Archive for March 2014
An interesting photo that I found on Facebook depicts Jesus at the resurrection, an event that is going to be celebrated in a few weeks throughout the modern, western world. Typically, this scene has Jesus rise from the dead with a discrete white cloth artistically draped over his genitals. It is strange how humans delude themselves into imagining that somehow, if you are good enough, holy enough, your sexuality and genitals simply disappear.
It’s hard to imagine holiness and the crude human body which burps, belches, farts, urinates and defecates. Surely holiness would make all of that disappear, wouldn’t it? And, if one were holy enough, there would be no sexual urges to torture us.
Yet, in the Garden of Eden, before the Fall, Adam and Eve didn’t wear clothing to hide their genitals in God’s presence. There was nothing about nudity or nakedness that was shameful. I mean if God wanted us to be clothed, we wouldn’t have been born naked. We wear clothing as a cover-up, an act of hiding the truth of who we are. Jesus was born naked, was circumcised naked, was baptised naked, and died naked. In between birth and death, he fished naked like all the other fishermen of his time, he bathed naked, he slept naked, and he was tortured naked. The thought of these truths are too much for us to handle, so we deny truth and create a myth that somehow, a pure white cloth somehow materializes out of thin air and floats around Jesus’ body so that his genitals would never be seen.
We know Jesus ate and drank. but the thought that he might have to take bathroom breaks is too much to cope with. Surely God doesn’t piss or shit; I mean, he’s God, isn’t he? And I am sure that if the floating white fabric should fail to cover him, our eyes would immediately be blinded so that we wouldn’t see anything that rate as pornography on Facebook. It’s hard to think that God is a sexual pervert for making us in his image, nude. Satan convinced humanity to think that nudity is shameful. God teaches us that we can’t get to heaven by denying him and his creation. We can’t get there by hiding from him behind lies, clothing, excuses or anything else that we use to hide behind because of fear.
It’s hard to imagine than in just over a week we will have to leave this tropical place in order to return to our home on the Canadian Prairies. Not surprisingly, we are looking forward to a return to our pleasant home even though winter will not be finished with cold, snow and wind. The past few days have seen the weather here in Puerto Morelos become hotter, especially at night. Since we are not using an air conditioner, trying to stay a bit cool has become a challenge. Transformational heat is what I call it.
The time we have spent here in Mexico has again resulted in growth and change in both of us. My meditation practice has become more and more important as has my midday sunbathing where as she says it, “You cook the Devil out of you.”
Still, we don’t take anything for granted knowing that each day we need to do the work that will ensure our union is more than a legal arrangement. And because of this, we find ourselves enjoying moments where it is as though we are still twenty and twenty-one and had just discovered that we were in love with each other, as if time has stood still. Of course these moments are real, not just reminders. Why do I say this? What had brought us together, what we had seen in the moment of love at first sight is still there. It wasn’t and isn’t about some sort of physical love, but something deeper, something that touches the core, the rawness beneath ego. We are blessed.
The work isn’t easy, the work of cultivating our union so that it can continue to be blessed, moment after moment. There are shadows that work overtime to blind us to the truth of the other and ourselves. We take turns hurting and being hurt when overcome with inner pain, with doubts, with emotions. But somehow, we hold the tension just long enough to see those shadows pass so that we again see the truth of each other.
Does it get any easier now that we are in our mid-sixties? Yes and no. It does get easier because we know that these dark moments are temporary, that the sunshine will come out again and gift us with blue and clear skies. But at the same time, it gets harder as we get worn out with the drama and want nothing more than peace, thinking that perhaps a life alone for the remaining years would give us that peace. You’d think that it was simple – just choose one or the other. But it isn’t. The moment we let down our guards, become fully present, allowing a brief touch or the inner light from the other’s eyes to touch deep within, we arrive back at square one – the holy union or mysterium coniunctionis.
My wife captured this moment while we were at the Jungle Market outside of the village of Colonia near Puerto Morelos. I was with another man, listening to him as he told another of his stories. We all have stories of the past to tell. Strange how most of these stories take on a golden glow as though the past was a magical wonderland.
Since I am still busy writing the story of my past, the story that tells the story as I remember and feel it without attempts to hide from the smells, the textures, the shadows, the moments of sunshine; I am seeing this story neither as a dark stain, nor through rose-colored glasses. I know that the past is gone. A quick glance at any calendar tells me that decades have passed by just like the water in a river is constantly replaced by different water. Yet, the river remains, for the most part looking like the same river – for the most part.
