A Prickly Kind of Love

I’ve been wanting to write about this ever since Mother’s Day a few weeks back, when my brother brought me a very unusual gift.

I’d spent a couple of hours with my Mom that afternoon and apparently had just missed seeing my brother there. We’d probably crossed paths on the road, as I later learned that he’d headed to my house when he left Mom’s. I was surprised when I got home and my husband said, “Your brother was here. He brought you a Mother’s Day present. It’s on the back patio.”

Why would my brother bring me a Mother’s Day present? It became a little clearer when I saw what it was.

This Prickly Pear cactus had started as a volunteer in his yard a couple of years ago and he’d had it in a pot for a while. His wife reminded him that I see and find hearts everywhere and told him he ought to give this cactus to me. A perfect gift for Mother’s Day, as most of the hearts I find I attribute to my son Cameron – little love notes from the other side. So maybe it was a gift from my brother or maybe he was just the delivery boy. The Universe works in mysterious ways.

When I think of my relationship with Cameron before his death, the prickly nature of this particular heart seems quite appropriate. There was nothing soft and gentle about our love for each other in this lifetime. It was dysfunctional, co-dependent, fear-based, manipulative and controlling. It was not a soft and gentle love, but it was love.

This prickly little heart has gotten my mind to working on the whole concept of love. What it is. What it isn’t. It’s been one of the mysteries I came here to solve for myself this time around, I think. I’ve so often heard that fear is the opposite of love. That always puzzled me.

The fear/love dichotomy is one of the questions I tried to sort out after Cameron’s death in my journaling and in my book, The Deep Water Leaf Society. My love for Cameron was deeply rooted in and expressed as fear most of the time. But if fear is the opposite of love, then did I have it all wrong? Did I ever truly love him? But if I didn’t love him, then why would I have feared for him so deeply?

At the culmination of my healing journey in a profoundly moving and transformative experience in Egypt, the goddess Sekhmet instilled in me a visceral knowing that Love is the only power. I can feel the truth of that in my gut and in my heart, but when my mind tries to grasp it I find all kinds of paradox and evidence to the contrary. I see so many things in this world that sure don’t look like Love. I see all kinds of things in me that sure don’t look like Love.

I was talking to a friend recently about how most of the care I provide for my mother feels like responsibility rather than love. How I get impatient and go through the motions without really connecting much of the time. I wrote a piece some time ago (you can read it here) about one of my mother’s hospitalizations and my thoughts around the fear of death and dying. In that essay I wrote, “I’ve learned to ask myself, ‘What would love do? What is the loving response?’ The answer isn’t always clear.”

In talking this out with my friend, I said, “Most of the time I haven’t a clue what love would do, what it would look like in any given situation.” My friend wisely pointed out that just because I don’t feel loving as I do the things I do doesn’t mean that what I’m doing isn’t, indeed, the loving thing. I came to the conclusion that rather than asking what love would do, I should just invite Love to flow through me and do what it knows to do. The freedom in that is that I don’t have to figure it out. All I have to do is be available and open for the One Power to do its work.

I’ve just finished reading Neale Donald Walsch’s new book, When Everything Changes, Change Everything. Walsch talks about fear and love quite a bit in this book and he has a refreshing take on it. It helps to clear things up for me. Rather than saying that fear is the opposite of Love, he says that “fear is a demonstration of Love.” As if to echo my own thoughts, Walsch writes, “If you did not love another, you would not fear for another, or be afraid of what might happen to that other, because you would not care what happened.”

Walsch asserts that “fear and Love are the same thing, expressed differently. Likewise, every other emotion is Love in another form. There is only one emotion. That emotion is Love, expressed in a thousand different ways.”

If Love is the only power, and I believe that it is, then despite any appearance to the contrary everything I see in the world must be an expression of that Love. Perhaps it is as don Miguel Ruiz says in The Voice of Knowledge. Perhaps humanity’s “fall” was our disconnection from knowing that everything is Love and our buying into false perceptions and judgments of things as good and bad, pretty and ugly, right and wrong. Perhaps we create expressions of fear and anger – sharp, twisted expressions of love – because we’ve closed ourselves off from the Source. Love still finds its way through, but it is shaped and molded by the restrictions and limitations we imagine within ourselves.

And so, like this little heart-shaped cactus, what I can do is vow to let Love express through me, even though I may be an imperfect vessel for its expression. I can try to release those things that block Love’s flow, including all those judgments and perceptions about myself and others. I can choose to recognize and welcome Love in all of its thousands of prickly forms in the world around me.

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: http://www.deepwaterleafsociety.com/

Tear Down the Bars

Today is the fifth anniversary of my son’s death – or his fifth “re-birthday.” I feel like I should blog about that, but I’m just not feeling inspired. Which is a good thing. It shows me how much healing has occurred. There’s no gaping wound, there’s no scab, there’s no scar. I’m just feeling at peace about it and thinking of Cameron with love.

So, I’m going to blog about something else.

