The sharing on suffering brought to mind what is, for me, a very common experience of God: namely peace and joy. Amazingly, we can experience peace and joy even in the midst of suffering.
Peace is is promised to all believers by Christ (Jn. 14:27). This is a peace that the world cannot take away as it is not based on "having or getting" the "right things" or being problem-free, but seems, instead, a sharing in Christ's own peace. Paul speaks of this as the "peace which surpasses all understanding" in Phil. 4:7. It is a peace the world cannot take away, unless we allow worldly standards of peace to supplant our faith and trust in God. For me, this peace is one of the most precious gifts of Christ; I cannot imagine living without it.
Same goes for joy, which I experience less frequently (and wish that weren't so). I make a distinction between pleasure, happiness, and joy, though all three can be intermingled. But pleasure seems to be about sense gratification, happiness about success and accomplishment, while joy can be realized in the absence of pleasure and happiness. It's more related to gratitude than anything, I suppose, but sometimes it just seems to come out of nowhere, attesting to its gratuitous nature. I know I like being around joyful people; I guess everyone does. In my own limited experience, I don't know any joyful people who aren't also people of faith, so that's an important witness.
I can relate to the deep maternal deprivation and pain that you describe. My suffering has also pivoted around deep mother wounds. In fact, it's not unlikely that much of our core longings for union with God are fueled by early and profound maternal neglect and deprivation. I recall being a lonely little girl, about age 5, swinging on the swingsets and consciously wanting to merge with the sky as I was lifted up by the swing. w.c. has talked a lot about this in terms of the pain of aridity in prayer as it is awakens deep abandonment/ attachment loss. (It would be a fine time for him to jump back in )
It sounds like by "not leaving Him out of" your suffering, you have the gift of faith that He is carrying you through it, even as you don't directly experience Him in it. I know what you mean here. When suffering doesn't make sense, faith wins the day, and this faith / knowledge is a gift.
Thanks for sharing a bit more about yourself. It's nice to learn more about you.
Thank you Shasha for the kind words. Its very difficult to express those things, especially now, since I seem to be connecting the dots I guess.
I'm understanding more about why I think and react the way I do and its not a whole lot of fun. But the "real Donna" seems to be emerging.
Little did I know when this crazy Kundalini stuff started what was about to be stirred up from the deep to be skimmed off. Interesting process.
I do have a wonderful lady counselor that is walking me through this. She seems to have a very good intuition even though she's not familiar with Kundalini.
I'm also grateful to read and learn so much from all of you. Thank you again, love,prayers, Donna
Here's a thread that Stephen started years ago on "Uncreated Light"-- in case you're interested.
No, I don't know who here might be Orthodox. Stephen has been in and out of SP. Phil might know of his "whereabouts." He did share his blog site with us at one time, but I can't recall where.
I have been quiet but out in the wings here, kind of searching the forum for what speaks to where I am at, what I can speak to, where I can express what my current experience is.
This thread turned to the discussion of suffering and specifically the suffering born in the absence of maternal nurture.
I am aware that it was in significant part this wound/pain in my life that led to my seeking a maternal image/essence that led to my involvement with the guru.
I am equally aware that having returned to Christianity, this is one of the issues being addressed, hence the experiences (I shared in another thread) surrounding my mother and grandmother when praying the Rosary.
I was in the throes of feeling this wound again in the past two days. It brought significant (belly fulls of) weeping...and was also a sort of flash back of my experience with the guru, where I was weeping for motherly love, in my search for a "feminine face of God." Only now, of course, I am not wanting to fill this wound with her energy/have her confused with Mother Mary. But because that was part of my experience with the guru, it is part of what rushed into my consciousness, almost as if tempting my return. My prayers this morning were significant. I feel better. I ask you to keep me in your thoughts and prayers, too.
I've quite a bit of energy affecting my brain centers currently, which also feels better since this morning's prayers, but, still, I hope I will do well to express/elucidate what needs expressing.
I have (had) three sisters. One has since died due AIDS, after running away from home at 14 years of age and onto a life of crime, drugs, prositution and incarceration (which is where she spent most of the years of her adult life). We each were sexually abused by my father. My mother was unable to stop it. She herself was sexually abused as a child. I learned only in these later years that my grandfather was still demanding sex from her well into the years of my mother's marriage to my father. As a child, I dissociated from my eventual experience of molestation after having witnessed my mother's inability to respond to one of my sister's calls for help. In her disbelief, and a host full of other emotions and inner conflicts, including the inability to see/meet her own pain, my mother actually "blamed" the abuse on my sister. My young self decided then and there that 'this must never happen to me.' When the time came that I was myself being physically molested, I began going out of body. I'd literally walk out of my home in my astral body after falling to sleep in the evenings and reach my arms skyward and find myself ascending into the universe at warp speed. It was a grace for which I am thankful, for I am not sure I would have fared so well psychologically had I not been spared knowledge of my actual experience in childhood. It would not be until these later years in therapy when it came forward in dreams that I began to face the knowledge of my experience. Prior to this, I always believed my suffering/weeping was only for my sisters.
