Category Archives: Questions

Where am I safe?

Whew… found this from 2008. How poignant in our election time, once again. A little angsty, so not quite where i am now, but a voice from the past (or from us all?) that deserves to be heard…

Longing, looking for that safe place
That Space where I don’t have to hide,
Where I can face Others
with honesty and presence

Real

Growing up… starting on this journey
Hoping to find it in the family
Inherent in the blood that runs between us
The first confusing messages

Doing the best we could…
But wounds and patterns of thinking run deep

I look to those of like mind
Ones who are supposed to be following Jesus…
or so they say. Safe? Real?
Aware of the pain that I so often Feel?

Thanks for the guilt and the easy answers
The judgment and the stones

Times I’ve been tempted to find it in the government
Those talking heads on the tube
Telling me everything is going to be better
That they can keep me safe within these walls.

The enemy is out there somewhere
As long as we have freedom… there is nothing to fear

If anything, my own home should be a refuge
From what’s happening out there.
Hole up, hide, duck back, close the shades.
They can’t get me here…

But I forget about myself.
Alone, I have to face myself… often far from safe.
Questions doubt fear uncertainty guilt unknown confusion
Get away…

To where?

And God, aren’t you supposed to be safe
Predictable and easy to please?
Aren’t good things supposed to come to those who wait?
Or to those who love you?

Apparently, you are not safe all the time either…

What now, then? Where is the safety? Why so elusive?

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Accidents

Accidents have this way of orienting (or re-orienting) our perspective in such significant ways. I had a bit of an accident yesterday… though, I suppose for someone with an older body, it would be considerably more than a bit. Walking down the old decaying fallen tree to the river for some early morning fishing, I found myself slipping off the frost covered log and crash, crash, crashing onto the lava rock below. I suppose crash is the right word, as I had my fishing pole in one hand and that along with the “Shit!” and “Dammit” coming from below the log were all anyone would have heard. At 6am on a 35 degree “summer” morning, however, there was no one in sight.

After saying a prayer of thanks, for no broken bones, I said to myself, “There is no way in Hell I am going back home… I suppose I should see if I can fish.” And what a beautiful, mystical time it was, with the mist coming off the river and the deer swimming and the water moving amongst the fallen logs and my fingers freezing and my body aching. Woodpeckers, robins, red-tailed hawks, black-headed grosbeak, ducks. I was part of it.

And today, I question myself. Wondering what I offer the world in my reading, writing, counseling, coffee-dates, fishing, and prayer. In my morning prayers, the man in my mind’s eye (perhaps myself to the world) says, “I am not YOU.” And it is true, I am not every other person with their 9 to 5, their mortgage, and their busy lives.

I know at some point our beautiful car, the first thing that we have bought as a family, was in an accident. Looking at it, it would be hard to believe, and some say I should watch out because it might not be safe. I get defensive and question myself and what I am doing and I wonder if it was such a good move. But my gut says, I am not YOU… and it got me to my fishing hole and it carried me home, bumped and bruised and scraped.

Accidents shift our perspective and we all have different ways of seeing them. Some of us pray our gratitude. Some of us yell, “Shit” and “Dammit” and other words the whole way. Some of us lose our trust or our faith and we try to bring others into our skepticism that there is little good to be found in tragic situations. Some of us go home, take some Tylenol and a beer and try not to feel. I suppose I have been all these people.

What do you do with your accidents? What is your accident story?

Listening to Heal

Wisdom from Rachel Naomi Remen, in Kitchen Table Wisdom:

“Everyone alive has suffered. It is the wisdom gained from our wounds and from our own experiences of suffering that makes us able to heal. Becoming expert has turned out to be less important than remembering and trusting the wholeness in my self and everyone else. Expertise cures, but wounded people can best be healed by other wounded people. Only other wounded people can understand what is needed, for the healing of suffering is compassion, not expertise.

