God’s Perfect Timing

(Published in the July 10th issue of the Warroad Pioneer)

I’m reading the most perfect book for the current events of my life at the moment. It always seems to happen that way.

Timely quote: “You take a giant step toward psychological maturity when you refuse to angrily defend yourself against unjust slander. For one thing, resistance disturbs your own peace of mind.”

Two weeks ago I wrote an opinion column about unkindness. The topic stemmed from the unkindness we are showing refugees and how certain businesses are profiting from their pain. (Nope, I don’t believe illegal immigrants or criminals deserve pain and I’m confident Jesus would agree with me.)

I segued into my personal life, as I tend to do in this column about my life, mentioning (but not naming) a business that sports a liberal-bashing sticker front and center on their door that has continually hurt my little snowflake feelings.

Timely quote: “It is a subtle form of idol worship to think that anyone does anything good or bad for us.”

I wondered why I was focused on fear instead of love, so I examined my reaction to their actions and saw myself in them. I saw the defensiveness I need to soften. I saw the fear and pettiness that I need to work on. I saw the anger I need to evolve into forgiveness. And I wrote about it.

Timely quote: “Unawakened people cannot live together harmoniously. They see and dislike weaknesses in others that unconsciously they have and dislike in themselves. This causes irritation, impatience, all sorts of grief.”

It’s a small town. The owners of the unnamed business and a few others read the piece, misunderstood my intentions and took it all as a personal insult.

When I heard that my words had caused someone pain, I humbled myself and apologized. I had no intention of hurting anyone. Ever. But I had. Again.

Timely quote: “Mystically speaking, there is no difference between you and another person. This is why we cannot hurt another without hurting ourselves, nor help another without helping ourselves.”

I received veiled threats, open revenge, a public shaming and many acts of pure loving kindness. It was an interesting couple of weeks.

Timely quote: “Never permit the behavior of other people to tell you how to feel.”

Please understand that I don’t feel at all as if I’m a victim; Yeah, I struggled a bit at first…I’m human, but now I’m in pure observation mode. Truthfully, it is a curious case. I identify as an outspoken progressive liberal living in Trump country. Here, I am surrounded by self-identified conservative Christians, but me being me, I won’t censor myself, stop writing what I know to be truth, or take full responsibility for anyone’s reactions. Partial yes, full no.

Timely quote: “Advancement to higher understanding is always preceded by a crisis of some kind. The greater the crisis the greater the opportunity for self-uplifting.”

Truly, I really want to see what happens next. Will someone vandalize my property? Will everyone boycott Angle Days? Will people ignore me and start treating my child and my partner cruelly? Will letters to the editor be written about my wicked ways and my drunken past?

I doubt it, but one never knows.

Will we all forgive and continue to treat each other neighborly?

I hope so, but one never knows.

Timely quote: “Let no pressuring person make you feel pressured. You have the power to remain perfectly calm in every difficult and unexpected event in life.”

I am learning so much about politics and religion and the impact they have on relationships. And I’m continually surprised that people who don’t like my opinions keep reading my opinion column. After nearly 100 hundred of them (this is column #96) some readers still don’t see that my column is about me, my growth, my search for peace. In column #1 I wrote, “I want to tell the world (or at least the readership of our nearest newspaper) about what I’m learning about life by living here, by raising a child here, by working side by side here with other salt of the earth folk.”

Timely quote: “The aim has always been to rise above the present self.”

My five-year old came up to me just now holding a canvas she had painted when she was three. “Mom, the artwork on this is stupendously bad,” she said in half disgust. “It’s just scribbles!” Squelching my smile at her use of her new favorite word, I explained to her in all seriousness that it was wonderful for how old she was when she painted it and that I love it. That seemed to appease her, but she still disappeared into her craft area and spread new paint onto the old canvas.

And so it is with my psyche.

Timely quote: A man must behave according to his level of psychic development. No one can possibly behave on a higher level of love than the level he actually occupies.”

