“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” Walt Whitman
“I don’t understand why people insist on pitting concepts of evolution and creation against each other. Why can’t they see that spiritualism and science are one? That bodies evolve and souls evolve and the universe is a fluid package that marries them both in a wonderful package called a human being. What’s wrong with that idea?” Garth Stein, The Art of Racing in the Rain
In my quest for the Truth, I sample from the dishes presented, finding tastes of wisdom along the way. Each new flavor adds layers to my experience. With each new bite I find myself closer to satisfied but always aware that the banquet is endless. I feast with my senses and keep only those wonders that leave a good taste behind.
The small man builds cages for everyone he knows.
While the sage, who has to duck his head when the moon is low,
Keeps dropping keys all night long for the beautiful, rowdy prisoners.
I was driving home from work one day, stop and go, hurry up and wait and I had found that blissful space between leaving the mad, fast pace of work and before landing in the mad, fast pace of home. I was just floating along, enjoying some CBC 2 and letting the thoughts and worries of the day evaporate. I don’t admit this to many people, but I really enjoy a good traffic jam. Being locked in place makes it impossible to do anything but relax and get into that in-between space of meditation, visualization, daydreaming.
I like travel days for the very same reason.
And doing dishes.
And folding laundry. Just me? Really?
So anyways, I was sitting there, happily zoning when someone whispered in my ear. Tingles shot up my spine and all along my scalp. My breath caught and I half laughed, half gasped. “Wha..!?”
Again the whisper, words as clear as if spoken aloud: “I sent you a present. You will receive it tonight.” I recognized the voice, a voice I hadn’t heard for several years. A voice I missed terribly.
Now don’t get me wrong, I am fairly used to hearing from my dead friends and relatives. Quite often they send me things like feathers, and song lyrics. Sometimes they make the street lights go on right when I am looking at them. Sometimes they make hummingbirds fly right up to me and look me in the eye. I’ve even had them whisper messages to me, but never before had it been so loud and clear.
“Hey there, friend. I’ve missed you” I whispered back, then got that weird smiling through tears thing. For the rest of the crawl home, I wondered what this present might be.
I didn’t have to wait long. I stopped to pick up the mail and there was indeed a big, exciting package in there, addressed to me. What could it be? I didn’t recognize the return address and had not ordered anything. I got home quickly, dumped my stuff on the floor and grabbed some scissors to open the package.
I slipped my hand inside. It was a book! I pulled it out, froze for just a moment, then started laughing nearly hysterically.
It was The First Phone Call From Heaven by Mitch Albom.
WTF?! The book wasn’t even released yet. I knew that because I had been eagerly anticipating the publishing date. And yet here I was holding a copy in my hot little hand. The jacket was not complete, and had things like “insert Author bio here” and stuff like that, but the pages were full and I could hardly wait to start reading it.
How the heck did my beautiful, deceased friend pull this off? This was a mind boggling mystery. A real life, honest to goodness, knock your socks off miracle! And to this day I have no idea why this book was sent to me, or what forces came together to bring me that precious gift.
What it did was solidify my belief that our deceased friends and loved ones are always with us. The more we trust their signs and gifts, the more they will work to bring us their messages. Trusting what we see and hear is the first step to opening those lines of communication. Once we remove the voice of doubt that tells us this is just coincidence or that our imagination is getting carried away, once we open to the possibilities that this is really something, then we will begin to truly open to the communications. Our loved ones have been knocking on the door, trying to get our attention. If we start to pay attention we will be amazed at what we notice.
So when you smell your Grandma’s lavender hand cream, or see that the photograph on the mantel of your deceased relative has moved, or find feathers in the strangest places, or dimes and pennies keep showing up, or even when you get a book about Heaven randomly sent to you for no reason, smile and say hello. They are.
“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.
“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 .
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.
Bridging the gap between who you are and who you are meant to be is as simple and terrifying as walking your authentic path. Step by step you find your way, getting ever closer to the YOU who has been hiding behind the masks of this mundane world. Always remember, underneath the guise you wear this time around there is the perfect, Divine being, whispering words of encouragement, begging you to follow, follow…. follow.
Photo by my American Husband
“…to forgive, Divine.” Alexander Pope
In this vast chaos we call ‘life’ we walk our unique path, meeting others along the way. Some are friends, lovers, family who lift us up and support our journeys. These people are easy to recognize and we happily welcome them and embrace them to our hearts.
Some of our fellow travelers are not so easy to embrace. Some we meet along the path seem to be there for the sole purpose of tripping us, setting up road blocks or simply to taunt our progress. They always seem to know every button we have and just push, push, push. We get annoyed. Sometimes we seethe. We even grow hot under the collar while wondering why this a-hole won’t just leave us alone.
Then there are times that we come across a person who does more than simply annoy us. Sometimes we meet another who has come into our lives like a tornado, wreaking havoc along their path, harming, nearly destroying us. They bring us devastation that we wonder if we can survive.
And sadly, at times we are that tornado.
As human people we make mistakes. We hurt others and are hurt by others. When the bad stuff happens and the brown things hit the fan it can be difficult not to take the anger, resentment, and even hatred we feel for the one we know is WRONG IN EVERY WAY and let it live like a ball of fire inside our guts, smoldering away. Some wise person somewhere once said that holding onto resentment and anger is like swallowing poison and expecting the other person to die. But how do we let it go? How do we forgive when somebody has done something to us that seems unforgivable?
Forgiveness is a hot topic these days. All over the interweb we read about how important it is to our mental, physical, emotional and spiritual health to forgive. The path to spiritual awakening must begin with forgiveness. Forgiveness is the key that opens the door to emotional healing. You’ve seen the Huff posts. You know what I’m talking about.
So, what? Somebody kills my dog, runs over my grandma with their car, or does some horrible, destructive thing that ruins my life and I am supposed to just forgive them?
Well, in short, yes. BUT who am I, to forgive? By saying that I forgive someone, am I not still holding them at fault? By believing they need forgiveness am I really saying that I still judge them?
To truly forgive it seems I must release all judgment. To be able to look on the person who did the terrible THING to me and stopping judging them is the first important step. The second is to be able to feel thankful for the lessons they have brought to me. With these two steps I am released from the bitter poison of resentment.
Ram Dass says “I see my life as an unfolding set of opportunities to awaken.” Each time I encounter something that makes me feel anger, it is my opportunity to practice compassion. Each time I am led to feel resentment, or hurt, or humiliation, I am given the opportunities to explore the parts of myself that are still controlled by fear, not love. To be led to a place where all of my hidden pockets of judgment and fear reside is to be able to shine the light on them and make them vanish. Shadows cannot survive in the light.
We come together to this playground called life with the plan to rub up against each other and smooth the edges. We are, after all, just walking each other home. When we forgive, we release judgment. We cannot know what compels another on their journey, but we can thank them for helping us to grow by bringing their hard lessons.
When I ask to be forgiven, I am really saying “please don’t judge me”. When I am able to turn this most important lesson toward my self then I am truly able to free myself from my own harsh judgments. I really do tend to be my biggest critic. In being gentle and compassionate I understand that everyone (including me) is doing the best that they can with the tools they have been given. Releasing all judgment is to truly be free.
So in my act of forgiving, I let go of judgment. I embrace the lesson and am grateful for those who have tripped me, blocked my path and hurt me along the way. By looking at them with tender eyes, I am finally able to see them for what they truly are: the source of my greatest awakening.