Three Pelicans Circling

Photograph © 2020 Peggy Kornegger
Last week, on my morning walk, three brown pelicans flew overhead, high in the sky, as I tilted my head up to watch them. Slowly they turned in perfect unison and began to circle above me, directly above me. They circled three times, large sweeping circles of which I was the epicenter below them. Then they turned back the way they had originally come and flew off into the distance. As I watched them leave, my spirits uplifted by their brief aerial presence, I thought, “Why did they fly here, circle three times, and then return? Was my presence somehow connected to theirs?”

I am inclined to see the synchronicities of the universe, believing that everything is somehow connected in the greater tapestry of life. We are part of an energy dance, we living beings, and we all affect one another. The thread between us seems invisible, but it does exist. Their circling and my seeing happened simultaneously. No visible cause and effect, yet I felt as if my seeing reached out to them and drew them into a circle. Just as their circling reached out to me and drew me into heightened seeing. A bit like what physicists call quantum entanglement.

Humans on this planet are involved in a similar dance of circling and seeing, invisible much of the time but highlighted when synchronicities catch our attention and expand our awareness. A friend and I recently had a conversation about how everyone affects each other in the dramas of daily life. It became a wider discussion of the polarities of light and dark and the evolution of consciousness on Earth. We came to the mutual “conclusion” that every person and event plays a key role in the expansion of our collective consciousness. Nothing is just a disaster or a godsend. No one is just a hero or a villain. We all have bits of each of those extremes within us, and when we can embrace that polarity, we are free to live the nuances of life. Our life purpose is to accept what is challenging as well as what is inspiring, to come into harmony with everything.

It all gets down to something my friend/teacher Panache Desai has shared repeatedly: “Everything is perfect. Everything is God.” I receive that wisdom at deeper levels within me each day I live my life. This past week it filled me completely, permeating my cells like oxygen, like light. It was light. I saw that we are all here to come to that awareness, to embrace that full expression of compassion and love. We are here to embody divine Presence in the world. A Presence in which all polarities come into harmony within us and thus within the world. That is humanity’s role and destiny at this time.

The pelicans demonstrated that greater circling and surrendering to invisible energies that carry us to where we’re meant to be. Each detail of our flight is part of our soul’s journey, which we chose before birth. We are living our lives to align with our soul’s overview and to align with the love that connects all of our hearts—human, bird, animal, star. To live in “loving awareness” (Ram Dass), with kindness and generosity of spirit, is the greatest gift we can give ourselves, each other, and the world. You and I are God meeting God everywhere every day of our lives. And it’s all perfect.

No Visible Trace: Vanishing of the Past

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
I seem to be living through a time in which everything previously experienced in my life is falling away. In the midst of these changes, I find myself standing face to face with a truth that has always existed but is now front and center in my consciousness: There is no past. When we have lived an experience, it disappears from this dimension. It may continue in another dimension, but here, now, in the present, it quite literally no longer exists. In our memories, it shape-shifts and eventually fades as well. We are left with this moment, nothing else.

What has brought me to this seemingly stark conclusion, which is actually quite liberating? Well, in the past month (and after I wrote my last blog, “Resignation or Surrender?”), I experienced the definitive “loss” of two homes that I felt great emotional attachment to: one in Illinois, the other in Massachusetts. The first was my childhood home (on five acres in the country), the second, the house I lived in before recently moving (where I had an extensive flower garden). No actual visits took place; this was a long-distance visual vanishing, via photographs and Google maps. But no less shocking.

The people who bought the house where we rented an apartment in Massachusetts quickly began to renovate the interior last fall. Then, this past spring, our neighbor told us of exterior changes: the new owners had ripped out all my carefully planted and lovingly cared for flowers and replaced them with a rather bare, professionally landscaped lawn and a few meager plantings. The photographs she sent were heartbreaking.

Since our move to Florida last year, I have missed my garden most of all. I had spent eleven years partnering with Mother Earth in creating a diverse mixture of flowers and bushes that bloomed at different times of the year. I knew every plant as if they were my own “children,” and I felt that they knew me. I celebrated each leaf and blossom, each visit by a bee, butterfly, or hummingbird. Sometimes I just stood in silent appreciation and love for the beauty all around me. To see all that destroyed was painful to assimilate. Yet, on another level, I knew it to be another sign that that time in Massachusetts was done. I could not go back to the home I once knew.

Over the next few weeks, I realized that I was being given a deeper understanding of life’s greatest wisdom: impermanence. It allowed me to see the impermanent in all parts of life—and to accept it. My spiritual journey had become about learning to let go in an ongoing way so that I could be fully present in the moment. Then God raised the bar even higher.

For some reason, I decided to Google-search for my Illinois hometown and the country road I had lived on. It has been decades since I have been back there, so it took me a while to find the area where my parents had built their home in the shade of a group of old oak trees. I switched to satellite mode and began to slowly trace the route from the turnoff onto our road, now widened.

