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Posts Tagged ‘Inspiration’

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This week’s inquiry … questions designed to be experienced …

Is it safe now to move beyond my wounds?

 

“… if you love … let these be your desires:
To melt and be like a running brook that sings its melody to the night.
To know the pain of too much tenderness.
To be wounded by your own understanding of love;
And to bleed willingly and joyfully.
To wake at dawn with a winged heart and give thanks for another day of loving;
To rest at noon hour and meditate love’s ecstasy;
To return home at eventide with gratitude;
And then to sleep with a prayer for the beloved in your heart and a song of praise on your lips.” ~Kahlil Gibran

Through the great pain of stretching
beyond all that pain has taught me,
the soft well at the base
has opened, and life
touching me there
has turned me into a flower
that prays for rain.  Now
I understand: to blossom
is to pray, to wilt and shed
is to pray, to turn to mulch
is to pray, to stretch in the dark
is to pray, to break the surface
after great months of ice
is to pray, and to squeeze love
up the stalky center toward the sky
with only dreams of color
is to pray, and finally to unfold
again as if never before
is to be the prayer. ~ Mark Nepo

There is a relationship that stands apart from our wounds, or any belief that a person, circumstance, life has betrayed us.  This indefinable, immutable relationship does not seek your awareness, your belief or even your trust in it.  When the mind is emptied, exhausted and all talked out, begin here.  ~Bethie

 

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Below, I have appended today’s posting on Jeff Foster’s Facebook wall.  For more information on Jeff Foster, visit lifewithoutacentre.  It’s a relevant follow up to my last post which expressed that there really are no “bad neighborhoods”.   

“Nothing and nobody, no outer circumstance or event, no word or deed, can cause you to suffer. Suffering is always your own internal resistance to the Way Things Are Right Now, your hidden refusal to experience what you are experiencing. Suffering always originates from a NO to the Universe as it is, a NO to life in all its pain and glory.

But remember, acceptance does not mean that you have to give up on the possibility of future change. Acceptance is not passivity or disengagement from life. Not at all! True, intelligent, compassionate, creative, and often unexpected change arises from a place of absolute alignment with the Way Things Are Right Now, a profound and intimate engagement with this juicy moment as it actually is, however ‘bad’ you label it.”

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A couple of hundred days ago, I decided I would affirm my daily blessings on Facebook.  Although they may not always be statements of gratitude, they are a means of bookmarking and honoring the day with the language of love.  Here is today’s blessing:

Today is day 1 of having executed two major decisions.

Is my energy completely pure around these decisions?

No.

Is it the path of my heart?

Yes.

Am I committed?

Hell, yes.

Do I have the guidance and wisdom of Spirit to lean on as I journey this path?

Always.

Allow me to continue trusting in that, even if Life takes a turn through the “wrong neighborhood”.

Then remind me what I came here knowing: there are no wrong neighborhoods.

“First love, then think
First love, then speak 
First love, then look
First love, then act
First love, then choose
First love, then give
First love, then live”
Robert Holden

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“It seems to me that almost all our sadnesses are moments of tension, which we feel as paralysis because we no longer hear our astonished emotions living.  Because we are alone with the unfamiliar presence that has entered us; because everything we trust and are used to is for a moment taken away from us; because we stand in the midst of a transition where we cannot remain standing. 

That is why the sadness passes: the new presence inside us, the presence that has been added, has entered our heart, has gone into its innermost chamber and is no longer even there, – is already in our bloodstream.  And we don’t know what it was.  We could easily be made to believe that nothing happened, and yet we have changed, as a house that a guest has entered changes.  We can’t say who has come, perhaps we will never know, but many signs indicate that the future enters us in this way in order to be transformed in us, long before it happens.

And that is why it is so important to be solitary and attentive when one is sad: because the seemingly uneventful and motionless moment when our future steps into us is so much closer to life than that other loud and accidental point of time when it happens to us as if from outside.  The quieter we are, the more patient and open we are in our sadnesses, the more deeply and serenely the new presence can enter us, and the more we can make it our own, the more it becomes our fate.”

~Rainer Maria Rilke

Rarely am I ever speechless, but this is as close it gets.  I wept when I read this.  It is expressed so perfectly and eloquently, as if no one has ever had anything meaningful to say on the topic of our sadnesses until now.

If you liked this piece, go give some love to the Facebook page of “Rainer Maria Rilke”, because this is where I transcribed it from.  I have many books by Rilke, but I have never come across this piece before … beyond, beyond exquisite!

I’ve experienced a great sadness recently and I’ve really reached out to no one.  At times I wanted to pick up that phone, but I didn’t, I just knew it wasn’t what I needed.  My husband is out of town, too, so not even him to turn to.  And now I know, this has all been orchestrated for me to spend moments like I just did in the solitude of my back porch, reading Rilke, framed by the overhanging of our steadfast red mountain cedar.  Sure I could have commiserated with others, but I knew I had been touched in ways I could not yet understand, nor make sense of, nor find a solution for. 

