“Coming Home to Peace” excerpt from Walking the Medicine Wheel published in Parabola Magazine, Fall 2018

Parabola Magazine has just published an abridged version of the “Coming Home to Peace” chapter from the book that Joseph Rael and I wrote, Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD.

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I am so excited and honored that our work is being featured in this great magazine. I first read Parabola when I was in college. It is the journal of The Society for the Study of Myth and Tradition and always has great features on topics around “the search for meaning,” with past contributors including Joseph Campbell, Mircea Eliade, and Jacob Needleman. This current issue revolves around “The Journey Home,” and it is fitting to have our piece on the struggle of veterans to find their way home after military service. This issue features Parker Palmer, whose Center for Courage and Renewal has recognized my last two books as selections of their most courageous books of 2014 and 2016. I have also written guest blogs for their organization: “Recovering Hope, Poetry, and Connection in Health Care” and “Finding the Held-back Place of Goodness in the Broken Hearts of Veterans.” It is great to see Joseph’s and my work sharing space in Parabola with an excerpt from Parker Palmer’s new book, The Brink of Everything: Grace, Gravity & Getting Old. Another author I have great respect for is featured in this issue, Kabir Helminski, with an excerpt from his book, Holistic Islam: Sufism, Transformation & the Challenge of Our Time. Peter Kingsley, author of Reality and A Story Waiting to Pierce You, has also been interviewed by Parabola in the past.

How exciting and rewarding it is to have Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD – this work of the heart that Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I have done together – honored in this way, being published in a magazine that has inspired me since my days in college.

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I am also happy that we are able to promote the work of so many others in this Parabola essay. Ed Tick, John Wesley Fischer, Jonathan Shay, Bryan Doerries, Claude Anshin Thomas, Judith Herman, and Robert Jay Lifton are all cited and credited for their work. I am also happy that Buchanan Rehabilitation Centre, where I worked in New Zealand, is mentioned in the piece, as that is a place very dear to my heart.

Here is a quote from the article:

“We can assist returning veterans through creating an initiation and rehabilitation framework. In essence, we as a society, need to have some framework for accepting, understanding, and transforming veterans’ pain. Transformation means that we take something that exists in one state and transform it into another state. For instance, wee take something that is manifesting its energy in a ‘negative’ way and transform it so that it manifests in a positive way,” (Parabola, 88).

I wish we had a little more of Joseph’s words in this piece, but this was a section putting our work in the context of the work of others. Joseph says that we need to help veterans find the “held-back place of goodness” in their hearts. If you want to hear Joseph in his own words, you can watch one of the videos on the website for Walking the Medicine Wheel.

The Parabola editors choose one of our paintings from the book for the article. The painting below is my rendition of Joseph’s medicine wheel that I added some universal spiritual symbols to in the center.

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Cosmic Medicine Wheel, David R. Kopacz, © 2016

This issue of Parabola is not out on the newsstand yet, but you can see the cover and some of the current issue on their website and it should be on the newsstand soon!

 

 

Continuing Onward: Pentre Ifan to Manchester

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Pentre Ifan

I am slowly posting some of the photos from our recent trip to England, Wales, and Iceland. We pick up driving north from Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Our first stop was Pentre Ifan – a megalithic monument from Neolithic times, perhaps as old as 3,500 BCE.

From there, a short stop in Nevern to see a celtic cross and Nevern Church.

We then drove up to Aberystwyth for a nice lunch at Ultracomida and then stopping in Holywell – the birth place of my Great Great Grandfather, John Roberts.

We then made our way to Manchester where we met up with friends we knew from New Zealand and Chicago.  I went into the city on a rather dreary day, fitting since most of what I knew about Manchester came from reading about the bands Joy Division and New Order (for some of my writings on Joy Division follow the link to my website). I bought a copy of Paul Morley’s Joy Division: Piece by Piece – Writing About Joy Division 1977-2007 at the Manchester Art Gallery. Morley, whose career as a music writer started about the same time that Joy Division ended, wrote:

“There’s no doubt though that Manchester moved into the future when for a time it seemed as though it was sinking back into the past it would never escape. The first people to really believe that Manchester could move into the future, that change was important especially in an area that had initiated some of the most important technological, creative and environmental changes in modern times – in a way, the birthplace of the modern – were those people that used punk music and then post-punk music, to work out how ideas and ideals would keep alive this progressive spirit,” (46).

Reading Morley reminded me of how important music was for me growing up and how much bands from this region were part of my life as a teenager and young man. This idea of rebelling against the constrictions and weight of the past and convention and struggling to find a way forward into the future – a way that was creative, bold, visionary, and meaningful – came to me through punk and post-punk music.

Given the rainy, dreary day, I spent most of my time in the John Rylands Library. A private library that Rylands widow created as a memorial to the entrepreneur and philanthropist and Manchester’s first millionaire (1801-1888) who made his money in the textile industry.

I sat and wrote at a little desk in a nook in the library, after I had looked through the special exhibit, “The Alchemy of Colour.” 

We brought to a close a wonderful trip to England and Wales, with beautiful weather, the only real day of full rain was in Manchester, but I didn’t mind – its seemed appropriate. The hot weather has continued in Wales and the drought has reveled signs of ancient civilization, revealing Roman forts and Iron Age structures.

