Tag Archives: Freedom

In the Silence

24 Sep

There is a silence at the Seminar Haus today.  Not many sounds to be heard except the falling of the acorns from the trees… and Dan, my fellow American visiting here at Seminar Haus, playing the occasional you tube or video on his computer.  Our host is away in France this week teaching a caligraphy seminar to second degree Reiki students.  And with no seminars this weekend in Wettenbostel, the space is a mostly golden… silence.

I have enjoyed the simple things today.  Mostly… being tender to myself.  An omlet for lunch… leeks, peppers and eggs with gouda cheese.  Yum.  And a walk in the golden fields just across the way.  I strolled for a while… then rested and took in the warmth of the ground.  Communed with the rows of fields before me.  I even found a tree stump that had been carved into a little seat.  A great place to rest.  And later a little picnic table and chairs crafted out of neglected pieces of wood.  Ah.  Feels good.

I took a little dip in the hot tub this afternoon.  By myself this time….The heat of the water was intense and shot through me… I could only take it for a minute or two before I jumped out and returned to the refuge of the house.

This morning I found my way down the street to our hosts home for a bit.  I did some work with our hostess and then gratefully received TWO pairs of warm woolen socks… a little preparation for the cool weather creeping in with the fall.  One pair were bright red ski socks.  On my feet right now.  Ah, oh so warm.  The other pair, Angola wool with pretty pink stars on them.  Deeply appreciated and a reflection of the simple ways our hostess cares for us while we’re here.

Dan is on the porch smoking his pipe.  And I am here.  In the building next door called the little dojo.  There is a soft murmur from farming equipment in the background, working the potato fields.  And that is what lingers today… in the silence of Wettenbostel.  A soft, soothing sound.

-Photo by Michael Hartley

Being at Home

22 Sep

Nothing is permanent.  That’s what the Buddhists say.  And I am all too often reminded of that… 6 years ago when my apartment and the world I knew were submerged in the waters from Hurricane Katrina…  the somewhat vagabond life that followed… living in Texas… here for a while then there.  And then returning 18 months later to a still unstable New Orleans.  My most recent year in New Orleans, I house sat in other people’s homes… 6 months here… six months there.  And now here I am again, wandering… in Europe this time.  How does a Gypsy begin to be at home?

I started this morning with some of my typical rituals… continuing to build my spiritual backbone… knowing, wanting…and sometimes seeing and experiencing that there is a way and place where I am at home… in spirit.  That is the ground from which I build my foundation. Every day.  This morning I read a passage from A Course in Miracles… reminding me to be open to seeing, experiencing and hearing God in and through all things… that God is an echo beyond what we see and experience.  Oneness. And in that space, home to me sounds and feels a lot like “om“!

It’s quiet today at the Seminar house and it has been good to be able to take my time. Grounding.  I’ve been tending to the basics.  Cleaning this.  Organizing that.  And today, Dan, my fellow American here in Wettenbostel, and I had a big adventure and rode bicycles into the nearby town of Amelinghausen. A neighboring town just 8 kilometers away… it is the closest source for groceries and other basic needs.  Armed with bicycles… that were in need of a little tender loving care… we braved the ride, the two, maybe three hills and safely arrived for a little shopping and a coffee break.  It was my first time “breaking out” of Wettenbostel to Amerlinghausen without the escort of one of our hosts and their vehicle. Being there on the bicycle passing the fields of corn, beets and potatoes just felt good and kind of reminded me who I am.  Nothing exciting or dangerous… but just the pleasure of being on a bicycle… seeing the fields expand and feeling the coolness of the wind.  I had to laugh when on two different occasions I had to swerve my bicycle to avoid hitting a stray potato on the road.  Only in Germany.  Land of the potato. We returned to the Seminar Haus, me feeling victorious at having successfully returned to the mother ship.  My legs were stretched from the exercise and my heart was moving faster.

And now, here I am… back at home.  There is a familiar feeling in spending time at Wettenbostel that gives way sometimes to the peace and ease of home.  But I am aware, in true gypsy form, that my life is still a home in motion.  And I like that.  But in the meantime, I do need to take the time to just be.  Be me.  Ride a bicycle.  Work a little in the garden.  Have some time to relax… work a morning in my pajamas. Watch a movie at night.  It seems with all the chaos not so long ago in my life… that perhaps I was lost.  But every day little by little, in the magic, the ways, the experiences of my life and new adventure…in quiet still ways.. I am found.  I am at home.

Freeing Myself

21 Sep

Since I have been in Europe, I have found that I rely on Facebook.  Keeping connections with old friends, making connections with new friends while traveling.  And… sometimes…staying grounded with the good words that are shared by friends.  Here are a few that touched me lately…  a woman who was in my sorority in college posted yesterday, simply… “make peace with yourself.”  And today I read from Stephanie Jupiter, a friend from New Orleans and doctor, healer, spiritual leader…”Remember it is absolutely ok to love all People. Loving them does not mean you overlook negative habits, it means you 100% accept them for who and where they are in their journey of life. Keep in mind what you put out is what you get back. Tomorrow is Fully Accept Yourself and Others Day. Embrace it and let me know what you experience. ”  It seems that these message are good keys to unlocking something within myself… and that somewhere… making peace with myself lives in making peace with the world around me… the new adventures of Germany as well as the friends, family and connections of home.

