The Calling

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“Respond to every call that excites your spirit.”  Rumi

Dammit dammit dammit!  I missed my flight.  It was a quick connection and the gates were miles apart but I still had believed that the travel angels, who work so beautifully for me, would come through once again.  Imagine my surprise when I finally ran up to the gate and saw the tiny plane taxiing away toward Newburgh without me on board.

My first inclination was to become Old Me and start to wail and cry and threaten and blame.  Those feelings swelled up in a big bubble of frustration, but I had been in training for just this sort of thing these past few years, so New Me took a deep breath and just sat there in the moment and let those feelings dissipate into the air around me.  Everything happens for a reason, I reminded myself.  Including this.

I used the extra 4 hours in the Philadelphia airport to relax, eat some soup, read a book and just catch my breath.  The time went quite quickly and before long I was taking my seat on the tiny plane that would take me on the last leg of my journey to Newburgh, New York.  I was on my way to the Omega Institute for a week long seminar led by Dr. Brian Weiss on Past Life Regression.  This in itself was quite surprising.  Old Me would never have thought to take the time or spend the money to do something so outrageous.  It wasn’t practical, people would think I was crazy, who was I to think I could learn this stuff, and on and on the doubts and resistance would come.  Of course those thoughts did come to me, but instead of believing them and giving in to them, New Me decided to ignore them and listen to my inner guidance.  I felt a strong, intense calling to be there, so I decided to throw logic and fear to the wind and answer the call.

The plane was flying at a very low altitude, under the clouds and as I watched out the window at the passing nightscape something really bizarre happened.  The lights of the towns and cities below seemed to refract and spread out in beams, interconnecting and creating the most amazing, beautiful grid of light.  I stared in awe from my vantage point up in the air and was overwhelmed by the beauty.  What was this?  What did it mean?  Old Me determined it must be caused by the convex curve of the window  or perhaps by atmospheric conditions or something logical like that.  New Me quietly told Old Me to shut up and just enjoyed the magic of the flight.  The beauty of it all made me feel a bit high and when we landed firmly on the ground I giddily walked through the nearly deserted airport toward the stand of taxis to find the driver I had booked.  I walked outside, stopped dead in my tracks and  I laughed out loud, causing several weary travelers to look my way and wonder what was up with the crazy lady staring at the sky.  The grid was still there!  The streetlights above and the lights from the surrounding buildings were beautifully refracting and continuing the light show for me.  It took my breath away.  Old Me briefly considered that I may be coming down with a touch of a brain tumor or something, but New Me knew that this was something big: something mystical and amazing and the real reason why I had missed my flight.  I was meant to see this phenomena.  I had no idea why but I knew that this would be important.

Everything happens for a reason.

I have learned that we show up for each other over and over again wearing different guises.  This was never as clear as during that week in Omega.  The very first morning I wandered the dining hall, breakfast tray in hands, feeling very much like new kid at school.  Then I found her.  My soul sister, friend from all eternity and a little piece of home.  “May I join you?” I beamed at her, already impatient to get past the awkward introductions and start reminiscing about our vast connection.  Katie, my beautiful Katie, sister mother teacher friend, flew all the way from Australia to attend the seminar.  Somehow, she told me, she felt a calling to be there at that time.  It was something I would hear over and over during that week.

Each experience that happened while we were at Omega revealed new connections, threads in the tapestry.  I first met Butterbean during a regression that week.  It is not surprising to me now that she showed up when she did.   I was regressed by a young man with a deep soothing voice who just so happened to be named Thomas.   Of course she would show up.  Everything happens for a reason, right?  In my life as Butterbean I recognized Miz Ginnia as a dear friend of mine who had passed away the previous year.  Though there was no physical resemblance, the soul was the same.  Imagine if your best friend changed the shirt they were wearing, you would still easily recognize them wouldn’t you?  That is the case with our soul friends and families.

