Door to Door Soul Salesmen

**Reposting from July 2008**

RANT alert!

True story.

The phone rings and I check caller ID. Hmmm… I don’t KNOW the person listed, but it IS a local number.

“Hello?”

“Is this Miz Fencepostings?”

“Yes?”

“Hi. This is SomeRandomName and I’m a Jehova’s Witness and recently while in your neighborhood we stopped by your house, but you weren’t home – so we’re calling you instead. May we talk to you about some scriptures important to the salvation of your soul?”

Seriously?!

What makes them think that they hold the answer to my soul’s longevity? If I’d not ever been Soul Solicited by them through the years, I would have answered the door to begin with. I’ve listened before, when caught unaware doing some gardening in my front yard on a weekend. To be polite. Maybe I would learn something, who knew?

I’m not opposed to soul saving. Really. I just don’t want someone coming to my home and trying to convince me of their point of view…especially when they feel as though everyone else requires “saving” and they are just the ones to lead the way.

And how did they get my phone #? Isn’t that just a little presumptuous? I mean, I have to give them kudos for their tenacity, but really? Seriously? Could it be that the fact that there were cars in the driveway and obvious signs and sounds of occupancy present when they knocked (not once, but three times! Yes, I saw them through the window coming down the road), yet nobody answered the door -could it be a sign? Is a literal sign on the door saying “No Solicitations” really going to be necessary?

If I were a different person, or if I gave in to my baser nature, I could EASILY imagine a scenario where I call the number that called me and say something along the lines of

“Hi! My name is FillInTheBlank and I’m with the Southern Branch of the Souls Without Borders(sort of catchy, no?).

I’d like to talk to you about privacy and respect of people’s personal beliefs. How about if me and several of my fellows come by your house, oh, say right around dinnertime? Maybe on a beautiful Saturday while you’re trying to catch up on yard work or spending some time with your family? We’d like to enlighten you as to the error of your ways of believing – SAVE you from your current state of spiritual ignorance.”

Sigh….

I get the idea. I really do acknowledge all the people who so loudly have an opinion about this subject which they’ve seemingly done so little to try to understand. An “open mind” doesn’t come from one source you draw all your knowledge from. An open mind comes with realizing that the universe is full of countless ineffable things that defy our limited understanding, as everyday people.

And an open mind implies a somewhat open heart. Maybe outside of the boxed and neatly tied package? How can so many just walk around, spouting that they know the truth about all of it?

I do sincerely believe that the Bible is full of eternally relevant thoughts, beautiful teachings, and spiritually valuable lessons. So is the Torah. Metaphorically, it allows for a vast range of interpretations, like many other similar religious and faith-based tomes. Yet so many have used it to divide, to ridicule or criticize, to justify a reason for their way of life, without considering the possibility of an alternative being just as right, sometime even to the point of war. My understanding is that is not what that book, or any of the books, were meant for. I’m not arguing the things many people say are aimed to “save” their fellow people. Really. But is it possible that it may be more helpful to listen than to speak over? Or to live by example according to the principles laid out and be a LIVING example of your beliefs?

To be humble is to know that you know nothing. To realize that even though your beliefs say you are somehow superior to the person beside you, you are the same, made of flesh and bone. And you can keep your faith without espousing it to the people you have not begun to try to know. The Truth, however well you think you may know it, is too far beyond you to fall from your lips. It’s too simple and infinite for we mere mortals.

Mantras?

Keep it simple.

Listen rather than convince.

Respect rather than besiege.

Live and let live.

Accept people as they are, knowing you can’t know everything.

Be open to possibilities.

And finally,

Treat them as you wish to be treated.

Peace,

~me

In the Silence

In response to the questions asking about my long absence and am I still here, the answer is an unequivocal YES!

A little over six months ago I was devastated by the sudden and unexpected death of my dad. (“Father” seems too formal, “Daddy” a tad too intimate, though that’s who he’ll always be to me.) While I’m no stranger to the various faces of grief, grief of this magnitude is beyond the scope of my experience. And while I’ve often thought that I’d like to try and somehow convey the road I’m traveling, my companions Motivation and Desire have been conspicuously absent, as well as Inspiration.

The noise of life seems almost unbearable, in stark contrast to the silence of death.  Rationality can’t get an inroad into my heart’s grief – the reality and finality make it untenable.

Its a strange thing for somebody who loves to communicate to suddenly be thrust into a silence. Grief is like that. Silent and colorless. Foreign.

It rose with me in the morning, robbing the morning’s sunrise of color.

It moved through the day with me, weighing me down like a wet towel in the cool of a summer’s evening, making every thought and movement cumbersome.

The pieces of my heart’s breaking sink like stone in my belly, burying my appetite for life and sustenance somewhere deeply beneath it.

