Mulling

I’m a muller and a ponderer, a ruminator and a thinker. Not long ago, one of my daughters told me that I think about things more than anyone she knows. She also said I “think weird,” which was a free reflection bonus for me, kind of like the prizes you get with your happy meal at McDonald’s. I knew these facts about myself already, but it’s nice to know that someone who knows me well knows it, too. It’s good to know who you are and to be able to consistently show yourself to others, too. As The Librarian wrote in a recent comment, we are our own gifts. And as I replied to him, one has to use the gift.

So I’ve been mulling. I get quiet when I mull, and I don’t want to write what I’m mulling about. But when I get quiet and don’t write anything—not even in my journal—then days and days pass and I begin to fear that the blank page is my blank life. It’s like sitting on the beach and watching the fog roll in, and then being in the fog on an empty beach, with the ocean stretching in front of you (you can hear it), but you can’t really see much. Everything clammy. You’re shivering. Yet the combination of blindness with muffled breaking waves is spellbinding. So you sit and shiver.

If I could shiver in my mind on that beach, that’s what I’d be doing. I see things, and seeing them gives me pause. I see them, but poof! then they vanish. I almost wrote, “then they vantage,” a nice peek at the sleep (there, I did it again… and I’m going to leave it, for I meant to write “slip”—see how that works?) … a nice peek at the slip of my unconscious.

Then they vantage; a nice peek at the sleep of my unconscious.

Yes, a peek at the sleep of one’s own unconscious is a good thing. One gets surprises.

ico42 by you.

One thing I see is that if I don’t write about something when I am feeling and thinking strongly about it, I may lose the impetus to write about it at all. I’ve read about this in several books about writing. Authors say to respect inspiration, for it’s creative and it’s time to write about it when it’s time. But I confuse intention with purpose and  fail to factor in everyday life with its demands; and also the persistence of unconsciousness and fish that don’t want to be fished out of the deep. So I’ll sit and ponder, caught up in my own blindness and the sound of muffled, breaking waves. And I am spellbound.

ico42 by you.

Something has happened to me lately. It feels like what happens when you know something that nobody else knows, something delicious and wonderful, but also something frightening because of its aim to change your life forever—like suspecting you’re pregnant, or like being on the verge of buying or building a new home, or maybe like winning a trip or some lottery money, or getting an inheritance but not being quite sure that it’s really going to go through.

My perception of this change in my life reminds me of a beautiful passage in the Bible that talks about being brought forth into a “broad place” after being in a place of terrible restriction and deprivation. In the second book of Samuel, in the Old Testament, there’s an account of King David’s song to the Lord on the day he was delivered from the hands of all his enemies, including King Saul. David wrote:

For the waves of death encompassed me; The torrents of destruction overwhelmed me; The cords of Sheol surrounded me; The snares of death confronted me. In my distress I called upon the LORD,Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears.

He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, From those who hated me, for they were too strong for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity, But the LORD was my support. He also brought me forth into a broad place; He rescued me, because He delighted in me.  (2 Sam 22:5-7, 17-18 NAS)

I see many things in this passage that speak to me: fear of death, big waves and torrents that threaten to destroy; Sheol, a place of suffering and purging; traps and enemies, no peace and no rest. Calamity. I see,too, that people are always people: they confront when support is needed. They lecture or judge, or roll their eyes with impatient disgust. But the LORD was my support. This is true.

When I meet people who are atheists (as I once was), I always guess that they had confrontational rather than supportive parents, parents who inflicted the god wound which is not yet healed in that person. So far, I have never been wrong. I have never been wrong. Well-loved people know that God (by whatever name they know the Divine) is good and supportive, loving and a place of refuge, a deliverer and an eternal Lover. Like that childhood prayer before dinner, “God is great, and God is good; let us thank Him for our food.” They grow up with that and they’ve lived it, and they don’t need to hate, fear, disprove, or disbelieve in God. He is a place of refuge.

ico42 by you.

