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.

Thursday, May 7, 2020

JOGGING WHILE BLACK

I guess it is the price you pay for jogging while black.

I am not in any way making a joke.

I at first felt as if typing those words was making me sick. Then I realized I was typing the words from a deep sick feeling down inside of me.

News reposts tell me that a young black man was hunted and gunned down for basically being black. For jogging while being black.

How could that be?

When I was in my early teens a high school senior in my home congregation decided to bring a friend of hers to church. I recall vividly looking down the hallway as Jennifer and her friend approached from the opposite end of the hall. It is not so much the sight of the two approaching that I so remember. It is the reaction of nearly every other person in that corridor to the astounding sight before them.

Jennifer had the audacity to bring a black person to our all-white Evangelical church.

This young man was attending church while black. Didn’t he know he that could get him killed?

Perhaps not literally. But the looks I saw on the adult faces all around me were murderous for sure. I was not clear at the time who they would go for first. The black friend or Jennifer.

The memory makes me feel sad and sick. It makes me sadder still that things like this are still happening. That a young black man cannot go jogging without being profiled and gunned down for simply being black.

Now let me be clear I have not fact checked the details of this report. Had he not been black that would not be questioned or in need of justification. The sick, sad feeling in my body is enough evidence for me.

A mother of two shared with me that seeing this news report filled her with dread regarding the destiny of her own black sons. Hearing and feeling her fear churned my sadness into grief and my anger into rage. What must she go through on a daily basis? These are adult sons. Yet would not she want to lock them safely in the house and away from those who would destroy them for nothing more than the color of their skin?

I would.

There is no spirituality without a deep, honest inquiry into how and where race relations land within us individually. We must know directly how we were programmed to relate to people of different races, cultures, religions, orientations. I had to go inside of myself to deal with and integrate that experience of Jennifer and her black friend. I conceptually believed that all people are equal long before I had a deep, felt experience of it. I had to get ruthlessly real about having a white God before I could embrace a God of all color.

So, I am sick, and I am sad. And I am more committed than ever to do everything I can to contribute to a world where black beings can jog and shop and attend church and go anywhere at anytime and not fear being attacked, smeared, or gunned down.

My sickness, sadness, grief, and even rage are signals to me that justice is being violated, and that I am here to take a stand for restoring that justice. We are far from a world or a country of truly equal rights. The ravages of this pandemic and where it is hitting hardest is glaring evidence of it.

Though I have been maligned, bullied, and beaten for being gay there were times earlier in life when I tried and successfully “passed.” I know I would not be welcome now in the church of my upbringing. There would certainly be an uprising in the hallway if I were to enter today. Especially if I had my husband on my arm. I no longer choose to attempt to pass. And I also know that there is an advantage to being gay yet also being white.

You cannot pass for being white.

I write these words from my sick, sad, and aching heart. I write these words for mothers who fear their children will be gunned down for nothing more than being black. I write these words for Jennifer, and for that friend who turned so many heads in that so-called Christian church. I write these words wondering if he survived being black in a world where the odds are against him. I write these words as a part of my response and as a part of my stand for justice.

A change must happen. For mothers, sons, daughters, joggers of black and brown heritage. That change has and continues happening inside of me. I will not be silenced. Regardless of how this writing is received I will continue to speak out when justice is denied. Until my dying breath I will speak out.

Thank you, Jennifer. It was a brave thing to do. And thank you to the friend I never even got to meet. You turned heads. And you were a part of opening my heart.

I pray you are somewhere jogging safely.

Black, and safe.

Wednesday, April 29, 2020

CRYING, NOT SORRY

I am crying, and I am not sorry.

I am admittedly rationing the amount of news coverage I am currently ingesting. I am accessing, to the best of my ability, the least biased reporting as is possible. I want to remain aware of what is happening, without allowing myself to become saturated or politicized.

As I am consciously participating in the news coverage my heart and my body are responding with incredible waves of both excruciating pain and exhilarating celebration. I am seeing before me and feeling within me what seem to be the broadest ranges of human experience. I am watching, in real time, as precious souls are leaving the planet in unprecedented numbers. I am witnessing as health care professionals deliver not only uncharted medical care but end of life companioning. The best and the most painful aspects of humanity are playing out before me. It is stunning at a level that truly defies description.

A dynamic has become clearer to me throughout all of this that I find to be particularly curious and downright confounding. As I listen to interviews with family members and also medical workers directly impacted by this virus and its effects, it is quite common for those being interviewed to be moved to tears. I not only fully understand that, I most often join them. It is equally as common for those shedding tears to apologize for the fact that that they are crying.

What?

Why?

Why do we as people with hearts and emotions apologize for crying when a natural and beautiful response is initiated by stimuli that warrants such a response?

Maybe it is just me, but I feel as if the apology is far more warranted when tears are dammed and suppressed at times when crying is the most appropriate response there could possibly be.

I do not want to be a human being that feels the need to apologize when my heart and my compassionate nature move me to tears. I tried to deaden my sensitivity for decades. I tried to maintain the familial stoicism that I grew up with long after I knew deeply that it was not my natural way of being and relating. It is not my goal to watch people dying without a hint of painful response. It is not my aspiration to witness monumental heroism without becoming misty and moved. It is not intrinsic for me to spiritually bypass the current human devastation with platitudes that lift me up and out of true connection and deep belonging.

This dynamic was supremely emphasized for me one recent evening when I was listening to a nurse describe being with a woman dying of Covid-19. She was Facetiming with family members so they could witness their loved one die. The toll the experience was having on this nurse was devastating and palpable. She began to cry as she told of the experience. She immediately apologized as she tried in vain to suppress the tears. As she did so I could feel my own tears welling up and spilling over. For a moment I found myself resisting the need to remove my glasses so that my husband would not know that I was crying.

What?

Why?

I weep with what I am seeing happening in our world today. I weep with those suffering. I weep with the illness, death, fear, sudden poverty and I weep equally with the transcendent acts of courage, bravery, and heroism. I weep openly and shamelessly. I do not apologize for my sensitivity and empathy. I do not apologize for my connection and caring. I am not sorry that I have reacquired my feeling nature after decades of addiction and suppression.

