Where were you the June 26 weekend of the full moon/lunar eclipse/G20?  Did you feel it? Did you live it?

Astrologers had lots to say about this eclipse. To quote Toronto astrologer and musician Michael Moon, it had to do with issues of “power, control, inevitable sudden change, justice, war, sudden shifts of consciousness… new forms of creative expression, new artistic movements and enlightenment.” An interesting time to hold a Summit, no?

My weekend included a spectacular house concert by Jane Siberry. A fluid explosion of poetry, story and song, the evening was an exquisite heart centred gift, lending remarkable poignancy to subsequent G20 events. Sunday was spent scouting workshop venues.  A friend of mine suggested a studio called Labspace on the corner of Lakeshore and Pape, and as I understood that the protests were further west I parked happily on Queen and started walking south toward Lakeshore.

A crowd came into view in the distance gathered right outside the studio I had intended to visit, lots of cute hippies on bikes with flags, and beyond them, rows of riot police. At this point I realized the street was quite deserted, except for folks on their front porches watching me walk obliviously toward the mayhem.  I slowed to a stop and smiled at a woman on her front steps, commenting, “I think I picked the wrong day to look at studio rentals.”  She raised her eyebrows and let out a sudden belly laugh. “I’d say so honey. They just gave a five minute warning.”

It didn’t take any more detail about what the warning entailed for me to figure it was time to head back to my car, but turning north to face Queen, I discovered that in the two minutes it had taken me to walk part way down Pape, huge buses had pulled up into the intersection at Queen and were spewing forth dozens of helmet-wearing, shield-carrying riot police. Within moments they were lined shoulder to shoulder, blockading Queen Street entirely, including the sidewalk that would have been my escape route. They stomped their boots and positioned their visors as they fell into formation. These gentlemen meant business.

Then, heading north came a flood of those cute hippie cyclists, presumably responding to the five minute warning, flying their flags bravely but faltering to a stop when they drew closer to the blockade.  One of them called out to a street resident, asking if a nearby laneway provided an exit. No, was the answer. There’s no way out.  Some of the cyclists began to circle nervously, looking panicked.

At this point, I asked myself what on earth I was doing here, protesters on my left and riot police on my right. A street full of folks with strong ideas upon which they were prepared to act, and little old me in the middle. I glanced at a resident and considered asking if I could pretend to live with them. Visions of the street slaughter scene in Dr. Zhivago flashed before me, only I was not up on the balcony with Omar Sharif. I was down there on snowy cobblestones with the communist rebels, staring at the armed cavalry. It was not a pretty sight.

As I looked back and forth between the two sides, observing fear bouncing like a tennis ball between them, I considered that simply being present in a state of peace might make a difference.  After all, if we choose a vibration of love in any time or place, we are radiant. And radiant energy is contagious in its very nature.  It sure can’t hurt.

The air seemed very still as the riot cops readied their batons. Then the leader of the cyclists called out and raised his arm, approaching them.  He wanted to talk. The police allowed his approach and soon a few were in a huddle. Discussions went on. Then the cyclist headed back to the group lifting his flag high. “They have agreed to let us leave peacefully, in single file,” he shouted.  “Anyone who remains will be arrested immediately.”

The riot police broke formation and formed a kind of funnel, much like the picture to the right, except shields and batons were at the ready. Now I remembered a snippet of a film I had seen only a couple of weeks prior about Irish prisoners having to walk naked between two walls of very similarly attired, stomping, shield banging police. The prisoners were beaten violently, anally searched and thrown into cells.  But we were in Canada now, safely hidden from the world’s atrocities, weren’t we? 

And so I stepped forward, along with the hippie cyclist leaders, between the walls of shielded riot police, and as I walked I looked at their faces, into their eyes. Some of them focused right through me as if I didn’t exist. Some averted their gaze quickly, to the next hippy in line. One stared back at me and granted a gentle smile. “Good afternoon” he said kindly, and nodded as if he might offer to take my coat. As the cyclists dispersed along Queen Street, one of them looped in a circle in the middle of the intersection, screaming at the top of her lungs, “Is this CANADA?! Is this CANADA??”

I heard later that this particular group of protestors had actually been specifically routed to this location by the police, prior to the blockade. I don’t know if that is true. I also heard that a similar situation occurred at Spadina and Queen a bit later in the day. This time no truce was called, no brave cyclist with a flag, and no police huddle resulting in permission to let folks leave.  Instead a large number of sudden and random arrests were made, a hundred or more people lined up against buildings to be sent off to join the thousand or so now in detention at the film studio on Lakeshore.  But for the grace of some radiance, that could have been me. But we are in Canada, safely hidden from the world’s violence, aren’t we? Aren’t we? 

