Posts Tagged ‘soul’

The presence of self-remembering

November 23, 2014

I sometimes forget that I am an eternal presence. Just over four years ago, I had a small epiphany and made a connection more with what I call my “eternal presence” – the essence of my soul or spirit who came to live in this body and experience this life – who knows that I have always existed and always will and knows that I am a part of the ultimate divine being (God/Spirit) and remain connected. I began this blog then and write about how my eternal presence connects to everydayness of life and how the everydayness of life connects to my eternal presence.

But, I get waylaid by life, distracted by other paths of existence and forget to stop and come back here to connect . . . to write about the outside. Writing about the outside brings it inside where I – the “I” who is eternal — can connect and process and reflect and give back to me who is thinking, sensing, and feeling her way through this life.

Events, people, writings, readings, animals, objects, thoughts, tasks – in other words: life – comes into my awareness to remind me of what I already know: I am an eternal presence existing in this mortal body, resting behind this thinking sensing feeling experience. Life is poking at me. God is poking at me. I make all of these invitations to the universe to show me how to bring my true self to life, yet unless those invitations show up in the way I imagine they should, I completely miss them.

Until I choose self-remembering . . . and suddenly I recognize them as singular messengers responding to my requests. A phone call from my daughter reminds me that my morning candlelight vigil for her is being heard. The balance in my bank account more than sufficient to meet my obligations. The person who comes upon my path with a word that leads me to a hidden wisdom.

It is the everydayness that makes the eternal interesting.

©2014 by Barbara L. Kass

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

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

A self-involved presence

September 11, 2011

I am the most self-involved person that I know. While I suspect that there might be others whose soul focus on earth is me-me-me, I can’t speak to their experience . . . only mine.

And, no, use of the words “soul focus” is not a typographical error. Or a mismatch of “sole” and “soul.” My soul is my focus. Ever since I can consciously remember (fed by some raw, wordless impulse within me), I have asked the universal question: “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do?”

For my entire childhood and into young adulthood, that answer was “Make your parents happy!” (Their idea, not mine.) By the time I was 30, the insight hit me – not quite like a bolt of lightning but more like a stinky sock in my face – that nothing in this universe was going to make them happy because they already were: they delighted in their misery, settling with deep satisfaction into that cool muddy pool of inertia. They were, and one of them still is, very attached to their pain. The one that is still alive is demanding daily affirmation of worth through the actions of others. I don’t know what the dead one is doing right now . . . maybe peering over my shoulder while I write this, hopelessly seething with indignant justification for the heinous and neglectful actions that person committed in the name of love. Oh, wait, I need to let them off the hook for that stuff . . . okay, onward.

It seemed to me that many people had been given the purpose of making themselves happy. And other people, animals, objects, and events were supposed to do that for them. So, I figured I would get on that wagon and ride it home.

Fast forward twenty years and the dawning wisdom that – duh – all things come to pass. People. Animals. Plants. Objects. Events. To rely upon the ever-transitioning universe to provide me with steady, uncompromisable (or is it incompromisable?) happiness is a witless expectation. There is only one place where happiness can live eternally and that is within my soul.

I am not finding legions of friends lining up outside my door thrusting soul food into my arms. If my soul is to have nourishment, I need to seek that for myself. If my soul is to thrive and bloom in this existence, then it is up to me to nurture the environment within where that can happen.

The self that I am is very involved in that process, almost to the exclusion of everything else. And I think that the “almost” is an illusion. I am slowly realizing that everything I do, act, think, feel, and believe is in service of the self, creating fertile ground for my soul to flourish. There is no truly altruistic thought or act. I might think so as I help another or know within my bones I would die for a loved one . . . but even those thoughts and actions have a reward for me. I feel good about myself when I can provide for another. The pain of dying is nothing compared to the pain I imagine living without my loved one.

Self-involved is not a bad place – it is where I am intended to be. I must be involved with myself before I can be involved with others. The rules of behavior and boundaries of responsibility seem arbitrary and subject to self-perception, but this is all I’ve got. To be self-involved to the exclusion of the rights and needs of others is a clear boundary that often gets murky in my desperate attempts to reach that golden pot of enlightenment.

Yet, each day a particle of gold drops from that pot into my awareness and some new space of existence lights up inside me. A new understanding connects across those synapses in my brain. I am suddenly more complete than I was a moment before and yet painfully aware of more incompleteness and work to be done.