150 people attended that seminar… 152 if you count Dr. Weiss and his wife, Carole.  We converged for a week, drawn from all over the globe in a way so compelling that none of us could ignore the call.   Then the stories began to emerge of connections from lives past.  People we just met turned up playing significant roles in other lifetimes.  We were all inextricably linked, woven together in a tapestry of experiences and lifetimes and we had been given this amazing gift to remember it all.  We were like those beams of light I saw, weaving a tapestry,  intricate and beautiful, beyond the imaginings of the human mind.

We journey here to gain experience, not necessarily understanding and while Old Me rails against the mysteries, New Me revels in the magic of it all.

Me with Dr. Brian Weiss
Me with Dr. Brian Weiss
My lives have been a tapestry of rich and royal hue
An everlasting vision of the everchanging view
A wondrous woven magic in bits of blue and gold
A tapestry to feel and see, impossible to hold
~ lovingly paraphrasing Carole King

Breezes at Dawn

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The breezes at dawn have 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 doorsill where the two worlds touch,
The door is round and open
Don’t go back to sleep!

Rumi

Awakening

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When you go through a hard period,
When everything seems to oppose you,
When you feel you cannot even bear one more minute,
NEVER GIVE UP!
Because it is the time and place that the course will divert!  

Rumi

Everybody has a story, that sequence of life events that they use to design how they present themselves to the world.  My story began November 15, 2008.  It goes something like this….

Brenda is Broken Open

The universe whispers lessons and sometimes you hear and that is awesome, But sometimes you don’t hear. Sometimes you get so busy with life and with the mundane, mediocrity of physical existence that you forget to take the moments to sit in silence and to really listen.  So then the whispers get louder.  And if you still don’t hear them, they turn into shouts so loud that you have no choice but to hear.

My shouts stopped me in my tracks.  My shouts had me cowering with arms over my head wondering what horrible thing would come next. It all began with Janice.

My sweet soul friend and I had worked together for several years, creating costumes for the local high school plays.  So many hours we spent together, planning, shopping, sewing, gluing, organizing and laughing.  Janice laughed a lot.  She had an infectious joy and even in the most stressful of times, she would share the humor of the situation and before we knew it we would all be laughing with her.  A tiny dynamo with energy to spare and happiness in abundance, she spent her life and her last breath in laughter.

It was her night to sit in the audience and watch.  I laughed and teased her that she would cry during “Be Our Guest”, like I had the previous evening.  Seeing all of our kids up there giving it their all, the music swelling, the dancing spoons and forks and candelabras, the cute little salt and pepper shakers, the raucous napkins dancing the can-can, she would be moved as I had been.  And of course she would laugh at herself for crying, as I had.  And sure enough, intermission came and Janice showed up in the green room, laughing about crying, bustling around looking for some velcro to fix the Beast’s boot, talking a mile a minute.  Stooping over and searching through a bag of fabric, her voice ringing with laughter, she gushed about the first half of the show, her pride in the kids and in our accomplishment apparent.  She stood up suddenly, turning to me, and her laughter faded.  She looked into my eyes.  A question.

Hand fluttered to her chest.

“Janice.  Are you alright?”

Eyes simply closed.  I caught her as she fell and laid her gently on the ground.  Her breath shuddered.  She was still.

Pandemonium.

“Call 9-1-1”

“Get these kids out of here”

“Is a doctor in the house?”

“Where’s Larry?  Go find Larry.”

“Does anyone know CPR?”

A few shuddering breaths, her body shutting down.  I knelt beside her, held her hand and watched the final reflexes of her dying body.    The world shifted beneath my feet.

And then things got really weird.

As Janice left this world she took me on the first part of the journey.  I was crouched on the ground, holding her hand, shouting to Kristen to call 911 and watching Dave and Evan hustle the kids out of the room, then my focus narrowed to the place where my hand was holding her hand and I had the singular thought,  ‘She is gone’.  That is when I left my body and was at the ceiling, staring down at myself holding Janice’s hand. I could see it so clearly and at that moment I experienced an instant of “no fear”. It wasn’t a feeling of peace or of bliss or anything like that so much as it was a feeling devoid of fear, something I had never experienced before. It made me weightless.   But the really crazy thing that happened as I floated there with Janice, is that I could see that I had wings.

