God

Night Vision

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Author’s Note: I was having trouble sleeping the other night, so I got up and started writing.  I have to say I was a bit surprised when this came out….

Once there was a princess, who had everything she ever wanted, but her life still felt empty. So, one night, while the palace was asleep, she slipped out the iron gate into the woods. The girl followed a trail of silver light along a path, lead only by the beckoning call of frogs within the wood.

Deep in the forest of pines, she stopped and stared at the moon. Away from the castle, this moon was much more beautiful than she ever knew. There beneath its brightness, she found herself smiling, experiencing a happiness she forgot she knew. So, alone among the oaks and pines, she danced in her shimmering gown of gold, her lithe body making silhouettes against the moonlit ground.

Every night, intoxicated by its greatness, she went into the wood and danced, sure that she could feel the moon’s silver kiss on her skin. In her gratitude, she brought her dear moon gifts: a white feather, a beautiful stone, and a deep green leaf. And although this celestial being did not speak, she decided she needed no thanks, for its constant glow alone was all she asked for.

Then one night, when she stepped out onto the trail, she could not see. The frogs did not sing, the crickets did not chirp. Her path was total darkness. Stumbling her way out to her space in the forest, she looked up to the sky and called out.

“Oh, moon? Moon? Where have you gone?” But there was no answer, only the cool breeze of the whispering wind.

The princess in the golden gown went home and wept. She cried, angry at herself as it dawned on her thatperhaps this moon, this creature of the night, was never hers to begin with.

What sort of foolish girl falls in love with the moon? she thought.

In her grief she was left empty… just a hollow girl, alone.

One night sleep refused to come. She lay awake in bed, her curtains open, looking to the black sky. Breathing long, slow breaths, she felt as if every golden spark of joy she ever knew was lost in the woods during the nights before.

As she lay there gazing at the subtle movement of blackened clouds, she heard a distant call.

Hoo, hoo, hoo….

The call of an owl.

She had heard once that owls were messengers of death, and in her sorry state death seemed dully appropriate.

Death of love, death of hope… she thought under a heavy dose of self-pity.

Hoo, hoo, hoo, it called again.

She covered her head with a pillow, but the owl kept on calling.

Fed up, she went to her window and opened it. On a nearby oak stood a white owl, its yellow eyes looking at her. It ruffled its feathers as if mocking her sorry state.

“Go away,” she called to it, but it merely flapped its wings and flew to a closer branch.

Determined to scare off this harbinger of death, she ran out of her room, down the stairs, out the palace gate, and onto the trail. The owl up ahead flapped its wings and glided in complete silence to a tree ahead. She followed.

And so it went–the owl, moving from tree to tree and the princess following behind, determined to scare it far away from the castle. This went on for quite some time until the princess paused and looked around. She was deep in the woods, alone, in the dark, without her moon.

However in that moment something strange happened. She realized that even without the moon above, she was not blind.

Far from it!

In fact, her eyes had become so well adjusted she could see the details in the bark of the trees, the dancing leaves on their limbs, and the tiny movement of small creatures on the ground.

Hoo hoo, the owl called again.

Then there, in this subtle darkness, she felt a change within herself. A warmth grew from within her chest. Her own heart was alive with radiance. This loving energy flowed outward towards her hands, her legs, her feet, until she was wrapped in that same luscious joy she felt from the moon, but tenfold!

As she stood in rapture, she wondered if maybe it was not the love she received from the silent moon that had driven her dance, but something grander, something that reached beyond the sky, beyond the forest…outward, full circle, then back into her own heart.

And so that night, beneath the cloud covered sky she danced, bathed not in moon light, but at light that came from within.

To this day, you will still find the princess in the golden gown out dancing in the forest. Sometimes it will be with the wise, old trees, the playful frogs, or the noisy crickets, and sometimes it will even be with her dear old moon, but regardless of who accompanies her each night, one thing stands the same: you will always find that princess dancing with joy, illuminating her world with her own golden heart.

 

Authors Note: To me this is a story about being pulled by our own desire for happiness, and the mistake we make grounding it in material things–people, objects, places, believing that they will cure your woes, but in the end all  these things are fleeting. Like the princess in the golden gown, it’s not until we learn to find that inner joy-that love of Self that we can be truly content with ourselves and our world.  The moon didn’t have all the answers, only the girl did, within herself.

All you can really work on is yourself.  That’s it. As my friends Tim and Marybeth say, “It’s an inside job.” 

That it is.

May you  dance everyday of your life by the golden glow of your heart.

