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On Rippling
By Judith Gayle | Political Waves

LIFE HAS THROWN a few curve balls at me in the last few months; it's a long story. I'd bet you have a story too; everybody seems to have a tale to tell and listening to theirs may have you feeling like a whiner, given the severity of some of what you hear. It's not difficult to lose our balance in this exchange. Listening respectfully to someone with fewer troubles than our own may take disciplined restraint, while listening compassionately to someone whose sorrows are off the scale may require us to assume a thoughtful and unaccustomed detachment.

Listening in itself, however, is the critical part. Whenever I stumble onto someone's story, I do two things: get their particulars (and permission) for my prayer circle and count my blessings. I have many.

The Full Moon in Capricorn comes to us every July to throw a bit of somberness into our summer frolic; consider the cosmic wisdom of having the opposite energies always present to keep things balanced. On the other hand, frolic has been a bit subdued this season anyway as we face the overwhelm of economy and fuel issues. Still, summer always brings us together with sunlight and picnics, friends and family gatherings. This year it's probably weenies and beans, not steaks and lavish spreads; but coming together is the actual main course, not the food.

Coming together is the entire dance we're doing at the moment. It's odd how the Cancer sun, happier at home, shoves us out into public spaces. If you have a family reunion or vacation ahead of you, neighborhood gatherings or social occasions, get yourself in the mood, throw on your happy face and try to get excited, but beware: as we reconnect with one another, there will be stories; some of them hard to hear.

Stories give us an opportunity to find perspective. Norman Vincent Peale, the granddaddy of the positive thinking movement, gave us good advice when he said, "When you become detached mentally from yourself and concentrate on helping other people with their difficulties, you will be able to cope with your own more effectively. Somehow, the act of self-giving is a personal power-releasing factor."

Listening is an act of self-giving; so is smiling and laughing and encouraging. All of those actions are designed to lift someone up; the personal power-releasing factor is an automatic response from within that lifts us up at the same time. A Course In Miracles tells us that teaching what we want to learn is the surest way to master it. We give away what we seek, if we are to experience it ourselves.

That is true of everything we're looking to find; we can't make it happen in our own lives if it isn't in us to start with, and we can't keep it if we don't know there's enough to share.

As we're coming up on a solar eclipse that impacts the US chart in its pocketbook, it's good to remember that we aren't our money or our job or our circumstance. We're infinitely more than that -- we're human beings, not humans doing. Money may be the resource, but it's not the Source; a lot of us don't understand that yet.

Perhaps our financial circumstances are part of the learning curve we needed to level the playing field in our value system; we have pursued plenty with a vengeance, out of balance with the rest of the world and, likely, our own path to happiness. While Saturn in Virgo has turned our attention to the practical, Jupiter in Capricorn only seems to have made a bleak economic picture bigger and more gaseous. These are adjustments, if you will. Humankind takes a little leading and I trust the cosmos with that job more than I trust the government. I mean, obviously so: our president addressed the economy the other day and told us, essentially, not to worry about a thing.

It's good that we no longer listen to him. Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, the largest of the private corporations that guarantee home loans, are our economic canaries in the coal mine; they're flopping around now on the bottom of the cage. Their shares have dropped dramatically, and although the government has indicated that they won't rescue them like they did Bear Stearns a few weeks back, it's been reported that Bush is seriously considering such an endeavor.

"Rescuing" means bailing them out with your tax money, citizen -- or it would be with your tax money if that hadn't been spent eons ago; now it's a matter of borrowing from China and other lenders to cover the bill. But we can't borrow forever, especially in this Enron era of corporate corruption, and specifically when the cooked books begin to melt. That's where we are now.

As most of us require a sense of security in order to proceed confidently through our life's dreamscape, this is not good news. The economic downturn has been coming on for years, really, but it's baring its teeth now and it's not pretty. It will require us to be creative and resourceful and depend on one another; and this dependence is not how we usually proceed in our nation.

Since the mid-50s, we've become an increasingly mobile society, splitting off from our multi-generational families and moving far from our hometowns. We think of ourselves as autonomous. In fact, we don't share particularly well anymore. It's time to rethink that concept, since friendships and connections are going to mean a good deal more to us in the coming months. Remember: we get what we give away.

Here in the Pea Patch, I've been tearing into piles of boxes from storage, attempting to integrate what used to be my life into what it's become; these are boxes I haven't peeked into for a dozen years. It's like visiting who I used to be; it's also reclaiming a part of myself, the part that's been on sabbatical for a while. It's a treasure hunt of sorts, finding things that were cherished and gave me delight in the past, even though it has a deep and bittersweet Plutonian feel to it.

Of all the things I've excavated from the boxes, the pictures have been the most potent. Dear faces, sweet moments in review like a Power Point presentation; smiles from the past that bring a smile in the present. At the end of my life, I expect I'll have those very faces, those same moments, dancing in my mind's eye; one last review of what was precious.

