Nothing ever goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” -Pema Chodron
I love painting pictures with my words. It starts when I’m trying to figure something out. I visualize what I’m thinking in an animated or metaphoric way that helps me make sense of it. So, what is my carpet bag of baggage?
It’s a rug big enough to fit all the stuff I’ve collect along the various journeys of my-life. It’s an ugly carpet, full of untruths, most of them having to do with my self-esteem. It’s all tied together with the black rope of fear. I’m so used to carrying it around that I don’t even feel how much it’s weighing me down most of the time. It’s in those moments when I’m paying attention to life that it falls off my shoulder. It’s a wonderful feeling as if I’ve sucked in some helium and I’m floating right above the ground. And I wonder why it can’t be like this all the time.
When the black rope of fear sees me happy it starts to untie itself around the carpet. Moving like a snake. Fear knows I’m afraid of snakes. It’s the way it gets my attention. As the carpet bag begins to slowly open all the dreadful demeaning voices jump around shouting me, me, me pick me. All it takes is for me to believe one demeaning thought of worthiness, and I’ll find myself standing upon the rug that fear uses, to pull the joy right out from under me.
But I’m seeing a little clearer now. They say, you have to see what needs changed, before you can change it. As the quote says about, “nothing goes away until it has taught us what we need to know.” I’m learning one thing for sure, that as big as fear looks, what lies on the other side of it is majestic.
Today I went back to place I lived in Philadelphia. I haven’t seen since the day I ran away in 1968. That’s 50 years ago. It was an institution in Philadelphia called Stenton Child Center. My younger sister and I were supposed to feel fortunate that we were in such a nice place. Most of the places the state provided for abandon children were pretty run down. There is no place on earth that could be better than being with your own family no matter how difficult things are at home.
I didn’t know how I would react when I actually saw it. As we began to approach I felt only a moment panic, that quickly turned to curiosity. I couldn’t believe how much it looked the same after all these years. The memories so fresh in my mind and stories yet to tell. I couldn’t go inside because it’s now a shelter for homeless families, but I was okay with that because I felt like the monster it represented in my mind for so many years no longer had a hold on me.
On my way home I wondered about how this applies to what I wrote about yesterday in relation to place of shifting I find myself. Of all the different places I’ve been, this was by far the worst ground I’d ever worked in my life. But it’s also yielded the most growth in my life. It was a time of planting, growing, and nurturing. It was full of many cultivating opportunities that could have yielded many weeds, but instead continues to teach and bear much fruit.
I am not only in the winter of the season, but nature teaches another lesson in my life, that I am in the winter of my shifting cultivation. A time to rest, re-evaluate, contemplate, let go and chill out on a icebergs going with the rivers flow.
There’s something happening in me, and what it is, I can’t exactly see.
Something has shifted, and I’m not even sure what that means. Trying to make some sense of it I look up the word shifting. I’ve been through different stages, and on many different journeys in life, but this shifting feels unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. Maybe I just never noticed it to this degree before.
Shifting means changing, especially unpredictably. That verifies the unpredictably change I’m experiencing, but I still don’t get what’s going on. I dig a little deeper into my research on the subject and I come across a diagram called “shifting cultivation.” No, that’s not what I’m looking for. I’m looking for something that has to do with the human psyche. But, the idea of the shifting cultivation keeps pulling me into it’s explanation, and that Aha, moment hits me. The simplicity of nature at work again giving the answer through her example.
Photo from Shifting Cultivation-SignWiki
I am the cultivator of my life. I understand that now. I’ve been feeling a need for change for quite a while. I knew it was time for letting go, but of what I wasn’t sure. I mean being on familiar ground seems like the safest place to stay at least until we know where we’re going. All that time trying to work the same way I’d always done wasn’t producing anything worth giving away. So, the shifting happened abruptly, and left me with a feeling of being lost. Now that I can see, what’s happening to me, a whole new horizon of possibilities comes into view. It takes time to work new grounds taking a small section at a time. If you’d like to follow along with me I’ll share what my cultivating grows.
“It matters not how straight the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate,
I am the captain of my soul.”
-William Ernest Henley, “Invictus”
And God is the compass that points the way.
It’s up to me
which way I sail,
Which way I go
Is where I’ll be.
Sometimes I feel
Alone at sea.
Inside of me.
I look for an answer
A narrow telescope.
There is nothing in sight
But a seagull
Why do I forget
Its easy to see.
It can’t get lost,
For its inside of me.
I am after all
Of my soul,
But it’s the compass
That shows me
Way to go.
“On Earth as It Is in Heaven”
I ask myself today how can I inspire in these troubling times. I wonder if anyone has hope enough to listen or faith enough to see. What is faith but the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen, at least that’s what it says in Hebrews 11:1. It was the faith of two blind men that opened their eyes to see. As they came before Jesus asking to be healed, he simple said to them, “Do you believe?’ “Yes Lord,” they replied. He touched their eyes and said, “According to your faith let it be done onto you.” And their eyes were opened. Matthew 9:27-30.
