Saturday, November 30, 2019

HOW WAS I TO KNOW?

“How was I to know that what I am you didn’t want me to be?”

I have no recollection of what play that line is from. I heard it when I was between eighteen and nineteen years of age, in a small Illinois theater. I recall little else about the play itself. And yet my entire body remembers vividly the feeling that occurred as I heard an actor utter that line.

“How was I to know that what I am you didn’t want me to be?”

Those words reactivated an internal trauma it would take decades to even begin to integrate.

We knew little about the dynamics of inutero imprinting or of birth trauma when that declaration first landed with a thud in my inner being. Science has now discovered and proven that our emotional bodies begin being primally imprinted about three months after conception. Everything that happens around and within our mothers has an energetic impact on our developing self. We literally float and are fed by the energies happening in the womb. This is one of the drawbacks to traditional psychotherapy. Most of the wounding that occurs for us is while we are precognitive beings. Trying to think and talk our way out of our pain is minimally effective. At some point we need to drop into the very emotional pain we spend our lifetimes trying to avoid. Endlessly talking about the story mostly just keeps us in an ever-looping story.

Until one day an idea or a statement startles us and triggers the inutero trauma we are being called to stay with, feel through, and integrate.

How was I to know that what I am you didn’t want me to be?

The mentality of those words pointed to the emotional trauma that had been holding me just below the surface. Drowning me. Suffocating me. Killing me ever so slowly yet with ever-increasing intensity.

The grief was devastating. I am certain that is why I cannot recall the name of the play or the exact location of the theater. I felt as if I had been hit in the chest by a ball bat.

It didn’t take me long to begin to master ways of deadening the pain of that re-traumatization. Overthinking, avoidance, recoil, addiction, and withhold served me well.

Until they didn’t.

And so, much of my personal spiritual awakening has been about dealing with and integrating the grief that gripped my heart and stifled my expression. The felt-sense imprinted grief that made me believe that what I am the world at large and the people of my direct sphere didn’t want me to be. This attractor was mirrored and experienced in my family, my schooling, my religion, and my relationships.

And it was most evident in my own inner atmosphere.

How could I have known that what I am I didn’t want me to be?

I am beyond grateful to report that I have successfully dedicated myself to dealing directly with this trauma and its myriad effects. I remain watchful for when it is activated. I no longer allow myself to become snagged or entrapped by ongoing resentment, projection, or blame. That does not mean I live in self-diminishment and fault, taking on the pain others cast my way. I stay awake to the fact that it is my trauma and grief that draws and attracts experiences to aid me in my integration. And the more I heal the stronger my boundaries and self-referral become. I am clear that we are all wounded in relationship, and we heal in relationship. We are all imperfect in our ways of relating. It is a painful and unfortunate effect of our imprinting.

And so, I take responsibility for how I may inadvertently hurt others. I become clearer and clearer about how I may declare and deliver that same devastating declaration to others:” what you are I don’t want you to be.” I own and I compassion where that comes from, and I choose as quickly as possible to apologize and amend my behavior.

And on rare occasions I take that same ball bat to my chest. It is a cost of my shared humanity.

When I slip up and my imperfection comes forth, I can be and am still rejected and, in not the same words, be told “what you are I don’t want you to be.”

The impact is not the same. It is not as devastating or as long lasting. For now, I know that what I am I accept myself as being. The grief that gripped my heart and dammed my expression has been lessened by the internal work that I have done. The once traumatizing effects of my familial, educational, religious, and relational programming grows thinner and less commanding with every passing year. Every prayer, every meditation, every authentic relationship, and my own staying presence has largely set me free.

And so, moment by moment, I choose to reopen. I choose to allow myself to risk exposure. I choose to drop the instinctual defenses. I now know, based on my years of experience, that I can survive any pain. Sustain any loss. Endure any rejection. Self-refer through any others projections and fear-based scripting about me.

I am liberated enough to ask with clarity and calmness “how was I to know that what I am you didn’t want me to be?”

And then in that liberating clarity and calm I move on, certain that what I am I was surely meant to be.

Thursday, November 21, 2019

TIRED OF THE SELF

It seems to me that there are those who never tire of telling self-diminishing stories about themselves, and then blaming others for the effects those stories generate.

Please feel free to delete and/or to unsubscribe at any point. I just feel compelled to say this, and to say it now.

It is common in our culture to deal with issues surrounding self-esteem. Most if not all of us have or continue to struggle with a wounded sense of self. I personally believe these challenges are integral to our spiritual evolution. We are meant to grow from a false to a truer self-image. The false sense of self is emotionally originated and is then perpetuated by the mental stories we tell from this wounding and fragility.

This emotional wounding-story telling creates most of our suffering here in this human condition. It is causal, thus attracting circumstances and situations which match the vibrations and the stories we are emitting and weaving. The subsequent suffering continues until it becomes so intense that we begin to more closely examine the role that we are playing in the dramas. As we deal directly with our part, and what we are projecting forth, our sense of self begins to change. In short, we become willing forgive and to tell a better tale. We reparent and attend to the woundedness. We stop blaming others and outer effects for the pain we have experienced.

We stop blaming others and outer effects for the pain we have experienced.

And now back to my original premise we go.

There are those who never tire of telling self-diminishing stories about themselves, and then blaming others for the effects those stories generate.

Someone had to tell you. It might as well be someone who was masterful at it for decades.

I suffered so severely from my self-stories that one day my suffering began to awaken me. It began to dawn on my that I was the one telling the maligning tales about myself. I was the one perpetuating the painful stories. I was the one choosing the diminishing meanings to what was occurring. To how people were treating me. My sense of self and my subsequent experience was totally up for sale to the nearest bidder. Having no clear sense of who I was, outside of the faulty and fearful self, I was constantly tossed about by the opinions and the projections of others.

I emitted the painful energy. I told the demeaning tale. And others were continually attracted that would mirror for me what I unconsciously thought of myself. And then I made them wrong. I blamed them for my hurt. I denounced them for not treating me like I wanted to be treated. Disowning the fact that they were treating me exactly as I was treating myself.

I was the common denominator and I couldn’t see it.

Until I could. Until I did.

It is at this point that the author tells you that when he saw that he was telling the painful stories he stopped doing it and has been living in an affirmative glow ever since.

No.

What this author is going to tell you is that after the suffering began to awaken me and I began to own what I was doing to myself I have never again been totally kidnapped by the dynamic. I never completely forget that I am a living participation in the human drama, and that everything that happens to me is happening through me. I am constantly applying meaning to what is happening. I am continually offered the opportunity to decide how I show up internally, and so in relationship. While our interactions influence my energy field, I refuse to play victim or to blame you for how I am feeling. I am responsible for my self-regulation. I am responsible for how I respond to the mirroring that is occurring. I am responsible for the energy I put firth, regardless of what story you may be telling.

I am free to a large degree of the self-diminishing stories I used to demean myself with. This freedom makes me particularly sensitive to those who are still caught in the dynamic. Daily I am privy to people I care deeply about still entrenched in what amounts to delusional stories of how life is treating them. I ache as I watch. I want to help. I want to alleviate the suffering.

And I know I can’t.

I have tried. I have employed various strategies to interrupt the stories. I have bent over backwards to acknowledge and to affirm these prisoners of their own reality. And I have found that no matter how hard I have tried it is never enough.

It will never be enough.

So, I have found that the greatest gift I can give is to continue to do my own inner work. To continue to pray into my deepest Self, and to surround these storytellers with as much Light as possible. I refuse to buy into or to collude with the stories. I do not let myself get hooked. This means I do not go into reactivity when I am a character in the story. I also work with my own frustration that there are those who either can’t or won’t stop the self-abuse. Or the blame. Or the story-identification.

It ultimately is such wasted energy. Until I dealt directly with what I was doing to myself I could not effectively serve humanity. I was too trapped in myself. To caught in my own web. I was my own false god and so, even though I wanted to, I couldn’t serve the True One.

Self-stories are blasphemy. Tormenting tales are the height of arrogance. We are beings of Source and we are here to shine. Dimming our own Light serves no one.

If anything here rings true for you I pray you will take this to heart. That you will stop and look at your own suffering. That you will begin to peel away the blame and own what you have been transmitting and projecting. That you will self-interrupt your demeaning stories and see the effects for the mirroring that they are.

I pray that you will tire of the self. Tire of the self-induced suffering. Tire of the blame and disempowerment.

Forgive yourself, yourself. Tell a better story. Emit a Lighter energy. And then watch what begins to come your way.

Thursday, November 14, 2019

APPROVAL SEEKING

Being born to a highly critical mother left me spending much of my life seeking approval or at least acceptance.

I am long past blaming my mother. I knew my grandmother, and so I know from whence the judging consciousness came from. My mother spent her entire life seeking approval from a woman who was not capable of giving it. This continued long after my grandmother’s death. I lived and experienced this long enough to see that my mothers torment was of her own making.

I vowed that I would not make the same mistake.

While my pattern was particularly geared toward gaining the attention and affection of men the mother dynamic is to this day alive and active. The differential that keeps me from torment is that I know and can relate to the dynamic. As long as I can relate to it, it does not fully have me.

I know well the feeling that approval-seeking has in my body. I am well acquainted with the stories that spin in my head when I perceive that I am being somehow maligned. I know the compensating behaviors that I am tempted to employ. And I am intimate with the suffering that ensues when I fall into any of these traps.

