Written by Erin Pfahler
“... character -- the willingness to accept responsibility for one’s own life -- is the source from which self-respect springs.”
Joan Didion, On Self Respect
"To be wise, we have to examine our intention to ensure that it is free from delusion. The ends do not justify the means. If our actions will bring harm to others, even in the service of some 'good', they are almost certainly deluded. If our actions do not come from a kind heart, from loving courage and compassion, they are deluded. If they are based on a distinction between "us" and "them", they stem from delusion. Only to the extent that we act from the wisdom of no separation, understanding how we are woven together, will our intention bring benefit." (Jack Kornfield, The Wise Heart, 264)
When I first became a formal student of plant medicine over a decade ago, I immediately fell in love with the medicine of burning plant material -- smudging, as it was introduced to me. I was transported into one of my childhood memories of building and burning a fire made of hard and soft wood, pinecones and dried needles, and the feeling of comfort, protection and purification that accompanied the warmth and beauty of smoke and flame.
As I embark upon my 33rd revolution around our sacred Sun, I am overwhelmed by the many feelings that accompany me at the beginning of another journey. 33 years feels like a long time as I weigh it in my human mind -- then again, I feel, for the most part, in better physical health than I can ever recall feeling, and although I am blessed to have experienced some incredible things in my time on this planet, I certainly don't feel very wise or particularly accomplished. As I assess the reality of this miraculous existence, and that 33 years is, really, not very much time at all, it seems perfectly understandable that, to quote one of my favorite songs by Railroad Earth, "I still got a long way to go"...
That said, I have been meaning, for quite some time, to sit down and provide my loved ones with an update on what I've been up to over these past adventurous 12 months, and just where it is I am headed. I'm not sure I have answers, but I'll try....
Molly Jo Stanley
Educating for Mindfulness and Sustainability