 

Ancient Wonderings

Our view of history is often so short-sighted and narrow. Starting with my own thoughts of my genealogy that stretched back into Wales, Ireland, and England, I kept seeking older history. Lullingstone Roman Villa, Little Solsbury Hill, St. David’s Head, Pentre Ifan – these places on the land hosted human beings 2,000 years ago to 5,000 years + ago. We know so little of our ancient ancestors and of their ancient wisdom. I picked up James Canton’s book, Ancient Wonderings: Journeys Into Prehistoric Britain, at the Waterstones near Picadilly Circus. He concludes his book on his journeys into the past through the landscape of the present:

“I had dug ever deeper into the minds and beliefs of those souls who lived upon these lands thousands of years before us and it had become ever more evident that to understand the ancient British ways and practices, you had to see these lands in relation to Europe. Eight thousand years ago, Doggerland had physically linked Britain to the continent. Then Britain had become separated. In the Neolithic Age, while there had certainly been a sense of cultural practices being shared across these islands, as the spread of stone circles and the development of agriculture illustrated, Britain had been more isolated, then more inward looking. By the Bronze Age, travel had extended beyond voyages around the islands of the Britain and Irish archipelago…I saw a map of prehistoric Britain and Europe before me with a series of black lines criss-crossing and steadily enmeshing the land, which signified the journeys made in distant times, the movements of highly skilled people, of gold and tin, of the finest flint arrowheads, of Bronze axes and swords, of jet and of jewellery…and of astronomical instruments…I would venture over the seas, beyond the prehistoric worlds of Britain to those of mainlands Europe…” (321-322).

 

 

 

The Being Behind Becoming

A Review of Songs for Siva: Vacanas of Akka Mahadevi, translated by Vinaya Chaitanya (2017).

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A small hardcover volume filled with poems seeking to move from duality and separation into divine union ― Songs for Siva is a new translation by Vinaya Chaitanya of the 12th century poet, Akka Mahadevi. She was known as “sky-clad” (digambaras), as she was of the tradition of the wandering saint, clad only with the hair she was given.

               If the cloth that covers them slips,

               Men and women become shy.

               If you, lord of life,

               Envelop the whole world,

               What is there to be shy of?

               If Channamallikarjuna, jasmine-tender,

               Sees with the whole world as eyes,

               What shall you cover and hide, O man? (145)

The foreword by H.S. Shivaprakash describes Akka’s writing as “poetic without being poetry, spiritual without being religious or scriptural,” (vii). Transcending duality, Shivaprakash further states that Akka’s pathway of Siva is “where heaven and hell become one in the clear understanding of continuous awareness, turning nectar and poison into each other,” (viii).

               You grasped the space within the space

               That no one knows

               And handed it to me,

               O Guru Channamallikarjuna, jasmine tender (92)

Translator, Vinaya Chaitanya, provides an informative and intriguing introduction to Akka Mahadevi. Chaitanya draws parallels between the 12th century Virasaiva movement that Mahadevi was part of, and the translator’s own wisdom lineage of Narayan Guru: speaking out against discrimination and oppression based on separation and difference such as “caste, sex, language or dress,” (xvi). Chaitanya quotes Narayana Guru, “Humanity is of one caste, of one religion and of one God,” (xxix). As well as looking forward to the present, Chaitanya also looks back to the past, describing the Virasaiva movement as a continuation of the pre-Aryan, pre-Vedic “older, more contemplative tradition associated with Siva,” (xxiii). This movement accorded equal status to the sexes and there are “thirty-three vacanakartis (women writers of vacanas)” whose poems are known, (xxiv).

               I saw the divine form…

               I saw the great one

               Who makes all the males female.

               I saw the supreme guru

               Channamallikarjuna, jasmine-tender,

               Ever united with the primal Sakti.

               Seeing him, I am saved. (141)

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Ardhanarisvara

One of the fundamental human differences that is frequently a basis of discrimination is male and female. Chaitanya writes, “It is the dialectics between male and female that makes for the creative evolution of the world. When these opposites are united in harmony, there is peace and contentment; when the balance between them is lost, there is suffering,” (xii). The longing for union that Akka Mahadevi expresses toward her Lord Siva, whom she calls Channamallikarjuna, goes beyond the union of male and female, which is still a form of separation and dualism, to a state of mystical union with the Divine. A.K. Ramanujan translated Channamallikarjuna as “jasmine-white Lord,” in his translations of the 1970s, whereas Chaitanya chooses a slightly different translation, “jasmine-tender,” and continues to use the original in the poems as well, Channamallikarjuna (“Channa means ‘beautiful’; mallika is jasmine; arjuna meaning ‘bright’ or ‘white’”).

               My mind is unhappy.

               It cannot become empty

               Forgetting the two.

               Show me how you can become me,

               O, Channamallikarjuna, jasmine-tender. (10)

Like another Bhakti poet, Mirabai, Akka Mahadevi was married to a husband, but considered herself married to God, in Mirabai’s case Shyam (Krishna) and for Mahadevi, Śiva. The poems are called vacanas, meaning “to give one’s word” or “to make a promise or commitment,” (xxiii).

               Like treasure hidden by the earth.

