The Opposite of Faith

 

Photo by My American Husband, Walt Babinski
Photo by My American Husband, Walt Babinski

“The opposite of faith is not doubt: It is certainty. It is madness. You can tell you have created God in your own image when it turns out that he or she hates all the same people you do.”  Anne Lamott

 

The Empty Chair

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The table is set with the finest china and crystal.  My Izzy has outdone herself.  She works diligently to keep our family happy during this holiday season, though in the moments she allows herself to be still she suffers the pain of her broken heart.  She cloaks herself in noise and chaos to keep such moments at bay.

It has been a day of delightful surprises.  Shiny coins hidden away for the children to happen upon.   A lovely red cardinal for Izzy and the girls singing through the kitchen window, bright red against the bleak winter.  And now a fresh blanket of snow to brighten the dark night.

The family sits.   William, my son,  looks diminished somehow, as if the past year has taken some of the air out of him.  His wife, Clara fusses over their daughters, tying bibs and settling them in.   Faith and  Temperance pass bowls of steaming vegetables and soft white buns.  Hudson and Hinton argue with good nature over who shall carve.  Hinton, the eldest, prevails.  The older grandchildren giggle at their tiny table, set beside the fireplace while the younger babes are tended next to their parents.   All have gathered for the feast.  It is a typical scene, one we’ve acted out so many times before, but this time there is a great difference.  This time the room is filled with the presence of the empty chair.  Nobody speaks of it but its presence will not be denied.  They carve, and serve and pour and cut and sip and laugh and talk, comforting sights and sounds.  Their faces glow in the shimmering candle light, tentative joy, tentative sorrow.

I wonder if they know how happy I am to have them all here.

Hinton, my son, finally raises his glass.  His face freezes as he fights emotion.   After a moment he smiles, and toasts the empty chair.  The others join him.   Family.  We come together in good times and in bad.  We share the love and laughter and we hold each other tightly through the tears.

“To our lovely Mother, may her spirit rest.  There is surely a feast in Heaven tonight!”  They smile.   They tap their glasses and wipe their tears.  And soon the memories start and there is laughter.

I sit here in this empty chair, abiding love.  Yes … there truly is a feast in Heaven tonight.

 

Come On In

“You are not a drop in the ocean.  You are the entire ocean in a drop.”  Rumi

Everything I need to know about science I learned from watching Star Trek the Next Generation.  For example, I learned that human beings consist of “ugly giant bags of mostly water” or more precisely what Data says HERE  .

Celebrity City

I went to Wikipedia, my other source for all things scientific,  to confirm that whole 90% thing and found out that we are actually closer to about 60 – 75% water.  I want to make sure I get my facts straight for any of you hard core scientists who might be reading this.  Because, yeah… I get a lot of hard core science types reading this blog.

But back to the water thing.  (be patient, I’m building a metaphor here)

Consider God (or Universe or Source or Big Kahuna in the sky, or whatever name you have for the Infinite Intelligence that runs the show).  Let’s say that God is the ocean.  When humans want to get closer to God  they build boats, all different kinds, and set sail in  search of God, pointing their compass toward heaven or nirvana, etc.  The boats all fill with people of like mind who want to sail on that particular boat.  They usually think that theirs is the best boat and that no other boat is seaworthy.   Some of the boats are huge, like cruise ships, opulent and fancy, while others are more like old rowing ships, requiring all who ride in them to work diligently and never ever stop or look up or think.  Other boats set tall sails and let the wind carry them smoothly across the surface.  And all of these boats have one thing in common.  They are created by humans, built by humans, and most importantly, captained by humans.  This is religion.

