29 October 2009

a bevy of verses opened my eyes this morning.
some were from proverbs and some from psalm.
the opening was not so much a function of how they related to my belief in the Bible, but how they related to my skepticism of it.

there has been a deep internal struggle for the past few months that has grown heavier, thicker and more ambiguous everyday. it's both beautiful to delve into the mysteries of life, and scary to realize that you can never fully grasp it. and yet, i try. we try. it's that Human Condition.

i had a pseduo-Christian upbringing, as it wasn't until i was in my teens that it became a serious part of our family life, and especially my life. like most young Christians in the throws of youth and culture, i was naive; probably still am.
your spatial awareness is all whacked. most have not yet been exposed to other things, other places or other ideas than those of their parents and immediate family. hence the often chaotic, confusing and dark times of the early 20's...at least among those that i know.

i don't believe exactly as i did 10 or 15 years ago. more than really knowing anything, i just wonder...a lot.
i still vacillate between two dogmatic realms, finding that the ideas and beliefs really are the same. there are different methods of going about it all. there is Jesus, whom I cling to first, and there is the Self, consciousness, Allah, Buddha, etc. all are working towards God, and all claim different avenues to achieve that transcendence.

i am fairly confident in the belief that I am not so sure about Jesus being the One and only way, or at least not in the traditional sense that i was raised with. then again, i don't know. i believe in absolutes, right and wrong, black and white, and yet, find there are is a lot more gray area as i age.

that's where the struggle comes in. where is It absolute, and where is It gray?

even though i am moving more towards a stance of being OK with the unknown, there is an innate part of me that REALLY wants to know, that feels i SHOULD know, and that i am silly, or even foolish, for not knowing. i used to feel so certain.

i say all this in leading up to some things i have read recently, which have confirmed all the more, how similar we all are, not just in human experience, but in simple beliefs.

as a part of my yoga therapy training, i am reading a book called The Forgotten Body, by Elissa Cobb. she was actually the lovely lady that lead the training i just went to. her book basically takes the stance that the body holds many of the answers about who we are, and why, but gets lost in the mess of life. we see ourselves, our bodies, souls, minds, etc., all as separate entities, rather being body, being mind, spirit, etc. it goes a whole lot deeper and i am not going to pretend to be able to explain it here, but the reason i bring it up is a conversation that i had with jared the other day...

i was telling him about some of the ideas the book sets forth, about seeing ourselves as a whole, with many parts, and he said that he didn't think the Bible could support it. i said that i thought it may be able to, which is something i am finding more and more as i get out of the Christian bubble to explore what other people really do say.

this isn't about either of us being right or wrong...really, there is a point.

anyway, as i was reading the Bible this morning (which i try to make a ritual everyday), i came across a verse in Psalm 6:3 that stopped me in my tracks, not so much for its wording as its context:

My soul is in anguish.
How long, O Lord, how long?

i always read the text notes that the verses offer, and enjoy finding other references throughout the Bible that can further illuminate the mysteries of God.

when i read the text notes on this verse, i nearly peed my pants. without looking for it, i found something huge.

here is what the text note says, from the NIV version:

soul.Not a spiritual aspect in distinction from the physical, nor the psalmist's "inner" being in distinction from his "outer" being, but his very self as a living, conscious, personal being. Its use in conjunction with "bones" [in psalm 6:2] did not for the Hebrew writer involve reference to two distinct entities but constituted for him two ways of referring to himself, as is the case also in the combination "soul" and "body".

jared happened to be in bed next to me, and i read it to him. he didn't have much to say except "interesting". really, what can you say? in light of all these things i am reading, which look so opposite from the outside, there is a thread of similarity that is uncanny.

the funny part is that in the book by Elissa, she nicely brushes off the way Christians look at the body. i am guessing that she didn't read into this verse.

so, there it is. a bunch of background, but, i think, peppered with much to think about.

