When it all comes apart, something remains

My self-perception these past few years has felt a bit like a knitting project that keeps getting pulled apart and started over again and again. First it was like an afghan, then a scarf, next a mitten missing a couple of fingers. Now? The needles are still clicking but nothing recognizable seems to be forming.

Eckhart Tolle said recently in a one his talks that we want to walk around as nobody in particular. Boy, did that land with me. I’m just not sure who I am anymore. Eckhart also said that this ‘being nobody’ is apt to feel painful because the ego wants to be somebody important.  No kidding. Now that I have stopped working so hard to be noticed, I notice how hard I was working. Working at getting the attention of others. Of being seen and valued and wanted. Letting go of our attachment to the roles and achievements that we’ve spent a lifetime chasing after is – as Jesus says in A Course in Miracles – apt to feel “personally insulting.”

A couple of days ago I was helping my friend in her booth at the Fryeburg Fair here in Maine. It was crazy-busy and we had only about 5 minutes of downtime in the 5 hours I was there. At one point I stepped outside the building for a moment when a man came over to say that he had noticed me when he walked past the booth and thought I was a “mannequin” because I was so still. I don’t remember having the luxury to remain still for more than a nanosecond, so I thought his comment was just a way of being friendly.  When he stopped by the booth again and repeated the statement to me and my friend, I wondered if he was seeing the inner stillness I was feeling despite the swirl of people everywhere.

I chose to accept the comment as a reminder that even in the stillness of non-achieving, of being nobody in particular, there is Presence. And Presence is always noticeable to those who can see it.

– Susan Lewis

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Poem: It’s a Whole New World

From out Here looking in
it’s a whole different view
where the messiness of life
can be understood anew.

All that angst, all that fretting
all that focusing on getting,
are the keys to awakening,
you see.

So let’s not deny what’s cruel,
but let it be the very fuel
that propels us back Home
where we are free.

Our Inner Spirit Guide
shows us all the ways we hide
from the peace and simplicity
of Being.

And when we turn our whole life over
it’s like laying in the clover;
not a care in the world…
now that’s Seeing!

Submitted by Susan Lewis

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Problem….? What problem?

I remember when I loved to see myself as a great problem-solver. I could prove how responsible, responsive, intelligent and “loving” I was by fixing, or at least trying to find a solution, to whatever problem I or somebody else seemed to be having.

When I practice Awareness, I don’t need to find the answers. The other day my teen-aged son got upset because he had lost the wireless internet connection in the midst of a video game. “Mom, the wireless is out again and I’m fed up….. What are you going to do about our Internet?!” Narrowed slits of angry eyes zeroed in on me expectantly. I looked inside my mind for a solution from Ms. Fix-it. Nothing came. Not even that little emotional thrill I used to feel when a problem was calling me into action. “Hmmm. I don’t know. What do you suggest?”

What I’ve realized is that when my focus stays in the Present Moment I really don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if anything actually needs doing. Heck, I don’t even know if there’s a problem. It makes life a lot more peaceful.

My son walked away without another word, reset the wireless connection himself, and it worked great for the rest of the day. The old Susan would have headed out to Best Buy for a new router.

Submitted by Susan Lewis

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Who ya’ gonna call?

Remember this line from the theme song of the movie, Ghostbusters?

“If you’re seein’ things runnin’ thru your head
Who can you call? Ghostbusters!”

In this favorite old movie of mine (which, by the way, is celebrating the 30th anniversary of its release this year) some helpless New York residents have a ghost problem. They call on a loveable trio of parapsychologists to vanquish those mean old ghosts. Poof, they’re gone! Peace returns.

When I’m plagued with ego thoughts, it feels like ghosts are wreaking havoc in my life.

You and I have two voices in our mind. The voice for ego and the voice for Love. It’s not hard to tell the difference between these voices once we understand that each has very different characteristics.

The voice of the ego is characterized by lack, limitation, fear, judgment (of others or oneself), control, denial, confusion, guilt, blame, unworthiness, attack, defense, dissatisfaction and self-doubt.

