Soul Agreements

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
We each come into our human lifetimes with an individual soul plan, which we then forget at birth. God, however, remembers, and God’s presence as the soul continuously reminds us of that plan. What may seem like a complete falling apart of everything in your life is really only a divine rerouting to keep you on course for what you agreed to experience, and expand with, before you incarnated. Your soul always remembers. When you begin to live consciously as your soul, you won’t feel so blindsided by life events. At the highest and deepest levels, everything is unfolding as it is meant to.

In addition to individual soul agreements, there are also collective soul agreements—for families and friends, for social groups, for countries, and for all of humanity. We are in the midst of a very powerful one right now on this planet. We humans had lost our reciprocal, caring relationship with the Earth, so much so that a massive cease-and-desist order went out in the cosmos. The coronavirus put the entire world in a timeout. And just in time. Mother Nature, our deepest connection to planetary life has been slowly dying, slipping away more and more dramatically before our unseeing eyes.

Now, as businesses, industry, transportation, and entire countries partially or completely shut down to prevent the further spread of the virus, we are beginning to see changes on the planet. Reports and photos of clear skies and waters are circulating on the Internet. People can see mountains in the distance and fish in the sea. They can hear birds sing in the stillness. They hear the silence within them for the first time in their lives. All of this was part of our collective and individual soul agreements: to awaken in the midst of planetary crisis to the wonders of the world and remember our connection to each other and to God. To remember why we were born.

Still, hundreds of thousands of people around the world are suffering and dying. In the worst cases, individuals need respirators because they have difficulty breathing, an eerie and heartbreaking reflection of what life is like on a polluted planet. But the Earth has now shown us that if we step away from “business as usual,” the air and waters can clear. We need to continue that recovery process so we can live in harmony with, and connection to, the Earth and all the people who live here. This is our collective soul agreement. This is our sacred responsibility: to restore balance everywhere, in our communities, in our homes, and in our hearts, so that as a species we can breathe again.

Each of us was born to be part of this huge planetary shift, the culmination of thousands of years of evolving, in incarnation after incarnation. Our individual soul agreements are bringing us together to contribute to a global transformation and the realization of our essential oneness. How do we each contribute? First and foremost, with love in our hearts. We all have particular gifts that we came into this life to lovingly share. Compassion and kindness will guide us as we move forward into an unknown and continually changing future.

Uncertainty is our friend. When we surrender to the fact that we don’t know all the answers yet and trust in the perfection of the process, then everything will begin to flow. Each step, each choice, individual and collective, will arise from how our souls see the world: as one consciousness living in many uniquely beautiful forms. Division and separation will be replaced by community and collaboration. One Earth arising from one Heart. Two words, same letters—the synchronicity of oneness.

 

Peace from Gratitude

Charles Dickens described the French Revolution as “the best of times” and the “worst of times.” We could use similar words to describe our world now. There is chaos, conflict, death, and destruction on the one hand, and love, compassion, and the birth of a new more aware consciousness on the other. We who are alive at this time are bridges between the old and the new, Heaven and Earth, humanity and divinity. To hold all that within us requires great courage as well as deep inner peace. How do we achieve that? One of the most effective and powerful ways is to hold gratitude in your heart, to see the world through that lens, even with tears of sadness in your eyes. There is always something to be grateful for in life, whatever the circumstances.

Does Nature Have Rights?

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
Do birds have rights? What about bees, flowers, and trees? Or whales and giraffes? Rivers and lakes? These are profound questions that tap into the very nature of life on Earth. Currently, people around the world are focused on climate change: Does it exist, and if so, is it natural or unnatural? Yet, climate change is only one aspect of the larger issue of how human beings relate to the world in general. Do we see Nature as something to be used and then discarded, or do we see it as a living presence that we are part of, the heart and soul of life on Earth?

At the deepest level, it’s a spiritual, as much as a political, question: How do we live in relation to this planet, our “home” in the universe? Throughout the ages, Earth has been seen as a mother figure to the life forms she provides a home for. Mother Earth, or Gaia. Contemporary societies have forgotten this, or they disregard it as foolish fantasy. The corporate/political alliances that rule much of the modern world do not perceive our planet as alive and sentient. To them it is an object that brings them profit, to be used and used until there is nothing left. They don’t notice the invisible living connections that hold the living world together. To reduce everything to an argument about belief or disbelief in climate change is a distraction that keeps all of us from seeing something greater is at stake.

