Prose of a Poet

Conundrum 

 

Conundrum

“Sweet embraceable you…”

You were once to me. 

A friend beloved, a space safe. 

That is on interminable hiatus. 

 

My conundrum

It wasn’t my choice 

I’m not convinced 

It was yours either. 

 

We all walked in to the same room.

The context had changed, 

But the gist was the same. 

The playing field isn’t level here. 

 

I have become a stranger

With a shared history. 

An enigma who presents a conundrum. 

Met with silence and an awkward smile. 

 

You’ve avoided me a while. 

I haven’t come where you are. 

But shared loves

Have drawn us both into the open. 

 

I know where I am. 

But it’s very clear you don’t

And the self imposed disconnection from me

Hasn’t prepared us for this moment. 

 

I left. Not you. A place. 

An institution. 

But you can’t make 

The distinction. 

 

Silence is my companion

Not because I don’t want to talk

But because I don’t want to force

The override of the disconnect.

 

I’m ready. 

I’m not sure you are. 

It’s a

Conundrum.  

 

 

What happens after you leave the fundamental world and you have to cross paths with those who were close, which for many of us, is the holiday season? Avoidance is often the one tool we have in the kit to deal with the awkward social interactions… but when you can’t and you are forced to coexist, even outside the realm of your previous connection, it is so messy. I left a church I had been involved in for the majority of my life, and stayed in the community. Many of my friendships didn’t survive, and I have endured a rather large number of timid smiles and surface cordiality over the ensuing years. What they don’t know is that I’m not mad. I have actually gleaned insight and wisdom into where they are that has me content to leave them to the security of belief they enjoy in their present. I also don’t want to argue, sway, or justify my present world view. All of that is gone. It has morphed with the healing process, and moved into the history section of my personal library. I am at peace. 

 

I just want to Love them. To know them. To be the friend I thought I was, once. I don’t want to run from them, but gosh… the bashful response to my presence made me feel as though I should have brought a large number of objects big enough to hide behind for everyone that was avoiding me. Humans are funny with each other when trauma makes their decisions. It makes fear out of the friendly shadows produced by the sun on a clear day. The assumptions we make about someone else’s state of mind, or heart, craft too many preconceptions concerning the perception of judgments they “must be making.” I used to think being misunderstood was the worst rejection that could happen to someone. It isn’t. Being deliberately shut out and feared on the grounds of belief alone supersedes that. Shutting someone out abruptly and without communicating the reason is incredibly wounding for all parties - especially if it is done, not because of survival instinct, but because of an external edict, or loyalty demanded from another entity. This is, to me, proof that we were designed for, by, and as, Love. It is in our DNA to have healthy, knowing, vulnerable, intimate, connection. Imposed separation throws us out of alignment at a deep level. 

 

Even after you heal from the experiences that lead you to change the way you think, the communication with anyone who was part of the trauma story can be dicey. Aside from the connected emotional mess they have internally accumulated, there are differing ideas concerning what “healed/healing” looks like. There’s so much semantical clutter around understanding forgiveness, that healthy boundaries and a more objective, or even differing  view expressed out loud can be perceived as not really having forgiven. In many circles, forgiveness means a complete moratorium on the the experience. Courts insist you forget abuse when making custody arrangements, churches often expect that you make someone welcome and reinstate their role in your life because they apologize. Families often sweep things under the rug entirely and insist on “kissing and making up.” 

 

Forgiveness is none of those things. It is largely gaining enough perspective on a situation, event, or person, to allow yourself to heal. It does not result in unconditional reconciliation, however it may yield an open door to a healing conversation. In some instances, trust should never be restored. I think, that happens more frequently with organizations and institutions than with people. Sometimes it is ok to abandon ship in a life boat and find your own island to live on. Well placed boundaries seem like overkill to a person who can’t see the strain or damage they have put on the relationship, either as the result of their own unhealed trauma, or because of an ingrained world view that holds no space for new light. When you have become flexible and open, it feels threatening to someone who finds safety in a rigid system of belief, especially if the only relational context has been within a mutually held ideology. 

 

Every person has a different journey, but I recall when my anger passed and I began to heal. It sounded very much like this,“Father, forgive them, for they don’t know what they’re doing… and if they do, they are too scared to stop.”  Compassion let me see myself in their responses for just long enough to remember what I looked like when my world was the same size. We all behave like caged abused animals when we find ourselves living completely inauthentically. Being part of a collective is often done at considerable loss to the intrinsic design and uninhibited being of a person. We are forced into roles we are not suited for by beliefs. We let go of dreams, visions, loves, sometimes family, just to be included. This creates grief and internal disconnection. It also births a hyper vigilant, over protective inner child unafraid, and often unaware, of offending someone else when the feel their safety is threatened. I’m convinced this is why few relationships survive theological shifts when they do not occur in tandem. When one can freely embrace all the parts of themselves and love them, healthy emotional and spiritual integration inevitably follows and one matures. Nothing threatens the superimposed template of external behavioural control that utterly contradicts the natural healthy inclination and creates inauthentic existence, like someone who has matured and now spontaneously fruits full bodied self control. Peer friendships can often become more like parent child relationships as one grows and leaves the other behind. Perhaps the most mature act we can do as the one who grows, is to leave someone else behind to discover their own path. No one else can have our Journey into Love. 

 

Fear, not Love, drives the religious. To live with the cognitive dissonance this creates, I need to allow them to behave like the scared little kids they most likely are. For that is when they became afraid. Trauma hits the first time you get treated like you are unacceptable or unlovely just as you are. Religion holds up a dark mirror and tells you that you are innately sinful and born in a separate state.  You are “other” and need to do something to find yourself fit for inclusion. Unfortunately, both the institution and the family unit can back this in discipline, expectations, and parenting style. It is a lifestyle we don’t choose, and aren’t at liberty to leave until society says we have come of age. The desire to be accepted often makes one table themselves and pick up a role as a pseudo identity, causing an internal divorce from our authentic selves that we spend a lifetime grieving until we begin to deliberately heal and embrace ourselves as uniquely and purposefully put together in our mother’s womb. 

 

We need to let Love clean the mirror and hold it up again, revealing beauty in the innate design, wholeness in the creature, irrevocable placement in the One Who is Life, and give breath to the dream born of those many pleasant thoughts. A system cannot dictate identity or the expression of it. Trauma should not be given permission to decide behaviour towards ourselves or others. That is the inclusive role of Love in the universe. Fear should not dictate the maturity level of our responses and communication. That should be left to Love as well. Love has the power to dissolve the conundrum. 

