Virgo Moon Sign: The Spiritual Meaning of September’s New Moon

                                     

The Virgo new moon on September 6, 2021 makes a harmonious aspect to Uranus. So the spiritual meaning of the new moon September 2021 astrology is positive change, excitement, self-awareness and psychic ability.  The September 2021 new moon also joins a star and an asteroid that both relate to prophetic ability. So this really is an excellent new moon for trusting your intuition to take advantage of rapidly changing conditions.

New Moon Meaning

The sun in conjunction with the moon represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another new 28-day cycle. It gives an invigorating burst of energy and initiative. But it also brings emotional balance, not irrationally emotional, and not too cold and calculating.  So this is an excellent time for making a fresh start, turning over a new leaf, or starting a new project. You can also question old habits, behaviors, and beliefs as you search for new and inventive ways to make progress.  It also gives the ability to anticipate the future and take advantage of that by quickly adapting to changing conditions.  This is also a good new moon to promote humanitarian and progressive causes and to stand up for the underdog.  Surgical operations are not recommended during the New Moon.

Opening Reflection

“Compassion is no longer an option – it is the key to our survival.  If religious and ethical traditions fail to address these challenges, they will fail the test of time.”

The quote is from Karen Armstrong,

who is the author of “Twelve Steps to a Compassionate Life”  C

Face Chaos Often

Ignite a Revolution

Fire up Compassion

Yes, fire up and create an unconditional compassion revolution!

We wonder where to begin!  Start with self – transformation,

growing a compassionate heart, one by one.  It is a challenge

that doesn’t go away, though we sometimes try to avoid it.

The call is to stand up before our chaotic world – stand, meet the chaos, feel

the chaos, let it touch our hearts, break our hearts – feel the excruciating pain.

Cry out in grief at the possible destruction of our planet, our home, and every creature.

Make a choice, practice love and compassion as pathways to walk together. 

Look to the right, look to the left and shout to each other:

“Stand by Me!” “Stand by Me!”

Our journey together will continue to be mysterious, but possible, for our God is within us who inspires and companions us on a hopeful, blessed passage to peace.

Several years ago, I attended the workshop “Hope and Sacred Activism” with Andrew Harvey.  So much was inspiring, so much was challenging.  The passionate wisdom expressed enabled the hope that my words might become meaningful actions and not just a continuous repetition of the same desires. 

The challenge I received is to move forward, for a new being is being called to evolve within me, through greater awareness of the presence of the Divine within – a transformed being, becoming a Sacred Being is on the way.  With hopeful expectation, I try to move forward and stand with others, offering love, compassion and peace to our Earth Community.

The support for all of this is that my meditations are also preoccupied by the call to be inclusively compassionate.  I find my sustenance for this by trying to allow others to meticulously peck away at the door of my heart until the barriers to inclusive compassion start one by one to fall away.  It is a long journey of struggle to being free for radical compassion.   

Recently I remembered that in 2015 – 2016, Pope Francis opened the Jubilee Door of Mercy at St. Peter’s Basilica, which was followed by a world-wide opening of Doors of Mercy.  The dynamism of these sequential acts inspired me to believe that every door I go through has the potential to be a Door of Mercy. 

My heart also has the potential to open wide as a Door of Mercy and Compassion.  For me, this has been a profound call to conversion – so many times I have received that call.  So I begin again by visualizing the Jubilee Door of Mercy and walking through it comforted by the refrain of Psalm 135 “For God’s mercy endures forever. . .

For God’s mercy endures forever. . .  

As I now end this reflection, I remind myself that I have a place in what needs to happen, but I am just a speck in the plan – We Are the Ones Who Together Can Heal the Earth, Can Save Our Home!

Compassion’s Door

In response to Leo’s new moon on August 8th, Sister Henrita wrote,

“Compassion is the trembling and quivering of the heart in response to suffering … and it is the emotion that connects us to all beings.”

