Tag Archives: Joy

Stories and Truth

This weekend I talked in my sermon about the sexual abuse I experienced in childhood. As I sit with the choice to talk about it now, I feel like I should clarify a few things. First of all, it’s the least important or even interesting thing you can know about me. Yeah, it happened and no, it doesn’t define me. I don’t consider myself a victim or even a survivor. I’m beyond it and into my own life. If you’ve been there, if you’ve been victimized in any way, you can get beyond it too. Whatever you were told it meant about you is pure ignorance. What someone else does to you means absolutely nothing about who you are and what you can do.

On the other hand, while I don’t accept the Truth of victimization, I don’t think folks who report abuse are lying. There’s a big difference between truth and Truth in my world. Rarely does a victim of abuse actually like about having been abused, and yet in our society often doesn’t believe the story. Rarely is a victim told the Truth after abuse about their perfection, how they are still and will always be the Beloved of the Beloved and how they can absolutely heal and have a wonderful life. Society believes the big Lie, that an abuse victim is damaged for life. Weird how we got that all turned around huh?

So the rule for me is that I will share my story if it will help someone else see the Truth beyond the story, beyond the truth of the facts. It’s the biggest and most healing Truth we can tell about ourselves or anyone else. If you have never been abused by another person, perhaps you fell for the Lie of unworthiness due to an illness or financial problems. Perhaps you believed you were broken because of your sexuality, of the body you live in that doesn’t look like the ones in the magazines or because you had trouble learning to read. It doesn’t matter WHY you came to believe in your brokenness. What matters is that we now wake up to Truth. There’s too much going on in the world, too much good to experience, to waste time on a story that has been spiritually Snopes’ed and found to be untrue.

 

Our tomato

In the Buddhist tradition, it is said that suffering is caused by attachment. The truth is that all things change, so if we are addicted to a certain form (the way a relationship has always been for instance) we are going to suffer. We heal ourselves by becoming aware of these addictions or cravings and then applying compassion. We release the addiction to the form and rest in the eternal rather than the changing. The Buddha is eternal. Our own Buddha-nature is eternal. Our physical bodies and the bodies of our affairs (money, relationships, jobs) change.

The summer, we managed to grow a real, live tomato plant. It’s the first time there has been fruit from a plant I planted in this home. I have planted thyme (haven’t tried to harvest anything) and other herbs, but they generally only do okay at best. Mint, which is an invasive weed, I managed to kill. But this year there was a success. Okay, so it’s only one small tomato, but it counts.

How silly would it be to mourn the plant that is fading with the summer instead of focusing on what it has given us (about a bite of tomato each)? I’m not going to roll the planter inside my home to save the plant, because it’s way too heavy and my cats would get into it. I can celebrate what it gave me and release this form, taking with me only the awareness that it is possible in God’s universe for me to participate in growing a plant. I have discovered part of the unchanging reality of my true self, my Buddha nature. I can let go of the form now.

The way it goes

My brother called to ask me how the eclipse went. I probably should have been aware of the reason it was so dark out. I thought it was just going to rain (and here it is – thunder just started). He was under the impression that I was directly under the path and would have the best view. In truth, had I even been paying attention, I would have seen the same 60% that he did in New Hampshire. And ain’t that just the way it goes?

While I was out, I grabbed lunch. If I didn’t, I knew I’d go home and eat and then not come back to work. I would never write this because home is where the TV and the cats are. So I settled for fast food, which I’d been craving anyway. Pet peeve: the drive through menu is abbreviated and I couldn’t find what I was looking for. The lady to whom I spoke interrupted my questions in order to tell me she never looks at that menu, so she can’t tell me where to find things. When I tried to tell her what I was looking at, she told me why I was wrong and that wasn’t the correct name or combination of items. I tried to tell her (once I was at the window) that what she knew and what a customer could see were two different things, but she went back to explaining what the different options were called correctly. She wasn’t really listening and I knew I was wasting my time. And ain’t that just the way it goes?

Lucky for me, I’ve been reading a lot of Emma Curtis Hopkins. We are so good at making our declarations of absence, or talking about what’s missing in our lives. Basically, although Emma (I call her Emma) is too nice to say it, we are very good at complaining and bad at gratitude. In ancient times, we are told that people thought the world was ending when an eclipse happened. Today, I thought it might rain and I love the rain, so I was happy. My brother hoped I had a good view, but I didn’t. I didn’t want to look at it because I was having more fun doing my job and I don’t want to hurt my eyes. I had a challenging conversation with the lady at the drive through, but I had a great talk with the bank teller and my brother. That’s two for three in the same half hour. It doesn’t even count the rest of the conversations I had already had (all positive) or would have today.

Emma  advocates for making a strong declaration of presence, or declaring the Truth about the presence of the Good in our lives. That will bring out more and more good to notice. And my day gets better. I get the monsoon experience, something to write about and a chance to banter with my bro. Those little things make up a life. Those little miracles make up my life. And ain’t that just the way it goes?

Go for the gold

We have cats. That’s important to know because it’s the holiday season and we celebrate Christmas in our house. Cat people have already figured out the issue. For those who haven’t caught on, let’s just say we hesitate to put up a tree and we’ve given up on decorating the bottom third. Our ornaments get sorted and stored by “breakable” and “unbreakable.” This year, my sister Kelly loaned her tree to the Center (thank you!) because, well… see the above… and the Center needed something smaller and more easily taken down than the gorgeous-but-huge tree we usually have.

The thing is, we still want the pretty lights and the Christmas spirit and the sparkle. So we are decorating the fake ficus trees that are in the living room. There are two, so we each took our best memory ornaments and put those up. We practically super-glued them on, but they are up. The carols are playing, there are decorations everywhere the animals can’t reach and we have a plan for Christmas day (mostly about food).

Have you ever really wanted to have a certain experience and had it happen in the way you didn’t expect? Maybe you’ve been praying for love and you meet a puppy. Or you make a new, wonderful friend which is great but not romantic. It can be very disappointing when you recognize that you got what you asked for but didn’t really get what you wanted. Some people don’t even realize their prayer was answered because it doesn’t look like what they expected.

When I teach prayer, that is how to do affirmative prayer, I am careful to teach to treat for an experience rather than a specific situation. Want transportation in the form of a car? That’s great – treat for Freedom and Abundance, not the car your cousin says might make it a few more miles. Want love? Treat for Love (notice the capital L) and Joy rather than for your latest crush to leave his/her current partner.

I want the joy and sanctity of the holiday season to brim up in my life. I want to sit in the deep dark silence of Christmas night and feel the starlight on my heart. I don’t care what the tree looks like or if the tree I was expecting is in the room I usually put it in. I want the reflection of the ornaments to shine on my soul and the lights to sparkle in my eyes. I want the gifts to pile up, too; the smiles and songs and snacks that feed my soul and are impossible to wrap.

If you are looking for something to happen in your life, whether it’s a financial improvement or for your love life to get steamy, think for a moment about what that represents to you. Do you want a date, or love? Do you want a bill paid or to never worry about money again? Claim the bigger experience. Go for the gold rather than the gilt. That leaves room for the Universe to be more creative. You may get what you originally thought you wanted, or something better. And you’ll definitely get the demonstration, one way or another. But don’t you think the Living Spirit that created the giraffe and roses and peppermint mochas can do something amazing for you if you let It have some fun? Make that your gift to the Universe this season, no matter which holidays you are celebrating. Give the gift of carte blanche to the Universe to create a life beyond your wildest dreams.