Monday, January 20, 2014

One step on the curious path to Divinity

Sometimes when I awake in the middle of the night, returning to sleep is thwarted by internal lectures on self-improvement.  Just as in a childhood illness when I would wish for the grandmother who brought gentleness and gifts and instead too often received recommended treatments from the other grandmother, the one of mustard plasters and sheep dip, I want to be sung back to sleep by my angels wearing rose-patterned socks.  Alas, who arrives is the pitchman, bullying voice oozing confidence that any vexations would vanish if I just (fill in the blank).  Early this morning it was - and he/she meant RIGHT NOW, no shilly-shallying - lose weight and get hopping.  When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail.  I prefer the school of thought that tells me being emphatically imperfect is actually a sacred opportunity.  Later when I had fallen peacefully back to sleep, I was walking on a beach with Jerry Seinfeld.  Count on the unconscious mind to deliver a welcome bouquet when ordinary reality wants to put something ouchy on our boo-boos.
NOT the child's friend. 
On Saturday I listened to a new-to-me podcast from Sweigh Emily Spilkin, during which she asked us to consider questions such as, "How can I be kinder to myself and learn how to forgive myself so I can open to the Divine?"  Gentleness and compassion are not hallmarks of the bootstraps evangelist.  All of you who know the perilous road from human train wreck, at least by our own perception, to someone we can accept and even cherish for surviving the journey, are familiar with the black-and-white dogma of the just-get-over-it school of thought.  Among the things which I believe to be a non-negotiable essential of human life is balance.   Balance travels with its companions paradox, ambiguity, duality, unknowingness and patience.  It is an all-star line-up, neither recognized nor valued by the mustard plaster school of how to be a better person.

This is material for a dissertation, a rant, a manifesto, none of which is going to happen today, if ever.  In a few weeks I will turn 69 years old.  I am still a novice, a newby in more realms than I can name.  I have so much to learn.  One of the things I spent years not knowing was that yanking on my arm and scolding me will not bring me closer to what I consider divinity, the ALL is how I think of it.  If anything, harsh treatment will block any sun that has managed to reach frozen emotional ground.  As you either know or, I hope, can imagine, we are here to love ourselves and each other into claiming our authentic beings.  Ms. Spilkin reminded that, "our deepest longing is to be ourselves."

In the small, dark hours my defenses are low, I am unarmed and groggy and have difficulty standing up to what I would see in other circumstances as absurd absolutes.  I forget what I know, that I have been invited here to lead a life of service and love, that I am here to surrender for, as Rilke said, "What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us."  It is our gift, that the ALL, the Divine wishes to shape us and use us, often reaching us through trauma, illness, pain, loss, the only ways to get our attention.  Rilke goes on to say, in his poem THE MAN WATCHING,

What we choose to fight is so tiny! 
What fights with us is so great. 
If only we would let ourselves be dominated as things do by some immense storm, 
we would become strong too, and not need names.
When we win it's with small things, 
and the triumph itself makes us small. 
What is extraordinary and eternal does not want to be bent by us. 
I mean the Angel who appeared to the wrestlers of the Old Testament:
when the wrestlers' sinews 
grew long like metal strings, 
he felt them under his fingers 
like chords of deep music.
Whoever was beaten by this Angel 
(who often simply declined the fight) 
went away proud and strengthened
and great from that harsh hand, 
that kneaded him as if to change his shape. 
Winning does not tempt that man. 
This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, 
by constantly greater beings.


Erin in Morro Bay said...

Interesting - I woke in the middle of last night also, and when I went back to sleep - I dreamt about Julia Louis-Dreyfus. Perhaps we are the lucky ones - there may have been others out there dreaming of Kramer and/or George!

T. Clear said...

Just stopping by to say thank you, still taking in all that you've laid out for us here, dear Marylinn.


Marylinn Kelly said...

Erin - I suppose I'm not really surprised that we have dreams that seem connected or at least on some parallel track. Yes, we were the lucky ones, though a Kramer dream might have been quite non-ordinary. Sweet dreams. xo

Marylinn Kelly said...

T. - Hello, thank you for stopping by. I'm still wondering - and will probably blog about - whether or not I hit the mark with this one or just left people confused. You've helped reassure me it wasn't a complete muddle. xo