Thursday, October 29, 2020

JUST BELOW THE SURFACE

How could I have not seen it coming?

I guess I did not look closely enough below the surface.

From my earliest recollections I have always sensed things that were going to happen long before they happened. I do not see this ability as unique to me. I believe we all have it. It is just that we all do not choose to directly access it and allow ourselves to be guided by it. A big piece of this occurs when we perceive prophetically something that is going to happen that we do not want to happen. Rather than using our intuition to directly deal with the potential impact we fall into denial and suppression and self-doubt.

I know from whence I speak.

Countless times and in countless ways my internal guidance would begin to nudge me. I would feel deep within my gut an unmistakable “uh-oh.” This has involved people, circumstances, relationships, and mistruths. I would feel an inner chaos begin to churn. I would get an unmistakable signal to beware. Warning flags would wave, and alarm sirens would sound.

And I would ignore it all.

I did not want to believe that what was about to happen could actually happen. I did not want to believe that warnings against this person, direction, or potential threat would be accurate. More often than not I would doubt my guidance in the name of spiritual correctness. It took an awfully long time and mountains of pain to realize that spiritual correctness was also spiritual bypass.

To actualize the quote by the late great Maya Angelou, people would show me what and who they were, at least unconsciously, and I would not believe them. I would ignore the inner and unmistakable “run, fast” and sometimes stay for decades. To augment further my suffering, I would then make the untenable behaviors or circumstances about me. I beat myself up over what amounted to others lack of boundaries. This, of course, pointed me only to my own inability to apply autonomy and discernment where it was very clearly needed.

How could I have not seen that coming?

I did. I just did not want to see it.

When we ignore the warning signs in life the evidence of the underlying becomes more and more obvious. This is not punitive. It is reflective. It is the self-correcting nature of consciousness. The warnings are messages from our own inner wisdom telling us of what we need to beware of. We are each and every one of us perfectly and incessantly guided. It is not a lack of guidance that gives way to suffering. It is a lack of paying attention to it. If we listen and heed the toothpick it does not need to become a two-by-four.

It took a lot of two-by-fours to teach me that.

I have repeatedly chosen to share things with people who I suspected were not safe to open more deeply to.

Repeatedly.

Toothpick. Ruler. Bat. Two-by-four.

There have been people who I suspected were steeped in dishonesty and prone to gaslighting and betrayal.

Toothpick. Ruler. Bat. Two-by-four.

How could I have not seen it coming?

I did. I did see it coming. They showed me who they were, and I chose to not believe it. I chose to ignore it. I chose to take it on and to make it about me. I chose to bypass.

And then I paid the price.

It took a lot of two-by-fours to learn my lesson and fully listen to my gut and follow its leadings. I appreciate the part of me that always wants to believe the best in people. The part of me that believes that good will always win out. The part of me that first and foremost always seeks to understand and own my part in things. I consistently and relentlessly work with my resentments and projections. That is where I go first.

And sometimes when you smell a rat it is because a rat is right in front of you.

I remain committed to seeing and to invoking the absolute best in people. That is an important part of my prayer work. I also know that I need to wakefully relate to the relative. To how people show up in their personally self. To watch the warning flags and listen to the alarms. In that way I can heed the guidance, own my part in things, and choose a conscious way of relating that honors the absolute and also maintains boundaries. I am responsible for my own safety. It took a lot of two-by-fours to finally get that.

The beauty of listening and working consciously with my inner promptings is that my freedom has expanded to remain in proximity to some people who I suspect would hurt me in the name of their own advancement. By working and feeling through the initial uh-oh I find a place of safety and stability internally that knows I can sustain any potential pain that may indeed become inflicted. I make a conscious decision that I will risk potential betrayal in service of a greater becoming for me and for them. This is not martyrdom or even altruism. It is a conscious choice to remain in relationship though I know there is direct evidence of potential pain.

That potential is always true in any relationship. But there are some relationships that contain truly clear warnings to beware and to stay awake. Though these chosen risks have been few I have learned an enormous amount from them. About me, and about the human dilemma. About how we are hurt and how we are healed in relationship. About how some warnings say stay clear and others say alert and even open. These are the times I can then say that I saw it coming, and I met it accordingly.

These are turbulent and disturbing times. It is bringing out the best and the worst of people for sure. I must become more aware and spacious to meet people where they are. The potential for bad behavior is heightened. Those for whom I have already felt an oh-oh possibility I hold with particular care and sometimes with added distance. My augmented presence feels prudent. It keeps the two-by-fours from becoming necessary. I listen closely and respond accordingly.

This allows me to see it coming when it actually is, and to know I am up to the task of maintaining my sense of self regardless of what others do. I listen and heed my internal guidance, and I trust it more than ever. There are fewer surprises when I remain attentive to the below the surface energetics.

There will still be surprises for sure. But the more I pay attention to my internal wisdom the more I see it coming in advance. This gives me one of the most precious commodities of all: choice. Living below the surface helps me deal wakefully with what is happening on it. I can choose how, when, and if to show up to those I sense a warning about. Sometimes I will choose to take the risk. And sometimes I will not. But I will do so from a place of conscious choice.

Then I can say “I saw it coming, and I chose my response.”

Wednesday, October 21, 2020

STAY

There are few things harder for human beings than limbo.

And this period of extended limbo is trying our collective patience.

Call me crazy (and you would be far from the first) but the more mindfully and inclusively I dance with this experience of limbo the more hopeful I become.

It is uncomfortable. There is vast unknowing and complex uncertainty. There is sickness, death, division, and despair. Old structures are crumbling all around us. Religious structures. Political structures. Ideological structures. Ecological structures. The old order was no longer sustainable and so it is dying. Chaos and disruption are painful yet fruitful evidence that something new is rising. It is just below the surface. As it rises it unearths all that had been before. It is new possibility that is pushing over the old paradigms. The new is quaking and the effects are unmistakable.

Can you feel it?

And so countless people are beseeching: “how long will this last?”

The answer to that is above my pay grade.

I do suspect, however, that it will last as long as it takes for a critical mass of individuals to simply stay and to be absolutely present to this cosmic birthing of a new order. To stay with the sickness, death, division, and despair. To stay and to wait while the old structures crumble and the old order dies. To watch with open hearts and soft eyes while the unsustainable paradigms dematerialize in front of us.

This era of destabilizing will remain until we learn to stay.

Stay.

Is there anything more difficult for our mind-identified sense of self than to simply stay?

Stay put. Stay still. Stay quiet. Stay attentive. Stay hopeful.

Stay. Stay. Stay.

Can and will you stay with what I am saying?

I point to what I have often referred to as puppy on the paper spirituality.

Stay with me.

If you have ever or have witnessed someone else paper training a puppy you might catch my drift.

You want the puppy to do its business on the paper and not on the rug. And so, you place the puppy on the paper and firmly say “stay.”

You begin to move away, and of course so does the puppy.

The pattern repeats. “Stay.” Puppy scurries off. “Stay.” Scurry. Louder, firmer “stay.” Puppy then runs and piddles on the carpet. Then there is the seeming magic sacrament of rubbing the puppy’s nose in the piddle and back to the paper we go.

“Stay!”

While the effects are far more devastating, we have been collectively told to stay and we keep scampering off the paper. Even those who do choose to stay home or at a safe distance find it incredibly difficult to simply sit and stay. To stay and look deeply within. To pray for the guidance to see what we need to see. To change what needs to be changed inside of us. To listen for the new order that is seeking to emerge individually and collectively. To go below the surface while still attending to the crumbling effects of our old reality. To stay. To stay with the limbo. The liminal. The unknowing. The uncertainty.

For as long as it takes.

To practice building the limbo-staying muscle set a timer and simply sit while doing absolutely nothing. No goal. No endgame in mind. Ten, fifteen minutes of pure, paper-staying presence.

Watch the urge to pick up the smartphone: and don’t.

Watch the endless parade of thoughts, plans, goals, distractions. Observe the internal agonizing over how much longer you must stay: and stay. Think of all the things you would rather be doing out there: and stay in here. Obsess over dinner. Crave the cocktail. Argue over the pointlessness of this exercise.

And stay.

There are few things harder for humans than limbo.

One of them is staying.

For as long as this period of limbo lasts the one thing that I know I can do is to stay. Uncomfortable at times. Frequently distracted and yet ever- returning. I am giving attention to this limbo, this liminal space in purposeful and thus hopeful ways. I am giving lots of time to staying on the paper of my mind. As my thoughts and plans for the future seek to scamper away with me, I return, and I say firmly to myself: stay.

For the duration and for the sake of all, I am staying.

Wednesday, October 14, 2020

GOING QUIET

While it may be difficult for many of you to believe, I feel a deep calling to just go quiet for a while.

For someone who has spoken professionally for over twenty-five years I want more than almost anything to simply not talk. At all. To anyone.

And…

I scanned what I have blogged about since going into this time of distancing. I followed and felt the patterns. A lot of words, much of it in response to world events. It is part of how I process life. How I move energy through my system. I go into the feelings, curiously. I explore. I surf the energy. I claim and I allow the experience of it. And then I take that energy and I put it into words. I let the energy speak. I feel less like I am using words and more like I am allowing the words to flow as me. To use me. To use this platform in order to become heard, known, recognized.