I do believe this is what’s happened to me. The wool was pulled over my eyes and I sat for a long time, in wool, in fog. I believed what people told me about themselves and about how they felt about me, even when faced with evidence to the contrary. I believed because I wanted to believe, because disbelieving would mean I would have to act in my own interest, and also that I was surrounded many times by people who were confronters when supporters were needed. People who would see a person in distress and do nothing to help, offer no love.  This is like parents or teachers who tell you to figure it out for yourself, when you’re only a child.

My daughters have a band teacher like that now. They’re learning to play the flute, and have a band test today. One of the items on the test has something to do with a symphonic B, maybe a concert scale; we’re not sure. We’re not sure what was wanted, because a girl in the band raised her hand in class and asked the teacher, “What’s a symphonic B?” And the teacher replied, “You should know this by now! If you don’t know, I’m not going to tell you! You’ve been in music since Pre-K!” After witnessing this, neither of my daughters wanted to ask, either. They will miss the question on their test, because I don’t know what the teacher wanted, either. And I told my girls that their band teacher isn’t teaching with her gift, she is badgering and belittling children and that I’m sorry they have a teacher like that. I sat down with them and showed them how to practice what we did understand, and they were happy and energized afterward, and practicing their flutes this morning before school. I gave them the support they needed, because I love them, and because they are worthy of love.

This teacher was confrontational when what was needed was support. People are like that. You. Me. Them. All of us. One reason why I know more and more strongly the presence of God in my life is this very thing: humans are rotten. We are rotten and the idea of sin—of how we miss the mark all the time—and of the glory and holiness of God are just right. It’s impossible to live in the world, to raise children in it, and to fail to see the evil in human beings, unless one is unconscious. The longer you live, the more you’ll see it. And yet you’ll also see unbelievable good and generosity in the world, and you’ll know that goodness and love are possible. Eventually, after living and observing for awhile (if you yourself are awake and aware) you come to understand that very few people are awake, alive, and conscious in their minds and spirits. Abraham Maslow estimated that only one or two percent of the human population alive at any given time could even possibly be self-actualized. Carl Jung believed the percentages of the self-actualized to be about the same. And Jesus said that the way to life is very narrow, and few, very very few, were on that right path.

But we know it’s there, beyond the fog. And we long for it.

ico42 by you.

So, like good mulled wine or cider, I have my spices and have had the heat of suffering over many years, and I’ve mulled within myself for a long time, and that mulling has brought forth something sweet and heady, strong and delicious and wonderful. Also something breathtaking, confounding, and shocking. It has me teetering on the edge of something I can’t yet see or perceive, because there’s still a fog, too. But behind that fog, I hear the steady, rhythmic pounding of the deep, strong, eternal sea.

16 responses

  1. Eve,

    I completely understand the feeling of being constrained within a tight and bounded place and then coming to a place that feels unbounded, open.

    In your last post, “Afterword” I think that I was too vague with part of my comment, which I’ll try to rectify here. When I wrote, “…each person is unique, THEY ARE THEIR GIFT, no one can see/reflect the work like they do and in that regards, we are all artists— life is art— and as such, it’s each persons’ job/responsibility/life-purpose to reflect back the world however they choose to do so. The individual is the art, the medium, the message. It’s everyone else’s responsibility to make whatever sense of it they can or will. Art, Life, True Expression, the individual is beholden only to their message, whatever it may be,” I was seeing, and saying that if we look at each person as an artist, than their message, their art, how and what they reflect back of the world within their life and living is necessary because only they can see, be, and reflect their perspective (their gift).

    Pol Pot was an artist and reflected back (his art) the world as it was to him. Buddha was an artist and his reflection/art represented his perspective. Insomuch as you look at an individual as artist, medium, and message each is necessary and valid in that it is true for the individual, whether the greater society perceives it as such or not. The artist’s responsibility is not to make reflections that are pleasing to society but to bring back and speak their truth, whatever it may be, and this may be the most terrifying aspect of being an artist and a human, daring to speak what you believe, whatever it is, with your own voice before the rest of the world. It is then up to each individual to examine and consider the work of other artists and deem whether that message has any truth or relevance to them. The artist has only to be true to him or herself and to grow if they are capable of it.

