Waking Lovely

Wildly on Purpose


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To Protect the Stars from Rust (I Must!)

Stars above, compactly folded, I label each one and trust

They will stay in assigned containers, protected from the rust.

(Plastic bins, plastic bins

And all the shiny things within).

.

Baby birthed, I have a story, a book to write of you—

We will gush and brag up your name  if you accept “the truth.”

(What could have been?  What could have been?

And all the children say, “Amen”).

.

Clip feathered wings, chain unknown things, shadows stored and safe

Our closets full, we sweetly stroll, smiles set firmly in place

(Sleeping sound, sleeping sound

And spinning worlds remain unfound).

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Goddess, Eucharist, and Dreams of a Woman-Honoring World

I was raised with a God who was a He.  Always a He.  Those who spoke for Him, they were also males.  No woman could stand in the pulpit.  It would be horrifying if one did.

As I began my slow and gradual exit from Christianity, I began attending a mainline liberal church.  Far removed from my conservative Evangelical heritage and their communion of grape juice and goldfish crackers on a once a month basis (after being warned not to take it if in sin, or you might die), I watched my new group of people revolve their service not around a male pastor’s sermon, but instead around the Eucharist, around a communion where everybody partook of the Body and Blood of the Divine.

I finally gathered up the courage, after a few weeks, and went to the front and bent my knees to receive the Eucharist with the group.  A woman was in charge of the service.  As she handed me the cup of wine and spoke words over my head, I felt a deep well of tears begging to come up from inside.  That a woman could hand me Divinity?

I never knew how much it hurt, the absence of my gender in leadership roles, until that moment when the kindly older woman looked at me, her eyes surrounded by wrinkles from the years, and with authority in her voice, invited me to partake of God.  I was thirty years old and this was the first time such a thing had ever happened to me.

It was a life-altering moment.

I struggle with the God who is a He.  Not with God.  The He-ness assumed of God.  I hear it all the time.  God…He…God…He…  No one blinks an eye in assuming God is male.  If and when I substitute the He for a She, it’s as if the whole world jumps in shock.

That reaction, the horror and the affront (that one might suggest God was a She?), makes my chest tighten, my stomach clench.  I feel angry.  Something has been stolen from us and we are so blind, we side with and defend the thief!

Not because I have a problem with men.  I love my sons.   I have loved men, enjoying the rich sense of masculinity (whatever that mysterious thing is) that they bring to a relationship.  The world would be a dimmer place without the male gender.  Just as it would be without females.  And that’s the point.  The “One True God who is Not a Woman” is a dimmer kind of God.

Slowly, I work my way through “The Great Cosmic Mother: Rediscovering the Religion of the Earth.”  So much of it is now underlined, the sidebars scribbled with my notes, musings and questions.  Sometimes I read for a little bit and then put the book down, lean my head back and close my eyes.  A world where Goddess was not only assumed as normative, but as healthy, good, lovely.  A world where a woman’s monthly blood was seen as sacred, special, magical.  A world where testosterone did not overtake and usurp, but was part-of, in partnership with, a companion to.

It hurts.

It’s the kind of world I wish I knew, a world I wish I could raise my daughters in.  I cannot imagine what it would be like to have that kind of world as my birth-water.  I can take steps to help the world I live in, right now, move in that direction, even if ever so slight.

And as I pursue my eclectic spiritual path, it is one of the things I know—the kind of knowing that comes from somewhere deep in the bones.  My spirituality will honor women.  My spirituality will not spend itself on a male-centric path where the very first myth/story is of women ruining the world, on a kind of community that only has room for women insofar as they help the men, on the sort of God who is only to be referred to as a He.

There is a fullness, a wholeness, a richness to be had and it cannot come through a world where one gender stands on top of the other, nor a spirituality that leaves out one entire half of humanity.


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Magic in Therapy, Parenting and Optimal Conditions for Tomato Plants

Enjoying my morning coffee, I look over at four tomato plants growing in my window sill.  They were babies marked on clearance, leaves straggly, poorly tended, sitting outside in cold maritime wind.  Now they stand in deep pots, roots touching rich soil, fertilized, watered, ready to grow.  They haven’t been able to expend energy on growth thus far.  They’ve been mostly just trying to survive.

I work with human beings who have been treated this way.  Just trying to survive.  They usually come with many problems.  Abused as children, now they carry grief’s burden of becoming aware that they have abused their own.  Like these tomato plants, they have been put out in conditions that force constant vigilance for survival.  For them, any small growth that they have accrued is bonus.

There is no point in wasting time judging what they “ought” to be.  They are what anyone would be, given such conditions.  Often, I marvel that they have done as well as they have.