Ultimately, we need to enlarge the discussion to consider whether or not Earth and Nature have the same rights we claim for ourselves. Corporations are now seen as having the rights of a person because they have had the political clout to obtain that legal status. Mother Earth has never lobbied for her rights in the courtrooms and political arenas of this country. Her children, however, are now standing up for her as destruction of the natural world escalates everywhere. There are many grass-roots groups who have begun to work for the “Rights of Nature.”

In Toledo, Ohio, in 2014, the public water supply, sourced in Lake Erie, became so toxic (because of the lake’s high pollution from agricultural runoff and industrial waste) that residents were warned not to drink or even touch it. This crisis sparked a local movement to establish the rights of Lake Erie and the adjacent communities, which are being infringed upon by agribusiness and industries that pollute the lake. Voters passed an ordinance, the Lake Erie Bill of Rights, which is now being challenged by the state government. Rights-of-Nature groups are popping up in many places, including Pittsburgh (to stop fracking) and Oregon (to stop aerial pesticide spraying). In Southwest Florida, where I live, residents are organizing to establish rights for the Caloosahatchee River, polluted by algae flowing from Lake Okeechobee and contributing to red tide in the Gulf.

There is an awakening occurring across the country, as well as elsewhere in the world, to the essential rights of the natural world and humanity to live a healthy, balanced, unpolluted life on this planet. It’s not only about climate change, which is important but just the tip of the iceberg. Ordinary citizens in rural areas as well as large cities are coming together to say no to the poisoning of their communities by businesses that value money over life itself.* Mother Nature is a living breathing being, which every one of us is part of, and without her, we cannot live ourselves. The “Rights of Nature” movement is an idea whose time has come.
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* See the documentary We the People 2.0 and the dramatic film Dark Waters (based on real events) for the inspiring personal stories of those who are standing up to polluters and state (and federal) governments that back them.

Birdsong: Don’t Let the Music Die…

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
In 1962, Rachel Carson called it the “silent spring,” the time when pesticides would destroy birds and other wildlife and leave humanity existing in a half-life of stunned silence. Her work was the impetus for the environmental movement and has influenced millions of people worldwide. Yet today, more than 50 years later, pesticides are still very much in use, and we are facing the slow, agonizing fulfillment of her prophecy. In September, the journal Science published the results of a comprehensive study of North American bird populations. The results: Since 1970, there are nearly 3 billion fewer birds singing their spring songs, a staggering 29% gone from the Earth. Bird experts and conservationists are calling it “a full-blown crisis” and “the loss of nature.”*

The day I read these figures, I wept. I could feel my heart breaking. The losses are so huge. Beloved warblers in all their colorful variety: 617 million gone. Two of my all-time favorite birds: Baltimore orioles, 2 in 5 gone; wood thrushes, 6 in 10 gone. It is hard to fathom. Almost unbelievable. The birds that I eagerly anticipated seeing and hearing each spring are vanishing and may one day be gone forever. What would spring be without birds? Without the robin’s cheery song and the redwing blackbird’s flashing colors and ringing call? Dead air, everywhere.

Everyone who knows me knows I am an ardent lover of birds. I grew up in rural Illinois surrounded by countless birds nesting in our yard and visiting our feeders. Birdsong was an integral part of life, like the rising and setting of the sun. As an adult, I became a more focused birdwatcher. For more than 35 years, I was blessed to live near Mt. Auburn Cemetery in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where the spring bird migrations are well-known, even beyond New England. Birders there are often blessed with more than 100 species passing through. I visited Mt. Auburn at all times of the year and knew it as intimately as I knew the 5 acres where I grew up. Almost every tree and bush held a memory of a bird sighting or song. The brilliant red of scarlet tanagers and the startling orange and black of orioles. The husky song of the rose-breasted grosbeak and the ethereal trill of the wood thrush.

The wood thrush—a bird that touches my heart in the deepest possible way. Each spring I waited to hear it, not just see it. Standing quietly in the early morning silence in the Dell at Mt. Auburn, listening—and suddenly I would hear it, a piping flute-like call that gently echoed among the trees. Tears always fill my eyes at the sound of the wood thrush, a miracle of sweet music offered to the world, for free. Virtuoso performances daily by all the spring migrants. Each bird’s song unique and irreplaceable. Each one a miracle upon the Earth. A friend of mine refers to the “unreasoning cheerfulness” she feels when she sees or hears birds.

