I Can Escape from the World I See by Giving Up Attack Thoughts

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Sacred Font

Forgetting that we come from holy water,

            that we once were the river,

                        we soon are frightened of its power, its depth

                                    and what might lie within.

Mammals we think ourselves to be

            and use the river to our own chief ends

                        unmindful of our once connectedness.

Rites of cleansing followed still religiously

            in ways prescribed by ancients who

                        perhaps knew something of the mystery

                                    but knew not how to give the secrets hidden there.

Dare we risk ourselves to plumb our

            inner ocean?  to let the whale devour

                        without assurance we’ll survive?

                                    to dream there might be life too deep to fathom

                                                and being tossed on shore we’d breathe again?

Perhaps the frequent washing of our souls

            that tears provide

                        might also give a glimpse

                                    of living water yet reserved

                                                for us alone within the sacred font.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

Why do I seem to need to have permission to be happy—never to spoil it by worry?

A Course in Miracles says, “I can escape from the world I see by giving up attack thoughts.” (W-pI.23) Jesus means that the “real world,” a dream granted by the Holy Spirit, is without the conflicts that most of us experience in the modern, work-a-day, world.  The miracle comes about because of inner changes in a person. 

Even the most conflicted day loses its punching power when one looks out on the chaos from a soft and warm heart.

Peace

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Holy Promise

The holy promise

   planted in the soul of each newborn

     reverberating through the lineage

       to those who hear the words aloud

            repeated by their elders as they learn

              the answers to the “who made you?”

                 and struggle with their own

                   repeated “why?” and “what now?”

                     and the tension of the sometimes

                        too taut tether cord

and planted, too, this covenant

   within the deeps of those

     who never hear the sacred sentence

       Scripture speaks to those

           within the confines

             of an orderly progression

                of confessional conscientiousness

                   where stories of the patriarchs

                      weave threads of continuity

                        irrefutable by time

this covenant

 announces from on high

   the ‘I will be’ and ‘you will be’

       resounding through all heartbeats

           transcending sacred writ

              telling all attentive

                 and declaring loud to deafened ears

                     and sending solace to the spirits

                          of those who never harken

                              to the inner urgings of their soul.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

The re-entry problems at work on Monday are not physiological or even psychological for the frequently cited reasons.  After “flight” on the preceding two days, the body gets up once again to “fight.”  And the more relaxing the flight has been, the more likely the fight will bring fears. 

One has let down one’s guard, and the ego doesn’t take kindly to peace.  It knows its days are numbered if its owner should ever learn to choose Peace consistently.

Why is it that so many of us are cowards in the middle of the night? 

If we could all learn how to separate “big deals” from trifles, we would certainly be well along the way toward living satisfactorily and peacefully.

Work Pressures

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Listening

I sought to listen to my Lord.

By various means I tried to hear Him speak–

            a brightening breeze through leafed-out trees

            a bird outside my window pane

            a tiny stream o’er river rocks

            a sung word touching deep within

            a Scripture phrase speaking anew

            and my own pen bringing forth more

In these and more I thought I heard my Lord.

But then my heart, still restless, searched again

            for music far beyond the lovely singing

            for just one sacred word for mantra’s sake

            for inspiration wordless as a feeling.

And then my heart declared to me “search on!”

            to reach beyond the music to the silence

            to find the space beyond all sacred speech

            to journey safe beyond diverse distractions.

 I found the place at last

            filled with wonder dark and fathomless

            a stillness indescribable

            a place beyond all time and memory

            a depth beyond my wide imagining

            the center of my very self it is

where even consciousness appears suspended

there is where my Lord comes now to me.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool: a Journal:

There is a point at which too much work to do becomes clearly counterproductive, because one’s stress level impedes actually turning out the work at a reasonable pace. 

In the midst of 800 junior high students clamoring for attention in their school library, I once said to myself (over and over, in a kind of refrain), “If I do nothing else, I will remain calm.” 

Of course, that affirmation actually put me in a frame of mind in which I could do something else.  Reverse psychology is a powerful protective device.

