Cloak of Responsibility

Here is the best–and worst– part about old journals, Lord–busted, I’m busted. So a few days ago I was rejoicing over the growth I saw, looking back at pages from 15 years ago. Well I read a little further and I stumbled on an entry from mid-May that could have been written yesterday. Sure, the circumstances were different then–I was finishing up a later-in-life undergrad degree, studying for exams and preparing papers, but the stress responses, the fatigue, and my desperate, articulated on the page need for some time outside was identical. So writing that down, i think I see two things: this is not a new issue, a new problem and I think it dates all the way back to my school years; and second, the outdoors has been my safe soothing place for a long, long time.

So I really want to copy down here what I wrote there and then. Because I need to talk to You about this. I wish it could be once and for all. But maybe it can at least be for now. “In one sense I have no business doing anything but run this marathon called spring quarter (substitute, get open for season) but…I have a ton of buts. But I’m so tired. But I’m said. But my head is in a vice. But…but I want a break, not a big break–but some small break, some outside, outdoors break. Change focus. I deliberately am not going to write three pages, takes too long. Instead I’m going to shower and leave and go somewhere. Sounds rebellious just to write that down. Why should a morning beach walk or the Ridge be rebellious? Because duty has tons of tasks right here. When is a break ok? When I’m breaking? I don’t know.” WHEW! Yikes. May, 2003. 

I have a flood of memory. Being on call for work, in an era before cell phones, so that I didn’t dare even go to the beach for more than an hour even on the weekend “in case” I was called, called in to work or to answer a question or attend some meeting. Good grief. I remember unplugging the phone for a solid weekend and my roommate and I binge watching wonderful movies, Ghandi and Biko and I can’t recall what else. Something Native American but I don’t remember the title. I remember how I felt good and bad, doing that. I remember talking to the personnel director at the time, about all the extra work I was being expected to do after hours, but because my bosses were committee volunteers, I was told there was nothing I could do about it–and stay employed. Of course I did what I do. I stayed employed! It was seven years later and it took my mom’s illness before I finally left that job. But obviously I didn’t leave the mindset.

God, Great Creator, Your own Name is I Am. Not I Do. How can You help me?

SO much in your culture, your schooling, your family, your past employment, and even the example set by your husband extols and rewards work, effort, productivity. You have been well trained, trained to perform. But life is not a circus, and you are not a trick pony. Nor are you a racehorse. Nor are you destined to plod, plod along pulling a plow. When you picture a horse, what image comes to mind first?

Running free. Running over the plains. Running by the sea. 

Freedom to Be, that is what comes first. Essence of Horse, yes? So what is Essence of Eve? That is what I want you to ask yourself, tonight and in the morning and in the days ahead. I will give you a hint–it is not what you think. It is not what first comes to mind. Your gifts, your talents, and yes your working life, these are outpourings in particular channels of an inner life. I want you to think less about the channels and more about the spring, more about the river. I want you to think more about the Essence. More about Being. Not about Being Efficient. Not about Being Organized. Not about Being Productive or Being Successful. Not even about Being Faithful, which you translate into productivity and effort, into doing and away from merely being.

Eve means Life. “Mother of all Living” — which you have chuckled over, adopting stray cats, calling yourself Mama. You have chuckled and donned a mantle of great and grave responsibility. Once before I asked you for a cloak, to give Me the cloak you were wearing. Do you remember?

Lord, how can I forget? Of course I remember. “I clutched my grief to my body like a robe/said it is all that is mine I have left/but I threw it down at Your feet and turned to go/cold, alone, bereft”

And what happened next, in your vision, in your lyric?

You led me to the beach. You wrapped a new warm something around my shoulders. You began to heal that broken place inside.

Somewhere along the way, you abandoned the cloak I gave you, and you wove for yourself a new one–this mantle of responsibility. It is neither keeping you warm nor keeping you dry. And I want you to do what I asked you to do years ago. Give Me your mantle. Give Me your sense of weighty responsibility, that feeling you have that so much depends on you and your effort, from your family’s health and safety to the health and safety of friends, to the success of your business and every artist whose work you so lovingly steward. Can you do that? Can you trust Me with your mantle, one more time?

Gosh God, there is blood and sweat and tears on this shawl. I don’t mean to be dramatic but there are a lot of years woven into these threads. Does this mean all that work, all that effort did not count?

No, little one. What it means is that you are trying to fit into a garment that was never meant for you. What I have for you to wear is a mystical, magical coat. It will grow as you grow. Its threads shimmer and gleam in moonlight and sunlight. It is soft and gentle to the touch yet the sharpest arrows of accusation cannot penetrate its weave. This is My Weaving, and I have spent all your life preparing it for you, for this moment. For the moment you are willing to let go, and begin to Be. Live into your name, live into your loves, live into your life. Give Me your heavy mantle. Slip on your new coat. Here is its first secret: see its color change as you tap deeply into the Essence of who you are, who I have made and called you to be.

