“If you live in the dark a long time and the sun comes out, you do not cross into it whistling. There’s an initial uprush of relief at first, then—for me, anyway—a profound dislocation. My old assumptions about how the world works are buried, yet my new ones aren’t yet operational. There’s been a death of sorts, but without a few days in hell, no resurrection is possible.” ~Mary Karr (from Lit: A Memoir)
This is one of the most accurate and concise descriptions of the process I have been going through for the last many months. It has at times puzzled me (and I’m sure those around me) to see my life’s circumstances to become so much better in so many ways, and yet I have continued to struggle even after things were improving. This quote explains better than I ever could why I was unable to immediately respond to improved circumstances with an improvement in my attitude and emotional state.
“When viewed as a whole, the Soul Transformation Process is like a death and re-birth. Commitment to completing a cycle of this process results in being ‘born again.’ This process is meant to cleanse your soul of illusions and unhealthy attachments for the purpose of awakening you to greater realities and to the truth of who you are.” ~Michael Mirdad
Given that today is Easter, I’ve had the whole theme of death and resurrection on my mind today, pondering how in many ways it feels like I have undergone a death and resurrection process in the year since last Easter. Then I sat down to read You’re Not Going Crazy…You’re Just Waking Up! The Five Stages of Soul Transformation Process, by Michael Mirdad, this afternoon and encountered the quote above at the opening of the first chapter. Synchronicity!
“As smoking is to the lungs, so is resentment to the soul; even one puff is bad for you.” ~Elizabeth Gilbert
Much as I hate to admit, I hold grudges. In fact, I hold grudges a lot—much more often than I acknowledge even to myself. I have even been known to cling to my grudges at all costs.
I realized this yet again today while sitting in a meeting with someone who did something recently that deeply wounded me. I know that her lashing out at me was a symptom of frustration at things that go beyond the interaction that prompted it, but I am still hurt and angry that she spoke to me as she did. I also know that my feelings about this happening are overly sensitive because the interaction occurred in a setting that is extremely stressful for me anyway. And yet as I sat across the table from her today in a meeting, I recognized the weight of that grudge weighing on me. I want her to know that she hurt me, and I want her to acknowledge that the way she spoke to me that day was out of line. And I am still holding on to that anger waiting for her to do so. Logically, I know it’s a lost cause. We are not particularly close, so I doubt she really cares all that much if I was hurt or that I am angry. In all likelihood, she’s probably forgotten the interaction altogether. And yet, I’m still stewing in it. It’s making me miserable without having any impact whatsoever on her.
Rock Wren by Jarek Tuszynski
Hope is the thing with feathers
That perches in the soul,
And sings the tune without the words,
And never stops at all,
And sweetest in the gale is heard;
And sore must be the storm
That could abash the little bird
That kept so many warm.
I’ve heard it in the chilliest land
And on the strangest sea;
Yet, never, in extremity,
It asked a crumb of me.
“The important thing is this: to be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” ~Charles DuBois
As I’ve mentioned before, I don’t always find it easy to hope. It’s much too easy for those hopes to be crushed, so it seems safer not to allow myself to hope. In fact, I suspect most people who know me would say that I am a pessimist on account of this tendency, but it’s all an attempt at self-protection. Unfortunately for me, I tend toward optimism and hope in my subconscious even when I appear to be entirely pessimistic on the surface. The last 24 hours or so have provided plenty of proof of the insidious nature of hope even when I thought it dead.
“At Easter, I focus my attention on allowing that which no longer serves my spiritual, emotional, or physical well-being to die, and I release it from my life. Then my attention moves to the newness of “resurrection,” the re-birth to new life that empowers me and lifts my heart to ecstatic joy and hope for all the possibilities inherent in that empowerment.” –Linda, from Spirituality & Health eNewsletter (March 31, 2010)
Like the author of the blog post quoted above, I find myself increasingly ambivalent about the real “meaning” of Easter as I get older. I grew up in a conservative Christian family that believed that Easter was about the literal, physical resurrection of Jesus. However, despite the claim that this is the defining moment of Christianity, my family did not really have any strong traditions around the celebration of this holiday. We went to church, of course, but there was none of the focus of the more liturgical churches with Lent and Holy Week to prepare for the celebration of Easter. This lack of tradition, however, has left me without any clear way to celebrate the holiday, especially in the absence of the orthodox faith of my youth.