Reflections At Uluru 

The iconic rock named Uluru sits in the middle of the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National park on Katiti Aboriginal Land, smack dab in the middle of Australia. From a physical perspective, Uluru is a mammoth singular rock taking hold of the eye from miles off and commanding respect. The rock was breathtaking but also quite oppressive in its sheer nature.

img_2955Not far away, in the same national park, sits Kata Tjuta (meaning many heads) which gently pulls the viewer to its many domed shaped mounds. Kata Tjuta in it's communal nature felt welcoming, serene and allowed for a time of contemplation.

From a spiritual perspective Uluru is a most sacred space for the traditional aboriginal people. It is a sacred place of ceremony likened to the Pagodas in Bagan, Myanmar, the Great Temple of Yandi Shennong in China, the Mahabodhi Tree in India, Nuestra Señora de Luján in Argentina,Mount Parnassus in Greece, Sergiev Posad in Russia, Ka’ba in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, the Vatican in Rome, Mount Sinai in Egypt, the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City Utah, the Bighorn Medicine Wheel in Wyoming and so many other sacred sites around the world. It is a place where “Tjukurpa” law for the Anangu people, is taught. And so, while there we took the time to learn what was offered to us about their sacred law.

On a side note: there is an on-going conversation/ argument about who's and what law should be practiced in this land. More specifically, should Australian law or should the Tjukurpa be the dominate law. Although I believe this is a valid and important conversation, that is not what this blog will focus on. This piece will however address law but from a viewpoint of the spiritual condition that law brings about regardless of the culture.

img_2947While visiting Uluru we followed the directions of the signs posted. We did not take photos in areas where we were asked not to and respected the wishes of the elders to stay off of the rock and kept to the walking tracks provided. Our understanding of the culture and place was limited to the information written on teaching plaques and videos and had I someone with local knowledge, I would have probably asked more questions. None the less, this is what I gleaned.

In the visitors center three stories of Tjukurpa (law) were shared. The first was about two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma Python, and Liru, the poisonous snake. In this story Liru kills Kuniya’s nephew. Kuniya enraged kills Liru with a blow to the head. This hit to the head, draws blood, and continues to be practiced during the “sorry business,” which is a part of their mourning ritual. The presence of these two ancestral beings – Kuniya, the woma Python, and Liru, the poisonous snake is believed to still be around the Mutitjulu waterhole and can be seen in the markings on the rock.

The second story shared was of Lungkata, the greedy and dishonest blue tonged lizard. In this story the lizard steals a meal from two pananpalala’s and when caught is put to death by fire. His story teaches the Anangu people what happens to the greedy and dishonest.

The third story was of the Mala, rufous hare wallabies, who came to Uluru from the north and west. They had come for an important men’s ceremony at Uluru. While in ceremony, their women and children gathered and prepared food in a cave at Taputiju (and can be seen on the northeast side of Uluru). During the ceremony the men received an invitation from the Wintalyka men, the Mulga seed men from the west, but because their ceremony had already begun they declined the Wintalyka men. This enraged the Wintalyka men and they conjured an evil monster called Kurpany to wreak havoc on the Mala men.

No one seemed to notice as the monster approached, except for Luunpa, the kingfisher woman who lives at the Ininti waterhole. She screamed out a warning and the women ran to the meeting place called Malawati. The ceremony ceased but many Mala men were devoured by the monster. The rest fled hundreds of kilometers to the south with the monster following behind. It is believed that Luunpa still keeps watch over that place.

Kuniya, Lira, Kurpany & Mala are ancestral beings who help form the basis of traditional law and customs for the Anangu today. They connect Anangu with county in all directions around Uluru. These stories along with many others that are not accessible to non-aboriginals are their families inheritance. They guide Anangu culture in all facets of life, organizing male and female roles in the community, child, adult roles and in the purest form, uncontested, Tjukurpa law should result in order throughout daily life.

As I contemplated the stories at the visitors center and walked around the rock noting the places of ceremony and ritual I noticed a similarly to the many stories I’ve read in ancient texts and stories from other oral cultures that we’ve had the privilege of learning about. The Anangu stories confirmed the age-old story of humankind with themes of murder, revenge, deceit, offense, and curses and was just one more confirmation to me that we are all made of the same mud. Every person, through the sands of time, has had to fight these demons within and the human solution has always been law.

This is what I know about law. Every religion, culture, people group or family has its own code or law to live by which defines the reality of those who live by that law. My father says, “those who define the process, control the process.” And so, some of us have been living by the same code for a very long time and some of us have had revisions over the centuries depending on the powers that have taken hold of the process.

