Director of Living As Love
Jeannie is the director of Living as Love, a nonprofit organization dedicated to seeding a culture of the Heart on the planet, inspiring, teaching and supporting people to live from their essence as Love. A year before the birth of her daughter, Jeannie was plunged into a dark night of the soul that culminated in a radical shift of consciousness. She is known for her fearless clarity, tender mercy toward humanness, and a juicy, poetic and often humorous style that draws from Advaita Vedanta, Sufism, Christian mysticism and the ongoing revelation of fully engaged living.
What is the true Meaning of Easter?
Jeannie: When I was deep in the throes of a multi-year dark night of the soul, I walked out of a family gathering and drove up to the Shrine of the Stations of the Cross on a hillside in San Luis, Colorado. I trudged the mile or so of hillside path, in the quiet grey light, snow flurries filling the air. I was alone with the emptiness I was being asked to embody, enduring the confusion and animosity from some of those close to me for undergoing a transformation I could not name, explain or find the cause of. I stopped for a long time at the statue where Jesus stood before the accusing crowd, a finger pointed at him, nasty faces jeering at him, and saw his serene face, his open, upright posture. Innocence, sturdiness, simplicity, in the face of accusation and imminent harm and death–a tall order for the average human going through something that deeply challenges those around them. Eventually I arrived at the station where the soldier is driving nails into the hands of Jesus. Lamb of God, sweetest of hearts, one who would harm no one, willingly giving himself to the hatred of the crowd, to the blows of the hammer, to the penetration of the nails – willing to suffer a very human end to his body in the name of God’s will, to be pinned there between heaven and earth, light and flesh, facing the nature of good and evil, bearing witness for all to see and share, to the harm done by our unconscious confusion and aggression, and to the reality of our lamb-ness and light. What being can stand in the face of hate and harm with only love? With forgiveness? With unity? “Forgive them Father, they know not what they do.” In other words, my fellow humans who do harm are my unconscious brothers, friends, deserving of mercy, even as I suffer at their hands.
I knew the suffering of darkness, pain and fear, as a transformation took me that no one, including me, understood. I followed a sense of a will not my own, in small steps, as I was given no other option but to walk on. I knew death to an obsolete self, as I struggled against it with all my might, attempting to resurrect the life I had prior, that no longer had meaning. Pinned between the light that was purifying me, which I could not perceive at the time, and the attachment to comfort, familiarity, and orientation to a future, the animal of my body fought the shift until it could fight no more. There I was, laid bare, with no ideas, mask, past, future, or sense of self, as the work was done in silence. Long were the months of what I would call a desert, as I simply put one foot in front of another, a young working mother, driving to my workplace, changing diapers, spending time in nature, and feeling utterly bereft, lost and clueless. Until, one fine day, as I sat on my couch, my daughter sleeping upstairs, light radiated throughout my body and conveyed to me the preciousness of human life and the love at the core of it.
Easter means to me the beauty of the triumph of our light over the attachments of flesh, and the tender, merciful understanding of what it means for each of us to suffer in the places where we have turned away from God’s love, where we feel separate and alone, and where we work like hell to create a life that solves this essential suffering. It means to me the beauty of the innocent lamb that lies at the heart of each human being, and the potential in each heart for acting in a brutal way to objectify and harm others from where we feel objectified ourselves. I am the Christ. I am the crowd. I am the merciful followers of Jesus. I am the man who hammers the nails. All of this lives in us and when made conscious, gives us a chance for resurrection: to live humbly and light-filled, no longer here for ourselves but for the advocacy and protection of all lambs and the healing of the wound of self-hatred as we step beyond division into our true essence as love.