Posts Tagged ‘love’

The presence of reincarnation: Magic Redux

December 25, 2013

Today is Christmas, a notorious day for miracles. The whole season gets stretched thin with unmet expectations and people desperate to make the impossible happen.

We miss those who should have been here and wonder where the meaning has gone.

I have a few loved ones on the edge of precarious circumstances and most certainly my Christmas would be more joyful if I knew they were having a warm and loving time. My blessings include knowing they are alive and other loved ones are safe. I have my haven, my life here in Maryland, and had given myself the gift of a 25-day Advent spirituality practice.

I am well loved and the Universe has a most playful, unique way of letting me know just how connected I am.

magic4Some history first. Back on August 16, 2010, my soulmate kitty, Magic, went to the eternal beyond, breaking my heart in the process. I did not get another animal because I was living in other people’s homes at the time, but since moving back to my home this past May, I have toyed with the idea of getting another kitty. Magic

It occurred to me that Magic might reincarnate, but I did not know how I would find her if she did.

On December 23, I was supposed to play tennis doubles, but one of our four had a trip planned to Maui and forgot to tell us (really?). I was irritated because three people cannot play doubles and we were unable to find a fourth. In the middle of my search, my daughter, who is homeless in San Francisco, called asking if I could wire her some money for Christmas. I left work early because of course I want my daughter to have a Christmas. As I was leaving the store after wiring the funds, I saw the PetSmart across the street and wondered if Magic had reincarnated yet.

I drove over, walked in, and there she was. Only, she is a he now, but otherwise, nearly exactly the same: a black and white tuxedo kitty. He is nine months old and I knew instantly that he was her. He had just arrived that morning. Through the glass partition, we bumped heads. I could not leave without him.

max 4The store manager thought I was a bit nutty when I kept saying “that’s my cat” and told this story over and over. But when I got him home, my step-daughter (who knew Magic very well) just about fell over, and this little kitty went about finding everything without hesitation. Magic is home. It isn’t about investigation. It is about confirmation that (just like before) she/he:
• Gets to sleep on my side of the bed
• Gets to sleep on any lap, regardless of availability
• Has to know what is going on all the time
• Is on the wrong side of every door

max 2Had my daughter not called, I would not have gone by the PetSmart; had I not been stood up for tennis, I never would have taken the time to go in. The Universe absolutely conspired to make sure we found each other that day.

Inside of me is the absolute assurance that I already know this soul. A while ago, I wrote about replacement love. One of my regrets in life is that I have not loved those who are most precious to me when I had the chance to love them. I was always too busy, too anxious, too tired, too preoccupied, too often on my way to someplace else.

On this day of gifts, I have one of the ultimate: the chance to love again.

©2013 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of betrayal

April 10, 2012

Let’s go into the darkness for a bit.

There are moments of eternal night in my childhood that I carry with me to the present day. I find myself responding to life as if I were still that particular child – still three, four, five, six, seven years of age. I may not always remember the events of any particular dark moment, but I remember the feelings, and my present responses are immediate and involuntary. Experiencing life before I could distinguish my unconscious process from my conscious abilities resulted in a form of programming – a way of responding to life that might have been appropriate in its moment of origination, but does not fit the life I am living now. It is counterproductive to my desires. To fully experience my life as the adult I am now, there is only one thing to do: give it up.

Giving up the programming I received as a child feels like betrayal – betrayal of my family of origin, betrayal of the adults I was dependent upon for survival, betrayal of the child I once was. The child within squirms at the thought that the love and attention she received was not loving at all but programming. She wrestles with the fact that she was raised by people who were not at all connected with themselves, much less with her, and wonders: who betrayed who? Weren’t they supposed to love her and wasn’t everything they did for her own good? At least, that’s what she was told. Loyal to her family, giving up that programming feels like abandonment, but didn’t they go there first? Who will she be once she leaves that story behind? If they truly loved her, why didn’t they love her in a way that supported her, guided her, and nurtured her?

Parents, of course, are the prime targets on this trajectory. They programmed me to believe that their actions and attitudes proved they loved me. As a grownup, I kept wondering why I looked for and found people who treated me much like my parents did and I didn’t enjoy it any more than I had as a child. My introspective work to uncloak that secret finds the child in me realizing that her parents lied to her . . . she was not really loved but rather only used as a tool for them to vent their frustrations and act out their own programming. She was there – wanting, needing, craving to be loved, and for her, any attention was better than no attention. That child in me knew something was wrong but in order to survive, she had to make that something wrong right. My parents in her eyes HAD to be perfect, it HAD to be okay, or else she was lost.

