Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Ending Our Arguments with Reality

Here's a question for contemplation: What aspect of reality do you argue with? I was diagnosed with a chronic illness (ME/CFS/FM) 35 years ago. Sometimes it involves pain. At other times, there is little pain but a prostrating exhaustion. Really- getting out of bed and walking five steps can take an hour or more. 

Here's what I've noticed: I find it easier to cope with pain, particularly acute pain that renders me immobile, than I do exhaustion. 

When I realized this, I started to pay attention, mostly out of curiosity. With pain I adjust, adapt, focus on my breath, take meds that sometimes help and cancel other commitments. I don't argue with pain. 

But I argue with exhaustion. I push. I limp along when I should be lying down. I quibble with the "reality" of exhaustion. The inevitable outcome of this is more pain- and then I can surrender. 

Why? Why this resistance to, this argument with exhaustion? 

We argue with the aspects of reality that we've learned (often unconsciously) to see as somehow morally inferior to other aspects. My very Protestant-work-ethic-driven family didn't make much room for human frailty in any form that interfered with our ability to work. Or as my mother has put it every time we've spoken over thirty-five years: "What's that thing you claim you have to get out of keeping your house the way you know you should?" 

In my birth family pain was acceptable (albeit something that "should not" stop you for long) but exhaustion was weakness, a moral failing, an illusion, a con, evidence of laziness. 

This arguing with reality is largely unconscious, because a lot of the values we have were implicitly taught. For now, I'm just noticing and being with my argument with exhaustion when it arises. There are, of course, conditions we can change. But efforts to do so are more likely to be successful if we start by seeing and accepting what is. And sometimes what is, is beyond our control. When that's the case, arguing with any aspect of the present moment robs us of joy, ~Oriah

When I saw this photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, I mentally titled it, "Gentle Morning." Gentleness is the quality I try to bring to myself when I catch myself arguing with reality, because yelling at the aspect that feels compelled to argue just pushes it into the unconscious where it can mutter endlessly and stop me from accepting the gift of the day- even a day lived horizontally. :-)

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Finding Delight

This is what I am learning. How to bring more curiosity than expectation to each moment, each task, each encounter with the other. And I am repeatedly delighted by our generosity and creativity, and in awe of how grace moves in our shared life. ~Oriah
Spectacular photo by Karen Davis from Open Door Dreaming.

Friday, November 3, 2017

When The Great Grief Cry Is Answered

Sometimes we feel abandoned, bereft, alone in a way that can paralyze or send us frantically running in circles. If we believe a sacred Presence is always with us, but we are experiencing a heart-aching loneliness, we can add to our suffering with self-blame and deep shame. Last weekend, in the midst of shared prayers, words arose that surprised me. I found myself asking for forgiveness for feeling (in the last years of my marriage) that God had abandoned me. At the time the experience had left me drowning in a sea of sorrow, and my shame had rendered me silent. The Presence that had always been there, the Sacred Mystery that had gotten me through a tumultuous childhood- I simply could not find it, could not feel it. I was lost. And then, this poem found me, and I used it as a prayer. I could not, with my will, re-establish my experience of that which I believed was still with and within me, but my "grief cry" was heard. And in a grace-filled moment I experienced, once again, being held in the arms of infinite Love. My relief was so great it left me trembling and filled with gratitude. ~Oriah Pushing Through It’s possible I am pushing through solid rock in flintlike layers, as the ore lies, alone; I am such a long way in I see no way through, and no space: everything is close to my face, and everything close to my face is stone. I don’t have much knowledge yet in grief so this massive darkness makes me small. You be the master: make yourself fierce, break in: then your great transforming will happen to me, and my great grief cry will happen to you. by Rainer Maria Rilke (Translated by Robert Bly) As in this photo by Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming, there is incredible beauty in the moment when the darkness gives way to the searing beauty of dawn.