Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Nativity, Noël & Namaste

In my home I have a picture of Jesus Christ placed on a small alter on my wall.  His image is accompanied by a Vajra (bow) and Ghanta (bell), symbols from the Tantric Buddhist traditions, used by practitioners of “Sadhana”, the Sanskrit word for “Sacrament”.

As we near the Christmas Holidays, there are many in the world who celebrate the birth of the Christ-child.  For me this birth carries a deep and hidden wisdom in the union of these two symbols, that sit along side his image in my home. 

In Eastern traditions, one can see many different Deities holding the bow in the right hand and bell in the left.  The bow represents the lightening bolt that awakens the mind and the bell represents all that rings true in the body, honoring the union of both compassion (yang-masculine) and wisdom (yin-feminine).

An unlikely pairing, it was actually my study of yoga, that brought me to a more comprehensive awareness of who Christ is and what his birth means to me.

Much good and evil has been done in the world, in the name of Jesus Christ.

For me, He is a very real presence, who is aware of me personally.  I’ve felt ministered to in many ways by Divine energies, yet nothing compares to my sacred and very personal experiences, which have brought me to the witness I bear here. 

A beautiful, mostly unseen aspect of Christ’s birth on that newly starlit night, is that with His coming, through the material-mortal feminine (Virgin Mother Mary) and Holy Spirit (Masculine Father God), he married a great crevasse of many ages of Earth and Time in a very unique way, which wrought a deep change in both physical and spiritual realms.

Eastern thought espouses that all Spirit is Masculine, Eternal, immutable, yet incapable of full creation without activation from the Dynamic, Feminine, awakening power. These two are forever moving into and out of union, in an eternal dance of separate compliment and ecstatic embrace.  Even in the earliest of Bible stories, the dynamic Eve was described as manifesting out of Adam’s “sleep”.

With the birth of the Christ-child, witnessed in the heaven’s star, opening angelic realms to walk the earth, the great divide between union and reunion was bridged.  Divine Spirit manifested in physical mortality, the only One of His kind.  Come not to exclude, judge or condemn, but when asked, his mantra was always the same:  “I am about My Father’s business”.  He was about His Father's business of bringing to pass the immortality and Eternal life of humankind; to glorify God-Source in a mortal body, provided Him by mortal Mother Mary.

The business of marrying compassion and wisdom in a new way, no longer separate, His mortal ministry challenged the learned to get out of their head and into their heart.  He also saw into the heart of the “sinner” with a challenge to get into their head, by offering acceptance, encouragement and enlightenment of the mind, the capacity to discern between past misstep and resolve for better days. 

He came to teach that woman is equal with man and man equal with woman, this Christ of God the Father's Spirit and Mother Mary's Body.  He knew this equality in His own body, in a way that was wholly unique, as he healed the heavy hearted and body burdened.  To bring union into a reality beyond compare; to unite, to yoke, (coincidentally, the english word for “Yoga”).

The first (root chakra-feminine) and last (crown chakra-masculine) of the 7 miracles he performed, he accomplished at the beckoning of the two prominent women in his life.  First, at the bequest of Mary, his mother, to provide wine from water at a wedding and second, at the call of Mary, his partner, the sister of Lazarus, who he raised from the dead at her pleading.

To call upon God in His name, when in need of everyday help with the mundane details of life, or when healing sickness, grief and afflictions of death in mind or heart, is to invoke in-body the bridge between limitation and abundance He provided with His birth.  To evolve mortal understanding into compassion beyond comprehension and embrace an increased awareness of wisdom, helps to put life into perspective and eases the sufferings of mortality.

To be wedded partners in the name of Jesus Christ, is to partake of the unique energy (spirit-masculine) and power (physical-feminine) that his birth made manifest.  It is this union that makes it possible for me and my mate to mirror our inner Spirit for each other, with the union of our outer body.  

My mate and I experience God-Union more fully through a trinity between the love we feel for each other, which is in-turn an expression of Godly love moving through us. Through union, as the yin and yang within us and with each other merge in Christ's name, we learn to work more fully as One.  When counterparts work as one in this way, God happens.  Christ is the full embodiment of this expression in a way which transcends metaphor.

To pray to God in the name of Jesus Christ, is for me to acknowledge the bridge He offered; a God born into Body, marrying my Essential soul to my mortal body, held in time.  Yet paradoxically, in offering His Atoning sacrifice, he broke those same bonds of time that hold my mortality (this corridor beyond my mortal view of God’s presence) and through His sacrificial-union, He lives my afflictions with me, that I may live, without having to live my life alone, lacking connection.  I experience this Eternal support in moments when I have worn my ego out enough to be open to this insurmountable gift.

This sacred union, made possible with his birth, life and final sacrifice, sacrament, sadhana, is a vital portal, through which I know God more fully.  

The possibility for Godly Union, that shifted with Christ’s birth, is an offering, individually to each of us, that honors our agency.  I am free to accept, utilize and unitize, as well as to reject or exploit it, depending on the temperament of my spirit in my body, moment by moment; and yet, like abundance itself,  abundance exists, we take from it and discover that through making use of abundance, yet abundance remains.

