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.

Look Out for One Another

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
There is so much fear ricocheting around the globe now. Fear of the deadly coronavirus and fear of disease and dying. Basically, fear of survival. This survival-based fear is embedded deep in our cellular memory as a species on this planet; it is a powerful force affecting everyone. Our collective consciousness holds the emotional residue of every event—wars, famine, pandemics, natural and man-made disasters, etc.—and all that is coming up to be released so that we can reach a new planetary balance. Mostly we aren’t aware of the rebalancing yet, but it is happening. As the virus spreads, we feel both present and cumulative fear, as well as other strong emotions like sadness, anger, or panic.

You can see it in the frightened individuals fleeing epicenters of COVID-19 like New York to other locations—and in the angry reactions of residents in those places who resent their coming (and perhaps bringing the virus with them). Issues of money and privilege come up. In crowded cities where people often struggle to survive every day, the choice of leaving does not exist for most. In such times as these, adequate health care also becomes a huge concern. Countless courageous individuals in this field are stretched to the limit. People are angry at government delays in issuing stay-at-home mandates (Florida finally institutes one today), jeopardizing human lives for business and political interests. This virus points up all those disparities. Who lives, and who dies?

We as a people shouldn’t have to reach that point. We are in the process of awakening to our common destiny and our common survival. Alone and separate, we are diminished and disconnected; together, we survive and thrive. The unspoken belief that you can somehow outrun or outwit death is an illusion. If your time is up on this planet, it doesn’t matter where you are or what you own. So, then, what really matters in the course of a lifetime is how much you have loved and cared for others. Are you living with empathy and compassion, or are you driven by fear or self-interest?

This virus is making us face ourselves, face how we are living our lives. It becomes raw and challenging, but in that uncomfortable mix is the opportunity to awaken to who each of us really is at our core, which is a sensitive soul. Beneath the fear, anger, and defensiveness is something tender and vulnerable: the human spirit. It takes courage to peel off all the protective layers and admit that you are no different than every other human being. You are born and you die. What happens in between is the gift, the key, the opportunity for shared experience and oneness. Even in pain, even in fear. There are held-back tears within you. Cry them. Because when you do, your heart will open, and you will see that you are surrounded by family everywhere. Have the courage to feel compassion for every person who crosses your path. You may not realize it, but that is why you came to this planet: to feel with others, to offer comfort and protection. To look out for one another.

On my walk this morning, I came across four ducks standing still in the middle of the road. I stopped and watched them to see why they were there. One smaller, younger duck was in the middle, and the other three were facing outward in a protective circle. As the smaller one began to move, the others adjusted themselves, always keeping watch in a wide circle around it. Slowly, they moved off down the road and disappeared into the bushes. I felt as if I had been given a beautiful gift from the natural world, a vivid example of how we humans could live together harmoniously. We are all children of Mother Nature. We are all vulnerable and in need of protection and care at one time or another. Now is one of those times. May we encircle and protect one another in our vulnerability and fear. May we have the courage to live every day of our lives with compassion.

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!

The Power of “We”

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
Human beings came to this planet to learn how to live together in peace. To realize and express the love in their hearts through compassion and kindness. It’s a simple as that. We didn’t come here to accumulate wealth and material possessions while others have nothing. We didn’t come here to distrust and hate everyone who is not an exact carbon copy of our beliefs and physical appearance. We didn’t come here to build walls and wage wars against difference. While those may be the polarities the human species experiences along the way, our final destination is beyond all those divisions and separations. Ultimately, we came here to recognize that “I” alone is incomplete; only in “we” do we find strength and commonality in being alive. Only in loving ourselves and others are we made whole. As the song says: “We are the world…”

Sometimes I feel overwhelmed by external global events—the self-centeredness and cruelty that pervades so much of our social construct and that is spread through the media’s focus on acts of hatred and violence instead of love and inclusiveness. There are alternative sources of information that are positive rather than negative, and we need to pay attention to these. When I hear how so many people are coming together instead of being torn apart, I am uplifted and encouraged. The seeming chaos is happening for a reason: to clear out obsolete belief systems and centuries-old histories and divisions. We are living at a time that is taking us to the end of separation, judgment, and suffering.

