Sunday, January 16, 2011

Integrated Self

My nature is open and trusting. As those of you who read my blog know, I don't filter much. Sure, there are some things that would be inappropriate to display for public viewing, particularly things concerning my family but when it comes to me and my thoughts, ideas, experiences and feelings, I'm pretty much an open book. I've always been this way. I've never been able to keep parts of myself hidden away from others. I had a job a couple of years ago which forced me to compartmentalize my feelings and doing so caused me to fall into a mild depression. This is who I am, warts, talents, goofiness and all and I've never been good at knowing how to disclose different parts of myself to different people.

Being open caused me no end of pain when I was a child and young teen. Land sakes, I can't remember the number of times I was hurt after telling a friend or group of friends something about myself only to have it turned around and used against me in the way schoolchildren often do. All those unspoken rules of girls, I was completely oblivious to. I learned slowly, painful lesson after painful lesson, to keep myself back, to not reveal my true self: sometime to dissemble or even lie. Doing so was not natural to me but like an albino squirrel, I needed camouflage if I was going to survive in the world.

My relationships with girls and women for years were heavily informed by this need to mistrust their intentions and keep myself protected and safe. On the other hand, my relationships with boys/men seemed safer. To begin with, most boys do not learn the same social dynamics girls do as children so do not gather information about others which they can then use as a tool. Also, I felt much more powerful in my relationships with men. I was attractive and flirtatious, feminine in a very not-normal way and was a minor music nerd so could hold my own in conversations in a way few other women could (or wanted to) do. I held sexual power in my relationships with men. I didn't use that power to hurt anyone or to manipulate or deceive but using it at all was certainly not honest nor straight. Milan Kundera, in The Unbearable Lightness of Being said, "Flirting is a promise of sexual intercourse without a guarantee". I used to make promises all over the place but rarely ever fulfilled them. I wanted to know that I could have the interest of any man I found interesting and found it fun to stimulate that interest.

That is, until I committed to being with Hammy. All of a sudden, flirting didn't seem ok. When Hammy and I became monogamously tied, flirting felt disloyal and wrong. Shortly thereafter I become a mother which changed my perspective about pretty much everything.

When I became a mother I automatically entered an exclusive club with other women. And the fact of having chosen a homebirth made the club even more exclusive. I found myself having a great deal in common with other women; women who were sincere in their approaches to life and impassioned by their choices. I found myself accepted and approved of by these women.

I'd been a spiritual seeker through much of my young adult life and wended my way to Friends meeting and so to discovering an awareness of Spirit, and to a slow rediscovery of my
Original Face. What I found in myself was my own true self. I re-learned to be my own self in all my relationships and interactions with others. I slowly identified that I sometimes acted in ways which did not seem fully true in my dealings with different people and so learned to let go of the expectations and desired outcomes for those interactions. I allowed God to lead me so my life became integrated and my interactions with others became undergirded by Christ-informed integrity. I try to be aware that my first relationship is with God and so I should reflect that in all my other relationships.

I'm visiting this concept because my life is changing and I-in-relation-to-others am changing. I will no longer be a woman who is part of a committed romantic partnership but will be a woman who is independent and romantically unattached. At this point, I feel quite liberated to be able to put my energies into my friendships and my relationships with my children, family and existing communities, to my physical well-being and of course, to my awareness of God in my life through prayer, writing, music, nature. I will be discovering many new ways of being in the world as I allow my new life to unfold. I think it could be easy to fall back into the comfort of feeling empowered by the attention I used to be able to generate when I flirted with smart, funny nerdy men. Flirting, right now, would not be honest or true though, and certainly not a positive reflection of God.

If I paint the lashes dark
And the eyes more bright
And your lips more scarlet
Ask if it'll all be right
And it's mirror after mirror
No vanities displayed
You're just looking for the face you had
Before the world was made
-Van Morrison "Before the World Was Made"

Saturday, January 8, 2011

How I Know God

How do I know God is real? All I am able to do is share my experience with you. Being aware of God is, for me, like falling inward into Oneness with everything. When I am aware of God, I feel the boundary between me and the world less acutely so the my edges are softened and I sense God as Energy innervating everything. When I am aware of God, I become aware of how I reflect God, of how I embody Christ's love for us. I have had the experience of God as a physical sense, once as a voice, occasionally as a physical sensation but mostly I experience God as the Divine Love that is the foundation of everything.

