Mortality: Pondering the Great Beyond

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Mortality: Pondering the Great Beyond

Receive this guided imagery meditation.

“Imagine that it is the day after your death. Feel into the You who inhabits this liminal space.

Who are you now? What do you experience? Explore yourself and your surroundings lightly, playfully. Be curious.

Where are you? What is your relationship with the people and places that were seminal in your incarnation? Who and what and how do you love, in your present state of being? What is your relationship with the earth, the sun, the moon, the stars? Where do they reside, in your newly liberated consciousness?

Who accompanies you, in this stage of your journey? Where and with whom do you belong?

What do you know now, that you did not know back then, when you were living in the midst of your incarnate story?

Play with this exploration for as long as you wish. When you have had enough, for now, return to your body, to your breath, to your present.

Bring back with you the qualities of being that you discovered on your travels into your future. Let the flavor of that experience perfume your choices and the flow of your energy today.”

 

“Your body has a limited time on earth. Your body will die. (You, of course, will not.) There is power in facing the finite nature of the body. Confronting the mortality of your body and facing your death with courage and compassion can allow you to live life more fully now. Until you accept your death, it is difficult to truly live. Native Americans have an expression: ‘I am complete in this moment. I am ready. I am enough.’  Every stage of life has value and beauty, even the pain, suffering and ignobility of old age.

Imagine going forward to your time of death. Fully confront your death with courage and grace. Grieve if you need to. To truly live, be willing to face your death.

Identify the attachments in your life. Close your eyes. Relax and imagine that there is an invisible cord of energy flowing between you and each object of your attachment. Visualize releasing or cutting the cords that bind you to your attachment. Feel the cords drop away.

Sources: To Be Soul. Do Soul. Adventures in Creative Consciousness. By Hiro Boga.

Quest: A Guide for Creating Your Own Vision Quest

 If you would like to chat further, please reach out to me at laura.lies@streamsgrace.com

 

Guest Blog: The Path of Grief

https://nickytemple.co.uk/

Guest Blog: The Path of Grief

Please meet my colleague, Nicki Temple of the UK. Nicky trained as a Spiritual Director at the renowned Sustainable Faith School of Spiritual Direction in Amsterdam, Netherlands.

“My grief is raw today. I live with it every day, but somedays I feel it more deeply and acutely than others. Today is one of those days. Today I feel the loss in the very marrow of my being. I grieve many things, as I think perhaps we all do when we reach a certain age and the path behind us is littered with regrets, disappointments, losses and mistakes. Loss just happens as we journey through life, there’s no avoiding it as much as we might try to protect ourselves from it. Losses leave gaping holes that are open wide with invitation to walk along the up, down, agonising, bitter, sweet, glorious path of grief.

As night inevitably follows day, when we give our hearts to something or someone in love, grief begins to entwine itself within us. Grief is love’s cruel mistress. Whether it be grief for lost loves or friendships, for the things that never were, for lost hopes, dreams and opportunities, for the state of the earth or the way we as humans can treat each other. Grief has many faces, but even allowing for our unique and varied personal experiences, grief also has many similarities and defining characteristics. 

As a Spiritual Companion, I regularly walk with people who are grieving losses. It’s an honour to accompany people on this journey, to be witness to this walk of suffering. More than this, in the sharing of that grief as I accompany people, or as you read these words and my grief reaches out to yours, grief has the capacity to see and reveal the depths of the heart and to embrace those it touches. For we are united in our grief as humans, it is a condition that, sooner or later, effects us all. It is part of being human and it shapes us, transforming us for better or worse. 

In Matthew chapter 5, Jesus says: ‘Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted.’

When you find yourself in a place of grief it’s difficult to see it as a blessing; it can be difficult to experience comfort, and yet there is something on offer in this place, something beyond ourselves, something true and real – if we want it.

In her book The Wisdom Jesus, Cynthia Bourgeault gives eloquence to this ‘something’… 

When we mourn (and we’re talking about true mourning here, not complaining or self-pity) we are in a state of freefall, our heart reaching out toward what we have seemingly lost but cannot help loving anyway… Mourning is indeed a brutal form of emptiness. But in this emptiness, if we can remain open, we discover that a mysterious “something” does indeed reach back to comfort us; the tendrils of our grief trailing out into the unknown become intertwined in a greater love that holds all things together. To mourn is to touch directly the substance of divine compassion.

