In July, I was watching a movie called “Gladiator” starring Russell Crowe. Near the beginning of the movie is a scene with his character, Maximus, kneeling before a makeshift altar after battle holding carved wood figures of his wife & child left behind at home. He begins to pray. “Ancestors, I ask for your guidance. Blessed Mother come to me with the Gods desire for my future. Blessed Father watch over my wife & son with a ready sword. Whisper to them I live only to hold them again. Ancestors, I honor you & will try to live with the dignity you’ve taught me.”
I am only vaguely familiar with ancient Roman beliefs but I was really touched by the devotion I could feel in this prayer & it brought tears to my eyes. Especially Maximus addressing his “Blessed Mother” which probably referred to his physical mother who had passed over since it appeared that this prayer was addressed to his ancestors. As I didn’t realize this at first, I thought he was addressing his prayer to God as his Mother & to God as his Father. This resonated deeply in my heart. I have been raised in a primarily patriarchal culture that views, addresses & worships God as Father to the exclusion of God as Mother despite the fact that we are all created in God’s image & likeness & half of us are female. Hearing Maximus address God specifically as his “Blessed Mother” with so much respect, humility & devotion made me realize what I am missing in my prayers & in my relationship with God. For while I usually begin my prayers with “Dear Mother Father God,” they are still primarily addressed to God as Father since that is how I have been raised to think of God. My adding “Mother” to the address has been my effort to counter the limitation that I have felt for a very long time.
I remember the first time I saw a picture of God. Well, not really God but someone’s vision of Melchizedek who is spoken of in the old testament bible. He was depicted with deep piercing blue eyes & glowing white hair & figure. I recognized him immediately. This was the God of my childhood. This was the God I’ve known as long as I have memory. This was the God I’d seen as a child. I imagine we all have images of God. Unfortunately, our images can limit our perception of God & therefore limit our prayers & our relationship to God. This is possibly one of the reasons for the commandment to not make graven images. If only it were that easy! What images of God do you carry around? How do your images control or limit you & your relationship to God?
For myself, this movie made me look at my images of God & decide that I have missed out on a fuller experience of God by unconsciously assuming that God is only my “Blessed Father”.
In my home, I have an altar area in a corner. Hanging above a small table on the left is my favorite depiction of Jesus the Christ in a gold & black frame, below it hangs an ornate gold & black cross. On the right is an equally ornate silver, gold & ivory cross above a framed prayer. I have been aware for many years now that the framed prayer is simply holding the space until the right picture to replace it comes along. I have looked for this picture for years. Temporarily, I found a black & white picture of Mother Mary cut out of the local newspaper that I particularly liked so that has been stuck in a corner of the prayer frame. Well, exactly a month after “Gladiator” aired on TV, I finally found the right picture in a gift shop at St. Mary’s – Mary in an ornate gold antiqued silver frame. Am I Catholic? No, but for Christians, what better role model than Mother Mary & Mary the Magdalen. Both of which this picture perfectly captures as well as what I felt when Maximus prayed to his “Blessed Mother”. Have I replaced my old image of God with Jesus the Christ & Mary? No but I feel that I have finally begun to expand my perception of God.
May You Live, Love & Laugh in the Light of God
Our Subconscious Self encompasses that part of our selves that we are not aware of consciously. This aspect of our selves can be seen in others, however & this is one of the blessings of our relationships. Sometimes, others are in our lives to show us our subconscious selves & issues as well as other aspects of our selves so that we can heal them. Otherwise, we would be clueless as to what lies there & therefore clueless as to what is causing some of our problems. So, embrace your relationship challenges for they are here to serve you & your healing journey on this planet. Oftentimes, we strive to ignore what is bothering us in others because of feeling guilty about how we feel about them. Once you recognize that they are you in a way, in a level of you that you are unaware of, then you can be grateful to them for showing you your self. How would you know otherwise? Make a list of everyone in your life that you are uncomfortable with, can’t stand to be with, are upset with or disagree with & then look at each one on the list & accept that they are you at the subconscious level or in some aspect of your self, showing you your self. Be grateful that they are in your life showing you your self & pray for healing for them for as you do you pray for your self. This is one of the more difficult concepts to understand & accept. All of us walking around in different bodies makes it look as though we are completely independent of each other, completely separate from each other, completely different from each other. It obscures the reality that we are all one.
