The Golden Bird and the Tree: A Fable of the Soul and the Ego, by Joseph Anthony

The Golden Bird and the Tree

A Fable of the Soul and the Ego

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Once upon a
time a golden bird wandered the heavens in search for a place to sing.  Seeing a tree that stood alone in the valley
of the mountains, she flew in for a closer look.  The tree was young, a mere sapling, and since
it was winter, the sapling was sleeping, so it did not notice when the golden bird
alighted in its humble branches pleased to find a home. 

As it slept,
the little tree dreamt, and in its dream, a golden bird descended and made its
home among its branches.   

“Why would
you choose me?” the tree asked the golden bird.

“We chose
each other,” said the golden bird, “and together we will make a bridge between
heaven and earth.”

The tree
shimmered gently and continued sleeping, dreaming it was listening to some
mysterious and radiant singing.

In reality, while
the golden bird had been searching for an earthly place to call home, it had
intended that home to be temporary—a stop along its journey of singing its song
through time and space.  However, the
golden bird decided to make its home among the branches of the tree because it
had, in fact, gotten one of its delicate feet stuck in a tight spot among the
branches, and couldn’t move.  But since it
liked the tree and felt at home there, it decided it would do what it was born
to do: sing.  And it would remain there
until it was no longer tangled with the tree.

The golden
bird sang a tree-song, a song of tree-energy, tree vibrations, tree leanings,
and it enjoyed very much how its voice was informed by the being of the
tree.  Sure it had its own song, but its
song had no overtones or harmonies, it was just pure tones issuing from a most
exquisitely fragile voice.  Now that it
was stuck in the tree, its singing made vibrations in the branches and these
vibrations created echoes, harmonies, and drones of endless variety and timber,
and so it kept singing this new and wonderful song, and felt it had discovered
sides of itself it never knew before.

The golden
bird grew to love that little sleeping tree. 
It appreciated the shelter, the experience of form and boundaries.  It loved the way the tree’s being made her
own song more resonant and deep.  And it
decided it would do whatever it could to protect that little tree and help it
grow to reach its fullest height.

Meanwhile
the tree slept.  It slept and dreamt it
had a golden bird living in its branches and that they had fallen madly in love
with one another.

In the
spring, the tree began to awaken, born into a blue sky dappled with clouds the
shapes of castles.  As the tree grew more
and more awake, it began to enjoy being a tree very much.   It reached and it stretched, it swayed and
it leaned.  It grew green leaves and soft
blossoms and sent deeper and deeper roots rivering through the surrounding
valley. 

Every night,
it slept and it dreamt about the singing, and as it grew, it realized it could
do so many more things than when it was a seed or a sapling.  It was delighted to discover it could cast
its seeds far into the world and that the world would accept them and nestle
them deep into her womb. 

As it grew
even larger and its branches stretched even further, it could touch places even
further away.  It began to want more
light, more space, more sky, and somehow when it dreamt, the song it heard
seemed to tell it that all of its wantings were good—holy, wonderful, meant to
be.  So it wanted more and the
surrounding world gave it more, pouring down rain, sun, and soothing winds.

The tree, in
turn, gave oxygen to the world.  It loved
making this mysterious force, loved how it became one with the wind and felt it
breathe into the sky and how all the creatures around the tree enlivened and
quickened with enthusiasm when new oxygen was produced.

One night, in
a quiet moment in the light of the moon, the tree was not quite asleep and not
quite awake when it heard singing—the same singing it had been hearing in its
dreams.  The tree shimmered.  The sound filled its branches with light.  Every branch and budding leaf quivered with
joy.  The tree listened and listened all
through the night.  It stood there awake,
swaying to the song.  And as the dawn
kissed the night sky and made it blush with the deep presence of its
honey-scented kiss, the tree suddenly realized a golden bird really did live in
its branches, and a shimmering thrill quivered through it from the tips of its
branches down to its gnarled roots. 

The golden
bird sang its song of light and as it sang the tree decided its primary reason
for living was to protect that golden bird. 
Little did it know that the golden bird had the same idea. 

Over time
however, in the tree’s goodness and curiosity of heart, it became a harbor for
many types of chattering creatures, each competing for the best spot in the
tree.  At first the tree didn’t mind all
the noise and activity, but after while all the hustle and bustle began to
distract the tree from its primary purpose, and what was worse, it couldn’t
hear the golden bird as well.

And as much
as the tree loved the golden bird and wanted it to stay forever, it knew it
must have a home somewhere else. 
Perhaps, the tree thought, she had come from a faraway shore or perhaps she
came from another tree, a universal tree crowned with the heavens, one that
draped a canopy of verdant green over all things.  Wherever it came from, it was determined to
not only find the golden bird’s home, but to help it return there. 

The tree
whirled its branches in a wild frenzy, hoping to loosen the bird, but its efforts
had the opposite effect, and the golden bird’s leg only stuck faster in its
spot.  The tree talked incessantly all
day and sometimes all night, creating all sorts of dramas and stories hoping to
help inspire the bird to think up an idea to help free itself.  The tree wanted more and more space with
which to spread its branches further and further hoping if it did the growth
would open the stuck spot and loosen the leg of the golden bird.

Little did
the tree know that if it really had wanted to, the golden bird could have
lifted, leaving its leg behind only to sprout a new one as it flew away, but
the golden bird was so very moved by the tree’s devotion that it stayed.  It stayed and it sang.

