freedom

i’m reading victor frankl’s man’s search for meaning alongside howard thurman, alongside richard rohr, alongside ram dass, alongside glorĂ­a anzaldĂșa (cause, always). yeah, there’s quite a conversation going on inside my heart-mind! and as it always is, i’m spiraling around a question.

the relationship between freedom and form.

a while ago i wrote about a lesson from one of my teachers, jerry granelli. the teaching was “freedom is in the form”. my take away at the time was that form mattered. a lot.

the thing is, what i’m figuring out is that it’s not really about the form, per se. it’s about connecting with the sacred within us and around us so deeply that we can exist within the form–whatever that form is!–in service to the common good/life source/love/the Divine.

in my earlier post, i reflected on an exercise jerry led around a collective blues song in which the only way i knew how to be in service to our song was to close my eyes, shut it all out, and focus all my attention on the form. yeah…well. this was an important lesson for me at the time and also falls short. after all, i missed everyone’s song.

what i’m learning is that the spiritual path of liberation invites us to experience freedom within and through the forms we occupy. not in spite of them. through them.

victor frankl writes of his experience in auschwitz. the horrors he faced. the unspeakable suffering. and the profound love and sacredness that he experienced there, too. strangely, as many warriors have shared over thousands of years, it is often in times of darkness that we find light.

as i’ve continued on my spiritual path, the meaning i had once assigned to forms in my life has dulled. i’m experiencing meaning in my life differently, in different ways. i long for silence, solitude, the in-between conversations and happenings that evidence magic and mystery. the cracks in our structured days that allow a brighter light to spill out.

liberation is not determined by the form. and pulling away from one form to find liberation in another is not necessarily the answer, either. in fact, if my life experience tells me anything, it’s that i’ll replace that form with another form. and repeat.

i am learning that the deeper invitation is remembering that the source of meaning and connection and life and love resides within us, already. without condition. and to allow our attachment to the external world and all its forms and labels dissolve away.

when i put this truth in words, two pieces of resistance come up. (hello, ego! have a cup o’ tea)

first: how privileged! it’s easy to allow our attachments to the external world dissolve when we have food on the table, a roof over our heads, a sense of security/stability. yes. and the suffering that comes when these are called into question invites an inner-source of power building that gets forgotten when things are comfortable. there’s a another source of power that has nothing to do with privilege (actually, the fact that “power and privilege” has become a buzz-phrase is limiting to our understanding of power; the two do not necessarily go hand in hand).

second: to consider dissolving attachment from forms that have defined how we understand ourselves and our worlds is terrifying. on one hand, it feels like apathy, like the richness of a world that once carried so much meaning and beauty fades away. on the other hand, there is a level of dying/death that follows. who am i if i’m not (fill-in-the-blank)?

i become nobody and everybody.

and the richness unfolds in sustaining and surprising ways. the bird signaling to his friends there’s feed in the bird feeder. a friend on a job search and feeling purpose beyond it, pulling dead leaves off my fig tree, wendell. my child’s existential questioning of whether to play football (god, help me!).

i love how ram dass speaks to this! he refers to life as “somebody training” and shares his process of moving beyond “somebody”, giving up forms. AND he speaks to the importance of ALSO staying in the form. how else can we be human but to feel the pain and suffering and joy of the world?

he echoes jerry, “freedom is in the form”.

being in service to the world, we must be both in the world and not of the world.

this is what god did in taking human form in jesus. and what jerry was teaching us when he taught us the blues. bless my heart; it wasn’t about holding onto the blues’ form, as i tried so desperately to do. it was about being the blues.

practically, this meandering takes me here: how do i live a spiritually liberated life, in communion with the Divine while also an embodied white woman, mother, daughter, friend, sister, partner, justice-maker who operates in the waters of patriarchy, a never-ending pile-up of laundry, white supremacy, and a good doss of teenage attitude? how do i work for racial justice as spiritual liberation and as a white woman? how do i hold the forms that don’t mean anything and yet mean everything in shaping my humanity?

