Dangling Part-Disciple

September 27, 2010

This isn’t the return of the prodigal blogger, by any means. I’m just trying to make a token effort in fulfilling my mission, which is to transmit information to whomever is listening (reading), and receptive. None of my ideas are mine, purely. They are little bits of of a bigger picture that my receiver is picking up.  Much of it pertains to my particular experience. Some of it is information I will never put to use- even though it sounds like I’ve actually done it.

For instance, the issue of faith. I tell people all the time that the universe will support them in their endeavors. They just have to step off the edge and see what happens. The universe is a friendly place, and why wouldn’t things turn out ok?  Stop living in fear, and follow your heart.

Sounds good, right?

I have no intention of stepping off that ledge. Do I look stupid? There are no guarantees. There are better, purer, more deserving souls on this planet who will never catch a break.  So I will not be tempting fate, not with my shitty karma.

Here is my dilemma. And truly,  it’s only a dilemma if I entertain the possibility of actually choosing one option over the other, and I’ve made my decision, but the thing is, I hate my job, and should have quit two years ago.

I have no respect for my bosses, and my workplace is a source of tremendous and overwhelming stress, frustration, rage, and fear.

All indications – making mistakes at work, adrenal burnout, nausea, contempt and that scoured-out empty feeling one gets when one’s soul has been filleted from their being–all are signs that I need to vacate the premises.

But I’ve stayed and put up with being treated poorly, having my modest raise taken away, enduring insults and condescending remarks, having to work under impossible scrutiny, and wondering if I’m going to be fired.

I’ve realized this year that the fewer things I have, the fewer things I have to worry about losing, this includes my job. But this is a hard economy, I don’t have a college degree, I’m 40 something, and have lots of debt. Without a solid backup plan, it would be imprudent to just walk away from a job that at least pays my bills.

As a pilgrim whose job and mission it is to test the friendliness and resources of the so-called Source, I just can’t bring myself to follow through on this assignment. I understand, wholly, that this is the point of my arriving at this juncture. But I’m so fearful that if I follow my heart and just depart from this situation I would be left dangling – jobless, penniless, and would lose my home, belongings –everything.

I know what I’m supposed to do.  I just  don’t believe that I’ll be ok.


Sweat Lodge

April 17, 2009

I am transformed here, and stripped bare.

…now when I think of all the red inside me,

I understand that I don’t bleed; I burn.”

–Cindy St. Onge – “Poems From the Grotto”

I participated in my fourth Inipi cermony yesterday. The number 4 is important in Lakota ritual, and my life path number happens to be a 4.  I should have been prepared for something auspicious.

I hadn’t drunk enough water during the day. That probably partially accounted for how miserable I was into the second round. But as that round got underway, I thought to myself, “this is never as bad as people say it is. what is the big deal? I’m fine. I can handle this. It’s a piece of cake.”

I could hear the arrogance in my own thoughts. The Inyan Oyate , or Stone People in the center of the lodge glowed red hot, and I thought about their suffering, their sacrifice. I was humbled.

This isn’t about how tough I am,  I thought, or about how much pain I can endure for the sake of endurance. It’s about being vulnerable and open and flawed and ultimately purified. I thought that if creatures as sturdy as stones could suffer the sacrificial fire for the sake of my transformation, the least I could do was admit that I was uncomfortable.

And that was all it took. By the middle of the second round, I was nauseous, light-headed, and felt like I would pass out. How hot it was in the lodge wasn’t even an issue by this time. I was at my limit. I was on the verge of asking that the door be open so I could leave.  But this is the purpose of the Inipi ceremony, to inhabit these borders, to push beyond what the body can endure, and to challenge what your mind has always defined as possible and impossible.

When I closed my eyes to try to think of something besides how dizzy I felt, I wanted to go to sleep, but I was afraid I wouldn’t wake up. So I struggled against the heat, and wanting to throw up, and almost losing consciousness. This is where and  how the heat and the prayer transforms the pilgrim. The lodge was pitch black, but I kept looking in the direction of the door, a way out I couldn’t see, but knew was there.

The second round was mercifully divided into two mini-rounds because the heat was excruciating. After I had cooled down some, I realized that I had only experienced external discomfort in previous sweat lodges. This was the first time I had felt that misery on the inside, viscerally.

There were still two more rounds to go, each hotter than the last. At some point during the third round, which I’ve always called the  Skin Searing Round, ancestor spirits present in the lodge were sucking me into Lakota folklore as I envisioned the Great Mystery and Tunkasila playing tether ball with the planets.

This was the spiritual ass-kicking I had always believed the Inipi ceremony to be, but had never experienced until last night.

I am humbled and grateful.