Over many
years the tree kept trying to free the bird, but still it could not. It went
mad for the trying and the failing.  It
swooned into a stupor of depression so much so that it began to only focus on
the frenzies of its own talking, and of its own swirling wanting.  It tried so hard to free that golden bird that
it forgot to listen to the her song.  Over
time, it somehow managed, as strange as it seemed, to forget the golden bird
was there, even though it loved her dearly.

To anyone
looking from a distance, it would appear the tree hated the golden bird, that
it was somehow an opposing force trying to harm the golden bird or at very
least drown out its song.  In actuality,
the tree stood in deep devotion to that golden bird, and all of its activities,
as misguided as they appeared to be, were in service of the one who dwelled in
its branches.  Its efforts were, in a
word, holy.

The golden
bird used the magic of its song to transform the efforts of the tree into the
very growth and expansion of the tree. 
The tree grew and learned so many things as it sought to free the bird.  It became a strong and deeply rooted tree,
one whose boughs became a favorite climbing place for the children of the
nearby village.  And the golden bird
looked upon all of the tree’s efforts as those of a highly active and creative
child.  She forgave its every forgetting
and knew that running through its trunk was the thickest blood of the deepest
devotion.

One late
summer afternoon the sky darkened.  An
ominous shiver swept through the leaves of the tree, thunder roiled through the
valley like an invisible wave from an invisible sea.  Within minutes a storm careened off the
surrounding mountains, echoing through the tree sending it spinning in place
like a top, and had it not been for its roots, it would have twisted out of the
ground and tumbled away.

In the midst
of the storm the tree suddenly heard and remembered the singing of the golden
bird, and it stood up as tall as it could reach, stretching and unfolding its
branches as high as they could go hoping to simply hoist that bird back into
heaven.  The tree wept its leaves into
the wind as the rain pelted down.  It
tried to heave itself upwards, lifting itself from the earth, but its roots
were attached too deeply in earth.

And still
the storm raged.  And still the bird
sang.  And through the wind and rain, the
thunder and the cooling air, the tree loved that singing with such a love that
the world could not, and indeed would never fully understand.  How could it be that such an unlikely pair
could create such a partnership of such breadth and such harmony.

In their
time together they had done just as the golden bird told the tree they would in
its dream from long ago:  they had created
a bridge between heaven and earth.  The
golden bird wanted a place to settle and sing, and that she got.   The tree wanted to grow and to delight in
the world, and that it got.  And the
golden bird grew to love the tree, and the tree grew to love the golden bird
and they both desired to protect the other. However, only the golden bird knew
the truth of the inevitable.

And in the
distance, the golden bird saw the lightning. 
She saw it splitting the sky and lighting up the village and the
valley.  She tried to warn the tree, tell
it to look out and be careful, to bend out of the way, to stop reaching so
high, but she knew the tree was rooted to its own personal earth, and that
ultimately she could do nothing to save it. 
So she did what the tree loved most: she sang.   

She sang a song
of sky and of blossoming horizons.  With
every note the golden bird draped shawls of light over the branches of the
tree.  It garlanded the tree with
dazzling strings of musical fireflies that bobbed and danced in the storm
lashed branches.  She sang hoping to
guide that tree safely through another season. 
She sang even though she felt her foot loosening from the spot that had
held her there for so long.  She sang as
the storm trampled through the sky and gathered directly over the tree.

And just
before the lightning touched the tree with its terrible, sudden stroke, tearing
it asunder and blasting it to pieces, the tree knew the way to free the golden
bird.  Instead of doing all of the things
it had been trying to do—all of those things that actually created tension and
more tightness within itself, it suddenly knew to pause, to breathe, and to be
still.  And as it relaxed, a song began
to rise like a river up through its roots, and up through its entire
being.  As the song rose, it gathered
earth and moisture, and these flowed into its song, giving it strength and
power.  And when the song reached the
branch of the golden bird, it struck the bird with such joy, such sweet and
undying devotion that the bird wept, it wept into the sky with tears that
rained down upon the tree in a baptism of the most fierce and tender love.  And their songs merged becoming one song,
rising and streaming into the heavens directly up through the lightning bolt
that struck the tree, and into the very heart of the Divine Itself, and together,
for a moment that held the entirety of eternity, that tree and that golden bird
sang, not as opposites on some mysterious, little known scale of misunderstood music,
but as one—one song of All Life, All Love, and of All Unending Joy. 


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of the Wonder Child Blog.   





 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Importance of Sleepenings

On the Importance of Sleepenings

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Awakenings
are the spring of all things. Awakenings breathe out rebirth and entire fields
are covered with flowers.  Awakenings can
be sudden, like lightning cleaving a tree. 
They can be gradual, like an iceberg melting slowly over decades into a
roiling sea.

When we have
them we sometimes cheer, laugh, weep for joy, or melt into an embrace.  We are unloosened and free to move.  

Sometimes
however, things need to rest. We need to put things to bed.  We need to rest our minds, bodies, and even
hearts and souls. 

Let us call
these rests: Sleepenings. 

When we are
tangled in a skein of fear and doubt, let us try not to fight them.  Be still, rest.  Have a sleepening.  When we do, our breath slows, we relax, and
so when we do eventually awaken, the fear and doubt will be at our feet and we can
walk unencumbered.  In fact, we can pick
up the muddle and wind it into a ball and then weave hope and wisdom out of
those fears and doubts. 

While working
towards our dreams, fairly obsessed with the joy and excitement of the torrent
of creativity or the steady stream of ideas and inspirations, if we do not take
moments to pause, then that self-same torrent will slow to a trickle, the
stream will dry. 

