Today We Choose

Twenty seven years ago today, an amazing and unthinkable thing happened – a terrible wall that separated a city, a country, and the world fell.  Families that had been divided for nearly three decades were reunited and a world torn apart by the Cold War began to feel a little more friendly and united. A standing Republican United States president had called for its destruction and this wondrous call to action became a reality not long afterward. We cheered and cried and viewed the destruction of the Berlin Wall as a victory for freedom and democracy.

Yesterday, another amazing and unthinkable thing happened – the United States elected another Republican president – one who has promised to build walls in the name of patriotism, one who proclaims unity while encouraging division, one who uses his power for self-gain while touting the greater good. How far we’ve come only to take so many rapid steps backwards and away from the direction of greatness.

Today, we choose, not who will lead us, but rather how we will respond to yesterday’s election and the future that it promises.

For those of us who are anxious and fearful, who are feeling disenfranchised and unwelcome in our own nation, who are vulnerable and at risk… we can choose to let this fear drive us to despair.  We can choose to hide away from the world. We can also choose this time to find deep within ourselves the courage to reach out to our allies and support networks.  We can choose to let our fear motivate us to make positive changes and to  let our anxiety become a catalyst that drives us to a higher purpose.

Those of us who are thicker-skinned, who have learned to withstand bullies and hatred,  whose souls have been tempered by fire and force… we can choose to harden our hearts against this world.  We can choose to respond to hatred and intolerance with our own brand of the same.  Or we can choose to reach out to those who are vulnerable, weak, and afraid. We can choose to use our hardness as an shield to protect those who need shelter. We can choose to let our thick skins be an armor for ourselves as we battle on the side of compassion and love.

Today, we can choose to change the narrative.  We can choose to make this, not the ending, but the beginning of our story.  We can choose to tell it in voices proud and strong and to be the voice for those who have been silenced. We can choose, as we once did, to tear down walls instead of building them.

For those of you are capable, please take this opportunity to support those who need it. Grand gestures are wonderful, but it is the small compassion-filled actions that are often the most needed.  Whether volunteering to help a vulnerable part of the population or simply checking on a friend who might be feeling unsettled and frightened by the election results,  every compassionate action you take will make a positive difference.

I encourage you, if you are one of the vulnerable, to reach out to your support system  and to know that you are not alone.  You are loved, important and valued.  You have worth and beauty. Your story is not finished and there are people out there who will help you to write it in dark and difficult times. No election result will ever change those things.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Goals (PBP Week 14- Terribly Belated)

Here’s a big, thinky-thought question for you… when we’re skipping down a spiritual path, what is the ultimate goal in doing so?  What is it that we seek to achieve by participating in a religion or spiritual search?  Is this something that comes from the religion itself or do we decide for ourselves what the ultimate purpose of our path will be?  Is having a spiritual/religious goal even important or does it distract from the process itself, by focusing too sharply on the destination rather than the journey itself?

I asked the first of these questions of a few more freely-sharing friends and acquaintances and some of their answers follow.  Today’s disclaimer: this is by no means a scientific poll, of course, and probably not representative of the full spectrum of possible answers.  Your miles, as always, may vary greatly.

  • “To be at one with everything; to know I belong.”
  • “Learn to submit to Christ’s will and serve Him humbly.”
  • “Understand the universe.”
  • “Go to Heaven when I die.”
  • “Improve myself.”
  • “Avoid pissing off my deity ever again.” (!)
  • “Self-acceptance.”
  • “To know God.”
  • “Be a voice of  the goddess.”
  • “Experience God’s love.”

I’ve pursued some of the goals on this list myself.  I’ve realized that no matter how close I come to feeling the interconnectedness of all things, a part of me will always feel a sense of isolation. I think this is just part of what it is to be human.  I’ve also realized that to a great degree, deity in any guise is unknowable, as is our universe.  We do not have the capacity as humans to grasp all of the secrets that this world holds… and even if we could, do we really want to remove all of the mystery from our lives?  As for a goal of paradise in the afterlife, I’m not convinced that such a thing exits.  One of my deepest fears is that the afterlife will just be more of the same… a struggle for understanding and acceptance, an unceasing quest for knowledge, and a continuation of answers that simply create more questions.

