There Are Times When…

I hear someone pouring out her heart about a wrenching upset,
something burdening her whole being,
something precious to her,
it may be as simple as a slight,
or an all out attack on her honor.

Or she may be troubled about something like a relationship struggle,
or a time when someone treated her rudely,
or she stubbed her toe and it brought out all of her frustrations.

And I catch my breath.
Because it strikes me to my core
in that moment,
that I have to push past the old programming
shoved at me perpetually, daily, hourly
stating that nothing matters save giving up
yourself and your concerns to Christ’s love.
There’s no need to overflow, to spill,
to let it show because it can all just rest at the cross.

I remember this in a flash, a moment when my heart
instantly feels deeply with and for another
all while the program’s smashing attempts to haunt,
to strip, to devalue value itself clashes
with the natural flow.

We are not our own, see, we belong to Jesus.
As long as you can bring it all to him,
corral it into submission to how he has solved everything
(though good folks die and honorable names are smeared),
then you can rest knowing all is well even if it doesn’t look well,
or feel swell, or even feel at all.

It hits me in the solar plexus.

Oh how that program shatters the value,
the soul, the heart of what it is
to. be. human.

And I am achingly grateful to feel,
to be moved by the biggest and the smallest
concerns of those who are changed by what life is.

Think of what it might be like to have that cut off,
to be only allowed to feel deeply into what someone else supposedly did for you,
something that negates any reason to grieve, cutting short,
masectomizing, castrating the heart of being human.

I sit with the realization and allow it to flood
any lingering hardened fields,
places where I smashed my humanity flat,
suffocating breath and pulse.
I sit and watch the water work its way in
and past the resistance to being flesh and blood real.

I am beyond grateful to know the depths,
the feelings from the stubbed toes to the unspeakable losses,
to the quiet joys and splashy promises bearing hope
and to know that I can treasure them all until time to pass them along,
sacrificing nothing but the lie that we are not truly beautifully whole
as we let go of our crutches and learn to walk our stories
amongst ancient witnesses who have learned there is love,
there is divinely radical grace in losing the Jesus no one should know.

j. ruth kelly, all rights reserved, 2020

For A Reason?

My social media trail for the morning led me to a cool Facebook page, Live Intentionally, an encouraging oasis in the vast world of social outpourings. The trail I turned down to get me to this point right here involved the question: “Do you believe everything happens for a reason?” I committed to answering the question so, of course, I went after it thoroughly. Somewhat.

But what of it? This statement, “Everything happens for a reason,” teeters on the brink of sheer stupidity and well, brilliance. It just depends on how willing you are to explore what it proposes. For one, most things happen for a reason. Apples fall from trees because gravity and ripeness play with each other to the point of inevitability. Forces we can’t see are at work all the time and this idea, that “forces” are at work, creates an almost magical or Divine notion of God at work or the Universe doing something for our good. And there are times when life slams us with signs, with songs, with phrases and “happenstance” designed to get our attention. Truly.

What is my answer to “does everything happen for a reason?” Yes. And. No. Yes because cause and effect are what they are, dancing with each other ’til the collapse into the next song. The next song of cause and effect. Yes, because, when we’re not consciously working towards certain outcomes, we’re still usually causing things to happen on levels we’re unaware of. The mighty unconscious, the ice under the tip of the iceberg. Etc. etc. And yes, everything happens for a reason, because I personally believe love is always at work for our best. Always. This “yes” addresses the underlying spirit in the statement from some who believe “all things work together for good.” All things might work together for good if you get yourself moving in the direction of your best efforts without fear and hopefully with the best of timing! Not too soon, not too late. Go to a garden with tomatoes growing, maybe you want one now. Maybe you see one now and maybe you’re color blind. You might not have a good time with the tomato you pick. We need the eyes to see and the experience to know when a situation or a person is at that point of readiness for whatever is needed or wanted. And back to the garden and love working always for our good. How do we make sure that when “everything happens for a reason” we’re able to get the most and best out of the happenings? By avoiding cynicism, by keeping the earth of our hearts fertile, breaking up the hardness and allowing life to break us open as we’re able. By knowing that we can lose precious irretrievable things, situations and people.

So, yes, everything happens for a reason. And yet. No. No to several of the toxic layers of the oft-present SPIRIT of this question. Those toxic layers?

