HOW TO BLOOM

 

I don’t happen to believe that people who are truly spiritual are even aware of their spirituality. And here I am writing a spiritual blog, stumbling from one lesson to the next, inviting you to come with me. But, I think that’s the point. In sharing our stories of imperfect stumbling and discovery, we are sharing the most vulnerable and important part of ourselves, and are exercising our spirituality.

So much of our spiritual lesson is loss, and dealing with it. We are bulbs stuck in the dark, yearning to see the light and open. But, when we finally blossom, the light is glaring, and we feel exposed, and maybe afraid. There are prettier blooms out there! We have left the safety of the dark soil behind.

That is loss. Life requires us to shed the things we can’t carry or that belong to someone else on our journey.

Sometimes, we’re presented with the necessity masquerading as an option, to shed people, or bad habits, or a way of coping with life that is fearful, critical, or foolish. I personally can fill in the blank with 100 different things that don’t get me anywhere spiritually or anywhere else. They’re stupid habits, that provide momentary comfort, that are ridiculously hard to drop! It’s even more difficult to opt out of certain relationships in the realization that you have changed beyond them and they just don’t want the new you—they want the old version. All of these things or circumstances are innocuous in and of themselves, but they can eat up other options, even a calling.

Sometimes, the lesson is more brutal, as someone who occupies a chamber of our very heart is ripped from our lives. How to make sense of the brutal pain? I’m watching someone I love go through this now. Why did it happen? No mortal can answer the question.

I don’t think God is doing something to us or taking the things we lean on to make us grow. I think we can’t help but grow, if we let the tears out and let them water us like rain, letting our hearts open to the sunlight that’s still there, and always has been. 

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.”

 

YOUR WINTER IS OVER!

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I spent the better part of Easter Weekend digging in the dirt with my kids. It was glorious! We made the spring pilgrimage to Home Depot and Lowes and bought a cart full of vibrant blooms. One child graduated college in December, and the other is a sophomore in nursing school, so it had probably been a decade since we enjoyed this family pastime. Long enough for the soil to go completely fallow, for all of our ” curb appeal” shrubs and potted plants to have gone to the Great Nursery In the Sky. We had all been so busy with our lives; we didn’t notice how dead things were. So we raked, hoed, dug and brought in healthy soil. It came back to us, as if no time had passed. We were really working our bodies hard— quite joyfully we discovered, together. It was, in its way, a very holy celebration. We were ridding ourselves of all remnants of winter, and death, and planting the seeds of spring and summer. The very act of planting the seeds and blooms was an expression of faith in the future. mountainlaurels

 

We are all seed planters in some way, aren’t we?

In an interview with Meet The Press, Cardinal Timothy Dolan said, “God is The God of Spring, renewal, birth, and growth– not winter and death.” While so much is complicated, that is a theological concept easy for me to focus upon.

So often, we don’t know what our next step should be. There is so much that is difficult, trying and confusing. But, we can help keep it simple.

All we can do is the next task that seems to present itself to our attention, having faith that it is, indeed, where we are supposed to be and what we are supposed to be doing.

Dig, plant, water, and grow. It’s your time to bloom! Winter is over!

 

6 WAYS TO BE RICH EVERY DAY OF YOUR LIFE

grasshopper on top of world

1. COMPILE YOUR BUCKET LIST NOW– NOT WHEN YOU ARE SERIOUSLY CONTEMPLATING YOUR OWN MORTALITY.  This is the best way there is to discern and get clarity on where your priorities really are and to what hidden parts of you have been denied all of these years. Then, start doing those things now. Guess what? You are now living the dream.

 

  1. REDEFINE “WEALTH” ACCORDING TO PRIORITIES FOUND IN # 1. For me, wealth is discretionary time and freedom. It’s the likelihood and ability to do the things I want to  now, not “when I retire in 40 years.” The truth is our friend, and the truth is that there are no guarantees. Do you really want your life to begin decades from now?

 

  1. REMOVE THE CLUTTER. It affects your attitude and potential. If I hang on to every purchase I’ve ever made, “ because I might need it someday” or “ I might lose everything”, it creates an attitude of scarcity and fear. I’m the worst about this. Every object has sentimental value, but I live in a small house, and if I don’t get rid of the things I haven’t used in a year, my precious living- space becomes an episode of Hoarders. There is another reason: Even though I tell myself I’m a disorganized artist, the clutter affects my mental clarity, discipline, and peace. I don’t want to have to double the size of my house every 10 years simply to store my “ things.” Think of all of the people living in huge warehouse- type houses, who are under water on their mortgages.