I am sorry for those who cannot allow the tears to flow at such a troublesome time. I am sorry for the disconnection that places statistics in place of human lives. I am pained for those who use this pandemic to push their ideology and agenda.

At a level you are among the dead.

I cry for you, and I am not sorry. It is proof that I am alive and that I am connected and that I care.

Holy water tears. I feel them and I let them flow.

No apology needed.

Thursday, April 23, 2020

HUMAN BEING

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

Are we?

My question refers to the latter, not the former.

It has oft been quoted. So often I am not sure it holds much meaning.

We are spiritual beings having a human experience.

It took me decades to realize the last thing I wanted was to have a human experience.

I was clearly a not-so-human being trying every way I could to have a spiritual experience. Trying to get rid of this bothersome humanity in order to hover over this body and earth as a purely transcendent being of only Light. I longed for the perceived perfection that books and teachers pointed to. I lived a life divided against myself. I thought that if I was doing it right I would experience no darkness, emotional pain, disconnection, or disloyalty to the spiritual being I was here to be.

I wanted to be a spiritual being only having a spiritual experience.

Only love and light syndrome.

Now I realize that I am indeed a spiritual being here to have a truly human experience. A fully human experience. An embodied human experience. A sometimes painful, often messy, usually bumpy human experience.

I am not a spiritual being here to rid myself of a human experience. I am here for the adventure of spirit in fully human form. I am here to be the love and compassion of spirit relating kindly to the imperfection of my humanness. I am here to treat myself and others with equanimity and mercy as we all traverse this rocky realm of time and space reality. I am here to open to the full spectrum of what it means to be human. With a body that sometimes works and increasingly sags. With a mind that tends to overthink and habitually judges and tells troublesome stories that niggle and nag. A humanness that because of its tendency to want to be only spiritual will project its unintegrated humanness onto others and the world and deem it all to be too damn human.

I type these words while looking through increasingly strong progressive lenses with a hip that is throbbing and a vague sense that if anyone even reads this, they will find me somehow not spiritual enough. Too human. Too earthy. Too egocentric. Too wordy.

Did I mention too human?

God, I hope so.

The truth for me is that I am a spiritual being having a spiritual experience. And I am a human being having a human experience. Both. I want to have both. I want to dance as spirit and human. Waltz with divided yet somehow whole. Be fully embodied with all its messiness and misery. Joyfulness and juiciness.

I strongly suspect I will always be spirit. I equally suspect I will not always be human.

I for one do not want to waste this temporary embodiment wishing I were not so. I want to be here, now, as is. Messy, sagging, painful, joyful, human in every way.

I am a human being having a human experience.

And I am glad that it is so

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

ALL IN THIS TOGETHER

I have been repeatedly hearing that we are all in this together.

Why does that often not feel like good news?

I am making the choice to follow the CDC guidelines during this prolonged pandemic. I go to my office once a week to sit alone in front of a camera and live stream a Sunday service to countless people I can’t see, and many I do not know. I choose to wear a mask coming and going from my office. I am washing my hands and sanitizing my surfaces. I am primarily engaging these practices so that I remain available to be of service, and so that I do not risk infecting anyone else.

I do not seek approval or applause because these are my current practices. I do these things and share about it to demonstrate that this is my relationship to we are all in this together.

While driving home last Easter Sunday from my weekly trek to deliver spiritual food I was stunned to see a great number of people out and about. It was indeed a beautiful and sunny holiday. There were individuals, couples, and larger groups congregating on sidewalks and in the parks I passed. There were many children varying in age. I know that I saw a minimum of one hundred people. >br>
I literally saw a total of five people wearing masks. I counted

We are all in this together.

Someone who does not share my impulse to closely follow the CDC guidelines pointed pout to me that my mask didn’t protect me. The advice to wear a mask is about protecting others.

I know.

We are all in this together.

I strongly feel that this is the time in human consciousness to move from a predominantly me orientation to one of us. Though we are all independent we are also inextricably interconnected. Every choice I make affects you, effects the whole. My choice to wear a mask for the benefit of others is a choice I am profoundly glad to make. It is something I can do at the level of the physical realm that has the potential to slow the spreading of this virus. If there is any chance at all that it is helpful, I am happy to have my glasses steam up and my cheeks to sweat. I am happy to move past my personal preferences and opinions and “take one for the team.”

Ultimately the team is me.

So, if we indeed are all in this together than maybe we need to act more like it? Maybe we need to step out of what we want and step into the greater needs. Maybe we need to fully own that interconnectedness and make choices from it. Maybe we could see that the suggested six-foot distance is the same length of a grave and make a more awakened choice. Maybe we could own that this really is a big deal. That those aren’t statistics. They are human lives. With histories and loves and families and wisdom. Gone.

If staying mostly home and wearing a mask when I do go out is done in solidarity with those who grieve those lost or still suffering, I personally am all for it. If you are unwilling to do those things, then there is nothing I can do about it. Except perhaps shake my head and shed a tear the next time I hear we are all in this together.

If indeed we are all in this together then we all have a responsibility. When we all choose to do our part, this pandemic will cease. Our precious health care workers, public servants, grocery, sanitation, postal workers to name a few will be safe. And we can then celebrate what we did. Together.

We pray, and we stay home.

Because we are all in this together.

Really?

Really.

Thursday, April 9, 2020

LOVE: STAT!

I have never been clearer that the time to love is now.

With a global pandemic keeping us locked within our homes it does seem the only way to survive is to distance and to disconnect from others. In the physical realm this indeed is having a measurable effect. But even as we distance there has never been in my lifetime a more crucial time to connect at a deeper level and to love with a broader and more expansive love.

My last blog post was entitled Serviceable Disconnection. I feebly attempted to describe the ongoing mechanics of both disconnection and connection. I will not elaborate further on that missive except to say that both are essential to how we unfold and evolve as human beings. They are ongoing dynamics that move us up and forward. I may well need to disconnect from you in order to more fully connect to what is seeking to express and strengthen within myself. Releasing someone from my physical sphere is not the same as putting them out of my heart. This can be a slippery slope indeed. Great clarity and compassion are necessary to say goodbye with an attuned and open heart.