I also knew there was a light, there was the “sunny hill” that my eyes had already touched, as Rilke writes in The Walk.   And I would be guided, even as I set out seemingly alone, I called upon all my guides and angels to be with me.  I was, as always, answered, in so many ways and continue to be.

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Choose your rut carefully:  you will be in it for the next twenty-five miles. 
~unattributed

You are closer to glory, leaping an abyss, than upholstering a rut. 
~James Broughton

The truth is that our finest moments are most likely to occur when we are feeling deeply uncomfortable, unhappy, or unfulfilled.  For it is only in such moments, propelled by our discomfort, that we are likely to step out of our ruts and start searching for different ways or truer answers. 
~M. Scott Peck

The first unattributed quote came from a longer piece spoken by Norman Vincent Peale.  He’s quoting a sign outside an old farmer’s piece of land.  He continues on to name the rut dwellers a “sad and pathetic lot”.  My, my … you can see why I didn’t include the totality of that.  I bring it up to illustrate how everyone speaks from their own perspective.  Perhaps someone would find brow beating a motivator.  I have a used “brow beater” for sale, if anyone needs it.  I’ve put a lot of miles on it, but a little oil and she’ll be good to go for hundreds more at least! 

The second quote is part of a much longer poem “Easter Exultet” by James Broughton.  It ends with the words “honeymoon with big joy!”  I used to carry that poem in my wallet.  Yes, JB, if I am going to get in bed with a feeling, let it be big joy.

Yet sometimes one doesn’t have access to big joy.  Sometimes we land in what feels like a rut.  Maybe we do upholster it, hang the pictures on the wall, break open the fridge, uncork the wine, grab the cupcakes, and just for good measure, set up a fruit bowl on the kitchen island. 

But now, I am looking for the love that’s always present.  It’s there before the rut, it’s there in the rut, it’s there after the rut.  It’s there in the sleepless hours.  It’s there in the room that I walked into forgetting what I came for.  It’s there while I distract myself with the wine and the cupcakes, and the smartphone.  It’s there in the letter I meant to write.  It’s there in the joy and the sorrow.  It’s there in the flowers I arranged just so, a prayerful homage to their glory, even in my upholstered rut.  It’s there when the day inevitably vanishes into night.  It’s there in the words I meant to say, but never did.  It’s there when there are no words left.  It’s there in the silence.

Ah, yes … I remember …

It’s right here.

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“It’s amazing Molly, the love inside, you take it with you.”

Those were some of the final heart-rendering words uttered by the lead male character, portrayed by Patrick Swayze, in the movie “Ghost”. Molly is played by Demi Moore.  He’s expressing this as he’s saying goodbye, and moving into the eternal world of non-physical.  It’s a deeply touching moment, and appropriately at the end of the movie.

Those words came to me as I pondered how I wanted the end of my movie to be.  What is it I want to take with me from living this life?  What is it that I want to pass on through my ancestral DNA? What deposit do I want to put in my karmic piggy bank?   What’s the enduring footprint I want to leave here?

My best friend in nursing school once said to me: “you’re not just hard on yourself, you are brutal with yourself.”  There’s been some improvements, yet it has been one of my core challenges.  Not much seemed to really stem the tide of self-victimization — not even the realization that this was what I was doing, repeating a pattern over and over again. 

I can’t tell you I’m cured and I will never beat up on self again.  But I can tell you what’s really weakening the link in that chain is knowing every time I continue to make myself wrong, this is what I put into my non-physical escrow account, or my karmic piggy bank.  This is the legacy I leave behind and it is the inheritance I give generations to come. It broke my heart to realize this and then it broke it again – wide open to love, compassion, mercy and kindness.

What is the legacy I want to leave behind, and the inheritance I bequeath to future generations?

I am wise and teachable, open to change and spiritual growth.  I seek always to embody kindness and compassion.  I am mindful that this is the essence of my spiritual sustenance.  I live the motto: make love, not war.

As this movie ends and the curtain begins to close, down the hall another movie begins, “The Gods and Goddesses of Loving Compassion”. It’s the story of how together, we restored the outer world to its natural state of peace and harmony, by first transforming our inner worlds.  And, together we changed the landscape of future generations to come forevermore.      

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Flavors

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One night this week I had one of those lucid dreams where you are very aware that you are dreaming.  I was advising myself that fear was a flavor, and guilt was just a flavor, too.

