Waking Lovely

Wildly on Purpose


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My Gift: Acceptance of Others/Covering Myself

They will all be there.  They will tell jokes that poke fun at the disenfranchised and the poor.  They will make snarky comments that remind the women that they are lesser-than the men, and when they do, the women will laugh just as much as the men do.  It is a good woman’s job to help the men feel that they are funny, witty, and a pleasure to be around, even at (and often at) their own expense.

I will try to pretend I didn’t hear the jokes, because I can’t laugh (since it actually reflects how they really do think), and I can’t respond, even softly, with my true thoughts and feelings unless I want to be told that something is wrong with me, that I can’t take a joke… Even though if I made a comment that did not paint conservative Republicans in a favorable light, they would get real emotional, real quick.  Their reactions are valid, though, so it’s different if they get upset.  They would be merely defending what is right and good in the world, after all.  And I would get dirty looks from the women for upsetting the nice happy time we were all pretending to have.

Happy Father’s Day.

I do not visit my family of origin very often.  I love them.  But I do not fit with them.  They’ve said as much themselves, wondering aloud how I came to be born of them.

In my heart of hearts, I think they are more dreamer, artist, visionary, wild thinkers than they know.  They just shut it down early on and didn’t allow it to wake up when it tried to flutter back to life.  Waking up is a bloody thing.  Breaking out of the egg shell, the tightly confined and safe home, hurts.  It really does hurt.  Everyone who does it bears their fair share of scars, wounds, some still open and throbbing.

I don’t fault them for not waking up.  I understand.  I almost didn’t do it.  It’s dangerous.  It was the compulsion that powered me through, that strange mysterious sense that inner life or death hung in the balance.  I couldn’t stop breaking through the egg, even when I just wanted to stay there, half-born, dying in the yolk sack with the bright sun just a membrane away.

Part of me thinks I am being too judgmental, in assuming that they have chosen “not to wake up.”  Maybe they are awake, and mayhbe they are living in an awakening that is right for them.  Maybe they are exactly what they are, exactly as they should be, just different from the one I am in.

Honestly, I don’t really know.  I think it is better to not make assumptions.  True acceptance is kind and nurturing like that.  I can’t fully understand their world, but I can give them the gift of acceptance.

I will go there today.  I will accept them as they are.  Different is okay.  They are free agents.  They have decided this way of relating is what they want.  It hurts my heart, the distance, but it is better to not make it personal, to not assume anything other than that they are unable or unwilling to have that kind of relationship at this time.  It really isn’t personal.

If we lived closer to each other, I would probably need to respond to them in a different way.  A mask on a continual basis is not something I am willing to give.  A mask, a few times a year, is something I can do.  Perhaps one day, I will eschew even this rare covering.  Perhaps even one day soon.  I was trained to live under a whole set of masks.  Learning to uncover has been a slow process for me.  The pain of living under a lie has helped propel my coming out.  I come out one small step at a time.

My Father’s Day gift today is that I will make polite meaningless conversation.  I will avoid showing my real face.  I will bring the store-bought cards, the presents, but most of all, I will bring the little mask that hides who I am.  It’s what they seem to want the most.  Maybe some day I will unmask altogether.  I think that is the greater love.  I think it is the only way to give everyone the opportunity to love the real people underneath the fake smiles and the assigned familial roles.

But not today.


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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.


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Spiritual Growth Re-Defined: Finding Me, Finding God

“The spiritual journey does not consist in arriving at a new destination where a person gains what he did not have, or becomes what he is not.  It consists in the dissipation of one’s own ignorance concerning one’s self and life, and the gradual growth of that understanding which begins the spiritual awakening.  The finding of God is a coming to one’s self.”  — Aldous Huxley

I like this.  Spiritual growth is the growing awareness of who I am, at my core.  My essence is wildly Divine.  My ego? Not so much.  My pain-body (as Eckart Tolle would call that thing that has a life of it’s own) is a disaster.  But there is a difference between those things and my essence.

In the evangelical Christianity of my childhood and young adult years, I was taught that my essence, my spirit, was dead.  I learned that the whole of humanity was like walking zombies.  You were born with a dead spirit.  I was born with a dead spirit.  Until the day that I asked Jesus to live in my heart, they explained, and then that was the day that my spirit came alive.

And so then it wasn’t so much a matter of coming to myself but a matter of trying to learn more about who Christ was.  Because it wasn’t about me—it was never supposed to be about me.  It was all supposed to be about Him.  And my spirit was now alive and all the work was done (since we can’t earn salvation) and that was that, so the business Huxley is talking about, the business of growing in awareness and understanding of my own essence, wasn’t on the table.  It wasn’t even under the table.  It wasn’t even in the room.

But for some of us, it somehow accidentally got in there.  Or we accidentally got out there, however it happened.  We started asking questions that our books, our theologians, our pastors, our Bible study group couldn’t answer.  We started noticing how those questions were hushed, shamed, or just ignored.  Sometimes we were even told that a good Christian would never ask such questions.  And sometimes, working to be good Christians ourselves, we told other question askers that very same thing…

There is a lot of energy that goes into making sure that people do not become aware that they are very powerful beings.  My suspicion is that this is because powerful beings will not be dependents.  And while I happened to experience this primarily within Evangelical Christianity, this interesting expenditure of energy focused on keeping people from their power is certainly not solely found there.  It’s found all through history in a variety of contexts, settings, governmental structures, religious paradigms, relationships…

I am walking in the awareness that coming into my own power (coming into my own God/dess-likeness) and learning to walk in that power (learning to live and move in love and compassion and truth and mercy, etc) is the spiritual journey I have been on for my whole life.  I just got really mixed up on the way.


