The Journey Begins

. . . but it has been on-going as well.

A good place to begin this new blog of mine, just a wee-bit on the waning side of Litha (midsummer solstice).

Who am I?

My name is Wol Ulchabhan.

(Actually it’s Michael but Wol is my Bardic name . . .)

I have journeyed the waking-world seven and fifty years at the time of this writing.
The Owl and the Turtle are my sign.
Hawk and Eagle are my friends.
But mostly I’m a ragamuffin and vagabond just tryin’ to figure it all out like everyone else.

These are my stories . . .

Advertisements

Ooopppps, There it is!

The Cringe Factor

or why I am learning that this is not an overnight process . . .

Up to Here . . .

In a conversation with my wife about certain things that still cause us, each in our own unique way, to react negatively to people or situations related to the Religious Matrix. Sometimes our reactions bordering on the “fight or flight” edge of things. My wife speculated that, for her, it may be a form of spiritual PTSD. At first I thought that was too strong of an analogy, but then maybe it isn’t.

I responded that I referred to it as “The Cringe Factor”, that having been deeply involved with something over a period of time, being now separated and distanced from it gives one a certain perspective that, when looking back, makes you cringe a little. I said “For myself, having been up to here in it” (indicating with my hand pointing at about mid-ear level) “I have quite a few of those moments.” My dear wife, with that look in her eyes and a wry smile, indicated it was a bit deeper for me, pointing to a spot about 2 feet over my head.

Gee thanks, honey . . .

 

And here’s the thing: with all the talking and blogging I’ve done about Love & Grace, Mercy & Shalom . . . I have very little for myself at times for all the jack-ass things I did when I was deep in the RM and for all the jack-ass things that others did when( or are still doing in) the RM. Then there are the crazy-makers that are ever driving the performance edge by coming up with the lists of sins and things to avoid if you want to be really spiritual and the toxic-spew trolls that can’t say anything good about anyone or anything, no matter what level of good there really is because it’s not directly related to “Gawd, Cha-eesus or the Kingdom o’ Heaven”. (Okay . . . breathe mikey breathe. Center, relax, calm down . . .) Oh yeah, I’m full of grace alright . . . (heavy sarcasm there if you missed it).

The reality is you or I will never find a perfect community of any type, for we are wonderful human creatures that make mistakes. In healthy communities, there is room for that. A space is made for us to help each other walk through our crap, to deal with our mistakes and blunders. To love, heal and grow. I know this happens. I’ve seen it. I’ve been a part of it. I truly believe it can happen within and without any system or structure. I’ve also seen it traditional institutions that say “Welcome to the mess. There will be pain and tears and offences . . . but there will also be laughter, joy and healing. Come journey with us”. They emphasize our propensity for really mucking things up without making our humanity feel like worm poop. They balance this by learning to embrace the wonderful paradox that our humanity also contains the seeds of divine intention:  beautiful, Holy creativity and the ability to grow in Unconditional Love.

But dang . . . it doesn’t happen overnight.

Welcome to the Dark side . . . We have Cookies! (but oh is it going to cost you . . .)

The down-side is that the RM can make having authentic relationship a challenge by overlaying it with all sorts of things that are not bad in and of themselves. Programs, rituals, traditions that are intended to foster community are layered in such a way that they actually do the opposite. Allegiance to the system and/or the leadership becomes paramount. The programs, rituals and traditions take on a life of their own that steam-rollers some individuals and allows others a safe place to hide with all their baggage, therefor never coming to healing and wholeness. The performance/success/celebrity driven culture of our time has been so adopted by the RM that it sets us all up for failure. A radical shift needs to take place. Some deep conversations need to happen.

The End of the Conversation ( sort of . . .)

My wife was disturbed that she was having this emotional reaction to elements of the RM and to the people in it. Like there was something wrong that needed to be fixed. Yep, I got that cringe  too. But I encouraged her to accept where she was at. After all, we have both learned that feelings are neither good nor bad . . . they just are. It’s what we do with them that matters. I wish I didn’t have my “cringe factors” but I don’t try to stuff them.  It’s difficult but I endeavor to carry them to The Divine, asking Papa to shed a little Love & Light on it all. Sometimes not an easy process.

We both came away with the conclusion that

A)   It’s a learning process of differentiating between the person and the stuff of the system. Critical Thinking, Awareness and Mindfulness are necessary tools that will help with this. It’s not an overnight process . . . <sigh>

B)   Stuffing things, not dealing with our own crap and denial of our own personal “cringe factors” is a Religious Matrix (prison) of its own.

