SEEING

I saw beauty and magnificence today, with a side of inspiration. As I walked through my neighborhood, I smelled grass, trees, and flowers. I felt peace, gratitude, and, most significantly, awe.  I got an energy infusion from the warm spring sun and air. I heard children laughing and windchimes playing harmonies across backyard fences. I felt God’s presence and my own. My mind slowed long enough for the rest of me to catch up.

During my walk, the usual static was replaced with the quiet certainty of knowing I was exactly where I was supposed to be, doing what I was supposed to do. I was happy without trying to be happy. I felt joy without praying to be joyful or undertaking a self-improvement checklist that promised joy upon completion.

We strive to be rational. We plan our futures. We plan to be happy tomorrow. But, happiness is only possible in what Richard Rohr calls The Naked Now. Buddhists call it the present moment and mindfulness.

We spend so much time trying to get God to love us! But, if we show up for ourselves just for this moment, we can forget trying to be perfect, productive, and accomplished long enough to let God love us and really feel it. That’s a game changer!

THE TRADE

THE TRADE

 

The inward battle—against our mind, our

wounds, and the residues of the past—is more

terrible than the outward battle.

—Swami S

 

If you don’t have 10 minutes, you don’t have a life. 

Tony Robbins

We’re in a Game of Thrones society now. We’re tethered to a remarkably short and fraying fuse, ready for combat at the slightest disrespect or perceived injury. Everything is always winner take all, and there’s a trail of bodies in our wake, because losing an argument now is cause for public shaming. We’re all so very war- weary, and it feels like we’re under an existential threat. As Father Thomas Keating said, we’re in a cultural straightjacket.

Most of us are getting progressively more desperate for less Game of Thrones and more I love Lucy in our daily lives– a little humor, a little perspective, a little lightheartedness.

I think I know how we got here.

We traded communion for connection, after

We traded wisdom for information, after

We traded eye contact for feedback, after

We traded contemplation for activity, after

We traded authenticity for truthiness, after

We traded mastering ourselves for managing our image, after

We traded understanding and community for tribal identity, after

 We traded accuracy for speed, after

We traded self- knowledge for goals.

Not coincidentally, we’re immersed in the trivia of each other’s lives to the exclusion of our own. We’re more attuned to whether others are succeeding at their goals or agree with us, than knowing what we truly want. Its a world of spiritual poverty and perceived dire scarcity, and yet we run from the fact that we’re all connected, because we’re all connected.

Everything that’s happening in the world is actually happening to us.

Charles Eisenstein

As one Hurricane Harvey survivor put it,

Everybody needs everybody.

It hurts and makes us feel even more helpless and tiny than we do already, unless we can get in there immediately and help. Hurricanes Harvey and Irma brought us together as we all jumped in and helped, donated, or both. But, other things, farther away, like the Congo make us feel somewhat impotent. What’s the point of seeing all of this suffering if we personally can’t get in there quick and do something about it? Of course, there is a point, and yet we run from it like Ebola. We voluntarily make the trades mentioned above rather than face it. It might as well be written on a tablet in Greek, locked in a cave with the Dead Sea Scrolls, because that’s how far away we want it to be.

We’re afraid we’re going to have to sit in a prayer closet in the lotus position, breathing like a lifelong Yogi, waiting for God to show us what our purpose is, and there will be only silence. Or, even worse, we’ll do it wrong, we’ll have spent the money for the prayer pillows and the God box, and somehow, we’ll piss him off. Or that in the silence in the middle of the night, after we turn off the reruns and the infomercials, we’ll realize we aren’t anywhere close to our path, or that the grief we feel will break loose in a torrent and we’ll lose ourselves in it forever.

But, it’s simple. It’s how we think of it that’s terrifying. TV taketh away, but sometimes it givith, by showing how something scary and complicated isn’t either of those things. I’m going to get us there via a TV show called The Leftovers about running away from loss and pain, individual and global, about existential crisis. But that has nothing to do with us, right?