As I look out at the world today, towards the humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan, the climate catastrophes in the US and the on-going devastation of the global pandemic, 

I find great comfort and much wisdom in this poem by Thich Nhat Hanh, 

Please Call Me By My True Names

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow

because even today I still arrive

Look deeply, I arrive in every second

to be a bird on a spring branch,

to be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,

learning to sing in my new nest,

to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower

to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,

in order to fear and to hope,

the rhythm of my heart is the birth and death

of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the 

surface of the river,

and I am the bird which when spring comes

arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

I am a frog swimming, happily in the clear water of a pond

and I am the grass-snake who, approaching

in silence, feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,

my legs as thin as bamboo sticks,

and I am the arms merchant, selling

deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year old girl refugee on a small boat,

who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea pirate

and I am the pirate,

heart not yet capable of seeing and loving

I am a member of the Politburo, with

plenty of power in my hands

and I am the man who has to pay his ‘debt of blood’ to my people,

dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring so warm it makes

flowers bloom in all walks of life.

My pain is like a river of tears so

full it fills all four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear 

all my cries and laughs at once,

so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names, so I can wake up

and so the door of my heart can be left open,

the door of compassion. 

This poem reminds me that it is only by looking towards suffering that I can see the wholeness and the inter-connectivity of all things.  To be fully alive requires deep relationships and deep relationships always lead to inter-connectivity. Compassions starts with seeing and it grows into action.

The Spiritual Meaning of August’s New Moon

The Leo new moon on Sunday, August 8, 2021, makes a challenging aspect to Uranus. So the spiritual meaning of the new moon August 2021 astrology relates to reacting to unexpected changes in a progressive way with flexibility and self-awareness.  As you hear the words unexpected changes in a progressive way, perhaps you respond – “isn’t that our daily life in today’s precarious world”?  You might also think – “that changes are not always progressive”.  

The Sun’s union with the New Moon represents the end of one cycle and the beginning of another new 28-day cycle. It gives an invigorating burst of energy and initiative. But it also brings emotional balance, not irrationally emotional, and not too cold and calculating.  So this is an excellent time for making a fresh start, turning over a new leaf, or starting a new project. You can also question old habits, behaviors, and beliefs as you search for new and inventive ways to make progress.

The influence of August 8 new moon lasts for four weeks up to September 6 new moon.  The best time for making any chances is during the waxing phase of the moon, from August 8 up to August 22 full moon.  Now we’ll have a brief pause for each of us to ask ourselves – “Am I aware of how a new moon is present and influences my life?  The beginning new moon is a perfect for stargazing and moon gazing.

Let’s begin with moon gazing on Compassion ~ remembering

Compassion is the trembling and quivering of the heart in response to suffering. . . (Pali Language)

Let’s moon gaze and vibrate compassion into the Universe

Imagine a revolution of the heart releasing overflowing compassionSister Joan Chittister O.S.B., who was a member of the Council of Conscience who wrote the Charter for Compassion, reflected about compassion as the emotion that connects us to all beings in our Earth Home and compels us to reach out to those who are suffering.  She also referred to many scientific studies indicating that each of our brains is hard-wired for compassion.  Just imagine the potential for a compassionate revolution, with all of us being hard-wired for compassion. 

Pause for a few moments – come to the quiet, repeat slowly and feel – I am hard-wired for compassion – I am hard-wired for compassion. . .  Do you believe it?   Then begin to vibrate compassion?

The Charter for Compassion, originated by Karen Armstrong transcends religious, ideological and national differences, is rooted in the Golden Rule that has permeated the world’s major religions for centuries: “Do to others as you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12).   For our present times, we hear these words ~ “Treat others and the planet as you would like to be treated.”  Adding Planet makes us conscience that we are called to be concerned about all creatures and all of creation.

The Christine Center became members of the Charter for Compassion on October 24, 2014.  Therefore, we are called to be compassionate responders to the suffering of all beings and the earth.  Pope Francis reminds us: “Small yet strong in the love of God, like Saint Francis of Assisi, all of us are called to watch over and protect the fragile world in which we live and all its people.”  We invite all who come to the Christine Center, to join us as we aspire to be faithful to the call to compassion, because we are the ones who can make a difference! 

A Call to Invest in Compassion

Recognizing that “the principle of compassion lies at the heart of all religions, ethical and spiritual traditions, calling us always to treat all others as we wish to be treated ourselves,” the many world luminaries from a variety of faith traditions who contributed to writing the Charter made a specific call to all men and women:

  • To restore compassion to the center of morality and religion
  • To return to the ancient principle that any interpretation of scripture that breeds violence, hatred or disdain is illegitimate
  • To ensure that youth are given accurate and respectful information about other traditions, religions and cultures
  • To encourage a positive appreciation of cultural and religious diversity
  • To cultivate an informed empathy with the suffering of all human being – even those regarded as enemies

There is so much to be said about the Charter for Compassion

~ Its Vision is, a world where everyone is committed to living the principle of compassion.