Law teaches us how to navigate through the depravity, how to manage our circumstances, how to bring order but law does not bring harmony nor peace and law does not liberate or redeem the heart from the darkness of death. Law requires a hierarchy where some rule and some are ruled. As a result, the spirits of shame and condemnation run a muck, keeping many in their proper place. All the while, the self-righteous heart grows darker and the divide between creator and creation grows wider and wider.

As I walked around the rock, as much as I appreciated the opportunity to learn about Tjukurpa, the oppression of law in general laid heavy on my heart. I felt a deep longing well up within my soul, a longing to hear the stories of faith, hope and redemption and silently I cried out “Abba have mercy. Liberate us all from law and reconcile us to one another. Show us your grace, show us your glory.”

Abba heard my prayer and as the wind gently blew on my face, he answered, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with Me, and I the Word. Through Me all things were made; without Me nothing was made that has been made. In Me is life, and that life is the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. The true light that gives light to everyone has come into the world. I was in the world, and though the world was made through Me, the world did not recognize Me. I came to that which was My own, but My own did not receive Me. Yet to all who did receive Me, to those who believed in My name, Yeshua, I give the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of Me.” (john1)

My heart was overwhelmed as I reflected on Yeshua, The Word, there in the beginning, all things made through him, made flesh, dwelling among us. We all live off his generous bounty, gift after gift after gift.

For many of us, the law was prescribed through Moses, for others through Mohammad, Buddha, Darwin, the Dali Lama, the Pope, Plato, Desmond Tutu, Confucius, the Emperor of China, the Government, the Illuminati, the Shamans and Oracles of oral cultures, or whomever else has taken the position of telling the stories of culture and tradition; but grace and truth, this exuberant giving and receiving, This endless knowing and understanding— all this came through Jesus, the Messiah.

I believe it’s good to have a healthy respect for law, to understand our histories, every tongue, tribe and nation, to learn the law so that there might be some sense of order. I believe it’s important for us to learn about and respect other religions, cultures and family laws for the more we understand each other, the more it reduces uncertainty and it helps us to communicate more effectively. However, it is also good to remember that law is limited and can be corrupted by the depravity of those defining and managing it. Thus I believe that law can not have the final say. For it is only through the mystery of grace, that Yeshua offers, that we find our way back to Creator, Abba, God and the result of that is we find true freedom.

Jesus says “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.” It is through Jesus that we find our way to peace and harmony. It is through Jesus that the truth liberates us from law and it is through Jesus that death is overcome and life eternal is found.

How that plays out practically in day-to-day life for me is Jesus becomes The Voice that defines my reality. Jesus prescribes and fulfills the law. And we, who are the God-begotten, are bound by this law that first and foremost says “love Abba with all your heart and love others as yourself.” The love mentioned here is not some romantic notion or a teaching of tolerance. No, it is a supernatural unconditional love that comes when we believe Abba is who he says he is and we believe we are who he says we are as sons and daughters.

Yet, there are many who know but do not believe. They call themselves children of God, they call themselves enlightened, they call themselves the originals but they run around this planet conjuring death and destruction, reckless with their words, betraying and forsaking, hasty in judgement, and closed in their thinking. They are ungrateful and selfish children who have bought into the age-old lie that law is all we need.

I purpose that law is not all we need. Law may sustain us throughout the centuries but law without love is hopeless.

Unconditional Love is the key to redemption and Jesus is the tie that binds all of our hearts in that love. He models this knowing through his teachings, miracles, life, death, resurrection, ascension and promise to return. He is unconditional Love and the source of all life. And, that’s what I’m after.

How about you? What are you after?

 

Pepe and the Vacant Lot

The Kineo Community Urban Farm sits on a large block of land in Central Phoenix. Next door to the property is an equally large vacant lot. On the far corners and the back of the lot sits three other small farms. Two of them have horses.

20131123-112807.jpgThis morning, as I was sitting and enjoying my coffee I saw a beautiful cream-colored horse utilizing the vacant land. He was eating and playing. I went out to get a closer look. His owner was standing at the far end of the lot, calling the horse down. The horse, who the owner called Pepe, was frolicking but would only come half way down the field.

I stood there for about ten minutes and I noticed that Pepe spent most of his free time in the back corner of the property, closest to his home. As hard as the owner tried, Pepe would only gallop to the middle and back towards home. I found this very intriguing and pondered how Pepe was given more freedom, but tended to stay just outside of the boundary, not seeing that there is more available. Or maybe he did see and was afraid. I began to philosophy and make assessments about Pepe and his fear of the unknown. Mind you I know nothing about horses. His owner walked close enough that I could share my insights. His name was Sean, a Mexican caballero from Zacatecas, Mexico. His specialty is the lasso.

I shared my observations and he smiled, it was a generous smile. He gave me, “it’s possible” in his eyes but said very simply, that Pepe knew that home was where the people were, and the other animals. Of course! It was community that kept him close.