The voice of Love is characterized by trust, acceptance, allowance of ‘what is’, a knowing that ‘all is well’, willingness to look, compassion and innocence.

You and I must choose which voice to listen to and believe. If we listen to the voice for ego and give it credibility, we are haunting our own life. Our existence here is a living death.

The voice for Love has an answer for every belief in suffering. Our existence here becomes an expression of Life itself – trusting and delightfully free.

So when we’re ready for some peace, who we gonna’ call? The voice for Love in our mind. It’s always there, awaiting the opportunity to vanquish the ghosts and tell us the truth about ourselves.

Submitted by Susan Lewis

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Are you a snake, a sheep, or Something Else?

This morning I got a request for help from a young woman I’ve been corresponding with as a facilitator of the Inner Guidance Support Group offered by Pathways of Light (www.pathwaysoflight.org).  This woman (let’s call her “Marie”) asks really good questions! Today she wanted to know why, when she works so hard at being peaceful and loving, she has been getting attacked verbally by her sister — and why she reacts to these attacks in ways that are ‘bad’ and ‘un-spiritual’ (her words).  Did I do something to deserve these bad experiences? she asked.

In a word: No. It’s just a case of mistaken identity.

In A Course in Miracles, we learn that the experience of attack and defense comes with identifying with the ego… with believing that we are a body, when in truth we are formless Spirit Itself.  So, while the game of attack and defense feels very real to us, nothing has actually happened to get upset about. We are dreaming a dream where we have tricked ourselves in to thinking we are the me-body- self with its personality, story, values, beliefs and so on. So I wrote back: “As long as you believe your identity is ‘Marie’ and that ‘Marie’s’ story is what you are, you will be caught in the cycle of attack and defense. No matter how hard you try to be “spiritual”, if you see your body and the world as real, you will be subject to the ego’s unpredictable ups and downs and you will inevitably be disappointed in yourself and others.
 
So what to do? I reminded her that the first step in handling attack in any form, whether it comes from another or is self-judgment, is to trust that all attack is happening for us, not to us. This is always an invitation to ask Holy Spirit/Jesus/God/Divine Love/whatever we call It for healing of the belief that we are separate from our Source, unworthy, and in need of engaging in attack and defense.
 
I wrote: It is helpful to let go of seeing yourself as a ‘spiritual’ person. This is just a concept — an idea. It’s no different than seeing yourself as a “successful” person, a “beautiful” person, a “handicapped” person, a “stupid” person, or a “smart” person. These are all just characterizations. Once believed in, we have to spend a lot of energy defending these beliefs. We are not ‘spiritual’, we are Spirit! There is a huge difference!
 
 Imagine for a moment that you are a snake. Because nobody seems to like snakes very much you decide to dress yourself up as a sheep so people will think you’re cute and harmless and find you more loveable (you hope). However, because you’re really a snake, you don’t like eating grass or hanging out with the other sheep. You really just want to slink off by yourself and eat a nice rodent. But you are so invested in pretending to be a sheep, you judge yourself for any thoughts that are threatening to this characterization. A thought comes in: “I hate grass.” Immediately followed by another thought: “I shouldn’t be thinking that I hate grass. I’m a sheep.”  Another sheep makes fun of you because your wool is sort of scaly (you are, after all, a snake).  Because you are living a lie about your real identity and must defend your sheep characterization at all costs, you get furious at this other sheep for attacking you.  “Why is this happening to me?” you wonder, forgetting that you willingly took on this false identity.
 
I like what the awakened teacher, Mooji, says about trying to be loving: “There is no need to try to feel at one with everyone, to experience the world as yourself, to love all. That may be revealed spontaneously, but don’t work for it. Imposing a mental concept of ‘oneness’ on the world ultimately only nourishes the feeling of ‘other’. It can cultivate arrogance in the shroud of false humility. To truly know the One underlying the whole of Creation, only this you need to do: Find out who you are, right now!”
 