Yeah.   Wings.  WTF?

Seeing the wings totally freaked me out and I was instantly back in my body. It made me think that I was the one who had died and my tiny human brain latched onto the FEAR that had up until that point kept me shackled to this reality.  Fear was my brutal grounding comfort.

The next few weeks I thought perhaps I was going a bit crazy. I was in the clutches of grief, but also I was suffering from some pretty intense PTSD symptoms, not getting much sleep, panicking and crying and trying desperately to hide my struggles from everyone. Finally I told my American Husband what I had experienced. I sobbed as the story came out and I am pretty sure he thought I had gone off the deep end.   But being the amazing, understanding guy he is, he told me very simply that he believed me.   He had no explanation for what happened and neither did I … but he accepted that it must have been real.

He believed me.

Does anyone wonder why I love that man?  In the months and years to come I would have many more opportunities to rely on his quiet, sure strength and to be grateful for the solid foundation he affords me.

You see, the Universe wasn’t done with me yet.  Oh no, there were many more surprises in store.  Just about done with the PTSD you say?  Well then, kerBLAM! your other soul friend, Rod, has terminal cancer.  And while you watch by helplessly as his life is slowly tortured away, POW! let’s just take your job of 16 and a half years away.  Not enough stress yet?  Okay, then, SLAMMO! here’s a lawsuit to chew on.  That ought to keep you busy for 2 or 3 years.  And in the meantime, OOF! time to say good bye to Rod.  Now how about a nice ONE/TWO PUNCH! first beloved Sadie and then devoted Wyatt, best dogs in the world, both gone within 3 months of each other.

Did I mention the part about cowering with my arms over my head wondering what in the name of all things holy would be next?

What followed was 2 years of such severe post traumatic stress that I would often have panic attacks that would leave me thinking I would rather just die than to face the daily rigors of FEAR of what would befall me next.  When Janice died, so suddenly in my arms it woke me up to the fact that our time is truly limited. Of course I knew on a logical level that we all die one day and that each of us has our own unique expiry date, but to see it happen, like somebody turned out the light, one moment laughing and full of joy and the next… just gone… well that was the wake up.

This awakening has taken me to some dark places, and eventually to some incredibly light places.  Along the way I have experienced a whole lot of strange and wonderful things.  It began with the wings, but moved on to some even more bizarre happenings.  The roads have led me here, on this path of self discovery, where I have come to the realization that the lessons I learn in this life are even more valuable when I can add to them the lessons I have learned in other lifetimes.  Keeping a mind that is open to everything and attached to nothing is the essential key that fits the locks and opens the doors to so many incredible experiences.  Anything is possible.  And yes, miracles happen.

As for the wings, I’ve done a lot of research, asked a lot of questions, read a lot of books and come to the conclusion that there are about as many theories as there are people.  Some resonated and some did not, but the one that brings me the most comfort is simply that an Angel stepped in and took over in those few moments I was unable to cope.  And as I traveled through the wreckage of my life those next few years I often imagined that if I ever needed her again, that Angel would be there for me in an instant.

Our stories happen to us and it is very easy to become identified solely with them.  For the rest of this life I could walk around and be that victim of circumstances and loss and only that.  Instead I choose to take the wreckage of that time  and climb on top of the rubble and use it as a ladder to something more.  In hindsight I  see that all of the chaos and calamity was really a gift from the divine.  It gave me a glimpse of eternity and opened my awareness to a realm I never knew existed.  I was plain old sepia toned Dorothy opening that farmhouse door to the land of Oz and discovering that the whole world is in vivid, glorious technicolor.