The sheer effort of trying to be a part of a life – a life that now has an enormous chasm in it – pushes out all but the most basic instinctual habits. Priorities get shifted so that whatever energy is mustered during the day goes to the responsibilities of family and engaging in the immediate lives around me. In the sum of it all, finding the “oomph” for re-engaging in a wider circle of life falls by the wayside.

Friends and family alike ask, “have you been writing? Taking pictures? Reading?” In other words,  basically anything that I’ve been passionate about since… forever. Nope. Haven’t been able to. ← (“Able” is the operative word.)

But time passes and it does get easier. That dense fog I seem to be moving though continues to dissipate a little each day.  I only get blindsided by the reality that he is no longer in this world (how can he not BE anymore?!) every other day – instead of every hour on the hour.

Its in the moments between being brought to my knees that I remember. I remember that words move me, buoy me, ignite me; that photographs draw me into the emotions evoked and suspended on the screen or in print; that stories carry me into a different reality for a space in time; that music takes me back into the soundtrack and rhythm of life.

Its a gradual re-awakening of the parts of me that grief dimmed. I realize its a process that has to be gotten through if I want to be able to continue truly LIVING my life. And I so do! So I’m getting back to good.

And I realize just how amazingly I’ve been blessed that I got to have such a rich and full life with him in it. I’d like to write and tell you all about him, but I’m not there yet. Baby steps.

Today is the beginning of the Lenten season. Contrition for faults and character defects that directly affect my usefulness in this world.

I attended an Ash Wednesday service this morning, its name taken from ashes daubed on my forehead as a sign of penitence. As the priest anointed me, he reminded me, “Remember you are dust and will return to dust.” Dad’s funeral flashed through my mind, an echo of those words resounding in my memory. I know not the time, nor the hour that these words will be uttered to those who will stand in the silence that I will leave behind. I felt a quickening inside, telling me to move along the shores of life and jump in – make a splash! – live out loud in the time I’m given.

Lent is an opportunity to do some spiritual housecleaning and pare it down to what really matters the most in this soul’s life.

  • It is a time in prayer with my Creator. Listening in meditation, as well as petitioning in prayer.
  • Giving alms in charity, love, and kindnesses given in service to others.
  • Fasting by setting aside my physical self and focusing on the spiritual. I deny my fallible humanness and fasting heightens my awareness. During the spiritual housecleaning I’m much better able to sort out the things that are cluttering up my life so that I can honor and rejoice in the important things and people in my life. Rejecting what no longer serves me well in preparation for an Easter renewal.

I’m settling into the silence of this Lent with a heart that still feels shattered. My fingers still drag over the keys with intention and effort. But just as I believe that the better part of my Daddy is ingrained inside of me, I know that this Lent holds a special purpose in the promise of the joy of Easter.

Namaste,

~me

An Instrument of Peace

Worth a repost, the following post came into my reader. Having to do with St. Francis’ prayer, it arrived at the perfect moment for me. =) Enjoy!

Namaste,

~me

(From Wayne Dyer’s website)

Being Peace

Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace.
The Prayer of St. Francis

You can become an instrument of peace in any given moment of your life by deciding that you are not going to use your mind for anything other than peaceful thoughts. This may sound extreme to you when you take into consideration all the difficult people you have to deal with, your financial picture, the illness of a close relative, the inconsiderate boss you must face, the taxes you owe, as well as outrageous traffic delays, and on and on. Try taking a breather from your habit of continuously looking for occasions to be non-peaceful. Go to that quiet, serene peaceful place within you that is covered by the outer layers of your material life. It is here that you know what being an instrument of peace means. Here, your emphasis is on giving, rather than receiving, peace.

When you are an instrument of peace, you are not seeking anything, you are a peace provider. You do not seek peace by looking into the lives of others and wishing that they would change so that you could become more peaceful. Rather, you bring your own sense of calm to everyone you encounter. You do not go about viewing every circumstance of your life in terms of whether it meets with your standard of peace. Rather, you bring your peaceful countenance to the chaos you encounter and your presence soothes the outer turmoil. Even if the turmoil continues, you have the freedom to choose a peaceful thought, or to quietly remove yourself from the immediate scene. How do you do this? Repeat the words of St. Francis that appear above. Chaotic moments are times to remember that you will not gain your peace from anyone else and that you choose to bring peace to every life situation you encounter.

The most important moments for cultivating this awareness are when you find yourself right smack in the middle of a tumultuous exchange, when someone is argumentative, surly, or irrational and you sense yourself falling into the pandemonium. Usually, in such moments your inclination is to blame all of the external forces for your absence of peace. Begin to look at these situations in a totally new way, one that will help you not only become a delivery person of calmness, but will make you a more reliable and steadfast instrument of peace.

