I’ve spent the weekend reading theology books of various kinds. Some were academically oriented books that went right over my head. Others were written for the rest of us (without formal theological training) that I could understand.
Some of what I read I found myself agreeing with. Some made me uncomfortable because it stretched me in areas where I’d rather stay within in my comfort zone. Some (not much) I just flat-out disagreed with. And some I couldn’t even pretend to understand.
Our culture tends to idolize the macho, the tough, the strong, those that never share or display their wounded hearts. We instinctively hide our vulnerable parts in order to keep those tender and wounded places safe.
This is sometimes a necessity because there are many times and places where it would not be safe to let our vulnerability show. But when we find those moments of safety where we can risk letting down our guards and letting others in, our vulnerability often becomes a magnet to others who discover in us the freedom to expose their own vulnerability. Giving each other glimpses behind the masks that we so often wear allows us to see a bit of the true beauty that each human being holds.
I came across a post recently talking about icons as things that help us see through the everyday stuff of life to get a glimpse of the divine. The post ended with a question asking about what icons we have found in our own lives. I didn’t comment at the time because this isn’t a topic I had though about enough to answer easily, but the question has been on my mind ever since.
Today’s poem flows out of that pondering about the things that serve as icons for me in my life. There are so many things that stir my heart and soul and help me look beyond the ordinariness of life into the mystery beyond. The tragedy is how seldom I take the time to really notice.
“I’m one of those people who always got an A in school. I crossed my hands, did what I was told. These days I no longer want an A for doing what other people to tell me to do. I want an A for Adventure. I want an A for listening to my heart in this life, for daring to trust the marrow of my soul, for giving myself permission to experience my true powers, magic, and potential.” ~Tama J. Kieves
This was definitely me growing up. I was very, very good at the following the rules. I got lots of As in school. In fact, I couldn’t even begin to understand why people would not want to do what they were told! It seemed to me that life would flow so much more smoothly if everyone followed the rules and did what they were told.
Although I did go through my periods of rebellion in high school and at occasional other junctures of my life, I still had a very strong belief that I “should” be doing what I was told to do—even during those times that I was rebelling against those very same “shoulds.” This means, of course, that even my rebellion was really dictated by the “shoulds” since it was a reaction against it.
“Man must be arched and buttressed from within, else the temple wavers to the dust.” ~Marcus Aurelius Antoninus
The Washington National Cathedral is a dear place to my heart, so the pictures of the damage caused by Tuesday’s earthquake saddened me. The sight of the missing spire, the other spires that are off-center, the fallen stone works, the cracks left behind—all of these grieve me and concern me. The reports of cracks in the flying buttresses worry me further, especially given the approach of hurricane Irene in a few days.
However, as I look at the pictures of damage from towns that are near where my family lives (a short drive from the epicenter), I am grateful that such a large building constructed of stacked stone fared as well as it did. Architecturally, the credit for this stability comes from the arches and buttresses built into it.
“Coach Bob Proctor says, “If you know what to do to reach your goal, it’s not a big enough goal.” Big dreams don’t have easy paint by number action plans. Big dreams involve listening to the new frequency of your soul, not the repetitive guidance of ordinary advice. It’s uncomfortable not to know. But, remember, it can be so much more painful to be in a life where every square inch is known.” ~Tama J. Kieves
As I begin this process of setting up my own business and (gradually) becoming self-employed, I feel like I need to remind myself of this a hundred times a day. The part of me that craves safety and security is panicking at the idea that I am doing something this big without really knowing all the steps it’s going to take to get there.
“I would prefer a thousand mistakes in extravagance of love to any paralysis in wariness of fear.” ~Gerald C. May (from The Awakened Heart)
I have several areas of my life where I am struggling to make decisions about where to focus my energy and attention and my inability to make a clear decision about any of these is causing me a good deal of frustration and paralysis. One of the biggest areas where I’ve been struggling is in trying to decide exactly how to focus my efforts to develop a clear path to be able to make a living on my own by the time my current grant-funded job ends in 18 months.
A friend commented yesterday that she admired my courage in having left my job—and having done it without support. Although I’ve heard that before, it always surprises me because I don’t think of myself as a courageous person. In fact, I suspect that there are many people would see me more as a foolish coward who ran away from a bad situation rather than someone who dealt with the situation courageously.
So what is the truth? Did I run away from a bad situation like a foolish coward? Or did I display courage in removing myself from an unhealthy situation so I could move forward toward a healthier, more fulfilling future?
“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
“It’s important to grant ourselves permission to wander as part of our spiritual journey. So often mischaracterized as lostness, there’s a kind of immersion in the not knowing that is actually quite focused and necessary if we are going to excavate and identify our sacred purpose. So much information can come up when we’re looking in no particular direction. A sense of wander…” ~Jeff Brown
I was thinking yesterday of my spiritual and religious journey over the course of my lifetime and realized how aimless the journey would appear to anyone else. My wandering path through a wide range of Christendom supplemented by forays into various other religious and spiritual traditions looks more like a drunken stagger than a thought-out journey despite the fact that there are themes that are apparent even in the chaos of general trajectories that the path has followed.