And just as we are collectively experiencing now distancing can be in the name of a greater love. I can love you enough to release proximity, and in some cases, that is in service of allowing the love to continue. If remaining directly connected allows dysfunctional patterns to promulgate than disconnecting and distancing can give the space needed to heal those patterns. In that way distancing is in service of a greater love and ultimately a deeper connection. In remaining, dysfunction continues to go viral. In distancing, the love is given the room it needs to grow.

That being said, I have never been clearer that the time to love is now.

The media is currently filled with heart-rending examples of people dying while distanced from those closest to them. Wives, husbands, sons, daughters, friends, and family are isolated from their beloveds as said are breathing their final breaths. As gut wrenching as this is it is indeed prudent in terms of stopping the contagion of this pandemic. In that way we disconnect, even in the most intimate of times, in the name of wellbeing and of love. I know I would rather die isolated from my husband, family, friends than to think their health would be jeopardized so that they could be with me. In that broader awareness I would in fact not be dying alone. I would die surrounded by my own love for those I would choose to protect. And I also know I would be surrounded by courageous, dedicated medical heroes with whom it would be an honor to transition.

So, where is this verbal meandering leading me?

The time to love is now.

The time to release petty offences is now. The time to release resentments and grievances is now. The time to end self-serving storylines is now. The time to release ideological identification is now. The time to forgive anything that blocks the heart is now.

Is now.

With countless people leaving the planet and even more people left to grieve them the time to love is now. In medical terms, love stat!

To those who fault my easily faultable self I understand. You may not forgive me, but I forgive you. I forgive you for not forgiving me. It really isn’t altruistic. I will not leave this body and this story line hanging on to things that do not serve my Soul. I am not carrying baggage into the next experience beyond this incarnation. So, choose to resent me. I am choosing to forgive and to love you. I may not have you in my dining room, but you sure as heck have room in my heart.

If I should contract and even die from this virus, I will not do so clinging to past resentments that say less about you and more about me.

If I should contract and even die from this virus, I will leave this world with an open heart and a fluent love. That is why I came to this planet and I will not depart having not fulfilled my mission. Not knowing there is a tomorrow sweetens and enlivens today.

For me, now is the time to love. Irrationally, radically, even ridiculously. To love because I am myself love. There is no more time to waste.

I have never been clearer that the time to love is now.

Stat.

Saturday, March 28, 2020

SERVICEABLE DISCONNECTION

Staying connected was never my strong suit.

Because of things that happened very early in my childhood people were scary and intimacy was polluted. I learned down in my emotional body that when I was open and available, I got hurt. Before I had the right and the voice to say no things happened to a child that simply should not happen. People who said they loved me used that promise to compromise and abuse me. And so early on I learned that openness was dangerous, and love could be tormenting.

If this is already too much for you, please feel free to scroll on or hit delete.

If you have heard or read me at all you know that I often remind us all that we are hardwired for both connection and protection. Relationship happens in the tension of these dynamics. They are always at play. We are constantly moved in the direction of connection. And our reptilian brains, our inborn mechanism for survival, is always scanning for danger and triggering us into protection when threats are perceived. One of the many tricky parts of these dynamics is that we can be thrown into protection mode whether or not an actual threat exists.

For those of us who experienced early life trauma (far more than consciously know it directly) the hardwired connection and protection devices are regularly crashing into each other as we navigate relationships. At the level of the Soul this is painful yet also purposeful. We tend to attract people and relationships that are congruent to our perpetrators so that we can say no now that we have the voice to do so. So that we can protect ourselves as adults, whereas as children we didn’t know to exercise that right. So that we choose the depth and quality of our connection. A connection that is mutual, appropriate, with boundaries, and steeped in safety.

This can be a very messy process.

Part of this evolution involves learning the difference between perceived threat and actual danger. When I say danger, I am not really speaking of physical threat. I also do not discount it. We must begin to tease out what is perceptual and what is actual. What is intuition and what is imprinted. What is happening in the moment and what reflects a past wrongdoing.

Err on the side of caution.

As an awakening spiritual being, I developed this perception that I should seek connection and atonement with all beings. Especially those who were also treading a shared spiritual path. And so, when my gut would kick in with pangs of warning, I would talk myself out of disconnecting. I would assume it was just my issues around safety and openness. If there was a problem, it certainly must be me. And so I would deaden the impulse to disconnect and stay in tormenting relations for sometimes decades.

Did I mention that staying connected was never my strong suit?

I have learned the hard way that disconnection can be just as important as connection.

I have learned that in order to stay connected to what is truest and most real within me I must know when to disconnect from others who do not share or at least honor my core values. I have learned that I need to disconnect from people who place their own agendas in front of my boundaries and ideals. I have learned that there are many who confuse my love for them with their freedom to define me. I no longer fall for the games of manipulation and control, and I sure do not buy into those who make my discernment and even guardedness a reason to diminish me.

In these days of social isolation and distancing I am using this time consciously rather than letting this time to use me. I am reflecting more within. I am praying and meditating. I am reevaluating what is most important to me. I am reassessing who is most important to me. I am reflecting on my connections, and on the value of my disconnections. I am forgiving myself for the inappropriate people I left in my sphere for way, way too long. I forgive them for my lack of strength and boundaries. I forgive my habitual self-neglect and even abuse, and I no longer tolerate them from others.

As I type these words, I am realizing that staying connected is becoming my strong suit.

I do not confuse the number of connections with the quality of connection. To have a few heart-connected, authentic, respectful, honest, loving relationships is absolute gold. It is gift. It is literally God.

I just had to disconnect to make room for true and deep connection.

And that, my dears, is serviceable disconnection.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

GROUNDED

“You are grounded, young man!”

“You will stay at home until I tell you that you can leave!”