26 October 2009

slipping. thinking. drowning into a whole lot of wondering about everything.

i could read some books to get theories and ideas, or i could drown out the endless thoughts with t.v.

or i could do exactly what i am doing: writing and listening to mellow, emotional tunes by everyone from red house painters, to radiohead, to derek webb to yo la tengo.

there are others in my same boat. probably more than we'd all like to admit. i know it because i've read their longings and manifestos on what they think, or feel or hypothesize. and the thing is, they don't know either. and the second they think they do, they change. it's all back to that Human Condition.

i've been taking st. john's wort, which has never been a necessary alias for my brain. i am ok with it, especially if it helps the anxiety and melancholy that seem to be becoming ever heavier.

there's been a lot dug up in the past couple months. there have been a lot of very good realizations about my character and relationships. but that ever-so-soft simmer of emotions and feelings that have remained in the warm waters of denial have begun to bubble over in the boiling waters of reality.

i have bitterness and resentment and an uncanny amount of perfectionism that weighs me down every single day. it eats away, literally. it is impossible for me to be still. i hate it. really, i hate it.

it is impossible to enjoy a drama free existence. i realized this as i lay in my daughter's warm bed, in our perfect house, with the intoxicating scent of banana bread baking in the oven and a carefree night to do nothing ahead. i want, i crave excitement, movement, perpetual motion...even if it's negative. i don't have to sit in my shit.

i know i know....all of this is obvious and been hashed over a million times. i have just been in denial about being one of "those" people. i teach yoga for goodness sakes! i am looked at by students as some master of space, time and body awareness, fully capable of being conscious. i am not.

when i am alone, quiet, without immediate agenda, i am reminded of all the things i want to do, but am too scared to do. things like write and play songs, be in a band, be a writer, make photo albums, meditate and garden. but i don't.
the reality, that bubbling, oozing, scalding hot reality, is that i blame others, trying to make them the reason i feel incomplete. i find the slightest imperfections and mold them into fantastic stories in my mind, that make them the criminal and me the victim. classic narcissistic tendencies. yeah, i really love admitting that.

i have this husband who does all the gracious, loving, affectionate husbandly things, and yet, i am bored. when things are good, i am mad. i am sure there are all kinds of theories about that, but i'm no psychologist. somehow, he still loves me.

and there it is...love. that elusive thing that keeps us all going. the one thing that matters, that binds us together like sticky peanut butter and sweet jelly into one big, deliciously messy human sandwich.

maybe scientists can theorize away at how evolution works, or creationists can rationalize the great mystery of life. maybe they're both right. maybe not. but no amount of study or experimenting can teach us how or why love exists. it's just in there, deep in side, beating ever more the older we get.

i can find no other reason for love than the supernatural. i can find no better representation than Jesus.

when i smile, my organs feel an unexplainable energy that must make a shape like a smiling crescent moon.

writing always helps.

25 October 2009

what if the Fall were a true, historical event...the tree, the snake, God & all?

and what if our Human Condition, that nagging ache that seems to penetrate every human cell until death, was our ridiculous desire to know it all, to understand life and death, to comprehend the vastness of God and spirituality?

what if we let go of the need to be right and the fruitless pursuit of an answer to some of the unknowable things of the world, space & time, and simply rested in the Truth that there is Someone bigger, in all senses of the word, that IS omniscient, IS omnipotent, and IS omnipresent...and It isn't us?

what if we let go of trying to fully understand ourselves and our existence, simply knowing that God is somewhere within us, as an ambiguous lover, the part of ourselves that we will never fully grasp?

what if we simply stopped trying to be God, to ourselves and to others, to lay down our crowns of self-righteousness, betterment and transcendence, and simply rested in knowing that the Kingdom of God is within each one of us.

these are my thoughts today...and they do give me rest.

now to baseball.....