Since it all happened I see things and hear things and know things that defy logic or explanation.  The greatest part of it all is that I no longer have any fear of death because I know it is an illusion.  Only our bodies die, and we cast them off like an old, tight shoe and soar to realms and dimensions we only get hints of now.  We really are spiritual beings having a human experience.  But boy that human part of our experience can sometimes really kick our ass, can’t it?

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If you really want to see how high my freak flag can fly, take a look here:   Page 8 (Great book by the way, I highly recommend it.)

For more information on that whole shared death experience, please read Glimpses of Eternity by Dr. Raymond Moody.  Turns out this type of experience is not uncommon.  (A huge shout-out to my friend Joanne for pointing me toward this book and helping me to understand that I am not <completely> crazy.)

Set Me Free

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“You wander from room to room hunting for the diamond necklace that is already around your neck.”   Rumi

My niece, Tree Bunny (not her real name. My brother is not a hippy) has recently begun the minimalist 21 day experiment.   In the challenge a person packs up everything they own and sticks it in a room.  Then items are removed from that room only as needed.  Day one you may want to go get your toothbrush, and some clean underwear.  Perhaps a dish, some cutlery and a pot the next morning when you want to have oatmeal for breakfast.  And slowly you replace only the things you truly need and use into your daily life.

I have to admit that this paring life down to stark nothingness strangely appeals to me.

Tree Bunny is mostly through the challenge.  She has exactly one plate, one bowl, one fork, spoon and knife, one mug, one week’s worth of clothes, 2 books (omg that gives me palpitations… 2 books??) and just a few incidental items, like toiletries and towels.  Her groceries are purchased with absolutely no waste allowed.  If she knows she will eat 2 bananas and 1 apple, that is what she buys.  In her words, this experiment has blown her mind.  It is “so surprisingly freeing and feels soooo good.” She has kept two pictures for her walls because she loves them and they are pretty, but basically “everything else had to go”.  She can pack her entire life into one trunk and she is blissfully happy about that.

I would wager big bucks that this bunny was a monk in a past life.  But I digress.

The important things in life aren’t things.  I know this.  I try to live this, engendering a more “need” than “want” mentality when I shop.  Stuff can accumulate so easily.  This fact was never more apparent than in early April when we moved from Kelowna to Cranbrook.  My American Husband and I had made strides to simplify our lifestyle, or so we thought, but still we ended up with more boxes full of stuff than would fit in the biggest truck the moving company had to offer.  Where did it all come from?  Is that what happens when you leave two boxes alone in a dark room?

So I have decided to take a page from Tree Bunny’s book (one of the two she kept).  I don’t necessarily feel the need to pare down so drastically, but pare down I must.  No more “This might come back in style” or “What if we need it one day?”  And really, will I fix that broken thing that has been collecting dust for 3 years?  It’s time to get busy.  It’s time to release everything that  I no longer need.  If I don’t use it, or love it, then I am getting rid of it.

Except my books.  Naturally.

The more stuff we accumulate the greater our obligation to store it, house it, clean it, pay for it, and protect it.  These things we desire become the pretty bars in the cage they create for us, shiny and gilded perhaps, but locking us in nonetheless.  Every morning we wake up too early, rush out of our big house, careful to lock the door to keep all of our stuff safe, then head off in the car we are still making payments on to sit in an office doing a job (that let’s be honest, we probably dislike) so that we can make the money to pay for the car and the house and the stuff that sit empty all day.

What kind of madness have we created for ourselves?

When did the accumulation of things begin to outweigh the importance of free time, leisure, relaxation and family?  Did the money we spent to impress the neighbours bring us the satisfaction we presumed it would? Of course the neighbours we are trying to impress are so busy trying to impress us they barely notice.  In literature we call that “irony”.

Hand me the keys to this prison, I want out!  I have closets to clean and boxes to empty.  I have a whole wardrobe of outfits that hang there waiting patiently while day in and day out I wear about 10% of the clothes I own.  I have boxes in my basement that have made it through three moves without ever being unpacked.  Thank goodness the Matrix has a huge trunk space because things are about to get real.

