Tag: symbolism

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Wisdom Wednesday – Being Authentic

Being Authentic

Being authentic requires us to change…

and change doesn’t come easily for any of us. In fact, it becomes more difficult with age. Decades of buried hurts and confusion have clouded our vision, damped our courage and our ability to be authentic. We no longer even know where to begin.

We must remind ourselves, however, that we have gained strength along the way. Strength and endurance are beneficial characteristics for digging deep.

When we begin the journey toward authenticity, it’s common to feel as though we’re groping in the dark. We have been temporarily blinded us to ourselves and to what we cannot bear to see or feel.  Our subconscious muted it for our survival sake, so that we might continue to live the life we had in front of us. There comes a time to unearth that which has been hidden in order to reconnect with our true selves.

We must go beneath our facade, even when we don’t know what that looks like or how to go about it. All we know is that it’s time to find and bring forth our authentic selves, and to face all that we have buried and denied and abandoned about ourselves. It’s a primary task of aging.

For some the call is so loud we can’t hear ourselves think, until we stop and start paying attention. It’s time to turn around and face it, whatever “it” is. We must answer the call of our deeper selves. It is time.

“Be gentle with yourself for you are living through a major expansion of your faith and how you use it in the world. You are rewiring decades of old beliefs and shifting how you live your life. This is no small feat. It is OK to feel uncomfortable. Great change often brings with it discomfort and second guessing one’s self. Do not shrink back from this mission.”  ~ From The Celtic Christian Tradition

This period of change is ushering in a new beginning, a new opportunity for a deeper, richer life, one that creates abundance of a different sort.  A phase of deep reflection, of wrestling with our shadow self, of learning to once again let in the light, is a time that contains challenges like none we’ve faced before, an inner war perhaps, a straining toward our interior and away from externals. Being authentic requires work, contemplation, an openness to the teaching of others, and learning to listen to our inner world, to show up and be present to ourselves and all that lives within. Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.  [tweetthis display_mode=”button_link”]Above all, we must learn to be still. Be silent. Be open to life itself.[/tweetthis]

 

EPIPHANY

epiphany quote CM

Epiphany, is a word/concept that comes from the ancient Greek ἐπιφάνεια, epiphaneia, and refers to a sudden awareness, an awakening of understanding, a striking realization that one’s perception has changed and deepened. The Christian Season of Epiphany, where this word is most often heard, is observed on January 6th and commemorates the manifestation of Christ to the Magus. Epiphany, however, is a rich symbolic word that is open to a wide variety of interpretations. Religious scholars have spent countless hours researching the history, the changes in language and understanding in the context of the words use and still cannot come to any real agreement. As time goes on, the slope becomes slippery. Yet, that is the very nature of symbolic language.

Symbolism is a powerful tool for personal use when delving into spiritual matters. There is no other way to talk about, or describe, that which we know but cannot see. Language is often a stumbling block for conversation as we misinterpret one another simply because we assign a different meaning to a word. I have avoided talking here too much about spiritual matters precisely because the language is so fluid at this point in time. “I had an epiphany” is a statement that means very different things to different people.

In spite of these obstacles, it’s a subject that can’t be overlooked. It’s a subject that is close to my heart. Those who are on the path of personal growth often find themselves at some point along the way here, in the spiritual arena.  One cannot get too far down the road of life without asking a few questions about the nature of life itself.  The spiritual quest is a fundamental thread that has run through my life, a thread that I picked up in earnest a decade ago. I will begin talking more about such things here on Wisdom Wednesday. I hope you’ll join me. I hope you’ll share pieces of your journey and we’ll struggle together with the language issues. Understanding is all I’m after here, growing in faith and wisdom, coming out of the shadows and into awareness of expanded consciousness. I believe, regardless of the words we use, we are all talking about the same thing.

You may also want to join the conversation in my closed group on Facebook:  Aging and the Inner Life

When you come to the edge of all that you know, you must believe one of two things: either there will be ground to stand on, or you will be given wings to fly. ~ O.R. Melling

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You might also enjoy:

Wild Geese by Mary Oliver

More on Epiphany:

Epiphany, The Feasts of the Three Kings

The Season of Epiphany

 

 

Soul Encounter – An Encounter that Goes Right to Our Soul

Soul Encounter – An Encounter that Goes Right to Our Soul

A soul encounter
A Soul Encounter

A soul encounter often comes when we least expect it.

My grand-dog Rowdy and I have done our fair share of walking in the rain lately! Like many on the east AND west coast, we’ve had one of the rainiest (and warmest) early winters on record.  I often walk to settle my nerves and with the holidays fast approaching Rowdy and I headed out for a “calming” walk up our blessed hill.  I live in a hilly, wooded area and as often as I curse the incline I am compelled to climb each day, I am grateful for its health providing benefits and its beauty.