I know the reality of Jesus Christ on a variety of levels, depending on the moment.  When I feel His reality in my life, it is sacred to me and like the Christmas Spirit itself, I do my best to hold it in my keeping all year.  

Words can’t describe the sacred nature of my own experience of Christ’s presence, yet what can say is that through Christ, I know God.  Through Christ I know love, acceptance and the dissolution of my own prejudices of self and others.  Conversely, the moment I feel an intolerance, un-accepting or judgmental consciousness, of myself or others, I am out of alignment and I become less able to discern it fully in my life.  

For me, I have to know Godly love both in my head and heart, spirit and body.  The more I am accepting, compassionate and discerning, the more I feel the reality of Christ witnessing in my life.   

“Where two or more are gathered in My name, there I am also”, and so it goes with the mind and body, with Father-time and Mother-Earth, wedded in their Essence through the tender babe born in the manger. 

"Neither is the man without the woman, or the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11 on page 1451--numbers that when added together equal 11, the symbol of twinning).

Union, marry, yoking, yoga.

It is the very Love I know, from a handful of deeply personal encounters with Christ, that keeps my bones from turning to dust in the power of his presence.  Love is the result of the union of thought and matter, yin and yang, wedding my body to my Essential Self, and recognizing that soul-same Essence embodied in my fellow woman and man.  

The greater my capacity to truly love another soul and through that experience, to love myself more fully (and vice-versa), the greater my ability to know Him and the greater peace in His presence, as well as the potential for peace on earth becomes.

It is the union of knowing God, while in my physical body, that draws me to the practice of yoga. It is though the yoking of flexibility and strength, Spirit and Body, Compassion and Wisdom and through His Nativity, that my soul is swaddled.

So tonight, I share my witness and hope, that we may find in our keeping all year long, this marriage of Heaven and Earth, Spirit and Body, Compassion and Wisdom; as well as an essential knowing of each and every Divine gift more fully acknowledged into physical blessing and lasting peace.

Noel & Namaste


Friday, October 25, 2013

Where "Better-than" is the Benchmark

You may not know it, but I live in a little corner of heaven on earth.  A town, that is right in the heart of “happy valley”.  I was born and grew up here, so naturally, I would want to raise my son here.  

This place is beautiful, stunning scenery, amazing seasons, well educated and well-placed in the sight of God. We really wouldn’t have it any other way...

My son is mid-way through his junior year in high school and I am just one year out of treatment for invasive breast cancer.  Happily, in Happy Valley, I lived to complain about it a bit.  In a funny way, coming through something so challenging, gives a person bragging rights; and yes, that is another quintessential thing that makes my corner of this lovely town what it is. 

My son goes to the “top school”, in a “top area” in a “top town”.  By the way, did I mention it?   Living here, like secondary smoke, a person by default inhales a perpetual undercurrent of the unspoken importance of winning, of being on top, of life at the top, where richness equal righteousness. 

He is on the Varsity Football team, with a program that would rival some Jr Colleges.  The parents and coaches of these young men wouldn’t have it any other way.  First in line, in heaven on earth, is what this culture is about.  

A natural people-watcher, I have seen him work his way though his pre-college school years, attending events from K-12 (almost). I've seen first-hand, the importance in this town of being at the top of your game.  It is the way of my local culture.  Yes, in my town, bigger is better, and better is the benchmark. 

Yet at my core, the truth of who I am in my soul is concerned for the well-being of one young man.  My young man.

I’ve been asking myself lately, how do I teach my son, amidst the head games of happy valley, that winning in life is subjective; that the best players don’t always play and that what constitutes a “win”, amidst the great-minds of his local culture, is not necessarily what benefits a man or woman in the long-run.  How do I teach my son, who works first-hand with adults who are addicted to the head-game of coming out on top, at all cost, (from the parents, to teachers and coaches, to the Mayor) that the measure of his manhood is his humanity. 

I’ve been sifting through the thoughts in my mind for the right turn of phrase to teach him that the only real win, comes from what he does with both his success and his so called failings. How do I express my core belief, that the administration of his manhood is beyond his standing; beyond what any one adult tells him (overtly or covertly) he has to be, in order to be first.  More importantly, that being first is often the fallacy that parents, coaches and teachers have bought into themselves and are reflecting onto him like a somewhat sick, yet congenital-congeniality.  

In the words of a friend, who gave him good council; words I wish could have come from a mentor-coach.  To teach him that it is more important what you are FOR, than what you are ahead of, or against, or in spite of.  Our friend told him good words in the language of the happiest of valleys, which was, of course:  

“The cream always rises to the top...”

Inspiring words, yet I find for me and for him, it is even more important to understand why the cream rises to the top.  

Contrary to the physics of happy valley, the cream rises, not because it pushes the milk aside for something better,  not because it sets the bar higher than it’s neighbor or needs to be affirmed by something outside of itself; but because what it is made of, on the inside, is less dense than the surrounding milk.  Because the cream is not weighed down by it’s surroundings.  Because the essence of it will eventually rise beyond it’s circumstance.  True to it’s form, what the cream does, by its very nature is adequate; that the natural way of feeling equal to things is the buoyancy of lasting contentment, and most importantly, that one of the truest measures of a man is the balance he is able to cast, between his sense of contentment and his passion.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

All I Want Is A Room Somewhere

The title of this post is a line from a song by Alan Jay Lerner & Frederick Loewe in the play-movie “My Fair Lady”.  

