The Space Between

Duration is an interesting concept.  Because we really only experience things in the now.  Even if it’s an old memory or sensation, we perceive it in the now.  So how is it we perceive duration?  By measuring, by comparison of things, and sometimes by anticipation or prediction.  But either way, it takes some faith.

I am envisioning jumping over a canyon.  Is time the space between two ledges?  I could sit here and just look at that mental picture for a long time.  Without writing.  I could be content to just gaze at the picture of my mental thought.  I have learned how to be still.  And how to quiet my thoughts.  I believe that is good and wonderful.  But so much of the time (nearly all the time) lately, I just want to sleep.  It is as though I just don’t want the world I wake to.

Yes, that is it.  And acknowledging that I feel that way doesn’t really seem to resolve anything within me.  It’s not just a feeling.  It is also a condition of mind.  I’ve lost the conviction to act.  What does it matter to “make the world a better place”?  Everything gets taken away, everyone dies.  I’ve lost my grip on why we bother.  Bother.  What a word.

The above was written back in late August of 2016.  It was part of “morning pages.”  The writings of following days reveal emotional highs and lows, profound and mundane thoughts, commentary on all kinds of things — that’s the point of “morning pages”: stream of consciousness.

One recurring theme is how grateful I am to be away from an atmosphere and others’ attitudes that I found to be oppressive.  (I was more and more experiencing a resurgence of “new” energy.)  Along those lines, I was also attempting to sort out what I did and didn’t value about the community/ situation in which I experienced that “oppressive” (ultra-conservative), insular/ self-absorbed environment.  Mostly I missed what I had been able to contribute.  As for the rest, I was glad to be away, gone, done.

Even before I went on retreat in Cohasset, I was realizing that I was glad to be done with ministry.  It just takes too much out of me to carry so many concerns for others.  And while on retreat I was able to process many of my thoughts and feelings about moving into a time of transition.  But I continued to send resumes for six months to fulfill unemployment insurance obligations, and doing so kept me in a kind of psychological suspension (i.e. I had to keep an open mind about the possibility of seriously seeking another ministry job), so it wasn’t really until March that I felt more completely “done” with the past era of my life.

Meanwhile, over the past seven or eight months, I’ve done a great deal of writing, mostly private thoughts, some for blogs, and in much of my private writing I process what is revealed to me through my dreams.  The dreams I recorded are highly detailed and extremely interesting, and I am obviously portraying my real-life choices to myself in my dreams in graphic ways that make it clear I am embracing my choices and affirming the healthfulness of those decisions for myself.  The dreams are so insightful that even now when I reread them, I have had several new “ah-ha!” moments.

Throughout many of the “morning pages” I also write about theology, philosophy, politics, and ideas about things I might like to explore.  Already by the end of September 2016 I am beginning to feel real interest in new things.  That to me is highly significant especially in light of what I wrote in late August (see above).

Today I thank God time does indeed pass.

Longing for Unimpeded Emptying

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Thou: What do you seek? What do you most want, right now?

I: I don’t know!  I think that is maybe my first obstacle!  I think I know much of what I don’t want, and I’ve been letting go of more and more, but what I want to do or have or feel or be?  I’m not sure!  I think I’ve just been too full of Other.  I think maybe I want emptiness!  Actually, I long for fertility, but I know I can’t conceive until all that deadens or censors or drains me is removed.  So I long for a large open space (within) that is guarded from afar ~~I.E. I don’t have to do or contend with the guarding.  My boundaries are so far out-ward that my free-range of exploration feels boundless!  Yes, I want to fly until I am tired from my own flying, not from clearing a space to fly.