One more thing. You can’t easily hide in this coat. This is not a camouflage garment. You will be both more conspicuous and more free, wearing it. You want to see how you look? Your reflection pool will be found first in the eyes of those closest to you, from animals to people you love who love you back.

Lord, what are You going to do with my old cloak, the one I just took off?

Give that cloak no more thought. I Am going to light a fire, to warm your winter and help light your way. This is not the sort of garment to hand down to anyone else, you know. And it had gotten way too heavy to wear in warmer weather, and your busier season. You would have fallen, trying to bear it.  How does your new coat feel?

It, it feels lightweight. And oh my goodness, I just moved my neck and it is moving more freely, less stiff, less pain.

The lightness in your spirit will translate directly into lightness for your bones, and energy for your body and mind. And paradoxically, into more restful sleep as well. So sleep tight, little one. Snuggle into your coat. Let Me teach you about restful labor, and energizing rest.

Evidence

So I had a great day, getting to walk Pea Island not once, but twice! Morning light was sweeter than afternoon but honestly it just felt great to be outside. So I was walking and praying and singing like I do, when I have the beach to myself, and You challenged me to believe You for something simple and specific. You asked me if I believe what I say, when I say, I am in the right place at the right time. And I said yes.

And then I asked you, why? Why are you able to say that and really mean it, really believe it?

Because I know it is true. It has been proven over and over to me, in my experience. I have evidence, lots of evidence.

And then I reminded you about the verse, Faith is the evidence of things not seen.

Yes. And I think I struggle with that, as I told You today. Because You said, to Thomas, blessed are those who have not seen and yet believed. So…which is it?

And I told you today, it is both. Sometimes, you are given the gift of faith to believe for something before that something is reality in your experience. But WHY can you believe? Because you have believed before! Because you have received before! Because you trust the process, or in this case, you trust the Person. Thomas needed the same evidence the rest of the disciples had already received–a personal encounter with Me, Risen. This was a huge leap, to believe after witnessing My Crucifixion that I was indeed alive. This required evidence. And what happened after the disciples received their evidence? They shook the world!

If you will consider carefully, any time I have asked you to stretch beyond your doubts, even your doubts about yourself, or your calling, or your gifts, or your hearing from Me, I am building on a framework of evidence you already have. It might be evidence from My speaking to you in the past. It might be testimony or affirmation you have received from someone close to you that you trust, sort of like corroborating evidence that yes, this is possible. Yes, you can do this. Yes, I Am Who I say I Am. Now you are becoming part of the body of evidence for others. Every experience you share of your life with Me, helps build not only your faith but the faith of those who look to you, who listen to you, who are wondering exactly how this connected life, this faith-life we have together actually works. So why don’t you go ahead and write down what it was I prompted you to believe for?

It sounds silly.

It didn’t sound so silly at the time.

No. No, it didn’t. I was walking, and looking for hearts, like I do, and picking up small ones, and You challenged me to believe for a large, white one, like a clam shell one.

And why did I challenge you to believe for that?

So that I could photograph it in a way that would show up in the picture, not straight down, but wide angle, showing the beach as well.

And why did you want to make a photograph like that?

I wanted to show how Your Love might seem small at times, when we are facing something so hard, so heavy, but it is really the central factor, the dominant piece, in the whole landscape of our lives. It anchors us, like an anchor point in a photograph. That is what was really in my thought, now that I have taken the time to put it into words. The shorthand I used with You on the beach was, the image I am meant to make today. 

And what happened?

Well, I found one! Not quite right, but it was there. And then another. And then You said, third time is a charm, and I took another couple of steps and there it was. Large, white, perfect. Just what I was looking for!

And didn’t I remind you then, now you have one more piece of evidence? Evidence that indeed we are connected, and that I Am interested in everything, no matter how seemingly small, how trivial, that touches your life?

Yes, yes You did.

And aren’t you forgetting one more thing?

Oh…yes. I moved the shell. I mean, I photographed it in place, and then picked it up to carry it down the beach to the tide pools, to make the image I had in my mind. Or in my heart, no pun intended.

And what did I tell you when you first had the thought?

You told me to follow that impulse, to create what I envisioned. I put a period there, but there wasn’t a period in real time, when we were talking on the beach, because (why is this so hard to write down, hard to share), because You said, follow my impulse, create the image, because I am an artist.

