I’m having a tough time right now, like everyone else. Yeah, I have had to cancel plans- fun and exciting plans, miss out on work and career opportunities and readjust what I thought was a quiet life into an even quieter one. All of those things sting. There’s a familiarness to that sting in that I have experienced all of those things before for a variety of other reasons. What’s not so familiar though, is how incredibly inundated I’m feeling amid my solitude.
I know everyone’s heart is in the right place. We’re trying to keep the forward momentum we’re all so used to having. We’re trying to make sure that we’re there for each other all while not losing sight of who we are. The things that define us have all suddenly been exposed as the fragile and fleeting notions that they really are. If we’re not doers, leaders, creators and innovators, what are we? Nevermind the more solid labels we wear as friends, lovers, partners, children, and every title we have worked our lives to earn in every arena that we’ve found meaning in. All of these solid, reliable structures might be even more flimsy than we feared and it’s beautiful that we can lean on each other at this time.
But, for me, there is still this sense of overwhelm.
In his essay, Besieged, David Whyte says, "In a human life there is no escape from commitment: retreat to a desert island and the lonely islander will draw up a Robinson Crusoe list to make the place habitable or begin building a raft to escape". So, here we all are, awash in a sea of lonely islanders all going about the work of doing one of those two things. And, I can’t help but feeling confronted by my own desire to do those exact same things. Especially since I know that I am not particularly served best by doing either one.
Don’t get me wrong, I would love nothing more than to spend the day at the beach napping on a towel surrounded by strangers I will never talk to only to spend my night in a crowded theater with even more elusive somebodies to enjoy the theater tickets I have missed out on. But, my days are more than habitable and filled with beauty and adventure, whimsy and opportunities for adventure. Life is a treasure to behold.
Yet, in that, with grace and truth present, I am struggling as I am left to my own devices in a rapidly shifting world. I’m struggling by the amount of spiritual advice we’re sharing on every social media platform and as we innovate to interact with people even more. I’m struggling with free counsel and information on how to combat all of our new woes or the old ones that are exacerbated by our new normal. Add to that, the political climate, the social inequities and sytemic injustice that have risen to the surface and mix in everyone wanting to share their process and stay connected- and I’m just-struggling.
Why? What is it that I need?
I keep taking those questions into prayer and meditation. And honestly, what I need is less. I keep thinking that cannot possibly be right. Less what? Less interaction? Less community? Less advice, less guidance, less sharing? Less demand for me to cultivate those things and share them with the world? Probably. Yes. Less.
There is so much to be found in the quiet and the silence. So many things that only take root in the way that roots do, under the surface and hidden from the sunlight. There doesn’t have to be a dark night of the soul brewing in order to allow the shrouded enchantments of life into our experience. And, often times, those enchantments evade words, evade sharing, and are destined to elude the inadequacies of human expression. It’s so interesting to think of how much of our lives have always and will continue to come into fruition in this exact same way but we’ve never noticed because we’ve been too busy with the business of living to look around and notice.
Of course, I notice the irony in that I am doing the exact opposite of what I’m saying that I need just by composing these words. Rest assured though, I continue to feel myself pulled towards the silence and the refuge of undoing. I know that this process invites me to the experience of un-doing so many of the things I was doing out of habit, out of places in me that were unhealed or even just places where I wasn’t stopping to look around and be aware.
Mr. Whyte goes on to invite his readers to begin each day with a "NOT to-do list; a moment outside of the time bound world in which it can be re-ordered and re-prioritized". I know that, for me, at this time these are the callings; to undo, reorder, re-prioritize, relearn and rejoice in all that this opportunity heeds. I may be silent. I may emerge every now and then to keep sharing. I will most definitely find out new things about myself and life and hopefully remember some awe-inspiring things that I have forgotten. I'm accepting the invitation to bear witness to the goings on of my life and my soul where all the real action is taking place- under the surface. And, I look forward to meeting with you all on the other side of this to share connection in our stories of this underworld.
