security blankets

yesterday, in a car trip to martinsburg, i was reading aloud from the book
by madeleine d’engle where she was talking about idols to which we cling.
she was likening it to the way a baby clings to a blanket when it is born
into the relative harshness (cold, pain, fear, chaos, disconnection,
isolation, need, violence) that is life, how it clings to the blanket even
as it shrinks until finally, usually when the child no longer needs it the
blanket is nothing but a shred.

on the way home we turned the radio on to npr and heard a story about the technology of predicting earthquake damage so as to provide help sooner. the variables put into the equations were severity of the quake itself, the population in the locations affected by the earthquake, and the vulnerability of those populations based upon the ability of their structures to withstand stress. coincidentally, on christmas day, while playing a truth or fiction type game i was asked whether a certain technical term for stress resistance (i can’t recall the term) was a psychological condition (it wasn’t, it was a term
measuring the ability of construction to withstand earthquakes).

suddenly, all of these ideas coelesced in my mind. my husband had asked whether people were basically fearful and insecure and that is why we needed to cling to our religions. i thought rather it is perhaps not an inherent
weakness in humanity, but that the world is indeed a frightening place….from the moment we are born into its foreign environment….filled
with earthquakes that measure not the inadequacy of humanity to bear them, but rather are indicative of the chaotic nature of life itself.

you know all of those psychological tests that measure a person’s likelihood to break based upon ‘stressors’. perhaps they are not so much measurements of a person’s weakness or inadequacy as they are unfortunate measurements of the ways we have had to learn to adapt and cope…defenses, ‘healthy’ and
otherwise. (i am reminded of the learnings of military psychiatrists who use their knowledge of the human psyche not to justify ending war but to devise
methods and quantifications to reduce the likelihood of stress…eg number
of continuous days in combat, not isolating the suffering from those they
have bonded with, etc)

anyway, in an instant i realized that perhaps all of our religious constructs (like the construction of buildings to withstand earthquakes) are merely that….constructions of reality that help us to cope with the stress that is life without breaking. and so i cling to my blanket of believing that all is of god, that all is beauty, that this god that i love so desparately is present within the whole of life…even that which i cannot understand, so that i can find a way to love it, because it is the only way that i can survive this thing called life intact.  and others cling to their own blankets of hope, or salvation, or building the kingdom of god, or that god needs us to give birth to love or keep love alive, or that life is illusion, or a test to get into heaven, or whatever it takes to cope.

and we each are convinced that our version reality is the true one. we must or our construction will crumble and we will be subject to the intensity of the earthquake. and so we cling to it and we cannot allow for a moment that the other’s version of reality is what also keeps them from coming undone or
else we begin to glimpse how flimsy is our own and we are left again
standing in the midst of chaos….

,,,and we assault them for merely surviving, for having constructed meaning,  when perhaps we should have compassion for them for finding a way to stay alive….

on dreams of babes and books

there is pain. there is joy. both are part of the beautiful seamless garment

that is life/that is Love/that is God. yes. my vulnerability opens me to the

terrible beauty of it all. somehow i know that without pain i do not know
love, i am not whole, and i am judging my experience rather than loving it,
loving the source of it. somehow closing to pain, restricts me, makes me
less than i am to be. and somehow i know that somehow yearning for a life
without it causes me to be dissatisfied, and closes me to love, keeps my
soul from growing. ‘to be human means to be vulnerable’. i seek to embrace
this journey of humanity.

i look at jesus own willingness to be open, vulnerable, to risk being known
and betrayed, to be intimate with others, to be intimate with life, to be
intimate with God, and i see the beauty of his soul.

i do mourn that my own mother was/is unable to be intimate with me, to be
vulnerable to love and to life, to receive my vulnerability. i mourn for her

sake….and yet even in my mourning i hope to stay out of judgment,
presuming that my way is somehow the right path. i trust that god is also
with and within her and her path, wholly, and i must love that. accept that,

see it as best i can without the cloud of judgment that my pain can create.
i hope to let go of my desire for her to be what i need her to be and love
her where she is…. if that means letting her go literally, so be it. it
may be the most loving thing that i can do. to let her die….to let the
image that i want her to be die. to release her. to release myself to honor
the gift that she has been to my journey here. how can i mourn for
myself…when i know my life is beauty? when i honor the journey my soul has

undertaken?

