Archive for the ‘Spirituality’ Category

41. Who We Are

October 29, 2018

It’s Monday. I begin again. First waking thought:
I’m grateful for my life, grateful to be who I am.

And then, thoughts about how we are all, in our individual lives, each of us like a cell, with a “permeable membrane” as my physiology book says. A part of, but never apart from, the body. Each of us a conscious cell in the body of a conscious universe. And now, some of the most brilliant minds of our world have told us that there actually exist other bodies — other universes.

I think of us, each a conscious being, and yet how different. Like the cells of the body, each has a specific function and purpose for being. I have said we all come here, to this mortal life, both to teach and to learn, whether knowingly or unaware.

Myself, having often blundered and stumbled, but mostly moved innocently and trustingly along. There have been some dark and painful times. I came through them, and found that I was stronger and wiser because of them. There have been many times too, when I danced and laughed and loved, beautiful and young. In this lifetime, I think I  may have been too much alone, and yet I scattered my love anyway like wildflower seeds, all along the way. As a child I rejoiced, running through the rain.  As an adult, spiritually, I still do.

One of my sisters, “the family saint,” who has lived her whole life like a child, not consciously aware. But she is happy. Ignorance can indeed be blessed. She is a good person, a simple flower in a small protected garden, never exposed to very much life. She is a daisy who believes she is a rose, and so she is powerfully proud and satisfied. Believing truly is the master key, and is the capacity that most shapes our physical life and experiences, whether the belief is conscious or deeply unaware.

My brother, who never knew who he was, and now never will. Not like anyone else in the family, more like a miniature Donald Trump, he has always been unsatisfied, believing that life and people owed him much more than life gives, and no matter how much it gives, these personalities are never satisfied or truly happy. My brother has spent his whole life, since the moment of his birth, supported and sustained by women even though he could not love them, nor his children, nor anyone. Always a parasite, always a clever manipulator, a bully, a controller, and perhaps unknowingly, a predator. I have written in my book that he had learned this as a primary life-lesson when he was a small child, but I wonder now if it went deeper than that — maybe even a life-role decided before birth. If so, I am so grateful that my soul did not choose that life.

And my birthmother. My book is a hymn of compassion for her. Life was not kind to her, and she deserved beter. I never knew her, and she never knew me, and it seems like her purpose in my life was to give me a physical portal into this place and my first great wound, of unwantedness. There was surely no conscious decision on her part, no intention to do either of these things.

And Mother, my rescuing Angel, who did not give birth to me, but gave me life. She was always meant to be my mother, and truly was, and is, and evermore shall be. I am so grateful for this immense life-gift of grace, my loving mother. My heart aches with joy at the thought of it, the remembrance of her love, and the certainty that it still goes on even now.

My Dad, a good man, beautiful both in body and soul. Always a private person, nobody really knew him well, except Mother, until her love brought him out into a new openness and expression to all of us who loved him.

I could name, if I chose to, all the people who came and went through my “permeable membrane” of existence here, but I don’t need to. And that would be too many books to write in this brief lifetime. Besides, all that they taught me, all that they gave me, is absorbed and assimilated into my Being now, some of it consciously, and some not.

Oh Life, what a magnificent mystery you are. with infinite numbers of stories. Some are beautiful and some are terribly not, and only the Author of you, knows their full meaning.

40. Let It Be

July 26, 2018

After so many years of trying to be better than I am, stronger than I am, I have finally learned to let myself cycle through the emotions that come, including the ones I don’t want, the ones that hurt, the ones that are unworthy of the person I want to be that I know is the greater truth of me.

In the decades of my life, sorrow, rightful resentment, anger, even hate, have taken hold of me more times that I dare to say, and cramming them down into the dark bottom of my mind did not extinguish the feelings. Instead, it gave them the perfect environment to wretchedly quirm and fester there. That did not feel good, and did not heal them.

After a lifetime of doing battle with unwanted and unworthy emotions, I have come to the acceptance of the reality of the human state: I am imperfect, and big parts of me are wasted on battling the truth that I am only a traveler here. I am unwise but teachable, and we have all come here to learn. I am abundantly flawed with attributes I wish I didn’t have, which provide me with learning opportunities to become less of what I don’t want to be, and more of what I know I can become.

The truest and best parts of me have never been sullied or changed by the upstart flashes of the worst parts of me. When I remind myself of this, it sets my feet on solid ground, and I can accept that in this moment’s storm of ugly emotions, I am not stuck and God has not abandoned me, I can and will ride it out, and I will return again to the essence of me that is really who and what I want to be.

If I must rage for a while, I let myself. I give myself a private rant or a private “pity-party,” whichever I need, set a specific time limit (10 minutes, 24 hours… as appropriate.) And then when it’s done, I forgive myself for it, and I re-set, re-boot, and start over.

Knowing that I will be stronger and kinder the next time, I begin again every time I need to, but I make myself do it without holding onto any residue of shame or guilt. Forgiveness releases me and everyone else involed from the trap of whatever it was. The ugliness has vented itself and dissolved into the nothingness from which it came. It was a temporary flash of something that is not true of who and what I truly am at the depth of me, that the world may not see.