And the process has been slowing. The words have more and more space between them. That space feels much more precious than the words that do come forth. The call to quiet is stronger than the need to speak. Or write. Or outwardly express.

I recognize that those of you who listen to me on Sunday will find this incredibly hard to believe.

Beyond anyone else’s belief there is a quiet in me that is calling to be attended to.

I need to feel deeply into all that this year has presented. I need to lean into it, preverbally. Non-descriptively. Energetically. Without forming that energy into words. I need to face head on all of the loss that has occurred and continues to occur. I need to have enough quietude to determine my own individual response to all of this. I need the space to say goodbye to what I thought life was and how it was going to be. What I thought was true and real in my country, in many of my relationships, in how I imagined this year would unfold. In what I perceived were my highest priorities. In what I perceived were your highest priorities. I need to settle into the tension between my values and the opposing values in people I care about. I need to breathe more deeply with that. Relax with it. Intentionally yawn and stretch with it.

I need the time and space to let the hope that I know is still there simmer up to the surface again. The constant chaos and noise make it feel at times far away. Remote. The commentary submerges it. My own commentary. My own narrative. Even if that narrative is affirmative. It remains noise.

I need to go quiet.

So, my current responsibilities include using words as tools to inspire and empower. I am currently and even contractually called to do that. I honor my commitments. And I equally honor this inner calling for more quiet. More spaciousness. More wordlessness. More presence. More intentional relatability. More times of rest. Of sabbath. Of true non-doing.

I exhale more fully as I type and feel these words. I am clear that they are invitations and not indictments. I say yes to the prompting. I know down deep in my body that this intuition is right and true. I need to give myself enough space to catch up with all that has occurred. The losses have been many. It has frequently taken my breath away. I need to sit, be still, feel it all, be with it all. In quiet. Breathe into the quiet.

I need to go quiet.

I will speak when I need to speak. I will say no to additional engagements which require more directed speech and energy. And I will trust the quiet that is calling to me. I know that calling is purposeful. I know it will be fruitful. I know it is intensely personal.

So, why share it publicly, using so many words?

Well, on the somewhat off chance that someone would notice that there is less chatter coming from Taylor. That my potential absence is in service of more presence.

And more than that, to encourage you to stop just long enough to see if perhaps quiet may be calling you as well. Distancing without distraction can be highly revelatory. Quiet just for the sake of quiet makes us privy to what is always simmering just below the surface. Overdoing is under-becoming. With all that we have collectively and individually been through this year we all need to stop when we can. Be still when we choose. Be quiet enough to come to a deeper knowing.

So, I have said enough. Perhaps I have said too much. I am okay with that. Because I have been authentic and real and intentional. And now I will be quiet. Until I need to use words and let words use me. They will come from a deep and quieter place. A place that has been intimately inhabited. A place that has been faced and embraced.

And now I will go quiet. Gratefully quiet

Wednesday, October 7, 2020

SORRY

I do not recall ever hearing told what my first word was. I suspect that I know.

Sorry.

If it indeed was not the first it has certainly been the most repeated.

Sorry.

It has taken me an awfully long time to recognize that I have lived most of my life as an apology. There have been countless things that I have been sorry for. That is not the ground of my suffering. What grieved me the most was being sorry for simply being. For not being good enough. For not doing enough. For not being what others wanted me to be. On and on. Sorry, sorry, sorry. There was a time I contemplated renting a billboard with my picture and the word: SORRY.

I did not rent that billboard. And slowly I have recognized that my constant state of apology had little to do with anyone else but me. I am not responsible for the initial imprinting of that “sorry state of being.” I am, however, responsible to it. I am the only one who can change it. I am the only one who can stop habitually saying I am sorry for who I am and for how I express. I am the only one who can stop taking on and apologizing for other people’s programs and interpretations. Why do I say I am sorry for stories that others are initiating and perpetuating? Why do I apologize when others hurt me? Why do I feel the need to grovel when I show up honestly and authentically?

Someone once said to me “you sure say I am sorry a lot.”

To which I replied, “I am sorry.”

I am sorry I have been sorry so often.

I grew up in the “Love Story” generation. I heard repeatedly “love means never having to say I am sorry.” Nice sentiment. Great movie making. Never resonated for me. My catch phrase was more like “love means always having to say I am sorry.”

I am not an apology.

I am no longer sorry for being me.

I will continue this imperfect journey through time and space reality. I will mess up. I will miss the mark. I will say things I wish I had not said. I will act in ways I will regret. I will be sorry for those unconscious acts. I will sincerely apologize, and I will amend my behavior.

I will no longer, however, be sorry for being me. I will not take on others hurts when I was merely a character in their story. I will maintain responsibility for what happens in here, and I will offer others the same invitation. If I express my authentic perspective, in as kind a way as possible, I will not be sorry for your reaction. I will also not expect you to apologize to me when I am triggered by what I make your words and actions mean about me.

And I will not apologize unless I am really, truly sorry.

Knowing I am not an apology makes apologizing far less scary and ever more sincere.

I have reflected much upon this topic during these months of distancing. I concluded that I have never received a sincere, heart-felt apology that I did not accept. I have had cases where I needed to remove people from my direct sphere. Those individuals, however, did not offer any kind of real apology. They gave no indication that they were sorry, or that they would amend their behavior. Even in a few cases when I was deeply hurt, a sincere sorry became a bridge back to connection.

And so, I am offering that kind of sincere apology to me. I am sorry that I lived so sorry, for so long. I am sorry that I took on so much of others pain. I am sorry I made it about me. I am sorry for altering my authentic expression in an effort to be what others wanted me to be. I am sorry for not being sorry for being so sorry. That sincere apology reconnects me to me. It is my bridge. My bridge back to an unapologetic me.

Sorry.

Wafts of habitual energy arise as I contemplate what I have shared. How long I have gone on. How raw and unfiltered and exposed I have been. I start to feel a constriction in my throat as some far too familiar words begin to form.

No, I am not.

I may not recall what my first word was. I may suspect what it could have been. And it will not be how I close this missive. Not this time. Not now.

Not sorry.

Thursday, October 1, 2020

REUNION

I wonder what the reunion will be like.

I recently learned of the death of one of my childhood friends. I say childhood, though our direct connection lasted into our early twenties. We attended the same church, high school, and for one year, college. We were what I considered quite close. And then life moved on and we lost connection.

And now she is gone.

I felt waves of deep sadness that she had passed. I experienced a rush of memories of what we had shared. I could hear her unique laugh as if she were right here with me. It led me to move more closely into the sadness. I pondered the fact that in actuality my day to day experience will be no different now that she has left the planet. I had not seen her in forty years and would likely not see her again. Yet in the sadness I found that having that possibility removed created a fathomless void.

The slightest chance of a reunion had been taken away.

I have this unprovable theory that when we pass from this worldly experience, we have a reunion with everyone we have encountered during our lifetime.

Stay with me.

I do not mean only those who have preceded us in death. I mean everyone we have encountered. I sense some sort of a vast cosmic event hall where each and every person we have ever engaged with is there for a reunion. This reunion is a glorious celebration, regardless of what the qualitative engagement was when we were together on earth. The purpose of this reuniting is to thank each individual for what they contributed to our life experience. Some of these interactions were pleasurable. Some of them seemed downright miserable. Some were of decades long duration. Some of them were momentary. All of them were in some way significant. All of them added to our experience and our evolution. It is at that level that the reunion is of a celebratory nature.

Now, I am aware that for many of you this will be farfetched. And again, I certainly cannot prove it to be so. It does feel right to me, for me. I see it as a resolution for unfinished relationship business. It balances the scales somehow, the karma. We will be able to see the bigger picture that we could not perceive while in this time-space reality. We will discern the lessons we were to learn from each engagement of human interaction. We will feel a deep gratitude for each encounter, a thankfulness we well may have missed here on earth.

As I consciously sat with the sadness at the loss of my long-ago friend, I felt a preview of what our reunion will be like. I heard her laughter, and I felt her tears. I could sense a rightness to the end of our earthly enrollment, long before she left her body. At a level I could feel how without time the reunion was happening then and is always happening now. With each memory of her we were reuniting. It was slightly skewed by the fact that she still appeared at the age we last met, interacting with me at my current stage of aging. This brought a real giggle into the images and into the sadness.

These contemplations led me to what the reunion will be like on the other side of this pandemic. I have not physically seen most of the people in my direct sphere for months. Many of them are now viewable in two dimensions on a screen. They are a voice coming through an electronic device. They are photos on social media.

And some are no longer here at all.

I have changed significantly as a result of Covid-19. Things have been reordered within me. Some radically so. I have a vastly different take on relationships. A quite different feel for what is most important to me. I suspect in some ways the post-distancing reunion will be awkward. There will be those that I will not choose to reunite with, at least in this lifetime. I already have a sense of appreciation for that decision. I am already grateful for what people have brought into my life. For what they have taught me. There is no charge behind the ending of an engagement. There is only thankfulness. I well may not articulate that to them in this realm. I will await the reunion when it is my turn to step through the veil into the great cosmic mystery. Then we will celebrate the fullness of our beginning and of our ending.

That will not be the case for the vast majority of those peopling my life. There will be a reunion physically. There will be a time when we can hug fearlessly. When we can speak, sing, breathe unmasked and unrestrained. I believe it will be an astounding experience! We will perhaps never take for granted our direct connections again.We will hug as never before. We will relish touch, laughter, tears, every level of connection.