               Like taste hidden by the fruit…

               Channamallikarjuna, jasmine-tender,

               Hides as the being behind becoming;

               No one knows him. (9)

Aside from the timeless beauty of these poems, which express the ancient mystical longing to transcend dualism, these vacanas are topical today ― when we live in such a time that focuses so very much on walls and borders, differences and separation. We need reminders of our human unity and of the sacred and divine Oneness that transcends and swallows all our differences into the vast Cosmic Ocean of Being, out of which all this becoming arises.

 

 

 

 

“Sage – The Wise One”

Sage

Sage, photo © David Kopacz, 2018

Joseph Rael and I have just had an article published in the International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy entitled, “Sage – The Wise One.” (IJPHA, Volume 6, Issue 4, Spring 2018).

Cover IJPHA

The article is only available through subscription to the journal, or it will be eventually available as a back issue after the next issue is published.

I will just give a few excerpts here:

“I have been working with Joseph Rael, whose Tiwa name is Beautiful Painted Arrow. Joseph is of the Southern Ute tribe, but spent much of his childhood at the Tiwa-speaking Picuris Pueblo, in northern New Mexico. I asked Joseph for some teachings about plant medicine for this article. Joseph often teaches using the medicine wheel and I thought maybe he could teach me about a plant for each direction of the wheel. However, he went straight to the heart, straight to the center of the medicine wheel, and said there is only one plant that we really need to under­stand with the medicine wheel—Sage.”

Sage Smudge

Paua Shell and Sage, photo © David Kopacz, 2018

“I recently visited Joseph in Colorado. While driving around he always talks about different ideas and teachings. Several times he commented on Sage as we were driving. He said when an area opens up, for example if there is a fire or a place is abandoned, “Sage is the first plant to fill in the empty spaces.” That reminded me of something else he had been teaching lately, that “God is in the empty spaces, not in the words.” The word for God in the Tiwa lan­guage of Picuris Pueblo is Wah-Mah-Chi, Breath-Mat­ter-Movement. Breath is one of the ways that we come into a relationship with the plant world. Breath is one of the functions of God, Spirit, or what Joseph sometimes calls “Vast Self.” Breathing in the scents and aromas of plants is therefore working through the spirit of Wah Mah Chi—it is breath moving the matter of plant medicine, connecting inner and outer worlds.”

Sage Woman Becomes Visible to Bless the People

“Sage Woman Becomes Visible” © Joseph Rael, 2008

After speaking about Sage, Joseph continued by speaking about the secret mys­teries:

Mysteries—you get insights into consciousness, but you will not ‘get it’ until you get to a certain level of essence and spiritual understanding.

Secret—in your work, in my work, in everybody’s work, you have to dig it up, you have to bring up the secret from the darkness of the earth and bring it up.

Power of the Purple Sage Being

“Power of the Purple Sage Being,” © Joseph Rael, 2016

We close the article with the following:

“May we have the Sage wisdom to find the place of goodness within our hearts and bring it forth into this divisive world of trauma and suffering. Aho!”

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Finding the Held-Back Place of Goodness in the Broken Hearts of Veterans

Thanks to The Center for Courage & Renewal’s blog post about Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD that Joseph Rael and I wrote!

You can read the blog here. It is an excerpt from the book that I edited and includes some quotes by Parker Palmer about the two ways the heart can break: it can shatter – injuring self and others, or it can break open into greater goodness and compassion.

Center of the Heart

Center of the Heart by Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow)

Courage & Renewal tweeted about the blog: “David Kopacz (and Joseph Rael) unpack the #courage of our veterans through the lens of @Parker Palmer’s ‘broken-open heart.'”

 

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Warrior Healing by David Kopacz

Search for Meaning Book Festival

Yesterday was the 3rd Search for Meaning Book Festival since moving to Seattle. This is put on yearly by Seattle University and every year I learn about fantastic authors and have met amazing people.

I was getting ready to go in to see artist and author Salma Kamlesh Arastu’s talk on “Seeking Oneness,” when my friend and co-author, Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow), called me with a couple of ideas and visions for our next book, Becoming Medicine.  In one of the visions, Joseph said he saw Picuris Pueblo, where he grew up, but instead of houses, there was mist, and then cosmic beings came to him and said, “You are a Mist-ical Being, you are now responsible for the mist-eries we are bringing to the people.” He explained that people should be respected as they get older because they hold the past – however the older you get the more spiritual responsibility you have as well. What he said this vision showed him was that there is a parallel reality to this one because as the mist cleared, he could see the houses at Picuris, but that there was an exact copy of the village up above the village. He said the people in both villages go about their days without awareness of those living just above/below the reality that they are living. Joseph often tells me that we should be always seeking our Higher Goodness and I wonder if this is part of what this vision means, that there is a way for us to live that has more Higher Goodness in it than the way that we are now living.

Anyway…I told Joseph, I better getting going to this lecture, it is on Seeking Oneness and if there is only One, I’m not sure what I’ll get if I am late – maybe just 0.95, that’s not the same as Oneness. We both had a good laugh at that and I went into the lecture.

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Salma Kamlesh Arastu is an amazing artist and an embodiment of Higher Goodness! She spoke of her artist’s journey from her work with Embracing All in the Rhythm of the Lyrical Line, to her Celebration of Calligraphy, her work with Turning Rumi, and most recently her Unity of Sacred Symbols and Texts and Unity Mandalas.