On the strength in remaining calm:  “When I’m not stressed, I think I can handle virtually anything.”

On solving problems:  “No decision can be really difficult unless we complicate the issue by worry.”

Truly to Live

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

My Soul

My soul

            called forth

                         from me

                                     by that within

                                                and yet beyond

            called out

                         to be

                                    to fly

            called back

                         to follow

                                    the limitations

                                                of its transient home

            called up

                        to glimpse

                                     the more of yearning

            called on

                         to strive

                                    to pierce the breaking point

            called down

                        to dream again

                                    and there

                                                 within the dream

            called in

                         to break

                                    and from the broken pieces

called out again


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

One should make one’s living in a manner that allows true “living,” on the job as well as off. Serving as a reference librarian and book/periodical selector is the pleasant way that I spend my day, the way that I earn a living that doesn’t consume all of me but allows me to think and dream about other things. 

When I am stressed, I don’t make much progress in my spiritual life because I am too distracted. Maybe I should take the route that allows me to live comfortably (emotionally) because big bucks in some other job might make me financially secure but very tense, anxious, and maybe even unhappy in the daily work.

Choice to Write

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Beatitude

Blessed are the dead

    whose death comes peaceful as a slumber

        from a day of toil and song

Blessed are the living

    whose walks are filled with knowledge

        that each day might be their last

Blessed are those whose memories

    comfort with the absence

        of those gone before

Blessed are those whose heart strings

     play the melodies

        of unsung songs and voices

Blessed are the celebrants 

    whose lives memorialize

         the spirit of the absent ones

Blessed are the glimpses

    that quicken possibilities

        of joy that lie ahead

Blessed are the passionate

    who follow spirits leading them

        into the heart of God

Blessed are you

    whose open souls receive

        the gracious gifts so freely given


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool; a Journal:

An experience in scholarly writing:  “I worked very hard last Monday, reading all day for my book.  I really didn’t enjoy it.”

Later on . . . ”Most of that work was fruitless.  I didn’t put it in my book after all.  When work becomes a dull ache, it is usually wrong.”

On second-guessing my life’s work:  “What do I really want to do with the rest of my life?  Is it enough just to follow the Holy Spirit’s prompting on a daily basis?  Is long-range planning really a defense?  (The Course suggests that it is.)  (W- pI.135.14:1) Could I do my writing as well as have a more successful library career? 

The key to the latter would be ever-better interactions with the people I encounter everyday.  Sometimes I think the job of librarian really doesn’t accomplish much.  All of us work so hard on meaningless things; I see it all the time on the reference desk among the patrons, and I try to be tolerant. 

Healing minds in the sense meant by the Course has really become my preoccupation.  Knowing that, is it any wonder that I’m still tied to my very social occupation even though I’d rather write?

Creation Story

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Habitat           

Standing there afar

my habitat held in your hand

my heart’s pure ache so palpable

the world must sense my longing

but turn from me as

from some clanging bell.

How many labyrinthine turns must I traverse?

How many sandals must I wear sole thin?

How many times pray “show the way”?

What game of hide-and-seek has been ordained

among the tall trees of my weary mind?

How many clues must I search out

to later disregard?

Am I to be not privileged to sleep

before the hearth before I die?

or sup at table?

or rock contented all way round

and there attend the fire?

to sing and laugh

and let my homing spirit feel the joy?


From Celia:

Creation Story

There is a myth about the creation of souls that helps me to understand why we falter and fall away from God.  This myth, first expounded by Ruth Montgomery’s Guides in the 1960s, says that in the beginning God sent out from Himself sparks of light, souls in embryo, to experience life.  Some wandered farther, away from God, and got into trouble.  Others stayed close to Him and were guided by His greater Light.

We sometimes need to learn from both good and evil, and choose the good from a sense of knowing, and in that John Milton’s great treatise Areopagetica is right.  When we choose good from experience, we truly know.  It would be wrong, though, to deliberately set out to experience evil in order to learn from it.  It is enough that we learn to avoid the choices that take us away from God. In the myth, the fear to wander from God, felt by those souls in embryo who stayed close to Him, seems to be the flip side of Love.    

