wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
This morning I found myself thinking back to when I took a discipleship class at a church I used to attend. I remembered how hungry I was to learn the material. What made me so hungry? And why did I become disillusioned enough to walk away and not look back?

I never wanted to be ordinary. I wanted to be magical.

I was tired of feeling like a victim of life and circumstances and men who did not think I was worthy of their love. I wanted to be untouchable, to be able to make things happen just by virtue of my belief in and relationship with the god of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The stories Christians told me throughout my youth and young adulthood had me convinced I should be able to do those things, and I became very disillusioned when that did not happen. I felt more and more like I was wasting my life and vitality on beliefs that were not producing. So, when I left Syracuse in 2003 I also left evangelical/pentecostal Christianity.

Nowadays I think I am magical, as in "a special person who brings a unique flavor to the world." But I don't think I can wave a hand or say a prayer and thus invoke a miracle, change the course of nature, or affect someone else's circumstances for better or worse. I am learning to celebrate ordinariness, rather than looking for miracles. However, I am amused that in celebrating ordinariness, I have crossed paths with people who are convinced that I am something of a miracle.

More amazing than that is the fact that I believe them.

On a loosely related note, I have lately been nurturing my innate sense of reverence. Reverence for what, I do not know. I only know what I feel. I get still and simply look inward. It is a calming feeling, not judgmental or scary in any way. I don't feel pressured to scream or shout or respond in any of the emotional ways I grew up seeing in the pentecostal church. I just feel like being still. I like it.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)
broken headstone

Janie stood where [Jody] left her for unmeasured time and thought. She stood there until something fell off the shelf inside her. Then she went inside there to see what it was. It was her image of Jody tumbled down and shattered.

~Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston

As I walked through Maple Grove Cemetery today, I saw this broken headstone and photographed it while thinking about this quote. Both the image and the quote remind me of how Christianity fell off the pedestal it had occupied in my heart a few years ago.

In Their Eyes Were Watching God, Janie was a faithful, loving wife to Jody. He came by when she was a young girl and swept her off her feet with his high talk and big dreams. She ran away from her first husband--what a horrid mismatch THAT was!--to marry herself to him. But he was a mean person under the flowery talk, and after a few years his meanness started to show. Nothing she did was good enough, and he magnified her mistakes into mountains. He became more and more critical of her and projected his own weaknesses onto her. One day her dinner was not up to snuff, and he slapped her. The above quote is from just after that slap.

How familiar, from a spiritual standpoint.

The good news is that after Jody died some time later, Janie regained her freedom and rediscovered her joy.

That's familiar, too.


Jun. 15th, 2009 10:42 pm
wlotus: (Tending the Flame)
I think I need to not worry so much about spiritual experiences, spiritual answers, spiritual absolutes, and spiritual paths. A lot of what I was told was absolute is not. A lot of what I have been told is certain has holes in it. But one thing is certain and has been proven by time and experience: I have a life, and that life will pass me by, if I spend it worrying about spirituality so much. Much of my childhood and young adulthood were lost that way. I want better for myself than that in my post-40 life.

Sometimes the most spiritual thing one can do is simply, mindfully live one's everyday life.
wlotus: (Default)
Some months ago, [livejournal.com profile] iswari was kind enough to re-lend Pilgrimage to the Mother to me. Yesterday I finally began to re-read it. By coincidence, it was on the same day that I attended church for the first time in months and also offered my name to three different ministries, so I can finally get involved in my church on a somewhat regular basis. When I first read the book, I think I was more firmly steeped in Christian tradition than I am, now; I'm not so sure, as it has been a few years since I read it. (She and [livejournal.com profile] blostopher had not yet had their son!) At this point I am reading as someone who hangs onto Christianity out of a sense of familiarity and a desire to believe more solidly than I do, even while I am painfully aware of the emptiness of what I used to try to make myself believe and the fact that I never really believed any of it past a surface acceptance of it, as much as I wanted to.

That makes reading this book quite the exercise in detachment. I have always had a tendency to read spiritual books with a sense of wanting to see myself in the person I am reading about, of wanting to find a sign for my own path in their path. But this time I instinctively remind myself, "That is her path, Wanda, not yours." What I am getting out of her story so far is the importance of validating and following my own path, spiritual or otherwise, rather than trying to fit myself into someone else's.