 

It is beautiful and lovely to be me. “…Sweet embraceable you” don’t you see it too? 

The Cost of Peace 

 

No one enjoys conflict. Confrontation is generally an affront. All of us bristle at someone else taking issue with a behaviour or self expression. These things are normal. But, what if they didn’t have to be a threat? What if we were so mature that our insecurity dissolved and the arguments and tension dissipated into conversations that encouraged growth, and intimate knowledge of each other, fostering love and support, even community? 

 

The present cultural climate seems to have us abandoning relational ship over misunderstandings or ideological incongruencies. We don’t stick around long enough to work anything out because we assume the intent of the other is to wound. I know many physical experiences that we expect to find painful on the road to healing. Tiny things like releasing the contents of a pimple, extracting a sliver, pulling gravel out of a scraped knee, treating a burn. Larger things like setting a bone, childbirth, or removing a tumour. All of these things have a healing process, and generally, the need for another person to be a part of the journey. Our emotional and spiritual traumas are no different. We often don’t realize there is a wound until someone gets close enough to press on the wound. That requires relationships. Conflict, is, essentially, the operating room of the inner maze that weaves our being together.

 

I’ve learned, in my own healing journey, too much about trauma, as well as how much influence we have over our own life and healing, for silence to be my norm in conflict. I cannot enrich my relationship if I walk away from awkward interpersonal interactions. I can’t know someone else fully, we can’t be part of each other’s healing experience. Our wounds isolate us when we control our environment to avoid the ones we’ve allowed to fester. If I am going to heal, I am going to have to listen to my own spirit as well as the expression of another. Triggers deserve enough time spent in introspection so that we understand why they are there. Poor responses are not part of our personality. People are not “just like that” because it is their innate design to be either abrasively controlling or insecure. Knowing leads to growing and healing. 

 

I’ve realized how much we hide behind our “biblical expectations” of God when we grow up evangelical. We wait for him to heal us of things that we have the power to muddle through. We expect other people to coddle us so we don’t have to grow, often asking forgiveness for poor behaviour and following it with a “humble” admission that we have asked God to help us be more loving, and implying that he is still working on us… if only we understood that finding our place in Christ means working out our salvation (healing), not dragging others, fearfully, into an ambiguous heaven for “eternity.”  Living in Love and moving in peace and joy tends to draw others into holy connection and awareness anyway… without the awkward fear of hell. 

 

We have been given everything we need for physical and spiritual life, on this beautiful planet. All the gifts we need to heal exist in the community we are worked into - including triggers to make us go within and see our own issues. If we are not at peace, it is because we should not be. Either our boundaries have been pushed by someone else’s poor ones, or ours have been in the wrong spot because of a past trauma that went unaddressed, and we are now treading on someone else’s ground to protect ourselves. Sometimes it’s even a physical wound that we didn’t respond to properly - grieve through, or give our body the tools to heal from. We do need to sort through the experiences we have in life. Things happen to us. Family culture influences our view of ourselves, makes us question and manipulate our innate design. Traumatic events have ways of causing us to tailor our future interactions so that we don’t get hurt again. 

 

I have found it interesting that in taking inventory of one’s gifts, aptitudes, or personality, researchers who have assessed, categorized, and subsequently created “tests” to help us understand ourselves, the questions often use both positive and negative behavioural patterns to reveal one’s placement in the given spectrum. If it wasn’t possible to wound a person at the level of their blue print in a way that predictably and indefinitely alters the way they function in relationships and situations, this wouldn’t be necessary. However the design of a human being is not that they are going to be basically offensive or unkind to anyone. The very necessity of these balanced tools are evidence of the widespread trauma we accumulate as we move through life along with those who either choose not to know us, and prefer to manage those around them to protect themselves, or, just don’t possess the maturity or tools to love others avoiding to their unique bent. Every strata of the original culture one is born into has the power to help or hinder our growth and development. Every person experiences each influence and event differently. I think this is why the happiest people are those who are constantly engaged in connective relationships, perpetually learning, and deliberately healing and fostering deep spirituality. We cannot control the environment we are born into, but as we mature, we can learn to create a personal petri dish in which we are free to thrive on our own terms, according to our needs. 

 

If you have felt that culture hasn’t shaped you at all, consider this: our western religious system has a, “wait, and beg god to move,” mentality, and our medical system centres around rescue remedies, coping therapies and, in some cases, comfort until death options. Considering we were designed for authentic, abundant, eternal life, a lot of our experience in the current climate should be increasingly unsettling as we awaken into our true, limitless identity. We were created for imitate, unbroken, constant communication with our Source. Every system we have in place at the moment, is asking us to be outsourced rather than insourced. This can make us feel like in order for things to be in alignment internally, circumstances have to be manipulated, and therefore people need to make space for us to remain stagnant until our external climate caters to our inner safety. We can spend a long time waiting for someone else to unlock our inner mysteries, especially with the human tendency to cordon off pain in the dark recess of the heart, creating suffering instead of uninhibited freedom. 

 

We cannot heal without the messiness of relationships. They are a gift to us. Being at peace with all men doesn’t mean perpetual deferment and abdication from our convictions. That is inauthentic living and it carries consequences for both the one accommodating and the one expecting it. Because we live in the petri dish of our own thoughts… creating our own environment or personal eco system, we leave our body vulnerable to degeneration. The physical state of our being is the mirrored expression of our inner climate. When we struggle to control another’s behaviour in order to avoid dealing with our own trauma, we pollute their environment. Such an endeavour is a bit like overloading an elevator and expecting it to function properly. We are designed to carry things together, yes, but not to place our burdens in the lap of another and continue to do so until they break. Like that elevator groaning and hesitating, the people around us may be showing us their own breaking point in small outburst, tears on the surface, displays of anxiety, or just plain evasive conversation or physical avoidance. Sometimes that is the wounds of one bumping up against the wounds of another and smarting a bit. However, if this happens a lot in your relationships, it’s probably a good plan to sit with that response and learn which of your wounds may be speaking in place of your heart. Courage isn’t displayed in protective offence despite fear, but rather in a vulnerability that owns our insecurities and seeks healing for them. We do not have to gain control of a situation in order to keep control of ourselves. We need to understand why we are afraid of losing control. It’s ok to be scared. It’s not ok to live perpetually afraid. 