as i stumble along with these small questions, i’m grateful that ram dass also reminded me of don juan’s lesson to practice “controlled folly”, a wise guidance to do everything in the world as it is all that matters, all the while knowing it doesn’t matter at all.

yeah. i’m sittin’ with that.

because i sense that in holding both of these at once, i might taste the juiciness of liberation.

departure

departures can be sweet.

it’s too bad that departures often get a bad rap.

for sure departures signal an ending, a closing of a chapter. grief accompanies departure and fear lurks in its shadows, whispering seductions that hold us in desperately, grasping onto what was and what we are departing.

in a season of life that is offering me some big departures, i’m discovering departure as sweet, tender, loving.

liberating.

departure invites choice. and when we say yes to fear’s invitation and lean into uncertainty, we connect with our inner power. trusting ourselves births us into who we are becoming and opens up possibilities beyond our imagination.

saying yes to departure–even as we also acknowledge the grief and fear that comes with that yes–allows for a wholehearted yes to what is now and what is next.

and so i’m wondering…what if saying yes to departure is the arrival?

holding

can we hold ourselves

and one another

without condition?

with a knowing

that we belong

just as we are,

now?

and that the questions

and cracks and stumblings,

where mundane dances with magical,

and love bleeds into hurt

and companionship dissolves into loneliness

is where we find ourselves,

hidden–

there all along.

waiting and ready,

arms wide open.

can we hold ourselves

and one another

without condition?

with a knowing

that we belong

just as we are,

now?

listening

words do not catch my attention

as perhaps they once did.

my energy is captured

by what is in between those words

and underneath

what’s left unsaid

and overemphasized

the way in which

the words are spoken

the life, death

that breathes meaning into them.

this listening yields an entirely different

narrative–

a story that can weigh and lift

and invite uncertainty

as this mother tongue speaks a language

that few care to take the time and care

to interpret

though ripe with meaning and wisdom

when i can quiet my self,

listening.

surrender

I surrender to the pull within me

To become who i am

Shedding armor of expectation, prescription, presumption

To make way for the fruits my soul will bear

Or maybe there will be no fruits–who knows?!

The point is that my soul has work to do

Right work

And it’s been asking me to do it, to get out of the way

And now it is time.

I’m saying yes.

I surrender.

I’m saying yes to listening to my deep knowing, my inner wisdom

And trusting that knowing and wisdom

When there is fear and trepidation present, I choose to lean into it as it is a gift of deeper insight

In my faith to life force and Spirit, I will respond

Out of compassion and love and with clarity

I’m saying yes to evolution’s compelling draw

Understanding that I play a role in that unfolding that is beyond my humble and human grasp.

dear whiteness

i wish this could be a break-up letter. knowing the impossibility of that brings me heartbreak and rage.

even still, you need to know that i do not want this relationship. i do not consent. in fact, i will do everything i can to free myself from it–from you– despite the fact that i cannot fully escape. i am a slave to you.

this relationship is violent. you have designed systems and structures that keep me in my place with you. your manipulating and controlling forces make it hard for me to remember, distancing me from those more free, from people of color. you and your co-conspirators of patriarchy, capitalism, imperialism bully me and break me down and split me in two.

and yet i will not be afraid. i belong to the universe and exist in and through and in-between the chains and structures you and your co-conspirators hold so tightly. you are pathetic and small and desperate. you are fearful of my knowing and so you put me in boxes, keep me in chains only to feed your own pitiful need to be superior.

you are like amnesia. your efforts to make me forget my own Power are strong and often effective. so i will remain vigilant in my commitment to stay awake and remember.

while i will always bear your mark, i will work tirelessly and with discipline to erase you. to see your controlling ways and eradicate you. our relationship will not be easy. i will not go softly. i am determined to be free.