Spirituality, on the other hand,  is about diving right into the deep end and splashing around, becoming one with the tides and the swell of the waves.  Sometimes we choose to jump in but oftentimes life throws us in, leaving us to thrash about and barely survive.  We fear we might drown, but after awhile we allow ourselves to let go and trust and we find that the salt water gently buoys us, keeping us afloat.  Instead of riding the bucking waves of life, we discover that we can sink below the maelstroms to the still quiet that waits deep below the surface and provides a calm strength that protects us from any storm.  Spirituality is discovering that the greatest part of ourselves is made up of “mostly water”.  We are what we came from.  Some people prefer to ride in the boats, taking comfort in the leadership of their captains and the community of passengers on their journey.  Some others never leave the shore, preferring the solid ground of “reality” beneath their feet.  Others, like myself, prefer to get wet.  This is spirituality.

When we leave this life, we return  to the sea.  And then one day the sun warms us and we once again rise from the water as mist and fall gently to the earth ,  drops of rain ready to begin again, our journey back to the sea.   This modality provided by our benevolent Big Kahuna, allows us as many do-overs as we need in order to learn our lessons and get things right.  Sometimes we stay on shore, afraid to go near the water, sometimes we bury our heads in the sand, sometimes we set sail, checking out the different boats along the way, and sometimes we swim.  This is reincarnation.

Every experience is valid, every boat seaworthy in its own way.  If you ever find yourself in a little too deep, you can always find a life preserver:  all you need to do is ask.  Remember that the captain of the ship, while having the best of intentions, is also having a human experience and they have a navigation system that has its own quirks and flaws.  Trust your own inner guidance.  It will not steer you wrong.

And thus concludes this watery metaphor.  If you think I am all wet, then you are correct, sir.   One last thing before I go…

Come on in!  The water’s fine.

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Swimming by Breathe Owl Breathe

Heaven Sent

Photo by:  Walter Babinski, My American Husband
Photo by: Walter Babinski, My American Husband

” My soul is from elsewhere, I am sure of that, and I intend to end up there.”  Rumi

I rise.  As I leave the weight of my body and of the material world behind I feel a euphoria I have not experienced since putting on this personality.  Leaving the physical manifestation behind feels like music sounds.  I rise.  I rise and all is love.  Fear no longer exists.  I am weightless where I had no idea there was weight.  There is a cloak of fear, a mantle of it that held me in my skin and once I am released it falls away and there is nothing left between my Self and pure bliss.

What I have seen as reality parts like a curtain and there is my home, right there. I experience recognition. This is my home.  This is where I came from in the first place.  How had I not remembered that?  I am surprised at how close it has always been.  The veil was very effective while I was in human form.  Transparent from this other side, I am able to see whatever people and situations come to my mind.  Past, present and future meld into one and all I need to do is cast my interest somewhere and I am there.  Simply, instantly, I experience this most current lifetime.  What was once experienced by mind is now experienced by Spirit.  I see and hear and feel from every angle.  All that I felt and experienced on earth, all that others felt and experienced, and all of the waves and ripples created by every situation.  It is like a vast, musical arrangement and I hear the harmonious chords of each relationship played… a symphony of love and light.

I am still wearing the vestiges of human consciousness and can see that my human mind created every moment of discomfort, drama, pain and fear that I experienced.  I am amazed that I was so attached to the pain that I forgot how to allow the Divine to flow into my moments.  I have a knowing that my purpose in this lifetime was to find my voice.  I watch the pivotal moments as they fleet through the movie of my now Spirit mind.  So many opportunities to be authentic and to speak my truth and I watch as my human self cowered, hiding behind the mask of acceptability.  So many growth opportunities squandered.  There is no judgment, either from my Self, or from the guides that surround me.  I know that Life is our biggest challenge and that I will be given many more opportunities to grow.

I wonder if next time I will remember.  Will I know that the veil shrouds the truth and that the truth is utterly simple?  The only trick to fulfilling my life’s purpose is to feel good.  Just that.  Feeling good allows the divine river to flow and that wonderfully swift current journeys us through lessons and experiences that bring us to our Purpose.  Whatever lesson plan we have devised for ourselves will flow to us faster and easier through joyful means.

