Breathing Under Water

This is one of my favourite poems
by Carol Bieleck

the-sea-4
I built my house by the sea.
Not on the sands, mind you;
not on the shifting sand.
And I built it of rock.

A strong house
by a strong sea.
And we got well acquainted, the sea and I.
Good neighbors.
Not that we spoke much.
We met in silences.
Respectful, keeping our distance,
but looking our thoughts across the fence of sand.
Always, the fence of sand our barrier,

always, the sand between.

And then one day,
-and I still don’t know how it happened –
the sea came.
Without warning.

Without welcome, even
Not sudden and swift, but a shifting across the sand like wine,
less like the flow of water than the flow of blood.
Slow, but coming.
Slow, but flowing like an open wound.
And I thought of flight and I thought of drowning and I thought of death.
And while I thought the sea crept higher, till it reached my door.
And I knew, then, there was neither flight, nor death, nor drowning.
That when the sea comes calling, you stop being neighbors,
Well acquainted, friendly-at-a-distance neighbors,
And you give your house for a coral castle,
And you learn to breathe underwater.

Courage

skeletons

“Owning our story can be hard but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Embracing our vulnerabilities is risky but not nearly as dangerous as giving up on love and belonging and joy—the experiences that make us the most vulnerable. Only when we are brave enough to explore the darkness will we discover the infinite power of our light.”
Brené Brown

There have been times when I have been afraid to tell my story. It’s mainly because of the reaction I get  from some people, thus causing me to have shame. I think it’s because I care too much what people may think of me. I know it sounds silly, but I am afraid of being judged. Feeling alone with one’s secrets is terrifying.

I would like to be more courageous.

Often when I read someone else’s heart-rendering story, it helps me feel that I am not alone in the World. I admire courage, I do not despise it.

Franklin D Roosevelt said “Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the assessment that something else is more important than fear.” So actually if we expose our vulnerability and it thereby helps someone, we transmute our fear.

The principal of “Alcoholics Anonymous” is a sense of sharing one’s struggles and in so doing the pain lessens. In the rooms of AA people expose their vulnerability and still feel accepted and loved. I have seen more courage among addicts than anywhere else. I suppose it helps to keep things anonymous in the real thick of the battle.

Brene Brown said “If we can share our story with someone who responds with empathy and understanding, shame can’t survive.”

It is interesting that when we explore the darkness, we discover the light. Perhaps in exposing the darkness we put our hidden things into the light and that sets us free.

I would like to ask my younger self “does it really matter what people think of me and do I really have to look good?” My Mother used to say to me “we shouldn’t air the dirty family washing”! So maybe it was an old pattern I adopted from my Youth!

I would love to go forward from here and be more courageous…….

“When you’re 20 you care what everyone thinks, when you’re 40 you stop caring what everyone thinks, when you’re 60 you realise no one was ever thinking about you in the first place!” Unknown

 

 

Life in slow motion

birds

Recently I posted on my Facebook page that I’m a “breast cancer survivor”. I don’t really talk about it much anymore, mostly because I don’t want it to become my identity. I also don’t want pity.

I’ve thought about it and I realise that my story is a beacon of hope for those who are the midst of the struggle with cancer.

Having breast cancer was a major pause of reflection in my life. It was a time when everything was in slow motion and all around me were moments of gratitude intermixed with a lot of nausea. My memory has erased most of the bad parts.

At the time I thought I might die and I wrote some words to everyone who means something to me. I keep those words as a reminder of my hearts appreciation.

The hardest part of having cancer was the chemo, its horrible stuff; it wreaks havoc on every cell in the body. I cried when they said my hair would fall out.

The intravenous infusion I was given was called “the red devil” and it lived up to its name. When I got home I was violently ill for days and I had such bad thrush in my mouth that I could hardly swallow.

I felt all around me magnificent beings showing me love and support. I felt Angels watching over me.

The day I got my head shaved because my hair was a mere wisp I saw pity in the eyes of my beloveds.

On looking back though, I know I dodged a bullet. The first surgeon I went to when the lump was detected had visions of his Mauritius holiday when he saw me. He gave me no choice; just a “consent form” as he explained that if he found cancer during the surgery he would lop off my boob. (not in those words, but very close)

As I left his luxurious suite, he callously said to me “there, there, I operated on a woman just recently and she went to “The Met” with a sock in it”. He had the compassion of a gnat.

With tears streaming down my face I made my way out of the leafy upper-class suburb.

I spent the weekend trying to fathom out what sock size could replace my womanhood.

My niece a Medical student at the time had heard of my plight and she told me to go for a second opinion. It was the Sunday evening before the scheduled operation, and I had to act fast.

After firing Doctor “feel bad”, I found myself in the modest suites of gentle doctors. As one did the needle biopsy to see if it was cancer, the other, a surgeon explained that I had a choice. I could have a mastectomy or a lumpectomy. I chose the latter.

It’s now just a distant memory and I still bear a faint scar. I think about it sometimes if I get a bad headache or any unusual affliction and I wonder at times if it’s coming back.

I may have put it out of my consciousness to try and chase it away. Somewhere inside me some fear still resides but it’s not all consuming.

I have come to see it as the kind of life lesson that explodes with gratitude and hope. It has caused me to appreciate life more and smell more roses and imbibe more sunshine.