There is a scrutinizing tyrant that has a seat in my consciousness. It is always ready to point out my mistakes, my imperfections, my faulty way of being. It is constantly scrutinizing and evaluating. It sees me as never enough. It usually will speak first and speak loudest.

What it cannot do is stop me from speaking back.

I erroneously thought that the healing of this “mom-torture” would be that it would go away. That I would be forever freed of it. That it would die and be replaced by a fount of all affirmative self-talk. That the mother approval I had always longed for would come gushing up from within and all around.

Wrong.

My latest report to self is that the voice is still speaking. The temptation to approval-seek is still active. The need to be accepted is at least to some degree ever-present.

Rather than being rid of these impulses there is simply more awareness around them. I am not free of, but I am free with. I have an experience of these dynamics; the dynamics do not have me.

As soon as I feel the effect of these voices in my body, I bring my attention to the energy and stay as present as I possibly can. I begin to relate to the energy and to the voices. I accept that they are there. I approve of the way I am staying awake and relating to.

Wait.

I accept the energy that is moving within me and I approve of the way I am relating to it.

Being born to a highly critical mother left me spending much of my life seeking approval or at least acceptance.

And now I have it.

Not hers. That ship has sailed.

I have my own acceptance and approval. And that is a gift no one can take away.

Saturday, November 9, 2019

WHERE I BELONG

While I grew up in the Midwest I never really felt like I belonged there.

I could write volumes as to why that might be. Ultimately it really doesn’t matter. From early in adolescents I always knew I would leave my native Ohio and only occasionally look back. I longed for what I perceived to be life in the big city. A big part of that longing was career aspiration. I wanted to go to New York City and leave my mark on the Great White Way. I was going to sing and dance on Broadway, and then make my way into the film versions of the same shows. I would have a huge mantle to hold all of my awards. In the privacy of my bedroom I practiced my acceptance speeches and bowed and smiled for the imaginary cameras. I was a legend in my own mind.

I embodied at least a part of those dreams. I did indeed move to New York City. I had a modicum of success in the entertainment industry. I never won an award and so never gave a speech. I spent a fair amount of time on camera, but always in the background to a celebrity’s foreground. And yet I felt like I belonged there. I felt like I had landed exactly where I was meant to be.

I had.

Just not for the reason I thought.

I had just enough talent to get me to where something different and ever more important was meant to happen in and for me. While I thought New York would hold and offer me the keys to this most fabulous city the key it held was a radically different way of being that was far transcendent to any role I would ever play.

While in terms of career success I never truly belonged in New York I learned in New York how to belong within myself. I began to learn that belonging is an internal choice that is integral to our spiritual awakening. While I never could have imagined leaving NYC circumstances did indeed bid me to say farewell. Twenty-four years ago I was moved to a place I never wanted to live and never thought I would belong. For what I perceived at the time was only for the love of another I moved to south Florida where I have been ever since. There is still a part of me that feels like I don’t and never will belong here.

That is true at only the surface level.

At a deeper level that sense of not belonging has been a context for a deepening and a ripening of what I am to become. I have chosen to place preference behind purpose. I have decided repeatedly that service and being the way is more important than geography and getting my way. I decide daily that I belong where I say I belong. And deciding on where I belong is intimately linked to why I am where I am.

And so just as the Broadway community never invited me into their circle of belonging, I have been cast out of other circles both in and out of Florida. Just as I have been cast out I have often made the choice that there are clubs and cliques in which I do not by virtue of values want to belong.

There are groups who demand compliance and fitting in as requisites of belonging.

No, thank you.

Fitting in is not belonging. I have never been clearer about that.

Belonging requires clear, firm, and unbreakable boundaries. Those I have developed in Florida. Belonging requires a strong and unmovable sense of self. Again; thank you Florida. It demands clear priorities. Check. It builds and solidifies discernment and the ability to respond from a place of autonomy and strength. You don’t get that on stage.

I grew up in the Midwest and I really don’t belong there.

I was reborn in New York City, and I no longer belong there either.

I am a longtime resident of south Florida and I rise daily to choose to belong here.

I belong here not because of climate or longevity or preference or familiarity.

I belong here simply because I am here. I belong here because I belong in here. And so wherever I am I belong.

Wherever I am I choose my sense of belonging. No awards, bright lights, or big cities needed.

Being where I do not prefer to be is what taught me where I truly belong.

Right in here.

Saturday, November 2, 2019

THE BIO OF A BIOPSY

Here we go again.

The glare of the fluorescent light was softened only slightly by the hint of sun glinting through the small window. The same mass-produced village scape hung slightly crooked on the wall. The same unimaginably uncomfortable chairs. The same computer. The canned music seemed louder than before.

The music seemed so much louder than before.

Here we go again. And yet not. In the mere months following open heart surgery there was now evidence that cancer may be coming to teach its revolutionary curriculum once again.

And yet not. Not again. Not a repeat. Though it is the very same room lit by the same fluorescent light with the same sterile d├ęcor that six years ago I heard the words “it’s cancer” there is only “again” at the conceptual level. It is only again as a most scary thought within my mind. It is only again in the sinking way fear says, “you survived it once but maybe not this time.”

Biopsy. Six simple alphabet letters that form together to cause an alchemizing explosion in the human energy system. Biopsy contains within it the prefix bio, which literally translates to “life.” Tissue sample is collected, often in radical and invasive ways, and then the outcome is a prophesy as to whether or not life will continue or terminate. For me the suggestion and then the reality of a biopsy sets forth a dynamic that is indeed revolutionary in its scope.

Here we go again.

And yet it is different. The date is set and with it the dynamic. The life stream of the impending procedure is far from here we go again. It is new. It is deeper. It contains and includes the commentary surrounding potential outcomes. There is a narrative around what choices will be available and made should the outcome point in a direction of unsustainable disease. Unsustainable life. The potential of fighting for life. Bio-warfare. Extreme measures. Hanging on to hanging on. How much time? How much bio? How much life?

This cannot be happening again.

Indeed, it is not. It is the same doctor but a different procedure. The same surgery center but a very different patient. The same potential, but a decidedly different relationship.

And so, the biopsy is completed. And the waiting begins.

Or the waiting continues. The waiting began the day the suggestion was made. Every stone of potential outcome has been overturned and explored. Every scenario has been played to the imaginary end. Logic and reason have been turned inside out, as has suppression and denial. Intuition seems to be the one avenue blocked and currently unavailable.

It is probably that damn fluorescent light. That ghastly canned music. The suddenly annoying ticking of my husbands watch.

Just as the temptation to straighten that hideous village scape was driving me out of the tormenting chair and onto my suddenly wobbling feet the door opened.

Here we go again?

The familiar and smiling face of the physician’s assistant put in end to the waiting before he said a thing. They don’t send PA’s in to deliver bio-threatening news.

And so, the prognosis is ongoing bio. Continuing life. Come back in a year and be well until. And the curriculum is complete.

Is it?

My life is undoubtably more because of my dance with here we go again. My bio-relating is expanded by the dynamic of biopsy. The relating and the waiting. The awareness of where my commentary can lead me. What roads my narrative is drawn to take. What outcomes my habitual attention prophesies. What measures I might take to ensure the great bio continues to express as me.

I am a decades long meditator, and a life-long prayer. My spiritual practices have grown and evolved and changed throughout the years. One of the most prolific and unpredictable of them all is biopsy. The first, and the once again. The invasiveness, and the intimacy. The waiting. That fertile and unforgiving waiting. The bio and the potential ceasing of bio.

Biopsy has taught me much about bio. Bio and has led me further and deeper into itself via biopsy. Via waiting. Through and out of here we go again. Invasion and introspection. Virtual living and potential dying. Endless inquiries and revelatory questioning.

Different outcome. Same me. Yet something has definitely changed. Something closed has opened. Something asleep has awakened. Something startled has settled.

Biopsy has led to more bio-life within and as me. So here we go again.

Wednesday, October 30, 2019

RIGHT RELATING

I have always been surrounded by the exact right mix of people to ensure that my spiritual emergence remains on schedule.

That has included people who have loved me as close to unconditionally as I believe is humanly possible. I can count those on one hand with fingers to spare.

It has also included people that I swore were sent to this planet just to work my last nerve. There have been a long and winding parade of those.

We are wounded in relationship and we heal in relationship.

Do not let the tidiness of that sentence fool you.

I deeply appreciate the fact that I now recognize the people that have populated my life as precious teachers in my own Soul curriculum. I am grateful to now know that whether these teachers seemed to be a blessing or rather they seemed to be a curse they were all teaching me lessons that I myself needed to learn.

Some of these teachers were wearing the very best of me. And some of these teachers were wearing the worst. When I began to realize that what I saw in them were things that I had disowned in me this life as a classroom became oh so much more precious. And peaceful. And empowering.

Prayer, meditation, Spiritual Principle, and service have always been easy for me. Human relationships: not so much. I am a classic introvert. I love people, I just usually prefer to not be around them.

And so, it has been in relating to others that my greatest challenges and most profound triumphs have occurred. I have done enough internal work in this area to be able to report this with no shame and little fear of judgmental or retaliating comments.

I have very few people that I consider friends. I have many acquaintances. I have a public form of service/vocation that includes being often surrounded by people. I place social media in what for me is a proper perspective. I do not confuse it with intimacy or friendship.

