What Next?

Unity in Roanoke Valley, 10 February 2019

As I was packing for this two-week travel, I was drawn to bring several books from my bookshelf. I have learned to go with the flow of the energetic pull, so I packed my toolkit and away we drove. I did not expect to have a special edition, Charles Schulz, compilation of his 1975-1976 Peanuts comics with me. And I definitely did not expect that book to be part of the inspiration for today’s message. But as we often say, “You just never know!” It was a reminder to me that we can find just as much inspiration in the depths of a Rumi poem as we can in our favorite standup comedian. 

As I read through a few of the cartoons, I thought how fortunate I was to be in the space that I was in, able to read what I wanted to read, on the road starting our next journey of events, doing what we love to do. I was acutely aware of my privileged life, because somewhere around the globe, a 43 year old woman could only dream of the life that I live. That somewhere around the globe, a man might be contemplating sacrificing his own life for a perceived promise land that may or may not truly exist. That somewhere in our country, a child may be taught to despise anything beyond her own close network of family or friends, and view the world beyond the walls of her own home as pure evil. That somewhere in our town, an unsupported young adult is considering violence as the answer to their own confusion and inability to cry out to the right people for help. 

No matter the life lived, it is all the same energy that creates it. It just takes a moment, one that catches our attention, one that brings a certain perspective to what we are experiencing, and an intention within us to receive the full bounty of gifts the experience has to offer – or not. It is such a simple yet such a deeply complex idea of intention that can change our perception in any given moment.

Thus begs the question, “What next?”

SONG (Bob Sima): Same Energy, from It’s Time

As I sat and read through a few of the daily comic strips, I was transported into new worlds. I was back in the library of Charles, which I saw recreated in the Charles Schulz museum. I was sitting and observing him as he sketched and chuckled and integrated the concepts so brilliantly created in his mind directly to the paper on his drafting table. I found myself following along his storyline, from day to day and week to week, as his own sitcom unfolded before me. I was giggling and shaking my head and grunting with that “ah-ha” grunt, anticipating what the next day’s edition would add to the plot.

In four simple sequential pictures with minimal to no dialogue, Schulz conveyed a message so profound for each day. Then I got to the Sunday cartoon, which is like winning the jackpot because it was usually six or seven pictures and I felt like I received more of his creative transmission. I found myself asking, “What next?” Not just in the characters and the dynamic that Schulz created between them all, but also in wondering what twist Schulz would introduce as it all unfolded. 

Schulz had very clear intention with his Peanuts family. As I have read back through the Peanuts over the years, it reminds me that our crazy world is just as crazy as the crazy world he lived in. He captured the mundane, the sublime, the heartaches, the celebrations, the desires, the responsibilities, the ridiculous, and the sad. He addressed politics, news, and world affairs of the time in a way that snuck into the cartoons with precision. He wrote about life. Schulz could have chosen a different outlet for his expression. He chose to release through intentional conscious art that could change the energy of the reader’s heart.

To Schulz, life was a symphony. The ups and the downs created a tapestry of imagery that inspired his own creativity. But it takes all of the ups and all of the downs to write the entire symphony. That is no different than our own lives. Not only can we intentionally choose the perspective with which we receive an experience, we can choose how we allow all of our experiences to weave into our own living symphony.

SONG (Bob Sima): I Hear a Symphony, from Believe the Bird

Our lives are enmeshed through the melodies, the harmonies, the dissonance, the notes, the music, and the space between the notes. That connection is obvious when we are in sacred space or performing rituals or on retreat. The collective symphony gets louder and louder when we weave our symphonies together.

When we feel dissonance within ourselves, it is a call to pause and allow ourselves to feel what we are feeling, to ask ourselves why we feel that way, and to challenge ourselves to intentionally do something about it. “What next?”

When we feel disconnected, our soul is confused. The natural order is to be wrapped in the universal connection that flows through all things, seen and unseen. When we see oppression, when we experience violence, when we allow harmful thoughts to influence our behaviors, when we believe in separateness… that is when the musicians of the orchestra are all trying to perform entirely different masterpieces at the same time.

Our soul wants to feel harmonious with everything around us. When we find ourselves in cooperation and in communion with our fellow humans, with the grass in our yard, with the four-leggeds in our homes, with the winged ones greeting us in the morning, with the stone people who carry our own bone memory, with the standing trees who provide canopy on a hot summer day… that is when the symphony of each individual part and parcel orchestrate a magical reality of blended voices that echo the wishes of the stardust.

When we join our songs together to share our life experiences, when we join together to initiate change in our communities and in our country, when we join together to address our collective calling “to love one another as I have loved you”, when we join together in the shared energy that we agree to agree on – and allow the heart to resolve the shared energy that we agree to disagree on… that is when the song gets a little louder.

What next?

SONG (Bob Sima): The Song Gets a Little Bit Louder, currently unreleased