Please do continue to reach out for support or prayer knowing that I am happy to do those things with great joy. e.e. cummings words of love and connection are always echoing for me as I think of my connections and support in life; "i carry your heart with me (i carry it in my heart)."
My poetry loving soul has to end with a couple more quotes:
"I’m restless. Things are calling me away. My hair is being pulled by the stars again."
"I need to be silent for a while, worlds are forming in my heart."
Much love to you all,
In August, I had the pleasure of speaking about Sacred Sexuality at the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living and guest writing for their blog. Here are the thoughts I shared on Sacred Relationship:
It was so much fun to join Senior Minister, Rev. Amani Malaika in August at the Albuquerque Center for Spiritual Living to speak about Sacred Relationships. The acts of loving and the experience of being loved are at the core of life for every human. Love is both foundational and transformational, always leading us toward a deeper experience of the world around us. So often, the ideas of romantic love, sexual fulfillment and self-care are disregarded by society as selfish, flippant and expendable parts of life, especially if we truly want to effect the world around us. But, how will we ever effectively love and care for something larger than ourselves if we neglect all the small opportunities that we are given to be present to love all the time?
It may feel a bit daunting to remember that there is something bigger than ourselves that loves us unconditionally; in fact it loved so deeply that it brought us into being. Think about that for a second. Have you ever loved yourself, loved life, so much that your strongest desire was to create more love, more life? The Universe literally loved life so much that it exploded all of THIS- our entire existence, into creation! Is it any wonder that we have come here to do the same thing? This love is not only the truth of who we are, it’s what we’re made of and it’s also the gift that we have to give back to Life itself.
In the realm of spirituality, the idea of deep and meaningful connection is most focused on our individual relationships with our Higher Power. We enter into our spiritual practice; prayer, mindfulness, meditation, and the like, in order to honor the Divine that is within ourselves and surrender into the Good that is present and available to us at all times. The thing is, just as I know that the Divine is present in me, I also know that it is present in you and in everyone I meet. So, it serves us to remember that every connection we make with another, is a connection with the Divine as well.
Every sweet smile, warm hug, and act of care that we bring to the experience of life is an invitation to love; to experience it, be the presence of it and share it with another. And it’s not enough to be present to it, it’s also ours to honor it. It’s ours to add value and give respect to all the ways in which we embody and share love. It looks different for every one of us. The ways we choose to express love, to feel connected, and the people we love are plentiful, diverse and beautiful. In fact, that’s why the focus of my ministry is relationship diversity. Knowing that there is no place where God is not present, I want to be ever-present to all of the ways Spirit is loving life through human desires and the experience of our highest and best good as we honor them.
We honor the experience of loving by first being willing to love ourselves, to honor our truth and the authentic expression of the Divine that we have come here to be. That truth is beautiful. It’s also clumsy, messy, confusing, sexual and fun (just to list a few adjectives). All of the ways that we allow ourselves the room to just be this truth, we allow it to be loved, first by ourselves and then by others. And when we honor ourselves in such a deep way, we cannot help but to love others in the same fashion. There is no separation between my truth and yours, they just look different- and that’s what keeps things interesting.
“Love is the conversation between possible, searing disappointment and a profoundly imagined sense of arrival and fulfillment; how we shape that conversation is the touchstone of our ability to love in the real inhabited world.” ― David Whyte
During Sunday Service on Aug 3., Rev. Amani reminded us of the joy and excitement that is present in “new love”, kind of like the new car smell or the way that a day feels after freshly fallen rain! It’s easy to let go into that experience of love. The sweetness that is present in “new love” is like clever packaging on one of those large pieces of furniture that take hours to assemble though. Loving takes effort, communication and understanding. It takes a willingness to add new tools to our toolbox if we don’t have them. It takes self-awareness and self-love to make sure that we’re maintaining our health and strength. Most of all, it takes the desire within us to create something new, something part of us that is not us and the courage to follow through even when we don’t know what the finished product is going to look like.
