Category: Higher Self

What Love Can Do

What Love Can Do

simonelipscomb (9)

Lately I’ve been asking the question, How can we really make a difference? Actually, for several months now I’ve been walking with this prayer in my heart and mind. I breathe it in the morning….walk with it during the day….rest my head on my pillow at night with this koan echoing through my spirit.

SimoneLipscombDocumenting the Gulf Oil Spill broke my heart and mind open. It brought me to my knees in the truest sense because I saw how everything precious and sacred can be taken away by careless human acts and ongoing choices and behaviors that are centered on profit…at any cost. After struggling with emotions of anger, grief, frustration, helplessness and more I connected with Joanna Macy‘s work and traveled to spend a week with her and others committed to creating positive change in our world. Without hesitation I can say that the week spent in Massachusetts helped me climb out of the emotional hole that I fell into witnessing first hand the oil spill.

Once among the living, however, my sense of direction faded. I realized I could no longer approach my work with anger or frustration because what I felt so strongly was love…for the planet, for creatures, for humans. I couldn’t bombard people with the horrific images that had filled my nightmares any longer. I didn’t want to be in denial about what is happening in our world but focusing on the terrible seemed only to perpetuate more of it. I felt that people were grieving the destruction of life, even if they weren’t consciously aware of it. And perhaps seeing beauty would inspire them to engage, encourage them to care a little more.

Water captivates me and my favorite images center around water...waterfalls...big water...underwater.

The theme of beauty and more specifically, focusing on beauty, became the answer I began to hear each time I asked the question, What can I do to make a difference? Yet that answer didn’t give me complete satisfaction or a sense of true direction. It was a start though.

Many more months have passed and the question still pulls me to deeper understanding. It seems quite simple but how difficult it can be to live the answer I received: Love. Love is the answer I’ve been hearing lately.

It sounds cliche. It sounds so ’60’s. Yet as I’ve explored and read….listened deeply to my core…it’s that simple.

Standing in love doesn’t mean we are powerless or squishy. Sometimes love looks powerful and strong. Other times it is enfolding, soft. It seems we are at a point of powerful change in our world. It takes radical courage to live from Love for most of what is modeled in our world is power-over, squishing the competition, winning at any cost….more…more…more. To observe this way of being and step away from it, to stand centered in love and compassion is radical. And yet history  has proven that power for power’s sake never works.

Or moments of intense stillness and inner quiet.

In some philosophies there is a diagram that is helpful. In it two lines intersect. One runs up and down and is considered to represent Spirit. The other crosses it and is representative of the physical path. In the center, at the intersection where Spirit and physical meet, is the point of becoming. It’s the place where we can, in a physical experience, balance our life with the qualities of Spirit, of Love.

Wendell Berry states, “Love isn’t a feeling. It’s a practice.” He also said, “What leads to peace is not violence but peaceableness.” This leads me to conclude that what leads to love isn’t hate…it’s love.

800_1019If we really want to change the world for the better, our first task then is to clear all obstacles within ourselves that keep us from truly knowing love. This means letting go of judgment of self and others, letting go of hate of self and others. Selfishness, ego…all must go as we open our hearts to the absolute power of love. When we do this, when we have such radical courage, we will see what love can do.

Enter the Darkness

Enter the Darkness

SimoneLipscomb (5)The water suddenly lit up and I could see the turquoise-tinted liquid as the diver rapidly slipped past, his scooter pulling him like a chariot to the mouth of the cave. Within moments the entrance swallowed the light along with the diver and darkness once again brooded beneath the surface.

SimoneLipscomb (3)Two more lights approached but this time propelled only by the fin kicks of the divers. Their lights made slow sweeps of the water until they arrived at the cave entrance. Once they arrived at the Eye, they began their descent, their progress evidenced by the fading glow of turquoise.

I was standing on a dock overlooking the water. My sinuses had grounded me so my New Year’s celebration was spent in solitude with my camera and the magnificent trees and water spirits at Ginnie Springs. Even with the chilly air a few insects serenaded the passing of the old year and the birth of the new one. The night sounds seemed amplified as I observed divers gliding past into the caves. I know the intense silence of the caves and have touched their mystery and magic so I imagined the divers experience of the overhead environment as the stars arched over my head.

SimoneLipscomb (4)As the divers moved past in their silent dance of light, I was reminded of the journey we take to discover our own inner light. Most of us want to avoid the darkness yet it is by journeying into our own darkness that we find treasures–strength, personal power, beauty, light…. and more. Joseph Campbell called it the Hero’s Journey for truly it takes courage to make the life-long journey of self-discovery.

