The first hard frost. I can see it this morning. It’s there on the path as I head out to turn on the heater in the cabin and then back in for the feeding of the cats and the coffee and, this morning, for peanut butter. Just now I realize I didn’t put the cat dishes up and that Sam will have at it already – no use running back inside now. That’s one of those mindful things I wish I’d remember. But I did make it through a whole day yesterday without fully closing the door that sticks and having to climb through the cabin’s window!
The stars are more magnificent than the other day. Just stunning. The moon looks like a new moon but I don’t think it is. It’s there in that crescent shape, surrounded by stars. I mean they’re everywhere this morning. It’s the clearest morning ever.
Angie walked her friend George out to meet me yesterday and we talked about the stars and how he was out evening and me morning just glorying in them. He said the time he spent beneath them made him want to put a message on Facebook that everyone needed to get out and look at them. He’s Angie’s guy “friend” and I hope it lasts. He seemed perceptive. He looked at the cabin as if it held clues and asked me about my painting.
I don’t understand people who don’t do that – don’t look for clues to knowing a person, don’t get elated by discovering some small treasure in another human being, don’t delight in idiosyncrasies. I know my dad taught me that through his own sheer enjoyment of odd characters. Maybe some people were taught reserve and to respect privacy, or maybe it’s just hard to retain our curiosity about people and life as we age.
I just heard from one of the young women from the Institute. She’s a fellow writer and I was taken by her right away. We didn’t have a single big conversation or anything like that, but she was called to read a bit of her writing and it let me in. I guess that’s what I’m talking about…the ways people let us in even when they might not know it. How people can speak to us in all kinds of ways if we’re paying attention, or are curious.
I was so appreciative of being let in by this young writer that on the last day I gave her a copy of The Given Self. She wrote to tell me that it was just what she needed, that in her spiritual inquiry she’d felt subtly discouraged from what was unique in her. She said I had given her permission to be herself. She is such a beautiful young woman that it is hard to conceive of anyone believing that God or the world would want anything else from her; that she’d think something else was required. But I understand how this happens. I think we all do. We can probably all remember the wonder of taking in that stunning message in A Course of Love, the permission giving, that invitation to be who we are and share who we are.
I’m writing this as I work my way up to responding to her without gushing. Reading what she wrote I had one of those moments…a moment akin to when I read Elliott Robertson’s poetry and felt that if I’d truly encouraged him toward it, as he said I did, I could die happy. Sometimes in the incredible gift of such a moment, it all feels too good to be true. And I get reminded that what is true for this person whom I have somehow had the grace to encourage is true for me too. And that I can’t forget, for a moment, the bravery it often takes to “be who you are.”
I think this necessary courage (which we all must have until we no longer need it) may be the reason why, when we meet a “real” person, someone who lets us in, or someone who invites us to let them in, we feel humbled.
Along with Celia, I am moved by the words “let in.” This is one of your gifts, Mari. You let us “in” on your deepest self, and that encourages us to do same. I feel a closeness to you that I don’t feel with some of my oldest friends….because of your vulnerability and openess. Yesterday I shared w/ a couple of spiritual friends that when I thought about my greatest desire, what I wanted to manifest in this lifetime, the words to my song “I See A New World” came to mind. “I see a new world coming soon….where people share their pain.” Both of them found it jarring and upsetting that I would want people to share pain. But that’s my story and I’m sticking with it! To be in the company (virtual or otherwise) of others who are willing to open their hearts and expose their woundedness is great gift and blessing. It is what will heal us, if anything can. The second line of the song is: “I see a new world coming soon…where peace and justice reign.” I wrote it in the late 80’s, and now maybe it is manifesting as I envisioned. I read The treatise on “natural Vision” this a.m. 2.33: “Learning to see anew is the precursor to learning to create anew.” I am spending more and more time with the course, and with Christine Day’s book and meditations from “Pleiadian Initiaions of Light” which supports the course. I feel so blessed by it all. Thank you, dear Mari!