~ Its available in more than 30 languages and has been endorsed by more than two million individuals around the globe

~ The Charter is essentially a movement with many different players; individuals, compassionate cities, partner organizations and coalitions of other organizations all coming together as a network.

~ It is a global network, a movement, with millions of people, that is co-creating the world that we all desire – one that is peaceful, joyful and works for all life.

~ It is well positioned to help lead this movement. Co-creation unlocks magical and powerful opportunities. Investing in the Charter is investing in a transformation where compassion is the new norm.

~ Investing in the Charter can mean many things—sharing our stories, expertise, time and talents” and, so much more…

Karen Armstrong reflects on the Urgent Global Imperative and responded:

“Compassion is no longer an option – it is the key to our survival.  If religious and ethical traditions fail to address these challenges, they will fail the test of time.” 

Remember we are each hard-wired for compassion –

Reflect we are hard-wired for compassion –

Respond with action. . .

The Charter for Compassion was launched November 12, 2009.  It is now in almost 50 countries and about 410 cities.  It has a 12-year presence and certainly it continues to grow.  Take time to reflect on the Charter of Compassion. 

The Charter for Compassion is asking everyone who wants to co-create a world that is peaceful and kind, promotes happiness, and works for all life to invest in compassion. Invest in compassion with actions, time, and resources. Help the Charter realize this vision of a compassionate world that supports all life.

What message is the Charter for Compassion giving you?

Sources of Information:  New Moon August 2021: Astrology King and the Charter for Compassion 

The Joy That Compassion Brings

by Sara Neall

July 30, 2021 is World Day Against Trafficking in Persons. 40.3 million people – primarily women and girls – are currently being trafficked and exploited for profit.

The recent 2021 International Trafficking in Persons report states that, 

“Global crises, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change, and enduring discriminatory policies and practices, have a disproportionate effect on individuals already oppressed by other injustices.  These challenges further compound existing vulnerabilities to exploitation, including human trafficking.  We must break this inhumane cycle of discrimination and injustices if we hope to one day eliminate human trafficking.” – Anthony Blinken

Suffering of this magnitude breaks our hearts.

Sister Henrita’s July, New Moon compassion blog reminded us that following the natural rhythms of nature  can ground us and that tuning into the cycles of the moon can open us to life’s challenges.  From this place of deep compassionate practice she asked us,

“if we have the courage to break open our hearts to contain the whole universe?”

This year the theme for World Day Against Trafficking in Persons is, 

Victims’ Voices Lead the Way 

With tender hearts can we read the stories of :

Alex

Stephanie

Ashlie

Beautiful Feet

Eric

With open minds can we learn about  and support the work of:

Sisters against trafficking

Damascus Road Project

Franciscan Peacemakers

To exist, human trafficking is hidden from our view. It happens in all communities, including our own. It is an affront to our human dignity. 

This month, Sister Henrita also asked us to reflect on “the joy that compassion brings.” 

She wrote, “Take a moment to reflect about compassion in your life and interactions: compassion for yourself and joy, compassion for others and joy!”

I believe that the joy compassion brings is found in turning towards suffering. It is found in reaching out to help others. It is found in working for social justice.

polarisproject.org

state.gov/reports/2021-trafficking-in-persons-report/

https://www.ilo.org/global/topics/forced-labour/lang–en/index.htm

https://www.vaticannews.va/en/pope/news/2021-02/pope-francis-human-trafficking-world-day-prayer.html

https://www.un.org/en/observances/end-human-trafficking-day

Becoming Compassion: A New Moon ~ July 2021

As the world starts to open up again, it can seem as though the World is adjusting to a new normal — new health protocols, new ways of socializing, and for some of us, an entirely new outlook on life. We can liken this spirit to the energy of the new moon, which, according to astrology, inspires transformative change and helps us adjust to life’s ever-changing waters.  The July 2021 new moon began on July 9 and we  entered the intuitive sign of Cancer.  Cancer’s energy influences us to take a look at how we prioritize our home life and care for our deepest selves.