My mother used to make us cinnamon toast and my sister and I would cozy up on the couch to watch the movie with her, while my mother sat in her pink rocker for a much needed break from the vagaries of her life.

Today, for me (and for all women, whether they realize it or not), the words to this song carry a different theme all together.  The power to be strong enough to ask and seek for what we really need, and to expect that it will be provided; while remaining true to our feminine-nature and unique brand of power, is a dynamic in the mind of many women of all ages on the planet, some of whom may sit down and read this post, this very EVE-ning.
As I have begun to do natal charts for friends and family, I have been studying four feminine archetypes that were discovered in the heavens between 1801-1807.  The one in the forefront of my mind lately, (that has me considering the words of this song this afternoon), is Pallas Athene.  
In Greek mythology, when Pallas was in her mother’s womb, there was a prophesy that she would take her father’s (Zeus) place as ruler.  When Zeus got word of this, he ate her mother and she was born from her father’s head.  Wow!  What a story.  A story that is applicable today in a very unique way, that rings in my head, as it longs for my heart.  
Pallas Athene, is the smart-girl, the upholder of patriarchal order, who gets a bad wrap from feminists, myself included.  As I enter the latter-half of my 40s, I have high hopes for Pallas and all like her.  The Feminine plight, to be able to be strong and vulnerable, simultaneously.  To fight the good fight, without being consumed by the unconscious demagogy that can come from belonging to any group (be it religious, spiritual, corporate, family, or whatever) that turns over the truths of the heart to the traditions of the head, takes the courage and smarts of Pallas, herself.
She is beautifully portrayed in the character of Eowyn, in JRR Tolkin’s “Lord of the Rings”.  Her uncle-father has fallen into a daze, manipulated by the courtiers, who have their own idea about empowering traditions. The kingdom Eowyn loved so dearly is cankered, as she clings to the robes of her patriarch, desperate to wake him up.  She is hungry for both his protection and love.  As the story progresses, he is woken by a man she has a deep admiration and love for.   She refuses to leave them as they head off to battle, so Eowyn (being true to her Pallas nature) disguises herself as a man.  A radical decision, yet her own unique way of   both upholding patriarchy and social order, while still honoring her heart.  
In truth she is simply in love, she is following the power in her heart, with a resolve to give any protection of a loving-warrior-goddess-daughter, that befalls her, at the risk of her own life.  She honors her nature, and refuses again, any separation from her heart.  The battle begins, she fights side by side, with men who don’t even recognize that she is fighting the same battle they are.  As the chapter in the story climaxes, the Nazgul (a “witch”-king who has fallen far into darkness) attacks her beloved uncle father, and "gives" him, as prey, to the hell-hawk the Nasgul rides, to devour.  
With ferocity and fear combined in her soul, she holds the symbol of Pallas Athene (a sword and shield), that is knocked from her arms.
The witch-king grabs her, ready to kill her as he says the words:  “You fool, no man can kill me”.   It is at this very moment she remembers who SHE is.  Up until now Eowyn had repressed her own particular brand of innate-power; her ability to love beyond limits, her ability to protect with passion what she loved dearly.  For a moment, in the heat of battle, she set aside her sorrow in the face of vulnerability, betrayal and dismissal, as well as a plethora of other heavy baggage, she had already been carrying on her collective body for generations.  
Mary, a hobbit-man, about equal to her size, (who had discovered her secret) assisted her by injuring the leg of the Nazgul, bringing him to a knee, so she faces him where he lives, mind to mind.  He can't really see or hear her any other way.
At all cost, up to now, while facing the unimaginable loss of her protector, of the love that was not hers to have, of all the desires for trust in the system that had failed her, she had never forsaken her own heart.  It was the heart of Woman that she wore under all the outer masculine trappings, weighing so heavy on her frame, that had enlightened her Pallas Athene mind.  She wielded her sword and said intently with heartfelt resolve:  “I AM NO MAN!!!” and thrust her sword into the head of the Nasgul-witch-king, who dissolves before her.   She knew that to stab him in the heart would be pointless, because that is not where he lived anymore.  
She annihilated the very womb from which her archetype had come.  Yes, it had taught her how to think, yes, it was the womb of the head of a God that gave birth to her and then told her who she was all along; but it was not her home, it was not her womb.  She was, at last, fully a Woman.  She was complete in her calling, in any room she chose.  Any seat at the collective place at the table, kitchen, garage, garden, meeting, or mountain-top, that had been the "room somewhere" she had for so long, longed for.