A few years ago, I was in meditation. It was a guided meditation led by a mentor but within just a few minutes of starting, the Holy Spirit took me in a different direction. I don’t remember how the meditation was meant to begin but what I saw was a clear glass bowl of water upon which appeared a paper origami swan. Suddenly the bowl disappeared from view & I was looking down onto the surface of a body of water at a living swan. I began to be moved backwards toward the sky & as this happened what I could see in my field of vision expanded. What had been a bowl of water now looked to be a pond & then a lake & then an ocean & then I began being pulled back ever more quickly as the United States came into view & then all of the Americas. This continued on & there was the planet earth & the moon. The sun & solar system soon appeared. The feeling of rushing back intensified as I continued to be pulled away. Soon the sun began to look like a star just like all the other stars in the cosmos & then I could see our galaxy & then it became smaller as other galaxies came into view. Finally, in my field of vision, all I could see was an infinite black field filled with galaxies & as I continued to move backwards, farther & farther away, all of the galaxies converged to became just a single spot of light before me. It was at this point that a very deep voice reverberated through me, saying “ALL ONE.” I wish I could convey the intensity of this experience fully, especially the voice of God at the end. I’m glad for the opportunity to write about it, to remember it again. It’s all too easy to buy into the false appearance of the physical that we are all separate, different, disconnected & independent from each other. This spiritual experience was a reminder to me that, despite what appears to be the truth in the physical, we are one.
By accepting that we are one, you open the way to healing your self & your subconscious self. You may think that what others have done to you is unforgivable & that you could not possibly be guilty of doing to anyone what they have done to you. I’m here to tell you that it is possible. We wear our issues like the clown that has the sign on his back that says “Kick Me!” We attract to our selves what we have said, done, thought, felt or believed whether we can remember it or not & whether we are aware of it or not. This is where others play their part & come to our rescue by reading the sign & kicking us! So if others are doing unto you what you don’t want done, then more likely than not, you have only yourself to blame & believe it or not, this is a good thing. The alternative is that you are just unlucky, cursed, being unfairly picked on or a victim. Taking responsibility for all that happens to you & your reaction to it puts the ball in your court. What’s even more amazing is that when you take full responsibility for your self, the universe moves to deliver you from what you are holding that has been attracting all the abuse. My favorite way of taking responsibility is through prayer & forgiveness work (Emotional Attunement). These two methods have proven themselves over & over again to be effective at removing the “Kick Me” signs no matter the cause or the source of them.
What you will find when you have fully forgiven yourself & others for their part, is Divine Unconditional Love, Peace & Healing. You may think this is not possible because of what has been done to you. You may feel that others don’t deserve to be forgiven. You may believe that it’s not in your power to forgive but I tell you that it is in your power because in doing so you release yourself from bondage. You also help release others from their bondage. When I was little, I was molested many times by my grandfather. Fortunately for me, this was not the grandpa who raised me. As I got older, I got better at avoiding him & preventing further abuse. He passed over when I was 16 years old, much to my relief at the time & I have not seen him until just recently. Needless to say, I had years of traditional therapy as a teenager & in my 30’s interspersed with a lot of nontraditional forms of therapy through the years. A few years ago, I realized that I had finally healed from the abuse, had fully forgiven him & let it go. I thought no more of it until about a month ago when I saw him in the dream state when I was visiting my grandma (his wife). She passed over a little over 20 years ago & I’ve visited her in the dream state many times but she was always either alone or with other family members. I was completely shocked, therefore, to see my grandfather with her this time. This was the first time I’d seen him in over 35 years. He was almost unbelievably transformed – loving, happy, healthy & whole. What was even more shocking to me was that, as I stood before him, I realized that not only had I forgiven him (which I already knew) but that I loved him! Not at any point when he was alive, did I ever feel that I loved him. I hugged him then & told him I loved him & in my mind I told him that I’d forgiven him. I didn’t say that I’d forgiven him aloud because I’m never quite sure what is remembered, known or understood by others at that level.
I am not sharing this to show how enlightened I am, to gain sympathy or to impress anyone but to impress on you that forgiving others is in your power to do & to point out that if I can forgive my grandfather then you can forgive those who’ve hurt you as well. I know that forgiving him transformed me, did my forgiving him transform him as well?
For me, sometimes, living in the physical has been like standing in the bottom of a very deep, very dark , very empty well yelling, “Hello! Is anyone there? Can you hear me?” And all I could hear was the sound of my own voice echoing back at me.
Other times, it’s been like having one foot in the physical & one foot in spirit, feeling homesick, torn, divided & separated between the two.
Occasionally, it’s been like heaven.