“Go to your room!” “You have just lost your privileges!” “You go sit and you think about what you have done.” I actually was only grounded once as a young teen. The threat was ever looming, however. I always tended to be the good kid. The responsible one. The one my mother could always count on. I had an extremely short career as a rebel at about thirteen. I found out was grounding was all about.

It actually wasn’t so bad.

But back to good kid I went.

So, it is a truly shocking experience to be, at age sixty-two, grounded for the second time in my life.

It actually isn’t so bad.

We have been bad. Individually and collectively. We have shown up in countless ways that are less than what we are meant to be. We have been greedy, wasteful, disrespectful, divisive, condemning. We have dehumanized others and we have pillaged our planet. We have diminished ourselves and we have belittled others. We have been selfish, controlling, and self-righteous.

I could go on.

And so, we are being collectively sent to our rooms. We are being grounded. We have lost many of our privileges. We are getting a time out to sit and think about what we have done.

And I pray many of us do just that.

We are not being punished for what we have done but by it. There are consequences for our unconsciousness. That unconsciousness gives way to unskillfulness that has had devastating effects. We have made a collective toxicity that isn’t sustainable to life. And so those effects and that toxicity is being mirrored back to us in ways we cannot ignore.

And humanity has become masterful at ignoring. At disassociating. At denying. What we are doing to our biosphere is but one example. How we treat each other when we disagree is beyond what can be effectively described.

And so, grounded we are. They are calling it social isolation. A luxurious version of solitary confinement.

This does not mean we will stop our overdoing. Afterall, there is social media to troll. Closets to clean. Scary news reports to fixate on. Plans to make and stories to tell.

What if we really stopped for a bit? What if we used this time out to tune within? What if we pondered what this corona-virus pandemic is here to teach us? Not just them over there. Not only they who have the virus in their bodies. What could we all learn? How might we all come through this better, more conscious, more awake and resilient?

There are countless beings suffering, terrified, deeply troubled by all of this. There are so many who literally do not know where their next meal will come from. I do not minimize or deny that. I hold them in my heart. I will do what I can to help them.

As for me, the though of social isolation isn’t scary or troubling. I am a true introvert. Being grounded is a welcome state. I will gladly go to my room. As the leader of a dynamic spiritual community I have not yet found much space to breathe. Though we have suspended on-site operations there has been much to attend to. I am actually looking forward to taking some time to simply sit and be. Ground myself and breathe. Reflect on what is happening in our world and in me.

So, I am grounded. And most likely, so are you.

I pray that you will go to your room. Sit and think about what you have done in life. Pray into what is seeking to live through you now. How you want to show up for the duration.

There is much pain and trauma in our world. Please send your prayer energy shining forth. Hold this world in your heart and use this time as an experience of deepening.

You are grounded, my friends.

Relax. It’s not that bad.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

SICK AS YOUR SECRETS

I am a somewhat public person who greatly values privacy.

Privacy is not the same thing as secrecy.

Someone once pointed out to me that when I die countless secrets will die with me. I guess at a level that is true. But whenever I am sitting with someone and they share something with me that they had been holding in secrecy the release of energy is palpable. When they say what they have feared to say to another living being, and I do not run shrieking from the room, the relief is beyond description. The knotted energy of the secret is untied in the telling. The shroud of shame is vaporized in a moment of vulnerability. What had seemed so solid and insurmountable is neutralized by the simple act of giving it voice.

Being seen, heard, felt, received in an honoring and loving way can dislodge decades of shame and ensuing secrecy. Secrecy and dishonesty have an amplifying effect on whatever is being withheld. Shame metastasizes in a petri dish of secrecy. It needs to be spilled out, so to speak. It needs to be shared. It needs to be voiced. The adage that we are sick as our secrets is true. It is hideously true. And the release of those secrets can be terrifying.

Having said all that these secrets must be shared with a person that has done enough of their own work to receive the sharing. I have watched and internally winced as I have listened to waterfalls of what amounted to inappropriate disclosure. Telling a mere acquaintance about your darkest encounters is not what I am recommending. That is not the kind of context that has a restorative effect. Empathy and compassion are essential elements from the listener. People whom we meet and then within moments we know of their addictions and abuse are not connected to the content of their sharing. And so, it cannot be met with a deep level of listening. It is the flip side of secrecy.

The more connected we are to our inner experience the more discerning we may be with what needs to be shared and with whom. The more intimate we are internally the privier we are to the toxicity of the secrets we are holding. The more aware and accepting we are of our own emotional landscape the more we can differentiate between privacy and secrecy. This always leads to greater self-honesty and expanding self-compassion. From this we realize what it is that needs to be voiced, and we discern who has earned the right to hear it.

Who has earned the right to hear it.

That was a hard and tormenting lesson for me.

I felt the pressure cooker of shame and secrecy was soon to explode and so I shared things with people who I never should have shared with. I trusted those who were indeed not trustworthy. It was a painful yet well learned lesson.

I now have a few people who have demonstrated that they are trustworthy to hear what I need to share. I rest assured that they will hear what I need to say and not hold me to the current content as being my ultimate truth. The best listeners are those who make no attempts to change or to fix what I am sharing. They simply hold me in their hearts. They know that ours is a sacred contract. That by our giving voice to that which we might prefer to be hidden we heal, and we become free. It is a shared privacy that breaks the bondage of secrecy. The sickness was in the secrecy. The healing is in the sharing.

So, I am a somewhat public person who greatly values privacy.

I do not value secrecy. And I do not confuse the two.

Many secrets will die with me, but they are not my secrets.

Many of what were my secrets died with the confidants who are no longer on the planet. I would be a much sicker person if it had not been for the safety and empathy they provided. I thank and praise them regularly. And I pay my appreciation forward by being a safe space for those who choose to trust me with their hearts and secrets. Together we share and cry and laugh and tell and become free in the liberation of honesty and trust. And the sickness of secrecy is abated. And we are healed. And we are free.

One of my greatest joys is where your secrecy meets my privacy.

Your secrets are safe with me.

Thursday, March 5, 2020

SOME SLACK

“Hey, cut me some slack.”

It was a familial request that I rarely saw actualized.