still there are so many infants struggling for life, for breath, so much
crying stifled, silent screaming, so much movement restricted, and i wonder
if there is not more wailing within me that needs to be unbound, some
unswaddling freedom to be, some releasing, some letting myself be
human….some compassion for self. perhaps my dream is telling me (in the
bathroom part) that i need to be unafraid to release these waste
products…even to do so in front of others where i might not look so
pretty…..that even the ugliness of release is acceptable, a necessary part

of my soul-tending, of my healing and growth. perhaps i need to stop
sterilizing it….

i wonder about the letters falling off of the library….my storehouse of
knowledge. i wonder what is crumbling there. what is to be gathered and
carried, what must be let go of in order to enter a true place of healing.

i did a little reading on the art of bonsai. thank you for sharing with me
that when you think of a bonsai tree you think of something ancient and full

of wisdom. of course, i have been drawn to things eastern for some
time….(i was gifted with a zen sand garden for christmas.) i am assuming
my subconscious knows i would seek out the meaning in this….this is what i

discovered. yes. i do see myself in this.

“Bonsai is centred on the principle of “heaven and earth in one container”.
Three forces come together in a good bonsai: truth, essence and beauty.
Bonsai are meant to evoke the essential spirit of the plant. The artform may

be derived from the practice of transporting medicinal plants in containers
by healers….
To simulate age and maturity in a bonsai, techniques called Jin and Shari
can be used. Jin is done by removing the bark in an area of a large branch
or the trunk, while Shari is the stripping off of an entire branch. These
techniques simulate scarring by nature and limbs being torn off. Care must
be taken when employing these techniques, because these areas are prone to
infection, and removal of too much bark will result in losing all growth
above that area. Also bark must never be removed in a complete ring around
the trunk as it will cut off all water and nutrient flow above that
ring……Contrary to popular belief, bonsai are not suited for indoor
culture, and if kept indoors will most likely die…..Some trees require
protection from the elements in winter and the techniques used will depend
on how well the tree is adapted to the climate. During overwintering,
temperate species are allowed to enter dormancy but care must be taken with
deciduous plants to prevent them from breaking dormancy too early’.

christmas is hard. today with my own children also in its own ways. so many
seeking love and affirmation, hoping for connection, yearning to know
themselves as valued and received. it is hard for one such as me to not feel

it all. to have compassion for it all. to not feel the pain and believe
myself to be responsible for it all. to not feel pulled and drawn in a
hundred directions by it all, to not try to fix it all…..

to let it be love.

i am weary this evening.

isn’t it funny

isn’t it funny

the way it is that

embracing wholeness begins with letting go

darkness unveils hidden light

and spaciousness enfolds

 

isn’t it funny

the way that swaddling becomes burial shroud

and unraveling discloses form

the ways we get entangled in the shreds

 

isn’t it funny

the way forgiveness leads to

freedom to love

when we think it is heading

to consent to harm

the way acceptance of the ugly

makes it beautiful

 

isn’t it funny

the ways i think i’ve figured it out

that turn out to be wrong

yet lead me back around again

to the way things are

  

swaddling clothes

i chase these dangling threads
certain
that if i don’t retrieve them all
and tie them back in place
it will come unraveled.
at times it seems as if this whirling wind
is ripping it to shreds
beneath my clutch
the edge is tattered, torn
but what i cannot see is that
the rent is opening
unbinding this too heavy cloak
that i no longer need
and weaving me a garment
made of light

christ child

oh Love
blessed, tender, vulnerable
creature that you are
embedded as you are within this fragile flesh
i feel your stirrings as you waken from your slumber
long before your cries do beckon me
the swelling in my breast
beseeches me to heed your call
to gather up your flailing limbs
to soothe your distress with a song
to draw you close
and let my liquid warmth
flow into your belly

oh Love
how tender is your need
how vital is my willingness
to feed it
yet when i gaze at you,
my own desire,
embedded in this fragile flesh,
does seem to rise of its own accord

it is as if
we’re One.

