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 . . .)

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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.

Dancing In The Room of Grace Part 5

~ A Bright Note ~

“You need not fear” the stranger’s voice came.

And with it came a bright light. I had not realized how dark it had become around me until he had spoken. The light that came with his voice drove back the darkness and the sweet breeze of fresh air blew about me . . . through me, bringing with it light and warmth to my soul. Like the smell of fresh baked bread or the cool summer breeze blowing in from across the sea was his voice to my soul. The darkness, the shadows could not withstand the light and gave way, receding and finally vanishing. I found myself again in a lush and verdant field, color-bright with flowers, magnificent trees and awe inspiring hills surrounding. And in the distance, a majestic mountain loomed so high that it seemed to touch the sky. Indeed so high it was that I could not see clearly it’s top for it disappeared into the clouds.

The intensity of it all was so much that I blinked, shaking my head.

“Breathe, breathe!” he said, laughing. “You’re not dreaming. This is real. And yes, this is still all in the Room of Grace!” he answered to the question forming in my mind. I hadn’t realized that I had been holding my breath, so mesmerized was I by the scene unfolding before me. As I began to breathe, sound flourished about me and I could begin to hear the soft strains of music, as if someone were playing some music not too far off. As I focused more intently on it my breath became more synchronous with the music. The musical notes reverberating in the air all about me, within me even. I started to get a sense of the direction of the melodic source; It was the majestic mountain. At that realization, a desire began to well-up within me to go to that mountain. Vast as it was it seemed so near. And yet I knew that it had to be far, far away. I knew not how far and I doubted if I had the fortitude for the journey. With that thought I felt again the weight of the suitcase in my hand. How could I ever make such a journey with such a ponderous weight?

“Why don’t you let me carry that?” he asked. “Now that you’ve seen the mountain, you will want to travel there. Have no fear. It seems far but it’s not too far. I will go with you and see to it that you get there. Now why don’t you hand that over? That way it won’t slow you down. I’ll take good care of it for you.”

I could not tell you why, but for some reason his word made sense and I handed him my suitcase. The release of it’s weighty burden brought a joy to me that infused me with light and energy. I began to believe that he was truly trustworthy, both with my possessions and me myself.

I had found a guide and a companion on my journey.

Dancing In The Room of Grace Part 4

“Shadows Fall”

Room? What room?!?

I wasn’t in any room that I could see. How could this be a “room”? I was outside. I mean the room I had been in was great and all that, but this just all began to seem too weird. I could not explain how I got to be outside. And how had i gotten dressed so? I didn’t remember changing clothes. And what of my familiar clothes? Where were they? And then a fear gripped me; where was my suitcase?

Panic ensued. The music began to fade and then stopped, along with the singing-without-words. The light faded into a twilight darkness, the field I was in lost it’s warmth and I became cold. I looked upon myself and found that I was once again dressed in the old tattered garb I had on before. I seemed so far from anywhere. Fear and panic throbbed so hard within me that my body began to shake. The growing silence of my surroundings became so deafening that I thought I might go mad. I felt so lost. So alone.

It was then I noticed beside me my old suitcase. My suitcase! At last, something familiar. Something tangible, sound . . . concrete. A connection. Sitting down, I pulled the suitcase up on my lap. Opening it, I carefully began to go through it’s contents. My “treasures”. I ran my hands around the contours of it’s battered surface, gingerly touching the stickers of all the places I had been, recalling with reverence the memories. Even though most of those memories contained fear and pain. At least they were something real. As real as the suitcase and the tattered clothes that I wore. The fear and panic began to subside and I grew into a comfortableness of the familiar. Into what “was real”. “I must have banged my head or something” I thought to myself. Or maybe it had been some sort of weird dream. But at least now I had awoke and was back where I belonged. Though exactly where I was , I was not quite sure.

It was then I heard His voice again;

“Oh, you are still in the Room of Grace. A dissonant note within you threw you out of sync with the reality of where you are at. This often happens when a person first begins to experience the dance. But that’s okay. You are not alone or lost, although you may feel like it. the Dance, the music, the singing-without-words continues. it goes on. In fact, it never really stops. Only your perception of it all can become obscured. We can, at any time you are ready, get ‘right back into the swing of things.’ as they say.”

“You are mad!” I yelled. “What you say is not real. This! This is real!” I shouted as I grabbed and held aloft my suitcase as evidence. Around me the grays and shadows grew in their starkness. Grasping my suitcase even tighter, I endeavored to shut out His voice. I did not want my comfortableness disturbed. What I had heard and seen before was an illusion. It was not real. It could not be real! It could not last. Iron earth and brass skies were the only reality. My tattered clothes were the reality. They were me and I was them. The beauty I had seen and heard was the illusion. Remembering it brought a strong moaning sadness that seemed as though it would smother me. It was painful. At least the sorrow and pain that I packed around with me in my suitcase was mine. It was at least familiar. It was what gave me existence. What the stranger had said and shown to me could not be real. And it was dangerous . . . scary. It made me feel afraid. Give me the shadows and the grays . . . it was where I belonged.

Again, His voice . . .

“You need not fear! You are not alone. Only believe . . .”

 

Dancing in the Room of Grace Part 3

“Two Step”

It was then that I looked and saw that the room had expanded. What was a banquet room was now a banquet room PLUS a good sized dance floor. The floor itself was just not plain hardwood. It was covered with an intricate pattern that could not be described verbally, only experienced. As I looked upon it, I was drawn inexplicably to it. It was inviting. It’s mysteriousness posed some concern upon me. Yet it exuded a warmth . . . a promise that was both irresistible and yet allowed for choice. I found myself walking towards the floor. The sight of the pattern became too much for me, straining my eyes.