There is very little guidance for most of us on how to heal & unify our spiritual self & our physical self. How to bring our physical lives into alignment with our spiritual lives. How to live a spiritual life in the physical. What does that even look like? Maybe saying prayers before bed as in our childhood? Maybe saying grace before meals? Going to church on Sunday? Is that all there is to living a spiritual-physical life? Probably not. I suspect that very few people walking the planet today have fully integrated their spiritual self into their physical life & body. I suspect that all of our lives would be very, very, very different from how they are right now if we were fully living as spiritual beings in the physical. It has been one of my personal goals in life to work on this conundrum. I know that I can tell you that I have struggled with it for almost as long as I can remember. Maybe you have, too. Or maybe you gave up long ago. Whatever the case may be, stick around awhile longer & lets talk about our spiritual self & what it means to live a spiritual life in the physical.
I can look around & tell you what living a spiritual life is not about. My daughter woke up one morning recently to the sound of a car crash. She ran outside & a neighbor told her that someone had hit her car & driven off – a hit & run. Thinking that the other car might not have made it very far, my son-in-law went walking & sure enough, there it was about a block away with a tell-tale gas cap embedded in it. Oh, & did I mention that it was also sporting the Christian fish emblem on the back? I’m pretty sure that if the driver had stopped & asked Spirit, “WWJD?” the answer wouldn’t have been “RUN!” Why did they run? They were probably drunk & didn’t want to get a DUI. Or maybe it was a joy ride & not their own car or maybe they’re here illegally or they were driving without a license, without insurance or the car had stolen plates. Whatever the reason, I can tell you that living a spiritual life means walking your talk, even when it’s difficult, inconvenient, expensive or uncomfortable. This is an extreme example but it illustrates the physical-spiritual split that exists in the day to day lives of many people. What’s the solution? Well, if you can’t live up to the dictates of your chosen religion, then you might want to choose another one. Choose another one?!!! Yes!!! It’s more important for your insides & your outsides to match than it is for you to fit in with your culture, your family or any external standard, expectation or institution. It’s nearly impossible for you to heal & integrate your spiritual self & your physical self if they are at odds with one another. Bring them into alignment with one another & you can move mountains.
Of course, this may be easier said than done. There are a lot of factors involved in aligning your insides & your outsides as I so elegantly call it. What feels right on the outside may not be right on the inside & vice-versa. As with other aspects, believe it or not, your spiritual self can be wounded & damaged. There is an idea that gets thrown around in some circles that offers an explanation. “Any degree of separation (from God, self, source) can leave an opening for darkness.” Darkness, negativity, evil, interference, wrong-doing, mistakes, lack, limitation, misunderstandings, distortions, etc. can all be seen as different sides of the same coin. The end result is the same – problems in the physical. In fact, you can look at your physical body, life, experiences & relationships to determine the nature & current state of affairs of any or all of your aspects including your spiritual self. Many times, by simply healing the different aspects of yourself, you can greatly improve all aspects of your physical experience. That is one of the blessings of being physical. You get the opportunity to perceive what’s wrong & also the opportunity to do something about it! So, you’re wondering, how do you heal your spiritual self? I’m glad you asked. First off, you need to learn to discern your spiritual self.
Think of your spiritual self as a body very like your physical body that is not confined by physical laws, gravity or 3 dimensional reality. This part of you has the ability to span time, distance, space. It has the ability to be with God. I tend to think of the spiritual self as almost like a bridge between the physical & the spiritual realms. It is a part of you here but is also a part of God, therefore, making time to connect to God connects you with your spirit. Pursuing spiritual practices will also nurture your spiritual self. I would go so far as to say that just simply taking the time, daily, to acknowledge & pay attention to God & Spirit would increase your awareness of your spiritual self, strengthen your connection to your spirit & lead you to incorporate more of your spirit into your physical experience. You will possibly never perceive spirit if you never open your self up to the possibility of perceiving spirit. All it takes is willingness on your part. I know Spirit is just waiting.
Many techniques that heal other aspects can be used to heal your spiritual self such as meditation, prayer & forgiveness work. These spiritual practices, & many others that have evolved over thousands of years through thousands of religions & spiritual traditions, are now at your fingertips. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to locate what is right for you. You could go to a different house of worship every weekend of the year & probably not run out of religions to explore in your area. Explore on the internet. Attend classes at the local library & check out spiritual & religious books, videos, CD’s & DVD’s while you’re there. Look everywhere with the expectation that Spirit will help you every step of the way. Open your self up to God & Spirit by assuming that you are never alone & talk out loud (or in your mind if others are around!) to Spirit. Ask questions, ask for help & expect that you are being heard & that you will be answered. You will know when you have found what you are looking for because it will bring you joy & peace. Your spiritual practice & belief system should feed & nurture you physically, emotionally, mentally, spiritually & energetically. You should not have to force yourself, be bored or unduly stressed by it. It should naturally flow as a part of you because you are a unique child of God, having a unique relationship with Spirit, walking your talk as only you can.