Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Feeling the Pain... Rocking the Baby...

Today and for days to come... I am raw and grieving the loss of my beloved friend Leon. As I process this very complicated… yet very simple grief, I realize I’ve known him far longer, than I have not known him. Grieving and trying to be productive at work is a dance. I try to avoid the pain… I dance away from it... I don’t want to be a basket case there. Some of my colleagues have a “there is no crying at work” mantra.  I have no such illusions, see the box of Kleenex on my desk as evidence. Although Leon and I are not “see each other all the time” friends, we are, “pick up where we left off as if no time had passed” friends. We are "no matter how our lives twist and turn, the essentials of love and friendship remain unchanged" friends. Our daughters grew up as fast friends.  Leon’s wife, Lena, was my dear, close friend. Lena was, in fact the inspiration for the name of this blog (see inaugural post in 2009). She passed… way too young in the late 80’s. That decades old loss still has its own unique burning hurt. When their daughter Melissa came to be married, she asked me to sit with Leon at the wedding, and help with the giving away, in her Mother’s place. I was honoured to show up for her like that... deeply honoured. So no, there is no avoiding this pain, there just isn’t.

Many folks engaged in grief work, from pastors, other spiritual advisors, to therapists and other grief workers suggest that we shouldn't try to avoid the pain we feel at such a loss, but instead should sit with the pain when it washes over us, and truly feel it. Its about keeping company with the pain, while moving forward when we are able. In conversation with one of my most close and compassionate friends, he has likened it to holding a screaming baby, while needing to attend to other things.  "Yes baby... I know... Shhh Shhh" *pat*pat* [go switch the laundry with squawling baby on our hip]. Take a moment, sit in the rocker "its all right baby... there there... I know" [oh crap there's the doorbell] and on and on it goes, being present with our pain, holding it, feeling it, talking it to it, acknowledging it, as we do what we must.  When we do that, we can approach pain and loss from a place of mindfulness, a space where honouring those moments and holding the pain is what is most important.

Those moments of mindfulness and authenticity can be strung together to form a path to a sense of peace and well being… as we consciously connect with the wordless Truth at the center of all that is. This takes time… this takes intentional space giving… this takes breathing and sometimes following the breathcrumbs left for us by loving others when we feel too tight to breathe freely on our own. Some days... we just don't have it in us to be and do all of that.  Some days it's all we can do to breathe, and on THOSE days, taking three deep breaths, can be a blessed miracle.

But I think this is what happens when we invest in being in authentic relationship with others, when we love fiercely and live fully. I know folks who spend a lot of resources shielding themselves from pain, by building walls, keeping distance, and investing minimally or not at all. I believe that this diminishes our Earthly experience, at least it would for me. I for one, am not willing to trade living fully and loving fiercely for a diminished life. The pain, can be immeasurable, but so can the wonder, and the joy of being in relationship, and sharing authentic connection.

The heart that has been broken wide open by life, has enormous capacity for love. That seems to make no sense - but trust me - it totally does! The pain that devastates us through grief and loss, proves that our heart still has immense capacity to feel, that the lotus within us still blooms and thrives in its exotic beauty. The pain is proof that our spirit of compassion hasn't disconnected, seized up, and rusted over. It proves that we are still limber, still connected, and still willing to risk it... all over again.

Probably the only time I will sign a post this way:
Peace Out ~ Lynner ~

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Reflecting... Becoming... Emerging...

Tonight, my inner otter is reflecting - on my process of becoming and on what is emerging. In January... it became "suddenly" clear that I was being called to spiritual work. At that time, there were some clarifying moments, and interactions with some key people that enabled me to finally-FINALLY take my fingers out of my ears, and stop looking around the room like someone else was being spoken to instead of me.  Surely... surely, the Holy Love in the Center of All That is... wouldn't be calling a 50 something, Two Spirit, flawed like crazy, drummer/photographer/artist... to do Interfaith Spiritual work... that wouldn't happen... would it? So in a manner of speaking, I realized that "The Call" was coming in, and that it was for me.  

I was so electrified at very first, so excited, and so kinda-sorta scared outta my mind, like who in the heck was I to do this work?  As I spoke to my go-to people... my wife, the "Pastor Emeritus of my Heart", my best bud, my Pastor... my therapist... the reactions were all exuberant, and all "well DUH!"  Certainly the ways they were communicated to me were not the same - but the support, the effusive love, the offers of mentoring - were all of the same ilk. It also seems like I was the last one to recognize this in myself. At least I was the last one to consciously see the potential to be a Spiritual Care Provider in myself and name it.  

I have been reflecting and looking back, into past emails, into journals of the wordish variety and of the image-crafted variety and it looks like maybe, I have been trying to tell myself that something was about to, or trying to burst forth - for some time. One such example is this drawing journal entry. What I thought I was getting at with this piece, was not sealing myself up so tight in protecting myself from past trauma, that the light can't flow through. That was absolutely
part of the work, but what strikes me now about this piece is also, how much the face I drew for myself, looks like my Mother in some ways, and how the moon is over my left shoulder (my spiritual side), how the yellow streaming in - is a representative colour of the element of fire, how the blue that is streaming out is a representative colour for the element of water. Water and fire are complimentary, or paired elements, they balance each other. The borning of this piece came from a song by Terry Gonda entitled "Calls You." The pertinent part of the lyric goes "may you let your armour crack, and let the light flow through, may you see it streaming out, as well as into you, may you know that darkness, can never kill what's true, may you always be aware that love is here with you."  It may not seem obvious, but to me, this is a Calling On piece. Calling on things within myself, to come forward.