The nature of Eowyn, Pallas or the collective individuality of woman, is to teach a man’s head from her heart.  It is from the bosom of her psyche that she needs him to understand that to reach her strong, devoted, love-embracing spirit; to truly provide for her a modicum of what she can for him, he must leave his head and follow her into the heart.  For her, it is essential that he surrender to his anima, and meet her where she has been all along.  Like her uncle-father-king, maybe momentarily forgotten, yet her heart is her home nonetheless, where she is faithfully waiting for him to follow.
The image on this post speaks to me, in relation to these thoughts I call my Syliloquie for today.  It is from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/07/17/star-wars-wedding-photo_n_3612947.html

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

"LIFE": The Near-Death Experience

I think I am ready to speak about three experiences I had when going through cancer. Then again, maybe not...What I am actually more comfortable saying, is that I experienced one thing, three times.

Three weeks prior to a cancer diagnosis, I was laying in bed, nearly asleep, when it felt like a helicopter was rattling away in my ear.  Somehow, I knew my spirit was leaving my body. I also knew there was no fighting it, no resistance, nothing to do but surrender.  It was not scary, it was intense.

I very carefully and quietly, in my soul, sensed an acknowledgement to a presence both within and without myself.  It felt, unmistakably, like a very big Father-God-Presence.  I had an awareness that I was communicating a vibration of the words:  "Thy will be done, Father. Thy will be done."  I felt an indescribable and immense gratitude for my life, that is not capable of being written in letters and words.  I knew on some level, that I had never anticipated experiencing in my life, a rapturous gratitude.

In this same moment I could also feel myself asking: "I'll come, but if You're willing, I would like to stay a while longer and raise Tom."  With my intention for my son, I dropped back into a surrender that is beyond measure.  The surrender I felt, was more like what I know an instinct, or an awareness to be.  I felt again an awareness that I was exuding an all encompassing Gratitude, (which even writing now, I feel I should write with a capital "G"), yet there was something so distinctly different from what I know of being in my body.  If I had to be completely honest, I would have to say I felt a difference in my agency.  I was in more my awareness and desire, than my choosing.

I felt my spirit moving back into my body.  It was ruckus, it felt non-physically-painful and I began to cry tears that had every emotion in the spectrum of life possible.  I was worn out, worried about the bump over my sternum, that one doctor had already told me was nothing and that I should just ignore it.  I  recommitted to myself to pursue the issue deeper in the morning, and then I fell into sleep.

The experience happened again a second time, three days after I was indeed diagnosed with invasive cancer, that had moved into my lymph-system in my armpit and internally toward my heart in my chest.  The second time was very similar, very sacred:  ruckus first, washing out, supplication to stay and moving back into my body.  It is an experience that is, even now,  beyond my understanding.

I have to say, I am writing carefully here.

The last time it occurred was on the darkest day of my life, following my third round of chemo.  Things weren't going well.  I was not handling the chemo; or could say, more accurately,  the chemo was really handling me.

On the saddest day of my life, feeling worse than I could imagine would be humanly possible (and I have known much of the humanly possible), I thought of Job's wife in the bible, who wanted to curse God and die.  In this worst of moments I felt flooded with the sense that I would again have another experience, that coming night.  It loomed over me like a final straw on the camel's back.

I knew it was going to happen again, though I cannot describe how. The ruckus in every cell of my frame, the sting that I would have to surmise we call death;  I had heard people refer to it many times.  The reality was more encompassing than I thought possible and I was so very sad.  I was nearly spent in my waking hours, no more will and no more courage.

I was indeed, in a Job-like frame of mind as I contemplated the evening approaching. My physical, emotional and spiritual strain was so bad, laying on the couch, that I agreed within myself that if it happened again, I had had enough.  I was going... I was going... (I feel like I should be writing the "i" in lower case here).

That night, I fretfully crawled myself into to my bed.  Not so unlike a woman in labor; but this "birth" felt sad to me.  Truth be told, I did not want to go out of this life on a sad note.

Again it came, just as I instinctually felt it would, the ruckus-helicopter in my ears, body, bones and spirit.  My spirit drifting upward, attempting to move beyond my frame, I WAS my awareness of what was happening... such an unusual feeling.

There is more to tell here, but the details are so specific to me and so sacred, for now,  I simply need to let them be.

What I can say is this, in the moment I knew I was at the brink of passing, that I had reached twice prior, I was aware I could choose to let the experience ride further on than I ever had.  As I reached a little further out, stretching the tip-toe of my soul, I heard footsteps, walking in puddles of water toward me, that were gradually increasing in speed. I knew it was a male presence, not God, moving in to catch me.

Just as I began to slip, as near as I can tell, away,  I let out a very loud gasp (so loud in my ear, I worried I woke-up the neighbors down below me), yet I was simultaneously not sure if I had actually made a sound.  It was one of the most real, tactile, awake, frames of being I have ever experienced.

I felt a depth, of what I would call spiritual pain at returning fully into my frame.  I heard voices from beyond the veil, all around my bed echo my own gasp.  I could sense, in their collective gasp, that what I had just done was very, very hard.  I felt their concern, love, and intent care for me, and I knew myself, that I had just made a huge leap.  

After a moment of physical and spiritual pain (for lack of a better word), I sat up in my bed and all my life's intentions were absolutely crystal clear.  I thought to myself:

"Of course I am staying!  Of course..."

