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You are a drop and God is the ocean. Just allow yourself to fall back into it. – Michael Brown

Healing means different things to different people. For some people, healing means that the body ceases to have physical symptoms that were causing discomfort. Once they heal physically, they may choose to inspire others who are suffering. Healing on this level can bring physical and emotional relief and inspiring others can be a valuable contribution. Many of us experience this level of healing, frequently.

Some people who heal physically also heal mentally (thoughts) and spiritually. They often have a broader story of healing to model and to teach others.

Some Self-selected individuals may have taken on challenging curricula in order to heal personally and to accelerate their soul family’s journey, called soul contracts. (Many are not aware of this consciously, but that doesn’t negate the likelihood.) Often these people heal mentally and spiritually, but not physically. Myself and, I suspect, many people I know with progressive, incurable illnesses have chosen these rigorous paths while in Spirit. Not for the faint of heart, these distinct teachings can reduce the emphasis on of the ego in the physical world, if embraced with awareness. Our personalities are egocentric and limiting our identification with the ego can open doors to the numinous. In my experience, the more catastrophic my curriculum has been, the more liberating. Living this curriculum with grace can spread these teachings through the collective, to the seen and unseen worlds.

Occasionally, I come across others who appear to have similar curricula for whom I feel an instant kinship on an intuitive level. Marc Stecker, AKA Wheelchair Kamikaze, a fellow blogger, profound in his scope, humor, and development over time, is one such individual. If interested, you would do well to follow his blog.

Some healers who have healed physically, mentally, and spiritually have developed their own processes to help bring the collective forward in our development toward finding peace in our lives. One such teacher is Michael Brown, who I have spoken of in previous blog essays, because I find his work profound. Fellow psychotherapists/colleagues have used The Presence Process with their clients to deepen their therapeutic work. He has many YouTube videos along with his book to guide people through his teachings.

Michael often uses different parables and sacred Stories in his teachings similar to the stories disseminated by indigenous cultures. Here is one of my favorites:

He teaches about the three stories we tell ourselves. The first story, is of the “bad” one—about our damage, our victimization and how this shaped us—even how it might have driven us to doing some good things in the world, but how we were driven by the ghosts of our childhood or loss of parent figure [literally or figuratively, perhaps searching for the nurturing (mother) or direction (father) we’d never had], at some juncture, to enter the world in search of the missing parent in the external world. That’s the first story.

The second story is the flip side of the “bad”–it’s the “good” story of what we found on our search for our missing mother or father figure and how when we got down to the bottom of it—the details of the story dropped away and we met this energy inside, not outside of ourselves—and we felt a foundation of self-love at last.

The third story includes his spin on the word “Legend”—-he says after living the “good” and “bad” stories in a lot of fullness, we are completely freed from the history of those—we don’t carry the wounds in the same way, we don’t organize our waking moments around the same obstacles or false longings—and everything is different and we aren’t questing in the same sense—instead we just enjoy being as we symbolically stand on the ledge of our life, on the very end of the ledge of our life. And then we step off—and we live our own ” ledge-end.” We are free to define ourselves, our work, our resources, our abundance, our relations—in any way we want that serves this open-endedness we have stepped into.

When we are in our “bad” or “good” stories, there is work to do that can be grueling, because we must feel the grief of each story fully.

We each have our curriculum that is sacred and perfect for our lifework. From healing the issues with our mothers, or those who may be a surrogate for mother, we learn to nurture ourselves. From healing the issues with our fathers, we understand our perspective on God, the Divine, the Source of Universal Love. To do this, we must pass through the illusion of separation Stephen Levine described it well when he called it, “learning to opening your heart in hell.”

Whether we access this Knowing now or later in our development, our Beloveds have entered an agreement with us, soul to soul, for the well-being of all. And it is through this level of awareness of the soul, beyond the ego, that opening our hearts in hell is possible and finding peace can be a true reality.

Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. How are you? I’m okay. – Questions Ram Dass suggests during a time of crisis.

Our bodies are finely tuned instruments, whether they behave the way we would like, or whether they are following instructions beyond our ego’s desires. Someone who healed from multiple sclerosis once told me, “Our bodies are desperately trying to heal.” At that time, I wondered why the hell mine wouldn’t. I just knew that if I could heal I would, but something greater must be at work. Nevertheless, I felt betrayed. The feeling that my body was not in sync with my desires and understanding the trajectory of where this could go were more than I could bear at that time.

