Posts Tagged ‘lesson’

The presence of lessons and eternal mirrors

January 2, 2015

“It isn’t all about you.”

We’ve all heard that line.

Or, the sarcastic: “yeah, it’s all about YOU, isn’t it?”

The message is that I am supposed to think about others, have regard for their feelings, some empathy and sympathy for what might be happening in their lives, and that nothing is all about me.

Or is it?

Is there a metaphysical existence where I perceive everything as reflecting my presence in the world? In this existence, life takes every opportunity to define itself by reflecting the nature of its creator.

That little proposition is easy to take on when one is out in “nature” defined by glorious trees, dazzling mountains, endless horizons of flowered meadows, and Bambi chewing clover by the river. It’s a little harder when one is hustling “nature” the day after New Year’s chasing down the after-Christmas sales at the local ginormous nationwide superstore which is where I happened upon my most recent soul-opening exercise.

At said nameless store, ever hopeful for a stay-at-home snow day, I placed two 15-pound cartons of snowmelt in my cart and proceeded to checkout. At the checkout counter, I unloaded all of my items, including the 15-pound cartons of snowmelt on to the conveyor belt. As the cashier swept the snowmelt cartons across the scanner, she said, “Next time just leave the heavy items in your cart and I will scan them from there.” She didn’t look happy while she said it.

It took me a moment to realize what she said. I finally asked, “So, you think those are heavy?”

She responded by saying “If you have to lift them all day long, they get real heavy.” She was not smiling when she said this.

All sorts of responses went through my head – statements about how there are no signs about leaving heavy items in the cart, what qualifies as heavy, pointed remarks about how this was the job she had chosen and if she didn’t like it . . ., and one really super retort about how I was contributing to helping her prevent osteoporosis, but fortunately none of THOSE came out. What I said was: “Thank you for pointing that out to me. I learned something today.”

I did not tell her what I learned because I had not yet figured it out. At that time, I was mostly thinking that whatever her problem was, it had nothing to do with me and was all about her disliking what she did for a living. And, I thanked her because I made a mental note to self: “never work at Nameless Nationwide Superstore as a cashier.”

But then I came home and read my e-mail. My friend, Deborah Hart Yemm, from A New Gaia and blog Gazing in the Mirror, had sent me this poem written by Rumi:

You have no idea how hard I’ve looked
for a gift to bring You.
Nothing seemed right.

What’s the point of bringing gold
to the gold mine, or water to the ocean.

Everything I came up with was like
taking spices to the Orient.

It’s no good giving my heart and my
soul because you already have these.

So I’ve brought you a mirror.
Look at yourself and remember me.

It is like God said “no, this IS about YOU.”

I am that cashier and she is me. Just as she has to own her suffering, I must own mine. Just as I seek my soul’s happiness in the world, so must she.

She cannot order me to alleviate her suffering anymore than I can demand that the world relieve mine. She cannot complain her way into happiness anymore than I can.
Barbara L. Kass
©1/2/2015

The presence of spiritual addiction

March 2, 2014

My addiction is no secret. Spirituality is my drug of life. My spiritual adventures are a relentless romp of reaching for the Divine in all that exists and they have this terminal quality to them: I have a singular devotion to the ultimate connection with God/Spirit/Jesus/the One/Universal Consciousness. I keep telling myself, once I am truly connected, I will no longer have the urge.

And, no, death does not count.

Just an aside here: yes, I know I have been a disappearing spirit ever since Christmas but I’ve been busy becoming a licensed counselor and setting up a practice. Feel free to explore at One Spirit Counseling.

Now back to that addiction thing. Contemplative Outreach has me on their mailing list. It is important that you understand that I want to BE contemplative outreach. The concept is much like the Jesuit’s contemplative in action: to be so in touch with God/Spirit that the communication is continuous, as if we are One, and I am transformed as a result, able to be that transformed soul seamlessly in the world, in action alone and with others.

