year end reflection

            sitting by my backyard pond one day last week, i sprinkled some flakes of food across the surface of the water and watched curiously as the fish rose hungrily toward my charity. they appeared to me to be much slimmer than they were last autumn, when they could take or leave my offerings, now perhaps starving in some way from their long hibernation of sorts in the depths of the pond beneath the inhospitable ice of winter.

            i recall taking that same dive. purposefully, mercifully, i too descended beneath a winter season that felt emotionally hard and oppressive, unsafe in some way, entrusting my spirit to the One who beckoned me to come, to sink, to settle into the harboring arms of Love that awaited in those calm, quiet, unseen and unknowable depths, while the rest of ‘me’ continued to deal with surviving life on the numbing surface.

            oh, i came out from time to time. like the groundhog, i peeked my head out, only to take notice of my shadow and go scurrying back beneath where i wouldn’t have to risk exposure, lack of food, and potential predators spotting me so easily on the vast sheet of white…. that is this blank page.

            enough metaphors.

            still, as i read back through my journal entries, my letters, and my poetry this year, i notice that the year began with a dream about a man, recently released from prison, starving in my arms, and me not wanting to bring him into the presence of the judging-community at the doctor’s office in order to be healed. funny that i notice the fish in my pond in the same condition….wasting away. it has been a year….i will not place an adjective in that sentence. it just was.

            this year i have often experienced a great distance from god in my awareness…and yet i am held/have been held like the leaf dangling from the invisible thread that i found on my walk at the opening retreat. that same evening the words, ‘mending the net’, had jumped out at me and i wondered whether it was me who must catch God, or God who would catch me… regardless of my doing. 

            certainly, i seem to have tested that string theory! for here, in my journal from the very  same opening retreat, i notice yet another intentionality on my part…an almost resolute disconnection from the deeper part of myself, a disowning of my wisdom, in order that i would not be ‘exceptional’ and so be ‘acceptable’. this i hold in compassion now as a deep longing to simply ‘be’ human and to be loved for being just that, along with a deeper desire for community and communion.  still i am most struck by the way in which i purposefully made the decision to deny some part of myself in order to be more ‘acceptable’ somehow to the community, to silence self in some way so that i wouldn’t seem too different or unapproachable. fear of other-judgment, revealed in my dream of the opening retreat causes me to disconnect from myself…i fear being seen as too deep and then i fear being seen as too shallow, denying both my divine nature and my human nature…and in the midst of all of this fear, i drown.

             this ‘not special’ desire would come up again throughout the year, culminating in tears as a lay down to sleep one evening in January, following a retreat that i had led.

            what i have (re) learned through this (again) is that when i deny some part of myself in order to be more ‘real’, i disconnect from the Real. i also notice how my feelings of disconnection from others leads me to disconnect from myself (as if the experience of disconnection is somehow a fault in me that i must despise)

            still there has been this concurrent call to wholeness, beginning with a retreat i took in November, in which i was overcome with the Oneness of Life, the Oneness of Love, the Oneness of God, and in which i deeply Knew and understood the Oneness of the sacred and the profane. and so, i must also now honor that my periods of disconnect, of apparent ‘profanity’ (or at the very least mundanity) , are also sacred. this indeed has been the essence of this call to wholeness, which has been oft repeated to me throughout this year. indeed, i heard it even in a dream, as i was given the name ‘emma’, which to my delight i discovered the next morning means ‘whole’.

            as i re-read my mid-year paper, i notice a similar theme, this request, from God perhaps, for me to embrace my humanity…to fall into my humanity… even as i fall into my divinity, into the depths of all of who i am. (and the two shall become one). i am both big and small. too often they feel like 2 separate selves. in fact, as i re-read some of the poetry and prose that came from my pen this winter, i wonder who that was who was writing those words, where i was when they were being written. and yet this too is/was me. certainly she/i was writing from the depths of the ocean in God,, below the surface of me, even as i was supposing that i was only ‘hiding’ inside, retreating from the pain.

            and so i suppose it is true, that which i have known for so very long, that the depths of my wound and the depths of my wisdom are One. … the sacred and the profane,  the marriage of god and woman in me. Christ.   there truly is no separation. and it is also true that to deny either one….my wisdom or my wound…is to deny the other. the Christ that i am reconciles and mediates these 2 me’s….my humanity and my divinity, my wisdom and my wound.  hopefully, i will not deny  this thrice…..and yet i suppose i have already done so seventy times seven.

            several things continue to inform me. one, my experience of mothering, which has taught me to trust in a Love bigger than me. and two, my sister julian, who reminds me that God never leaves God’s dwelling place deep within me. god’s words, written down by me sometime in the midst of January, echo this ‘i am at the bottom of your sea. drown in me’.  indeed, even when i seemingly disconnect from myself, God is there in that place where i have gone, healing me, holding me beneath my surface awareness. so i can never really leave myself, although i can look the other way.