I feel foreign here in Germany.  Not just Germany, but Wettenbostel.  And it’s not a good or bad or right or wrong thing… but somehow… unlimited.  Somewhere in the space of spending time with the folks who live and visit here, cleaning rooms, cooking a little food… and extending myself with new people, new experiences… it seems I am waking up something new in me.  It feels like, I don’t know… plenty.  This is connected to being someplace truly new… where there is a different beat.  Where people don’t always speak my language… and where you can have a conversation about driving to Africa… as it only takes three days.  Two days if you “don’t stop to pee”… as I was told.  Finding and exploring that balance between my time.. walking barefoot around the grounds, feeling myself and the feet connected to the earth… and taking a leap…and spending time with others.. even if it’s a small leap to have a conversation with someone who might seem different or unusual to me or with whom I feel uncertain.

Last night we had a little fun welcoming a visitor and old friend of the Seminar Haus.  In typical Wettenbostel form, he came by to hang out, talk, laugh and drink some beer.  Rather than a hot tub this evening, they opted for a fire.  I joined for a bit… enjoying the warmth of the fire.  We listened to music from mostly European musicians which was a refreshing change from hearing so much American music.  It was great to hear sounds with foreign words with welcoming beats and experience a little bit more of Europe through the expression of music.  And Germans sing and play Reggae… who knew?

Today is a cool day with a light mist creeping through the air.  I took a walk in my bare feet this morning and felt the coolness of the grass tickling my toes.  It seems that something new is coming.  I can’t say what it is… but there is something stirring… somewhere in the simple rhythm of being in Wettenbostel.  The walking on the land, the beating of the drum, the being in the day.  Simple pleasures… and new rhythms.


31 Aug

Freedom. Ah, perhaps one of the most questioned topics….  Janis Joplin, spiritual texts.  But what is freedom… really?  I suppose it just depends on who you ask…

I have been in the Netherlands now for about two weeks, and I have to say it has grown on me.  It has a sweet and simple essence to it and it is a pleasure to be surrounded by bicycles, canals, cows, sheep and of course windmills as part of the daily landscape on any average day.  Time here the past few days has resumed a moderate pace.  Marijke returning to work.  Me mostly staying by the house except for a walk here, a bicycle ride there.

A few nights ago Marijke invited two friends over for a Reiki exchanged.  I witnessed the rhythm of the evening as it was explained to me before hand…  Coffee, tea and something to eat… (strawberry pie for the non-sugar eaters… everyone but me…), then upstairs for Reiki share (for non-Reiki people, simply this includes gathering around a Reiki/massage table and taking turns giving and receiving Reiki…), and then return downstairs for more socializing and more to drink… some wine perhaps… and more snacks too.  A different beat from our Reiki shares in the States, less formal… and generally no tea and snacks served…

Her guests and friends for Reiki were a friendly married couple and it was a fun “dutch” experience for me.  They mostly indulged my need to speak English and we talked and shared and laughed about what was true in the States, what is true in the Netherlands and in Europe.  Marijke almost fell off her chair laughing when she heard it was not uncommon in the States to sing the National Anthem at “important” events.  This just doesn’t compute to her dutch mind… it is even a little ridiculous…  And flag bearing and waving, well perhaps just a little less regarded here in Holland.  They do, they said, when they remember, fly the Dutch flag on the Queens birthday.  That’s sweet.

Nationalism, the topic turned, has a bit of a different flair here in Europe as well.  According to my intimate conversation with a select three Europeans, there is still a significant degree of sensitivity to ideas like nationalism since the impact of the Second World War.  It is fine to love one’s country… but perhaps there is a fear, a concern of taking that too far… An example was offered of being in Ireland where an Irish man started singing his national anthem with pride.  There was also a fellow there from Germany and when he was invited to sing his anthem, “Germany above all… above all in the world…” there was hesitation… even perhaps, disgrace.  It certainly puts a different context on history to be in the countries where the atrocities of WWII happened… something that over in the states we are mostly isolated from…

But alas, Europe and the States are not all that far apart in some ways.  American culture has leaked into European culture and you see it everywhere.  Sometimes with a chuckle.  And at times, a little disturbing… Just today I was walking around the nearby shopping area and heard Lionel Ritchie “Say you, Say me” being piped in through the overhead music.  And the neighbors have a dog named Neil… named after Neil Diamond.

As the pace here gets slower and Marijke’s work schedule gets busier… it seems it will shortly be time to leave the Netherlands.  Or at the very least depart from the generosity and comfort of Marijke’s home.  We discussed this briefly today.  It will soon be time to go.  And the idea of being some place else, some place new brought to me… well, excitement.  Cool… something new… what’s next?  Could this feeling be something like… Freedom?…

Ah, it’s the adventurer in me that often excited by the spirit of something new.  But I have to admit I am not always smooth in this transition.  I can recall times in the past when something has come to a close… being delighted by the feeling of the possibility of what is next… something new… and then stricken with anxiety wandering through the uncertainty of it.  Well, it’s a way perhaps… a way to waddle from point A to point B… meandering through the uncertainty.  But perhaps this time will be different… a gentle shift from what is now to what is next.  A new country perhaps?

Which brings us to the original theme when I first arrived here in the Netherlands to stay in Marijke’s home… that is “go where you want to go, do what you want to do… we are loving you!”  Freedom.

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