Later in the day, with Pape now safely open to pedestrians, I returned with my grown sons to take some photos of the ongoing scene. They wanted to witness first hand what was taking place in their city, because if their mom could handle it, surely so could they.  Two tiers of riot clad cops were walling off the detention centre as protestors in cut offs jumped up and down waving water bottles and shouting chants about democracy and fascism, as they awaited the release of detainees. 

Eventually a few heroes were released, and emerged through the police lines one at a time in stocking feet, holding up their beltless pants and carrying clothes and shoes in clear plastic bags. Mostly they gestured triumphantly at the cheering crowd. One or two looked tired and upset, quietly putting on their shoes and going home. A few stayed to tell stories to surrounding supporters, some with gentle fatigue, and some with spit and rage.

The photos taken by my boys reveal a fascinating study in contrasts.  The brazen, joyous exuberance of the crowd, and the closed, frozen, almost frightened faces of the police. Who knows what each of those officers imagined as they placed themselves before the oncoming crowd of dissenters, police haters and hired gun anarchists. And for that matter, who knows what causes were supported by the vast numbers of protestors who have taken to Toronto streets these past days. Has their voice even been conveyed in the  midst of this? Was all of their commitment and risk worth it in the end? Does anyone know the range of issues that compelled them to march, ride, and run home in their socks, and do you think the world leaders noticed? 

My uncle George Long was a Staff Superintendent, a man of some influence in the Toronto police force. He introduced radios to police cars, and hired the first women and officers of colour.  For two summers when I was a teenager, he found me work in the clerical department of 42 division where I saw some fascinating things, and wondered about what I didn’t see.

My three children, born and raised as city kids, have had their fair, or perhaps unfair share of police run-ins, especially the boys with their knack for triggering the wounded masculine that seems to live in so many police and military men. One day I will write about their experiences, and those of some even unluckier friends. On their behalf, I have come to see a frightening number of police as aggressive, unconscious and drunk on petty power, some to the point of cruelty and abuse. It’s a bit of a journey for me, from the days of my own childhood when I was taught to believe that police were here to keep me safe, when they could be trusted to protect my family from the big bad world. Now they are more likely to be the big bad world, so I simply avoid them as much as possible, and pray my kids can do the same. 

I confess, I’d have to be in a pretty desperate situation before I’d call on the police for help. My experience has been that as often as not their presence has made matters worse. I’m sorry, my dear departed Uncle George, because I know you were a good cop and a kind man, but these days, I don’t know how far I’d have to look down that line up on Lakeshore to find you in a uniform. And yet where would we be without those who choose careers as enforcers of our equally questionable laws? How do we make the leap from a world filled with rebounding fear and control to one of consciousness, compassion and mutual respect?

This weekend I had the chance to stand in the midst of conflict, and witness peaceful compromise unfold. I also had opportunities to observe the power of fear in its many guises, stirred to a conflagration of global causes and sparked by an astonishingly potent moon.  Standing mid-way between hippy and oppressor, idealist and conformist, their common humanity was so clear. Sheep in wolves’ clothing. Sheep running from border collies. Children on bikes facing children with weapons. All of them quite beautiful, in an eerie way.  And given the power of these moons, these times, perhaps the question is, what steps do we take, what choices do we make, in order to access enough radiance to shine upon them all…

Photos by Sandy Long Waldin and Cynthia Long.

© Cynthia Long

A Message from Natalee Holloway to Beth Holloway, June 7, 2010

Dear Mom

It has been so long, there has been so much, I have watched you suffer as no one should ever, ever suffer and now all I want is to reach out and hold you and let you hold me, to rest my head on your shoulder, to bury my face in your hair and let it fall over my eyes and just stand together, hidden from the world, away from all of those who do not understand, who can never understand, what it has meant to lose one another the way we did, to be parted in physical form. This is my chance to speak to you the way we always used to, and I am so grateful because it has broken my heart to watch you die with me and then struggle again, to find a reason to live.

It is hard enough to lose someone you love, for them to go away and never return, but to have to carry on with your life without knowing, without clarity in front of the whole world is horror beyond compare. I know what this has done to you and I have been with you, walking with you, reminding you, whispering in your ear that you are never alone. And I know you have heard me, but through these words you can hear me as never before, and there is so much to say, so much to share, so many ways I want to tell you how much I love you, and that I am truly okay. 

I know that since you accepted my death there is one thing that has haunted you beyond all the other questions and that is how much
did I suffer, how long did my death take? Was it a terrible one and what happened to my spirit after leaving in such a way? Now you know me Mom, you know that I tell the truth when something is important, that I always have and so you must believe me when I say that it wasn’t nearly what you imagined, not nearly as bad as anything you dreamt and that yes, I was afraid, more than I ever had been, but it was quick and I was strong and because I fought, all my heart went into the battle and I did not have time to think, just to act, and a fierceness raged in my eyes, something you would not have recognized, but it was there. I found this in myself, and so I regret nothing. I did not give in. I did not give up, and my anger saved me from falling into fear. You would have been proud of me, you would have been amazed, to see the fight I gave. And where do you think I found my strength? Do you realize just how much I am like you? 

