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The Full Moon Speaks and I Listen

The Full Moon Speaks and I Listen

Art- Jonathan Solter

 

The breeze at dawn has secrets to tell you.

Don’t go back to sleep.

You must ask for what you really want.

Don’t go back to sleep.

People are going back and forth across the door sill

Where the two worlds touch.

The door is round and open.

Don’t go back to sleep.

-Rumi

 

Looking out the window, all I see is goodbyes. A sense of lingering lasts being rustled away by uncertain firsts. Being well familiar with long goodbyes, the feeling is still unwelcome. The winds of change have been a constant, yet more like turbulent storms instead of gentle breezes. Reinvention is a dear friend; the kind you wish would not stop by unannounced. It is terribly difficult to only see unknowns, a blank canvas.

 

On the eve of yet another full moon, I have agreed to step out of the life I know and into the unknown. Never one to do things small, the looming storm clouds of change are rumbling above. As with any electrically charged storm, I feel the hair standing up on my arm alerting me to pay attention. “Listen to the moon speak”, it says.

 

My work life is shifting with a six month creative leave. What a blessing it is to be able to move at my own speed, no rushing from one fire to the next. Stepping onto this blank canvas requires letting go of everything I know and facing the storm head on. I must leave my overpriced townhome, pack up my belongings and live like a nomad for a while. As a Cancer and homebody, this is excruciating. My home is my sanctuary and I cling to it always. It is no mystery that this move is taking place on a full moon, in the month of July and with a bevy of celestial shenanigans happening at the moment.

 

Dwell as near as possible to the channel

in which your life flows.

Henry David Thoreau

 

This shift also calls for faith. Financial security, while a falsehood, has always been something I struggle with. Living in relative poverty for so long, it is difficult to let go of an imagined security blanket. Frightfulness is the only word that comes to mind. Once again, the full moon is speaking. A profound letting go is required with the belief that all will be well. This is not just a letting go of material items, but emotional wounds, fears and insecurities. All WILL be well. It will be stormy for a while, but the sun will shine again.

 

My children are also on the move with my daughter moving with her long term boyfriend and my son in a beautiful relationship and moving forward with his life goals. Once again the full moon speaks. No matter where I travel, I carry them in my heart. Love does not require being in close proximity, love is universal and boundless. I am so very proud of how they have grown into such beautiful souls. It is time to let go of the need to “be close by” and fly.

 

Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it.

Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.

Begin it now.

—Goethe

 

Finally, Dylan and I have agreed to take this journey together. An unsigned contract with two souls entwined. We offer support for one another and are willing to stand in the middle of the storm, holding each other tightly. Each with our own scars, our own work to do; but together we are stronger. As Goethe writes, “Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it.” Dylan, we must be bold now. We must face everything with an open heart and mind and be gentle with each other’s wounds. We must listen to the full moon speak and keep stepping out into the stormy winds of change. It is only when facing the storm that one is blessed with the rays of light shining through the clouds. We have many sunrises in our future and that is something beautiful to look forward too.

 

Let your full moon speak and choose to listen. The moon is wise, intuitive and ethereal. Bath in the light and be quite. What does it call you to do? Is it time to take that leap of faith?  Listen and believe all will be well. Face the winds of change with a brave heart and a calm mind. 

 

The Heartbeat of the Soil

The Heartbeat of the Soil

 

Be With Those Who Help Your Being

 

Be with those who help your being.

Don’t sit with indifferent people, whose breath

comes cold out of their mouths.

Not these visible forms, your work is deeper.

 

A chunk of dirt thrown in the air breaks to pieces.

If you don’t try to fly,

and so break yourself apart,

you will be broken open by death,

when it’s too late for all you could become.

 

Leaves get yellow. The tree puts out fresh roots

and makes them green.

Why are you so content with a love that turns you yellow?

   

Mewlana Jalaluddin Rumi

 

After having a dream that refused to leave me for days, I became frustrated with the repeated imagery and confusion about possible meaning. Aware that a dream such as this lingers as a token of importance, I still wanted the imagery to abate if only for awhile. This dream was so stubborn, it quickly became clear this was not a typical downloading of data that often accompanies a deep sleep but an opportunity to wake up and take note. The time had come to take out the proverbial notepad and start writing, regardless of potential. There was no rationalizing this task away, only the need for analysis and a way to place all discoveries within the confines of my current situation.