All of my doubts aside, there is still a strong yearning for spiritual connection in me. I want the spiritual realm to be real to me, finally. And like Alakananda Devi, I desire to find my own guru. But I don't want to give up my life in the United States to go on pilgrimage alone in India or anywhere else, in search of a teacher I may not find in yet another religious construct that may turn out to be a severe disappointment in the harsh light of reality.

Right now I have too many doubts to believe strongly in any brand of spirituality. I believe in community, which is why I am attempting to become active in my church, in spite of my doubts. I believe in helping others. I believe in striving to be my best self: that is, free from the anxiety, perfectionism, judgementalism, and bitterness which fundamentalist Christianity had a hand in planting in me. But I am hard pressed to believe in supernatural things like visions and the like, because I have never experienced those things. I have heard of others claiming to have experienced them; Alakananda Devi does in her book. I have wanted to have those experiences. I have claimed certain events in my life were those experiences. But if they were, the passage of time and the unrelenting impact of reality has eroded my surety, until I now doubt it was what I thought it was.

I was raised to believe there are answers, and those who seek them shall find them. All of this uncertainty troubles me.
wlotus: (Deep Thoughts)

I have been reading Caitlin Matthews' book In Search of Woman's Passionate Soul. I began reading the book in search of proof that my daimon is a real being who loves and dwells with me; I wanted to know my soul is not alone. To my surprise, when faced with Matthews' assertion in support of that ideal, I rejected it.

A new incarnation of what I already rejected. )

It's interesting that in my fundamentalist Christian days, I equated daimons with demons. Now, I equate daimons with denial of personal responsibility. Understand, though, that I don't look down on someone for adopting either belief (in a daimon or in a divine presence talking to them). Even if I don't find those ideas useful right now--and who knows how my views may shift in the future...I never saw this shift coming back when I was a fundie--I see how those beliefs can be useful for the people who believe in them.

This rejection of the idea that wisdom, comfort, and guidance come from outside of myself is crucial to my development. One of the things my upbringing took from me and I abdicated as a young adult was respect for my inner voice and trust in my intuition. By rejecting this "somebody bigger than you or I" ideal, I am learning to hear and value my inner voice for the first time. If I later become convinced of the existence of a guiding force outside of myself, I will be able to integrate that belief with self-respect and responsibility for my life.

An Opening

Dec. 23rd, 2007 11:30 pm
wlotus: (Aum)

Tonight I did my own, intuitive draw with my Motherpeace Tarot deck. I drew one card as the central theme and placed it in the center. Then I drew seven more cards and arranged them clockwise around the central card. Each card had a meaning, but two of the cards were the most relevant to me at this moment in time: the Ace of Cups and the Six of Swords.

The Six of Swords was the central card and surrounded the other three (and all other) cards. It is a drawing of six women putting their swords together to be able to fly. That card represents clearly seeing my choices and making good (but hard) decisions, often with the help of my girlfriends, who make time to lend their unique wisdom and insights. Those of you who have made the time in your busy lives to exchange intimate emails with me over the past month know who you are, and I thank you, because without you I would find flying far more difficult than it is. I think warmly of you whenever I look at that card.

The Ace of Cups' message was the most shocking to me, because it indicated a desire being fulfilled without me realizing it. The drawing is of a cup full of self-love, with a woman diving into it and two swans swimming in front of it. The card indicates I love myself and am opening my heart to others. That card shocked me, because I can clearly see it in myself. Make no mistake, I have a lot of self-love work to do. However, the love within me has been roaring whenever I manage to shake off depression long enough to stir it up. But the surprising part was seeing how my heart is more open to others, specifically towards males. Less than a week ago I told [livejournal.com profile] lilrongal it bothered me that I didn't have any real friendships with guys. But yesterday I realized with a start that a handful of guys from the photography club have become friends to me. They may not be friends in the same way as my girlfriends are (confidants, etc.), but as far as genuinely enjoying their company surrounding our shared interest in photography, they are nothing less than friends. We keep in touch by email and go on photo outings outside of the larger group. I don't know what moved them to include me in their adventures, but I'm grateful to be included, and they seem to enjoy my company as much as I enjoy theirs. This is an enormous shift from the distant day when I asked [livejournal.com profile] onceupon how she could stand to be friends with males, let alone date them!

It's been a long, tiring day. I've done a lot of inner work since very early this morning. Now it's time to let my mind and body rest.


wlotus: (Default)

October 2010



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