Wearing Out the Lessons of Exhaustion, Weaving A Divine Thread

Every sound crackles into a worry that I’ll wake Rowan, who sleeps quietly near me.  Its 10pm on a Sunday night – late Spring dancing into Summer’s blazing heat, and I rest in the balance – a full moon pending just before Solstice. Everything is basked, baked, bathed in Colorado’s golden light, and I’m ever more aware of the places in my own experience that have yet to sprout from seed’s darkness.  Spring:  It’s a time of beginnings and unfolding – a turning towards light in new ways.

An easefulness has woven its way into relationship between Rowan and I – and I feel a sharp contrast to the resistance and struggles that have marked many periods in these first two years of his life.  All of the sudden it dawns on me that I am in a relative period of rest.  Perhaps I’ve worn out the lessons of this phase?  All that is left in this moment is a simple acceptance with a flair of zest, regardless of external circumstances such as sleepless nights or a worn down immune system.  Perhaps there is something to why we say “worn down” along with “worn out.”  All of the sudden we’ve worn something down to the point that the wearing has served its purpose of potential purification.  Like a stone thrown about in water, we can’t see the edges being smoothed while banging against what often feel like sharp, turbulent obstacles.

So too the periodic discomforts of parenthood.  Of course being ‘worn down’ feels lousy, until something therein is ‘worn out,’ burned up, smoothed out.  We wear something until we have outgrown it or until we have literally worn it out.  So too with our experiences and spiritual path.  If we can ride the waves of transformation, even through discomfort and relative ‘stress,’ – and if we can leave ourselves open to the possibility that we are being worked on in mysterious ways, all of a sudden we may notice we have moved through something akin to a rite of passage.  (The key is to pay close attention to the shifts!)

For some reason the silkworm comes to mind, with her ceaseless work (I’ve heard she only pauses to rest a handful of times before she spins her cocoon that holds her while going through metamorphosis).  She spins with little rest until she is ready for her transformation.  Meanwhile, out of steady effort one of the lightest, most beautiful substances is born.  Like a new cloak of understanding that is ultimately translucent, light, free-flowing like silk – we too can wear a new parenthood understanding that transmutes difficulties into a loving lightness of being when the parent-child relationship has finally struck a balance, found a flow (and when we’ve ultimately worn out the lessons of exhaustion). The work doesn’t stop and rest may feel scant, but the weaving goes on.  And sometimes we simply aren’t able to see the beauty of the weaving until a moment of rest is upon us.

So when rest is available, bask in it – just like basking in the emerging light of the season, or wrapping yourself in the lightest, most beautiful silk scarf. Take those moments of rest in order to settle into what you’ve unfolded or discerned in your life journey.  Trust the weavings of a simple life:  the ebbs and flows of waking, breakfast, playing outdoors with no agenda, carefree.  A nap.  Lunch.  Laundry.  Dinner.  Green beans and raspberries.  There does not have to be anything more.  There comes a moment when you can do nothing but rest into the fullness of simply digesting your experience.  That is the lesson of silkworms, hanging in the balance between seasons – digesting mulberry leaves, weaving a Divine thread.

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Inadequacy and Love: and Why We Have to do Our Own Inner Work

I had the great honor of attending my brother’s -Zen Master in making, embodied practitioner and gifted teacher Rob McNamara’s -workshop on the “Gate of Inadequacy” over the weekend.  With my mother at my side, we unpacked multi-generational patterns of self-esteem (or lack thereof) and marveled at the power of intention to parent in different ways than we were parented.  We unpacked the potential wounding that a parent’s words can inflict – and sighed deep sighs of relief that neither of us lives in the realm of inadequacy today (even though my mother’s path to healing took some 33 years).

As parents we can often feel inadequate, not enough, lacking, incomplete.  And sometimes perhaps we are.  The most important work we can do for ourselves and our children is to do our own inner work:  delving inwards to feel into our own life story, programming and patterning, and come to peace with all parts of ourselves – even the wounded, embittered, lacking in confidence, angry, shut down, dissociated…all the parts that may translate into less patience or more sharpness.  Those are the very realms of our experiences that most need integrating and tending in the spirit of breaking generational cycles of patterning that don’t serve our greatest capacity to embody openness and love.