 

In this dream, I found myself lying on a soft blanket of soil while looking up at a very formidable tree; the kind of tree that stretches endlessly into the heavens and seems to brush the stars with its uppermost branches. As I reclined in a peaceful repose, I noticed the rays of the sun kissing the very top of the tree and skirting in and out of the various branches and leaves. It was a mesmerizing display of light that traveled at breakneck speed around the bulk of the tree.

 

“To be poor and be without trees, is to be the most starved human being in the world. To be poor and have trees, is to be completely rich in ways that money can never buy.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

For reasons unknown, I became aware this very same highway of light wrapping the length of the tree was in fact me. My spirit, being an energy that is free and boundless, was dancing along with the life system of the tree. I watched as this light show continued and marveled at the fact that I could be a part of an amazingly complex ecosystem in ways in which I could never have believed.

 

Moments later, the blanket of soft soil seemed to close in and become more tangible. With an element of fear, I realized I was not on top of the soil, but a part of it. Being of the soil meant I was underground and a part of the complex roots and superhighway of light connecting with the sky. Fear was replaced by a calm sensation of oneness with all else: the universe, sky, sun and this very tree with it’s steadfast roots. I was everything and everywhere, but at the same time small as a grain of soil. In this state, I was able to hear the heartbeat of the entire system in which I was a part of. I danced with a constant rhythm of energy swirling around and tangibly participated in the life cycle of this tree via a rhythmic heartbeat giving way to all else.

 

As magical as this all was, I could not resist reliving this experience as the days passed. We all have the divine spark within, just as the complex energy system the tree inhabited. This spark creates a magical and connected superhighway of energy that pulsates with life force.  If I recognize this spark in another they too can recognize it within me, including all that is known and unknown in this discovery. I must make an effort to quiet the noise in my life in order to experience the mystery of this connectivity each and every day no matter how mundane the tasks presented to me may be.

 

A monk asked Zhaozhou, “What is the living meaning of Zen?.”   

Zhaozhou said, “The oak tree in the courtyard.”

–  Case 37 from the Mumonkan (Wumenguan) Collection of Zen Koans

 

Nothing else seemed to matter in this state. Not the stress from work, people that had been less than kind, illness, nothing. All that mattered was connection with everything around me.  Believing the in all matters like calls out to like, it moves me to seek others that have this same sensibility. This has nothing to do with external worldly roles, rather a knowing that the soul next to me is a seeker such as myself. A seeker is one that asks questions, sees the light in others regardless of outside packaging and looks for beauty in all circumstance. I know that I must try to find this connection in a world that is closed off to interpersonal connection, compassionate attention and even personal touch.

I will not meet this challenge simply by sitting under a tree and feeling universal energy. No, the only way to find this other is by living a full life among the weeds and thorns. In the process of living this very messy life, my path will undoubtedly cross with those whom I seek. Each time I find another who has the heartbeat of the soil within, I feel a moment of recognition that says without words “I see you”. I enjoy this immensely and cherish it whenever and wherever it may approach. Seek out those that speak to you beyond the daily particulars of life. Once found, hold on and honor the spark that shines brightly in the being of another. This very spark is what lies within you and will continue to burn brightly after having connected with another.

 

The Guest House

The Guest House

The Guest House

This being human is a guest house.

Every morning a new arrival.

 

A joy, a depression, a meanness,

some momentary awareness comes

As an unexpected visitor.

 

Welcome and entertain them all!

Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,

who violently sweep your house

empty of its furniture,

still treat each guest honorably.

He may be clearing you out

for some new delight.

 

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,

meet them at the door laughing,

and invite them in.

 

Be grateful for whoever comes,

because each has been sent

as a guide from beyond.

-Rumi

 

I like to think of myself as perennially optimistic. I try my best to see the positive in all things, the light at the end of the tunnel. Even if doubts persist, I rarely speak them. My long held belief is that by speaking positively, words will become a reality. The woe is me attitude is not welcome in my home and I try my very best to lead by example. It is for all of these reasons and more that when I do have days with shades of sadness, I have trouble knowing how to process these feelings.

 

Be it the celestial activity of the past month with a lunar eclipse, mercury retrograde and a solar eclipse, the change in my living situation or that pesky perimenopause that makes every day an experience, I am left slighty off balance.  Coupled with my constant ongoing struggle with MS, this multitude of occurrences has me tired. I am frustrated by the way my body defies me even after treating it with the utmost of care. I eat better than most people, exercise regularly, sleep eight hours a night and do my level best to manage stress. It is always a complete shock after having done all of this work, waking up day after day to a body that is tired.