Mitakue Oyasin

Breaking Down

April 19, 2008

Last week at work I reached a breaking point. I wasn’t sure why, and I don’t remember what I was doing, but I just started to tear up and had to fight to keep from exploding into a sobbing fit. I’m unhappy with the pace and content of my life right now, and at that moment I couldn’t contain my despair any longer. It took me by surprise, but I guess I should have seen it coming.

My body has been breaking down these last few weeks. I’ve had joint pain and stiffness that doesn’t go away, I’m grinding my teeth again, and am becoming increasingly weary of the daily tedium.

So as I sat at my desk fighting back tears, tyring to regain my composure so that no one would see my moment of weakness, I thought about what it meant to break down. If I want to know who I am, and what I’m made of, maybe the best way, or maybe even the only way, is through disassembly. It’s hard to say what makes me me, and it’s difficult to define those things that drive and motivate me, when they’ve become tangled together over the years.

Once the facade falls away, the components of the individual are exposed. So what are the building blocks of Grizelda? Hope, fear, love, hunger, desire. Now I see what I have to work with, and can begin to rebuild.

Station VII: Jesus Falls the Second Time

March 20, 2008


Chakra: Crown            Illusion: I am opposed

Concern: Assimilation   Revelation: I am guided 

We’ve arrived at an assimilation point a place, a time, or situation which requires us to be present, mindful, surrendering to the momentum of our process. Now, action is futile, and all we can do is trust that we are guided, no matter how alone we may feel. We will not fail to reach our destination. 

Meditation: All I am asked to do is to trust that I don’t have to know what to do.  

Station VII: Turning the Corner

March 20, 2007

The path at the Grotto heads westward up to the seventh station, which sits at the western-most point in the circle. In some Middle Eastern cultures, and European as well, West is the direction associated with death; the living reside in the east. The smaller reliefs inside the chapel at the Grotto also progress in the same direction, as stations 1 through 7 start from east to west, and stations 8 through 14 return the viewer/pilgrim east.

In the crucifixion account, Jesus is progressing toward a physical death. Symbollically, the pilgrim is moving away from death, and its associate fears and fetters, and moving ever closer to that which never dies. The seventh station is a difficult place, as it lies far from any familiar shore. Here is the desolate and terrifying dark night of the soul, where all the pilgrim can do is trust; there is no other action possible. The seventh station is death–and here one realizes that death isn’t a beginning or an end, but a middle. Its forbidding terrain must be traversed to reach liberation and the realization of everlasting life.

In the biblical account, Jesus has fallen a second time. The bronze sculpture shows Jesus on the ground, holding himself up with one  hand, his guards hoisting him by the rope around his waist. Christ’s focus is at the ground where his hand is supporting his weight. He is not looking forward, or behind him, but directly at the ground where he’s stopped. His attention is in the moment.

The isolation around this station is indicated by its number, Seven, which is the number of sanctuary and solitude.  This is when one must search within to find that safe and constant place. For some, that place may be prayer, for others, it might be lucidity or awakening, and for yet others, love is their salvation. Perhaps, all of these at different times help each of us through the dark night of the soul. The seventh, or crown chakra located on top of the head, is concerned with assimilation, wisdom, and the unmistakable connection with Source, God, Divinity, Spirit.

The seventh station is where we process everything that has either happened to us, or at least those things that have impacted us in a meaningful way–both traumas and blessings. We are in a state of deep introspection having just come from the sixth station, and if we allow, a divine light illuminates our circumstance. The illusions of fear, separation, and all those things which have overwhelmed or oppressed us up until now have been exposed as just that–illusions.

I realized one day as I meditated on Jesus’ second fall, noticing the guards and handlers around him, that he was never alone on the way to Calvary. The persons most invested in his reaching that last hill were his enemies. As gruesome and tortuous as his death would be, it would change the lives of millions of people for generations to come. Whether one agrees with Christian idealogy or not, that Jesus’ destiny manifested  exactly the way it did would be crucial. How can any of us know whether a difficult situation will affect our futures or anothers in a beneficial,  or even a momentous way? Certainly, if left to our own devices, we wouldn’t walk the hard path. Do you think that those who love us would let us travail and suffer? Mary would have plucked her son out of harm’s way, sacrificing herself, but the Roman guards kept close to their prisoner, and kept a watchful eye on the throng of supporters and onlookers as they made their way to Calvary.

It would seem that it is often our enemies, or our obstacles which propel us onward, keeping us on the path leading to our destiny. Our commrades wouldn’t let us experience pain or difficulty, so we need our ‘enemies’ in this respect. In many cultures and mythlogies, this is the role of the trickster. In fact, this was Satan’s role in the Old Testament. He was never actually called Satan, but in Hebrew he was referred to as the opponent or adversary, a foil to the righteous protaganist of a given story. So if our enemies are crucial to realizing and fulfiling our purpose, then how are we to truly regard Satan?