The issues of maternal abandonment and sexual abuse has run generations in my family. Healing this is one cup I would have preferred to pass on. I can't tell you how difficult were the early days of my healing when I would shout at God demanding to know "why" He had done this to me, why I was being asked to bear the unbearable. And yet, here it was all coming up from the depths of me. So, it is mine, and I can only choose to bear it, pray God's grace to heal it, and to someday and somehow be able to help others through my own journey. I do believe it was because of this wound that God/Christ's grace entered my life as a young child.
I am not sure where I am going with this... It is just that that hole or pain of abandonment rose again so powerfully in the past couple of day, quite unexpected by me.
Ah, part of what I wanted to share is some of what I was experiencing in my recent experience of darkness. With the increased movement of kundalini, I was experiencing a lot of fear, as if I was afraid of my own self, of something that lay within me, that I could not quite bring myself to look at. Day in and day out, I was full of fear. I was even praying that the kundalini go away. It was not until I read a note from my analyst responding to my reports of fear wherein she said to me that my experience of darkness had the potential of cutting me off from her positive regard and from my own feminine self that I fell to profound tears. It was true. This was happening. However, during my weeping, I felt the deep blame I held for myself for being a feminine creature. As I allowed the tears to pour out of me, I had an inner experience of a vision of a beautiful large lady bug, first, appearing in the space of my root chakra, and then of a host of lavendar colored flowers shooting up in my womb, like a garden. After this, I felt myself as if resting in the space of my own womb. It was very healing for me. I questioned the lady bug symbol, but found myself comforted when I learned that lady bugs were so named because farmers prayed to the Virgin Mary with help for their crops which were being destroyed by a swarm of insects. A host of lady bugs came, eating the plant destroying pests. Hence, they became known as "The Beetles of Our Lady," and, over time, simply "Lady Beetles."
I think the issues of maternal abandonment run deep. We learn to emotionally abandon our own selves. Combine this with the sexual abuse where I additionally learned to blame myself for being female, and I've had quite a plate full to deal with, never minding all else all human beings deal with. I have been bitter with life and God in the past, thinking it not fair that I should have inherited so much pain. As a child, I felt like the weight of the world rested on my shoulders, because I identified with Eve, responsible for the fall of mankind from God's grace. At the same time, when feeling the suffering of the world through studying history or reading of world events, I would feel infused with God's love and compassion running through me, as if out to the world. I literally felt like all this suffering was happening inside of me. I was much too young to understand my capacity for compassion. I don't believe it was my own. I believe it was God/Christ's love through me that made me so.
As I continue to go through the healing I am now, I am returned to so much my childhood. I feel God calling me back there, to reinvestigate my early roots, if you will. And I ask, "What will He have me to do with it all?" As a child, I used to preach of the need for God's love in the world, because I "knew" how dearly it was needed. I find it such an irony that I would be born to a family where there was a complete lack of the expression of God's love and yet I was so full of it. When I would speak of the need for God's love, my body would become as a pillar of light as Spirit descended on me and spoke through me, affirming my words. So, there He was, there was God's love. But me, I ended up running from God, feeling not worthy of His love. This has been a huge wound for me. After I wept the day before yesterday, I fell to sleep as I continued my prayers and later woke with the thought form, "presenting one's self as holy and blameless before God," from Ephesians 1:4. I like to think it was God affirming me, just as He did when I was a child. It did not matter to Him the likes of the family I was born into. He was showing me then that I was holy and blameless before Him. And I think He is reminding me the same now.
I look back now to the title of this thread, "The God dimension of experience," and, now, with hindsight, I look back to my childhood and know, too, that that was also the God dimension of experience. He was no lesser there than anywhere else. And I am grateful.
But when do we stop persecuting ourselves for our humanity? I cannot live within the realms of blame any longer. It is much too painful a place to live.
Kristi, I am moved beyond words by what you have written. As I've said before, I keep coming up with more questions than answers myself.
As I read your post, I could feel the struggle between Light and darkness.... my heart swelling up for that little one who suffered so much.