And my battle cry?

If I don’t love it, or use it…. hasta la vista baby.

The Shepherd

Image by:  Rafael Ramos Fenoy
Image by: Rafael Ramos Fenoy

“Be a lamp, or a lifeboat, or a ladder.  Help someone’s soul heal.  Walk out of your house like a shepherd.”  Rumi

My much older brother (we’ll call him Clooney) owns a cabin in Montana on Duck Lake where we all just spent the weekend.  The quarters are large enough to comfortably hold the 8 family members and friends that had gathered, but small enough that there is little or no room for finding much alone time.    Clooney, being the intelligent guy that he is, has devised a method to give fair warning to the unsuspecting that a storm may be brewing.

If a person wakes up in the morning feeling less than sociable and maybe just a little bit grumpy, there is a specially designated signal to warn others.  It is a bright red coffee mug that can be seen from great distances and is meant to warn off unsuspecting cabin mates of a percolating foul mood.  If somebody is sipping from the mug, it is advisable to give them a wide berth until they find their happy place.

Brilliant use of form and function, Clooney.  Bravo.

Funny thing though, a person’s bad mood typically doesn’t need a red mug warning attached for others to recognize it.   Have you ever noticed that one person in a bad mood can join an otherwise pleasant group and pretty soon almost everybody is feeling owly and cross?  Maybe there is that one guy in the office who always has something to complain about.  Or that friend who shows up at a party and pretty soon everyone has found a reason to make an early exit.  You know who I am talking about… that Debbie Downer whose foul moods act as the anchor that pulls everyone under.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, we all know that person whose presence will almost always raise the moods and attitudes in whatever group they join.  Could be a boring day at the office where everyone feels blah, then Susie Sunshine shows up and pretty soon everyone is energized, laughing, have a great time and wondering why they felt so down earlier.  Wherever she goes, her happiness radiates and warms up whatever space she is in.  We all love Susie and want her at every party we throw, because we know she will just make it better.

This phenomena has actually been put to scientific research and the findings are quite fascinating.  In a study back in 2010 at Harvard University, Alison Hill and her team of researchers concluded that happiness and sadness are indeed contagious and tend to spread in a model very similar to that of infectious diseases.  And it is much easier to spread the Sad germs than it is the Happy ones.  In their study Hill and her team found that groups subjected to sadness were infected about 50% of the time, but those subjected to happiness were only infected 11% of the time.  So in the grand scheme of things, Debbie Downer can take down Susie Sunshine almost any day of the week.

Somebody give Debbie the red mug.  This chick needs a warning label.

Armed with this information I intend to make a concerted effort to spread sunshine wherever I go.  Even on the days I would rather drink from the red mug, I will suck it up and produce a smile, a cheerful hello and keep my bad mood to myself.  And by faking it until I make it, maybe I will infect myself with those jumpy little happy germs along the way.

As the Buddha said, “Happiness never decreases by being shared”.   I say spread that shit around.  Maybe we can start a whole Happiness Pandemic.

Truth with a Capital T

“When you feel a peaceful joy, that’s when you are near the truth.”  Rumi

A few years back my world turned upside down (you can read more about that here).  As in many cases it took this mayhem to start me earnestly upon the path to spirituality and seeking Truth, with a capital T.

There is a Buddhist proverb that says “when the student is ready the teacher will appear”.  As I was trying to pick up the broken pieces of my life the first teacher to appear for me was the beautiful Louise Hay who became a kind of Spiritual Kindergarten teacher for me.  I had a recording of her Affirmations that I would play over and over and over, her soothing voice repeating the words that began the job of healing my shattered spirit.  “Life loves and supports me.  I am safe and all is well.  Deep in the center of my being there is an infinite well of love.  I now allow this love to flow to the surface.”  Hundreds of affirmations, over and over until, miraculously, my brain began to rewire itself and these thoughts began to spontaneously form on their own.  And I began to heal.  It was a miracle.