I pray it will be soon.

I wonder what the reunion will be like.

My heart is a great cosmic event hall. I am seeing you now. I am feeling, hearing you now. I am deeply appreciating you now. I do not care to wait. The reunion is now.

The reunion is now.

Thursday, September 24, 2020

FLORIDA POWER AND LIGHT

Beyond what the title suggests this musing is not about public utilities, or only for people who live in Florida.

This musing is an invitation to anyone who chooses to read and to accept this reminder that we are each here to learn that there is an incredible and Cosmic Power within us all. The conscious usage and direction of this internal Power is why we are here. It is the Only Power that will set us free. It is the misusing of this Power that has locked us in bondage. Mired in amnesia we have turned the Power of heaven into a nightmarish hell. Literally in the blink of an eye we can redirect this Power to turn that hell into a realm of all-inclusive heaven.

As long as we are dominated by externals we are blinded by misperception. We are fighting the artifacts of our own miscreation. We scream at effects as if they are independent of what we ourselves have done. This happens both individually and collectively.

While this manifest realm is governed by what seems to be two powers of darkness and Light, that experience is merely relative. There is light and the absence of Light. Even that description itself is relative. Light is always and ever present. Yet in our identification with density we cannot perceive it. It is never missing. We just misperceive it.

The realization of this all-inclusive Power is what salvation is all about. The re-establishment of vision is seeing what is not yet physically present. It is not what we see but how we see.

This is the task of the incredibly powerful.

This is far beyond “woo-woo” spirituality. It is far beyond just vision-boarding what you want. It is far beyond concept or positive thinking.

It is claiming radical responsibility for the Power that is within us. The Power we were made from and have been entrusted with. It is owning that every thought, feeling, word is a unit of Power that will always result in consequence.

When we come from egoic amnesia we misuse this power. When we demean and dehumanize we literally God-damn other Divine beings. We place ideology before the Power of the collective I am. We fight and we use our Power to augment the problems our own consciousness has miscreated.

When we consciously come from the authentic Power within, we literally bring forth the Godness of our True being. We see not only with our eyes. We engage the vision of our hearts. We do not deny injustice or tragedy. We transmute it with our unwavering presence. We are tireless in facing our own inner demons. We do it on behalf of all beings.

When others become less, we stand strong and become more. We care, we compassion, and we shine forth with a transformative Power. We use what we are in Truth to serve all living beings. This makes our every moment an act of service.

So, because I live in Florida, I am a utility of Power and Light generating from this place in geography. And that Power and Light shines holographically throughout the Universe. I am a channel for that Power here in this manifest realm. By staying awake to the Power within me I am a conscious contribution, moment by moment.

When I forget and begin to fight externals, I sense down in my body the disempowerment that registers as discomfort. I bless this signal, and I shift to reconnect and reaffirm that I am a channel and a being for this Power and Light to shine forth from within. I am grateful to know that though I can dim down, my Light can never be extinguished. Prayer reignites me and I align to shine again.

I am not responsible for this Power, yet I am accountable to it. I am here to humbly own this Power as my purpose and my passion. I use this platform to remind you that this same Power is also in you.

For Florida and for the globe, I am choosing to express and shine forth as Power and Light within this world. It truly is a moment by moment choice. It requires radical honesty, relentless humility, and vigilant visioning.

And it is a choice I was born to make.

Saturday, September 19, 2020

NOTORIOUS GOOD TROUBLE

I am suspecting it is time for me to start a bit of good trouble.

It is beyond unsettling for me that in these incredibly troubling times we are also experiencing the loss of two individuals that I consider to be among our greatest American heroes.

John Lewis. Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Good trouble. Notorious.

I will not go into their incredible accomplishments here. Their contributions could fill volumes. Suffice it to say that they used their talents, intellects, faith, drive, their very lives in serving something greater than themselves. They were relentless public servants. They overcame obstacles and prejudices in order that the overcoming would pave the way and inspire others. They courageously challenged the status quo, risking themselves to uplift others. Through various forms of repeated adversity, they continuously pushed the boundaries of what had been, to make room for what was seeking to be.

He spent his life starting good trouble that benefited us all. She inadvertently became known as notorious just by being what she naturally was. I think she started more than her share of good trouble. And I think John Lewis was gorgeously notorious.

And just when we most need a huge helping of notorious good trouble, they are gone.

Or are they?

I can vividly feel their energy as I type these words. I can hear their words, and the tone with which they delivered them. I can see them laughing, and I can see them crying. They led us bravely, and they inspired us relentlessly. They set a high bar, and they also gave us clear directions how to jump the hurtles now before us. They continued fighting and serving through incredible health challenges. They showed up fully and authentically right up to the end.

And now?

They will be heroes for me for as long as I live. I know my world is better because of how they chose to live and to serve. I beyond admire them. I mourn their passing. I grieve.

And now I must act.

I was taught from the earliest age not to ever start trouble. Nobody likes a troublemaker, Taylor. Stay in your lane. Obey the rules. Do not ruffle too many feathers, and certainly do not offend those in power. Blending in is safer than standing out. And notorious? No way. Not in my tribe.

I am breathing a bit more deeply as I bring forth the energy in my heart and shape it into words. I feel some fluttering in my gut, and a slight constriction in my throat. My pulse seems to have quickened.

Can it be?

I can speak about my heroes. I can blog about their remarkable character and accomplishments. I can grieve and lament the loss.

And beyond that I can become a little more of what they inspired in me.

I will never face the unbearable torment visited upon John Lewis. I will never know the hardships and obstacles placed in front of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. I will never serve in Congress of sit upon the Supreme Court.

But I can start a little good trouble right where I am.

I can be a little more notorious in how I confront injustice. In how I speak truth to power. In how I live and in how I love.

It is said that what we admire is a quality that must be within ourselves. We could not recognize these admirable traits if we did not also possess them.

So, somewhere in my Light shadow is a troublemaker for good. Lurking somewhere just out of awareness is a notorious being simmering to express.

In honor of my heroes I am going to notoriously start a little good trouble. I am going to get out of lane. I am going to stand up taller and speak out more clearly. I am going to risk the ridicule. In fact, I will relish it.

Fitting in is highly overrated.

Thank you, John Lewis.

Thank you, Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

You will never cease to inspire me. I will never cease to hold you in a heartful of gratitude and deep love.

And I will do more than just remember you. I will share a little more of you. A littler more trouble. Good trouble. Notorious good trouble.

And I know at some level you will be with me. Cheering me on. With angels like you, there will be trouble for sure.

Thursday, September 10, 2020

PLACES ACT THREE

If as if Shakespeare said “all the world is a stage” this is turning out to be one elongated intermission.

After six months spent primarily at home due to the pandemic, I have come to the deep-seated recognition that I am entering the third and final act of my life. This recognition fills me with a personal sense of profound curiosity and wonder. I say that I am entering the third act because it truly feels as if this time of distancing is a period of cosmically enforced time out. A time of extended intermission. I feel as if this is a pause between the second and third acts of my life experience. It is not that I am not fully engaged in what is happening. It is more that it is such a unique and more solitary perspective that I feel both paused and vitally involved. Awake spiritually though distanced physically. There is a simmering of “yes, but not yet” right below the surface.

Though working full time albeit at home I have added time to reflect on what has occurred during the first and second acts of my life. There was the setting of the stage and plot. There was character introduction and development. There were the unfolding’s of the patterns and conflicts that I came here to rumble with and eventually resolve. There were many years of becoming that have been achieved by what at times felt like endless struggle, mistake making, and ego wrestling. It has been a messy story line. Plots have not unfolded according to this script writer. Countless people have not followed those scripts or spoken the lines I wanted them to speak.

Act one ended with the thud of me hitting the pavement. The folly of my attempts at control would leave the most audacious audience members wincing and hitting the bar during the first intermission. They would do so even though they had just witnessed what hitting the bar too often can do to a human life.

So act one lasted a long and adventurous thirty three years.

Act two begins with our hero (me) moving through incredible and mostly unforeseen changes and challenges. Still bruised from act one I had no inkling how dramatic act two would turn out to be. Generally speaking, it was a series of mountains to climb and rough seas to surf. I early on recognized that while in act one I was prone to initiating and instigating dramas for the sake of drama in act two the action had a distinct flavor of purposeful activity. I began to live with an unwavering sense that everything was a part of a greater emergence. Though there were many unexpected twists and turns I also had the sense that I was deliberately participating in the story line. It was all becoming clear that I was on a mission here. Everything that happened was feeding into that quest. It was all leading to something. It was messy and it was meaningful. The more I sensed purpose the less I pushed.

In act one I had jobs that supported me in what would become my career. Early on in act two career gave way to vocation. Trying to make my way in the world somehow landed me in living to serve the world. All the pain and struggle of act one and that of act two began to be channeled into ways to help others who were themselves struggling. I was plagued by self-doubt and incrimination for sure. As prayer softened this faulty sense of self that torment turned into compassion and mercy for others. Forgiveness became a higher and more precious practice. I slowly felt more stable and certain as to why things in this drama were happening as they were occurring.

Act two went on for a far less arduous thirty years.

