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Wyncie Bouge was 3 years old and had a smile that could light up the world. I did not know her. She died yesterday.
Wyncie, her mother Megan, her grandmother Janice, and her two-week old brother Emmett, were in a head-0n collision on a road in Springfield, Tennessee last Monday night, on their way back from dinner. The driver of the other car, who died in the collision, crossed over three lanes of a four-lane highway to hit their car. Janice died that night as well. Emmett had a broken leg. Megan has many broken bones, but she will recover. Somehow. In some ways. But her life, and her husband Brandon’s, will never be the same. Megan has lost her mother. I know that pain. And now Megan has lost her daughter. That is a pain I hope never to know.
Thousands of people from all over the world were praying for Wyncie’s recovery. I was stirred. I was moved. I was praying for a miracle. I felt the sense of spiritual connection with all these people in a shared prayer. I truly believed that Wyncie’s recovery was possible.
And she died.
I am, and always have been, a spiritual person. Non-traditional beliefs have been a part of my make-up for as long as I can recall. Reincarnation. God as a spirit of the universe, more than as a Divine Father. This is the first time that I had felt the pull of God as a divinity that can perform miracles. Now, I am disillusioned in that idea.
I know that people say that God has a plan, and that there was a purpose in this. Really? What? What is the purpose in a joyous, beautiful little child dying a senseless death? I can accept that she brought joy and light into the lives of the people she touched in her short time here. But that more confirms my faith in my own non-traditional beliefs than in the Christianity that I felt myself touched by during this past week.
The whole premise of faith is belief in things that cannot be seen and cannot be understood. Some will say that this kind of tragedy is sent to test our faith in God, and that this sort of miracle does not always happen because God in His wisdom is meant to remain a mystery to us. But that doesn’t feel like a loving spirit to me, and I believe the spirit of God is love. I believe that part of our purpose here on this earth is achieve an understanding of God, of that spirit of divinity, and to reflect it in our actions towards others.
I continue to pray to the Great Spirit, God, whatever name you chose, to bring peace and comfort and strength to Megan, Brandon, Emmett, Wyncie, and all their friends and family. Even if it doesn’t make sense. Because I know that Wyncie, in her little joyous soul, would want them to be happy.
But I will never understand.
You’ve probably gathered that I’m not a traditional religious sort of person. I’m spiritual – I might fall into the pagan category, but certainly not in the purest sense of the word. So when I decided to observe Lent, my friends and loved ones said, “Huh? Why would you do something like that? You’re not Catholic.”
As it turns out, Lent is not the exclusive property of Catholicism. Also known as Quadragesima, it is observed by Lutherans, Methodists, Anglicans, and Presbyterians. As you may notice, pagans are not included in this list, but I did go to the Presbyterian church when one of my grandmothers took me to whatever church they could.
Regardless, I decided to observe Lent as a test of my self-discipline, which I have struggled with for some time. I’m not being all crazy about it, but I am giving up something that tempts me – and that something is sweet stuff.
Yes, dessert (and snacky sweets) has gone off into the desert of my past for the 40 days of penitence. I have no real devout aspirations – I just want to see if I can do it. It’s been almost a week tomorrow and I have been tempted sorely by fruit tarts, brownies, home-baked cookies, numerous pies, and luscious chocolate bars. And I am pleased to say that, while tempted, I have resisted.
The whole thing is good for my diet, good for my teeth, good for my temperament, and good for my spirit. In fact, I’m finding it somewhat of a relief to have this self-imposed moratorium on these things. I know I have a tendency to indulge, and to eat emotionally, and sweets are one of those things that I turn to in times of stress, boredom, and depression. With this personal pledge, I don’t have to worry about it. And it’s helping me be more proactive with healthier eating in general – for example, today was Meatless Monday.
I think the main thing for me, aside from the health benefits, is proving to myself that I can stick with something I’m not keen on doing for 40 days. I believe this entire experience will go a long way towards furthering my faith in myself, and my ability to meet challenges, even when they’re not fun or easy (if it’s fun and easy, is it really a challenge?) So I guess in many ways, the whole thing is about having faith.
