Category Archives: Love

We Were Made for This – a thank you to Clarissa

Adapted from Clarissa Pinkola Estes – ‘We were made for this’

I recently returned from a silent solo retreat, where the words of Clarissa Pinkola Estes kept circling around in my head. I had no wifi or any of the usual distractions, so I reached for pen and paper and wrote the words down. Even though I have read her prose several times in the last 20 years, I was surprised at how much I remembered of “We Were Made For This”. I am publishing this on my blog exactly as I penned it as I sat in my little cabin in the Brecon Beacons. I send this out with love and good wishes to all who have seen glaring wrongs that need to be righted and have felt diminished by the seeming immensity of this task. 

‘For some of us, these times seem too dark to ever see light again. The immense challenge of correcting the imbalances and of righting the wrongs seem too great to take on. But, I would like to take your hands for a moment and assure you that you are built well for these times. Despite your pangs of doubt, your frustrations in a-righting all that needs change right now, or even your feelings that you have lost the map entirely, you are not without resource, and you are not alone.

Look out over the choppy water; there are millions of righteous souls on the waters with you. Take heart; you are not alone.

We have been in training for dark times such as this for a long time.  For many decades, worldwide, souls just like us have been put down, metaphorically or literally, left for dead in so many ways over and over — brought down by naiveté, by lack of love, by being ambushed and assaulted by those following the wrong star and being convinced following any other is grounds for persecution, and by various personal shocks and heartbreaks over time. All of this, and more, can be overcome.

We all have a heritage and history of being gutted, and yet remember this especially … we have also, of necessity, perfected the knack of resurrection.

Over and over again haven’t we been the living proof that that which has been exiled, lost, or demeaned – can be restored to life again? This is as true and sturdy a prognosis for the wounded world around us as it was for our own wounded selves.

…Though we are not invulnerable, our resilience and strength  supports us to laugh in the face of cynics who say “fat chance,” and “management before mercy,” and other evidences of complete absence of soul sense. This, and our having been ‘to Hell and back’ on at least one momentous occasion, makes us seasoned vessels for certain. Even if you do not feel that you are, you are.

Even if your puny little ego wants to contest the enormity of your soul being up for the challenge,  the smaller self can never for long subordinate the larger Self. In matters of huge importance and life purpose,  you have surpassed the benchmarks many times. Believe the evidence of any one of your past challenges and trials. Here it is: Are you still standing? The answer is, Yes! Yes, you are…even if you feel a weariness….yes, you are still standing.  If you are still standing, ragged flags or not, you are able. Thus, you have passed the bar. And even raised it. You are seaworthy.

…In any dark time, there is a tendency to veer toward overwhelm with how much is wrong in the world. Do not focus on that. Do not make yourself ill with overwhelm. There is a tendency, too, to fall into being weakened by putting your awareness on what is outside your reach, by what cannot yet be. Do not focus there. That is “spending the wind without raising the sails.” It is a waste of your energy and will not be helpful for you or us.

We are needed, that is all we can know. And though we meet resistance, we more so will meet great souls who will hail us, love us and guide us, and we will know them when they appear. You have all the resource you need to ride any wave, to surface from any trough. Our job, our opportunity, is to sail forward now.

One of the most important steps you can take to help calm the storm is to not allow yourself to be taken in a flurry of overwrought emotion or despair – thereby accidentally contributing to the swale and the swirl. Ours is not the task of fixing the entire world all at once, but of stretching out to mend the part of the world that is within our reach.

Any small, calm thing that one soul can do to help another soul, to assist some portion of this poor suffering world, will help immensely.

It is not given to us to know which acts or by whom, will cause the critical mass to tip toward an enduring good. What is needed for dramatic change is an accumulation of acts – adding, continuing – until the accumulation of these acts tips the scales towards goodness. We know that it does not take “everyone on Earth” to bring justice and peace, but only a small, determined group who will not give up during the first, second, or hundredth gale.

…One of the most calming and powerful actions you can do to intervene in a stormy world is to stand up and show your light. Your goodness, your light, can be what encourages another to show their light. And so it goes.

