The Change That Happens Between One Heartbeat and the Next

It’s been a long time since I’ve written in this blog because all my time has been taken up by teaching at the university, by grading hundreds of papers, by shepherding eighteen and nineteen year olds to get through one of their required courses and at the same time hopefully to give them something of value that they can carry with them through life. All of this has left far too little time for myself, far too little energy for writing, which for me requires a kind of heart focus and a bit of real breathing space.

However, tonight I found myself having a conversation with myself, and this is what I said.

I once attended a workshop called Spirit Dreaming where a friend of mine talked about how the spiritual work we were undertaking might not bear fruit for a hundred years, how generations to come would likely be the recipients of the work we are doing now to transform ourselves and society.

I know that what he said is true. But one of the most beautiful things about life is that we live among paradoxes, in a world where many things can be true at one and the same time.

I have been working for a long time on a set of medicine cards about my own personal mythology, the images, metaphors, symbols, and ideas that have helped me to overcome cancer twice, find a way to accept my parents’ deaths, and given me a reason not just to survive the challenges I have faced over the last nine years, but to “jump up and live,” as the Maya Indians say—to embrace life with as much wild freedom and joy as I can find in this magnificent world.

Joseph Campbell once said that true myths—the stories that guide entire cultures—take hundreds or thousands of years to form, that people cannot just make up a myth. But that’s not the whole story. While it is true that real change, real understanding, takes a long, long time, it is also true—and I have seen it happen many times in my own life—that everything can change in an instant.

So, we can live as if our choices and our actions will slowly ripen and bless the generations to come. But we can also realize that we live not just in faith, with slow persistence and with patience, but that at any time we can be struck by lightning-fast moments of realization, shifts that can happen in an instant, breaking open our understanding and our hearts as never before. So, a myth that has meaning to us, a new way of being, the stories we need to truly live can spring into being between one breath and the next.

In this world where people are faced with uncertainty, fear, and challenges that at times seem overwhelming, I don’t think we can afford to wait a hundred years. The time to open the heart to the possibilities of miracles, to the voice of the earth, to the whispering revelation at the very center of our beings is now. And we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.

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About Joy Parker

As a three-time cancer survivor and storyteller, I felt compelled to create this blog because I felt the need to connect with an audience and immediately share what I am learning as I am learning it. The material in this blog is serving as the basis for two books that I am writing. The first book talks about how illness is a vehicle that takes us into the unknown land, teaches us things we couldn’t otherwise learn, and then gives us the opportunity to bring them back to our community. It offers a compass and creates a map of the unknown land so that others might find their path more easily. Most important, it shares what I have learned about waking up and being truly alive in this magnificent world. That might sound simple enough, but the actual experience is devastatingly beautiful and powerful. The second project is a book with medicine cards discussing many of the lessons I’ve learned from my experiences with healing and as a healer, the indigenous world, and walking a spiritual path. Most important, it is the story of the development of my own personal mythology. People tend to think of myths as massive stories and beliefs that develop in a culture over hundreds or thousands of years. We now live in a time of crisis and we don’t have a hundred years. The time for healing and transformation is now, and we are the ones we have been waiting for.
This entry was posted in Francis Weller, Mythology, our life's purpose, Reda Rackley, Storytelling and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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