Sunday, February 15, 2009

The Wisdom of Not Doing

I am reading Joan Borysenko’s book “Saying Yes to Change” (co-wrote with her husband Gordon Dveirin). It was the butterfly on the cover that hooked me…that and the fact that my tryout talk for ministries is called “Just Say Yes”, and is all about saying yes to change and transformation. Oh yeah…the book has a free CD included. I am a sucker for anything free. Of course this little six inch book cost $17.95, so I’m guessing the cost of the CD is included in there somehow…but what the heck…I still like the idea of getting something free, even if I technically paid for it.

I’m enjoying all that I’ve read so far in this book, but what I want to write about here is the chapter: The Wisdom of Not Doing. This is something I’m an expert on; I’ve sure been doing a lot of it lately. I am hanging out there in the Void…that place between the old and the new. I’ve let go of one trapeze bar and haven’t quite grabbed a hold of that new bar out there that I know has my name on it. It’s a rather unsettling place to be, especially considering I’ve been out there with nothing to hold onto for over ten months.

You see I’m a minister without a church. I left ministry over four years ago when my sweetie was diagnosed with cancer. He fought that battle for two years and after he made his transition I needed time to heal. So I became a nanny, because I figured being around children would be healing—it was. I had a brief thought that perhaps I’d just continue to be a nanny until I could retire, but I began to get that Divine Discontent and knew that God had other ideas. So now I’m without any job and in the process of finding my right and perfect church. It’s out there I know, but it is taking a lot longer to connect with than I had anticipated. So I am learning about “the wisdom of not doing.”

I am not a ‘type A’ personality, so doing nothing actually comes kind of naturally to me. I can spend days alone in my apartment with nothing but my cats, my computer, my books and my TV…oh yeah, and don’t forget the snacks. However, what I’ve discovered is…this can get old pretty fast when you have nothing productive or creative in your life to occupy your time.

I’ve been telling myself that this is the perfect time to finish writing my book, Reel Transformation. I have a double-spaced manuscript of about 144 pages, which is not quite enough to publish. I also have one last class to finish for my BA degree and this would be the opportune time to work on it. I’ve been working a little on both, but not as much as I think I ‘should’ or ‘could’ be doing.

What I’m beginning to discover, is that there is a difference between frittering away your day, and the practice of “not doing.” Joan says in her book that, “facing the unknown is so frightening for most of us that we’ll do just about anything to find our bearings and feel secure again.” You see finding my right and perfect church is going to uproot me completely from my home, my friends, and all that feels safe. While I am eager to get started in my new life, I am already grieving having to let go of all that has nurtured me for the past 10 years.

I am also going through some fear about the unknown. What part of the country will I move to? Will I end up in a place that I love? Will it be warm with beaches, or cold with lots of snow? Will I remember how to do ministry…I’ve been out for four years…or is it like riding a bike? How long will it take for me to establish friends and a new support system? I’ve been through so much change in the past five years, can I take more? What if I don’t find my church before my unemployment runs out? If I don’t find a job, then what will I do? What if I’m not supposed to be going back into ministry; If not that, then what?

As you can see the list could go on and on and on. These are not huge fears, and truly I know and hold to the Truth that all is happening in perfect Divine Order, and all is well. I know this, I truly believe this. However, these little fears (Joan likens them to mud) have taken up residence somewhere deep in a corner in my psyche, and frittering away time just keeps me from facing them, and only muddies the water more. Writing in my book or working on my class material, while definitely productive, does nothing to help clear away the mud either.

So, what does Joan say will clear the mud or the fears away? She talks about ‘letting go’ and surrendering, and honoring whatever you are feeling. I’ve always been a big advocate for honoring my feelings; so I had a good cry. I also took out the meditation CD from the book and played it, which helped me connect with my Source….the part of me that knows all and is one with all.

I had planned on spending my day working on my paper for school, but instead I honored the wisdom of not doing. Instead, I wrote this blog entry, because for me this kind of writing can be transformative. “Not Doing” doesn’t necessarily mean doing nothing…it means doing whatever you are doing from a place of total connection with your Source. It means trusting, even what you don’t know and can’t see. It means simply…Being. When one is coming from that place of Being, one can choose to do nothing, or one can choose to do something…but it will clearly be a choice free from mud.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

A Life Prepared

On January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 made a heroic landing in the Hudson River. The plane had been hit by a flock of birds and lost both of its engines. Minutes after taking off the pilot successfully glided the plane and landed the plane, fully intact, in the Hudson River. The heroic pilot, Chesley Sullenberger, 57, (known as "Sully"), was recently interviewed on 60 Minutes. What struck me the most from that interview was when he said to Katie Couric, “I think, in many ways, as it turned out, my entire life up to that moment has been a preparation to handle that particular moment.” Wow!