When I am living in accord with God's will for me there is flow. Van Morrison, in the song Astral Weeks, sings:

If I ventured in the slipstream,
Between the viaducts of your dream,

Where immobile steel rims crack,
And the ditch in the back roads stop.
Could you find me?
Would you kiss-a my eyes?
To lay me down
In silence easy
To be born again
To be born again

The slipstream. When I am living God's will for me, I am living in the slipstream. Christ is there and Energy flows and I find harmony in my life.

When I am living in God, the sum is much greater than the individual parts. Connections happen that create joy and sometimes trepidation. I am not talking coincidence. When I have been faithful to God and aware, there is a rightness. God puts me in the places I am meant to be, meeting the people I am supposed to meet so I can do the work I have been prepared to do. It's easy for me to get caught up in the rightness of these encounters and get all ego-puffy which, of course, misses entirely the whole flow which causes me, like Icarus, like Lucifer, to fall (and the Chihuahua to run wild). Humility has never been my gift. But when I stay true to the Call, there is a sureness, a rightness that I am doing God's work, that I am reflecting Christ's love.

There have been a couple of times when I was being prepared to be Called. I've written about the agitation of this, the awareness of being between, unfinished, not fully formed. In a way, this time of liminality is the true test. Can I live in the unknown without finding my own way to fill the void? How do I allow the mystery, the unknown? What do I do to prepare? Do I turn to God? Do I seek guidance from seasoned friends? Do I allow myself to be formed? When I turn to God through prayer, writing, reading and seeking, I am allowing myself to be shaped and directed, even when I am clueless to the actual direction. In the midst of wandering, I may be gently, or not so gently, encouraged toward something--a door opens and I walk through . That something may seem incidental at first but over time takes on increasing importance until I see, sometimes in hindsight, that it was part of the plan for me, maybe even the purpose of the process. Everything else falls into good order and the agitation is replaced with a sense of rightness, sometimes of peace, sometimes of mission.

I am not experiencing the agitation right now or the Call to search and reach out and stretch. God is encouraging me to sink down, to deepen, to follow my roots and connect with the Foundation. I have never been called in this way but I am clear that I am to wait and rest and turn my fear of the unknown over to God. I don't believe that this means I am to be ir-responsible or un-prepared; on the contrary, I think the sinking and deepening and resting are the preparation. To what, I do not know.

Friday, January 7, 2011

A Field of Onions?

I'm a big fan of the idea of letting go of ego attachments and whatever comes between one's Original Face and God's will. When friends have had emotional crisis and loss in their lives, I've counseled them to view the experience from the perspective of opportunity to listen for the Still, Small Voice Within to find what is True for them. Especially in times of transition and crisis, it is natural to want to rely on what is comfortable and comforting and so we sometimes will revert to actions and behaviors that once worked to help us maintain equilibrium but sometimes the transition is so great that we are forced to move beyond re-action into new ways of acting and being. I've always thought one should welcome the opportunity to basically start afresh. I've likened it to peeling the ego layers of the onion.

I am the one being stripped of much of what I've taken for granted for the past couple of decades. I don't find myself reverting to past ways of acting but I do have a powerful urge to escape in some way; these are some fleeting impulses I've had: Red, red wine, Hop on the Bus, Gus, or a nice padded room somewhere with or without a dose of lobotomy. Thankfully, I don't care much for alcohol, love my kids too much to abandon them and, well, I will no longer have health insurance and padded rooms don't pay for themselves. I'm death to plants so this metaphor seems a bit of a stretch for me but I know what I need is to think of myself as a field which has been plowed and is sitting fallow, gathering energy by being still. I'd been thinking of layers of onion/ego metaphor but to take it to a logical conclusion begs the question: Do I want to understand my Original Face as being the heart of an onion? Uh, no. I'll go with the idea of a field waiting for the Farmer (you know...God).