Dear Miracle

Setting free the beautiful truth inside.


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Swallowing the Demon

PicMonkey PhotoThis is what I woke up to this morning—sunlight streaming through my window, a brilliant blue day out there. Somebody turned a light on inside my head.

Unusual for February in the Pacific Northwest when the temps are normally quite chilly and the sky overcast, and when the gray seeps through everything, including yourself.

But we seem to be having long stringed days of uncommon weather, missing our freeze, warming everything so that even though it is not officially spring, it is springing, nonetheless. In propitious pinks and milky white cherry blossoms, in fat fisted dogwoods and citron yellow crocuses peeking their heads above the earth.  Which doesn’t usually happen until the end of March into April.

Someone got their memos mixed up.

Expect the unexpected, they say. Like in everything. That’s how it is in life. Just when you get settled in to your humdrum routine or you’ve run out of answers to most everything, life decides to rearrange itself again around you, and you have to figure it all out or it figures it for you—and sometimes in the most delightful ways you never saw coming after a dark winter.

I’ve had a burning question inside of me for a while now, going back and forth on. One minute decided what I’m to do, and the next vacillating. And though there are no neon signs over my head pointing the exact way to go, there seems to be some kind of bright encouragement being broadcasted right here in my own living room telling me to keep stepping forward, like notes from some higher plane unexpectedly showing up when I need them the most. Like this morning. Zingers from the Universe, kind of like paper airplanes zipping all around or bouncing off my head, chock full of illuminated insight written into their folds and wings, like why didn’t I think of that? Simple, brilliant, wonderfully uplifting and motivating.

Just a couple months ago, I was fresh out of everything, which makes it all the more rousing and thrilling now.

Well, you’re not ready ‘till you’re ready, I suppose. And spring around these parts was ready much before anyone thought it should it be. At least this month.

So here’s the thing:  Sometimes you just have to be brave and take risks—do that thing you’ve been contemplating for a while. Put your big toe in the water and start even if it all seems kind of muddified (I know that’s not really a word, but I just made it one) at the moment. Sometimes that is what it takes to make things clear. The water doesn’t clear and the answers don’t come until you actually commit to the risk through action. Some action, even the smallest one is a beginning.  (And maybe that small action might even be asking for help or admitting a secret that’s been tearing you up for awhile.)

Sometimes you think you’re not ready, not prepared enough, don’t have the right answers yet. You might be mistaken to assume that idea so quickly. Dig a little deeper. What is really holding you back? You might fail or embarrass yourself?  Public opinion? You might die? Well, you just might. Any of these things can happen. That’s the risk you take being alive every day—and we are all terminal in the end. Yet maybe, just maybe, you are being given another chance to live in a brand new way, a chance to make up your own song, start your own blog, develop your best ideas into something phenomenal. It could take some time, and there will be mistakes and learning curves. It doesn’t have to be perfect—that’s not the point–unless you are developing lifesaving equipment.

This morning, as spring was springing just outside my door, everything was conspiring in my favor, informing me that all the traumas of the past are about to become my greatest strengths. Everything I have been through, and like you, it has probably been plenty, contributes to the strength of my tomorrows if I allow it and move forward toward that thing I’ve been thinking about. Like forever.

From Joseph Campbell in The Power of Myth, I’ll share what sprung me out of my sleepy head and into the clear light of the day:

There is an important idea in Nietzsche, of Amor fati, the “love of your fate,” which is in fact your life. As he says, if you say no to a single factor in your life, you have unraveled the whole thing. Furthermore, the more challenging or threatening the situation or context to be assimilated and affirmed, the greater the stature of the person who can achieve it. The demon that you can swallow gives you its power, and the greater life’s pain, the greater life’s reply.

And this:

“The struggle against an obstacle inevitably propels the fighter to a new level of functioning. The extent of the struggle determines the extent of the growth. The obstacle is an advantage, not adversity. The enemy is any perception that prevents us from seeing this.” Ryan Holiday in The Obstacle is the Way

Maslow says, “What one can be, one must be.”

I know I don’t want to die with all these beautiful words left inside me. I want to give them away, to scatter them everywhere. And whatever it takes to get there, whatever the obstacle, I’m okay.  I’ve been thinking about these words of mine since I was five years old. If not now, when? And the universe seems to think I’m ready, so who am I to argue with that? There are some upcoming and real challenges that lie directly in my path over the next several months, but I am committing to whatever it takes to embrace them and move through them to the best of my ability—and that is all I can ask for. Do my best—yes. And  let go of all self-recriminating thoughts when I don’t or it’s not perfect enough. I’m practicing at this whole thing called human life.

Today I am filled with overwhelming gratitude, as I stick my toe in the water and swallow the demon, for all the challenges and obstacles in my life today as I think about all the beautiful good it is propelling me to in my life. And it feels huge.

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The Way of Angels

forest-river-646x433
  I am a river sluicing past canyon walls,

  splashing at the bends before 

  settling down again.

  Little whitecaps belie the deep undertow

 of quiet and knowing repose

  rushing through my belly below.

And following a predestined path set before

over a million years and more,

I do not hammer or drive into the stone 

at my side—it is with instinctive ease

that I bend and twist and glide.

I have no need to resist what lies ahead

as I wash on by.

Let the howling winds chip away the stone,

let the rain drive a wider channel—

 I am going the way of angels.