I woke up and started thinking about the big buckets of ice cream at Baskin Robbins, 30 some odd flavors.  They provide little pink spoons so you can sample them.  Some of those flavors don’t make my taste buds do a happy dance.  Just like some of those flavors of emotions, don’t allow my spirit to soar either.  If anything they deflate my spirit, especially if I let myself sit down with the whole bucket!

During the night, I received an email, I instantly picked up the spoon and took a bite out of “Bethie’s a bad girl”.  That’s the not-so-premium flavor of shame.  I almost bellied up to the entire bucket…

Until…

I remembered…

Dear sweet Bethie, you intended no harm, you can put the shame bucket back behind the case.  You do have a choice.  It’s not your flavor anymore,

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If you sit for long enough with sadness, fear or anger, or some strange energy or urge you can’t even name, in a place of no hope and no expectation, it eventually breaks apart, its imagined edges and boundaries dissolving into the vastness, and it reveals its deep intelligence, and its benevolent nature.  At the core of everything we run away from is everything we long for. And we’ll never know if we run away. ~Jeff Foster

Jeff Foster asks us to consider sitting with any feeling without hope or expectation.  It’s not that he’s asking us to have no hope, he’s asking that we sit with the feeling with no intended, purposeful gain in mind.  In other words, you don’t sit with it because you’re privately hoping if you do, it will simply go away.  That’s virtually the same as not accepting or allowing the feeling.

When I was 17 an event that would change my life occurred.  Lately, in the past few months memories of that event popped up seemingly out of nowhere, and with them was the rawness of the pain associated with it.  My first response when they popped up, was to want to forget about it.  I was having none of it.  The next time one of these memories popped up, I chastised myself: get over it, Bethie, move on!

Still the memories continued, asserting themselves at the oddest of times catching me completely off-guard.  I thought I might go to a trusted friend, until I realized I could be that trusted friend.  I remembered how there was no support for me back when I was 17, and in many ways it was the antithesis of support.  I learned to “stuff” the feelings, but the feelings were having none of it, they’d been stuffed long enough.  But they didn’t just want to be heard, they were reaching out for that support, that caring, that nurturing which it never received.  Recognize me — they cried out — be there for me, understand me.

Finally, I sat with the feelings.  I listened with the open heart and ears of understanding and acceptance.  I “mothered” myself and treated the feelings with the same attention a healthy Mother would give to her wounded child.  The memories began to dissipate, their intended purpose apparently fulfilled.

In the words of my current beloved mentor and teacher, Jean Haner: “All any feelings wants is to be welcomed with tenderness.”

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“Listen to your life. See it for the fathomless mystery it is. In the boredom and pain of it, no less than in the excitement and gladness: touch, taste, smell your way to the holy and hidden heart of it, because in the last analysis all moments are key moments, and life itself is grace.”  ~ Frederick Buechner

I believe, in between the pages of all of our lives, is invisible Grace.  Undeniable grace is at work always.  It doesn’t need our belief or faith in it to be made visible … but be made visible, it surely will be, if you are willing to see it.  

There was a morning I was shook awake by a loud bang.  I eventually made my way downstairs, opened the front door, and found a car on my porch.  I would come to see there were three cars spilled out like so many colored dice across my lawn.  As dawn broke, I would hear the songbirds herald the day – that was Grace.  

One day just before I started this blog, my son was in an ambulance racing to the hospital.  I hurriedly followed along in my car, rounded a bend, and saw Mt. Rainier in all her rapturous glory.  I wept with true gratitude in that moment.  That was undeniable Grace.

Look back on your life and see how it’s always held you, guided you, and somehow … against all odds … picked you up and set you down on the shores of calm water.  This is life’s golden promise and gift to you.  

Grace, simply is and always will be.

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Well, it’s almost Valentine’s Day and despite the title, I am not going to talk about Cupid.  However, I do want to touch on the concept of two arrows.  This is based on a Chinese proverb:

There are two arrows in life.  The first arrow is the one that hits you from some painful experience.  Perhaps it’s something you did or said, or something someone else did or said.  It’s that initial hurtful sting to the heart, that’s the first arrow.

The second arrow is the one that we keep shooting at ourselves again and again, re-living that pain or hurt.  One could say there are infinite second arrows, but not when we choose to live life consciously.

I took the proverb “to heart”.  Wrote it down on one of my homemade well being cards, and now I keep it in a prominent place.  I can go long periods where I don’t re-visit a painful event, and then suddenly there it is again — another shot to the heart.  Guess what?  It doesn’t feel good.  It’s not supposed to feel good!

Yet, there’s another way of being and engaging with life.  The shot to the heart comes, and rather then staying there and swirling in the pain yet again, I can say: ah, it’s the second arrow on a continuous loop of re-runs!  I choose now consciously, lovingly, kindly … not to go there.

It’s a simple — no, thank you.  Then turning back to my passion, my life, all that lights me up, and affirming — yes, thank you!

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