-19, is the context.  Its characteristics are similar to the flu but its effect is far more devastating than the flus that have come before — and its unknown transmission pattern scares us.  This is the worldwide sh%* hitting the fan.

Closer to home and on the ground, another trip to the border, where human flow is causing great doubt, relying on great faith, and demonstrating great determination.  This is when transformation in society happens – moments of great doubt, faith, and determination.  The migration phenomenon is hitting closer to home and the place where the Gift of Compassion has landed, just happens to be the place where love and compassion are being manifest.  It was an accident to end up connecting there.

Another trip to the border sanctuary on Saturday, with a crew of talented, compassionate, and skilled individuals who brought knowledge and heart to a place that has been receiving migrants from many places, black and brown people who are escaping every form of human suffering. 

One person who joined is a master gardener from south Los Angeles, who turned out to be an extremely fortunate addition to the group.  This is because his survey of the location revealed that the land where the sanctuary sits is very likely a toxic piece of earth.  Waste that is both human and chemical flows to this area and this explains the odor that is the first thing one encounters in going to the location. The rains earlier in the day surfaced the presence of chemicals of unknown origin – maybe just detergent from soapy waters, but maybe not.  Foam could be seen in the riverbed/canyon road that leads to the church.  Literally, a situation where the sh&! has hit the fan.

It was another trip where donations were gathered, delivered, and supplemented with a run to the Mercado where $700 dollars in food purchases might feed 300 for one week. The idea of growing vegetables and herbs is now on hold.   Here’s a video that shares the experience of Haitians at this sanctuary:

 

 

In an entirely different space/time north of the border, life is in the balance for a young family who faces none of the challenges of migration but their lives are connected as disaster of another kind has surfaced.  A beautiful and bright young lawyer and her spouse face a life-changing health challenge that could leave her paralyzed for the rest of her life if corrective surgery doesn’t work.  Interesting to realize that the work of the partner is to counsel those in crisis. Right now, he is about to go enter the work of providing counsel to migrants who have attempted suicide in a detention facility.  How they are navigating this crisis is with love, clarity about things they can and cannot control, and support from family and friends.

In Los Angeles, we see the effects of human flow that have failed.  The crisis of people being left houseless is more visible in this city than almost anywhere else in the country.  The weather in southern California makes living outdoors, possible – without risking death from the cold in winter.  But the change in climate worldwide, the presence of a virus that is out of control, and the effect of causing people to migrate, just as animals and other life forms must in order to survive – is one massive indication that the sh%$ has hit the fan.

Our options:  care, cultivate kindness to oneself as well as to others, take care to balance the “doing” and the “being” – the clarity comes with moving from the place of will, to the place of no will.  Then, the realization can arise:  We are always, eternally, inextricably connected to one another and once that realization comes, the path opens.  By the way, the path is not paved.  There are places where you will surely step in sh@*!

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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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