How do we do this? By knowing what we’re not.
 
Posted by Susan Lewis
 
 

 

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Bruised and happy about it

I’ve been hooking a rug for our kitchen.  It’s kind of a French country floral design with gold, reds, blues and greens against a black background. At least, that’s what I thought. This afternoon, while taking advantage of an opportunity to hook in the sunshine pouring into our sunroom in a warmish fall day, I noticed something. Something that had eluded me in the shadows of the living room where I’d been working on this rug all week. Let’s just say black is the new blue.  Or  blue is the new black. Or something like that.

Seems all the nice wool a friend gave me is not black, but a very dark blue. So now I have a background that is black-and-blue. There was a time when a mistake like this would have left me feeling black-and-blue, not to mention red all over! I would have lost my peace, called myself names, and torn out many hours of work in my desire for perfectionism. Years ago, my first knitting project, a spiral scarf, was coming along nicely until I made a bunch of mistakes and got so frustrated I pulled the entire scarf apart and swore off knitting for life.

But today, I cringed only for a second and remembered that this so-called “mistake” is an opportunity to choose Love. That every disturbance that comes to me is happening for me, not to me. What an amazing thing to just allow everything. To be with it in peace. No more murdering myself by diminishment.

Nope, I’m not changing a thing. When the rug is done and down on the floor, it will always be a reminder of the day I chose to be happy instead of right.

Posted by Susan Lewis

 

 

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A perfect pergola perspective

Last summer, we erected (with the help of a stonemason friend) a stone wall and brick patio off the back of our garage. It was a real labor of love for Peter, who had always wanted to learn how to build a stone wall. I labored too, getting some real exercise hauling wheelbarrow loads of bricks for up from the ruins of an old sawmill near our house.

This summer we’ve been enjoying the fruits of our labor while sipping wine on the patio as dinner cooks on the grill. Yummm. Except for one little thing… We now realize that as the sun moves into the West, the patio gets full light, and boy, is it hot! In search of a shady solution, we went to the nursery this week to look at small trees. We found a small birch clump we liked, but wanted to ask for Guidance before buying. It might sound strange, but this is our practice as individuals and life partners. We are learning to make no decisions on our own.

My Inner Guide pointed me to a different solution – attaching a simple pergola to the garage wall to shade the patio. When I heard this, however, it didn’t make much sense because the garage is old and in poor shape and would need rebuilding soon. Why attach a new pergola to a sagging building? But since we are currently rebuilding the old wood shed and mud room on the other side of the garage (with a crew here as I write this), it would be easy enough to get an estimate on the pergola. I hadn’t even had a chance to mention it to our contractor yet today, when he (Mike) called me outdoors to show me something. Apparently, as he began to reconnect the wood room to the garage, the pressure on the garage made it lean even more. Clearly, the garage was in worse shape than we thought and attaching the new building to this dying structure didn’t make sense. “Okay, get us an estimate to rebuild the garage,” I asked.

Then I remembered my Guidance. “Hey, Mike, as we rebuild what would it take to attach a simple pergola on the patio side…?” Oh, he said, that would be simple. We walked over to look and tossed around ideas for how the supporting legs could rest on granite or slate slabs and I felt the absolute rightness of it. Once again, my Inner Guidance was spot on, seeing ahead with a perspective that fits all needs together perfectly. My ego’s thinking-judging mind is not capable of doing this. I am grateful to my Inner Guide – and to Peter, my (other) partner in this new way of being in the world.

Posted by Susan Lewis

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Called to Care — Or Not?

A few moments ago, as I came to the door leading outside from my office, I found a small bird hopping about. He did not appear frightened of me. In fact, he looked up at me with some curiosity, as though I might the source of something truly interesting like a worm. He had bits of soft feather about him and seemed to be young and recently out of the nest. He showed no sign of capacity or interest in flying. I immediately felt scared for him – there are feral cats that hang around the church parking lot. His destiny if he truly cannot fly will be dim and short. I thought of taking him in, of calling someone (who?), or at least of picking him up and putting him somewhere safer than the step by the church door. In the end, I did none of these.