20131123-112819.jpgI rested in this wisdom. Maybe my perspective was off, maybe instead of representing freedom, the field really was a an overflow of community. Maybe, community is where the real freedom is found. For, if Sean wouldn’t have come over to have a chat, I would have walked away from that moment with my ideology in tact. I would have continued on in my limited understanding of horses, ultimately making parallels to our humanity in a rhetorical way. I would have walked away arrogantly thinking I understood something I really didn’t.

We need each other. As the wise old proverb says, “Your face mirrors your heart. You use steel to sharpen steel, and one friend sharpens another. 

Live Learning

homeschoolWe kicked off our Live Learning school year last monday. The goal this year is to pursue critical thinking, learning to communication effectively and take risks. The curriculum is fluid and allows for us to take in each day as it comes with the focus on nurturing the mind, body and spirit.

The children expressed interested in specific areas and we are moving forward in those interests, using the tools and resources we find on the internet, with host families, in libraries, visiting landmarks, business, and seeking an audience with experts in those areas.

As apart of the learning process each child set up and designed their own blog. Their blog will be the sounding board for their work. It will be where they will post about things they learn, sharing insights and conclusions, looking for feedback from peers and supporters. Of course, we give them feedback before the post goes live but we know the feedback they get from others is of most importance.

You can connect with the Traveling Turquoise Maven at http://travelingturquoisemaven.wordpress.com and Inky Inferno at http://inkyinferno.wordpress.com

As for specifics;

Our mathematics curriculum was donated by Education Reimagined.  We are pleased to be working through the first week of Euclid. We are learning about the relationship between all things not just calculation. There is also a focus on history which is a key component for us and allowing us to tie in some of our literature and science.

For Language Arts, each child has chosen a classic based on their level of reading and will be using that as a spring-board for writings, poems, songs, and conversation.

Both of our children are interested in Food Science and we have begun to explore that from different angles. Firstly, exploring it from a nutritional standpoint. We’ll be looking at the time line from farm to table, cooking techniques and how to get the most nutritional values from our food.

The excitement for learning is starting to reemerge in their eyes and we are so thankful to be able to walk in this mystery, to be FREE to really explore all that the mind can absorb, to know that each day we have the to opportunity to LIVE and LEARN.

Seasons Change

20130508-121609.jpgWe had a beautiful winter season of neighboring with communities along the West coast, Southwest and Cajun country, learning about different communal philosophies, experiencing miracles, sharing story, embracing and encouraging kinfolk to continue to care for their communities and each other. Through it all, a pattern of sorts was established and we had become comfortable in our travels. However, as the seasons change, there is a shift in the wind and we sense that the winter chapter is over. As funny as it sounds, coming from us nomads, “we are once again, heading into the unknown.” We have a longing to continue to move in community but it is beginning to take a different form. We feel a pull to try to hang on to what we know. History has proven however, that we can not and so we take a deep breath, enter the mystery and continue on trusting and rolling forward in faith.

20130508-121629.jpgWe are freedom seekers.

Freedom is light.

Freedom is unconditional love.

Freedom is the very

breathe

of

God.

 

Secrets that the Mountains Holds

It’s one thing to see a documentary or read an article about an injustice and all together another to meet someone who is or has gone through the fire. To hear their story of oppression, discrimination, banishment, and persecution, to share in the burden. It stirs such primal emotion.

20121201-104932.jpgPulling into Salt Lake City the beauty of the mountains deceive us. There is a eery tone, a subtle offense in the air. Secrets. The clouds hang low, as if the mountains are whispering those secrets of abuse and corruption to the heavens. We have learned much from our visit to this area. Much about a people who traveled west, following a charismatic leader and all that can happen when one man has to much power. There is a distorted law that formed and twisted thinking that justifies secrets that rape the soul and kill. We live in a time where most religion is viewed as culturally sacred. Meaning, the religion itself might be totally wack, but because it’s gone on for a long period of time it’s now a culture and that culture should be preserved, respected and tolerated. And yet, as we meet folks who have experienced betrayal and persecution by their so called “family” of religious organization there is a feeling that rises up. A primal feeling… Trying to put my finger on it. Oh, yes… RAGE!

Paul says it this way, in Galatians, that by embracing a variant message the people loose freedom. Cursed, he says, be anyone who turns the message of Christ on it’s head, even an angel from heaven.

Freedom is a delicate and subtle gift, easily perverts and often squandered. And, how quickly we can move from freedom to the “law.” We rise up and fight for freedom. Freedom comes but along with it a sense of control, a taste of power which often finds the rebel as the oppressor.

Here is the test. Freedom is the gage. If freedom is squelched, we respond with opposition. When freedom is restored we hold on loosely, gently and with humility.

Sea Pens

Have you heard of Sea Pens? They offer a fascinating analogy of community!!