It is often difficult to remember that people are doing the best they can based on their current level of consciousness. It is even more difficult to remember that I am doing the best I can based on my current level of consciousness. And that later awareness is the bridge to the former.

Today I am choosing to cut myself some slack.

I watched in fascination recently as something occurred for someone that threw them into a total shame storm. It wasn’t really what occurred that caused the storm. It was the ensuing narrative. I could literally see the shades get drawn, the doors get locked, and the lights go out. I could feel the energy of the commentary. I felt the winds of the core belief becoming activated. The forcefulness of the projection was palpable. The trigger became a tornado. And the person caught in the storm was completely unavailable for help.

Been there. Been that.

I am grateful to be at a place in my own experience to be able to recognize these dynamics. I feel the sense of helplessness in my gut as I realize I so want to help. Part of me wants to grab hold with a hug that won’t let go until the storm has passed. Part of me wants to scream “stop it!” “don’t you see what you are doing to yourself?”

Hey, cut them some slack.

And so I figuratively and literally step back and watch with compassion the storm that I pray will lead to their awakening.

That is how it happened for me.

I have had one or two people in this lifetime that not only spoke the words but engaged the energy. In the depths of some of my worst storms they were there to cut me some slack. In so doing they taught me how to do that for myself.

Suffering is a relentless taskmaster. And most of the suffering is self-induced. It sends us into recoil thinking that we will protect ourselves from the hurtfulness of others. The problem is that we recoil into the source of the suffering. When the shades get drawn and the doors get locked, I am trapped inside with the beliefs, narrative, and commentary that are fueling the storms of suffering. Locked in that war zone there is little chance of someone cutting us some slack. Even if they do we are too caught to notice.

It has been a startling realization that the friendlier I have become with my own unskillfulness and imperfection the friendlier my world has become.

I still have very few people in my sphere who are willing to cut me some slack. And I find that it hardly matters at all. The slack that is cut is internal. The compassion that is generated is self-generated. I am more and more awake to the times I fall into the trap of making my own shame-storms based on what I am saying about me. I am far more likely now to go quickly to the perception that I am indeed doing the best I can at the current level of my consciousness. Knowing this for myself allows me to know it for others. I can hold with mercy those who fall into the storminess of their own self-inflicted suffering.

I cut them some slack.

So today I listen, and I feel into the kind of inner-atmosphere I am holding myself in. I am intent on staying awake to when I may be evaluating harshly or judging mercilessly. I choose to shift my narrative which calms my inner storms. I give myself a break. I cut myself some slack.

And I am doing the same for you.

Thursday, February 27, 2020

IT'S SAFE

It is finally safe to stay in here.

When I say in here, I literally mean in here. Inside of me. In my experience of me. In my moments and in my relating. An undivided sense of self. A state of being that knows it is enough as is. That it is okay to welcome whatever arises. That everything belongs. That there is nothing to try to hide and suppress. Nothing biting at my heels. No uh-oh waiting to consume me. Nothing to correct.

I could weep just typing those words.

The weeping is relief, it is not sadness. It feels like a huge exhale after holding my breath for decades. I have finally realized how much of a fugitive I was, always on the run from my own faulty self-image.

It simply wasn’t safe to be me.

I have come to know that personal transformation is not possible without a safe and accepting inner atmosphere. In fact, personal transformation is the effect of a causative safe and accepting inner atmosphere.

It is everything.

We all want to feel safe in the world. That has become a monumental prospect in our current culture. There seem to be threats around every corner. I am not at all oblivious to these myriad dangers. I can take precautions, but I do not choose to live a life that is in constant reaction to a threatening and dangerous world. I have no control over so many external conditions. There are also people that I have learned are not safe to share the deeper and more tender parts of me. So, over that I do have a large measure of management.

The one area relative to all of this and for which I may exercise authority is my own sense of inner safety. It took a long time for me to become privy to the mean and diminishing things I said about myself, to myself. There was a programmed part of me always scrutinizing, evaluating, condemning me. That part was never pleased with anything I did. It kept a narrative going that consistently triggered my nervous system into a heightened state. I could never relax. And I couldn’t find a place to hide from this tyrant.

It was rarely safe to be in here.

So, I spent decades trying to please the inner dictator. Self-improvement was my constant goal. And no matter what I did it was never enough. Never acceptable. Never safe.

I never felt safe.

And now I largely do.

Wow.

A giant storm has passed, and my internal sky is clear.

Alright, it is partly cloudy.

Though I rarely fall into the trap of self-interrogation anymore I do regularly self-contemplate and curiously explore what is happening inside of me. I frequently check into how safe I feel in any given moment. If I begin to feel uneasy with certain people or in certain circumstances, I immediately check into how I am holding myself. What I am saying to myself. How I am framing the scenario, and what I might be making it mean about me.

I am clearer than ever that my safety is up to me.

So, dear reader; how safe is it to be in you?

There may well be some of you that think this is much ado about nothing. I believe it to be one of the most important inquiries we can engage in.

To do any kind of deep and meaningful inner work there must be a sense of safety and security. There must be a felt perspective of caring and acceptance.

You simply must be on your side.

I am not where I ultimately want to be, and I am sure not where I was. I know that the other bridge between those experiences is my own sense of safety and acceptance. Though the impulse of my Soul is to continue to grow and evolve it can only do so from a place of peace with where I am now. My inner bully can still at times get engaged. But I hear it quickly. I know it is activated because it thinks it needs to protect me. I self-regulate it and calm it down. I tell myself it is safe in here. It is safe to be me as is.

What a relief.

It is finally safe to stay in here.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

CAPITAL SELF-DEFINED

The ability to be Self-defined is a superpower.

Please note the capitalization of that Self.

I grew up in a family where I was robbed of the privilege of learning what it is to be self-defined. As a result, a big piece of my personal evolution has been learning to be Self-defined. It has been a rough and rocky road.

Part of Part of a healthy maturation process includes detaching from parental or other authority figures and learning to think, decide, and define from a place of choice and autonomy. Though inextricably part of a tribal system we are each born to grow into a place internally where we decide what is right and what isn’t right for us as individuals. We are to take the programming that we have been taught and decide how that will or will not be causal to our experience as we become responsible adults. We get to choose what values we will live by, and what will govern our experience here in this embodiment.