We need a
sleepening.  Literally and
figuratively.  A rest for our bodies and our
minds.  Let the torrent naturally slow;
let the stream flow without us always splashing in it and muddying it up.  When we awaken, the torrent will be waiting,
and somehow refreshed with clear water. 
The stream will be there, a crystal blue ribbon guiding us through the
forest of possibilities.  We needn’t view
the sleepening as if it’s something wrong. 
Winter isn’t wrong.  It gives
spring its juice.

Try putting
some old fear to bed.  If you try to
fight it, it will grow.  Let it
rest.  Give it some time alone.  Give it some space. Turn your attention to
something else.  Consciously move your
gaze, your hands, your inner and outer attention towards something that gives you
strength and courage.  Consciously
breathe yourself into calm. And not just for two minutes.  Sometimes the sleepening needs to last for
days or weeks.   Sometimes it needs to
last forever.  However long it lasts, if
you can turn your heart towards hope, towards big and little steps in another
direction, then when the awakening happens, when the fear eventually rises from
its cold, dusty bed, it will be changed into courage, faith, a being of
light.  And if it still looks like fear, you
will be able to see through it, like a ghost, and keep moving.

What things
need to be put to bed in your life?  An
old idea that no longer makes sense?  An
old, limited belief (or a new one?) holding you back from sharing a talent,
interest, or wild idea? What worries or fears need a good wintering?  What shames tucked away in the dark folds of
your memories need to be laid to rest once and for all?  Try having a sleepening for each of
them.  Honor them with sleep.  Give them the grace of hibernation.  When they awaken, they will be transformed
into gifts for yourself and others.  They
will be winged things or stories, songs, dances of healing and light, paintings
full of vibrant color, hymns dripping with gratitude.  Whatever they become, they will no longer own or
terrorize you.  They will be harvests of
grace meant to be shared.

And in the
same way that we do all sorts of wonderful, ritualistic things to help us have
awakenings, let us discover creative and healthy ways to have sleepenings.  We can sing our shame lullabies of
affirmations, rock our fears in the steady arms of faith, hand our worries over
to someone else, let them rock them to sleep while we find a place to curl up
and dream.  Light a candle in honor of a
long held limited belief, say a prayer that it find its way home and when it
arrives, pray that it is a new creature in God. Let your grief cry itself to
sleep in your arms.  Bear witness to its
pain.  Tell your doubts a story of
hope.  Prepare a room for your financial
stress with the open windows of amends and restitutions and with the clean
sheets of thoughts of giving, sharing, and of abundance. Take some old unhelpful
idea about your body or sexuality and make a bed for it–a grand, welcoming bed
of satin and silk, dappled with roses and candle light.  Ravish that old idea with the kisses of
acknowledgement, awareness, and conscious presence, and then let it fall back exhausted,
changed, breathing the deep breaths of blissful acceptance.  Not the acceptance of surrendering to it.  Let the old idea surrender to you, to the
touch of your passion and desire, and tender openness to exploring new ways of
being alive.  Let it awaken in your
hands, and blossom before you as a new possibility shoot through and through
with warm, luxurious amazement.

The more
ways we can learn how and when to put something to bed, to let things have
their sleepenings, the more our awakenings can be full of light and gratitude,
creativity, and clear, fresh energy.  And
often we need other people to help us know when we need to put something to
bed.  So often we are like children so
frazzled with the activity of the moment that we forget what exactly we are
doing and how to stop.  I’ve been
there.  Many times.  And were it not for mentors saying: “Put it
to bed, slow down,” I would not be here today.

The paths of
sleep and of awakening were not meant to be traveled alone.

Of course, I
am not talking about procrastination, avoidance, delusion or denial.  I am talking about releasing the tight grip
we sometimes have on things that are actually unhealthy or unhelpful.  When we loosen our hold, allow ourselves to
be held in the hands of another—a mentor, for example, we can put those old
things to bed so other things can wake up and smell the roses.

For all
sleepenings are really reawakenings and all awakenings are really
resleepenings.  With every awakening
something is laid to rest.  With every
sleepening something is woken within in us that says: “Breathe.”


Thank you for your contributions to the Wonder Child Blog





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Haiku for New Year’s Resolutions, by Joseph Anthony

Haiku for New Year’s Resolutions

By

Joseph
Anthony

 

It’s customary to make New Year’s
Resolutions. 

Unfortunately it’s also customary to
break them. 

It is my hope that these little poems
will help you pick one resolution

and succeed in that one resolution

before embarking on another.

You can make conscious decisions

To change your life

Anytime.

So pick one.  Bring a friend along.

Let your every step be a prayer.

And then 

pray some more.

Happy New Year. 

Blessings to you and yours.

Love,

Joseph

 

The Haiku

 

a list a mile long / of new year’s resolutions
/

will slip through your hands

***

think with your heart / infuse these thoughts
with the soul /

and then begin the journey

***

one resolution / wept over in silence / brings
angels to your side

***

one resolution / shared with a single friend /

will cause both souls to change

***

one resolution / tended to like a garden / will
yield crops of light

***

one resolution / held like a seed inside / will
give birth to joy

***

one resolution / that you keep forever /
becomes a light for all

***

make a single change / and the whole landscape
changes /

into an orchard

***

the thing you need to change / awaits your
letting it go /

into God’s hands

***

putting it in God’s hands / means share it with
a friend /

that is your prayer

***

big steps, little steps / just keep on walking
/

or better yet, keep dancing

***

the road to freedom / is not a solitary road /
walk with the world

***

walk through fear’s dark woods / with a friend
at your side /

and the way opens clear

***

One last one (not a haiku) J

A Re-solution is like a re-run. Make one
heartful, mindful decision

to make one heartful, mindful decision,

and experience success.

