Archives for posts with tag: reality

Now we come to the setting of the sun

Image courtesy of Kathryn Farwell

There is something about Holy Week that has always ranged from mildly uncomfortable to extremely unsettling to me——and that is the direct result of wrestling with my own mind and soul. My instinct is to question how any father could allow his son to die such a painful death. Then I realize we–you, me, and others  are the ones that killed him and keep on killing him with our selfish and cruel actions over and over again. That realization is not pleasant either. I find myself wondering “why?” Sure, I know without death there would be no resurrection and without that miracle many would not accept Christ into their hearts. But couldn’t there have been an easier, more humane way of nurturing our faith?  God is patient, God is kind, God is love. God allows his only son to be crucified and to spend six hours in agony while he slowly dies. And, lastly, God allows his son to feel abandoned.

When I peel away my intellectual resistance to this whole Easter thing I realize it is the parts of me that suffered abuse in childhood and abandonment in adulthood that are really angry at God for letting it happen not only to Jesus but also to me. At the core, my strong reactions to anything, sadly enough,  seem to be “all about me.”

The good news is God is patient with me. He sent me some answers yesterday that I am going to try to share in a way that makes sense. First, I attended a presentation by a motivational speaker that I had not known was going to happen until less than an hour before his speech was given. Some of the answers God sent me were in that man’s story. He told us about being in a near-fatal accident when he was a first year college student and about what has happened to him because of that accident. One of the biggest messages he gave was that the most powerful gift you can give another is the gift of presence. He received emergency care that saved his life. He could not talk or see, had to breathe through a tube, was in traction, could barely move, and the only sensory message he was aware of was periodic intense pain. But the memory, the thing, that stood out to him through all those hours of agony was the hand that would intermittently squeeze his and he would squeeze back as a caring voice said, “I’m here.”

The second answer God sent me yesterday was during  a book study session following centering prayer.  One of the topics discussed was that suffering is a gateway to strengthening our spirituality. It is through being broken and wounded that we are connected to God’s presence. His presence is always there, only sometimes it takes something drastic to get our attention. Leonard Cohen’s  song “Anthem” was discussed in regards to the lyric about cracks letting the light in  meaning that it is through being wounded and/or suffering that cracks occur in our perception so the light of God’s spirit can enter into our awareness.

So, you may be asking, where are your answers in all this? Well, I think God was trying to tell me yesterday that yes the crucifixion was painful, yes it is painful to think about it, and, yes it may involve perceived, but short-lived, abandonment—–but you, Kathy, have to seriously consider this event in your soul at least once a year so you can realize God’s love and presence. You need this painful reality to sink in so you can let the light of his spirit to illuminate your soul. He seems to be telling me I should accept the pain of the crucifixion and move away from “why” to “what are am I going to do about this event. God seems to be reminding me that the alternative is to completely miss the gift/miracle inherent in this event by getting bogged down and stuck in my own insecurities, anger, and judgmental questioning.

I have spent an entire career suggesting people stop asking “why” when they contemplate their own addiction and instead, ask , “what can God and I together do about it?”  Yesterday, God directed me to ask that same question to myself in regards to Holy Week. I heard loud and clear yesterday to stop getting stuck in my judgmental head and start asking “What can God and I do together about this?” I  know now that God doesn’t want me to miss this gift and that he wants me to take this love and share it with others instead of questioning the gift. And the next time I want to cry because of Jesus’ pain and perceived abandonment I am going to replace that image with one of God squeezing Jesus’  hand and saying, “I’m here.” God bless and keep you.

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Opening Door

Image courtesy of Idea go/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

I have been sad the past couple of days because we had to close a twelve step women’s group due to lowering attendance and lack of women with long term recovery to lead the meetings.  Part of my mourning is fed by  my feeling guilty because I didn’t step up and try to rescue the group. Not that it is all about me, but I helped keep it afloat for years and had to stop due to health reasons. Now I want to jump in and try to “save” it, only I know I can’t over extend myself or I may be back in the hospital again. There are other groups, and recovery can be found in all of them—— it is just that this particular group was formed by women helping women and it lasted for longer than twenty years.  It was my lifeline when I first moved to this area.

As I get older, it seems to me that life is trying to teach me that a big part of life is letting go of things. I don’t think it ever gets easy, but perhaps I am supposed to learn that all things “pass away” except my soul, the souls of others, and God’s loving spirit. But I don’t know what my life would be without “attachments”—-and I don’t mean the kind  attached to a document. I mean the kind that are people, places, and things that are important in our lives. Right now I have a small white dog nestled close to each side of me as I type. I have a very strong and loving attachment with all four of my dogs, but I know we will not always be able to be together. I have buried both sets of grandparents, one parent, a step-son, and numerous friends, relatives, and pets. I know death is part of the cycle of life. Obviously, there is just part of me that does not want to accept that.

Oddly, I do not fear my own death. I have been surrounded by God’s love numerous time when I was close to dying. I always felt a calm, welcoming love at those times that left no room for anxiety.  At those times when all other reality is swept away, it is easy to realize what matters is our soul and being embraced by God’s love. But now, today, my dogs bring comfort. I depend on my friends and family. Their love and support keep me going—-just like the unconditional love of my dogs keeps me going. I am not saying that kind of dependence is wrong or bad. I am just saying I need to realize any or all of it can be gone in a  moment.