Indeed I did, and indeed you are. So now you have one more heart to share. One more tiny piece of the big puzzle that is My Love for everyone. I say big puzzle because a lot of folks view Me, view My Love, in that way. But that’s okay. At least they are viewing! At least they are questioning. At least they are searching–as I asked you to do, today, for your heart shells. Seek and you shall find. Seek and you shall find evidence! Evidence on which to build greater and greater faith, and a more deeply connected life.

Going Sane

Lord, You know those trust games people play at team-building retreats? You close your eyes and let yourself fall back, trusting your team partner will catch you. Well, I just realized, I am doing that here. I mean, this is a practice in trust. Every day I show up, trusting You will show up. And then, encapsulated in that, I am trusting You are You, You are good, You will speak truth. And that I am not crazy.

With all the evidence you have, from all your years with Me, you’d be crazier not to believe, not to trust. I want to talk to you about expectancy. 12-step recovery programs warn about expectations, about putting trust in others.

Yes, they say that sets a person up for disappointment, and resentments. 

But the very foundation of a successful program in recovery rests on a key assumption and expectation: that a “power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.”

Yes.

So in this case, one particular expectation leads directly away from “crazy” — and that is trust and reliance outside oneself. When you rely on Me, you are relying on first, in the words of the program, a Power Greater. A Power Available. But I Am so much more, as you know, than a Power. I Am a Person, Who loves you. So you are not relying on a Power, you are relying on a Person.

Yes, right.

So let’s use this language for a minute. What in your life feels crazy right now?

Well, talking to You may seem crazy to others, but it is one place, sometimes the only place, that seems sane. The government shutdown, with lots of blame being shouted back and forth, seems crazy to me right now. It affects so many people!

Aren’t you glad My Kingdom, My Power, is not cut off?

Yes, Lord, I am. Thank you. It seems crazy to me the way women, a lot of women, are still being treated. It seems crazy to me that in our society we still have folks, right now, tonight, who are hungry and who are cold–right in this country, in this community. And I am talking about everybody from folks who should be in safe, caring institutions, who don’t have the mental or emotional resources to care for themselves; to people who are struggling with addictions; to those who simply need a break, who are eager and able to work, who can’t seem to make ends meet. God, we as a planet, we have so much need. And so much greed. That seems crazy to me. And You said, bring my burdens to You. So. There You go.

Do you remember the story you heard years ago? About how a person had a vision of heaven and hell? About how in hell all these people had long-handled spoons permanently affixed to their hands, and while surrounded by plenty of food, they were all starving, because the spoons were too long to reach their mouths? And then the person had a glimpse of heaven, and all the people there had the long-handled spoons, and how upsetting that was, because the people looked the same?

I remember. 

And what was different?

In the view of heaven, all the people were satisfied, because they fed one another. Their spoons could easily reach the mouths of their neighbors.

Yes. Now this is more a view of earth, than of the afterlife. It is a teaching vision, a teaching story.

So what is my part? Feed my neighbor, right?

You cannot do everything. But you can do something. The invitation you received today, to do a specific action to help ESL children in your community, the one you said yes to–that was well said. Everything in your heart leapt up to say yes to that opportunity. And then, you began to wonder how you would find the time, what others even in your own family might say in response, and you began to doubt the wisdom of your yes. But I Am here to say, thank you. You will receive so much joy from this yes, and you will give so much joy and so much hope.

Lord, it was wild! All those years ago, I had this thought, this “I wish I could” thought, and it was doing the exact same thing, only with Native American kids, out west!

And so it begins. Be at peace, little one. Every discerned yes only adds to the foundation of this life you so long to continue to build, in Me. Keep looking to Me for guidance, keep asking Me for direction, and I will guide you and bless you in paths that are perfect for you–perfectly fit to your longings and to your gifts. And remember, you cannot out-give God.

So I am not going crazy?

I would say you are going saner and saner–which may mean, you will look crazier and crazier to others, not all others, but to those who are farthest in outlook from Me.

Ok, Lord. And again, thank You.  

 

Emergence

Lord, some people fast. How can I prepare, or train, for what You are calling me to do, to become?

I’m not exactly calling you to Become. I Am calling you to Come, Be. Be who you are. There is a difference.

What about transformation? That is becoming; that is change.

Not at emergence. At emergence, the Butterfly Is. But it must come forth. It must emerge. At emergence others see—and say—transformation! Well, yes—and no. The Butterfly always was, within the caterpillar.

You saw the butterfly! You called it forth! Things that are not as though they are!

Here is the Mystery. The “are not” is in your vision—the “are” is in Mine. What I call forth is really Vision, is for you to see what I already see, and Name.

Butterfly?

Butterfly.