Louise was the first of many teachers along my path of self discovery.  I read voraciously, one book after another, learning about different modalities and belief systems, taking them all in and trying them on to see if the fit was right.  Building on the affirmations that served me so well I would begin each foray with my newest teacher by stating “only the Truth (with a capital T) resonates with me.”

Then one day the light went on.  Hey wait a minute.  If my soul recognizes the Truth then maybe I already have all of the answers inside.  This twigged a memory that led me all the way back to my kindergarten days with Louise.  Plugging in her affirmation I listened again for the thousandth time and sure enough there it was.  “Inside of me lie all of the answers to all of the questions I will ever ask.” Inside of me!  Truth with a capital T resounded.

But then the tricky part was how to get access to this great wealth of wisdom that was within.  In my journey all roads lead to meditation, so I set myself down with some groovy binaural beats and asked a question:  “How can I know if something is the Truth?”

Then I sat.  And waited.  And listened.

Nada.

Hmm.  Somehow I imagined this would be easier.  I finished up my meditation with no answer to my question, then picked up the latest book I was reading.  It was a step by step guide to inner peace and tranquility.  I opened to where I had left off and began to read.  Almost immediately Simon the cat jumped onto my lap.  I gave him a scritchy under the chin then kept reading.  Where was I?  Oh yes, there it was.  Something about following the correct path.  I turned the page and Simon lifted his paw and smacked the book.  I laughed and scooted him down off my lap.  He’d never done that before.

I continued reading about the right way and wrong way to enlightenment.  Simon jumped back on my lap and stared at the page.  I laughed again.  What was that crazy cat up to?  He swatted the page once,  then swatted again and this time he left his paw right smack dab in the middle of the page so that I couldn’t see the words.  I moved his paw and tried to read.  Two words in and he swatted the page yet again and this time rolled right on top of the book, completely blocking my view.

Confounded and confused I continued to attempt to read the book and every time I tried Simon would block me.  The cat had gone stark raving bonkers!  He’d never acted like this before.  What was up with him?

And then it hit me.  Ding ding ding!  Bells and whistles!  Here was the answer to my question.  How can I know if something is the Truth?  My cat won’t stop me from reading it.

Of course it hasn’t always been as easy as this particular time, but the Truth has a way of finding me and I have been able to recognize it.  Sometimes it is simply a recognition, as if I knew it all along but just hadn’t come up with it yet.  Sometimes it is a feeling, like anxiety in the pit of my stomach, that lets me know that while this is somebody’s Truth, it is not mine.  Sometimes Truth puts the dance in my step and the song in my heart.  It is all about feeling.  When I feel good, I know that I am feeling God… so to speak.

As many people as there are, there are that many paths to the Truth.  We all have our own to walk, and each path leads up to the mountaintop.  I tend to follow my inner GPS now and sometimes it leads me on a solitary path and sometimes it brings me to my next teacher.  I always learn what I can from the next person, book, lesson or ideology, take what resonates then move forward to whatever or whomever comes next.

What I have learned along the way is that accessing my own inner guru is easiest if I take a few simple steps.  (hold onto your hats, people, here comes another list!)

1.  First I ask the question.  What is it I need to know at that point in time?  Sometimes it is specific, such as “Is this author’s work Truth for me?”  and sometimes I ask a more general question.  “What is the next action step on my spiritual journey?”

2.  Then I get quiet.  This is step two.  I close my eyes, get into position and sink into as deep a meditation as I can manage.  Sometimes I go profoundly still, and sometimes the monkey mind won’t shut down, but either way I intend for the silence to bring me answers and usually it does.

3.  Third step is to listen.  Observe how my body feels and pay attention to any quiet thoughts that may pop in from realms unknown.  Many times I will simply experience a knowing during the meditation, as if I always had the answer.  Other times nothing seems to come and then later in my day or week I will have the answer show up in other ways, signs from the Universe, as it were.  These take the form of things like random bits of conversations or song lyrics that seem to speak directly to me, or I will suddenly start hearing over and over from various sources about a certain person, book, or program and realize that this is something I am supposed to investigate.  And sometimes my cat lets me know.  (okay I’m just kidding.  Simon has only done that the one time.  But how cool would it be to have an oracle cat??)

