Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Realm of Truth

My friend Ali is so wise spiritually, though I don't think she'd own that. Dealing with her third round of cancer, she is a beacon of light, hope and clarity. There must be something about facing death straight on that brings one closer to Spirit. 

I began to watch a Netflix movie entitled "I am" about a successful Hollywood director who, when facing a debilitating post-concussion syndrome from a biking accident, isolates himself to cope with the pain and decides he wants to die. In that moment, he begins to see that his life of chasing the American dream, becoming rich, successful and famous is a lie and he intends to expose it. So, he takes a small crew and interviews religious and environmental leaders, philosophers and writers posing two questions: What is wrong with our world? What can we do about it?

From the half-hour portion I watched, interviewees suggest that Darwin's survival-of-the-fittest theory has instilled a non-natural competitive drive into Americans, the result of which is the economy we worship. We act as if the economy is a real thing, not a man-made invention, one commentator states. It also drives the consumerism of other countries and cultures. Among animals and untainted indigenous people, cooperation is valued over competition. There is a deep, natural connection that we are missing.

Ali calls it EGO: Edging God Out. I love that. She's had her own wake-up call about career and, just this week, is leaving a successful position with all of the trappings. "What do I need all of that for?" she asks. "I want to do good in the world." She hasn't recognized that her presence and reliance on God is a shining example of being rather than doing good in the world.

She has an incredible story to tell about turning adversity and hardship into success and cycling back to God. That's hers to tell. However, we had powerful conversations Sunday after worship as we shared lunch and, again, lingering in the parking lot. I am following her model of listening to God and surrendering in my own life. I NEED models. I need people who walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Ali is one who courageously takes that walk closer to Spirit on so many levels.

Alone in the Meetinghouse: my own clearness
Last night I rushed off to a second clearness committee helping me discern Spirit's message. It had been a jammed-packed day getting my daughters prepped to start school next week, schedule pick-ups, supply errands and getting ready for a pack of teens to descend for my youngest's 13th birthday party on Friday. 

Little breathing room, let alone time to process and be ready for more clearness. Then, I realized that I was trying to be clear for my clearness committee. How utterly ridiculous! I'm not totally clear and that IS the point of the process ... other discerning hearts listening to where God is working in me.

I scuttled on over for the 6 o'clock meeting and no one else came. Under some circumstances that would have seemed a disaster. This was as it was meant to be: me alone in my beloved Meetinghouse; just me and Spirit. I waited and worshipped, knowing full well I would be humanly alone. We were working on God's time and direction. There had been a reason for the scheduling snafu.

As I unlocked the door and wandered in, waiting for others, an article on the bulletin board had snagged my attention: Standing Still in the Light: A Spiritual Practice of George Fox.* I took my time, unlocked the library door, found a seat and began to sink into worship, waiting. At first for a committee to appear, then for my heart to unlock and let God in. I played with Fox's practice of:
1. BE STILL and submit to the light. I never liked that word, submit. I took it out of our wedding vows. Sounds like slavery to me. In this context, I understood it to mean the opposite: freedom. I struggled at first with the submitting, but it came. Not a once-and-for-all submission, but one in this moment. And, surrendering all of myself to Spirit, not just the good parts. I must give up the negative ones as well.
2. BE PRESENT. The stillness and emptiness of the Meetinghouse helped ground me in that respect.
3. FEEL, DON'T THINK. Die in the silence, the page had demanded. Die? Really? Yes. Die to the falsity in my life. The lies of our culture. I've been experimenting with feeling something I call Christ energy and I let that invade me in these moments.
4. BE VULNERABLE – stand naked. Sheesh. I had said in my last clearness committee how I felt God was asking me to come out from under props and do that very thing. I feel vulnerable all of the time. Vulnerable and out of place in a world that values success and masks. That's not the world I desire to serve. 
5. ACCEPT THE TRUTH. I was waiting, shielding myself from the litany of my faults. They never came. Much like a shamanic journey years ago when I was so afraid to look in the mirror only to discover beauty, my beauty, and not ugliness, deformity or horror. I have been judging myself based on the world's values, not Spirit's. In God's realm I am being asked to claim my beauty and gifts and share them with a needy world.

My fear is fear and it's an illusion. I remember a pivotal quote from a dear family friend's memorial service, scrawled inside a Bible: "lack of fear is significant."

God is asking me to submit my fear, on that I AM clear.

• Who are my up-close-and-personal models of faith and living?
• What are they teaching me?
• How do I achieve clarity?
• Where is God currently working in my life?
• What am I being asked to submit?

last one picked
for the gym team

the odd one
left out of
the girl-scout

the one who would
never measure up
for the popular clique

who hated the
of the corporate
world, felt chewed
up and spit out

internally scarred
by a car accident

who opted to
be, mostly,
at home
with her kids

who chose to
start a non-profit
for the community's
poorest kids over
a career

not surviving as
the fittest,
yet being
called, guided
and molded by

in another realm,
of Truth

* Steve Smith, A Quaker in the Zendo, Pendle Hill Pamphlet #370

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