 

Love doesn’t seek control. Love wants to know the depths of a person and heal the wounds, not cover them and let them fester. Love deliberately looks for the beauty in another, and simultaneously seeks to help the other see their inherent capabilities and strengths. It asks one to grow up and into who they truly are. 

 

Triggered? Don’t run. Embrace it. Sit with it. At least until you understand why. Don’t worry, Love sits with you. And she wants to. She understands healing is the cost of peace. 


 

No Way Around But Through 

 

There is no way around, but through. 

There isn’t. 

 

There is no bypass to the process of healing. 

 

I grew up in a culture that begged God to heal things that needed counselling to sort out. It asked God to move and change circumstances so we could be comfortable, or even protected from situations we had created. We held meetings to beg for divine intervention in surgical procedures, marriages that were on the rocks, kids who went awry… We begged for revival, behavioural changes, miracles. 

 

And we never asked people what happened to them. We didn’t address abuse, provide a safe haven for those wounded by people in authority over them. We made the rough feel unwelcome. We created social groups for ourselves and discouraged interaction with the rest of the community unless it was for the specific motivation of evangelism. 

 

We didn’t even know each other’s struggles. Emotional connection was carefully guarded for the sake of spiritual purity. We didn’t want to be sullied by the world. Considering the depth of connection Jesus revealed in his ministry, I wonder if the religious disconnect isn’t the essence of being sullied. It definitely negates oneness and intrinsic inclusion in the whole, as sustained by the Breath and Being of God. 

 

I’m not the only person who followed Love out of this structure and began to look at life and scripture from a different perspective. Some have seen God in science, mediation, affirmations, fields the churches they left consider new age, or witchcraft. I’ve heard people preach on the Bible from the perspective of symbolism, quantum science, it’s parallel references to other religious texts. There are so many templates to impose on spirituality, so many external “methods” and view points, lenses through which we can assess not only scripture, but also life itself. So often, rather than learning to listen to our own internal resonance, and choosing connection, we try and find something else that someone else has tried, and then apply it to ourselves, flummoxed when their steps don’t work for us. 

 

Religious life teaches us that there are prescribed ways. I can remember when I first encountered grace theology, I was in a women’s bible study group that was based on finding our identity in Christ as bible believing Christians. The teacher developed a curriculum that encouraged living out of secure identity, and trusting God, rather than a system, to sustain us. It even went so far as to suggest that for God, resting in being his child was enough “doing” and one might just “be.” It sounded good, but to a room full of women who had been attacking their spirituality with an hour a day of devotions, regular prayer meetings, church on Sunday, and bible study during the week, with the potential augmentation of an accountability partner, this felt like mayhem. One woman even said “But how do I do that? What is the formula?” She, as did many of those in the room, found it disconcerting when the answer was that there is no formula. 

 

So imagine then, one who grew up in the box, moving outside the box, trauma and difficult experiences in tow as they try and “deconstruct” their “faith” and then build a life in this unsrtuctured world. It is mayhem. They still want to experience spiritual connection, but without church and her peripheral social garments, they look for a practise, a habit, an approach. I think that’s why we gravitate towards gurus, attend conferences, read self help books, and find someone to follow. It is comfortable to adopt an external structure, follow a plan. 

 

But unless we are looking for something that hums in tandem with our own internal resonance, it might as well be religion. And the difficulty with that? It often leaves us feeling defeated and left out of the group, just like we did at church. Why? Because that person knows how they healed. They know how they came to grips with their spirituality, they know what mended their heart… but they don’t know you. 

 

I have had people ask me to teach them how to heal. What can I take? What habit can I form? Which emotions can I address? What prayer can I pray? What Affirmations will make the lies go away? Rub my feet and make the pain stop. 

 

No. 

 

I did not begin to heal on deep level until I learned to have my own internal discourse. Can I point you there? Yes. Jesus did that as well. He let those who wanted to follow him know that the Kingdom of God was within them. He showed them compassion. Asked them to love themselves. He addressed their self destructive behaviour while pointing to the experiences they had gone through as if they mattered. He understood that there is no way but THROUGH. If you think about all the mindsets he addressed in his relatively short ministry… belief that what your parents or culture believed could define your personal wellness, belief that mental illness was borne of something outside you, oppressing you. Belief that they way one person interpreted scripture could define the sanctity of your soul… that where you are born could define your worthiness. The list is actually quite long. One might even say it is exhausting in it’s inclusivity of the human condition under the dictates of religion. 

 

Reciting Mantras. Looking for good vibes. Controlling breathing. Managing anger, anxiety, diet, thoughts. Adopting strategies for overcoming addiction or insecurity. Understanding cognitively that that there is a relationship between thoughts and manifestation. Systems of self medication, but not, healing. These are, if you will, the way around our individual trauma, but not the way through. Are they tools? Yes. But much the same way in which bloodwork helps a physician make a diagnosis. If these systems fail to bring us into alignment, we feel like we are somehow unhealable. However, if our doctor ran tests and found out our hormones were imbalanced, or we had a nutritional deficiency, or inflammation or disease, would we assess our diagnosis as a reflection on our ability to be well? No. Diagnostic tools allow us to find out where we are unbalanced so that we can work on balancing ourselves out. 

 

If I am using a tool to cope with my anxiety, and I cannot make it disappear, I have learned that something under the surface is driving it. This is not something to hide in shame. It is the body bringing a wound to the light to be healed. I don’t need to embrace another method of coping, I need to Love the person having the experience — myself. I need to learn to hear her voice at whatever age and stage I was when I lost secure connection and mistook my identity for a role I was expected to play, and give voice to the violation. I need to learn to listen not just to my own voice, but the the voice of my Source in that space, who always remembers what is true. There is no method that I can apply, no matter how religiously I may chase it, to deal with the blocks to my own internal resonance and integration so that I am in perfect control of my life or my contribution to the life of others. However, I can use my reactions, cognitive and visceral, and apply my intuition to help myself through the process of healing. 