My question was.....does Kundalini stir up all this stuff for us to shake off......surrender it to the foot of the cross?
I think it does, doesn't it? God is leading the way bit by bit, healing, drawing you along on His path of suffering, He did not live in the realm of blame either did He? His Heart just full of Love, carrying His cross ........for us.
My sincere prayers and blessing to you. Donna
something else just occured to me as I am still re reading your post. Does the huge wound of an innocent child leave an even bigger opening for the healing Love of Jesus to enter in?
Hi Donna, and thank you,
I do think the kundalini does stir all this up for us to shake off/grow through.
I know right now that I have the hugest committment to love, to see through all things with/in/by love, as I pray that God increase my understanding and compassion for my/our shared humanity.
I do think that the wound of an innocent child can create the opening for the love of Christ to enter in, though (sadly), as we know, this is not always the case.
What makes the difference? Why one child/person and not another?
Kristi---What a beautiful post. Thank you.
In thinking about your mother and grandmother, I thought, too, that somebody loved you as a child to give you your name of KristiMarie="Christian/Mary".
Cool information about ladybugs. I didn't know that was how they got that name. I just read that the red wings were thought to represent Mary's cloak, and the black spots, her joys and sorrows.
The naming of me was a saving grace for me, truly. I've often imagined that the dreams of the women of my family fell to me. I feel this is part of what Mother Mary has been showing me during my Rosary prayer time. Now, it is more than just imagination to me. It is as though it is being validated, becoming real, embodied. And though it carries the pain of our shared woundedness, I am grateful, so very grateful. I continue to pray for the courage to endure, continue to pray that love be born in me.
Oh... Had to come back to insert: Yeah, I just learned the little piece of history behind lady bugs, too. I also thought it was neat.
I am so sorry to hear of your childhood suffering but glad to know you have a therapist who cares about you and is helping you heal.
Incest is one of the most destructive evils in our world. The betrayal and perversion of love runs so deep. I’ve worked with many incest victims and hear in your story so many of the common themes that require healing: dissociation, pervasive fear, hating their gender, searching for a powerful, protective parent, and the bewildering “why me God!? How could you put me in this family?” There is often blatant anger at the abusing parent, but it can be harder to feel the anger at the parent who failed to protect the child. And in the intergenerational transmission of incest, tragically, there’s often an unconscious need to repeat the trauma. Maybe there's even a 'spirit of incest' as a supernatural curse, of sorts.
There are a few good Christian books for sex abuse victims. Maybe you know of them already. Diane Langberg is a Christian therapist who has done this work for decades, and I really like her books. “The Wounded Heart” by Dan Allander is another helpful resource, but a bit harder to read than Langberg.
I can relate to maternal deprivation as being a factor in why I was drawn to the “feminine divine” too, Kristi. Mary is the best example of a good mother. Have you ever read of the many apparitions and miracles of the Mother of God. They are very inspirational and beautiful. I think they would nurture your soul.
I’ll keep you in my prayers.
It's just saddening to hear what you were put through, Kristie, but your comments above and others you've shared give evidence of God's grace at work in your life as well from an early age and the hope that carries you onward. One can only imagine the agony of God regarding the abuse of innocent children! While we say "why God?!" I'm sure God must be responding with "why, humans?!"
Thank you for what you have shared. I have Allander's, "Wounded Heart," and I have seen Langberg's name when searching books in the past.
Anger is a soft word. For one who goes deep enough, there is rage that steams, erupts and flows like lava. Most never get there, to it, to really uproot it. The reason it is harder to feel the anger at the parent that failed to protect the child is (IMO) because the child, for the sake or his/her survival, must hold out hope that (maybe) at least one parent is good. As a psychic protective mechanism, we simply must fail to see that both parents are bad. Idealizing one over the other (or in the case when both parents are blatantly abusive, refusing to see it) "saves" the fragile psychic structure of the child. Thank God. They actually create a different parent, as I am sure you know. The psyche is amazing.
I worked on the anger with my father for years before I was able to begin to touch the anger I held for my mother. Not ironically, it was during the time of my devotion to the guru that the biggest pieces of rage for my mother poured through me with sheer velocity. I would spend days with liquid rage literally felt emanating through every cell and pore of my being. I am thankful for the love and staying grace that held me through it, without causing pain to others - though I am sure some of those who saw me in this condition (as I moved about with daily life) were afraid of or for me. Nobody likes to get near to that, in another person or in themselves.
I don't know if I would call it an unconscious "need," but perhaps a compulsion is more apt a term, resulting from the spirit of incest that runs in families. Like any other generational dynamic within a family, it continues to perpetuate itself - until it doesn't. Healing this is no easy thing for us, for sure...but God is capable, this I know. I will write of it (in a book), someday.