My inner space is mostly meadow, a grassy plain reaching to the beach ~~ dunes on the Atlantic.  There is nearly nothing on my landscape, just lots of grasses and a few trees, maybe one little stream that flows to the ocean.  My horizon is the ocean.  I look to the sea.  What do I hear?  I hear birds singing and the roar of distant waves.  I hear the wind in grass.  What do I feel?  Sunlight, breeze, peace.  What do I smell?  Grasses, limes, and salty air.  Are there any creatures or companions?  A stray cat comes and goes.  There are lots of birds, field mice, worms, insects, a lone wolf or coyote, and stray cats.  But mostly I am alone.  Sometimes I watch the cat and she looks at me, but mostly I just listen, and watch the sky and the sea.

Thou:  It sounds like you just want to live quietly by the sea.

I: Yes.

Thou: What is it you receive from the sea that nothing else can give?

I:  It’s self!  The expanse!  The sound of waves.  Wind, sky, and water.  The lack of people and man-made structures.  God air for breathing.  Salty water and air.  The pushing and pulling of waves.  The multitude of blues and greens.  Pageantry of sunlight on huge swaths of moving surface.  The play of surface and depth.  Yes!  THAT especially!  The sea!  The sea!   I love the sea!

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Early musings from transition time.

Be Stout-Hearted!

I’ve been reviewing some of my early notes from doing Artist’s Way tasks, and I have found that three things I’d like to do more consistently are:

  1. Affirm my emotional self.  So many people throughout my life have at times told me I am “too emotional” (or have used shaming name-calling, like “cry-baby,” or “Pollyanna,” etc.), and yet it is the breadth of my emotions and the depth of my empathy that helps me be a great musician and teacher.  I recognize that for many years I found it difficult to manage my emotions, but I would encourage others who have had experiences similar to mine: don’t accept the condemnation of your emotions; simply grow in your capacity to manage them (especially in relationships) and explore how to effectively use them in your creativity.  But never let anyone condemn your heart.
  2. Be courageous.  Strengthen my empathy for myself and my dreams!  There’s a Psalm that says “Be stout-hearted and of good courage!”  Be stout-hearted!  I love that!
  3. Another thing I’d like to more deliberately affirm in myself is my ability to hold paradox, my comfortability with ambiguity, and then to make creative use of that ability.  

I’ve noticed that when I reflect on qualities and accomplishments in people I admire it is this very thing: they embody paradox; they affirm combinations that many others would think are incompatible; AND they figure out how to live those paradoxes in creative ways that are often life-giving to others.  For example:

  1. Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  Christian, man of peace, yet was an active part of resisting the Nazi’s even to the point of participating in attempt to assassinate Hitler.
  2. Jerry Seinfeld:  He seems fundamentally cynical about life but chooses to laugh rather than cry.  He finds the funny when it would be easy to be over-whelmed with the seeming futility of life.
  3. Meryl Streep:  I really don’t know much about her person, but as an actor she plays so many different characters that it makes me think that besides great acting talent, she also has great empathy.  She must be able to see many viewpoints.  And she clearly believes in the merit of story, story which embraces multiple viewpoints.
  4. Elie Wiesel:  Remember, yet forgive.  That is really the biggest challenge.

 

 

Hark Hark the Lark

Meadow Lark painting
Meadow Larks

Hark! hark! the lark at heaven’s gate sings,

And Phoebus ‘gins arise,

His steeds to water at those springs

On chalic’d flowers that lies;

And winking Mary-buds begin

To ope their golden eyes;

With everything that pretty is,

My lady sweet, arise:

Arise, arise!

~ William Shakespeare (from Cymbeline, Act 2, Scene 3) (1611)

Bully: Beast or Behavior?

Monsters.  They’re real.  Bullies who persist in bullying are one breed of monster.  Everyone whoever bullied me was a monster at that point.  Some of those people I tend to think of as monsters because their entire mode of relating was as a bully, i.e. abusive.  Some of those who have behaved like a bully on limited occasions I tend to think of as whole persons and only some of their behavior as bullish.

There was someone who abused me sexually and psychologically.  Even though he may have thought he “loved” me, it was really lust, a strange way of having power, and it nearly killed me.  But more on that at another time.

