Issue No. 83
My Life, Deconstructed and Reconstructed
By Evalyn Sorrentino
I now walk the internal road. It’s been a long journey.
I tell my story not necessarily according to linear time, but along the lines of my understanding and the lines of my heart’s hearing.
I was born in the 50s to a Catholic-oriented family and was baptized. Just when I was entering kindergarten, a huge rage manifested and the Big D occurred. After that I lived with my dad. There was rage when my mother tried to reclaim us, though legally she had no right. There was rage when the past tromped across my dad’s mind. The rage grew into a beast that would be directed toward my two older siblings: my older brother, who looked like my paternal grandfather, and my older sister, who looked like my mother.
After the Big D, our family was asked to leave the Catholic church. Without argument, my Dad took us to a Protestant church. I achieved a certain status there by memorizing certain “important” facts, one of which was reciting the books of the Bible in the order they appeared, both the Old and New Testament. I could do this not only perfectly but also faster than the other Sunday school initiates.
Fast—something I cherished and honored. By all means do everything faster than anyone else. And do it well. It did not see that “fastest and best” might be an oxymoron.
For reciting all 39 books of the Old Testament and 27 books of the New Testament in 1 minute and 38 seconds, I received a King James Bible where the words that Jesus spoke appeared in red. I liked Jesus. Illustrations of him holding lambs frequently appeared in books I read. Little children gathered around him closely because he exuded peacefulness and patience. For that reason, I liked reading the words in red.
When my dad took the family out to shop, I would ask to stay home, all by myself. I was so insistent and so convincing that he allowed this 8 year-old to stay home alone. When the door shut and the motor of the red station wagon vroomed, I ran up the 13 steps to my bedroom, belly-flopped onto the bed facing the open window, seeing only tree leaves, and started to read the red. Ahhh, such joy I felt.
After exploring a few other sects I left the Protestant church. Part of me missed a mother figure, and I was drawn to Kwan Yin, and so began to know Buddhism. My journey then led, via Paramahansa Yogananda, to Parvati, the female consort of Shiva. I liked that she resurrected from a hidden force, for what else could lead one to immolate oneself? But unlike Parvati I did not practice asceticism. I indulged my vices. I saw life as a see-saw; there must be fine balance between vice and spirituality. That balance was my goal, but my life might best be described as a roller coaster, mountain tops and deep valleys, thrills and calm.
I did not notice the destruction monster chewing away at my life. I used extremes to maintain a distance from my dark sides arising from pain and misunderstandings. So I searched for more religion to solve me. Through the Sufi years I raced, though the words still linger like perfume. In the Kabalistic studies, the writings of Rabbi Isaac Luria and in the Bal Shem Tov I found kindred ones who cherished midnight candle readings and
meditations as I did.
What else was there? I could search no more. Despite all the searching I lived a life of self- loathing, quelling my feelings with alcohol, sugar, drugs, sex, and workaholism.
During this time, a woman, my Aunt Mary, paid occasional attention to me. She had two sons but missed not having a daughter. When she felt misunderstood, she reached out to me. I never knew what to say, so I just listened. She had discovered a “miracle site” in New York where the Pieta had been on view years earlier. Confident in her experience, she besieged me with invitations. After my nay-saying eroded, I finally agreed to accompany her on a trip to the site.
Once there, I participated halfheartedly in an hour-long procession and three hours of reciting the rosary. I only did it so that Aunt Mary would leave me alone and not disturb my pure hedonism.
But something happened on the ride back. I was disturbed. Deeply disturbed. I heard an invitation, reminiscent of the peace and comfort I felt when reading the “red” as an 8 year-old. I am in my 30s, I thought, too young to heed these feeling. I still wanted to sow more oats. But after three months I felt, ringing deep and true, “Why did I not come to this sooner?”
In the words of Indian firm director Ritesh Batra, “often the wrong train can get you to the right station.” The train was Aunt Mary. (Stop bugging me!) The station was peace and understanding. The mechanism was the very slow, painfully slow, recitation of the rosary—so slow that one could feel between the words, feel the supersensual, that which is beyond the five senses. I could feel the deep despair of fast. I could feel the squeeze and suffocation of confinement. I could feel open arms metaphorically receiving me.
Feel. Feel. Feel. A dam broke loose. I did not know what to do with this all this feeling.
Thus life intervened again and led me to the path I happily travel today. My old friend Joel Goldsmith showed me what was there, and I surrendered to life bringing me what I needed. I received A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love.
Eventually I heard a clear, distinct message: “My Life’s Purpose is to decide what feelings to keep and what feelings to release.”
I now walk the internal road. I feel beyond emotions and beliefs. I feel luminosity in the darkness and the supersensual love that dissolves it. I occasionally listen with my body’s ears, but today I listen, most of the time, with my heart’s ears, or the deep feeling state of the supersensual.
Now, in the love of super-consciousness, the universal Christ-consciousness, I have found my true Mother, my true Father. I feel the oneness that I am.
Evalyn Sorrentino is a 21st Century mystic. She can be contacted at the virtual yoga, meditation, and healing arts studio of http://www.yogabydonation.org/
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Loving the Character
A Guided Meditation by Laurel Elstrom
Close your eyes and turn your awareness to the experience of being you in this moment. Notice any physical sensations. Notice how it feels to sit in your body, how the chair holds your weight, and how the earth supports you. Watch your breath for a few moments. Make no effort to change or control anything. Just look to see what’s going on with you.
When thoughts or feelings arise, allow them to fall back to where they came from. There is no need to chase them or fight them. Let this be a neutral place.
Now turn your attention toward the character you’ve been playing in this life. Recognize how hard your character has worked to get it right. Acknowledge how noble and earnest you’ve been. All of your efforts have brought you here. Every experience, every so-called mistake, every spiritual search, and every failed attempt taught you what you needed to know. Your character has shown great bravery and sincerity. In this moment, express your appreciation to yourself for all you’ve been through. Acknowledge your accomplishment and the challenges you have faced. Recognize the beauty of your earnestness.
Know that all of creation supports you. You are loved beyond measure. You are recognized as holy and completely beautiful. You are openly adored as the divine work of art that you are. Feel into that. Feel the energy of the universe supporting you and loving you exactly as you are. Know that you can’t get it wrong, that your unique expression is completely embraced by All that Is.
Make a commitment right now to your personal self to offer the same unconditional love and acceptance that the universe extends. Your human adventure is a vehicle through which you can live as a Christ, as God/man or God/woman. Release any preconceived ideas of how you should look or feel or act or think. Allow the unfoldment of your own individual expression to be fresh and free in each moment, unencumbered by judgment and limiting ideas. Your human expression doesn’t need to be a firmly defined character with set parameters. Be Consciousness showing up for this experience right now. Embrace all parts of yourself from this moment onward. Commit to love, honor, and accept whatever phenomena come and go, for you are big enough and grand enough to include all of it in your embrace.
Laurel Elstrom is a teacher, spiritual coach, and communicator whose passion is Self-discovery. She is a student of A Course in Miracles and A Course of Love and other non-dual teachings. This guided meditation is reprinted with permission from Love On the Mountain: A Guide to Self-Discovery, which uses “The Forty Days and Forty Nights” of ACOL as a framework for exploration toward Self-recognition and Self-love. She can be reached through her website, https://laurelelstrom.com/