With circumstances so difficult, and time so fleeting, it seems harder to find moments for these kinds of interactions. So much needs to be taken care of, matters of the heart can be put off until a more opportune time, right? Maybe not. I suspect that hearts can go all stony and withered without a consistent nourishing of love and kindness; in fact, very little seems more critical to me. So why wait? If the moments of giving and sharing are the important ones, why put them off? If the big picture's got us down, then little pictures are just what we need.

I recently read a quote by a woman named Sister Chan Khong; I have no idea who the good Sister is, but I quite agree with her sensible philosophy: "If we just worry about the big picture, we are powerless. So my secret is to start right away doing whatever little work I can do. I try to give joy to one person in the morning, and remove the suffering of one person in the afternoon. That is the secret. Start right now."

That is the secret. Well, not really a secret; just something we don't make time for in our busy lives. As our own personal circumstances become increasingly challenged, such a philosophy can contribute to our lives in unexpected ways. Giving another person joy isn't like throwing them a party -- it's more like giving them a bit of our time, or even a nod and a smile. It's throwing good energy into the mix, and trusting it to find its way to the place it's needed.

For instance, when I write these articles, I always ask Spirit to help me find the message that's imperative for just one reader; I'm often blessed with a note from someone to tell me it was just the thing they needed to hear. That makes me happy for days. When we impact another person, we have no idea how that energy will go forward, but we can be assured that it does.

In Beautiful Road Home: Living In The Knowledge That You Are Spirit, the channeled entity White Eagle writes: "So, keep on keeping on living the life which your inner voice directs, kindly, lovingly: giving help wherever you can, giving love and sustenance to this great work of illuminating all life. Your life is like a pebble dropped into a pool of water, creating ripples endlessly. You do not know the end of a word, a thought, an action."

Here's a way to think of ripples: my daughter was a grocery checker for several years and there were days when she would come home uncharacteristically upset -- some patron would have given her a hard time and put her normal good cheer out of alignment. Checkers are among the most put-upon of folks, having to deal with a new person (and their energy signal) every few moments. I'm never surprised to feel a sense of disconnect from these people, who often don't even meet my eyes; I would put up protective psychic barriers too, if I were them. Still, their gloom and weariness often shoots out at me from behind their cash register.

Planet Waves
Photo by Danielle Voirin.
Try to be encouraging and pleasant on your next trip to the store; give the checker your best smile and see if you can lighten up that brief encounter. Don't expect anything in return. It's about energy exchange; you are giving what you'd want to get. Who knows? Maybe that will allow them to smile at the next customer, and maybe that will keep said customer from smacking their kid on the way to the car.

Maybe that person will wave someone into their parking spot with a grin, someone who had circled for ten minutes, frustrated in their attempt to get a prescription filled; and perhaps that will lift their spirits enough to be more patient with the pokey elder ahead of them in line at the pharmacy. Maybe patience is exactly what the confused senior is in need of; maybe anything else would tip them right over.

Ripples -- they start with us.

An article I read over at Huffington Post the other day affirmed similar wisdom as a coping technique. Staying Sane In Iraq: A Soldier's Story included a letter written by a young man who knows what overwhelm feels like; he's found a way to give meaning to service that I can't even begin to imagine. He finds a single moment in his hellish day, every day, which impacts his heart and commits it to memory; what he calls "wallet-sized smiles." I'm betting that if he's discovered the luminosity of those kinds of moments, he is also a rippler. No one can assess the blessing he brings to a pain-filled and difficult situation in a war-torn country, or the goodwill he represents for his country.

So, here we are in a historical period when fear and anxiety is not based as much on manipulative PR, as has been true for the last handful of years, as on actual circumstances that work our every nerve. We need to rise to the occasion, not with gloom and doom but with life-saving human skills and the better angels of our nature.

Life is both subjective and objective, at the same time; it's circular. If we want what's good for me-me-me, then we have to invest ourselves in we-we-we. If we throw our anxiety at the world, that is what it will return to us; if we offer love and kindness instead, that is what we'll receive. Simply, in a time when we'll get by with a little help from all those we share space with on the planet, the best advice I can think of is: to have a friend, be one.

If you've read this far, I suppose at some point you've thought -- oh, there she goes again with the love and kindness business. But how else will we increase that collection of wallet-sized smiles that feeds us and lifts us and keeps our energy sufficient to this difficult game of change? Each story we listen to as a trusted friend, each comment we make that lifts the conversation is the currency of our tomorrows; each deposit of thoughtfulness and compassion will add to the resources of our future. What we invest in life will be ours to draw upon. Fatten up your cosmic bank account by paying it forward and passing it on. And if you're someone who needed this message today, my work here is done. Don't just sit there -- go make ripples, the kind that will bless you and the world.

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