Peace,

Becky

 

 

 

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What Do You Want?

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I stumbled on a funny little exercise in “The Way of Mastery”, a book my meditation group is reading.

In the chapter they suggest meditating for just five minutes, clearing the mind, and then asking yourself “What do I want?” The authors tell you to write down what comes to your mind for seven days of this and then on the seventh day reading through them all.

“Ha!” I thought when I read this. “This will be easy!”

So I sat down and quieted my mind. I tell you, before I got the breath number two, those wants were rushing through my head in full force.

“I want a hot tub,” I thought.

“I want that cute dress I saw in the store.”

“I want one of those sugary “morning buns” I had when I was a kid…the ones my mom used to buy us as a special treat, that were slightly crisp on the outside and hot and chewy on the inside…yeah, I want one of those.”

“I want a new motorcycle. Ooh yeah…I shiny, red one. A Harley!”

“I want to be able to get on my motorcycle and ride wherever I want to…be gone for a week…or no! A month! Without a concern for money…or any of my responsibilities”

This thought made me pause.

“I want freedom.”

“I want to respect the path that each and every person is on.”

“I don’t want anyone to suffer.”

“I want to know Love.”

I noticed then that I felt a shift in my heart. No longer was I dreaming of buttery cinnamon rolls, or fast motorcycles, no longer was I grasping at the air for things that are untouchable. Instead I was yearning for something within me. And as I did this, I could feel this deep desire well up, radiate through my body, release through my pours.

This feeling wasn’t fueled by needy wants, or those unfulfillable dreams that only lead to more desires. This was something fiery, laden with passion and heat. It was alive.

This feeling was the desire for connection, not on the material level, but on a deep soulful level. I wanted then a contact with something beyond the mundane…something so real, I physically ached for it. This was Love…right there in all its shining glory. Right there.

Turns out the one true thing I truly wished for had been with me all along.

This doesn’t mean I don’t want that morning bun…I really do! But it means that I understand those sort of things are fleeting. A morning bun leads to needing a cup of really good tea, which leads to wanting a brand new thermal insulated mug for my tea to go in. And on and on…

In truth, I suppose, it’s not the actual morning bun I want. Maybe it’s the pleasure, the joy, the happiness that that little pastry brings me.

One of the goals of this exercise is teach people that there is no sin in wanting good things. We are no less spiritual because we dream of winning the lottery or buying ourselves a sports car. Wants are wants. The first goal is to love who we are…and that includes what we yearn for.

Love the pleasure a cinnamon roll gives you. However don’t think that that cinnamon roll or that Lexus is going to be the answer to your prayers. They are moving targets that dissolve in your arms when you hold too hard.

Go ahead! Yearn, want, cry out for what you love. There is no shame in passion…just don’t forget to recognize its source is something deeper…something that’s been with you all along.

Morning buns, hot tubs, and motorcycles are all temporary.

Love is eternal.

Catching Sunbeams: The Delicate Art of Stopping Time

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This weekend I went to a symphonic concert featuring the music of one of my all-time favorite bands-Led Zeppelin. Hearing the music performed live was intense and wonderful, perhaps one of the highlights of my decade.

As I sat there in the darkened auditorium and watched the violin bows moving in a synchronized dance, beneath the lights that poured on the stage, I felt as if the music was rushing at me like a wild wind, sometimes forceful, sometimes delicate. Two hours of perfection. When my favorite song, Kashmir played, I listened mesmerized. I didn’t want it to end. I wanted sit there into the night, just soaking in the continuous rolling, luscious sound.

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Yesterday I saw a post on Facebook that made me think of this previous night. A friend was talking of the inevitability of change and reminded me of one of my favorite aphorisms: “This too shall pass.”

This saying works great when things are bad, but what about when things are really, really good? Like that moment during Kashmir. I didn’t want that to pass. I wanted to hold on tight to it and not let go.

Time is a tricky beast. It is slippery and the more you try to hold on the quicker it slips away.

I experience this a lot in life. I try to grab onto time, but it never stays, in fact the harder I grab, the faster it slides from my hands. I want constancy in my life. I want to preserve the magic, the goodness, maintain in those perfect moments.

The other night my eight year old twins were lying on the bed with my husband and I all wrapped up in the blankets, when my sixteen year old son came in and jumped on the bed too. In a rare moment we were all there rolling in bed, laughing in one big tickle pile. It was ridiculous and wonderful. I was laughing so hard tears came from my eyes.