That’s pretty cool, isn’t it?
I woke at 1:30 this morning. The moon was so bright that it was casting huge shadows across my bed.
For those of you who remember my post about which side of the bed you sleep on, you’ll be interested to know that I’m branching out. Maybe because my hot flashes are playing like a baby at night. My bed has grown extra pillows somehow, and when I’m too hot, I find myself throwing off the covers, flinging myself sideways, and using the multitude of pillows as surrogate blankets. I’m strangely padded by cool sheets and pillowcases until I get too cold, then rearrange myself in a more normal and customary position.
Last night though, when I awoke, I wasn’t unhappy about it – I was just awake. I sat cross-legged on the bed for a while, letting the shadows play across my skin. I even tried to take pictures, but I doubt they came out. It was magical – just me and the moon. Moonlight must be good for you, just as sunlight is, but in a different way. It provides you with “yin” energy, which increases serenity and sensitivity. Unfortunately, it doesn’t spur you too much action. Which kind of makes sense, since after all, it IS the middle of the night and you ARE supposed to be sleeping.
Of course, Urban Dictionary also defines a moonbath as “farting under the full moon”. That rather takes some of the bloom off the rose.
I think I’ll stick with my original definition.
I can’t remember if I’ve written about my favorite astrologer before – I think I tried to, and every time I tried to link to his website, my computer would crash. Wierd. But I’m going to try again tonight.
I’m not generally a big fan of astrology. It’s mostly just amusing. I know that in the days of yore (like the 17th century), astrologers often doubled as physicians or apothecaries, and used their astrological casting skills to predict the health and gender of unborn children, the outcome of serious illness, and a wide variety of other turns of fortune. It’s small wonder that they were considered quacks by educated lords, while being honored and respected by the lower classes.
E-Bro went through a long period of doing astrological charts for people (me included). He cast Kelsea’s chart shortly after she was born – I wish I still had the details, and no doubt I do somewhere, as I don’t recall much about it, but the things I do remember seem to be uncannily accurate, even if they weren’t quite the things that I wanted for her in a perfect world. But they are exactly and perfectly her.
As for me, I idly toyed with “Linda Goodman’s Sun Signs” at the peak of its popularity (in my teens). But I’ve never been one to put too much stock in the stars, at least not in the astrological sense. However…
Some years ago, somehow, I discovered Rob Brezsny’s Free Will Astrology. He seems to reach and touch and channel someplace up and away that speaks to me. He’s so on track in his astrological parables and down-to-the-clouds advice that it’s spooky. He’s also written a book that seems to be along the lines of www.tut.com’s Notes From the Universe.
Even if you’re the world’s biggest skeptic, I encourage you to check him out at www.freewillastrology.com. As a little peek for my fellow Cancerians, here’s our horoscope for this week:
“In her essay “The Possible Human,” Jean Houston describes amazing capacities that are within reach of any of us who are brazen and cagey enough to cultivate them. We can learn to thoroughly enjoy being in our bodies, for example. We can summon enormous power to heal ourselves; develop an acute memory; enter at will into the alpha and theta wave states that encourage meditation and creative reverie; cultivate an acute perceptual apparatus that can see “infinity in a grain of sand and heaven in a wild flower;” and practice the art of being deeply empathetic. Guess what, Cancerian: The next six months will be one of the best times ever for you to work on developing these superpowers. To get started, answer this question: Is there any attitude or belief you have that might be standing in the way?”
I’m off to www.amazon.com to order both “The Possible Human” and Rob’s “Pronoia Is the Antidote for Paranoia: How the Whole World is Conspiring to Shower You with Blessings.” Self-help city, here I come.
I awoke this morning after my usual complicated, half-frightening, half-supernatural, all-meaningful dreams, thinking about threes. I don’t know why. Maybe it’s because I finished Dan Brown’s Angels and Demons last night, with all its scientific/religious intersectional themes.