 

The journeys of others are useful to us because they give us tools and diagnostic instruments. We are enlightened and made aware of knowledge that exists in the collective consciousness of the universe because someone put the effort into expressing what they learned. We can make a religion — a formula for life — out of any discipline or system. If it worked for us, we can preach it with confidence and evangelistic fervour. And perhaps, we are right to do so, for our experience is valid and our own. But, if we cannot hear the voice of another who says “why does this not work for me” and approach them with compassion, allowing them to give honest expression to their experience, we cannot claim that our method will heal their disease, strictly because it worked for us. 

 

There is no way around, but through. Becoming an uninhibited, fully integrated person involves cultivating internal dialogue, listening to our own intuition, and developing harmonious resonance. Spirituality that rests isn’t found in a method or practice, but in communion with our Source, and choosing to love our neighbour as we love ourselves, with honesty and void of judgement. Authentic connection and secure intrinsic identity embraced without fear creates a space in which we can heal. And the path to that? It is as individual as the person walking it. We do not have to leave ourselves behind and abandon our experiences to wholly embrace our spiritual essence. That is not holistic integration, it is spiritual bypass. True spirituality holds space for the person who went through experiences that accompanied us on our journey. It is Love that embraces the person, and understands that the only way around the pain that seems to stymie growth, is through. 


 

the shadow room 

 

It’s dark, and you’re little. You have to pee in the middle of the night. You can’t stay in bed, you have to go down the hall past that door and what looms behind it. The moon is shining in the windows, creating shadows, and filtering through the trees outside so that it looks like these ambiguous shapes are moving. Curtains flutter in the breeze. It’s terrifying. And then you turn on the light, and you see blinds, and a chair, a houseplant. Your heart stops pounding long enough for you to hear the wind rustle through the leaves of the trees. You note the breeze flowing through the screen of the open window. The darkness is only terrifying until the lights turn on. 

 

A few people, lately, have expressed that they have hit a wall in their healing process. This can feel like a lack of courage to face what is behind the door of a memory room in which the mind has suppressed the details of an early childhood experience. It isn’t really a lack of courage. It is more that the part of our being protecting that door is a really young child who remembers only the feeling as it coursed through the body, but couldn’t articulate the event and frame the significance of it. Whatever age you were when the moment took place is the age your inner child is as they guard that door. You don’t lack the courage to open it, look at all of the things you have accomplished in your life — chances are you are better at unobstructed authenticity and connection than your parents were with you, if you have children you are most likely a better parent, you are probably successful at work, and engaged in adult relationships that last. Courage is not your problem. That door is just guarded by someone who doesn’t feel safe and has developed to protect you from the unprocessed experience and resulting trauma. 

 

So, turn the light on. You are capable of parenting your own inner child. You know what you needed when you were small. You know what would have made you feel safe and connected. You know what you would say to a child in your care if they told you about that experience. You know how to validate the emotions of a person who feels violated, scared, abused, or disconnected. Other parts of you have grown up around this one emotion that seems frozen in time. If it seems far too big and you don’t want to open the door and turn on the lights in the shadow room alone, take someone with you. Find a friend, a therapist, a spouse, who will go down memory lane with you and affirm that you are safe. If you have found that relationship that makes you safe enough to even notice the room exists, chances are they can help you use the courage you already have to illuminate the shadows and process the events. 

 

Your inner child is not doing this alone. All of the growing you have done, all of the interaction you have had with the world as you have grown up, all of the internal work you have already done, all of these things give you the context you need to see the experience and those involved for what and who they are. If someone hurt you because they were wounded, the same eyes of compassion you are learning to use on yourself will be with you as you look at the event, and it will help you to experience closure. It may feel like cleaning out a wound that has been festering forever, but things tend to stay raw until they are properly cleaned and bandaged so they can heal. 

 

You don’t lack courage. I also don’t think that we forget our suppressed memories. I don’t remember details of every event, but I have found that the path the emotion took through the tissues of my body can often help me see enough to process both the circumstances, and the resulting feelings and ingrained patterns that have become barriers to my adult growth. Love allows me to embrace little me and hold her hand until she comes into the light and realizes that she can rest -- we have made each other safe. Maturity has replaced the need for the unhealthy reflex. 

 

Behind that door are shadows. But there are also answers to questions, and opportunities to heal old wounds. Turn on the light. You are safe. 

I Love YOU 

 

I love you. 

 

I LOVE you.

 

I Love YOU.

 

We just passed Valentine’s day. Which also happens to be the anniversary of my Love and I. Three years have passed. I think I’ve gotten younger. I laugh more, play more, live more, dance more, walk more, embrace the sun more, sleep more, hug more, kiss more…. Life itself has become moreish in it’s timeless quality. 

 

I used to think that love meant compromise, sacrifice, that it was a bit of a toss up. The feeling is passing. There is no fear in Love, not if I am open to being loved. No loss in Love, only gain. Is there a balance one has to find? Absolutely. But that, I think, is the meaning of life. We worry about losing ourselves, until we find out who we actually are. We worry about losing our connection, until we find the Source of all connects us indelibly. We worry about having to give up a piece of ourselves we are attached to, until we find a person who is as attached to those parts as we are, and truly desires to see us thrive (well, two people, really, ourselves and those external someones). 

 

True Love is both knowing and growing. If it chooses blindness and stagnancy, it looses it’s lustre quite quickly. It is not afraid of conflict… like a good stretch, it leans into the tension until it finds release. Not because it enjoys suffering, but because it seeks to relieve it. Land mines are only dangerous until they are diffused. So it is with our past experiences, and the rough bits we adopt to cope with the pain of them. I recently had a friend remind me that it wouldn’t matter who we chose to be with, those things would have to be dealt with. Pain is not equatable with being hurt. Does it hurt because of what they said, or because of what already believe about myself? Chances are, if we’ve reached adulthood, its the latter. Good relationships both expose our wounds and provide the safety to heal from them. If your Love behaves out of character, stay open, you may be surprised at what it does for your intimacy levels. 

 

Anyone can say “I love you.” Words are easy. 

 

Anyone can claim “I LOVE you.” It is easy to love to love and make it about yourself and what you can give without sacrifice. 

 

But the one who declares “I love YOU,” is the one to stay with. They have seen you. They have chosen to know you. They have deliberately looked past the parts of your personality that are adaptations and learned behaviours which have bandaged the wounds of trauma. And when things get difficult as their love begins to make you feel safe enough to heal from those wounds, they stay. 