Each time I surrender to my sorrow, my rage, my resentment, my self-pity, I may dissolve in tears for a while. I let myself. When my little drama of spirit, my dark night or dark moment of the soul has expressed itself and passed on, I comfort myself. I forgive myself and release all feelings of shame or weakness for these eruptions, the kind that I used to judge and punish myself for.

In my secret heart I accept, forgive, and pledge to love this part of me, even with its imperfections, just as I would forgive and love the little child within me who never really meant any harm, but just didn’t know any better, and has not learned everything yet.

With every honest acceptance, repentance, and forgiveness I give myself, it gets easier to love the person I honestly am, and the miracle of this is that I am enabled, almost effortlessly, to be kinder, more respectful, and more forgiving to almost every other soul-expression and mortal being that I meet in the journey of my days.

This does feel good. It does feel happy and stress-free, the polar opposite from those other suppressed emotions I squashed down inside myself before. Now when those feelings come, I know how to handle them and they do not handle me. I acknowledge their realness and validity, and I accept that this is expressing in me, and I forgive myself for feeling what I feel.

I go to a private place where I can let the feelings come, I let them come, and then I let them go. They cannot stay, as long as I don’t give hidden harbor to them. I have learned now, that I can purge them. For a little while, with a reasonable time limit, I can let myself rage, I can let myself cry, and when that’s done, I get up feeling a lot lighter, and surprisingly clean and refreshed. When I go on about the business of my life, sure enough, I do better.

38. Grace, The Gift Unasked For

May 29, 2018

Sometimes we’re given an unexpected unearned unasked-for gift that is God’s Grace. For me, more than once it has come in the darkest hours, to rescue me when I could not help myself. I’ve been blessed by Grace by unknowing angels. Like the cold bright almost-spring day in Minneapolis when a young couple, strangers, passed me on the sidewalk They were striding along with their arms around each other’s waist, obviously in love. It was a time when my life was broken, and I the loneliest I had ever been. I was just-divorced, and the hopes I’d had for that love, and for the career I had chosen, both now were nothing but ashes. As they swung along down the city stidewalk, they both glanced at me at the same moment, and smiled. Their small gift lifted my heart so profoundly that the moment transcended the deep sorrow I was carrying, They had no way of knowing this, but they had lifted me out of my feelings of hopelessnes with the simple openhearted act of spontaneously sharing with me the love they felt for each other.

In the recession of the 1980s, I went through a time when my life was financially, physically, and spiritually at rock-bottom. I was on my own, out of work or working temporary part-time jobs, struggling just to survive. I lived on oatmeal, boiled cabbage, and brown rice, I was in danger of losing my apartment for overdue rent, and I wore my coat indoors because the cost of heat was a luxury I simply could not afford. I had been desperate for more than a year and I felt helpless, alone, and devastated. I couldn’t see any way out, no matter how hard I tried.

Tears stung my face as I walked home from the bus stop on a bitter-cold November day, after applying for another job that I knew I would not get. It would have been a steady job in a doctor’s office, a new field, a new start – too good to be true, but I didn’t have any experience. I was thinking about my life, and about Life “with a capital L” and I was unable to hide the tears of hopelessness tracking down my face. A car drove by. I happened to look up and see its bumper sticker that said “Expect Miracles.”

There are lots of those bumper stickers around now, but at the time, I had never seen that phrase before. It struck me like a bolt of lightning, and in an instant I knew that this simple message was intended for me, exactly at this moment in time, when I needed it most. It was not “by chance” and somehow I knew it. I felt a sense of release, and I just let go of it all. I felt a strange moment of peace, and I decided  to trust God for whatever came. A few days later, I did get that job, I began a new career, and my life would never be the same.

Coincidence? The book “A Course in Miracles” says “There are no accidents, and no coincidences.”  I had been given a little glimmer of Grace, through a stranger who never even saw me, and he never knew that he had been used by God to bless me and to promise a beginning that would change my life.

Grace is the gift unasked for, even undared to hope for. Grace is the often undeserved, but deeply needed and longed-for reprieve. Grace is the unexplainable moving of God to bless us in spite of ourselves. Grace is when God cheats a little, to help us pass the test, lifts us out of the quicksand we have blundered into, and sets us on a higher ground where we can have a better place to begin again.

37. Query Letters and Cowboy Boots

May 7, 2018

As I write my book, along the way I’m putting together the necessary “query letter” for potential agents and publishers– the first level of approach and sales-pitch to get published. I scribble bits of ideas that come to me at odd times. Today sitting in my little neighborhood church in Oakland, I was not thinking about the book and certainly not the query letter, when a new segment of “my readership” suggested itself: gay men. And everyone else who has a sensibility that’s strong but gentle and vulnerable, who probably have had to be on guard for most of their lives, even ashamed, lest that gentleness at their center might be found out, rejected, or abused.