SimoneLipscomb (8)There wasn’t another place I wanted to be this chilly, New Year’s Eve. Finding friendship with myself, celebrating the journey and opening to continued travel, in the depths of caves and myself, brought me much joy.


Angels Among Us

Angels Among Us

simoneOver 28 years ago I was sitting in Centennial Park in Nashville, Tennessee. Going through a major upheaval in my life caused me to seek guidance from a therapist and I was using the before-session time to sit quietly and collect my thoughts. During that time in my life I was awakening to my spiritual path and trying to figure out who I was…normal twenty-something angst.

A quiet corner of the park drew me and I sat in a glider. As I watched the trees and squirrels and people, I noticed what appeared to be a homeless man walking with strong intention from the far corner of the park. I was a bit uneasy as I was alone and he seemed to be heading straight for me.

Sure enough his long, purposeful strides brought him directly in front of me where he stopped and held out his hand, as if to shake mine. Without knowing what else to do I simply held out my hand and shook his. He simply said, “My name is John.”

SimoneLipscomb (1)When our hands touched and he spoke, it was as if my heart and mind expanded. I felt as if everything changed in that moment. It felt like an electrical jolt awakened me.

I believe John was an angel in human form. He disappeared after shaking my hand with the same purposeful walk. But my life was never the same.

Yesterday as I was leaving the Starbucks in Lake City, Florida I noticed a man with a heavy beard, cammo jacket, rough skin and very sad eyes drinking a cup of coffee. I paused, made eye contact, smiled and nodded. When I stepped outside I noticed his beautiful dog sitting next to his pack and bedroll. Alert and watchful, he observed me cautiously as I said hello.

SimoneLipscomb (2)I got to my car and felt my heart open and tears began to pour down my face. First, I felt tremendous gratitude for my many blessings…friends, family, home, car, food, and lots of fun toys for scuba, SUP boarding, cycling, photography. All of this abundance for which gratitude and humility bubbled up within me. Then the tears intensified as I wept for people that are alone or lonely or in pain. And I thought about how humans are so disconnected and how each day we have opportunities to make a difference in other’s lives.

It was New Year’s Day and so I was already pondering changes I would like to make in my life during the upcoming year. The weekend had given me much to ponder as I trained in a new form of scuba and cave diving. Challenges always bring up my ‘stuff.’

SimoneLipscomb (3)My instructor and I connected through email after I shared a blog entry I wrote about my experience and through her reply I had a major self-realization: I have consistently felt the need to be strong, to not show weakness. For decades I’ve put an intense effort into being strong. I did this from the time I was a small child riding a tricycle. Always independent and capable, refusing to ask for help. After over 50 years of this, I’m tired.

Nobody asked me to be strong or fiercely independent and it has served me well in much of my life. But a hard edge developed and I felt protected and guarded…not always, but much of the time.

Tears flowed as I read my instructors beautiful comments. I realized how much I’ve had to demonstrate strength and power to be accepted in relationships…or at least that was my perception. I never knew those scars were present until her kind words found their way to me.

SimoneLipscomb (5)When I greeted the man in Starbucks, when our eyes met, I was reminded that an open heart and mind is what I want to offer the world this year. As I drove, I pondered the entire weekend and resolved to bring all of who I am into the world. Refusing to hold back parts of myself but to joyfully express love and compassion, to allow myself to be vulnerable.

SimoneLipscombI’m not sure how angels work among us but I believe they do. When we drop the walls of fear erected to protect ourselves, we begin to know them, to learn from them. And can then pass along the love given to us.




Sacred, Holy Work

Sacred, Holy Work

800_1019Yesterday a person I haven’t seen in a while asked me what I was doing with myself these days. As I was attempting to answer she said, “Nothing? Still goofing around?” Maybe I misunderstood as I was attempting to answer her,”I’m still writing and taking photographs and generally trying to make the world a better place.” But our words intersected and I was left feeling quite strange. You see it didn’t matter who said the words…nothing…goofing around…what I heard is what I think about my life much of the time. The slap in my face comes from my own self-assessment, not from anyone else. Her words simply pried open the lid of my inner Pandora’s box.

A couple weeks ago a person I met asked what I ‘did’ and my reply? “I’m just a writer and nature photographer.” I couldn’t believe it when the words came out of my mouth. My jaw literally dropped as I caught my statement of shame and restated to her….”I am a writer and nature photographer.”