In some ways, each of us looks a bit the same as we did in the past. Though every cell in our body has been replaced over and over again over the decades, others still recognise us, But, what is it that is recognised? Just the body? Or, is there something else, some unnameable thing that is more constant than our bodies? Physically, I have changed. After all, I am getting older, I am eating differently, I am exercising differently and I live differently with more months spent in a warmer sub-tropical climate. When I see a photo of myself take thirty years ago and compare it to a recent photo such as this one taken by my wife, there is a world of difference. Yet, it happens that we meet people from our past of twenty and thirty years ago and there is instant recognition with both sides commenting on how we still look the same.
This ability to recognise another person though the passage of years does its work to change the body, is a mystery. But even more of a mystery is to come in contact with a complete stranger who has never been in the same places at the same time as oneself and then have both become startled with the fact of recognising each other. The eyes tell us a truth that we can’t explain. And it is up to us to dare bridging the remaining distance. I am not talking about this stranger looking like someone we have known. I can’t even say that it is in the person’s physical appearance. I get the sense that each of us has an essence, an aura that is like a fingerprint which allows us to recognise.
What do you think? What are your experiences?
It’s surprising where one finds a road to follow when wandering. There are busy roads and paths which draw the attention of most people; but the roads that catch my eyes are quiet roads. I don’t walk around this foreign country with a machete so that I can walk where there are no paths. I have no sense of where once I enter the dense jungle that doesn’t allow more than a few steps before becoming impassable. I guess it isn’t all that much different than wandering through the swamplands of soul. One needs a path to follow at the least. Better still, a guide is needed if one is to move through the swamplands and the jungles with some sort of safety and direction.
I remember comments from some who wondered why I would follow paths rather than walk where no man has walked before. I knew that the idea of being original, carving a path that was mine alone was more about ego than about soul. My ego would love to be so unique, so gifted, so wise, so all-seeing . . . and perhaps even famous for carving out that unique path. However, it isn’t the destination, the fame, the glory or the rewards that are important. For me, it is about the journey, about knowing that though the paths of my journey have been followed before and will be followed long after my body has returned to the soil from which it came, what I gain from the journey is more about connecting me to the world, connecting me to others though they are long absent in physical form. Ask anyone who has walked a pilgrimage and you will hear of that connection with the pilgrims that have walked over the same path, a path that was created by the walking, and changed to take on the presence of each pilgrim in the process.
Walking down rough trails that discourage superficiality, demand one’s presence is an act of meditation, a psychological and spiritual journey that is as much about the person walking as it is about the path being followed. In that meditation, both become one and then more than both the path and the self. Walking down that particular trail was magical for a moment until the reality of that path demanded that I be present and not lost in some inner space. Flies that wanted to feast and mosquitoes thirsty for blood told me that as I walk down my path, I need to be focused and fully present. Life demands this.
So yesterday evening I was going for a walk and got no further than a half block from the house when I spotted this big fellow. The street edges a huge swampland that is the natural habitat for crocodiles. Thankfully there was a flimsy wire fence to keep me out of his environment (yes, I did consider hopping the fence to get a closer photo even though I was only about fifteen metres from this guy). This morning I did a quick search to see what was symbolic of crocodiles as I don’t believe in random and meaningless events in life. This is some of what I found out:
“These creatures ask us to dive into our emotions and seek fluidity, healing and cleansing in these realms. Gators and crocs also ask us to utilize our dreams for emotional understanding. Call upon these creatures when you’re in a crunch emotionally, or are unclear about how to heal yourself, or if you’re having disturbing dreams. These creatures are fearless, and their energy is extremely forthright. They strike clarity into our lives when we call on them. Moreover, these creatures represent an equal balance between earth and water. With their help, we too can become grounded, and settled in our emotions.” [Symbolic Alligator Meaning and Crocodile Meaning]
Now, I have to say that it would be a significant coincidence that the time I am spending here in Mexico is all about the process of self-healing that involves, dream work, delving into emotions that are triggered, and finding clarity (light) where there has been confusion in the shadow world of the unconscious. Balance – yes, it is all about balance between earth and water with the distinction of air – the breath in and out of the body that calls one into mindful presence. None of this is coincidence at all.