“[In a Master’s class given by Dr. Carl Rogers, he shared,] “Before every session I take a moment to remember my humanity. There is no experience that this person has that I cannot share with him, no fear that I cannot understand, no suffering that I cannot care about, because I too am human. No matter how deep his wound, he does not need to be ashamed in front of me. I too am vulnerable. And because of this, I am enough. Whatever her story, she no longer needs to be alone with it. This is what will allow healing to begin.”

“Listening is the oldest and perhaps the most powerful tool of healing. It is often the quality of our listening and not the wisdom of our words that we are able to to effect the most profound changes in the people around us. When we listen, we offer with our attention an opportunity for wholeness. Our listening creates sanctuary for the homeless parts within the other person That which has been denied, unloved, devalued by themselves and by others. That which is hidden”

This is, in great part, why I am so drawn to spiritual direction and why I am so blessed to offer this gift to the community. I don’t claim to be an expert. But I do listen well, and I believe in the power of the divine to heal when we pay attention. We are all equals, all in process, all becoming. I trust this… do you? What is your experience of listening or being listened to that led to healing?

Playing Catch-Up

I was in class last week, and such a transformational time it was… however, returning home to family life, working, caretaking the land, cleaning the house, and still trying to maintain a semblance of my deep friendship with the divine has proven to be a whirlwind. My professor said something that struck me as I was in one of five days of 9 hours of learning…

Speaking of what she says to her husband… “You do your ‘to do’ list and I do everything that needs to be done.”

I realize that this is so true. My life wouldn’t be the same if Kat wasn’t in it. This brings me to playing “catch-up.”

I’ve been thinking a lot these last few weeks about my writing, my spiritual journey, my sense of connection with God, Kat and how hard she pursues her spiritual life, my ability to focus, and so much. It seems like if I ever tried to “catch up” I would never be able to do so. I think its easy to think of a time in our life where our connection was so strong, where our spiritual life was rich, and then try to recreate it… to live it again. It’s not nearly so easy to be present to right now, and invite God into THIS time, THIS place. Each day, each moment is the time for encountering spirit as it is and as we are.

And then there is my beloved wife. How could I ever seek and learn and read and reflect as much as she does. She is “on” all the time from when she wakes up till long after I crash. Can I really compare my intermittent efforts to personal growth to her marathon? I think not. We are different, she and I. And yet we meet and we learn from each other. She honors my journey and I honor hers, not because we are the same, but because we balance each other.

In it all is love. Presence. Grace. Humility. God.

When life makes us raw…

It’s so easy to ask the questions of why good things come to those who do evil or why bad things happen when I work so hard to do what is right. We want answers, don’t we? “God, can’t I get a break once in while? Why is this so hard? Dammit… I thought we were past this…”

It is so important for me, personally, to remember that God does not play the tit-for-tat game of allowing evil when we do wrong and rewarding us when we do right. It is so comforting to see the times when Jesus affirms this. “Teacher, what has this man or his parents done that he should be blind all his life?” He refuses to play this game, which is very much a lower-consciousness human tendency. “He was born blind so that God’s work might be done in him…” Isn’t this the case for all of us?

The beauty of the God I serve is that he has shown me that his love is constant… even when I am bound to ask, in the wake of tragedy and hardship (and especially ANYTHING that causes stress), “Why, why… WHY?!?” Life keeps us so raw in the storms and deserts and challenges. I am living it so deeply, these days. Changing, changing, everything is changing… some things slip away, some new stresses added… all of it coming with drama. And in the midst of it, I want a damn reason. We humans have always wanted a reason.

And here we have a God who doesn’t always give us a reason. This is the wonder of the divine mystery. This is what makes truth… a being in the midst of paradox and tension. To relax into this is to embrace our divine sonship and daughtership. It is to live awake to our own union with God and the love he/she always has for us. The rain and the sun fall on the good and the bad, making thorns and flowers grow. It’s not an easy truth.