 

© 1997 Shoshana Wolfington


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Eating Dandelions

My friend’s dog loves dandelions.Dandelion Fields

She loves to eat these bright yellow stars.

To her they must taste good.

Hard to imagine, although it’s said they’re edible.

Apart from the occasional dandelion salad or tea,

humans usually regard them with disdain—a stain

upon our impeccable yards

as we rush around with our clippers and mowers

or attempt to pull them up by their roots from which

they usually pull back.

It’s at the roots you’ve got to get them.

A good dose of Weed-B-Gone usually does it

as they shrivel up, turn brown and breathe their

last little breath.  Sigh . . .

Yet, dandelions are durable little fellows for all our extermination

attempts against their short-lived lives—

bright, small stars, faces to the sky, just happy to be alive.

© 1997 Shoshana Wolfington


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What Fundamentalists Need for Their Salvation

 

Falling SkyI wish the following excerpt were written by me, but it’s not. It comes from David James Duncan, “What Fundamentalists Need for Their Salvation”, Orion Magazine. He, like me, cut his teeth on fundamentalism, so we both know a bit about it. I want to share a brief excerpt with you as it strikes a deep chord within me that I, myself, aspire to, but don’t always live up to.

The article was written during the era of President G.W. Bush, however, the author makes numerous salient points that could be applied to any extremist belief system. There is a middle path between the far left or the far right points of view. A middle path that would unite rather than divide, that would find the commonality in us all rather than the differences. Extremism, hate driven zealotry whether coming from Christian, Muslim or Jew or any other religious or political ideology, seldom comes to any good end.

“True evangelism based on the example of Jesus (whether you believe in him or not–my words) does not suggest the ‘missionary zeal’ of self-righteous proselytizers. It implies, on the contrary, the kind of all-embracing universality evident in Mother  Teresa’s prayer: May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in.” Not just fellow nuns, Catholics, Calcuttans, Indians. The whole world. It gives me pause to realize that, were such a prayer said by me and answered by God, I would afterward possess a heart so open that even hate-driven zealots would fall inside. There is a self-righteous knot in me that finds zealotry so repugnant, it wants to sit on the sidelines with the like-minded, plaster our cars with bumper stickers that say, ‘Mean People Suck’ and ‘No Billionaire Left Behind’ and ‘Who Would Jesus Bomb?’,  and leave it at that. But my sense of the world as a gift, my sense of a grace operative in this world despite its terrors, propels me to allow the world to open my heart still wider, if the openness comes by breaking–for I have seen the whole world fall into a few hearts, and nothing has struck me as more beautiful.”


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Wild Roses

Wild Roses2We are all wild roses

growing in reckless disarray far

from the trellis with its measured lines and squares.

Out of control and knee deep in weeds and fallen leaves—

the rich compost of soil below.

Insects that come to feast on our decay,

is perfection, indeed.

Indeed, everything is trying to help us live

even in our dying.

 

Give up trying to sanitize your life away.

Life never works like this.

You are not as together as you would like to believe.

Give up your dreams of enlightenment—

let it find you while you go out and live.

Fall down and get up again—let it be worse or better than

you ever imagined.

 

Dear, you must surrender to the beauty in everything

before you can really know anything.

 

© 2015 Shoshana Wolfington


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MERCY

Mercy

Photo by S. Wolfington

 It takes courage to tell you this

at the risk you’ll think less, nevertheless, I will.

I’ll tell you what depression is—like this—

a barren land leaning into forever,

a dark annhilation; it’s a

void of hope or imagination

when hell comes to pay a call.

And here’s the secret: I was just there.

But most of you would never know.

(You might even be there now, too.)

Truth as I saw it then, this life had been enough,

I was done.

But you think like that when you’re in hell.

And so began to envision, with each glass of water

that passed my lips, what I could do

with that and a few or more pills.

I didn’t exactly plan that I would, only imagined it so,

how it could be.

There was no more room for anything–

not in the cruelness of men or the ghosts denied, or

the self-deprivations while acting strong for everyone

visiting all at once in my life.

Orphans each of emotions

looking for the smallest drink of love.

Not that I wasn’t loved.

Not that I didn’t love in return, not that I didn’t care.

No, it wasn’t that at all.

It was the driest white bone of exhaustion,

all the lifetimes lived in the space of one.

It was like a gift

as I see it now.

I’ll tell you what strength is—like this—

strength is taking one small move in mercy’s direction,

even a flinch or a step,

towards whom and wherever it might be found.

When all you can say to anyone with kindness in their eyes,

to whatever’s holy or sacred paying attention,

help me, please.

And I did, because my life was leaving me,

just like the sea rushing back from the shore.

A gift, indeed.

A profound breaking, a leaving, then

a sad resurrection towards the miraculous while those that could,

in compassion, seen and unseen, walk me back to myself,

back to a kind of confounding beauty,

an uncertainty of what was to come.

And it was enough.

(We’re never really alone.)

Were I to be honest, the pull towards leaving

still haunts me once in awhile

when I imagine drinking that cup while tired, I forget

that mercy waits just past the next corner, the next fork in the road.

And I remember nothing is for certain for any of us,

and life and death have a way of reminding us

there’s nothing to control.

It’s a coming home again to myself,

wherein between staying or leaving,

I need only extend myself a whit to say help

to ask for mercy, please,

when hope is lost.

© 2015 Shoshana Wolfington