During my early years, my body was merely a means to an end. I had little communication or relationship with this sacred vehicle that would carry me through life. I had little understanding of how to care for, appreciate, and love this apparatus on which I relied so dearly. Not until my body showed symptoms, did I truly begin to listen.

I was born with an interesting paradox, astrologically. On one hand, I was born under the sign of Cancer. People born in July are often deeply loving, nurturing people, and often with a fear of rejection and, therefore, can have a tendency to sidestep issues, like a crab that walks sideways. I also was born with a fierce determination to meet things head-on and with the inclination of a revolutionary (Mars and Uranus conjunct the Cancer Sun). Learning to harness the latter energies and lean into the former were many of my struggles during my early years. Becoming a competitive athlete was natural to me; harnessing my will and dealing with my fears and oversensitivity were more of a challenge. Some people believe they are limited by their astrology, but I believe we  consciously choose these constellations to help us go beyond the limitations with which we entered this incarnation. Contrary to some beliefs, we are not born as a blank slate, we have Work to do and astrology can be a roadmap for that work.

In the late 80s, when subtle neurological symptoms began to occur I felt immobilized. Fear had taken over and I was afraid to move forward. I remember awaking one morning, still groggy from sleep, and hearing the words, With the symptoms come the Renaissance. I looked in the mirror attempting to ground myself, “What does Renaissance mean? Rebirth. With the symptoms come the rebirth.” I don’t know where this message came from, I just knew I couldn’t forget it. Still immobilized with fear, but with this new possibility, my very intuitive and direct 10-year-old daughter, sensing my trepidation, said to me, “Mom, you need to get a life!” With guidance from unlikely sources, I decided to do just that.

I began singing lessons with a well-known soprano from the St. Louis Cathedral choir. The crab in me wanted to hide, but another part wanted revolution, liberation. I had the intuitive knowing that singing would open my throat center, the area where self-expression can be blocked. To this day, I have a fear of speaking out, a fear that what I have to say will, somehow, hurt another. Causing others pain would inevitably lead to my primal fear of rejection. During the early days, I learned to temper my authentic power and developed an artificially sweet voice to compensate for the overwhelming anxiety. The blockage was clearly centered in my throat.

With this awareness, I gradually learned, ordeal after ordeal, that rejection from others was impossible when I could rely on my own resources; I could trust myself and my internal guidance. No longer being tethered to others elicited a freedom I had never known before this body journey. In my case, I was to learn over many years that illness was a course correction. Many people feel betrayed when their bodies behave incongruently with their wants, but the body has an intelligence that is following instructions beyond the ego. If we befriend our bodies and listen deeply with extraordinary courage, we can open to guidance that heals our souls. Renaissance is possible, if we trust a power greater than ourselves, with faith and gratitude.

This path has not been easy, but I don’t think we come here for easy, especially during this time in history. Recently, I woke up at 3 AM gasping for breath. This episode went on for three hours! I wondered if this was just another symptom I would have to accept, as I cried in desperation. After a few hours, I realized I had some difficult issues to discuss with someone close to me, that my primal fears were triggered and I remembered my voice lessons. (It was during my voice lessons that the symptoms began.) Our bodies know.

What if, instead of accommodating the symptom of breathlessness, I leaned into it, listening to the blockage in my throat and what it had to tell me? Perhaps, if I could do this, there would be no need for the symptom. Once I finally faced this fear head-on, I knew I would not have trouble breathing, again. It was miraculous how free of fear I felt, because I listened to my body’s wisdom.

Sometimes, listening to the body doesn’t tell us what our ego wants to hear. I’ve heard loud and clear that my body is manifesting a teaching much greater than a fear of speaking out and that this rigorous curriculum is not for me to understand fully while I am embodied. This can be particularly true when the curriculum involves a catastrophic illness or injury. It is during these times that we enter the Mystery, where Grace becomes a real possibility.

By opening to our body’s wisdom, we can begin to open to a sense of well-being that is beyond this earthly realm; it is on the level of the soul.

There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in. – Leonard Cohen

Throughout this journey of chronic illness, I rarely speak of the nearly unbearable grief I’ve experienced, as my body slowly failed over many years, and progressed rapidly over the last decade. I almost exclusively describe the gifts I’ve received by facing the challenges with determination and courage, not so much, the heartbreak.

