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Ancient Spirits

Ancient Spirits

 

I walk with spirit, strong and fierce

Each crack of thunder, light does pierce

Souls of those wandering long ago

Traces of energy as if arrows to a bow

 

One moment the valley is quiet in repose

The only sound witnessed, the squawk of the crows

Suddenly wind dances and spirit beckons

Drawing in those who dare to reckon

 

The mesa stands, resolute as before

As if, representing a historical door

Breathing in the air, lungs holding life

Stone to a hearth, bone to a knife

 

Storm clouds billow from the crest of hills

Ancient spirits painting with time honored will

This place is forever present, no matter the map

Spoken in the rumble of each thunder clap

 

-Lavinia Busch, 2018

 

Mesa Verde. What words can one speak to paint a picture worthy of the actual? It seems trite to write about a place that speaks and sings as if teaming with life still today.  The storms roll in and can be seen miles away in all directions. The ravens playfully squawk, taunting all those who venture this sacred ground. The sun playfully kisses the tops of the mesa and the moon shines with a silver beauty reserved for ancient souls and brilliant spectacles of light.

 

I could stay in a place like Mesa Verde and be content for the remainder of my life. The dynamic energy is humbling and begs to be explored, not superficially as a passing tourist might. This place is a living, breathing organism and would take a lifetime to understand if only in some small way. I am certain that given the opportunity, I would listen intently to the sky and hope to hear what it has to say.

 

Returning to Los Angeles fills me with a deep sense of melancholy with the knowing that Mesa Verde lives on. Maybe this is the way the ancients felt, leaving the majesty of these cliffs and the intimacy of these rocks. I understand that thumbprints remain on some walls after having been smoothed by ancient builders.  What I would give to rest my finger upon this ancient graffiti and feel the spirits of long ago.

 

I suspect if given the opportunity, I might find a kindred soul among the ancients. Being one who has never felt of this time, the intimate relationship between people, land and spirit speaks to me as no other place has. How can one return to the bustle of city life, rush hour traffic and the disease of busyness? For the moment, I plan to soak in all this place has to offer in the whispers of the wind and the painting of the sky. I will imprint the memory of this place until I can return once again to walk with the ancients.

 

Nothing is Ever New

Nothing is Ever New

 

“We invent nothing, truly.  We borrow and re-create.  We uncover and discover.  All has been given, as the

mystics say. We have only to open our eyes and hearts, to become one with that which is.”

–   Henry Miller

 

Sitting at the base of Devils Tower in Wyoming, I feel as insignificant as one could. As important as I believe my existence to be, looking at this great monument puts things in perspective very quickly. The igneous rock making up this formation is millions of years old. These millions set aside my age, demonstrate geologic opposition placing us both in stark contrast.

 

Many times, I have felt out of step with the world, as if having been here before. An old soul perhaps, or maybe just with an awareness that does not allow one to get caught up in the day to day grind without considering the greater meaning. Devils Tower does not make any statements nor share any philosophical approach. Devils Tower simply is and has been for many, many years. Once again, the simplicity of existence is laid bare.

 

It is far too easy to get caught up in ideas, thoughts and plans. It is far too easy to forget life is so very short. It is far too easy to fall victim to illusions and supposed realities and it is far too easy to forget who we are and of whence we came.

 

This place is sacred and as such the energy is palpable. Without thinking, I speak with a whisper, listen closely to the wind and bow my head in gratitude and respect. This place demands a certain dignity as a powerful spiritual vortex. Native Americans have been making the pilgrimage to this tower for thousands of years around the summer solstice. I am woefully behind on this account but find myself in good company.

 

If there is anything to take away from this visit, it is that nothing is ever really new. Not an idea, thought, belief or otherwise. Things are only discovered as one is ready and willing to receive. It is heartening to imagine the many who have contemplated existence in this same location and feeling their energy sustains me. The wind speaks here, if one is only willing to listen.

 

My challenges and joys will pass as is proven by the persistence of this rock. One must not get too caught up in the worry or planning of an abbreviated life. No matter how much is done, this life will come to an end much sooner than expected. It is in the more important soul work that emphasis should be placed. Are we living a life of service and loving one another while leaving a gentle footprint on this precious planet?