She said in her talk, “I speak the Language of the Heart and I know we all speak the Language of the Heart.” She briefly spoke of her journey in the world, from her birth in India into the Sindi.Hindu tradition, to her life in Iran and Kuwait, her marriage and embrace of Islam, to now living in Berkeley, California where she has her studio.

Her art journey started with loopy, calligraphy-like paintings of people, a style shown above. Her first art book, The Lyrical Line, illustrates her work from 1998 – 2008.

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She said she also started to copy Arabic calligraphy, marveling in its beauty without knowing the meaning of the words and this led to the collection in her book, Celebration of Calligraphy.

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Her next evolution in her work happened when she began turning through the pages of the poet, Rumi, and she created a series of paintings that were inspired by lines from Rumi. She also has been inspired by the Hindu saint and ecstatic, bhakti poet, Meera Bai. Her book, Turning Rumi: Singing Verses of Love, Unity, and Freedom collects her work of this period.

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Her most recent work has been to seek the unity in the world religions and to capture their words and truth in written words over beautiful multi-dimensional paintings. She says paints the same words over and over again, using thinned acrylic paint to create a multi-dimensional image. “Each prayer that I paint, over and over again,” she says, “is like a healing for me.” This has led to her book, Unity of Sacred Symbols and Texts.

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Verses About the Oneness of God

Salma said that as a child, her mother would tell her, “You are created for a special reason – it is up to you to find out what it is.” Salma Kamlesh Arastu’s artwork reveals that special reason that she was created.

Please visit Salma’s website and look through her beautiful artwork.

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The next talk I went to was by Corinna Nicolaou titled A None’s Story: Searching for Meaning Inside Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism & Islam, which is also the title of her book. “Nones” she says, are the fastest growing self-reported religious affiliation. This is the group of people who do not identify with a particular religious affiliation. However, this does not mean that they are not spiritual or do not pray or even believe in God. She says that Nones are different than Atheists, by ticking the box of “none” for religious affiliation, they are more rejecting organized religion than spirituality or God. She cites research from the Pew Research Center that 30% of people under the age 30 report no religious affiliation. She quotes Putnam and Campbell, from their book American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us, that Nones distance themselves from religion because “they think of religious people as hypocritical, judgmental, or insincere.”

She writes that she started her quest through “a desperate search for the bits and pieces that might make my pot whole,” (A None’s Story, oo5). With a sense of humor and the spirit of a true seeker, Corinna Nicolaou embarks on a four-year journey of church, temple, and mosque attendance, seeking to learn from the inside what each of these religions has to offer and to teach. In her talk, she said that “Religions provide a space to ask the questions about living and dying.” In her book she concludes “No matter what religious road I was on, it seemed to lead back to the idea that we come from, and eventually return to, a common source. We are parts of a whole. We can be different and still make up a healthy totality. I had long ago given up trying to make sense of how I might define ‘God.’ I figured God was too complex a concept and could be imagined a number of ways. I was driving in my car one afternoon not even thinking about any of this stuff when these words popped into my head: God is that which unites us all…I suppose that’s the best definition I’ll ever have of God,” (266).

A person in the audience at the talk asked about the loneliness of not belonging to a particular religious community. Corrina Nicolaou spoke to this and it sparked a question of my own that I wrote in my notebook, “What to do when no one religion feels like home, but all do?” In her book she writes about this. “To commit to none, but to call on all: what would that look like on day-to-day practical terms? With no official place of worship to call home, my spiritual practices will be mostly self-guided,” (283). She jokes about making the rounds of religious places of worship again, “A-to-Z,” and that she could “draw the boundaries of my spiritual identity ever larger” (285).

I kept looking at the back inside cover of the dust jacket. It is an irregular circle with colors of blue, red, yellow, and green in it. I thought, “Why is it irregular?” “Why this little splotch of splashed colors?” Ahh, I get it, the front cover of her book has four separate colors of circles and the one circle at the back brings together her journey into one mulit-colored circle, a little lop-sided, because we are not perfect and the journey is never over. Oh, yes, and I see that her name is written in four different colored letters! Beautiful, that visually sums up the journey!

Oh, yes, and one more thing, the talk that Corrina Nicolaou gave was in the Vachon Gallery at Seattle University and hanging behind her is a beautiful painting by Salma Kamlesh Arastu called “Equal Rewards.” I asked Salma, later, what the name of this painting was and she said, “Equal Rewards – men and women get equal rewards.” I think this applies to all seekers as well, no matter where you are seeking, you will get equal rewards because the reward does not come from the place you are seeking, but it comes from the journey of seeking and it is spoken, whispered to you, in the Language of the Heart.

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One last thing to mention, at both these talks I spoke with another audience member afterwards. Angie Louthan is quitting her job as a pre-school teacher in order to bring into existence The Kind Fest. You can contact her at: AngieLouthan@gmail.com, website still under construction for the event.

She is planning to host it in Everett, Washington in September. I think this is a much-needed event to focus on manifesting kindness in these times. I wrote about the Compassion Revolution in health care in the past and I am very concerned about the hardening of the American heart and the deafening of American ears so that it is harder and harder to hear what Salma Arastu calls the Language of the Heart. Actually, on the way to the Search for Meaning Book Festival, I had seen a yard sign in our neighborhood:

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Walking the Medicine Wheel selected as one of Courage & Renewal’s Favorite Courageous Books of 2016!

