Friday, August 31, 2012

questions

What am I doing here? Where do I belong? What is the point of the continued waiting and struggling in my life? I'm 31 years old and have no clear archetype outside of Mother. I live paycheck to paycheck. I've learned how to listen, but I feel no clear pulls in any direction other than to keep on with where I'm at and the ordinary of my life. That's okay on some days, and then on others I feel like I'm spinning my wheels.

In class yesterday we were reading about shamans and their initiations. Shamans generally have shittier lives and struggle more than the average person. If I could sense the fruits of my struggle, if there was an actual position of Shaman for me to become, that might help, but as it is I feel rootless, unseen, behind, and overwhelmed.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

a great quote for political season

A continuation of what Nate was pondering, and it applies to any side you may be on. 

"If there is any hope for your mind to grant you grace to recast yourself as a free person, you need to make every effort to control your hatred toward others. You may not consider yourself a hateful person, but consider whether you burn with rage when people slurp their soup, pick their nose, abort their unborn, marry a gay person, and so on. You may believe with very good reason that they deserve the mental poison darts you throw at them, but a vicious mind is always rooted in a vicious heart. How hateful you are towards others will determine how hateful your mind will be to you in equal dosage."  - Chin-ning Chu

Also, how hateful your mind is towards yourself is how hateful you are tempted to be to others. It's an inheritance we all share in, that negative voice inside, what Anne Lamott calls Radio KFKD.

"You don't have to become the victim of your own self-criticisms. You are bigger than all of your unfortunate circumstances. Be good to yourself; be sweet to yourself. Don't build a case against yourself. Perfection is living and thriving within you, as you." (more Chin-ning)

"Building a case against yourself" is what a belief in total depravity or utter sinfulness leads to. That is the part of religion I will never adopt again. Yes, definitely, there is "sin nature" or "animal nature," but the center of us is a part of God. "Whatever perfection God has, you have. The more you recognize this truth and hold yourself to be perfect, the more you will manifest your perfection."

(Another way of saying that is, you are loved completely and can receive it completely, and then loving others isn't so hard. I used to love others partly because I was supposed to, to make up for the messages I had picked up about my shittiness. Part of me genuinely hated myself and thought that that's what God wanted. The diamond that came from the suffering in my 20s is not functioning this way anymore.)

Friday, August 17, 2012

yes!

Head over to my man's blog. He has some exceptionally great things to say today. I'm still mulling it over.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

adventures in delicate synchronicity

I feel like that should be the re-titling of my blog. My tracking nature (patterning) combined with desire, and connection to environment, results in noticing things that are slight but profound for my days. I feel like there is a golden thread going through the hours, and paying attention is the way of holding on to it and making my way through the maze of life. ("Miracles rest on... our perceptions being made finer so that our eyes can see and our ears can hear what is about us always," is that Willa Cather quote, which keeps coming to mind.)

This morning I went to Catholic mass. On the way, the Good Year sign at a tire center stood out to me. "Yeah, I want this to be a good year," I thought. It is already - the school year has begun and it's going surprisingly well.

I slipped in to mass and was delighted to find a saint at the helm. He is an elderly priest who was "on the fast track" to be a bishop as a young man, but chose to fight the system, and is about to retire as only a parish priest. He had all the bumbling humanity of people I've come to trust most deeply - he was full of God, and fully man. His sermon was practical, wise, simple, funny (he instructed us to exercise and take care of our bodies so we could better love those who need us, he reminded us to savor our connections to family and friends, he told the married people to be sure to take time for each other in the midst of giving). His singing was heartfelt, loud, and cracking. When he said "May this be a good year, a very good year," I knew I was in the right place.

They sang a song during communion, We Are One Body. I thought I want to be a ligament - holding different parts together. Holding my Christian and Buddhist and Atheist loved ones together, holding the branches of the western christian tree together in my specific body by communing at many liturgies. Our lines are not the deepest truth, they are leftover from when we had to be pack-minded and defensive to survive. We're not the same, but we're one.

present in her wholeness

Opened up Carl Jung's Memories, Dreams, and Reflections this morning to another woman & centering reference.

I had the feeling that the confidence and self-assurance of her manner were founded to a great extent upon her identity with her own wholeness - her private world made up of children, house, small livestock, and - last but not least - her not-unattractive physique. My hostess was plainly and unproblematically the embodiment of stability... The question did not seem to be whether or not her husband was there, but rather whether she was present in her wholeness, providing a geomagnetic center.

There is a lot to unpack here, or, this sums it up and gets to the core of being a woman. It's okay for - maybe there's no way to escape that - our identity comes from our relationships, our home, our work, and yes, our state of beauty (which has everything to do with grooming, health, and artistry, not necessarily our natural build and facial structure).

Jung was visiting Africa when he wrote this, and contrasting what he saw in this local woman with what he experienced in European women. It's interesting that he experienced her as not centered around her man (despite that she was one of two wives and had no "job outside the home") -- something most of us westernized women would agree is both healthy, and sometimes challenging to master. Or something we are at least pressured to do, from leftover traditional perspectives, fringe Christian influences, and romantic movies.

This is a good image for being yourself in partnership - the double-wedding-ring quilt. Man and woman as intersecting circles.