    There are going to be “unconscious” artists, in fact I’d say that this will be the case for the majority of them. Yet, that does not mean that their message or their perspectives are not legitimately theirs nor valid to them. Nor does it mean that their art does not have a positive role to play within the world, particularly if the message is so dark as to reveal new perspectives by their lack or negation. In addition, many perspectives/art will be refuted by society in general or as a whole such as Fascism, slavery, etc. And while there is a tendency to label such things and the actions that were carried out under their banner as evil, it must be remembered that that is relative to the context of a society and its accepted mores and in different times and societies, the perspective/art of a power-mad maniac may be received in a very different way, as appropriate and truthful even. Much of history can be seen as the competition between communities of artists/perspectives with some art/perspectives prevailing and others falling by the wayside of history’s march.

    In psychological terms one merely has to look at the “art” that is wrought within an individual’s life by the interplay of the artists of the shadow and ego. One does not move towards wholeness/individuation by excising, cutting out the shadow as one would a tumor but by integrating it in a process that, when complete, finds that what was once believed to be evil was actually necessary for redemption and is debatable that it ever was anything but necessary. However, that is exactly what most people try to do, much to their detriment. I am constantly amazed in Christianity at the cognitive dissonance in this regards; the white compassion of God/Christ becomes completely meaningless and totally unperceivable without the dark hues of Lucifer to offer a contrast and counterpoint. Realizing that I am speaking in human and dualistic terms here, how could mercy and compassion be known without knowing as well what the absence of those things felt like?

    The world needs its Jokers or else the road to wherever we are going would simply be a very, very wide, very, very straight, and terribly boring stroll of utter blandness. Most people’s fondest memories are of the good times, yet when asked what led them to grow to where they are it is most always some difficulty, some obstacle, some nemesis that while painful, brought out the best in them that they were capable of— Star Wars would have been a very different movie if Darth Vader had been played by Rick Moranis. The world needs its angry and unconscious artists just as much as it needs its enlightened masters. You may not like them (either) nor do you have to; only realize that their reflections and/or projections are both valid and necessary. And when you can see everyone, everything as necessary, you start to see the world in a whole different light…one is inclined to laughter.

    I think it was Ram Das that said, “The world is perfect as it is, including your desire to change it.”

  2. Helen, hello again. This part of the quote you shared caught my attention:

    “…and the determination always to live our lives according to this truth.” It’s one thing to realize that we’re beloved and to appropriate the knowledge of our divine origins and identity. It’s another to actually be able to walk that out in the world, isn’t it? It’s more than just rose-strewn paths of rainbows and butterflies. Sometimes walking according to that truth makes us like Jesus in the world. It makes us have to be truth-tellers and also makes us have to be open always to the leading and inspiration and will, if you will, of God.

    This was a good quote, thank you for sharing it.

    And I appreciate your comment that your way of showing me love is to refrain from commenting. However, I would prefer that you comment whatever you want. Sometimes, your words can seem hard and cut-and-dried to me; like split peas! And I too can be very hard, in my words. I know this, so of course when I speak to you I speak also to myself. It’s no coincidence that your split peas can irritate me. ;o)

    I think it does take courage to walk in the truth of God’s love for us. So many do not, and that’s where the problem lies. Owning an image of “unwanted” or “unloved” makes a person either unkind or just the opposite, which is dead to his or her own shadow (and thus lacking depth and life in another way).

    I think that kindness is the possession of a fully-convinced person. Bullies are not fully convinced of their belovedness (is that a word?). If words seem bullying to me, I assume a person has something to work out and is trying to work it out at my expense, or the expense of others. Sometimes your hard words have seemed to be bullying words to me. But “we all stumble in many ways,” the Bible says, and naturally, I may be mistaken.