And this beauty is what humans are destroying so carelessly. Correction: big business and agribusiness are destroying it, with ruthless intentionality. Mega-corporations like Monsanto (now owned by Bayer) have spent decades laying to waste wildlife and human life throughout the world, making their products ever more lethal, from Agent Orange to Roundup. Not only birds, but butterflies, bees, and other insects essential to our ecosystems are dying in huge numbers because of herbicides and pesticides sold by these companies. Thousands of lawsuits have been brought against Monsanto by individuals who have gotten cancer from using Roundup, and at last the courts are beginning to decide in their favor.

The question is: Will it stop Monsanto and the other businesses? And if it does, will it be in time? The birds cannot bring lawsuits. They can only continue to do what they have done so beautifully since the beginning of life on Earth: sing. The planetary songlines they have created vibrate the world into being. We are the blessed recipients of their musical gifts. The very least we can do is reciprocate with gratitude and love by speaking out and taking action to save their lives: by not using poisons on our lawns and gardens, by always buying organic, and by donating to and joining advocacy groups for birds and other wildlife: https://abcbirds.org/; https://www.audubon.org/. My greatest hope is that the number of birds rebounds and that we are able to hear their songs for years and years to come.
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*Other factors, such as habitat loss, air and water pollution, collisions with power lines and glass skyscrapers, also contribute to the overall losses. On a more hopeful note, a growing number of cities have passed ordinances to use bird-safe glass and lighting practices and designs. And activist groups like CELDF (https://celdf.org/) are working at community and state levels across the U.S. to protect the “rights of nature.”

Step Out of Line!

Photograph ©2018 Peggy Kornegger
In her recent Emmy acceptance speech for acting, Alex Borstein told the story of her grandmother, who courageously stepped out of a death line in a Nazi concentration camp and thus survived. So, she advises, “Step out of line, ladies, step out of line.” All around the world, women, often young women, are doing just that. Their strong voices and brave actions are inspiring others as they stand up, speak out, and “step out of line.”

Greta Thunberg started alone, sitting in front of the Swedish parliament every week, striking to call attention to the dire emergency of climate change. One year later, in September 2019, millions of people around the world joined this passionate and articulate 16-year-old woman in a global climate strike, protesting destruction of the environment. She is the latest in a long line of dedicated environmental activists.

More than 20 years ago, Julia Butterfly Hill also started alone. In 1997, at the age of 23, she began living in an old-growth redwood tree to protest the logging of these forests in California. She endured two years of attempts to break her resolve, including helicopter harassment. In the end, the tree was saved, and Julia has continued her activism, co-founding groups to work for social change. Greta appears to be carrying her legacy forward.

In the halls of Congress, where the wheels of change traditionally move very slowly, a new generation of vocal and nontraditional political women is being heard. As the youngest woman to be elected to Congress at age 29, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has challenged the status quo with her Green New Deal aimed at phasing out fossil fuels and transitioning to renewable energy. She is a consistently strong voice for both environmental protection and social change, “speaking truth to power.”

Greta, Julia, and Alexandria are forces of nature. They can’t be stopped. Like Pele, goddess of fire in Hawaii, they are both creator and destroyer. Creator of possibilities and destroyer of lies and illusions. It is the age of the return of the Goddess. Fiery women are rising up everywhere, speaking fearlessly and courageously to the patriarchal power structure.

Born the year Julia Hill began her tree action, Malala Yousafzai defied the Taliban in Pakistan (and was shot for it) when she spoke out against banning education for girls. She recovered from the attack and soon became an international activist for all children’s education. In 2014, she was the youngest-ever recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize at age 17.

In 2018, Parkland shooting survivor, high school senior Emma Gonzalez confronted politicians in the U.S. Congress for making deals with the NRA and allowing gun violence to escalate. Insisting that “it’s time for victims to be the change,” she continues her activism to push for stricter gun laws. Also in 2018, Olympic gymnastics medalist Aly Raisman testified about being sexually abused by the team’s doctor (more than 150 other young women also testified), thus expanding the “Me too” movement to women’s sports: “The tables have turned. We have our voices and we are not going anywhere.”

These young women are only the proverbial tip of the iceberg. Across the nation and the world, women of all ages are stepping into the spotlight and onto podiums to demand radical changes that include the end of gun violence, environmental destruction, and sexual abuse. “Time’s up!” has become a rallying cry of a generation now coming into adulthood. Greta Thunberg calls for politicians, businesspeople, and all citizens to “wake up” and face the “biggest crisis humanity has ever faced”—global warming and climate change. And to take action. No more pretend “solutions” and words that sound good but do nothing. This is the message of all of these women: Stop pretending to believe in change while protecting your own privileges. Help to create a world that supports all people as well as Mother Earth. Step out of line!