 

  1. LIVE A LIFE THAT ALLOWS FOR MORE OPPORTUNITY AND CHANGE. What if the opportunity of a lifetime presents itself today? Could you pick up and go follow it tomorrow?

 

  1. AS A COROLLARY TO NUMBERS 1-4, LIVE A LIFE THAT IS FREE. Debt- free, cage- free, worry- free, clutter free. It’s freakishly weird, but almost every adult in my extended family growing up was a banker.  They all said the same thing: “If  you don’t have the cash to buy it, don’t buy it.” Obviously, I am not suggesting going off the grid.   For anyone not Amish, that could present an obstacle or two.  But, it’s a matter of degree, isn’t it? One or two credit cards may be necessary, but 6-10, may be quicksand.

abundantfruit

  1. LOOSEN THE GRIP. I have my first dime, and my second and my third. I want to be ready for emergencies, so I tend to not spend, even if it might be critical for my long term well being. This stems from the delusion that if I am cautious nothing bad will happen. But, while I’m trying to control everything, I’m not discovering, learning, or living. It helps me to remember that my material possessions aren’t really mine. They come from the Source of Infinite Wealth to be funneled through me to go where they need to go, and eventually replenished. If God doesn’t call the equipped, but equips the called, I will have what I need when I need it, as I continue on my journey of discovery. My job is to stay limber, stay ready and await further instructions:)

 

SHOPPING MALLS. ENTRY HALL TO HELL?

Devil_cartoon_charactor

I found this little rhyme I did many years ago:

 

Hell’s Entry Hall

must be a shopping mall.

Vendors try to take from me

my most precious commodities!–

money and time,

while I wander

like a listless lab rat fed too much soda

in an IQ measuring labyrinth ,

the piped -in Christmas music-like sounds of singing slot machines of Vegas quickening my pulse,

urging me to hurry, hurry “ save 50%”

of nothing I would want to buy.

Is there an exit, not blocked with perfume-spraying trolls?

Kudos to those with mall- mastery.

It is above my pay grade, and brings only misery.