This play within a play has lasted long enough for me to mostly know my way around this stage. Set pieces still get unexpectedly moved. But now I know how to adapt and respond with greater clarity and even equanimity. I have become masterful at adlibbing. I am far less demanding that others follow my script or stage directions. While I do not know how or when, I do live with a sense that everything is headed in a direction that will serve my characters greater evolution. I have a director that is Higher and Wiser than me and that makes all the difference for sure. My subtext has dramatically changed and so my lines and actions. I still run into the scenery and step on other people’s toes and lines from time to time. I periodically give into the temptation to upstage. Mostly acts one and two have tamed and tempered me.

I feel ready to face whatever the next act will reveal.

And then came an intermission that none of us saw coming.

I have come to see it as an inner-mission.

This has turned out to be a purposeful pause from my perspective. I have dedicated myself from the onset to staying as present and as prayerful as possible. I have remained alert to the suffering that is all around me and have actively sought to open to ways to alleviate that suffering. I decided that I would not deaden myself nor waste this time in mine and in human history. I have dived deeply within. I have faced things that I now know I desperately needed to face and unpack. I am different than I was even six months ago. I am still here and I know that it is for a reason. A reason bigger than just me.

And I am clear that this is my inner-mission before the start of act three of my life.

And so, I am exploring carefully how I will choose to show up for these final years of this adventure. I am relishing time, experiences, relationships with more fervor than ever. I feel that there will be far less mountains to climb or seas to surf. I am peaceful with that. I know there will be surprises. There will be challenges and changes and hurts and losses. I have groomed a lifetime to handle those. There will be no self-selected dramas. Simplicity is replacing thrill seeking. Peacefulness is my primary plan. And I will serve throughout the duration. The form will no doubt change. The vocation will not. Act three will bear the fruits of acts one and two.

At the end of act one I began to dread the future.

At the end of act two I have cleared most of the wreckage of the past and live primarily for the present.

Act three?

I await the Great stage manager to call places, letting me know the extended inner-mission has ended and that act three is finally ready to begin. In fact, I am already in a great place for whatever comes next. Let the action begin.

I look forward to seeing how this epic adventure plays out. How it all resolves. I know now that I am a great love story unfolding. It took a whole lot of drama to figure that out. A whole lot of drama.

The house lights may be dimming soon…

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

DISRUPTION AND DESTINY

I am allowing this time of disruption to lead me to a greater destiny.

How about you?

I have lived through countless disruptions to the individual and collective status quo. They have varied in intensity and in duration. For most of my existence I have at best tolerated these disruptions, awaiting the time when I and we could just get back to normal.

Could we please just get back to normal?

Though I have lived through countless disruptions there has never been one quite like this. There has never been one with such sustained intensity. Never one that literally involved the entire human race. This has been and continues to be in many ways a great equalizer. We are globally being disrupted and disturbed. Death and illness surround us in a collective shroud. People are screaming out “could we please just back to normal?”

I am not one of those people.

For me, this disruption is purposeful. Not logically and certainly not punitively. We have collectively been participating in a fate that was unsustainable. Disturbances and dramas were playing out in unmistakable ways. Divisiveness has become a cancer. Greed and immorality have been eating away at the truest of what human beings are capable of. People have been demeaning and dehumanizing other people on full display in our social media culture. Name calling is visible and audible in a nanosecond. Caste systems have been reinvigorated by the so-called powerful and unbelievably tolerated by the masses.

It was beyond time to disrupt that toxic reality.

I have no desire to return to that state of what had become normal.

I in no way deny the devastating consequences of this pandemic. I see, hear, feel the collective pain. It was made very personal for me by the death of my best friend from this rampant virus. I compassion all those who have lost so much directly and indirectly as a result of this mass disruption. I have remained awake and available to anything and everything I may contribute to help alleviate this quantum level of suffering. I do not know when it may end or even ease. But rather than just riding out this disruption I am seeking to glean every bit of lesson I can as to how I may let this disturbance lead me to a greater and more serviceable destiny.

I cannot and will not go back to where we or I was before.

I firmly and wholeheartedly believe disruptions can lead us to a greater reality if we let them. I have seen it numerous times during my lifetime. When I have been stuck in patterns that had run their course and were no longer fruitful life has disrupted those patterns by stopping me in my tracks. Admittedly I was most often disturbed by the disruptions. I did not like being stopped. I frequently pushed hard against the disruption, which only dug me deeper into the hole of my own resistance. Though the patterns had led me to suffering the suffering was familiar and so oddly comfortable. It has only been in perhaps the most recent decades that I have come to feel a sense of possibility in the disruptions of my life. I have come to embrace disturbance as part of emergence. I have begun to release patterns and relationships that I amazingly did not leave claw marks on.

With the broadest of brush strokes, I would say that this pandemic is a tragic out picturing of our collective fate. We have contributed to it individually and collective, consciously, and unconsciously. And if this pandemic is fate, then it can become destiny. But any desire or push to go back to normal must be sacrificed.

Fate is what happens. Destiny is what we choose to do with it.

It is my fate to be alive at this time of disturbance, disruption, and distancing. I am very clear about that.

It is my destiny to relate to all of this in wakeful, faithful, and even grateful ways.

I truly and deeply believe that not only is it not prudent to try and return to the unsustainable past, it is impossible. That normal is gone. It needed to die. It needed to be disrupted. It needed to be stopped. And people of destiny will spend this time looking deeply at our own internal dramas. Our own self-imposed disturbances and divisiveness. How we treat ourselves and how we treat others. How we may dehumanize and denigrate. It has to stop.

It has to stop, and we have been stopped.

I am choosing to welcome and even celebrate this disruption. I have no need to return to anything. I have a profound desire to surrender to a deeper unfolding that is tangibly happening within me. I have no idea what my life will look like on the other side of this massive disturbance. And I feel no need to know.

I am certain of little in life anymore. Yet I am oddly certain that uncertainty is always a friend and never a foe. I am certain that in many ways my life will now be lived from a clear demarcation of before and after Covid-19. Before and after a global and horrific disturbance. Before and after the time when my fate clearly became my destiny.

I will either consciously use fate or fate will unconsciously use me.

I have lived through enough disturbances and disruptions to know that how I relate to this fate will lead me to a greater destiny. I do not deny being disturbed. I am not deadening nor am I identifying with it. So, the disturbance is available and usable. My former way of being has been disrupted, and a higher and more wakeful expression is emerging. And that higher and more wakeful expression is my destiny.

I am letting this profound disruption lead me to a greater destiny. I am moving forward from that. I do not wish to return to anything that was before. I do not know where this disruption will lead. I only know I am being led.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

AND LIFE GOES ON

Though this is my first experience of one, I am suspecting that pandemics radically change perspective. I know it has mine.

In November 1995, the at- the- time love of my life drew his last breath while embraced within my arms. Thus, began an odyssey into conscious grieving that actively continues to this day. As I type these words, I can still hear that final exhalation of breath that carried him back into immortality. I can feel the astounding array of feelings that moved through my body. I can see vividly the light level in the room. The numbers 3:59 displayed on the digital clock. The faint scent of fabric softener on the hospital gown that I had placed upon him just hours before, after what I did not yet know would be the final bathing of that precious body.

I knew deeply that I would never be the same.

I knew that I had been privileged to walk with another soul to the threshold of eternity. Though I wanted desperately to move through that portal with him, I also knew it was not my time. I knew that I was to remain, and that something had become available within me as those digital numbers moved from 3:59 to 4:00 that would be foundational to my purpose and my service.

After the workers removed his precious body from what had been ours shared home, I sat in stunned silence upon the terrace. I had slept little in days, nor had I consumed much food. I was in shock, yet I was strangely vibrantly clear. That clarity included letting me know that for the first time in many years I was really, truly alone.

I was alone.

I suddenly was brought to an external awareness that below my terrace two people were volleying a tennis ball back and forth rhythmically, methodically, and seemingly non-competitively. I became somewhat fixated on that ball going back and forth, back, and forth. I could sense the rhythm of motion in my beyond tired body. They were not speaking as they played. Just hitting the ball back and forth, neither one of them missing a shot. Time stood still as I become mesmerized by the constant back and forth.

It was then that I realized that these two people were engaged in a trivial game of not-quite tennis, while being observed by a person whose entire life had just been shattered. They had no inkling that a life had just ended only yards from where they were playing. They were innocently clueless that a large number of people would soon learn of this loss. That lakes of tears would be shed. That many hearts would be wrenched. That an occurrence of monumental import had just happened. They had no idea. None.

And the ball went back and forth. And I knew in a moment of stunning perspective that life goes on. Indeed, losses occur, and life goes on. People die, and for others life goes on. Pandemics happen, and life goes on. Beloveds, jobs, homes, seeming security is lost, and yet life goes on. Life experiences that will never return become distant and yet a different river continues to flow. On and on.

For many it is easier to remain mostly oblivious to the losses that do not directly affect them. The tennis ball continues to bounce, and the awareness that lives are being lost and shattered are consumed by the rhythm of the game. Bodies are being removed. Tears are being shed. Arrangements are being made under the most excruciating of circumstances. A grieving begins that will never really end. And life and the game continue to go on.

A life changing perspective occurred for me on that long-ago November day. I cannot and will not immune myself to the losses of others. I choose not to deaden myself to the death that is all around me. I will not look away or distract myself from the suffering of others. I know what it is like to experience the deepest of losses, and that has groomed me to stay by the side of those who are entering that tumultuous terrain of indescribable suffering.