There is a long tradition in Christianity that says Christ needs our hands and feet to carry out his mission in this world.  We might be lost indeed if it weren’t for the souls who cling to God and learn of Love. We do know that sometimes we learn best from others like ourselves, people with two hands and two feet, homo sapiens.

God’s Light grows dim in us when we turn a deaf ear to His pleading.  But He stands ever ready to rescue us by whatever means it takes.

Every religious tradition, in every age, says that only Love matters.  In the end, this truth is the only truth yet to discover. And it will be no secret we are healed.

Work Pressures

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Floodgates

Waters parting

     floodgates making way

        I sensed prepared for me.

           I heard them coming

              deafened by the roar

                  of mighty waters rolling

                     down upon me.

I said a prayer

   prepared to die

      so sure my next few breaths

         would be my last.

I know not if I knelt

   or sat

      or stretched myself out prone

          ready to receive the hand of death.

 Louder came the roar

      A sound so full of fear

          I wished for deafness before death

              anything but being made

                   to hear that awful sound.

The roar grew louder

     louder still

         and I

              so sure my drums would burst

                  fixed all my thought on broken ears 

                       as cause of death

                           and in an instant heard played again

                               the thousand tapes of noisy voices

                                  of my wasted life of listening.

And still the roar increased

     till I heard screams

        my own thin voice

             inside my head

                 with shouts of

                     ‘Kill me, then!’

                          ‘Yes, do it now!’

                                ‘Anything but this!’

But ‘this’ was not yet finished

     my pleading was in vain

            as if demonic spirits

                took delight in my despair.

And then

     as quickly as begun

         the roar subsided

            to the pleasant sound

               of water

                   over smooth worn stones

                       reminding me

                         of where in childhood

                               played for hours

                                   and sheltered

                                     from the loss of innocence

                                        was I.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

There is always time for what is needful.  This learned after long experimentation.  So why do I still fight fire when I have a desk filled with work, or a house that hasn’t been cleaned in a week? 

What “bad thing” will happen to me if it isn’t all accomplished in the too-short time I have allotted?

Colds or “bugs” are a form of seeking outside ourselves, convenient crutches we use when we are very weary from walking in the world. 

One then has an excuse to sit down.  Written a couple of days before I succumbed to a succession of mild but debilitating viruses:  “What do I really want to experience in my world? 

I don’t want to be hassled constantly to do more-more- more. 

I need to say ‘no’ to things for a month and then some.”

On the work complexities of modern life:  “I desperately need to learn how to pace myself.  If ever I get ahead at work, I immediately ‘fill my plate’ with a dozen things that are sure to swamp me eventually.” Four days later, the dawn of a solution: 

“I sensed today that I make things too hard.  I have too much a sense of responsibility.  I should let go and let God.  Life lived from moment to moment ‘listening’ (to the Holy Spirit) is much more interesting.  I can be much too work-oriented, so much that I become a drudge.” 

Now I would add that much of my work is self-generated, but influenced by my colleagues, who are working at least as hard. 

It is as though we were a group of children, backstage before a piano recital.  One’s nervousness and hyperactivity influences another, and then another, and yet another.  And to what end? 

The dubious “achievement” of performing before an audience. 

Now, proving our “worth” this way by more and more elevates work to a personal god whose demands are insatiable.  And isn’t that the clue that the dynamic is ego-based?

Love

Note: Ann’s poem is first; Celia’s post follows.

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

The Word

The Word became flesh

            once upon a time       once before time        once in time

                                  each time        a child is born        a gift is given.

                                        And upon their shoulders rests the imprint of the One

                                                whose Word makes all flesh to become.

Flesh becomes Word       becomes Verb Word

            saying ‘Let there be’

                        and there is

                                    as night follows day and dawn follows darkness,

                                                dappling creation with new language.

Be becomes all Words–

            creating nouns and expletives,

                        pronouns and correlatives,

                                    assumes the burden of unanswered questions

                                                and declaratives yet undeclared.