I have grown and changed through the trials, through the loss of friendship, through the isolation and especially through being misunderstood. It has all been a gift in its own right. I am not a victim. Nothing has been done TO me; it has all been FOR me and I am grateful. The journey to even this small amount of peace has been HARD. But the gifts of enduring that pain have been tremendous. I am no saint and in 96 columns I have never claimed to be. I have done things that could bear a mark of shame for my entire life if I so let it. But I’ve learned that forgiveness of self is just as important as forgiveness of others. It is also on par with asking for forgiveness, which I have done plenty of over the years.

Timely quote: “Raise your own level of mental maturity then you automatically attract people on your new level and with them you can have happy relations.”

Someone I hurt asked me “where does it end?” And honestly, I don’t know that it does. I keep examining, learning, growing and becoming. Will I make mistakes along the way? Undoubtedly. As a writer who stands up for what I believe in, will I piss off more people? Most assuredly. As a spiritual seeker, will I learn and grow throughout? Damn straight.

Timely quote: “One of the most widely known of all esoteric truths is that inward rightness corrects a man’s exterior affairs. There is no sense trying to battle the exterior storm itself, for it is but an effect. When we are right within, things are right without. So there is but one place to remain and work – within our own system of conditionings, desires, impulses, imaginations.”

And so, to this beautiful place, the hardworking people, the cliques and the loners, the unawake, the injured, the misfits, the outcasts and anyone else who is simply striving to lead a good life, I ask for forgiveness yet again and I offer it as well so that I may be at peace.

To everyone who has ever misunderstood my intentions and me, I also offer the last timely quote: “You are loved far more than you think.”

**

(The book is by Vernon Howard and is titled “The Mystic Path to Cosmic Power.” Don’t judge it by the title…it’s from the same era as bellbottoms and look at the bad rap they get.)

 

Kindness is Wisdom

 

The warm nights and warmer days seem to have everything on a fast track this summer. June is most often cold and rainy, but not this year. Fans are going night and day. Water temperatures are where they usually are in late July. The algae bloom has started in force. One wonders if fall is going to start in mid-August at this rate.

I would much rather tune in to nature’s news station than that of we humans lately. The lack of compassion and kindness evident in our political and business arenas is heart sickening. Continue reading “Kindness is Wisdom”

On Rabbit Holes and Doing Hard Things

Dreams and memories have been hitting me with a rushing force lately. Wounded animals, babies, difficult physical feats like mountain climbing and surviving barrages of gun fire. I wake with every sleep cycle, adjust my pillow and press-on, back into my dark world of wonder.

But every few weeks something calls me up and out of bed, and I’ll wander the house until I realize the moon is full and my eyes needed to rest in it, my shoulders needed to square-off with it, the soul batteries needed its quiet recharge. That is all. I’m usually free to then return to sleep, but other times I sit down to my journal and a cup of tea no matter the sleeping house.

Soon when it calls, it’ll be warm enough to step outside in my robe, put bare feet on the ground in those small hours and breathe deeply for a few minutes. God is in those breaths. God is in that grounding. God was the call that brought me up and out to gaze in wonder at my minuteness.

I’ve been making my life awfully hard lately, the moon tells me.

A memory from over twenty-five years ago returned with clarity and force last week. Someone once of great importance to me asked what I truly wanted out of life. I had reached that baffling teenage place where happiness had long-since become a mystery and the typical youthful distractions and pleasures suddenly seemed shallow and pointless. Many of us resist this knowing and push headlong into a life that celebrates those and only those pursuits, but I choose to tumble into the question, the discomfort, the not knowing.

“I just want to be satisfied,” I had answered in all my teenage wisdom and angst. “I just want to be satisfied.”

What one does to chase an ill-defined concept like life-satisfaction can be akin to following the rabbit hole. For certain I spent my fair amount of time chasing pleasure pursuits, but I always returned to the philosophical search. Now, it seems, I never leave it. It is my current rabbit hole. Most of my questions remain. Most of my dissatisfaction boils over. Still I press on, now with an urgency that only raising a child can bring. I feel this desperate urgency to shape up my life and Self so as not to pass my angst and dissatisfaction on to her.

It is exhausting.

Most of it is probably pointless.

The moon gently winks at me, as if I’ve stumbled upon some fresh wisdom in that exhaustion.

