Response To World Amok? Let The Soul Self Steer.

I want the real things of life. I want to sprint toward the shimmering edges, where the veil between the sacred there and the holy here meet.

Can I not just lose myself in the tasks of daily life with littles? Can I not just placate my hungry soul with the purchase of an Anthropologie candle? No. I have tried that already.

I wonder if anyone else is dishing up applesauce and wiping down highchairs thinking these thinks or feeling these feels. Aren’t we all just trying to make it through the day and find that one skillet dinner the whole family will enjoy? We are.

And also . . .

There is the undercurrent of our lives. That true self. That soul self deep inside gently asking to emerge.

I am discontented to not let that self steer the family wagon. What wild inconvenience. What wonderful trajectory.

But when the whole world feels like it serves only platters of anger or numbness on menu, how do we navigate? When all we consume during the day is the dissonance of people and media and worry and genuine rage and fear, what do we do for those of us who acutely feel it all? How are we a bridge without being stepped on? How do we proceed with both our day to day and our big picture?

If you’re anything like me, you probably need to return to nature and playfulness and time with your people to recenter yourself. You probably need moments to remember what you truly believe inside.

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We pile backpacks by the door with abandon and speed away from usual after school routine for the beach. I need the spaciousness of sea and sky. I need to feel the sting of the cold water on my shins and sliding sand on my toes. I need grounding.

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I come to hear laughter gurgle out of my kids. The sound of healing.

I come to disconnect myself from the dissonance on my screen.

I come to connect my daily task self with my silly self with my introspective self. I am all these personas at once.

I come to drink in the beauty of nature, sloppy greedy gulps as the antidote of an empathetic person living in a world on fire. I take in the beauty and exhale yes. I wait at the water long enough for the warm autumn winds to dry my hair and long enough to craft a creed.

Yes, I still believe people are good inside.

Yes, I still believe people want opportunities to express generosity to others.

Yes, I still believe we get to be hope for others.

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I watch the ocean move and am reminded this is the way of our lives. There is what can be seen on the surface, choppy wave or calm current, then there are entire realms still becoming known below. Like the ocean, we can hold the tension of both. We can attend to the daily tasks and tend to the deeper ponderings within. We can live among the clashes and still have peace inside.

When I forget, I come back to the water as physical reminder. So often I retreat into my head and my heart – which is good and needed – more and more I am finding I need to birth that inward life into physical expressions. Do you have a process for your processing?

I leave you with a poem I have tucked into my pocket lately. It is wisdom poetry from Sue Monk Kidd. I hope you will find as much treasure in it as I have.

To be fully human, fully myself,

To accept all that I am, all that you envision,

This is my prayer.

Walk with me out to the rim of life,

Beyond security.

Take me to the exquisite edge of courage

And release me to become.

Roadtripping to Reclaim Our Skin

 

A myth has been following me in the way Mother Universe and Auntie Time will place a theme repeatedly before us until curiosity can’t turn away. It is the myth of the Seal Skin – a mythical creature from the sea trades her seal skin for a life on land, becomes a mother then makes hard choices and goes on a journey to reclaim her seal skin as passage to return to her origins and share that part of her with her child. Now, if that’s not a direct translation to motherhood, I’m not sure what is.

Over the past few years, I’ve been on a search for my own misplaced seal skins.

This summer, my oldest three and I drove from San Diego to Yellowstone and back. The unexpected happiness was discovering previously lost seal skins all along the way. Over two-thousand miles of KidzBop, Chexmix, loose expectations, and national parks, and each mile a reclamation of parts of me that have been missing or dormant.

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Here’s what I know:

This earth is so, so beautiful. Take notice. Let it overwhelm you. Then use it up. 

The land. The sky. The people. Do you ever get overwhelmed at the sheer beauty of it all and whoosh an exhale when you didn’t even realize you had been holding your breath? The canyons and clouds are poetry just be being and I receive it in awe. But as a favorite current theologian of mine, Butler Bass, says, awe in itself is not the point of spirituality. “Awe is the gateway to compassion.” I love that.

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The gift really is the journey, not the destination as annoyingly trite as that truth sounds. 

I love not knowing exactly what the day holds. I love having a destination point, but filling in the details as we go. I love unexpected finds along the way and being surprised by the joy of it all. Road trips birth free-form  filling a day in a way the structured routine of our daily life simply cannot.