This swine flu thing really bugs me. It just seems to me to be so much fear-based hype and hysteria. I’m not saying people haven’t gotten sick from it and I’m not saying people haven’t died from it, but it just seems overblown. I figure I could walk out the door and be hit by a bus just as easily as I could contract and die from this flu. And if we create our reality by what we focus upon, why in the world do we choose to focus on something like this. We are like moths to the flame of fear. Or like baby’s sucking on the very pig’s snout that we fear will kill us.

A friend of mine on Twitter (where swine flu has been one of the top trending topics all week long) recently wrote this post called “Swine Flu Immunity” and I think he’s got something. After reading the article, I tweeted him about it and that set off an interesting “twittersation” between us that went something like this:

Me: Love your Swine Flu post – I’m with you – they say wash your hands – how about washing our mental hands of it! I have.
Emmortal: LOL! You make way too much sense, Claire. Would you believe that I’ve already had 5 hits from Google on that after 3 hours?
Me: Not surprised at all – seems nothing reproduces quite as fast as fear – imagine many readers were surprised/disappointed at your POV!
Emmortal: Fear travels by thought at light speed, disease has to travel through space MUCH slower.
Emmortal: Disease is a common “plausible entry scenario” for fear that answers “Why am I afraid?” No one can stand fear with no cause.
Me: I’m working on ways to help people process/release fear. Positive thinking and affirmations are only a doily on a cesspool if fear goes underground.
Emmortal: Wish I could say you’re wrong about the doily, but I can’t. 🙁 Did you read my blog piece “Fear Itself“?
Me: I did read “Fear Itself” and I think you are right on the money (as usual!) 😉
Emmortal: I thought you had read that. Did you also see this one?
Me: Yep-fear/love is a big learning theme in my life. I think I’m finally getting it! (I faced my biggest fear & it disintegrated into love)
Emmortal: The weakest point is the belief behind the threat. The more specific you get, the more absurd it usually becomes.
Me: I was once told to speak any fear story in the voice of Mickey Mouse. So absurd you have to laugh. I think of Mr. Bill – “Oh Noooooo!”
Emmortal: Another key: whenever you decide you’re unwilling to experience anything, you put another bar in your personal prison.
Emmortal: It’s not just about getting past a certain fear. All fear in our lives rests on a few beliefs. Lose them, and it all changes.
Emmortal: A belief in personal powerlessness must be present in some form for any fear to exist. But people take it for granted.
Me: Re: bars in the cage – I did a great piece of collage art around that theme some years ago – will TwitPic it later if I can find it.
Emmortal: Cool! I’d love to see that. :>D

So, as promised, Emmortal, here it is. This is a collage I created in June 2004, a month after my son died. I was feeling lots of rage, grief, powerlessness, despair. The collage was sparked by a chance email forwarded to me by someone I didn’t even know. There was a whole bunch of astrological stuff in it from someone named Gururattan Kaur Khalsa, PhD. Most of it meant little or nothing to me. But one paragraph really grabbed my attention. It was about Pluto’s role in helping us to “uncover our darkness, expose our fears and examine what controls our thoughts and actions.”

One statement in particular really resonated with me: “There is no way we are going to set ourselves free without examining how we are imprisoned.

What is it that imprisons us? Fear, surely. But fear of what, exactly? I explored my own feelings of stuckness, limitation and fear by creating this collage.

(click image to view larger)

I wrote the statement, “There is no way we are going to set ourselves free without examining how we are imprisoned” on the top and bottom bars. There are 14 images and 14 vertical bars. On each vertical bar I tried to write a phrase that seemed to capture the feeling of one of the images.

My bars became:
1) Hanging on to imprisonment through belief in lack and limitation.
2) Fear of death and meaninglessness.
3) Poverty of spirit.
4) Martyrdom – oh poor me!
5) Desire/Greed.
6) Belief in unworthiness.
7) Prejudice.
8) Fear over love.
9) Isolation.
10) Need for vengeance, justice, payback.
11) Expecting help from “out there.”
12) Wounded inner child.
13) Turning a blind eye.
14) Disconnect from creative self.

I was realizing as I wrote all these things on the bars, that I was creating my own bars. The bars weren’t there unless I built them. I was creating my own prison. Just as Emmortal said in our recent twittersation,”whenever you decide you’re unwilling to experience anything, you put another bar in your personal prison.”

After completing the collage, I wrote this:

You believe in the bars

You pretend you have a captor

From that moment on you are a slave
to your own fears
A slave
to belief in lack
to belief in limit
to belief in your own unworthiness
to own happiness
to be yourself only and truly
to express what is your God-given right and command to express

Let it go…
You will not die unfulfilled
Your story is important
and real
and true

And only you can tell it
can live it
can breathe life into it

Tear down the bars
They are not real
only false shadows
mind games

The true you is
and always shall be
a shining star that only you can be

Life is short
the days are numbered
The only sin is not
living each one
holding it close
making it shine
as only you can do

But even self-recrimination
is a waste
for it is impossible
to truly waste a day

Every step
Every breath
Every heartbeat
Is your unique unfoldment

What are your bars? And are you ready to tear them down?

Wishing you peace on the journey…

As always, I welcome your coments here or by email (Claire@DeepWaterLeafSociety.com)

Visit my website: http://www.deepwaterleafsociety.com/