***

Peace and Light. 

 Your kind donations help keep the Wonder Child Blog going.

Thank you. 





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Rebirth of Innocence, A Christmas Meditation

I wrote this last year around this time and was inspired to share it again today.  May it help fill you with hope and joy.

–Joseph


On the Rebirth of Innocence

A Christmas Meditation

by

Joseph Anthony

Everyone has
things happen to them that shouldn’t happen. 
Everyone carries wounds within their very cells.  This being said, everyone also has things happen
to them that should happen.  Everyone carries healing and purity within
their cells. Both leave imprints on the soul and the cells of the body.

Learn to
slowly integrate both into your life.

What?  Integrate pain?  That’s crazy. 
Except that every human life experiences pain—emotional, mental, and
physical.  Of course, it’s good to avoid
the unnecessary manufacture of pain and to not put one’s hand on a hot
stove.  However, we cannot avoid pain completely.  So when it comes, learn, within reason, to
feel it, especially the emotional and mental varieties.  All pain is a messenger.

I was asked
recently how often I moved towards the pain—the emotional pain.  I replied that most days the pain moves
towards me.  It’s safe to do that now.  Once not too long ago the pain wasn’t welcome;
I treated it like a monster, an outcast, a pariah.  Now it knows I will give it a place to spend
the night.  I will listen to it, sit with
it, and move towards it with intent to honor and ultimately transform it
through the very act of listening and embracing it.  It can be itself while knowing, its heart of
heart is love—protection—the desire to be whole.

The same is
true for healing.  It is safe to flow
towards me and from me.  It is welcome in
my heart, body, and soul.  I am learning
to open my arms to healing, to sit with it, listen to it and transform it into
anything it needs to be.  It can be
itself, even as it manifests itself as music, poetry, nature, the touch of a
friend, the smile of a child, you.

How does one
open their heart to healing?  Can
innocence really be reclaimed, reborn, rediscovered?  Is it ever completely lost?  Does it ever completely die?  Can it ever truly be stolen? And if it can be
reborn, how does one make room inside for that to happen? 

Keep in mind
the roots of the word: innocence is
related to the word noxious, and thus
means not-noxious, not harmful, not poison, and not sick (online etymology
dictionary).  This being the case
innocence can certainly be born again in our lives, indeed, it must be.  Our very bodies are equipped with healing
cells.  The same is true for the heart
and the soul.  We are all born with the
white blood cells of spirit and joy.

To be
specific, here, in a nutshell are some suggestions for allowing innocence to be
reborn within you:

Learn to
embrace your sorrow and pain.

Learn to
stop doing things that harm yourself and others.

Learn to
forgive others and yourself.

Learn to
seek forgiveness and repair anything you have broken.

Learn, with the
help and guidance of mentors, trusted friends, and therapists, to find
direction in your life.

Learn to
breathe fully.

Learn to be
in the moment—every moment.

Learn to
love yourself—your body, your own unique ways of thinking and praying and being.

Learn to be open to and to integrate healing modalities such as EFT into your life.

Learn to
play.

Learn to
sing.

There are
other things as well.  And while I think
the ultimate journey towards innocence involves unique moments of pain and
darkness for everyone in one way or another, everyone’s path also involves
unique moments of healing and revelation.

Know that
the worse you feel (even if you feel down and out right now), the more you are able to sit with the pain, the more
your life has been reduced to spiritual poverty, where your animal instincts
are crowding around your life, there is another part of you, a union of quiet
strength and willingness; a union of intuition and openness; a union of dreams
and passion, that is seeking your heart, your very own dingy, broken heart to
give birth to innocence.  It is looking
for a “house of bread.”  And it is guided
by both the star of your dreams and the light of your wounds.  And when you have humbled yourself or life
humbles you, know that innocence will be born again inside you.  It is seeking a place, daily, hourly, ever
more, to find a safe place to be born. And when it finds the manger of your
heart, open the doors, let the night winds swirl and dance, let those same
clumsy animals gather round for the body is beautiful, let those who shepherd innocence come near, and lo, let the Wonder Child be born anew.  Let the gift of the birth of your Divine
Innocence be adored, be praised, be showered
with treasure. Let that innocence rise and celebrate who you really are—your gifts
and talents.  Share them with the world,
help others, inspire others, nourish others with the Bread of Life growing within
you, and you will truly experience the rebirth of innocence–Divine innocence,
Holy innocence.  And your life and the
lives of those around you will truly help save the world.

Happy Holidays

from Joseph Anthony

at

The Wonder Child Blog





Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


I Am Not a Computer, by Joseph Anthony

I Am Not a Computer

By

Joseph Anthony

 

“You must
unlearn what you have been programmed to believe since birth.  That software no longer serves you if you
want to live in a world where all things are possible.”

–Jacqueline
Purcell

Someone
posted this on my timeline recently and with no disrespect intended to its author, I was immediately struck with antipathy
towards it.  As I reflected on why, my
feelings became clearer, as I have had similar thoughts and feelings in the
past about such ideas.  I think I have
them clear enough to share. At least, I’ll try.

I am not a
machine.  My mind is not a computer.  I much prefer to imagine my mind as a garden,
a vast network of soil, herbs and flowers, whose roots mingle with yours and
with the Divine’s.  A place of beauty and
mystery, wonder and creativity, a rich tapestry of land with golden harvests of
possibilities where the fruits of meditation, discipline, and prayer blossom to
be shared and enjoyed by all.

