Friday, February 28, 2014

Your "faith" triggers my fear, so please don't attack me with it.

Doctrines and religious tradition are often proclaimed as sources of spiritual rest, like a pillow* for the soul.

I'd like to point out that these nice-looking coverings of faith quite easily conceal sharp knives, nails, trash, rocks, and glass mixed into the feathers-of-peace in various proportions. Some cases don't have many feathers; and I know for a fact that some people hide fully-developed weapons in there.

Remember this when you jump in for a pillow fight, especially with someone who has been hurt.

They know things can get ugly fast, so they might run away or pull out weapons of mass destruction in defense. And ... they have every reason to believe it is necessary.  You might not have been that severely damaged yet, but that doesn't mean others aren't deeply wounded ... and it may very well have been your pillow that damaged them.

For example:

  • If I see an identity marker on your car, your t-shirt is plastered with propaganda, or you toss faith references into conversation like a secret code ... I'll watch to see how you act before I trust you. 
  • If you blend proclamations of God-endorsement into your cultural opinion and expect me to accept it as truth "because God says" ... you might never figure out who I am because I'll be very tempted to wear a mask to keep you calm. 
  • If you attack people who believe or live differently just because you're afraid of their differences ... then I'm on the side of the helpless or wounded, because adding to oppression isn't loving, no matter what "holy" motives you claim. 

Ignoring the fact that millions of people are stumbling out of faith in a bloody pulp doesn't help verify the protest that ... faith and love are meant to comfort and protect.... So it's safe to hit anyone with something "wrapped" in those terms?

I grew up fully believing that flinging my faith at people saves them. Now I can no longer trust even the most charming individual who wishes to swing anything wrapped in faith at my head anymore, no matter how comforting and restful they consider their faith to be. I know how it feels to be pounded with a case of judge-mental-love, sharper than your average sword, and wielded with all the skill and finesse of an infant copying comic-knights on TV.

These experiences do teach some powerful lessons, though maybe not as intended.

I have a very rich and full measure of experiential faith, and it gives me the confidence to face life.... Still, these days I frequently take everything out of my case and look it over to make sure there are no weapons or trash hidden inside. I strongly believe my faith is not meant to be used as a weapon or even set up as an ideal for others.... It's simply where I rest. I keep a lot of questions in there to remind me to stay gentle and loving.

I'll enjoy showing the contents to you ... if you're not threatening me with your own case of faith. These experiences are important to me, after all, and I'm interested to see what you have learned, too.

But first, let's put the pillows down, so nobody gets hurt.


*Heh ... this illustration is strained to the breaking point ... I like the effect though.

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Love cannot wear the shield of fear

I hope to speak the soul out loud, though words don't always shape themselves around these concepts. It's been a while since I posted. Three half-written posts fade into data-diffusion, abandoned in the shadows. They weren't what I was trying to say.

I'm learning to live. It's becoming more and more clear that there are two of me.
  1. The self-mask of fear and doubt
    - I wear masks, fearful of what the *other* will think.
    - I tremble behind a veil of diversion, attack before you attack me.
    - What you think of me matters. I count numbers and likes.
    - I must know and be certain, so I can move ahead.
    - I long to be admired, accepted, respected.
    - Love me. Like me. Choose me! I need more.
    - I'm hurt. I'm afraid. I'm upset.
    -  Am I who you think I am? Who am I?
  2. A living patterned in love
    - There is nothing to fear, for love is our unity and protection.
    - Let us lift our veils of fear and reflect each other's light.
    - To be real is more important than unclear reflections and followers.
    - Rather than knowing, I am here to discover and experience.
    - No reputation can trump who I am, ragged or smooth.
    - Love flows from its source. Let me love you.
    - No pain, sorrow, grief, or shame is greater than the growth offered in exchange.
    - I am ... from the beginning designed to realize ... this life in every moment.

I can live out of one space or the other, but not both. 

When I attempt "love through fear" I wear a wall and poke small holes of condescension or concern, then slip my offering with gloved fingers to be caught by the *other* or to fall into the dust. 

After all the effort, I am offended when my contribution isn't recognized. "I tried so hard! You wasted it!" 

Or if they accept, the gift comes wrapped with the inevitable pain of encountering my fear.  

Love is simply present and unassuming. Love is vulnerable and secure. 

Love looks past the fear that twists the vision of those who cause harm, and recognizes the trapped soul hidden beneath that shell as one-who-is-like-me. And so love forgives the soul within the shell for being lost, alone, confused, over-confident, and afraid ... because I am so often there, too.

So when my false self steps forward to act out the traditional plays. When my feelings rise up to scream that I am threatened. When I'm angry, bitter, lonely, or completely right ... 

I'm learning to step back and say, "Ah, she thinks that she is me, again. What lie is she reacting to this time?" 

And the answer to that lie is always ... to love and be loved.

I wonder what it will look like to live real?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Loving the wounded ... bearing witness with courage

It is a raging kind of agony to encounter the wounds others have left in a life I consider precious. I don't know what to do or say ... perhaps there is nothing I can do or say.

And when the response to my offer of connection is a firm request to stay away (even though I am treasured) and leave their pain alone; saying that it is enough to value me at a distance loving others and they desire nothing more than to be left behind their walls?

I feel like a traitor to accept that limitation. And yet, given the wounds so easily seen, to ignore this request would only be another act of disrespect in a long line of betrayal.

I want to storm into the past and find the weapons that drove my friend into the darkness. I want to fling the words and actions aside before they strike and tell the blind fools who couldn't see the treasure to open up their eyes.

It is all I can do to honor the suffering of others by seeing it clearly, especially when there is nothing I can do to change the story. It is a constant, ragged scream of agony that leaves me feeling torn, weak, and useless. It would be easier to ignore destruction and pretend not to see. Not only in beloved friends, but the myriad of others in similar circumstances....

Easier ... but then I would be part of the darkness as well.

When I have the chance, I will reach out.... Though I cannot heal the world on my own, I can at least be different than those who unthinkingly or consciously destroy. And if I find a way ... I will live a healing life!

I will!

Oh, I hope I can find the strength ...

Inside my own heart I contain the capacity to wound others.
By my own actions I could cause such injury that it lasts a lifetime.

When I see the consequences of such disregard in others, I am driven to turn upon my own tendency toward fear, separation, and judgement and raise a guard against such tragedy with love, connection, and acceptance. Can I protect even the few I am capable of reaching? I don't know.

I will at least do this much.

I will choose to allow the light to rule my life, though I risk suffering under the grinding attack of darkness to do so.

Beneath that vast footprint, I will find the discarded treasures.

If there is only a single drop of beauty left in this world, then that is what I will cherish.

I will search and find hope in the darkest places.

If this is all I can do, then I will invest the best of my ability in loving well.

I hope, someday, if I am ever invited into my friend's injured heart ... that I will not cause further harm.