Month: September 2014

Living with Scarcity in a World of Abundance

Living with Scarcity in a World of Abundance

Fall gardensThis morning as I look out my window, I am drawn to the awakening blue sky and the rays of the sun that wash over the lush green foliage along my driveway. It’s hard to imagine that in just a few short weeks the landscape will look quite different. In late August and early September we find, fast growing greenery such as wild morning glories and other late summer vines (and weeds) growing with such speed one can almost see them growing. It’s as if they see the end in sight and know it’s time to hurry.

I feel much like the morning glories some days. It’s time to hurry up and do what it is I’m supposed to do in this life. I’ve grown weary of earthly endeavors, the abundance of things that no longer have much use to me, much as I grow tired of the impatience in my garden that seem to go on endlessly this time of year.  By mid-September I want nothing more than to pull them out by the roots and be done with them, their splashy pink tones an assault to the senses.  It is now the season of yellows and golds and browns.

It reminds me of the ebb and flow of our lives, the abundance of youth, the eagerness to expand at midlife and the desire for simplicity and a less lush environment as we we reach our wisdom years. Like the leaves that will fall, age calls us inward. We are called to settle the score of our soul and leave the worldly things to those still finding their way.  It is a time of simplicity, not scarcity; an abundance of the soul, not a worldly abundance.

Though the seasons are changing, there is still much to be done.

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Banish the Darkness

Reaching – A Poem

REACHING

REACHING

ANTON PAVLENKO LANDSCAPE OIL PAINTER

REACHING

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I shoved my hands into the black soot of death and

reached through the bitter haze of unspent emotions,

to find fragments of me, inert, motionless and suffocating.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my mind,

I found a tiny girl child, wrapped like a mummy

in wordless memories weightier than her

tiny shoulders could carry. Though carry she did.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my soul,

I found an embryo who bargained with the devil,

who gave up choice in order to live, an uneven exchange

that lasted nearly a lifetime. She kept her promise.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my will,

I found a stomping mad two-year old who knew

her own mind, and suffered the consequences

for the knowledge. She stomped anyway when she could.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my heart,

I found an innocent, carefree child with

a passionate love for all things seen and,

a deep reverence for that is unseen.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my body,

I found a source of energy and flow

that I never knew existed, for it had been

traded at birth…or before.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my spirit,

I found light and power, guidance and vision,

angels and guides  a thread through my life

never to be broken.

*

When I bent down to pick up the pieces of my life,

I put down the yoke of fear, set aside the sorrow,

and abandoned the dark rivulets of despair.

I cancelled the bargain with the devil.

*

Now, I no longer bend down. I reach up instead.

Outstretched arms, fingers pointing toward the sky.

I stand anchored, connected, grounded in the earth,

heart wide open, assembled.

All the important pieces collected.

Banish the Darkness

Banish the Darkness

Poem
“In the Middle of Nowhere”, A Poem by NARYABUTTERFLYLEAVE Click on picture to read.

I’ve come to see that when darkness resides in our soul it’s because we dare not look in the corners and crevices that contain our pain. We fear the darkness when we could choose to shine a light to banish it.  A self-protective mechanism no doubt. Still….

In recent years, I’ve more often chosen to shine a light in my dark places, when I see an opportunity.  They are so well hidden sometimes, so evasive and sneaky. I find it’s worth persisting. I poke and prod, track and wander until I am weary with the effort and then wonder if it is, in fact, worth the effort.

After a rest, at the dawn of a new day, I usually decide it is. Turning over one rock at a time, I have found a measure of freedom, a modicum of peace, a self-awareness that knows itself. What more can one ask? To stand firmer, and taller and more certain, and to have a little more of what it takes to tackle the uncertainties of life…and death…is a welcomed thing.

Caroline Myss, a modern-day mystic, sheds so much light on the workings of the soul and the energy and anatomy of the spirit.  This excerpt from her book was posted on her Facebook page today. I have found her words to be true.

“Every thought you have had has traveled through your biological system and activated a physiological response. Some thoughts are like depth charges, causing a reaction throughout the body. A fear, for instance, activates every system of your body: your stomach tightens, your heart rate increases, and you may break into a sweat. A loving thought can relax your entire body. Some thoughts are more subtle, and still others are unconscious. Many are meaningless and pass through the body like wind through a screen, requiring no conscious attention, and their influence upon our health is minimal. Yet each conscious thought—and many unconscious ones—does generate a physiological response.” Caroline Myss, Anatomy of the Spirit

I highly recommend Caroline Myss’ books to all who travel the path of healing.

In Search of My Edges

In Search of My Edges

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I’m trying to find my edges. The perfect unfolding of a new beginning, a new drama that is directed only by me.  As daft an attempt as this might be, it quickens my spirit and draws me forward. The edges of me, the beginnings, the ends, the boundaries of my soul  lend shape and substance to an otherwise chaotic world.

I came with edges and boundaries. I gave them away, bit by bit, piece by piece, in order to live. I made a bargain. Let me live and I will pretend I don’t have yeses and nos, definition or substance, thoughts, ideas or places to be. Let me live. Just let me live, and I will pretend I am you.

