The pool of God, and betrayal by the lifeguard.

Right now, in my relationship with God, I’m about at a seven. When I was at Cursillo, it was at a ten. I want ten again and yet I’m terrified of it.

I feel like I’m being set up for a fall sometimes when I go to my spiritual director. She wants me closer to God, so close that we are together. So close that my actions and thoughts are married with God. Like we are one. Like the whole “I and the Father are one” kind of thing.

I had that at Cursillo, and I got busted for it. I told my priest what was going on and she nodded and smiled, and with her actions told me everything was fine. When I came back from Cursillo and the experiences were still happening, she told me that everything was not fine. She told me that I’d fail the psych exam for the deacon process. She told me that she was putting the process on hold. She told me to stop talking about how God was talking to me, because “it was a conversation stopper.”

I felt betrayed then. I’m afraid of being betrayed again. I’m afraid I’m being set up.

I’m not sure who to trust sometimes. That was an authority figure telling me to not get close to God, that what I was experiencing was crazy.

I know the feeling of being so close to God that it is like we are dance partners. My moves were God’s moves. My thoughts were God’s thoughts. It was amazing. And terrifying. I wasn’t really oriented as to day or time. I wasn’t getting the bills paid. I wasn’t eating. It wasn’t a healthy relationship.

That was many years ago. I knew then that things weren’t well. I went to the hospital to get back to normal. Taking care of myself is important. I don’t want to be a burden to others.

All of this reminds me of when I was working in Waldenbooks. One of the sections I was assigned was illogically arranged. It was the New Age section and it was all by author. I came across stickers put out by the corporate office that had the subjects for that section. I wasn’t making it up. There was an official way to do it. I took the stickers to the assistant manager and asked her if I could do it that way. She said yes.

I spent the next hour taking apart the section and reorganizing it. I had a lot of piles. Then I heard a noise behind me. The assistant manager was standing there with the manager and the most surly and snotty employee. They all stared at what I was doing. The manager told me in no uncertain terms that I had to stop doing that and put it all back in alphabetical order.

I didn’t have the voice to say that I’d gotten permission to do this from the assistant manager. I didn’t have the voice to say that this way would make more sense for the customers. I didn’t have the voice to say that there were stickers from corporate, so I wasn’t making it up.

I was silenced.
I was squashed.

I felt set up for that embarrassment, set up by an authority figure.

I’ve carried that experience with me all this time, and I fear it is coloring my experiences now. At Cursillo I feel like I was set up for betrayal by the priest, who in her encouragement at Cursillo of the experiences that I was having, encouraged me to go deeper in that pool.

So now, when I go to my spiritual director and she wants me to go into that pool again, I’m afraid.

I want to say I’m not afraid of the pool. I want to say that I know I’m safe there. I can’t say this yet because I’ve not been in the deep end for long. Every time I get there I get afraid, or I get told I shouldn’t be there.

I’m starting to feel that the people who have told me that I shouldn’t be there don’t actually know how to swim. They aren’t afraid for me. They are projecting their own fears on me. So when I go to my spiritual director, I’m not sure what side she is on. I trust her so far. She’s not lead me wrong. But I trusted my priest too. I was even grateful that she was going to Cursillo. I thought she’d be a great guide and able to help me if I fell in too far.

I’m trying to trust now, not on the voices of the people that have influenced me for ill in the past or on the voices of any director or guide now, but on the Voice, on the Call that I hear. I’m trying to remember the times when I felt I was drowning in the pool, I knew it and I got help. I didn’t have to be rescued. I was aware, which is rare. I’m trying to remember that now I have learned a lot about how to stay balanced, and how to walk a tightrope in a windstorm. I think I can go into that pool, and go deep, and still be OK. I feel like I have to go deep in order to really hear, in order to know the truth as clearly as I can.

Giving voice to my fears has become my strength.

On Light Language, and uncovering myself.

For years I’ve suppressed who I am. This may not seem like a true statement to people who know me. They see me as a free spirit, an artist, a creator. They see me as someone who isn’t afraid to speak her truth.