Year after year, I’ve worked very hard to recognize and learn the difference between real love and the love I was programmed to expect. I took my lessons in parenting into my motherhood and programmed my daughters to believe I loved them based on my actions, words, and attitudes. To hold my parents accountable means to hold myself accountable. In my efforts to resolve and let go of what no longer works, I fight the resistance I feel to the betrayal of myself as a parent. Fighting resistance . . . my dichotomous life continues.

Here in the darkness, I am seeking a way to come to resolution with these irrefutable facts. I cannot undo what has been done.

Let’s go into the light.

Because we are ever-evolving beings – becoming more of who we truly are in each moment of experience – there are hundreds of thousands of babies, children, adolescents, young adults, and adults who collectively make up the person known as me in the present. Even if I only count the days of my existence, that number still approaches twenty thousand.

I am a blur of struggles and triumphs. That all of who I have been brought me to this present moment relatively intact is evidence of their strength, their perseverance, their wisdom, their insight, their judgment, and their love of self.

My present is a long luxurious moment of self-exploration, self-investigation, and self-discovery. Within my struggles, conflicts and lonely minutes, I am with an army of selves whose exponential experience births creative and sometimes adventurous comfort and solutions. The totality of me walks into the light to find the thoughts, the activities, and the people who give me love, acceptance, and companionship. I grant myself permission to let go of my condemnation and look upon my past as a troubled road with hidden gifts: resilience, character, wisdom, knowledge, and a spirit who cannot be stopped.

In the light, I find forgiveness.

©2012 by Barbara L. Kass

A Better Presence

March 3, 2012

I am never enough. There is always more of me to become. The soul that swooped down from the heavens to nestle among embryonic membranes and permeate my fetal cells captured my infantile first breath and is still emerging.

This life all about how I can do better.

How can I live better?

How can I love better?

I can tweak my communication with others. I can smile more. I can bring more sincerity, compassion, and attention. I can talk less and listen more. I can meet another person’s gaze with single-minded devotion to this moment we are both in . . . my indivisible focus. Just for an instant, I can be perfectly present for another.

In being present to another, I am present to my own soul and I am, after each encounter, more than I was the moment before.

This immutable forward progress makes me painfully aware of why the motion of existence is one-way. There is only growth, becoming, and ending. There is no reversing. There is no undoing what has been done no matter how much I wish I could. Reversal would undo not only the actions (or inactions) that I regret, it would also take away all that I have become.

This is my only opportunity to love myself, my daughters, my friends, and the strangers who come and go. In the next moment, they might be ended. I might be ended.

Will I be complete at the moment of my physical death? I don’t know, and it simply does not matter. Death is an ending and a beginning. All that I am follows me in this eternity. All who I have known live in my eternal memory. My better presence greets this day and from moment to moment, it whispers: what do you want to remember about this moment?

©2012 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of ashes

January 2, 2012

On New Year’s Eve, nearly all of my material belongings burned to ashes.

I am still wondering how I feel about that.

My 54-years of selected items were stored in a friend’s barn. He was storing them for free to help me regain my financial well-being after the housing market crashed and burned (metaphorically, no pun intended) back in 2008 and I had to sell a condo at a loss. I am living with a limited amount of space right now and have done quite well without those items for the past two years. There was nothing of great monetary value. The value was in their memories and my history: photos of my family, a butcher block a dying friend gave me, a dresser that was 60 years old, dishes from my defunct marriage (not at all teary over that), my granddaughter’s Dora the Explorer dollhouse, my oldest daughter’s Sylvanian families animal doll set, a painting of the ocean by one of my sisters.

Curiously, this incident occurred at the same time I was writing my prayer for the new year (see “The presence of prayer”). I don’t believe for an instant that God said “Hey! I know! Let’s send her the towering inferno!” I think the fire would have happened regardless of my writing. The larger message is that everything is temporary and transitory. All of those items were made from the dust and elements of the earth and now they are returned. Perhaps I no longer need them at all.

It was not the only fire in my life that day. We had set the oven to clean on New Year’s Eve and awoke to the sound of smoke alarms at about 2:30 a.m. The oil in the oven had caught fire. Fortunately, the fire was contained inside the oven and it is now pretty darn clean. Lesson learned: clean the oven more often.