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God: So Very NOT In Another Galaxy, Far Far Away…

“The day of my spiritual awakening was the day I saw—and knew I saw—all things in God and God in all things.”  ~ Mechtild of Magdeburg

For days and for years and for an entire life I was told the confusing evangelical tale about two Gods who were the same God.  One was a God who looked down from Heaven upon me, watching what I did, and the other was a God who lived inside of me.  It was supposed to be both/and, only it was often very difficult to meld the two.

I dutifully sang the song as a child, “Oh be careful, little eyes, what you see.  For the Father up above is looking down in love, so be careful little eyes, what you see,”  I learned that little hands, little feet, and little eyes had better always be careful.

It was scary, knowing about that God in the sky.  They said He was a God of love, yet He was always watching in such a way that one had better not mess up.  “Oh.  So that’s what love is…”  Little girls can’t help it if they draw appropriate conclusions from confusing messages.

And yet there was also the God who lived inside of me.  After all, if I didn’t ask Jesus into my heart, I wouldn’t be in heaven.  So the God who lived far away now also lived inside of me.  He died so that I wouldn’t be sent to a place of eternal torture where I would beg for death but not be allowed to have it.  In order for me not to go to that place, He had to suffer horrible torture Himself as the sin of the world was placed upon Him, at which point (even though He too was God), the God in the Heavens was not even able to look upon Him.

This was a strange system, very confusing, yet constantly and consistently presented as simple fact and, given the disastrous consequences of pissing this God off, one tended not to question such a salvation. In fact, quite the opposite.  I began preaching this salvation to my friends, starting in 2nd grade and into adulthood.  I truly and honestly meant well.  I didn’t want to see these poor people go to Hell, the reality of which was so built into my core belief system that I did not even question it, even while hating it, until I was in my thirties!

The first set of verses I memorized as a child in a Bible memory program (a very popular one in the church world I grew up in) were about the wickedness of humanity.  I was taught that God was not even able to look at us unless we had Jesus (who was also God) in our hearts.

I remember my child learning those same verses, when I enrolled her in that very same program.  Good moms put their kids in that Bible club.  It’s just how it’s done.  How I winced as I helped her learn that same passage, “There is none righteous, no not one.  There is no one who understands, no one who seeks God.  All have turned away.  They have together become worthless.  There is no one who does good.  Not even one.”  The book of Romans, as we interpreted it, clearly explained that we were, quite literally, worthless.

No wonder conservative Christianity is known for being judgmental.  With a worldview like that, how could a faithful practitioner not be?  Many loving and compassionate people live within the fearful walls of Christendom.  They don’t mean to be judgmental.  They are just doing what they are told, believing what they are taught.  Their awakening may come, some day.  Until then, it helps not to take their behavior personal.

God, as I was taught, was very separate from you or I.  He was male.  He was in charge.  And He was most emphatically not smiling when He looked down at what He deemed as worthless beings who had all turned away.

I love being out of that theological world.  I love looking out at humanity and not seeing them as either lost souls to be won to the Lord or evil “secularists” to beware of.  I love having a view of God/dess that is wide, expansive, and joyous.

I was quite specifically taught that those who said God was in all were dangerous.  For three straight decades, I eschewed even that thought.  And then the awakening began.  Now God is in my hands as I hug my little one.  Goddess is in the cucumber vines pushing out their sweet harvest.  The gods are in the water, air, wind and fire.  The Divine is everywhere.

This isn’t a world to be feared.  Don’t be careful, little eyes, what you see.  Eyes are open and you are awake now!  Drink it all in.  The colors, the richness, the pulsing vibrancy of life.  It was meant to be celebrated.


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Sleep Until You Waken

“Sleep my little baby-oh
Sleep until you waken
When you wake you’ll see the world
If I’m not mistaken…

Kiss a lover
Dance a measure,
Find your name
And buried treasure…

Face your life
Its pain,
Its pleasure,
Leave no path untaken.”

― Neil Gaiman, The Graveyard Book

Many tried to wake me up while I lay fast asleep.  I remember those who spoke to me with urgency on their faces.  They had been where I was going, they saw the signs of a long hibernation, and they warned me, but I could not hear them.  I had closed off my options.  There were only two options.  The world became very black and white, and if I did not dive headlong into my fundamentalist faith, then Hell was the result.

They loved me.  So they tried to warn me, but the time for me to hear was many years away.

I have done the same thing since.  I have watched young women, hungry for truth and searching for a safe place, grasp hold of the promises made by the sharp dualistic world of fundamentalism.

I couldn’t keep silent.  I warned.  I cried.  I begged.  They began to see me as an agent of Satan.  I stopped, finally learning.  I stood by as the sparkle went out of their eyes.  My heart ached for them but I finally understood.  The sleeper cannot awake until the sleeper is ready.