Kirkepiscatoid

Random and not so random musings from a 5th generation NE Missourian who became a 1st generation Episcopalian. Let the good times roll!


Early this morning, I had one of those "woke up in the dark and it hit me" moments where I really don't care to go back to sleep, because where my brain is going with the thought is too important to ignore. It's not that these moments make me fretful. They're not fearful. They're just too important to push aside and trade for another hour or so of sleep.

I have noticed, as of late, when I take the time to spend "quiet Saturday mornings", or time in my backyard where I appear to be "doing nothing", just "sitting and being", that things grow out of these times. They might be realizations, or circumstances that just happen to occur hours after my quiet time, or moments where all of a sudden, events of the past few days just seem to gel.

It suddenly dawned on me what a huge lynchpin of the struggle of my own spirituality is. Despite the fact I live and work in a world where I am prized for my dispassionate skills, my "head" skills, so to speak, the sum total of my way of understanding things in my world, still hinges on the physical and the visceral.

I am surrounded by viscera at work...literally. Gallbladders and colons and endometria and all sorts of body parts and pieces of parts. I still have to physically manipulate these items to make the things where my "head" skills come into play. Say you had part of your colon removed for colon cancer. I get the colon segment, open it up, look at it, choose the important things that need to be observed microscopically, dissect it, and look at my choices the next day under the microscope after they have been processed. To properly represent that disease, I would put in sections of the tumor, the bowel wall beneath the tumor, the resection margins, and all the lymph nodes I could find. My head would receive no useful information if my hands didn't take things apart.

This is probably why spiritual matters are hard for me sometimes. These things are unable to be taken apart; they exist as "wholes." Taken apart, they no longer exist in their true form. I get stuck observing them without really "touching" them. Or, the converse happens. Something touches ME that feels too powerful, too unfamiliar, too "invasive" and me--the person who has to grab and touch everything--suddenly shrinks back from the uninvited touch of IT. What a huge mismatch. I will grab everything of my own choosing and dissect it, even uninvited...yet certain things touch me and I recoil in horror. I swear--it is like some manifestation of "spiritual autism."

Yet, what's the thing I cling to, above all others, when my whole spiritual understanding of something looks like mud? The Eucharist. The thing I can touch, eat, drink, swallow, and incorporate within myself. In my 20+ years of solo spiritual exile, what was the one thing I missed, the one thing I would find a way to do once in a while? Slink in the back of some strange church, get the Sacraments, and disappear. I was not ready to be touched by anything else, but I could always let the elements touch me and be within me. Perhaps because I could choose to touch them first and willingly ingest them.

My two decades "out of community" in a spiritual sense left me in a weird visceral mismatch. Twenty plus years of taking everything apart I chose to, yet not having to worry about being touched by it at all. It has only been in the last five years (and mostly the last two of those five years) where I dared even START to allow myself be touched. So my recent adventures have been this weird spiritual hokey-pokey. I put my left foot in, I take my left foot out. When I jump my whole self in, I have moved maybe from "jumping right back out" to perhaps "being able to stand in there and wiggle about for just a little bit." Oh, I get better. But it is sooooo incredibly slow.

Just to learn to sit still and be conditioned to be okay with all this "touching" has been the biggest challenge for me, spiritually. It's basic horse training. If I want to get a horse to accept the bit and be reined by it, I start with simply touching the horse's face and mouth until he no longer resists, and reward him along the way. Only then will he accept the bit and eventually allow himself to be guided by it. In this sense, my mule and I are more alike than different. We have tremendous power to resist. We will accept it but only with a tiny handful of people we trust.

I find venues in which it is easier for me to sit still. My yard, my chiminea, my walking routes, work I physically do over at church. I find a tiny handful of people with whom I can feel safely vulnerable. To steal from Star Trek, I have a hard time "boldly going where my vulnerabilities have never gone before." I know there is movement here, and it's good movement. My viscera tell me it's all good. I am starting to understand, perhaps, that the "stepping back and having quiet time" is not "retreat", but "recharging" and preparation to maybe jump in a little more boldly the next time. But wow, it's slow...and wow...it's sooooo...well..."visceral."

7 comments:

Just to learn to sit still and be conditioned to be okay with all this "touching" has been the biggest challenge for me, spiritually¨

I had to have a nervous breakdown to do *it*..to shut up, to sit quietly, to let go and losen my deadly grip...I found the element that I had been lacking was FULL TRUST! I had never learned how, or known how to ¨just be¨...I was afraid of ¨just being¨ and I constant was running as fast as I could (both in full view and not)...what a discovery...acceptance, Trust in God that all would be as it is meant to be for me, I really not ¨do¨ much and my strident days/daze needed retiring...all I need do is enjoy the view (and keep my eye on the ball and not get distracted on obsessive tangents).

I sometimes would ¨gulp¨ in the beginning...when I was quiet enough to touch my soul...I knew it was there...gulp.

Abrazos,
Leonardo

I'm laughing. The "gulp" is my thermostat on it, too. I can stay until the sweat breaks out...LOL

I think the thing for me is learning to give up "hyper-responsibility". Hard to do in my line of work b/c you are rewarded for it. But I have realized that years of hyper-responsibility have caused me to let it leak into every aspect of my life, including the parts where it simply isn't necessary.

I was taught early on, even in childhood, that hyper-respnsibility had a protective aspect. Now in middle age, I am learning that some amount of vulnerability is okay, and actually is part of what connects me to "community". It's an interesting journey.

I once thought that worrying and being ¨overtly concerned¨ were character attributes...something like, ¨let me, and often others, that I was RESPONSIBLE!¨

Lookie!

Surely you can see how responsible I can be!!!

Don´t worry, the crisp edges when viewing the world around you, all of it will ASTOUND YOU!

My shrink said to me on first visit (and I was insulted but didn´t say a word)

¨You´ll like REALITY, it just takes some getting used to!¨

Some nerve.

¨let me, and often others, SEE that I was RESPONSIBLE!¨

sorry, left out the SEE, but you probably put that together already.

Bye

Interesting how you are discovering this. In my own reading about the art and craft of writing, what others call "indolence" is as necessary to the writing process as food and air. You are finding that the quiet, reflective, "indolent" times are yielding all kinds of fruit in your life as well. It is hard to just sit and be when we are so used to hard charging. However, it is so essential.

"Indolence"--it's the perfect word. That's what it seemed like at first.

I have been working since I was 13 years old. I have had as many as three jobs in my past at times. I have mostly had to overcome my own sense of "decadent indolence" with it all!

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Kirksville, Missouri, United States
I'm a longtime area resident of that quirky and wonderful place called Kirksville, MO and am wondering what God has hiding round the next corner in my life.

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