And then we help them.  I often liken my job to that of a midwife.  I help them birth themselves.  We get them a larger container, fill it with rich soil, the right fertilizing agents, ample water, warm sun, and then they do the rest.  They do what humans do when given the opportunity.  The same thing that tomato plants do.

Grow.  Become.  Expand.  Bear fruit.  Reach down deep into the rich soil and stretch up high into the heavens.

This is one of my primary tasks as a parent, too.  I work provide the best conditions I can for optimum and sustainable growth.  Not perfect, but best.

Our home is not conventional according to current American standards, with it’s three parents and ten kids, but it is it’s own happy community unto itself, and if there is one thing we do well, it’s having organically-produced fun.

The energy is good here, and when it’s not so great, we work to get it back to where we want it.  Light.  Playful.  Laughing.  A wild sort of contained chaos.  We are raising growing green vibrant things with plenty of dirt and sun.

My partner announced yesterday that she is going to feng shui her closet.  It sounds fun so I’m going to try it too.  Environment matters.  We are each responsible to do what is in our power to provide ourselves with the kind of environment we need to grow, whether it’s closets or bigger stuff.

I had no plans to divorce when I married my first husband, but as the metaphorical blood-letting reached threatening proportions, I realized that living with him was steadily killing me.  I worked so hard to change, to find a way to make our marriage work, especially for the sake of the children we shared, but there was a point when reality finally reached through my rose-colored glasses.

Like the tomato plants I just rescued from the bargain bin, I finally accepted that living with him meant living with a small pot of root-bound dirt, strong wind and cold temperatures, even if what I needed was warm sun and good soil.  It wasn’t fair to him to work hard to change what simply was…though I spent years trying anyway.  My theological world said that was my only option, since divorce was off the table.

He could not be what he was not, and no matter how I tried, those were the facts.  What to do with those facts was all up to me.  They said something was horribly wrong with me if I chose the sinful path of divorce.  I looked my theological world up and down and decided something was horribly wrong with theological world that told me I did not have the power to choose what environment I would grow in.

Now I sit in rich soil and stretch my leafy branches up to the sun-drenched heavens, the heady scent of tomato plant leaves filling the air.

I’m not all that sure if a feng-shui-ed closet matters that much in the grand scheme of things, but the idea behind it is sound.  Environment matters.  Put a bird in a small cage and see how often it flies.  Put a tomato plant out in cold wind and see how well it thrives.  Put a human being in a home filled with violence and verbal abuse and see how it matters.

We wield such power, those of us who have it, this power to shape and build our own environments.  We wield such power over others who are not yet able to or do not know that they can.  Is this magic?  I think it is.  We are all weavers, each one of us, only some of us don’t know it, still sleeping in the dream.  Sometimes I think those with the magic are simply those who are awake.


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At the Little Metaphysical Shop…

Thank you, Witch Vox, for posting this on Pagan Parenting.  

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Today, I went into the local metaphysical shop.  The owner and I chatted while my daughter shopped for her birthday present.  She has a thing for fairies and there are some great little fairy items in the store.  I picked up a pottery mug for my male partner’s Father’s Day present—the great dragon print on the side practically roared out his name.

There was a time when I wouldn’t have set foot in that establishment.  I remember when she came to town.  The pastors group in our area had a meeting to see if they could try and find a way to not allow her to set up shop.  A church on every corner, each pounding out their version of absolute truth from the pulpit, but a cute little shop that sells things that are spiritual from a pagan perspective?  Ack!

They couldn’t figure out a way to keep her out.  I remember their disgust.  I remember, even though I was thick in the camp at the time, wondering how they ever though they could.  Freedom of speech means everyone is free to have their own opinion, right, without respect to religion?  Didn’t they realize that if they could shut the metaphysical shop down, their favorite Christian bookstore wouldn’t be allowed either?

I pop in monthly and have made friends with the owner.  She is an amazing woman and has often had what I would have called, “words from God” for me.  In touch with the Spirit, very much so.  My son once, “I know that some people say she is bad and stuff, but she is one of the nicest people I’ve ever met.  I don’t get why God wouldn’t like her.  It doesn’t make sense.”

Yeah.  Same here.

My son attends a fundamentalist church when he has his time with my ex, a theologically trained man who is still highly invested in the evangelical world.  My kids say, “Dad won’t come in that store.  He says it’s bad.”  I answer, “Yep.  Everyone has different opinions, don’t they?”   Then we hop out of the car and go into the store, happily perusing my friend’s ample selection of small crystals and stones, holding them in our hands until we find the ones that tingle and burn and say they are ours.

“What does obsidian do again, Mom?  Because that’s the one that is tickling me today. It’s snowflake obsidian.  Will you look it up?”  Out of every stone available, he has an ugly unpolished thing that he just can’t stop touching.  I quietly note that it’s cheap.  That’s always nice.