My children were three and nine when the symptoms began. I remember driving my son to elementary school and praying that I would be able to meet his and his sister’s needs through high school, while my children were completely dependent on me (and I, probably, on them). Who would drive them to school, accompany them to soccer games, dance performances, and Mardi Gras parades? Who would talk to the teachers when they had conferences in school or problems with their friends? How would I be able to go to therapy three times a week to heal myself emotionally to better meet their growing needs? My life had become totally unpredictable and everything was on the table for catastrophic change.

When the first symptom began during the late 80s, my first thought was for my children. What kind of legacy would this leave  them? The terror I felt about not living up to my greatest responsibility and privilege was more than I could bear, or so I thought at the time. I’m sure the specter of desperation followed me and shaded every choice I made during my 40s and 50s. Not all of my choices were well thought out and generous. After all, I was losing my physical strength that had carried me through many challenges – if I could count on anything, I could count on my body – and my body had been the vehicle for much reliability and joy in my life.

I began running road races with my daughter when she was three during the heat of New Orleans summers, I swam laps for miles and miles to restore some semblance of well-being and hope for the future. I believed if I could heal, it would be in the water. This does not describe the radical lifestyle changes I made or trips to India for stem cell treatment and many other alternative treatments.

When I see the look of shock and despair on people’s faces when they meet me, see my profound physical limitations, or hear my story, my common line is, “My life is not a tragedy.” Well, it isn’t, but it has been marked with many tears, regrets, and feelings of despair along the way.

My hospice workers tell me I am a legend around their office, my friends tell me I am a hero. Well, I’m here to tell you I have made desperate choices in my life that have deleteriously affected my children, I have lived with a great deal of fear, depression, and cowardice. I’ve cried an ocean of tears. No one facing catastrophic illness or injury should ever feel reticent about expressing their grief. It is through the cracks where the light gets in.

I have grown through this illness. I probably have grown some heroism. I am also human with human frailties. Human nature is an incredible thing. If I can do this, anybody can do this. About that, I have no doubt.

“In each of us there is another whom we do not know.” ~ Carl Gustav Jung

The Veil

Have you ever had an old aunt or parent who was in assisted living and they complained that you never came to visit? Maybe you were there the day before, but in their minds it was never and you knew there was no way you could convince them otherwise. Feeling exasperated, you thought, “What’s the point? I can never do enough.”

Well, from the perspective of someone who is alone eighteen hours a day, seven days a week and having felt this Great Aloneness my whole life, the kind of aloneness that being with other people does not touch, I am beginning to understand this dilemma in a completely different way. With this new understanding, beloved family members finding themselves in what feels like a bottomless pit of despair they could never climb out of, just a shift in perspective could significantly reduce suffering.

Many people, like myself, have lived much of our lives close to the veil that lies between this physical existence and our Soul selves. The veil is getting thinner as people are becoming more conscious, whether our egos accept this or not. After all, we, our souls, have chosen to enter human bodies for a courageous reason. When entering the lower vibrations of duality, the work of evolution of the soul is, paradoxically, accelerated. From duality, we move toward unitive consciousness. (Our culture is craving this shift and this is the hope for humanity.)

As people near their transitions, they become closer to their soul selves. It begins as an internal process that may not become outwardly visible until a critical mass has been reached within the consciousness of the individual. It can be subtle, where the person we’ve known all our lives becomes different. It may have a balancing effect where they appear belligerent where they were gentle or they become peaceful where they had previously been hostile. Sometimes, this process happens through acquiring dementia to fully experience their Shadow, the part of their personalities they were unable to live due to a lack of acceptance of these behaviors. (Maybe a significant person in their lives had been aggressive and they chose to live passively, refusing any angry impulses.) We take on human bodies to acquire experience, to grow and heal by balancing karma. The more determined the soul, the more likely one may choose illness, addiction or injury to assure we are following the soul’s plan rather than the ego’s plan.