Each character devises a story to explain his or her pain, in the hopes of minimizing it. There are clues to the greater meaning, as we and they attempt to decipher it all. Some characters even attempt to escape the suffering and ambiguity by dying.  But they can’t, and no answers ever come. Their elaborate explanations of why are false, and each is operating as an imposter because of them. Each character finally hurls themselves into what is, facing the darkness and their own imminent mortality, only to find they get to start again.

The brilliance of the show is that we go along for the ride, only to discover the clues were just red herrings, pointing to the now obvious: there’s no escape.   The situation was horrible, but they were inflicting the torture upon themselves.

The only way out is through, hurling ourselves into loss, grief, and  uncertainty, and the fact that none of us have enough time, by learning to listen to the silence, so we can hear our true natures, for how can we face the world and all of its tragedy as imposters? 

 But, its not about hours logged in the prayer closet like its punishment or atonement, its our reward. We fear, because we misunderstand what silence is and what’s required to listen. Silence is playing with the dog for 10 minutes in the back yard and noticing that he smiles, and then noticing the trees are whispering as they dance in the wind. Something magnificent is happening at this moment, and we’re here in it. Something turns and softens in us and we aren’t scared or resentful or mad as hell anymore.

Listening is simply listening in the moments when life is trying to tell us something, letting ourselves know that life is paradox, love, and loss, and letting the silence, the truth, and the tears cleanse us like rain, so we’re no longer haunted by the past. We can pay attention to what is happening now, all the wacky, crazy, tragic, comic beauty of it. Silence cleanses us of what blocks us from bravely facing the world as ourselves.

It’s that simple: it’s a trade. We escape running and distraction for embracing the loss, the pain, the grief and helplessness and letting it wake us up, yet again, to our own lives, our own heartbeats, and tears. If we do this, then even the most mundane things can become our sanctuary, sprinkled in the sacred.

Lauren

http://www.lekinzie.com

 

“A spiritual journey is a terrible thing to waste.”

 

7 WAYS TO TAKE FLIGHT IN YOUR OWN LIFE

flyingbirds

 

 Arise, shine, for your light has come,

and the glory of the Lord has risen upon you…

Lift up your eyes all around, and see

and be radiant;

your heart shall thrill and exult.

Isaiah 60

 

Image supplied with permission by David Eyestone

 

Thank God my friends don’t treat me like I treat myself!

My friends somehow see the me I don’t see.

Why do so many of us find it so difficult to have compassion for ourselves?

Where do we get the idea that driving ourselves relentlessly towards perfection and flogging ourselves for our failings is the best way to go?

I had to finally break wide open to finally let up on myself and discover that gentleness works. The above quotation is the beginning of the cure for this spiritual malady because it stands in stark contrast to the lie at the root of it all: I AM NOT ENOUGH.

Here are some tools to take the weight off your wings:

 

1) Let yourself take off and soar and realize that the belief that it is wrong to do so, is lie #2. If a loving God created you, then hobbling yourself is denigrating something that God made and loves. Quit judging yourself. It isn’t your job. Fire your inner critic and run him or her out of town.

2) If it is true that nothing can separate us from our loving creator, it must also be true that there is no mistake I can make that will separate me from Him or the flight plan he has set out for me, and if that is true, then a host of wonderful things follow:

  1. a) There is no such thing as too late. There is no such thing as too old. There is no such thing as technologically obsolete. There is no such thing as too young or inexperienced. These things do not apply to your Plan. You can be what God wants you to be, because you already are. He doesn’t make mistakes.
  2. b) God loves me unconditionally and he made me. If that is true, then he has compassion on me. If that is true, then I am deserving of compassion and gentleness from everyone including myself. This concept was so alien to me; I had to teach myself how to do it, with the following exercise. This may seem ridiculous, but this daily practice has transformed me by teaching me compassion and love for myself: I face myself in the mirror every day, look myself directly in the eyes and say, Baby girl, God loves you and so do I. I see you. I hear you, and I will never let you down again.

