I’m home! As I crossed the Michigan line, returning from my two and a half month leave away for retreat and solitude in the desert and mountains, I had tears in my eyes. Living and exploring on land so different from home allowed me to see “home” as if for the first time.
There is nothing like time away to clear ones perspective from years of accumulated clutter; the clutter of unfaced feelings, of ungrieved grief, of distorted perceptions, of denied need.
One of the things that became more clear to me is how I’ve been my own worst critic. This internalized voice has loomed large all of my life and interfered with many of the creative and relational endeavors I’ve undertaken as well as preventing me from taking the challenge of many others.
And what has been behind this critic’s voice? The fear that I cannot meet the expectations I place on myself and the assumption that others will have similar expectations and criticism. Meeting these unrealistic expectations often determined my sense of self-worth and value. I’ve had difficulty feeling like I could ever measure up to these internalized expectations. It has been a vicious cycle; self-imposed expectation blocking my creativity and relational affectivity, blocked creativity and affectivity reinforcing my fear of not measuring up. And underneath this fear has been the basic belief that something is “wrong” with me, that I am inherently “flawed”. Shame, guilt, and anger have been close companions all of my life. And these emotions have victimized my ability to truly stand up for myself; “to be all I can be.”
Yes, shame and guilt for being the fully human, sexual being that I am and anger for not having my feelings taken seriously. I believe this shame, guilt, and anger are common feelings for many women. Our very bodily selves have not been acceptable as they are because we internalized the fear and hate projected on to us by the dominant masculine culture. The baggage is not only related to my personal history but handed down from my mother, my grandmothers and on and on. My sexuality, my very being has been hanging on the cross most all of my life.
Intellectually understanding the problem alone has not helped me overcome the feelings. Nor has my belief that I am loved and accepted as I am in the eyes of the Beloved Forgiver. Immersed in these negative feelings, identified with their truth, I’ve lacked trust in my heart and gut. Therefore I’ve tended to drive myself to meet unmeetable self-imposed expectations, rather than relax into the truth of my lovedness and “who-ness”. The failure to relax and trust, of course, keeps me separate from my Self; from the divine gift of my being and becoming.
Trapped in any degree of drivenness makes it very difficult to sustain being truly present. The very purpose for my life and work at MorningStar, which is to call others to center their lives in Love and “be all we can be”, has been my own greatest need and struggle. That’s why I was led here. Identifying my need, I was identifying “our” need. Over the years I have tried to share with you what I could of this wilderness journey and the insights learned along the way. I realize this quest to center our lives in Love; to come home to our true Self/Christ Self, is an evolving process of deepening into that life and love. It doesn’t happen overnight.
Changing my internal perspectives has been a process of healing over time as I reflect on and attend to my need for devotion, simplicity, wholeness and creativity. But more specifically, prayer and journaling, meditation, body awareness, guided imagery, play and laughter, solitary retreat, and community support and accountability have been the avenues of grace to lure me onward toward deepening freedom and trust.
Taking leave from MorningStar, getting out from under the usual routine of life with its inherent stresses, allowed me the distance needed and the availability necessary for Holy Presence to effect greater integration and healing by giving me more clarity of understanding and compassion for myself.
I’ve come home with a renewed sense of passion for my life and my work. I have a clearer sense of passion for my life and my work. I have a clearer sense of the gift that MorningStar is to me and to others and how my own woundings have interfered with its unfolding, its own “coming of age,” so to speak. Accepting this; grieving it, allowing myself real anger over things I have compromised myself on and feeling compassion for my own needs has given me renewed energy and focus.
In the final analysis I believe it is Grace alone which heals us. And the more we make ourselves available to it the more quickly healing and integration will come. Yet the forces which sabotage the work of Grace in us are many, subtle, and diabolical. Our ego’s need for love and validation can partner the forces which keep us from making ourselves available to the healing Presence of Love. We can all too easily be lured into the land of Herod; the dominant cultural perspective built on survival of ego enthronement. Our achievement oriented and competitive American lifestyle promotes a pattern of self-destruction which bases one’s identity on what one does rather than on who one is. Our identity depends upon earning the affection of others through the value of what we produce or achieve. Our compulsion to achieve or produce or be needed in some way influences our behavior, attitudes, values and fundamental beliefs in ways hardly recognizable to us because they are so validated by the dominant cultural reality. But they play havoc with our deeper soul need which is to know bone deep that we are loved in our very being – just as we are.
My own restlessness over the past few years I attribute to unconscious compulsions based on my need to be acceptable. Working to bring those compulsions to consciousness has not been easy. But the Holy Compassionate One has persevered in bringing me just what I have needed to see myself more clearly, and continues to do so.
The experience of that bone-deep Love feels like coming Home.
It brings peace of soul and ability to be present to Presence, therefore quelling the compulsive need to fall back into self-destructive patterns. I feel more available in mind, heart, and body to live life, to be open to receive the blessing that is at hand and not let life drive me. But oh how vigilant I will need to be not to be pulled back into the old “stuff”. I know how easily I can be deluded into thinking I needn’t avail myself of the sustaining sustenance of our Source each and every day.
I believe that the more potentially positive an effect we are having on exposing the subtle and diabolical forces which want to keep us and others from Love’s healing, the more powerful these diabolical forces working on us and in us become, sabotaging our efforts. This is why community accountability is so essential for this work as well as commitment to regular, daily encounter with the Divine in order to keep our perspectives uncluttered and clear. And once in a while we need time away to just be to remember who we are, just as we are. Then coming home, we are truly Home.