As we rounded the corner and relaxed into the straightaway that takes us past a beautiful wooded stream, I happened to spy a pert, colorful leaf in the gutter. It jumped right out of the drab and dreary landscape, a splash of color on the soggy terrain. Despite its small stature and seeming insignificance, it drew my attention away from everything around it…and took my breath away. It was a soul encounter of the first order.

I moved in closer to snap the picture you see to your right, hoping beyond hope, that it would  convey the feeling it evoked in me. (It didn’t and doesn’t.) I stood a moment, trying to hold on to that something,  then continued on deep in thought.

Why did that seemingly insignificant encounter go right to my soul?

Did I only imagine it? Why did it draw me in? What did it symbolize to me? I thought about how often we must all pass just such incredible moments, never noticing. Would someone else passing this way see what I saw? Or would they be oblivious to it.  I wanted to understand the texture, the meaning, the emotion beneath this brief encounter.

I groped and reached and leaned into the moment, searching for its message. The first words that jumped into my mind were lone leaf. The singularity of the leaf was important. It stood alone. We usually think of a leaf as part of a collection of leaves. We don’t often see a tree with just one leaf, standing erect in full sight.  We usually take them in en masse. Of course, we may collect a few, wax and display them, but in their natural setting they are seldom seen alone. The juxtaposition of the solitary leaf, elevated on the twig that held it, against a backdrop devoid of color, turned the ordinary into extraordinary…for me at least. This lone leaf, in spite of being at the end of its life, made a statement, beautiful, strong and compelling.

As we add years to our lives, aren’t we very much like this lone leaf?  We are no longer green, yet we are colorful!  We are often set apart and alone, no longer a part of the main stream. We are weathered and scarred, but our strength and beauty shines forth in a different way than when we were young, but every bit as beautiful. Our uniqueness, our resilience, our ability to stand apart, impacts the landscape. Just as this lone leaf lit up the dreary, dark ground as I walked, we too have something to add to our surroundings. We are worn and scarred,  but the beauty that gathers in our veins, oozes through our pores and overshadows all else. We are also prone to soul encounters, and that is a gift, a gift of years lived and of wisdom gathered. It is ours for the taking should we be willing to open ourselves to it.

A soul encounter is a gift of age.

When we stand strong, resilient and grounded in all that has gone before, acknowledging and letting in what life has taught us,  we are able to cast a light upon the path of those who follow us. Each soul encounter we experience serves to ground us further.

We cannot, nor should we, deny the passing of time or the wounds we have suffered. As women of wisdom we are gifted with the responsibility to rise out of the ashes and like the Phoenix soar;  prove to all who follow that the journey is worth every bit of the pain and struggle.  It is our job to share what we have learned while staying focused on rising from the ashes.  Let’s cease wasting our energy trying to turn back the hands of time. Rowdy Resting

REFLECT ON PEACE – A Selection of Quotes on Peace

The Confederate Flag – A Symbol

The Confederate Flag – A Symbol

symbolismI posted a news report on Facebook yesterday regarding protesters in NC and the confederate flag. It generated so much controversy I began to look for a wider perspective from which to view the conflict. How can we see this situation from a position that does not inflame us? I ran across an article that reminded me that the flag is a symbol. Like all symbols they mean different things to different people. The confederate flag is a symbol of slavery to some, of local pride, lost loved ones and fried chicken to others. A symbol that unifies must be one that speaks to everyone. This flag, even in its origin symbolized division to the people in this country. It continues to do so today.

I would never deny anyone the freedom of speech and expression. I do believe, however, that if we are to weather these difficult times as a country, we must do everything in our power to focus on unity, on what we have in common, on what binds us together. Our history has shaped who we are today. The Civil War was a part of our history. As such, we continue to teach our children about what led up to the war. We also now teach boldly what we learned from the experience and how our views have changed. My children grew up in southern schools and they learned more about black history than they learned about American history. They knew Rosa Parks and what she did. They did not know who George Washington was and what he did. As parents, we filled in the gaps.

We live in a very large and diverse country. It is our strength and at times our weakness. We appreciate our right to free speech and we exercise it liberally. Conversation is healthy, even heated debate, but conflict that pits one against another is a deeper, more challenging issue. The expression of our beliefs is necessary. Symbols must be handled carefully. By their very nature they are capable of producing great conflict or inspiring powerful unity. Remember 9/11? The much maligned American flag went up in a flash on houses, cars, storefronts, in windows, on clothing. It meant, and continues to mean, more to us than most of us realized until that day. How quickly we can forget. The American flag is a symbol of unity for the American people.

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.