Tag Archives: Vulnerability

The Touchable Ones are the Healed Ones

the-touchable-onesThis post is to highlight the work of Franciscan Priest Richard Rohr, who inspires me so much. His teachings function as a bridge for me between the Christian religion I was raised in and the broader, deeper spirituality I now embrace. His interpretation of Christian scripture moves way beyond what can feel like dogma to the timeless and timely profundity of Jesus’ teachings.  I want to share a blog piece of his with you verbatim, (below), with my brief comments about it.

I had an “aha” moment this morning, during my meditation and journaling time, when this paradox came alive: Surrendering mental control and/or understanding of an outcome (in this case, I was praying for a specific healing), while simultaneously fanning the flames of desire for healing is…vulnerable!

Vulnerability is the buzz word in spiritual circles lately. So much so, that it has already lost some of its vulnerability! And yet, I am experiencing a big dose of its depths as I realize what it means to LET GO. I think I had some hidden belief that letting go of the “how” somehow meant letting go of the wanting, too.

But the wanting without needing to understand the how, is what makes us vulnerable. And in our vulnerability we are touchable! By Grace. By the Miraculous. By God.

Here is Friar Richard’s blog piece. He says it so much better! If you like his work, you can follow him here.

Did you ever imagine that what we call “vulnerability” might just be the key to ongoing growth? In my experience, healthily vulnerable people use every occasion to expand, change, and grow. Yet it is a risky position to live undefended, in a kind of constant openness to the other—because it means others could sometimes actually wound us. Indeed, vulnera comes from the Latin for “to wound.” But only if we take this risk do we also allow the opposite possibility: the other might also gift us, free us, and even love us.

If and when we can live an honestly vulnerable life—the life we see mirrored in a God who is described as three persons perfectly handing themselves over, emptying themselves out, and then fully receiving what has been handed over—there will always be a centrifugal force flowing through, out, and beyond us. Then our spiritual life simply becomes “the imitation of God” (see Ephesians 5:1), as impossible as this sounds to our ordinary ears.

This, then, seems to be the work of the Spirit: to keep you vulnerable to life and love itself and to resist all that destroys the Life Flow. Notice that the major metaphors for the Spirit are always dynamic, energetic, and moving: elusive wind, descending dove, falling fire, and flowing water. Spirit-led people never stop growing and changing and recognizing the new moment of opportunity. How strange to think that so much of religion became worship of the status quo and a neurotic fear of failure. It does make sense, though, when we consider that the ego hates and fears change and failure.

What, then, is the path to holiness? It’s the same as the path to wholeness. And we are never “there” yet. We are always just in the river. Don’t try to push the river or make the river happen; it is already happening, and you cannot stop it. All you can do is recognize it, enjoy it, and ever more fully allow it to carry you.

As John O’Donohue put it:

I would love to live
Like a river flows,
Carried by the surprise
Of its own unfolding. [1]

This is the great surprise, and for some a disappointment: this divine Flow has very little to do with you. The Flow doesn’t have to do with you being perfect, right, belonging to the right group, or even understanding the Flow. Jesus never has any such checklist test before he heals someone. He just says, as it were, “Are you going to ask for or allow yourself to be touched? If so, let’s go!”

The touchable ones are the healed ones; it’s pretty much that simple. There’s no doctrinal or moral test whatsoever. Jesus doesn’t check if the people he heals are Jewish, gay, baptized, or in their first marriage. There’s only the one question, which he asks in various ways:

Do you want to be healed?

If the answer is a vulnerable, trusting one, the Flow always happens, and the person is always healed, usually on several levels. That is the real New Testament message, much more than miraculous medical cures.