 

Sitting here in the early morning, listening to the chorus of crickets and birds welcoming the day, I ponder what my words might accomplish. Any feeling of separateness from others is alleviated by the weight of this tower.  I am just one person, one voice. When my time comes to leave this place, I pray my voice will be heard by at least one lost soul.

 

Spending time becoming one with all else, I move one step closer to this end by removing illusions one creates in defining a life. Leaving a small part of self on the meandering hillside below the tower, a prayerful connection is made with those who have taken this same walk before. We are one in the same, in all things.

 

 

Find Your Magic

Find Your Magic

 

 

The Day Sky

 

Let us be like

Two falling stars in the day sky.

 

Let no one know of our sublime beauty

As we hold hands with God

And burn

 

Into a sacred existence that defies –

That surpasses

 

Every description of ecstasy

And love.

 

Hafiz

 

Life is funny. Everyone hopes to be seen in some small way. Moving through life feeling invisible is such a state of separateness, debilitating to both heart and soul. The dichotomy being we are all “seen” each and every day just by being ourselves. Lest we forget when dwelling in the space of obscurity, being here right now is profound and creates a spectacular energy. We are all a bit of magic, pixie dust, elemental and soulful. Our desire to be “seen” has already come to pass simply by being in this moment. There is nothing left to be gained, we are given all we need and will ever need.

 

It is so very easy to forget what a miracle it is to live this very human experience.  How fortunate that yet another day of a messy and unpredictable life is upon us. Many leave this world far too early, a sober reminder of the value of life despite the many peculiar and sometimes unforgiving detours it may take.  

 

 

“If a man is to live, he must be all alive, body, soul, mind, heart, spirit.”

― Thomas Merton, Thoughts in Solitude

 

 

How do we best live with this knowing? I believe the only way to honor this universal connectivity is to be true to self and share this truth with a loving heart. Living in a modern and fast paced world, the simplicity of this becomes blurred in the busyness of a task-oriented lifestyle.  The ease in which we forget our magic is astonishing. As in the zombie movie trend of late, we are all the walking dead unless we stop to really “see” those around us.

 

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara:

 

How do we see others? Stop this culture of busyness and breathe into your life. We are all wonderfully unique and a rainbow of precious personalities. I simply adore the weirdness, quirkiness and uniqueness of everyone I meet. As a subject of the human condition, it is perennially fascinating to hear stories, observe interactions and get a sense of another. Each time I do so, I learn more about myself in the process.

 

You see, in this magical tapestry, threads of myself are intrinsically woven within the seams of all else. I cannot help but marvel at the complexity of these interconnections. Be it the way someone catches my eye, speaks to a friend, walks to the store or holds a child close. Both the light and darkness of another have gifts of self-discovery if I choose to look closely.

 

Take a moment and look for the beauty in others. See the rainbows of colorful energy and honor what you see reflected back at you. Just as a mirror gives face to name, so too does the act of “seeing” another as part of self. Look for what is familiar and what is not. Remind yourself how absolutely special you are in your very own configuration. Don’t let anyone take ownership, criticize, assign blame or look down upon you as you are meant to be. Find your magic and carry it with you always. Shine brightly.

 

For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

For My Children: Move to Your Own Music

 

FOR ANY DAUGHTER/ FOR ANY SON

Do not let yourself be blindfolded early on.

Do not accept harsh or kindly lashing, slashing …

even when it is called “traditional,” “required.”

Do not be lulled by sensations…

soft velvet wrapped around your head

will blind thee nonetheless.

Do not hide behind, “It can’t be bad,”

“It’s not that bad,”

“No real harm’s been done. . .”

Do not try to convince yourself by bargaining,

“See, they’re such exquisite velvet blinders. . .

a cut above the usual.”

Be wary of “doing what we do here,”

“doing as we have always done.”

Withstand grinning Death in his many disguises;

he will promise fleeting excitement ,

a once a year glory in exchange for forfeiting

your one precious and wild life forever.

Do not pour salt

into the earth of your mind

and expect lilies to grow there.

For us, resistance is ceremony.

We are the proof that the soul’s truths

transcend the oldest time-honored lies.

 

“For Any Daughter, For Any Son” by Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

Nothing feels stronger than the tug of tradition, an incredibly magnetic pull toward the past. Traditions are an important part of any family story. What would we be without those that have come before? That being said, it is important to understand that we have no obligation to take ownership of what may not be meant for us, including our family traditions. We flex our courage muscle each time we resist doing things as they have always been done as opposed to listening to our hearts and moving in that direction.

