A Love Message to You

by Julie on February 9, 2010 · 10 comments

Sometimes I just feel so deeply.

I feel so much love. joy. simple peace. profound peace.

And sometimes I feel fear. anguish. shame. humiliation. heartbreak. and despair.

::

Despair is here today. It invited itself to tea. It boiled the water, steeped the bags, and served tea to me. I guess it is high time for high tea with despair.

Maybe it arrived when I heard Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee speak on Sunday.

He is a brilliant Sufi teacher. His words cut me open. Words of longing for God. Words of crying out for God. Words of wisdom about how our western world has forgotten about God, has forgotten to kneel in awe at the profound mystery that the Divine is.

He spoke of how, when things can’t get darker, or more full of despair, a person instinctively calls out to something greater, knowing the situation is beyond anything she can fix or figure out. This calling out, this crying out instinctively, comes from somewhere inside, someplace where she has not forgotten that there is divinity within her.

I’ve had these times in my life. Times of complete blackness and despair. In these times, I KNEW there was NOTHING I could do. And in these times I dropped to my knees in anguish, despair and prayer. And in these times I was held. Answered. Loved. And in this love, I could finally be with what was. And in being with what was, I could begin to move forward again.

I wasn’t raised religious. Wouldn’t say that I am. I have no context for God, other than my own life experience. And, I know God is here. Not a him. Not a her. Simply is.

::

Llewellyn. When someone asked him about the state of affairs in the world, he spoke of how the West no longer has a context to drop to its knees, as a collective. When things are to the point of despair, which I believe they are, there is no context for God in our collective culture. We’ve forgotten that there is something greater than us.

I remember how I felt when I returned home from India. My travels there fed me in a way I had never experienced. I realized God is remembered by the culture all through the day. I could feel God in the air. I could feel the Divine in every bit of teeming life. God was in the healthy, the sick, the living, the dying. God was in the awareness. The spark of divinity in me was mirrored by the divinity in the collective. When I returned home, I no longer saw my divinity mirrored by the collective. It felt as if our world here has been washed clean. Oh, yes, thank God it is in everything else… the trees, the animals, the mountains…but, not in our man made world. Not in our culture.

::

Perhaps this is when despair dropped in.

I have felt, and feel, so helpless because there seems to be no avenue to express my despair, except of course on my own knees to God. But out there it feels as if we, and I include me in this, go on about our day. I have three beautiful grandchildren, and I weep at what the world will be like for them. Sometimes, when I write about my despair, others respond saying they feel it, too. But then our culture continues on, dropping to knees to the Gods we’ve anointed with power: Money, Technology, Media, Pornography, Consumption, War.

I forget.

We forget.

::

I can’t get Llewellyn’s words out of my mind. We as a culture don’t seem to be able to come together at all. We are divided as a culture. Republican vs. Democrat. Christina vs. Muslim. Men vs. Women. Haves vs. Have-Nots. Believers vs. Non-Believers. Those who believe we are hurtling towards a dangerous end, those who don’t. Granted nothing is this black and white, nothing. But we tend to take sides, as if one side or the other is our tribe. There is a palpable push-pull happening, only keeping us stuck in the muck of our own making. There seem to be few valid, concrete solutions to the growing state of affairs. Heck, we can’t even agree that we face problems.

What I do know is that we must feel everything here, all the emotions that the current state of affairs brings up. Despair, grief, sadness, anger are feelings we don’t usually acknowledge until they beome so great we can’t not acknowldege them. We must feel the depths of the darkness that we push away. I know I can no longer not feel despair. I know I can no longer remain silent about the depths of turmoil and grief I feel.

There is a plus-side to feeling these dark emotions. Healing comes through them. And clarity comes, too. These feelings cloud clarity, they cloud the inner strength to act, the creativity that can bubble up to serve us in these times. Qualities like clarity, inner strength, creativity, compassion all come from our essential nature, our divinity. That God-spark within each of us.

Dropping to our knees and feeling the depths of what lies in our hearts helps us to remember there is something greater than us, something that holds us. Call it God, the Divine, Greater Intelligence, Life, or whatever works for you. No Matter. The name is just for us anyway.

When I feel as if my heart will just break, I know it will break open. A heart breaking open is a good thing. Then there is love. Only love. For all of life. Even for the false Gods I’ve created. An open heart doesn’t keep anything out. And it invites grace in. The grace that just might be the only passage to a new kind of world.

Despair has taught me well. It has shared its gift.

This is a love message. To you.

I think of what Mother Teresa said, “If you want a love message to be heard, it has got to be sent out. To keep a lamp burning, we have to keep putting oil in it.” I’m sending it out. Don’t know how it will touch you, or if it will. I just keep putting oil in the lamp.

