This photo I took today on my hike is symbolic of everything I feel. I’m pushing up through the gunk to get to the light.
When I was young I wrote all the time. Looking through my diaries and journals, you’d wonder if I was ever happy. One diary even had the first half ripped out with the new page declaring, A new start. Who needs a new start in 4th grade? I was deep. Too deep. Too thoughtful. Too sensitive. As an adult, when I thought about pursuing a writing career, I dug excitedly through my old writing to uncover the gems of my childhood genius. What I found was absolute crap. It was depressing. I felt disdain for myself and my insights at such a young age. I decided then that I would no longer write about sad things. So when my dad came to me in a dream after his death and asked me to write his story, I was tentative. But something beautiful happened. I began to figure out how to write from a place of hope. Losing my father was a transformative experience in my life. It was a story of bittersweetness. Ultimately, I am sure it’s the story he meant for me to write.
It is a love story of my father and mother. It is a story of rebirth and the many gifts and lessons that come from losing someone you love so deeply. But there is no way around it, it is also a story of deep grief that I have disowned, misunderstood and carried through most of my life. Today as I was hiking with my son I found myself wondering, is life this bittersweet for everyone?
In the same moment, I realized that my little boy who is the manifestation of love, is also the manifestation of all my fears around loss and suffering. Have any of you experienced this? Everything that I was able to skillfully suppress until having a child, was now everything I had to feel. He was a beacon of light that shined on my vulnerability.
When I saw this bud today, so earnestly and naturally growing towards the light, I felt empathy for myself. So what if I am not New Age shiny and perfect. I have never been more acutely aware of the necessity to balance spiritual idealism with the down and dirty business of living my life. I learned that spirituality is not a place to hide out, but just like the tiny bud, is a process. It is not the duality. I am good or bad, I am happy or sad. It is just I am.
In my formative years, I grew up with a religious and well-intentioned father who had such impatience for my frightened heart. He was always trying to talk me out of my depth and it hurt me. But in the end he saw me. He has come to me many times since his passing. I see that maybe my being reflected his shadow side, just as my son triggers my shadows. It is so beautiful when we are able to see that our loved ones step up to teach us and inform our growth along our path. But it is not always easy.
I’ve stood on the sidelines for so long, bearing what seemed like deep untruths to me about healing. But I was not brave enough to speak my own truth. Part of writing this blog is that place where I say it aloud. Your story matters. I’m not sure why or how it came to be believed that what we live through, the very lessons that are written in the stars, are meant to be dismissed!
What I have come to learn, in humility, over and over again, is that we can idealize our spirituality as much as we’d like. But we come to this place to live. I can only re-quote one of my favorite lines of the author Julie Peters. “We are already free, we are already divine, and our work in this world is to decide what bonds we want to cultivate, what work and relationships we choose to connect ourselves to so that we can live our short lives to the best of our ability. We are not bound beings trying to get free. We are free beings trying to get bound.” So let’s just enjoy the human experience while we are human and realize that it is through deeply reaching into our uniqueness that we find our spiritual truth again and again.
In this season leading up to Easter (my father’s motorcycle accident was on Holy Saturday), I’ve had many intense musings about Jesus. Why was He really made flesh. I have always struggled with why I interpreted His time on the cross to mean something entirely different than what I was taught. But I think that is a story for next time. Until then embrace who you are and why you came here. It’s a honor to be here! In every bittersweet and poignant moment of imperfection. Because that very imperfection is the portal through which you can find peace, to where you can enter God.
Luckily for me, a crazy little Libra, I will always seek to balance spiritual idealism with the urge to honor this beautiful messy life. It’s my God given superpower. Do you know yours?