That does not mean there are not teachers there. They are everywhere. In the acquaintances. In the congregation. In the grocery, restaurant, deli, and theater. On social media and in sales calls.

What makes all these teachers so precious and valuable is not how they show up in our relating. What matters most is how I relate to them in their way of relating to me. What lessons I may glean when I see them as the wondrous teachers they truly are. How I relate, regulate, and choose to respond.

If I choose to make them villains, I fail the test of our relating and the next version of them is surely on the way. If I believe that their affirmative way of treating me somehow makes me better and more, I become dependent on that treatment and it strains the relationship and will likely ensure a fall.

I have learned that the right way of relating for me is to see all beings as equal Divine expressions here to unfold our highest and best via how we show up in relationship. One to another. Struggle, strain, and all.

Some of those beings will love me. And some of them will not. Properly and spiritually framed it is most accurate to say that some of those people will remember that they love me, and some will not. And it is the same for me. We are all beings of Love here to remember that it is already the case. And that plays out in relationship.

So I have always had the exact right mix of people to ensure my spiritual emergence is on schedule. And you, dear reader, are a part of that.

And what am I here to teach you?

Thursday, October 24, 2019

THE RIGHT TO BE WRONG

I have the right to be wrong.

There are moments when Life lands in me like a sonic boom of awareness. Such was a moment this morning when intellectual knowledge became felt experience.

I have the right to be wrong.

Being wrong is my right by virtue of my humanity. Humans are by nature imperfect and fallible. We all make mistakes. We all stumble and fall. Sometimes when we fall, we take others with us. We are unskillful and sometimes unconsciousness. The friendlier we are with that fact the less our imperfection will kidnap us. The friendlier we are with that fact the less we will lead with pretense. The less we lead with pretense the less likely we are to react in defense.

Having the right to be wrong does not mean we do not seek to be better. In fact, the right to be wrong is a perfect context for betterment and transformation. It is also the perfect platform for being merciful to others. It is a perfect container for compassion. In this regard perfection is perfected in imperfection. The more I can allow and embrace my own unskillfulness the more I can allow and embrace yours.

I suspect that what landed so soundly for me this morning is the fact that I have for decades sought to allow for others “wrongness.” I have imperfectly yet consistently chosen to always seek to forgive when others have wronged or hurt me. At a level I think I took on too much of others unresolved emotion. I made it about me. When I have asked for forgiveness and was denied it I felt even worse about my unfortunate relating. I have always held myself to a higher standard than I have held others. I have persistently given others the right to be wrong. Imperfectly, but consistently.

I have not consistently shown myself the same mercy.

So today I make amends to my oh-so imperfect self. I give myself the right to be wrong. I grant myself permission to sometimes screw up. When I do, I will forgive myself first and foremost. I will also apologize, ask for forgiveness, and amend my wrongdoings. If I am forgiven, great. If I am not, I will not make that about me.

I will not make others unforgiveness about me.

Only a false god withholds forgiveness.

I have long known of my imperfection. I have been painfully aware of my wrongs. Today I feel as if I have been granted a bit more spaciousness to move around in. A bit purer acceptance of my own fallibility. More breathing space. Less pressure. This gives me more room to come from that kind of atmosphere when others deal unskillfully with me. It gives me more freedom to disidentify when others hold me in contempt.

I have the right to be wrong. And so do you.

And the right to be wrong feels so very right.

Thursday, October 10, 2019

IS THAT SO?

Someone recently felt compelled to share with me that there is a less than flattering story about me being told.

Is that so?

There was a time in my life when that news would have shattered me. I would have stewed in the news, scripting for myself what people must be saying about me. That scripting would have led me to expanding levels of emotional disturbance, distorting my view of myself and those who are reportingly telling the tale. The dynamic of the disturbance and distortion would have been a quicksand that would have sucked me down into myself. There I would have suffered, plotting my retaliation, no matter how subtle it might have to be. I would, after all, still need to appear spiritual even as I was carrying out my revenge.

And then, as today, I would not know whether the reported storytelling was even really happening.

I have never felt freer internally in my entire life. I have never known myself better or been more accepting with that knowledge. I know and I embrace my imperfection. I have no need to pretend that I am perfect, or to demand perfection from other people. I make plenty of mistakes. I inadvertently hurt people, which causes me great pain. When I do, I apologize, make amends, and vow to do better. That is my part, and how others respond to my amends is none of my business. This process keeps me clear in here, which is all I am responsible for and to.

So, if less than flattering stories are being told about me, they might very well be true. Afterall, my imperfection presents itself every single day. They also may not be true at all. At which point there is nothing I can do about a shared untruth. I am very clear that fabricated stories do nothing to change me. I am equally true that spreading untrue stories does much to change or at least reveal the nature of the teller. Again; there is nothing I can do to change that.

So being free with my own imperfection liberates me from allowing my identity to be altered by unflattering stories. It also allows me to be unaltered by flattering stories.

Speak ill of me.

Is that so?

Speak well of me.

Is that so?

Equanimity is far more precious to me than your opinion.

Equanimity is far more precious to me than my opinion.

So, if there are indeed unflattering stories being told about me, I am grateful.

No, that is not avoidance or denial.

I am grateful to have the opportunity to decide how I process that possibility within myself. I get to feel the energy associated with that news and decide how I will respond. I get to watch the hurt, anger, impulse to defend and not take any action from it. I get to be even clearer in my sense of self. And I get to be even stronger with what I allow to define me.

There may be a few who read this and begin to weave a web about what the unflattering stories are and who may be telling them.

Is that so?

The better I know the fullness of what and who I am the less I am battered about by the stories of others. And the less I am battered about by the stories of others the less time I spend stewing in suffering.

So, instead of suffering I put my expanding liberation into words and share them with you. Without the possibility of unflattering stories being told this would never have been written.

And that is so.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

TALK IS CHEAP

The older I get and the longer I am treading a conscious spiritual path the more the old adage “talk is cheap” means to me.

It is common for we spiritual types to talk a lot about what we want to be true. We often convince ourselves that what we want to be true is in fact, true.

That does not mean, however, that it is.

Spiritual Truth is beyond what can be thought or talked about. Language is, however, what we have to work with. A big part of our evolution is hearing what seem to be new ideas. I say “seem to be new ideas” because wisdom and Knowing are already within us, just waiting to be awakened. So, we hear ideas that spark a memory and resonate within our beings. We begin to think and talk about these ideas. We parrot these ideas to others, and often pretend that they are true for us. Life will always show us where these concepts are in fact not true, which is a huge and important part of our integration. This for me was as shocking as it was humiliating. I would say I believed one thing, and then when I didn’t get my way or someone crossed me I would inadvertently reveal how in fact that belief was not an integrated reality.

In the words of a well-known televangelist, “ouch, hallelujah!” “br>
So talking about truth isn’t the same as living truth.

And so talk is cheap.


One of the most influential people in my life experience was my great-grandfather Charles. I adore that man to this day, though he passed away when I was fifteen.

Grandpa was by his own definition a man of his word. He died without understanding the need for written contracts or agreements. If he gave his word his word was law. I never knew him to ever violate or not come through with something he had said. Two of his sons, my grandfather included, never lived this way. Their word meant very little to them or to others. This never disturbed Grandpa Charles. It was his word and his agreements that mattered.

To Grandpa talk was not cheap.

I aspire to be like my great grandpa. I focus daily in letting truth be true in me. I ask to be shown where ideals are not yet integrated. Where concepts are yet to be embodied. I pray to relate consciously in and as Truth. I let my past humiliations continue to humble me. I am more and more committed to be the Word.

Though I am by vocation a wordsmith, I am tired of just talking about spiritual ideals. I am passionate about living them. I sense that perhaps in the not-to-distant future I will stop all this talking and become still and vibrant with what I am knowing to be true. I want to speak less in order to say more. I am becoming a man of my word, and so there is less to say.

Afterall: talk is cheap.

And truth is invaluable.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT

Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of my friend Roger’s passing. It was as shocking as it was sudden. No illness or warning. No chance to prepare or say goodbye. His massive heart gave way to immortality and instantly he was gone.

I have long been fascinated by such transitions. I have known several people that have exited embodiment in a similar way. My fascination is in my own inquiry as to whether there is any indication for them that death was imminent. Was there any notion, any awareness that the end of this lifetime was about to come to a close? Did the last goodbye with loved ones somehow feel unique, more precious, more vital? Was there an extended embrace, a lasting gaze, and a one-last-time look of love?

Though I didn’t frame it in such a way I vividly remember my final experience of Roger in this realm. I did not have one-to-one interaction that day. Though from a distance it was somehow both infinite and intimate, usual and extraordinary. I was doing what I do, and Roger was being Roger in relationship to my expression. Yet it was curious, profound, memorable. He captured my attention in a way that I am rarely riveted while doing my work.

And that was our goodbye in this level of experience.

One of the myriad gifts from this and my many lifetime goodbye’s is the reoccurring awareness that I never know when an embrace will be the last. When the words I speak will be the final declaration to those around me. When my unconsciousness will haunt me because of how I ended a relationship, not knowing the reactivity would be a farewell address. When the time I did not take the time would result in no more time.

If this were my own last day on earth, how would I consciously show up? How long might I choose to embrace, linger, gaze, and intentionally give love? How might I gift others with the legacy of my final memory? What would I regret not being, doing, giving, and contributing? How might I allow the ordinariness of this very day be an extraordinary series of precious moments?