 

I have the love of one who has said, “I love YOU.” I have returned this love in like kind. And together, we have created a home, not just for our bodies, but also for our deepest being. It is a place to unwrap our experiences and give them air, and time. We are both healing. Even our conflict, like that good stretch is useful. It is a deeper learning, and we come out stronger and more aware. The need we have to be alone from time to time is increasingly less offensive. Introspection is necessary when we unpredictably bubble into anger, because it is generally our past insecurities that need an internal conversation and a reminder that we are safe.  

 

Love the YOU in your life. Know them well. Embrace them whole heartedly. By your presence in their space, help them desire more living. Happy tends to feed happy. Give your love a steady diet of a you who does the internal work of loving yourself so you can be the safe space for them. It’s a beautiful place to be in, is Love. 

 

Let your “I love you,” be, an “I love YOU.”

One is Never One 

I got ready for work in an empty house this morning. I drank my coffee and ate my breakfast while it was still hot. I showered and dressed without anyone calling my name. I ordered my moments, chose my music, made my lunch, looked out the window and watched the snow fall, sang harmony to some tunes, and left the house on time. I was so relaxed that the layer of ice on my vehicle didn’t phase me, I just started it and embraced the scraper. I’ve missed myself of late. Have you ever felt that deep longing for only having you in your immediate sphere? Alone. The idyllic impossibility of the life of a hermit seems the very pinnacle of existence when we feel disjointed. The practical reality of it would solve so many things, would it not? 

I didn’t breathe last month. O, there was in and out. But, I didn’t breathe last month. It took four days of being off to find the place where my inhale and my exhale became my own again. Have you had that kind of a month? It was practically necessary, I enjoyed most of it, but I was missing. There is a weariness in that sort of perpetual doing that weighs on the soul. Existence, my friend, is not Life. 

So, what then is the meaning of the breath? Why is “busy” so internally alienating? What causes the disconnect? The “I do” has a way of replacing the “I am” which is detrimental to the intrinsic oneness of the spiritual person. “I do, because I can,” replaces “I express, because I am.” The whole experience leaves one breathless. The wind gets knocked out of us in the process of forgetting that the sum total of our identity is not in the measurable quota of our output, but rather our state of being in the process. 

I’ve been lost in the roles of life much in my journey. Daughter, friend, mother, wife, worshipper, caregiver, housekeeper, cook, gardener, pianist, employee, saleswoman, even my vocation of reflexologist has external expectations attached to it. All of these roles come with rules, written and unwritten, conduct codes, boundaries. I have to keep myself in check, so they are done properly, within the parameters of the relationship I have with the others in the sphere of their influence. I can say some things, but I cannot speak all the things I hear and see. 

I think that’s why I get so lost when I am tangibly perpetually occupied with “the things” I do. The inner discourse that should be free to flow into the realm of creativity or meditation is, instead, told to “hush.” Rather than having my mind and emotions actively listening to Spirit, I am severed, caught in my head space. I arrange rather than feel my way through the day. It is not only disruptive in my inner being, but everyone I touch can feel the chill. Others become people to manage, rather than spirits interacting with mine. My discourse tends to push them away instead of bring them near. Tears are near the surface. Outbursts of emotion coming from others around me feel directed at me. There is an ongoing sense of being overwhelmed. If one looked in and watched, I am sure they would see little things that should not have toppled the tower of strength, obliterate it with a tiny breeze. To me it felt like a monsoon. But I wasn’t breathing… 

Maturity, I think, is realizing this disconnection and changing both mindset and circumstances in favour of connection. We think there is no time. But time can exist in the space of any activity that is mundane or quiet. Connection can happen in any space where another being is in earshot. Depth of conversation is a choice. Making a friend is a choice. Feeling the vibe of a stranger and responding with compassion is a choice. Hugging your children with both arms, kissing your Lover, pausing to pet a dog or a cat. Tasting your food. These things all bring us into the present. Saying “I love you” requires breath control. Awareness. Noticing Colour, Smells, Texture. Feeling the air… is it dry, crisp, icy, warm, wet? 

Possibly, we see the things we cannot grasp in the moment as disciplines, habits we need to form, spiritual practices. Games done entirely alone. It is true. It is easier alone. However, being with people is more pleasant when one is not wishing them away. Conflict doesn’t resolve, miscommunication isn’t solved, peace doesn’t suddenly arrive because one walks away from the tension. Tension tends to follow, if not in the mind, somewhere in the body. There is really only one avenue for resolution of discord… deliberately remain present until it is worked out. If the person won’t do it with you, it has to be done on your own. The internal conversation looks different, because you end up asking yourself questions about why you feel that way, or how that person gets under your skin. You may end up unearthing the source of a trigger, or a place of unrest with that introspection. 

One thing is very true; if you have to escape the people in order to find any peace, you aren’t coping. They are not the reason you are disconnected internally. Goodness, I would have loved to blame my family. It wouldn’t have been me that ignored my breath. I could have validated every emotional outburst, even request for space, or instantaneous cooperation. “Busy” did not bring about the severance of soul expression and replace it with a “doing.” I did that because I believed I had to put myself on the shelf in order to meet the needs of others. And then I resented the others because they kept me from myself. My need for connection is greater than having everyone around me satisfied (they never were). Because I put myself on the shelf, I also put knowing them on the shelf. Practically caring for the physical needs of someone is not the same as cultivating relationships. We cannot be more connected to those around us than we are willing to be with ourselves. 

So breathe. Be intentionally aware. Feel the water when you do the dishes, notice the smell of clean when you scrub a toilet, feel the rhythm when you vacuum. Deliberately listen for the pop and sizzle when you fry an egg. Smell the toast in the toaster. Look at your clients when you go to work. Listen to your kids tell you the story… not for the story, but for the connection. Put the phone down when your spouse opens their mouth - if you get distracted by them, let it be because you saw their eyes, or the curve of their lip when they smiled. Internal connection is not achieved by shutting out the world. Meditation can be a deliberate breath with closed eyes in the middle of a chaotic moment. 