Flesh becomes Active Verb–

            transforming the great I AM into nominative–

                        posturing as transitive

                                    whose unknown object

                                           completes the diagram

                                                forming a sphere.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool

Many years ago I was in a frame of mind in which unlimited possibilities seemed open to me.  The salient aspect of this period of time was that I was living with an attitude filled with love.  In making decisions, invariably I would come to a fork in the road.  It seemed that I could choose either way ahead and—this the questionable part—that either would be equally “OK”—just different ways to work out my destiny. 

Maybe we really do live in a safe universe when we are at home in Love.

Reality offers what I really want–the prayer of the heart. (A Course in Miracles, M-21.1:3-4)

Sometimes the unconscious guides us to a certain familiar pathway as a warning.  If I find myself gazing vacantly out a window and fantasizing about the future, the future that I see may eventually lead to difficulty, but it will always hold much joy. 

Intuition

A new feature of poetry; my post follows. – Love, Celia

From Ann Glover O’Dell’s Midwifing the Soul:

Doxology

Praise to Thee, O Lord, Creator of the Universe,

Who brings forth from your earth womb all life.

Praise to Thee, O God, Sustainer of the Universe,

who gives life the abundance Thou designed for it.

Praise to Thee who places godhood

in the center of our being.

Blow Holy Spirit, Wayward Wind,

with all thy special power

come stir again the old desire

in us who yearn to flower.

Rain into us the fullness

of the morning dew

made into streams

that penetrate our roots.

Make green the carpet of our days

that we, lured into verdancy,

might sprout new buds

and bloom as never even

once upon a time we dreamed.

Press down upon us sunshine

of the vision in your mind

of who we were and are and yet to be,

always within the firm embrace

of thy mysterious trinity.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

There is a way of living by intuition and a way of living by rational choice (the latter usually called just “reason”).  The two are not mutually exclusive, of course.  But I have found that life is freer, more natural, happier, when I am brave enough to let intuition rule.  And it does take some bravery.

It takes a certain willingness to follow intuition.  Maybe there will always be a question in my mind about whether I am being rational.  But time and again events prove the correctness of following yet another hunch.

Do we have “free will”?  I once read someone’s remark to the effect that we act as if we do when we cross the street, so why not assume that we do? 

Deadlines

Note:  Today I am happy to tell you of a new feature on my blog:  poems on spirituality by a good friend, Ann Glover O’Dell.  Her poems speak to me as I hope they will to you.

My post for today follows after the poem.  – Love, Celia

From Ann’s Midwifing the Soul:

Request

What I expected was a memory

      deep imprimatur of miracle

          inspiring sustenance

             serving as benchmark

                 of all grateful glimpses

                    through the prism of experience.

A lesser geyser I requested

      having pooled within the marrow

           of my mind as journey food

             and solace after sorrow

               original sacred spray

                  hoping for its offspring

          never more distant

                        than corner round and waiting.

But just today that fountain flow returned

     reminding now

          its honoring of my desire

              so I breathe deep

                 and welcome gratefully

                    the fresh baptism

                        from my sacred source.


From Celia’s Images in a Reflecting Pool:

Just “being” in life is affirming and good.  I don’t have to “do” all the time.  I have to realize that doing “more, more, more” to justify my existence is not necessary.

Is taking the easier pathway always suspect?  Must we always struggle to be a “success”? 

I invariably overestimate the time that it will take to complete a task that I have been putting off.

Learning how to work properly has been one of the hardest lessons for me to learn.  Faced with much work, I’m apt to feel great anxiety and be paralyzed by it.  Even a modest sense of “too much to do” will keep me working at a pace that is too fast, one I can’t sustain. 

I do best when I consciously realize that there is more than enough time to do everything.  Then I work at a steady (but not slow) pace, and, most importantly, I enjoy the work.  My journal is filled with reminders to “pace” though the day.  Doesn’t this say to me that I ought to keep my duties always at a manageable level? 

As much as I would like to turn out prodigious amounts of work, that is an instance of falling in love with the ordering process, a phenomenon I once heard in a warning dream. 

I should know my own psychology counsels against this way of living unless the work is imposed from within (never from without), and there is little or no deadline pressure.