All Angst Aside…

Take me, every ounce of this flesh and bone, pulse and blood of being, down that road,
that road long avoided, long ignored. Take me down that road, past all the detour signs and the “do not enter” and “wrong way” warnings. In the night, we journey. Past the sleeping towns and the slumbering souls barely breathing, we ride. All angst aside, all in, all gone on oppression, take me down that forgotten highway where only my body’s direction may lead as my soul receives and gives, leads and follows on a path of ancient knowing.

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016
Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016

The Church of May

You leap beyond all
despair and hopeless falling.
Fiery woman, live;

no spire reaches
past your own sacred lightning,
flaring out fierce love.

Stomp and squeal delight
against a night of constant
yearning. Your love’s dance

blurs us past façades,
awakens all our hoping
towards sun’s warm call.

Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016
Photo by J. Ruth Kelly, All Rights Reserved, 2016

“May” is one of my daughter’s nicknames. On this day, pictured here as blurred trees and a church held steadfast against our movement, Marion drove us around to see some of the more lovely parts of Pittsburgh. Our trip to see her began with her trademark spontaneity and abandon when we drove up to her home. She leapt up and out the front door into the 1am cold night air and squealed with joy and then down the stairs, doing little run/skip/dance moves out into the street to reach into my car for a huge hug. And that is the best of the “Church of May.” She reveals, at her most fiercely loving moments, what we’re all made of and what we’re all here for … no matter how dark the time. We are the sacred, spiritual, divine-as-love.

 

 

Embracing the Unfathomable…

I falter, from time to time (to time), tripping up on the “why” of things that happen to me and to my loved ones. The arrogance, ultimately, of this venture tells on me. There are so very many factors and variables and layers of realities we cannot fathom that come into play or intersect with our lives. The most we can do is accept any evidence of our own contribution to anything destructive, or our own patterns of self/other sabotage or any number of wicked twists of the internal landscape. And then? We grow, become more aware. And then?

j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, 2014, all rights reserved

 

 

We let go. Not all events in our lives, not all phases or past hardships can even withstand or succumb to reason…even after we have noted our contributions (even if we weren’t necessarily the cause!). Our value is so much more than any reasoning could ultimately affirm. Moving on and embracing just how much is truly unfathomable … this is key. We can still make a handiwork of our challenges. We can artfully embody love within and through all the unreasonable, unfathomable goings on. I find all of this affirmed by the brilliant and wise Caroline Myss. Her Facebook page is in my newsfeed and this hit me today with a tremendous gifting of grace…

“Giving up the need to know why something has happened to you will definitely count among the most rigorous personal challenges of your life. Everything about human nature craves an explanation for why events occur as they do. Our sense of reason is more than just an attribute of the mind; it is an archetypal power that governs our capacity to ground our lives and balance the forces of chaos in the world. The power of reason connects us to the rule of law and justice, directing human behavior on that tenuous path of right and wrong. Surrendering the need to know “why” represents the release of an entire inner archetypal map, one that the ego relies on for its strategies of survival in a world we perceive as heavenly influenced by the polarities of right and wrong, good and evil. To surrender runs counter to all your instincts of protection, grounded as they are in your need for personal safety. Your unconscious fear is that to surrender is to release the force of evil in your life without the rule of good to counteract it. We tend to believe, even unconsciously, that if we do good, bad things won`t happen to us. We do not only believe that principle, but also honor and live by it. Yet healing requires you to relinquish your need for an explanation- why, for instance, you experienced a brutal betrayal, or why you must take on the arduous challenge of healing an illness or assisting a loved one who is ill. Understandably, everyone asks, ‘How am I supposed to let go of this need for reasonable explanations?'” – Caroline Myss

Embrace the unfathomable, trust yourself and unfold into life…

child of life, visiting grace on me for a season

Universe Twirl

Yesterday turned out to be one of the longer dances with life and universal rumbling tango twirls as I focused mainly on staying steady on my toes. It was beautiful, something I would not have predicted. Exhausting. Just life, mainly. But there was this girl…

almost 18…

she was in the backseat behind me, quiet. Rolling with the latest spin in the dance of our day. Her guitar teacher hadn’t been there. Door locked. Next? We’re taking my niece somewhere. Been an emergency kind of day…

quiet. Her silence was palpable.

And then BAM, crash, slam. “Mom! You have to stop. We have to help! Call the police…” She tends to command scenes when they qualify as such, without thinking or calculation. It just happens and this half-smile grows on my face every time.