 

Dr. Clarissa Pinkola Estes writes, “Do not pour salt into the earth of your mind and expect lilies to grow there.” Breathing in these words, I experience an instant release of the unwanted. Salt is an abrasive yet essential mineral for life. The metaphor of a mind filled with this life mineral, yet unable to blossom, is powerful.  Why not sprinkle salt and leave some room for the lilies to germinate? After all, beauty is discovered only by giving breathe to an otherwise constricted way of being.

 

Resisting the status quo can be difficult. By its very nature, resistance can be insidious.  If I wish my daughter and son to be strong minded yet gentle hearted, I must let them forge their way into this role even if their path differs from mine. Who is to say one way is the only way? Walking through life with a different cadence does not dishonor.  It takes many cadences to create the beautiful music of a symphonic variation. One cannot possibly bloom if trying to walk, act or behave as everyone else.

 

The harsh words of the critic will sound, seeing all that is different and speaking to these differences without permission.  Forget what you hear and see. As Dr. Estes writes, “For us, resistance is ceremony. We are the proof that the soul’s truths transcend the oldest time-honored lies.”

 

The following thoughts are for my beautiful children. My wish for them is that they continue to honor the voice within and dance to their own music, no matter how different it may be. Dance my loves and live fully.

 

Know your truth and honor it with every action and thought. Be freely and unabashedly yourself and revel in knowing that no matter the outcome you have lived life on your own terms.

 

Be brave and circle your on wagons as need be. Bravery is hard fought each time you face a fear that is not yours to hold. Toss out the ceremonial makings of the expected and dance a new war dance of your own. Listen for direction on the winds of change and let the breeze elevate your soul.

 

Face hardships with a humble heart and know that this life was not meant to be easy. Everyone, no matter how they appear, has experienced darkness bringing them to their knees. It is only face down in the dirt that one can finally let go of all expectations, inhibitions and unwanted observation by committing to the blooming of a beautiful soul.

 

Let go and flower into the sun, dance in the wind and smile broadly. This life is such a beautiful and precious gift. Remember that each new day is filled with possibility no matter what obstacles you may experience.

 

Smile at your troubles, laugh during your hardships and release the fear of the unknown. Silence the voices and refuse to change the music of your own drum. It is only when being completely self that life unfolds as it should.

 

Love unconditionally. Love those that make you uncomfortable, love family that you do not understand, love strangers that appear odd and love those that argue for the obscene and confrontational. Approach all with love in every instance. Think before you speak and hold your tongue if you do not trust what might be said in haste.

 

Do not acquiesce to others but simply send them love as you move in your own way. Try not to hold hate in your heart. Hate is a darkness that will take root and strangle the bloom before it has seen the sun.

 

Finally, dance. Dance to the music in your heart and the soothing sounds of the universe. Feel the rhythm of your day as if turning pages on a score. Balance moments of excitement with moments of repose just as an allegro meets an adagio. Feel joy in your body and do not be ashamed by this. Jump into the freedom that comes from moving your body in your own unique way. Embrace the oneness you experience in this movement and cherish the togetherness of body and soul.

 

Dance your way through the hardship and heartbreak and continue to listen to the music of your heart…turning it up loud. Be simple in your complexity, an open book that sits on a shelf waiting for those that wish to read you. Stand in honor of this authenticity and refuse to back down. Never forget, you are a beautiful soul and deeply loved.

 

Pieces to Our Puzzle

Pieces to Our Puzzle

 

“Longing may be our legacy, but wholeness is our birthright.  It lies at the heart of the disappointments and delights of everyday life.  In weeding the garden and burning the toast. In falling asleep alone or enfolded in the arms of another.  In reading poetry instead of watching the news. In missing the grandmother you adored and becoming the father you never had.  In weeping for the suffering of the oppressed, the degradation of the planet.”

-Mirabai Starr

 

As spiritual beings, we are made up of a unique collection of pieces to our very own life puzzle.  These pieces represent the work in moving from immaturity to spiritual wholeness. It is often with this soul work of reassembly that one can get stuck, wondering how to bring wholeness to a chaotic and sometimes unforgiving worldview. This begs the question, maybe we are not meant to reflect some spectacular version of perfection after all.  Could it be within our imperfections that we exist in our truest form?