And that’s
just the beginning, the poetic beginning. 
Every time we compare our minds with a computer we distance ourselves
from ourselves and the natural world around us.  And the space that occupies this distance
devolves into fears, superstitions, and apathy.

My mind is
not a hard drive.  My beliefs are not
software.  My mind is not
programmable.  To keep such analogies in
our mind’s eye makes us look at the world more impersonally, less human, less
feeling.  We are no longer responsible for ourselves.  After all, someone “programmed” us. And since computers can’t program themselves then we wait, victims, until someone solves our bugs.

As a garden,
any unwanted crops may be removed. 
Sometimes weeds need removal. 
Cultivating an inner garden stirs more of a sense of devotion and life
than having to defragment your mind to remove limited beliefs.  Cultivate the flowers you want.  Graft the trees of your imagination’s orchard
with those of like-minded friends.  Grow entirely
new fruits.  The flavors and nutrients of shared ideas are limitless. 

Some might
argue that I am being nitpicky.  Perhaps
I am.  However, I believe we believe what
we say to ourselves all day long.  I
understand computers mean so much to us in today’s world.  I am very grateful for them.  I am not anti-technology.  It’s just that metaphors and analogies are
made up of words and images and these are both living things.  What images and words do you want living in
your head, your heart, and your body?  Are
you a robot?  An automaton?

You might
not think this matters, but look around you. 
Look at people as they walk the streets, ride the bus, sit around tables
at restaurants.  We rarely look at each
other nowadays. We rarely listen.  Our
ears hold ear buds, our gaze is turned downwards at little screens.  This is all due, in part, to identifying
ourselves with these machines.  We always
want to be one with ourselves and those around us.  We instinctively seek union.  And we do that with what we feel drawn, close to,
like.  And if we identify with our minds
as being portable programmable computers and hard drives, then, of course, we
would look away from one another and towards the objects of our imaginations.  

Lastly, these mechanistic images lead us away
from intimacy with the earth.  They
depersonalize us and separate us further from the planet.  And that’s the last thing our dear Mother
Gaia needs.  She needs us touching her,
believing in her, healing her, nurturing her, helping her breathe.

This moment and
this earth are not virtual reality.  This moment
and this earth carry the essence of all that we are.  They are alive.  They are ever pregnant, ever giving birth, ever absorbing the seeds of new
ideas and inspirations. If we think of them as mechanized or computerized, we
will not want to touch them or become intimate with them.  We will move further and further away and
wonder why we are lonely.

So the next
time someone says your mind is like a computer, imagine it instead like a
garden, or an ocean, a lake, a field, or a forest.  Let these images draw you closer to yourself,
to the earth, and to others.  You will be
surprised at the beauty, the fragrance, and the infinite possibilities of
oneness that bloom and spread from such active, living imaginations.

PS: Not
everything we learned as children needs to be unlearned.  The majority of our lessons still benefit us,
even the painful ones.  Plant new
beliefs, cultivate new desires, weed out any that you no longer want, but if
you uprooted them all, well, you’d have an empty garden. 


“Metaphors are not to be trifled with. A single metaphor can give birth to love.” 

–Milan Kundera






Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


The Importance of Saying: “You’re Welcome,” by Joseph Anthony

The Importance of Saying:

“You’re Welcome”

By

Joseph Anthony


We have all
experienced saying “thank you” to someone only to have them say, “No, thank you,” in return. Or they keep the “no”
out of it and just say, “thank you.”  Why would people essentially refuse our
thanks?  Why would we ever refuse someone
else’s thanks? In this season of exchanging gifts let’s take a few moments to
look closer at the words: “You’re welcome.” 
 For just as giving thanks for
yourself, your family and friends, and for the Divine is important–welcoming
oneself and all of these beloveds is perhaps even more so.

Using the
ever handy Online Etymology Dictionary we find that “welcome,” comes from the
Old English, wilcuma, which literally means, “one whose coming is according to
another’s will.”  And this comes from combining
the Old English words, “willa,” meaning “pleasure, desire, or choice” and
“Cuma,” meaning “guest (ibid).” 
“Welcome” didn’t become attached to “thank you,” until the early
1900’s.  Before that it was used as an “exclamation
of kindly greeting. (ibid).”

So when
someone arrives in our presence and gives us a gift, or holds the door for us,
or we do the same for them and we both exchange: “thank you’s,” and “you’re
welcome’s,” we are celebrating the sharing of a space.  It is an intimate moment of receiving another
into our wills, our pleasures.  It is an
open reception in which we invite them into our desires and likewise we get a glimpse
of theirs. 

Of course, one
needs to be secure in who they are to invite someone into their midst, if even
just for a fleeting moment.  To welcome
someone into your presence means inviting the risk of rejection, it means a
sprinkling of vulnerability added to the spice of life.  In other words part of the key of learning to
say “you’re welcome,” to another person is learning to say it yourself.  Of course if we waited until we had that
lesson down perfectly we might never say it to another.  But this learning to welcome yourself into
yourself and out into the world around you (and within you) is a lifelong
journey.  And it begins in the mirror and
continues in the space of your own heart and in the fierce and tender
acceptance of your own talents and dreams.  And it goes further.

Imagine
living a life in which how and what you did was consciously in accord with your
own will and desires, your own choices and pleasures.  That’s the goal, isn’t it?  That’s how we walk in freedom.  And this all spirals back to self-love and
self-acceptance.  It returns to the core
of our being in love with our own dreams and desires.  And to do this, we must know them, we must
know ourselves.  

And who are
we? 

Stars.  Stars illuminated with the grace of Divine
expression.