The small pickup truck in front of us went from humming a straight trail along the path ahead to quietly careening off the road with no provocation, straight for the telephone pole. Full frontal impact and resulting crunching smash. I pull into the doctor’s office parking lot adjacent to the wreck, scanning for risk of fire, seeing none. The girl in the backseat is out of the car and running towards the truck. That’s my kid. Slow down girl. Life’s dangerous. Gulp. I’m calling emergency response and she’s helping the 86 year old grandma out of the car. Someone’s grandma. Not hers. But might as well be.

They’re talking. She’s holding her hand. Then she’s taking her cell phone and calling family for her. “Hello…first off, your Grandma’s ok, ok? Everything’s fine. But…” But the truck’s not going anywhere ever again. And I’m watching the universe spin a story of instant care. Passers by have stopped and are directing traffic. My daughter is bent over, inspecting for injuries and the police, emts and firemen haven’t arrived.

I’m not needed. Except as guardian of the girl on scene and as an observer privileged to witness love unfolding. This girl wasn’t aware of the world around her. She was focused, disinterested in any attention. Behaving like someone born to respond. And I’m in awe, now the quiet one.

The official responders arrive. And they’re appreciative, not shooing the girl away, making their way around her ministrations and determining the grandma’s not injured beyond the tear-inducing shock and pain from airbags deploying.

She’s “the girl” here because I’m watching her become all she is apart from me and yet not apart from me. I’m in no hurry to say “my daughter” because this is a person the world receives apart from any realization of me and she’s a wonder I like to witness and acknowledge apart from the blinders motherhood can be. All I could do in the aftermath was sit with tears of appreciation. She’s going to be just fine, Mama.

I had to leave her there on scene. That girl. Willful. She refused to leave before the grandma’s family arrived. So, knowing her to be cell phone armed and surrounded by emergency care workers, I finished my rescue of my niece, shaking my head as I drove off. She would be where I told her to be and all would be well.

But she wasn’t. She was ok. But across the street at a radio station sitting quietly with the woman and another passerby. And that passerby sat marveling to me about that girl. She’d left to call the family again, making sure they knew where to find their grandma. I just smiled and acknowledged the wonder of a girl, fearless, instantly concerned and eager to provide comfort.

And I waited in the car. Later the girl supreme told me the grandma said she had restored her faith in young people. Youth. Girls.

But she didn’t tell me until I had nudged her, mentioned the wonder of her unfolding response myself, suggesting maybe she should consider emergency response work (gulp). She had little to say. Mostly quiet again. Except to let me know that one thing about restoring faith.

Sometimes the universe puts us into these amazing twirling dance days of happenings orchestrated for the sole purpose of that one thing…to slam us into an appointment with faith.

Imagine that. And a girl. She makes my heart sing.

child of life, visiting grace on me for a season
the girl of a universe twirl…

Not Your Business…

“There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and because there is only one of you in all time, this expression is unique. And if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium and be lost. The world will not have it.

“It is not your business to determine how good it is, nor how valuable it is, nor how it compares with other expressions. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe in yourself or your work. You have to keep yourself open and aware directly to the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open.”

Quote by biographer Agnes de Mille in “Martha: The Life and Work of Martha Graham”

The world experienced a unique expression of vitality in the active life of someone I loved from a young age. And sometimes I circle ’round and ’round the conundrum in my mind created by the somewhat immature conflict over why it is I can be so very glad he did what he did when I don’t share in the basic premise of his beliefs, that we have all sinned and fallen short. But I land on this quote and find the conundrum is only in my mind.

The soul makes sense no rational thought can fully comprehend.

The one who had such a profound effect on many, and died this past Friday, was very much a “Christ-in-you,” highly religious person but oftentimes with an undercurrent of Zen flow. John was more like a highly believing inspiration. And it was a challenge to fathom that combination of Zen Christ-likeness. And in retrospect, I cannot fathom except through this quote.

“There is a vitality. A life force. A quickening.”

And in this one man, it was contagious. It came through and was received by many as a call to Christ. And when I walked away from what I had embraced of the semi-fundie world I formerly resided, that which came through was not completely lost. Love remained. Acceptance remained. The same soulful transaction took place but my “receptors” had changed. This is not true of everyone I’ve encountered from my past life. Their channels are clogged with judgement and fear. His were not.

We often, if not always, translate who we are by the sometimes ancient, sometimes recent code of dependency, particularly dependency on beliefs or thoughts we are either intentionally or unintentionally embracing. And in that translation, the world either rejects or embraces us. Or is ambivalent. John mostly experienced hearty acceptance and he embodied what is best known of Christ, beyond the ultimate sacrifice. He loved regardless of ________.