By not turning my back on the suffering of others I learn experientially that there truly are no others. We are one at a fundamental and foundational level. Your tears are my tears. Your loss is my loss. Your life is my life and your death is my death. This is the level of spirituality that I want. This is the level of spirituality that I have. That is the level of spirituality that was gifted as a result of profound and sustained grief. My ability to be with the pain that I have endured opens me to be with the pain that is landing for you. It is not my pain or your pain. It is the pain. And there is pain, and there is suffering. And through it all life goes on.

I have obviously grown older in those twenty-five years since my Richard passed. There is far more sand in the bottom of the hourglass there is in the top. Sooner rather than later it will be my turn to walk across the threshold. I suppose someone will be there to make the calls and tidy up the details. There will be a few that will grieve. And after my body has been collected perhaps someone will be pondering my own departure. That pondering may be interrupted by the punctuating rhythm of a back and forth tennis ball. It will remind the observer of one very certain thing.

Life goes on.

Thursday, August 6, 2020

WHEN FRIENDS WERE FRIENDS

Though it is becoming more difficult I still remember when friends were friends.

I still remember when if something important was happening in a friend’s life they would directly and personally contact me to let me know.

Now I am left to find out about all sorts of life events on social media. What used to be personal sharing has become impersonal posting. Deeper truths are tweeted, and reality is revealed in a newsfeed. In a barrage of collective data, the interpersonal is becomes buried. Intimacy, I fear, is stopping scrolling long enough to actually read.

Let me be clear: I have done it. I have found myself overwhelmed by the task of sharing important information with a large number of people. It seemed convenient and expeditious to use social media as a way disseminating something that also felt way too sensitive to post to the masses. I did so in spite of feeling uncomfortable and out of sync with the deeper calling of my heart and soul. I did, though, contact a few people who I did not want to learn the news by catching it in a public platform.

I remember fondly when friends were really friends. Not mere acquaintances. Not scroll by notices. Not hit and run news bytes. Friends. The I have your phone number memorized kind of friends. The something really good/bad happened and I have to tell you kind of friends. The I know your secrets and I still love you and I will keep your secrets kind of friend.

They have become fewer, further between, and infinitely more precious to me.

One of the many distinctions that has become painfully clear to me during this pandemic is that if I am left to find out from Facebook what it is really occurring in your life than we are not what I think of as true friends. I do not perceive that as a problem. It is an awareness. And it is a two-way street. If something significant is occurring for me it is my friends that I will directly notify. Or at the very least, notify first. My friends will not learn of my diagnosis, losses, tragedies, and triumphs on social media. If I would choose to then share it publicly, it will not be new news to those closest to me. It will not be new and surprising information. It will be a confirmation.

Though it is becoming more difficult I still remember when friends were friends.

I confess to wanting to go back to that.

I want more.

I want friendship to be more than 140 characters and posted pictures and shared sharing’s and multiple likes. I will gladly trade 240 Happy Birthday posts from people I barely for just one or two sincere telephone calls.

I want more of what is personal and intimate. More of what often feels risky because it is so real and meaningful. I want the awkwardness of vulnerability, openness, and frequent messiness. I want to know I matter enough to you to warrant a call, a note, a touch. I would like to know that you notice when I may go missing. I want to summon from myself the courage to go personal when virtual feels easier, safer.

I am committed to navigating this current landscape differently. I will likely continue to use social media, though I will not allow it to use me. I will be more mindful of what and how I share information. I will honor other’s choices of what and how they share, and I will honor how those choices land for me. I decide what friendship means to me, and I will not demand that my parameters govern other people’s choices. And if I am left to learn of something profound that is happening for you along with all the masses, I will take my place among them. I will recognize, and I will accept my place in your life.

This time of pandemic is a profound resetting of priorities for me. Levels of friendship and relationship are high among those re-evaluations. Social distancing has taught me how distant our current culture has become. Media is convenient, yes. And it is also in many ways disconnecting. Media rapidly reaches many people. It does. Yet it is more vital to me to touch a few hearts. It will take longer. And I suspect it will mean more.

It is often said that when times are tough you find out who your real friends are. That has been supremely born out for me in the past couple of years. A huge weeding of this garden has occurred. Some of that was of my intentional action. Some of it felt as if it happened independent of my own choices. Either way, there is plenty of room for new and existing flowers to grow. New ways of relating to flourish. New depths to be plunged and new heights to be soared. I am open and I am ready for it. It is a risk I am willing to risk.

It is not enough for me to simply remember when friends were really friends. I want that now. It is a perspective and an experience that I am actively cultivating. Part of that for me involves less media and more immediacy. I will undoubtedly miss events, birthdays, and life occurrences. I am sorry for that. But I will not miss the things that are happening for people who truly see me as a friend that they directly include in the moments of their life experience. And then if I do miss something, I will be told I was missed.

I have a great number of social media acquaintances. I have very few social media friends. I get to choose how I see that distinction, and how I relate to it. I see it in perspective. And I am using the framing to awaken me to the rare and precious gift of intimate friendship. I am vowing to make more direct contact, and to share at a deeper and truer level. You, my friends, will not learn of what is important to me along with the masses. You will hear it directly from me. If for convenience and expediency I need to share in order to disseminate sensitive information you will have known it first.

I am remembering when friends were friends by being that kind of friend now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

AN UNLIKELY CANDIDATE

I am the most unlikely candidate of all.

I could never capture in words the profound inner experience I am having in regard to this pandemic. I feel as if I am being revealed at the deepest level. Every day a new insight arises that knocks me for a loop.

And that has been my prayer from the very onset.

In mid-March, when America started being directly impacted by Covid-19, I had already been anticipating that something profound was stirring in the collective consciousness. I had been sensing that a grand reckoning was going to unfold at the global level. It seemed clear to me that the way in which humanity had been living and treating our earth and each other was no longer sustainable. I set my sights on what I perceived to be a new world arising. A new vision that would lead to a more harmonious world that would work for all beings.

I have not lost sight of that arising vision.

I sure did not think, though, that the arising would look like this.

I did not intuit that at the time of this writing over 140,000 Americans would have perished as a result of this virus. Most experts would conclude that the number is grossly underreported. I surely did not foresee that my own best friend would be one of those casualties. Even as I have witnessed and grieved that and those losses, I have maintained an awareness that something else is arising that absolutely needs to be seen. A cosmic unveiling is underway. It is devastating in its effects. It has demanded that we distance and physically disconnect. While many have not heeded that call, I believe it to be a most crucial part of the healing of this pandemic.

We need to collectively take a time out and do some deep and relentless soul searching. We need to face the collective effects but see them at the individual level. We each need to stop and look courageously inside. We are called to allow for a grand reboot. A resetting of consciousness. An excavation of what we say we believe and how we actually live. This is a time to reclaim all blame. To bring back all projections and move deeply into the shadow from which they came. This is a time to forgive our unforgiveness. To release our resentments. To give to God our grievances. It is time to literally come clean.

Though I have been working fulltime throughout these months I have also claimed time to really stop and to examine my own deeper interior. While it is tempting to fall into believing my assessments of how others are handling this tragedy, I do not allow myself to stay in that fallacy. I have become clearer than ever that there is one person I can do anything about.

Me.

Without denying or deadening the externals of what is happening I am choosing to run all of it through my own internal energy system. I want to know what I have not known. I want to see what I could not or would not see. I want to know what toxicity has gone viral in me that has contributed to a collective poisoning of consciousness. I want to know what and who I have blamed for my pain. I want to know what my unconscious priorities have been so that I may reset them consciously.

In short, I want to awaken to what is running this show.

I want to know this not only from a strictly personal perspective. I want to know this in order that I may open to a new order and a new reality for the sake of all beings. I want to get over myself in order that my myself to be used in service of the greater good. I want to be freed from the limiting programs that shroud my heart and dim my Light.

More than ever I want to live and to love in service to the world.

The multiple epiphanies that have occurred as a result of my internal excavations have confirmed for me that I am a most unlikely candidate to do what I do here in this world. I am clearer than ever that I have nothing to teach others that they do not already know. There is no reason that anyone should follow my leadings. There is nothing in me that is special or enlightened. If there is any gift that I have to give it is the gift of an unwavering and relentless commitment to doing my own inner work. It is the day in and day out taking of responsibility of what happens in here, regardless of what is happening out there. If that is worth learning from, then watch me fumble and learn from my many failings. If you want to follow my lead in learning from everything by denying nothing, then so be it. Just know that you can only walk beside me and never behind me. I am always willing to learn from you, and I cannot do so if I always need to turn around to look.

Indeed, I am the least likely candidate of all.

Now, if there are any of you reading this that perceive this to be self-deprecating you are not hearing what I am saying. I am reflecting on what is finally setting me free. If there is a superpower that I possess it is the knowing that by acknowledging my weaknesses, there becomes room for a greater strength. It is the knowing that I of myself do not know that gives birth to a deeper knowing. There is a rooted certainty that I of myself can do nothing. And in illogical ways that admission gives way to empowered living and transformative loving.