Though this will certainly be catalogued as a “women’s” book,  the fact of the matter is, all of us struggle to fit Who We Are  into What The World Expects, and usually demands from us. That’s one of the themes of the book of course, and truth be told, we all spend most of our lives trying to understand who we are, and then find the courage to dare to genuinely be that. The biggest obstacles are the deeply-embedded untruths we were taught about ourselves when we were children, either by people who should have loved us but didn’t, or more often by people who did, and lied because they loved us, and wanted to protect us from life.

The book is about a skinny little girl who loves horses and fire engines. She gets repeatedly told by the big people “You can’t have that, you can’t do that, you can’t be that” (about this and most of the things she wants) because you’re a girl. And what’s worse, there is the powerful unspoken mandate: “You shouldn’t want those things.” 

“Who says?!” She demands, to no avail. Again and again she asks, “Why not?” and gets no reasonable answer. “Those things are for boys,” they say. What the child hears clearly is: Who you are is not okay.

It’s a big fat lie, and somewhere in every child’s heart we know this, but what can we do? We’re just a kid. Some of the same lies are passed along for generations when we’re young and vulnerable and trusting, newly-learning about what life’s supposed to be. By words and actions, many of us were informed, “You shouldn’t be who you are, and it’s wrong to want to be.” If you’re a boy, you’ve got to like baseball, not art or music or poetry. If you’re a girl, you must like dolls and dresses and tea-sets, not horses and fire engines.

I remember with crystal clarity, the day my brother got cowboy boots. I was cazy about horses, boots and spurs and cowbow stuff. I got all excited and asked, “Ooooh! Do I get some cowboy boots too?” My parents laughed and said, “Oh no honey, cowboy boots are for boys. You can have some pretty ballet slippers…”

I was four years old. “Ballet slippers? WHO wants THAT?!” I begged for cowboy boots too. It didn’t do any good. Even now I can still feel the ache and sting of being so terribly wronged and cheated. I pleaded, in my own defense, “I couldn’t help it I was born a girl! I didn’t get to choose.!”

I became a closet-tomboy, sneaking out to climb trees and roofs and fire-escapes and run around the city pretending I was a racehorse. Eventually I grew up and turned out straight, which made things easier in Texas in the 1950’s. I learned to “act like a lady” and I obeyed the rules. I married and worked two jobs, the telephone company and a department store, to put my young husband through graduate school. I was a good wife. I spent the 4 1/2 loneliest years of my life like that, until finally I realized that I had no Life, and I had no Self. I was living in his shadow, and whoever I used to be had gotten sacrificed, lost somewhere. Not his fault– we both played the roles we were brought up to play. This works sometimes for some people. Not this time, and not for me.

Leaving was hard. It felt like more than a failure, it felt like a death. But I knew it had to happen. I got a divorce. I took my life back. I bought myself a pair of cowboy boots.

36. Believe Anyway

April 6, 2018

Even though it’s true that every life will have some stumbling places, dark passages and challenges to grow through, the most powerful factor and the most profoundly hard-to-accept truth is that Life responds to our beliefs. That’s the catch-22 that our parents never taught us, because they didn’t know.

Most of my adult life, I never asked for what I really wanted because I believed I didn’t deserve it. If I prayed for it, I did so as a meek unworthy supplicant, not as a fully entitled child of the Most High, my Father God. One reason why our prayers for other people often are more successful than prayers for ourselves, is that we dare to ask earnestly for their sake, in trust and faith, believing that they deserve it.

Jesus the Christ said, “Whatsoever you ask, believe you have received it.” The catch is, you’ve got to somehow dare to believe that God believes you deserve it, even if you don’t. He tells us to believe even before you ask, that the gift is already set up, ready to go, with your name on it. In this physical world, that’s a difficult task. You have to hold your secret wish in your heart with all your strength, and yet release it to Life/ God/ the Universe, then relax and trust that “it’s on the way – no problem.”

But wait a minute – If “The Force” is always with you, why don’t you always get what you want? Because God/ Life/ The Universal Consciousness/ etc. always works to bring about what you are actually believing. When you know this process is real, eternally active, and it’s a gift to you as a life-law that you can use – then you’re set free to choose the life you really want. You can do whatever you have to do to believe in it as being rightly yours, and begin to live it.

Whatever you hold in habitual belief, life will habitually deliver to you. But be careful of what you are believing unaware, in the dark corners of  your mind, for it is not harmless. All lies, when you believe them, are as powerful as the truth, because you are holding them as your truth.

Faith works. What we believe, we will receive. We often fail to have faith in the best things of life is because there’s always so much loud ugly “physical evidence” to the contrary on the 10 o’clock news. These are real people’s lives, yes, but if you find yourself more blessed, don’t feel guilty, feel grateful. Do what you can to help where you are, and make your choices different from the individuals on the news. It’s that simple, and that profound

Search out, shore up, and call forth the hidden strength that’s in you, and have the courage to believe in your own life, and in your self, no matter what the odds are, and no matter what other people’s lives are. You’ve got to be willing to believe that God thinks you’re good enough, even if you’re pretty sure you’re not. You’ve got to make up your mind, and then, as stubbornly determined as a four-year-old, Believe Anyway.