If I wake up after death, strolling in a mall,

it means God had no faith in my choices at all.

~~~~~~

I don’t feel this way because I’m virtuous, but because I am completely tasteless.

Right now, I am wearing super low- rise jeans that were in style two years ago. Because of weight loss, they fall in the wrong place and look like the SNL sketch about the repairman unknowingly displaying his butt crack. All that is missing is the tool belt. I don’t care.

I still have sweaters from my college days, which were an official eon ago. I once had an employee tell me I looked like a homeless person, and take me shopping, because to be seen with me embarrassed her. I don’t care.

I will probably always be a little out of date, or as I prefer to call it “ classic”, because the time I don’t spend looking for ways to spend money is time I can spend, writing, creating or making music or spending time with those who do.

Someone said that wealth is discretionary time. To me this is true .It is also freedom. It’s freedom to do what I love to do, measured in minutes hours or days. It’s not how much I can buy or even how much I can buy on sale. I save money in other ways: I tend not to spend it at all. Christmas is the exception and the Wild Card. It is fun shopping for other people, but I’m not going to take out another mortgage on my house on the 50 percent chance the gift I buy is what they really, really want.

For me, biology creates destiny: I am a woman born without the shopping gene. My mom and grandmother were born without it too. Childhood shopping trips usually resulted in tears all around.

Hey, Mall Mastery is an adventure and a challenge. I prefer walking a different type of tightrope– the life of the artist– gathering my creations, going through the painful process of self- editing, assimilating them in some semblance of order or perfect disorder, and standing there naked, daring someone to react. That means, if I do get paid, it is rarely and not much.

The less I buy, the more time I have to engage in this process, and the less pressure I have to put on myself to be a product instead of producing one. I still do, but not as much. So, if you see me on occasion wearing my clothes backwards, kindly tell me:)

 

A LONG OVERDUE LOVE LETTER TO MY/ THE CHURCH

(OR: 7 Must- Haves in a Great Church)

 

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Not what you expected from me, right? But, It’s SHOCK AND AWE time. It’s time for a radical departure from lusty commentary on what bewilders, angers and scares the spit out of me about religion, because there are brilliant and beckoning things about the church I have personally encountered in my flight from the Old Testament, its punishing God, and its churchly reflections.

During my spiritual road trip, I found many formidable beacons of hope. I found many instances of a benevolent God with skin on and institutionalized Grace.

These 7 characteristics make a good checklist, if one is looking for a community of faith.

These traits made my spiritual exile and return all the more worthwhile, because I came back with a list of spiritual personality traits that were the perfect match for me. (Online dating metaphor- more SHOCK AND AWE)

This is written in the first person, because each and every one of these gifts has been such a personal blessing for which I am deeply grateful. This is a heartfelt thank you. You all know who you are.

Does this sound like your church?

 

1) Thank you for seeing the artist in me, loving her, and pulling her out of the safe and anonymous shadows. I got to see myself through God’s eyes, by seeing myself through yours. You showed me that I could write, speak and sing, and that people would actually listen! You taught me to fight my fear of embarrassment or humiliation and see the other side. You taught me that silent is not necessarily safe.

You set me on my path, planted my feet upon it, and then gave me a loving shove by giving me opportunity and then daring me to take it.

I got to recite my poetry  for first 10s and then thousands to see. I got to recite it to music! I got to be relevant and even hip, for a moment. You told me I wasn’t too old, young, talentless, (fill in the blank here) to publish.

 

2) Thank you for being a hospital, not a country club. Only broken, hurting, authentic people find it comfortable here. This means that everyone, absolutely every person who would describe themselves as hurt or broken in some way, is included and welcomed warmly, including me. Thank you for sending the perfect people elsewhere. They are so boring.

 

3) This is personal to my current church: I adore you because you have fought for and maintained a choir. I’m not even in the choir, but I love what this means! It is an acknowledgement that each and every one of us is a Worship Leader, each in our unique way, and the union and blend of these disparate parts is the body of Christ.

 

4) Thank you to the pastor, his family and the staff for being unapologetically real, broken people. This makes me not just respect you, but love you and I will be even more attentive to the things you say and the lessons you can teach. You are always careful not to say or do inappropriate things, but you are not actively managing your image.

 

5) Thank you for not being too big to know me or too small to hold me or my ideas and questions. You are family, not a city. Although I do not cut a large leadership swath through the congregation, and the frequency of my church attendance approximates that of solar flares or meteor showers, everyone knows me, including all church staff. Everyone knows I’m out trying to do my thing- no guilt. My emails are answered. I cannot overstate what these small recognitions of my personhood and worthiness have meant to my spiritual healing and development.

 

secondblogpic6) Thank you for being a sanctuary in the true definition of the word. We are safe to temporarily remove our armor and reveal ourselves here.

We all need to find and cultivate our “people”: those who want and accept the truth from us, no matter what. They do this because they want us to continue to grow and evolve. These people can be anywhere, but a good church should have this general characteristic. Growth is messy and judgment is counterproductive.

 

7) Thank you for being substance over form. This is what I like about you and what I like about Pope Frank. You encourage a dialogue and an open discussion about what we believe and why we believe it. True Grace over Churchiness.

 

Images supplied by L E Kinzie. All rights reserved.

 

 

 

 

My Favorite Way of Perverting My Higher Power’s Will

mockingbirdonsign

 

 

I can delay my spiritual journey in a heartbeat.

I have always told myself that my prime desire was to be in my higher power’s will for me, and meant it. I looked high and low for the burning bush and the host of angels singing “ amazing grace” to point me the way.

I have prayed and meditated and wrote in my journal and asked for guidance and, since I was not born with the subtlety or discernment genes, many times I have been shown something akin to a burning bush.

But, here’s what I do with that miracle:

It starts with that quiet knowing that I should go this way, rather than that; I should take one simple step in faith. But, nooooooooooo, that’s not enough for me. I take that beautiful moment of revelation and impose my own meaning on it, because I still cannot really deal with “not knowing.”

I say to myself. “ This is for God. So it has to be perfect.”

“ This is for God, so it has to be a success, otherwise, who will know that it is for God?”

“I have to be a light and a life-raft to the whole world, because God want’s me to.”

I should on myself.

We should never should on ourselves. It’s cruel. It’s legalistic.

When I should on myself, I replace peace and confidence with fear, ambition, competition and the inevitable fear those things produce. I take myself by the hand and drag myself back to slavery to other people and their opinions. I take myself out of my Higher Power’s will. It is soo stupid, but I am human, so I practice the adage,

“If at first, you do not succeed, guilt and shame yourself, redouble your efforts, but never change your strategy.”

The truth sounds simple but it is anything but. The only way I can truly know if I am in His will is to be fully present and alert, yet peaceful, in each and every moment. Then I will see what I need to see and hear what I need to hear and have sense enough to pray for the strength to do it, or even more difficult, to do nothing and wait for clarification. The truth is that all my higher power wants for me, is my willingness to surrender each and every moment. Yik