Saturday, November 12, 2022

ECHOES

The silence was as memorable as it was deafening.

And perhaps it was the deafening nature of the silence that makes it so memorable.

I was eleven years old when my father got lost driving home from church.

Eleven years of age.

My father had driven that route countless times. To church. Home from church. It was an approximately five-mile trip. Depending on the way we went it involved three streets.

Three streets. Five miles. Repetitive route. Over and over. Back and forth. Year after year.

It was deafening. Memorable. Life changing. Earth shattering.

The deafening, memorable, life-changing, earth-shattering event happened in the silence.

As I recall I was lost in my thoughts regarding the next days report cards. I knew where we were but was not giving that much notice until I heard her strained voice asking this question.

“Bill, do you know where you are?”

The question was followed by a silence that to this writing is deafening, memorable, shattering. The silence not only contained the answer. It was the answer.

I only vaguely recall a whispered “no” that came from a place so raw, so naked, so revealing that I never saw or heard my father in the same way again.

The silence between the question and the answer changed the trajectory of my entire life. It abruptly and violently ended my childhood. It was a reactive silence, yet somehow revelatory of something I had dreaded and anticipated. It was quantum, and it was oddly and irrationally familiar.

It seemed to be an echo of a trauma that had already somehow occurred.

Even at age eleven I well knew that my paternal grandfather had died due to an early onset dementia. This occurred before I was born. I also knew that two of my dad’s older brothers were exhibiting symptoms of the same disorder. And so, I knew that when my father got lost driving the oft repeated route to home that it would most likely be indicative that the familial malady was repeating in a nuclear way.

It was not long after that fateful and life altering car ride that our earth continued to shatter in practical and unmistakable ways. Echoes of memory loss became more and more frequent to the point where they became the norm. I became a caregiver before I departed elementary school. There were no more questions as to if my father knew where he was, or even if he knew who he was. And in less than five years he didn’t know who I was.

My father did not know who I was.

Yet it all felt familiar even as it was tragically happening. Like an echo of something I knew would happen. Maybe sooner. Maybe later. I knew it would happen. I somehow knew it would all happen.

The silence had told me so.

There is always a context of deafening silence deep within me. Shattered pieces of my broken heart are all around for me to behold. I hear echoes of questions that have no answers, yet the deafening silence is somehow still the answer. I still see the terrified profile of my mother’s face. I still hear the strained to breaking tone of her questioning voice. I knew as she asked, she already knew the answer. I already knew the answer. We all already knew the answer.

The deafening silence was the answer.

Echoes of that traumatic occurrence have punctuated my life experience. Circumstances present. Questions arise. Silence ensues. And the silence is the answer.

The deafening, memorable, life-changing, earth-shattering answer.

Repeating echoes of that childhood trauma arise, present, move within me and shake me to the core. Yet now I can relate to them as the echoes that they are. As repeating traumas. As patterns of grief that are seeking resolution. I am clear that I am not that eleven-year-old riding in the back of a Ford station wagon feeling my childhood being violently ripped from me.

That was then.

This movement I feel within me is an echo of the event. An emotional echo that I can now wakefully open to. Accept. Remember in an embodied way. Embrace. Allow the silence of my now presence to listen to the echo until it gently passes from my awareness. It may well repeat again. And with every repetition the silence becomes less deafening and more embracing.

Case in point.

In 2017 my husband Donald and I decided to ride to the nearby DQ to get an evening treat. More specifically, I was riding, and Donald was driving. On the brief ride home Donald began to drive more and more slowly as he began to navigate an odd route to get to our home. I felt an enormous emotional echo begin to fill my heart and churn within my solar plexus. I began to choke on the question that I knew I needed to ask.

“Donald, do you know where you are?”

Though I was in the passenger seat beside him I could clearly see my own profile from the back seat behind Donald. I heard the strain and terror in my voice. I felt the enormity of the experience. The pattern. The repetition. The trauma. The deafening ending and the terrifying beginning.

His silence was the answer.

Echoes of the past presenting in the present.

The eleven-year-old.

The now sixty-five-year-old.

The familiar echoes of a lifetime.

And yet somehow, I am new and so it is new. That was then, and I am now. There are echoes for sure. Yet I now know that I am the Silence and so the answers are within me. The silence is far less deafening. Less earth shattering. I know I can relate and to listen to the echoes and to pick up the pieces and move on whether I know where I am going or not.

I am very clear that while others may suggest it, I am indeed not going “through it again.” The emotions are as familiar as are the echoes. That is true. But I am not eleven and Donald is not my father. The outcome will be different for I am vastly different. I don’t even ask the questions so much anymore.

I simply listen and embrace the echoes of a lifetime.

And they are sweet and less deafening and tragic and beautiful and repeating and healing. And I am grateful.

Same echoes.

Different listener.

Saturday, October 29, 2022

STUCCO SPIRITUALITY

So, today I want to write to you about stucco.

Okay, I know.

Stay with me?

I am in the midst of some pretty major home renovations. It began with impact windows, the cost of which was a very major impact to my bank account! Sixteen windows, a patio door, and three standard doors.
,br> Wow. Ouch. And thankful it is done and paid for.

