After a long and difficult winter, I am sitting by the river basking in the sun. I managed to come through it. Not the winter, which was harsh, but the dark hour of my soul that had moved in on me. That’s a pretty big statement isn’t it? I thought I had lived that years ago, but now I know different. And I feel different.
It was this past Easter weekend that I was reminded of that Sinead O’conner song “I Feel so different”. I absolutely do! And I think different. Change is hard. Transformation can be terrifying. What did not start out as a choice, has now become the passion upon which I live my life.
I had been Walking downtown looking for a place to buy a coffee. It was my annual “It’s Good Friday, I should go to church”. As I turned a corner I happened upon a community of people taking part in the walk of the Cross. Both church and the Cross make me uncomfortable. Not when I am alone, it’s so easy to be who you are when you are alone. No, the discomfort is acknowledging my truth in front of a society that dismisses or mocks these things. Seeing as how I was now in the midst of it, I had to join in. How could I turn my back on what has saved me? Not the church, but the Cross.
I respect and admire all of the kindness and charity of the church community. The wrong doings and mistakes of some leaders and followers are no different than society as a whole. Church is where people go for inspiration with their faith. Their own free will as with any other member of the human race is where they rise up or fall down. As for me? I have reserved church for Good Friday and Easter Sunday. The rest of the time I worship in nature and in solitude. I seek the answers to the mystery of life. I search for connection with a loving God. I continue to try and comprehend the lessons from the story of Jesus. A man whose strength, love and kindness are beyond my reach.
Which brings me back to the dark hour of my soul. You would think that was what I would use to describe the broken me of yesteryear. The one who was losing everything she held dearly and then more. No, that was the awakening. That was the beginning of my transformation from anger and resentments to learning to love life as it exists and in the moment. No, the dark hour is a battle with fear. It’s the most significant fork in the road you will ever encounter. Struggling to keep the faith when every door you knock on remains closed and has been locked. When your dreams are taking forever but your life is disappearing at the speed of light. When every idea is answered by doubt and every life boat is out of service. The dark hour where the Holy Spirit seems silent whilst the devil within tempts you to return to the insanity of the great I am. The world of self will and working fearfully for your daily bread.
When your ego is begging you to put the mask back on but your soul is shouting don’t pierce me again. That is the dark hour or the dark weeks as the case happened to be. The moments of truth where I had to decide who I was. Who was my contract with and on what belief system do I move forward.
The fear that grabbed a hold of me in February and March was like no other monster I had ever encountered. No matter how positive I tried to be, how strong and spiritually fit I thought I was. I was grossly unprepared for the ensuing battle. I was saying gratitude but not hearing it. Writing lists of gratitude but not feeling it. I was saying I was surrendering while digging my nails into what I refused to let go of. I was professing to believe and have faith while preparing my heart for defeat. The truth was, I was standing on the edge of no return. My faith was in jeopardy. The most dangerous words I have ever known were surfacing from within. The two words that I know would be my undoing. F#$@- It.
I never imagined I would be in this place. 5 years ago I was walking on a cloud promising myself I would hang onto that joy and love for the rest of my days. I worked it and fought to remain connected to it. Every tiny moment of doubt was met with a journal filled with the miracles and revelations I had witnessed. Yet here I was, ready to consider throwing in the towel and running back to the arms of my favourite vices. The pity party of all pity parties was being prepared in the back of my mind. Forget the multitude of blessings, miracles and revelations. Life was hard and I was struggling to find relief.
I stood on that ledge and stared into the abyss. I could no longer distinguish between truth and illusion. What was intuition and what was ego. If I had set my sights too high, could I recalibrate and find joy in anything less? I doubted it. I was so heavily invested in my dreams and they were not materializing as I had willed them to. I was not looking for instant gratification. I had been patient. It now appeared to me, that all was lost. That I had been chasing after an illusive life. Perhaps it was just not meant to be. Perhaps I was just a fool. And in that dark hour, I questioned how I ever let myself become so open and vulnerable. How did I end up in this place and who was I to want so much? My pride, my coolness, my drive. They all lay motionless in a heap. I stood naked on the ledge and thought now what?