However moments later, as these things go, someone got elbowed, another got tickled too much and the crying began. That precious little sliver of time was gone, as quickly as it came.

It seems just as we get a hang of things, they change. It’s incredibly frustrating. Some days all I want to do is yell out “Wait! Wait! Please stop. Can’t we rewind a minute?” Yet this life of ours is tenuous. It is a beam of light pouring in through a window. It cannot be caught. It can’t be held. And no matter what you do that sun will drift past your window, in its continual dance forward.

I’ve learned a little trick that I use from time to time in those good moments. Rather than worry about losing time, I take it all in, breathe and smile and love it for what it is, not for what it should be or might be tomorrow. When I allow for this perfect balance, it feels as if I actually become the moment. I cease to be the woman who is obsessed with preservation and become one who just is.

When I sat in the concert hall I tried this technique. I refused to give into my desire for control and power and I simply listened. I closed my eyes and let myself feel that music fully…so when it ended it was okay, because I knew there was another moment to come, and another and another, and they were all good.

Eventually the show was over and my husband and I with our two friends walked over to my favorite bar for a drink, and that was perfect too. Every moment was different, brand new…and every moment was perfect in its own beautiful fragility.

It feels as if we have little control over our lives…but I sometimes wonder. What if in fact we have absolute control? What if we treated these moments as if they were just a tiny feather resting lightly in the palm of our hands and opted to not hold on? If we did this, I mean REALLY did this, would those moments…or even life itself…. become timeless?

I think yes.

Change is necessary, loss is inevitable, but when we sit back and just let the music play, everything works out just as it should.

The Reason I Keep Falling off of Chairs

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Me standing on a chair circa 1973

My mom has a story she likes to tell.

I must have been about one and half. I was wandering about our little two bedroom house when I discovered my little rocking chair in the living room. Being new to the whole world of furniture and my toddler capabilities I decided I would climb it.

So I pulled myself up, got my chubby feet on the seat and stood. Ta-da! I could see the world from a whole new perspective. Now, keep in mind that was probably one of the first times I had climbed a chair in my life, so this was a Mt. Everest achievement.

My mom clapped and I smiled at my victory… I then proceeded to fall off, right onto the floor. I laid there and cried and cried, and then as the story goes, I picked myself up and climbed again.

But the show wasn’t over yet . After doing my little victory dance at the top once again—I fell a second time and cried, of course.

My mom says this cycle went on and on, over and over.  Climbing…victory…tears…crying…climbing…victory…tears…

I can only imagine this must have been funny—if not heartbreaking—to watch.

I tell this story because I feel as if I am that child again. Over and over and over I fall back into old patterns, heart broken, aching in confusion and doubt, yet here I am standing up again, climbing, climbing, climbing. I keep doing it no matter how hard…or how many times I fall. And let me tell you I want to give up. Many times I want to go running back into my mom’s arm and say “I quit. I can’t do this anymore.”

However what I instinctively knew as that toddler was that everytime I climbed that chair my muscles got stronger, my coordination got better, and I grew as I person. I became more of who I was supposed to be. And in spite of the bumps and bruises and the seemingly futile activity I pursued, I was going somewhere—somewhere big—not just to the top of that chair, but I was paving the way for the real mountains I would climb, for the miles I would run, and all of those other insurmountable tasks I would achieve in my 43 years thus far.

I keep “climbing” in my life now because I know in the depth of my heart that there’s purpose to this madness. Honestly I’m not even sure of my end goal, but I’m going to keep trying and eventually master the art of the fall.

I understand now that that the act of failing, suffering, and hurting are as important as the victory on the hill. These are the times we stand back and say “whoops, maybe I need to take this next climb slower” or “maybe I should try a different approach.” The power is in  process, not just the victory.

Ultimately I know my life is about more than just standing high to see the world, its about the bruises as well. . Maybe someday I’ll look back at to where I am now, and be able to say “look at all those marvelous times I fell….and climbed again.”

May your falls be graceful, your victories grand.

Peace to you.

Becky

P.S. I wrote this blog post and went into my photo files hoping to find a cute baby picture and lo and behold there’s me standing on a chair. I don’t even recall ever seeing this picture before. How weird is that?

Confessions of an Agnostic: Why I Believe in God

Twice in my life now have I had the odd feeling of waking up…not in the literal sense, but more, I suppose in the metaphysical sense.

It’s very weird, and difficult to talk about because it is so personal. We’ve all experienced it, I’m sure, we just deny it because it messes with everything we take to hold true.  I’m not crazy, though I have certainly been treated as such for most of my life. In fact its the exact opposite of crazy.