 

It is on days such as these that I ponder why I have been given this lot in life. I work hard and give my job and family my best. Why am I constantly being taught the lesson of grace, humility and acceptance? Haven’t I been through enough already to have earned some collateral in the wisdom bank? Realizing the whininess of my internal dialogue, I chastise myself for complaining and am constantly disappointed in my frustration, wondering why I entertain such thoughts rather than getting on with my day, head held high.

 

Looking for solace,  I often turn to the written word for inspiration. I look for a way to find compassion, patience in my shortcomings and a space to allow moments of sadness and grief. The truth is that it is hard having a chronic illness. Sure, I can buck up and do my best to forget, except for when I can’t. Some days I just want to curl up into a ball and be sad. I want to acknowledge how difficult it is to live with an illness that makes every single task a challenge, even one as simple as getting out of bed. I try to never take ownership over these emotions but choose to gently observe until they move along. In the morning I may be feeling deep saddness and by the afternoon it has passed and I am optimistic once again. This does not make me overly sensitive or unstable, this makes me human.

 

As Rumi speaks to with The Guest House, I too am thankful for the ability to experience a rainbow of emotions. He says, “Be grateful for whoever comes, because each has been sent, as a guide from beyond”.  My days of sadness, weakness or quiet reflection teach me more about myself than a constant state of  perennial optimism. I freely swim in the dark depths of self making it that much more beautiful upon returning to the light. I appreciate my family, friends, my ability to walk, read, listen and love; all things that are never guaranteed. Never be afraid of appearing human, it is in these very human moments that strength, courage and acceptance is won.

 

Becoming Alike in Our Differences

Becoming Alike in Our Differences

Sometimes hidden from me

in daily custom and in trust,

so that I live by you unaware

as by the beating of my heart,

Suddenly you flare in my sight,

a wild rose looming at the edge

of thicket, grace and light

where yesterday was only shade,

and once again I am blessed, choosing

again what I chose before.

-Wendell Berry    

 

Speaking with student employees, I found myself in a philosophical conversation that was familiar ground. Always slightly out of step with my peers, it was refreshing to tread the fertile ground of the “why” question with younger minds. I should preface this by saying the school I work for is an experimental art school and both faculty and students tend to walk the edge of what is considered fringe in thought and practice.

The conversation turned to the idea that people in close proximity become inadvertently like-minded.  Is it human nature to form tribes and alliances with other like-minded people?  My question for the students was, “In your differences, are you not becoming more alike?” This caused some head scratching and much debate back and forth. Is it in societies push to diversify that we have stepped beyond embracing uniqueness into siloed tribes of like? Uncomfortable question to be sure.

People like to feel a sense of belonging. Even in fringe communities, the casts of characters often dress the same, eat the same and think the same. I am baffled when I see this happening even at an institution of creative and exploratory practice. Look closely and you may notice the similarities of people in these groups. Yes, they exist outside the social norms of the day, but in their own tribe, they are alike.

As one the wanders from one group to the next, I find it more challenging to be separate. By choosing this lifestyle, I am often alienated from the most unique groups of people. Maybe it is because I am a free spirit yet do not buy into every crystal and aura reading ideology, maybe it is because I am a hippie yet will not run around in a tie dyed shirt barefoot in the woods. These sensibilities do not speak to me in totality. Parts of the lifestyle do, but never everything. This may also be why I find organized religion difficult. I enjoy pieces of most practices, but tire of the all or nothing mentality that is required to call myself Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. I prefer the beautiful flow of mysticism that encompasses many different views but asks the same questions. In the realm of politics, I am an independent. Politics has a pack mentality that sickens me. I am allowed to have my own ideas separate and apart from a party. God forbid I am a conservative that believes in abortion rights or a liberal that believes in lower taxes.

 

Not Christian or Jew or Muslim, not Hindu

Buddhist, sufi, or zen. Not any religion

or cultural system. I am not from the East

or the West, not out of the ocean or up

from the ground, not natural or ethereal, not

composed of elements at all. I do not exist,

am not an entity in this world or in the next,

did not descend from Adam and Eve or any

origin story. My place is placeless, a trace

of the traceless. Neither body or soul.