I have no stomach for sin-fixation or a basic premise of need for a savior. But in the celebration of John’s life, the undeniable reality shines through all the confusing mental riddles. He translated the life force we all partake of and that translation imparted hope, strength, a desire to live outside of fear and in love. Both in and out of the realms of semi-fundie confusion. He said often “You are the Your Name Here expression of Jesus.” And many were blown away by it. It set aside the “WWJD” fixation and required a personal expression of Christ. In my view, both in and out of that particular flavor of Christianity, it is the purest form of Christian practice, evoking the highest possible walk of integrity within the structure of that religion and it has my high regard.

And so today I came across this quote again from a source supreme. And I found peace in the words not because they solved the riddle as much as because they pointed me to the reality of soul, of life force and of how it is we can receive the best from those we may not totally agree with and we can receive because there is that life force nourishing us within and beyond all belief systems.

“Keep the channel open.” He was able to keep the channel open through his faith in Christ. And not many, in and out of Christianity, have found a way to keep that channel open. His life and passing into the next grand adventure reminds me that we don’t know what we think we know. “Christianity is bad because it…” The truth is, when we are sick within, whatever we embrace will be corrupted by that sickness until we face it, heal it and translate life anew. Whether we’re heavy into our atheism or our religion or…

Keep the channel open…accept who you are without denying how you’ve fallen short (we all do, whether we believe there’s this thing called “sin” or not) and…

stay in love.

New What?!

Things I’ve seen, been touched by, moved by, otherwise disturbed or encouraged by in the past month and 8 days…

…grass growing up from the cracks, carving inevitability across sidewalks of “progress”

…hearts reuniting after months of estrangement and breathing a sigh of relief in the refreshing flow

…lives suddenly torn away from each other by the oddest, most revealing turn of events (with some lingering unfortunate confusion)

…overhearing two of my children conversationally saying “I don’t think you realize how much I love you…” (!!!!!!!!!) (they were dealing with relationship strain, beautifully, and the one who said it first was NOT the female. that’s the kind of argument you like to overhear…)

…the news of a beautiful 23 year old in India dying after the most horrifying example of inhumanity

…the proclamation of Newtown, CT “We choose love…”

…realizations of love as a conspiracy in spite of all the tyranny and violence suggesting otherwise

…renewal of faith in fate (married passionately to free will, of course)

…free-falls into grace

…a shimmering color-filled halo around the moon with barefoot laughter and kids dragged out of bed to watch (on holiday)

…a string of “coincidental” encounters speaking purpose bigger than my own designs

…a cat fight (or 2?) o.O

…friendships strengthened

…concerts calling a symphony of diversity

…paradox making meaning

…the release of singing 5 minutes of my life as a musical

…brewing schemes for more good wickedness

…recognition (the annual one) that “new” year is a great concept, allowing us the opportunity to reflect and review our lives, and wish others all the best but it’s also just another day…

And that’s the stuff I can share…

Spirit

Synchronicity speaks deeply, quietly, relentlessly of Spirit, of the every “allplace” Spirit resides perpetually. And I love how just this week my kids kept us all up past midnight talking about Spirit. The quote below visited my Facebook newsfeed from Rob Brezsny as I sat exhausted after the toll of that worthwhile, lengthy dialogue with my children. Love the clarity…

Ken Wilber says:

“If Spirit has any meaning, it must be omnipresent, or all-pervading and all-encompassing. There can’t be a place where Spirit is not, or it wouldn’t be infinite. Therefore, Spirit has to be completely present, right here, right now, in your own awareness. That is, your own present awareness, precisely as it is, without changing it or altering it in any way, is perfectly and completely permeated by Spirit.

“Furthermore, it is not that Spirit is present but you need to be enlightened in order to see it. It is not that you are one with Spirit but just don’t know it yet. Because that would also imply that there is some place Spirit is not. No, according to Dzogchen, you are always already one with Spirit, and that awareness is always already fully present, right now. You are looking directly at Spirit, with Spirit, in every act of awareness. There is nowhere Spirit is not.”Further, if Spirit has any meaning at all, then it must be eternal, or without beginning or end. If Spirit had a beginning in time, then it would be strictly temporal, it would not be timeless and eternal. And this means, as regards your own awareness, that you cannot become enlightened. You cannot attain enlightenment. If you could attain enlightenment, then that state would have a beginning in time, and so it would not be true enlightenment.”Rather, Spirit, and enlightenment, has to be something that you are fully aware of right now. Something you are already looking at right now. We are all already looking directly at Spirit, we just don’t recognize it. We have all the necessary cognition, but not the recognition.”The above is by Ken Wilber from his book “Grace and Grit: Spirituality and Healing in the Life and Death of Treya Killam Wilber

It is one of my deepest longings to instill in my seeking children an openness to Spirit, to the love that is always everywhere and within, a stewing, humming, perpetual and literal vibe of great pleasure, comfort, nourishment and grace. The radical kind. We’re blazing this trail within and in our lives and it takes courage not to have “the answer.” Because of that, it’s wonderful to find expression from another source, expression of confidence, of assurance of what is inherently experienced here. It imparts renewed courage to share with confidence of what we experience, each one, in our own spiritual awareness.

