June 1, 2011

Boldly Going Where I Have Not Gone Before

I have had two pretty awful weeks, including a few days’ worth of the serious blues. Several standby fixtures of my life suddenly changed, literally overnight, and all at once. The routines that I had been living with for quite some time were suddenly tossed asunder. It was quite a shock, since these changes were unrelated to each other, involving both personal and professional commitments and  relationships. Everything was different now when I woke up in the morning. And, while the changes were clearly timely and good for me and those around me, they were unexpected, and it was a bit unsettling to be facing days that held so much unknown. Perhaps I was suffering the aftereffects of having been tied to my routines. As the 19th century author and educator, Henry VanDyke, suggests: As long as habit and routine dictate the pattern of living, new dimensions of the soul will not emerge.” Perhaps my habits had gotten in the way of my soul work, and Spirit needed to intervene in a dramatic way, pulling the proverbial rug of my routines out from under me.

While all these changes were taking place, some unexpected and heavy emotional work presented itself to me, which prevented me from writing and kept me busy wrestling with my inner demons. Writing is typically quite difficult for me when the demons are afoot. There was a person who was over-the-top obnoxious and insulting toward others in a group I participate in, and who is also apparently disabled. My response to this person’s ranting was to “educate” regarding respectful ways to communicate. I was clear and kind in what I said. But since I was also angry, and did not express my anger in any way, because of this person’s apparent disability, I was also dishonest and disrespectful. In my experience, dishonest communications cause more trouble than they are worth! And so it did. I became a personal target for more over-the-top insults. I worried that I had interfered, which is a common impulse for me. And the old demons of second-guessing myself and self-loathing were resurrected, until I realized what I was doing to myself. Some friends helped me remember that, while I may have made a mistake that would have benefitted from loving eldering, the insults heaped upon my head were not true and undeserved. Blessed friends!
So that has been my soul work of the last two weeks, adjusting to a mountain of unexpected changes, and once again taming the demons of my past. It left me sort of wrung out. But several things assisted me in regaining my sense of balance and connection. Those kind words of caring friends reset my mental attitude, and helped me remember what is True, versus what is right. Working in my garden was also wonderfully grounding: patting new plants into the cool, dark earth, experiencing the freshness of the air and the pleasant smells of sweet alyssum and stock, the feel of the breeze on my arms, the sight of juicy, fat earthworms tilling the soil. These very physical sensations helped me reconnect to the soil of my Being, to my joy and delight. I was able to come back home to my inward Garden.

And playing with my little granddaughters reminded me that soul work, like all work, takes practice. Willow, four years old, is full of fresh wonder and wise persistence in her engagement with this world we share together. Not yet reading, she loves having The Polar Express read to her – for possibly the thousandth time – as she looks carefully at the words and hears the sounds of a story she knows by heart. She has great fun mastering the Slip ‘n Slide by flopping down on her belly over and over and over until she finds just the right spot that will give her the longest ride possible. Raina, at 10 months, is devoted to learning how to walk up and down steps, over and over and over again (to the complaint of her Nana’s back!), propelled by the joy and delight of mastery. Children have no routines, and they are content to practice something over and over again. My granddaughters teach me know how to learn, and how to stretch myself, and I am grateful to them.
So, soul of mine, let this be our declaration that we are again purposefully engaged! We begin again, like the Starship Enterprise and her crew, the intentional exploration of our inward places, seeking those strange new worlds not yet discovered. We will boldly go where we have not gone before. And we will do so, again and again and again. Because, really, there is no other purpose worth our time and energy. And so, dear Soul [with right index finger pointed toward the future], Engage.