I stopped drinking water after dinner, which has helped with the poor sleep I whined about last column, but I did not cut out sugar and carbs completely.

I did not do what I said I was going to do. I do not have glory to report.

I make life harder or easier with every choice I make, and my mom’s chocolate chip blonde brownies make me pause completely in their decadent earthly pleasure.

Still, I’ll press-on. Finding something that works for me is my specialty. This place, this Angle works for me. This relationship, this love with this man works for me. This proximity to parents and all that comes with it works for me.

But a lot of other pieces of life are not working for me. And I squirrel about putting my focus on whichever one feels the most painful at the moment. Rarely do I set goals. Rarely do I make a plan. And then, uncomfortable dreams and distant memories have to be enlisted to bring me back into focus. Wisdom whorls its way into my life like the life-marks that decorate an ancient tree. Oh, that I would listen to the trees.

The sun rises and whites out the moon. The birds sing me into distraction from 4:30 on. The never-ending responsibilities of home and child call. Resort spring cleaning begins. Other duties crop up as they tend to do: the park, the county and school board meetings coming to The Angle, graduation, the coming summer events, and of course the call to write is never not present.

Now I also have a new and more pressing focus, which I’ll write about in the coming weeks.

It never ends.

Until it does.

So, I guess I choose the rabbit hole. I choose the endless chase. I choose the hard things because there is where I will grow. I choose the dissatisfaction the spurs me to act until I find what works for me. I choose God in the quiet moon and whatever She can teach me. Everyday I choose.

And as the wisest woman once said, “Sweetheart, you can’t do it wrong.”

 

God is Not Other

My resistance to an external, male-imaged God is ultimately what led me back to God, back to the divine Mother Father God within.

Last fall, before the snow flew and the days were still warm enough to wear only a light jacket, I was out washing windows on our new rental home with one of those long-handled squeegee tools. I’d already cleaned the inside of the glass, but I’d wager it was nearing on a decade since anyone had tackled the outside chore. One afternoon that cloudy view, that nary a fisherman would notice, had suddenly become very visible to me. I couldn’t spend another day, let alone a whole frozen winter, staring out through a hazy lense at our beautiful woods, the visiting deer or the full moon’s path across our own private sky. Continue reading “God is Not Other”

The Roughing-Up of Fall

The pelicans are long gone. The caterpillars are crossing the roads, and the snakes, when it’s sunny, are sunning. The Northern flickers are caucusing and the ravens are ever talkative, chortling every chance they get at their fair-weathered friends who fly south for the winter.

Even in these fall winds and crazy rains everything feels, well, right as rain…even as we move the mortally wounded snakes to perish somewhat peacefully in the grass, and shoo the uninitiated babies back to the sidelines of the gravel roads. Nature so gently and unassumingly reminds me that everything is as it should be, always.

Then I read the news. Continue reading “The Roughing-Up of Fall”

Mea Culpa

 

We walked today, picking fall flowers, dried seed pods and colorful leaves. Chattering like a busy chipmunk, she found pretty rocks in the gravel, drew line after line for us to race from, and marveled at the troops of soldier mushrooms. It was more a meander than a walk, but definitions matter not to a four-year-old. Her thoughts bubble over into words like a flowing well in the flat lands; there is no filter, no pause and the music of it all soaking the earth is innocent and pure.

And it never stops. Ever.

Even in her dreams she is talkative and loud. A social sleep talker, telling her stories and voicing her fears.

But it is a respite to tune into her world, letting it drown out my restless mind that takes eternal practice to quiet for even the rare millisecond. She is my practice. Continue reading “Mea Culpa”

A Prayer for Usefulness

Dear God,

Here I am. What would you have me do today? Where would you have me go? What would you have me say, and to whom?

I am here. Use me as a tool for Your love.

I give up my need to fix myself. I give up my desire to look and feel perfect before being worthy of Your use. I give up my act, God. Help me give it up again each day as I cling and crave it. Help me forgive the things I have hated about myself for so long. Help me see that it was all a conspiracy to keep me small and separate from You. Continue reading “A Prayer for Usefulness”