I was watching a rerun of Craig Ferguson’s old talk show. Craig was talking about the reason why he was leaving the show. He felt he had done it enough and was ready to move on. So Kimmel says this, or words to this effect. “I was driving to the Playboy Mansion and dreading having to be there. Then I realized that I dread everything.”
The ego dreads everything because it always feels underprepared in one way or another. It actually is, being made up of nothing but doubts and fears it tries to convert into certainty and self-assurance. That self-doubt is what advertising is built on. It sows the same old seeds in our heads—that we are almost okay, but would be helped by trying a little bit harder to gain approval. It never works.
That is the situation, as Vernon Howard would say. Then what is the solution? I am taking a shot in the dark, but I think that seeing the situation clearly is to already be moving out of it. Why keep trying harder for people that are doing the same thing you are doing. They won’t admit it, of course. But you are reading this because you are tired of falling into the same old traps again and again.
Be yourself. You already are. Might as well get some mileage out of it.
That One Negativity
I remember Vernon Howard saying that all negative thoughts are connected. That allowing one negative thought opens the door to all of them to rush in and overwhelm us. That is why it is vital to remember this and take the time to get up and close the door.
You will have to work with this on a daily basis, as negativity turns up that often! As the Bible says, “Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” In other words, don’t borrow trouble. Work on the current negativity.
Most of this is an unconscious rumble. A general feeling of disquietude. A wish to batten down the hatches of your sinking state of mind. Trying to make yourself safe does no good because that is coming from your ego. You just have to watch your thoughts as you say “See next thought.”
This is an exercise given by Vernon. “See next thought.” Yes, just watch your mind, alert to the next negativity that will creep in unnoticed. Watch it. Just watch it. Remembering that your job is to witness what has previously been unnoticed. This is your way out, your safe place in the storm.
There is only one way to find safe haven for me. I sit and enter the peace above the opposites. It is always there. (Lo, I am with you always.)
Silence sits with me and the opposites fall away, for they are noisy and judgmental.
Seeing instead of being seen.
Listening instead of being heard.
Knowing instead of being known.
I am safe, silent and at peace.
As soon as I rise from my chair, the noise will begin its work of making me forget the silence. That is why I return to silence again and again during the day.
Laughter now is possible, but with no malice. Tears may fall but they do nothing but soften the earth of the heart.
Now and again, a force of nature hurls itself against the haven and I batten down the hatches, as they say. It is my right and privilege to do this, to enforce the peace.
I am one and I am alone always. So are you. He might as well have said, “This day you shall be with me in paradox.” That’s how love works in this messy place we ourselves have created. No matter how dark our past, the light is loving us beyond measure.
Every Day A Challenge
Every day is a challenge if you are open to it. We work as if there were no tomorrow, if you will. The work, for me this lifetime, is to witness what I am actually like. Surprisingly, this takes the edge off my judgment of other people. Compassion belongs only to the witness, not to the ego. Let’s be very clear about that.
There should be no guilt about being wrong. Guilt belongs to the ego. All negativity does. So when I get up in the morning, I go about the business of being human with all of its fallen nature. I try to be moderate, but often fail. I am a nitpicker and micromanager of myself. Not such a happy thing to be. But it also makes me a meticulous observer. There is good and bad in everything.
I am loathe to try new things but courageous in bearing what is given me to bear. I am an unholy paradox, the perfect candidate for mercy and forgiveness. So are you, dear friend. So are we all.
Vernon Howard taught the truth. Now that he is gone, I am learning goodness. That is right order. If you stop at truth, you remain off-putting and hostile. Goodness tempers this. Goodness is the final teaching. It is a teaching of the heart and not the head.
Vernon knew this, but seldom used the word “heart” or “love.” He was working with recalcitrant egos and had to first bring them under control. That he did. From his first words I knew I belonged to him. I had deep respect for what he said. And what he said rang with condemnation of all that was false about us. If you reject someone pointing out your weaknesses, you will not grow.
So today matters. Today I see how wrong I am, so that tomorrow I may be right. There is an expression, “The Work will find a way. The light will cure us.” So be it and amen.
