Thursday, 21 July 2016

Upside down days, right side up convictions

Walk the talk?

I don't have the "luxury" of doing otherwise.

For example, air conditioning. I don't 'believe' in air conditioners. They're nasty, whether central air or the ones that stick out of the windows, I just can't breathe the stale crap they spew into a house. Being surrounded by air conditioned buildings when we lived in the city meant a constant electronic/mechanical hum added to the general din, and of course they heat up the outside air, only compounding the misery of a heat wave. Ugh.

Some call it monarda, some call it bergamot.
Warming & stimulating medicine.

Now that we're older, retired (read poor), we couldn't afford the electricity to run one anyway. And that's actually a good thing. I often wonder if the Lord is keeping us just poor enough that we won't be tempted to 'need' things we don't really need. It would be 'easier' on us, especially as we age, to have a cooler house.

Instead, we have to walk our talk.

That means turning my day upside down, cooking supper at dawn. The smell of a roasting chicken at 7 a.m. means several meals for the week without the risk of making the house intolerable.

It means hanging heavy bedspreads around the sides of the front porch, creating a sort of bedouin tent. That keeps the whole front of the house from heating up too badly in the morning sun. I hose them down every couple of hours, which cools that trippy, shady outdoor room further. Blinds in the windows of the house are closed as the sun travels from window to window, then opened again once it has passed. We live in a sort of twilight. If I find myself getting hot, I go outside and do some work in the yard - when I come back in, I realize it's actually lovely in here. As the sun goes down, all blinds and windows are opened up and the all the fragrances of a starry, dewy, summer night fill my home.
Bouncing Bette - an evening scented flower.
AKA soapwort.
You can wash your clothes in an

In rejecting what I believe to be wrong, I get a whole lot of right in return.

I suppose you could say that my hand is forced by my convictions, but that doesn't make it a drag. I thrive when I tend to my home. Actively keeping the house cool-ish (by perhaps unconventional means), cooking properly nourishing meals (at a somewhat inconvenient time) .. both ensure we can better withstand the heat. We're made stronger.

Love is something we do, not something we feel. It's an action, not a sentiment. That's what walking the talk means to me.

As some of you know, I do what could loosely be called counselling by email. Whether people come to me because of my wildcrafting work or my parish work, they'll find me the same - tough. I see no reason to coddle or tell anyone what they want to hear. If I can live by my convictions, I will encourage you to live by yours. If you're full of baloney, I will tell you. If I don't think you'll listen, I won't bother to talk to you.

It would seem, though, that people come to me because they know they have to be honest with me. It is a relief to them once they drop the pretence, and once it drops away it is easier for them to see what their own convictions really are. Challenges bring out the best in us, so that's what I try to do, challenge people to reach deep and find their best.


What do I mean by pretence? There are key phrases I listen for, like "I'd love to do xyz but .." or "in a perfect world, I could .." or "eventually I hope to ..". That's fear - or at least lack of faith and imagination - talking. That's accepting the illusory limits placed on us by the constraints of society, our limiting beliefs that tell us we need things we really don't need.


A Medicine Man named Wolf once told me the story of his "sympathy stick", a beautifully carved cane. Wolf was an older guy, although not yet what you would call elderly. He did a lot of travelling, flying across Canada to teach or attend pow-wows. As a Native, he often ran across the stereo-typing that we pretend doesn't happen in Canada but does, and got some pretty rough treatment from airline staff. As a test, he decided to try walking with a cane. It was almost magical, he said. Suddenly he got special treatment. Boarding the plane first, extra attentive staff, offers to carry his bags. So he started carrying his cane all the time and trained himself to walk like he really needed it, lest anyone believe it was only an affectation. At first he just used an ordinary cane, but someone who appreciated his help carved the one he was showing me. The beauty of it added to the allure, showed off his Medicine status.

Then his back began to ache. And his hip, too. Before a year was out, he needed the damn cane.

"Get it?" he cackled, and winked at me. "Be careful what you lean on, girl!"

That's why I'm cautious about what I think I need. If we had air conditioning, how long would it be before we really couldn't cope without it?

And an antler.

Argue for your limitations, and sure enough, they're yours.

You know the expression "to have the courage of your convictions"? It's real. Convictions do give us courage. You have to know what your convictions are, though, and that takes some digging. It often takes digging through crap and no one likes crap so hardly anyone digs.

Convictions give us courage because following them means performing without a safety net. You reach for that other trapeze and you had better catch it because there is nothing down there if you miss. There's no saying "oh if this doesn't work out I can always go back to ..", that's not walking the talk, that's hedging your bets. That's not faith, it's lip service.

See? Tough.

Creation - this realm, the physical manifestation of God's love - supports us when we live by our convictions. It's not that it won't let us fall and sometimes even get pretty beat up when we hit the ground, but it will support us getting back up and trying again. Sometimes, especially at the beginning, we will be mistaken in our convictions. I've misjudged that other trapeze and likely will again. I know that. That's when we have to dig deeper, find the error, root it out and try again.

Like anything else, living by our convictions - being "heart-led" - takes practice. It's a skill.

It's also a sort of beacon. It makes us glow with a light that is discernible to the others who live this way. "Heart-led" people find each other, support each other. Creation itself responds, bringing the teachers you need to you, or putting you where they can find you. In my case, the plants I need for my journey pop out of the ground at my feet, literally. For you it might be different. It can manifest as something seemingly small; you'll find the book you need on a park bench. Or bigger; you'll get the job you need even though you're not technically qualified.

Mallow, close up.
I adore mallows.
Slippery medicine.

Living by our convictions, letting the heart lead, turns life upside down sometimes. It can mean putting the cart before the horse, like when my husband and I bought a run-down old cottage when we didn't even have a car to get us there (or jobs, but that's a long story) which eventually led us to leave the city altogether and essentially save our lives. All along the way, we met with walls that revealed themselves to actually be doors. Being heat-led puts us in place to allow for miracles, small or big, that we just wouldn't see otherwise. Offers us gifts we didn't know we were seeking.

The heart is not the sentimental Hallmark weak spot we've been told it is. It is the seat of the will/Will. It is the place that the Holy Spirit touches and teaches our spirit. Once the mind is trained to obey the heart, then we are - however imperfectly, since we are human - aligning ourselves with the Will of God. When we go wrong, He will correct us. When we go right, He will shower us with blessings.

What we have to understand is that His correction is a blessing too.

Comfrey. Something about these blooms as they fade
just makes me weak at the knees.


  1. I really liked the photos. Is the "bergamot" you show the same bergamot that I enjoy in tea and as an oil?

    And I noticed, along the line of the cane story, that when I travel with my husband and four kids, people don't help and barely glance my way. When I travel alone, people are helping and smiling right and left. I find that interesting.

    Enjoy your weekend! We are! Blackberries and birds and trees and morning mist and family!

    1. The oil probably comes from the bergamot orange. Similar flavour/fragrance. The tea, if it's leafy, yes, it's probably the plant I have. Easy to grow, it's in the mint family. Mine keeps wandering, I never quite know what part of the perennial bed it will come up in.

      I'm so glad you're having fun!