Having survived three life-threatening illnesses I am gifted with the mindfulness that in a real and relative way tomorrow is not promised. This is augmented by the fact that I have far more people on the other side than I do on this. Roger joined a host of loves that though physically gone are vitally a part of my present day living.

A precious part of my remembrance of them is in knowing that I do not know when I will join them in that Luminous state of pure being. I think and feel that I am prepared. I do not fear death, though the process of how that might happen continues to give me pause.

Being prepared to die is what makes me more able to fully live. More awake to my inner-action and interactions. More conscious of how I show up, relate, respond. More decisive of my energetic last will and testament to this life.

My last will is to love. My lasting testament is that though I have loved imperfectly and have suffered loss repeatedly I still chose to love. I have not allowed continued hurts to keep within me a closed heart. I have needed to set boundaries and even to remove people from my direct sphere of experience. But I did not confuse boundary with essential belonging. I have chosen to continue to consciously bless even if it needed to be from a distance.

And if these are the final words I ever share please know that this my life has been a wondrous and grand adventure. I have willed to love and that is a testament to the Power of Source in a human experience. And I am grateful that you have been a part of it.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

TRUTH TELLING FREEDOM

It took me decades to finally be able to tell myself the truth about myself.

Ouch.

When I finally dared to tell myself the truth about myself the truth did indeed, as sacred writings promise, set me free.

It was an incredibly painful experience.

It was equally liberating.

Though I use the word “was” it is a process that is still occurring, and likely will until I finally lay these sometimes-weary bones down. Every day there is another humiliation. The more I seek to embody the Light the more it shines into my unresolved darkness.

Though it is far more comfortable to blame you for my woes, it is always my ability to respond that is at stake. Projections show me what I have disowned. I am always looking into the mirror of my own consciousness. I am always viewing life with what I am viewing with.

Ouch.

Truth telling is painful. And truth telling about oneself is the only way to truly be free.

It is aggravating and enervating. It requires courage and bravery and grit. It is a never-ending process that refines us as it awakens us. It strips away the dross of denial and suppression. It takes us into what we most don’t want to see.

Though it is far more popular to pink paint our self-image for the sake of fitting in that paint job will cost you. It will cost you the profoundly liberating experience of true honesty and authenticity. Pink painting will cast you into the role of fugitive, always hiding what you don’t want the world to see. It will cost you compassion and mercy and empathy. It will cost you connection, and it will cost you belonging.

You cannot lie or role play for the sake of fitting in and know true belonging.

We all either unconsciously or consciously utilize “Cosmic Central Casting” to bring people into our lives who perfectly demonstrate for us what we most need to see. How we respond to these characters will either perpetuate our projections or free our unconsciousness.

I am clearer than ever about my own imperfection. I know how deep my commitment is to be an embodiment of all that is Source. And I know that I flounder in that unfoldment. I am equally clear that your stories about me have little to nothing to do with me. I am a character in your story just as you are one in mine. There is nothing you can say about me that I haven’t already said about myself.

And that has set me free.

And so today I dare to tell the truth about myself.

I watch the tendency to want to tell my version of the truth about you. I mostly take a pass on that these days. And in my imperfection sometimes I fall into the trap of telling my truth about you.

When I do, I do not stay in that trap for long. I am here to tell my truth, not what I think yours might be. If I am open enough to observe compassionately your painful behavior, I know I am awake to the truth of being. I know I have been truthful enough about myself to be a beneficent presence to you.

It all comes back to daring to tell the truth about myself to myself.

And that is the truth that sets me free.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS

Thoughts of prayer is not enough.

Read that again.

Thoughts OF prayer is most certainly not enough.

From so many directions these days we hear the anger-laced cry that thoughts and prayers are not enough. This is coming from politicians, celebrities, social media, and even clergy. The implication is that rather than think and pray, we must do something. Do something, anything. In an over-masculinized society, the emphasis is always on doing. And perhaps the only thing more impotent in our culture than thought is prayer.

I have yet to hear this cry from someone who I felt had really spent any deep and qualitative time in prayer.

I would be the first to agree that indeed thought is not enough. The constant mind-spin of thinking, commentary, and narrative has little potential or power. While a vast majority of the world’s population thinks its way through prayer, I would offer that the equation robs prayer of its transformative power.

Prayer is not thought. Praying is not thinking.

Deep, progressive levels of prayer originate in and then from the heart-center. It is vibrational, not conceptual. It is a quality of attention that then transforms energy via consciousness. It is felt, not thought. It is not so much something that we do. It is something that happens within us when we so allow.

We pray when we realize we are being prayer.

To put enormous amounts of time and energy into thinking about problems, and then outlining how we think an outer god should fix things, is certainly futile. From that perspective I agree that thoughts and prayers are not enough. The thought stream energizes the problem and the “prayer” misuses the laws of consciousness. If that is the prescription for solution, we had better indeed get busy. The innate problem with said busyness is that it is imbued with problem-energy. It escalates what we seek to be rid of.

Deep levels of prayer do not directly deal with “the problem.” Praying is opening to allow the Presence that is God to shine forth from our receptive and spacious hearts. This type of prayer does not frame things as problems, rather it sees unutilized potential. It does not set out to fix anything. It simply shines forth as a higher reality. It does not devolve into mind spin. It aligns within the Presence and then it holds presence. It is a soft and compassionate gaze. And in its softness, it is unstoppable.

Thoughts of prayer is not enough.

Felt-sense, heart-centered, embodied prayer is enough, and it is more. It is action. It is inner action becoming interaction. It is Divine Activity. It is Presence which is all Power.

Don’t think about it. Be it. Be prayer this day and then do what you feel called to do.

It is collective prayer and the resulting transformed consciousness that will change this world.

I’m in. Are you?

Thursday, August 22, 2019

TRUTH OR DARE

A great source of personal suffering for me has been the innate capacity to know when people are being untruthful.

To be more honest and direct: since the time I was a child I could always tell when people were lying.

It wasn’t until I was well into my adulthood that two very pertinent perceptions came to me that unlocked the prison door to my suffering around said dishonesty.

First, I always thought that people knew that were being dishonest. I thought they were intentionally telling tales. I came to learn that very often people are coming from a place of unconsciousness and disassociation, thus unaware that what they were communicating simply wasn’t true. This was huge for me. It also deepened my own exploration of what I might think is true that really wasn’t.

Secondly, my framing was that people were lying to me.



To me. Lying to me. Doing something to me. I took that completely personally, thinking I somehow deserved the deception and dishonesty. I took it on, and I suffered. Removing energetically the words “to me” loosened the chains of my bondage and largely the shielding from my heart. People don’t lie to me. They simply lie. Mostly to themselves. Other peoples loose hold on reality meant nothing about me. Lies are fear based. We all have our fears, and we all are at times dishonest. That is simple a part of the human experience.

I vividly recall the pain of this dynamic, especially in my formative years. I remember staring at authority figures. Watching the lips move and the facial expressions set. And knowing that what I was seeing and hearing was in fact not the facts. I remember the sadness. The grief. The disconnect. Because I did not have the capacity or the maturity to call it out it got suppressed and internalized. The sadness, the grief began to fester into rage. The rage became recoil and rejection. My mode of operation was to remain silent about the lies until an eruption would occur. Relational drama then ensued, and I put people who lied to me out of my life.

People who lied to me.

Honesty is a core value of mine. And I am not always honest. I seek to be. I pray to be. I often have great justifications when I am not. I fear sometimes that my honesty will hurt others. I suspect that my silence is often an indirect form of lying and collusion. I work daily with being more direct, honest, authentic, yet also kind.

I work with daring to tell the truth.

Truth telling takes enormous courage, awareness, and internal inquiry. I stay constantly vigilant to what is unconscious dishonesty in others, and projected untruthfulness in me. I surf the waves of hurt when I fall into the temptation of making others unconsciousness about me. When I tell myself the lie that it is about me.

I work with daring to tell the truth to myself about myself.

It isn’t easy. It is often embarrassing and even humiliating. I cannot let myself off the hook and remain in my own integrity.

And I am relentless.

So, the old game of “truth or dare” has become a profound spiritual practice. There really are no winners or losers. When I dare to tell the truth I always win. And the truth continues to set me free.

Thursday, August 15, 2019

HELLO DARKNESS MY OLD FRIEND

Hello darkness my old friend.

I have been experiencing rumblings in my gut as of late. Faint wafts of the old “uh-oh” have been arising. A very slight hint of dread. A bit of heaviness in my heart. Some chaos in my mind.

Something good is obviously opening.

Yes, you read that right.

I think most people would read my current symptoms and wonder what is wrong. I feel these activities and ponder what is emerging.

It wasn’t always so.

It has taken a lot of discipline, practice, and prayer to get to the point when I welcome discomfort and darkness as the friends I have learned they are.

Hello darkness my old friend.

Something is dying within me, and that always means that something is seeking to be born.

The womb of transcendence is dark. The labor pains of the law unfolding are uncomfortable. There are rumblings, dread, heaviness, and chaos. The birth canal for my higher self is not an easy path.

And I know it is for good.

If I choose to move through the temptation to deny, suppress, deaden, avoid, and blame I can say with authenticity and conviction “hello darkness my old friend.” The pain of dying need not become intense suffering. That is what my resistance will result in. I know that because of how many times I have done it.