There was one answer, though, that made me smile.   When the question of an ultimate goal was posed,  one of my quirkier friends began singing the last few lines of Ingrid Michealson’s “Be OK”: “I just want to know today, know today, know today, Know that maybe I will be ok.”  I’m giving this answer kudos for being both simple and  profound.  Really, can I ask for much more than that on this journey… just the knowledge that I might be alright in this crazy world of ours, to know that even in the darkest of moments I am going to be ok?  I may change my mind tomorrow, but for this moment, that answer is good enough.

PBP Week 32 – Phoenix (Very Belated!)

While I adore tales of mythological creatures, I usually don’t find them to be useful in the context of my spiritual path.  However, to every rule, there always seems to be an exception.  In this instance, that exception is the phoenix, the wonderful bird of myth that rises reborn from its own ashes.  Out of all of the creatures of myth, this is the one that is dearest to my heart and the only one that seems to somehow fit into who I am spiritually.

My life, both mundane and spiritual, has been a series of rebirths, of changes, and of risings up from difficulty.  Such is the stuff of our lives… to ascend and then fall back again.  The phoenix serves as a reminder that no matter how far our descent takes us, we can rise again.  It is the understanding that we all eventually fall, but have the capacity to come back revitalized and with renewed spirit.  The phoenix  is the stuff of  hope, resolve, and perseverance.  Those things are worth striving for, worth rising for.

Eclipsed

Last night, my little corner of the world had the good fortune of relatively clear skies for viewing the lunar eclipse. For the astronomy geek residing in my brain, the eclipse provided a glimpse into the workings of the heavens.

For another part of me, the event provided me with a new perspective on things. Friends and regular blog readers have by now figured out that the last few months have been rough. Sorrow and struggle have been daily companions and whenever I feel that I am about to part company with these two, they borrow a little deeper into my soul.

Life has been filled with darkness as of late, but the eclipse has reminded me that the darkness is only temporary. Like the moon, I now travel in darkness, shadowed by something greater than myself, the gravity of which I cannot escape. Like the eclipse, this darkness is only a temporary state. In time, I will again stand apart from darkness and reflect the light and beauty of the universe. This darkness is only an impermanent shadow, from which my soul will emerge full again.

Random Thoughts – Putting a Window in that Wall

When life is not going well, I tend to withdraw into myself and put up barriers that would make a certain wall in China look less than Great. I am a Cancer after all and we excel at the fine art of retreating into our shell in times of turmoil. We also tend to snap at those who would try to come near us during those times, often whether they deserve it or not. Cancers have been known to snap at their dearest friends when feeling vulnerable; never mind what we do to those who we hold less dear. It’s not right, but it is how we sometimes cope.

I have to admit that, in recent weeks (ok, since October) I’ve been playing the role of the crab a little too well. Those who know me well are aware of all things that conspired between Andy and myself, some of which I’m just not willing to share publicly. Sometimes I feel like I was handed a couple of very precious gifts only to have them taken back and smashed to bits in front of me. I miss him and I miss the life that I only had a mere moment of. Aside from love and loss, life in general just hasn’t been very kind lately. So I’ve been slowly building layers of brick and mortar, withdrawing from my own life.

Closing doors and shutting out people is a well-honed skill for me. I excel at it after a childhood of constantly moving and a lifetime of battling depression. It’s a good skill to have, unless of course, you close all the doors and shut everyone out. I’ve been edging closer and closer to doing just that.

Fortunately, I have a couple of friends and one guardian angel who will not stand for it. If the walls start getting too high, they start taking bricks down as fast as I can put them up. Between them, they always find some way to bring me out of myself. When simply saying “Stop behaving this way”, one of them always manages to come up with a more subtle way to bring me out of my shell. This time they did it by giving me several pokes to check in with an online group where I had previously been fairly active.

After much resistance, I finally took a quick peek at the group. Someone who reminds me too much of myself (a depressed hermit crab!) had posted that day for the first time in weeks, a post full of deep pain, sorrow, and hurt. It was what I needed to snap me out of my self-imposed isolation and into action. It is impossible to stay withdrawn when I know that someone else needs desperately words of encouragement and acceptance. The geas to comfort and aid those I can is too strong and ingrained in me to be ignored. So I put a window into the wall I was building. I’m not quite ready to completely emerge, but I am ready to let in some light and air. Thank you to the people who helped me do that; you cannot know how much it means to me. I thank my Lady every day for putting you all in my life.