Love is always ignited in us by some “spark”; an initial attraction to another, an idea, a deep longing. This spark invites us to connection and how we choose to deepen in that connection is how we cultivate experiences and lives as the presence of that love. Necessity may be the mother of all invention but love is what created the need and gave someone the wanting and the wherewithal to do something about it. Ernest Holmes said, “Love points the way and Law makes the way possible”. We are powerful, creative and innovative beings all in the service of Love.
Our instincts, desires and Divine Inner Knowing are all the presence of God within us. Our bodies, hearts and minds are not arbitrary parts of our existence secondary to our soul. This holy essence is housed by the very thing that we are; human. Humans are multi- faceted, multi-dimensional and hardly simple beings. These aspirational concepts that come from our hunger and lust for fulfillment, when met with unconditional love propel us into demonstration and creation. We love life so much that we wake up each day to experience it. And the only way to do that is through these bodies and these bodies think, feel, crave and create. When we create from these appetites without stopping to fear them or judge them, we are creating with love.
These creations show up as love songs and poetry. They are monuments and statues. They’re children, companies, and nations. They are our sexual fulfillment and our relationships. Take a look around. Everything that humanity has brought into being, we brought here because someone loved Life so much that they surrendered to it. Every joy, every heartbreak, every risk ever taken was propelled by love. Every connection we make with another life, from casual hellos to a lifetime of commitment. Every part of nature that we witness, every animal we care for, every bit of information that we take in. All of this was created, recognized and felt because of the presence of love.
“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” ― Rumi
It’s easy to get lost or feel removed from the presence of love as we occupy ourselves with the experience of life. We have busy lives and complex emotional landscapes. We have belief systems, cultural norms, societies ,and all of the parts of those structures that often times serve more to distance us from love than to help us connect with it. But we are never absent from its existence. How could we be? We were born of it and were created to cultivate lives from it. We serve as reminders of this love to one another as we grow, transform and build together. There is always a call from the Divine waiting for us to answer in the form of family, friendship, romance or intimacy. It’s simply ours to be present with as often as we can muster with open hearts and minds.
Love is surprising and perplexing. We often find ourselves looking at something or someone that appears to be outside of ourselves or separate from us in some way wondering “what the heck is this”? What the heck is this deep desire that I never acknowledged, let alone ever thought I would give voice to? Who is this person that I never thought could exist? How has someone I thought I knew so well now a new version of themselves? What is this dream, this fantasy, this road I’m now on? But, love is also the answer to these questions. It’s that thing again, the one that is bigger than us and a part of us whose sacred orgasm propelled us into existence. It’s Spirit, it’s Truth, it’s God and we’re never without it. So, accept it’s invitation, reach for the hand that is outstretched and don’t forget to shout out loud or utter with lovers breath, Oh God, Yes!
Here’s a closing poem for you Lovelies by Mary Oliver.
I KNOW SOMEONE
I know someone who kisses the way
a flower opens, but more rapidly.
Flowers are sweet. They have
short, beatific lives. They offer
much pleasure. There is
nothing in the world that can be said
Sad, isn’t it, that all they can kiss
is the air.
Yes, yes! We are the lucky ones.
Originally posted on my personal Facebook page, I shared these words as I reflected back on Dia de los Muertos this year. For the past 5 years, I had facilitated a workshop in spiritual community for people to remember and share stories of loved ones who had passed away and create mini ofrendas in their honor. These ofrendas were then displayed on a large community altar where the entire community was invited to light candles of remembrance as well. This spiritual practice has been deeply close to my heart every year as I have been fortunate enough to bear witness to the love we share with others in life and in death. The experience of a large altar that takes on a life of its own from conception to a robust creation that then dwindles and withers away always feels to be a a beautiful and poetic metaphor for life's journey. This year, I have taken to nature and the surrounding Fall atmosphere to be held and reminded of the grace in Life's seasons.