A sea pen looks and acts like a single organism but it’s actually a colony of tiny animals called polyps with a bulbous foot at it’s base–the bulb anchors the sea pen in the muddy or sandy bottom. The primary polyp loses its tentacles and becomes the stalk of the sea pen. The various secondary polyps form the sea pen’s “branches” and have specialized functions from trapping food, reproducing to channeling water in and out of the colony. Others make slime that glows in the dark…

Oh! what a longing we have to be apart of something that fantastic! We believe that we are connected to the stalk/foot but what if the other polyps don’t respond or they withhold from us because we don’t have the right marketing or enough credibility or what if we are judged and ignored? Do we need the other polyps? Well, sure we do, it’s not a sea pen otherwise.

…But, this is the hard part, trusting that everyone is working in one accord.

We aren’t the only ones to acknowledge this issue of trust in community. One of the founding fathers of “tilling and traveling” wrote of the same dilemma. His name was, Paul, formerly Saul. He had a remarkable revelation one day and turned full circle from his life of high society and religious piety. He became “all things to all people” by making himself available to go where ever the door opened. His soul desire was to spread a gospel of revolutionary magnitude. A gospel that suggested we could actually experience real reconciliation and freedom in our lives. Paul was convinced that like the sea pen we were made individually but meant to come together as a whole, clinging to the stalk that was connected to the foot. Folks seemed pretty excited about his passion until he started going into parts of society that they deemed unexceptionable and his support dwindled if not ceased. He responded with a push back to those who called themselves believers, to those who claimed to be his family. He shared his pain and disappointment but not for his own gain. No, he understood the heart condition and knew that if his “family” had treated him this way, they were probably treating others, who were doing a good work, the same way.

Paul admonished them to take a look in the mirror. To realize that their perspective was off and they have forgotten where they came from. Then he encouraged them to remember. He warned them of their past and the danger markers in their history book. He said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!  And, when you see people reducing God to something they can use or control, get out of their company as fast as you can.” And later he says, “I have the right to do anything,” you say—but not everything is beneficial. “I have the right to do anything”—but not everything is constructive. We want to live well, but our foremost efforts should be to help others live well.”

And, so we remember the pit that we have been pulled out of. We remember the pain and discord of our rebellion. We remember how quickly our pride can lead the way. We remember the faithfulness, mercy and compassion granted us when we deserved a good slap in the ass. We remember the refining process thus far and we refocus our perspective on not only living well but living to serve. We remember that it is not up to us to know the “how” only to be available and continue to be all things to all people.

We are like the polyps who are connected to the stalk and channel water in and out. We have to trust that those who are suppose to light our way, will do so with their glow in the dark slim.

Learning to trust, becoming trustworthy and remembering; that sounds like a good way to start 2012. We look joyward to putting this into practice. with. you.

Reckless Words; The Struggle to be Real

The burden of the future has become to heavy for my weary soul. My fears and anxieties have bubbled over and the acidic residue has seeped out and burned those around me as well as myself.

My own words taunt me. “Reckless words pierce like a sword… You pride yourself with moral standards, teaching the world as their commander. Hypocrisy bleeds from within. Oh! for the state of sin.”

I want to walk my talk. I want to be authentic but my heart is exposed when conflict arises and fears heightened. My mouth exposes me and I am a hypocrite. I bow to the lowest common denominator and venom spews from my lips (or in the recent case, my keyboard) I could blame the send button, but I’m the one who pushes the send button.

I realize this is contrary to our current culture of “self love” but the honest truth is that when I am consumed with self and protecting self, my pride takes over and I become a double tongued snake. I become a reflection of the short sighted, ill-tempered, weak, ugly, jerk of an enemy. And, I hurt people I love and really anyone in the way.

“My dear children, let’s not just talk about love; let’s practice real love. This is the only way we’ll know we’re living truly, living in God’s reality. It’s also the way to shut down debilitating self-criticism, even when there is something to it. For God is greater than our worried hearts and knows more about us than we do ourselves.” I John 3:18

The Light exposes the darkness, thank God. Although it is painful to look in the mirror and see this truth, the isolation and condemnation I have felt over the past week is more painful. I want out of shadows. No matter what uncertainty comes in this life, the idea of realizing that I’ve hurt another to feel more in control,  and doing nothing about it is no life at all. And so, I cry out for mercy. I cry out for forgiveness. Thankful for the provision of the ministry of reconciliation. Longing for reconnection with God, my fellow man and self.

“So, chosen by God for this new life of love, dress in the wardrobe God picked out for you: compassion, kindness, humility, quiet strength, discipline. Be even-tempered, content with second place, quick to forgive an offense. Forgive as quickly and completely as the Master forgave you. And regardless of what else you put on, wear love. It’s your basic, all-purpose garment. Never be without it.” Colossians 3:13