1. The underlying desire to tag everything I can’t currently change as “events bigger than me”  What makes this toxic? Powerlessness as an attitude when all avenues of possibility have not been exhausted is sometimes tragic. For example, when you ignore your valid anger in a situation because you can’t see the way out of it or because you don’t want to bother with “bigger” people who are being destructive. Or when you assume the doctor has all the answers and, as it turns out, the doctor is not even slightly diligent or caring beyond the greedy bottom line. But, powerlessness is also sometimes the only answer or solution (even if only temporarily) in a  situation. But knowing the difference between when to act, dig, insist, employ relentless scrutiny and effort and when to let go requires maturity, humility, and self-awareness. I’ve discovered that particular trinity of character can be rare in many lives and requires a level of diligence to cultivate on my own part in my own life that is sometimes just downright annoying. But it’s so worthwhile.

2. The inevitable “surrender” posing as the inner wise man who just knows God is up to something or the Universe is so very wise when you just don’t wanna look at the dirt on your clothes. This one is not dissimilar to the first toxic layer. But it’s also potentially a mock surrender to a God who may or may not exist, may or may not want you to give up and may or may not want this situation in your life…supposing these possibilities matter to you. It presumes much. What if this God you believe in exists and this happened because you or someone else didn’t give due diligence to something critical and now God’s sitting by steaming with frustration because you’ve taken the “This happened for a reason beyond my comprehension” approach as a pious, “wise” stance that really means you want to avoid the truth? And God/Universe sure ain’t gonna infringe on your free will. Is it possible that many people really mean, when they say “everything happens for a reason,” “I can’t deal with this. I don’t want to even think about why that happened because I have a feeling it will hurt when I realize the truth.” And “I don’t. really care, next?” Or do they mean “Don’t bother me with anything, I only want to deal with my world and my wants.” Apathy, fear and powerlessness. Sometimes it’s all we have, actually. Sometimes it’s the best stance until we’re ready. If you can’t care, you can’t care. But it’s not where I want to reside on any regular basis if, and only if, I can help it. It tends to cause things to happen for reasons of apathy, fear and powerlessness. Ugh. To borrow from the brilliance of LIVING INTENTIONALLY, where’s the intention of love in apathy?

3. The refusal to actually dig into why things are happening because “everything happens for a reason” often means “God did this. Not me, not you, not my big sister or brother.” Again, not too different from 1 and 2 but it includes the avoidance of others’ power and actually prevents a process of deeper love and awareness. How so? By shutting down the capacity to see clearly and love anyway. This happened because he didn’t face something (gee, I can so relate to not having it to face some things! Enter: Empathy; Exit: Judgemental Nonsense.) and the result is less than pleasant (I would so like this to be better! Go ahead! Give your energy to the truth so good intentions can grow!) and could’ve been prevented (How can this go differently next time around?!). But damn if I don’t still love him and understand his humanity even more now and want to be there for him. (Deeper, fuller, more honesty. Gee, this happened so I could love more? I don’t know…) But, also, it challenges you to decide if you want to continue with people who keep accidentally hurting you through their inability to grow. And sometimes, we do decide we’d rather put up with so much else than lose that one person. Count the cost. Be aware. Make your choices alive with a conscious and fully present spirit, not a mock surrender to a God who’d rather you face yourself and the people you love.

Everything happens for a reason…and things happen because they happen. But I bet we just don’t know why yet…

Freewill Pedals Fast…

My youngest son kept me up last night past midnight, expressing his feelings and pouring out his heart about life and particularly about the question of life after death. I knew we were coming ’round to a place of renewed peace and joy when the emotions had been spent thoroughly and these words came out of his mouth and the sun rose a smile as he spoke: “When I ride my bike, it’s like I’m not me, I’m the bike. I’m one with the bike…” We’d discussed the failure of language and how it suggests reality as only what the mind can conjure through words. And how inadequate the comprehension of life itself when relying on concepts created by minds not our own. Actually, he’d brought that little factoid up himself. Wow, what a scramble for “reality” and totems and “truth.” He knows what his mom believes about life and the divine. In the process of sifting through the turmoil, I endeavored to open his mind to now, to letting go of fear while cherishing the fleeting and yet precious reality of life. This is a boy who can poke holes in every belief system out there and yet he wants something to believe in. I aksed him: When you were in the womb, did you stop and ask and wonder about the beyond? Did you fret about losing the rhythmic sound of heart and world around you? Did you even “know?” For some reason, this particular line of gentle questioning kept bringing him to peace. The sense of being released into all the best rest and humor finally came flooding into our dialogue. He wouldn’t stop gabbing on and on about life, about connection, about nature, about the earth and how it is we don’t fall off of it as it turns and. And, I suggested he study physics. The will had quickly, resiliently found comfort and was off on that bike flying down the hill fast with a smooth grace. The will…so vital…

Healing The Will

The heart of every human holds
The feelings and the dreams
Of deepest aspirations,
Freewill’s creative esteem.
The urge toward higher purpose,
The drive to create from grace,
Unlimited power of expression,
The potential of the human race.
Yet, the side roads are many,
Blighted by denial and fear,
Refusal to express the feelings,
Until numbness blocks our tears.
Lost in our machinations,
Yet craving release from pain,
Surrender may not come sweetly,
But the
will can be regained.
The sacredness of being lies
In feeling
all that appears,
Without applying judgments
To the joys or to the fears.
Trusting every emotion as
Something we created to feel,
Then expressing every feeling,
Allows the will to heal.