I am indeed a most unlikely candidate for expressing the vocation I know I am here to express. What fuels that expression on a day to day basis is that I know how unlikely a candidate I am. From that realization I do not get lost in a role I think I have to play. I do not lead with pretense but follow the One presence. I do not fall into the trap of believing the occasional accolades, or the Light projections cast upon me. That is not altruistic. That just means I subsequently do not have to identify with the evaluations and criticisms that frequently come with what I do. You put it out there and someone will always comment on it.

I am a most unlikely candidate. Yet there is no election I am trying to win.

To minister during a world pandemic is so daunting that it is at times devastating. It would be more devastating if I thought I personally had to do it. My mantra for thirty years has been “how may I serve?” I pra that prayer daily. I also pray for a daily moment of true humility and just one moment of wisdom in this lifetime. Then I follow the ensuing impulses. With every breath I have left I pray to serve. Imperfectly yet radically. Humbly yet wisely.

So, this unlikely candidate is electing to spend this time apart allowing for a deep reckoning inside of me. I am keeping the majority of my vision on the interior. I am committed to coming out of this unprecedented time with less of me and more of what I truly am.

And if you think that is worth listening to or walking with then walk beside me. I may be unlikely, but I am relentless and often even audacious. That is the gift I came to give. Unlikely. Often unlovable. Yet electing to remain a candidate for God happening. For God can shine in and as someone as unlikely as me.

Thursday, July 16, 2020

TMI

There truly is such a thing as too much information.

In an age of social media I have experienced TMI in ever-increasing frequency. People post things online that they would almost never share in face to face interaction. There is a kind of false bravery that breeds permission to say things that are revelatory yet often hurtful in some fashion. It does, however, reveal parts of people that lie below the physical proximity pretense. I have often suspected that behind the polite smile lurks a shadow awaiting exposure. And social media is the perfect platform for such an unmasking.

Too much information.

There is another phrase in our vernacular that I find to be stunningly true.

“You can’t unsee that.”

Put those two perceptions together and they make up a fulltime spiritual practice.

That was too much information, and now I cannot unsee that.

I want to be clear at this point in my musings that I take personal responsibility for what I do with what I wish I had not seen. Please keep that in mind as I continue.

I have had multiple experiences of seeing posts by someone that I care about and thought I knew that are in direct opposition to something that I hold valuable and even sacred. In a nano-second I can feel a shift in how I see that person. I feel a reaction in my gut. I sense an impulse to close tight my eyes and to fervently unsee what I have seen. I feel the oppositional reactions inside of myself. Internal chaos ensues.

Damn. That was too much information. I wish I could unsee that.

And I cannot.

And so begins a battle between my caring heart and my ideological mind. I cannot unsee it. It is too much information to not instigate a process inside of me. Trying to act as if the information is not repugnant to me is useless. It is. Seeking to cover up that I have a strong opinion about your opinion is futile. It was indeed too much information to simply be ignored. I cannot unsee what I have seen.

And now I see you differently.

It becomes time for me to get real and serious about what I am going to do with this too much information. There are options parading through my awareness.

I can assess and decide that I did not really know you at all. The warmth that I thought I felt for and from you was a false fire of yet to be known misguided comradery. Had I had the information sooner I never would have joined myself with you. Had I seen it sooner I would not have been blind to what you really represent.

I could act as if I had not seen it, and lead with a cool and slightly pretensive relating. An unresolved simmering of distain would likely lie just below the surface, awaiting an opportunity to erupt into unexpected hostility.

I could realize that the former two options reflect little about you and your online revelations. I could own that my reactions are about me, and my way of relating to those with whom I disagree. Even if my most cherished values are violated it does not give me license to dehumanize or recharacterize you. This is not a pink paint option. It is actually the option of the lionhearted.

I will vehemently disagree with you, and I will not put my personal ideology before what I am willing to see in you. I will allow the process of the too much information to happen in me. I will welcome the revisioning of the cannot unsee that to shift my perception and clarify my seeing. I will go through this privately, and resist any temptation to repost in retaliation.

I will acknowledge within myself that I am seeing you differently. I will also acknowledge that I am seeing you in more totality. I may not like what I have been called to see. Yet my choice to include and to even embrace your incrementally revealed wholeness is what my own spiritual maturation gifts me with.

This for me is process. Atonement is not conceptual. I seek to know my shared humanity in all its messiness and all its magnificence. Human beings disagree. It is what we do. We are in many ways uniquely programmed. Those programs often conflict. Friction ensues. Friction causes fire. Fire will either burn and consume or it will clarify and warm. The choice is in how I choose to relate when my own embers are ignited.

That was too much information, and I cannot unsee it.

Now there are a series of choices to be made. I may well see you differently. I will not choose to see you as less. I will respect your right to choose even when I do not respect your choice. I am called to decide the level of engagement that is appropriate to how our energy systems may dance. I may need to decide to keep you in my heart, yet not in my direct sphere. I will be relentless in not defining you by your information that I cannot now not see. And I will pray to see through that data to the depth of what you are. If I lose sight of that it is me who is at fault.

So, this may be a clunky way of describing what I am feeling. I will post it anyway, at the risk that it may be too much information for some of you.

If you have read this far, however, you cannot unsee it.

Thursday, July 9, 2020

ILLOGICAL LOVE

The great loves of my life have almost all been illogical.

They were relationships that had I listened to my head I would have talked myself out of.

I guess that is the nature of true and lasting love. Love does not make sense. At least it does not for me. The most significant people in my life have arrived in surprising ways and remained despite the odds being against them. The really great loves have had an element of mystery around them. They have all been unanticipated surprises. When the love really landed, I stepped back from each with a sense of “I didn’t see that coming.”

I believe that is what made them the really great loves.

I would have never dreamed that my entire life would be changed by a split-second decision to stay for a Unity service that I was completely ready to ditch out on.

I could never have guessed that this non-Catholic would spend a significant portion of my life traversing this earth in the company of nuns. Especially a former nun who would be become the best friend of this lifetime.

Nothing prepared me for eventually marrying an over the top gay activist that initially sent me scurrying in the opposite direction whenever I saw him approaching.

In just those examples an illogical and surprising change of mind changed the entire trajectory of my life.

As a result, I have ceased trying to make sense out of love. I do not consciously look for reasons to love. I simply lean against and often through the reasons my mind gives not to.

That must begin in here.

I hail from a long line of logical lovers.

Love had to be earned and behaviorally sustained. One wrong move and love was withheld. Shame and silent treatment were tools of torment for this sensitive and illogical heart. And so that became the love equivalent that would darken quite literally decades.

I am unskillful, often unconscious, and far, far from perfect. If I wait to deserve love, I will never know it. I must go with illogical love if I am ever to have it. Applied within, a context is set to know it from without.

And I have known great, passionate, totally illogical love.

I have always loved to be surprised. And the greatest surprises of my life have been these intense and illogical loves.

Most of these loves have transitioned out of this realm of experience. And yet I find myself loving them more with every passing day.

Totally illogical.

Total love.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

EVERYONE DESERVES A MARY

It ended the way it began.

No one could point an index finger quite like Mary.

I met her in a small coffee shop across the way from the spiritual center in which I was then employed. I entered midmorning to get a cup of tea and was cheerily greeted by name by the owner and barista. A small yet mighty woman stepped out from behind a bookcase and asked of me” so you are Taylor?” I replied in the affirmative. “You are the reason I moved here.”

After a brief explanatory conversation, she pointed her index finger right at me and declared “you should teach a class on The Seven Spiritual Laws.” I took a moment or two to stare down the barrel of that finger and matched her sense of authority as I said to her “maybe YOU should teach a class on The Seven Spiritual Laws.”

She stepped back ever so slightly as her mouth opened and her eyes danced. She would later report that in that moment she knew she had met her match.

We were inseparable from that moment on.

We traveled together. We prayed together. We built and maintained spiritual community together. We cried and grieved together. We spoke literally every day. And oh, did we laugh together. We shared deeply and loved relentlessly. Beginnings, endings, holidays, milestones, even hurricanes. All together.

Our final encounter was through a window of a care facility on the occasion of her eighty-ninth birthday. It took quite a while for an aide to get her into a wheelchair and then roll her over to the window. Our eyes met and oh did hers dance! It was a look I knew well. It was a look of love beyond any I knew before or will likely ever know again.

Everyone deserves a Mary.

It did not take long during that brief but blissful final face to face for that finger to start pointing. Thanks to a sister in spirit who arranged for our birthday encounter I even have a photo of it. The photo is slightly blurred, but the memory is emblazoned forever.

She was beyond frail. She struggled to hear and seemed slightly confused. The protective mask slipped in and out of place until she finally just pulled it off. I do not recall what point she was emphasizing as she punctuated it with the same intensity as she had decades before. She pointed that index finger at me, and the frailty and confusion were gone in a flash. Mary was back. Mary was strong and prayerful and funny and loving. And though she belonged to countless other beings in that moment she was mine and mine alone. That look and that index finger were reserved for me. The history and all of our countless shared adventures were all held within that moment.

And I rightly suspected as I left that I would never see her again.

I would ponder later if that precious, yet crooked finger was telling me to go. To go and to live and to be and to serve. To move on without her. As if I could ever be without her. As if I ever will be without her. “Go, she seemed to say.” “I can go no further. I can live not much longer. You go ahead. Remember our times together. The travel, the prayer, the community, the tears, the laughter. Yes, never forget the laughter.”