Our grief connects us to the heart and substance of God, of Holy Spirit, of Jesus. Our grief reaches out from us and touches the compassion of the Trinity, their love responds and wraps itself in and through us as a way to offer comfort. We are held together, sustained by this remarkable love. What a gift this grief contains even when we are unaware, when all feels empty, dark and alone. What a gift to touch directly the substance of divine compassion.

The journey through grief can take everything we have just to survive it. We hold on for dear life to what can feel like a vast hollow space that echoes with emptiness. Days and weeks can roll through us as we cling to life, and yet within the pain, there is hope as compassion reaches back from the very centre of God to hold us. We are not alone. We are not unaccompanied. We are seen and in time we are able to connect with the comfort that has been ours all along.

There is no formula here, no ABC of surviving grief or managing the pain, grief has movement, it is a tornado changing direction and leading us through a myriad of often overwhelming emotions. There is no quick way to grieve either, even if we try and drown its presence it will remain bubbling not too far below. Grief finds its way like the river to the sea, and if we can go with it and be carried by its momentum we will know healing, we will learn to accept it and receive all that it offers. For grief offers something if we want it. It’s a painful offering and yet to be directly connected in our suffering to Divine Compassion is a priceless gift.

Today I pray for you in your grief, I pray that you will have the grace to surrender and let the river carry you where you need to go even when you don’t know where that is. I pray that comfort and compassion will be your companions on this road and that you will know the presence of others who share this path. I pray too that as you reach out in your suffering to others, you will know joy in your tears, laughter in your mourning. To love, to hope or to dream can cost us greatly, but there is One who understands the cost and reaches back with compassion to meet us as we mourn.

I accompany those who mourn in my work as a Spiritual Director. Please message me if you’d like me to do that with you.”


Additional Resources:

Grief.Com. Resources about grief, no matter what you are grieving from.

Sage-ing International. Resources related to grieving in later life.

A Holy Journey with Pain

A Holy Journey with Pain

“Somewhere along my journey, I became aware that angels of God were accompanying me. I saw the angels and knew that I belonged to God.

Well into my travels, messengers came to tell me, ‘Pain is coming to meet you and he brings death to some, great pain and suffering to you, your family and friends.’

At first, I felt as if God was telling me, ‘Do not be afraid, this will be a holy experience for you, and a gift and a blessing to many others.’ Almost immediately, that began to happen. As I was invited to tell my story, and it proved to be a source of hope for me, and inspiration and hope for others.

But then my health began to deteriorate, and I became afraid and distressed. And I prayed, ‘O God of my ancestors, I want to remind you that you said this would be a holy experience and a gift and a blessing. It no longer feels that way. Deliver me please from the hand of Pain, for I am afraid of what he will do to us.’

And as I continued on the journey, I found myself unwittingly out ahead of my family and friends—leading and loving them. I bowed in front of all kinds of Pain challenges and honored them. Pain in turn honored me, weeping for me because of the pain he was subjecting me to.

I said to Pain, ‘You may well take all that I have—everything that I own. But, God has given me everything I need, and you cannot take that: community, family, friends, intimacy with God and friends, vulnerability, authenticity, powerlessness, brokenness, knowing I am God’s beloved in whom He is well-pleased, finding my own voice, finding my own identity, interior freedom, meaning and purpose, and a rich interior and spiritual life.’

Then Pain said. ‘Let us journey on our way together.’ And I replied, ‘My family, friends and I are weary from our struggles with you. You go on ahead and we will travel at the pace at which we are capable.’

Further along the journey, I encountered the Dark Night, and I found myself all alone. And Pain came and wrestled with me until someone died. And there was great wailing, moaning, and grieving, followed by a great silence…

And still I continued to wrestle with Pain. When Pain saw that he could not prevail against me, he struck me on the hip socket and my hip was put out of joint.