Today I celebrate what may be unfolding within and through me. I know I will come out the other side of this as more. I know I will rise to a higher level of consciousness and expression. I trust wholeheartedly in this.

If can just be courageous enough to stay with the discomfort, chaos, and uh-oh.

Hello darkness my old friend.

Saturday, August 10, 2019

REVEREND PERSON

I know that I was born to minister. I also know that in many ways I do not have the personality to do so.

I was ordained more than twenty-three years ago and have worked in full-time ministry ever since. That does not make me special. It does not make me more spiritual than anyone else. It certainly does not mean that I am better than anyone else, or perfect in any way.

What it does mean for me is that my very life is a dedication to all things Source. It means that the highest priority of my life is to allow this imperfect self to be used in service of what is truly and always perfect. It means that I am soaking in the frequency of Source most of the time, and then seeing life from that perspective.

After years of dedicated practice and active application there are days when I actualize that priority pretty well. There are also moments in my days when I fail pretty miserably.

Being clergy does not mean that judgment has somehow been lifted from me. Being clergy does mean that I continually question my judgments and pray to be released from them.

Being clergy does not mean that I disregard my values, or that I do not call out injustice when I see it. Being clergy does mean that I do so with an open heart and a softer gaze. I do so without hatred or malice in that heart. That is how I keep it open.

My personality self finds much of what is unfolding to be repugnant and just plain wrong. Evil and bigotry are being perpetrated, and human beings are being maligned and marginalized. My personality self wants to rail against those performing such acts.

That is the part of my personality self that is not suited for ministry.

I have learned that by surrendering my accusations they are softened. As I allow for the darkness inside of me, I can compassion it in others. As I literally give UP my passion for equality and justice the fire within me becomes a torch that lights the way through this current level of madness. As I step back from what I am railing against I gain perspective on what I am ministering for.

I am very clear that by accepting ordination I become a loving uplifter of all beings. That is not an easy process, and it is one I am committed to embody. I often do not agree with ideologies or ensuing behaviors. I vehemently disagree with increasing regularity. I do not, however, mistake ideology for a person’s inherent Divinity. I do not confuse unskillfulness with unworthiness. I do not conflate behavior with identity.

So, I watch and hear and feel people screaming and minimizing each other, often in the name of religion and what is deemed as “right.” The day that I choose to become ensconced in that battle is the day I leave the ministry.

It does not mean I do not have moments of that. I just do not allow myself the luxury of living in such blame and divisiveness.

When I find myself caught in a self-made web of perception, opinion, and criticism, I have a little game I play with myself. I imagine the person or persons I am judging showing up at the Unity I lead. They come in, sit down, and at least temporarily become a part of my congregation.

And I imagine myself ministering to them. That is the same thing as saying I imagine bringing love to them.

My personality self cannot do that. And I do not minister from my personality self.

My vocation is a constant refinement. A constant peeling away of the veils of programming and conditioning that keeps me separated from those I deem as different. From those I disagree with. From those who trigger my own unconscious patterns.

I know I was born to minister. I am a most unlikely candidate. I am so imperfect and often so unskillful.

But my commitment and dedication never waver. I arise everyday with a prayer of “how may I serve” in my heart and on my lips. I constantly question where I am coming from, and what I am contributing with my quality of attention. I live within the inquiry of how I may be used in service of something greater than myself.

It is likely I will fall today into a hole of unconsciousness. I will hear a piece of news that sends me into judgment and reactivity. And in the name of what I choose to be upon this planet I will not stay in that hole for very long. I will pause, I will breathe, and I will pray. I will choose to bring blessing to what I was cursing. I will minister to possibility and compassion current reality.

I minister because I simply must. It is not what I say. It is what and who I choose to be and how I choose to relate. I bring love to what seems so unlovable. And it is a radical and humbling way to live.

They call me reverend. I am just another person. A person who chooses to let Source work through me.

Thursday, August 8, 2019

PICKING PROBLEMS

What if it is not a problem?

This is happening, and I am disturbed.

I am disturbed because I think it should not be happening.

Because I think it should not be happening, and yet it is, I make it into a problem.

Problems disturb me.

It is a problem because my resistance and framing has made it such.

If it is happening, and I choose to allow it to be an opportunity instead of a problem, I am not disturbed.

This is happening, and if I make it a problem, I am disturbed. If I do not make it a problem, I am not disturbed.

So, where is the problem and disturbance?

The out there is not really the variable. The variable is in here.

This is happening. I look at it. I feel it. I sense and embrace my initial reactivity to it. I watch the labels I apply and make the connection between those labels and my disturbance.

I am making it a problem and then reacting to it as such.

I am making my own problems and disturbances. In so doing I block the opportunity.

If I did not make it a problem my creativity and innovation would kick in and I am able to follow the flow of opportunity. The flow of possibility. I am energized rather than disturbed. I decide to respond rather than to react.

Problem or possibility? Decision or disturbance? React or respond?

What is it is not a problem?

Thursday, August 1, 2019

HURTING HEART - WITHHOLDING WORDS

My heart literally hurts, and it has nothing to do with my recent surgery.

I feel as if this pain is exacerbated by the fact that I have not found a way to aptly articulate the pain in such a way that doesn’t alienate others or inadvertently offend those for whom I am hurting.

Brilliant, caring, contributing men and women are being maligned in ways that I never thought I would see again. These men and women and, yes, even children are being denigrated because they happen to be people of color. Black, brown. Whatever the term you choose to apply there is a poison being exposed and spread and it must be spoken of before it can be healed.

Some of you may want to stop reading right there. You can unsubscribe and delete, but you have already seen the sentiment I most need to convey.
During my childhood the Civil Rights movement was at its most horrific. Murders, lynching, segregation, busing; it seemed there were endless ways that our fellow human beings were being shoved to the margins and into the background solely based on their race. I remember vividly the news report telling of the murder of Rev. Dr. King. I couldn’t understand why someone would want to kill a passionate preacher of equality and non-violence. I heard my parents’ reactions to the ensuing riots and feared that it would come to the street where we lived and the rage would kill us all.

But you see, that could not have happened.

We had moved to an all-white suburb when our previous neighborhood began to “turn bad.”

And so, I had minimal direct exposure to people of different races or religions until I entered university.

People who had been images on a screen or headlines in a paper became real and tangible and vital to me. Differences evoked not fear, only fascination, appreciation, and wonder. I began to realize how privileged my race had made me, but also how cut off I had been from a huge percentage of my shared humanity. A beautiful and rich and varied percentage. A part of myself had been cut off.

I began to see and witness and deeply admire people who transcended the systemic bigotry of the culture to make enormous contributions to the world at large. I felt a fire in the belly of crusaders who would no longer be held down. I did not stop at mere admiration. I took my place beside these heroes, doing what I could to expand the confines of a contracted and toxic consciousness. I do not claim to have done much. But it helped to feel like I could do something. Anything.

With the election of our first African American president I literally wept with joy. Party affiliation had nothing to do with my exhilaration. I felt that we had finally reached a place where liberty and justice for all was being realized. An expanded possibility had opened to future generations. People were finally being seen for the value of their character and not held back by the tone of their skin.

I was wrong.

Have strides been made? Absolutely. And we are living at a time when the underbelly of our shadow racism is exploding in ways that are loud and forceful and unmistakable and wrong.

Racism is wrong.

And so, my heart literally hurts. I ache as I watch lifelong public servants minimized and diminished and shoved to the margins once again. I weep for the victims, the families and friends of all those gunned down and choked and threatened and maligned due to the pigmentation of their skin or the religion of their belief. This is not a political issue for me. It is a moral issue. It is a gaping hole in the fabric of our humanity. I hear claims that “we are better than this.” Are we? If we are then we have some major work to do.

So, I have sat with and leaned into this heart-pain. I have listened for what I am personally called to contribute. I have feared saying the wrong thing, both to the haters and those being hated. I am so wanting to contribute to the solution and not to the problem.

As a result, I have said nothing. And in saying nothing I become part of the problem. Silence is a form of collusion. I am silent no more.

This pain in my heart is nothing compared to those who live daily with the constant sting of racism. Marginalization is not foreign to me, but it is not the same I know.

This must stop.

This is not my most eloquent of writings, and it is with trepidation that I contemplate publishing it at all. I am fumbling. But I cannot remain silent. I must speak out. I must take a stand. I must do whatever I can to embody the values I hold precious.

Whatever your race or belief you are an emanation of the same Source as are all living beings. You are as precious and as important as any other. I will stand with you and for you. I will honor and respect you. I will compassion the pain. I will call out bigotry wherever I see it. I will love you. I will indeed love you. Your diversity and your humanity.

My heart is hurting yet my words are no longer withheld.

Thursday, July 25, 2019

MORE

I have always wanted more.

To say that is most likely not spiritually correct for many readers. And the fact remains: I have always wanted more.

I was directly shamed for that as a child. I would dream of more. Speak of more. Long for more. My authority figures would look down at me literally and metaphorically as they asked, “who do you think you are?” The words were dripping with shame and landed in my solar plexus with a deadening thud.

And so I did my best to suppress this ever-persistent desire for more. When I couldn’t suppress it, I did my best to at least hide it. I eventually came to realize that the more I tried to suppress and hide the inner-more the stronger it became. Like Oliver to the headmaster I would slink forward and speak through gritted teeth “more please?”