It has been a busy couple of months with the book launch, with the biggest news being that Walking the Medicine Wheel was selected as one of Courage & Renewal’s Favorite Courageous Books of 2016!

I did a book event at University of Washington Bookstore on 12/7/16.

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Joseph and I did a book reading at BookWorks in Albuquerque, New Mexico  11/10/16 and that was great fun presenting together!

I presented at the 3rd annual Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine Symposium with the title, “Walking the Medicine Wheel & the Hero’s Journey: Models of Initiation for Veterans’ Homecoming.” This was on 11/4/16 and I really enjoyed it and I met some great people with good hearts. For instance, I met artist Richard Retter who led us in some creative painting exercises.

I also found a statue outside in the desert garden called, “Transformations of the Shaman.”

In Albuquerque I met a Dine (Navajo) Code talker and visited the small Chapel of Our Lady of Guadalupe that had a stained glass moon phase calendar.

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The last big news is that I have a new addition to my job. I have a one day a week appointment at the VA as a Whole Health Education Champion, which will mean I will be conducting training in the larger VA with the Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation. I am very excited about this opportunity!

The Book is Here!!!

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The book that I have been working on with Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) over the past 2 years just arrived in the mail! It looks like it is still not shipping from Amazon yet, but should be soon as it has shipped from the printer.

Judith Gadd has been working with the publisher, Paulette Millichap of Millichap books and has put up a nice website with 4 videos that my sister, Karen Kopacz, filmed earlier in the year.

walkingthemedicinewheel.com

My sister, Karen , at Design for the Arts, is in the process of updating my webpage:

davidkopacz.com 

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I will be setting up some book talks as the next step. In general Joseph will not be traveling much, but we will kick it off together in Albuquerque and will also look at setting something up in Durango. Here is the schedule so far:

November 4, 2016: Mayo Clinic Humanities in Medicine Symposium, Phoenix, AZ

November 10, 2016: Bookworks, Albuquerque, NM (with Joseph)

December 7, 2016: University of Washington Bookstore, Seattle, WA

March 9th, 2017: Minneapolis VA

More news as it is available…

Last Conversations with Susan MacGregor

Susan MacGregor passed away this past week.

Over the past year Susan and I have exchanged emails as she lived through her “deathing life” and this week she completed that process.

I got to know Susan through our Auckland Holistic Writer’s Group in New Zealand. We met monthly at Time Out Books in Mt Eden in Auckland.

Susan wrote sweet poetry that was very spiritual and she shared this with us in the group, but she dropped out of the group due to some health problems that eventually turned out to be Glioblastoma Multiforme brain cancer. She lived way past the usual time frame for such a tumor and she maintained a positive outlook, although it was clear she had great struggles at times. I hadn’t heard back from her over the past few weeks and a few weeks before that she typed only brief messages and often had many typos in them, a change from her previous communications.

As time went on, I would just send Susan pictures of flowers from our yard and tell her that I was thinking of her.

Please find here some of our final conversations. Even though this is a bit long for a blog post, I will make a long post and include some extra photos…

Turning To The Light

Turning to the Light, Susan MacGregor, 2016

24 May, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Feeling I am starting to walk in the light now. Last night had these dreams:

First

Mahmoud & I were sitting in hilly country having a cup of tea together whilst watching a man chisel away at the outer covering of a large boulder, the covering was a greyish white. As he struck away the last chunk of stone there was a brilliant blinding release of amber coloured light. When we looked again we could see the man had found a huge boulder of citrine crystal, it was a massive boulder of very clear bright colour.

Next Dream

A large brilliant white Angel stood in front of me with a sword of white light. It turned the sword point toward the earth then plunged it into the ground. It stood there still holding the hilt of the sword as if on guard.

Next Dream

I was joined by someone in white, emitting light who gave me their hand & invited me to walk with them.

Possible Interpretations

I was thinking about the way you seemed to be able to move above things & continued to be inclusive & responsive to all of us when we were in the writers group. Thus I think the man in the first dream was you. I believe the citrine showed you have a huge power of creativity & will be highly successful in your writing work. I believe it also showed the immense level of protection around you & your ability to rise beyond negativity. Also that citrine’s light was helping me to release my negative energy.

Then the Angel & the offer to walk with a light being. The Angel felt protective, & both felt like signs that my death is not far off.  I feel that Angel will be beside me all the way. When I got up today all the negativity was gone.

Many blessings

Susan xx

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The Chalice & The Rose, Susan MacGregor, 2016

May 24 (David)

Susan, thank you for sharing such amazing dreams. I have had a very active dream life this week as well and was in New Zealand and US last night.

We all labour through our lives to release the brilliance within us!

Thank you for your kind words and your blessings and being an angel of my work!

David xx

 

May 25 (Susan)

Dear David,

Hope you are making headway with your latest project. Do you keep a dream journal? Maybe that could be an interesting addition to your own biography one day?

I am mindful that if something causes a ripple on my inner calm there is inner work for me to do as otherwise it couldn’t take root in me.  That doesn’t mean other’s energy & negative thoughts can’t impact me, nor that their issue is mine, but rather that the negativity can’t cause turmoil or remain in me when there is nothing for it to attach to. The only fully self realized being I believe has walked this earth is Jesus, whom was Christed. Thus though endeavouring to improve myself I find I also need “outside” help.