Fragile…

Resilient. Strong. Beautiful. Inspiring and uplifting. Gentle. Living only on sweetness, kept alive by joy. “Born in calm.” And passing on a legacy of beauty and freedom for generations to come.

So the transformation?

Is already accomplished. You are who I say you are.

Then why the word about waiting?

You aren’t waiting to become—you are waiting to be revealed.

God, I have so many swirling thoughts and questions, questions about the business, and being this, this other thing, this butterfly-thing. I don’t want my life with critters to be a schtik. You know? I want it to be real, so real.

Eve, it is. It already is. It is your doubt that makes you falter. The critters, as you call them—and yes, call them—know you. They recognize you. You are one who has been coming. They have been waiting for you. You won’t chase them, you will draw them.

 

Honesty

While Pete was in the shower, I laid in bed and said thank You for everything and everyone I could think of, a fabulous way to start a day, and start off a new year. 

You have not because you ask not. So much of your difficulty in receiving comes from your reluctance to ask. You fear being disappointed, and you still believe at your core that you can ask only for others, not for yourself.  You much more easily accept the idea of My favor on your friends, family, even strangers, than you accept that I want to richly bless you.

Even here, you seek to be profound and all I Am asking you to be is honest. Honest–and willing, willing to share our relationship in order to inspire others to seek Me out in ways that are deeper and more personal to them than they had imagined before.

This is why I keep insisting on you telling Me your dreams, your longings, and your wished-for hopes. I keep asking for lists of your loves so I can reveal Myself within the seemingly small details of your life, what you call your ordinary every-day life. You’ve said it yourself, if you can have this deep connection to Me, so can others. So can anyone, everyone. Your task is to go on living your everyday life from a position of Connectedness, to model in all circumstances what a daily relationship with Me looks like and feels like.

You already know this doesn’t mean you don’t experience loss and grief. You already deal with disappointment–but dealing with disappointment by bringing all your emotions to Me is far different than burying them inside, pretending you don’t hurt when you do, and allowing your hurts to fester and become infected. That way leads only to resentment and eventually to bitterness, a very lonely road indeed.

Nor Am I asking you to pretend all is well when it isn’t.

I ask you to be honest because, first, you can’t fool Me or hide from Me and you will only wear yourself out trying. I also ask you to be honest because I want to transform you–your character, your attitudes, your reactions, and responses–to reflect Me more and more. So it is essential that you tell Me when and where you hurt, so I can apply the Balm of My Healing. Tell Me what you regret so I can give new chances and choices. Tell Me what you think you lack so I can more fully be your Provider, the One Who gives opportunities and opened doors. Tell Me what puzzles you so I can give you wisdom, understanding and discernment. And tell Me what makes you afraid, so I can light your way.

Finally, tell Me what makes you glad, so we can rejoice together along with all the angels.

Tell Me everything, all the time, all day long. Pray without ceasing. How? By keeping Me, My Presence, in your mind and heart at all times, and by listening for My least whisper on the wind.

On the Page, off the Page–all the time. Tell Me Everything.

Trust

Lord, You said that one way You speak to me is by providing an image in the now, an image meant for a message. So what is the message that goes with the reflections on the Sound?

The more still you are, the more accurately and completely will your life reflect Who I Am. The more agitated you are, the less true is My Reflection through your life because My words are being distorted by fear or doubt or close-mindedness.

I get You saying fear or doubt, but close-minded? I thought I was pretty open-minded.

You still have many shuttered windows and locked doors when it comes to My blessings. You can’t see out, and you say, not possible. Your lack of vision freezes your steps. You want to see a clear path before you take a step.

Isn’t that wisdom?

Not if I’ve spoken to your heart to move.

But how can I know?

Little One, how do you know anything? By trust. You trust the information presented to you, or you trust the one speaking or you prove it true in your experience.

But you can’t just trust everybody!

No, of course not. But I Am not asking you to trust everybody, am I? I’m asking you to trust Me.

More on Rhythm

I feel a little blinky yet. Need to make my smoothie, shower, make to do lists. What I really need–always–is to hear from You. 

The thoughts of future upset, of attacks, do not serve either you or Me. They assume you will be alone, unguided, unprotected. They confuse your earthly and heavenly sources, and they forget Who I Am—Who I Am in your daily life.

I am asking you to live out your daily life—all of it—from a position of trust in Me and connection to Me. I am asking you to listen for My Heartbeat in each day, and to match your rhythm of thought and action to Mine. In this way, compassion will balance joy. Action will balance rest. Outflow will be balanced by inflow. In fact, inflow has to be at least double the outflow: inflow to sustain you, and inflow to share with others.

So again, the keyword is Receive. And for right now, what I want you to receive is rhythm. Let’s slow the tempo now. Let’s have some soaring symphonic experience and expression.