Then, unexpectedly, I noticed that there was a very large highway where there had only been farmhouses and cornfields. I zoomed in and saw it was an Illinois tollway with on and off ramps and barren landscapes surrounding it. My heart beating, I backtracked to where I could see some houses and land still intact. I located the houses on either side of our home, but there in the middle was nothing but wild abandoned land. No driveway, nothing visible but underbrush and trees. I zoomed closer, and then I saw a bare space where our house should have been. Closer still, and I was able to make out what appeared to be remnants of a basement. That’s all that remained of my childhood home.

I felt a knot in my stomach and sat staring in stunned silence. It didn’t seem real. My memories of that house and of the trees, flowers, orchards, and vegetable gardens my father and mother had planted were vivid and alive. I lived my entire childhood and adolescence there—with a deep connection to nature and to them. Yet this was the current “reality.” Anything else no longer existed. Of course I knew this, but seeing a visual representation was different.

After my parents’ deaths, I had stopped visiting Illinois but always held it in my heart. Christmas carols evoked visual memories of the holidays I shared with them over the years. And the land itself was in my blood; I had run across the fields and climbed every tree. Years later, when I planted a garden in Massachusetts, I felt most at home there because that connection was born in my childhood. Now, every visible trace of any of those gardens had disappeared. My childhood and my recent past had both vanished.

I sensed my physical body slowly processing this and my soul’s presence rising to the fore. I felt a clearing within to match the clearing without. For the first time, I was fully embodying the present moment with a crystal clear understanding that there really is nothing else. Oddly enough, it felt freeing. It was like decluttering my consciousness: dropping Google and opting for Soul. In truth, I hadn’t lost anything. I had gained greater awareness of the simplicity and power of my lifetime upon this Earth. At the deepest level, my soul (and yours) lives within the Great Mystery of impermanence and eternity, each precious moment experienced and then released with love.

“When the house is gone, the space in the house was not different than the space outside the house. When those walls are gone, there’s only one space everywhere. There always was only one space.”—Krishna Das

Resignation or Surrender?

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
What’s the difference between resignation and surrender? To me, resignation seems to have a hopeless aspect to it, giving up on possibility. Surrender doesn’t have that flavor. It’s more a letting go of control, so that life can bring possibility to you instead of your clutching at it. Yet, perhaps there is more to resignation than first meets the eye. What if you have to go through resignation to get to surrender? What if in resigning yourself to life not turning out the way you thought it would, you let go at such a deep level that complete surrender is at last possible? In expecting nothing, you open the door to everything.

I recently experienced something like this as I continue to integrate living in a new state after more than 30 years in another part of the country. Massachusetts and Florida could not be more different. In order to make the transition, I had to embrace those differences, which has been very challenging at times. I have surrendered again and again. Yet I still felt stuck in some indefinable way. Basically, I don’t feel at home here, at least in the way I had previously defined it. When I accepted that I may never feel that way, something started to change.

It was a book that brought about this perceptual shift: Braiding Sweetgrass by Potawatomi naturalist Robin Wall Kimmerer. In early chapters, she writes of her people losing their traditional home and being forced to walk the “Trail of Tears” to Oklahoma. With that background, she also writes of her family’s ties to New York State and how “home” has been defined in her life, usually through a deep connection to Mother Earth. Her stories and descriptions are so vivid that at one point I just sat and cried, feeling all the past homes in my own life and how nature was an integral part of each of them.

I have lived many places, north, south, east, and west, but my childhood home in Illinois and my recent home in Massachusetts tug at my heart most. As I allowed myself the thought that I may never see either of those places again in this lifetime, something in me let go, into grief, into resignation—and then, gradually, a release into a deeper surrender. I had no expectations anymore about anything. I was just present in my life as it was, with no attachments to past or future. The sadness and loss broke my heart, but in the breaking, spirit poured in, as it always does, and left me washed clean.

Life brings us so much, realities arising from possibilities, again and again. Each reality, beginning and ending, is the doorway to another possibility, another reality. Our lives are forever shifting from one dimension into another wider dimension. Right now at this moment, we, as individuals and as a planet, are being asked to let go of everything that came before and move forward in our lives, through resignation to surrender and ultimately to infinite possibility. Our feelings are passing signposts. Where we are going, there are no parameters really.

As I look out my window today, there is only the living presence of Mother Earth in all directions, filling my heart and soul with a greater sense of home than any one particular place. Each of us has a soul window that opens out to that same view. Each of us is finding our way home.

“Whether we jump or are pushed, or the edge of the known world just crumbles at our feet, we fall, spinning into someplace new and unexpected. Despite our fears of falling, the gifts of the world stand by to catch us.”—Robin Wall Kimmerer

Who Would You Be Without Identity?

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
Can you imagine yourself without a gender, a role, a story, a sense of self that precedes you into the world? No mental concepts that define how you see everything? No language to structure the formless into form and separate you from others? This is how you were born. This is how you entered life on Earth (and how you will leave it), a divine soul without human definitions to shape it. And this is who you still are, deep within. No matter what words were spoken or names were given to you, your soul remains intact. Your soul is always connected to the Source from which it came, regardless of what separation is experienced by your personality or ego in the course of a lifetime.