Growing up, I loved doing puzzles. What began as an unorganized slurry of parts, transformed into the most beautiful of pictures. This final image instantly made sense of the mess, as if it had been there all along waiting to be discovered. Working on this discovery was meditative in practice. Methodically lifting each piece, trying them in numerous places and looking for the smallest of details was a deeply introspective activity. I remember the tangible exuberance when arriving at the very last pieces. It was as if all of a sudden every angle sharpened and each piece seemed to effortlessly slide into the whole exactly where it was meant to be. The simplicity of it was startling. What seemed impossible from the beginning became instantly possible.

Life is not much different than the work of completing a complex puzzle. We enter this world with such possibility and many different pieces of self that will be tested in a plethora of ways. Each role that we try on is evaluated and considered. Is what we are doing or who we are leading us closer to this wholeness or further away? Each day brings new opportunities to evaluate our pieces under new circumstances, lending to endless amounts of feedback.

 

“Many of us have made our world so familiar that we do not see it anymore. An interesting question to ask yourself at night is, What did I really see this day?”

― John O’Donohue, Anam Cara

Just as with a puzzle, when finding ourselves at a dead end, we can remove layers that do not serve and rebuild our puzzle into wholeness. It is in this constant evaluation, continued work, and correction that one experiences the true practice of spiritual discovery. It is never too late to redefine our life. We are each given a blank canvas along with a bag full of pieces that represent our genetics, personality, birth status, family orientation, etc. While some of these pieces may be ill fitted from the start, we have the ability to build upon them in order to create a more beautiful self.

My marriage was a good example of this correction. In marriage, I tried out a piece of myself and worked tirelessly to make it “fit” the reality in which I found myself. It was only after years of hardship, I finally discovered my path was harmful and not in any way healthy for my heart and soul. I slowly became to undo these pieces, all that tethered me to another in an unhealthy way, and began the arduous work of rebuilding my puzzle one piece at a time.

 I will most certainly encounter many more moments of setback in which I move away from that beautiful image awaiting me.  Life is an endless cycle of expansion and contraction. All that matters is my intention. If I set an intention of spiritual growth, I can use this intention as a reevaluation tool along the way. If a piece does not seem to be fitting my intention, it may be time to make a change. In doing so, I continue to learn, grow and test this bag of pieces in as many ways as my precious life will afford. These pieces will begin to fill in the shadows of my soul leaving a beautifully clear image, representative of all that I am and all that I will ever be.

 

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

Climbing the Summit and Awakening

 

“Once the soul awakens, the search begins and you can never go back. From then on, you are inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment. The eternal makes you urgent. You are loath to let compromise or the threat of danger hold you back from striving toward the summit of fulfillment.”

― John O’Donohue,

 

There is only forward, it has become impossible to look back. As if the person I was no longer exists. With each day, minute and second I am transformed into the next. Nothing is lost on me any longer, every happening is a new landscape filled with possibilities.  As John O’Donohue states, “the eternal makes you urgent”.  Urgency is forever present and the tug of my curious heart grows stronger and more persistent with each delay.

 

The march of routine echoes loudly in my ear. I try to embrace the simple, knowing there is grace in completing the smallest of tasks with pride. This does nothing to silence the awakening. It hums ever so quietly until it eventually becomes a deafening freeway filled with thousands of thoughts and possibilities. The assault of this unknown is paralyzing. Fear lingers, beckoning me to restrain myself by filling my mind with a litany of “what if’s”

 

A summit is very much a metaphor for this awakening. Every day is filled with rejection of the norm, a conquering of the ascent. It is a push to something unknown yet beautiful in its otherness. The awakening of a soul is a blooming of the eternal breath. We carry this breath our entire life, suppressing it under the burdens of this world. When this breath begins to move throughout the body, no amount of restraint will diminish it. It is powerful yet gentle, curious yet familiar and erratic while focused.

 

“May all that is unlived in you blossom into a future graced with love.”

― John O’Donohue

 

 

The breath of an awakening spirit lifts one up slightly above the comfort of the familiar, with a line of sight to the summit. It is in this line of sight that possibility exists. People will tell you to get your head out of the clouds by coming back to reality. Pay no attention. These same people are fearful of what you see. Their discomfort is with themselves, never with you.

