Quan Yin Carved in Yellow Cedar (July & August 2012)

The front cover features a statue of Quan Yin that I brought home as a present for my sixtieth birthday this February. It is carved out of an old yellow cedar log, and from the back you can see the log was hollow. I imagine it had been lying for a while in the forest before some carver dragged it home to discover and bring to life the image in the wood. I have been collecting Quan Yin books, pictures and carvings for about fifteen years, and each one I find is more beautiful than the last.

Five years ago during a dinner conversation, a man said, “If you want to see some Quan Yins, you should check out a shop in Langley,” so I made a note in my travel journal. I don’t usually distribute Issues there, but this year Richard took the time to visit relatives, so we meandered the downtown area and found the shop.

Roger, the owner of the store, had brought in a truck load of wooden statues from China five years earlier, and they had all sold except the two largest ones. I was awe-struck looking at them, as I could tell what skill it took to incorporate such a wide variety of carving techniques. Also, it was yellow cedar and had that cedar smell I like. I have been told by a few buyers who travel to the East that many of the young people are no longer learning the traditional way of carving or painting. Seems they want choice in how to make a living.

Quan Yin is one of the original divine goddesses from eighth-century Asia. Her presence reminds people to be compassionate and she is often shown in meditation pose or pouring a stream of healing water from a small vase. This is the “Water of Life,” with which she blesses her devotees and all living things with physical and spiritual peace. Water represents the veins of Mother Earth and also our emotions/tears. But life, like water, becomes stagnant without flow. Quan Yin also stands on a lotus root reminding us that rising out of the deep, dark muck of the earth, we can grow into a beautiful flower.

There is a beautiful song that reminds me of this flow. The words are simple and profound. “We are one with the Mother and to her we shall return, like a drop … of water, flowing to the ooooocean.” This concept took me a while to think through since I know I am separate, but at the same time, I know we affect each other deeply, moment by moment. We are drops flowing back to Oneness with each re-birth.

Life is about relationships and it is good for me to notice what affects me and how I affect others. I watch for clues or answers to questions, and piecing the info together is like a puzzle … and not all the pieces fit easily. If the puzzle becomes too complex, then I ask for help.

Being in a close relationship with me, my partner gets to know my shadow side, the hidden parts of me, and can bring them into the light so they can be healed. I am glad Richard likes to communicate, and after the frustrating feelings cease when we have a tiff, I get to question my reactions, motives and reasons. I get to understand myself a bit better and sometimes Richard as well. The glue that binds me to the Retreat Center, other than an opportunity to create community, is that I get to practice deep honesty about who I am, with myself and with other people.

The old me, prior to starting Issues magazine, wanted peace at any price. I grew up watching my Mom and Dad argue and had firmly decided that I did not want to pass that tradition along to my children. I remember saying to Mom at one point that I thought the purpose of my marriage was to show her, by example, that men and women could get along. Now, as I gain more confidence in speaking my truth and learning ways to communicate more clearly, I know better than to compromise who I am. Marshall Rosenberg, the Nonviolent Communications expert, is correct when he says, “Never give up and never give in.” Each time I get upset, I know it is because my expectations have not been met. I can then look deeper into my patterns, releasing the illusion of ego, sometimes even smiling when I discover an imprint left over from my childhood and put two and two together. Recently I had an amazing dream that put my emotions into perspective as I figured out another piece of the puzzle. It was good to take the time to process it.

Any time there is chaos, it is especially important to make time for reflection and return to the only place of power: the present moment. Personal growth is what the soul wants, for once we change ourselves, we can change the world. We have no choice but to evolve and shift to a more compassionate state of mind. The feminine influence is slowly increasing her presence in the world, for the patriarchal days are over, and we need to find balance between the yin and yang.

I just finished putting the final touches on the sixteenth annual Wise Women’s Festival that happens every September. Many women gather there, sharing their gifts and offering support so we can all grow wiser. Once again, the program is a smorgasbord of positive, healing energy. What way do you learn best? You choose which way to climb the mountain! Increasing the tools in your tool box allows change to happen with more ease internally, which is later reflected externally. As a wise person once said, “Change is the only thing that is constant.” Allowing the flow of change to move through me is better than having an accident or illness that increases the pressure, forcing me to pay closer attention to what my angels have decided is my next step of evolution. Once I become aware, there is no going backwards except off the planet. I like figuring out how to be of service to others and to myself. My heart is full of gratitude and my mind busy with a to-do list that increases every year as the Retreat Center blossoms into its potential.

A closing quote by Rumi says it all. “Your task is not to seek love, but merely to seek and find within yourself all the barriers you have built against it.”  

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