Thursday, May 17, 2007

"Conviction of the Heart"

"One with the earth, with the sky
One with everything in life
I believe it will start
With conviction of the heart…"

-Kenny Loggins/Guy Thomas
Conviction of the Heart
My relationship with Kenny Loggins' Leap of Faith CD is a conundrum.  The first time I heard it (click on the title of the song below Kenny and Guy's names to hear the song yourself), I was both captivated and shocked. The African/Carribean percussion rhythms on "Conviction of the Heart" were delicious.  But the raw candor of his lyrics on songs like "Leap of Faith" and "The Real Thing" left me reeling and angry.  I wanted to throw the baby out with the bathwater, and never listen to the CD again. 

His call to live with emotional integrity poked at all of the most tender places in my heart. Those dark corners where my deepest fears about not being worthy of love smoldered -- just waiting to burst into flames, and devour all that I held dear. What if I had only convinced people to love me by doing good? By giving generously? By being nice? Would they hear these songs, and suddenly realize that their love for me was as uncertain and fragile as my love for myself?

I felt taunted and threatened by songs that were meant to encourage and empower.   However, my long love affair with Loggins' lyrics has spanned three decades, and I am not only a lyrics-junkie, but a loyalist. Remember, I am the one who still loves George best, proud to never have become Paulist, forty years after first hearing George's,  harmony vocals on "All My Loving."

But back to Loggins and
Leap of Faith.  I had to decide whether I could bear avoiding the CD altogether, and thus deprive myself of the pure joy of hearing his young daughter's voice on "Conviction of the Heart." I am a sucker for the introduction of children's vocals in songs.  Or I could choose instead to find a few tracks to savor, while avoiding the poking and prodding of Loggins' invitation to look more deeply into the nature of relationships - personal, environmental, and global.  I chose the latter and listened to "Conviction of the Heart," over-and-over-again as I drove from my office or to our daughter's preschool in 1991.

Since "Conviction of the Heart" was one of the songs I could listen to without imploding emotionally, I must have heard it a hundred times a week. And no, this is not an exaggeration.  The compelling
"One with the earth, with the sky, one with everything in life.." heard over and over again must have started to really sink in.  I started to  recognize the presence of this universal truth in almost all of the spiritual literature I read.  The Bible, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures by Mary Baker Eddy, Eddy's Unity of Good, the Tao, Gibran's The Prophet…and later, Morgan's Mutant Message from Down Under, and Redfield's Celestine Prophecy all pointed to this remarkable truth: we are one.

"One with the earth, with the sky
One with everything in life
I believe we'll survive
If we only try...

One child, one dream, only one life
One earth, one sky, only one world
I believe it will start
with conviction of the heart...

How long must we wait to change
This world bound in chains that we live in
To know what it is to forgive,
And be forgiven?

It's been too many years of taking now.
Isn't it time to stop somehow?
Air that's too angry to breathe, water our children can't drink
You've heard it hundreds of times
You say your aware, believe, and you care, but...
Do you care enough
To live with Conviction of the Heart?"

In 1991 this song brought new focus to my prayers -- my views -- about myself and my relationship with the world beyond the boundaries of my own skin.  "Conviction" poked at my corpo-reality -- an absurd sense of personal life. One that is defined by what is inside of the skin.  An "I AM" that now seems as bizarre and ridiculous as thinking that the earth is flat, or that the sun revolves around the earth (i.e. everything inside of my skin was me, everything beyond the boundaries of my skin was not me, or "other")  I began to consider that there was another way of looking at my relationship with the world. That my reality was not corporeal, but spiritual, and that this spiritual reality was much more inclusive and expansive. 

Just as the molecules of my fingernails are very different than the cells of my fingers, so the air just beyond my fingertips very different than the "flesh" of the finger itself.  But that both were an extension of the "I AM" -- of my consciousness.  Neither air or finger cells are more me, or less me, than the other.  Both allow me to serve God's purpose in this space, and at this time.  The air allows me to breathe, my fingers allow me to touch -- both are important. 

When I began to look at the world around me as simply an extension of the "body" of my thinking -- my consciousness of being -- as the body of my work, my family, my environment, I began to take better spiritual care of it. 

And not only did I care for this "body" with greater conviction of the heart, but I ceased to have an antagonistic relationship with it. 