Love from Susan xx

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25 May, 2016 (Susan)

Hi,

The rose is such a pretty colour & full of new buds, looks like it will be covered in blooms soon.

My function is deteriorating, some difficulty talking, tripping over words, some stuttering. Getting some laughs out of that currently.

Mild nausea, blurred vision, breathlessness, dizziness, fatigue, tremors. Had lots of lovely visitors, 16x peeps over past 6 days. Stopping visitors except family & extended family now as most others have had opportunity to come whilst I could still talk to them.

Poems were sent last Sat. Mail is lot slower than it used to be so probably arrived to destination midway through this week. Hoping there is some merit to them. If not I will ask someone to bind them into a soft cover for family & friends.

In light & love,

Susan x x

The Central Rose

The Central Rose, Susan MacGregor, 2016

25 May, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, thank you for sharing with me how you are doing. I was thinking about the roses, how each one is so beautiful and bursts into the world, bringing sweet fragrance and beauty (these Angel Face variety roses have a nice scent). And then the flower gradually fades, loses a few petals and then passes away, yet in each individual flower’s passing, new space is created for the other buds that are overflowing with desire to burst forth into the world, giving of themselves and becoming themselves. Even once the flower blossom is gone, though, then the not so beautiful work begins of transforming dead flower into seed – for the rose, it turns into a bright red rose hip berry and becomes beautiful again, until once again, at its ripest, falls from the plant and begins to decay, which allows the seeds of new life to sprout and take root. It seems so beautiful with plants, with people it is a bit harder to stretch the metaphor…

When you say you sent the poems, whom did you send them too?

I have a batch that you sent me some time ago electronically. At first you said you didn’t want them posted as they were copyrighted and you were looking to publish, later, you said to go ahead and publish. I haven’t put any up yet. I’ll do a blog now and put maybe a poem, an update from you and a picture.

Here are some pictures of my little shrine on my desk where I write. I probably have a solid day or two left of editing the manuscript.

May God’s Blessings sustain and surround You,

David xoxo

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28 May, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

That’s wonderful, again my appreciation & thanks. Metaphor about roses very apt.

My friend from Perth is here, we are having a lot of laughs together. Having known each other from babies we have covered a lot of territory together, I will forward her contact details. Such a special person I think it will be a good link.

Re tripping up on words, in saying goodnite to Mahmoud last nite I said byebye banana, getting stuck on the ‘b’of the byebye his name then becoming banana. A bit like when I called my friend Pam Lamb, then blamed it on her having moved to a farm, lol, but of course it was pressure build up in the language areas of the brain.

You asked about the poetry I have sent it to the NZ poetry Association for review, to see what needs to be done to prep them for sending to a publisher or competitions.  I have put copyright on them but don’t mind people reading them just they wouldn’t be able to use them or copy them.  I don’t know how this would work for you except for me to give you permission to post them?

Blessings,

 

1 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Feedback arrived from the reviewer, very useful.  My “poetry” doesn’t fit into the current definition of poetry & is more akin in layout & content to 19th Century poetry. Not suitable for competitions nor publishers.  It fits into rhyme, & bush poetry, but would be more accurately titled selected rhymes.

On the plus side I’m told I have an exceptional gift for rhythm & on the whole not too bad with rhyme. I am excited by the creative challenge of reworking a few of my rhymes into a modern layout & writing style. Not sure how far I’ll get but will just keep it going until I can’t do anymore. Really the most time consuming part is done, which was cataloging the key experiences in some way. Any leftover rhymes can easily be made into a booklet for family. Well worth getting the review.

Recently been told another friend is being investigated for stomach cancer. Same age as me. And my friend Kay, from Perth, who is visiting me daily lost another friend in the past few months from brain cancer & her hubby about 2yrs ago, started in his 40’s. Don’t know if I’m just more cued into things like this now due to my own experience or if its a life stage thing due to age, but seems getting more common. Also wished to ask, my friends hubby was from Polish immigrants The names Pak & Kopacz sound similar? M just arrived.

Bless, Susanxx

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3 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, editing more today…but it is a beautiful day here! Very summery.

One of the things I like about your poems is the elegant language. I remember Jung said that when the archetypes were speaking, they would often use Victorian language or old formal usages. It gives a kind of timeless quality and stature to language. It is not always a good thing to be accepted by contemporary society, most great artists are not great until time passes….

[Here is one of the first poems that I remember Susan sharing with our Auckland Holistic Writers’ Group in New Zealand]

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Misty Lake Magic

Behold, your ethereal waters wrapped around

In a cloak of soft white fairy down

Oh spell-cast land of watery hues

 Helpless, I am enraptured by your views

 

Mossy garlands festoon verdant banks

Sentinel trees guard watery flanks

Ensconced in hues; green, gold and red

Persephone to you has surely fled

 

Willows, with heads bent in respectful bows

Send tendrils to caress you from their boughs

Whilst gossamer threads of droplets fall

Down soft green leaves into your thrall

 

Gliding effortlessly, propelled by unseen hands

Snow white swans dance in your watery land

Slicing through mists which then quickly enfold

Them once again in your wispy hold

 

A hush has fallen, I dare not breathe

Lest this vista before me depart & leave

Or your stillness echo a disquieting sound

Dispersing this magic, exquisitely profound

 

Should something now disrupt this scene

I would wake violently, as if from a dream

For this vision, disconcertingly surreal

Has me fully lost within its appeal

 

A myriad soft lights begin to appear

Creating a shimmery stratosphere

A magical mirage before my eyes

Promising some deeper watery surprise

 

Continuing to look with transfixed gaze

Upon your mystical watery maze

I think I see, in your soft misty light

A fairy citadel of beauty bright

 

And a glimpse of creatures from another world

Messengers of magic who seemingly herald

The coming of a miracle dawn

In which all the world as this be born

 

And then the vision begins to fade

Your mossy banks now reveal a glade

The mists enfolding you vanish away

But not my memory of your splendour today

 

Copyright: 2011, S. D.Mac Gregor

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MP’s birthday today! We’re off to one of the local pubs in a bit…

Sending some extra sunshine your way….