4.  And the fourth and final step is to trust what comes to you.  Trust the messages.  Trust the visions.  Trust the cat.  Even if it belies your ever present logic, trust it anyways. Your inner guru is the best guide you have.  That piece of you that is connected to the Divine, where all Truth lives.  Trust it.  It will not lead you astray.

I use the information and guidance that the teachers bring to me to guide me along my path.  I beware the self evident truths that others espouse because I understand that as soon as people label something or create rules and regulations around something it becomes more about the people in charge than about the spiritual truths they teach.  Sometimes a frog is just a frog, no matter how they try to spin it.   I take the good, I leave the bad and I forge ahead on this journey of discovery.

Destination unknown.

Many Paths

mirrormo21

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.” Rumi

My friend Yummy (bet you guessed this isn’t his real name) popped by for a visit this weekend.  Yummy and I first met many years ago when we were both involved in the same play.  He was an actor and I was a costumer.  Sizing him up, literally,  I was whipping my trusty tape measure around his various parts.  Chest, waist, hips, head, neck, sleeve length…  I had finished up and Yummy still stood there expectantly.

“Don’t you need my inseam?” he asked, guilelessly.

“No.  Sorry to disappoint.”  My smart-assery has a mind of it’s own and sometimes these things just fall out of my mouth.  Luckily he laughed loudly and at that moment our bond was formed.

After he left the fitting room, Janice explained to me that Yummy is the Reverend at our local Anglican Church.

No no no!  A man of the cloth and I make jokes about his enjoyment of having his inseam fondled?

“Excuse me, Janice. Could you lend me a hand?  I seem to have something lodged here in my mouth.  Oh wait, it’s my foot.”

That moment, while a bit fluster-inducing at the time, was serendipitous.  Had I known in advance that Yummy was a minister I would have treated him in a completely different way, maybe bowing, calling him “your eminence” and trying not to make eye contact.  Meanwhile  I would have been nervously guarding the real me for fear of incurring wrath, judgment or whatever the 21st century equivalent of burning at the stake might be.  Preconceived ideas are a bitch, aren’t they?

Instead I accidentally let my true self shine through and being received with humor and acceptance allowed me to trust this man, despite his cloth.  Our friendship has grown and blossomed over time and even though I was away for 3 years and we didn’t have any communication at all, Saturday when he walked up onto my sunny front porch and sat across from me in the rocker, our conversation picked up like no time had passed at all.

I complimented him on his column.  He writes  for the Daily Townsman here in Cranbrook, and I have often found myself shouting out loud while reading his teachings “YES!  EXACTLY!  THAT IS WHAT I HAVE BEEN TRYING TO SAY!”  His Christian teachings are progressive, all inclusive and centered in love.  If you ever wonder what Jesus would do, you could simply watch Yummy and you’d get a pretty good example.

During our conversation I was explaining (okay, complaining might be a better word here) how I feel like the Christian churches have stolen Jesus for themselves and how it pisses me off that such an amazing teacher could be used to create divisions and exclusivity.  I then paraphrased the Hindu saying I picked up on the wide wide world of web somewhere:

There are hundreds of paths up the mountain, all leading in the same direction, so it doesn’t matter which path you take.  The only ones wasting time are the ones who runs around and around the mountain, telling everyone else that their path is wrong.

Surprised, Yummy asked me where I had heard that saying, then went on to explain that he uses the same saying in his teachings quite often.  But, Yummy takes it further.  (this is awesome… you’re going to love this…)

Yummy explained that at the base of the mountain our paths are so far apart we can barely see each other, if at all.  But as we climb that mountain the paths get closer and closer until, when we reach the top we are close enough to embrace.

It is so beautiful I want to cry!

