Monday, October 24, 2011

hot potato

Sometimes an emotion will hit me upside the head, just right out of left field. After all this talk about sitting with pain and working through it. I definitely have those days in which I do that very thing and it's hard but it's also good. Then I have other days like today where it's like I'm playing that hot potato game, where you throw the potato around to others as fast as you can and you lose if you hang onto it too long, only it's my emotions that I'm tossing around. Throwing it right back before I even have the chance to be with it for even a moment. All I know is its discomfort, and the logical thing in the moment is to throw it right back before it has the chance to burn me.

I find myself thinking back to one of the first sermons I heard at Imago dei Community and the voice of a 92 year old woman saying the words, "hang on and hang in". You can listen to the sermon here.

I want to know

if you have touched

the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened

by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed

from fear of further pain.

I want to know

if you can sit with pain

mine or your own

without moving to hide it

or fade it

or fix it.

(from The Invitation)

Sunday, October 16, 2011

the long way around

I woke up this morning earlier than anticipated. I tried to curl back into sleep for rest’s sake but my stubborn mind wouldn’t rest. I stayed nestled in my bed (which continues to be the warmest place in the house since we as a house have refused to turn on the heat) and turned on some music. I found myself reflecting on life and faith and reading old journal entries. I sighed as I remembered so many moments just like this a couple years ago, I call it “cocooning”.

Cocooning was that time I gave myself to just be still and give myself the space to process and grow and the cozier and safer that space was the better. I had just bought this book, When the Heart Waits randomly on a sale table at Powell’s Books purely because she was the writer of my favorite book, The Secret Life of Bees. In this spiritual memoir of sorts she writes about butterflies and cocoons and waiting. I took in her words like a desert to rain. I related with so much of what she had to say but especially to the cocoon. For a time, she recalls being inundated with images of butterflies and cocoons. One instance, she recalls a poster of a butterfly against a great big sky, on it were the words “Your soul is your greatest work of art” and right down in the corner is the husk of an empty cocoon. A painful reminder that bright wings and works of art don’t just happen, they require courage and letting go and a time of becoming. I think the most fascinating thing about cocoons is that on the outside it looks as if nothing is happening and it looks like the caterpillar inside is hiding, but on the inside, change and transformation are taking place. The butterfly is becoming. The cocoon isn’t an escape but a transformation place.

It got me thinking about this season of life that was so painful. There were ways to escape pain sure, but I was making an intentional decision to face it and sit with it. Funny how easy that sentence was to type out but so incredibly difficult to actually do. I think it’s a natural desire to run from pain, to numb out or pretend it’s not there. It’s so easy to want to arrive, to be at a point where it doesn’t hurt anymore, where everything is perfect and just so. I had spent most of my life thinking if I don’t look at my pain then all would be well. Sure, it worked for a while but you know what? I still knew it was there and my fear of it just grew. When dealing with our wounds, it takes time.

“We went onto heaven the long way around.” -Henry David Thoreau

I love this quote, so much.

Makes me think of something I find myself saying often. The most rewarding things in life take time to build and grow. Most people want heaven now, like every other pleasure in life, instant happiness. Taking the long way isn’t seen as desirable but I would argue that it’s the only way to truly live. It’s long and arduous and oftentimes painful, but there is so much more wisdom to gain and grace to receive along the way. Every day I wake up and commit to taking the long way and I think my soul will be all the better for it.