Our home is of CBS construction, except for an add-on Florida room. The original owners built the Florida room of wood sometime in the early 60’s. There was some minor rotting to the wood when I purchased the house almost twenty years ago. It has progressed to the point where it proved to be problematic to the impact window job. I knew it was time to have some serious work done on that part of the house. One section of the wood had to be replaced to be able to support the weight of the impact window. After some investigation and advice from others far more knowledgeable about such things I contracted someone to stucco the outside of the Florida room.

Stucco.

Still with me?

The general contractor brought a laborer to assess the situation. A job cost was given, which, while high, seemed tame after paying for the impact windows. As I listened to the gentleman describe his process details, I was internally troubled by what seemed to me to be a missing aspect of the job.

He kept speaking of applying stucco over the existing wood.

Wood which was noticeably rotting.

I politely thanked him and him that I would let them know.

I let my contractor immediately know: no way.

He confirmed my assessment and said he would find someone that would replace the rotting wood, and then stucco over top of it.

So, why am I sharing these details with you?

My early days of new thought spirituality were revelatory, radical, and extremely exciting. They were also largely about the externals of my life. While I did not realize it at the time, they were a lot like applying effectual stucco over rotting wood consciousness.

Are you with me?

I know you are.

Trying to fix and plaster over situations and circumstances without addressing the underlying causal consciousness will always be a temporary distraction.

Had the first laborer applied stucco over the rotting wood it most likely would have appeared to solve the problem. It could have been painted over and looked great.

Temporarily.

The wood would have continued to rot under the stucco, and, after a time period, the stucco would have fallen away. It would have revealed the unattended rotting which would have advanced under the surface of the stucco.

Can I get a witness?

When spirituality is primarily about the surface it is much like stucco. Conditions and circumstances are always effects of our underlying consciousness. We all have some level of unconsciousness which amounts to our own personal “rotting.” This results in a level of discomfort and discontent. We don’t like what is showing up. Especially when it repeatedly shows up. In earlier stages of spirituality, we then try and stucco over the conditions we do not want to see. We misuse affirmations and plaster our minds with vision boards while skipping the most crucial step in any transformation.

We must deal with the rotting wood of old limiting beliefs. Outmoded senses of self. Core beliefs that bind and constrict. We must attend to consciously what lies within our own unconsciousness. Otherwise, we will stucco over the rotten consciousness with something that appears better temporarily. It will appear shiny and new.

And then…

The underlying “rotting” will advance while we are entranced with the surface. At some point sooner or later the surface stucco will fall away and the causal consciousness, in all of its rottenness, will be worse than ever.

A house or a home is always metaphysically representative of a field of consciousness. If a home is not properly maintained problems begin to occur. Short term fixes can lead to long term problems. Pink painting over rotten wood is a very short-term fix. Plastering stucco over rotten wood may buy more time. And it does not address the real issue. The causal issue.

When there is something amiss in my experience, I now know enough to explore the interior first, rather than trying to only fix external conditions. If there is rotting and decay, it is first and foremost in my field. It is causal. It is in consciousness. Everything out there reflects something in here. Always. Every time. No excepptions.

Every external problem must be resolved at the internal level.

I did my share of stuccoing over rotten wood in my consciousness. It never lasted. The effects I thought would solve the problem and satisfy my longing always fell away. I am grateful to know that. Very grateful. Grateful enough to want to share it with you.

I have moved from stucco to foundational spirituality. It does not mean I do not address circumstances and effects. I just do it at the causal level. I do it beneath the surface. I address my own wood rot rather than blaming and damning outer conditions. I attend to the withinness and then I seek to make the outer as pretty as is possible. I like beautiful things. But I do not identify with them. I live by the admonition “as within, so without.” As I let the outer reflect my transformed interior my life and my “house” get better and better. More and more beautiful at the real and depth level.

And as a result, my inner house is solid and stable. Much of the rotting has been exposed and attended to. I am not seduced into believing that if I stucco over problems the problems go away. Denial and suppression are not healing. Covering over and pretense are not healing. The rotting occurs in aspects of consciousness that indeed need to be exposed and that ultimately need to die. Only sustained, unflinching, and compassionate presence can do that.

It is indeed an inside job.

I type these words to the staccato rhythm of hammering that is the sound of the workers applying new wood to my Florida room. That wood then will sustain the soon to be applied stucco. I am confident in that the causal problem is being addressed and corrected first. I am grateful to immediately recognize the bigger-picture lesson, and I share it in hopes that it will be helpful to someone else.

A stucco spirituality isn’t about hiding the underneath.

A stucco spirituality is about deeply knowing that everything occurs in consciousness first. If you want a different result, you must deal with what may be rotting underneath. Do your inner work first. Forgive. Pray. Look intimately within. Be courageous. Be diligent. Address the inner and then have fun redecorating the outer. The more you put into the interior the more stable and lasting will be exterior effects.

Impact windows. Replacing rotting wood. Stucco. And finally, a new paint job. I picked a color called Kind Green. Got to love it. All part of making a house a suitable and sustainable home. Strong walls and supports. Pretty, warm, and even “kind” exterior.

Just like in here.