I have read some of the apparations and miracles. I agree, reading more would be nurturing for me. Thank you for suggesting so.
And yet, in all my asking God "why?" His response to me is so that I (through Him) could heal it. He has to choose some of us to do this work from the soupy swamps of life. One thing I know is that God is not limited. And He is not done with me yet! Our humanity just has not grown up enough yet. One person at a time, like the song says, "Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me." It's the greatest thing I can do. Let us pray that for every additional one who does heal and grow, a greater (larger, wider) path toward the same is created, beckoning and drawing others along.
Just to show that all these past 10 years have also included God's peace and joy, I share one example of the gift suffering has brought me. I don't know that I'd call it my best piece of work, but it speaks to what I do believe is at the heart of humanity...the want to remember itself, to know love.
You raised me like the worldly poor
One day found stricken by grief,
My heart felt You could take no more
But, oh, what a relief
When you began stripping me to the core
Layer after layer,
All that I thought I was
All that I thought I had
Now I am only with a space in my heart
That longs for that which is always only glad
You, my Lovely Sacred Grace
All of this me in my arms You do place
And for my ways are too small
There is no thing I can do
But ask of it Your entire Embrace
You who set this yearning
Deep in my being
Oh, what a sweet remembering!
All along, it was You I was seeing!
My Lovely Sacred You
Who empties me
Collecting all of me into Your Beloved Sea
Come like a Dove
Showing me all of that everything
All it ever really wanted to know,
All it ever really wanted to show
~ That it is Love
September 20, 2005
Thank you for your lovely poem!
I'm struck by how much beauty comes from people who have suffered deeply. A bit strange, isn't it? Evidence of a loving Father/Mother God who is ultimately in control, methinks.
Amen. That's a beautiful,God-inspired prayer...I'll join you...
While not holding to the same mystical doctrine in all its details, I'll generally "ditto" everything Phil said.
Here's my own take on it: For me god is not love, is not forgiveness, and is not redemption. God is the hope of sanity in an insane world. Every facet of our world these days is tinged with irrationality, if not given over entirely to hysteria and absurdity. It may sound silly to the Dawkinsian "sky god" crowd to turn to an idea of god as reason, for in their minds god is nothing but a figment of the imagination, an invention of psychologically weak or needy minds, or of particularly greedy religions.
But we may take a Platonic view and imagine "pure forms" of the things we see in nature and in ourselves. We might not find them perfect in our experience, but we can imagine a perfect form. We can imagine saneness and rationality in a world tossed and tumbled by preposterousness. Just as the idea of the perfect line is what guides the surveyor when marking out a new road, so the idea of perfect sense can guide us in traversing our own world.
Yes, one could say the same for perfect love, perfect forgiveness, or perfect giving. All could be both elements of god and elements of the various "soft proofs" of god's existence. And all that fits within the paradigm that I'm talking about. If we can imagine a perfect form of something, it might well indeed exist, and perhaps must necessarily exist just as the perfect circle must exist even if all the ones we draw are not.
But love can go astray if disconnected from wisdom, as can so many other well-intentioned things that see no further than the nice-sounding words we often wrap human intentions in. Without the wisdom, and behind that the reason, and behind that the truth, we are lost.
I was moved by your story and by your wonderful poem. I felt a kind of deep sadness but a sadness shining with peaceful light from within. Sadness mixed with joy, even. Quiet joy.
When I think of you - and maybe "think" is not the best word for it - I have an image of the Lord showing His wounds. Touching the wounds. "In Your wounds, hide me". Resurrection and the wounds. Glory, peace, and joy along with deep pain of human life.
Thank you and may God bless you, Kristi.
Hello Everyone and thank you each for your words here in response to my sharing. I've not responded again sooner, as its been a full week for me, more healing experiences and dream work requiring the need to take time for processing...and also preparation for and attendance at a Deposition for a legal proceeding.
"Coming loose" - these are the words that come to me to describe what I am experiencing - the heart opening more and coming loose from things that have bound me...learning to walk in forgiveness and acceptance of God's love for me.
Mt, as I read your words, "Glory, peace and joy along with deep pain of human life," I am moved to feel that real peace and joy is perhaps not possible without accepting the deep pain of human life. I see my pain as being that which opens me. That feeling pain/suffering in itself points to love; meaning, we feel pain only because we "know" love. And suffering through our pain/wounds calls us home to greater love.