And what are
our dreams and desires? Parts of that same Light—songs, if you will—living,
breathing songs, meant to be sung for the good and pleasure of ourselves and
all. 

So when we
give thanks to the Creator and wait for the “you’re welcome,” why not give it
to yourself as if spoken directly from the mouth of God?

The Divine
doesn’t need our praise.  It doesn’t need
us to go around saying “thank you, thank you” for everything that happens or
doesn’t happen.  The praise makes us feel
good, for there is joy in giving.  We
also feel good because inwardly we realize we are part of the creative power
making it all happen.  And so we come to
know there is joy in receiving.  But
instead of simply saying the words, let us live our lives as expressions of
thanks by accepting and singing our Heart’s Desires.

As a parent,
I know I like it when my children say “thank you,” but to need them to say it
over and over keeps them obliged in a sick and twisted way.  What I want my children to do is have
fun.  To go play.  To go share and develop whatever it is that
I’ve given them as their father.  I want
them to go and transform it into their own. 
To expand upon it.  To recycle
it.  I do not need their constant
thanks.  But I digress.  This post is about welcoming one another and
ourselves in each other’s worlds; into each other’s space.  My point is, I believe the Divine wants us to
do the same.  Receive this gift of life
and go play.

This Holiday
Season, let us realize who we are and how we have been welcomed into the world
and into the song of the Divine. Let us give one another thanks and
welcoming.  Let us give these to
ourselves.  Let us give a hearty welcome to
our outrageous and wonderful dreams and help each other make them come true.  Let us dance in the glory of both giving and
receiving; of being a part of the Birth of Infinite Love that arrives in each
of us a child, a being of possibility and wonder, waiting to sing through us and
with us, the song of the stars.






 

Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Happy Thanksgiving? A Few Thoughts on What Gratitude Is and What Happens When We Don’t Feel It

Happy Thanksgiving?

A Few Thoughts on What Gratitude Is

And What Happens When We Do Not Feel
It

By

Joseph Anthony

 

Gratitude is
often considered a virtue.  For years I
agreed with this sentiment.  Until, that
is, I looked deeper into the etymology of the word virtue.  Having researched it
a bit, I have come to the conclusion that gratitude is not a virtue at all.  Just what I believe it is will be described
below.  First however, let’s have a quick
look-see at what a virtue is.

According to
the indispensable Online Etymology dictionary, virtue comes from the Latin, virtutem,
which means moral strength, manliness,
valor
.  It comes from the root, vir, meaning “man” from which we get the word virile,
which means, manly or heroic.

You can probably
see from these definitions, why I think gratitude is not a virtue.  Gratitude has nothing whatsoever to do with
“manliness” (whatever that is, really), nor with valor or strength.  It’s not heroic either.  Sure we sometimes have a hard time “feeling”
grateful for one thing (event, situation, person, experience, etc.) or another,
and sometimes we try to force ourselves to feel grateful even when we don’t
feel it, but that doesn’t make it “manly.”

A lot is said
and written about gratitude.  From Oprah
to nearly every other self-help, spiritual, psychological writer or speaker,
everyone extols the benefits of feeling, practicing, and expressing gratitude.  And underneath many of these experts of
gratitude runs a thin (and sometimes wide) stream of guilt and shame for those
who don’t get it or feel it.  I think
this is partially because most people confuse gratitude, the action, with
gratitude, the feeling.

What is
gratitude if it isn’t a virtue?  And what
do we do if we don’t feel it sometimes, especially on days like today,
Thanksgiving?

Gratitude is
related to the word grace (ibid) and
means good will, elegance, to sing, to
praise, to give thanks
.  These are
actions, not feelings. When I am living my truth—my dreams and desires, or
working towards them, then I will automatically express gratitude in how I
live; how I take care of my life; how I treat myself and those around me; how I
speak, how I act, regardless of how I’m feeling.  When I am in a healthy place of self-love and
loving you then my movements towards myself and you will be graceful, elegant,
like little dances; they will be full of praise for you and me, and the sky,
the trees, the ocean; I will naturally be polite, express manners towards you
and myself—basic, human decencies will be there just as my heartbeat is there.  And this way of being can happen regardless
of circumstances or environment because it isn’t a feeling.

But what
about gratitude, the feeling?  What
happens when we take grateful actions but still don’t feel very grateful? 

We are
trained in society to think there is a problem when we’re not feeling grateful.  We feel guilty, less than, like we’re doing
something wrong by not feeling something others, or our high-perfectionistic-standards
think we should be. 

Yet to feel
grateful all the time is as unrealistic as feeling sad all the time, angry all
the time, happy, ashamed, joyful, silly, guilty, etc.  Feelings were not built to last.  They come in waves. Of course we can seek out
experiences, songs, people, art, and so on, which help us feel more of the
feelings we like and, in and of itself, there is nothing wrong with that–if
however we do not consider it a moral failing for not feeling something we
think we should be feeling.  I guess
that’s where gratitude has come to be referred to as a virtue—a manly
thing.  We are supposed to feel it and if
we don’t work hard to feel it—just like the outdated and potentially dangerous
“male” work ethic; the one that says “never stay in your comfort zone (more on
that in another post).”  But we can no
more practice feeling the emotion of gratitude than we can practice feeling sad.  We can practice taking actions of gratitude however. 
We can practice what to do (and not do) once we’re feeling a certain
emotion, but feelings cannot be made to manifest on order.  We can invite them in, but they are like
spirits, they come and go as they will.