This is my original post:
Dia de Los Muertos is my day. It’s not even just a day for me it’s a season. Some years it has felt like that season has lasted for the whole year. Not because my life was surrounded by death or because I spent a lot of time grieving. Just the opposite. Day of the Dead is a time to honor and celebrate life. It’s a day that is set aside to honor our ancestors and the loved ones we have been blessed to share time in this world with. It’s filled with joy and celebration for all that we were able to experience with someone and invites us to set aside the time to remember the dead for all that they were (and maybe were not) to us in life. This time of remembrance is a gift to the living from all of life that has come before us and this profound transformation is echoed to us throughout the Fall season.
This Autumn for me, has been unlike any other that I can recall experiencing before. My Life feels as if it is filled with quiet transformation and subtle letting go into Life with a somber beauty very unlike my usual Dia de los Muertos season. Just days after we would have celebrated Barkley’s Gotcha Day, I am being called to honor his life without his physical presence here. To acknowledge his loss and all that has seemed to follow in its wake. His aging furry companion, Jada who has been lost without him for months, the void left behind by hugs and I kisses I would inevitably have had to steal from him, the trips we would have planned to the mountains just to see him light up and pretty much everything about how two human adults and four furry kids functioned as a family has taken on a different hue since he passed. This loss has been profound for me and just part of this years’ time of transformation.
I have spent a lot of time in silence over the last few months. Crying. Praying. Meditating. Listening for answers and larger questions. And, quite frankly, getting out of my own damn way! I have found love in new and unexpected ways which I attribute completely to the fact that I was able to get out of my way if only for a fleeting moment in time. I have experienced connection, community and relationship in ways I never would have imagined. I have gained so much and lost so many things in life that for one reason or another I never imagined would be gone. Not just physical things, but ideas and beliefs; heartaches that I didn’t even remember I had. Losses that I am grateful for in addition to the ones that have broken my heart. Now, I have landed in the middle of my favorite season feeling called to be with it in a whole new way.
I have been walking through the Bosque and along the river in Ruidoso listening to nature as it gently allows for things to end so that it may go about the business of creating next year’s beauty. I am trying to allow myself that same level of patience and room to grow, knowing that life’s next season is not as far away as it may feel at any given moment. I’m remembering that in this moment all of Life’s gifts are right here waiting for me and I am being summoned to open myself up to them only in the best way I am able. Transformation is never instant and this year’s celebration of Dia de los Muertos for me is one of quiet gratitude for all that I have been blessed to hold in Life up until now and all that I have let go of. My heart is open for the beauty that awaits without ever having to be rushed. Feliz dia de los Muertos dear ones.
Public speaking is a spiritual practice for me. I started that practice in the only way I could have really. If someone would have told me I was going to be good at it or that I should do it, I never would have believed it. But, it was presented as just the next logical step. If this who you want to be when you grow up, get up on the stage, talk, share, pray, just do it.
I was terrible. I was frightened. I stumbled all over myself for what felt like day after day for months. That was almost two years ago. I’m still not an expert, but I do it. It’s mine to do.
I don’t rehearse. I don’t even write most of what I say in advance. I get up there, get present with the energy in the room and myself, and I speak. I don’t write. I fight with it. I’m frightened of it. And, it’s the next logical step. Not because I love it, or enjoy it, but it’s mine to do. So I’m trying to do it.
I wrote this a few weeks ago in an attempt to describe what the experience is like for me:
My fingers hesitate over the keyboard anytime I start to write with my own words.
Like somehow I am entering into an unbreakable commitment to Life and the world. Or even scarier still a commitment to myself. The fact is, that I don't want to make a commitment. I like the feel of words rising from my belly, pulsing through my chest and dancing out into the world across my tongue and lips. As those words swirl out into the atmosphere and dissipate with the weight of them still hanging in the air, that's when I feel like I am truly expressing. Not when my fingers hit the keys, or when the printer spits them back at me or even worse when my pen is pressed to paper. But, when life and love find each other in every fiber of my being and their tangled embrace becomes so dynamic that they have no choice but burst into life from that gaping chasm at the center of my being that I call a soul. From that part of myself that is excited and exhausted at the same time. That is old a born anew every time that I remember that I really am brave enough to let Life in and pour the contents of my constantly broken heart out into the world.