C)   Honesty and frank discussion with others about it is a step in the right direction.

And as always, we are not alone in this. Yeshua travels with us as guide, whispering to us “Come follow”.

Sometimes I just wish it wouldn’t take so long. I mean, if I didn’t have this cringe problem, I’d be perfect, right? (okay, you can stop rolling your eyes now. Gee, I hate it when you do that . . .)

The Stories in Which We Find Ourselves

“We shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually — their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on — and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same — like old Mr Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?”  Sam speaking to Frodo “The Two Towers” by J.R.R. Tolkien

One of my many, many favorite passages from “The Lord of The Rings” trilogy.

And please pardon my play on words from Brian McLaren’s “The Story We Find Ourselves In”  which I think I’ve read but can’t remember because I read so many things (a slightly OCD thing <sigh>) but if I haven’t or have forgotten then I shall read it again (or for the first time, depending).

“The Stories in Which We Find Ourselves” may become a little series on this blog. I don’t know yet. The reason why there are huge gaps in my posts is that sometimes I like to wait and see what “bubbles up” from inside, trying not to force it but letting it arrive in it’s own due time. (Which sounds a lot more romantic than the plain truth is that I get distracted by so many things that it can be weeks or months before I put to blog whats been bouncing ’round in this old head of mine . . .) but I digress . . .

The contemplative point? Where you are right now, this “now” moment, the story that is happening right now in your life, that is unfolding as you move and breathe . . . is the opportunity to find yourself. Each story, chapter and verse is a Divine opportunity to listen, to center, to Be. A chance of discovery, to find a part of you that you didn’t know existed but has been desperately crying out to be free, to be realized, acknowledged. Some of it may come from The Shadow, that part of ourselves we fear and assign labels to such as “bad, wrong, evil, dark etc etc etc”. But here’s a thought, and though I direct this mainly to my fellow followers of Yeshua, it might be worth a pondering for others: Since the narrative informs us that God embraces all of who we are, would it not behoove us to do the same, painful and uncomfortable as that might be? ~ Selah ~

As I always point out, the Good News is that we are not alone in this . . . all be it that sometimes our pain and sorrow obscure our vision and we buy the lie that we are all alone and forsaken. But even in that there is the opportunity to find ourselves. The narrative points to this universal fact: Part of The Story is to lead us to be our True Selves, that for which we were created to be. To discover that which has been placed in us, much like a buried treasure. To shed the false images that we perceive of ourselves: Both those that have been placed on us and those of which we have chosen to hide and shield ourselves behind.

Speaking of choice; Sometimes we have the choice in what happens and often times we don’t. Frustrating for sure, specially when it is something unpleasant . . . . . . or worse. And while I can say that everything that happens is not intended, I cannot go further than that for it is a mystery for which I must be content in that, for there are things beyond explaining. Suffice it to say, and this may seem like a dodge to some; “It is what it is, but it doesn’t mean it will have to stay that way” . . .

So in your prayers and meditations ask for and allow yourself to be awake and aware to those moments where the story is revealing something to you about yourself.

Grace, Love and Shalom guide you. Namaste.

Lessons on The Journey: Deconstruction

The Beautiful Breakdown. Sometimes . . .

I’ve really wrestled with this one, endeavoring to be open, aware of my own biases in bringing this from the gut level. Staying away from generalizations and then again avoiding “this is how it is”: I.E. I don’t want to say “This is the only way it rolls and these are the twelve steps of Deconstruction”. That’s because the deconstruction I’m talking about is personal. VERY personal. And as this is coming from gut-level and I’m trying to avoid “The Censor” that wants to make this cute & tasty. I’m going to offer this in a series of statements that can be viewed, if you wish, as questions. I definitely won’t offer any solutions, resolutions or conclusions to those questions. I can’t. No one can. Only you can answer those questions for yourself.  And they must be sought on The Journey.

Deconstruction is not about destruction.

I borrow here from the Emergent tribe who years ago made the statement “We only deconstruct except that we reconstruct”. This in another way can be said that it’s about shifting your paradigm. Including what you’ve excluded before. “De-demonizing” other perspectives in the world around us. For there is no “other”; no “us and them”. There is just “us”. I know this is generalizing, but we all need Love, Grace and Healing. That makes all of us One.

Questions Encouraged

We get to ask questions. Never really needed permission but the Religious Matrix really discouraged that dangerous beasty named “Why?”. And while this whole series is focused on The Journey away from the RM it can really be applied to every system, every organization. And I’m not saying let anarchy and chaos reign here: systems, organizations, institutions have their place. But they also have their limits and left unchecked will mutate into something evil. (But I digress . . .)