But Joseph,
you say, it’s Thanksgiving.  We’re
supposed to feel grateful.  Are you suggesting we shouldn’t feel grateful
or express our thanks for our many blessings?

Of course
not, what I am saying is we can express our thanks by how we live and treat
ourselves and those around us on a day to day basis.  When we treat ourselves and others with
class, love, respect, kindness, manners, dignity, grace, humor, mercy,
sweetness, strength, empathy, and so on—not just with a card and a turkey
dinner, we are expressing gratitude regardless of how it feels.  Live from a place of grace.  Live from a place of self-love and of living
your dreams.  Gratitude, the action, is
about learning to gracefully give and gracefully receive blessings. And
gratitude, the feeling, will come when it will, and, in my experience it does
come, and yes, it goes too.  I have
learned not to be too excited when it arrives nor too concerned when it
leaves.  Perhaps it’s simply sharing
itself with someone else after having been touched by the hospitality of your
heart. 

To close, gratitude
is both a way of artful living and a feeling. 
Gratitude, the action, manifests when we are responsible for our own
lives and thus, when we are able to both give the gifts of ourselves and receive
the gifts of, and from, others.  It
manifests because we create it with our actions.  Gratitude, the feeling, is wonderful, and yet,
will come and go like all other feelings. 
The trick is not to panic when it isn’t being felt as warm and fuzzily
(is that a word?) as we’d like and to keep taking grateful actions even if the feeling isn’t there.

This
Thanksgiving, let there be no shame in feeling or not feeling any human
emotions. Let us simply be who we are: human beings trying to live as best we
can.  Let us give and receive the
blessings of who we are and let the grace of the One flow through us all.






Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


You Are Not the Enemy, A Little Memoir, by Joseph Anthony

You Are Not the Enemy

A Little Memoir

By

Joseph Anthony


 

In the path
I was initiated in 25 years ago you were considered the enemy.  You and everyone else I loved or who loved
me.  You were part of the reason I was
stuck in this wheel of creation, and the more intertwined our connections, the
closer our relationships, the more destructive you were to my spiritual walk.  This world was an evil place.  This body just a bag carrying a soul.  Everything and everyone was a piece of Kal’s
(their word for devil) handiwork meant to keep me trapped in this world of
endless suffering and rebirth.

When I first
began studying this path I was 15.  Back
then it made perfect sense.  The world
was a horrible place.  I had already lived
through abuse.  I felt no love for
anyone. Everything only and always and everywhere ended up in misery and death,
so why not take active steps to get out of here?  I applied for early initiation and was
refused with a personal letter from the guru. 
“You are too young, but take heart, the Lord never forsakes his sheep.”  Disappointed as I was, I had hope that when I
turned 21 (the appointed time one could be initiated) I would be accepted into
the fold.

My hopes proved
true as I mentioned above.  I drove to a
YMCA in Chicago where one of the Master’s North American representatives was to
appear, and I learned the secret form of meditation.  I learned the secret mantra and the secret
meditation position.  I also learned
meditation was a rehearsal for death.  “Die
daily,” they said, “so when you really do die, it will be just like removing a
jacket and putting on another.”  Every time
I sat in meditation, I was readying myself to die.  In fact, not only was I like a spiritual
end-of-the-world-prepper, every time I settled into meditation, I was hoping
the chord to this earthly body would be severed as I repeated the holy
words.  I literally hoped I would die.  My meditation was a sanctioned form of suicide.

I did this
for years.  For years I consciously
decided I could not get close to people. 
The closer I got the worse our karmic entanglements, the more lifetimes
I would have to suffer.  So I stayed
distant.  I fulfilled my worldly
obligations with as much grace as I could muster.  That’s what you were: you were a karmic
obligation of which I should remain as unattached to as possible.  You were my duty.  And if I became too involved with you and our
relationship began to interfere with my meditation, the Master would take you
away.  I was assured one satsang that
Master would “destroy my life to get me to meditate.”

That’s the
way it was.  And yet somewhere inside I
rebelled against their beliefs.  I loved
the Master with a deep and unexplainable sense of devotion, but their system of
beliefs began to make less and less sense to me, and I strayed farther and
farther away from them.

So here I am
today—kirtan leader, EFT practitioner, writer, teacher.  I have many wonderful connections with many
wonderful people all over the world, including you.  I love my family and friends.  I love my body and I love this life.  And yet when the darkness comes—the depression
and the doubts creep in about my dreams, I feel a sickening pull to pick up
those old books from that old religion and lose myself in them.  I find the mantra swimming around in my head
and on my lips.  “They were right,” I
sigh, and prepare to meditate.  There is
a perverse comfort there, like an old, worn out drug that I know will still
work if I just tried it one last time. 

Then I
remember you.  I remember the songs that
flow through me.  I remember the joy I
receive from singing, writing, teaching, helping others, and damned if I don’t
sell my soul again.  I jump freely into
the web and with wild abandon allow myself to get all tangled up in you, in the
beauty, in the hope, in the desire to sing for millions.

Over the
years I have needed therapy to get the hooks of that old path out of my system,
and I see today, that it hasn’t fully been removed.  Its oppressive weight has been lifted, as
evidenced by how I live my life, but inside, it lurks in the shadows, as the
grief and torment from the childhood abuse does, like a hungry animal.   

People
sometimes chuckle when they hear I do all this music, EFT, self-helpy,
inspirational stuff to keep myself going, to help myself heal.  But that’s the truth.  My depression and psycho-emotional DNA are
steeped in darkness and a gnawing compulsion to be alone.  Yet I have found ways that I love to keep
myself going that also inspire, entertain, and uplift others.  As I heal, you heal.  As you heal, I heal.  It is not so much a web as a tapestry woven
with golden threads, a song knitted together with notes of silver harmony, a
vast network of hands all joined to help carry the other.