            which makes me ponder yet another concurrent desire that keeps surfacing in one way or another in my writings—the desire to simply ‘be’,  without thinking so much. being conscious without being self-conscious, i suppose. and i continue to struggle with how that looks. how to simply ‘be’ without losing touch with who i am. said another way, how to live who i am,  without needing to give myself a ‘name’.  to let god be YHVH, mystery, unknown and unnamed by me. sometimes i fear the loss of writing, especially when i go for months without feeling the call to the word, for the ‘word’ is how i have come to know god, though i suspect this god wants to be incarnate now. just this week, in fact, i dreamt that i was returning home from an extended vacation in the mountains, and i was distraught that there was a pile of belongings in the center of the room that i had to leave behind. hmmm.

            which, ironically, makes me recall a writing that came from my pen when i was feeling in a very disconnected state. the words that i later read with surprise were these ‘something more powerful than me has moved into the room’. yes….. and i am struck now with the recall of an experience i recorded in November, when attending the wedding of an online directee, whom i realized had no idea who i was when i entered the narthex where he stood with his mother. what an extraordinary experience that was to observe, to see firsthand how it was not ‘me’ at all, but the Lover who worked through this vehicle that is me who touched the other. how exquisitely beautiful that realization was to me in that moment of invisibility when my ‘identity’ was no thing.

            beauty. i have known for some time that this is my deepest desire in life. and this comes up again frequently in my writings. beauty…that has often been perverted in my understanding, but which becomes purer as it passes through those fires….such that i have come to speak of life as ‘terribly beautiful’. again, the profane and the sacred are ONE, life is inherently broken and whole at the self same time.

            and i am back again to wholeness. surprisingly, last month, during a session with my spiritual direction, while exploring the intensity with which i was withdrawing and retreating, closing doors and saying no, pulling in, as i searched for the desire that lay beneath, the answer came. that word again. to be whole. intact. and so the closing of the doors, and the pulling inward was to gather all of myself back together in the self-same place again. to not be pulled apart…disintegrated. to reconnect with self.

            i had been judging that desire in me wrongly. this desire to be perhaps a virgin, whole, intact, unviolated. indeed, i had found myself recoiling from being touched. i recognized the feeling in my neck last month during our body focusing, the exact same feeling i sometimes awaken with at night, a stiffening that is a remembered recoil from unwanted touch.  i have to wonder if it was a not wanting to feel naked, vulnerable, exposed, unwanted touch in some emotional way.  and yet, i think perhaps i also stopped receiving the touch of love for myself, too. a touch of love that said i was ok the way i was, where i was, how i was needing to be. closed. safe. quiet. alone.

            this was the greatest disconnect of all….for i would not allow myself to be touched by God. and so the cave was only dark. the feeling of cold emptiness profound. the pain of that emptiness moving me toward old familiar numbing responses….. i was lost in it….seemingly dead…

            and so perfectly, the reconnection to self began with being touched. 2 weeks ago, along with the fish in my backyard pond, i felt the stirring of life again in my bones, spirit breathed again into my flesh. the thaw seemed to come all at once in the heat of my desire, in the heat of lovemaking. i was alive!….lover and beloved, giver and receiver of passion, weeping for and celebrating life. Communion. One Body. One soul. One breath we were. Communion. One Body. One soul. One breath am i. funny the way the wound is healed by the healing of that which wounded you…

            the remainder of the week, i pursued life in my garden, which was awakening as suddenly and profusely as had i by the greening power of love. my hands in the earth, connected to life, i suddenly found myself no longer so doggedly hungry…..

            this week i have noticed the continued awakening in me as i have continued to toil in my garden. i feel alive in a way i have not in a long time.  i know that touching the earth heals me….every time it heals me, and yet each time somehow i forget to return to the earth. yes, there is something whole-making there for me. there i am integrated. human being of the earth…divine creator. One.  Communion. One Body. One soul. One breath are we. there is the simple being in the presence that i long for, the being with the divine without thinking it. there is delight. there is beauty.

            this morning, i opened a recent issue of Presence, that had been gathering dust. (now there is a metaphor, if i ever heard one). i am also amazed at the way in which a book opens to just the right page. there before me was an article about integrating care for the earth with the spiritual exercises. hmm… i knew that.

            the birds are chirping their good mornings. it perhaps is time for me to put this paper to rest………i’ve not the energy to proofread. i’ll have to accept me as i come, disjointed and disconnected, wounded and wise, broken and whole….amen

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