Wednesday, June 10, 2015

But God Meant it for Good

An unrecognizable emotion flounders deep in my mind and heart. It inks my dreams turning them into anxious foreboding. 

No label presents itself.

What sort of creature haunts my inner being?

Upon description my husband places a moniker that seems correct.


My mom died a dozen days ago. There is peace and even relief with her passing as it was expected; there was verbal closure lasting eight years, and her suffering is no more. I know I will miss her, and I know the days, months, years ahead will be altered, weird.

Those emotions I recognize. They are appreciated. They inform me.

But this slithering nameless entity I do not know. It is not appreciated. It does not inform of anything but danger. It does not seem attached to my mother's passing.


I think my husband accurately deduces the presence.

My mother was the magnet around whom her children clung.

She is no more.

Her children - without her pull - regroup, and just as it was in childhood, so it is now. I am here. Two of the other three are together there. Way over there, purposefully out of my reach. Two who I thought were my solid rocks, now intentionally cold and silent to my requests for conversation and connection. They grieve together leaving me to grieve alone, without them and their shared memories, alone in my attempts to come to grips with our common loss.

I have been Cut Free, like an unwanted pest.

Instead of focusing on the Cut, I shall focus on the Free.

Sometimes it is a gift when people walk away. A gift of freedom, because, to be honest, more that is different than is same reigns in the relationships anyway.

Abandonment horrifies. At first.

But, to a rose-colored mind such as mine, being cut free from something that is unkind, inconsiderate, and rude still feels like cruel dismissal and posturing. Now that the situation's reality is noticed and accepted, relief enters. And gratitude. 

As if hunkering in a lifeboat cut free from a sinking Titanic, horror and relief bubble up all at once. All that seemed safe is gone! But the safety was an illusion, the damage irreparable, the glory, pride, and luxury dropping out of sight into the dark and pressured abyss.

My tiny lifeboat, however, is free to correct its balance on life's open sea, to begin again, to sail toward fresh sunrises and sunsets, accompanied by other survivors, to sail, infused with a pleasant restorative peace which gently fills the void where once resided those who do not understand. 

Yes, I've been abandoned. 

But all is well.

I will fondly remember the good times while remaining saddened by this unhappy - though inevitable - parting, this dreaded cutting away of people I have long and deeply loved, however unreal those connections have turned out to be. 

Abandonment is named. The dark presence tamed.

Life makes sense again.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Domination and Power Lust Hurts People

"Whosoever ... desires domination and power, very often seeks to obtain what he loves by most open crimes." --Augustine

Even crimes such as lying, controlling, deceiving, envying, competing, jealousy, boastfulness, ridicule, bombast, fakery, withholding, manipulation, cheating, and rudeness are considered - by me, anyway - to be 'most open crimes'.

As the recipient of such open crimes I can testify that they really are criminal. They hurt. They confuse, frustrate, and cause to stumble.

They are not only not good, they are very very bad. Evil even.

Thanks be to God whose presense in our lives bears fruit that is lovely, good, uplifting, and true.

I choose to avoid evil in whatever form it takes - to battle it to the death if need be! - whether in others or in myself. When in others, an admonishment may be called for. Sometimes walking away is the only recourse. But evil - if it won't be confessed and repented of - must be shunned, for it is a thief of serenity, and a time bandit, and a messer of minds.

I choose to 'think on these' noble things, and shun the open crimes which creep into life but can easily be swept away once recognized.

Secret: Recognize and Refuse

Over and over if necessary.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Peak Performance for Life

"The universe is always changing. But in the Perfection Syndrome, you tend to swim upstream against change, trying to control your environment instead of working with it, all to avoid the possibility of failure. The need to control brings a harsh, judging attitude about things. You end up, no matter how successful your life looks on the trophy shelf, stressed out and burned out.  
'Peak performance occurs when you are able to reach out and discover, using the natural essence of self - creativity, inquiry, and aliveness. When you operate from these qualities, rather than perfection, the questions that you ask are not whether you are right or wrong, but, 'What can I learn? What am I feeling? What value am I adding?' These questions lead you not to be concerned about failure but to be fascinated with the outcomes of your actions. And that fascination gives birth to the key to peak performance - awareness. Through awareness you make adjustments naturally." ~~ Tom Crum 
During a recent gathering I witnessed both Peak Performance and the Perfection Syndrome. To have an object lesson to go with Tom's perspective drove home his points brilliantly. 