I didn’t breathe for a month. Not because my schedule was busy, but because the list in my mind had the heading “Things I have to do” above it. If I had allowed even a few of them to ground me, everything would have been part of the flow instead of a hindrance to it. If I had allowed the family parts of my day to include even a minute of the pleasure of knowing and being known, I wouldn’t have been so annoyed by the interruptions in my schedule that the needs of my humans caused. The Love and Beauty in Life would have had a chance to speak. But I saw things instead of life. And I forgot that breath is carried with me, it comes from within, and every exhale is a potential expression of endlessly connected motion and creativity, and every inhale a reminder that I am not an island. I am a part of the whole. I always have been. That is the meaning of breath… connection. Breathe in to engage myself in all that is, with deliberate action, and breathe out to exercise the intrinsic manner in which I contribute to all that is. Not alone, even in this solitary action. One is never One. That is the meaning of the breath.

I'll Give You That 

I'll Give You That

If by Sovereign you mean 

All things are woven together 

To form something beautiful 

By the end of the story… 

 

That Sense will come of Chaos 

And something from nothing 

Invisible made visible 

By the end of the story… 

 

If by Sovereign you mean 

The end result is more anticipated 

Than dictated and immovable, seen 

By the end of the story… 

 

Then I’ll give you that. 

 

But if you’re going to say 

in that fatalistic way 

That the choices are all made 

And there’s no blooming chance 

To choose dance or no dance. 

Then I’ll take it back. 

 

The Sovereignty of the One 

In whom all breathe and are imagined 

Is the sort that plans on Love and Love Alone. 

The thing is, with that first breath 

Came a place in all creation 

Stamped upon our chest 

Image and Design to Sovereignty incline. 

 

And so… 

My person 

Island and Communal Flow 

Are both immersed in one 

And on their own. 

Sovereign as I Am - 

I am Sovereign 

At the beginning 

And at the end of the story. 

 

I’ll give you that. 

Where I live, snow doesn’t stay. It falls wet and heavy and melts. I think my favourite part of spring and fall storms is the the steady “drip, drip, drip” I hear for days after. The forest was alive with this sound last time I was there and I became enamoured with the water drops. Something usually captures my attention, and the phone came out, camera ready. I missed a lot. I caught something, but it took a consistent shot in the dark to catch the light. Why? Because you can’t control a drip. Water always obeys a million invisible factors in her flow. She runs on Nature’s timetable. They dance, I spectate, but I am drawn in to the intimacy of a moment I am invited to share. If I wait until the water drop has formed, I can’t catch it. I have to be present, I have to set the focus, get in position, and take the shot, repeatedly, sometimes catching nothing, or I will get nothing. But I want to catch that moment before Water and Gravity conspire to make the sound of the drip-drop. I want to see the world reflected in that tiny orb, and so, I make myself still. And trigger happy. Participation carries its own reward, and I capture the drop. I was not in control of Nature, she has her own rhythm, however, I owned my part in the process. I exercised Sovereignty. 

I was brought up believing that God was in complete control. I built my life, my sense of safety, my hurt and pain, my joy and triumph under that banner. I was scared. I worshipped anyway. I considered all my trials joy… for were they not of God? Friendships fragmented, work critiqued by insecure people, outlets for contribution based on marital status or gender, roles taken up or put down according to the needs of a group… and that was just me. There was pain, the putting away of my intrinsic being, the god I heard, vs. the god they heard. Then the worldview took on the World, and her unrest. Wars, famine, natural disasters, accidents, disease, things that were clearly broken, and if administered by a sovereign hand, it was a cruel one. But he gives and takes away, not so? 

He does, but not, I think, in the way I was taught to think. He gave his Mind and Spirit to humanity. Not so we would wield great power to our advantage, but, rather that we could see clearly and act wisely. In Love. He gives wisdom. He takes foolishness. Control and manipulation are set aside in favour of the participatory creativity of bringing endless possibility into manifest reality. I think this misunderstanding of sovereignty is actually one of the reasons suffering, pain and trauma are rampant in the history of the Race of Man. We surrender our personal autonomy too easily hoping the compromise will bring about our salvation, or our martyrdom, the salvation of another. 

If God is sovereign as I was raised to believe… I am Rapunzel in a tower, awaiting freedom in the perfect moment: the place where my desire and his timing intersect. I am truly a damsel in perpetual helpless distress. However, should his Sovereignty be a component of that fullness which in me dwells… I am already saved. I am already able. I have the ability to create my own escape route. I have the power of thought. The resource of true imagination. I am divinely sovereign, and consequently, responsible for that in which I choose passivity over assertion. I cannot wait for the entire path to become clear before I use the light I now possess. I cannot wait for morning in all things, some journeys begin at the behest of the moon, rather than the sun. 

I will not capture that which I desire if my waiting is done with the means safely tucked in my pocket. 

Sovereign as I Am - 

I am Sovereign 

At the beginning 

And at the end of the story.

Fall Without Fear 

I’m not sure why Fall and I are not getting along this year. I can take her photo, but I always seem to want to focus on where the Sun is, or the striking colour of yellow leaves against the sky, or the specific vibrancy of the deep red in a leaf. I can go there. Into the space of the moment… but the season In general? With her, I am at odds. 

Perhaps it isn’t her fault. Not really, anyway. It could just be that I am not ready for the months of comparable hibernation that contrasts the perpetual light and possibility of spring and summer. I have felt, of late, that my life is finally beginning. As if the child in me that never found her voice has emerged and has me searching for the wonder and beauty that is “just over there.” Little by little she is venturing out of the cages built for my safety and discovering how safe it is beyond them. 

I was made for Summer. Her heat, passion, buzz… the magical shades of all the flowers, the dance of bees, the sweetness of berries, the Life and Joy of her thunder showers. I was made for the communal vibe of the full potential of Summer’s glow. 

And yet… I discovered this in the middle of the Winter of the Soul. In the Stillness. In the pregnant pause of last Fall… in the short, dark days of December. So is it the season, or do I just not trust the soul state? 

I’ve let that marinate a bit this morning. Danced with the unease of tiny me, and unpacked her suitcase. Usually the internal tension is a bit of an unfinished conversation with the little girl inside who doesn’t know how to move forward. She knows only the tenuous tightrope of change. 

I think it is simple… I grew in summer this year. I embraced it. My heart kept time with spring as it moved into the fruitful season of abundance, and she wasn’t convinced the darkness of winter wouldn’t make the illusion implode. She didn’t trust my change to be change. I think, she mistook the season for a chinook wind. But it isn’t. 

I am safe. Well. At peace. I do find joy in the little things. I am beautifully held by Love, immersed in abundance. I am ready for my tomorrows to arrive in today. They are not surprises. They are not something to fear. They are the realm of infinite possibility. 