Part of me feels relieved of the worry about my stuff or having to pay someone to move it for me. I did not lose everything. I have some specific special items here with me: my meditation table and items, my books, a few pictures of my daughters, my vacuum (don’t ask), some kitchen items, and my bed.

Fire is nature’s way of removing the old and the dead. It sets the stage for new life to begin. There are some seeds in nature that require fire so they can burst open. The cones of young jack pines require intense heat in order to split apart and free their seeds. An endangered songbird (the Kirtland’s warbler) will nest only in these pines and the pines only grow in recently burned forests. (Go to “PBS”.)

I am sorry for my friend who lost a huge part of his investment in his farm. He truly lost something hundreds of times more valuable than my stuff and was at danger of losing several more buildings on his property. I am grateful there were no horses or humans in that barn and only hope the mice escaped into the wilderness.

I am more keenly aware of not becoming too attached to material things because in an instant, they can all be gone. The same is true for the living beings I love. Yet, I vow to remain attached to my love for them because that is the way I know I will find them in the next iteration of my existence.

I am one of those people who wander around finding meaning in all of life’s incidents. It is what I do as a human. Otherwise, life is meaningless and empty. Okay – life is meaningless and empty to begin with. We are the ones who fill it up with meaning. The meaning I find here today is to be grateful for what I do have: my essential belongings, the memories of my former life, the people who are still around, and the gift of knowing what is important.

©2012 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of obligation

January 1, 2011

Well, it’s the new year and, no, I don’t have a single resolution. I left resolutions lying by the side of the road when I took my first steps down my reality path. They are probably all still lying there in a jumbled decaying heap occasionally oozing out a noxious trickle of good intentions gone bad.

It was the obligations that wore me down. Once I make a resolution, I feel obligated to fulfill it. As the year makes its relentless appearance day after day after day, the new resolutions I make tangle with the old ones and suddenly my life is full of these obligations to myself, to others, and to imagined beings I think hold the key to my destiny. Often, they are contradictory and in direct conflict with each other. Sometimes, taking good care of me means saying “no” to someone in need and exiting the presence of nasty people.

My personal scrutiny discovered that obligations are not always solidly and clearly defined. They tend to get amorphous, bordering between the wants and choices and the musts and shoulds. It also does not matter. An obligation is a burden. It is a burden made by some agreement.

My obligations can come from a sense of love or duty. I feel obligated to contribute to my granddaughter’s well-being. I let elderly people or people holding babies have my seat on the Metro train when it is crowded.

My obligations are delivered through course of law. I am obligated to drive my vehicle safely in a manner that does not endanger others. I am obligated to pay taxes on my income.

There is an obligation that is a debt . . . it is attached to the favor that someone did for me. The bank lent me money to buy a car and I am obligated to pay the bank back. If I ask someone for a ride to work, I feel obligated to contribute towards the gas.

What about favors that people do for me that I do not ask for and do not expect? Is gratitude enough of an obligation or am I obligated to return the favor in kind? What about people who upon first appearance seem to be causing me problems yet as I work through the problem, I discover something amazing about myself or end up helping another person? What obligation do I owe that person who first appeared to stir things up?

Some people are out there doing favors for others with the expectation that the favor will come back to them in some form. Are they then being truly altruistic or is the favor really a bribe to the universe?

Because I have resources, am I obligated to share those resources? And, if so, with whom? When?

So many questions . . . and it isn’t even noon yet.

The year is already laughing at me.

Typical.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

the presence of love

December 18, 2010

We need to love.

It is inherent in the very molecules that breathe life into our souls. In fact, love may be our souls. And when who or what we love disappears, we suffer as if a part of our soul took flight to follow them.

Who we love is easy to identify: our family, friends, and animal companions.

What can be anything from a cherished possession to a lifestyle to a dream.

I have observed even when a loved one is dying from an incurable disease, the people who love that person want him or her to hang around as long as possible. We don’t want them to be suffering or in pain, but we have a selfish love that is tagged for that person and that person only. When that person dies, where will our love go?

I have heard people who have lost their beloved spouses say that they would never love anyone like that again . . . that spouse who died was “it” for them and that is the end of their love life.

We love the feeling of loving others. It fills us up. It makes us melt.

When we lose our people, our item or the ability to live the way we want and let go of an unrealized dream, we miss that feeling of loving. We not only mourn for the loss, we mourn for ourselves. Mourning helps heal that raw and sudden wound. And our love floats around the empty space searching for a place to land. It is a specific love, reserved in a special place within us.