Though in my youth I wanted more of material things and exhilarating experiences the more has simplified and yet intensified into a longing of more awareness, more feeling, and more connection. I want to experience more of me, and I want to experience more of you. Not the you that is image-based. Not the you that you think you must be or the role you must play to fit in. I want the totality of you. The whole you. The unfettered and unmasked you. Just as I want to know fully the beyond imaged, total, unmasked and whole me.

In an age of social media and seemingly boundless disconnection this desire is not easily met. You have shown me postings of what is on your dinner plate. Now I want to see what is in the depths of your heart. I want to know what you want more of. What makes you giggle, ache, long, and wince. I want to know the dreams you secretly dream, and the barely buried fears that the time for those dreams to realize is past. I want to know how you were shamed. I want to know for what you were praised, and what you most want to hide.

I gulp slightly as I type the words that in order to know more of you, I am willing to show more of me. I am willing to, if only for a moment at a time, take off my image, my armor, my masks. I am willing to be seen, touched, known. I am willing to meet you heart to heart.

In meeting you heart to heart my desire for more is realized. We are more together than we could ever be separately. It’s a risk, I know. It takes courage for sure.

Real meeting real. Whole meeting whole. Depth meeting depth. More meeting more.

And I have always wanted more.

Thursday, July 18, 2019

PUDDING PROOF

I have been on a conscious spiritual path for well over thirty years. I spent my youth in the Evangelical church, and a period of seeming spirit-void bridged those intervening years. All three of these experiences have been vital and even crucial to where I dwell in consciousness today.

I have gathered a lot of information in my lifetime. I love learning. I consider myself a perpetual student. I love ideas and perceptions that pique my curiosity and so expand my awareness. To live is to learn and to grow.

And so, I have accumulated a lot of information in my lifetime. Many facts fill my head. One of those facts is that information does not equate to integration.

I can very easily quote master teachers from a myriad of spiritual traditions. Those quotations mean nothing if I treat others unkindly and belittle those I disagree with. I can parrot all sorts of truisms and they are pointless if I then dehumanize those who I see as different and inferior.

As grandma used to say: the proof is in the pudding.

I remain a lifelong learner even as I realize that I have all the information I need or want. My learning now is all about fully becoming what I say I believe. It is about opening to allow those truisms to be True in me. It is embodying and mastering for myself the energy behind those quotations.

My inner atmosphere is my primary classroom, and how I treat you is my ongoing curriculum. Everything else is just useless information.

I am serving up some pudding this day that is living loving proof of what I am becoming. It has slow cooked for a long time. And it is so worth the process.

Monday, April 22, 2019

IN THE WAITING

I have learned to appreciate and even relish a level of uncertainty, unknowing, and confusion.

I do so because of the number of times I have felt these uneasy energies, stayed with them, and then saw what miracles have flowed forth from them.

In anthropology this is often referred to as liminal space. It is the time and perspective that is in-between what has been, and what is not yet coming into being. Something has ended or died, and nothing has yet to begin or be born. This space is, in essence, empty. It is void. It is a vacuum.

It is also, like we are learning about black holes, filled with endless possibility. It is limitless potentiality. It is brimming with a cosmic genius.

For this genius to come forth we must be able to tolerate seeming emptiness. We must give space to this spaciousness. We must mature to a point where we do not rush to fill the vacuum.

This is, for most people, easier said than done.

This potentiality reads as a kind of tension. It is a subtle kind of stress that many seek to subdue and deaden. The tension comes from the intolerability of a deep level of unknowing. The surface mind wants to know. In fact, this level of mind knows itself by what it thinks it knows. It is content identified. To not know is to not exist.

The subtle but disturbing fact behind this is that if the mind must know it is always depending on the past. On what has already been known. Even if the past knowing has been painful at least it is thought to be certain. There isn’t ambiguity. Memories are known objects in the mind. As objects we think we have control over them.

The problem is that they have control over us.

So, over the years I have come to experience times of great unknowing. I have allowed myself to settle several times into liminal space and the result has always been fruitful. I have grown increasingly friendly with unknowing and uncertainty. This friendliness has eased the tension I once felt and resisted. For me this ease is equal to an overall sense that life is for me. That when I can loosen my grip on the past and the demand to know what will happen next and when something begins to stir and grow and unfold that is greater than what I could have made happen.

I also call this liminal space waiting.

Not waiting in the typical sense. I am not waiting for anything in particular. It isn’t time-related. There is no impatience. It is more a sacred waiting for something to move and to emerge. To be made clear. To unfold from me. If I can stay and wait, I know good will come forth. I have no need to know what that will look like or when it will occur.

I am content in the waiting.

And so as I have shared with my readers I will be having open heart surgery the latter part of this week. I have been winding down my work responsibilities and have been spending time handling the logistics that demand attention before I am forced into a certain level of liminal waiting come Thursday.

I have never experienced this kind of medical adventure, and I am not at all drawn to research what may or may not occur. I am clearing space in my calendar and in my life-details so that I may be become quiet, watchful, and curious. I have been experiencing sometimes severe symptoms, and a certain level of health and vitality has died for me. I have no idea what lies on the other side of this somewhat radical surgery. I assume I will survive, and I do not know that to be the case.

There is a lot of unknowing.

I am all about making room for that. I will be signing off email and suspending my social media accounts. I want to make ample space to simply sit in the waiting. I want to notice every nuance that happens for me. I do not want to miss what is seeking to get my attention during this process. I am seeing this as a somewhat forced health sabbatical.

While I am not at all looking forward to the physicality of what is going to occur, I am hopeful about what I will find when I make space for a new unfolding. What I will find in the space between illness and health. Anxiety and emergence. The unknown and clarity.

And so I am dwelling peacefully in the in-between. I am waiting and I am curious. I trust that this waiting will become knowing. And so I breathe and I allow the liminal to become luminosity.

Everything is possible in the waiting.

Friday, April 19, 2019

SUFFERING AND LOVE

Sometimes an impact is so sudden, so unexpected, so jarring, so severe that the automatic closure of the reptilian brain seems somehow to be circumvented.

This has occurred for me only a few times in my life. It has taken two predominant forms: great love, and profound suffering.

I have found that both of those energies are equally as scary. I know that most would argue with the validity of that statement. But in my experience, we humans are as afraid of deep, intimate love as we are uncontrollable, profound suffering. And the two of those are far from unrelated. Deep, intimate love can lead us to uncontrollable, profound suffering, and in fact, often does. Anyone who has loved deeply and lost that love suddenly certainly knows that. Therefore, we fear them equally.

Inherent in loving fully is the risk of suffering deeply. For me, the love is worth the risk. Not that I don’t flinch. Not that I am not tempted to close or to withhold. Not that the temptation is to timidly wait until the other ventures first into the vulnerable expression of “I love you.”

Not that as a result of choosing to love you I won’t suffer. I well might. But I have learned to take and to even welcome that risk.

So, the current sudden, unexpected impact took the form of a diagnosis. It was for me both jarring and severe. While I am surrounded by a chorus of “you’ll be fine” I am committed to entertaining all the possibilities. A curt “fine” does not feel open to me. It feels far more like a subtle form of closure. And one of the gifts that has already flowed forth for me is that the impact of the news has not led to sustained closure. It is one of those miraculous moments when impact leads to expanded awareness and inexplicable openness. And I am fully committed to maintaining that state of openness throughout this adventure.

I feel vulnerable and sensitive. I feel defenseless. I sense a great unguardedness. I feel the likelihood that I will live, and the possibility that I could die. And I feel a deep willingness to welcome it all.

I lived so many years armored up, unconsciously expecting to be hurt. What I am about to face will in fact hurt. There will indeed be pain. There well may be suffering. I am facing those realities not with dread, but with acceptance. I am not looking forward to this. I am not a masochist or a martyr. But as the day draws nearer, I am devoting myself to staying open and undefended to whatever course this may take. Whatever pain will be involved. Whatever complications may or may not arise.

I am willing to meet this suffering with great love.

This health challenge is not an enemy to be conquered. It is not a dragon to be slain. It is not a call to suppression or denial either. I am meeting this face to face, and quite literally heart to heart.

There are many who simply do not deal well with suffering. Theirs or someone else’s. I so totally get that. And I ask you to stand back. I appreciate you remaining still about how I choose to move through this. If you truly care about me than let me be. I will welcome you back when this storm has passed.

Those who want to move a little closer I ask you to hold me in your heart and know that I fear not the suffering. I fear not the pain. Say little and hold me in great love. I am someone who in times like these does not want people in proximity. I do not want a stream of visitors. It is just not who I am. Interpretations of that are not helpful.

While I am in suffering simply hold me in love. I am pained, but I am open. My body is weakened but my spirit is strong. I will come through and out of this more open and honest and giving than I was when it began.

And that increased openness is worth any amount of suffering that may occur.

Friday, April 12, 2019

LETTING MY TEARS BE SEEN

The room was astoundingly bright and bone-chillingly cold. There was banter and chatter, some directed at me yet somehow not to me. I was told to move from gurney to procedure table. In doing so I went from being me to being an object to be examined and explored. The words coming at me became less and less personal. I could feel myself disappearing among cloths, wires, instruments, and tubes.