David xx

 

12 June, 2016 (David)

I think I commented on the comments of the reviewers in another email, but I think you are from a different time, or perhaps timeless…I think the 19th Century suits you…

 

11 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Following small seizure last Friday am unable to stand or walk without 2x staff. Although previously being averse to having a catheter I have accepted the need & looked for a positive to help me adapt, the positive is I can now drink as much coffee as I like. Previously I limited coffee as it made me need to pee too much & sometimes I wasn’t able to make the toilet in time. Hope that’s not too much information?

Mahmoud stayed over one night this weekend he plans to do that once a week now. I had hoped to make my next birthday, on 25th Aug, but going by my current status predict mid-July which is ok. Have really enjoyed spending time with my life-long friend from Perth, Kay, she has been in every day until recently when she had to go to Matatmata to sort out some things for her mother who is in a Private Hospital there. Kay returns to Perth on the 17th July. We have reminisced at length, laughed, cried, listened to favoured music from our past. I am so lucky to have such a great friend!

God Bless,

Susan x x

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Stepping Stones with Petals, Susan MacGregor, 2016

11 June 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, you are an unfailing optimist – seizure and then can’t stand, but you are able to drink as much coffee as you like! Well, I hear you on the coffee, I would really miss that if I couldn’t have it. That is not too much information about the catheter. I had to go through medical school to become a psychiatrist.

I am glad you had such a good visit with Kay.

Every day is your birthday now…

I am so happy to see your paintings. Please keep sending them.

I have been bogged down in editing for weeks now. I thought we were getting close with the book after it went through these last edits, but there are still substantial conceptual and structural issues that need to get sorted with the book, so I have been doing long days on the weekends editing…

I did my first presentation that was starting to introduce the book a little bit. I was on a national VA conference call for the Post-Deployment Integrative Care Initiative. My talk was on “Pathways to Moral Healing.” I’ll send the PowerPoint if you can open that…

It is always so nice to hear from you, thank you for sharing yourself and your journey. Mary Pat and I were talking about you this morning and thinking we probably met about 5 years ago. I can’t remember when we started the writing group, I think maybe 2011?

Blessings

David xx

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Sunshine on My Window Makes Me Happy.1, Susan MacGregor, 2016

14 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear Friend,

Hope you are making headway with the editing? I am doing ok, not suffering, started morphine syrup….  Yuk taste but so lucky to have this option, staggered with panadol for consistent pain relief. Was nervous about taking morphine as never taken much other than panadol or Brufen so didn’t know what to expect. Wouldn’t know except no pain & slept well.

Mahmoud is staying over once a week. It is reassuring to have him with me & he does so many extra little things that make life more comfortable like massaging my feet, legs & bringing me my favourite foods. He is being strong but I see him crying when he thinks no one is watching. It breaks my heart to see his grief but be powerless to help. He, at least, will have the support of my brother whose experience of losing his first wife Ann unexpectedly at 50yrs old has given him a real understanding of the impact things will be having on Mahmoud.

Going back to the morphine I find it is rather weird,  as if the Death Eaters from Harry Potter have swooped in & withdrawn life & emotion causing everything to be bland, dampened down, monotone from my norm. Not sure if that is typical. Am wondering how it will impact on the experience of dying.

Have you got someone who can give you help to edit your book?

All the best.

Love & bless,

Susan xx

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Sunshine on My Window Makes Me Happy.2, Susan MacGregor, 2016

14 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, that is interesting with the Morphine. I think it can cause some of that emotional blunting for people. A lot of people who get addicted to it use it for that purpose to dull emotional pain as well as physical pain.

I’m sorry for you going through all this, but I see how you are worrying about Mahmoud, too. How difficult this deathing life can be at times. It is quite an initiation process you are going through and it changes those around you as well.

With my book, Mary Pat is doing some of the editing. It is gradually shaping up. How nice it would be for us all to get together again at Time Out Books and talk over our writing and our lives…

Love & Blessings for you

David xx

 

14 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Yes indeed re the meetings at Time Out. Those were good times, a great venue plus group of people. Yes it is that blunting I’m not used to. I’m glad I’ve never felt the need to do that to myself deliberately as have been able to experience so much emotionally both ups & downs that it has opened the door to being able to experience more joy, more love, more sensory pleasure.

I’m sure Mary Pat is invaluable help with editing.

As always my best wishes to you and yours.

Love & light.