    So no need to refrain from commenting. I’ll comment freely in return. :o) And I accept your statements about how you feel and believe at face value, Helen. So thank you for your expression of love. You are welcome to comment any time.

  3. Heni, thanks for picking up on my fogginess and pointing out my mixed metaphors! I almost went back and edited out one metaphor or the other, but finally said, “No, you’re in the fog… yet in a broad place (in the fog); go ahead and write that way even if you’re going to break a cardinal rule of good writing and fog your readers, too.”

    And then I did—fog the reader, I mean.

    I know I shouldn’t. And sometimes I will delete my less than admirable writing (when I’m not technically above-average, or not clear, or miss the target). This time, I think I’ll leave it. But I’m glad you pointed out that I didn’t really make a clear point of explaining where I am and how I got here. I didn’t! I feel rather happy about the fact that I had, at least, the type of congruence that communicates mumbling clearly.

    Haha!

    So you have been moved to tears at church, somewhat incomprehensibly. I actually won’t say it’s the Holy Spirit calling. I would be more likely to muse that He has already spoken, not even necessarily a call. When someone calls us, we rarely are moved to tears, eh? No, I’d suspect that something inside melted and a blessed oil is being poured over your heart, and you are [something]. Grateful? Blessed? Full? Longing?

    But perhaps your guess that I’d say the Spirit is calling is what is happening for you. Maybe it is. You would know by what you do in response, maybe? I don’t know. But I’m glad.

    I was telling my husband last night about how every time I pull up into the church parking lot I already feel on the verge of tears. I am so very grateful. I went to mass alone Saturday evening and we happened to all renew our baptismal vows. They are so medieval. “Do you reject Satan and all his works?” … “I do.” And so on (or something like that).

    And there was no homily that day. All Father said was, “Christ came from a place of divinity to a mortal world in order to serve, to carry out his mission. Through our baptism into Christ, we too come from a divine place and we too have a mission of service. We, too, have a gift to give.”

    That was all. And yes, it moved me to tears. It’s something, to have meaning in a crazy, disconnected world. To realize we do have meaning and we still are connected, not only to others, but to God and to ourselves.

    Anyway, hopefully you will find what’s happening and write about it. I hope so. Let me know what “doing” comes from it. :o)

  4. Scott, I really love reading your comments. When you say you’re rambling, we all get to see you thinking out loud. I enjoy that and always gain something.

    You wrote, “It makes me think that if we really found a way to focus on bringing up children in a naturing, loving communal atmosphere, the world would change.” YES, YES! Oh, yes, wouldn’t it? I haven’t written much about what I’ve learned from working and living with and loving attached, wanted, beloved children alongside unattached, unwanted, rejected, abandoned children, but the differences are vast. It takes every bit as long to get the healing for the abandonment that occurs during the first 20 years of life as it took to be abandoned and rejected in the first place. One hopes to be sane by age 40, I think.

    I too see the good side of people, and noted that when we look we also see incredible good and generosity in the world, in people. In the past, my closest friends always said I was too optimistic. They called themselves “realists.” Hah!

    I do think I’ve been naively hopeful in the past. I would see hard and repeated evidence of evil, or pathology, or craziness in a person and look right past that because I could always see the essence of the person or what they were meant to be. I think it’s a particular gift of mine that has made me an effective healer and motivator in the past. However, it has also made me most surprised when the evil came and bit me in the rear. Pathology, yes… I’m pretty good at seeing and treating that. Evil? Uh, no. I often excused it because of people’s suffering.

    Or I used to. Now I’m wiser for my wounds. I still have compassion and can see a person’s self, what there is of it; but I also hold the need for balance, whereas in the past I didn’t so much. I erred on the other side.

  5. Woundeddeer, I know your comment was to Deb, but I wanted to tell you that I appreciate you sharing this part of your life. “A bully with a Bible…” how apt is that?