Or at least that is optimal.

I grew up being taught that my opinions largely didn’t matter. I was defined by my family, church, culture, and by other outside forces. I did not have ultimate authority over my experience. That included my mind, heart, and body.

I was largely up for grabs.

I was never taught healthy boundaries. When living in a monarchy there is no need for boundaries. Not being free to think for myself there was always an inner tension between what I felt deep down was true for me, and what I was permitted to express and live out.

I was not granted the right to develop my own sense of self.

A huge part of my spiritual development was first and foremost learning that this was the case. When you are not privy to self-choice and development it is hard to come to self-realization.

After many painful lessons in relinquishing my right to choose, my adult experience has been about first learning that I have a right to choose and a right to determine my own sense of self. I have a right to make my own decisions. I have not only a right but a responsibility to be self-determining. I set my boundaries, and I keep and maintain them.

Learning this was fraught with mistakes and much emotional turmoil.

One of the key mistakes I learned to recognize was that often when I told people I loved them they thought that gave them the right to define me.

Ouch.

This resulted in painful isolation and prolonged disconnection. I often wanted to scream out “love me, don’t try and define me!”

Of course, the inability to define my own experience had me swallowing those screams. They festered and metastasized inside of me, hardening into a fortress where I could safe albeit alone.

After beginning to learn that I didn’t believe I had a right to my own self I also began to discover how that limited and limiting sense of self was faulty from a broader spiritual perspective. I began slowly and painfully to discover the distinction between the personality self and the Soulful Self. While my personality self had been programmed to believe it was faulty, unworthy, dis-empowered, and fragile I began to open to an awakened perspective that could relate to those core beliefs. That relating tuned me into what I would term my Soul. My Soul has endless creativity, authority, choice, volition, and Self-definition.

Please note the capitalization of that Self.

I began to make more and more choices from my Soul. I set and maintained healthy boundaries and decided what was and what wasn’t right for me. I became less reactive to people that sought to define me, and freer to choose from an expanded sense of me. I set the rules for my governance. I relied on Source for my sense of Self and allowed myself to be guided by that. I even today instantly recognize when someone is seeking to define or manipulate me. I rarely go into emotional reaction. I simply state what is right for me and walk away if my word is not honored.

Part of the rub of Self-definition is that it requires that I take full responsibility for the choices and decisions I make. Though I have a right to choose I do not then have a right to blame others for my choices. I could have spent my entire life blaming those who robbed me of choice. I have not. I recognize it as a vital part of my evolution in consciousness. That evolution includes releasing the allure of blame now. I am the grown up in here. I am responsible. I get to choose to show up in empowered and self-differentiated ways. You may think you can define me. I do not have to react and live from that definition.

The ability to be Self-defined is indeed a superpower.

Please note the capitalization of that Self.

I slip up. I admit it. Part of our inherent connection is the ability to hurt each other. I mistakenly define others, and others mistakenly define me. I do not reside long in those mistaken identities. I feel the contraction of my self from my Self. The pain of that contraction awakens me. I come back to Self-definition. I make conscious and responsible choices. I allow the Self to govern the self.

Please not the capitalization of that Self.

Thursday, February 13, 2020

REALLY GONE

I guess sometimes when they leave, they are really gone.

My mother left her body four years ago today. That is 1460 days. Not one of those days has passed that I have not thought of and felt her absence.

When my mother left, she was gone.

I have experienced the deaths of many significant people in my lifetime. It began at a young age and has been a constancy that I have learned to live with. I have become increasingly friendly with grief as a result of these many losses. I have also become increasingly comfortable with the ongoing vibrational relationship with those who have moved on. I cherish the ongoing “visitations” with people who are no longer on this plane of experience. Those visitations are not replacements for the much-preferred physical encounters. The “in-spirit” encounters are lovely, but they do little to soften the longing to hear the voice and touch the hands of those I have shared incarnation with.

There have been no visitations or encounters with my mother.

I spent a week with her in an Ohio ICU where she was cognizant but, on a ventilator, so unable to speak. I needed to return to my work here in Florida so was not present when she transitioned a week later. I energetically felt her transition these many miles away, and that was the last I felt of her presence.

Since she left she has really been gone.

And so, the void that was left by her passing has truly been a void. No wafts of her energy. No cardinal birds that signaled her attending. No feelings of her at any time or in any way.

She was a unique and complicated woman. I guess it should not surprise me that the wake of her passing is equally unique and for me complicated.

I sought my entire life to get her attention. Most especially her approving and affirmative attention.

There were glimpses.

Brief, fleeting glimpses.

And now I guess in some ways I am spending her death still seeking her attention. Even if it is from an entirely different realm.

Four years. 208 weeks. 1460 days.

Life has moved on as it always does. Much has occurred. I have been fully engaged in my living, loving, and serving.

There is a subtle and ever-present void that I still somehow expect to be filled. A void that I still hope will be filled. Not as a replacement. Not as a 24-7 reality. Just a moment. A waft. A glimpse, a sense, a nudge.

Wherever she is she is not with me.

And so, well meaning people assure me she is always with me.

Actually, she is not.

Oh, she is with me in countless memories. She is increasingly with me as I look into the mirror. She is mimicked for me in the way I do so many things. Her tone is heard in the way I say certain phrases. Her emotional character is often felt in my own inner atmosphere. So, in those ways she is here.

It is not the same.

Some readers may get that, and certainly some will not. It doesn’t matter. This is my feeble attempt to put into words what is clearly ineffable and wordless.

Maybe I am somehow hoping the words will fill the aching void.

In many ways my mother and I were enmeshed. No matter how many miles separated us I could always tap in and feel what she was feeling. In later years I grew beyond the need to make things better for her when she was troubled. I never really could achieve that, and I suffered as a result of trying. So, when she passed on my intense grief was also met by an inexplicable freedom.

For the first time I was an independent energy system having an independent experience of me.

