Belonging

In the first post of this series, I wrote about how we are summoned by love.  Love summoned me to India and Gandhi 3.0.

I asked people, “When Love calls, will you say ‘yes’?”

One of our readers, Shelly, wrote in the comments section: Love is calling. I hear it. I am answering but sometimes that stupid party crasher ‘unworthiness’ gets in the way.

 

Shelly needs a better bouncer at her party because she’s amazing.  She’s an entrepreneur, a talented writer and life coach.  She’s beautiful, a great wife and mom, a wise and good soul – plus she’s been on Shark Tank and she knows Oprah.

Even with all our “credentials,” unworthiness does tend to crash parties.  It barges in like an unwelcome guest with bad manners and B.O. to interfere with our noblest intentions.

The first time Nipun invited me to a ServiceSpace retreat in Northern California, I felt completely unworthy.  The first night of the retreat we sat in an opening circle.  We shared who we were and what we were feeling.  I said to the group, “I feel like I should have eradicated homelessness or something prior to this event…”   In other words, just as I am, I don’t deserve to be in this circle with all of you people who have shaken the world with your acts of kindness.

People nodded in recognition and chuckled.  Others admitted similar feelings.

Absolute Reality stepped in.  As soon as I acknowledged my unworthy thoughts, grace found me.  She illuminated an insidious trap of relative perception:  comparison.

Comparing ourselves to others; comparing how things are to what we think things should be; getting opinionated and emotional about it all; then treating it like Truth – all of these things bind us to the relative.    

I saw this, at the ServiceSpace retreat, sitting in a circle in Northern California, with complete strangers who all seemed better than me.  In that moment I remembered: we are all extraordinary ordinary beings with perfect imperfections, simultaneously qualified and unqualified for this place called existence.  Oddly, our imperfections make us perfect.  Our lack of qualifications often qualify us… This is Absolute.  (If you want greater understanding of this paradox, please click here).

This new Absolute Perception freed me.

When Love summoned me to India; and I looked at the impressive people on the attendee list;  I didn’t compare.  I belonged.  In Absolute Reality, we all belong.

 

Reflections:  Where are you caught in comparison?  How can you shift to a more Absolute perspective?  How do you engage a sense of belonging just as you are? 

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Absolute

I told the backstory of my first trip to India because the blending of joy and sorrow shaped my worldview.  After I returned, people in our church said, “You’ve changed.  Something happened in India.”

India felt like a memory, like a paradox I’ve always known.  Life shows up as opposites – joy, sorrow, darkness, light, good, and evil.

These opposites are held in a greater Absolute Reality.  Absolute Reality is Perfect meaning “inclusive of everything.”

The first trip to India influenced the second trip.  In fact, in this most recent journey, I began to wonder about time – does the past shape the future or does some future calling influence the past?  Time felt timeless.  I’ll write more about that later – but timeless time seems to be an aspect of Absolute Reality.

I usually describe Absolute Reality with a story about the time I lost a large Goat in my small town.  Not everyone can relate to that but here’s a link if you’d like more information.

More people can relate to flying on an airplane so I’ll use that as a metaphor for the Absolute.

If you take off on a plane on a cloudy day, while you’re in the airport you think “It’s a cloudy day.”  As soon as you get above the clouds, the sun is shining.  You think “Even though I’m in the same zip code, even though the people on the ground think it’s a cloudy day, now it’s a sunny day.”

It’s both.  Your “reality” of a cloudy or sunny day depends on your perspective, the position you hold in Reality.  Absolute Reality is the source of all conditions.  It is that which encompasses all positions, perspective, possibilities and more….

It helps me to remember that my individual reality is based on my perspective and only as real as I think it is.  My reality is not Absolutely Real.  My reality exists in relationship to other factors.  I can cling to my version of reality, justify it, rationalize it, take it to dinner, and marry it.  My truth is always only partial truth. 

Individual truth is relative.  And just as the sun always shines beyond rain or clouds, the Reality of Absolute Truth shines beyond our relative perspectives.

When we step back, broaden, and consider Absolute Reality our hearts and minds expand.  We stretch past limited perspectives about old wounds, stories, self-concepts, relationships, fears, and disappointments.  We invoke new possibilities that set us free.

Rumi describes it beautifully: “Out beyond ideas of wrong-doing and right-doing, there is a field; I’ll meet you there.  When the soul lies down in that grass, the world is too full to talk about.”

I choose to inhabit fullness.  I hope you do too.  Our willingness to embrace the Absolute makes the world a kinder place for all beings. 

Reflections:  How might you describe or experience Absolute Reality?   Is there a situation where moving out of relative perspective might help you?   How can you inhabit the fullness beyond words, a fullness that is “too full to talk about?”

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Reality

Still on the plane to India, still not convinced I should be flying away from my dying dog, I prayed again.  This prayer changed my heart.

As I repeated the phrase, “love is letting go,” I felt something release within me.  I relaxed and another realization burst in like an action-movie explosion:

All these years, I thought I was taking care of Stella.  What if Stella was really taking care of me?   

Could it be? 

Yes, she was my protector.  She walked beside me and loved me in all my flawed wonder.  She was my guardian, my angel, a stand in for God’s love.  And this love has taken care of me always. 

Even now.

Even now?  In the horrible timing of Stella’s illness colliding with God’s call to go India – this is love too?

Yes.  This is love.

Sorrow gives meaning to joy.  Death makes life precious.  Everything dances in opposites to add necessary contrast in the mosaic of life.  The paradoxes of love intertwining with loss are holy.

I thought back to my decision to travel to India in 2013.  When I decided to go, I didn’t know why I was called.  But now it was clear.

It was for this.   It was to fly in complete darkness, knowing nothing yet trusting everything.

Epilogue 

Despite my dying dog, or because of my dying dog, the trip to India was a holy pilgrimage.   Every experience was deepened because of joy mingled with sorrow.  Then, after two weeks of travel and limited phone and internet connection, I returned home.   I wondered what I would find– would Stella be alive?

When I arrived, Hugh flung open the front door of our house.  “Mommy’s home,” he said.

Bartok bounded to my sideAnd then came Stella.  Moving slowly, but smiling and wagging her tail.

Stella lived for one more week after my return.  We were inseparable.  Then late one night, she died in my arms on our sofa.  Our vet never figured out the cause of death.

Today grief has morphed to gratitude – gratitude for Stella’s life and for our time together.  But also gratitude for that moment on a plane bound for India, where I learned about the holiness of love and loss.   Yes, there are times I miss Stella’s physical presence.   There are times I feel afraid or sad.  But then love barks at me from the other side of the veil.  And I remember I can love everything – for everything is Love.

Reflections:  Has there ever been a time when reality flipped on you?  (Such as when I realized Stella was taking care of me as much as I was taking care of her).  What does this tell you about the mystery of existence? 

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