    I think you communicated very clearly about how hard it is to be a Bible-believing Christian with the secular world and the church-going world on either side, pulling and pulling and telling you how to live, what being a woman means, how to be a wife, and so on. But, as St. John (I think) wrote in one of his epistles, “you have no need for anyone to teach you, for you yourselves know all things.” We do have the knowledge within us, and we know what to do, and when we do it… ah, the freedom and healing that arise. Thank you for your story.

  6. Librarian, “…but the great man is he, who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” What a wonderful quote. It reminds me about why I love Emerson so.

    Yes, that’s the trick, isn’t it? To be who you are in the midst of the crowd.

  7. Mulling time.. waiting time… is, for me, an internal cooking time, and certainly is a very pregnant time, a psychic kind of pregnancy, times when dreams are rich and strange, and a major internal shift is usually imminent (perhaps the culmination of a lot of internal work?). And fog – maybe also like some kind of amniotic fluid? Ways of seeing change, new directions push through after teetering on top of the crest – the still point before speed of moving forward picks up again.

    I know what you mean about not grabbing inspiration when it comes – not writing it down, or sketching it briefly. Is it a missed opportunity, will it resurface in another guise another time? Perhaps if I don’t water the seedlings often enough, they will simply go away and find someone else to nurture them? If I have judged them ‘silly’, or ‘inane’, I may have missed out on the opportunity to see where they may have led me – somewhere completely unexpected, a trickle that may have led to the ocean.

    But yes! So many fish that don’t want to be fished out! Not by the mind, at any rate. I guess some are still ‘cooking’… And how many do I not see, even when looking straight at them, because I don’t know what they’re supposed to look like?

    Your story about the music teacher – “you should know this by now!” – resonated with me – well, I cringed really. I remember words to that effect. Easier for the frustrated teacher to blame his/her stupid pupils, I suppose, than question their own reaching (ah, teaching) ability.

    Eve, I don’t think humans are rotten, though they act that way often enough. Lacking in any kind of love for themselves, I think it is fear that they come from. So their actions are rotten, consciously or not. A person makes the choice to act malevolently or kindly. Don’t they? Or perhaps I should rather ask you to define what you mean by rotten – was it literal? Some humans (i.e. their spirits?) have broken down from a state of wholeness to putrefaction? I mean, yes, I do see acts of pure evil, acts of confrontation, from others, and myself, being misguided by emotions and past pain. But the human creature within? Has mankind really disintegrated so badly that his acts have tainted his very spirit? I would feel like this is saying that there is no hope, that God is rotten, then, too. Which doesn’t feel right to me – and I’m not suggesting thats what you meant, either. Its just my (generally possibly naive) ponderings running along. Will you explain it a bit further? And your understanding of ‘evil’. Its such a powerful word. I tend to understand it mostly in the religious sense, but I think you may mean it in a broader context.

    I mean, is God then really pure ‘Potential’, a creative potential – the power to be good or bad, the power to make a choice? Then are we ‘evil’ and ‘divine’ Potentials at the same time? With free will?

    Blimey. Sorry about all this, it just kind of welled up just then. But I don’t want to delete it. I’d like to, well, mull on it rather loudly and hear what you have to say to me.

    As an aside, I’ve been away from my studio over the past few weeks, which meant not being near my computer. It was really nice to let go of things for a while and catch up on some gardening.

    Eve, to you, and to everyone else here who writes so many wonderful, open things, I hope you all have a new year of things to lift you, to challenge you, and inspire you, and may there be much love for all of you.

  8. Growing Beyond Self-Rejection by Henri Nouwen

    “One of the greatest dangers in the spiritual life is self-rejection. When we say, “If people really knew me, they wouldn’t love me,” we choose the road toward darkness. Often we are made to believe that self-deprecation is a virtue, called humility. But humility is in reality the opposite of self-deprecation. It is the grateful recognition that we are precious in God’s eyes and that all we are is pure gift. To grow beyond self-rejection we must have the courage to listen to the voice calling us God’s beloved sons and daughters, and the determination always to live our lives according to this truth.”

    I love you, Eve, which is why I have refrained from making comments.