And maybe that is why she has left me on my own.

I guess sometimes when they leave, they are really gone.

And perhaps that is her final gift to me.

There was always a level at which I felt I was meant to mother her as much as she was meant to give birth to me. I continue to grow more accepting and peaceful with that. I will perhaps always live with a subtle longing to feel her approving attention. To feel something more than a void. To feel she somehow chose to linger with me.

For now, she is gone. Really gone.

And for now, I am here. Really here. Holding all of this in my heart.

Whether she is here or not, I will always be my mother’s son.

And in that way, and for now only in that way, she will always be with me.

Thursday, February 6, 2020

LOOKING AT

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

I heard that phrase for the first-time decades ago. After pondering it for months I thought I knew what it meant. After grappling with it for years I realized I did not know what it meant. And all these decades later I still dance with what I suspect is one of the most confounding and yet liberating notions that I have ever heard.

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

We as human beings are emotionally imprinted and carefully programmed and conditioned. We are not responsible for these imprints or filters.

We are, however, responsible TO them.

Human consciousness evolves via the way we relate to our imprinting, programming, conditioning. We are here, in part, to transcend the limitations of our tribal paradigms. We do not do this by getting rid of them. We do this by relating differently to them. We do this be awakening to the fact that these early imprints and programs are running the show we call me. We live largely on the autopilot of reaction until the pain of this reactivity begins to shake us and awaken us.

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

What we generally call reality is really a filter we are looking through. There is a constant commentary, narrative going on as we mentally label and assess whatever we are looking at. A process of constant evaluation is always going on. We look at, we evaluate, and then our emotional body mirrors the felt-equivalent of that evaluation.

This is not a problem.

The problem lies in that we believe our evaluations.

The problem and the suffering lie in that we forget that we are always looking at what we are looking with.

In speaking for myself I am dedicated to awakening to the fact that I am the one narrating my experience. I am the one responsible for my inner atmosphere and experience. I am the one that decides to momently awaken to the power of interpretation and to the subsequent contribution I am always making.

There are many things I find disturbing about our culture, our country, our world, and the way in which human beings treat each other. I feel the equivalent of value-violation daily. I know that I could choose to scream at those current appearances and spend much of my days in angry reactivity. And I know that I would be contributing to the problems I find disturbing.

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

Though each of us are carefully imprinted, programmed, and conditioned we are also beings of free will and choice. This is so by virtue of our creation. As we awaken and evolve choice becomes more and more available. Automatic reactivity softens as the neo-brain slowly takes authority over the lizard. We begin to find that there is always something greater than the tribal paradigm. There is something transcendent of the old programming. There is a Power within us all that can use the disturbance rather than being used by it.

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

The lizard part of us is always on the lookout for what is wrong. For what is threatening. For what insults or diminishes the me. It is always seeking an enemy, always poised in fight or flight.

The invitation of an awakened consciousness is to internally dwell in a place that is aware and accepting of this circuitry yet is also choosing to wakefully relate to inner-reacting and unconscious acting out. An awakened consciousness responds rather than reacts. It is open and available to transmute the triggers. To bring presence to the programming. To contain the conditioning.

This is possible once we realize that we ARE what is looking, not what we are looking at.

When I am awake to what is looking, I gaze in compassionate response.

When I am awake to what is looking, I am aware that everything I am seeing is an out picturing of individual and collective consciousness. It is all artifact of critical mass core belief. Though often tragic in its effects it is still potential awaiting activation.

And that is where I come in.

I am always looking at what I am looking with.

The way I choose to look at what I am seeing either perpetuates of transforms that which I am seeing. If I choose to look at and react to things as fixed realities to be believed and conquered, I relegate my power to the externals. If I choose to look out from a place of contemplation and compassion that way of seeing has a transformative effect on what I am looking at.

When I am unconscious, I am in reaction. When I am conscious, I am in response.

The choice is up to me.

How I see what I see isn’t about it. It is about me.

For you see, I am always looking at what I am looking with.

Wednesday, January 29, 2020

PRECIOUS ATTENTION

There are few gifts as precious in life as someone’s undivided attention.

There are few things rarer in life these days as the gift of someone’s undivided attention.

The need to be paid attention to is universal and unmistakable. Though we may not frame it as such, it is built into our hardwiring and even into our DNA. We need to be seen, heard, acknowledged, and appreciated. When we are not, we suffer.

We need to pay attention to others. We need to see, listen to, acknowledge, and appreciate fellow living beings. When we do not do that, we suffer.

We have an intrinsic need to connect. We need to experience a felt-sense connection within our own being to ourselves and to our surrounding world. This connection is the foundation to our sense of belonging. Belonging is also a hardwired human need.

We are living in perhaps the most distracted and disconnected time in human history. Attention is largely scattered, which throws connection and belonging right out the window. It is so rare these days to really feel seen, heard, acknowledged, and connected to that when it happens it is startling.

In an age when we mistake social media ties for actual friendship and texting with authentic communication there is a low-level anxiety that for me is palpable.

We long for the gift of precious attention.

I have recently had a few experiences where I was seeking to connect and commune with others who were clearly somewhere else in their attention. I purposely stopped what I was saying, and in all instances, it took a few long moments for them to notice I had ceased communicating. In one case there was no awareness of that at all.

I was grateful to notice the obvious disconnect and yet to be able to choose to not take it personally. It is a human dilemma much bigger than me. I didn’t go to “they should be seeing, listening, paying attention to me.” I simply noticed that for them something else entirely was going on.

I daily see people driving while texting. I have one-sided conversations with great regularity. I frequently am interrupted in social engagements by an uninvited and unannounced selfie. I speak into eyes that are darting everywhere but back into mine. It seems to be the current lay of the land.

And.

There are few gifts as precious in life as someone’s undivided attention.

So, while I personally recognize all of this as the foundation of much at least subtle suffering I am not painting this as a problem for or about others.

I see it as an invitation to hone my own skills in terms of giving precious attention.

When you appear, I am committed to seeing you.

When you speak, I am dedicating myself to really listening.

