Have you sensed it? There’s something more for you, but maybe you’re not sure what it is.
Or maybe you know what it is but thinking about it is just too big and scary.
What if the only thing you need to know about the “something more” is that it is actually something LESS.
Over the last 6 months I have spoken to many people who have witnessed their world falling apart in the current global experience of pandemic. As they watch the gross disintegration of everything they thought they could be certain of, they wonder: “What now?” and “Who am I without (insert life situation here)?” I know this feeling personally. My iron-clad certainty of what life and ministry would look like for me over the next 25 years suddenly crumbled to dust in 2020 (amidst what I swear was Cosmic gut-splitting laughter – the Divine Self has a quirky sense of humour). So, I asked myself those very questions: “What now?” and “Who am I without this ministry?”
Here’s a brief synopsis: Several months prior to COVID-19 hitting the news in a big way, I had quit my day-job as an Employment Counsellor, left my part-time job as a minister of a small Centre for Spiritual Living, sold my home in BC Canada, and put most of my belongings into storage in preparation to move to California to take up my 25-year-plan (a.k.a. the dream job) - the senior minister position with a Center for Spiritual Living in Southern California. I was prepared to volunteer there for a couple of months while waiting for my work visa to be processed, so at the end of January 2020, my spouse and I took our cats and dog, some clothes and essential items to SoCal, where we stayed with a congregant while getting to know the community. Unfortunately, before our work visas could be processed, COVID-19 hit the news, the borders were closing between Canada and the US, and the Canadian Prime Minister advised all Canadians abroad to come home immediately. I left on my own at first, to fly back to Canada and stay with my kids while in quarantine. A week later, my spouse left with our fur babies and drove for 2 days straight to get back to BC Canada.
Once we settled into our quarantine in BC, we quickly realized that it would be a long time before we could go back to the US. With the borders closed, US Immigration shut down, and a community in need of in-person support, we soon relinquished our expectations that the position in California would be held for us. With no home, no job, and all of our belongings in storage, we sat in an Air B&B cottage reeling from the sheer enormity of what had just occurred. My mind inevitably turned to the question – “What am I supposed to do now?”
After the tears subsided and the grief had eased, I, like so many of you, had to take stock of my life, my goals, my purpose. I had to be willing to look beneath the surface to remember the essential part of my being that not only wants to be expressed, but in fact is the ONLY way I can move beyond surviving into thriving in this new life paradigm around me.
There’s a temptation that many of us fall into at times like these. We seem to have a belief that because our current experience has changed significantly, we must somehow have become deficient in some way and therefore will never find our “sacred next” without becoming more or better. Does this sound familiar to you? We throw ourselves into skill building workshops and webinars, we look into educational programs and certifications. There is something about the uncertainty of loss and change that often drives people (especially control freaks like me) to hoard more skills, credentials, knowledge or prestigious titles. Maybe we do this in order to feel worthy of taking up a new position in life, or maybe we think that it is our lack of skill that caused the sky to fall in the first place (“If only I had become a doctor like my mother wanted, I wouldn’t be in this position now!”). This control tactic is normal and is designed to help us feel safe. We are hard-wired to want to DO something in response to the chaos around us – a perfectly reasonable reaction to the fear of uncertainty, but it does not work.
In fact, I have found that the opposite is true. At least at first. Most often, the most productive first step in creating a new life from the ashes of the old, is not to add more, but subtract more. We try to throw some bits of lace and rose petals onto the crumbling structure of our life to make it look prettier, when in fact, all we have done is to draw attention to the huge pile of rubble. This does not work for at least 2 reasons. 1. What you resist persists (despite your best efforts, you will not succeed for long in hiding the rubble). And, more importantly, 2. The real gold is underneath the rubble itself.
I think I just heard you ask (through the illusions of time and cyberspace), “What in the sam hill is she talking about?” Allow me to illustrate with a story. Perhaps this will clarify.
Hundreds of years ago, possibly around the 13th-14th centuries, a gorgeous Buddha statue was cast in solid gold. At a height of almost 10 feet tall, and weighing about 5 ½ tons, it was thought to have been displayed "in the middle of Sukhothai City” in Thailand. However, at some point – likely before Burmese invaders came to destroy the kingdom of Ayutthaya in 1767 – the solid gold statue was covered over in plaster. It was thought that the precious statue was being protected by masking its value. Later, the plaster was further covered with a thick layer of stucco decorated with coloured glass. In the 1800’s, when Bangkok became the capital, King Rama had the statue moved into a temple in Chinatown. Over the years the temple fell into disrepair and in 1935 the statue was moved again to its current location into a different temple of little significance. The temple did not have a building that could properly house the statue, so for 20 years it sat under a simple tin roof. In 1954 a new building was built to house the stucco Buddha statue, however, as the statue was being moved, it was damaged.
An event that was catastrophic for the stucco, revealed the gold beneath.
Is that what has happened to your world? The story bares a striking resemblance to my life, metaphorically speaking. My life fell apart and I had to stop everything to evaluate. As I looked around at the parts of my life that came tumbling down and crumbled to bits earlier this year, I confess that I tried my darnedest to glue back the cracking bits and paint them over so no one would notice the brokenness. I wanted to recreate a reasonable facsimile of what I thought life should look like without acknowledging the presence of gold.
However, even though the repair attempts, two opposing thoughts were battling within me. I could try to get back to the way things were by patching up my life with a new job, or paint over the damage with a new certification. Or. OR, I could go for the gold.
There is something precious and unique and unduplicatable within us all. Something so precious, so sacred and beautiful, that way back in our early years, we covered it over with plaster and stucco to try to protect it from being hurt. (Dr. Barry Heerman, author of Noble Purpose, calls this our Essential Self.) We did what we needed to do to protect the essential self. We took care of ourselves in the only way we could. Over time, most of us likely forgot how valuable we really are. If you are anything like me, you might have told yourself stories about your limitations and about the wounds that the world has wrought upon you. How could you possibly trust this world with the jewel beneath your surface? How could you trust yourself? So, perhaps you did the reasonable thing – the responsible thing – you decided to protect your essential self with layer upon layer of armour and story – metaphysical plaster and stucco. You hid it from the world in order to fit in with an ordinary life.
I am fairly sure that most humans do this to some extent. It takes a maverick’s heart to even see the possibility of dancing to the song of your soul. But it is when we begin to acknowledge the song that our hearts are able to open fully to the profound joy of life. I am never more alive than when I live from the gold within me. I suspect the same is true for you.
I am in this life for the golden Buddha within. Time to let go of the plaster. And I want to offer you a way to find your own gold. Are you up for an inner journey with me?
Together we will gently, lovingly chip away at the old stucco of our lives, to unveil the treasures that lie within.
Here is what I commit to you:
· I promise that this contemplative journey will be a lovefest of self-kindness, even as we stand eye-to-eye with the fears that we plastered into our self-created walls. (Hint: What we fear is not as big as it seems, it just creates a big shadow in our life.)
· I promise that we will have methods and practices to help us focus on each step of the journey without the pressure of making forever-decisions.
· I promise that we will celebrate with each other, we will allow ourselves to be lost (and found) in play, we will gift ourselves with luxurious joy.
· I promise that we will give ourselves permission daily to choose to move forward, or backward, or not at all, and then we will allow our inner love to guide us.
Are you ready? I’m ready to live my Life on Purpose. I hope you join me!
Free Introductory Workshop – Saturday October 10, 2020 at 10:00AM Pacific time (11:00AM Mountain, 12:00PM-Noon Central, 1:00PM Eastern) RSVP HERE
6 Weekly Classes – Thursday evenings, October 15, 2020 to November 19, 2020 at 5:30PM Pacific time (6:30PM Mountain, 7:30PM Central, 8:30PM Eastern)
Investment – sliding scale – choose your price, starting at $89.00
Wikipedia contributors. (2020, August 27). Golden Buddha (statue). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 20:47, September 9, 2020, from https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Golden_Buddha_(statue)&oldid=975280208