The Peace-Wariors Journey

By Matt Bibeau, Program Mentor, PEACE-WARRIORS, Portland, OregonI remember clearly when the re-connection to my inner “Wise One” happened for me. I was in a place that I had come many times before, often with a friend who was also my mentor, a place where the sweet aromas of fir needles and tree blossoms tempted me to breathe more deeply and connect with my surroundings more fully. As I was sitting on the hillside of my favorite city park, amongst the tall, whispering fir trees and the intermittent chorus of songbirds, I felt compelled–almost like an instruction–to retrieve a small card from my wallet I had saved from a memorial service of a loved one. The picture was an image of Jesus in a compassionate posture with a glowing, beaming heart. I had kept it both as a reminder of my loved one and as a reminder to practice unconditional love.

While I considered myself a spiritual person, I didn’t identify strongly with a “Church”. Although I had gone to Sunday School as an adolescent, I always felt more connected to the Creator when I was alone in nature. As I sat on the hillside focusing my awareness on the image’s glowing heart, some flood gate within my own heart burst open. For a short while, I was awash in the most magnificent sensation of love-light. Time seemed to stand still as my whole body began to tingle.

After basking in this sensation for some time, I discovered the ability to control it slightly, to flex some kind of spiritual muscle to make this sensation grow and fade in intensity, until, despite my efforts, it faded altogether. I was left in tears for the gift I had just received. My mind felt clear, my body felt like I had just gotten a full night’s sleep, and my life would be forever changed.

A few weeks later, I would leave Portland for a seasonal summer job in the remote wilderness of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Amongst the high mountains and the alpine lakes, after I had completed my fish and frog surveys for the day, I would practice the opening and closing of this heart-connection. It was this regular practice, along with the remembrance of my mentor’s gentle guidance and words of wisdom, that I would experience a personal metamorphosis from being scattered and out of balance into a more grounded, connected compassion.

I attribute this shift in my life to my mentor, who took me to that city park so many times and shared with me so many words of wisdom. And to that original experience of staring into the heart of another mentor, Jesus, that sunny day in the park. And to returning to nature many times as part of my spiritual practice. And to that summer I had spent in the Sierras. With these events, I found a new path in my life.

It wasn’t by chance, therefore, that I connected with Georgette Star and the programs she had developed through the Life Blessing Institute. I accepted an invitation to join with others as one of the pioneering mentors in the LBI PEACE-WARRIORS program for adolescent boys. Small groups of boys, working with a mentor, meet once a month in an experiential program that supports them on their journey of self-discovery and spiritual awakening.

In my eight years as a mentor in this program, I’ve consistently woven in time spent in nature, as it was this connection that helped me to find my own spiritual path. Being outdoors gives the boys an opportunity to get some of their bottled-up energy out, helping them come to a calmer place where they become more observant of what’s going on around them, and more able to find a quiet mind and experience an open heart in the rest of the work that we do together.

At Jean’s Farm, a charming urban farm in Portland surrounded by forest and alongside Johnson Creek, we spend close to half of each meeting outside. We explore the forest and follow animal tracks, trying to discover what animals left them. I remember a session where we had found a good spot on the forested hillside to sit quietly and observe the birds, and on this day, no birds were to be found. As the mentor, I wanted the boys to have the experience of the birds coming close the more we sat quietly, but still, no birds came. Then, out of the corner of my eye, an animal appeared along the trail that we had taken to get here. It was a coyote! No wonder the birds weren’t around!

In the PEACE-WARRIORS program, there are no preferences for one religion or modality over another. My own experiences only enrich my desire to honor all interpretations of our connection to the Creator. We very intentionally work with over a dozen images of God and of enlightened beings from various religions and belief systems across the world. The boys are encouraged to be open to all the ways that people around the world find their path to what is sacred, and to practice tolerance and to have appreciation for all of these ways. I think this is especially important in today’s global climate of political and religious unrest.

Recently, I presented to my PEACE-WARRIORS group the concept of the chakra system. During the previous session we explored the stardust origins of our physical bodies and their connection to the universe. This session’s focus was on the spiritual body.

I remember during the guided meditation portion of our time together, after we had learned about the seven chakras and their unique characteristics, one of the boys in particular would exclaim in delight that, as the meditation brought his awareness to each of the places on his body where the chakras align, he could feel them activating and expanding. I was reminded of that day on the hill where I first experienced the opening of my own heart chakra, and felt blessed to offer this experience to others. If only we all could have discovered the amazingness of our spiritual bodies at such a young age!

To conclude this meditation, as we often do, I prompted the boys to visualize their Wise Man Within, and to ask this Wise Man to show them which chakra would be important for them to focus on. Each boy received the guidance for a different chakra, their own inner-wisdom guiding them on the beginnings of a healing journey to becoming balanced, whole beings, a journey that we know as that of the PEACE-WARRIOR.

For more information contact Georgette Star.