Rise Up

Rise Up

Rise up and be thankful

Let us rise up and be thankful,

for if we didn’t learn a lot,

at least we learned a little,

and if we didn’t learn a little,

at least we didn’t get sick,

and if we got sick,

at least we didn’t die;

so, let us all be thankful.”  ~ Siddhārtha Gautama

Rise up, rise above, practice gratitude!

Namaste,
~me

In Whack

In my life, there is a need for balance that stretches to encompass all that makes me who I am.

Its my nature to dwell in the extremes on the range of any given area. I swing wildly from one extreme, then to the other. And when an area of my life is “out of whack”, it throws the other areas out of whack. Striving for that balance – being “in whack” – that’s where the lesson lies.

I am, like all other people moving about on this planet, made up of different parts. I have a spiritual self, an intellectual self, and a physical self, gimpy though it may be. Mind, body, and soul.  If I only care for one, the others fall out of sync. Its as simple as that.

Not too long ago, I felt myself going out of whack. Physically I was struggling with chronic pain, mentally I’d find myself moving through molasses, while my creative spark was dimmed. The sheer energy I needed to continue moving forward depleted the reserves I had both mentally and spiritually. My muse, it seemed, was lost and I was uninspired. Everything was out of whack.

Then I remembered something I’d read about the need to recharge. That every once in a while, its good to FEED the soul with what it craves. To get back to the basics and remember what is really important – to me. That my passions, without sustenance, will weaken and can die.

What fills me up and sustains me are the essential ingredients in my life. They include time to meditate and reflect … to rest my body when it needs rest … to fuel it with good things, not junk … to see with gratitude and optimism … to spend time with my family and friends … to fill my mind with ideas that speak to my heart and inspire … surround myself with music  – with words that seek to uplift instead of tear down … fill the world around me with beauty … look to the simplicity of nature and seasons, of animals and insects and see my place in all of it.

I guess you could say I needed to refresh myself. Trying to get back IN whack with a balance of mind, body, and soul and allow myself time to heal so that with a bit of restoration, I can be all that I’m intended to be in this world.

I’m feelin it. I feel the balance returning and the time spent truly listening is pulling it all back to center.

In whack. 🙂 I’m lovin it!

Namaste,

~me

Its NOT Personal

My FaceBook Bumper Sticker

Strange as it may seem, I still hope for the best, even though the best,
like an interesting piece of mail, so rarely arrives … and even when it does it can be lost so easily.” ~  Lemony Snicket, The Beatrice Letter

Continue reading

New Book

All living things contain a measure of madness that moves them in strange, sometimes inexplicable ways. This madness can be saving; it is part and parcel of the ability to adapt. Without it, no species would survive. (Yann Martel, The Life of Pi)

I’m reading a “new” book (the quotation marks are intentional – I’ve had the book for about a month, but just got to reading it!) The Life of Pi. I have to say that its much better than I’d hoped or assumed it would be. I keep finding reasons to have time to read more, which tells me I must be enjoying it! Here’s a couple of quotes and excerpts from it that I particularly like!

Namaste,

~me

I must say a word about fear. It is life’s only true opponent. Only fear can defeat life. It is a clever, treacherous adversary, how well I know. It has no decency, respects no law or convention, shows no mercy.

It goes fro your mind, always. One moment you are feeling calm, self-possessed, happy. Then fear, disguised in the garb of mild-mannered doubt, slips into your mind like a spy. Doubt meets disbelief and disbelief tries to push it out. But disbelief is a poorly armed foot soldier. Doubt does away with it with little trouble. You become anxious. Reason comes to do battle for you. You are reassured. Reason is fully equipped with the latest weapons technology. But, to your amazement, despite superior tactics and a number of undeniable victories, reason is laid low. You feel yourself weakening, wavering. Your anxiety becomes dread.

Fear next turns fully to your body, which is already aware that something terribly wrong is going on. Already your lungs have flown away like a bird and your guts have slithered away like a snake. Now your tongue drops dead like an opossum, while your jaw begins to gallop on the spot. Your ears go deaf. Your muscles begin to shiver as if they had malaria and your knees to shake as though they were dancing. Your heart strains too hard, while your sphincter relaxes too much. And so with the rest of your body. Every part of you, in the manner most suited to it, falls apart. Only your eyes work well. They always pay proper attention to fear.

Quickly you make rash decisions. You dismiss your last allies: hope and trust. There. You’ve defeated yourself. Fear, which is but an impression, has triumphed over you.

The matter is difficult to put into words. For fear, real fear, such as shakes you to your foundation, such as you feel when you are brought face to face with your mortal end, nestles in our memory like a gangrene: it seeks to rot everything, even the words with which to speak of it. So you must fight hard to express it. You must fight hard to shine the light of words upon it. Because if you don’t, if your fear becomes a wordless darkness that you avoid, perhaps even manage to forget, you open yourself to further attacks of fear because you never truly fought the opponent who defeated you.