 

In this very moment all I hunger for is to live. I wish to live as completely as my ageing body will allow. Time is the constant. The weight of the world is ticking loudly, with the reminder that nothing is guaranteed. If I wish to allow my awakened soul to blossom, I have to provide space for this breath to flow. Constriction is never conducive to growth. I often smile when I throw of my work clothes soon after getting home, wash my face, tie up my hair and feel the release of the work day. For me, it is in this moment that I feel most like myself. Naked, open and filled with an expansive breathe of something other than what is considered productive, yet vital for my very being.

 

 “The human journey is a continuous act of transfiguration.”

― John O’Donohue

 

My inner dialogue with spirit is only flowing when I am in this most natural of states. It can be trance like when writing, a connection with a different frequency or plane. It is in these moments that I hear O’Donohue remind that we must all be “inflamed with a special longing that will never again let you linger in the lowlands of complacency and partial fulfillment.” I am inflamed and am not looking back. My awakening may be jarring to others and even myself. All things worthwhile are difficult and require a commitment to the idea until one can live into the space of the real. However long it takes, I am committed to reach for the summit. Whether I make it to the metaphorical top is unimportant. It is in the striving that I blossom and am filled with the breath of all that is and all that ever was.

 

Be Yourself and Bloom

Be Yourself and Bloom

 

“I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s life–water them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés,

 

I often consider the possibility we are born into this world knowing who we are, where we come from and all of the many wonders of the universe. It is in the birthing process that we forget. The assault of oxygen, loud noises and gravity quiets this knowing. It then takes an entire lifetime to know oneself again. We expend so much energy learning, failing, growing, achieving all under the guise of self-growth. Life is just a convoluted journey on the way home.

Certain calmness prevails as we reach the end of this process, an unshakable acknowledgment of all that is and all that will ever be. Imagine two old souls nodding at one another as they pass, one leaving this place while another returns to learn once again.

 

I am the voice of the awakening in the eternal night

-Gnostic Hymn

 

Given this perspective on life, what are we doing if not continually learning? Being stagnant is not living, it is persisting. Change and challenge take courage with the promise of much discomfort. Yet if this change is the only way to allow our souls to shine, why do we shy away from the challenge only to protect social norms and misplaced expectations?

 

“One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your soul. Struggling souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it.”

― Clarissa Pinkola Estés

 

One thing is true; this is my life and only mine. No one can live it for me by accepting responsibility for failings or accolades for service and contribution. It is and has only been between me and the Divine. This important and intimate relationship will bear fruit eventually. As Clarissa Pinkola Estés says so beautifully, ““I hope you will go out and let stories, that is life, happen to you,and that you will work with these stories from your life–not someone else’s lifewater them with your blood and tears and your laughter till they bloom, till you yourself burst into bloom. That is the work. The only work.”

 

My heart bleeds tears of recognition when I read these words. I know I have been a seedling far too long and to bloom I must face the sun wholeheartedly. The sun is ever bright with intensity and weight of a heated energy. It is among this intensity that courage is born, the willingness to be myself irrespective of a gaggle of naysayer. It is within this partnership that I am reborn to live fully once again in my own skin, accepting all that I am and all that I am not. I can gracefully let life have its way with me, feeling the edges and dark corners yet facing all with a clear heart and mind.

 

This world is indeed stormy with an independent emotional weather and a constant underlying hum of uncertainty. The agitation of this push and pull can be seen in the eyes of many. It is in seeing, acknowledging and challenging this agitation that one grows. Just as a flower needs the light to bloom so too does our soul. One cannot hide in the darkness and expect beautiful blossoms to unfold. One must face the brightness of chance, face the possibility of failure and face the willingness to be seen every day. In doing so we are watering our own garden and moving a few steps closer to where we were always meant to bloom. Home.

Geography of a Life

Geography of a Life

 

“Your soul knows the geography of your destiny. Your soul alone has the map of your future, therefore you can trust this indirect, oblique side of yourself. If you do, it will take you where you need to go, but more important it will teach you a kindness of rhythm in your journey.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Have you ever looked at an old map and wondered how the cartographer viewed the world so differently than what is known to be true today? It was not very long ago when scientists believed the earth to be flat. As a lifelong student of geography, I have always been fascinated by this historical lens into human nature.  Reading and even touching old maps allows for a certain connection to past ideas along with a knowing that all things are relative with time.