We began with the words “as the world starts to open again it seems as though the world is adjusting to a new normal. . . an entirely new outlook on life.”  The energy of the new moon inspires transformative change, and it is presently upon us.  Brian McLaren, a Pastor, describes the new community we are called to in the Spirit of Christ: “We must find a new approach, make a new road, pioneer a new way of living as neighbors in one community, as sisters and brothers in one family of creation.”  Let us remember the world has started to open again ~ this new world is our home – it’s an entirely new outlook on life.  It calls us to believe and to adjust and eventually accept it.                                                  

Becoming Compassion Challenge
Each moment is a compassion occasion and
holds a longing to comfort the heart of the world.
The Dalai Lama shared that “my mother planted in me the seed of compassion
by the example that she set.  She raised me on a diet of love.”
It offers us a challenge to companion one another  
with seeds of Compassion and diets of Love 

“The joy that compassion brings is one of the best-kept secrets of humanity.
It is a secret known only to very few people,
a secret that has to be rediscovered over and over again.”

Henri Nouwen

Have you ever reflected about “the joy that compassion brings?”   Or is it a surprise to hear the words “the joy that compassion brings.”  Take a moment to reflect about compassion in your life and interactions: compassion for yourself and joy, compassion for others and joy!  Compassion for others has its home in compassion for oneself, knowing the experience and feeling its true joy and compassion.

A crucial hope for our world is the coming of Peace for all of Creation.  Love and Compassion are fundamental to the journey toward Peace.  Imagine the feeling of joy that the coming of World Peace could bring.  When we experience that joy, we understand the joy compassion brings to us.  The challenge of the moment is for each of us to continue the compassionate journey within ourselves and bring it to the needs of the local and global community.  Let’s sprinkle the World with our secret, “the joy that compassion brings”. 

My reflections also brought me to our whole world daily penetrated with words and actions filling all of creation with pain.  There is a desire, a call to embrace not only one person with compassion, but the whole world.  An enormous mission held by countless people worldwide.  The Charter for Compassion consoles us that love and compassion are universal.  But then we have the daily reminders that the World is also embraced by global painful suffering. 

At some point, I heard the words of Joanna Macy who said: “The heart that breaks open can contain the whole universe.”  The heart is present to me in several images, sizes and colors which daily remind me of the pain of Creation.  What could our hearts containing the whole universe possibly mean for all of us, but to dwell as sisters and brothers in a common home with a web of life made up of millions of species.  This can give us a sense of the universe, but there is so much more, known and unknown.

We are sisters and brothers entrusted with Creation – all of it!  Do we have the courage to break open our hearts to contain the whole universe?  Its mystery is overwhelming!  We are the ones responsible to fill the world with love and compassion, one moment at a time, one person at a time, and on and on we live with each challenge, with each call.  Remember, the universe needs us, depends on us. 

Remember the children of this world are our future!

 

World Day Against Child Labor (6/12)

By Sara Neall

One in ten children worldwide are forced into labor.

64 million girls and 88 million boys. 

Nearly half of these children, 73 million, do  hazardous  work. Work  that  directly  endangers  their health, safety, and moral development. 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child defines a child as every human  being below the age of eighteen years. It defines child labor as work that is mentally, physically or morally dangerous and harmful to children. Work that deprives children the opportunity to attend school. Work that requires children to leave  school  prematurely.  Work that forces children to combine school attendance with excessively long and tiring days.

This labor prevents children from acquiring the skills and education they need for a better future. It perpetuates poverty and supports economies built on unjust and unsafe working conditions. We must work to withdraw children from this type of labor. We must provide children with education and assist their families with training and employment opportunities which will contribute directly to creating decent work for adults.

Child labor is the product of an array of social and economic  forces.

There is a strong correlation between child labor and situations of conflict and disaster. The incidence of child labor in countries affected by armed conflict is 77% higher than the global  average.  It is important to prioritize the elimination of child labor within humanitarian responses and during reconstruction and recovery.

Most child labor takes place within the family unit.  More than  2/3 of children who are forced to work, work to contribute to their family earnings.  This underscores an important broader point  concerning the nature of child labor in the world today. We must better understand and address family reliance on children’s  labor. This is critical. 

Policy responses to child labor need to be integrated into national development efforts and adapted to local circumstances. Child labor is not an isolated issue. It’s elimination must be reflected in policies of education, social protection, labor markets and labor standards. 

Everyone can take a stand and make a difference. Our economy is built on unjust and unsafe  working conditions. What we buy often supports child labor and poor working conditions. We must spend wisely, consume with care and make all children our priority. 