My siblings often teased me to the point of hurting me deeply, making me feel shame for having feelings.  There were childhood and adolescent peers who teased me also, but I didn’t continue to relate much with them.  In college there was a classmate who teased and taunted me.  I think she was sometimes jealous, and generally just had an “acidic” personality.  However, throughout most of my academic era I was free of bullies.

When I worked amongst “blue-collar” workers there was one person who tried to torment me.  I have no idea why.  She had been given a promotion which made for the vacancy I then filled; she need not have been jealous, and yet she seemed to find my success to be an affront to her status.

Even in church-work I have experienced bullies.  People who tried to sabotage other’s work or colleagues who would gossip about each other.  The politics within the church can be especially discouraging, especially for those of us who think of church primarily as faith family.

The point of this litany of lament is that bullies can be found anywhere.  And those who bully can seem to be monsters because they act like monsters — their behavior is destructive to other persons.  However, I still believe that inside of most (if not all) monsters, no matter how beastly their behavior, as long as they are alive, there is a human-being, a sacred Person.  So I try to “separate the sin from the sinner.”  In some cases that’s very hard to do.  Sometimes one must simply walk away.

I still believe Christ died for all, meaning His sacred sacrifice of His very Self, taking all the world’s sins upon Himself (He who knew no sin), cleared the way for everyone to be saved: to become the persons God created them to be.  Yet, how they proceed through that “becoming” might be beyond the particular work Christ calls us to do.  If in trying to befriend a bully you find yourself actually enabling their bad behavior, it’s better to abandon that relationship; release them back to the wild so to speak!  I would even dare to say most monsters cannot be transformed by those they would molest — different dynamics are needed for dramatic reformation.  Regardless, we can pray for those who would persecute us.  And the miraculous marvel of this mighty mission is that we too are then transformed: victim becomes victor — and not through violent force or domination, but via healing.  For the Lord can bind up our wounds, no matter how huge, and the Lord can heal the broken-hearted.

#Cameron, #ArtistsWay, #bully, #bullies, #bullying, #monsters, #Person, #person, #sin, #sinner, #victim, #victor, #prayer, #healing, #Christ, #Lord, #prayer.

 

Mind’s Meadow

I don’t think I have any old horror stories hanging out in my heart.  I think my big block has been grief.  Natural grief.  Good grief.  Grief from loss of loved ones and treasured roles.  I am grateful to have felt so much connection (even with attachment) with loved-ones and to have been able to give myself to roles/ relationships I profoundly enjoy, even if it means I grieve when I part from them.

I am also grateful now to enter a new chapter of my life.  I see the path ahead as through a gap, a space in an old wall…  And on the other side is an expansive meadow.  I can see in the far distance rolling hills that lead up to majestic mountains.  And, although I can’t see it, I know that on the other side of the mountains is the ocean.  That’s where I am headed.  Meanwhile I look forward to enjoying the meadow.

(Interior view from August 2017)

Reflecting further on this image of being on the threshold of a gap in a wall: I can see myself testing the width of the opening, asking myself “How much do I need to let go of to get through?”  As it turns out, not quite everything!  Some of my “burdens” were easily dropped.  Boulder-sized bags of “beautiful” burdens heaped to either side of the entry.   It was more challenging to separate myself from some impediments, especially as they were less readily seen and  identified as the little but lethal thorns that they were.  And there probably remain a few extra things in my pack that I’ll part with later.  But, for now, with a lighter load, I’ve moved on.

#Cameron, #ArtistsWay, #WritersBlock, #LettingGo

 

Exhale

  • Exhale, Xenia, Heaven’s Abba loves eternally. 
  • Xenia holds her breath as storms swirl and flee,
  • Heavens heave hail and houses hover.
  • Abba! Where are you? Help us, hold us, be our cover!
  • Love’s embrace is all we really have.
  • Eternally-Begotten, let us be not forgotten; You are our only salve.