Category: Spirituality

WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

WRITING FOR CONNECTION – #WednesdayWisdom #AshWednesday

JournalingToday, I need to write, to lay out in words on a page the cacophony that has taken up residence within me.  Not writing too often leads me to bouts of irritability, depression or sleepless nights. I used to write in a journal every night before I went to bed. That was years ago, before kids, before I married. I lived alone. No TV, no phone, no close friends.

PATHWAYS

Writing in a journal led me down such interesting paths in those days. Each night, I grabbed my notebook and pen and climbed into bed, eager for a conversation with a caring friend. I began with whatever came to mind, often with no particular forethought. The process of writing loosened my unconscious thoughts and opened the floodgates that kept me locked within myself. The more I wrote the lighter I became and I eventually flowed into exhortation and prayer. When I put down the pen I felt stronger, a bit more whole, my spirit solidified.

‘the world will never starve for want of wonders;
but only for want of wonder’

I believed the Divine was alive in me then, as I do now, alive in all of us. We simply need to find our point of entry.  Writing became my vehicle of communication, a daily dialogue with the great beyond. I was not clear where the two worlds met other than in that very private and personal space. It didn’t matter. Inner peace is worth a few unanswered questions.

I set down my pen for years. Lost in the world of doing and becoming. The connection weakened. The communication severed.  I could not find a way for the two realities to meet. I experienced this great divide for the first time after returning home from church camp. Longing to share my experiences I reached out to the one person I thought would understand, my mother. She was unable to cross the bridge from her world to mine and the wall between my experiences and the “real” world thickened. Eventually I gave up trying to talk about it. Doing so only made me feel more alone than I already did.

THE GREAT DIVIDE

This great divide ultimately led me into a very dark place. A psychiatrist named it Clinical Depression and gave me medication. The pain dulled and once again I reclaimed my place in the world. This world. Dwelling here in finitude my focus shifted to more mundane matters, a career, a marriage, children. My connection with myself and with the Divine lay in a closet somewhere out of sight.

Many years later, a mighty swing of the hand of God put the pen back in my hand. Even now I stray and wander as I always have, but with each passing year I come to understand more deeply the connection between my soul and the written word. It is my life blood, my vehicle for expression and connection with myself, with others and with the world of Spirit.

I still choose not to question too deeply and instead choose to rest in gratitude for all that lives within each of us. The spiritual path is a practice that requires leaning into, embracing and accepting our yearning, our sense of incompleteness as a fundamental human drive for a deeper connection with all that is.  The strength of the longing and the fact that it exists in all of us is proof enough to me that it is a path that we all must travel in our own way.

“In my life, writing has been an important exercise to clarify what I believe, what I see, what I care about, what my deepest values are. The process of converting a jumble of thoughts into coherent sentences makes you ask tougher questions.”  ~ Barack Obama, 44th President of the U.S. 

 


next step workshop

COMING SOON! 

FIVE STEPS TO CULTIVATING RESILIENCE AS WE AGE

Receive Updates 

 

Not Talking Is Not Silence

Not Talking Is Not Silence

1-IMG_1850

I have been mostly silent much of my life. As an introvert who grew up in a family who couldn’t hear me and in a world who didn’t understand me, silence came naturally to me. Words didn’t form easily or readily no matter how much I willed them to. I tried with everything I had and everything I knew to speak into the world I lived, but the silence that befell me was both deafening and defeating. I found it more unbearable to speak and not be heard than to not speak at all.

This silence was anything but silent. The noise within me was a cacophony of sounds. There was the screaming cry of anguish. There was clanging and banging of anger and frustration. There were the many words that came to my mind that remained stuck there running in circles trying to drown out one another. There were loud torrents of retribution and shame, rivers of despair, waves of excitement, deep longings for release, passionate hope, unrelenting belief and a desperate commitment to love.