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Making decisions on the fly…seal skin.

Honestly? Making authoritative decisions without checking in with another person at all…seal skin.

Taking detours to explore new experiences…seal skin.

Saying yes to the fun of hotel swims before breakfast and unlimited fruit snacks…seal skin.

Curiosity. Playfulness. Seal skin. Space for introspection and perspective. Seal skin.

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So the trick is translating all the life-giving forms back into our everyday life. I don’t have all the answers yet. But I have been given the gift of remembering what it is like to reclaim parts of me that have been gone and for that I will maintain gratitude and renewed fervor to be wholly me to my family and not fade into a role, because what they don’t need is a generic mommy/wife figure. What they need is a wholly, vibrant ME swimming in my seal skin and showing them the mystical lands available to experience themselves.

 

I’m going to continue on this journey. I’m going to try.

Have you misplaced your seal skin?  I hope you, too, will search to reclaim it and use it to dive into the deep beyond.

 

 

What Dreams Reveal

I stand in a meadow at dusk.

The last light of day sweeps waist deep wild grasses in shimmer-shadows of purple and silver.

My twenty-two year old self stands facing me. She smiles her freckle smile.

Twenty-two year old self looks at me and giggles; practically bounces in her silence. I stare and remember; I used to be bouncy. Yes, I decide. I can be playful again.

We embrace.

I look into her eyes long enough to notice the speckle-sparkle brown within. Fewer creases mirror back.

Then, with tenderness, I give her permission to go. She recedes into the grove near the meadow’s edge and I continue toward to mountain.

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Maybe you don’t believe in the power of dreams.

I do.

I believe dreams can act as a gateway between our subconscious, our soul, and our awakening.

I believe dreams can be a visual guide or a warning or an affirmation.

I believe dreams – no matter the content- invite a curiosity to explore what new or deeper truths there are for us to learn about ourself, our Creator.

If, like me, you have been a vivid dreamer since childhood, I believe God can use the subconscious let-down of our mind in sleep to connect and progress our spiritual development as an adult.

Find this a little whack-a-doodle? To that I say yes. It’s a certain kind of mystical magic that happens when the ancient stardust compounded into the very cells of our being meets the luminal liminal space between our awake and unawake selves under the stars.

I receive the imagery in this particular dream as divine gift and answered prayer to questions I have been asking about my own spiritual deconstruction and progression of faith.

She meets me in the meadow as a reminder that the joyfully alive, playful, most spontaneous parts of my personality are not lost. Dormant perhaps, but still accessible within.

The doctrine and world systems I held as a young adult were beneficial and necessary then, but now I can release them. Release her. I can walk on.

I have dismantled the faith of my college days. I have expanded. I will allow myself to do so. Even if – no- even though I don’t look the same, and both I and my community aren’t sure what to do with that yet. Change happened so gradually over the years. Tiny imperceivable shifts until the accumulative waves have moved me great distances.

Suddenly my church of fifteen years feels estranged.

Suddenly my spouse stares at me as if a stranger to relearn.

What do you do with an expansion of self when you discover the new self no longer fits into the same life?

Their discomfort is not a crisis of my faith I remind myself. Continue.

I fill my lungs with wind and allow myself to be carried forward.

I am changed. I don’t want to go back, but I don’t know the way forward yet.

I am used to moving surrounded by people. I am used to being understood. I am used to being articulate about my beliefs or maybe not needing to be when there is little difference to explain. This new revolution? You don’t know until you know.

I stand on a new ridge overlooking the landscape of my past. Wind whips wild and rejuvenating through me. More God Yes Breath surrounding. Eyes darting wildly in search of a travel companion.

I am alone, but not panicked.

Although millions of adults my age are also in process of dismantling and reconstructing not only their personal faith, but the institution of Christianity (in America especially) as a whole, I am still alone. Just as you are also alone in the unfolding. For the hero’s journey in any classic myth and ancient tale is a solitary revolution of leaving the known place toward the unknown.

Compiling the team of traveling companions for this uncertain road produces a jarring and janky jamble of podcast hosts, authors, and atheists who offer genuine expressions of love to me as I trust the unfolding. I find rest in new spaces and am awash in gratitude for these star guides and these anchorings.

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She waves from the meadow’s edge of my dream, but I don’t see. My gaze is set forward. I lift my face toward the breeze and inhale in thanks as I continue toward the unknown and the yet discovered.