Questions are good, questions are necessary. But do not expect quick and easy answers. This is what makes deconstruction so personal . . . so challenging. Because you gotta walk this out yourself. I’m not saying that you are going to be alone in this (but that’s another story) but deconstruction is about chucking the “pat answers” with all their biases, prejudices and fences. The fences get torn down; it’s open range and the field is wide, wide open. Fear will kick in and haunting voices will whisper discouragement. But step on out. The grandeur and the freedom are worth it.

Embracing Uncertainty

I remember hearing a talk on a podcast where a reader had written to the host about Spiritual Maturity being “A transformation from arrogant confidence to thoughtful uncertainty”. That is something that has stuck with me through my journey. That in the questing I’ve learned to be comfortable with the questions without having the answers. An awakening to the layers of bias and prejudice that have been lathered over scripture and the doctrines that have arisen in support of those biases. The explanations given for the inconsistencies and contradictions now suspect. The un-nerving realization that I have a really deep recognition bias within that must be challenged. The usual reactions (at least with me) is to stuff and bury it or purge myself of it. Instead, I embrace the uncertainty as it is part of The Real, The Now-Here. It is a part of our wholeness, our humanity.

This is what scares academics, theology teachers and those who like their cornflakes to be the same and there every morning of everyday. Consistent, dependable reliable. It is like the earthquake that reveals the weaknesses of what was thought to be sound and solid. It tumbles our idols that we’ve built up around ourselves for protection. In one sense it feels like we are being forced in a direction that we do not want to explore but in reality it is the ultimate “great attractor”, an irresistible pull that whispers “Come and follow me”. It is freedom. But like an animal that has been lulled into docility by being kept in a cage too long, we are fearful of wandering too far from the confines of the familiarity. The keepers of the cages cry out in warning to us saying that we will become lost. That we will throw-off restraint and loose everything. Maybe there is some truth in that. I don’t know. I know that I will make mistakes, walk down a few dead-end paths and stumble now and then. But one will never learn to ride a bike or a horse if one doesn’t learn to get back up. The Divine is ever strong and present in each step of that. Those green pastures and still waters are real. Deconstruction is about letting go, learning to trust, seeing the illusion of the barriers that have been placed on us: by others and ourselves.

For me part of the “new unfolding” has meant learning to sit in silence, unplug from the distractions and listen. Not for the earthquake or firestorm but for the still, quiet voice. Embracing uncertainty and the paradox that I’m whole and yet there is a brokenness. Being willing to let my paradigms get shifted yet once again. Ever questing but being content with the questions and no answers. Again, no conclusions for you. I hope I’ve provoked some deep thought and perhaps have helped.

This is my deconstruction. And I’m cool with that. May Grace, Love and Shalom tackle you in yours.

 

Lessons on The Journey: Leaving and Entering

Okay, you have or are going through the “Big Disconnect”, you are at some phase of Detox from the Religious Matrix wondering “Just how deep does this Rabbit Hole go?” when, -BOOM!- from the depths of detox something emerges: Anger. “The cringe factor” and an almost irresistible urge to spew out all the hurt, the pain, disappointment and questions you’ve been keeping stuffed way down inside when you were in the RM. I mean, you had to, right? To question, to show anything else but a happy face and to nod in agreement with what Agent Smith said was “the truth” was at least foolish if not down-right dangerous. Lethal even. You could be branded a “loose cannon”, a heretic. Someone who was “under rebellion”. Worse yet if you happen to be female for then you get the added “Jezebel” or “witch” label. So you stuffed and stuffed, keeping the questions to yourself, hiding all that was going on deep inside because those in the system just wouldn’t understand and they would tear you to shreds. There must be something wrong with you because surely they don’t have these problems, right? I mean, they MUST have it all together . . .right???

But then your world was busted, broken into. Peter Pan showed up, you followed Alice through the Looking Glass. The Enterprise beamed you up and now you have truly gone where no one has gone before. (Except you will encounter The One who has gone on before and is coming back . . .). You’ve been set free but you got this suitcase of “stuffed things” that you just can’t seem unload. The urge to unload to anyone (or on anyone or anything) is hard to resist.