Harsh, judging attitudes reduced the joy of the gathering. Those with Perfection Syndrome couldn't stop controlling. They monitored, manipulated, threatened, reactively snapped at people, and just generally were terrible wet blankets during the entire event. It was unpleasant to be in the same room
with these people for they intimidated, caused tension, dampened spirits. It seemed an invisible rule book of dogmatic - and obviously flawed - life principles prodded the words and hands of the fearful. Strangely, these stiff-necked folks couldn't seem to make out that their behavior was diminishing, while the behavior of those they attempted to control was uplifting. The fearful seemed oddly blind to it all. I tried to avoid them and let their negativity roll off my back and succeeded to a degree. I have to say, it hurt to witness the hurt they instilled on innocents for no good reason.

At the same time, those who achieved peak performance - or nearly so and when not under the badgering of the 'fear of failure' folks - enjoyed the time at hand. Discovery, joy, happiness, creativity, inquiry, aliveness, participation. Learning, feeling, adding value to themselves and their world. They were aware. They were interesting as well and interested. They were fun, lively. And, yes, I witnessed natural adjustments being made as situations ever-changed, as they always do. I enjoyed hanging out with these folks.

What I learned over this weekend is that when Jesus says that unless we become like little children we won't see the Kingdom of Heaven, I think He means just that. He means we have to be alive, aware, curious, interested, teachable, open, and able to adjust naturally to the ebb and flow of life. The childlike way is to be receptive rather than controlling, respectful rather than belligerent, inclusive rather than judging. It makes sense.

Life unfolds slowly, over time. One must pay attention for reaping follows sowing. And, though sometimes hard at the time, after love and awareness are sown, reaping is a beautiful thing.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Living on the Banks

"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting, and doing things historians usually record - while, on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry, whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happens on the banks."~~Will Durant, The Story of Civilization

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

It's Not Dark, But It's Getting There

Just learned this: My dad recently, pensively told my daughters that neither they nor their parents, brothers or cousins know the real America. He said he knew it. But it's gone. "You will probably never see it again." I'm crying because for some time my heart has told me the same thing. So few of us stop long enough to notice and fewer of us care.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Service is Joy

"I don't know what your destiny will be, but one thing I know. The only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve." ~~Albert Schweitzer, to a graduating class of medical students
I slept and dreamt that life was joy.  I awoke and found that life was service. I acted and behold, service was joy. ~~ Rabindranath Tagore

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Compassion in the Face of Suffering

Hurt people hurt. Forgiven people forgive. ~~ Steve Saint
It really is as simple and as complicated as that. Our responses in the face of tragedy, cruelty, pain, and suffering reflect back to us the condition of our hearts.

As a child, when I responded with sadness or horror to suffering of various levels, whether fictionalized or real, I was told I was 'too sensitive'. Today I realize the wrongness in that sentiment. My empathy normally led to acts of kindness, even if only to pray.

Memories of my own suffering spur me to compassion for others.

Settling shame from causing others to suffer does its work in my heart, when I let it, leading to a contrition that yields its beautiful fruit in time; forgiveness and understanding for others.

Today, I embrace the suffering my heart endures for it tells me that it remains soft, not hard. A hard heart does not notice or care when injustices stab at it. A soft heart gasps at the injury, remembers the cause, and thanks the Lord for his gentle nudging toward enlightenment.

Suffering hurts. Its pain is either the root of bitterness and decay, or the catalyst for compassion and wisdom.

I choose compassion.

[Thanks to my friend, Joanne Wilson, for the above quote from Steve Saint.]