I belong to the beloved, have seen the two

worlds as one and that one call to and know,

first, last, outer, inner, only that

breath breathing human being.

-Jelaluddin Rumi

 

Reading Wendell Berry, his “wild rose” speaks most specifically to me as one that hides under the radar but blooms nonetheless. Each group of people that I interact with has something to teach and that is what is so fascinating to me. Whether I borrow some of the ideas or not is completely up to me. Being different requires strength in standing alone. Solidarity with self can be difficult in practice. It is saying no when everyone around you is saying yes; it is being comfortable being the only voice for your point of view. Maybe the answer is not to continually seek out people more like us; maybe it is to flourish among others that are different. In this way we can celebrate our differences with no expectation to conform to a specific type of rebellion.

We are all members of the human race. In this way we are all the same. Given the freedom to explore our personalities we flourish into a gorgeous field of wildflowers, each different but as beautiful as the one before. A daisy does not try to be a rose or any other flower for that matter, the daisy just blooms. Each flower, standing alone and blooming creates the togetherness of the field, breathtaking in totality only because of these differences. The next time you are in a group of people, find those most different from yourself and spend some time with them. You may discover a few things that interest or speak to you, even if just to observe, listen and learn.

The Space Between

The Space Between

Oh Beloved,

take me.

Liberate my soul.

Fill me with your love and

release me from the two worlds.

If I set my heart on anything but you

let fire burn me from inside.

Oh Beloved,

take away what I want.

Take away what I do.

Take away what I need.

Take away everything

that takes me from you.

-Rumi

 

I comfortably reside in the space between, constantly vacillating between two ends of a spectrum. The space in which night meets day, darkness greets light and in which ideas percolate like a strong cup of coffee. This space is calm, no unnecessary posturing. Ideas bounce off the boundaries as if molecules of a much larger universe. Nothing is claimed but all is examined. It is a space of introspection and deep thought, a place I like to stay in until ushered out by the demands of the world.

 

If asked what my favorite color, book, food or movie is, I have no answer. It is not that I don’t harbor strong opinions, because I do. Nothing floats up to the surface from this between without great introspection and review. I prefer to let things simmer, mulling over the merits of all positions and the reasons why people hold the beliefs they do. Rumi speaks to this with “Fill me with your love and, release me from the two worlds, If I set my heart on anything but you, let fire burn me from inside.” I wish to be released from the world of right and wrong and black and white. I wish to live in the muted world of gray. I wish to be left alone with an uncluttered brain, free to think and write without the noise of others constant chatter about things that mean very little to me.

 

“When you start to notice the mystical, the mystical will start to notice you.”

― Dacha Avelin

 

Because of these desires, I am often seen as wishy-washy. On the contrary, I have a constant internal dialogue going at all times. I am able to see all sides of an argument, the only exception being when an idea goes against my core beliefs. If this should happen, God be with you. I can be very stubborn and disagreeable about the few things that I hold dear.

 

All of this makes me question what really makes something wrong as opposed to right? Obviously, some values are clear and non negotiable. Thou shalt not kill, thou shalt not bear false witness and so on and so forth. I don’t think many would argue the merits of the Golden Rule. Rather, it is in all other instances, that I vacillate. On a thousand fronts whether it be tattoos, religion, reading material/genre, intimacy or political ideas. I stand in the middle and enjoy a panoramic view of the world discussion.

 

Why then is this space foreign to so many? Would it not be a better world if everyone dwelled closer to the middle rather than the extreme? We are all fragile souls having a very imperfect and human experience. It can be a painful experience when not given breath and space to live an examined life. We require this space to spread our wings and learn how to fly, each in our own unique and beautiful way. The next time you are pressed for an opinion or pulled into a debate, move gently and quietly away from the noise. Do not make a scene; do not hurt the other person. Retreat into the space between and into the calm and serene waters of understanding, faith, hope and love.

 

The Importance of Solitude

The Importance of Solitude

My emotions move like the tides of the ocean and in any given day I feel these undulations manifesting in an often turbulent emotional landscape. Thankfully, I recognize that what I am usually feeling is an energy shift outside of myself. The uneasy feelings that follow me are not really of my own doing and may be a product of others worries, fears and anxiety.  It has taken many years to understand this by becoming more aware of the emotional temperature of my surroundings. One way in which I have learned to calm this energetic storm is by being quiet, retreating into that internal and private space that is mine and mine alone. When the energy is coming from external sources, this is the only way to find balance once again.