My mother would have been a Renaissance woman if born during a different time. She was an independent, able woman who skipped grades in school, but married young and began having children at 19. She never completed college, which I imagine created much frustration due to limiting her options in life. Over time, her personality became aggressive and belligerent, which was not her true nature. She was frustrated and I felt terrorized by her behavior. I learned to not be my mother, so I denied any feelings of anger. On the surface, I appeared to be a sweet person who could have won a prize for “most congenial,” until one day a spiritual teacher gave me a Shadow gift of a plastic machine gun. I instantly felt shame, but a part of me felt liberated as I began to love the sound of the plastic machine gun, and, more importantly, I began to experience the buried aggression in my personality. Allowing myself to feel the repressed aggression and befriending it freed me to begin to allow vulnerability, a quality necessary for intimacy in relationships, and therefore freeing me to live a more authentic life.

When it became dangerous for my mother to live alone, we had to place her in a nursing home. She went through a period of confusion and outrage, until she surrendered and became a sweet old lady. My brothers and I commented on the irony, “A sweet old lady called me today, do you know who that might have been?” She was finally able to live her true self.

Understanding the changes in ourselves and our loved ones as we near death can significantly decrease suffering and allow us to truly come Home to our own true nature.

 

“It’s the stuff God hits your ass with, when he doesn’t want to kill ya, he just wants to slow ya down.” -Richard Pryor on MS

Leanne_Spiritual_Heart.341200433_stdI believe that people take on catastrophic challenges for different reasons, because in our deepest Being, we want to wake up; we want to evolve and we want to effect the collective evolution of humanity. That is not small potatoes. Otherwise, the Universe would be seen as an uncompromising, sadistic force, which I do not, cannot and will not ever believe; that is too antithetical to what I feel in my heart. Without my cumulative felt-perceptions nurtured over many decades and perhaps many lifetimes, I might have the consciousness of a chickpea, not meaning to disparage a chickpea. Sorry Rumi.

My belief system has been nurtured by my evolving love for myself and humanity. How could this curriculum be for anything but my betterment? When I feel moved to look deeper into the etiology of the illness I feel like an investigator looking for clues. Either we volunteer for these rigorous curricula or they are arbitrary, the latter of which I don’t believe for a minute given the outcomes I have witnessed and experienced. I also believe that we set up reminders along the way when we might be deviating from our chosen course. At these points, like breadcrumbs along the path, we face crossroads where free choice can be exercised to alter the trajectory.

I can remember making choices during my life that, in retrospect, were not in my best interest. Rather than seeing these choices as failures or even tests that would imply right or wrong, I see these moments as opportunities for my Soul to catch my attention. Based on the curricula chosen by the Soul, these nudges are instructive and they become louder and louder when ignored.

Working on surrendering my egoic willfulness, I suspect that I created a failsafe plan to get my attention that would not allow for error. Early in the illness, I felt punished and ashamed. Now I understand that the opposite is really true. Because I am a courageous soul with fierce determination, I set out a curriculum where surrender was the only option.

I can remember example after example of times in my life when I deferred my own judgment to other people’s opinions. I can remember denying my own intuitions and desires to meet other people’s needs. The most representative example of this self injurious behavior was after a marital separation where I was left emotionally devastated. It took two days to get myself out of bed and back to work, after six weeks of singing Amazing Grace for an hour each day while driving over the causeway to New Orleans, I gradually brought my life back to a place of joyful homeostasis. I began to dream of finding a small house for myself and the children that was only mine.

When my husband sensed my joy he requested  a reconciliation, I pivoted away from my dream to reconcile. I began having anxiety attacks like I had never experienced. I remember being unable to leave the car, but still I ignored them. In retrospect, these felt like wake-up calls that I systematically ignored. What could my soul do, but make the alarms louder? That was when the symptoms were beginning. But it is never just one incident; there are often many unheeded calls. Remember, the illnesses or injuries are not punishments. They are sacred breadcrumbs to assist your return to your chosen path.

Around this time the symptoms had begun. Instead of abandoning my dream, I needed to turn toward my dream, to empower it, to empower myself. Only in retrospect do it realize the significance of ignoring the prompting from my soul. I gave my soul no choice but to intensify the constriction. This was a loving gesture, like a parent creating instructive containment to assure healthy development in their child. There is no judgment regarding the required curriculum on a Soul level. Challenges and resulting behaviors are met with neutrality. What is most important is the return to a deeper sense of self-love. “God does not want to kill ya, just slow ya down.”