I heard immediately a voice, that I knew to be God, yet indistinguishable from my own voice,  ask me eight words:

"Would you take a bullet for your boy?"

The answer was "Yes", of course I would, absolutely.  Even if I never recovered from treatments, even if I was this sick, even if this misery was my life each day, for the rest of my days, I would do it.  I would do it for the sole reason that he would know I was home in bed while he was out and about in the world, that he wouldn't have to wonder who was going to watch over him on the day-to-day of life.  The answer was Yes.

Then, this question came immediately again:  Would you take a bullet for your son?  and I heard myself answer again "Yes".  Only this time the answer carried a whole different meaning...

If the only way for him to learn the lessons he needed to learn in this life, could only truly occur to the extent he needed, and would be in place only by loosing his mother early and having life experiences that would shape him in ways he could not gain any other way, than Yes, the answer would still be Yes.  If I didn't recover.  If cancer took me early, the same answer, and the answer was Yes.  I would die for my son.  I would live for my son.  Either way the answer was Yes...

I felt peace at the reality that no matter what happens in my life, good, bad, happy sad, everything, at the essence of who I am, is okay, and that if my perspective could actually flash clear for one moment, I would agree to it all wholeheartedly.  The answer would be Yes.

The next morning, the clarity was still there, the treatments became a bit more manageable, the tumor dissipated completely and the long and arduous journey of recovery continues to this day.

Part of my recovery has been, (for lack of a better word, again) channelling these three experiences into the work I do with the Chakras.  It was the only adequate language, through which I could articulate these experiences; a spiritual language that has nothing to do with words.  

The image above, I painted and digitally designed, to fairly adequately communicate the pulsation of Gratitude for my mortal life, that I experienced three separate times. A love sealed in knowing.   It is a visual metaphor that would describe the answer I received back from God, for my desire to stay in my body for a bit longer; a reply back to me from that Eternal Presence, with whom I was supplicating, which is for now also "Yes".

The experiences I speak of here will take me a life-time and beyond to understand.  Yet for now, the take-away that I can best surmise is this:

First:  I have an agency from which my desire to come have a physical experience happened instinctually.  The time of labor and delivery into this beautifully, intricate mortal experience was a mutual decision between me, my source and the outer presence around me of my mama's physical body.  

The leaving of this life back into the spiritual realms is also inseparably interlaced with both my instinct and my agency.  In a very similar way, and at a very essential level, this agency is plural; a mutual decision between the inner mother nature in my own body, my Essence-Self and the outer energy around me of my Father-God's Eternal presence.  

No matter the circumstances, I will only come into, or go out from life when these three aspects are in some sort of communion.

Second: There is an Essential aspect of my soul that is indistinguishable from what I personally know to be God.  The Essential aspect of who I am, will not come into this life (or go beyond it) unless the time is fully ripe for my soul.  What I learn most poignantly is that when I cross out of it, the experiences I gain through my mortal life will be the ‘near-death’ story I tell there. 

Times when I lived unconsciously in my life, the love I held back, the doubts I focused my time and energy on, both the truth and kindness for self and others I withhold; all are a type of death, to the real-life blessing of this sacred time in my mortal body.  The only "deaths" beyond the veil, are the regrets, for these kind of missed chances, that I carry with me beyond this physical body experience (also called karmas).

Also, that this mortality is teaching me things that are unequivocally necessary for my soul to continue her expansion.  To be able to reach further, and further outward, with my God-Souce, in a perpetually Eternal magnification in all realms. 

Without the capacity I gain for progressing during my life, my longing for Oneness and expansion becomes acute, as God's moves beyond where I can go.  

My finite ability to evolve with God, is what drives my desire for progression into physical intention in the first place, where I grow and learn to be one with my Source. Mortality is a huge gift.  Each moment I spend in my physical body, is making me fit for better light, beyond time, beyond space.  

Third: I gained a clear understanding that being in mortality, even doing the simplest, most mundane daily routine, like blowing my nose, sitting in a wheelchair, not being able to shift myself in bed or get dressed; or on good days, when something as simple as wringing out the dishwater from the cloth at the sink and laying it over the faucet, are each an opportunity through which the spirit aspect of my soul pulsates an Eternal Gratitude beyond measure.   

I've felt beyond a shadow's doubt, how my spirit clings to my body, with a passion of the deepest of love affairs, and learns volumes, to which my mortal mind has no clue of the full magnitude.

I learned that we have no idea, no idea what a gift the everyday is.  How sacred every glance or exchange, with the ripple effect they render throughout this realm and beyond.  My gratitude for this life springs beyond measure. 

So for me, (just as it is for you, in truth), I have the sacred chance to spend a little more mortality, crossing my "t"s and dotting my "I"s (capitalized).  

These days I get to be at the center of Tom's comings and goings, sending a bit of my spirit out the door with my son as he moves through his life.  

In body, or not, it's what parents do. 

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Between Certainty & Sanctification

The most frightening thing to me in this life is not whether a person will live or die. The scariest thing I have witnessed, is another human who is past feeling empathy for a friend, a family member, a fellow human being; the person who may see things differently than them.