Isn’t that great?  Have a blessed day, everyone. <3

Sending and Receiving Love

Sending LoveYesterday I read an article by Ram Dass entitled “I am Loving Awareness,” in which he talked about a meditation practice that can break the spell of ego’s perceptions. There are many such practices, but this one called to me.  I am going through a bit of a physical challenge (another bout of vertigo) and I have also felt a lot of stress lately (I am a world-class stresser), so as I went to bed last night feeling dizzy and trying to relax my tight muscles, I took his instructions to heart:

“I focus my attention in the middle of my chest, on the heart-mind.  I take a few deep breaths into my diaphragm to help me identify with it.  I breathe in love and breathe out love.  I watch all of the thoughts that create the stuff of my mind, and I love everything, love everything I can be aware of.  I just love, just love, just love…I am loving awareness… “

I closed my eyes, felt the slight tremor of dizziness and said, “I love you,” to my uncomfortable self. I paid attention to my breath and said “I love you” to my breath.  I felt my exhale hit bottom, which always feels abrupt when I pay attention to it…the space before breathing in again. I felt the urge to inhale quickly, the moment of brief panic that I sometimes feel when I pay attention to the spaces between breaths, and I sent love into that tiny panic. I felt my neck muscles, shoulder muscles and spine, and breathed love into them. I caught my mind skittering into thoughts, all kinds of thoughts, too many and too fleeting to name, and I sent love to the thoughts.

That was the most challenging part of the exercise for me. Catching my thoughts and actually blessing them, instead of trying to get rid of them, just loving my thoughts no matter how stressed they were, how quickly negative or judgmental they could turn. But I blessed my efforts at blessing my thoughts! I went to sleep in that mindset.

It may sound strange to say, “I love you,” to yourself, but I see that it is a wonderful practice.  It points up, first and foremost, just how much we DON’T love ourselves, because there is such an effort at first in being able to say it authentically. The idea of SENDING love to ourselves, though, gets us in touch with the One who is sending us love every moment of the day. And the idea of then RECEIVING our own love, gets us in touch with receiving God’s love.

In my spiritual community we have been working a lot with the vulnerability, the innocence of receiving. Can we receive our own unconditional love? Can we receive God’s unconditional love? Can we receive healing? Can we receive answers that are beyond our mental conceptions? Can we receive the beauty of this world?

Sending and receiving love. It is a huge, mind-blowing practice!

Blessings!

The Practice of JOY

Life's enjoyment

Life’s enjoyment

Today I want to talk about the practice of JOY. For weeks I have been teetering on some kind of brink in my meditation practice. I have written about this – the hard rock I have come up against inside that is angry, resentful, even hateful – a primal , dark place that I don’t have a rational explanation for, but its power has been my unwillingness to simply look at it because, “Hey, I’m a good person!  I don’t have hate!”

Now, I am being shown, not just theoretically but experientially, that we all have EVERYTHING in us. We have what Jung would call “shadow” selves, and those shadows have power because we don’t look at them, because they are hidden. In order to regain our wholeness, we must move the shadow into the light of our compassionate awareness. As I said, I’ve known this theoretically for thirty years or more, and have done this with other shadow selves (sorrow and fear are prime ones).  But hate?  Oh my goodness!  Hate was well hidden.

So I’m looking, and naming. Another tendency is to try to jack-hammer the rocks in our path. The teetering I have been doing is going back and forth between refusing to see/feel this hard rock and alternatively taking a jackhammer to it, attempting to violently blast it out of existence…neither of which has been working.

But today I am remembering the practice of JOY (and capitalizing it to call out its holy elevation beyond a mere emotion).  JOY is the river that will move the rock naturally. JOY is a practice and a challenge because we must shift gears to experience it, and there might be an initially uncomfortable, grinding quality in doing so, to allow JOY to touch us in those deep spaces. Why is that so? It may sound counter-intuitive, but the truth is  JOY is an even more vulnerable emotion than sorrow or fear, and certainly more vulnerable than anger or hate. If you haven’t heard vulnerability researcher Brené Brown talk about the subject of JOY, you can watch it here. She explains it so beautifully.

I have known this for years now, that JOY is medicine, that JOY is a practice… but I forget it all the time.  Today, I sat and looked at the dark, cool clouds that might very well drop some rain on our parched ground, and I let JOY grow inside as I appreciated the clouds just as they were. Then I clipped the dead flowers from my geraniums and let JOY grow as I saw the plants seem to smile at me in gratitude for helping them look their best. I wrapped a peach-colored shawl around my shoulders and felt its softness against my skin, and let its color touch my eyes and heart.  Simple things. Easy, available things, done intentionally, prayerfully, invitingly, receptively.

And guess what?  The rock moved a little!