 

Expanding on this, I find the field of astrophysics to be absolutely mind blowing. Framing all that ever was and all that will ever be within a set of scientific laws is an impossible task. Those who work in this field seem to have a particular ability to blur and bend the lines of this reality in the most creative of ways. Science and mysticism are kindred spirits, both resting on the unknown rather than the known. Highly speculative and ever evolving, the universe is akin to a good book daring one to read, yet never allowing the reader to reach the final chapter. A constant thirst for knowledge, that given the current information, can never be quenched.

 

“For millions of years, an ancient conversation has continued between the chorus of the ocean and the silence of the stone.”

―John O’Donohue , Anam Cara: A Book of Celtic Wisdom

 

Because of this similarity it is possible to state with certainty that mysticism inhabits universal curiosity in a way that parallels science. Asking “what if?” and “why not?” echoes the constant state of questioning that is required of a seeker. Just as one ideology has been discovered and explored, another presents that speaks to the soul in a way that begs for attention. To some this may seem indecisive, but this could not be further from the truth. Mysticism allows for a constant push and pull of ideas without prejudice. Therefore beauty lies within the questions, not the answers.

 

With all of this being so, the map of ones life will vary widely from all others. There is no true way to a specific destination, but rather a multitude of possible roads that will lead to the same end. My geography may look much different from a friend or loved one. It is never for me to compare, but to focus on my unique map by following the directions therein. If I spend my days comparing and allowing the voice of the critic to rear its ugly head, I would be ignoring all that has been provided by spirit. The truth being that the geography of my physical body will change with age and eventually transform to the next. With patience and even some grace, my spiritual geography will also transform into exactly what is meant for me.

 

“Your body is your clay home; your body is the only home that you have in this universe. It is in and through your body that your soul becomes visible and real for you. Your body is the home of your soul on earth.”

― John O’Donohue

 

Just as a maps paper fades becoming yellow and frayed, so too does our past. The sharpness of past experiences should never remain brightly in the forefront but rather muted and distant, referenced only as a tool and not a crutch. Holding to the past will only delay the inevitable change in direction that is expected during moments of great transformation. Holding will delay the drawing of a new map and all the wonderful experiences that encompass the letting go of what no longer serves.

 

Embrace your unique geography, both inside and out. You are a beautiful child of the universe and exactly as you should be at this point. Learn to sit in this place knowing that more is yet to be discovered on the grand tapestry of life. Take heart in the roughness and discomfort and face each new day with interest and curiosity. One day, you will acknowledge all the detours and obstacles that you traversed and stand in awe of the beautiful work of art you have become.

 

Fragile-Handle with Care

Fragile-Handle with Care

A Song of Living

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.

I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.

My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,

I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.

I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.

I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.

I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.

I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.

As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

Amelia Burr

1878-1968

We are such fragile creatures. The gentleness of the human disposition is often shrouded in a rigid shield used to navigate a somewhat unforgiving world. Underneath all of this protective gear we are naturally soft, exuding light and love. I feel this light from others even when I do not want to, inspiring instant connection regardless of outside packaging. I do not care what religion, political affiliation or race you are. I only care what softness you hide inside and how I might see it better. I question how many layers have been sewn in order to function and how long it will take for me to unlock these layers witnessing the brilliance of a soul. I have little time for those that hide indefinitely under false pretense. I want to know the real person and deeply so.

As one that walks this edge every day, I tend to wear my softness on my sleeve. I cry, laugh and become sullen at the most inopportune times. Labeled sensitive as a child, I was told to grow a stiff upper lip, toughen up and not be so sensitive. This struggle persisted and is one that I grapple with even today.  I have found the only way I can manage interacting with others is by putting up a few walls. If I hold hearts too closely, I am ineffective as a leader in becoming sensitized to the lion’s share of their pain. Once again, I find myself walking the edge. I find ways to be receptive while at the same time creating some necessary distance. The whole charade can be exhausting and one in which I never relish the process.

 

My soul is full of whispered song;

My blindness is my sight;

The shadows that I feared so long

Are all alive with light.