I notice my love when I am tending my plants . . . especially the one that I thought I had killed last winter (see the presence of plants).

I notice my love as I sit and play with my granddaughter.

I notice my love as I carefully construct a conversation with a family member in desperate times.

I notice the love I have for that Magic cat has nowhere to land. I miss loving her presence.

The lesson that this is teaching me is to love more . . . even though I may lose the presence of what I love, to be without the presence of loving is a dark and lonely existence.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of projection

October 2, 2010

To love something or someone makes us see the beauty of it, not the wrong. (Unknown Chief, Science of Mind, September 2010, p. 61)

There is a saying in the Talmud that we see things as we are rather than as the way they are. In psychological speak, we call this projection. We project on to others what we imagine we see in them and the only qualities we can project is that which we know. In other words, we must have that quality in ourselves in order to see it in another person.

I can’t name it if I don’t know it.

If I see a quality in another person, I must first assume that it is me, my quality that I am projecting on to them. I can also check with the other person by asking them. For example, I can say, “I see you are displaying (behavior) and for me, that behavior means (happy, depressed, angry, sad, joyful, irritated, annoyed, content, connected, bored . . . you get the picture).” Note: good judgment is required here and if someone is acting out their anger by threatening to shoot someone, run first, and ask questions later.

I need to always be ready for the person who is so out of touch with their feelings that they cannot identify or associate their behavior with their feelings. And there are people who are in denial that they feel anything at all.

As I live my intent every day to bring my true presence to life I am working to recognize the universal consciousness in me (God, the divine presence, higher power) and I am doing that by seeking the universal consciousness in others. If I can see divinity in another person, then I can find it in myself. As I am seeking to love someone even when that person is being everything but lovable, then I rely on the quote above – I look to find one beautiful thing about that person and focus on that. It is not easy because this method goes against the programming of my childhood but it feels more real.

The amazing thing about recognizing myself in others is that once I see the quality in me, then I can own it. Once I own it, I am in charge of that feeling or quality and, therefore, in charge of my behavior.

I look around at the beautiful people in my life, their generosity, their loving and giving natures, and I find that I love me a whole lot.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of absence

August 21, 2010

The limits of being human are never quite so obvious as when our loved ones die. Their absence is so pervasive to the point of being its own entity.

A few days back, I sent my beloved kitty into the great beyond and still cry about it. My perspective remains intact: this was a very old cat who had stopped eating and lost the ability to drink water. She was not going to recover and could have lingered for weeks, yowling over her water dish managing only to take a lick or two. I was clinging to her life more than she was, and I still doubt whether I made the right decision to assist her on her way. I would much have preferred that she die of her own accord and, eventually, she would have, but after how much suffering, I don’t know.

Her absence is still very much in residence. Her ghost is here. I glimpse her image out of the corner of my eye as I pass a corner where she slept and on the stairs she would run down to greet me when I came home each day (yes, not your typical aloof cat). These empty spaces are full of her absence. They used to be full of her presence.

If our loving were so strong, I imagine that our connection would supersede death. But, the actual physical connection is severed. My connection with those in my life who have died is in the memories and recreating the feelings in those memories in a bittersweet dance. It is the irretrievable presence that most consumes my misery. It is one thing to be separated while knowing that the other still physically exists. We can retrieve another’s presence in our lives. It is another thing when death is the separator.

Those who have physically died have entered an energy state our human senses cannot always detect. Why this is so, I don’t know. But I believe there must be a life-sustaining reason for it. One of the laws of physics says that energy can neither be created nor destroyed – it only changes form. We don’t know that energy cannot be created. We only know that as humans we cannot create energy. It is the law of our human existence, not necessarily of our energy existence.

In the presence of absence, there are lessons to be learned. Absence itself is an energy that is teaching me to be present in each moment and be mindful of the memory that I am currently creating.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

my love life

August 7, 2010

The lesson for August 5, 2010, in Science of Mind, says that if we love life, life will love us back. That life requires I love it before it will love me back sounds like a trade-off. I know there are times when I don’t love the life I have at all. And it is clear life is not loving me back at all. I am angry and dissatisfied with it. I might love the people who are important to me. I might love certain things I get to do. I might love the sights, smells, and sounds of the earth. I might love some of the events that happen in my life. But I don’t know for sure that I love life itself no matter what.