So where was I.. oh yeah... the phone was ringing and I realized the incoming call was for me - got it! I was so excited by the possibilities of all this... Me right.. seriously... me?  Okay.. yes... ME!  I was asked by Anne, one of my amazing people, "now what?" Okay... so now I am supposed to KNOW stuff??? I asked Anne - if it was normal not to know right away and if it was normal to be a overwhelmed, excited, and scared all at the same time, and she assured me that it was. As I sat with it, and tried NOT to actively figure it out... things began to happen.  One area of ironclad certainty as far as my spiritual work goes, is my call to work with folks using drumming and rhythm as tools for healing and wholeness. Opportunities to do this have almost surpassed the ability of myself and our drum circle to possibly keep up with, this is an excellent problem to have! I have had the opportunity to teach spiritual drum making, which was rewarding and amazing! Meanwhile, I have found a program of study that interests me, and that I think would equip me to better work alongside a spiritually diverse group of folks as I feel called to do. I hope to be able to pursue that sometime soon. 

So there's all this stuff, right, coming forward, bursting forth in me, you would think - it would be as plain as the nose on my face - but with me, its never that simple.  I have spent a good deal of my life being told in actual words, or by deeds, that I am insignificant, lesser, and someone who folks will not believe... or take seriously in one way or another. As a result of that... taking myself seriously, my talents, my gifts is not my default setting. So recently, when I was at the Philly Trans Health Conference, I attended an amazing, and transformative Pastoral Care Workshop. I blogged and touched on this a few posts back. 

It was important to me, to go to this particular workshop, although by that point I was seriously conferenced out. I did want to see the presenters in action and to support them as they are my friends, but beyond that... I was impelled to go. There was talk about the challenges and opportunities for pastoral care providers as resources for transfolk, their allies, families and caregivers. After that... we broke into some all important groups. The presenters asked folks to put themselves into the group that made the most sense to them, and they didn't really explain it to death.  I found out later , that in the intro they talked about the grouping that you could select a group that was the role you identified in, or you could role flip, or stretch or whatever - but I missed all that for my morning caffeination ritual at the Temple of the Mermaid. They did an "okay move" kind of thing and I grabbed my stuff and migrated to Pastoral Care Providers without a thought. Our group had a great discussion about what we each thought we brought to the role, about the gifts we bring you might say. From earlier introductions, I think I was in the group with a rabbinical student, 2 rabbis, 2 chaplains, one man I think was Sikh, and me. This was so pivotal for me SO huge... the automatic nature of this.  I DID surprise my own damn self! I feel like this was really really important in my becoming.  It was as though my presenter friends held up a mirror and when I looked, I saw a Called Spirit Person lookin' back at me. Like for REAL!

So in essence... since January... the phone's, been ringing, and I've known that call was for me - but now... I have picked up the phone and the conversation... has begun.

 ✌ Peace Out My Friends ✌

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Sycamore Musings

My tree - Sacred Sycamore… symbolic tree, touchstone, warrior, testament.  While young, the sycamore with her smooth tight bark, looks like life hasn’t marred or scarred her, no.  Some of us start out our lives that way, looking like all is well, as it should be.  While that may or may not be the case, it appears so to the world.  Destructive forces chip away at us, untold physical violations, spiritual, emotional, and/or psychological erosion may be altering us, but the world sees what it wants to see.  That sweet young sycamore with her tight bark, as she nears her equivalent of puberty, changes take place in her.  As she stretches her arms to the sky, and she must stand against wind and climate, her smooth skin begins to chip. With each chip that falls, a space of white brilliance is revealed.  Life is like that, as we begin to experience more and more challenges, sometimes they begin to show themselves on our physical form.  She is a determined tree, she roots deep. She stands. The patches of light and dark are her yin and yang... she knows about the dark times, and the dark places.. but says "look at THIS!" and like a great Tree Goddess flasher goes wa-BAM - and dazzles us with her brilliant whiteness so unexpected!  She is Ghost Tree... along the riverbanks, she looks haunting with her white fingers rising out of the morning mist... the spirits sit in her branches in the cool of the predawn... sharing their stories. Check OUT Lady Sycamore - Mmmm Mmmm Mmmm!  Let your gaze begin at the ground and follow her form skyward.  At the base and a ways up the trunk, that smooth bark of youth is tight.  As the trunk ascends... follow her curves... the bark begins to get patchy, pieces fall off revealing a splendidly white, fantastically beautiful underbark. The random patterns of peeling green-grey overbark, juxtaposed with brilliant white underbark is strikingly beautiful.  For the sycamore, and for me - when we seem to be falling apart, something dazzling - our Truth perhaps -  shows its radiant brilliance to the world - shining out from our inner core. I have BEEN a sycamore – I know this first hand – err – branch…