“Slowly my friend. Don’t try to take in too much all at once.” He said to me.

Indeed, trying to grasp it all brought about a certain sense of fear. Rather, there was something from within myself that the fear emanated from. What ever it was, it was the same thing that kept pulling my mind back to the presence of my suitcase. But as I let go of trying to grasp it all and just listened to His voice, the sense of being overwhelmed  faded. The room seemed no longer threatening and the weight of the suitcase (which I always seemed to be carrying) became less tangible.

“Don’t forget to breathe. Breathing is resonant with Life. It is how life began and it is how life continues. Breath of Life is the Spirit.”

I became aware, thanks to His Word, that I was holding my breath. I began breathing, taking deep and long breaths, relaxing and letting go. With each breath my energy seemed to fill and expand my awareness, my focus. It seemed as though the room itself was alive with breath, energy . . . Spirit. It was then I began to notice a soft, faint sound of music coming from nowhere and everywhere at the same time. It was a music that had singing, yet without words. Of Being. I found that my body had begun to sway with the music. The singing-without-words causing a vibration within myself. I let myself go and began to dance with abandon. Without effort. I twirled! I leapt! Breath flowed in and out of me, through me and all around me. None of my prior experiences could compare with what I was now experiencing. This was LIFE! It was like going from a two dimensional state to a three dimensional stae of being. The room transformed around me and now I was in a wide, open field alive with plants, trees . . . everything was alive and resonated with the breath, the music . . . the singing-without-words. I found that I was not dancing alone. He who had been speaking to me now held me, dancing with me and guiding me in the dance. It was exhilarating! He threw his head back and laughed. He continued to lead in the dance and yet never forced anything. It was both free and yet guided, guided but yet free.

We danced through meadows. We danced alongside streams. We came near to a mountain, a stream flowing from it. At one point the stream came over a sharp edge of a drop on the mountain and became a beautiful waterfall. As we came nearer I could hear that that part of the music and singing-without-words came from the waterfall. The water was so pure, so clear that it appeared as glass. In fact, it reflected all that was around it, including He who held and led me in the dance. And in that reflection I saw that I was dressed in the clothes that I had seen in the portrait.

“See! I told you!” He laughed out to me. “Behold, I make all things new!” With this He laughed again as He gave me a twirl. “Don’t you just Love this room?” He asked.

Room? Room! ? !

Dancing in the Room of Grace Part 2

~ All My Love ~

As you read, you  become aware of the presence of someone nearby. You hear a deep, soft and peaceful voice.

“It’s true, you know. This is how My Love has made you to be.”

“How can that be? What kind of love can do that?”

“My Love can for it existed before time began. My Love purposed to do so with you before the foundations of the world.”

At this point, you notice the weight of something in your hand. You look and see that you are holding a worn and tattered suitcase. It is covered all over with stickers of where you have been, what you have done and quotes of what you and others have said. Some of which are about you. Inside, it is full of things. Many things. Some that are cherished. Some that bring shame . . . and pain. All of it makes the suitcase quite heavy, a burden to carry for sure. But somehow you cannot quite let it go . . . and there is a part of you that doesn’t want to.

“But what about this?” you ask this person, indicating the suitcase in your hand. “I cannot be that person in the painting that you say that I am. You don’t know me! The places I’ve been, the things that I’ve said . . . the things that I’ve done.”

“Oh but I do. What’s on that old case does not define you. Neither does what’s inside. That’s because of what I have done. And you don’t have to carry it any longer. You can let it go. You can put it down.”

“I don’t want to! Even if I did, I can’t!”

“I know. But I can help.”

“I DON’T WANT TO! There are things in this that are precious to me!”

“I know. Some of them are even good things, things that I’ve placed in there. But you hang onto it too tightly. And that can squeeze the life out of them. And there are things in there that have no life in them at all . . . only pain.”

“I know, I know. But I can’t let go. I don’t want to . . . I don’t know how to . . .”

“I understand. That old tattered suitcase is not an obstacle to Me, only to you. I can help you with whatever is on it or in it, whenever you want. Whenever you are ready.”

“But you don’t know some of the stuff that’s in there. So much darkness, so much pain, so much shame. So much . . .”

“But that does not affect My Love for you nor does it define our relationship. And as I have said, neither does it define who you are. My Love defines who you are. And nothing, NOTHING can change that.”

“I can’t see how that is. I still cannot see how I could be that person in the picture. I’ve never even had clothes like that. Ever . . .”

“That’s because you have not learned to see what I can see. You do have clothes like that and I can help you to see them. I can help you to see many things. And I can help you to dance.”

“To dance? Where? What do you mean?”

“Yes . . . to dance. Here. In this room. I can help you, teach you.

To Dance in the Room of Grace”

“These are you weapons . . .”

Suckerpunch

~ A kick-ass example of Jungian Psychology of Inner Work.

And it’s all about just one person. An integration. The battle against the lies that seek to bind us, control us. And ultimately kill us. It’s about dispelling the illusions that keep us imprisoned. And to borrow from another similar story, it’s seeing the Matrix for what it really is.

We are not who we think we are. We are so much more. And in our brokenness we fear that. And what we fear we rage against. Love, Light and Truth displace Guilt, Shame and Fear.

Love, Light and Truth. Our weapons.

These are your weapons. Now fight!