Then Pain said to me, ‘Let me go, for I have taken your beloved and it is time for me to move on.’ But I said, ‘I will not let you go unless you bless me.’ Pain replied ‘You shall no longer be called by your name, but rather be called ‘wounded healer.’ The wound you have endured at my hand has made you whole.’ And then Pain blessed me.

So, I called this encounter ‘holy,’ as I said, ‘For I have seen God face-to-face in this disease and yet my life has been preserved.’

A new day came after the death of my beloved and the sun rose on me as I moved forward with my life—now limping because of my hip—moving forward as a wounded healer, bringing a message to a world in need of all that I had learned.”

Sources:

Jacob Wrestles with God. Genesis 32:22-32

Who are you God?: Suffering and Intimacy with God, by Janet O. Hagberg. Adapted from Tom’s story pages 185-186.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Embracing Your “Open” Nest

Embracing Your “Open” Nest

“Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly.” (English Proverb)

Getting ready for her to leave: Is she my best friend? Do I make day to day plans solely dependent upon her? Does my day revolve around her schedule? Does she tell me everything going on in her life? Do we spend most of our time as parents talking about her?

I cannot depend on her to continue to breathe life into mine.

Moving from pitcher to catcher, with her at bat.

To transition as a parent, at the same time that she transitions to adulthood.

To allow myself to go through the stages of grief.

“There is a fallow time for the Spirit when the soil is barren because of sheer exhaustion.” (Howard Thurman)

From here on in, there are things that I will not be able to control about her life and future.

How?

  • Take a lot of long walks.
  • There cannot be change without loss. Imagine me without her living here.
  • Reconnect with who I am in addition to being a parent.
  • Step out of my comfort zone more often.
  • Progress, not perfection.
  • Give myself permission to let the spotlight shine on me.
  • Move forward into my New Normal. Closer toward my True Self. Step by slow step.
  • Return to my playful spirit.
  • Build a bridge to the other side.
  • Say Yes to new things.
  • Allow a year of preparation and change. A Sabbatical. A new kind of pregnancy.
  • Seek out mentors and role models.
  • Await the next assignment to find me.

“You cannot discover new oceans unless you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.” (Author unknown)

“The one who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it.” (President Woodrow Wilson)

“I want you to get out there and walk—better yet, run! —on the road God called you to travel. I don’t want any of you sitting around on your hands. I don’t want anyone strolling off, down some path that goes nowhere. And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.” (St. Paul. Ephesians 4:2-3 The Message Translation of the Bible)

Welcome the invitation to this new chapter of my life.

(Source: From Mom to Me Again. By Melissa Schultz.)

Picture your Future

Picture your Future

“In a quiet place with eyes closed, picture yourself getting on a magic carpet that takes you into the blue sky riding the currents like a bird, as far away or as close by as they take you. While on the magic carpet, know that you have all the knowledge, wisdom, skills and experience you need to be and do whatever you want. Nothing can stop you. No obstacles stand in your way. You have everything you need. You have permission and the freedom to be and do whatever you want. Continue to breathe and feel it inside you.

With that inner knowing, picture the magic carpet landing somewhere, a place where you can be truly yourself and do what you want. You get off the carpet and look around.

What do you see? Are you outside or inside? Pause to picture it.

What do you hear? Pause to hear it.

What do you smell? Pause to smell it.

What do you taste? Pause to taste it.

Are you alone or with someone? Pause. If with someone, is it one person, a group of people, or the public? Pause to be alone or with others.

What kind of clothes are you wearing to be who you are? Pause to be in those clothes.

What are you doing? Pause. What part of your body do you see yourself using? Is it your brain, your eyes, your ears, nose, voice, hands, legs, feet, your heart, your soul? Pause to do it.

How do you feel? Pause to feel it.

Now the magic carpet returns you to the present and the chair you are seated in. Gently open your eyes, move your toes and fingers, shake your hands and roll your feet, give your arms and legs a shake.

While the picture is still fresh in your mind, draw a picture or write a paragraph describing it in as much detail as you can.”

(Source: Retire to the Life you Love: Practical Tools for Designing Your Meaningful Future by Nell Smith.)

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