The question for so many people at this time of awakening on our planet is: How do we get back there? How do we return to the child’s wide-eyed wonder and love of the world? Newborn babies are pure awareness, pure being. No language blocks or distorts that essential life force energy that flows through. As our human minds learn to name and categorize, that energy remains but goes underground. Our souls are disguised by the “personalities” that overlay our essential Self. Gradually we forget our divine connection, and our minds, supported by external social norms, define our daily experience. We don’t realize that our physical bodies are merely costumes that we are wearing for this particular lifetime. Consequently, we lose our sense of oneness with others and with all that is.

It takes ongoing intention and practice (or sometimes an identity-shattering experience) to return to conscious awareness of our soul’s presence. Habit and external distractions can often be impediments in this process, but the strength and power of the spirit within moves us forward even when we feel most lost or disconnected. I believe this because I have experienced it myself. The personality self I learned to navigate the world with carried me through my childhood and young adult life—until one day, at age 18, I met a new friend, a kindred spirit, who opened my eyes to the limitations of that self. I started to seek something greater and embarked on a decades-long journey into awakening and self-awareness. Not unlike many other seekers at this time. Ultimately, we are all meant to take this journey back to soul, back to Self.

As I learned meditation, yoga, and self-exploration, the doors to my inner being gradually opened. I experienced divine connection, or soul presence, through a variety of experiences with many spiritual teachers over many years. All of it led to the present moment, wherein the journey is deepening and in many ways becoming solitary. The final path back to God, to complete awareness and soul embodiment, often has to be walked alone because there really is no intermediary between your soul and its Source. They are actually one and the same, and this is a realization that occurs deep within your consciousness. It cannot be imposed from without.

So, at some point, you and I (and all of us) realize the oneness of all of life. We begin to see clearly how language was just an attempt by the human mind to explain a Mystery that cannot be solved or even translated into words and concepts. Only at the soul level do we “see” the connections and feel the power of Being itself. There are times when, as a writer, I try to express my own soul’s awareness, but I know it is an approximation of something vastly beyond my ability to describe it. It resides at the place beyond language, roles, and all other human designations.

This is the place without identity. It is the place we experience every time we are fully present in our lives. When we take a deep breath and feel the peace at our core, when we open our hearts to unconditional love of self and others. These are the moments when our soul awareness expands, and we know ourselves to be eternal and infinite, a divine presence that came to Earth to experience itself as human, awaken to its own divinity, and then return to the sacred Source from which it arose.

You Can’t GPS God

Photograph © 2019 Peggy Kornegger
If you held a compass in your hand with the intention of locating God, you would see the needle spin in all directions. The GPS in your car could not come up with an exact position for God in its system either. That’s because (of course) God is everywhere at the same time. Its physical form in this dimension is us, our human bodies, as well as those of animals, plants, trees, birds, insects, fish, seashells, stones, etc.

From the nonphysical perspective, God is an experience not a visible object. On Earth, the experience of God is love. And love has no form, no language, no location. If you deepen your awareness of divine connection, you come to realize that you are always held in a love beyond any words to describe it. Peace fills your being and Presence fills your consciousness. I have been there. It’s a place to which I am always longing to return. But there is no compass or GPS to guide you to God. Only in the process of living and letting go do you suddenly turn up in that spaceless space that defies description.

Surrender, the message always reappears. As long as you hold on and try to make something happen and try with all your might to understand, you will spin in circles, like a malfunctioning compass. Control is an illusion that catches us all in its tangled web as we live our lives. Only when we open our hands and hearts completely, does the web disappear as if by magic. You and I have always been free. Our souls have always known the way back to God. The truth is that the soul is God, a living reminder from whence we came. So when we remember to align with it, we are already home.

Each morning, as soon as I get up, I take a 2-mile walk on a nearby nature trail. Some mornings I am immediately aware of God’s presence. A mockingbird singing its delightful medley of birdsongs. A snowy egret fishing along the edge of the lake. Red hibiscus flowers blooming. Love fills my heart. Other mornings, I am not fully awake—literally. I begin walking, only half-aware. Suddenly, beams of light radiate from the rising sun across my path. I am washed in a sea of golden light, and all my senses are wide-awake and smiling (if senses can smile, then mine definitely are!). I stop and stand in the sunlight, eyes closed, and the stillness at my core fills me. I am completely at peace, one with my soul.

Divine immersion. It can come upon you at any time. It can fill you for a moment, for an hour, for days, or for a lifetime. The secret, of course, is that it is always there, within you. When you surrender to the experience right in front of you, your awareness expands to include your soul’s presence. Sunlight or birdsong can open the door to this expansion. Consciously breathing and focusing on the peace that lives within you also opens the door. I find that if I pause, take a deep breath, and center myself in the inner stillness, everything around me becomes part of it. Even sound itself is one with that stillness. And therein is the experience of God, or the Divine. No “global position,” no form—just being itself.