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.

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.