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A friend recently sent a note in which he shared an experience of recognizing the voice of the victim in the stories he’d been telling about his life. His ability to courageously acknowledge something that most people judge negatively inspired me to explore my own stories.

Reflecting on a series of conversations transpiring over the past week, I can see the threads I missed at the time because I was so focused on one or two threads that I justified as my cause, which now looks more like my excuse. Standing in the light of truth, not universal truth, rather the light of my honest motivation, I can accept that what motivates me may be self serving.

Here’s the crux of standing in this light: once I see the truth of what’s really there I can no longer point only to the threads that I like or want to believe without pretending. That I suppose presents yet another crux: to pretend or not to pretend.

That part of me that doesn’t want to change or doesn’t want to choose something that I think will reveal my perceived weaknesses, which aren’t very well hidden anyway—I know; I hear you laughing—can easily pretend. It’s as simple as turning the light off. Even now, two paragraphs and a coffee refill later I’ve turned off the light.

I don’t want to stand in the dark with my back to my truth.

Remind me of the name of the voice speaking in last week’s story…help me to hold the light steady.

Love,

Me.

I took a little tour through Spirit at Work Books and Beyond today and picked up a book on soul healing. I didn’t read much of it, only the idea that if we heal our souls, everything else in our lives will heal. Though I am familiar with soul retrieval and other methods of healing the soul, I’ve always wanted to believe that our souls are already perfect; here to learn and grow, but not broken or wounded or ill…that if we look closely enough we’ll see the perfection.

Maybe that’s too big picture of me.

Is soul healing similar to soul learning—as if learning/healing occurs when Mind articulates and integrates the truths of Heart?

Is it possible that our souls are on a journey filled with an exquisite array of infinite possibilities and that we come close to those that give us opportunity to learn and grow? And that some of us use the label healing?  

Anything’s possible.

That’s not fair.

That’s possible.

Urgh.

Love you.

While contemplating the idea of pain influencing me to shrink away from others or to feed confusion about feeling loved, I thought of the lyrics to Bette Midler’s “The Rose”. This and innumerable other songs and poems explore the many causes lying behind pain and its influence on how we interpret love.

My own questioning began in earnest when my marriage to my high school sweet heart disintegrated. I thought love conquered all! But I was wrong! And I decided that love wasn’t what I thought it was…and, in fact, I didn’t know anything about love, let alone being created to be loved.

Tell me about love and being loved and shrinking away. 

Like the first time you touched a hot stove—you pulled away. The next time you came close to a stove you either shrank away or you reached out to see if it was hot. If it was, you pulled away, if it wasn’t you learned that stoves aren’t always hot. If you shrank away, you associated the stove with pain, hot or not. Love is simple like that. People are not.  

When love has strings attached, you experience pain. When love expects nothing in return, you experience love. This applies when giving and receiving. When you love another with an expectation of how they’ll be, or what they’ll do, or what will happen next, or that they’ll love you in return, you’re likely to experience a staggering set of emotions ranging from disappointment to resentment and anger or even hatred and cynicism. 

Sounds simple…and maybe easy if I was Peace Pilgrim, but I’m not. So now what?

How do you know when you are loving simply?
How do you know when you are being simply loved?
 

Do that.
Receive that.

Learn to recognize the strings—starting with your own.
If you are honest with yourself, you’ll know what to do next.

I wonder if the journey is really about learning how to love simply and to be simply loved.

Love you–simply.

Ah hell. Who said life was supposed to resemble a perfectly pressed square of finely woven Japanese brocade made only of the finest spun silk? Certainly no intelligent philosopher I’ve read and yet I’ve pressed and ironed and added new threads, the best I had at the time, and kept the tension of the warp threads and the weft threads as even as possible. And I’ve stretched it and squished it and dyed it and boiled it and scrubbed it and, yes, I’ve even tried removing a few rows. You laugh because you know how true it is.

Now the shape of my fabric resembles nothing but me. How sweet is that? A lumpy here, smooth there, colorful, multi-textured, unusual piece of life, ironically just like all the other unique quilts of life, for which I thank God. Isn’t she brilliant?

It’s interesting how all of our beautifully unusual pieces of life come together in the big quilt–overlapping here, blending beautifully there, bunching up in places, sometimes stretching to meet, sometimes barely touching, sometimes shrinking away.