16 October 2009

while up in L.A. for my yoga therapy training, some unsettling news about my grandma's health emerged:
the cancer has spread into the brain and her time with us on earth was coming to a speedy end.

as life goes, it was convenient that i was in L.A., without anyone else, allowed to spend 3 evenings with my grandma sans interruptions.

after this news and some time with her, i wrote the following in my journal:

She said, "You're so beautiful...my first grandchild!", as she cupped my face with her full, warm hands. Her face lit up like a child's on Christmas. It was difficult to contain emotions and thankfully it was dark enough to mask the sadness on my face. My grandma Ana is dying. I suppose you could look at life as a continual preparation for death, no matter the age, but there comes a point when you say someone is 'dying' which connotes pain and suffering. To actually say the words aloud gives me a foreboding jolt. When I saw her today, my first inclination was that she really was dying. I suppose the image of her lasting forever was in fact proven wrong. She couldn't get out of bed. She can't eat. She sleeps all day. She's lost weight. She's dizzy. Her voice is completely altered.
I sat outside in the brisk, ocean air for a long while. It's always shocked me how dark it is when you leave the light of the house and venture out into the stillness of night at that house. I made a few phone calls that eventually led me into a slurry of tears. I could not control it.

A day full of physical opening, followed by the reality of my grandma's imminent death has left me sapped of all emotional strength. I sobbed all the way home and emptied myself of as much pain and resentment as I could. It felt good. I keep coming back to the divine irony of my training being her in L.A., at the time of my grandma's greatest need and at a time when I prayed for space. As I sat outside the house tonight, peering in through panels of glass, noticing all the nuances of their eclectic house, the photos, art, books and statues, I could feel death beginning to rest upon the house. There is no more soul in that house. Sadly, I think it was gone long ago. I stared at the gentle strands of tiny leaves on the pepper tree that we got married under. I thought of all the other weddings and celebrations that took place in that same lush place.

Where did it go?

And I realized that I just have to let go. Not just of this house and all the memories it holds, but of my unbelief, my resentment and fear. It serves me nothing.

I've been basking my whole life in the shadow of bitterness.
Even my grandma said it tonight, that I was not a happy 3 year old. That makes me sad. Really sad. But i'm not 3. I'm not 6. I'm not 21. I am right here, at 29. If I continue to harbor all of those 3 year old emotions, my adult self will never actualize adulthood. I am my own prison guard. But I am also my own liberator.

I can drive down PCH a million times, and recollect exact spots where life memories were made, and continue to try and grasp the shifting sand of memories from childhood. It's a fruitless endeavor to always be living in the past. So I shall try to be right here and be OK with that. I may have been a sad kid, but I don't have to be a sad adult.

01 October 2009

i think that it is time for a sabbatical.

Sab⋅bat⋅i⋅cal  [suh-bat-i-kuhl]
1. of or pertaining or appropriate to the Sabbath.
2. (lowercase) of or pertaining to a sabbatical year.
3. (lowercase) bringing a period of rest.
4. (lowercase) sabbatical year.
5. (lowercase) any extended period of leave from one's customary work, esp. for rest, to acquire new skills or training, etc.

in another definition, it is noted that a sabbatical typically occurs every seventh year.

as more and more realizations slowly come bubbling to the surface, there is one that is abundantly clear and radiant, especially in this week that i prepare to embark on a new journey of education and training.

i need space.

even as i write this i am attempting to negotiate with my 3 year old daughter for 10 minutes of time to simply write. the deal that has been struck is i get to type, while watching sid the science kid, with chloe perched upon my right knee. sometimes we must settle, or relish, depending on how you look at it, for what we can get.

as a part of an emerging, yet to meet bookclub of other women in search of their role in contemporary american society, i have begun reading the ever popular Eat, Pray, Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert. in one day i have consumed nearly 100 luscious pages of tales on travel, love, divorce and eating (note: 100 pages in a day may seem small to some, but for me, in need of space, that is quite a lot). while i definitely question her sort of egocentric take on life, kids and love, i equally empathize with her desire for space, not just physical, but mental. many of her accounts take me back (nearly 7 years) to a time when i, too, left everything behind, to get some space and do things that I wanted to do. i didn't travel for as long, or to as remote of places, but the similarity in sensations and revelations are uncanny.

i began lapping up every sentence as if i were a lonely nomad who just found a bubbling oasis in the middle of the sahara.