I think of myself as having a lot of faith. I am where I am today because of the hope and faith I held onto. Yet even when we’ve experienced miracles we can become complacent in our faith. I ask myself, do you have the faith of a mustard seed? That always boggled my mind. That all it takes is a tiny bit of faith to make good things happen in our life. Maybe it was the innocence of a child’s faith that allowed me to believe in what my mature adult self gets in the way of now. Maybe that’s the way we need to look at things…through the hopeful eyes of a child’s faith. Maybe then we can begin to experience all the good that God wants for us. Maybe then what is done on earth…will be as it is in heaven.
Sometimes life becomes as twisted as a vine. The tighter it wraps itself around one circumstance after the other it becomes hard to breath. Hard to understand. Hard to think. The desperation to reach and cling, and climb brings us to a standstill. In this place of resting we find the breath of life, and clarity begins to set in. We quench our thirst from a drop of the ocean, and we begin to see that we are a part of something much bigger then ourselves. We begin to feel the need for expression going deeper within where we feed on the nourishment we’ve collected along the way. In the process, we become a bud growing within instead of out. The need to express what we are becoming grows ever stronger until in the mist of all our twisted vines what we were created to be burst forth in all our beauty and glory.
We can become who we were created to be if we stop twisting ourselves up knots. If we stop fighting against ourselves and others. If we stop to listen to the voice…not calling in the wind…but the one that comes from within longing to be expressed through…you…and…me.
As I begin my day I light my spiced pumpkin candle. The light representing the presence of God. The smell awakening my senses and I give thanks for another day to experience what life has to teach and offer me. Then I open my little marble book that holds the names of people who are in need of prayer. I don’t ask God for what he already knows their needs to be. I simple see them as receiving whatever it is that God has to offer them on this day. Then I center myself through meditation and as I concentrate on my breath I can’t help feeling blessed to be alive yet one more day. One breath at a time and nothing else matters except the moment I find myself in. All else stems from this moment of thanks and praise. I breath in wellness and out happiness in and out filling myself with all that is good and right in the world. Remembering that with all that can go wrong there is so much more good to draw from.
May your day be blessed and filled with all your hearts desire.
“Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” -Gordon B. Hinckley
I got home yesterday from my week of writing in the Poconos. It was wonderful in every way. To top it off I got a lot writing and soul searching done. I think the best thing I came away with was a new understanding of the gift I have now because of the years of cultivating I’ve already done. What I’ve come to realize is that it hasn’t just been my inner child’s need to be validated for the part she played it in making our dream come true. It goes much deeper and beyond that. It’s been her driving forces to tell our story that has made me a better writer. This has given me the opportunity to do what I have a real passion for and that’s inspiring others with my words.
As I was talking with one of the many accomplished writers there, I began to wonder what I’m doing here. The old saboteur started showing its defeating face. I could feel myself getting sucked into the belief that I was an amateur and I always would be. Then this writer started telling me about how he likes to garden and sometimes he just has to go out in his garden and start doing some composting. As you begin to pull this and that out of yourself all the good and bad stuff gets thrown together. Then you let it sit for a while. When you’re ready you start to turn and mix it up, and eventually it becomes the fertilizer that feeds the story’s you sow.
As the quote says above, I’ve learned too that without a lot of hard work, nothing grows but weeds. I think I’ve managed to grow a few beautiful flowers along the way. Now all I have to do is keep pulling the weeds that get in the way.
I was sharing with a friend the other day how uninspired I’ve been feeling lately with my writing. These times of disarray, fear and anger going on in our country, and the world, feel awful familiar to me. It brings me back to the 60’s a time when my own life was turned upside down…let alone what was going in our country at the time. No wonder I can’t get inspired, the feeling paralyses me like it did back then when all I wanted to do was roll up into a ball and disappear. I remember my Dad telling that life is like a pendulum swinging back and forth between the good and the bad times. That every generation has its own painful experiences to go through and overcome.
I’ve always wanted to help others. To make people feel more hopeful, but sometimes even the flower girl runs out of flowers to offer, and she just needs to have one offered back to her so she can remember how good it feels to receive. So, as I pray for guidance I come across a fable in one of my daily readings, and I receive the flower that it has to offer me. Today I pass it onto you with a hopeful heart that you can find some peace in the midst of these stormy days.
*There was a king who offered a prize for the person who could paint the best picture of peace. There were two finalists. One drew a picture of peaceful mountains, fluffy clouds and a calm lake. The other drew a picture of an angry sky, lightning and a rushing waterfall. Behind the waterfall was a tiny bush growing from a crack in a rock, and there sat a mother bird in her nest in perfect calm. The king chose the second picture, because, as the anonymous author described, “Peace doesn’t mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble or hard work. It means to be in the midst of these things and still be calm in your heart.”
*Science of Mind Magazine daily reading Sunday August 20, 2017 by Rev. Ron Fox
I’m learning that people sometimes want to turn you into what they want you to be. Do you know anyone like that in your life? Maybe they don’t like the way you do things, so they tell you to stop doing that. I get that a lot. Maybe they don’t like the way you say things so they tell you to stop barking. I get that a lot too. Maybe be they don’t like the way you dress so they put their clothes on you.
Little people are especially good at playing this game. They like to pretend that I’m a little person too. So they put clothes on me. I wish I could say the word stop just so I could be me. I mean how would they like it if I put a tail on them to walk around with all day. I bet it would feel as cumbersome as it does for me to wear a dress.The dog God made me special just the way I am same as He made you as unique as you are.
Yes-sir-ere, that makes me a lucky dog indeed.