Aside from thinking about the classic Holy Trinity of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (or ” the Holy Spigot”, as claimed by Rowen Atkinson in his short but sweet role in “Four Weddings and A Funeral”), I was thinking about the concept of love – true love – being something that is mind, body and soul.
Love can start in different ways. It can start as friendship. It can start as passion. It can start as a sense of partnership. It can start as a vibrant energetic connection. Or it can start as some combination of the above. In order for it to succeed and strengthen, the three core elements – mind, body and soul – must all be allowed to bloom. And not just between two people but within each of those two people.
If you are mentally compatible with someone, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you share the same level of intelligence or education. It does mean that you are eager to expand your thinking to consider ideas or ways of life or activities that you might not have considered before. You are willing to be open-minded and non-judgemental of how you – or your potential partner - experience life. And you are willing to involve your partner in your life and become involved with theirs.
If you are physically compatible, well, it’s an amazing thing. You can have a successful love relationship without intense physical passion – you can be perfectly fine with average physical passion and attraction. But when you do have the intense body connection, it can transcend the physical and touch the spiritual. Due to our nearly-inborn Christian conservatism which we all want to deny, we can think that having an intense physical relationship is “bad”. We can place put on our shame-colored glasses and imagine that we should not be in such a relationship, because if it is that good, clearly that’s all there is to it, and that makes it wrong. Not so. An intense physical connection is just a part of the trinity, and something that should be nurtured, cherished and honored.
If you are spiritually compatible, you find yourself expanding in unexpected ways. Your life is full of minor epiphanies about yourself, about the universe, about each other. You each fuel the flame of spirit that burns within the other – and the result, while sometimes confusing, is ultimately most joyful. While I don’t think any element of the “Love Trinity” is more important than another, the spiritual element is the most rare and the most frightening. It takes courage and strength to confront yourself daily. When the cares of life are overwhelming, the unclouding of the soul can feel like it is simply too much to manage. It is easier to find a relationship where you can be less (or be the same) than stick with one that makes you grow. At least then you have the illusion of peace. Ah, but what you miss.
Back in college, I had a therapist who said that when you were choosing to be with someone, you needed to be sure that your head, your heart and your crotch were all aligned. I’ve never forgotten that. I’ve certainly gone with the “two out of three ain’t bad” approach once in a while. But for a life partner? Nope.
I will not compromise the mind-body-soul trinity again. And I feel sorry for those who do.
I know what can be. I know what I have to offer. And I know what I’m worth. I believe there’s a saying that good things come in threes. (I know there’s also a saying that disasters come in threes, but we’ll put that aside for the purposes of this post. I believe in the power of good.)
I am a good thing.
I have always believed in guardian angels. What a wonderful thing to have, and what a wonderful thing to be. Mine is my grandfather, who died before I was conceived, but who would have completely doted on me, never having had a daughter of his own. I have called on him at some of the murkiest and lowest moments of my life and felt the comfort and solace of his presence. He stayed with me for my first bout under general anesthesia, and I awoke in tears because I did not want to leave him. He put his arm around me in my truck one day, as I listened to an NPR story about a photographer of the old railroad steam engines. And he sat with me in Union Station one morning when I threw myself back in time.
Angels, although they may not be called such, are present in every belief system, which to me is evidence of their existence. Or perhaps it is evidence of our innate need to believe in something truly good, and our yearning for someone to look after us. But if it is true that we create our own realities, then it is true that angels exist. We have created them. We all have angelic qualities within us and it could be just the right meshing of energies that creates angels.
The word itself, “angel”, comes from the greek word for “messenger”. Angels often appear, in whatever form, in times of crisis. They can offer wisdom, guidance, protection, healing, but all of those are messages of love. And what’s important to remember is that those messages, that seem to come from some other being, live inside you. It is the connection with that universal angel energy that makes you aware of those messages. Those message are knowledge, and that knowledge is already in you – it just needed a little more energy to turn on the light so you could see it.