It’s hard to imagine one family having a net worth of $400,000,000,000.00 – that’ four hundred billion dollars. Yet, there are two families who share this honour – the Rothschild and the Rockefeller familes. It’s hard to imagine a single person having a net worth of $75,000,000,000.00 such as Bill Gates or the various family members of the Walmart empire (Waltons) who each hover around thirty-five billion dollars in net worth, or the Koch brothers who are worth more than forty billion dollars each. It is a relatively easy task to find out who and how many are considered to be wealthy, obscenely wealthy. Yet, likely there are families and individuals who wealthy buy hiding behind the public radar. Wealth is measured in dollars and probably more importantly in terms of influence on the well-being of the planet.
Who is the poorest? If we take money and control of economies as a measure of wealth, then the number of people who would be tied for dead last – zero dollars of worth or influence – numbers in the millions. But numbers lie as I have learned. I personally know individuals who have a net worth of less than zero on paper but are the richest people in terms of what they have, cash flow, economic impact and social position. On paper they can prove that they qualify for welfare, but at the same time they travel the world first class.
For those who have no home, no means of transportation other than their feet, no work or hope of getting work, poor health and only wearing clothing that is discarded and eating food that is considered garbage by the average person – this is a real description of poverty and the numbers alive at this moment in the world who must live this way while an infinitesimally minute sector of the human population spend more for one meal or one bottle of wine than the poorest will ever see in their whole lifetime.
I have seen poor people, real poor people in Vietnam, Cambodia, India, and elsewhere like the girl pictured above; people who scrounge through garbage in order to survive. There is nothing about this picture that is right or just. Yet, as a human race, we laud the richest and treat the poorest as less than human. Imagine you are born into one of the hundred richest families in the world. Instantly, without any effort or merit you have become one of the elite of the human race. Imagine you are born into one of the hundreds of thousands of poorest families in the world. Regardless of effort or merit, there is no way of crawling up out of that poverty. The poor want to escape poverty, the wealthy want to be wealthier. Who will most likely get their wishes granted?
Those of us somewhere in the middle have been conned into believing that the rich deserve to be rich and that the poor deserve to be poor. We have been hoodwinked to look below us while the little bits of wealth that we have has already begun to shift upwards to those who get richer by the moment because of tax laws and the design of the world’s economies. Without our complicit agreement to maintain the status quo, the whole thing falls apart. Yet, our dreams of wealth push us to accumulate more rather than to invest in a belief that all humans are deserving.
Just saying . . .
We were sitting in the garden for our morning coffee, talking about things in general and about how we seem to have changed in comparison to the way we used to be. I brought up the image of my mother-in-law who would sit in her small kitchen as a widow, looking out the window, appearing to be waiting for something to happen or for someone to come. I wondered if perhaps there was no waiting and that perhaps it was our assumption that she was waiting. Perhaps she was simply being present in the moment and not expecting anything more. It was with that wondering that led us to talk about when we were younger and how we would always say: wait until spring comes . . . as we planned all those things such as gardening, new flowers, long walks, spring activities, and more. Then we would find ourselves in the middle of springtime and say: wait until summer comes . . . with our dreams of camping, warm weather, touring, family gatherings, and more. Then in the middle of summer we would find ourselves looking forward to a different season, or a summer in the future when we would travel to some interesting and exciting new place. It was hard to find ourselves just being here in the present moment.
Have we found ourselves more present as we get older? I think so though it might be hard to quantify that thought. Talking about this wasn’t an escape from the present, rather it was noticing how we were at the moment in comparison to the past. And then it was time for me to move into the sunshine that began to bathe my usual sitting place on the patio.
I took my seat on the cushion, set my timer, and began the process of breathing in and telling myself, gently, that I was breathing in – breathing out and telling myself, gently, that I was breathing out – and shifting into some semblance of mindfulness. I can’t pretend to be any sort of master of this process, but it is something which I have learned to treasure in my day, an activity that is greeted warmly rather than something that I think I should be doing or something that I have to do. I sat, with my eyes just slightly open with my breath and saw movement of life around me, small movements. I heard sounds of birds, of a breeze stirring in the branches. I felt the sun begin to warm my body and small insects gently touch me before flying off. And, the small lizards, perhaps they were geckos, began to gather around and look back at me for a few moments before darting off to gobble a passing ant or other insect. I smiled inside and out feeling so full of life, glad to be alive.