People design specific karmic lessons during their pre-birth planning to focus on developing particular traits, i.e. self-esteem, generosity, compassion, becoming more self-referential during their mortal lifetimes. I believe that becoming self-referential was central to my learning and being willful was in the way of making better choices that would deepen self trust. Okay, enter progressive degenerative illness  to affirm to my ego that my soul is in charge. From the perspective of this singular life, it seems like a big deal, but from the scope of thousands of lifetimes it is a mere speck in the bigger picture.

The hope and promise of a life fully lived brings with it the perspective of seeing our lives from the bigger picture perspective. With this understanding, suffering can be greatly reduced and deep joy and satisfaction attained from the knowing that we have done our best. It is for this intended outcome that I continue to log my Journey.

“A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.” –Christopher ReeveI&Cr  

I met Christie in 2003, the same year I was diagnosed with progressive multiple sclerosis. Our interracial gospel choir was performing at an educational venue in New Orleans, when after the singing we broke up into small groups with the audience and spoke about racial issues and how they affected our lives. Christie was a delicate beauty as she spoke about her parents having been activists during the civil rights movement during the 60s. She felt particularly drawn to the mission of our choir.

Each person in the breakout session added more facets to a subject wrought with passion and heart breaks, bringing a sense of solidarity and mission. Christie admitted she liked to sing and would love to be a part of the choir, but she obviously held back. When I encouraged her, she disclosed that she had been in treatment for ovarian cancer for quite some time. This is a cancer that remains hidden and undetectable until it’s too late, the elusive killer. It seemed almost unimaginable that this vibrant, passionate young woman with her life in front of her could be undergoing an unseen struggle just to stay alive.

Christie clearly wanted to join the choir and when I told her of my recent diagnosis of multiple sclerosis, it seemed like more of a possibility to her. It was decided that she would come to rehearsal one Thursday evening at Loyola University to check out the possibility. Christie was met with great enthusiasm and welcomed into our impassioned singing group with a mission.

One of our CDs is dedicated to Christie who sang with us and lost her battle a couple years later. When Christie came to my farm to prepare for our performance at the St. Louis Cathedral, she acknowledged that she had been at my farm before. I didn’t consciously recognize her, but she and her boyfriend purchased cabinets from me a few years before. There was much Christie and I shared that evening in our discussion group that would unfold as crescendos and decrescendos during our truncated lives; truncated in quantity, perhaps, but long in quality.

Christie and I shared a passion for music, social justice and we were BOTH confronting catastrophic illness. When embarking on a journey involving life-threatening illness, we face our greatest fear, that of our mortality. I don’t know if anybody is ever ready for this ordeal, but it offers a particular challenge this early in life. One no longer has the luxury of being immobilized by the fear; illness requires that one’s values are assessed, which then requires action. Healing modalities will need to be strategized along with loved one’s input. By facing this Call, courage is the likely end product.

The connection between Christie and myself was instantaneous, like looking into a mirror. I felt her fragility and was able to reassure her that she could do it; she could join our choir and sing in solidarity. Christie was a fellow heroine.

Illness happens for many reasons in one’s life. It can be a catalyst to move forward, if one has been holding back. There can be agreements made on a soul level to move the individual and the soul family forward in their development. Making assumptions based on one’s own limited perspective as to why a person is ill can be very reductive for the person experiencing the illness or injury.

For people who knew Christie, she changed people’s lives for the better. The world is a better place because she and her family are/were in it. She is no longer in her body, but she still is. Almost 10 years later, she still lives in my heart, and for that I wanted to Honor her.

“There is no path to love. Love is the path.” –Casey Miller Atre (derived from Mahatma Gandhi)

220px-Minotauros_Myron_NAMA_1664_n1The stories I’ve been hearing lately from others living with the constellation called progressive multiple sclerosis and the people who love them, are nearly unimaginable. I almost feel negligent for complaining in comparison. Really. One friend, after having received steroids in an attempt to remediate the effects of an exacerbation, was left with necrotic hip and shoulder joints. This means he is living with the equivalent of four constant joint fractures every moment of his life. Another friend, after fracturing her femur, had to have her tendons surgically severed in order to allow for daily functioning and care. Her beloved husband, her primary caregiver, is caring so deeply for his wife, the mother of his children. From the outside looking in, it is a sacred practice of love and devotion; and from the inside out seemingly pushing him beyond his boundaries.

