I am reading reading reading these days. Reading Immortal Diamond by Richard Rohr. Reading the Language of Emotions by Karla McLaren. And, of course, doing deep soul work on behalf of those who are open.
And they are all saying the same thing. I love it when that happens. One of the times this happened for me was a Spring semester when I was in seminary in Chicago. It must have been 1991. I took a course on counseling practices, Jungian dream interpretation, field ed, and had just had Turner. I felt like I was living out of the depths of Spirit, where our human experience rarely takes us, or where we simply don’t stay too long. It was fantastic. Everything came together.
In these days I am reading about false self and true self, reading about how our emotions are not simply responses but are active participants in this human living that have jobs to do. Jobs that take us to that deep well of Spirit where we get glimpses of what is actually real.
In these days, I am also waiting alongside my husband as his father nears death. It is an unpredictable path….this day or next week…..living with the deepest of gratitude to two brother-in-laws who are doing the heavy lifting of sitting vigil and sorting papers and creating options for the future.
In these days, I am also moving alongside the good people I attend church with. Our congregation is in a mixed bag of life and death, forward or done, this way or that.
It is all about the false self and the true self. It is all about grief and letting go. It is all about our emotions used either to lead us (which they likely should not do) rather than to deepen the holy way.
Rohr writes in the Immortal Diamond that our false self is what we have cloaked ourselves with to survive, protect, to live in this world. It is not a bad self or a wrong self. It is simply the mortal self, says Rohr. The part that one day will die. I agree. The true self is that which aligns in the flow of sacredness and lives on. An ease, a joy, a lightness even in the midst of strokes and congregational confusion and whatever you are facing this day.
How do we get there? Indeed, that is a good question. But there is no there. There is no getting. It is already. And you know it.
You know those times when it feels like the veil has parted and you are peering into the vastness of possibility and you can’t wait to jump in.
You know it when when you luck out and get what you want.
You know it when you realize you’ve moved closer to your truest self, and there is a dying of a few friendships because they’ve moved too or have not. And somehow, that has to be ok.
When we live, something dies.
And that is not all bad.
Siting at the bedside of my Father-in-law, we all knew he was aware we were there. I don’t want to read too much into things, or simply interpret them out of a hopefulness. There was distress and pain at times for sure….we saw it cross his face. But there was a healing that he was undertaking and offering to each of us. The tenderness and love that emanated from his trapped body was tangible. His great granddaughter held his hand and wept for her loss…..while we thought he was sleeping with deep sleeping breaths and snores. But he was not sleeping. His body was doing what it would without much cognitive control, but he was awake even when the signs said sleep. He was stroking her hand with his thumb. Later, he did it to my hand as well. I felt him in the thumbs movement. There was no mistaking what was taking place.
And that is one of the marks of the true self. When we are alert and aware. Not in hyper-vigilance of self protection….but in utter letting go and being in the flow of the sacred. We might appear one way on the outside, but there is no mistaking what is taking place inside.
I want to live that way every day.
Who knows. Maybe I’m making it all up to make myself feel good.
But I don’t think so. I make my way in this world reading and feeling the energy that people are putting forward. It is what I do out of my true self. When I’m in my false self then I am led by my friend “ego” who shows up to protect my false self while I still live in this physical world. Ego is my teacher and I can tell when she is at peace, because she has her feet up, head back, letting the sun in with no worries.
You know this is true. I know you do. You might use different words than I am using here. Words like salvation, resurrection, atonement, detachment,……yes yes yes to all of these things. And many other words and images and stories and metaphors.
Our physical 3D world is not set up to easily find our truest selves. We need guides, accompaniers, soul realigners, makers of way. I know a whole slew of fabulous spiritual directors, shamans, healers if you want a list so you can make contact. You can engage with s spiritual friend where you divide your time and focus one for the other. There are many ways to do this work. This glorious work. And it is work. It is hard, until it is not.
Test the flow, the stuck, the resistance….those are your friends in this work. Your teachers. Pay attention. They are always telling you something. Test your body…what aches, what is inflamed, what is not letting go? Today my lymph nodes in my throat are swollen and I believe it is because in my care to hear other people in my congregation speak of their dreams or woes, I am speaking my own dreams and woes as if on a leash, held back, not fully true. Today, I plan to speak boldly…not over someone else, not to negate anyone else, but as the Quakers say, if I am given something to speak and I do not, I am not acting faithfully (ok, I don’t know if the Quakers would say it like that). I will speak in love because I’m tired of this sore throat. I will let it go with kindness and without ego attachment to the outcome. And I will listen and hear others. And when ego throws a blanket over my truest self, I will know it…and it will be yet another moment to learn.
Everyday, we are given ample opportunity to be so much more. Our guides and teachers and friends are all around, and often they are already a part of us.
May you be so much more.
all images come from google images and from other original sources not my own