Fall is giving way to Winter. She always does. It is her way. But it is happy surrender, because she knows that the vibrant joy of her gold, red and purple is a passion that spills into the starry night sky of late November. It does not sleep. Rather, she nurtures in the stillness what cannot grown in the bustle of Summer’s productivity. Winter’s snowy blanket is the perfect canopy for relationships to develop intimacy in conversation. Light dances in the short hours of the Christmas season, over the ice and snow, in a brilliance that we could not endure for the long hours of Spring… for we would be over exposed. Love needs rest in order to heal the deep parts of our being. 

So, Fall, stay a bit. I need you. I need to enjoy the transition. I need to watch you colour the season of my soul into deep, memorable impressions of peace that will carry her through the stillness as she prepares for Spring’s return in the wake of Winter’s light. I need to hear you crunch under my feet, smell you as you expose the strength in the leaves, and see the fruit of your nurture come to fullness before the snow covers the evidence. We are both in this moment. So I will stay here as long as you linger, and be present. And the little girl inside? She can peek out of the shadows and breathe, and know, that we are ok. Seasons change, but the lessons learned in them stay. Trees do not begin each subsequent year from a seed. They pick up where they left off, using the rest to fuel the next stage of life. What they produce in each summer is a gift for that moment in time. It doesn’t need to be retrieved from the earth in spring, it is consumed in season by those nourished by it. Each year, they produce fruit that remains, and each year there is an increase in the abundance of it. But, not, without the season of rest. 

And into the world, go I… to listen to Fall without the fear.

the One Whose Dream We Are  

 

 

Stop beating yourself up. It isn’t that you aren’t trying. It isn’t that you don’t believe. It isn’t that you can’t meditate. It isn’t that the affirmations don’t work. It isn’t that God doesn’t hear. It isn’t that the Universe is not friendly. It is also not that you aren’t doing it right. You can be doing everything perfectly… as though you had a recipe, a formula, a program. But it can still fail to “fix” you, even though it worked for “everyone else.” It didn’t actually, you know. It’s just that they were at a different point in their journey when they found that remedy and they were ready.  Sometimes the inner child that felt unsafe just can’t sit down and “be,” and all that inner chatter or agitation, or the physical symptoms are that tiny person asking to be made safe. 

Healing is intentionally bringing to our awareness the intersection of our life experience and intrinsic identity. It is understanding that our being cannot be undone by the doings of life. Most self help books, medical or mental health treatments, and even many holistic approaches attempt to move you from where you are now to where you want to go without addressing the past. However, your present dysfunction has its roots in your past. The way your family thinks, the culture you grew up in, traumatic events that happened to you, even in the womb. When your life is deeply spiritual and connected, but you still struggle with your health, anxiety levels, random crashes or burnout, there’s a tendency to think that all of your enlightenment is counterfeit and nothing is true. This can create a bit of despondency and detachment. 

I’ve heard a few people comment that they feel that they are completely alone. If they are one to pray or meditate they feel that even God is quiet. The isolation felt in this space can make it feel like the world is caving in, and you might not make it. If you happen to be going through a reevaluation of what is true, real, or imagined in your core beliefs at the time, it can be rather chaotic. Here’s the thing: God is quiet. The Universe is peaceful. The cacophony of our own agitation obliterates the harmony of the intrinsic vibration. We often cannot use the learned behaviours of our religious culture to connect to peace because they are based on the idea of an external Saviour, or ideological prophet, or even the ways of a guru.  Someone we have to go and seek. Our Source is woven into our make up, the depth of our Being. God is in a place few of us go, within

I think a perfect illustration of this is Elijah’s experience with God in 1 Kings 19. Elijah is agitated because it looks like the world is after him. God tells him to go to the Mountain, and wait for Him. So he does. He experiences gale force winds, strong enough to move rocks; no God. He experiences and earthquake, a fire, both cataclysmic events which one might expect an All Powerful Being to show up in. Nothing… and then, a small sound, a gentle sound, and there He is. Elijah expected God to show up in a blaze of glory, but he got a whisper. If he hadn’t been quiet, he would have missed it. And at the end of the story, God sends him back prepared to be present and fulfill his purpose. 

So, if our heads are busy, life is chaos, and we feel hemmed in on all sides by impending disaster, anxiety and the physical manifestation of it dictating how well we can cope with our present, and we cannot get quiet enough to hear the whisper, what then? Look where the noise is coming from, because if it isn’t God making it, it’s quite likely that it is your inner child having a temper tantrum because they’re feeling ‘not safe, not safe at all’ and they really need attention. 

So, how to make that wee one safe enough that the past doesn’t intrude on the possibilities in your present? It seems so simple, but one can learn to self parent. Essentially, you sit down with yourself. I prefer to do this in the lap of Father, or Love… however it is your heart sees the Divine, or that which is bigger than you. When I dismantled the structured theology I grew up in and found how very inseparable I am from the One I call Father, this process became simple. I existed in that creative imagination before I appeared in a physical body, therefore, we remember together who I was before my life intersected with the other humans that were part of my early indoctrination. Essentially, God knows what seemed to have shattered in order to skew my worldview and break down the relationship between me and my Source. And, I, I have learned some things on the road to adulthood, in the process of parenting my own children, and unpacking my trauma. I have learned that I know what that little child inside needed to hear, feel, see, express or understand, and I can help her move the stories she keeps replaying from the current reel into the archives. I can let her know that she is safe, and held, and that those things are no longer able to tear at her soul, she doesn’t have to protect either emotions or spirit any longer. Lots of grown ups might have done, said, modelled or inflicted painful things on that little person, and they did the best they could. Admittedly, for many of us, the experiences are in areas that are neglectful or abusive and it is difficult to see the broken behaviour of those adults who should have loved us as the result of the wounded children they are, or were. It’s also difficult to understand the impact of our family history or culture on the genetic markers in our physiology (some ailments or syndromes do run in families, but, not, I think, because they are unavoidably genetic). 

Let yourself heal from the trauma, and you may find that many of your internal conflicts, agitation, interpersonal frustrations, or just general lack of peace might dissipate. You may just find that your mind is quiet for the first time in your life, and you are able to enjoy just “being.” So many of us have an underlying belief that we are wrong, not enough, or even unable to belong because no one really saw us as a kid. But we were not only seen, we were known well, and we still are. 