We open the books and read about obsidian.  It’s happened too many times for me to be surprised anymore.  Sure enough, snowflake obsidian fits this kid like a spidey-suit.  I read, “Calms and soothes…helps you to recognize and release ‘wrong thinking’ and stressful mental patterns, promotes inner centering…”  He has been having troubling dreams lately and is angry about his father’s mental illness.  He smiles softly and holds his stone tight.

Figuring out how to invite my children to come along on my spiritual journey is tricky when they learn such mixed messages.  At youth group they learn that only their dad’s church has the truth, that things outside of evangelicalism are dangerous, bad, evil, and will send you to Hell.

I try to pass on the idea that all beliefs can be respected, whether Christian, Buddhist, Wiccan, Hindu, Pagan, or otherwise.  This can be hard, sometimes, when I have personal bones to pick with the evangelical camp’s set of beliefs, particularly the ones that I deem destructive.  I work hard to be respectful.  We talk about these things as they come up.  They are just kids, trying things on, figuring things out.

One day my daughter announces she wants to be a missionary.  Not many days later, she announces that she doesn’t believe in Christianity.  I never know what they will try on next.  I try to respond peacefully and nonchalantly to all such announcements.  Sometimes I fail, but I work hard at this.  How can I talk about the importance of respecting all beliefs if I can’t respect their own?  We want our home to be a safe place for spiritual exploration.  The only way that can happen is if it is actually safe.

Today we leave with a fairy figuring and a set of fairy oracle cards.  My daughter has been looking at the fairy figurine for some time now.   We use a few different card sets sometimes at evening story time, each person picking a card for the next day and looking up the meaning in the books, and she loves that, so this will be her first very own personal set to enjoy.

Tarot and oracle cards, like the metaphysical shop, are things I was trained to see as hideous evil.  For thirty years, I believed that thoroughly.  It is good to step outside of the little box.  Big world out there.

“I don’t believe in God right now, Mom.’  My son speaks quietly as we walk into the house.  I put my hand on his shoulder.

“That’s okay, baby.  Some people do.  Some people don’t.  You’ll figure out for yourself what you feel is right.”  I speak casually, peacefully.

“I might decide to believe in Him.  Or Her.  Or It.  Whatever.  Right now, it just doesn’t make sense.  I need to see it to believe it.”  He speaks firmly.  I reach out and rub his hair.  Then we put the groceries on the counter and start putting them away.  He washes off the strawberries and looks for one without a bruise, eyes sparkling as he finds the one he was hoping for.  I open my bags and smile as I look at the dragon mug.  Treasures are everywhere.


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All in a Day’s Work: The Magic of Both/And

I met with a young woman who promised me she only used clean needles.  Going through withdrawals from heroin, she wept as she begged the Emergency Room doctor for something that would make everything feel better.  She wanted to quit using—she just didn’t want to experience the pain of quitting.  She expressed anger when we couldn’t produce a magic wand and make her addiction and it’s consequences go away.

In a world that emphasizes either/or, black/white, now/never, there is a place for learning that there is more to the moment than now-or-never.  I tried to help the young woman recognize that she was in the best place she could be, and did my work to get her the help she so desperately needed.

It was easy to see her “I want it NOW” mindset.  I see it often in my line of work.  I grew up with it in the bowels of Christian fundamentalism (The sinner’s prayer or go to Hell!).   As destructive as I know it can be, I inadvertently carry it around with me all too easily.

As a clinician, I want to be amazing…now.  As a parent, I want to be incredible…now.  As a partner, I want to get all this relationship stuff exactly perfect…now.  When I get into the now-or-never mindset, I can start beating myself up at the drop of a hat whenever I feel like I fail in any of those areas.

Instead of getting it all “right”, I fumble around, lost in the forest when I should be observing a tree, or stuck in the tree when I need to have a view of the forest, and only sometimes managing to be at the right place at the right time doing the right thing.

Or maybe that is more of that either/or, right/wrong thinking that trips me up so often.  Maybe there isn’t necessarily a right thing.  Maybe it’s okay to be stuck up a tree when a view of the forest is handy.  Maybe I can learn how to climb a little higher in that tree and get a good look at the top of the forest, in both at the same time.

Both/and.  Both/and.  Both/and.

I love the concept of both/and…but it can sure be hard to live.

The young woman wanted a magic wand.  Both/and can be that magic wand.  It is an instant anxiety-reducer when one is in the grip of  the stressful either/or.  Both/and gives me space to breathe, to think, to feel, to know that all will happen in its time, remembering process as well as product, journey as well as destination.