 

solstice song

my soul
as evening drapes
in folds of dusky lilac
o’er the grey
so do i into th’unfolding
welcome of your hush

as i fall into this silence
you open out your dark embrace
enfolding me
and blanketing my heart
until at last
i find that i can breathe

 i am humbled. i am humbled by this understanding that has come flooding
 over me with this recent breaking of the dam. could it be that by looking
 long, intently, willingly at her suffering and pain, i have at long last
 found the elusive face of christ. as god chooses to become human, to
 express god’s self in this physical creation that i am, that we are, does
 god somehow become intertwined so intimately with this flesh that we
 release and realize divinity itself only when we seek and heal the wounded, only when
 we embrace and reclaim the wounded one with whom god is so endeared and
 entwined? is it only then that resurrection and re-union can occur….this
 two becoming one, two separate selves, the outer shell and the inner
 wounded, the disconnected flesh and the hidden spirit?

 how is it that Spirit and the wound somehow become one, and so we walk for
 so many years disconnected from them both? is it that she (the wounded
 one) requires so much more love that the scales were tipped for all this
 time in her favor. rejoice oh highly favored daughter? is it there that
 love rushed in…literally….to bathe the wound with loving and thus to
 inseminate this christ child within me, this one who was growing deep
 within and unbeknownst by me? until the stirring of her pain, the pressing
 of her growing presence, forced me into the painful labor of my own birth?

 and this day as i look into this mirror, i cry out, oh god, oh god, have
 you always been there, in the face of this one so full of sorrow, in these
 eyes so filled with self-contempt. were you there, inside, beseeching me
 to look? for all this time i have been afraid to touch her pain, afraid to
 feel the enormity of her suffering, afraid to gaze upon the face of christ
 upon the cross in my own mirror, and so i could not find Love? all this
 while those sorrowful eyes have been your own, this suffering your pain.

 and in that moment standing face to face with you at last, in that moment
 of surrender, as i passed through the mirror into you, did we become one
 again…the lost me intact with the walking me, your Spirit conjoined with
 my flesh, no longer left behind within that mirror when i turned away. now
 i can carry her and god within me, consciously inside of me, is this the
 promise? is this what the monastic’s mean by carrying your cell with you?
 that what you find within, You in wholeness and completeness, is now
 capable of walking on this miracle of earth, gazing out upon the world
 with love, seeking beauty within the wounded christ that is trapped within
 the other. no longer needing to be seen, only to see.

 to love what is difficult to love leads to god every time, whether that
 difficult thing is within or without…it is always there that god is
 waiting, and it is there that we meet god, somehow both embracing the
 wound and wounded by it, waiting to be healed and to be released. it is
 there within the wound that god’s preference is to be, for it is there
 that love is most required in our absence, and it is there that love finds
 the greatest nurture for its growth.

 in gazing now upon the cross, even as i gaze into this mirror, i am not
 engaging in some self-abusive punishment for sin, but i am filled to
 overflowing with compassion rather than self-hatred, for i am gazing upon
 the struggle and suffering of humankind stamped upon my face, stamped upon
 the face of God, and oh how i am filled with love for her, for all that
 She has borne for me. for ALL that she has led me through, for her
 patience and her wisdom and her strength. i gaze upon a God who loves and
 wants to set me free and a God who yearns to be set free, as one. and i
 fall in love with God all over again

 oh god you willingly take on the mantle of humanity each and every day,
 and bear this suffering along with us because you are truly one with us.
 we never are alone. it is only in my separateness that i believed this,
 only when i believed that the one within the mirror wasn’t me, that i
 believed that God and me were not one, that i believed there ever was a
 separate me to be alone at all.

 and i fall in love with humanity….for in the face of all humanity now i
 see the christ, divine beings willing to become human, to partake of the
 painful nurture of this grand experiment of life, in order to grow Love.
 how brave a people we are on one hand, and yet how assured of love and
 connection we must truly be within the far reaches of our consciousness
 that we would not fear, how certain of our oneness with what Is that we
 would unquestioningly take this journey into life. it baffles me that we
 do not glow, that the distance in our consciousness can become so great
 that we forget that we are but creatures for a time, sent to bear the
 light.

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