In speaking to a friend recently, who is facing cancer, I felt it was important to choose my words carefully at a tender time.  I spoke to her of the beginning of my own journey that started with a needle biopsy.  There was a window, prior to actually hearing my doctor say the words out loud, where I felt confident that I could turn the tables with my own faith.

In my circle of like-minded yogis, to speak of healing hands is a term that is widely accepted (as it also is in my church community).  So in-between the needle biopsy and the diagnosis, the first person I called was my Bishop.  I asked him for a blessing, the laying on of hands.   

I felt certain, as had been the case in previous times in my life, that I would hear words of comfort, not to worry, all will be well, it’s just a misunderstanding...that sort of thing.  

So, when I met him, on a sunny summer afternoon at my church, we sat in his office.  He ministered to me with consecrated oil that has been set aside for the healing of the sick, and afflicted.  He shared with me, that this oil had been consecrated in the Garden of Gethsemane on a recent trip to Jerusalem, and then he and one of his councilors laid their hands on my head.  

I felt a well of faith in me rise to hear words of comfort.  I know how to open myself to real healing, energetically, and could feel the divine channels of connection broaden through the crown of my head.  Yet I knew, somewhere deep in me, that I would not want to hear the first words he was about to say:  

“Sister Syl, your body has been prepared for many years to do battle with the challenges you will face.  Your Heavenly Father is aware of you, and will be at your side during this time of sanctification.”  


I explained this morning to my friend, that over the course of this journey, in facing a variety of dark nights of the soul, I often reflected on the word “Sanctification”.  I shared with her, that there were frustrating times during my journey, that I equated this word with almost a sacred punishment.  It’s a tough one, cancer is.  

Yet as the tough parts of chemotherapy, surgeries and radiation were wrapping up, I felt I was now ready to face the recovery from the treatments themselves.  I had lived through an invasive cancer diagnosis and was ready for some assurance on the future, so I called my Bishop again.  

I was open.  Open to God blessing me with no more, no more, no more, when it came to tough challenges.  So after a lovely visit, my Bishop laid his hands on my head again, where I was waiting for the assurance which I felt I had earned. Wouldn’t such a desire be fair, given what I’d been through? I wanted someone outside of me to tell me what I wanted to hear, though I knew inside, at the essential level of my soul, that I was asking for something that was not in my power to grant for myself.  I heard him say, as we both channeled the Spirit of the Lord, on my behalf:  

“Your Father in Heaven knows you by heart. He loves you...and wants you to know that you will be Sanctified for some time yet.”

I wanted a refund, a do over, another way out of facing the rough edges life was offering me.

Sanctified, what does this mean, and how much will it really take?  

Through any one of the paths I have come through in this life, whether healing childhood abuse, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, or whatever, I want more than anything, to have a happy story, as story of realization and fruition of all my intuitions along my life path.  My motivation in seeking this is to be able to bear a witness that our God-Source has worked through me in wonderful ways, happy ways.  So like many who know the tough times, when life doesn't seem to be set up the way we think it should be, I would ask:  WHY, did I have to face so much?  What is that about?  Why can’t I bear a witness of how wonderful life is, and most importantly, when will it be enough, so I can be done, and everything made right?

It reached the point that when I knelt to pray, all I could say was:  “DUDE”.

Sanctification?  Is this circumstance really what you’re thinking, God?

So as treatments wrapped and I gained the strength to take an afternoon walk, each day, it wasn’t long before I sat again in the hospital with a broken leg, facing months of healing; and there was my bishop, who blessed me again with patience in my sanctification.  He stayed with me there, with my dear neighbor, Kathy, both doing their best to keep me laughing, while tears streamed down my face, frustrated and at my wits end. 

He sat with me there until 3am, and when arriving back to my home, gave me a somewhat sanctified, piggy-back up the stairs (as crutches weren't an option due to the surgeries on my breast and arm, and rheumatoid arthritis in my wrists).  He and Kathy got me settled into bed, around a stream of both incredulous laughter, and unanswered tears dropping from my chin.

It was during the quite days of solitude that followed, rolling around in my wheelchair, again relying on family, friends and neighbors continued offerings of care and kindness, that I began to glimpse an understanding of the idea of “Sanctification”.  

So as I visited with her today, I told my friend about the last blessing my Bishop offered me, during this time facing an adversity that our culture calls cancer.  Once the leg was healed, we met again, and I have to admit, I was down right gun-shy when it came to the ways of “Sanctification”.  I wasn’t sure that I ever wanted another blessing, but knew I was being lead on a path.

I sat in his chair, his hands resting on my crown of fuzzy baby hair that had begun to sprout at Easter, and puffy cheeks from steroids, looking ironically like uncle fester.  I was surprised, as I heard the voice of my bishop, through the heat of his hands on my head say:  

“Sister Syl, today I give you a new name and a blessing”.

A new name?  This was unusual, not part of a regular laying on of hands experience, when receiving a blessing.  In the moment, I couldn’t help reflecting on the yogic traditions of your Guru renaming you, when through your fervent practice, you evolve to the place of shedding the old self and taking on a new identity, more aligned with your spiritual path.