Then “what”happened. My own words from 4 years ago when I did a crazy happiness experiment on Facebook kept showing up in my newsfeed memories. My own words from when I was living in joy. When I was still connected in a very powerful way to the source of my faith. In those words I saw where I had fallen. I saw how ever so slowly I had been allowing fear back inside my heart. That awkward Facebook experiment had come back to save me from myself. The revelations and I do mean revelations started to happen. My thoughts on the ledge took a 180 turn and the desire to run became a vision of freedom.
All that I had been clinging to was a made up version of how my life should unfold. Has it ever, does it ever unfold exactly as planned under our own direction? I had traded in the joy of the mystery and Aha moments. I was being guided by fear in search of guarantees. I was giving up the ecstasy of a life of passion in exchange for a life of safety in presumed certainty. I had forgotten how to enjoy the journey in light hearted wonder.
On that ledge I no longer saw the abyss. I saw my opportunity to take that leap of faith. And leap I did. I opened my heart in an act of vulnerability. I faced my biggest fear and I did not run and cower in shame. From that intimate act I found a strength and freedom the likes of which I have never known. I had dreamed of living my life like a wild horse. No longer saddled with society’s judgments. No longer bridled with unwarranted guilt. Guilt that held me down. Whispering in the back of my mind that I was not good enough for my dreams.
As that Sinead O’Conner song winds down she states “All that I ever needed was inside me” Her voice is passionate and haunting, her message is clear. She lost so much. So many friends yet she cannot go back. “I feel so different”. That was such a big part of the fear. I cannot go back. I cannot pretend that I do not know what I now know. Our fear of judgment is the greatest block to our freedom, to our healing. Anxiety, depression, addiction. Pharmaceuticals will not fix those things. Faith will. Without it, we remain hopeless for there is nothing to light the way. The illusion that we have control. The illusion that we are great on our own. The illusion that it is their fault. There is no them, it is us. We are great, we are miraculous when we connect to the source of our love. Every self help book. Every healing textbook. Every story of the journey to being saved. The words are different but the messages are the same as the ones we were given over 2000 years ago. The man on the Cross said to love and have faith. To believe. The law of attraction may be the rage, but it is not new.
This Easter I was reminded of the little girl in me that could not understand how we nailed such a good and kind man to the Cross. She carried that question in the back of her mind, somewhere strapped to her soul. She walked through the material world and felt the highs and the lows. When she awoke that question came back. How could we? Why did we? What is this life, this journey all about?
And in the dark hour when the choice comes, do I follow that kind man, or do I turn my back on him? Do I embrace the story or pretend it never happened? That road to Damascus life changing moment I had. If I dismiss that, then without doubt I dismiss my own soul. Call it what you want, the universe, a higher power, your higher self. It all comes down to that man on the Cross. Love, forgiveness, hope. Believing, faith, kindness. Not judging, not hating not clinging to fear. If the truth is not through Him, then one day, I die and it never mattered. If however the message of love continues on and life is eternal. Then I fear not death nor anything else.
I did not learn this in church or in school. I learned this on the road to Damascus. I learned this through experiencing all of life’s ailments and trying to understand why. Through reading and interpreting through my own eyes, ears and heart. I learned this from the voice that was speaking softly inside me. Yes, all I ever need is inside me.
This Spirit enjoying this life in this body need only embrace each moment as an opportunity to love and forgive. That God of fear and sin? I don’t think he has been around since that nice man died on the Cross for us. Was that not the point of it all? That he would teach us so we could learn to walk one day, like him, in our own free will? We are evolving. The speed at which we continue to evolve will be determined by our willingness. Our willingness to explore the truth within our hearts. To speak our truth without the fear of societies judgments. I can’t control society, but with faith, I can control the fear.