Any time I see an invitation for a spiritual exercise or to learn a spiritual technique or engage in a spiritual lesson, my fingertips start tingling, my palms get sweaty, and my vision goes dark around the edges. The good guys at Contemplative Outreach have joined forces with the lovely people at Spirituality and Practice and they are offering a year-long series of online retreats. Those retreats call to me much like the street-drug vendor whispers to a junkie.

(C’mon . . . it doesn’t cost much. You know you want it.)
[but I’m on a budget]
(I’ll make you a deal. Buy all five at once and you’ll save twenty-five bucks)
[wow – that’s like getting half of one free]
(And I’ve all your favorites. Lectio Divina . . .)
[Oh!]
(Contemplative Living . . .)
[Stop it!]
(Forgiveness . . .)
[la la la la la la I can’t hear you la la la la]
(and a Practice Group)
[Sold]

Can one have too much spirituality? The shaman in me knows that Spirit is all that exists so the question is moot.

I would pray for willpower but that is feeding the oxymoron.

©2014 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of memory

September 14, 2010

The past occasionally creeps up on me like a spider stalking its prey. I can feel it coming but because I am entangled in the web that is my life, I am helpless. I surrender to my helplessness, bracing myself for the inevitable wondering if the past will devour me whole or wrap me up like a cocoon to snack on at a later time.

My history is always with me. Mostly, it remains hidden behind the piles of other, more recent memories. I have selective recollection for the most part, but when I am on a quest to heal my present self, inevitably a forgotten memory slips past my selectivity. These are short memories, snapshots that crystallize a significant point in my life so I can see how I was made and who I was at that time.

One poignant example comes from my first year in school. I have a sister who is one year older than I am. She was in the second grade. We had bicycles to ride to school, but on the way home one day, the chain to my bike broke, so I could not ride it. I had to walk, but I was not sure I knew the way by myself. I asked my sister if she would walk with me, but she said no and pedaled off.

I walked whatever distance it was alone and very sad. My sister had abandoned me. Obviously, I found my way home. I do not remember my mother’s response. I think my father was in Korea at the time. In the big scheme of things, this was a very small matter and one that I survived just fine.

As our lives evolved, it would turn out that I learned to be as totally self-reliant as I could be, even to the point of isolating myself to prove that I did not need anyone because other people are unreliable. I struggled through co-dependency issues with my mother, finding out in the end that the only kind of relationship she can have with others is that of co-dependency.

This particular incident is an example of the theme of abandonment in my childhood. I am not special, by the way, we all have abandonment issues because at some point somebody we depended upon left us to take care of matters on our own. That is the nature of life. I waver between feeling sorry for my little self while at the same time finding it remarkable that I could take care of myself in a very adult way. When I wonder what I came to this existence to learn, incidents like this stand out for me. If I take ultimate responsibility for my existence, then I absolutely must ask myself: What is valuable about the incident that I need to learn?

On the heels of my life lessons comes wisdom, and then I must untangle myself from that web and let it go. Constantly poking and biting at my sister and my mother through my memory does not serve me well. That particular spider will have to find other prey.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of memory

September 1, 2010

It has only been two weeks since the Magic cat left and her absence still looms large in my days and nights. That little cat taught me a very significant lesson about being present: I need to pay attention to now because I am creating tomorrow’s memories.

At first, I thought it was an odd way to be present because it presumes there will be a tomorrow when all we really know is that we have the eternal present. There are these past presents, though, that come around to haunt me either with their sorrow or with their joy. With my 20/20 hindsight, I can clearly see and know how I could have been more present, how I could have responded differently.

If I get caught up in the woes of yesterday or the endless search to recreate my pleasures, I will miss the present opportunities. Given the cyclical nature of most people’s behaviors, there will likely be other events for me to practice a new and different response. Each time I practice a different response, I create a new memory that can support me in all my tomorrows. I can capture the essence of joy and imprint its feeling in my cells. The memory of joy helps balance the sorrows and losses that often fill me in the last moments of those I love.

Each present moment is a lesson. The studying and learning of life comes with the reflection of the memory. While we may not always have a choice over the events in our lives, we always have a choice on how we are going to apply the lesson we interpret from those events.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass