Thursday, May 25, 2017

The Good News

Someone wrote me last week (when I was acutely ill) asking me how I felt about a spiritual teacher/healer on Facebook (I honestly don't remember their name) who had declared that anyone who is not 100% healthy (physically, psychologically, spiritually etc.) cannot offer assistance to others and is, therefore, a fraud.

Honestly, I chuckled and muttered, "Yeah, good luck with that one, honey," meaning- good luck with finding or becoming someone who has no illness or neuroses or struggles. And why would you want to?

The truth is, there are many traditions around the world that honour the wounded healer- the one who knows the terrain of human struggles because they have lived them, hopefully somewhat awake to and compassionate toward the many levels of being human (and, let's face it, some days are better than others for all of us on the awareness and compassion fronts.)

The person who wrote to me was outraged. I was a little surprised at my own lack of reactivity, but the older I get, the more I trust that life will handle some of our bigger delusions and ideals about how we or others "should" be.

But as I lay in bed, unable to do very much else because of pain, I wondered about the effect of such an assertion. Perfectionistic ideals do real harm (and yes, on this I speak from direct experience.) They urge us to present as someone (or something) we are not and in so doing, encourage duplicity, denial and dangerous inflation that do not lead to a happy place.

And beneath the pumped up ideal there is, inevitably, a sense of unworthiness crying out for attention and tenderness.

The good news- seriously the Really Big Good News- is that we do not need to be perfect, do not need to be completely healed, awake, enlightened or consistent to offer something of real value to each other and the world.

Now isn't that a relief?

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2017

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Snippet of a Story on A Sunny Day

On the way home from yoga I pause to watch a small group of three year olds (clearly a daycare group on an outing) standing on the sidewalk gazing up at a young kitten poking his head out of the third floor window of a frat house. (I live near the university- lots of frat houses.)

“It’s too high!” a girl with bright red bows tied to the ends of two dark braids, calls out to the cat. “You can’t jump from there- you’ll hurt yourself.”

“He doesn’t know what you’re saying. He’s a cat,” one of the small boys tells her with just a whiff of budding mansplaining.

The girl puts her hands on her hips and narrows her eyes as she turns toward him. “Animals,” she says with a certainty I don’t ever remember having, “always understand what I am saying.”

The boy shrugs and looks back up at the kitten.

“And now,” the girl informs him, “he is looking at you.”

The boy hesitates and then replies with just a touch of awe in his voice. “I think you’re right. He is. He is looking right at me.”

I walked on, smiling. I love when the warm weather arrives and life moves outside onto our shared sidewalks. I learn so much and find my heart is lighter just from listening.


Monday, May 8, 2017

The Un-Mothered

I have a request: with Mother's Day approaching, can we just set aside the generalizations about mothers? I honour the care-giving that mothers do. I am a mother of two wonderful men. Becoming a mother probably saved my life- it was the first time I was actually fully IN my body and consciously connected to my life-preserving instincts. Without thought, I was surprised to find myself moving instinctively to protect my sons from my mother. I was shocked to realize how abusive my own childhood had been. There were no surprise memories- I had not forgotten anything. But suddenly I saw it for what it was and not the "normal" I had accepted as a child because there was simply no other option.

Every time I hear someone say something like, "Oh, to go back to those wonder years when we were all children and free to be who we wanted to be;" or "What a wonderful time- when our mothers took care of everything," I cringe.

The hard truth is that some of us spent our childhood terrified of and/or longing to please mothers who were unable to be caring or kind or present, and sometimes mothers who were violent and abusive. I am so glad this was not true for many- and I do love hearing people's good-mother stories. I just want us to remember that not everyone grew up that way.

So maybe we could just talk about our own experience being mothered and mothering in "I" statements, without claiming that it was what happened for "all of us." Yes, I feel a pang when I hear adults talk about mothers who were loving and supportive- but I am okay with that. I have accepted that, even after all the healing, I will still sometimes ache and grieve for something that never was.

A wonderful line by Adrienne Rich comes to mind: "There must be those among whom we can sit down and weep, and still be counted as warriors." Let's be that for each other- a place where there is room for acknowledging all of what has shaped us and still be known as whole.

~Oriah "Mountain Dreamer" House (c) 2017

Image from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

When We Are Done

It's good to know when something- a job, a place, a relationship, a project, a way of seeing, a struggle- is done for us, to know when it is finished even if it is not, by some external standard, complete. Some of my most peaceful, expansive moments have come when I have realized that what I was holding in my hands was simply no longer for me, and have been able- without fanfare or gnashing of teeth- to just set it down. Oh, sometimes the gnashing of teeth- the second guessing and grieving- came later, but in that moment there was just knowing, clarity, and peace. I don't know why this came to mind when I looked at this wonderful morning photo from Karen Davis at Open Door Dreaming- perhaps it is the blaze of light, the bird about to soar, the spaciousness of the image. Or perhaps there is something I am holding that needs to be set down. ~Oriah