This is true, but there’s more. In this past year of writing I’ve opened up more. I’ve gotten looser. I’ve stretched far enough to reach parts of myself I’d forgotten, or chosen to forget. I’ve suppressed my true nature because it isn’t socially acceptable. It’s weird. I’ve feared I’ll be looked at strangely – more than I already am.

However, in these last few years I’ve found new people who see the world like I do. I’ve found visionaries, seers, misfits all. I’ve found folks who hear a call that others don’t, or won’t admit that they do. We are finding strength in our friendships. When we share our stories, we know we aren’t alone, we aren’t crazy.

If others hear the same call, you know you aren’t making it up. Part of being different is being brave enough to speak your truth, in part so that others can speak their truth. When one person admits that they see the world differently, it gives others permission to admit that they see it that way too.

It is as if the rest of world is colorblind. I’ve tried to speak of other colors, of the vibrant fire of red and the cool healing of green, and the world just looks at me like I’m a sweet little child to be humored. They can only see yellow and blue. They don’t know what I’m talking about. They’ve patted me on the head and said “That’s nice” and gone on their way.

For years I thought I wasn’t seeing correctly. Now I know better. I’ve met others who see these colors too, and paint in them, sing in them, dance in them. I know, that we know, that this is a reality.

This painting is speaking to that.

This is the final version. Fortunately I’d taken a picture of a previous version to share with you.

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(I apologize for the dark corner – I’ve included a better picture of it later.)

It started off as an accident, but we know there are no accidents. Accidents are just events that we didn’t plan for. It doesn’t mean that they aren’t meant to happen.

I was painting something else and had a lot of paint left over. These days, I paint by putting blobs of paint right on the canvas and mixing it with my fingers. It is very fun, but very messy. I didn’t want to waste the paint that was still on my fingers. There was a lot, and it had swirled in really interesting ways. I’d hoped to keep the project going in a new way.

I took another canvas out and wiped the rest of the paint off my fingers onto it. There wasn’t enough paint to cover the canvas and I’d already put up most of my paint tubes. I then decided to paint over it with white so I could use the canvas for something else later. Then, after covering it with white, I scribbled on it. I did something that I’ve done for years but not known what I was doing.

It looks like shorthand, but it isn’t. It doesn’t look like any language I know. It is quick, and free, and it just feels like it needs to be this way. There is a rhythm, a pattern that happens when I write like this. It isn’t really scribbling. It feels like writing, but I don’t know what it says.

One of my new friends has introduced me to a term for this. It is called “light language.” It is like speaking in tongues, but it is visual. The fact that she is writing a book about it using information from many other people who do this too makes me feel better. It makes me not feel like a weirdo. There are YouTube videos of people speaking and signing in light language as well.

It looked like this.

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I really liked how the color from the first application of paint showed through the white. I didn’t like how the canvas showed through though. I decided to let it dry and think about it.

A few days later I painted over it with a lot of beautiful dark colors. I loved the swirls and whorls. One side effect is that the first example of light language showed through. I’d not planned on that. I’d hoped it would be filled in and covered up by the paint. This is deeply meaningful. Once again I’m trying to suppress myself, my true nature.

I almost didn’t want to go on with the second part of the project because I liked the color paths I’d created. But, it is just paint. Part of my practice these days is learning to accept change and that I can’t keep everything to myself. I’ve got to let some things go.

Part of my practice is also learning that some things can’t be done in a day, or a week, or a month, or a year. Some things take a while. You have to let something dry. You have to wait until you have the right part. You have to wait until you learn a new technique. You have to wait until you are ready for the art to be created through you.

I’m learning the balance between action and inaction, and that inaction doesn’t always mean sloth.

I painted over this but left the bottom right corner exposed. I wanted to show the beauty underneath. I didn’t want it all hidden. I also like that you can see the light language I covered up when I painted over it.

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This piece speaks to my years of hiding myself and my abilities. It speaks to self-censorship and of fear of ridicule. It speaks of finally finding my voice and delighting in it. It speaks of the joy of knowing that I’m heard in a compassionate way. It speaks of a new community of people who see in full color and aren’t afraid to admit it.

I’ve dated it, because the day I finished it is St. Brigid’s feast day, and the day before Imbolc. It is a day of new beginnings, and of the new and the old merging. It is a day of unveiling. This bodes well for a new year of new discoveries.