Every ensuing phone conversation there was a little less of Mary. Our final chat was really a monologue. The only thing that she said with unmistakable clarity and authority was “I love you.”

And then came that fateful diagnosis.

Covid 19.

She reportedly collapsed shortly after our last conversation. Then it was ICU. Total hearing loss. No visitation or communication. A short but surprising rebound. Back to ICU. And then hospice.

And then she was gone.

So many have decried her dying alone. I get that, at a level. But Mary was never alone. She was totally plugged into her Soul. She was surrounded by her own luminous being. And the person in front of her rapidly became her best friend.

I am well aware that I am writing these words from a place of only slightly underlying disbelief. Though eighty-nine I had long thought Mary would preside at my memorial. Which she would tell me was her worst of all fears.

That I would go before her.

I am grateful to spare her that. And I am now left to come into a relationship without my Mary by my side. For those prone to platitudes, please spare me that. I know she is with me in spirit. I know our Souls will one day merge again. But spirits and Souls do not eat most of a shared dessert. They do not ride in a car through familiar terrain as if they had never had such a pleasure. They do not purse their lips when they sign a tab or enter all rooms like everyone there was eagerly awaiting to celebrate her arrival. They do not laugh in hoots or yawn like lions. And they do not point their index fingers in ways that completely defy apt description.

They do not look at me with a look that speaks of adoration. Pure, unconditional, relentless adoration.

We had three disagreements in twenty-two years. I am grateful for those, for they told me that what we shared was real and unbreakable. And after the heat the look remained. The laughter returned. The love deepened. There was no backdoor on this friendship. Except the one she took on Saturday.

So, Mary has moved on to another room where everyone will cheer her arrival. It will not take long for the laughter to roar and the finger to point. She will hog the desserts and not understand half the jokes. But she will laugh just as if she had. Really laugh. Just for the sake of laughter.

And I will go on. Mary is forever a part of me. I will always live in that loving gaze. I am forever changed and there is no going back. I have been loved by love. A love that can never, will never die.

Everyone deserves a Mary. I will spend the rest of my life being that for others. That will be my living memorial. I will love like Mary. Live like Mary. Pray like Mary. Give like Mary.

Thank you, Mary. Thanks for all the years and all the laughs and all the prayers and all the points. You are the best friend a person could ever have. It feels somehow hard to believe I deserved you.

But then, everyone deserves a Mary.

Thursday, June 11, 2020

A MATTER OF TRUST

It has become painfully clear to me that I taught myself not to trust myself.

I grew up in a home where we were not allowed to have our own opinions. Self-referral was not encouraged or even allowed. Parental opinion was law. And so, my parents would proclaim something to be true or right or just. The proclamations frequently landed heavily in my solar plexus, and I knew deeply that what was being stated was not true. At least not for me. And so, I would question. >br>
And my questions landed heavily inside my parents. Then they landed heavily on me.

The same was true in schools, church, and various organizations in which I became affiliated. Doctrine was declared. It did not feel right or true. I would question. The law would land heavily on my head. I would be reprimanded at best and shamed at worst.

After a while, I learned to keep my questions to myself.

The same has been true with honesty. I have always been able to clearly feel dishonesty as it is happening. I used to immediately question what I was being told.

Reprimand. Shame. Rejection.

I began to ease off the questioning. Or at least redirect it.

I began to question myself.

After so many reprimands I began to stop trusting the questioning inside. I began to question my keen sense of intuition. I stopped trusting my own inner-self and began thinking I was the problem in my conflicted relationships. When alarm bells would go off, I ignored the guidance and trusted others when the bells were actually telling me to trust myself. People were telling me one thing and acting out another. I had ample evidence that there were falsehoods going on. I could see them, sense them, feel them. But rather than trusting and following my guidance, I doubted myself and put my trust in you.

And so, I taught myself not to trust myself.

Over and over again this played out. I would meet someone, and warning signals would sound. I would doubt myself and put trust in the other. I let people remain in my direct sphere of experience for decades when I knew in an instant this was not a viable connection. Over time, you taught me to indeed not trust you. I eventually learned the lesson. It took a lot of pain, and even more self-diminishment. I finally learned that you were indeed not trustworthy. But in the process, I had learned not to trust myself.

We are born acutely intuitive. Some of us seem to be more sensitive to this than others. From my earliest recall I have always felt energy very strongly. I have always been keenly guided. I was carefully taught not to trust that guidance, and so to not trust myself. Resultant to that was a struggle to reopen enough to allow myself to begin to trust others. And the painful trust is that in not trusting my own guidance, I trusted the wrong people repeatedly.

The Soul of me is always safe and secure, knowing Higher guidance as a state of being. My person is in the process of coming to know that same Higher guidance. At Essence we are each and all perfect spiritual beings. At the personality level that is not consistently the case. People are running programs and maintaining agendas that can be hurtful and dishonest. This can be true for all of us. Knowing when this is happening with others is knowledge. Listening and responding appropriately is wisdom.

If you have behaved in ways that have demonstrated that you are not trustworthy, I will treat you accordingly. I will be kind and I will compassion what leads you to show up that way. And, I will not be inviting you to lunch. You can blame me if you choose, but I will not buy into those tactics. I am trusting myself to take care of myself. I no longer allow others to dominate or gaslight me. I had no choice as a child. I was not taught to believe what was moving inside me. I know better now. I question myself, for sure. There are projections that can throw me off course. But my general inner atmosphere is becoming more and more trusting and governed by the natural keen intuition that has always been one of my greatest gifts. It just created a lot of suffering until I let it be the gift it is.

In these chaotic planetary times trust is a precious commodity. From a deep place of personal trust, I can choose to trust others who have deemed themselves trustworthy. I am living my life and my choices in ways that I am a space of trustworthiness for others. My safety is first and foremost in here. I trust myself and I trust in what is right for me. I then extend that trust appropriately. I trust those who have earned my trust. Those who honor my right to be right for me. And I strengthen that by granting those rights to others.

It really is a matter of trust. And the one I have learned to trust the most is me.

Thursday, June 4, 2020

I wish I had gotten madder, sooner.

I grew up in a family in which anger was unacceptable. With a mother prone to rage and a father with dementia-related outbursts the context was at best confounding. There was a small and constricting zone of what was acceptable to feel and express. Anger was outside of that zone.

So, not being allowed to be angry really pissed me off.

I became masterful at suppressing that concentric anger.

At school we were punished if we displayed anger. At church we were taught that the Righteous do not get mad. If they did, an angry and wrathful God would cast you into hell.

What?

Those teachings really ticked me off.

I graduated school and church and began to forge my own way into what was right for me. I was led to New Thought teachings in general and Unity in particular. How liberating! Freeing!

Well, kind of.

It did not take long to come up against the “spiritual people don’t have anger” perspective. Spiritual people are love and light, all the time.

I could feel the simmering begin to boil.

I wish I had gotten madder, sooner.

Oh, the anger was there. It was festering just below the surface, growing hotter by the day. When I gave up life suppressing substances it threatened to gush forth in what felt like uncontrollable tsunamis. It took all the effort I could muster to dam it with an affirmation and hope the block would hold.

The by-then rage became a paralyzing depression.

By grace I began to learn that spiritual beings have human emotions. For good reason. I began to grasp that what had been shamed and stifled all those years was actually guidance. It was wisdom by fire. The things that seemed to make me angry were things that would rightly trigger a person who was paying attention and who had values. I began to get at a deep level that anger had never been the problem. Denying and suppressing the anger had been the problem.

I ponder how much suffering would have been abated if I had been more friendly with anger?

Now, I am not suggesting that it is appropriate to go around shouting down everything and everyone who seems to tick you off. The truth is, the friendlier you get with anger as guidance the less likely you are to do that. There are healthy and appropriate ways to express anger before it becomes a torrent of rage. There are healthy and appropriate ways to allow anger to become fuel that fires constructive action and transformative change. It requires emotional fluency and discernment for sure. You must become clear about what seems to be triggering the anger. Is it about injustices you are seeing and experiencing, or is it a result of a diminishing story you are telling yourself?

As I watch the atrocities currently playing out in the world, I feel a deep sadness and a fiery anger. I now have the capacity to allow for those feelings without a need to deny or suppress. The energy is thusly available to me. I can use it to fuel the things that I am called to do to constructively address the things that are occurring. Without the angel of anger, I might not be compelled to respond. The sadness and anger are energies that no longer use me, so I am finally free to use them. And when I deny or suppress, the energies can easily use me.

I wish I had gotten madder, sooner.

Well, I wish I had allowed for the anger that was already there to be used in service of what was not serving me or the world.

Today the anger moving inside of me is evidence that I am awake and responsive. It lets me know that my emotional-spiritual system is functioning properly, and that my boundaries are in place. Because I have the capacity to allow for anger, I have no more need to scream out from a boiling point of pseudo-spiritual containment. I can temper my temper. I can give space to my triggers. I do not have to recreate my family history of mixed messages and shamed expression.

I wish I had gotten madder, sooner.

And it takes what it takes.

I am now healthy and whole enough to allow for a full and free emotional landscape. Oh, not perfectly. Suppressive tendencies die hard. I am far freer, however, to feel what arises and give voice to what needs to be said. Things that for decades I tolerated I now call out. Conflicts I fearfully avoided I now more often than not walk into. I now know that my anger is an energy of change. An energy to be used for good. A fire that lights my way. Not only my way. A fire that may light the way for those still too timid to get pissed off.