We are whole. We always have been whole. It is possible to be fully integrated so that all of our perceivably fragmented selves are working in peaceful tandem. We need our inner child… for there is our connection to wonder, delight, unwavering hope, newness, essentially the dawn of new ventures is energetically seated in their need to explore. Dreams and passions were planted in the fertile ground of our uninhibited child heart, they are explored and developed into skills and real potential as we mature. If we meander too far away from who we were in the imagination of the Maker, our life pursuits often do not serve us well long term, because we burn out or make inauthentic choices. 

And if we forgot who we were and are desperately trying to find out retroactively? We can. Our history is written on our Soul by Spirit. Our Soul is a great weaver, able to connect past, present, and future, weaving the intrinsic identity of spirit and the experience into the perfect healing journey so that we can live our most beautiful existence in tandem with our Source, free of inhibition. Our being cannot be undone by the doings of life. The Depth of who we are, just Is. Sometimes the journey of discovery into our intrinsic identity just needs a little facilitating so we can imagine alongside the One whose Dream We Are, and see things come to be. 

P.S. If you’re interested in learning how to have conversations with “little you,” It is possible to do it. There isn’t a blanket “method” so I didn’t include “steps.” However, I have been known to have conversations that have proved helpful with some who have reached out.

One is not the Other 

I don’t know anyone who revels in their sin. Honestly… I see human beings trying desperately to self medicate trauma, injury, emptiness, pain, religious indoctrination, loneliness, misunderstood identity, fear, and isolation. Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. For one is not the other. 

Human beings were built for inclusive community. We were built for Love to manifest among us… radiate uninhibited through us. We were designed for connection, relationship, knowing, being known, operating out of our strengths to bouey up a brother with weaknesses in the area of our natural aptitude. Independence was never in the mind of the One who is One. Self sufficiency was never in the natural order of things. There is not a creature on earth that would survive outside a family, an ecosystem, an atmosphere. When one of these is decimated, it creates a need to adapt and operate outside of the inherent design for every creature. We don’t judge an animal for trying a new food supply, or migrating outside the habitat they were born into. We stand up and applaud when we find a species we thought were extinct that found a way to survive in a different corner of the wild. 

But our fellow man… the one who looks for sustenance, love, basic needs, shelter… and goes about it on a road less travelled, or by and large, avoided? This uniquely designed person bears the full weight of judgement, both religious and societal. Moreover, we seem to think it is our right to use them as the scapegoat for our own infirmities. O, Race of Man, are we really that insecure, that things must ever be labelled and boxed and categorized? 

I have moved among the masses little in comparison to many, but even I have yet to meet a soul that behaves in a way that their past is independent of. All human behaviour is based on one’s level of personal security in a given moment. If we feel unloved, we behave as one unlovely. If we fear scarcity, ostracization, elimination, invisibility, abandonment, loss, hunger, lack of any kind, we behave in dishonest, unkind, selfish ways. We all present poorly when our fears drive us. 

But, Love, in whom there is no fear to be found, brings about Life, in which no error binds us, and no internal belief has the right to hold us in a poor pattern. There is freedom to function beautifully in community within the open lap of Love. There is no need to manipulate a situation  for our own gain if the belief is that there is enough for all, including us. Society has tried to mitigate this mindset with laws, social programs, social justice movements, human rights, and charity. Religion has tried to equalize us all by belief alone… usually beginning at the assumption that we are all equally evil and requiring redemption of the most drastic measure. Neither option avails the human of the intrinsic worth that prevents misdirected mindsets. Only deep connection can do that. Only Love. 

Within Love is abundance, hope, possibility, intrinsic worth, understanding, beauty, connection, clear vision. Love is honest, and incapable of seeking harm, for others, or for self. It is also empty of judgement. This amazes me, because I grew up in a culture that confused discernment with judgement, and called it protection. One assesses, the other labels in permanent ink. It assumes that duality, or separation of good from evil is a necessary component of a holy, or spiritual life. The idea that choices can be made out of emotion… or that wounds might skew decision making capabilities doesn’t really enter the discussion. One simply appears capable of following the “good” rules, or seems to selfishly tread after the “evil” pursuits. 

Of course, rather than the Healing that Love would bring the person who is protecting their wounds, the assumption is made that one must engage in repentance and put their life “right.” But they can’t. If one is truly out of order in the exercise of life in community, it is safe to perceive that they may not have the tools to be good. No amount of being sorry can change their hearts or renew their mind. It cannot draw them up. Make them stand with confidence or view another through a lens well lit with well understood identity. Showing a person the error of their ways cannot bring about change. It can, however, make them feel depressed, defeated, uncared for, unseen, and unloved. Which, if I recall from my own bouts with the admonishment to search my own heart for wickedness at regular intervals in my early life, often leads to a secret life of all the things one feels guilty about, and a public denial of their presence. 

But repentance, which is a change of mind cannot be wallowed in, is not penance, which, however can become self flagellation. Defining ourselves by our list of iniquity, dishonours the being we are, imagined by our Maker. 

The mantra of religion has long been the phrase “love the sinner, hate the sin.” It has been used to judge, label and categorize. It has been used as an excuse to avoid knowing our fellow human beings. Anything our brand of theology doesn’t want to touch can be excluded without interference from our conscience. It keeps us distant and aloof. 

But my fellow oxygen breathers… if our theology prevents horizontal connection with our neighbours or our world, it requires assessment. If the god we serve gives us the right to judge the behaviour of another outside the context of their story, our beliefs need inspection more than that person needs our external opinion. What we think at the core of our being dictates our behaviour. If a human being is behaving in a way that is inhumane, to themselves, or someone else, it is not because they are abusing their “freedom.” I put it to you, that this is the outcome of not seeing oneself through the Lens of Love. They literally see no other way out of their turmoil, and providing a map or a step by step program isn’t the answer. What worked for you may not work for them, because experience has formed different neural pathways in their brain than you have in yours. You can hand someone a recipe to bake a cake, but if they’ve never seen an oven before, they’ll never bake it. You may have to bake it with them. You may have to be with someone. Listen, understand, work within their template. You may have to Love them. You may also have to let them tweak the recipe according to their taste. There are no life formulas, there is only life lived. 

Don’t mistake the wounded for the evil. One is not the other. And you may find, that the one does not exist at all.