Really, this illness knows no bounds. To me, it is almost incomprehensible. The prospect of watching one’s body decline, one function after another, has been beyond what my mind can hold.

And it is beyond my mind where I have come to accept these circumstances and be able to live with them. What keeps occurring to me, from beyond my mind, is that we are being prepared. I don’t know how I know this, but I know this. No question. I also know that I don’t know what we are being prepared for, but we are without a doubt.

In Greek mythology, the Minotaur is the monster, half bull and half human, who dwelt at the center of the labyrinth. The Minotaur, in my Story, can be represented by MS. The labyrinth can be understood as the Spiritual Path. This is where the title of my blog comes from. Actually, some people refer to MS as their MonSter. The Minotaur represents a distortion of authenticity of Spirit perpetrated by the ego. This projection needs to be fed through continual distortions of Truth or addictive behaviors. The Minotaur becomes transformed, or liberated, through honest reflection, or finally facing one’s core limitations.

Many people feel victimized by whatever curriculum is before them, whether it be illness, caring for someone with an illness, or other challenges, whether they are physical, emotional, financial, etc. that take them to the edge of their limitations. Feeling victimized by the illness perpetuates feelings of powerlessness.

Often I feel like the heroine of my Sacred Journey through the labyrinth, by encountering my personal Minotaur. It can be said that this monster in the center of my mandala represents a battle with my own willfulness, or my bullheadedness. This encounter is as different for everyone as the symptoms of the illness is different. Each person’s struggle is their battle with some aspect of their ego, a significant block to living authentically in deep connection with Spirit, in Love. My willfulness has been a huge hindrance keeping me from surrendering deeply to the What Is. And it is in living with what is, where true joy lives.

Who wouldn’t want to live in joy? What is one willing to give up in order to live in this state of love, this state of oneness? I believe the Minotaur is the Guide who will return us to this state, if our soul is willing. Of course, our ego is not willing, the ego is complicit in the limitation whose sole purpose is keeping oneself in the illusion of safety.

I also believe, for myself, I had been given many opportunities to surrender, but was unable to comply, for whatever reason, during an earlier time of development. Agreeing to this PhD level curriculum is directly related to my maturation which has brought willingness and courage.

I have empathy for those who don’t yet know that we are being prepared. I didn’t know in the past and it was excruciating. Knowing is merely a process of being able to briefly turn aside from the suffering and allow oneself to See. That’s what it took for me. I must’ve prepared the foundation for this Knowing to take root.

One’s Sacred journey through the labyrinth, I believe, is as arduous and excruciating as one needs it to be in order to finally surrender. Many people do not undertake this Journey until they face their death. In my opinion, whatever it takes to finally have the resources to face this Sacred encounter. Each journey is perfect for the makeup of the individual. Judging or comparing one’s design is merely resistance and creates more suffering.

Many people appear incredulous that I could actually have gratitude for having the most progressive form of such a dreaded disease as multiple sclerosis. Once I have lived in Love, I would do whatever it takes to be in that state. I suspect that with the guidance of the Minotaur, my bullheadedness has morphed into healthy determination, for which I have much gratitude.

“Having progressive MS isn’t enough, you have to have THAT, too.”–Sage Brown

12997006-charleston-sc-plantation-live-oak-trees-spanish-moss-azalea-flowers-blooming-spring-bloomsSage is one of my closest friends here in the community. My friends don’t just spout superficial pleasantries to merely make me feel better, they go right where I am and feel WITH me. That’s just the way it is here in Crestone, in this community of compassionate souls.

People never die of multiple sclerosis; they die from the complications associated with multiple sclerosis. Secondary infections like pneumonia are a major culprit. Hell, Christopher Reeves died from bedsores that became septic. My decubitus has cleared since I began riding my stationary bike a few times a week. You have to die from something, right? But really, guys, a hemorrhoid?!

Everybody has got their issue and many of them are where the sun don’t shine. Why is it that so many people have trouble loving their bodies and for many, it is the southernmost regions? Is it our cultural toilet training methods? Is it just where our self–hatred is housed?

There is an expression, “God is the wound.” I have seen so many people dislike their bodies until they begin to fail. Mine began to fail while living in the deep South. This is geographical, not biological. I began a rigorous program of reclaiming and reconnecting with every part of my body. It was like a wave of love and care that continues to this day. Is that part of the design? Does one’s body have to scream to get our attention?