This is very understandable. Let me suggest it is not necessarily wrong either. But before we unpack this farther, let me suggest that “How one leaves the last setting will be key to how one enters the next setting”, as put forth by my friend Martin Scott. (You can find the his perspective on that here . . . http://3generations.eu/blog/archives/183 )

Let me encourage you that Yeshua invites you to bring it all: All the light stuff, all the Dark stuff into conversation with him. It’s of no surprise to him. That’s the first and best place to bring and unload it. Be open to the clearing, cleaning and healing process. There will be a “sorting” process as well. The “wheat from the chaff” process (to use a well-worn expression). Some of the crap that gets cleaned up is legit and the lessons learned remembered. Other crap is the level result of our own ego: the base self, the ever pouting child who wants its’ own way (which is never easy to face).

The mode of leaving is important because it will affect the next portion of your journey. Call it “the ripple affect” if you will. I can’t really explain it, only describe it. Call it “sowing and reaping”, karma, the law of three-fold return, what goes around comes around . . . whatever. That’s why I said in my last post “First Things” that the first thing to do is nothing because the temptation after the “BD” is to run out and join, do or start something religious. That will just inevitably perpetuate the problem. Do we really want to project forward that which we are trying to leave?

And remember what I said about all those who don’t seem to have that problem and appear to have it all together? That’s a lie. It’s an illusion fostered somewhat by conformance to the RM and mostly by the ego. Believe me, those folks are stuffing just as much, putting on “faces” just as much as you or I.

Another irritating thing in all of this is that there was SOME good stuff that came out of all our time in the system. It wasn’t all bad. This of course does not mean to justify the stuff that was bad. Misuse and Abuse does have to be pointed out. But neither does Misuse and abuse negate Original Intent either. So in cleaning house try not to throw out the good with the bad. The good stuff hang onto for you will need it for the journey ahead. It may be difficult but develop a discipline of Thanks Giving, of finding the Gold in all the dirt. Find a good, safe place to deal with all the crap. Flinging “it” around will likely result getting it on everything around ad the road ahead.  Something you won’t want to step in later on.

You will find people on this Journey with whom you can share all the pain and sorrow with. They are a joy and blessing to find. They will keep what you share in confidence, but they won’t keep you from moving on, they will encourage you to keep on “keeping on”. Beware those who are stuck in “Crabby detox” (a term I borrow from Robby Mac, author of “Detoxing from Church”. By the way, where the heck is Robby Mac? His web presence has mysteriously vanished . . .) Those in crabby detox have stopped on their journey and are content to rant, rave and rage about real (and illusionary) abuses of others in the RM. They will welcome you with open arms but will pull you back down when you try to leave. (Misery loves company).

The Good News in all of this is The One who has set you free has not left you alone. Like Merlin was to Arthur, like Morpheus was to Neo, like Elijah was to Elisha so is Yeshua there for you. There is Shalom to be found on this mysterious road of The Journey. Speak Peace to your past so that Peace waits for you ahead.

Lessons on The Journey: First Things

Warning: Potty-Talk ahead . . . watch where you step.

During or shortly after going through the big disconnect you find yourself “free” from the matrix, from the structures you had once been so much part of. In this exhilaration a wide range of possibilities begin to emerge and you find yourself faced with a plethora of options. A very natural tendency is run ahead with abandon and plunge into something that appears to resonate with you. Or, with equal zeal, you delve into building a “right model” of what you have perceived.

Might I suggest that when you feel those urges that you take a moment, breathe deep three times and pause. Maybe even take a cold shower. For what is coming to you is a mixture of things; mostly from the Matrix and your Ego that has been influenced by the system.

The best thing, the First Thing is to do . . . nothing.

Unplug. Enjoy the free Sundays (or whatever the “orthodox” holy day of gathering was). Sleep in, put down the Bible (or whatever your “holy” book is . . . or was) and read the Sunday comics section of the newspaper. Don’t go to any “religious” meetings, gatherings, conferences, revivals . . . Don’t “Do”. Just “Be”.

Do nothing. A prophetic friend of mine once uttered humorously that “There is ‘something’ in ‘nothing’”. Just let that sink in for a moment. Might I remind you of Elijah’s’ cave moment? We get scared of the silence. We do anything, ANYTHING to keep busy, to keep that noise going because we are scared shitless of quieting down and being in that silence. That Silence that says to us “Be Still. Be Still and Know. Be”.

Go for a walk in the woods or by the ocean. If you live in an urban setting then go to the park or go to the museum or a gallery. There’s a world out there of infinite diversity in infinite combinations. In each encounter The Divine has a grand revelation for you that will become visible as you open-up by not doing, just being. You will begin to see Yeshua in people and places that you would have never imagined or expected when in the RM.

