Song Story: Little One

May 5, 2016

Today’s song story is for “Little One”, the closing track on our album, “EARTH”.

This one is a lullaby-love-song to my children. It is an attempt to express in words and music and emotion the immense mind-opening and heart-breaking experience of walking through the portal into parenthood.

It’s a song honoring how I feel about my children and the unfathomably huge responsibility+gift handed to me as their mom. And my realization that, in the end, all we really have to hold on to is love.

Ah, parenthood. There’s the awe and “not knowing” I experienced when holding these wee people in my arms. There’s the gratitude for the moment-to-moment lessons they teach us about patience, compassion, selflessness, balance, and the true abundance of love.

And then there’s the horrifying truth I finally confronted at some point along the road that no matter how hard I tried, no matter what Grand and Fierce superpowers and forces I called upon, no matter how deep and authentic my intentions…I could not ultimately protect these little people from harm. Life involves suffering and fear and sadness and loss, and my children will experience that too, for they are human beings, on this Earth, in this time. It’s a world of hope, and a world of harming, for sure.

So I realized, here’s all I can really do, in the face of this uncontrollable life, in the face of the truth of impermanence, in the face of this boundless love I have found within this parent-child relationship:

Stay as open and receptive and mindful as possible. So as not to miss out on their childhood and all the lessons they have to teach me about love and life. And so they will feel heard, seen, witnessed. So they will feel Loved.

And commit to having the intention to teach, model, communicate, and act in ways that tell my own story of what I know love to be and how to live a life as grounded in the values of compassion, kindness, truth, presence and joy as possible.

My boys are both teenagers now (they’ll be 14 and 17 this summer!) and long gone are the days when I could cradle their little bodies in my arms, hug their little sleepy forms to my chest, hold their little hands across streets, and listen to their little voices echo through the house, the yard, the big world outside. Long gone are the days when they looked up at me with those eyes, trusting and wide, curious and deep. Now, they’re both taller than me, and they look down with eyes ever more beautiful, full of wisdom, light, and their own ancient and growing personalities.

I am floored by their very existence. I am humbled by their presence and the task of guiding them through this often difficult life. I am so deeply grateful to be traveling this road with them.

Jasper and Silas, I love you! Happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for making me a mother. And thanks for being here, now.

VERSE 1
oh little one
oh where did you come from
oh you’re my stars and my sun
carry me away
on the love

oh precious one
oh it has all begun
oh and it will never be done
tender and amazed
is the love

CHORUS
I see you
I hear you
I love you
I am here for you
forever

VERSE 2
oh little babe
we wander through this life afraid
but here you are with your wise old face
can you tell me all you know
of love

oh little darlin’
it’s a world of hope and a world of harmin’
I cannot keep it all at bay
but I’ll tell you all I know
of love

CHORUS

VERSE 3
oh little one
oh precious one
oh little darlin’
here we are in love
oh here we are in love

To check out and download (“pay what you want”) our EARTH album, see the player below or visit it here. And here’s wishing a Happy, Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Mother’s Day to all of you out there who mother others in one way or another.

Love,
Charity


Mother’s Day 2014: Resolutions for The Great Turning

May 12, 2014

J&S@beachnbobaMother’s Day has come and gone once again — an occasion to appreciate and thank our mothers, or celebrate our children, or spend time with family, or take a break from family and care for ourselves, or be grateful for a reconciliation, or sometimes grieve the loss of a mother, or a child, or mourn a damaged bond. Whatever your experience with the day is, it can inspire a moment of reflection on the nature of the relationship between mother and child. And provide an opportunity to observe the health of our hearts in this area.

The greatest mother of all is our planet Earth — our very home, hearth, womb, and provider of all we need to survive and thrive. We transition from mother’s womb to Earth’s womb when we are “born”, but we are as dependent on this bright blue ball for survival as we were on Mama’s fertile haven. We share air, sunlight, water, and nutrients with this beautiful and generous planet. We receive and return. We are, fundamentally, inseparable.

The Earth Mother meets us always with infinite care and unconditional offerings of self. And yet we are failing miserably in our part of the equation — to protect, care for, honor, cherish and heal this earth body. Yes, WE. For while the most massive environmental and human rights assaults are committed by governments and corporations that seem outside of us and beyond our reach, we in fact are the very components that make up and support all the forces creating our future, even these seemingly external and untouchable ones.