Integrated anger is passion. It is fuel. It is guidance. It is change.

How many personal and collective ills remain in place because we have not allowed for healthy and constructive anger?

I wish I had gotten madder, sooner.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

TAKING A KNEE

I saw it only briefly, yet I cannot get the image out of my mind.

I guess I am not meant to get it out my mind. Or out of my heart.

His name was George Floyd. He was not another black man being murdered. He was not a statistic. He was a man with a name and a history and a family and a future.

Except that future was taken away.

Brutally. Violently. Senselessly. Shamefully. Amid disempowered bystanders crying for mercy for the suffocating man.

George Floyd.

The image of that white officers knee firmly in place on George Floyds neck haunts me. I cannot get it out of my mind. I guess I am not supposed to.

What do I do with it?

I weep with it. I weep for all the black people of this and all countries. That they have to see that image. That they have to deal with that image. That they have to reckon with that image and that potential threat. To them. To their loved ones. I weep we have not come further than we have. That is still happening. In this country. At this time. I weep that we then treat the black demonstrators against this atrocity differently and more violently than we do rifle carrying white men outraged by stay at home orders.

How could this still be happening?

Did I mention his name was George Floyd?

I pray with that unforgettable image. I pray that I be purged completely of my white privileged perspective. I pray that I may be a force for change. A force for true and radical equality. I force that uplifts and transforms the energy of fear, hatred, bigotry, and violence. In personal, practical, applicable ways.

One of the many haunting aspects of watching George Floyd being murdered was that he was suffocated with a knee.

A fire storm occurred over a black man taking a knee during the National Anthem as a way of bringing attention to the ongoing systemic racism in this country. And yet a black man has been killed at the knee of a white police officer. Killed as an effect of what that kneeling black man was trying to bring attention to.

I cannot get that image out of my mind. I am not supposed to. I am meant to use it.

And so, I weep. I pray. I look deeply within. I write. I take the actions I can take. I use that image in every way I can to block those hideous occurrences from continuing to happen. To call it out. To use my anger as a fiery torch to light the way to a world that works equally for all. For all.

What else can I possibly do?

I take a knee for George Floyd.

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

HORSES, WATER, AND SACRED SERVICE

“You can lead a horse to water…”

Well, you know the rest.

I was never easily led to water, or anywhere else for that matter. I have always been cautious about what the water had really done for the one seeking to lead me. If it appeared that the proverbial water had done something beneficial for you, I may well follow you and take a drink. If you speak about the water as being helpful in one way, yet how you live exhibits something entirely different, I am not interested in being led. Not by you. Not by anyone. It does not matter how many others may be sipping or gulping. I want to literally test the waters before I will follow the lead. And most certainly before I take a taste.

And so, I have never been a follower or certainly not a devotee. I am not claiming that this is right. It has just been the way I have walked my particular path. I have had many great teachers. I have had a few heroes. I had a great therapist, and a wonderful spiritual director. I have never really had a mentor. Not a consistent one. Looking back, I can see the limitations that this has imposed. I can see the struggles that could have been lessened had I had such a companion. With all the great teachers I still learned a painful amount through good old trial and error.

At around twenty years into active ministry I began to feel the call to assist and mentor people who were being drawn to lives of fulltime sacred service. Not all of these folks would call the vocation ministry per se. But I was aware of people in my sphere who were working jobs to support themselves yet were being urged forward to live lives that would be in service of supporting others. They felt the centrifugal force of their lives was pulling them to use their gifts and aptitudes for purposes greater than just their own selves. For most of these people there was some level of trepidation around how they would move from where they were to where they were being called to be.

I related to this dilemma. I had gone through a similar transition. When I found myself at a startling crossroads in my life, out of it came the call that was to become the pull of my life. I prayed and I prayed into that call. I knew that I had to financially support myself, and I had no idea how those two factors were going to come together. At that point I had no therapist, no spiritual director, and certainly no mentor.

And so, I took each wobbly step forward on my own. I prayed deeply and listened fervently. I sometimes fought and more often fumbled. But I kept moving forward. The next right thing fell into place. I did not let fear stop me. In fact, I let fear propel me forward. I knew what I was meant to do, even though I often believed I did not have the personality to do it.

I wince as I recall the number of mistakes I made. I gringe as I realize the number of mistakes I am still making. I sometimes wistfully wish I had had that mentor. I wish a horse whisperer had come along to lead me to the water for which I was thirsting.

That was not the way I was to be led. I guess deep down I know I would not have listened.

That deep down knowing did not clearly reveal itself until I acted upon my guidance to offer mentorship to others who might be facing a similar scary trail to what I had tread. My heart wanted to be for others the mentor I never had. I wanted to help seekers avoid the many pitfalls I had encountered when I was scared and mostly alone. I genuinely felt it was time in my life and in my ministry to help usher in the next generation of helpers. It felt as if this mentoring would be a piece of legacy I could leave that would make use of my own fumbling yet deeply sincere journey to a life of service.

You can lead a horse to water…

I marvel that after the path that I have personally trod I thought that others might eagerly want me to lead them to the waters of their own calling. I wince at my own arrogance in thinking anyone would be drawn to listen to me and to follow my council. It is a humbling lesson in learning what I did not know I did not know. I guess more than ever I needed a mentor to show me how to mentor.

I am learning that you cannot lead those who do not wish to be led. Not even if they say that they do. You cannot guide those who think they already know. You cannot teach ones who are not yet teachable. And that is exactly as it is meant to be. The lesson in this was clearly for me, and not for them.

Maybe this wonderful small herd did not resonate with what the water had done for me. Maybe they, like me, need to go it alone and make their own mistakes on the path of their independent contributions. Maybe I was kidding myself that my now twenty-five years of full-time ministry had given me some insight that might be valuable for others. Maybe the path I was showing was simply not the path for them. So many maybes. Each valuable lessons. For me.

I remember a retreat day a decade or more ago when I had the realization that I felt I no longer needed to be needed. Maybe that is the lesson that is being reinforced now. Have I fallen into the trap of needing to be needed? Was I trying to pull horses in directions that they did not want to go? Did I not listen closely enough behind the calls for mentorship? Was I blinded by my own lens of what I thought people needed? Did I enter into mentorship with attachments or expectations?

I guess I was the horse that was led to the water and it was me that needed to drink.

I needed to know that my path is the path that is right for me, and only me. That I will continue each day to serve as I am inspired to serve, and to release the inevitable attachments to how it is received. I will continue to help if asked and know that what I offer may or may not be employed. I do not, and cannot, know what is best for others. I often am mistaken in what is even best for me. I am as expanded as I am humbled. I am grateful beyond measure. I now know what I didn’t know.

After all this time I know that life can lead this horse to water, and I am finally free to drink.

Thursday, May 14, 2020

WHO IS DYING?

I’m dying.

I am not.

That distinction has set me free.

In a time of veracious global illness and vast dying there is an invitation to open into the inescapable truth that I’m dying. Most likely not today. In all probability not anytime soon. And yet even that is questionable. The only thing that is beyond question is that it will happen.

Equally beyond question is that I am will never die.

There is a tension of sorts between those two unquestionable truths.

One day the who of me will release its final exhalation and this incarnation will be ended. The what of I am will remain unaffected. The what may well carry on becoming another who. Unlearned lessons will move with that final exhalation to resolve themselves in perhaps a more hospitable inner environment. I suspect that in the realm between states everything is simultaneous, making multiple incarnations irrelevant. And yet experientially we evolve within and between these embodied states. Embodied states that we tend to identify with and attach ourselves to.

And then they come to an end.

And yet the essence of them does not.

And so, when I die, I also will not. This is not for me a happy sticker to assuage a fear of leaving this body. It is a lens through which I remain awake during a time of unprecedented illness, fear, grief, suffering, and death. It does not discount those experiences. It does not diminish the loss being felt. It does not give me license to live recklessly during these pandemic days.

It gives me a context in which I may hold all of this dying and loss without drowning in hopelessness and despair.

Even more than that it implores me to live these days fully and wakefully. It invites me to meet my moments repeatedly and courageously with a brave and open heart. It allows me to face death straight on, tears streaming yet knowingly smiling.

Those who rationally and carelessly quote statistics will not do so when the fatality is someone they love.

This body could easily be added to those numbers. I could get sick and I could die.

To some I would be another digit in the statistical reporting. For some there would be meaning and loss. Soon, however, I would be a memory and life will go on. And that is how it will be.

Here.

I’m dying.

I am not.

There is no question that I will die. The question really is about how I will live.

I am on a train out of here. I do not know whether it is a local or an express.

If this all seems fatalistic to you, so be it. It is enlivening for me. A bit confrontive for sure. Knowing that I am on that train implores to fully live each moment of the ride. To live radically and to love freely. To not take advantage of a single moment here upon this wondrous planet in this miraculous body. To honor each and every being that will die today by relishing the fact that I am still alive.

I will always be immortal. That can never die.

I have this precious chance today to inhabit mortality. How will I do that in such a way that my breathing and my embodiment light the way for those who think that dying ends in death?

I’m dying and I am not.

When I go into the always now here, I intend to do so fully used up and freely given. So full that I simply had to empty out.

I am living like it could be today.