 

21 June, 2016 (Susan)

Dear David,

Congratulations on birthing your latest work. Thank you for forwarding to me, what a treasure…I recall Chris James singing peoples’ stories to them surrounding them in a circle of voices, how moving that was for each person, used for healing from physical health issues.  Also singing their names along with personal qualities. I used that in some of the group work too within mental health rehabilitation services. It’s a shame I had to hide what I was doing from more traditionally trained workers as results were good. What I hope is that mental health workers move toward a more encompassing approach of methodologies that do produce results even though they may not be mainstream. It seems easier for some people to do that within a cultural context than apply same principles to every, living being, I hope Joseph’s explanation of the principles convinces these people of the universality of the approach. Surely it will.

When added to better outcomes for the veterans you are working with.

Grumpy and Down, But Not Alone

Grumpy and Down, But Not Alone, Susan MacGregor, 2016

19 June, 2016 (Susan)

Hi,

I’ve had the worst day of all today since being diagnosed, nausea, constipation pain in neck from old neck injury being disturbed by being pulled up the bed etc…Getting into grapes, kiwifruit etc as lactulose is disgusting.  My room mate puss is now dubbed Beethoven as keeps rattling his collar bells throughout the night…his Moonlight Sonata perhaps, I would love to try him on keyboards. He is such a treasure.

Puss

Beethoven, Susan MacGregor, 2016

21 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, sorry to hear it is such a rough time at the Solstice.

Beethoven makes me smile.

I am just finishing the acknowledgements. Do you prefer your surname as:

MacGregor

Or

Mac Gregor (with a space)?

Prayers, love, and lots of sunshine on this longest N Hemisphere day down to your darkest S Hemisphere day…

David xx

 

20/6/16 Susan

Dear David,

Glad to hear you are at the other end with editing. The no space option is preferable for my surname “MacGregor,” thanks. Feel much better now no nausea kiwifruit are working. Thank God for Mahmoud who thinks nothing of going all over town to find what I need.  Yes interesting I had my darkest day on the darkest day in our hemisphere. Weather is still very mild. Supporting a friend & wife currently, just been diagnosed with stomach lymphoma. 58yrs old, comparatively I’ve had it easy. Had good role models too, a friends hubby used to be in the room opposite me same diagnosis but worse than me couldn’t talk, couldn’t walk or move independently but always kept good sense of humor, loved a joke, & exceptional self management of frustration, I used to watch over him for my friend, it seems his gift to me is in showing that even on dark days I can still be better off than others & can always access fun & laughter to lift stress. Such an exceptional person.

Lts of love,

Susan x x

playful kitty.2

Playful Kitty, Susan MacGregor, 2016

21 June, 2016 (David)

Hi Susan, glad to hear the nausea is better. Those kiwi fruit are good for everything, eh?

I’m just sending out the manuscript to potential endorsers tonight – it being the Solstice and the Full Moon, seems like a good time for that….

Here is the possibly final version of the manuscript for you to skim if you have the interest and energy, no worries if it is too taxing.

Keep on Susan-ing, as Joseph Rael would say….

David xx

 

24 June, 2016 (Susan)

Hi

Getting lots of rain, which I am enjoying being wrapped up warm & cosy. As the song goes… “I love a rainy night, I love a rainy night”… good there are so many things to be enjoyed still as slowly my world is becoming flatter with side effects from meds causing issues plus unpleasant aftertaste so not enjoying food at all…Nausea, constipation dealing with daily but that’s ok they are easy enough to modify with other preparations. Don’t know what to do re the unpleasant taste, except finding hot milky milo [hot chocolate] helps for short while. Picked that up from friend who died from bladder cancer, the only thing she could keep down. Thank you Erina.

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The World has Gone Flat, Susan MacGregor, 2016

12 July, 2016 (David)

Can you see the

Angel of the

Sun?

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17 July, 2016 (David)

Lilly from Madison, Wisconsin

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18 July, 2016 (Susan)

Thanku, this is wat M & I call the Susan Lilly as Susan means lilly. M buys these ones for me regularly. Having sum fun he feel bit better each day. xx

 

20 July, 2016 (Susan)

:).xx

 

21 July, 2016 (David)

🙂

xx

 

31 July, 2016 (David)

Sunny here today, will send some your way…

Love,

David

xx

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4 August 2016 (David)

Hi Susan!

I think of you often and send my thoughts and prayers to you…

Love,

David

Xx

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4 August 2016 (Susan)

Tha k nk youDazvid those thought s &

Prayershelp me through my worst days I am certain I Wouldn’t cope sometimes otherwise.

Love & blesz .xx

 

[Susan’s emails ended and I received a couple updates from her brother, Rob. He wrote that she passed away peacefully on 23 August, 2016. Susan had said that she hoped to make it to her next birthday of 25 August, which she very nearly did. She lived through what she called her deathing life far longer than is generally predicted for her type of cancer. We’ll close with one of Susan’s poems, which seems very appropriate around her death. I sent Susan a painting a few weeks ago, I’ll also include a photo of that as it was in progress.]

 

Separation

If I can’t hear you

Does it mean you’re not there?

If I can’t see you

Does it mean you’re not near?

If I can’t feel you

Does it mean you are gone?

If I believe I am alone

Would that perception be wrong?

 

How may I reach you

Without sight, touch, or sound?

Is there another truth

Perhaps, much more profound?

Do we all have a connection

Beyond what appears

To be a continual resurrection

Of endings and tears?

 

2011, S. D. Mac Gregor

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