Renewal: Love Letter #39

Mystical Rose By Shiloh Sophia McCloud ©2009

Mystical Rose By Shiloh Sophia McCloud ©2009

Renewal: Love Letter #39

Dear Ones,

Possible themes for my holiday Love Letter included:

Why the mall being all a bustle and super busy makes me happy even though consumerism is being criticized by my contemporaries.

How to keep the Holy in Holiday and still have a really splendid time!

How to put the New into New Year and make this year really count.

Why is Mama Mary all but ignored in many Christian traditions on Christmas, or if she is mentioned, Silent Night is the most honor she gets.

How to cook a Christmas goose and set your figgy pudding aflame and still keep the peace.

Not very original huh? Not very inspiring to me either.

So I as I sit at the library table in the dimming light, it is 5:17am I am bringing my whole self into gratitude that this day, this Solstice is the longest night of the year.

It is from this “coming of the light” gratitude that I settle in for my final Love Letter of 2009.

The light through the darkening sky and the leafless trees is periwinkle smoke colored. It has been raining all day and the earth and leaves offer winter’s pungent perfume. I can hear dogs barking in the distance and birds settling in for the night. There is a mixture of sorrow and hope mingling with the density of Winter’s breath. The day is strangely quiet though, since my little kittie of 14 years suddenly ceased to live just six days ago. If she were here, her snoring would punctuate the rhythmic thum, hum and click of my keyboard. Her snoring was my metronome. I miss her terribly.

As I often do I am imagining you sitting across the table from me, a glass of wine in hand or some hot coco like from the movie Chocolat’. The fire warming us to settle in for a Winter’s night conversation. For dinner, we are having homemade salted corn tortilla’s and my mama’s bean soup, brought all the way from Port Townsend, Washington by RV. There is cheer in the room, sitting side by side with sorrow. Sorrow and cheer vie for position on my couch. Elbowing each other to see who I will pay attention to first. ME! Says Cheerful Joy. I am happy and gay and sparkling. I am truly needed….. ME! Says Sorrow, I have so much to say, without me cheer makes no sense, for example, have I told you the story of….
I turn from them back to you – we shake our head and laugh because our lives are strung between joy and sorrow from the instant of our conception.

Friends, I am finding it impossible to be succinct today. I have so much I want to say,

and haven’t the time just now to turn this apple tree in to a glass of apple juice. Forgive me, and find what there is to find and leave what you want as I know you will! So bear with me as I find my way towards what I wanted to share with you this holiday, a little something about repentance, renewal, freedom, and as always, finding personal peace.

Dear Ones, What if we woke up today

And the old stories didn’t have their sting?

What if we didn’t resist what there is to do?

And set about our tasks, whether grand or mundane

As if we were serving the world through our tending.

What if we gave ourselves permission to love,

really love,

those who previously, we framed with our thoughts

as if we always know how they will be,

What if we treated them differently?
What if we did a simultaneous cleansing,

a right of forgiveness…

If we took responsibility for what has gone before

and then choose to move forward powerfully

instead of guiltily.

We know, how guilt does not inspire

but condemns us to hidden silences.

Let us be honest with ourselves

if things have not turned out as we hoped for.

If our dreams feel dashed or doomed.

Let’s just say it.

Are there ties that need cutting?

Are there others that need re-tieing? Mending?

What is out of whack?

Mourn it. Lament it. Write it down and put it on your altar.

But only for the right amount of time,

Which only you know. But —Don’t indulge it —

Then it is time to move forward.

Slowly, surely we move toward hope again.

So — it is foolish to love again, try again, risk again.

But what else is there to do?

Really. Really?

We are living in a broken hearted world.

Because some of us are hungry.

Some of us are hurting.

Some damage is too far done.

To admit what is, is not to enforce a negative reality.

We have what we have and words and thoughts

do not change what we have.

But we can change our futures.

We can love beyond reason.

We can choose to move ahead
with as much joy as we can find.

Some of us are happy – some of us have enough.

We can rejoice in what we have,

Guilt is not the bedfellow of true joy.

Let us be truly truly thankful for what we have.

And when we are, what we no longer need

comes into clear view.  And we can make changes.

We see how we can give, and serve. And not hoard.

Finding freedom comes from telling ourselves the truth

About us. About our people.

Finding freedom comes from admitting and releasing.

Finding freedom comes after a lifetime of pain or pleasure.

When we allow ourselves to see what is truly here.

in our lives, in our world.

A space is opened up in us when we are no longer

hiding from our conscience, our soul, our heart.

Finding freedom comes after grieving.

Freedom is not free, or easy, or even likely.

Finding Freedom begins with a choice to move towards it.

And then step by step, story by story, cell by cell.

Freedom finds it’s way to us. And we to it.

It is not a constant however, not a continual experience.

And there is one very important thing,

without which freedom cannot ring her bell.

That we love each other. Not just those we know

or whose lives touch ours directly.

I am speaking of compassion –

compassion for others is that soul relieving balm.

When you mourn for abuse you suffered or caused

think of all the others in the same place.

When you cry for the loss of a loved one

think of those who cry with you

When your heart is filled with anger

think of those, who angry too – rage with you.

When you are despairing – and don’t want to go on

think of those – who sit with you on the edge of life.

I don’t know how the universe works.

I do know one thing.

Compassion is a key to experiencing freedom.

So as I stand here in my own life

Viewing the wreckage and the miracles

The neglect and the harvest

The dreams dashed and the dreams fulfilled

The lack of integrity and the profound commitment

I stand in awe and wonder at the

Side by sideness of all of it.

Joy does sit side by side with sorrow

And they do not cancel one another out.

In eachother’s light and darkness

Medicine and madness and miracles.

Strung between them is the human existence.

Only after all of this,

Am I moved to peace. To acceptance.

And ultimately

To hope. And finally, renewal.

“the truth will set you free” Jesus

“there is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in.” Leonard Cohen
This time of year for me, and for the community I worship with, is about the Nativity, the birth of Christ to a Virgin Mother, and consequently, our birth, and our life. In my community, confessing and repenting and listening to our conscience is an essential part of the very fiber of our practice of living with Creator, in Creator.

Without being honest with where we are in our lives, and our actions, it is impossible for true joy and peace to be with us. Whatever tradition you are in, if there is a place for this kind of healing, a place for truth telling and admitting, consider it!? A place for the sorrow to be expressed, to Creator, community, Priest, leader, healer, friend – I encourage you to do that before the new year.  It seems we all have a very big year ahead of us in 2010 and if it is possible to start that off, prior to resolutions and goals, with being honest with ourselves…it will be so healing. This is not about inducing more guilt and shame, as most folks I work with and know already feel pretty horrible about themselves, but sometimes we have not confronted what there is – and so hold information in ways it need not be held.

Blessings to you all. May renewal and peace be with you and your life.

Shiloh Sophia