My first blog generated interesting questions foremost of which: What is watershed change and what do I mean when I say watershed change of consciousness is possible?
The term has been used to describe dynamic change, turning-point moments. For instance, a major revolution in medicine was the development of modern antibiotics. This watershed moment made it possible for people to survive pneumonias and other bacterial infections. A more recent watershed moment: the digital revolution. And in our own lives, watershed moments are those time, perhaps the death of someone we love, meeting the right person or stepping up to being a new parent when we hit a fork in the road and turn in new directions.
Of course, watersheds are also features of the land. We are all connected to the earth, so this term speaks to me. A watershed is an area of high ground from which water flows down to a stream, a river or the ocean. Our lives depend on watersheds, we must take care of our watersheds. This image is central guide for working with people who want to tend their lives in new ways. Watershed change in consciousness happens inside of us, inside our minds, our bodies and spirits.
I have had a watershed moment or two in my life. When my daughter Samantha was born my life was forever changed. I developed near super-human powers in my senses of hearing and smell. I had been one of those people who could sleep through an alarm but with the birth of my daughter, I detected the slightest change in her breathing in the middle of the night two rooms away. My deepest, protective instinctual self, arose from a depth I did not know I possessed! I treasure this shift in ability and consciousness.
I do confess that when I first took up cycling, I rode through the streets of my town wishing my sense of smell was not so keen, especially on trash pickup days. But we don’t get to control the powers gained from watershed moments. We get to witness them, to be stewards for them.
Just five years after the birth of my daughter, my husband Ralph died from his cancer. Walking with this very dear man through his dying and death was a sacred watershed moment for me, as the death of a loved one often is for all of us, in very different ways.
I have little memory of the year after he died. I know my daughter started school, and I started a new nonprofit organization. I know, I sold our home to move the two of us into a simple house where I served as care taker of our Quaker Meeting house. Here is what I do remember: I was forever changed because during the time of his passage, we touched the Divine. We knew we were loved, we knew joy, grief and loss, tears and terror and ultimately serenity.
How did we come to accept all that we were given? Because we tumbled into mystery. Because there were tears, and then angels would arrive. People brought gifts of food and support. We were given gifts of new consciousness. One man, a senior teacher of Qi Gong (or Life Energy Cultivation) donated his time to us. He came to our home to teach us this practice of our true nature every week.
We learned to breathe, to be present and knew a kind of well-being that had eluded us. We read Pema Chodron, “Start where you are” and we learned about compassion and being broken open. This was the book that Ralph, who had been a book seller, named as the most important book he had ever read. And I learned to read the Bible. I read the Psalms. Book Angels (or a book that had years of many hands seeking solace) guided me when I first opened the bible the Good Book fell open to Psalm 91. … “because you have made the Lord your refuge, the most high, your dwelling place no evil shall befall you” (Psalm 91:9-10).
God abides in me, and I in God, and Ralph in God and our little girl in God and each of us in one another. We all realized True Self.
In that moment, we became a revolution of Love and possibility. Ralph who already, at an early age, had touched many lives, committed himself to caring for nature and environmental protection. Ralph said to me, “You must carry on this work. The only hope we have will come from a watershed change in human consciousness. This change is possible but not inevitable, so we must live into it. Risk losing standard comforts to grow in new ways, to work in new ways, and to care for one another in new ways. Divine presence and humanity can walk together for the good of all but it’s an inside job!”
Watershed changes in human consciousness is the work I dedicate myself to through Watershed Ways. I wish you great watershed moments – where you shed self-imposed limitations and dive into the waters of life and soul. You won’t be sorry.