Jamie Sams – Earth Medicine, Ancestors’ Ways of Harmony for Many Moons, pg. 224

So…it was a long day and it had begun with my focus on writing about the will and particularly about healing the will as a foundational work of personal growth. My 8 year old son’s post bedtime struggles highlighted the importance of expression in safeguarding true will, of working through the turmoil we all face when questioning life, when trying to give freewill the freedom needful to infuse our lives with vibrance. So often belief systems and programs are tossed at us in honest endeavors to provide comfort but how much ownership of truly personal peace is possible when this occurs? Then again, how much of that future ownership of personal peace is inspired by those very attempts to bring comfort? It’s sometimes a tightrope walk across a divide we cannot truly fathom. But we are drawn to it regardless. If we can find peace in what life is, in what life can be, we can find something no lack of proof can shake or otherwise unhinge. But we don’t get there by running away from the expressions of doubt, of fear, of appreciation for how fleeting life truly is. And this is what had sparked my son’s turmoil, his own sudden comprehension of the transitory nature of the moment itself. And up to that point, it had been a feast.

We, as children and as adults, need a place from which we can reach into the beyond, a place of security where we can say “I don’t know how to believe that when…” … where we can express our doubts and still find sure footing. Stability. I kept wanting to tell my son, “It’s ok. Trust me. There’s a God. We’ll all be together after life. I promise.” But it struck me as a violation of his will, an abortion of his own processes of comprehension and growth. He was too focused on the fact that there’s no proof. And I admitted that I cannot know what will be or if there is a beyond. But neither could I deny a sense of the mother and father heart of God or all the possible projections that very sense may be. And yet, it still is and I can live with it in appreciation of the wealth it provides but not in denial of all that is truly uncontrollable in life, the vast unknown. I can still sense and know that within is a depth of the divine untapped and eternal.

We discussed different attitudes about life after death, some philosophies and religion. He had suggested that to call a tree a tree is to lose or even just shut out what that particular expression of creation is. I grinned at the Tao of his articulation.  Where did he finally land? With a question… “how do we know we aren’t God?”

The will needs to run free, to live with the courage to say what is rumbling in the heart, to fly with intention beyond the programs that give us ideas and the words that seek to grasp what could never be fully grasped.  On and into life being lived and becoming one with what we can never truly name, pedalling fast free, knowing self as feeling in motion, feltness supreme.

As the Acorn Conveys an Oak…

“The whole purpose of the symbol and the mythos, which is the system of symbols, is to lead us to God himself, just as the purpose of language is to convey meaning and not mere words. God–Meaning alike of the universe and the mythos–is alive; like wind, like moving waters, like fire, he cannot be grasped in some rigid form. Thus the symbolic form conveys the life of God as the acorn conveys an oak. In time, if the acorn is alive, its shell will burst; the living tree will grow out of it, and refuse to be enclosed in a shell any more. Likewise, God gives his life to men in symbols and sacraments, but if that life is to be truly lively, it will not stay confined in those forms or in any others. It will use forms; it will express itself in forms; but it will not be held in forms.”

Alan Watts – Behold the Spirit

The beauty of this truth expressed here lies in the reality of dynamic possibility. Each person can take from what s/he feels of, thinks of and experiences of God or even simply hopes to experience and from those rich layers gestate a relationship with the Divine.

The work of weeding out the toxic threads provided by misguided spiritual leaders is paramount to a truly authentic walk with Spirit. And at some point the idea of “with” fades as the life as separate from God becomes more and more inconceivable. A steady path to that point is one of consistent effort, and of awareness of self, recognition of cultural influences and gender-focused obstructions.

Some of us have to run in the direction of the devil for a season in order to get a feel for where we stand in our hearts and minds, where we stand with “god” and without “god” and in order to determine what of previously held beliefs have dismantled vital soulful being. An example of the many possible considerations poses itself in this question: How did a masculine god-view damage your sense of the empowered woman?

The truth is: we are not and never have been separate from the Divine or from love and after a while we recognize there is no distinction between those two.

jruthkelly © 2008, 2009