Why do we shrink away? William P. Young, in The Shack, writes: “Pain has a way of keeping us from feeling loved—and if left unresolved too long, can leave us forgetting that we were created to be loved in the first place.”*

More on that later…

Love you.

*This sentence is in the notes I took while reading the book, which I gave to a dear friend, and may not be exactly how Mr. Young wrote it. You can find it on page 97 in the 2007 version.

I suppose we are all looking for something, like the characters in The Wizard of Oz. Maybe not as earnestly…or maybe. Each on our own journey separate yet together. You know, that soul dance, bumping up against each other, taking nourishment and delight or offense, seeking what we need, even when incognizant. Our amazing souls create perfect situations for us to meet our needs, even when it doesn’t seem so.

What am I looking for? It isn’t as obvious as the lion looking for courage, the very thing already within. Or is it? If others, those beautiful souls journeying with me, serve as mirrors, are they simply showing me something I already possess?

Oh.

Damn.

So…an unmet need might be a bit more humbling than something like needing to feel heard or respected. Maybe it’s to see how I  pretend everything’s okay when it isn’t; how I justify to have what I think I want; how I minimize disrespectful behavior of others and defend them to maintain peace or status quo; how I stuff my feelings for the same reason.

Breathe.

Love you.

Veteran’s Day. I’m reminded of family and my dear friend Slim who was always old from my then young eyes.

Slim who drove a cat in the woods well into his 70’s and gave me packaged cookies and coffee after school in a special mug with my name on it…even after he said the cookies were giving me a double chin.

Slim who “chaperoned” me to out of town sports games. God forgive me … and thank you for putting such a special man in my path, even if only for a little while.

Slim who sat quietly while we, the women, drank coffee and worked the daily jumble.

Slim who ate the open faced peanut butter sandwiches I made for him at lunch, smothered with real maple syrup just the way he liked it.

Slim who gave me beer when I was old enough and gave me away when I married my high school sweetheart in a beautiful dress with pearls and lace that my mother made for me.

Slim who sat for hours in the yard pulling weeds out of the grass after they took his drivers license away. Maybe he was remembering his experience of storming Normandy that he shared with me once. Or stories of blowing up bridges as part of his role in an elite special services group that only accepted disposable men–men who had no family; stories he never shared with me; stories I’ll never know.

Slim who unknowingly gave me sorrow when he didn’t know who I was the last time I saw him.

Slim who wasn’t family, but was my grandpa. I salute you, your soul, wherever you may be.

Love you.

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If something “rings true” where did the knowing come from? 

From the awesome network of electricity, sound, light, or something else, constantly shimmying and sashaying from one body to another–intentionally and inadvertently–in and out, through and between, striking chords and pushing buttons, depositing ideas and turning on light bulbs?

Where ever knowing comes from, to me it is an elegant dance of souls. Souls simply communicating in accordance with the mystery of existence…

Which reminds me of a wonderful piece by Ray Lynch: What to remember to be happy.

Love you.

Facing remnants of the past, those pieces of life that seem to refuse to functionally decompose and continue influencing present experiences, I think of proponents of attending to the present moment: Eckhart Tolle, Ram Das, Ganjagi, Pema Chodron and other Buddhist leaders, friends, even myself just a few blogs ago. Just be in the moment and know that all is well.

Well, aware of those roots laying at my feet, under the soil of wanting all to be well, I am reminded of the importance of learning from the experience…to go back to the beginning and retrace the path to here…to see the opportunity in the situations.

If each adventure holds soul expanding lessons, which I didn’t see at the time, I can, like the salmon completing its cycle by returning to the beginning, go back and feel for what I missed.

Oh…

…stubborn resistance to the truth of the situations.

It’s so easy to deny the truth when it isn’t what I want to hear.

Love you.

In a funk today. Not the wonderful groovy nature of funk music. That would delight my spirit. No. This is the in between here and there funk–a disconnection within and without.

When things pop up in front of me, for me to say yes or no to, and I say yes then later wonder about the rightness of my involvement, I question you because I trust your guidance and I think you will put in front of me those things that will “work” and flow smoothly, easily. And I remember being described as a hummingbird, here to taste all the flowers.

Bittersweetness causes pause.

A pause between here and there to digest the yeses. To reconnect heart and mind in a space impervious to the passion of others; supported to choose to stand authentically in the fire of your soul.

The bittersweet pause is soul’s nudge to remember your own fire.

Love you.

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