And who would have thought? No one who knew us would have considered either of us capable of what we did, how I tried to protect myself and then rose up above the shame that I refused to accept, and how you too never ever backed down, just kept walking forward, one foot in front of the other, never listening to all the nonsense, and all this, from a woman with a heart made of gold. You see what happens to many in the traversing of a violent passage, is they take on the shame of the experience on a soul level, and then they have to work with that for lifetimes to come, but I refused. I refused to carry his burden and I left it with him because I was clear it was not mine and that I was a pure soul then, and always will be, from here on. 

And if it helps, Mom, know that he is someone whose heart has just shut down. He has lost the ability to feel, in search of his own protection, because he has known terrible things, so many that they have become a way of life for his mind. And so he has no sense of what is real, what is alive in others, and so he is foolish, stupid really, like a child who kills flies because it makes him feel strong. He does not know any better and cannot feel anything, not in this life, not this time around. 

I know your fears, your imaginings of the brutality I might have faced, given that I was truly such a child, no matter how worldly and all grown up I acted in front of others. And the destruction of my innate innocence has been such a source of torment for you that I want to tell you over and over, it wasn’t like that, Mom, it wasn’t like that at all. And while my passing was sudden, which comes with a whole set of adjustments in making the transition from form to spirit, that was really the only challenging part because I took with me all the love you gave me my whole life long. My own light guided me and I was with Grandma, she was there with me, beside me, lifting away my fear. 

But most of all I want to talk about you, to say I have been watching, I have been present, and because I am no longer in form I see you as a beloved soul companion, not just as my Mom. And I have to say that all my ideas of you being ,well, sort of little, mild and insubstantial, all of that has flown out the window, and you have grown in my eyes into a giant like Jack’s beanstock outside his window, you have grown and grown up to the heavens and this work you are doing now is reaching me, reaching so many angels who are supporting you and you will bring comfort to so many lives because of the strength you found in your willingness to make something sacred out of being forced to let me go. 

I know you didn’t even know the strength you had in you
and you would never have found it without this, don’t you see? And I know you still don’t really accept why something like this was necessary but we have to trust, my sweet mother, we just have to trust that we are together forever in this way because this is how it was meant to be. I was reborn in your strength just as I was born into my own, in the way I fought back at my passing. And this strength did not stop me from accepting God when I was in divine presence but it did allow me to push away the shame and horror and refuse to take any of it with me, and so I entered my passage with grace and such light, such light, such beauty, that you would have thought I lay my head down on a silk pillow and softly went to sleep with you, my whole family at my side. 

The little girl in me still reaches for you, still wants the scent of your skin, your sharp laugh, your sudden smile. And we loved the sun and the water so much, you and I, I did not want this experience to take away your joy for all the things we shared, or to make you fear life, or to fear others as you carry on throughout your days. So this is the one thing I ask you to truly believe, that the pain, the suffering is done, and will never come in the same way again. I know your heart cries out and always will, but you must let go of the fear of another stroke in your life like this one, because it is not meant to be. It will not come for you or for me, our paths in this way are complete. 

We are now meant to work together, just as you have envisioned, to create safety for others who have lost it, to gather in others who wake every day afraid to open their eyes, and simply hold them, hold them until the shaking stops, hold them until the darkness fades and the sun rises again to see that they too can fight back and refuse the mantle of shame and grief, for no matter what anyone says, they need not carry it throughout their lives. 

When we can embrace the ultimate loss, we open ourselves to let the truth pour in because when we have lost everything there is nothing left to lose and so we are freer than we had ever dreamt, even when peace and joy came easily in days long past. 

I love you mama. I love how you wrinkle your nose. I love the freckles on your arms. I love the songs we used to sing when I was small. I love how you always loved me even when I was bad. We were sisters really, weren’t we, and aren’t we still? Walk now with a lighter heart. Please do this for me. We have only just begun together, and the best is yet to come.