The driving force to live trumps all else, at least for me. I didn’t realize when I made the deal what a dark morass of pain and emptiness could roll in behind such an agreement.  The suffocating despair of giving up one’s soul for an opportunity to breathe the air. I wonder now if I would make such an agreement again. Sadly, I think I would. There’s so much beauty in the world, to see, to touch, to feel, to taste…even in silence…even in utter darkness. There is light…an ember…warm, smoldering love…even in darkness.

I’m looking for my edges. So I can stand again and know the name that lives in me and I in it. I’m carving a path toward definition, toward understand, toward peace, where truth is me and I am it.  Truth knows my edges. My edges know the truth. It’s holding on that’s difficult. It’s not allowing porosity to perplex me.

I have known what it is like to feel the weight of myself, the certain, unencumbered definition of me, no questions, only answers. But, like the magnificent loblolly pine, I know that enough wind will bend and even break me in two, sheer off a branch, or topple me entirely.  My roots are shallow too, and I’m never certain that I can withstand a storm of a certain magnitude. Unlike the loblolly, I find it difficult to bear the scars and still stand tall and proud, as if I were invincible.

The fortitude that is required to find and sustain my edges has yet to be determined. I suppose we can’t ever know how much of a thing we will need until we need it.  I stand in awe of the complexity of human nature , the knotted, tangle of nerve endings that propel a man like Robin Williams to make the choice he did. Was it a dialogue not dissimilar from those that often play in the far reaches of my own mind? Or is it just as simple as, enough is enough. Perhaps one can be defeated by a pain that finds its source in the mind, or a sickness of the soul that defies diagnosis and treatment.

I wish he’d chosen to dig deeper,  to hang on, to look for hope, to create a happy ending. It’s a selfish wish, but it would make it easier for those of us who live on the edge of darkness to believe we can make it too, especially since we can’t imagine being as magnificent , or strong, or as fully human as he was to us. And yet, maybe he knew his edges better than I know my own. He chose his precise limits, his very own no, in the most potent of ways. Perhaps it was the boldest statement he ever made. The truest truth for him. An absolute line in the sand. This…is me. Maybe it was the very first time he ever said yes to Robin.

I want my yes to be different. I want to find my own happy ending and I want it to be more like what I imagined for him. Still I honor his freedom to make his choice. My fear is that he really did not have a choice and that he really was not free. It is the same fear I have for myself.

Yes-sand-line

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

The Willingness to Face Our Pain

Image by Trevor Pottelberg
Image by Trevor Pottelberg

 

“Retreating into yourself to find purpose can be like straddling a dock and a boat that is moving away. We are pulled in opposite directions by the intense desire of the mind for human involvement and the equally intense need of the soul for its own company. In the sheer immensity of solitude, when one can no longer draw energy from external sources, we come to see how much of what we habitually call being productive is merely the evasion of sitting still and meeting what is most difficult for us to receive with compassion — our own pain.”
Dawna Markova  from her book I Will Not Live An Unlived Life: Reclaiming Passion and Purpose 
 
Sitting on the edge of freedom, unable to step foot into the unknown, we are terrified of the fear that wells up inside of us. When we even consider stepping forward, something calls us quickly and urgently back into the known. Our fear is mistaken as a dark and dismal warning to run away. To hide. To pretend we didn’t really catch a glimpse of the light or truly want to meet ourselves and embrace our truth. We wear masks to protect ourselves from ourselves. Why do we do this?
 
Change is difficult. Change is challenging. If anyone tells you otherwise they are fooling you, and chances are good that if you think change was easy in the past,  it really wasn’t change at all, at least not the kind that Dawna Markova and I are talking about, change that brings your life into alignment with your true self and all that you have been called upon to contribute. Real change is inner transformation, and above all else it requires solitude and a face to face meeting with ourselves.
 
The most terrifying part of change is this face to face meeting – for it requires meeting our pain. We cannot change if the shadows of the past have us in their clutches, directing our choices and our actions. We will only carry the darkness into the future and rest assured, the pain will be a constant reminder, appearing again and again until we face it, embrace it and put it to rest.
 
The fear of change is our unwillingness to face our pain. To walk toward it. To let it come to the surface. After all, we have spent so much time and energy pushing it aside, pretending it isn’t there, shoving it deep down inside of ourselves, layering mask upon mask over top of it.  It takes some serious excavating to even find it, and then….when we do….we believe we will have to suffer the excruciating pain all over again. 
 
This time, however, the pain is like the lancing of a wound. Oh, it hurts when the knife begins to break the skin, but the pain feels like healing, not dying. As the wound drains, as the pain pours forth, there is great release and relief. It is different. It is not like the original wounding, it sets us free and once we are on our way, it even propels us forward. We begin to understand the necessity of the healing process and the great rewards that come with it.
 

Are you allowing your wounds to drain? Or, are they festering under layers of protection? Real change not only takes a willingness to step forward and meet the challenges, it often requires support of many kinds along the way. You need not go it alone. If you are looking for guidance, support or direction for your journey, get in touch with me. I may be able to help. AgingAbundantly@gmail.com