  9. I feel a bit foggy, like I’m not sure what you’re on the edge of experiencing or discovering. I’m not sure if I misunderstood one of your metaphors, or if you were simply describing your current state without explaining the specific change in your life.

    So I’ll just tell you what comes to mind in relation to my life.

    “It feels like what happens when you know something that nobody else knows, something delicious and wonderful, but also something frightening because of its aim to change your life forever.”

    “In my distress I called upon the LORD, Yes, I cried to my God; And from His temple He heard my voice, And my cry for help came into His ears.”

    “teetering on the edge of something I can’t yet see or perceive”

    Something has been happening to me these last few months that these things all describe in one way or another. I have gone to church three times; each time I cried right there during the service. Even the beautiful, candlelit Christmas service.

    I don’t know what that’s about. It’s happened to me a bit before, while reading Bible stories to my kids. It doesn’t happen through the whole service, and I haven’t been able to see what in particular (if it’s even the same thing each time) is causing this. I’ll be singing a hymn, and all of a sudden my chin starts wobbling and I have to stop.

    I’ll bet you’ll say it’s the Holy Spirit calling. It could be, but I still don’t know what it’s trying to tell me, or what I’m trying to tell it, with these tears. But luckily I evidently don’t have a God wound, because this makes me want to go to church more often, not less. I’m considering going to a series of weekly classes they’ll be offering soon for new members, kind of a “here’s what our church is about, and here’s what Scripture is all about” course.

    I’m pretty sure I have some beliefs that will never jibe with theirs (reincarnation, the divinity of Jesus at the baptism and not at birth, and some odd things from anthroposophy), but I still think it could be fruitful. And I’d like to clear away some of the fog around this experience, to know what it is that is being called up in such an emotional way. Seems like it’s time to stop mulling, and start doing.

  10. Interesting post. I agree that few people are “awake,” and though I’ve used that metaphor, I’ve approached it abit differently. It seems most people get hypnotized by their surroundings — upbringing, culture, expectations of society — that they follow along like automatons, getting caught up in little dramas and worries, but not really breaking out of the collective fog. In fact, even though I teach international affairs, I really see one goal in my teaching to get people to look inside and really reflect on the world and what they deep down believe, and to live their own lives, not one based on what they are programmed to believe.

    I also was intrigued by your “people are rotten” line. I don’t disagree, but I come at it differently. I think we are all good — to use religious terminology, my own spiritual belief is that we are all part of the devine, connected at a very deep level. When I look at friends or others who do things that are rotten, I see the power of fear, lack of self-respect/self-esteem, belief they have to compare themselves against others, or deeper internal wounds caused by either parents, societal expectations, or their own experiences. When I act against what I know is right, I usually find insecurity or some kind of fear at the core of my behavior — in fact, almost all the time when I catch myself doing something stupid or mean and I reflect, “why on earth did I act that way,” it usually comes down to insecurity. Then I think many people feel guilty about what they do but don’t dig in for the causes, and that only makes it more difficult.

    I could give a couple of examples, and while the personal sharing in this blog is compelling, I find it difficult to talk about friends and loved ones on a public forum. But I have people close to me who have had their psyche hurt by parents who were over demanding and critical, and they are struggling not to pass that behavior on their children. I watch someone explode over a tiny error by a child, saying things that must look horrible to the child, a five year old having his mother scream that he’s a messy slob and acts like a baby. But I know this is a breakdown whereby the mother is suddenly out of control, caused not by meanness, an evil will, or hatred of the child, but demons inside from the past and her own difficulties. This person is working hard to overcome them — she’s a very good person.

    Another close friend has a very negative reaction and pessimistic view on all that happens. She has a very difficult time coping with stress, and has had to seek assistance. Yet she is brilliant, admired, successful, and most people don’t know her own struggles. Again, it’s her upbringing, background, and psychological abuse of the distant past. She understands it and works hard to overcome too — and has even studied psychology.