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Poem – Poets are born in the strangest of homes.

Poets are born in the strangest of homes.

Grapes, before they are jelly, are happier.
They don’t know the pain of becoming.

I’ve heard that
the blue fish flies at night
so no one can see it.

It is afraid of being found out.
No one knows it is blue.

On Thursdays,
when the moon is full,
we swim outdoors
hoping to see it.

The light of the moon
makes her scales shine
so merrily.

Only a groundhog can kiss a saint.
The dirt of honesty smudges its nose.
Deep in the soil, deep in the soul,
The Earth’s potatoes watch the stars.

There is something about dirt,
about being unseen,
here.

We are all hiding our true nature,
even from ourselves.

Sometimes what we need
is the slow soft lights
of the evening
to show the way
to ourselves.

They aren’t so bright.
We don’t have to wince
and wink
like we do
in the glare of the sun.
In the evening’s glow we can be
ourselves,
fearless.

Hearing voices in the closet.

If I have to be in the closet at church about the fact that God talks to me, then there is something profoundly wrong going on. Church should be the one place where you can safely and unselfconsciously talk about how God interacts with you. You walk on a thin edge if you talk about God at work or at the dentist office or at Wal-Mart, but church? You should be safe there. You shouldn’t be silenced there.

Yet that is exactly what has happened to me. Now, perhaps the priest was concerned because I’m bipolar. Perhaps she is afraid that I’m not in fact hearing from God. I understand this concern. I wrestled with it for years. For many years I doubted what I heard and knew. I doubted my experiences. I doubted God. And yet it was proven to me again and again that I wasn’t making this stuff up.

The Biblical test for prophets is to see if what they say God told them was going to happen actually happened. I passed that test. Repeatedly. God proved himself to me. God was far more patient with me than I ever would imagine.

It is very important to me to not lead people astray. The church has enough loonies. I didn’t need to add to their ranks. So I understand the priest’s fear. I had it too. And I worked through it. But she didn’t know the stories of when God talked to me and how He proved Himself. She hadn’t been there.

She told me that talking about God was “a conversation stopper” because “other people weren’t having that experience.” This should have been my cue to leave. This was in November, when she told me the deacon discernment process was put on hold for me. Hopefully you catch the irony here. If you are in the deacon discernment process, it is because you believe you are experiencing a call from God.

So it is OK to get a call from God. Just don’t answer, and certainly don’t tell anybody if you got a reply.

I waited, and watched to see how others in church communicate about their experiences with God. And I realized in the three years that I have been there, not a single person has talked about how God talks to them. Not a single person has mentioned that they even prayed to God.

Maybe they do talk to God in prayer, and in prayers of their own words rather than the pre-written prayers of the prayer book. Maybe they do hear from God, and in more than just the already recorded words in the Bible. But they sure don’t talk about it. Why not? Church should be a safe place to talk about such things. Church should be a place where we can have a conversation with God, not a monologue about God. And it should be a place where we can share our experiences with others.

Perhaps they forgot that the entire faith started with Abraham talking to God. Perhaps they forgot Samuel, David, Gideon, Elijah, Elisha, Isaac, Moses, Jacob, Solomon, Noah, Joseph, Mary, and Jesus all talked with God. If the entire religion is based on a person talking to God and so many following people doing the same, then why are we discouraged from being part of that?

God is real. God is constantly communicating with us. We just are too distracted to notice. We fill our heads with the noise of television and iPods and videogames. When God is somehow able to get a word in edgewise we ignore it as a trick of our minds or we think we are going crazy. Or worse, we are told to ignore it by the very people we should expect would be experts at knowing how to deal with it.

I’m not special. I’ve just learned how to cut out the noise. God wants you to hear from Him too. I’ll try to write further about how to hear from God. But I know that the first thing you must do is give God a space. Make some silent time. Be alone with God.

It is crazy to follow God. And it is beautiful and amazing. God knows so much more than I could ever know. My life has changed dramatically since I started trusting that voice. It is calmer. I trust that God is in control. I know that whatever happens is meant to happen.

But to not be able to talk about God in church, aside from what is scripted in the prayer book or in the Bible? Now, that really is crazy.