Specifically Human

This Sunday my youngest son participated in the bell choir at a local church. It wasn’t just any worship service. It was a Moravian feast candlelight service. I sat there (and stood and sang hymns and held the candle and broke bread) looking up at the chandeliers and all around at the lights and decorations of the season and wondered why I felt glad to be there. Former semi-fundie no longer of religion sitting in a pew. With sister to my right and son and daughter to my right and the father of my children too. It was, once again, an odd arrangement of purposes. I was there to honor my son’s love of the bells and all things group. He loves community and has felt estranged from it all by our very unique way of living. His parents co-parent ‘though divorced and don’t fight, squabble or otherwise do anything but support each other in nurturing three beautiful lives. This is odd. We foster love and generosity in their lives and educate them on different paths of spirituality, as we’re able. And we live in a town that is 99.9% uber Christian. So, we are even more odd. And add to that the fact that we sit in what is actually a beautiful church with thoughtful and caring souls and we are that much more odd. We can go where we don’t “belong” and yet find belonging. And I realized, as I sat there, that I was glad to be there apart from the wonder of hearing my son in chime rhyme with all of his choir friends.

It was perplexing to me. On the one hand I knew immediately that it was that part of me longing to belong to a group bigger than my own clan, my own little world. I watched the bell choir director and her passion, knowing from her own revealing that she was struggling with some deeply challenging grief. And she stood there giving with whole heart.

There are, to my mind anyway, so many deep flaws in Christianity and so I walked out. But there I sat. Glad to be. And today I find this from Fromm:

“The most important sphere of giving…lies in the specifically human realm. What does one person give to another? He gives himself, of the most precious he has, he gives of his life. This does not necessarily mean that he sacrifices his life for the other–but that he gives him of that which is alive in him; he gives him of his joy, of his interest, of his understanding, of his knowledge, of his humor, of his sadness–of all expressions and manifestations of that which is alive in him. In thus giving of his life, he enriches the other person, he enhances the other’s sense of aliveness by enhancing his own sense of aliveness. He does not give in order to receive; giving is in itself exquisite joy. But in giving he cannot help bringing something to life in the other person, and this which is brought to life reflects back to him; in truly giving, he cannot help receiving that which is given back to him. Giving implies to make the other person a giver also and they both share in the joy of what they have brought to life.” Erich Fromm – The Art of Loving

And I realize that the source of perplexity in my mind was the recognition that there was something deeply and authentically good about my being glad to be there. And that it didn’t mean I had changed my mind about my place in Christianity (not IN but with those who can be in it without being destructive). It meant that I could appreciate the flow of giving that occurs in these odd arrangements of purpose. I wondered, as I sat there, why are these folks here? Each family. Each person. Why? Do they do it by rote? Is it just another habit? And as I wondered that, it occurred to me that even that didn’t matter. I knew, without being able to say so to myself, that they were there to partake of each other. Even if stiffly assembled in long pews of wooden restriction. It is a place of sharing, of opening up to receive and reaching out to give.

And in the one most cherished verse of a long-favored hymn…

Oh, come, Desire of nations, bind
In one the hearts of all mankind;
Oh, bid our sad divisions cease,
And be yourself our King of Peace.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel…

We inherit our delusions sometimes, or our blind acceptance of long-held beliefs passed down from generation to generation. Or we openly, knowingly choose our walk of faith. We are an odd arrangement of reasons and purpose. And we resonate to what is inherently human within both our delusions and our beliefs. We do the best we can until we learn what more we can give, what more we can know, what more we can discover.

And sometimes we make ourselves odd. We disrupt the rhythm and cast off the tradition. But ultimately, we all want the same thing. To know and be known in love, to give and receive of our stories. The only way to do that is to meet each other where we are, as we are, without insistence on agreement in all things. We have this common ground…

j. ruth kelly, 2012 all rights reserved
j. ruth kelly, 2012 all rights reserved