So here I
am, fresh off a bout of the flu and a bout of the darkness.  And I will not, no matter how strong the doubts
or how great the pain, stop singing. 

 





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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


Letting Go Into the Wind: Autumn Haiku and Other Poems

Autumn
Haiku and Other Poems

By

Joseph
Anthony

 

“What will people
think?” says the Autumn, “that’s a question I never ask.


 

This fear of change / can be
cured if one would but look  / into
autumn’s eyes


 

Autumn’s crimson gold /
rivers within you and me / and so does the spring


 

I take autumn’s hand / I
think we might go dancing / into the blue sky


 

This dance of letting go /
this parading of change / these tears will not stop


 

Wishing means nothing / when
autumn pulls you away / into crimson streams


 

Dear Autumn Crickets /
you’re breaking my fragile heart / my prayers are with you


 

Warm apple cider / streaming
its way within me / filling me with Fall


 

Autumn leaves me drunk / its
deep red and golden wine / how can I not swoon?

 

 

The autumn whispers: / release
yourself into me / and find your way home


 

Who can blame me now? /
autumn in her golden dress / makes me want to dance


 

The truth within autumn’s
beauty: We must all let go into the wind.

 

 

 

 





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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog


On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls, Part Two of Two, By Joseph Anthony

On the Building and Tearing Down of Walls

Part Two of Two

By

Joseph Anthony

 

 

We talked
last time on building and tearing down inner walls.  We spoke of these walls as stemming from the
wisdom and creativity of children.  What
happens though when we feel like we’re too cramped or need to make some sort of
change?  Here is one way of transforming,
coming out of, and inviting others into your inner paradise.

Gradually.  Begin by clearing out the space of unwanted
and unhealthy clutter: thoughts of self-hatred, shame, arrogance; and start
bringing in thoughts you want to live with: joy, gratitude, generosity,
love.  Add a window or two.  Open them. 
Let the fresh air and light in from mentors and friends.  Build a door—a beautiful, hand carved,
wood-hewn door—perhaps a non-traditional—round-Hobbit door; maybe a triangular
door, or one shaped like a star.  You
pick.  Whatever shape you pick, remember
this: these door opens from the inside. 

Begin adding
art work—beautiful visions and pictures of your dreams and aspirations; vision boards; scenes
of nature, mornings, mountains, trees.  Keep
happy memories tucked away in special places. 
Add a few knick-knack—curious, quirky things that will become your
unique personality traits.  Have a few,
well-chosen books (everyone has at least one book in them).  Bring in some candles or beautiful lamps,
soft blankets, clean bed sheets, flowers, healthy food, clean water.  You decide what these symbolize for you.  I like to think of the healthy food as
positive affirmations, the clean water as living and bathing in the truth, and
so on.

When you’re
ready, open the windows and let the light in; or open the windows at night and
let the fireflies in and the soft gaze of the moon.  Either way, let the fresh air of new ideas in.
Lean on the sill and breathe, gazing at the beauty—imagining the possibilities. 

And when you’re
ready, open the door.  Stand at the
threshold for as long as you need to, and then step out.  When you’re ready invite safe, friendly
people inside to talk with (living or dead), host dinner parties, sing-alongs, or
reading groups.  You get to decide who
and when and how.  You might even invite
people in to make love with.

And yes, you
might get hurt.  You might open the door,
come dancing out, and stub your toe on something someone left lying around
outside—a worn-out  limited belief or a
rusty, old idea.  Some one might say
something mean, break a promise, and so on. 
It is difficult to shield ourselves from all pain. 

When we get
hurt however, we have a safe, healthy, clean, and holy place to go.  We will have a well-stocked medicine cabinet
filled with the healing balms of mantras, prayers, and songs; we will have
ready the elixirs of positive affirmations and creative pursuits; we will have
the healing cures of physical movement—tapping, walking, drumming.  We will have the secret remedies of the prayers
of other people—keep a stash of these treasured somewhere in your space and
replenish them often.  Keep a supply of
the antidote for fear: actions.  Feel the fear and keep moving.  Feel all of your feelings, honor the pain and
its messages of healing; honor your feelings by simply knowing them to be what
they are—feelings—neither mysterious
nor the end all and be all of who you are.

So build
your walls, create fragrant, holy, beautiful spaces—temples of wisdom and love.  Tend the gardens of your body, mind, heart,
and soul.  Know that you can use any of
these as safe places.  Each is inherently
and irrevocably a paradise.  Know too
that you get to choose who comes in.  You
get to open the door.  Lots of people
might come knocking, but only you have the power of opening the door.  And you can stay outside or inside for as
long as you like.

One last
thing: remember to honor your inner child for starting the process of building
a wall in the first place—a process
inspired by play
.  All wisdom is
play, and all play is wisdom.  Connect
with that child with gratitude, express that appreciation by affirming him or
her; and you can express that appreciation for your inner child (or children)
too by appreciating and honoring the children you see around you—your own
children, your students, your nieces, nephews, grandchildren, or the children
in your neighborhood or on the train.  Take
a cue from these children: learn to have fun inside and out, and come out and
go in when you see fit.  Learn that
whatever else this wild, complicated life is, it is play—serious sometimes
perhaps, tragic, but it is play.  It is a
dance of wonder and of discovery.  It is
the play of becoming who you are.

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Copyright Joseph Anthony of the Wonder Child Blog