 

“If you’re lonely when you’re alone, you’re in bad company.”

~ Jean-Paul Sartre

 

To those around me, it may appear that I am a bit more quiet than usual.  This retreat does not mean hiding out in a room with the lights dimmed, but moving about my day in a more reserved fashion. I suspect if another is keyed into energy, they can sense that I am not my usual open and inviting self. As one going through this process, I often feel foggy and muted. I see the world happening around me, with little interest in the circumstance. It all seems very dreamlike and in this state my mind is sorting and analyzing many pieces of information while resting from all of the emotional static. I never know how long I will be in this place, and am just as surprised as the next when I suddenly shift back into the welcoming and friendly self that is my status quo.

 

“Writing is utter solitude, the descent into the cold abyss of oneself.”

~ Franz Kafka

 

Sitting quietly and finding some semblance of tranquility, going on a hike in nature, reading a good book or sitting on my back porch speeds up this process. I breathe deeply, let my body relax and let go.  I let go of what is not mine, the problems, the worries and the misgivings. I remind myself that they are not for me and I focus my intention on this letting go. Once I have done this, I feel much better, refreshed and somehow brighter.

 

“A little while alone in your room will prove more valuable than anything else that could ever be given you.”

~ Rumi

 

If I am with someone that does not understand my need for space, things can get dicey. When I require time to recharge and am not afforded it, I can sadly become moody or withdrawn, having have no way to release all of the external energy that I have been carrying. For this reason and many others, the importance of solitude for an introspective person cannot be stressed enough. If you have people in your life that require this time, give it to them. Don’t add additional stress to their life by setting limitations on this time. You will also find that by carving out some space for introspection, you may become more balanced and open as well. Not a bad tradeoff for some time alone.

 

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

What Does It Mean to Love Another?

One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII

I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,

or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:

I love you as one loves certain obscure things,

secretly, between the shadow and the soul.

I love you as the plant that doesn’t bloom but carries

the light of those flowers, hidden, within itself,

and thanks to your love the tight aroma that arose

from the earth lives dimly in my body.

I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where,

I love you directly without problems or pride:

I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,

except in this form in which I am not nor are you,

so close that your hand upon my chest is mine,

so close that your eyes close with my dreams.

Pablo Neruda

 

It was not until I had my first child, my daughter, that I felt true unconditional love.  I subscribed to the idea of this type of love, but sadly my marriage was not representative of this ideal and even lacking in any semblance of kindness at times. Seeing my daughter look at me as if my eyes held many secrets, I was overcome with a deep and lasting love for this new and beautiful soul. In that moment, I realized that I would do anything to make her life easier and would provide comfort to her in all instances.  This same glorious experience was repeated after giving birth to my son three years later. Unconditional love is truly a powerful thing.

 

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

-Rumi

 

These days, the word “love” is used very superfluously and one begins to wonder what it means to really love another.  Is it a emotion, an action, a tangible experience or is it a combination of all of the above? Pablo Neruda speaks to this in the first stanza of his poem One Hundred Love Sonnets: XVII. He writes, “I don’t love you as if you were a rose of salt, topaz,or arrow of carnations that propagate fire:I love you as one loves certain obscure things,secretly, between the shadow and the soul.”  These words represent how I experience unconditional love. I look beyond the typical and find myself connecting with something much more muted. The beauty of a rose or the feeling of fire are not paramount in my appraisal.  Love to me is best described as being “between the shadow and the soul.” The space deep within that can speak to another only a spiritual level. Between darkness and light rests the true self devoid of the masks used to disguise traits that are deemed less than desirable. When “seen” these are the parts of another that drive true unconditional love.

 

It is in the “seeing” of the other that one can say, Yes, I see the dusty corners of your soul and I still choose to show up each and every day and love you. That to me is representative of a greater love than just the physical. Love overlooks the bumpy and difficult road another may choose to travel and offers compassion and empathy during the journey. All will not always be well, that much is guaranteed. With that in mind, love is only true if extended during the most difficult of times.

 

“Love looks not with the eyes, but with the mind, and therefore is winged Cupid painted blind.”