Alice Cary

1820-1871

 

In addition to the energetic qualities each of us exhibit, we inhabit a delicate disposition and our physical bodies often fail us. Recently, after having some unpleasant side effects from a medication, I found myself feeling my fragility more than I liked. Having no illusions as to the longevity of this body, I am well aware that I am on the backside of midlife and am heading into the next chapter of my life. You will not find me wishing to be twenty; I welcome the wisdom that only travels with age and experience. I aspire to remain functional for as long as I am afforded and do all within my power to facilitate this. It is only when I have done all that I can to improve my environment, but still find myself falling short, that I get frustrated.

In moments such as these I call upon my faith and remember that I too am fragile. I try to honor this vulnerability and treat myself with as much empathy as I would another. On days in which I am far less than perfect, which is every day, I try to be gentle with myself. I cradle my budding and precious soul as I would a beautiful piece of stained glass forged by multiple life experiences in the heat of living a full life. After all, we are all just shards of glass reflecting our light out into a world made of rocks and stones.

 

“Some people look for a beautiful place, others make a place beautiful.”

― Hazrat Inayat Khan

 

It is with this revelation that I find we should all have a “Fragile, Handle with Care” sign worn daily. This fragility warrants gentle handling in all instances, one crack and we become weak and prone to breakage. I would venture to say that we all have moments in our life in which we are in danger of being shattered. Amanda Burr’s poem, A Song of Living speaks to this with, “I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run. I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.” We are all unfinished in some way, jagged pieces and all.

Simply by showing up,  we forge these broken pieces into a beautiful and loving piece of art. We will never be perfect and should never ascribe to this paradigm. We can only be the best version of ourselves each new day, learning and growing as we go.  I have known some older and much wiser people whose souls shine as brightly as the sun. They have lived into the truest version of self and their brightness is more beautiful than the greatest works of art.

Know that all glass breaks, it is only just a matter of time. When your fragile pieces become damaged, take heart in the fact that you can forge them back together with love and light. It takes much time and reflection to pick up all of the pieces and lovingly create a new version of self. Enjoy the process, look to each day as a creative expression of self, built upon newfound wisdom and the oldest of scars. Use every experience to reinvent yourself shining more brightly with each attempt. Slowly, over time, you too will shine like a thousand stars in the night sky.

The Invitation

The Invitation

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,
“Yes.”

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah © Mountain Dreaming,
from the book The Invitation
published by HarperONE, San Francisco,
1999 All rights reserved

 

As poems go, this one strikes a chord. As one drawn by the heart and soul of another, I find societies emphasis on all else tiring. I am not deceived by this costume or covering worn in an attempt to appear familiar to many and foreign to few.  I can be in the same space with another and see they are putting on errs, hiding pain, sadness, frustration. Oriah speaks to this with “if you can sit with pain, mine or your own, without, moving to hide it, or fade it, or fix it.” It makes people so uncomfortable to be face to face with another’s pain let alone their own.  We are taught that we must tough it out, be strong, never let anyone see us in a state of weakness. My initial inclination is always fixing the problem. I try to fight this urge by using deep listening as my response instead.

 

I am also deeply touched by the lines, “I want to know if you can, disappoint another, to be true to yourself. If you can bear, the accusation of betrayal, and not betray your own Soul.” Coming from a very traditional home in which being highly goal oriented was valued, I found myself lost between expectations I thought my parents held and my own desires and creative urges. I was academic and could have been a doctor, lawyer or CEO. Instead I was draw to the arts, the ethereal and aesthetic qualities of movement and writing. It has taken me much reflection to be at ease with this contradiction. I know my family loves me, but my passions are not viewed as a contribution in quite the same way as more traditional work.

 

Finally, I see myself in the last stanza. “I want to know, if you can be alone, with yourself, and if you truly like, the company you keep, in the empty moments.” My best friend is myself. Strange as it may sound, I enjoy my own company. I like to be lost in thought, listening to music with no distraction. I am definitely not a recluse, but I do pull energy from moments of solitude. When I find that same quality in another, knowing we can be alone together sitting in the same room while deeply immersed in something that speaks to me, I am overjoyed. It is this type of person that I am drawn to; a person that knows when to provide space for quiet and when to meet me at the gates of my solitude, drawing me out into the world to play and explore once again.