What does caring look like? I mean, real caring. Is it assuming I can take responsibility? Is it knowing what needs to happen? Is it feeling sorry and finding someone else to step in? Who, after all, is this about?

I remember times in my life when I have appreciated a “hand up” when I was down. There have also been times when I didn’t get help I thought I needed – and this, too, turned out to be exactly what wanted to happen. Over time, I have come to appreciate respect more than sympathy. I am truly cared for when I am seen as creative, resourceful and whole – more importantly, when I see myself that way.

Here’s what I did. I squatted down beside the little bird and praised his adventurous spirit that took him that first step out of the nest. I wished him the power of his wings and the enjoyment of them. I told him I would keep an eye out for cats for a little while as he got his wings under him. I thanked him for being my Teacher today because I, too, need courage and hope some days.

The bird cocked his head as though he were listening – though more probably he was now clear I had nothing of interest to offer him — turned away, took two hops and flew – a little wobbly – to a nearby bush. “There you go,” I thought, “and so do I.”

Posted by Peter Heinrichs

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Let the birthday banner fly!

When someone in our house has a birthday, there’s a little thing I like to do. For the week of the birthday, I hang a big birthday-cake shaped windsock on the front porch for all the world to see. It’s a way of telling my husband and son that they are precious to me and I am grateful for their presence in my life.

My birthday’s in two days. This morning I spotted the windsock in our storage area and I thought, “Oh, I hope someone puts out the windsock for me.”  The likelihood seemed slim… my son is 14 (enough said) and Peter is so busy, and besides he probably has never noticed that the windsock is in that box over there.

And then I heard the gentlest voice whispering to me: “Fly the windsock for yourself.” At first I ignored it. The suggestion seemed silly. I felt shy imagining myself standing out there on the stool putting it up. But there was something about the invitation to do this that felt  important.  

You know how some people blame others for everything that goes wrong? Not me. When the finger of judgment went a-pointing, it would always turn right around and point at me. It is impossible to love someone who takes the blame for so much.

But I am learning to break this habit. The opening of my Heart is reaching out to include everyone – even me. Especially me. A friend shared a beautiful quote last week that seems to go along with the birthday windsock, now blowing in the April breeze: Dear God, please help me accept the Truth about myself, no matter how beautiful it is.

Yes, yes, yes. I invite you to join me in saying this prayer. Say it a thousand times a day… say it as often as you need to until you accept the Truth about yourself.  

Posted by Susan Lewis

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Knitting and Seeing

Today I found a mistake in my knitting. Not a “finger” mistake — wrong count, twisted stitch or misplaced slip stitch. A “pattern” mistake. I picked up the lap blanket I am knitting and right away I could see that the pattern had gotten cock-eyed. The last row I had completed was clearly out of place. I picked up the instructions. I counted stitches. I puzzled. I thought about where the pattern ought to be. I tried to figure out where I had gone wrong. I considered moving on and ignoring the misplaced row. It is (after all) a big project and who will look that closely? I could, of course, take out the offending row, but where to begin then? I grew annoyed.

A rule in knitting: when all else fails, stop, step back and LOOK. Don’t look for mistakes — look for the pattern. Where does the pattern want to go? I saw immediately that I had begun a new section of pattern without finishing the last section. The repair was simple — a row out, the row that wants to be there, back in. Pattern complete (for now).

My fingers are telling me something today. I am so often ready to take on the next thing without completing the last. I can so easily step around the uncomfortable truth and step into what I think ought to happen. It never works! A dropped opportunity for truth makes the pattern cock-eyed. I am making decisions right now about employment. Trouble is, I don’t know what the future holds. I can’t puzzle it out. I get anxious when I can’t make plans. What I can do is drop back and acknowledge the truth of what needs completing now. Then, like knitting, my fingers will take up the work, and my heart will again wonder and wander as I see the pattern go where it wants to go!

Posted by Peter Heinrichs

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