Love is the great equalizer.  Through love (and not thinking about it but feeling it, living it, breathing it) – all things can transform.  In my own experience the practice and gesture of being in love with life not only brings me more fully into living my days, but also dissolves over time the sharper edges of my being.

As mothers we are powerful beyond measure – which is all the more reason to burn through obscurities in the spirit of walking the path of parenthood with as much clarity and clear energy as possible.  We can choose to embark on the path of purification that is central to so many religious paths in order to best serve our children (and everyone around us), who we influence so greatly.  For me, this has entailed a profound unearthing over the years of all parts of myself.  It has entailed dancing with perfectionism, which at times was self-destructive, yet which ultimately gives rise to my ceaseless intention to embody ever-widening love and grace.  With delving, I came to understand that perfectionism was (and is) my way of trying to pay homage to the Divine nature of life and being alive.

Plumbing my depths also led me to the vast restfulness possible in directing my loving regard internally to all parts of myself (yes, even those I may label “inadequate” or “imperfect”). Through a simultaneous shedding of light on my entire experience coupled with the force of love (and ultimately being in love and falling in love with my experience of life) – I find myself able to walk further into an uninterrupted flow of love and light.  This means taking the time to, through practice, shed light over and over again on the mysteries of body, soul, personality and habit that make up my particular human form.  It means staying with what is difficult.  It means not turning away from anything – and not trying to suppress or ignore the more complex and uncomfortable parts of self and experience.  All of the sudden I can live more fully in a realm of being that is absolutely okay with what Is, while also recognizing again and again an inherent dimension of incompleteness and ‘inadequacy’ that only propels me further into how I most want to live and give.

The ongoing effort at crux:  We can intentionally choose to follow a path of inner work and personal refinement that ultimately transforms our own particular sharp edges, shadows and blind spots.  Through continual willingness to face ourselves and our experience fully and squarely without discrimination or judgement, and willingness to commit ourselves to not turning away from what is uncomfortable or less than desirable in our experience, we can, through applying a loving regard within and without – become more fully seated in an experience of Love.  This means just being in Love!  With our children, our partners, the leaves on trees, the texture of color of sky and Earth, the changing seasons, our parents, the ground we walk on, and yes – even the more shadowy dimensions of our souls.

Burn Anything that isn’t Simply Love

The foothills along the Front Range in Colorado continue to burn and several things arise:  first, my remembrance of my love of and attachment to the landscape here, and second – a mirroring of outside with inside – an inward gaze searching for the effects of wildfire within… A desire to remember my connection with Earth, and searching to live the metaphor of burning in my own body and soul.  I harken back to my yoga teacher training where one of the practices we took on was to sit with the fire in the sacred practice space, to tend it as we threw rice into it – to feel into what needs to burn in our own experiences and habits.  One of my teachers said, “Burn baby burn!” – Burn up all the unneeded fodder for useless fires – burn old karmas, burn anything that isn’t simply Love.

I draw a parallel between how we systematically suppress nature’s calling towards wildfires, and as a result when a burn happens it has the force to ignite whole mountain sides – a 10 square mile radius blazed to the ground, squelched with bright red fire retardant (toxic) to boot.  And in our own experiences, what happens when we suppress what wants (needs?) to burn within?  Instead, is there a way we can put logs on the fire of whatever needs to be metabolized in our experience in a mindful, ongoing gesture of practice?

Fire can be a type of purification, rather than the culturally associated ‘damnation’ and destruction.  We can throw grains of rice on the fire of our lives in a gesture  of metabolizing that which doesn’t serve our greatest expression of openness and love.  The key is to know (in great detail) what needs to be burned through in our own experiences – rather than playing the game of avoidance, dissociation or suppression.  What don’t we want to look at in ourselves?  Suppress it and it only grows into fodder for catastrophic blazes.  Do the thinning and controlled burns and we maintain balance.  As above, so below (as many pagan traditions say of tree branches mirroring the unseen roots below ground).  And, as without, also so within.