— William Shakespeare

 

Finally, the line, “I love you like this because I don’t know any other way to love,except in this form in which I am not nor are you”  is beautifully stated. Unconditional love is in its truest sense a lack of separation from the beloved. It is an unspoken truth that both are a part of the same cloth, in tune with one another no matter the circumstance. I know no other way to love, and my children are well aware of this.  It takes quite a bit of upheaval to force me to lose sight of this truth. We as spiritual beings are nothing without the connections that bind us. Choosing to love another is one of the most intimate and soulful ways to forge these connections. At the end of my days, I want to be able to say that I loved deeply no matter the cost. That will have been a life well lived.

 

The Sun and The Moon A Dance of Opposition

The Sun and The Moon A Dance of Opposition

 

Sun and Moon

 

A strong man, a fair woman

Bound fast in love,

Parted by ordered heaven,

Punishment prove

 

He suffers gnawing fires:

She in her frost

Beams in his sight, but dies

When he seems lost.

 

Not till the poles are joined

Shall the retreat

Of fierce brother from lost sister

End, and they meet.

 

Jay Macpherson

 

Poetry often finds the word that we cannot, that is why I have such an affinity for it.  As an internal thinker, I have so many thoughts in my head at one time; I often stumble over my words when speaking. People that know me have heard the frequent pause when I am trying to gather the words from that space in my mind. It shows on my face, a thinking face. This particular poem is representative of all that is on my mind at the moment.

 

As one that has been silently drawn by the phases of the moon, I see myself in this story. Everything and everyone exists in interconnectivity with another. Just as positive and negative charges attract so is it in nature. It might be a colleague that is completely different from self or a child that is difficult to understand being of an opposite personality type and communication style. It may be a lover that elicits an intense attraction unlike any other, a pleasing joining of two pieces to a puzzle. Life is always a balance of oppositions.

 

If you will find me not within you, you will never find me. For I have been with you, from the beginning of me.”

-Rumi

 

Embrace the interplay between the sun and the moon, the water and the earth, the sky and the stars. One cannot exist without the other and even if we think we can walk this earth independently, unsupported by this push and pull, we need this tension to grow and thrive. Seek out opposition, and most importantly search for the complexity and mirror in these instances. You may learn something about yourself along the way and as Mr. Macpherson states so beautifully, “Not until the poles are joined, Shall the retreat of fierce brother from lost sister End, and they meet.”

Loving One Another

Loving One Another

 

Love One Another

Love one another, but make not a bond of love.

Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.

Fill each other’s cup, but drink not from one cup.

Give one another of your bread, but eat not from the same loaf.

Sing and dance together and be joyous, but let each one of you be alone.

Even as the strings of a lute are alone though they quiver with the same music.

Give your hearts, but not into each other’s keeping.

For only the hand of life can contain your hearts.

And stand together, yet not too near together.

For the pillars of the temple stand apart.

And the oak tree and the cypress grow not in each other’s shadow.

-Khalil Gibran

 

On this day in which we celebrate all aspects of love, I find myself reflecting on ways in which I have personally experienced this powerful emotion. More often than not, love has been the driving force in many of my life decisions and directions. It has taken a process of growth and maturity to discern the various presentations of love and one that I continue to focus intently on even today.

 

My story is not a unique one. I come from a large and loving family. Yes, we have our differences, but we genuinely care for one another. As a young child, I recall bearing witness to the great love that my mother and father have, yet at the same time not having the benefit of discussion about what it meant to deeply love another. It was in every way, an education by example. Born into this caring environment I had no reference for the difference between infatuation and love, that lesson was yet to come.

 

Given my innate curiosity, in my teenage years I was attracted to the darker side of infatuation and unknowingly feel into its grasp. The man that would become my husband was much older than myself and had already experienced many things in life. Not being able to discern the difference between lust and love, I was completely drawn in by this relationship and felt trapped by my conservative moral obligations. It was not a healthy relationship, in fact it was quite damaging for me on many levels. Similarly, as one the connects very deeply with anyone I choose to give my heart too, it took great strength and will power to unravel these connections as well as two decades of my life to be completely free from the grip of infatuation.  

 

Thankfully, I did not leave this relationship without having experienced true love in some form. Having given birth to two children by the age of 24, I was deeply blessed to experience the unconditional love of mother to child. I am forever thankful for the opportunity to continually engage my heart in the way God intended in loving these children. If not for them I do not believe I would have felt alive during the darker years of my marriage, the despair was that intense. They are two beautiful angels that have held my heart when I could not find the strength on my own. That is love in every sense of the word.