And the dogma pushers, the judgers, the fundamentalists?  He simply says “God Bless You” and leaves them to their path. This is a page I will most definitely take from his book.  Because who am I to judge what stones make up their path?  If they need to believe that I am wrong in order to feel they are right, then God bless them.  If they trip on those stones, then I wish them a gentle landing.  I know I have tripped plenty on my own path.  I mean, really, aren’t I just as guilty of judging them for judging me?

And when we meet at the top of the mountain I bet we hug each other and laugh about the crazy journeys we’ve taken and all of the trips and falls along the way.   Until then, I send love to ease their path so that whatever their journey, it will be smooth.

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Teardrops

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“Within tears find hidden laughter.  Seek treasures amid ruins, sincere one.”  Rumi

I hate to cry.  No.  I don’t think you understand what I am telling you.  I actually despise it.  The big, red nose, the swollen eyes, the waggling chin, the choking sobs, the snot, the whole nasty business of it.  I will go out of my way to avoid it at all costs.  If I hear a movie or book is a tear jerker, I say “no thanks” and then find myself a nice comedy.  And when I feel tears looming, I scurry off to the nearest hole to hide so that nobody has to witness the god awful mess that happens when these waterworks let loose.  When the phrase “ugly cry” was coined, they were actually talking about me.

So imagine my surprise when, several years ago, it became apparent that my daughter, Em, absolutely loves to cry.  Now don’t get me wrong.  She doesn’t enjoy physical or emotional pain or anguish.  But she just adores watching a sad movie, reading books with tragic endings and listening to those minor key songs that make me want to plug my ears and sing Henry the Eighth I Am I Am at the top of my lungs to stop from hearing it.

Em, by nature is a happy person.  For most of her 17 years she has had a smile firmly affixed on her pretty face.  She loves to laugh and enjoys life to an enviable degree.  Even during the angst ridden teen years, she has managed to dodge the moody bits and has continued shining this amazing joy wherever she goes.

But.  Give her a rainy afternoon with nothing to do and I can guarantee she will be found cuddled on the couch, surrounded by wads of soggy tissues, sobbing her heart out as Jack and Rose take the big plunge.  Titanic, which she has watched at least 118 times, is a movie I sat through once, and ended up having to apply cold, wet washcloths to my eyes afterwards in order to pry them open, that’s how swollen they were from crying.

Why oh why do people do this to themselves?  Cry on purpose?  It is sheer madness!

Or is it?  As with all things philosophical, scientific or spiritual, when I have a question I turn to the source of all knowledge:  Google.  And here is what I have found…

Did you know that:

1.  Crying is good for your eyes?  Not only does it lubricate them, it also washes out any nasty bacteria that might have gathered while staring unblinkingly at your iThings.  Tears literally help us to see more clearly.  (There has to be a metaphor hidden in there somewhere).

2.  Shedding tears actually helps our bodies to shed the toxins that accumulate due to stress.  These toxins, when left unattended can build up and cause all sorts of disease and nastiness in our bodies.  Tears help to shed stress.  (And they are free, which is considerably cheaper than wine).

3.  Tears can help to lower levels of manganese in a body.  What is manganese, you may ask?  Well, I have no idea, but according to my googling it is some nasty stuff that increases our levels of anxiety, nervousness, irritability, aggression, fatigue, mood swings and a whole great big can of worms that are better left unopened.

4.  Allowing tears to flow can bring us emotional release and catharsis.  Once that snotty dam bursts, all of the pent up emotions that we carry around like unwanted, overpacked baggage, can flow far, far away and we can breathe easier, let the sun shine in and feel light enough to smile again.

Alright Google.  You win another round.  I will stop stopping myself from having a cry now and again.  I will bring extra tissues, and dark glasses and go sit through 12 Years A Slave.  God willing I won’t run into anyone I know.

Did I mention my ugly cry? *shudder*

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“I’ll never let go, Jack.  I’ll never let go.”

Ah hell.