[break to look at a spiderman, i.e. minute fly creature in window]

then, i thought about how lovely it would be to have some time to write, reflect, rejuvenate, learn and fully absorb where i am at. that is exactly what i did in europe over 6 years ago. i could cut the loneliness with a knife at times, but could equally scream of love from the mountaintops of switzerland, just like the Buddhist monks that i saw there. it is the dichotomy of life, and travel, and even love.

there is something that occurs in our western society, a sort of denial of humanity, leading to a robotic state that ends up causing a monotonous cycle of joylessness topped with a cherry of bitterness.

we have forgotten that we are sentient beings.
i have forgotten that i am a sentient being

at about the 50th page of the book, it suddenly occurred to me that i am about to be granted that space. i have conjured up so much fear and anxiety about being away from my home, my husband, my daughter and daily routine, that i have completely negated what this experience is: a gift of time & space, a sabbath for the modern day woman.

all i could think about is how i need to do this to further my knowledge and paycheck. ha. how silly.

every experience in which we are allowed the space to think without distraction should be utterly relished.
we fear the quiet because everything that is true of ourselves is exposed to the elements, the elements of love, pain, spirituality, hopes and failures. surely, there are more elements, but those are the ones that permeate my core when i simply rest.

with the arrival of this new outlook on these next 2 weeks of all day training, and time away from the ones i am attached to, i feel like i am truly ready for what may come; coming with an empty cup. i come unattached to life up to that point.

that is a difficult statement to make, for surely i will deeply miss and grieve the absence of my daughter. but this is what i want.

in the midst of all these seemingly elementary concepts of just needing space, are some of the deeper yearnings and fears that i may confront. never completing things for fear of not being the best or fear of criticism, has kept me in a box. i am stepping outside of that, just like i did when i left for europe. in a year, i have no idea what will become of this all. i have some hopes and goals, but there is a long process in between. but i am beginning to feel what it must be like to set reasonable goals, and actually accomplish them, seeing them as little gifts, rather than obligations or means to ends.

one thought/dream/goal that i have had for a number of years revolves around publishing some sort of book. what kind is yet to be determined. many years ago, my mom and my gamma mentioned that i should write a book. my immediate thought was, 'About what?' i have some published work, and feel fairly confident in my ability to communicate via the written word, but what insight, knowledge or story do i have that could possibly impact another person? Eat, Pray, Love has shown me. this is a simple story, a travel journal really, about a real life carrie bradshaw. the emotions and experiences that she shares are not new or monumental. but they are thoughtfully put together and remind us all about our sentient nature.

so i think, 'Why not write a book?' a monumental task for sure, but if i am to reach outside my box, or maybe even step out completely, i must begin to believe that something like this is possible. first i must detach from my caustic nature and enter the realm of love & joy. i am on my way...

to begin to do any of this, i must begin with just me...my thoughts, my actions, my goals, my feelings and the present. i must communicate to God with an intimacy reserved for a husband and wife, rather than a distant friend from grade school. i must begin to make rest, my sabbath, a necessity. but i also must allow that to those around me, mainly my husband, jared.

most of all, i must see myself as God sees me, for all of this lack of feeling, bitterness, fear and resentment stem only from my disconnection from the reality of what we are all created to be: "oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord, for the display of His splendor." -Isaiah 61:3

if i am "splendor", then how can i possibly accept a life of mediocrity and joylessness.

here's to my sabbath, and to the one i pray each of you can soon experience...