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{ 9 comments… read them below or add one }

whollyjeanne February 9, 2010 at 12:58 pm

oh my sweet, eloquent julie. this one does touch me. i came here immediately – and i’m talking less than 20 seconds – after purchasing my birthday present to myself: a cracked, mended, patchworked heart created by @mudgoddess. it’s made of mud, this heart, and through one of the 2 holes grows a healthy, green vine. it just spoke to me the way your words do. reaching that still tender, hard-to-reach spot in me. the part that is protected and shielded from the lingering memories of a stern, never-gonna-be-pleased-no-matter-what-you-do-or-how-good-you-are, patriarchal religious upbringing. this tender heart’s protectors aren’t thugs, but they’re strong and fierce, and they rail against the word “god”. but when you use the word “divinity”, these protectors relax a bit. i can hear them exhale. their shoulders and their fists go down, and the notion that there is a divinity that is not gender specific soothes them, allows them to take off their clinical, anthropological glasses, and while they don’t exactly fall to their knees, they are relieved and willing to admit that they, too, have felt despair and comfort from the thought that there’s a sweet spirit holding them, a divinity.

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Julie February 9, 2010 at 1:21 pm

Jeanne, Thank you for your honest, heart-felt comment. I didn’t have that experience growing up with the word God. And yet I know I can feel discomfort with it. It felt so important to use it here. Sometimes I get fully pissed when I realize those patriarchal you-know-whos might have ruined a perfectly good name for God…

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Dian Reid February 9, 2010 at 1:33 pm

wow, julie. despair and its tea brings you to life. it’s so true that we go on about our days, almost unwilling to acknowledge the God outside our little man-made worlds. if we spend too much time outside our man-made worlds, then what’s the point of all that we’ve built? today i will sit with my 3 minutes of silence on this one. as if 3 minutes is long enough…but we have to start somewhere, don’t we?

“We as people don’t seem to be able to come together at all.” i wonder about this, as well. all the coming together we do…are we really coming together or seeking to break it all down? my mind has gone off on a tangent…i need to let this marinate for a bit and see what comes of it.

thank you, julie, for your courage, your honesty, your despair, and you beautiful sharing of it all.

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olive & hope February 9, 2010 at 2:09 pm

Oh Julie thank you for putting the oil in the lamp! Keep it coming ;)

I have needed God all of my life. When I was younger I chose (my parents are not religious) to commune with “him” via a path that was surrounded by rules, fear, and judgements. Now that I’m older, I continue to need God; but I no longer see a him or a her, I only see the divine. I no longer feel the fear of the “wrath” of God, have to live by strict and confining rules, or worry about being judged rather than accepted.

Now when I want to commune with the divine, I fall into the arms of all that is, all that ever was…and I know that I am loved and supported no matter what. I wish that for everyone. I believe that God is all inclusive, and wow if we could all come together…think of what that would mean.

I’m so thankful for the knowledge that was lost on me in my younger years – that divinity lives within each of us.

Thank you for feeling it all deeply. And for sharing with us. xo

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emma February 9, 2010 at 3:30 pm

I share the tea with you, my friend, and the love. Thank you for this moving post, and for being the spirit that you are, in your darkness and your light. It is a gift, and you are a gift.

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sheila February 10, 2010 at 7:32 am

“We’ve forgotten that there is something greater than us” This quote highlights the most concerning state we face. You are not alone in your despair and realization/witnessing of what is occurring. Your ability to lean into and come out the other side of despair with strength takes great courage. Beautifully written Julie, I for one feel better knowing you are filling your oil lamp. This piece reminded me of something I wrote about Mother Theresa years ago. ” Her spiritual self soars infusing grace and dignity to the victims of humanity at its worst. She is not entrenched in the man made/mind made structure of religion. For that just complicates what she knows to be true. Love, Nurture, Grow. Her motives are pure, her direction is clear, she never fails. She has a foot in both worlds. “

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Kristen @ Motherese February 10, 2010 at 7:44 am

Julie, what a powerful reflection on finding and losing direction. I consider myself a woman of faith, but no longer of religion and I viscerally relate to your feeling of meeting despair with a longing to connect to a force larger than myself. I was deeply moved by Llewellyn’s idea that “the West no longer has a context to drop to its knees, as a collective.” How I wish for this context – whether we direct our desperation to the divine or simply to the understanding of ourselves as a community.

Thank you for these words today.

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Bonnie February 10, 2010 at 4:26 pm

This is such a beautiful testimony to the power of feeling the emotion, valuing it and growing back into a better self because of it. And then sharing it, too. It IS within all of us, that spark of divinity, and your words are such welcome and wonderful reminders of this!

I’d have to agree, that, about religion. I had a Catholic upbringing (even 8 years of grade school). But, I responded to other belief systems (was very young when I saw a picture of Hare Krishna on a book jacket & it drew me.) Of course, this is “wrong” per Catholic belief. “Other gods, etc.” As many I know, I check the box “spiritual not religious.”

There comes a time when you just have to heed your heart. And hopefully as more people do…there will be a coming together.

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Pearl Mattenson February 11, 2010 at 8:23 am

Julie- Random inspired thoughts:

* I remember my HS Jewish Philosophy teacher holding up a newspaper with story after story of crisis and pain and tragedy. He was almost yelling at us asking us if we could read the paper without crying?

*I did grow up with God and faith as deeply engrained parts of my psyche and I am finding that in my mid-life I turn to God more in the moments of joy, amazement and awe. Somehow there are fewer of those than the moments of despair. When did I stop turning to God in despair?

*I read your piece today in conversation wtih @ronnadetrick’s on sharing God. I hope that our path out of despair is in that idea.

Thank you!

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