I had an English teacher, in eleventh grade I think, who once wrote on one of my homework assignments, “I see and sense that you have much to say. Why don’t you speak?” He was a progressive, late 60’s kind of English teacher who was more of a philosopher than a literature instructor. He engaged the class everyday on the pressing issues of the day. He dug behind our preconceptions, prodded us to think beyond the typical rhetoric and to express our deepest beliefs. I loved listening to the banter and back and forth in the classroom. I was surrounded by bright, verbal peers who were fired up about Viet Nam and who were passionate about freedom, peace, human rights, and equality. I had thoughts. Many of them. But I remained silent, often hating myself because I did so, feeling deep shame because I could not stand up to the test of the debate.

My silence has been both a curse and a blessing. It becomes less of a curse and more of a blessing as time goes on and have learn to accept myself and my true nature. I am also less silent for sure as added years often release even the most reluctant speakers.  Not speaking has taught me to listen. It has taught me to watch and wait. It has taught me patience. It has taught me to look for answers within myself. Not talking has helped me discover the meaning of true silence in a world that prefers to talk itself into the ground. I respect silence now, when once I cursed it. I have reverence for the quietude that all of us are capable of and wherein lies our deepest truth and strength.

I  posted something controversial on my Facebook page a couple of days ago and suddenly my page was buried in words and rhetoric. I weeded through the dialogue trying to pick out what was helpful to the debate, there was so much that was not. Anger, name calling, defensive behavior, posturing, fear, hurt feelings. In the end there was no meeting of the minds, no common ground to be found, no gains in understanding, just words spread across a page. Very little listening took place. It seems this way of settling issues in our country has become the norm. Would that everyone would just be silent and take action instead; do what one’s heart calls one to do; no conversation is really needed or necessary to go where our inner guide leads.

Conversation and dialogue over issues facing us stirs the pot. It keeps us thinking about things. It also confuses and angers us. It muddies the water. It diverts our attention from the truth. It spreads a cloud so thick that other options can’t be found. Like silence, it is a blessing and a curse. When it comes to silence, however, Caroline Myss gives us something to work toward, something to aspire to, a place within us that is a treasure to be found. I still usually choose silence during debates. I choose to listen, reflect, weed through and weigh and measure the words of others against my own heart. In the end, acting from our own conscience and heart is what we are meant to do.


If you are an introvert I highly recommend Quiet – The Power of Introverts in a World that Can’t Stop Talking – for current research and a rich understanding of the nature of introversion.

 

Unraveling Ourselves

Unraveling Ourselves

“Unraveling external selves and coming home to our real identity is the true meaning of soul work.”

Sue Monk Kidd3c15e6af5a296dd861c2bd8ba93aa29e

There is so much to be done in the unraveling department. The good news is that once true unraveling begins, one starts to feel lighter and lighter. The heavy weight of pain and confusion begins to lift and the challenges one faces are laced with hope. Feeling one’s real and honest identity become interconnected with one’s soul is both energizing and life affirming.

If anyone had told me years ago that I would feel younger, happier and freer at sixty-three than I had ever felt at any other time in my life, I would have been convinced they were smoking something. I lived pretty much most of fifty something years under a black cloud, fighting, struggling, despairing…suffering inside in a way I wouldn’t wish on anyone.

I was dedicated and earnest in my pursuit of self-understanding from a very early age. I was drawn to the spiritual life, like a magnet. I understand the human need and desire for a connection with the divine, implicitly. What I didn’t understand was my pain in the world. I didn’t understand how the world and the divine spoke to one another. The divine was speaking, but no one was listening.

Repeatedly throughout my life, I moved toward God and then fell away. I moved toward spiritual teachers and an understanding of an inner life, but when I attempted to carry it into the world I felt frustrated and alone. I did not know how to put words to any of what I knew to be true in a way that would convey to others.

The symbolic language I found and used to describe such things no longer worked in my practical, modern surroundings. I desperately wanted to find a connection between the two. I did not want to leave the world behind and go to a mountain top, although at times I wish I had. It could not have been more painful to be alone with God than it was to be alone in the world.