It is when we allow our human fears, doubts and wrong thinking to freeze us into inaction that the Spirit team will step in and help us along by giving us the traumatic catalysts for change, like loss, humiliation, imprisonment, despair, or any number of other triggers.  From this new perspective I understand that floating on the river of joy is so much more effective than being kicked along the shore.  The destination remains the same, even if the journey seems vastly different.

Would I choose to learn my lessons through trauma or learn my lessons through joy?  No brainer.  Next time I pick joy.

Gosh I hope I remember that.

Reflections

“If you are irritated by every rub, how will your mirror be polished?”  Rumi

Have you ever noticed how patterns in life will keep repeating until we finally “get it”? For me this was never as apparent as when my family and I moved to another city, far far away.  I left behind a lot of great friends, but also a few toxic relationships and I was ready for a nice, shiny, new start.

Imagine my surprise when the exact same toxic relationships showed up, disguised as other people. It was nearly comical, the week I started my new job and began to see the character traits blooming.   Oh wow.  Shirley is my new Back Stabbing Dawn.  Jake is my new Lascivious Larry.   And OH NO Clarissa is clearly my new Angry Annie.  WTF, Universe?  I thought I had left those problems behind and yet here they were again, only this time even bigger caricatures of their predecessors.  Where Dawn had been sneaky and sly in her back stabbing, Shirley was openly mean.  Where Larry had been subtle with his advances, Jake was a creepy octopus.  And Clarissa’s dark cloud of wrath made Angry Annie seem like a ray of sunshine.

Recognizing the repeating patterns was my first step in breaking these toxic relationships that kept developing in my world.   Once the pattern was recognized I was able to determine what lesson this person/relationship was here to teach.  Why did these annoying people keep showing up?  If I could just figure out what part of me they were polishing, maybe I could get the rubbing to stop.

I have come to realize that being a people pleaser, I tend to attract those inch/mile people who have no sense of boundaries.   So I set some boundaries.  I learned to calmly, gently but firmly speak my mind and even realized that “No” is a complete sentence.  Personal growth in leaps and bounds, right?  Now those annoying boundary pushers would leave me alone.  Lesson learned… let’s move on.

But no.  Seems the same “types” are still finding me, and it seems with each new representative they have become ever more extreme in their behaviors.  I continue to set my boundaries, but they keep showing up, leaping the fence, rubbing up against me until I am raw from their incessant polishing.

So what?  Were there more lessons to learn?  And if so, what could they be?  Bigger boundaries?  Going on the offensive, being rude?  Ending relationships?  Becoming a hermit?

Getting still and silent one day, I heard the whisper of wisdom.  Speaking my truth and setting boundaries was one lesson.  But the true lesson went far beyond.  The cold hard truth was that I was being judgmental.  If somebody wasn’t fitting within the sterile parameters of my idea of what was acceptable, I was shutting them out. Ouch.  Truth bomb.

The true, spiritual lesson was that I needed to break down my own barriers and build a sanctuary of acceptance.  Maybe the Annie’s, Larry’s and others simply had a different sense of what was proper, socially acceptable behavior than I had.  Being different did not make them wrong.  Maybe my feelings of discomfort came because they were here to help me to stop keeping myself detached from life.   Maybe the real lesson was to love, unconditionally, in real and tangible ways and not just talk about it.  Maybe – just maybe –  I needed to walk the talk…live the talk, and break down the barriers I had built between me and my true Self.

My new practice is simple.  I accept whoever comes my way.  If they are angry, petty or gossip, I don’t react, but send them loving kindness.  I respond with gentleness and quiet acceptance and the results have been nearly miraculous.  The people who have come to polish my mirror reflect to me the things about myself that I have hidden away, secret shames and fears.  At first these relationships taught me how to have a better human experience.  Now they teach me how to have a better spiritual experience.  They shine and polish my mirror so that I can be the clear, divine love that I am meant to be.

And when they finally gaze into the mirror that they have helped to polish, they too get a glimpse of their eternal nature as I reflect back to them their own light.