For those who were with me during this time my appreciation is cosmic.
I was lucky to come out alive….

Turning the World on its head

sunset

I’ve wondered for a long time what it means to be blessed. Then I looked up the word “blessed” in the dictionary, and it means holy/consecrated. Consecrated means sacred and sacred means connected with God.

The other dilemma I had was the beatitudes show a different version of what people in the church call “being blessed”.

I think that Jesus turned the world on its head, but nobody is listening!

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven”. The interpretation in the message is “You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you, there is more of God”.

It makes you think doesn’t it? Those who bandy around the word “blessed” all the time need to rethink it. Nowhere does it say that having a new car and a wonderful life makes you blessed, because do those things really make you holy and connected to God?

Me thinks not, sometimes when we are at our very lowest ebb, and we’ve lost everything we feel the very presence of our Divine saviour!

So let’s read further….
“Blessed are those who mourn for they shall be comforted”. That has been a hard one to comprehend, but when you see the true meaning of being blessed maybe it brings more understanding. The message says “You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One dearest to you”.

Being blessed doesn’t necessarily mean we feel good. We feel ripped to the core of our being when we lose someone we love. The amazing thing that we can know is that when we mourn we will be comforted and so connected to the Divine!

So my question really is “do material possessions bring us closer to God”? When you have a trouble free life, are you blessed?

I think the church would do well to rather say (when things go right for them) that they feel content which means satisfied or pleased or to really examine if a good life makes you closer to the divine?

My favourite one is “blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth”. There are many interpretations out there and the message says “You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are-no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought”.
Meek means to be quiet, gentle and easily imposed on. In reality can you see the meek inheriting the Earth? All around us are smug opportunists, platform builders and rich dudes who walk all over people and it looks like they are inheriting the earth!

However, I’m looking forward to that day when the meek inherit the earth!

Do me a favour and look up the word “blessed” in your concordance. You will find blessing comes from trusting God and walking in His ways. Sometimes it means being persecuted, feeling sad and being spiritually poor.

So if you hear me say “I’m blessed”, it could be that I have completely fallen apart and reached rock bottom and maybe just maybe got connected to the divine.

Looking for the light

looking for the light

I stand here alone, on the outskirts of all hope. I dwell in the open plains of desolation, looking in, almost afraid to breathe. I try not to feel, because the pain goes so deep.

You cannot see my vantage point; it is on the edge of the Universe, where the darkness is touching the light.

I’ve lost touch with who you are, my mind cannot reconcile that happy, loving being with the anger in you now. I pray for strength, I pray for tomorrow, even when today is not yet finished.

Pieces of me float around in outer space, as if I’ve been blown apart.

I keep trying to bring myself back to earth, and I try to listen to the happy sound of birds in the early morning and feel the gentleness of the breeze in the evening. All feeling gets extinguished in that moment when insanity prevails; my survival is at stake now!

Each time you throw yourself into reckless abandonment, a little piece of me dies inside. I cannot help the anguish that overwhelms me. Does God not cry at the suffering of his children?

I am waiting for the resurrection to come, when all things will be made right. I don’t even know if I believe anymore!

It’s only in the depths that I know there is a God, only in the places where the wild things go, that there is a Savior.

My vigil is standing watching the light; holding on to what is sacred. Hope fades when weariness sets in and days become continuous night.

Sometimes I stand brokenhearted on the shores of yesterday, I cannot hear the ocean. My being is motionless and the dull ache of sadness has paralyzed me.

The lightness of the sky is my tomorrow, the birds sweep down and they circle all around me. They can see my hollow bones.

I long to lie down in greener places and watch as light overcomes darkness. I would love the comfort of peace. If sacrifice is what it takes to heal brokenness, I would have let the atonement take me long before the madness.

Is sorrow eternal?

Can I soar above and beyond the heartbreak and see a tomorrow-land full of hope?

My vantage point has obscured my vision, blindness is my thinking.

I am broken…..almost beyond repair!

 

I am an outcast

windblown

Being an outsider to some extent, someone who does not ‘fit in’ with others or is rejected by them for whatever reason, makes life difficult, but it also places you at an advantage as far as enlightenment is concerned. It takes you out of unconsciousness almost by force.”
Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment

I am an outcast, on the open plains of defeat, abandoned and alone. I have been a misfit all my life, yet I was born to something different, and inborn awareness.

I’ve learnt to cry with the brokenhearted.

I’ve always loved the feeling of sun on my freckled face, the smell of the forest and the taste of chocolate cake.

I have a dance in me, and the music keeps playing. I feel the changes in me down to the depths, my emotions are in tune.

I’m wild at heart, a free spirit, a gypsy, trained in joylessness. I have fun emanating from my being, locked in dark places trying to explode.

Too long have I seen myself reflected in your eyes, too long have I wanted your acceptance. You changed me in your disbelief. I am an outcast and a stranger, forbidden to say those words, that truth.

Please can we try again, to know each other, to explore the places where darkness has misled us. I don’t mind being a nobody, I’ve let go of the bonds of ego and self.

The worm has transformed into a butterfly, flying above all earthly attractions, into unknown territory, still uncharted.

They say that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger!” but I’ve died a million times….I’ve died trying to get closer to you.

I’ve died to be reborn….