I’m beginning to think what is going on here is my life-long struggle of wanting to control and fighting the realization that I have no control. I have to accept that God is in control.  When I do, at those times of surrender, I find  a great deal of comfort to in realizing God has had control all along and will  have control for all eternity. I have learned that if I stop fighting God’s control I find  things turn out much better than they would have if I were still trying to control them. It is just a matter of exercising my “faith muscle.”  I have to believe my dogs, my family, my friends, and my world will be just fine without me and I will be just fine without them when time or circumstance parts us as long as we are all connected by God’s love—–a love which cannot be bound by time or place.   God bless and keep you.

pathway

Image courtesy of  chrisroll/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

I was in a book study session last night where the beliefs of scientists vs. religious folk were being compared. Naturally, a lot of stereotyping was involved.  Scientists were being labeled as atheists or agnostics and religious folk as Christian. The book we were studying talked about how Christians have assumed they have known the whole and absolute truth since it was revealed to them,  while scientists have remained open minded and capable of holding and testing hypotheses (educated guesses) until they are supported or not supported as “truth.” Somehow in our group discussion, scientists became the  “good guys” while it was implied close minded Christians were the “bad guys.”

Personally, I am not one to stand up for either group even though I am a card carrying group of both groups—-only I would like to clarify that my personal “brand” of Christianity is less close minded than most.  My addictions research has been scientific; my personal spiritual journey has been built on a Christian foundation. My criticism of scientists is that they can put blinders on as well as anyone else and their “hypotheses” only allow them to look in one specific direction; some have been known to fake research outcomes to “fit” their hypotheses. On the other hand, my criticism of Christianity is similar. One’s particular set of “religious sunglasses” is shaped by the way one has been taught to believe—–which also has the potential to close minds and hearts off to anyone who disagrees with one’s beliefs.

Therefore, the main difference between the two camps, as I see it, is that we all tend to be biased in one way or another. In science our bias stems from what we call our “hypotheses” while in Christianity it stems from what we call  our “faith.” Granted, scientists try to be objective about what they are viewing, but when something is not considered real unless it can be measured most of the magic of God’s creation is left out of the picture. The way I have dealt with this is to step quietly off both well-beaten paths onto an almost invisible path. This invisible path has led me into the uncharted territory of spirituality. This is the land where my heart, mind, and soul meet Creator, God, Higher Power—-that essence that has not only created me but is in all of creation, including you and me. Here is where I am safe, where I am loved, and where I can take off my sunglasses and let my spirit soar into the only reality that matters.

Don’t get the idea that my spirit soars off to live happily ever after and never comes back to deal with the reality at hand. To the contrary, I am nurtured and strengthened by my spiritual journey so that I can redirect my attention to the reality at hand . What I discover when I explore my “spiritual path” makes me more capable of sharing the love and wisdom I have encountered on my journey with those who share our common reality of the moment. Thus, hopefully, I am in my own small way helping spread the experience, strength, and joy I have encountered by taking the “spiritual detour” that has saved my life and sanity.

 

Potter Earth

Image courtesy of  dan/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Mud on the Floor

Today’s quote:

“The early Native Americans did not believe in an afterlife, at least not in the Christian sense of souls living eternally in heaven or hell. However, they did believe strongly in immortality. When we die, they believed, our souls leave our bodies and enter a spirit world where they freely communicate with the spirits of other living things that have died throughout the history of the universe, plants and animals included. The only way souls could enter this spirit world was to become part of the earth, the ultimate place of origin. In Listen to the Drum, Robert Blackwolf Jones writes: “We are all born from Mother Earth and return to Mother Earth. The next time you get mud on your carpet, therefore, don’t panic. You’re just looking at yourself in the mirror before your time.”

Shimer, Porter (2004-09-01). Healing Secrets of the Native Americans: Herbs, Remedies, and Practices That Restore the Body, Refresh the Mind, and Rebuild the Spirit (pp. 28-29). Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers. Kindle Edition.

Yes, that is mud on the potter’s hands in the photo. Perhaps it is all the mess my dogs have  tracked in  today every time they come back in from being out in all this snow, but today’s quote about mud being a reflection of ourselves really caught my eye.

Native American spiritual beliefs have always resonated with my soul. The above quote, however,  would have triggered a bit of anxiety in me were I to have read it in the past when I was younger and clinging desperately to the fundamental Christian beliefs I heard preached from the pulpit every Sunday.

During my spiritual journey of the past thirty years, I have come to believe in a “spiritual reality” which co-exists simultaneously as a parallel reality with physical reality. When I free my mind from the confines of physical reality by meditating, participating in centering prayer, or participating in a Native American sweat lodge, my mind directly connects with spiritual reality. I have learned that reality is always there;  I just need to be still, turn my “busy mind” off, and open up to an awareness of it. I am learning in centering prayer that the spirit of God is within me as well as surrounding me, and when I am able to focus my mind on consenting to that loving presence, I willingly enter God’s spiritual reality.

I believe all religions have their own way of knowing and seeking God—and of experiencing spiritual reality.  Somehow I find comfort in the humor of Blackwolf Jones; it is amusing to realize when I look at mud I am looking at a mirror-like reflection of myself from a different point on the continuum of time. The study of contemplative prayer is teaching me that God has no concept of time. God is “I am”…now, not yesterday, and not tomorrow, but eternally. I doubt God would have any trouble at all recognizing me in any form, be it mud or flesh and blood,  because I know it is my spirit that shares God’s eternity with him and not the package that houses my spirit.

Enough. You probably think by now being snowed in by the “winter storm of 2013” has gotten to my mind and caused all coherent thought to flee. Maybe it has. Leaving the confines of reality as I’ve known it so I can more consciously connect with God’s spiritual reality doesn’t scare me anymore. I have an eternal place in God’s spiritual reality—-one that is independent of the boundaries of time, space, and shape.

Please comment and share your thoughts about your experience of spiritual reality. Stay safe and warm. May God bless and keep you.