© Cynthia Long June 7 2010

Angels Embrace by 
Mr. Ou-Yang Guo-De

GET BURNING – Encouragement from a mother

Often when we feel the support of a loved one’s presence from a place beyond this plane there is greater clarity than if our communications were confined by physical form. The following is a transmission for a young man from a beloved, deceased mother…
GET BURNING     Dec 25 08
How are you
my forgotten one
for I know sometimes
that’s how it feels
The middle one
the not-a-girl one
the not the oldest
nor the youngest one
the not quite out there
in the world one
not yet anyway
and in between
your good nature
and your silliness
lie hidden
some sad thoughts sometimes
and I’m just going to remind you
that it’s all okay
that there’s nothing to hide
or pretend
or deny
it just is
I know
part of what you are asking me
is what next
what can possibly be next
with all the changes
that just keep coming
it’s like
how do I roll
from the place we once knew
in our innocent family
to the next and the next challenge
and somehow
in the middle of it
find out who I am
and how to get there
let’s start with the understanding
that this is your only task
to find out who you are
I mean
It is not your job
to save anyone else
or be anything for anyone else
or please anyone else
it’s just your job
to be the most of you
that you can be
and so that keeps it simple
keeps the focus
where it belongs
So for example
when it comes to getting a job
or schooling
or whatever
you have a habit of asking
and listening quite intently
to what others have to say
and this comes
from your own belief
that you really don’t have a clue
or so you think
not a clue
but that is not the truth of it
my sweet boy
not even close
and it’s time for you
to start seeing
just how much
you really do know
So with this issue of stepping out
into the working world
start by looking at
whom you have been trying to please
and stop right there
Actualizing yourself
has nothing to do with pleasing
so I want you to back track
to the beginning
to the part of you
that believes there isn’t really a place
in the world
for someone like you
and know that
there is
there is such an important place
because you don’t realize
just how many young people
there are
exactly like you
all over the world
You are so far from being alone
you are in fact
lamp light
in the dark
reaching out
to bring a vision
and while so far
that vision has been through the window
of your computer
that’s okay
it’s about a connection
much broader
much deeper
than the physical self
So if you can picture yourself connected
on an energetic plane
just like you connect to others online
but this is just pure energy
and these connections run instantly
all over the planet
to all different kinds of souls
can you look inside and ask
what is it I want to share with them
how do I get
all this love
from inside my heart
and spread it
to the rest of the world?
I’m waiting
for you to ask that question angel
my adorable boy
you are one of the most loving creatures
on the planet
and it’s time
to share that
share that
above all
beyond money
beyond achievement
beyond pleasing others
who may not understand
I didn’t really have the means
to guide you in this
when I was with you
because I was so deeply engaged
in working on it myself
and it’s the great question
for all of us
isn’t it
for your brothers
for your sister
in their time
But we’re talking about you here
and your journey is special
because you are
you have a powerful drive
that you haven’t even recognized
because you think
that you’ve been hiding
and that there isn’t any drive there at all
Well my gift to you

is to tell you

that you are like
those bundles of coals
people used to carry around
wrapped in hide
in the primitive days
before matches
when they wanted to preserve fire
and have it ready
to start a blaze
There they were
carrying around fire
living fire
but it was just wrapped up
all neatly
hot as anything inside
hot enough to light up
any flammable thing
but waiting
until the moment was right
to start the burning business
all over again
And nothing
was more important
than fire was it?
It was warmth
a means for cooking food
it was everything
and nothing was more precious
nothing was more needed
in life
So this is what you are
a burning bundle
and you’ve been transported
getting all ready
for the moment
when you will be unwrapped
and the time of fire
will have come
Your job
is to find
the kindling
the wood
for you to set alight
and you will be home
you will show everyone
how your fire was ready
all along
I don’t want you using
your lack of belief
in your own fire
as an excuse
a reason not to take the time
to find your passion
because it’s there
I promise you
it’s there
and my faith in you
was not wrong
I see you on the verge
of discovering
what I knew
all along
In the meantime
your joyful nature
is sacred
and I mean that
I treasure it in you
and I want you to too
because you have no idea
how much light you bring
to everyone
in your world
Your very being
is a gift
and wouldn’t it be
a great time
to do some unwrapping
of that special Self
for all to see?
I know
these are confusing times for you
for many people
and I don’t pretend
that it isn’t hard
but start by accepting
that confusion is just part
of being human
being in a body
because we can’t understand it all
not even half of it
so we just have to keep walking
and trust in the place
we will land
You are so beautiful
and I love you so much
and I’m so grateful
for all that you do
– don’t laugh –
I truly am
and if you start to take yourself
more seriously
then others will
I promise
and it will make more sense
step by step
year by year
I know you miss me
but honestly angel
I wouldn’t be able to do much
to help you with this
I would just be there
rubbing your shoulders saying
sit up straight
and go do it
and then
all the rest would be up to you
so know that I am there
than I am right behind you
and beside you
and smiling at how much you look like me
when you get that puzzled expression
but I expect you
to far surpass me
in every way
so come on
and get that ass
out of bed
and yes
there’s a woman for you
in your future
I promise
but I do suggest
that you get motivated
to keep getting cleaned up
cause you are one gorgeous warrior
when you make an effort
and the girls
are going to see that too
nothing but joy ahead
and you can still support your family
in the midst of all
your own unfolding
What greater gift
could you give them
than to let out
your own inner fire?
Get burning sweet boy
I love you
always and still