North, South, East or West, Love is what it’s all about to me. Whether the entry point is through nature, a Beloved or THAT, as far as I’m concerned, whatever it takes.

Lynne Kaplan Artography

Lynne Kaplan Artography

“Love motivates service, and service gives form to love.”–Robert Schwartz

There is something that happens during a caregiving scenario, when the level of disability is so extreme, that the caregiver needs total focus for keeping the individual’s life from being in jeopardy. This is the quality that develops between myself and my caregivers. The level of disability I experience is profound. I cannot move a limb in order to avoid a potential catastrophe; my caregiver is vitally important for the most basic skills.

Fortunately, only a small percentage of people with multiple sclerosis ever experience my level of disability. I have come to believe that the degree of disability is not arbitrary, but it is commensurate with what is required for a necessary outcome, the evolution of one’s higher purpose. This understanding is not held by the majority of people, but I believe it is a necessary understanding when one accepts that the universe is perfectly safe. In order to accept this premise, one must subscribe to love over fear. In order to arrive at the state of Love, I needed to move through much fear. As they say, “the only way is through,” and this was surely true for me. Surrendering to this illness was a way for me to learn to accept being cared for on many levels.

Something magical can happen during caregiving when a certain level of oneness is achieved through this intense level of focus. The potential for this to occur became clear while I was being showered in my outdoor shower. Allison is my caregiver for this blissful endeavor, as we have been working together for over two years. The level of focus required to keep me safe is not a minimal feat. There is the full transfer to the shower chair, the slippery soap consideration, and the flying insects during the Colorado summer. Yes, we have an inundation of mosquitoes, gnats, noseeums, horseflies and any other bug you can imagine. Fortunately, my alkaline diet seems to provide a deterrent for the little ones, but not for the more aggressive types.

Contrary to popular understanding about multiple sclerosis, my body is not numb. When there is a fly walking across my skin I feel every sensation. When a mosquito stings me, I feel the intrusion. Actually, my bodily sensation is to a degree, heightened. When I felt the horsefly on my leg, without hesitation Allison swatted the bug full force. In the moment, the insect was as surprised as Allison when she didn’t feel the sting in her thigh. That is how heightened the caregiving symbiosis can become. It can be a curriculum in transcendence, or oneness. Once I was able to go beyond the profound fear of the illness, to understand the bigger picture rather than feeling victimized by the loss of body functioning, I was able to open to relationships where I could receive care on some of the deepest levels.

My ego would never have chosen this degree of vulnerability and from the ego’s perspective, these circumstances are a tragedy. From the bigger picture perspective, I am learning unitive consciousness, or Oneness on many levels. Loving interactions with my caregivers are some of the more significant teachings, for which I am tremendously grateful.

“When you do things from your soul, you feel a river in you, a joy.”–Rumi

imagine

Without my two grand boys, I would not be a grandmother. I cannot write a blog of love and regeneration and not include my beautiful boys River and Luc. River was born in 2011 when I briefly lived nearby. We drove two hours to the hospital in New York City and I saw him when he was a few hours old. Luc was born exactly two years later; in a mysterious and unseen way, despite being in Colorado I felt as if I were present, experiencing the blessed event with my children. What an amazing feeling to see our families meld into one little being with so much promise.

I wondered what sort of grandmother I might be confined to a wheelchair with so much disability. I always saw myself throwing them up in the air and flying them in the air with their stomachs against my feet, like I did with my children. What sort of grandmother could I be to my grandchildren?

One day, when Casey was pregnant, I posed that question to them during a state of vulnerability. Feeling a relapse into the belief that I am my physicality, my son-in-law broke through my mood with, “It’s like, you offer a register of consciousness.” In that moment, it was like an electric shock wave sped through me that reminded me of who I truly am and what my Sacred mission is.

So my beloved River and Luc, I will not be sitting on the floor with you, I will not be holding books to read with you, but I will hold a frequency of Love and I will follow your lives, wherever they will take you. I will be in the wind if you listen closely, I will be in the water tickling you, and I will be in the sun’s rays warming your skin. You can learn to listen closely and you will hear my words of love and encouragement. You will never be without me in your hearts. And that will be true for any other siblings or cousins in the future.

My life has always brought many surprises to myself and others which has provided an opportunity for deepening. I hope that we can meet together in that field of Love and Depth.