In other words, I treat myself as a loving Higher Power would. If I was created by something divine, I have a purpose, and am worthy of love and affection and joy right now- not when I finally have mastered Everything.

3) Dare to suck and forge ahead. Redefine success as daily progress, not perfection. I haven’t seen Shakespeare’s first poem, but I bet it probably sucked. Those on their deathbeds regret the things they never dared to say or do, not the things not performed perfectly.

Remember the 10, 000 hour rule. I read a book recently that pointed out that behind each and every singular, supposedly unique success story like Bill Gates or Steve jobs was a common trait: each of these geniuses and stellar successes had spent 10,000 hours practicing and honing their craft before they reached critical mass. None was truly an overnight success story.

So keep going, keep practicing, keep singing, playing, writing or programming. It is impossible to fail as long as you are still learning, growing and trying.

Embrace joy instead of perfectionism. The two are almost mutually exclusive. Leave perfection for living saints, dead martyrs and maybe Martha Stewart. Psychotherapy is expensive and treating yourself like a machine will eventually require a major tune up.

4) Ask God instead of beating yourself up. Even if you don’t believe, ask God to change you, instead of using willpower to try and change yourself. In any event, it takes the fear out of your head, and puts it someplace where you can forget it, pause, and shift your attention to what is great in the present moment.

5) Want to be popular and well loved? The kindest thing you can do for your fellow man is be gentle with yourself. If we are rigid and unforgiving of ourselves, imagine how we might judge others. In any case, the constant ” I am an undeserving worm ” recitations are a pain to be around and, as the philosopher, Dr. Phil says, you teach people how to treat you.

6) The past is just a story we tell ourselves (from the movie, Her) The fact that you weren’t perfect in the past doesn’t mean that you aren’t exactly where you are supposed to be right now. Regret is premature. We don’t know how everything is going to work out. Miracles are the things that happen outside of your carefully prepared plan. Take a forensic look back on your life, looking for God’s breadcrumbs. How many “ mistakes’ and detours turned out to be blessed course-corrections?

7) If God never wastes a hurt, as I was told when I was in a great deal of pain, then maybe C.S. Lewis was right. Pain is the megaphone of God. Might as well ask, what is the gift or the lesson in this situation?

I will never be old enough to stop making mistakes, and if I look back with objectivity, those ” mistakes ” were the catalysts to growth, and a necessary change in direction. Labeling myself unkindly is libeling myself, because it isn’t true. Clipping my own wings, hurts me, doesn’t help anyone else and doesn’t glorify my Creator.

 

 

WHERE AND WHAT YOUR BLISS IS?

 

 

Find your bliss, bla…bla… bla… But why is it so freaking difficult to find this thing that we are supposed to be doing, that is going to make it all make sense, make us happy, give us purpose?

Perhaps because it is a simple thing of childhood. Grownups put “childish things” away and make things complicated.  Grownups go to seminars to figure out how to live.

Grownups make-work, stay busy and take Prozac.

sunflowersincageMaybe it is as simple as this: if it makes you happy to do it, it will make others happy too.

 

What was the first lesson of childhood, besides, “No!”?

The hope of every artist is that his or her work will live on some way outside of itself. To do that, we need each other. It’s hard facing rejection every day, not just of what we do, but who we are at the deepest level.

 

Facing a case of paralysis in starting my next writing project, I holed up at the coast with bottled water, 5 Lean Cousines and a big box of wine looking for my mojo and my inner Hemingway.

Know where I found the spark? Talking to another artist and getting inspired by his work, and feeling gratitude for my friends Joe McDermott and John Cates, fellow artists lending me their kind expertise to help me on a project that I am more excited about than anything in recent memory.

I’m excited about a whole new area and want to spread that excitement like wildfire!

Our gift and our obligation as artists is to infect others : with joy, inspiration, wonder, mystery, outrage… To infect the lives of others with artistry.

 

ranchonedaisy

Set free the imprisoned splendor.

Browning