Yes, when we are honest with ourselves, we know that our daily choices are contributing to this mess. We call it Climate Change, but, as we well know, the ramifications are far more vast than a simple transformation in the earth’s weather. In my darkest moments, I’m tempted to call it something more foreboding like The Beginning Of The End, but I ultimately prefer how beloved Buddhist teacher and social/environmental activist Joanna Macy reframes this era as The Great Turning:

“The Great Turning is a name for the essential adventure of our time: the shift from the industrial growth society to a life-sustaining civilization.

The ecological and social crises we face are inflamed by an economic system dependent on accelerating growth. This self-destructing political economy sets its goals and measures its performance in terms of ever-increasing corporate profits–in other words by how fast materials can be extracted from Earth and turned into consumer products, weapons, and waste.

A revolution is underway because people are realizing that our needs can be met without destroying our world. We have the technical knowledge, the communication tools, and material resources to grow enough food, ensure clean air and water, and meet rational energy needs. Future generations, if there is a livable world for them, will look back at the epochal transition we are making to a life-sustaining society. And they may well call this the time of the Great Turning. It is happening now.

Whether or not it is recognized by corporate-controlled media, the Great Turning is a reality. Although we cannot know yet if it will take hold in time for humans and other complex life forms to survive, we can know that it is under way. And it is gaining momentum, through the actions of countless individuals and groups around the world. To see this as the larger context of our lives clears our vision and summons our courage.”Ref.

There is so much scary truth but also sublime inspiration in these words. She goes on to recommend Personal Guidelines for The Great Turning, for this is both a personal and collective journey, an awakening of heart and mind we must go through, working with our fear and overwhelmth and apathy and guilt and shame and helplessness to get to the other side — the place where we can actually DO something about it.

Last year on Mother’s Day I wrote about Lovingkindness and the Beloved Community and our responsibility as members of this human family to practice love and goodwill toward all beings, even those we believe are “the problem” (including ourselves!), with the inspiration that this practice is at the heart of ending violence in our world.

This year, I want to share with you some of the Mother’s Day Resolutions I’ve made over the past several years. I’ve committed to these resolutions specifically with the intention of healing the earth and my relationship with her. They always begin with a behavior I want to shift in order to contribute to the healing of the earth and to lessen my impact, and come from a place that is unshakable, and rooted — literally — in our interbeing with this precious planet and all her inhabitants. And it turns out that this act of love seems to survive in my heart more successfully than something I decide to change for me alone.

I make them at this time of the year rather than on Jan 1 because my deep and sacred love for the earth and humanity feels immediate and real, in a way that the concept of an arbitrary date on the calendar does not. Besides, the origin of the Mother’s Day holiday has at its soul the grandest intention and inspiration of all — working to create peace and end violence in a world gone mad. Now that is a resolution I can really resonate with.

So if you care about the earth, if you want to remain awake and engaged during this scary time, if you want to do something positive for the planet and future generations, I suggest considering some of these changes. In my own life, they have worked magic as daily practices of love and goodwill toward the planet, increasing my capacity for kindness and authenticity and shrinking my store of guilt and fear and helplessness.

And while they’re not always easy, that’s part of the practice, too. Who ever promised there would be no effort or sacrifice required on our healing journeys? And even the act taking a good hard look at any resistance you might find can be a valuable exercise, and possibly the first baby step in shifting something, however incrementally.

Resolutions for Loving the Earth:

  1. Go vegetarian. Whatever your spiritual, political, or philosophical opinions are on the topic of vegetarianism, it’s a mathematical fact a meat-based diet uses far more of the planet’s precious resources than a plant-based diet. So in a world where people are starving and we still tear down rain forests and destroy native habitats and abuse and incarcerate animals to support our addiction to meat and animal products, it makes common sense to stop eating it, or at least reduce consumption drastically. (And the same resource math also applies to “happy cows”, by the way.)
  2. Go vegan. See notes on #1 above, as they all apply. And veganism will shrink your carbon footprint even further.
  3. Divest from fossil fuels. This could mean putting your retirement savings in sustainable investments like green mutual funds, impact CDs, or solar projects. It could also mean identifying one place per week you could ride your bike or walk or take the bus rather than driving your car. It could also mean buying less stuff, almost all of which is produced, packaged and shipped using some form of fossil fuel.
  4. Meditate every day. This is the surest way to love yourself, wake up, see more clearly, build emotional resiliency, remove obstacles, feel a little more happiness, make more ethical choices, and find equanimity in the face of the enormous and potentially terrifying challenge we currently face. And when we inhabit these realms we are kinder to everyone around us, including the planet. See my last blog post for some more reasoning behind this one.
  5. Take care of your body every day. This can mean 20 minutes of yoga. Or a mindful walk through your neighborhood. Or the bike ride in #3 above. Whatever works for you to make a practice out of being in your body. One side effect is obviously physical health. But the result I’m even more interested in is the joy of reconnecting with our physical bodies, as metaphor for reconnecting with the Earth. How we treat our own body — with love and care, or abandonment and abuse? — will directly influence the kind of energy we are capable of bringing to our planet’s body.