For many years I had suffered with grass and pollen allergies that were quite aggressive.  I remember thinking that the large bushy-headed pampas grass just outside the front door of our house on Aberdeen Lane was my enemy.  The minute that devil bush started pluming out, I avoided the front door.  I had to sneak in the back sliders off the kitchen if I wanted to avoid itchy, puffy eyes and a red nose at school.  And as a 13-year-old, "blotchy" was not an option. 

My adverse relationship with all things pollen-y continued through adulthood.  It made springtime difficult -- at best. That is, until Loggins
Leap of Faith. My obsessive listening  to the "Conviction of the Heart" lyrics, began to penetrate more deeply. That ego-based, or personal sense of existence, paradigm that I'd long-held started to shift and my understanding of who I was in relation to the world expanded.  

As I walked within this larger body of being I was suddenly not in opposition, but in cooperation with everything around me. Much in the same way that the hand and and the eye need to cooperate to throw a ball. Or the ear and the feet work together in executing a beautifully choreographed and balanced arabesque during a piece music -- I ceased to be in conflict with my own being. I ceased to think of myself as separate from the "I AM" that existed outside the boundaries of a false corpus/epiderm-based sense of self.  I began to act out from a more inclusive sense of the "only I or us" -- the one Ego that has, as its center
and circumference -- God. This "I" is infinite -- without border, boundary, or constraint.

And I never suffered from grass/pollen allergies again.  Immunity was unnecessary -- since there was nothing outside of this all-inclusive oneness from which to be immune -- no infection, irritation, interference.  No foreign anything.  All that was -- was real. And if it was real, it was of God and was already included as part of the body of my consciousness of being.   Or, as Eddy says in
Science and Health,

"All that is, is the work of God and all is good. 
We leave this brief glorious history of spiritual creation
In the keeping of God, not of man,
In the hands of Spirit, not of matter,
Joyfully acknowledging now and forever
God's supremacy, omnipotence, and omnipresence."

Hey, here was a new job description…"leave things in the hands of Spirit and joyfully acknowledge God's supremacy, omnipotence and omnipresence."  And as it says in First Thessalonians:

"In everything give thanks,
for this is the will of God
in Christ Jesus concerning you."

Eddy further drives this message home when she says:

One, infinite God, good unifies
men and nations,
constitutes the brotherhood of man; ends wars;
fulfills the Scripture, 'Love they neighbor as thyself,'
annihilates pagan and Christian idolatry, --
whatever is wrong in social, civil, criminal, political and
religions codes; annuls the curse on man,
and leaves nothing that can
sin, suffer, be punished or destroyed

[emphasis added]

In the 1996 film "Phenomenon," John Travolta's character recounts to an audience gathered around him at a local fair that one of the largest living organisms on earth is an aspen grove (one I visit each summer) near the Continental Divide.  Scientists discovered that this grove, long thought to be tens of thousands of individual trees, was really only one tree, sharing an underground root system -- each of the once-believed individual trees, just an extension of that one single root. 

Hmmm. If I am not defined by what is inside this thin layer of skin -- if I am more than I see -- then I am not defined by the shape of what this skin contains.  And if I am not defined by the shape and form of what is "within" this skin, where does this leave me on the question of gender?  If I truly am one with everything I include in the body of consciousness -- men, women, trees, dogs -- where does that leave me on the question of speciesism, food chains, hierarchies, wealth and poverty, the environment?  

If there is only this one all-inclusive body of being, where does that leaves us as we consider our responsibility in caring for one another? What defines our "self", or family, our community, our neighborhood, our circle of concern? Al Gore once called "Conviction of the Heart" the unofficial anthem of the environmental movement.  I see it as a call to action for true health, human rights, environmental responsibility, education, social justice, economic parity…

"One with the earth, with the sky
One with everything in life
I believe we'll survive
If we only try.."

with conviction,

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:53 PM

    I love the questions raised in your last paragraph and the thought of a world where all life is equally valued as life (not one species higher or lower than the other), and love is celebrated as love without regard to gender. God doesn't see physical men and womem; the terms heterosexual or homosexual are meaningless to Him. God doesn't see herbivores, carnivores or omnivores. What She does see and cause is all the tenderness, kindness, fidelity, honesty, intelligence, beauty and respect expressed in and by all creation. Your post today is wonderful!