The medical personnel in the room were friendly yet detached. I was moved about and positioned and poked and I was prodded. As the outer became less personal my interior became more and more intimate and alert and spacious. I remained centered in a compassionate awareness of what it must be like to do this critical and even dangerous testing day after day. To be faced with people in fear and in trauma. People with vast histories and storylines and loves and with losses. People who do not know whether this is just the beginning of the end. People who do not know whether their entire life experience will be changed in the course of a short and devastating diagnosis. Delivered with an equal amount of deference. Of subtle indifference. Of survivable detachment.

I was exposed both emotionally and literally. Lying naked under the bright cold lighting, with only a far from private privacy towel held precariously in place, I was as defenseless as I have ever been. I had not been medicated and so I was left to feel that defenselessness, the exposure, the objectification. The raw, complete nakedness.

The nakedness.

Even as the banter continued, I knew this experience was going to be all about how I chose to talk to myself as I was in it. How I chose to either remain open or to armor up. How I internally attended to those who were at least physically attending to me. How or whether I would choose to stay open in a situation I so wanted to close to. To run from. To scream at. To escape.

As a second IV blew in my arm and the third was being attempted I could feel something rising within me that was like a tsunami of something that absolutely needed to happen. Searing pain coursed through both arms which were held down by restraints. My entire body was anchored down so that there could be no movement to interfere with the delicate testing. While there could be little physical movement the flow that was seeking to happen could not be avoided or suppressed.

I began to cry.

For a moment I was horrified. I was embarrassed. I wanted to hide the tears, mostly for the sake of those attending to me.

It could not be stopped.

For the first time the room grew momentarily silent. There was hushed talk regarding the unstable vitals of that person on the table. The objectified became in a Nano-second personalized. The 9:00 a.m. scheduled heart-catheterization became a person that was in pain. A man that was in tears. A fellow human being to be compassioned. A heart to be entered and consciously, tenderly attended to.

I shamelessly allowed the tears to flow. I opened to let myself experience the totality of the experience. I held my own heart and leaned into my own pain. The more I allowed the internal flow the more I was able to consciously relate to the others in the room. I was sensitive to their pain as well. To the rude awakening of another’s tears being a radical call to increased sensitivity and mindfulness.

After the test there was a systematic undoing of all that had been done in preparation. It is likely that it was mostly me, yet the quality of activity seemed somehow different. The interacting more direct and personal. The touches more tender. The nakedness more respected. The person more seen and experienced.

I write these words and describe this experience very aware that it will be read and interpreted in a myriad of ways. It will be commented on from various levels of consciousness and from varying levels of comfort with pain. If you have difficulty with your tears mine will be intolerable. If you cannot endure your own pain, you will discount and minimize mine. If you fear defenseless, exposure, and nakedness you will recoil from what happened for me.

And yet I write. And yet I expose. And yet I allow my deeper being to be real and raw and true. I am grateful to express for the pure experience of letting myself freely express. Of letting my tears be seen. Of letting my heart be felt.

Just as in the glaring and stark coldness of that impersonal sterile medical procedure room I am no longer afraid of being freely and fully seen. I am not afraid to cry. I will not be shut down in fear of being judged or commented upon. That cost has grown to high.

And if my transparency encourages just one of you to let down your guard and let your tears flow then the pain I moved through will well be worth it.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

ODE TO THE OPEN HEARTED

There is spiritual theory, and then there is spiritual reality.

In order to have theory become reality there must be direct experience. A spiritual concept will live in the head and have no real impact. When life in some way pushes a theory will fail you. Every time.

When life is pushing and the theory fails, in that failure is a glint of possibility. Depending on what you do with that failure it will either be buried in denial or integrated via direct experience. Leaning away the lesson is left to be recycled. Leaning in, a vague theory becomes a felt-reality. What you suspected to be true becomes a living truth. It becomes real and vital and sustainable. Every time.

For over twenty years I have talked about and deeply practiced the supremacy of the open heart. I know it to be the portal through which Source flows and our Souls flower. When spiritual theory is literally dropped down into the heart-center that theory becomes, via direct and intimate experience, a living reality. It is no longer a theory. It is a certainty.

Perhaps the most challenging part of developing the capacity to live with an open heart is that is requires a deep and consistent level of defenseless and vulnerability. Much like the rhythm of the physical organ every closure of the sacred heart is but an invitation for reopening. Sustained energetic closure will prevent the openness needed for the spiritual flowering to occur. The heart becomes congested and emergence becomes stifled.

What prevents a persistent level of heart-openness is unresolved emotional wounding. The fear of repeated hurt results in defensiveness and closure. This wounding is largely precognitive and is not integrated by repeated story telling or increased theory. This woundedness is healed and integrated in one way: it is felt.

This feeling process takes courage and it takes patience. It requires a level of simple staying presence that is uncommon in our culture today. This is not a cognitive process. You cannot integrate what is precognitive by repeatedly talking about it. This is pure, felt-sense, compassionate exploration. This exploration becomes the direct experience in which spiritual theory becomes spiritual reality. Like it or not, our spiritual reality is just on the far side of emotional fluency.

This is not accomplished with the head. This is indeed an adventure of the heart.

Which brings me back to the supremacy of the heart.

One of my chief spiritual practices for many years now has been to remain keenly aware of my heart center and to the degree of openness or closure that is happening in my present moments. Heart-centering has radically transformed my experience of prayer and of relationship. These practices have taken me deeply into my interior. I have faced the pain and darkness of a lifetime. While it has been far from comfortable it has been remarkedly rewarding and liberating. I have learned what leads me to closure and I have been led to courageously choose reopening. I am a different person as a result of this work. It is the foundation of my life and of my ministry.

And now life is taking me even more deeply into the adventure of wholeheartedness.

Contained within the portal of my mostly open spiritual heart is an organ that is increasingly and dangerously malfunctioning. In order to restore my physical heart, I will soon face the reality of open-heart surgery. Part of what the surgeon will be doing is replacing the aortic valve, restoring the natural flow of blood in and out of my heart.

While this is relatively new information the effects of the disorder have been increasingly difficult to deal with for quite some time. I cannot with any level of authenticity say that I am okay with what is about to happen. I am not. Yet.

I am approaching this with the same level of heart-devotion that I have been practicing for all these years. I am staying attentive and non-attached to how others are reacting. I am leaning into all the nuances that are moving within me. I am asking deep and personal questions of myself. I am not interested in why this happening. I am only interested in the fact that it is happening. I am committed to learning everything I can about myself in this process. I am devoted to gleaning every bit of good from this adventure. I am dedicated to being more on the other side of it. To living and loving and serving more. To being even more of a heart-troubadour. This will be an expansion of my platform and my ministry.

The success rate of these procedures is high. And it is not 100%. I am taking time these days to lean into that possibility. If these were to be the final days and weeks of this lifetime how will I choose to show up in them? What am I most called to express? What is it that would be left undone, ungiven? Who would it be hardest to say good-bye to? What have I yet to forgive? What do I want my legacy to be?

What do I want my legacy to be?

This process is leaving me to feel incredibly sensitive and vulnerable. I go through weepy moments. I feel even more open than usual. I am grateful for that, and I am employing nothing that would deaden or disengage me. I am truly pondering all these things in my heart. It may be physically leaky, but it is spiritually engaged, open, and perfect.

There isn’t a lot of theory left for me. God has become a living reality. It is for sure a direct experience. I live It imperfectly for sure. Sometimes there is a slush-back of my attempts to flow forth as love. Sometimes my closure is more prolonged than at other times. But reopen I do.

Reopen I do.

With every heartbeat that is remaining, I devote myself to being the reality of love. Being anything else is just too painful.

Thursday, March 21, 2019

ABOUT LIFE

For most of my years I thought life was about me.

I asked questions that came from that perspective.

What do I want? Where do I want to live? Who do I want to be with? What is my deepest desire? How do I want to serve?

I was missing the mark.

I am no longer consumed by a perspective that life is about me. I can fall temporarily into that trap for sure. I do not dwell there for long.

My questions have changed as has my vantage point. Life isn’t bout me. I am about life.

I am about life.

What does life want from me? Where has my path led me to live, and how may I be content here? Who is in my life, and how is our engagement serving our souls? What is life most deeply desiring in and as me? How am I being called to serve?

I spent so much time trying to construct the perfect life. I missed that I was already living it.

My personal desires are often not met. There is frequently discomfort inside of me. I sometimes think I should be somewhere different, doing something differently, sharing life with different people.

It is all a hoax.

This is perfect. Life is perfect just as it is. There really isn’t any such thing as my life. There is life, and there is my experience of it. When I remember to cooperate with life as it is, there is peace, contentment, and fulfillment. There is connection, harmony, and ease.

So here is my personal theology.

God is life. Life is love. Love is light.

Life isn’t about me. I am about life. I am about loving life as it is. And when I love life as it is my way is lighted.

I am cooperating in the One Life that is living me.

And so it is and so I flow.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

GUIDING PULLBACK

I have long been criticized for what others deem to be a certain level of aloofness. I have been accused of withholding, and even pullback. Caring people have told me that they perceive in me a tendency to isolate.

Guilty as charged.

What others have called aloofness is for me an earned level of discernment. What some would deem to be withholding is for me a healthy set of boundaries. If I am pulling back there is almost always good cause.

I have done enough inner work in my life to be on alert for my own triggering, distortions, and projections. I am keen on staying alert to those, and to wakefully dealing with them. I also lived years of my life trusting and disclosing to people who quite frankly had not earned the right of entry to the deeper levels of my being. This was a pattern that ran and cut deep for me.

I rarely make that mistake anymore.

