Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Burning the empty props

On paper, she's looked terminal and yet she risked it for a tenuous surgery and is on her way back – big time.

On paper, I look ultra healthy, and yet the 15 years of fibro have taken its toll physically, mentally and emotionally. I hadn't understood how I appeared medically until two rounds of routine visits in the last couple of weeks. There are no short-cut answers for the pain, although I see promise in a new med that has helped me sleep. Deep sleep that I had forgotten how it felt. A week in and it hasn't performed every night, but when it has, wow, I feel like a different person. I almost want to say how I used to feel, but I am not that person.

Neither is my mom. She's tougher, more resilient, faithful and good-humored than I ever remember. Her path was clear cut for her. Last minute, she found she was a candidate for surgery and, by golly, she was going for it with the best surgeon for her condition in the world. There were bumps, bruises and a lot of answered prayers along the way but, in some respects, she's better than pre-surgery. In others, she's still struggling and engaged in the healing process. Anyone she ever consulted with told her it would be a good year to know how the surgery took. At one month, she moved out of the Cleveland Clinic. At three, she came home from rehab. At four, she and my dad traveled to Florida for a month. At five, she's bent on solving the riddle of her vision disturbances.

Her risk seems to be paying off, which leads me to ask, what have I risked? My typing stops dead at that question. Not sure I have an answer, but growing more certain that risk is where Spirit is leading.

I understand my life path has been irrevocably altered, steering me away from mainstream culture and into a more contemplative mode. In learning to deal with the pain, I have had to deal with myself, shadow and all – and not always so gracefully. Alone in God's presence, mostly. The work is far from complete. The more I do, I see the more there is to do. Stopping, again. I am re-calibrating with that last phrase "the more there is to do." Yes, there is more, but it is out of my control. So much in 15 years has seemed out of my control: my health, my life, my career, my relationships. I keep reading that it's the props Spirit wants us to drop as we enter into deeper communion. Can't say I have always dropped them willingly, but I have dropped many of them.

Last summer, during an unusually vivid time of spiritual formation, Spirit specifically told me I didn't need any props, such as a book, blog or studio. I had not ever heard that term used in a spiritual sense until some Lenten meditations and now I can't seem to avoid it.

Is Spirit asking me to risk the props? Just as my mom was willing to lay her physical life on the line, am I being asked to lay my ego on the line? To let go of projections for name and fame. I've let go of a lot of it, but not all of it. Fear and doubt have also been my props. What would it look like if I surrendered the fear? I sure know what it looks like not to and it's not a pretty picture. I feel so divided, longing to follow God, but feeling caught by daily life, expectations and responsibilities.

Both my shaman and new spiritual director have suggested I burn off those props, the things that no longer serve me or never did. So, I light a candle each time I enter my studio as a virtual reminder. I cut sheets of paper in the shape of logs and have begun to fill the pages with the things I wish to surrender. Next time I meet with my spiritual director, we'll burn them. So far I have: fear, doubt, anger, worthlessness, judgment, disease and lack of trust. I can't even conceive of how much lighter life would without those.

Do I dare?

• How do my paper and real personas fit?
• How is Spirit shaping my persona?
• Who models surrender for me?
• What am I being asked to surrender?
• What can I burn off?

since meeting
her really big goal,
well, shall we say
her second

surviving surgery
was number one

my mom's been
a bit down about
some of the
minor complications

while everyone else
trumpets her remarkable

she mirrors my own
tendency to downplay
the gifts and path
I have been given,
comparing them to
what the world

when I can burn
the empty props,
I see how rich
I truly am

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