I think we all have at least one angel that watches over us, strokes our heads in sleep, blows away bad dreams, and helps us realize that our darkest hours can and will pass back into a place of light and laughter and peace. There are other angels that come and go from our lives depending on circumstances and on the wisdom we need to handle a particular situation. But they are all out there – or in there. That in itself is a peaceful blessing.
(Image credited to the wonderful creativity of the artist here: http://teresasilverthorn.wordpress.com)
Since leaving Pat, I have been able to spend more time contemplating spirituality, something I haven’t done since my teens, but which I enjoyed very much back in those days.
Some background: my father was a theological librarian, one of the foremost in the country. He developed a collection of books that touched on every aspect of religion and spirituality and was equally broad-minded in his own personal views. In his pre-library days, he had come very close to being an ordained minister, but realized, shortly before the day of reckoning, that he could not answer any of these spiritual questions for himself, therefore he could not answer them for others, thus realizing that the calling was not for him. In fact, he stopped attending church services entirely, with the exception of rare occasions when friends were preaching at the non-denominational Duke Chapel, and the midnight Christmas Eve service. I can still recall him telling me that God made Sunday a day of rest, and so that was what he was going to do on Sundays – rest. Interestingly enough, my brother and I seem to have somewhat different views of his spirituality, based on our respective discussions with him. I don’t recall us ever discussing this as a family unit. But he did say my prayers with me from the time I was tiny until he stopped putting me to bed – at which point I believe I stopped saying my prayers.
My Mother, on the other hand, had more of an esoteric approach. She never spoke of going to church, but went when the family did. She studied the works of Joseph Campbell, Krishnamurti, Kahil Gibran and numerous philosophers throughout her life; I think those writings shaped her own opinions of spirituality, which she really kept mostly to herself. At the end, she hedged her bets by “accepting Jesus into her heart as her Lord and Saviour” with her ultra-ultra-Born Again Christian friend, but spoke of it unemotionally, as she knew that she had no control over what would happen in the afterlife. She just thought “better safe than sorry” – and it made her friend very happy.
My Mother believed in reincarnation as much as she believed in anything regarding what might happen after you die. Perhaps I got that belief from her, but for myself, I recall always just knowing it. She also had a certain ability to be in touch with mystical realms, and had numerous experiences in her teens and twenties which were powerful and frightening for her, at which point she basically turned that power off, away, whatever you want to call it. While this surprises me, as she was a curious woman, I know she never liked feeling out of control, and her interactions with other realms struck her as something beyond her control.
We are part of a line of women who have had this gift, this “shine”. My grandmother had it, though she may have only discussed it with her daughters – she did several past life regressions to help her understand her relationships. My Mother had it, though she turned away from it. My aunt had it, and was much more accepting of it, though she had some experiences that just sounded wacky. I have it, as is demonstrated by many things – pleasant hauntings, not so pleasant hauntings, paranormal sensitivity. And my daughter shows an inclination towards it, which I encourage as I explore my own boundaries. Boundaries is a good word – my Mother, recognizing this ability in me, used to warn me about opening up, as both good and bad things can come in.
As I learn more about both the spiritual and the physical world, I am coming to understand boundaries as necessary for self-preservation. I am improving at setting them. In the last few months, I’ve been inspired to explore the Shamanic side of spirituality. (The term ‘spirituality’ is a conundrum – it is completely accurate and yet totally misleading, depending on how you interpret it.) I’m a complete newb, but I am enjoying it, and feel if I keep practicing, I will be able to channel a lot of my innate spirituality into this work, and focus it for healing. I like it. At the same time, as perhaps my Mother warned me, I can feel as I open myself up to other realms, some not-so-great things creep towards my spirit. More of the Voodoo or Obeah influences, which are not necessarily bad, but are indeed powerful, seem to be fringing my consciousness, and I’m not sure what to do with them.