2021 is International Year for the  Elimination of Child Labor.   Take Action Here 

And learn more by joining  the School Sisters of Notre Dame for the webinar, 

“The Year for the Elimination of Child Labor: Challenge and Hope,” on June 14 at 7:00pm (EST).  

You can find more information and the zoom link in the June Edition of Shalom News

https://www.ilo.org/ipecinfo/product/viewProduct.do?productId=7871
https://www.ilo.org/ipec/programme/lang–en/index.htm
https://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/@dgreports/@dcomm/documents/publication/wcms_575541.pdf
https://endchildlabour2021.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/02/Practical-Guide.pdf

“On Care for our Common Home”

by Sara Neall

Laudato Si Week (May 16 – 24, 2021)

In June 2015, Pope Francis wrote,

“I urgently appeal, for a new dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. We need a conversation which includes everyone, since the environmental challenge we are undergoing and its human roots, concern and effect us all.” -Encyclical Letter LAUDATO SI’ (www.vatican.va)

He asked,

“What kind of world do we want to leave for those coming after us, to the children growing up?”

During the week of May 16th to May 24th 2021, the Catholic Church asks us to contemplate and celebrate our deep connection to the natural world. The Church invites us all, regardless of our faith tradition, to renew our commitment and responsibility to the earth by asking,

  • When we fail to care for creation, what impact does this have on our relationship with ourselves, others, God and the earth?
  • How is our concern for our fellow human beings connected to our concern for the environment?
  • What values should be reflected in our local, national and global relationships and in our conversations around environmental issues?
  • What changes can we make to our lifestyles, production and consumption to better care for one another and creation?
  • How can faith communities in the United States (and around the world) be involved in exerting pressure on leaders and government, both locally and nationally, to be more responsible stewards of creation?

In order to fully answer these questions, action must be taken. Please,

Response to the Cry of the Earth
Use clean renewable energy to reduce fossil fuels in order to achieve carbon neutrality. Protect and promote biodiversity. Guarantee access to clean water for all.

Response to the Cry of the Poor
Defend all forms of life on Earth especially vulnerable groups such as indigenous communities, migrants and children at risk.

Engage in Ecological Economics
Support sustainable production. Consume and invest ethically. Divestment from fossil fuels.

Adopt a Simple Lifestyle
Act with sobriety when using resources and energy. Avoid single-use plastic. Adopt a more plant-based diet and reduce meat consumption. Use public transportation. Walk or bike when possible.

Promote Ecological Education
Re-think and re-design educational curricula in the spirit of integral ecology. Create ecological awareness and action. Promote the ecological vocation of young people, teachers and leaders.

Celebrate Ecological Spirituality
Recover a religious vision of God’s creation. Encourage greater contact with the natural world in a spirit of wonder, praise, joy and gratitude. Promote creation centered liturgical celebrations. Develop ecological catechesis, prayer and retreats.

Embrace Community
Encourage involvement and participatory action to care for creation at the local, regional, national and international levels. Promote advocacy and People’s campaigns. Encourage rootedness in local territory and neighborhood ecosystems.

“The time is running out and the cry of the earth and the poor are getting louder, can we still afford to remain passive.?”

During Laudato Si 2021, add your voice to the conversation. Explore the links below.

Events

Study Guide

Initiative

Goals

Prayer

Being Many Together

by Sara Neall

“we are not going to get out of crisis, like climate or COVID-19 by hunkering down in individualism but only by ‘being many together’ , by encounter and dialogue and cooperation.”

Pope Francis

In the first half of 2020, 12.6 million people were newly displaced. 62% of these displaced people were forced from their homes as a direct result of a natural disaster. Disasters which can be linked to climate change.  Each day the news media reports more suffering. As individuals, this suffering is overwhelming.

In the beautiful quote above, Pope Francis reminds us, we are not alone in our deep desire to alleviate suffering. He asks us to turn towards suffering, to ask questions and to listen deeply and then to work together in our quest for climate and social justice. 

The School Sisters of Notre Dame are wonderful examples of this. Each month the publication, Shalom News , shares their tireless work. The Sisters invite us to read, to learn and to help.