If something resonates, go for it. If you have a better idea, go for it. If you find resistance, sit with that. We have to start where we are. And it takes an immense amount of courage to face our contribution to another’s suffering, including that of the planet — and especially if we are complicit in it — without just sticking our heads back in the sand. So we are brave, we are strong, we are full of love, and we are waking up!

I’ll end with a jarring yet accurate reminder from the past and a people who understood interbeing in a way we have sadly and clearly forgotten:

“When all the trees have been cut down, when all the animals have been hunted, when all the waters are polluted, when all the air is unsafe to breathe, only then will you discover you cannot eat money.” — Cree Prophecy

Let’s remember our responsibility, and the fact of our interconnectedness. Let’s relearn how to care for this planet, our collective body. Let’s start with a deep heart-analysis of our current relationship with the Earth — the ways in which we harm her in our daily life, and the baby steps we can take to repair all of this.

She loves us, unconditionally. Let’s return the favor.

And as always, I’ll leave you with a song. This one was a love song for my babies, Jasper and Silas, back when they were little and sweet and still sat on my lap for stories and mixed magic potions in the mud and wore capes that really gave them the power to fly. They’re still sweet, and they still constantly amaze me with their wild and deep spirits and infinite capacity to give and receive love. They have taught me almost all of what I know about love and life. And they are of this earth as much as they are of me. Here is a moon hug for all of you, your mothers, your children, and all beings.

Happy Mother’s Day. I love you.

charity_signature

 

brothers_littleMoon Hug

come here
I’ll give you a moon hug
hug you all day long
and all night wide
while star kisses
rain down around us
we’re catchin’ ’em here in our hearts
now we’re shinin’ inside

like the mountains
climbing tall
like the ocean
waves that fall
like the wind
breathing through
that is how I love you

like the sun
huge and hot
like the tiniest
raindrop
like the buds
opening new
that is how I love you

like the roots
diving down
like the branches
reaching ‘round
like the forest
standing true
that is how I love you

like the earth’s
gentle turning
like the stars’
fiery burning
like the moon
round and blue
that is how I love you

from Party Like a Twinkle Star, released 01 January 2010

All content copyright 2009-2014 Charity Kahn.


All I Want for Mother’s Day Is a Limitless Heart

May 11, 2013

Limitless HeartThere is a concept often communicated in Buddhism that goes like this: “We have all been everybody’s mother before.” Whether your views lean toward reincarnation or not, there is much value in this phrase as a metaphor for how to be in the world. I like to reframe it in my mind as, “We are all everybody’s mother RIGHT NOW.”

People do horrible things. People do unconscious things. People hurt people, and animals, and ecosystems, and the planet. We ALL behave badly and unethically at times, whether on a grand scale (like the decision-makers at Exxon Mobil or the US Senators opposed to commonsense gun laws) or a teeny-tiny scale (think about the last time you gossiped about someone, or lashed out in anger and said something hurtful). We are all steeping in various depths of ignorance, delusion, greed and hatred, and our actions are proof of this reality of human suffering.

Given that this is how the world goes ‘round, who are we to judge, really, who is worthy of our love, goodwill and kindness?

Can you imagine extending the same goodwill you naturally feel toward your own children to every single person on the planet — all 7.1 billion and counting fast — no matter what their behavior or your beliefs about said behavior? Can you feel, in your heart, compassion even for those your mind has decided are evil, or not deserving of love, or beyond hope? Can you embrace the possibility that every single human being is worthy of kindness, and of your kindness in particular? And even the possibility that those who commit the most atrocious deeds are the most worthy — and the most in need — of our benevolence?

The Metta Sutta (Discourse on Lovingkindness) is the Buddha’s central teaching on this idea. There is a line in it that goes like this:

“As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings.”Ref.