To display the light of soul in shadowy times like these – to be fierce and to show mercy toward others, both — are acts of immense bravery and great necessity. Disheartened souls catch light from other souls who are fully lit and willing to show it. If you would help to calm the tumult, this is one of the bravest things you can do.

…There will always be times in the midst of “success right around the corner, but as yet still unseen” when you feel discouraged. I too have felt despair many times in my life, but I do not keep a chair for it; I will not entertain it. It is not allowed to eat from my plate. I acknowledge the sadness, this sense of being disheartened. Then I remember Who I am, perhaps connect with my Source as well as other good souls, and continue.’

In that spirit, I hope you will write this on your wall: “When a great ship is in harbor and moored, it is safe, there can be no doubt. But … that is not what great ships are built for.”

Love Is All There Is – in memory of Debra Genevie Parsons

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For the second time, I’ve just lost a sister.  She slipped away in the early morning hours of May 14th, 2014.  She was alone at the time of her death.

Her journey in life was not an easy one, and she developed a serious food addiction that she never owned up to, not even when she weighed 400 pounds and had secret stashes of candy and salty junk food all through the house.  She detested exercise because it made her uncomfortable.  If I were carrying around 250 pounds of extra weight, it would make me uncomfortable too.

Her family, me included, was sometimes angry and resentful when her health started to fail and she continued along her unhealthy path to an early death.  There were perfectly good reasons for our anger and resentment because even though it was “her life”, her unhealthy choices impacted all of us hugely.  She developed Type 2 diabetes but did nothing to change her unhealthy habits.  Eventually, the disease wrecked havoc on her kidneys.  Her daughter stepped up to donate a kidney because my sister could not lose the weight necessary to be eligible for an organ donation.  Did her daughter get angry when my sister continued with her overeating/no exercise habits?  You bet she did.  Did it make a whit of difference in my sister’s behaviour?  Nope.  Eventually, her heart and lungs were affected and she was unable to sleep unless she was sitting up.  She still maintained that it was all the drugs she had to take that prevented her from losing weight.  We could all be unhappy and resentful from time to time due to what she was doing to herself, all to no avail.

After the death of her husband there was no one to take care of her.  Four months after his death, she had a fall trying to get to the bathroom and could not get up.  Luckily her grandson was there and called 911.  After being taken to hospital, she never returned to her home again and lived the last few months in a nursing home because she was not ambulatory and no one could lift or transfer her without professional help.  These last few months of her life were not very good.  We can leave it at that as I’m sure you get the picture.

It is all very easy to say my sister created this situation and no one should feel blame or guilt over the fact that she died alone.  Given what she had “done to herself”, perhaps a little self-righteous anger or resentment would be a little more understandable.  The truth is, one or all of her family members felt all these emotions from time to time over the months.

The last few weeks of her life I noticed a change in her.  She became less demanding and more loving.  This may not happen to all patients in her situation, but it happened to her.  I spoke with her by telephone on the last night of her life, just before I went to sleep 5000 miles away.  She told me she loved me and how happy she was that I was her sister.  It was very touching to me, but I did not even realize she was saying goodbye.  What I did realize, however, was that I no longer felt angry that “she had done this to herself”.  I only felt love for her and wanted her to be comfortable and at peace.  None of the things she could have done differently in her life mattered to me anymore.  I was empty of all those “could have, should have, would have” statements.  I got the call the next morning that she had stopped breathing between 4 and 5 a.m.

My feelings were sadness at the loss of her, a profound grief that I wasn’t with her when she took her last breath, and awareness that her swift death had been a sweet mercy for her and for all of us.  The feelings of anger and blame were gone completely, as if someone had pierced my heart and they had gushed out like air from a popped balloon.  I got so clearly the old cliché “love is the only thing that matters”.  Intellectually, I often have that saying in my mind and it is always flying around in my orbit but sometimes doesn’t make it in to the core of my being.  This time, I really got it deep in my bones in regards to my sister’s life and death.  Love is IT, and all the rest is just stuff we go through to get back to love.  Next time I feel anger or resentment at someone I love, I will at least practice this simple (but not easy) concept.  I will try to skip all the “stuff” and just get back to love.