April’s newsletter shares information about displaced people. The article Pastoral Orientations on Climate Displaced People outlines 10 challenges displaced people face and follows up with ways to help. These include:

  1. Acknowledge the climate crisis and displacement nexus
  2. Promote awareness and outreach
  3. Provide alternatives to displacement
  4. Prepare people for displacement
  5. Foster inclusion and integration
  6. Exercise a positive influence on policy-making
  7. Extend pastoral care
  8. Cooperate in strategic planning and action
  9. Promote professional training in integral ecology
  10. Foster academic research

Where there is suffering there is much hard and loving work.  

Encounter.

Dialogue.

Cooperate.

Be one of many, together.

Water

Water is flexible, taking the shape of whatever vessel it flows into. It’s always interacting, changing, in motion, yet revealing continual patterns of connection. Water can be so expressive, a signal of our most heartfelt feelings. We cry tears of sorrow, tears of outrage, tears of gratitude, and tears of joy. Water can be puzzling, seeming weak or ineffectual, yielding too much, not holding firm. And yet over time water will carve its own pathway, even through rock. And yes, water freezes. But it also melts.  

Real Change,  p.15-16 

These beautiful words, written by the Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzburg, use the image of water to describe life’s journey.  Water as a metaphor easily illustrates our common humanity.  Water is our life.

Each day I love to walk along the Menomonee River.  It is an urban waterway flowing into Lake Michigan. At the moment the water is high and fast. Its movement drowns out the background hum of the city. I can walk along the bank  and feel almost completely immersed  the world of nature. It is both a solace and a delight. 

Water is, of course required for our health and our hygiene.  Most of us can’t imagine a life without easy access to water to meet our most basic needs.

And yet,

Globally, over 3 billion people are at risk of disease because the water quality of their rivers, lakes and groundwater is unknown. A fifth of the world’s river basins are experiencing dramatic fluctuations in water availability. 2.3 billion people are living in countries categorized as “water-stressed,” including 721 million in areas where the water situation is “critical,” according to recent research carried out by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners.

www.unep.org

March 22 is World Water Day. Take a moment to reflect on the big and the small ways water plays a role in your life. And then consider joining the conversation at:

https://www.worldwaterday.org/

Learn and share how to honor this valuable resource.

Black History Month: “What makes us, us?”

By Sara Neall

Since 1926 Black History has been recognized in the United States during the month of February. Originally one week long, it was created by Carter G. Woodson.  He believed that by raising awareness of African American contributions to civilization, “truth could not be denied and reason would prevail over justice.” 

How is it possible that 95 years later, on January 6, 2021 a violent mob, rooted in the belief of white supremacy, attacked the US capitol? A mob which was intent on overturning a legal and democratic election. A mob which tried to suppress the voices of millions of American voters. A mob who was encouraged and supported by the 45th president of the United States.

In the hopes of understanding this crime in the context of my own whiteness, I have been following the work of Rachel Elizabeth Cargle. She writes, “Black history is American history.”  “Unlearn the boundaries of whitewashed history and culture” and understand, “what makes us, us.” Each day she offers a topic to Google …Black cowboys…Black Wall Street…The Chitlin Circuit…Combahee River Collective…the Devine Nine…womanism

And so I Google Black Cowboy. I note my surprise at seeing a Black woman on a horse. In the short YouTube documentary I watch, I learn about the origin of the word cowboy.  And I learn that the classic John Wayne, H​ollywood cowboy is based on the true life stories of  Black men like Nat Love, Bass Reeves and Brit Johnson. I feel my perceptions being challenged.

Mindfulness teacher, Ronda V. Magee writes, “race is not something outside of us, it is something we are doing.” She suggests bringing, “awareness to the way your mind ‘does race’, the way your mind makes race filled assumptions.”  As a practicing Buddhist, I practice to notice the habit patterns of my mind. When I turn my attention toward race, I notice how my body changes in the presence of a Black person. I become hyper-aware. I feel discomfort and uncertainty. 

Magee goes on to define racism as, “a complex of behaviors and explanatory stories that enable some humans beings to assert power over other human beings.” She states, “we often refer to people as white, black or some other race, without thinking twice about it, as if race is the natural order of things. But race is a matter of social imagination and construction, of perception shaped by a given context.”

The history I explore through Cargle’s prompts are small ways I can challenge my perceptions about race.  It is only by noticing my racialized patterns of thought that I can begin to change them. What makes us, us?  We do.

This post is rooted in the work of:
africanamericanhistorymonth.gov
https://www.rachelcargle.com/
The Inner Work of Racial Justice – Ronda V. Magee