My self is working on it all right now.

©2011 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of Magic

August 17, 2010

The Magic Cat
She has always been a creature of comfort. Her soul loves feeling good to the point that never mattered who might be inconvenienced in her search for warmth, a complete body rub, and dinner off my plate.

Yesterday, we said our temporary goodbye. She could no longer eat or drink water even though it was clear she wanted to. Sitting at her water dish, her meow was mournful and painful for me to hear. I made the decision to allow death to claim her body, and set her soul free. I needed to put her out of my misery. I feel only a little bit better that she is no longer physically suffering.

There is no doubt in my heart that she will be present for me when I make my transition home.

She represents more to me than a 7-pound feline with an attitude. We have a 17-year history and there are a hundred thousand memories associated with her presence. When she first arrived in our lives, Bethany was a young girl and Magic was her birthday present. Magic was supposed to be her cat, not mine. But I was working from home back then and she found my lap beneath the keyboard while I typed away. She snuggled up against me late at night searching for warmth and the familiar sound of another heartbeat. She taught me how to throw her cat toy and she would fetch it and bring it back to me to throw again. When we had visitors, people said she followed me around like a dog. I told them she was very much a cat: always on the wrong side of every door.

I dragged her 2,000 miles across the United States from Texas to Maryland and changed residences six times in 15 years. One time, she even put up with living with male cats for 3 years. She was always well-behaved and polite. These past four weeks were the only time she was sick or caused me any concern at all.

I carry the question of whether euthanasia and depriving her of suffering was the “right” thing to do. I take some comfort from the idea that if she trusted me with her life, then she also trusted me with her death.

I have a lifetime of stories to tell about her, but right now they all make me cry.

I miss her presence.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass

The presence of plants

May 5, 2010

When I discovered that plants were made of the same spirit as I am, it occurred to me that they might very well have souls, too. The spirits of trees, grass, and other plant life is so dense where I live, I see them in abundance, and can hear and feel their life force. Indoors, I can also feel their absence, so I learned container gardening to surround myself with that feeling all the time. When I lived in a condominium, every spring I would dress my deck in anything that flowered and bloomed in the sun. I was so plant smitten that when I spotted a potted plant (to honor my plants, I will someday figure out their names, but for right now, they are all called “plant”) placed next to the dumpster, I had to rescue it. Evidently, people had moved out and decided to throw it away. It was perfectly healthy so I adopted it. The plant fit in well with all the others and flourished.

When I moved to a townhouse, I recaptured the decadence on that deck. Each spring, nearly every square foot was occupied with something growing. I left enough space for a small table and two chairs so I could sit outside and enjoy that abundance. In the late fall, just before the first frost, I would gather them all inside and nurture them throughout the winter. The plant I had rescued grew to the point where I had to separate it into three separate plants.

Then, I moved again — during the blizzard that paralyzed Washington DC and Maryland this past February. I got just about everything into storage and the place where I am living, except the plants. There was not enough space for all of the plants, so some had to be left outside. Exhausted from moving, I left some of the larger plants in my car overnight, intending to find space for them inside the next day. One of those was the plant I had rescued from the dumpster.

By morning, though, that plant was frozen. Its leaves were limp and dark. One of the plant’s offspring I had left in the car nearly suffered the same fate, but it still had some bright green leaves. I felt awful about leaving that plant to freeze to death. I remembered reading a proverb that once you save someone’s life, you are responsible for that person. I had rescued the plant, and I was responsible for seeing that it survived. Now, I had failed it.

All the rest of the winter and into the spring, I consoled myself with the fact that two of its offspring survived. But I would still look at that dead plant with its now brown shriveled leaves and regret that I had not taken the time that night to at least drag it into the garage. I kept the soil moist by watering it when I watered the other plants because I had full intentions of transplanting one of the offspring into that container.

The warm days finally arrived last week. I took all of the surviving plants outside and cleaned out the debris from the dead plant. As I pulled the dry and brittle leaves away, I saw tiny sprouts of green at the base of the stalks.

The plant was not dead.

Somehow, it had survived my neglect and bad decision, and kept enough of itself alive until the sun and my occasional watering gave it strength to grow again.

People say, “it’s just a plant.”

But it is also life and a lesson remembered.

©2010 by Barbara L. Kass