The first time it happened it was very abrupt.  It was terrifying.  I literally thought I was dead.  I was sitting on my boy friend’s bed talking with him when I was hit with this sensation of divine stillness. The chatter in my mind stopped and I was just there. Purely Me. It was beautiful and frightening at the same time.

The self I had spent 19 years with, listening to her strive, worry, and grope and  was gone.  I mean completely gone, leaving me with this thing, this feeling I suppose one could equate with God.

I remember two friends of ours knocked on his dorm door and we let them in.  As they spoke I could hear everything.  Beneath their words I could hear their fear, their need for love and acceptance.  They soon left and I told my boyfriend what was going, crying for the loss of self.  He assured me I was okay.  He had known this feeling himself.  This in fact was something to welcome, he told me.

The months went by and like a good student I l asked questions to my boyfriend who seemed to know exactly what this was all about. But time passed and the magic of his insistent wisdom wore off.  It was all replaced with a new fear–a fear that I was loosing God, that it was slipping out of my hands, leaving me in the world alone.

Anxiety engulfed me like a raging fire and I plummeted into my own personal hell.  Suddenly no choice seemed like the right one.  I was paralyzed with the fear of failing God.

The boy friend and I went our separate ways and I eventual found my balance.  I did the only thing I could do, resorting to the comfort of psychiatric drugs and talk therapies that brought me back to this world.  I do not look back at this period of my life as not good or bad.  It is what I needed to do at the time.

So life went on.  I grew and learned, and continued to hold the unspoken knowledge in the back of my mind that this God-ness I experienced might very well be real, that love is all there is, but whenever I thought too much about it I was sent literally into panic attacks, for fear that the demons wouldn’t slip in again.

So now 20 years later I have an amazing family and devoted husband, life couldn’t be more perfect.  But for a long time I was not satisfied.  I wanted more.  I wanted the other, not what I had, but everything else.  I complained incessantly about people..my friends no less.  I didn’t just expect perfection from myself, I expected it from everyone else.  While I could feel God on my walks on the beach I couldn’t control my fear and anger.

So, this next part I’m hesitant to say, because it just feels so odd.  In the reality I help for 20 years this was not supposed to be.  I was not supposed to feel God every second of everyday, to look at everyone I meet with compassion and love.  These are not things meant for this little neurotic Jewish girl. My story went like this: you are helpless, the world is out to get you, you will try but never suceed.  Yuck!  I’m done with those thoughts.

I’m letting go of my need to be good. No, I’m not turning into some crazed sociopath.  Good is something that is my essense, I don’t have to try  I am good, because I let myself be…and sometimes I’m bad. If you saw what I ate for dinner, or what thoughts jjust crossed my mind, you’d see) But bad is all part of it…so ultimately that’s good too.  Does that make any snese?

I am the one writing this book. I choose where I go.  I have control because I have faith in myself.  I am God!  As are you! We are beautiful.

Love Has Come for You

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As a child I was taught that love was something earned, specifically by keeping the people around me happy. This wasn’t about entertaining them so much as it was about emotionally feeding people’s needs. It was a pretty big job as a little kid and to this day it still takes on too much weight.

Now I’m understanding something, though. Love is not the emotional unit of two people grasping at each other because the world is too big and scary for them. Nor is it holding on so tight that the other person can’t move. Love is freedom, love is awareness, and ultimately love is connection.

Love is huge. It is the biggest thing in the universe. It is what makes everything tick.

It is diving into the world without fear. It is connecting from the heart, not from the socially constructed brain that says “love right or die”. It is living free, liberated from the fear that you might be abandoned and left hopeless on the side of the road.

Healthy relationships are about two beings who stand alone, yet perfectly together. As we tap into that cosmic love we acknowledge it within ourselves and each other.

Being human it’s easy to slip into a place of fear and wanting. We’re so attached to what we call reality that the threat of loss feels too much to bear. We don’t want to be alone, but what I understand now is we’re not. Not ever. Love is a force that pervades everything. It is more than our wants, then our fears.

Although I will always carry with me the loaded scripts I’ve been given as a child, I hope as I move forward I can pause to acknowledge the magnificent love within myself and everyone else and no longer feel the need to feed people to feel safe.

Love is alive around us reverberating in the trees, in the water, in our hearts. It is who we are. Our job is not to be security blanket for the people around us, it’s to lift the heavy bindings and let people fly free.

Peace,

Becky