All around us there are those who are making a difference in the status quo by living lives of caring and compassion. They reach out to others at times of crisis—whether global, regional, or individual—and help them in any way they can, with physical support (money, food, clothes, shelter) or a listening ear and kind word when it is most needed. This is the power of “we” that is gradually shifting the global balance to love instead of hate. People suffering in isolation are finding support and connection in community.

Those who live in fear talk of building walls; those who live in love talk of building bridges. If we live from our hearts, there is only one choice really: to reach out to our fellow beings (and I mean animals, plants, insects, as wells as humans) and share the love inside us. We were not meant to love only those who are exactly like us or to try to make others adopt our beliefs and lifestyles. We were born on this planet to come together and live compatibly in all our diversity.

Humanity is a rainbow tapestry of different races, sexes, ages, cultures, and religions. Yet we all came from the very same loving Source, which some call God. Our soul essence is love, so when we are being our authentic soul-selves instead of the “self” superimposed on us by social norms, we are living that love. It is a compassionate and inclusive love, and a small shift in awareness from “I” to “we” can make a huge difference in the world. That is why we are here, to celebrate and live the power of “we.”

Bridging Worlds

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
Recently, my initial excitement and the newness of moving to Florida began to ebb somewhat, and day-to-day life took on an unexpected, almost bipolar energy. I found myself ricocheting back and forth between two rather extreme reactions: joy, optimism, positivity, appreciation, gratitude, love, inspiration on the one hand and sadness, fear, heaviness, pessimism, lack of motivation on the other. This could occur within the space of one day or even one hour, seemingly unrelated to what was happening around me. At times I was thrilled with my new home and surroundings, and then at other times I felt trapped, out of place, and uncomfortable. It took me fully another month to realize that I was experiencing what it is like to bridge two worlds: old paradigm and new dimension.

For several months during and after our move, I was completely immersed in what I experienced as entering a new dimension. It was a powerful force that carried me forward with positive uplifting energy. When I suddenly began to feel doubts and sadness, holes began to appear in that view: Had I made a mistake, a wrong choice? But I absolutely knew that I hadn’t, that moving to Florida was part of my soul plan. So then what was going on?

It wasn’t until November 6, Election Day, that I was able to see more clearly. That day was heavy with strident, conflict-ridden energy. Everywhere in the U.S., but particularly in Florida. I could barely lift my head and feel any hope for the future. Then I realized that hopelessness and conflict is the energy of the old paradigm, and any time we tap into it, we will feel weighted down and lost. Transformative energy and harmony make up the new dimension, and when we tap into that, we are flowing with positive life force into the future.

At this time on Planet Earth, many of us feel both energies and can get lost in the polarity between them. We have to remember that we are here to be bridges, wherever we happen to live. We can’t lose faith in the existence of a new dimension even when we are feeling the heaviness of the old paradigm. The new is constantly being born as the old reforms and reshapes. The key is to understand that everything is occurring for our evolution and expansion, and ultimately resolution will emerge. A challenging path but one that has been walked by thousands of souls over thousands of years.

The idea of karma, or cosmic cause and effect, has been written of for centuries in many traditions. “What goes ’round, comes ’round” the saying goes, and many spiritual masters have carried more than their share of humanity’s past wounds to help shift the balance for the collective. The era in which we are now living has been described as one in which we all become our own spiritual masters. Perhaps in doing so, we each carry part of the collective wounding, which gets cleared more and more as we go through whatever we have to in order to reach the other side of human suffering—whether that is revealing hidden secrets of sexual abuse, standing in the truth of our racial/cultural diversity and gender fluidity, or steadfastly choosing peace over conflict, love over hatred.

If the external world is a reflection of our internal state, that means everything—past lives/karma included—affects our experience in the world. Are we now, at this juncture in the world’s collective evolution, clearing the past through all time so that the mirror reflection is clearing too? If so, then sometimes we are looking through the clear part of the mirror at the new dimension and sometimes we are looking through the murky part of the mirror at the old paradigm.

It is important to keep in mind that at any given moment we can consciously call ourselves back from the murkiness and center ourselves in the clarity just by remembering that the new dimension does exist. At some point, then, as we evolve into clear carriers of pure light, Earth will cease to be the cloudy planet of polarity and separation and become a shining star of oneness and golden light. The new dimension at its most clear and luminescent.