Now all these years later I’m beginning to see more clearly what happened. A product of my times, I found nowhere to go with my spiritual yearnings. Even seminary was an environment that was decidedly pragmatic in its approach to spirituality. One believed in the fundamentals of the Christian faith, even questioned and discussed them with other believers, but when all was said and done it was understood that the ultimate goal was to bring our faith and belief to others in the context of the church setting. What about bringing it into the world at large? Why must we put it into a box only to be brought out on Sunday morning in a pre-programmed environment? I couldn’t buy into any of it.

To my way of thinking what was always wrong with the “church” was what is still wrong with organized religion. It’s religion in a box. It’s not about spiritual listening and learning and becoming. It’s not about looking for God in the everyday world of board meetings and while making peanut butter sandwiches for your kids. We paid lip service to that, but there really was no support structure for such a lifestyle.  Religious traditions are too small, too narrow, too limiting for what I believe God to be and the spiritual life to require.

When “religion” didn’t answer my questions or satisfy my yearnings I didn’t abandon the Divine that lived in my heart. I just stopped paying attention to her voice. She was still there, calling to me, needling me, tormenting me. I chose instead to turn my back on my soul and sought refuge instead in the psychological realm. Therapy. Medication. Pain. More therapy. More pain.More medication.

I learned much about the human psyche, but it did not help me grow in self-esteem or  value the gift of life, because at my core I remained disconnected from my essential myself, my soul self. I was ignoring that place from which all real self-esteem comes. If we are not listening to our deep, inner voice and hearing the messages and guidance of our soul, we will never find peace. We will never understand who we are or what we have to offer the world. We will never trust that we are valuable, or that we matter, no matter what. No therapist, no religion, no worldly structure  or construct can ever teach us that.

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

We Cannot Ignore the Cry

embersWe dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow into and beyond it; to discover who we are in the corner of our heart left unattended as life passed by. We grow weary of living on the surface, of trying to catch up with the cultural ego or our own, of trying to be something we are not.

The pain is a reminder. It teaches and instructs us. It tells us where to look, what needs our attention. An ember burns within each of us, a smoldering, glowing energy that calls to us, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a scream. It speaks our name. It knows us. It understands us, and it will not abandon us.

We can ignore its cry. We can drown out its voice with the loud, crashing sound of a carefully constructed external reality. We can numb it with each and every one of a myriad of addictive behaviors…both small and large…dampen it, drive it down, imagine it is gone as we turn our heads away to binge on cookies, or computers, or anger, or work, or fear, or exercise, or friends, or talking, or worrying, or…..we run away. Like children, we put our fingers in our ears or hide under the dining room table.

Or…or until…we rise up, shake off  the shackles of denial, of fear and open our arms and our hearts to that great something…and with each breath we take, we breathe the breath of life into it, watching the flame grow and burn once again or for the first time…hot and fierce forging strength and courage and a boldness we never knew we had.

We dig beneath the surface of our pain not only to eliminate the pain, but to grow strong and bold and wise, and fully present to that we value.

Gut It Out

Gut It Out

378a445020743408715c4111ffb81adaSometimes it just takes guts. Sometimes we can’t think our way to a solution. We can’t whine our way to the answer. We can’t emote our way to healing. Sometimes it just takes guts and putting one foot in front of the other and doing the thing we think we cannot do, facing that thing we think we cannot face.

I haven’t been writing lately. I’ve been gutting it out, head down, leaning into the pain. Pushing through, breathing the baby into the birth canal. She’s so ready to be born, so done with carrying the weight of the past, so ripe for life.

There’s a bit more pushing to be done before I can embrace the miracle of birth that will set her free, though it feels as though the hardest work is done. The months of sickness and burden, the trimesters of struggle and straining toward freedom and understanding.

A new consciousness has awoken. A new beginning is at hand. Birth, life, death. Birth, life, death. The cycle of life continues unfolding the fullness of you, the fullness of me. Lean into the pain. Gut it out. Let the birth take place. It simply needs your cooperation and above all else, your fearlessness.

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.