The idea is that we could (and should) choose to generate and develop an attitude of goodwill toward every single being. And that we could (and should) protect this attitude, and commit to it, as fiercely as a mother would protect her own womb’s child.

This fierce protection of what is so deeply beloved is at the core of the radical and compassionate Julia Ward Howe’s Mother’s Day Proclamation, which birthed the very first Mother’s Day in 1870. Her proclamation is a call to end war and violence as a means to solve differences, an end to throwing our children into battle, and, at its core, the acknowledgment that every child — no matter which “side” he or she is on — is a child worthy of our love and protection. Every child is OUR child, and we must behave as such if we want peace in our hearts and in the world.

Here is the full text of the proclamation:

Arise, then, women of this day! Arise, all women who have hearts, whether your baptism be that of water or tears!

Say firmly: “We will not have great questions decided by irrelevant agencies. Our husbands shall not come to us, reeking with carnage, for caresses and applause. Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn all that we have taught them of charity, mercy and patience. We women of one country will be too tender of those of another to allow our sons to be trained to injure theirs.”

From the bosom of the devastated earth, a voice goes up with our own. It says, ‘Disarm, Disarm!’

The sword of murder is not the balance of justice. Blood not wipe out dishonor, nor violence indicate possession. As men have often forsaken the plow and the anvil at the summons of war, let women now leave all that may be left of home for a great and earnest day of counsel. Let them meet first, as women, to bewail & commemorate the dead. Let them solemnly take counsel with each other as to the means whereby the great human family can live in peace, each bearing after his own time the sacred impress, not of Caesars but of God.

In the name of womanhood and of humanity, I earnestly ask that a general congress of women without limit of nationality may be appointed and held at some place deemed most convenient and at the earliest period consistent with its objects, to promote the alliance of the different nationalities, the amicable settlement of international questions, the great and general interests of peace.Ref.

Though 143 years have passed since Julia’s grand and passionate intention, it’s pretty astonishing how relevant her words are today. We are still living in a world where violence and hatred and their side-effects and outgrowths often seem to dominate our existence, so there is obviously still work to be done. Serious work.

So, on this weekend where lenses and psyches are turned toward mothers and mothering in observance of Mother’s Day — thanking, pampering, honoring, acknowledging, gifting, missing, processing, letting go, wondering, loving, remembering, cherishing, all of it — let’s also devote a little piece of our hearts to practicing an even bigger, more encompassing kind of love: an intention to begin a conscious practice of directing kindness and goodwill toward all beings, no matter what, unconditionally, for real.

As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., said, “Our goal is to create a beloved community and this will require a qualitative change in our souls as well as a quantitative change in our lives.”

We are ALL the Beloved Community. The Beloved Community is not a clique or a popularity club. It is not invitation-only. There are no dues or fees. There are no entry requirements and no one is excluded. We need only wake up to our power as lovers in order to see the Beloved Community all around us, within us, everywhere.

Let’s start now, with this day, to make our love a little wider, a little bigger, a little stronger. Let’s practice sending goodwill to someone difficult to love. Let’s open our hearts, our minds, our molecules to embrace the possibility (probability) that we are all one, even if we might not intellectually or scientifically understand what that means. We are all everybody’s mother (and father and son and daughter) RIGHT NOW.

We can begin with this simple paraphrase of the Metta Sutta:

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be healthy.
May all beings be safe.
May all beings be at peace.

I will leave you with a poem/song I wrote for my children, from my mother’s heart. It is also for all children, and all grown-ups, and all beings. Put it on and dance, cry, receive, transmit, observe, meet, understand, and welcome your kindness, your goodwill, your love. Start with a place you know deeply: your love for your own children. And expand from there. This is how we save the world.

comes and goes another year
like the light that flies ‘tween us dear
listen to the dry leaf fallin’
through the air what do you hear
bodies earthy like trees growing
minds like ocean water flowing
hearts of love like fire burning
spirits breathing shining learning

we are stardust
we are shiny
we are huge and
we are tiny
we are ancient
we are new
we are me and
we are you
we are mother
we are father
we are son and
we are daughter
we are newborn
we are olden
we are stardust
we are golden

shine your soul upon your shadows
ask them in for conversation
hold it all in just this moment
can you watch it fly away
what is my love for you darlin’
sun or moon or ray of starshine
now the flower hears the mornin’
singing’ love songs to the dew

Happy Mothers’ Day! I love you all.

All content copyright 2013 Charity Kahn.