When I am on the phone with you, I will not be multitasking or mentally engaged in to do lists or other distractions.

I am personally devoted to connecting and communing with those in my sphere.

This is not an easy feat in a culture of constant distractions and continuous deadening.

And, I am committed to precious attention and intimate connection.

Regardless of what you do, I will give you the gift of my precious attention.

And in giving you that gift I am gifted as well.

I see you. I hear you. I acknowledge you. I appreciate you. I consciously connect with you.

And in my precious attention, you belong.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

THE SACRAMENT OF IRRITATION

People can be really irritating.

And thus, my mirrors for awakening.

May I most humbly share with you that in my meditation chair I am an enlightened master?

Well, when things are quiet, and the temperature is pleasant, and the circumstances meet my meditation requirements.

Awe, the enlightened state.

And then the neighbor throws multiple items into the recycle bin just outside my bedroom window. And then my husband loudly sneezes or answers his phone or bangs a few pots, pans, dishes.

People can be really irritating.

Okay. I can get really irritated.

That is much more to the point.

Irritation is a form of discomfort and human beings do not like discomfort. While the degree to which we avoid, and resist discomfort may vary the displeasure at it is universal.

Which makes our relationship to irritation and thus discomfort a perfect form of sacrament.

I spent decades of my life trying to rid myself of people and situations that irritated me. What I found was that every time I ridded myself of an irritant qualifier another one immediately took its place. After numerous cycles of this pattern I finally got that the common denominator was me, myself, and I. I was the source of irritation, not the person, place, or thing.

This realization led to an increasingly expansive relationship to things that seem to irritate me. They are each and everyone an opportunity for me to grow and to deepen internally.

Each irritant is an angel here to teach me more about me.

A concentric piece of learning in this regard is that I didn’t get the lesson when I only tried to pretend that I was not annoyed.

I also did not integrate the message when I lashed out at the perceived instigator of irritation. Add to that, that the plausibility of lashing out was increased when I tried to pretend I was not irritated.

As I have slowly and imperfectly developed a more awakened and spacious relationship to the never-ceasing causes of irritation in life I have grown to appreciate the experience of annoyance in terms of what it activates inside of me.

Without falling into total denial, I own at a felt level that while people and situations can be really irritating it is really me that can be simply irritable.

That may not seem to you to be the good news.

For me it is.

I can do very little about most of the external things that I find irritating. I do have an increasing amount of dominion about what happens in my own interior. That dominion is strengthened each time I choose to engage an awakened relationship to the things I think are annoying me. Each time I make that choice is like a repetition at the gym. My responsiveness grows stronger and steadier. I become more steadfast and secure.

So, for me irritants have become sacraments of spiritual practice.

Does that mean they have become comfortable?

No.

And uncomfortable can certainly be valuable.

Most people know that pearls are the direct product of an oyster being irritated.

Awe, a pearl of great price.

So, bring on the clanging recycling and the sneezing and the banging pots and pans. I am ready and open to relate. Each one of those are angels of awakening. The more the annoyance the greater the mastery. Hallelujah, I am aghast!

People can be really irritating.

And I bless and love each and everyone of the ornery little buggers.

Thank you for annoying me into awakening. You are a precious pearl within my heart.

Thursday, January 16, 2020

HER NAME WAS LOLA

I am slowly moving into yet another goodbye.

I have experienced goodbye enough times to be very clear that they are not about absence.

They are about presence.

I have also said goodbye enough times to know that love is never past tense. My father transitioned in 1982 and I love him more today than I did then and more than I did last year. I am quite certain that for as long as I am on this planet the love will continue to grow, deepen, and mature.

The same is true of Jean.

I am calling her Jean in this writing because that indeed was her given name. I am calling her Jean so that anyone who knew her will recognize the inspiration for this homage. I likely have not referred to her as Jean in years.

To me she was Lola.

It was a self-ascribed moniker that she shared with me decades ago. It stuck. I very often sang the opening lines of the Barry Manilow song “Copacabana” when calling her. We would giggle and laugh and share the secret place that only good friends can know and share.

And that laugh.

Lola was brilliantly wise, knowledgeable, and extraordinarily articulate. She had a deep and abiding spirituality that permeated her being, living, and giving. She could put the wordless into words as well as anyone I have known. Though ninety at the time of her passing this internal Light never really dimmed. Even a stroke in the past year didn’t rob her of this God-force inside. She still wrote poems and delivered wisdom pearls almost until the end.

And that laugh. That incredible laugh.

Lola had a naughty side that was integral to why we got along so well.

As sharp as Jean always was there was often a momentary pause between stimulus and response when something struck her funny. This could be particularly evident if the source of humor was of a shadow nature. There would be a pause and then an internal rumbling that began way down deep and erupted in a sound that completely defies description. Though indefinable I can hear it as clear as if it were happening here as I type these words.

Perhaps it is.

And so even as I begin a process of goodbye she is still right here. I have no doubt that she will always be right here. I will always hear that laugh and feel that wonder.

I do not deny or diminish the impact of a physical death. “Here in spirit” is not the same as here in flesh. I will greatly miss the unique and wondrous physicality of Jean. I will miss the ornery little shimmy she shared when she called herself Lola. I will miss the brilliance and the boldness, the blind-spots and the mischief. The extraordinary artistry of her words, and the way she could nod off in meditation.

I will miss my Lola though at a real, intimate, virtual level she will always be with me.

The weepiness and the laughter. The wordiness and the wonder. The sacredness and the shimmy. The prayerfulness and the play.

She was so many things in this lifetime. Daughter, sister, wife, mother, friend, confidant, companion, student, teacher.

So many things. And yet most of all she was love.

She long ago shared with me that her favorite song was If We Only Have Love. How appropriate.

Called by many roles, known to countless as simply Jean. Married to who she adoringly called Mr. Nice Guy for nearly seventy years.

To me she was and will always be dear friend. Valued companion on the spiritual path. Fellow pilgrim. Love incarnate. You may call her Jean. For me, her name was Lola.

Fly high and shimmy free, my Lola. And thanks for the dance.