But, I can't put that down on paper or post it on the internet. It would look like spilled paint on the sidewalk as it lay there for decades while people walk by and wonder what sort of catastrophe had to happen in order to cause that mess. Until they stop wondering and just walk by without noticing it anymore. Then, someone's insides (my insides) on the ground are just something people walk past on the way to where they really want to go.
I don’t know. Maybe somewhere in my mind I’m afraid that’s all words are when they are written down- a mess. More plausibly though, as my relationship to spoken words flourishes, I recognize the power of words and continue to shy away from what an answered prayer to “level-up” means for putting my words onto paper or screen as it were. But I’ll keep doing it, it’s mine to do.
At the beginning of a new year so many of us focus on changing things in our lives that society or convention tells us we should be doing a certain way. We think that life would be so much better if we just follow a road map that tells us how much we should weigh, what food is best to eat, what kind of clothes are fashionable, and which habits are favorable and unfavorable. So, we resolve to change ourselves to fit into a mold and we never stop to consult our own inner wisdom. The one authority that truly knows what is best for each one of us as we strive to live authentically and in harmony with all of Life.
For the last several months I have felt myself being propelled by my willingness to experience life in authenticity and with a new understanding of fulfillment. I felt like I kept stalling out. Taking a few steps only to end up standing still and often feeling frustrated because I know something is waiting for me but I can’t seem to get there. So, I decided to take my own advice and recognize that all those blessings I want; all the Good that I am seeking is already here in this moment waiting for me to receive it. Limitless possibility and endless opportunity are present in my life.
Here is my advice:
1. Get rid of things that no longer serve you.
Not just things. Yes, clear out the clutter. Stop holding onto things for ‘someday’. And for heaven’s sake, stop waiting to use things only on special occasions!
But, this little plan means much bigger things when we are willing to recognize ALL of the places where life just isn’t working right. Why isn’t it working? Often times, if we recognize where we are holding onto old beliefs and habits that just don’t fit the person we are right now we can let them go to focus on becoming the person we are meant to be.
Yes, this is often a painful process. Maybe we don’t want to donate our old prom dresses and bridesmaid gowns. It’s difficult to admit to ourselves and others that relationships are not working and in need of new healthier boundaries. But wounds heal and scars fade and the only way that those things happen is because we are willing to move on from the pain. Let it go. You are serving no one by clinging on to things that keep you small.
2. Get out of your own way.
All of those clichés about being our own toughest critic or harshest judge and worst patient are pretty much true. Other people are usually too involved in their own stuff to care about our stuff as much as we think they do. And if they are overly involved in our business- it’s just a way of distracting themselves from their own. Believe that!
But I digress-the point is that we are judging ourselves most harshly and our experience of life is a direct reflection of all those things we think we do and do not deserve. So, stop it. The only place that gets us is stuck exactly where we are. By telling ourselves that we are unhappy, unlovable, unworthy or undeserving of life’s blessings in any way we are perpetuating and putting energy into beliefs that are just untrue.
The truth is that every one of us is blessed and the best way to fully experience our blessings to be willing to recognize them. Every moment that we spend focusing on what we don’t have or worrying about the outcome is a moment we are not realizing the things that we do have. Sometimes it’s coffee with a friend or an unseasonably warm day in December walking in the park. It’s the love and laughter and abundance and riches that we are in the thick of and when we stop blocking all of those marvelous things with our regrets and insecurities, more and more experiences like that show up in our existence.
So, that’s it. I’m following my advice. My mantra continues to be Limitless Possibility, Endless Opportunity and I’m enjoying all the little things that are showing up in places I didn’t think to look. I hope you’ll take some time to let your gifts find you too.