Such inner silence these days, accompanied by the anxiety I have had since I was a teenager. It will not go away; I just have to accept it without fighting it too much. Beyond that, there is a calmness gained by the years I have spent being faithful to witnessing what I am really like. I am a mess, as are we all.
Not the angry mess I used to be, but a watered-down version as I get older and have fewer challenges to meet. I experience grace easily and feel gratitude pouring from my heart. It is a time of great peace.
Rob and I are going to visit my sister soon. We will be gone a week and when I get back, there is that big deck repair project lying in wait. The holidays are rushing towards us, folks. They always do. I have bags of Halloween candy stashed in the pantry and keep breaking into them.
Spirituality is not what you think it is. It is what you are, but what you are can deepen and grow while your messy ego life is being eradicated. On with the show!
The man who is doing some house repairs for me came this morning. Before he began work, we chatted for a bit. Turns out we have much in common. He had cancer in his thirties, married late and now has a little girl who is six years old. I told him about my daughter being a patient at St. Jude’s and losing Bob as well.
Cancer survivors are a special breed. We understand how precious life is. Of course I never had it myself but caregivers endure their own hell.
To share the hell with people is rare. Turns out he is a Sagittarius and his wife is a Scorpio. Bob was a Sag and me a Scorpio, so there is another common bond.
We spoke of the impossibility of shaking the cancer history off. Every twinge or ache breaks a fear of recurrence.
He looks healthy and is definitely grateful to have put the hard cancer years behind him. It has left him with an openness and kindness that filled me with a soul sweetness not often found between those who have not experienced the hell that cancer brings.
It has turned nippy today. He should finish up with the repairs by the end of the day. I am going to stop now and have a cup of coffee. Cheers!
Vicki enjoys getting donations occasionally. She writes for free, however. She would write regardless. It is her calling. It came from the depths of her sorrow. Now she is getting freer all the time. Grace is often at her side as she writes. Perhaps it is always present.
Think of it this way. A knitter makes things for people and does not charge. But if someone gives her balls of yarn occasionally, she is filled with delight.
I am speaking of myself in the third person, as if I am watching her peck away at the keyboard, but in reality she does not exist. Then why does she fall into fear and anxiety so often? I don’t know; I just know that her flaws inform her words.
I write this because I received a donation from someone this morning. I may take Vicki to lunch. You see, not only does she enjoy writing, she also enjoys her time away from the task. The task is not the writing, but the details that go into it. You might look at it this way. Nothing is free in this world except life and death. In between, human beings remain quite human. Vicki is not exempt from this situation. She calls on God but sometimes He puts her on hold. Perhaps to develop patience. Or maybe He answers her before she asks. And then her cup runneth over.
To my gentle readers, some of you donate now and then and I accept this with gratitude. Just as some never have and never will and I accept this as well. But an occasional lunch is a pretty cool thing….
Sometimes people say I should not dwell on my past losses. And to that I offer a quote from Robert Brault. “”It is a rare blessing — the love that stands in your shadow and considers it shade.”
I am not sure what Robert means by that, but I will put my own interpretation on it. The shadow of grief caused by losing a child follows you the rest of your life. Why not use it as I have done? It has been therapy for me to write about it in 2 ways. The first is that it offered me a safe place to record my feelings. The second is that it offers others who have suffered losses a place to sigh and let go. “Someone else has been through this and survived.”
As I type, the handyman knocks at my door. He is here to patch a bird hole in the cedar, among other jobs. He has come to show me a picture he just took of the bird poking its head out of the hole! He assures me he will knock loudly to scare it out before he patches the hole. We don’t know what kind of bird it is. It is large and brown.
Life is a mystery. My first book, “Life with a Hole in It” was about losing my husband to cancer. It has helped people deal with loss. My life will never be picture postcard perfect. But I consider it a blessing that sometimes people consider my writings to be shade.
I have moved on, had healings and am often consciously in a state of grace. But there is always the little grave in a cemetery with its stone that reads: “Christ in you the hope of glory.” Amen.