Thank you Celia and Juliana for your comments on this post. It is so relieving to feel “gotten”. Without acknowledgment of the beauty of sharing ourselves, sharing can feel isolating rather than unifying.
Juliana, I know exactly what you mean about people finding the thought of sharing pain upsetting. But if you had heard the prayers of these young people at the Institute! I don’t know about you, but I can think back and remember all kinds of pain from when I was young! I wouldn’t repeat my twenties even if I got to turn the clock back 30 years. And yet, until they wrote those prayers, you’d never have suspected a thing. You would have thought: bright, articulate, totally self-confident. All of us older folks were already convinced they had it all together simply because they were there! And yet it wasn’t upsetting, even though I cried and Andrew groaned. Their honesty, their ability to be honest, and to speak painful things beautifully, and as prayers! So often our prayers are painful. We admit things before God that we don’t admit elsewhere. We cry out. We let our hope spill out, and our longing, and our despair, and our desire to be loved, our great desire to be loved for who we are, and to connect intimately and to give and to receive truly.
No one could have dreamt of judging the bearers of these prayers. Suddenly, they were even more than we had seen! They were precious. They were soulful, enlightening, brave, sweet, profound, and everything they said was so personal and at the same time so common – so the kinds of things most of us had once felt or still feel. The unifying factor wasn’t just the “letting in” but that feeling of commonality that the letting in brought.
And, to be honest, I probably mask as much pain as anybody. It’s as easy or easier to do in writing as anywhere. I can share about something that is deeply painful and not be telling the whole story. The miracle is that people get it anyway. At least people like you and Celia…so don’t give all the credit to me!
The thing is that shared pain gets transformed. It’s why we need the stories of the 99% and why we needed the stories of the civil rights movement and the women’s movement (and still need them). It’s why we need memoir and stories of soldiers at war. Without personal sharing, we don’t see injustices, don’t see the things that wound people…or they stay in our heads, as intellectual concerns. And we don’t see the ordinary life things as painful either – from aging to the whole sandwich generation thing to swamping financial difficulties, to hopeless young people, to the simple and complex negation of who we are. Without honest sharing we feel like we’re the only ones and then of course want to keep it to ourselves! We can’t empower ourselves because we’re in shame or denial or fear. We can’t let the pain out.
There’s such truth in what Jesus says – great truth – about how nothing new ever comes to be unless our hearts are touched. If we’re moved, we’re affected. If we’re affected, we’ve already begun to change. A Course of Love truly is amazing. I feel as if I see it in new ways every day, and more than that, really feel it. I’m so glad we’re on this journey together. Celia, please keep opening up. Juliana, please stick to your story. Don’t be dissuaded.
I’m not surprised you wrote that song in the 1980’s. Since then, or recently at least, the idea of sharing pain has all but disappeared. Pain is unacknowledged, or if acknowledged, hidden away. There is still a broad fear that letting people in on our woundedness, particularly psychological woundedness, on our insecurity or self doubt or periods of painful change, painful reflection or just plain ugly or foolish days or ways, will get us judged as mistaken, ego-centered or not as spiritual as the next person. If we’re spiritual folks these days, it seems that we want to claim no pain, only peace. Apparently we have been taught that anything else means “we’re not there yet.”
I’m with you. I’ll take the wounded healers over the enlightened gurus any day.
Here’s a prayer for you:
Oh Lord, give me patience. Let me not ever trade compassion and soul and honesty for the appearance of “getting there.” Let me not mistake any grace I receive, any height to which I am briefly carried, as a permanent call away from the depths. Let me never turn my back on love or the pain of love. Let me instead be its spokesperson in a world gone mad. Let me welcome all the faces of love at my table. Let me not hide my own face from you as you appear in any of my brothers or sisters. And let me not condemn myself when I do.
I found your comments about being “let in” in a conversation to be particularly meaningful. It is the way that we feel close to everyone. We need to be open, not too “private,” or people not only will miss a lot, but they won’t trust us.
I appreciate what you say. And I think that you did an extraordinary job in The Given Self of encouraging all of us to know that we are enough just as we are. We don’t have to struggle to please God.