This mode of “not doing” is a process. Give yourself Grace. If you find yourself getting “caught up” in the old habits of “do-do”, just relax and let it go. (Yes I know, a load of pun in that . . .). Speaking of “process”, which is what one also does when getting rid of the “do-do”; This is the natural way of getting rid of the waste (the toxins) that one does not need. A whole new paradigm of Detox on that. And that is what you will find as you learn to relax into just being. You start to detox. From the RM, the system . . . your Ego. The false expectations. The performance syndrome. A whole load of crap.

Next time I will unpack a little bit more on “How you leave your current place/situation/paradigm will influence how you enter the next”. And if there is time, start to look at another process called “deconstruction”. Don’t panic! 

Relax, breathe and do nothing.

Remember: There is something in nothing.

Lessons on The Journey: Detox Part 1

As with many aspects of the Journey, the one of Detox is an on-going process. I suspect it is one that will last my entire life. I’m o.k. with that . . . mostly.

As it is such a big topic, I will be doing it in parts in the attempt to do it justice. I am not the first to do so, and where I can I will share links to those who have also touched on the subject. I much appreciate the perspectives they bring to the conversation.

As such, I would like to start out with a quote from my friend Martin Scott. I met Martin many years ago when I was in a particular paradigm of the RM. Martin is one of those people who can easily move between and in/out of traditional and not-so-traditional realms of ekklesia. His is one of the few prophetic voices I pay attention to. Back in the early days of the beginning of my Big Disconnect from the RM,  Martin started a series called Transitions. You can start Here and glean what you can.

One of the first things that Martin shared that struck a very deep chord within me was this: “How you leave your current situation determines how you enter your next situation”

And when you are in the Big Disconnect and starting to Detox this is VERY IMPORTANT to remember. Because when you are detoxing you are eliminating waste from your system. Not only the poison from the wounds, misuse and abuse you received at the hands of the RM. But also from your own crap and what you put forth whilst in the system. In Detox you start to deal with your Ego, the false self, the shadow (Jungian paradigm here). I call it the “cringe” factor. The stuff that makes you want to “Have another beer and a second banana-nut muffin” as Brené Brown says. (Yes, she’s another source I’ll quote from time to time an link).

In this there will be some dark times on this road. It can be daunting at times. Even painful. But Jung said learning to embrace our shadow is a good thing. If you can’t handle that maybe Teresa of Avila “Interior Castle” metaphor will work for you. Or Young’s “The Shack”. You will eventually be able to relax in the dark, embracing your shadow. Because you will come to find that you are not alone. Yeshua is there with you right smack-dab in the middle of it all. Helping with the detox. Bringing healing.

“Where can I go from you oh Lord? Even if I go down to lowest depths (where there is no light) Lo, there You are. The night is as day to You.”

Shalom on The Journey. There are many who walk with you . . .

Lessons on The Journey: Breathe

Lessons on The Journey: Breathe

Before we go to much farther, something very important needs to be addressed.

You will find healing.

Having gone through the “Big Disconnect” or maybe you’re still in it and most likely one of the main causes is that you have suffered (and have seen others suffer) spiritual abuse.

You will find healing. Breathe!

You are not alone. The system may have kicked you out or forsaken you. Folks you once thought of as “friends” have disappeared, forsaken you or even out-right attacked you.

But you are not alone. You WILL find healing. Breathe!

You’ve been hurt. You may feel like Neo in the first “Matrix” movie where he is in the his office building trying to get away from the agents. He says to himself; “Why is this happening to me? This is crazy! I can’t do this!”

If may feel like that you are lost, that you are alone. But you are not!

You feel hurt, angry, betrayed even. You might even really be pissed at God.

That IS okay. You WILL find healing. Breathe!

Papa is there with you, walking with you and will bring you through this. It may seem like your whole world has been turned upside down and all of the familiar, comfortable foundations have been pulled from beneath your feet. It has! But The One who creates all worlds and has set the True Foundation has you in Holy Hands.

Be prepared for something marvelous and wonderful!

You WILL find Shalom. Grace and Love and Freedom like you’ve never imagined.

Healing. And Growth! Not comfortable at times as you come to grips with your Shadow.

But remember, there is no place that Papa does not dwell. In the beginning the world was dark and formless and the Spirit brooded above the waters.

Breathe!

You are being birthed into a new world.

As a child, take one step at a time.

You WILL find healing.

Breathe dear one, Breathe. And remember:

Not only is Yeshua the author and finisher of our faith;

He is the only one who has written himself into our story and us into His Story.