    Both of these people to me are examples of how good people can be warped in small ways by experiences that often were seen as normal — spare the rod, spoil the child, as it were. It makes me think that if we really found a way to focus on bringing up children in a naturing, loving communal atmosphere, the world would change.

    OK, this has been rambly and verbose even for me…

  11. Hi Eve,
    Thank you for this, words fail me, let me mull it over for awhile 🙂

    @Deb,
    I don’t know your circumstances, and I can only offer my own experience. My husband and I gave our lives to Jesus about 9-10 years ago. My hubby had the habit of being belittling, controlling, and pretty much an ogre. He wasn’t like that constantly, but it was often enough to make me feel rather crushed and desperate.

    Even after salvation he was a bully with a bible. For some reason the teachings at my Church about submission caused me to get angry and we started going toe to toe in a way I never did before. Things became intolerable, he threatened divorce because of my “insubordination”. One day I felt convicted, despite my indignation at his behavior and I decided to trust God to fix my marriage. I would hold my tongue. I checked my attitude, countenance, remarks. Sometimes I would go in the bathroom and get on my knees and cry quietly at what I felt was my humiliation.

    One night my husband came home with a stricken look on his face. He sat down and apologized to me, for specific things he did, he NEVER apologized all the years we were together. He said he didn’t know how to be a father or a husband. He was in agony, I wanted God to stop whatever he was doing, I felt so bad for him. From that day on, little by little our relationship improved. He even got on his knees and asked my son to forgive him for the mistreatment he experienced. I consider my husband to be my best friend and I’m not kidding. We enjoy each other’s company so very much.

    I can’t say this is what will happen for you, but if you see a change there is a chance that something spectacular will happen 🙂

    p.s and we don’t go in for that radical submission thing anymore either, if anything he has really gotten in contact with his “feminine” side. He is so kind and compassionate, sometimes I say “What happened to my Caveman?”

  12. I’ve more to add, but this will have to do for now.

    “It greatly upset the other members of Don Quixote’s family and his community to learn he had chosen to believe in himself.” —Sheldon B. Kopp, If You Meet the Buddha on the Road, Kill Him

    “What I must do is all that concerns me, not what people think…you will always find those who think they know what your duty is better than you know it. It is easy in the world to live after the world’s opinion; it is easy in the solitude to live after your own; but the great man is he, who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson

  13. Deb, funny how those great spiritual folks in the past all said that the kingdom of heaven was within, and yet we’re so surprised to find it right here, nearby. I think maybe this is because our life’s experiences can drive us so far away from our true selves, which is where that kingdom is in the first place. Inside.

    I smiled about your experiment because these days I too feel I am experimenting. Every day feels like an experiment at times. Sounds like you’re farming, because if we reap what we sow, then you’re planting a particular kind of seed for later harvest. And evidently it’s working.

    Can you keep it up? I dunno. I only keep it up when I’m mindful of what I’m doing and why. When I forget and am driven to distraction, then I don’t keep it up. You’ll have to let me know if you’re the same way.

    And I find that learning and practice are hard, but harder yet is the idea of going back to what was before. I’d rather have it be hard for awhile, even for a long time. Which it has been. But these days, as I wrote, I’m brought into a broad place. It’s the broadness of it that’s stupefying.

  14. “Well-loved people know that God (by whatever name they know the Divine) is good and supportive, loving and a place of refuge, a deliverer and an eternal Lover.”

    You’re right. I finally learned to listen to my soul, found the divine within me and found a soft place to fall. I found a voice that was kind, compassionate, caring, encouraging, all of the things I’ve been looking for all my life, the things I wish my own parents could have been, the things I wish I could have been for my children.

    I’m learning, ever so slowly but I am learning. The learning is hard, but the practice, the practice is so much harder.

    I am in the middle of an experiment right now. I still wonder about my husband and me. Still waver, still worry. Last weekend I decided to ignore his criticisms and to hold my tongue when I feel like criticizing him and to give him compliments and encouragment. He’s like a different man this week, gentler, kinder, more giving. I think I shall have to continue this experiment longer. Can I keep it up?

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