Monday, August 6, 2012

you are, too


from Anne Morrow Lindbergh: 

Women need solitude in order to find again the true essence of themselves: that firm strand which will be the indispensible center of a whole web of human relationships. She must find that inner stillness which Charles Morgan describes as "the stilling of the soul within the activities of the mind and body, so that it might be still, as the exis of a revolving wheel is still."

This beautiful image is to my mind the one that women could hold before their eyes. This is an end toward which we could strive - to be the still axis within the revolving wheel of relationships, obligations, and activities. Solitude alone is not the answer to this... The problem is how to feed the soul.

I leaned forward to brush my teeth last night after reading this and noticed my dress's circle pattern on my chest, a flower at the center. I remembered wearing it for the first time and laying down for a moment on the center of a circle made of bricks in a castle's tower in Spain. I remembered night swimming a month ago in a round pool with my sons, planting myself in the very middle, holding Gideon like a baby as Rilian swam around us saying, "The Royal Mom! The Royal Mom!" I thought about the roundness of breasts, nipples at their centers.

Ten minutes later I tried to take a wine glass away from Gideon to clean, and he said "Hold on, I'm trying to see if I can see all the way down the middle, through the center" and he pointed it at me. He laughed. "I can!"

The church has always been a great centering force for women... Here, finally and more deeply, woman was whole, not split into a thousand functions. She was able to give herself completely in that hour and be completely accepted. And in that giving and acceptance she was renewed; the springs were refilled.

I had a great conversation with our realtor on Friday (her name is Betsy Bass Miller and if you live in Nashville and need a realtor, she is GREAT) - she is a Methodist, the daughter and granddaughter of Methodist ministers, and "will always be Methodist," but she attends Catholic mass with her Catholic husband and takes communion. "It's Jesus' table," she said to me. "Not the church's. Not the bishop's. Jesus's."

"I want to go to church tomorrow," I thought last night, remembering our conversation, reading the words above in Gift from the Sea. "I want some communion. It's time." I went to look up the schedules of the Catholic church a few blocks from my house (whose bell has rung for me at two key moments when I needed it), and the Episcopal cathedral downtown where my mentor attends, and for kicks, the Greek Orthodox church five minutes south of here. I'm to the point now where I know that I belong anywhere, and that there is shit everywhere, and I can take or leave what I need to. The Catholics and Episcopalians won't mind me falling on grace, and I am still technically Eastern Orthodox on the books, so all those tribal-minded "insider/outsider" members have no grounds for booting me out.

Aha! The feast of the Transfiguration was going to be celebrated at 9:30 at Holy Trinity, perfect timing after I dropped Gideon off at school.

I took a seat this morning in the corner of a pew near the back. I didn't feel super emotional. I wasn't processing old feelings of hurt from spiritual or spousal abuse, though I was guardedly aware that the priest up front could very well be one of those Jedis with a red light saber. I held at bay mind-whisperings of fear, unworthiness, super-obedience, outsiderness.

I found myself scooting over to the other side of the pew to be closer to the center aisle, closer to the other people attending. The priest processed out with the incense shaker; I must have moved because I remembered that part of the service was coming. He censed all of us, symbolizing that we are all real icons of God.

Random thoughts about house plans filled my head, then some boredom, then I decided to sit down because I'm not a pharisee anymore and I don't care about proving to God or man that I can stand the whole freakin' time.

The priest came out once more to read the epistle and gospel selections. I began to squint because the sun was starting to pour through a window in the ceiling overhead. I looked around; I had moved myself right into the only square foot in the church to catch all that sunshine.

Words about light filled my ears from the gospel reading, the story of Jesus up on a mountain shining in supra-earthly glory. The sun grew even brighter. My body and face warmed up, and I heard them speak the words up front, "You are the Father's radiance." I could not stop what I can only describe as a shit-eating grin from taking over my face.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

sooner or later

I'm emotional. This happens during transitions. When I was little, going back to school or getting ready for a trip would bring out my melancholy - I'd start thinking about my parents getting older (when they were the age I am now), and I would feel sad.

My kids went back to school today; the oldest is in middle school and the youngest is in kindergarten. Most parents experiencing this age range are in their early 40s. Once again I feel outside, alone. I'm not, that is just a feeling, but if there's one thing the people I love have learned, it's to not try to force me to not let what I'm feeling just be for a little while.

I had bad dreams all night. Gideon was run over by a car, then I saw a photo of him as a baby, as if the car had run over him at both ages. Sometimes I think our hard decade combined with the family inheritance from his dad's side will affect him for life - he's so quiet, so sensitive. He keeps a lot inside, like me. I want him to be happy and whole, to thrive. I try to give anything I can, but it's a lot harder than it was when he was a baby and he could just sleep in my arms or nurse. I think my parents might feel this way about my grown siblings and I - how do you love a creature that is always growing up and away from you?

And then there is divorce, the divide that keeps on giving. It's strange splitting up your four kids so that the first day of school is easier, two at dad's and two at mom's. It's hard to fight the constant thought, "All of these problems wouldn't exist if we had gotten to be one of the lucky intact families."

Things will be better when our new family has formed. We're on our way towards that, but it's still the not-yet, and so I wait, and feel what needs to be felt.