Looking back over his life it is easy to see how this is true. He was a fighter pilot in the Air Force. He was a skilled glider pilot. He was a safety expert and taught airplane safety classes. He indeed, was uniquely qualified to safely land that plane.

I wonder what might have happened had “Sully” said no to any one of those things. What if he hadn’t said yes to those safety classes and become such an expert on airline safety? What if had never taken gliding lessons? What if he didn’t have that history of flying during adverse conditions in the Air Force? He needed and drew on all of those skills in this emergency. 155 people survived that flight, because this pilot said yes when the opportunities were presented to him. Because he had said yes, his life was prepared for this critical moment.

Life presents us all the time with opportunities to grow and to evolve. We may not know why we feel drawn to say yes to something in our life. Back in 1987 I felt drawn to go to Unity Village and take some Continuing Education Classes. I didn’t really know why I wanted to take those classes. I wasn’t planning on becoming a Licensed Unity teacher. I didn’t think I would do anything in particular with the credits I was earning. I just felt a need to grow spiritually and to connect on a deeper level with God and with Unity, so I went. It was such an amazing experience I went back a few more times.

Years later, in 1990 I felt a call to go even deeper and I applied for ministerial school. While filling out the application, I realized that in order to qualify for the application process, I needed those credits that I had earned. I hadn’t known at the time I took them that I would need those credits, I just felt called to take the classes. Because I said yes to that inner call, I was prepared, and had the exact amount of credits I needed to apply for ministerial school.

I’m sure you have had a similar experience…a time when you did something or learned something and then months, even years later you needed to call upon those very skills or credits earned. Most of us don’t have as dramatic an example as “Sully”. Most of us don’t save hundreds of lives. Yet all of us can live our lives in such a way that we are prepared for whatever life brings us. We begin by staying connected to Spirit, listening for the call, and saying yes. By saying yes today, we prepare ourselves for whatever life brings us tomorrow.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

The Ice Storm

Fayetteville, AR (and other towns and states as well) recently had an ice storm…the worst storm in its history, according to the news stations. NPR said the town looked like a bomb had hit it. I was out of town when it hit and only saw the aftermath and cleanup on my return. Fayetteville looked, as my friend John Ray put it, like it had gotten a very bad haircut.

Isn’t it interesting that something as light and clear as water can cause so much damage? I started to think about the metaphysics of the storm…of course, I’m a minister, that’s what I do.

Technically, of course, it wasn’t simply water that caused all of the damage, it was water crystallized into ice. Water metaphysically represents emotions, so it makes sense that thoughts and feelings can flow gently right through us, but when they get crystallized in our minds or our hearts they can cause quite a bit of damage. When our feelings and thoughts are free flowing and open, then we are in the ebb and flow of life and all is well. If, however, we allow our feelings and thoughts to become crystallized then we become heavy and dense and virtually stuck.

My thoughts become crystallized anytime I stay stuck in a particular thought pattern. If I am holding to “I’m right” or “you’re wrong”, for instance, or “I’m better than you” then I am in a stuck pattern. It doesn’t even have to be outer directed either. It could be inner directed such as, “I’m not good enough” or “I can’t”. Those thoughts can be tremendously damaging to our psyche, to our soul, and even to our bodies.

All of those thoughts have corresponding emotions, and as anyone who does massage (like my friend John Ray) can tell you crystallized emotions can cause havoc with our bodies. If we are holding onto resentment or anger or even grief, then we have crystallized emotions. If we hold them long enough, we breakdown, we have power failures… and if it is severe enough, we are finally forced to stop everything and take care of ourselves.

The sun finally came out in Fayetteville and the weather warmed up and melted the ice, but the damage was done. The cleanup continues and we will recover. The trees will grow new branches…those that survived anyway. New trees will be planted to replace those that didn’t make it, and life continues. We don’t have much choice about ice storms, but we can choose our thoughts and our feelings. I’m looking to see if I have any that have crystallized…how about you?