And then he went on to say that my Heavenly Parents held me deep within their collective heart, that they were flanking me in love through my journey, and would choose this day to give me a new name and a blessing:  The name was “HOPE”.  Not that life would now be easy and graceful, since my dues were paid, but that regardless of what may come, I was to honor an empathetic and hopeful heart as the essence of who I am.  

In being given a new name, I was not just to have hope going forward, but that I was to become Hope itself; that I would not simply find, muster, or plan to hope, but that I would take on the full countenance of Hope, as the essence of who I am; that I would be sanctified in every aspect of my being, in HOPE.

This morning, I explained to her, that what I have learned so far about the concept of being Sanctified, is that it is not just about going through adversity, and then being fully rewarded with what you want.  Sanctification is going through something, anything, to the extent that, if you’re lucky, you can emerge with an increased capacity for empathy....

Meaning you can BOTH receive it, when others feel and express empathy for you, which gives you the hope to continue, and you can give it, when others have burdens that need a share of your time, talents and resources; meaning you can give them hope on their path, through an honest expression of an empathetic heart, as well as the actions it prompts you to take, in relation to another.

We don’t have to know the individual circumstances first-hand, but we do need a heart that is reachable.  A soul that has been touched in someway through each of our collective vulnerabilities, can more fully put ourselves in another’s shoes, even without having fully walked another's path, because we ourselves, have been sanctified somewhere along the way.

It’s not a matter of: “when will it be enough for God-Source to make the tough stuff stop, or make things right, or how I am certain they should be?”

If I were to surmise, from paths I am doing my best to navigate, a sanctified heart is one that is Sanctioned, or set apart to be receptive, that can be touched, be reached, that can touch, that can reach, that can feel in either the giving, or receiving, equally.

Through my own paths, I have come to understand on a small level, that it really is, more a matter of: 

"What will it take within me"

...How much will I be able to let go of, in order to feel worthy of receiving empathy for myself FROM others?  

As well as:

...What might I have to give up, in order for me to have the capacity to feel it in behalf of someone else, who may be facing challenges?
When will I be “sanctified”, a word that really means CLEAR; clear enough to be there for someone, who I myself don’t fully understand, who I may not even feel obligated to, for no other reason than because it has become the nature of who I really am, to do so. 

For each of us, the task of clearing our prejudice, self-centric motivations, and fear of letting go of the way we see things, will take experiences that are as individually specific to our soul, as the energy of our own name, and what it means for us. 

Our hands, hopefully, out stretched, in the gesture of care (either giving or receiving), are both equally necessary; for it may be in this exchange, that we glimpse the connections which bring a lasting sanctity within the certainties of the soul.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Seventy Times Seven

In the past month I’ve been continuing to heal from the residual effect of treatments from a year long conversation with invasive breast cancer, and sitting with the concept of forgiveness.  

My thoughts have turned to the young woman gang raped in India, the way her story has made it across the globe so quickly, and the ways in which the truth spreads faster today than ever before.

I think of the ancient prophecy, that in the last days “our secrets shall be shouted from the rooftops”.  Hmmmmm, who knew that WE would be the ones shouting them by satellite and social media.  Yet in shouting our truth so freely, the very truths that set us free, can also so very quickly bind us.

My truth is that I have experienced much in this life, I have been hurt, I have hurt others and also know much of healing hurt and the paths of forgiveness.

As a child I had to forgive more than one person who raped me, so when I heard about the woman in India and watched her story spread across the globe, I thought of myself as a child going through something no less intense, save the death she met.  I've contemplated my path, of living through what felt like a soul death; how I had to forgive what was happening to me immediately in order to distance myself from the reality of it.  I used forgiveness to checkout, to glaze over, to hide.  

It has taken many years to come to peace.  

In doing my best to grow into full womanhood, I have had to own every bit of the hurt which the circumstances of my childhood brought up.  As a young girl in elementary school who had such trouble focusing, and could only find real friendship among other children my age who had been marginalized in some way; and as a young woman in high school, who had to be the most lovely and simultaneously the most unapproachable.   

In college and adulthood I had to be the one who could see what everyone else could not.  To point out the higher meaning of things.   To make use of an acute intuition that branched out the hyper-vigilance of someone who never wanted to be raped by anyone else again.

For a child and young woman who has experienced rape, in the climax of the unspeakable moment, the only thing the feminine soul can to hang onto is the paradox of irreconcilable physical pain and horror, and the Grace of God that descends to comfort her in the betrayal of her body’s reaction, as the very best, most sacred thing she will ever have to give another person is ripped from her.  

In the darkest space imaginable, she finds also there, an open channel, a ministering of the reality of God’s witness and love, in a sickening moment that feels as though it will never end...

In healing from rape, that was the moment I chose to keep with me.  It is the open channel to the reality of God’s stream of ministering in our worst moments, that can heal us and that healed me; and it is the clear witness I am able to bear here, in this moment to you.

In one of the greatest of God’s tender mercies to me, I’ve found wonderful healing along the paths of yoga, where for the first time in my life I embraced my body, and my womanhood.  Within my yoga study I found the Chakras, and began an amazing seven tiered study and practice that healed the horrific sorrow in my cells and opened up the intuitive wisdom of the heavens to work the power of the Atonement in me, to the extent that I’ve been healed beyond reason, or understanding.  I can honestly say, from the clearest spaces in my soul, that the shroud of stolen innocence, power and connection has been fully lifted from my frame.