I now send my energy forward and test the receptivity of people before I move to the deeper levels of communication. I try diligently to be a trustworthy person, and I seek that same quality from people who are potential friends. I do not expect that everyone shares in that desire. There have been enough betrayals in this lifetime to teach me to pause before speaking, to presence before sharing. I have constructed an internal safe zone for myself, but I do not kid myself that acquaintances of various levels are automatically safe.

And so, yes; I proceed with caution. I carefully choose those who I have deeper sharing’s with. I am more forthcoming with those who have proven they will receive me as I am. I practice the art of response in my relating, and I seek to be an open and safe space for those who choose to confide in me.

So, if you care to glance back at the opening paragraph perhaps you will get a sense of why I relate in the ways that I do.

Your criticism of my discernment does not open me to letting you in further. Your accusations of aloofness do nothing to foster a deeper intimacy. If you perceive that I am in pullback, and perhaps I am, look at what interaction just occurred and what your part was in it. I assure you I will.

It took me decades to claim and to nurture my own personal interior space. It took me decades to recognize the warning signs of people who should not be granted full access. I erroneously thought that as an awakening spiritual person I should be open and disclosing to all. Premature opening would result in hurt, and then I was left scrutinizing myself for the cause of another’s bad behavior. I left people in my sphere years after they should have been released.

So, if I have shared with you and you evaluated, corrected, spiritualized, or in some way critiqued what I have shared do not expect further offerings. And accept it or not my discernment is not defense.

Empathy is not commentary. And only empathy is the bridge to true intimacy.

We all have unconscious moments. We all behave and speak unskillfully. But we all do not choose to own that unskillfulness, apologize, and amend our way of showing up. And so those are the folks that get my compassion, caring, and even love without access to the deeper realms of my being.

I fully accept that I inadvertently taught people how to treat me by virtue of what I would tolerate. I have radically adjusted that. I am taking full responsibility for what I allow, and for how I show up in relationship. I am clear that I would far rather have a few true intimates than I would a slew of surface negotiators. I do not confuse social media contacts with friends. And, when I do choose to call you friend, I commit to showing up fully and accepting you freely. If I show up unskillfully, I will own that, and I will amend my ways.

Pullback isn’t always a bad thing. It taught me a lot. I needed to withhold. It was in effect for me guidance. I needed to pullback. And in knowing when to pullback I am free to choose when to fully open.

Wednesday, March 6, 2019

REPENT!

It seemed I had waited my entire life to escape the too-tightness of my midwestern upbringing. Conservative, religious, simple, confining I wanted out of Ohio and into New York City! I knew it was the place I would finally fit in. I knew possibility would be beckoning on every corner. I viscerally longed to get to the place where I could finally and fully be the real me.

And so, I talked my mother into letting me go to New York on an opera tour my sophomore year of college. She rightly suspected my motives as I had no previous interest in opera whatsoever. Shortly after landing into LaGuardia a couple like-spirited friends and I headed into Times Square to sell the opera passes and acquire tickets to some much more desired Broadway productions.

The first sighting of Manhattan and Times Square is forever seared into my memory. I was mesmerized. Dazzled! I felt as if I was born to walk those streets. I chose to pound the pavement in a carefully selected ensemble that I would never have had the nerve to wear in my native Columbus Ohio. In my mind I was totally styling, and no one would ever guess I was just off the plane from what I then considered the wasteland.

And then I heard it.

“Repent, sinner! Repent!”

What???

“You there! Repent or burn in the fires of hell!”

There was no mistake he was looking right at me and my equally styled group of newly christened cosmopolitans.

“Repent I say!”

He wasn’t just saying it. He was bellowing it. He held a well-worn Bible in one hand and a microphone hooked to a small speaker in the other. He was shouting so passionately that his face was literally beet red. He resembled someone straight out of an old-time revival meeting. In yes, you guessed it, Columbus Ohio.

I would come to know this itinerant preacher as a fixture in Times Square. Though that first day it felt as if he had singled us out specifically, we were indeed not that unique. He was in fact an equal opportunity screecher. He was also a perfect mirror for how my perceived liberated and authentic self was met by my own shadow beliefs. I came to know that I was indeed in need of repentance. Not from God or from Times Square preachers. I was in need of repentance in terms of the way I saw myself. The things that were too tight and too confining were my own perceptions. My own rejection of my upbringing, and the lack of strength to be who I am wherever I am.

While years ago the word repent carried a sting today I value it as a caring and compassionate friend. I feel repentance as an internal process that allows me to look courageously at my own sense of self. It allows me the possibility of evaluating where I may be tormenting myself with my limiting storytelling. It reveals to me where I have disowned my power and relinquished my right to choose and to respond. After practicing deep-level repentance for many years, I have found that the only fires of hell that exist are self-generated. Repentance has allowed me to lessen the self-flagellation. It has gifted me with a greater awareness of what I truly am. Repentance allows me to life from that.

And so the Times Square preacher is long ago a thing of the past. As is my own tenure of living in my beloved New York City. No one has screamed “repent” at me in decades. I grew past my assessments of my Midwest heritage, and I no longer define myself by what I wear or where I live. I even sometimes go to the opera.

Yet occasionally, while momentarily caught in an internal drama, I hear my own inner-preacher sweetly but firmly say “repent.” And I smile, and I interrupt the story that could send me into my own version of hell. And I send my red-faced friend a silent but sincere blessing. “Thank you.”

And all from the day I heard him say “repent.”

Thursday, February 21, 2019

ALONE ISN'T LONELY

I can honestly say that I have never been lonely.

When I was alone.

I have had a few people share with me lately that they are experiencing loneliness. Life circumstances have shifted, leaving them in some ways alone. As they shared with me I internally did what I always do when interacting with someone’s feelings: I went into my own depths in order to directly relate and empathize with what was being shared. It was that direct inquiry inside of myself that reaffirmed what I have long known.

I have never been lonely when I am alone.

I have indeed felt lonely in relationship and sometimes even in crowds. I feel lonely in relationships where there is little actual relating. When vacancy is premium and intimacy rare. When I felt myself quite literally talking into a listless void. When regardless of how I tried I could not find a connection. When I have been with people who are rarely with themselves, and so are incapable of being with me. There is loneliness when I cannot for the life of me feel myself landing in the experience of the other. When there truly isn’t any there, there.

Then I feel a loneliness. A sadness. A longing to connect. A deep desire to feel atone rather than alone in company.

I see you there, and yet somehow you aren’t.

In a world of photo ops and endless selfies I long to see deeply and to know that I am seen. To touch and to be touched. To fully and freely let you in and to feel myself happening inside of you energetically and relationally. I care little about having a virtual record of our encounters if I didn’t feel like we were even really there.

My empathic exploration within reaffirmed for me that I am good company. I like spending time with me. I pay attention to myself. I listen. I feel freely and openly. I laugh, I cry, I take life in and I let love out. I relish my moments and my inner-activity.

The one thing I am not when I am alone is lonely.

So maybe you would like to spend a little time with me? Together? Not to avoid loneliness but to celebrate true togetherness.

We could take a walk. Have a chat. Listen deeply and respond authentically. Or we could sit and do nothing at all. Not even speak. Just sit and silently share space. Heart to heart. Gaze to gaze. Two people who enjoy their own and so each other’s company. It would be lovely.

Or if that doesn’t work, I will be content to sit alone and listen and feel and gaze and wonder and simply be.

Alone, and not a bit lonely.

Thursday, February 14, 2019

HURT BY LOVE?

I have always had a tender, sensitive heart. From the earliest age I loved fully and easily. I loved everyone, much to my parent’s consternation. A tenderhearted, sensitive, loving boychild was sure to be hurt.

They were right.

So I decided sometime in my mid-twenties that I was going to pull back. That I was going to toughen up. That I was not going to traverse the earth as this sensitive, open, loving easy target. I had been hurt enough times by then. I knew it was time to put on the armor. To replace sensitivity with a bit of sarcasm. Tenderness with toughness. Love with aloofness. The hurt had to stop. I would make it stop. I would keep you at bay. If aloof meant alone than so be it.

What I didn’t count on was that toughening up was even more painful than tender and open.

It seems sometimes like it has taken longer to disarm than it did to armor up. I have faced and refaced a lifetime of hurts. A seeming million rejections. An ocean of abandonment. I have reheard every voice that told me I was not enough. That I was a mistake to be rectified. An abomination to be abolished. That I was doomed to be dropped repeatedly.

The closure that I thought would keep me from this litany of lovelessness actually locked me in it.

You see, I was not born to live defended. I am not meant to hide. For me and my sensitive heart closure is suffering. I must consistently be less than I am meant to be. Love less than I am meant to love. Show up with armor when my nature is to show up as an embrace.

And so I have reclaimed my tender, open heart. I have unleashed the love that seeks a free and flowing expression. The pain of closure is far greater than the pain that sometimes accompanies a tender, giving nature.

So, I choose to love. Sure, I know that I may well be hurt. Being what I authentically am is so worth the risk. A sometimes-hurting heart tells me that I am open. It tells me that my sensitivity is engaged. Hurting shows me that tenderness has triumphed over toughness. It tells me that I am human. That I am plugged into my shared humanity and my common Divinity.

Ultimately, God cannot be known by a closed heart. Mysticism requires openness and defenseless. God-Love needs entrance through a willing open heart.

And finally that is what I have.