I’m just?

Image taken while I was on a spiritual-photography retreat

I stunned myself by proclaiming that the work of my life, this sacred, holy work is...just? Doing this work is following my spiritual path so why did I answer with such shame? And what’s with the snooty judgement of my life’s work?

In contemplating the words from yesterday, whether they were actually spoken aloud or my inner filters chimed in with the negative assessment of my life, I realized an old wound had circled around again and was snarling at me. It says this: Nothing I ever do is good enough. I’m not good enough so therefore everything I give to the world is unacceptable….. Old beliefs don’t die. They just quieten their chatter and slip underground when we become distracted. They lay waiting until they can slyly sneak within hearing range and softly whisper their dark, sinister messages into our innocent ears. You’re not good enough. Why do you think you can make a difference? Why don’t you give up? The spiral brings the wound around again to be healed at a deeper level.

Photo by Rebecca Droillard
Photo by Rebecca Drouillard

Today I was reading from a course of study and the question was asked, “What more can one give but oneself?” I thought back to yesterday’s exchange and to a couple weeks ago when I stated I was just a writer and photographer. If I am ashamed of my sacred work, how will I ever believe that what I have to offer in service will be enough? How can I be enough in relationship with the Universe, my self, a man, other people?

What am I willing to sacrifice on my spiritual path? Everything, even the old beliefs that have kept me small.

Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth
Armondo carves stones that he places on his property in Akumal, Mexico as a way to honor the earth

No matter what work we do, if we do it with love and surrender ourselves to it, it is sacred and holy. May we find the courage to walk our paths and seek opportunities to share ourselves with the world.


Whole Lot A Shakin’

Whole Lot A Shakin’

simonelipscombI was kneeling in the lush grass, removing my camera from the black leather bag when the minister said, “Let’s begin the rehearsal with a moment of prayer.” Since I was already kneeling I decided to remain on my knees and lift up my own prayers as mother-of-the-bride. It wasn’t mere chance that found me connected to the Earth Mother as we gathered to walk through the ceremony that would join my daughter and her fiancé as life parters…as wife and husband. I felt the strength of the Great Mother flow through me and surround Emily and Kevin and all who gathered that afternoon in the beauty of Dow Gardens. It was a continuation of an already powerful day.

Earlier that morning, while participating in a Pure Barre class with Em, my legs were shaking from fatigue (that’s what’s supposed to happen….but it’s quite challenging). As my knees were literally knocking together from the chair position I held on tip-toes at the barre, I wasn’t sure I would be able to hold the pose. The instructor reminded us that when our muscles shake it means they are changing. The truth of her statement struck a very deep chord within me that brought tears to my eyes.

simonelipscomb (3)The process of personal change and growth is far from easy. In fact, it’s the most difficult commitment anyone can make. It demands nothing less that complete willingness to look within at our behaviors and heal them so that we can move into a clearer expression of our true nature, our higher selves. This can generate a lot of fear and I remember many times when fear gripped me until I shook.

If you’re shaking you’re changing. Physically…emotionally….mentally…spiritually. That’s very reassuring…movement is a sign that progress is occurring.

simonelipscomb (5)Never would I have imagined that my daughter’s wedding could bring up so much emotion. Tender feelings of sacred love between mother and child, grief from choices made decades ago, joy for the love she has found, and a feeling of closing a huge chapter of growth in life so that I can move forward. Forgiving myself, forgiving others and celebrating the potential that life promises with an open heart.

simonelipscomb (2)Love does that. It shakes us to our core when we open ourselves to it. True love rips us open and our willingness to stay with the shaking, the terror of opening ourselves so widely that we heal is an act of courage. This love is found in all interpersonal relationships. Feeling such profound and vast love for my daughter has transformed me….and will continue to in the years ahead.

A Course in Miracles teaches this foundational truth: What is not love is fear. Twenty-eight years after first reading that statement it continues to deepen in meaning for me. Practicing this one, simple truth is worthy of a lifetime of work and dedication.

simonelipscomb (134)The beauty of Emily and Kevin’s ceremony reverberates within my mind and heart today as I allow space to feel the shift within myself and between us.  There was a whole lot a shakin’ goin’ on leading up to and during the past week, especially at the Pure Barre classes I took. Shaking physically opened up emotional pathways that unlocked freedom to love more deeply.

simonelipscomb (4)And perhaps the most wonderful thing of all is I didn’t lose my daughter. I truly gained a son.