During this healing path I was invited to share the power of the chakras on behalf of others.   I love teaching the seven tiered path of the chakras, and know firsthand how to access that open channel though the darkest, most closed off places within us.  

For me, real and honest healing occurs when we use the depths of resistance (in the words of the poet David Whyte), as our “dream ladder to divinity”.   Through my study and practice of the Chakras, I used the worst moment a woman can experience, to tap into a natural intuitive and visionary gift I was born with.  God sent me here with an open channel, and acute intuition, to not only survive some of the toughest experiences He has to offer, but to use this channel of His hidden truths to stand and witness to others in a unique and healing way.

Over the long run of my recovery, I was asked to share the knowledge and wisdom of chakra healing by someone who knew my story, and invited me to facilitate in a project that would benefit others.  The collaboration has turned out to be yet another experience where I have again learned to explore the value in forgiving Seventy times Seven. 

The outcome of what we did together, has resulted in my image and ideas being profited from in a way that has proved to be invasive.  It took many years of trying to simply forgive again and again, before we would speak face to face, honestly.   

Over the course of this experience, my body took in all the truths I could not speak, and turned the time grieving this expereince into invasive breast cancer.  This part of the outcome, is in no way, the fault of the individuals who claim my healing as their own, this is what my body did with the words, I myself, could not say, to ears that could not hear.

I’ve done my best to own it, to be honest, to speak my truth directly to her.  Through my personal study of Seventy Times Seven, I understand that for the same reason my cells are sensitive to invasive people, they are also open to channel the healing it takes to repeatedly let go.  

It's in my letting go and letting God, that the Divine wisdom, which moves through us both will bring a rebalance.  When I hold onto my secrets of hurt, with regard to someone else's, I face the insurmountable odds of moving heaven and earth back in to balance, all by myself.  The only thing I really need do, is stand in the place of witness, a witness that is there for so many others to also see...and the healing will take care of the rest. Through this practice, I’ve learned in so many ways to honor my sensitivity, and to send a witness of love and light, in the limited ways I am able. When I approach forgiveness in this way I hold her in gentle witness, from as honest a space possible, rather than remain hurt.  Holding in this way can feel, somewhat, like tough love to both of us; yet it is the truth that sets us free.

Recently, the basis of my chakra work has been manipulated and marketed into seem as if it is someone else’s idea entirely.    Yet the rebalance of the energy of the truth in forgiveness is beyond the glazing of pain into forgetfulness.  Honesty within the challenges on the spectrum of accountability, can be the most difficult, but worthy, aspect in the conversation we all share, when It comes to real and lasting forgiving. Honesty with ourself, in both the harm we cause, as well as those we seek to forgive, is such an important ingredient which sets us both free.  Free to work out our journey, free to create our karma, clear of one another.  And so to honor my Dharma with the chakra healing work I do, to honor my body who's cancer cells need not fret, to honor my truth and my witness, I speak here.

It would be impossible to speak of these unspeakable things, without recalling a quiet moment sitting with Rex.  He knew my journey, and would not stand by and watch my healing from an insulated distance.  He made it his life’s work to go with countless women and men, into the shroud of the stolen soul.  He will be loved beyond measure for who he was, and remains, in a more infinite way today.  I find such a sacred irony, that since the moment of his passing, that same channel that flows through me, also affords my senses an awareness of his continual presence. 

One evening, long before his passing, I was speaking to him of the story of Jesus clearing the money changers from the temple, in comparison to the arduous journey of recovering from rape.  I explained that the chakra healing I was doing, felt like the Lord’s clearing of that sacred house. The power in his husky arms increased around me, as Rex held me tight, on his green leather couch in the office we shared.  In the heat of his whisper in my ear, I felt his kind, deep, words permeate through my body, as he said:

“Syl, YOU are the temple”

So for my part, I continue on this chakra journey of forgiving Seventy Times Seven.

I continue to learn the reality, and hidden wisdom of God’s eternal gaze and love, and the importance of keeping a clear channel for it’s witness to perpetually pour through me and witness the reality of it to pour through YOU, whatever intense circumstances may come your way.

The following poem was written as my Christmas gift to Rex in 2000; my thank you to him, for helping my eyes adjust to the light along my healing path, entitled "I'm a Lotus".  The lotus is a flower that rises from a foundation of dark, dankness, blossoming at the surface of light.  It is the symbol of the Crown Chakra that expands into infinite connection, while nourishing itself from roots in the murkiest of waters:

I'm A Lotus

Those who take
Stealing petals of my blossom

Awakening beauty 
to bury only in weeds and mud

Lost in the annihilation of my soul
Ignorant of peace

He breathes life to my heart
held on paths unknown

Casting off the money changers 
in softest word's warmth
whispered through my ear

"You are the Temple"

Copyright © 2000 by Syl Carson and White Mountain Yoga L.L.C All Rights Reserved