I leave you all for the holiday with another poem. I wrote this one just a month ago, in reflection on a Spring day's experience that came to me some several years ago, and yet it does, for me, also contain tones of Christmas.
Searching for the embrace of God,
To feel whole and complete
My yearning prayed in me,
On a spring morning sweet,
“Show me; meet me, half way, please”
“Will You my spirit appease?”
I lifted my eyes in earnest expectancy
Looking to know, to see…
And there, ‘neath a leaved canopy
In sun streaked rays of light,
Came two small creatures dancing in waiting
For the filling of their delight.
Singing they a simple call of hunger
Gently from the heart.
Realizing the mirroring of my being,
I bowed in spirit-led gratefulness
My eyes softly peering ’n earth’s green richness
Thither, I continued my silent entreating,
Half requesting and yet believing,
“Is Love, already, doing its part…?”
My gaze was raised easy to clear blue skies
And there, a flight of mercy I spied
Gliding in on wings of grace
Bearing the bounty of their cries
Her gift was like silken lace
All at once, the whole was woven
As I encountered face to face
Arms of love large enough for all the world
Touched through and through by God
His light shimmering in me
“Yes,” He had answered, and now said,
“Know that there is no separation between You and Me”
Kristi, your poem was lovely. It reminded me of Psalm 145:16--here is 145:13-16:
The Lord is faithful to all His promises
and loving toward all He has made.
The Lord upholds all those who fall
and lifts up all who are bowed down.
The eyes of all look to You
and You give them their food at the proper time.
You open Your hand
and satisfy the desires of every living thing.
Merry Christmas to all!
Kristi, if you're not already familiar with them, you might like the poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins and George Herbert and the nature poetry of William Cowper.
Thank you, Ariel. And I enjoyed reading the whole chapter of Psalms 145! Thank you for sharing that with me. No, I am not familiar with the writers you've mentioned. I am going to look them up!
I see we had a discussion on this same topic almost a decade ago now. Interesting to read the responses:
- - -
I found this note in my journal the other day and think it's worth passing on:
God is the force that binds together the fragments of my life into harmonious meaning, and impels me to relate to others in love.
Phil-- I've pasted this (below) from that discussion. I can see that you said many of the same things then as you did more recently. Isn't it reassuring that you're still the same after 10 years! Those "fragments" of your life really do hang together after a decade.
Serenity. I think the God-dimension is a serenity which the world cannot take away--a peace which surpasses all understanding. This serenity sustains our souls, preventing us from becoming totally consumed by anxiety and preoccupation. I believe this serenity is Christ's own peace, which we are privileged to participate in as one of the fruits of his death, resurrection, and ascension. One can know the serenity without this kind of belief, so I'm not saying that only Christians can have it. The serenity is already there, to be enjoyed by those who stop disturbing themselves and cast their hearts and minds into its sustenance.
Will-to-love. Might as well add the will-to-goodness as well. Here I'm talking about a level of willingess deep within--deeper than our own personal desires and preferences--which seems to simply be "there." I believe this flow of agape is the Holy Spirit, won for the human race by Christ, and flowing through the heart of creation to renew creation in Christ. Again, one can accees this "willingness" without the belief I've shared; Buddhists call it compassion, for example.
Transcendence. No matter what we have or have realized, it always seems that there is "something more" to be realized. Human consciousness has a horizon which, no matter how far we travel on the journey, seems to stretch ahead, calling us onward and upward. We can stop for awhile and enjoy where we are, and that's OK. Still, the horizon beckons, and unless we get overly caught up in the "cares of the world," our awareness of this horizon can always be known. I believe this points to God the Father, the unmanifest One and Creator of the universe. One can know the horizon without this belief, but the belief has given me a way to relate to the One Who is always saying, "Friend, come up higher."
Awareness. This one might surprise many, for it's not often discussed in Christian spirituality, but I've come to believe that awareness itself belongs to God. This is not to deny the experiences of personal awareness and subjectivity, but the awareness by means of which we know this does not belong to us. It is God's own knowing in us, which enables our own self-understanding in God. One may come to the experience of the non-personal or transpersonal dimension of awareness outside of Christianity and theism, so my words about God say more about how I understand the experience, than that experience itself.
Yes, it was interesting to read how we discussed this topic years ago and to compare notes. Many of the same points were made, as you noted, but there were also a few different emphases. I've certainly no disagreements with what you posted above from one of my posts on that older discussion, except I'm not so sure I'd say "awareness itself belongs to God." The "knowing" of God in us is not simply our ordinary awareness, which I would not say is an attribute of the human spirit. There is another, graced, awareness that I had in mind, then.
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