 

“Only from the heart can you touch the sky.”

-Rumi

 

Recently, beginning a new adventure that requires bravery and some faith, I find myself feeling tentative and protective of where I have come from and where I now stand. In reading the poem by Khalil Gibran, I identified with a common theme that speaks directly to my current state of affairs. Loving another is not remotely the same as ownership, it is a partnership that allows for both parties to breathe, grow and be uniquely themselves.  It is being one half of a whole and at the same time separate and apart. In a healthy love there should be no loss of self, not degradation of the other, just a gentle and persistent lifting up. When one falters, the other steps up and carries the weight of life’s many challenges until balance is regained. That being said, a loving partnership cannot and should not be one sided. It takes both people choosing to show up authentically every day, willing participants in a transformative experience for both heart and soul. One person alone cannot carry the work of the relationship; this is neither healthy nor prudent.

 

Love is also accepting a partner, child or family member for everything they are not, without stipulation.  It is easy to love others for their strengths, but quite another to show up each day and see the shadow side of a loved one.  Each of us has this side that we hide from the world.  It takes a strong and trusting relationship to pull the shadow out of the darkness and explore ways to support one another in that discovery.  

 

Finally, as Gibran so eloquently writes “Love one another, but make not a bond of love. Let it rather be a moving sea between the shores of your souls.” I wish nothing more than to have my soul connect deeply with another.  It is within the expansive and flowing nature of water that love is best demonstrated, moving and morphing against life’s many continental conditions. Love finds a way to erode the walls that we erect and seep into our souls, breathing new life and hope. What a beautiful thing to behold.

 

Hiding in Plain Sight and The New Year

Hiding in Plain Sight and The New Year

I am an expert at hiding, a chameleon that blends in everywhere I go. I am naturally guarded and only a few know me as I truly am.  This is not done intentionally, but is inherent to who I am and in part a protective mechanism. If you read this blog, you are well aware that I am a deep thinker. I may seem uncomplicated on the outside, but there is not one thought, discussion or idea that I do not analyze and mull over internally. I am in a constant state of wonder and curiosity that is not often expressed in my external world. This constant analysis of the world around me has allowed me to move about inconspicuously, hiding in plain sight.

Over time I have developed some strong opinions on a variety of topics.  I hold these close to my chest, but I have them to be sure. I often struggle to keep an open mind in all instances. This apparent paradox results in a constant tug of war in all aspects of my life. I have written much about embracing both the dark and light of a soul and I personally work moment to moment to take my own advice and live in this way. It does not help matters that I am often perceived as a wholesome and pious woman, a stereotype created by my incessant need to be kind and accommodating to all I encounter. This stereotype could not be farther from the truth.

 

There is nothing in this world, which does not speak. Every thing and every being is continually calling out its nature, its character, its secret; the more the inner sense is open, the more capable it becomes of hearing the voice of all things.

Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

Given the New Year being the typical time to evaluate all areas of life, I have pondered the possibility of trying once more to step out on a limb and live more transparently.  By this, I mean living without the walls that we all build in the hopes of projecting out to the world how we wish to be perceived. The hiding out in plain sight and chameleon like habits are all things that I hope to let loose a bit more this year.

I will never be an easy book to read, but rather a complex work that requires great attention to detail and constant questioning. I know this will not change even with a more open approach to my daily routine. What I can work towards is not purposely moving away from my true self because of uncomfortable vulnerability or fear of rejection. I can freely choose each day to move a bit closer to my true center, my soul and honor what I find there. This requires a knowing that what I find may not be what I envision it to be.  My true self is made up of a multitude of pieces that come together as a puzzle would.  Complex, yet simple, beautiful yet messy, each piece while not beautiful by itself, becomes a work of art when completed. A piece of a puzzle by itself can never tell the complete story of the whole; it is only just that, one piece.

 

The True Self is not our creation, but God’s. It is the self we are in our depths. It is our capacity for divinity and transcendence.

Sue Monk Kidd

 

This New Year, I commit to stop judging myself by just a few pieces.  I commit to not being as selective when showing myself to the world and I commit to loving myself in my unfinished and messy state.  If I am able to make some headway on this, I will have taken a step further down the road on this crazy journey called life.