You see, I have convinced myself that the external trappings are my life. But that is a lie. Life is not just my physical living and my interconnection with other manifestations of life. Life is not always defined by the people, objects, and events outside of my physical body. Life is the existence within. It is my pure existence that I need to love. That I or anything at all exists is a miracle.

And I realize that I don’t have a working definition of life. In order for me to love life, do I need to define what it is? How do I find it? Recognize its attributes? Weigh its faults? Is it possible for love or life to have faults?

I know I am programmed with the instinct to survive and live as long as possible. Is the love of life inherent in that programming? Is it the programming? Was I born with the ability to love life or is it something I have to learn? Are we instinctively born loving life, already know how, but during the murky travels of our growth, some of us lose touch with it?

Life is my existence. Physical and nonphysical. Do I love my existence? Once I let go of everything physical, do I love the energy that remains? Can I love life totally naked without the luxurious trappings of friends, lovers, bountiful food, comfortable shelter, and superb health? Do I love being with my own energy in this moment no matter what is going on outside of me? I may not love all that is going on outside of me, but I need to love the existence going on inside of me.

When I am in touch with the true presence that I am, life is eternal and perfect. My true presence knows more than I do, has been tested and honed with experiences that I can only sense, not remember. But this part of me remembers and knows.

And still loves.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of prisons

July 15, 2010

When I think of prisons, my first impression is that of locking away people who might cause me or others harm. Prisons exist to keep us safe. Prisons are used as a deterrent in an attempt to dissuade people from committing crimes. Evidently, the absence of freedom is thought to be terrifying enough to keep people well within the confines of our laws.

At night, I securely lock the windows and the doors. I set the security system to engage should anyone attempt entry into my home. These days, I would not dream of leaving a window open downstairs, nor would I sleep on my lower deck no matter how inviting the night air might be.

I start creating a whole different prison system now. I am becoming more the prisoner who locks herself away so that others cannot harm me. It keeps me safe.

And this is just the physical prison I might create to keep me safe. There are intellectual and emotional prisons that I have created to keep my absolute best, most pristine essence of myself safe from harm. I know this because I am still not using all of my gifts and I am existing on the fringe of respectability within the prison of common sense.

I can hear the gasps already. Common sense? A prison!? Oh, my!

But think about it. It made perfect sense those many years ago while I was a baby, a child, a teenager, so fragile and desperately trying to survive the nuttiness that was my family in a world that made no sense to me. There was no one – read that again and believe it – NO ONE who I could turn to for help in reconciling the poverty of love, affection, and support against my parents’ admonitions that they were being good parents. They might have been in their own weird ways. They were as overwhelmed as anyone with life and had no coping skills so how could I expect them to raise me with any?

My common sense saw right through them, though, and knew that I was not in a position to be negotiating my sanity or my physical safety. My common sense ruled that I needed to stay alive. To do that, I needed to stay safe. To stay safe, I had to lock some parts of me away.

Essentially, I looked at my parents and said “it is not safe for me to look to you for that [“that” being anything along the lines of love, acceptance, nurturing, etc.], therefore, I am going to lock my need for love, acceptance, nurturing, etc., away, and I will never have it and I will always be this [“this” being lonely, unfulfilled, depressed, angry, etc.].” The keys are the decisions I made at various points in my life to deny that I needed anyone, to not display my acute intellectual point-blank opinion of how life was being run, and to not be the person I truly am.

I repeated the pattern throughout all of my relationships. If a person I love did not respond to me as I think he or she should, I would take my toys and run away. I lock my toys away from that person perhaps not realizing that I am locking the toys away from myself as well. In the end, I have to ask: Who wants to play alone?

I don’t think it is possible to imprison our true presence. Rather, we lock our human consciousness away while our presence waits patiently for us to wrestle ourselves to the ground. Well, I wrestled myself right into a place where I felt absolutely nothing.

That was a long, long time ago. For over 30 years I have been intent on finding my missing toys, my gifts that are inherently mine and no one else’s. I have found many of them locked away inside my body, inside my head, behind emotional bars of steel and walls of concrete. I used writing, art, psychotherapy, exercise, meditation, travelling, loving, accepting, and a thousand other techiques. Freedom has sometimes required a separate key for each and other times, one key unlocks a bundle of me that comes tumbling out like belongings stashed away in an overstuffed closet.

I cannot regret or waste a moment of living on wishing that anything had been different. This was my path that I chose for whatever reason. I may never know the reason, but I know this is MY path. Because it is my path, then I am the only person who can find my keys, unlock those locks, and celebrate in the joy that I still am.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass