TrueHeartWork | Fate
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Fate Tag

Fragile

kennedy family portraitEvery family has one. A secret that pervades the air at family gatherings like the smell of moth balls. A death, a betrayal, an imprisonment. A relative that falls from the family tree and vanishes without a trace. Secrets roll through the dust of generations like fragile tumble weeds. Sometimes they are collected and fashioned into tales that are embellished with bright beads of drama, or muted strands of omission. Sometimes they are made more colourful, more heroic, to lighten the terrifying darkness, conceal the senseless waste.

Film, literature and poetry depict the flawed hero, the Black Sheep, the Sacrificial One who becomes the Redeemer. We vicariously watch the Rebel, the circuit breaker deliver the seismic shock that topples atrophy in the family system. We rejoice in the regeneration, the potency of new growth.  The BBC’s adaptation of Irish writer John Banville’s novels portrays the pervasive power of family secrets and our complex relationship with what can be told and that which must be unspoken. Gabriel Byrne  in the title role of Quirke, (like Morse, we never find out his Christian name ) enters the portal of his past and attempts to untangle the dark knots of his family complexes: Affairs, addictions, misuse of power, and the redemption of Love. Sarah Polley, in her documentary Stories We Tell explores the twisted thread of secrets in her own family. She  discovers that her mother and Montreal producer Harry Gulkin sequestered their love. That she was born of their hidden passion. images22Y370YN

In Willful Blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious at Our Peril, author Margaret Heffernan explores the subtle and pervasive ways we choose, sometimes consciously but mostly not, to remain unseeing in situations where “we could know, and should know, but don’t know because it makes us feel better not to know.”

And yet, we do know. Many of us spend much of our lives moving forwards, never daring to look back. At first we may run like the Gingerbread Man, as fast as we can, to escape the dark shadows of our inheritance. Or like Bluebeard, we keep the gruesome corpses of our memories locked away with the key that bleeds. Perhaps we stuff the dark terror of our past into a glass bottle where it floats across the sea but eventually washes up on the shores of future generations. Family secrets are intuited even by young children, unpicked, uncovered, with the best intentions by loving parents who wish to protect them from what they perceive as a dangerous truth.

Author of Mating in Captivity, Esther Perel, examines the western belief that there should be total transparency.“ In America, lying can never be an act of caring. We find it hard to accept that lying would be protective, this is an unexamined idea. In some countries, not telling, or a certain opaqueness, is an act of respect. Also, maybe the opposite of transparency isn’t intimacy, it’s aggression. People sometimes tell for their own good, as an act of aggression.”

Nations have secrets too. We turn a blind eye. Stay under the radar, in fear of reprisal, in terror of putting our lives or those of our families at risk. Like the frog in the beaker of slowly boiling water, we remain in physically or spiritually destructive environments as the temperature increases insidiously, lethal degree by degree. Often we must confront our past, choose differently, knowing that nothing will ever be the same again.images6QQ32JVY

So often it is in our families we inherit secrets and lies and encounter conflicts and complexes that have ossified over many generations. Sometimes it is helpful to revisit the past. Sometimes it is not.

Joseph Marshall Lakota teacher, writer and story teller tells how he would go out walking with his grandfather, sometimes for miles. “He had this curious little habit of stopping and then he would turn me around, grab me by my shoulders and he would say, Grandson, look back at the way we came. So I would. I finally asked him, Grandpa, why are you making me look back? He said, Because, Grandson, one of these times I’m going to send you down this trail by yourself and if you don’t remember the way you came, you will be lost. To me, that is the greatest lesson I ever learned about history and about the past. Our past makes us who we are, makes us what we are.”

flying birdsLike racehorses, some of us are destined to be weighted more heavily from the start. Perhaps in looking back, we learn how to walk bravely in the dark. We may glimpse in the stories, the artifacts, the letters and perhaps the old photographs, the strength, the creativity, the courage of those who have walked before us. In their pain we discover the portal to our  fragility. In the opaqueness of their secrets, the bright spark of Divinity is concealed in the soft folds of their humanity.

 

Sting and Paul Simon, Fragile

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Rainbow Connection

deepening intimacy Our relationships shape shift in a seamless, boundary-less space where we spend more time stroking our screens than caressing the skin of our lover. And yet, in our arrogance or ignorance, we seek our “soul mate”. We believe that quite by chance, we will meet The One who will see us, really “get us”, love and cherish us for as long as we both shall live. Kermit the frog knew of that heart-desire when he sang, “someday we’ll find it, the rainbow connection, the lovers, the dreamers, and me…” And so we dream, we yearn for that chance meeting of souls, that fateful glance across the room, the Providence that will deliver to our door, the Rainbow Connection.

Is Fate is dependent on the will of man, on our Sliding Door choices as some inner or outer power directs us to the appointed place at the appointed time? Dr Gerhard Adler, a disciple of C.G. Jung, asked, “is there some destiny within us that preforms the pattern of our life, or is it the actual experiences which shape it? Are the experiences we encounter predestined, or do we feel them so intensely, remember them so well because of an inner need? ”

Fate, Destiny,  is described in myth and fairy tale. This interconnectedness of the microcosm with the macrocosm, our unconscious soul longing that merges seamlessly with outer events. Fate was honoured by our ancestors. Today Fate, in the Western world view implies a terrifying loss of control, and a “what’s it all about then?” kind of impotence. Even death is no longer Fated in our prosaic lives, and we believe our Fate can really be staved off with chemicals and transplants.  And yet when it comes to Love, we trust that Something else is at work. Fate, Destiny, Synchronicity…

before  sunrise
Love’s Fated initiation is sensitively portrayed by actors Ethan Hawke and Julie Delpy in Before Sunrise, one in a series of films made in 1995 and superbly directed by Richard Linklater. In this thought-provoking depiction of Fated Love,  a young couple meet by “meaningful co-incidence” on a train and spend the day together in Vienna. As she tumbles into Love, Celine asks poignantly, “I always feel this pressure of being a strong and independent icon of womanhood, and without making it look my whole life is revolving around some guy. But loving someone, and being loved means so much to me. We always make fun of it and stuff. But isn’t everything we do in life a way to be loved a little more?”

So after the sunrise of a fated encounter, a brief opportunity to make a choice, embark on a journey, say yes to Love, then what? We recognise ourselves, we find our belonging. We disrobe, invite our Beloved into the fragile innocence of our inner sanctum, offer them the food and wine of our spirit, invite them to gaze upon our soul. We may discover with the clarity of hindsight that our inner receptivity to external events, our willingness to wait at the crossroads to meet our Fate has been precisely the catalyst that has allowed us to move along a particular path and experience certain encounters. And in hindsight, we can choose how we perceive these experiences.

charles and dianaFairy tale marriages are doomed to crumble outside the realm of fairy tales. Divorce rates rise, families torn asunder. We speak and say we “can’t communicate”, that it’s impossible to live happily ever after. No one can break open our heart like our lover, no one can mirror back to us our beauty and our ugliness, our vulnerability and our strength. There is no easy Jamie Oliver recipe for permanent bliss. In real life, lasting love requires a heaped spoonful of human effort, a liberal sprinkling of daily intention, mixed well.

 

Intimacy often conflicts with our hard wired self-protective defences.  Love’s oceanic depths require patience to plumb, strength and muscled endurance to explore. For many of us, lasting Love is  a realm we have never explored before. Here the currents are strong and the rocks are jagged and dangerous. Many of us are terrified when we find that our partner has different desires and passions, that he or she is  not a mirror image of  our self.

Authors of Tell Me No Lies and In Quest of the Mythical Mate, Drs Ellyn Bader and Peter Pearson, say we want to re-create the feelings of falling in love without any heavy lifting. imagesCA3I0VJ3

We begin with the rainbow promise of what Love may be and then turn away from that deeper brighter coloured many splendored Thing. We atrophy; or we drift directionless on the current of our lives, drowning, not waving, as we move further and further away from the one we love. We believe that relationships, like good sex, happen naturally. That relational skills don’t require muscle and focus and consistent practice. If we choose to  keep on swimming strongly towards our beloved, even though the current is strong and there will be times that we scrape ourselves on the rocks, we will discover an inner strength that astounds us.

Love ebbs and flows. It’s like the Zen riddle: If you never change directions, how can you tell there is a current?  As we turn towards our partner, we hone our swimming muscles perhaps by being willing to choose to live in tension and deadlock long enough to accept and embrace our differences. We learn to dive deeply by dismantling our defences, and at last we see our Lover as he truly is by allowing ourselves to be seen.

To Love, in all its constantly fluctuating permutations requires softness, so the energy can flow, and a strength which comes from a congruent place within. As Celine says in Before Sunrise, “I believe if there’s any kind of God it wouldn’t be in any of us, not you or me but just this little space in between. If there’s any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone sharing something. I know, it’s almost impossible to succeed but who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt. ”

Rainbow Connection Sung by Kermit

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Dante’s Prayer

Some experiences create a gentle ripple that gently rocks the smooth surface of our lives. Others strike and devastate, leaving us standing in the charred devastation of a world now precarious, darkly uncertain. What is now contained, tagged and labelled as “The Denver Shooting” to describe the unspeakable tragedy that exploded into our consciousness last week, was depicted in the sky script at a time when the Dark Knight, Pluto, in T- square with Uranus and Mars – power, unpredictable, explosive rage, harm to the public, depicted by the Moon trine Uranus, quincunx Chiron, sextile Mars, in the fourth house, the house of endings. *

When I heard the news, I was pinioned to the cliff face of shock and then engulfed by a wave of sorrow – sorrow for those lives touched by the actions of a young man still in the tender budding of his adult life. Sorrow for James Holmes, blinded by the madness of his own rage, his own suffering, his own inexorable compulsion to do what he believed he had to do. What a soul contract. The astrological picture of the event has a sense of fatedness. And in its wake, I have sensed an uneasiness, a sense of collective memory that has been nudged again to remember all the unspeakable acts of horror and violence human beings have perpetrated against each other, animals, and our earth home for centuries.  From its dark lair, anxiety yawns and stretches ominously, breathing its fetid breath onto the lives of so many who hold their breath and bow their heads and hurry about their day. Pain lies in stagnant pools that ripple when we receive news that shocks and terrifies, pulling us into the undertow of what spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle  has called “the pain body.” And as we resist what is, the slippery stresses of our lives gain momentum, and slither into debilitating anxiety, pessimism, or crippling depression. They become embodied in physical symptoms, as we block the energy flow that may be our ally. We lose our way, and like Dante, find ourselves in exile, utterly alone in the dark woods, where we must face our demons, wandering, wondering, when will this ever end?

The ego sups on man’s madness – and we step towards our predetermined Fate blindfolded – unless we begin to glimpse new possibilities, imagine our way through the dust that obscures, begin to use language that strives to mirror our thoughts. Our soul contract for this lifetime is not a grid of frozen inevitability if we trust our own energy, use our instinct, and evoke our faith to lead us out of the cul-de-sac of fear. I do believe there is a fate that has already been apportioned to us. It is depicted in our birth charts. Yet, when the life of someone we love has been stubbed out, in a cinema, on a motorway, in their own home or office, no spiritual platitudes or intellectual ramblings will remedy our pain – until we are ready to heal the thought that has created the pain. Until we can find meaning in our suffering.

The movie adaptation of the 2005 novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close”  is a modern allegory that deals with the nigredo, the blackness, of grief and loss after the bombings of the Twin Towers. The hero is a nine-year-old boy, Oskar Schell, who tries to make meaning out of the death of his beloved father, whom he believes was one of the many souls who jumped from that towering inferno on that fateful day in September.

In alchemy, Nigredo means putrefaction, decomposition. In astrology, the transit of Pluto can become the pestle and mortar where we are pulverised, where we lie dismembered, in our congealed blood, and where we must piece ourselves together, bone by bone.  In fairy tales, the hero encounters characters in the form of old hags, wolves, giants, or dwarves that test and challenge him, but also reward his perseverance and humility with magical assistance. In this deeply moving story, Oskar meets men and women who guide him on his path through the darkness of despair, bringing new insight, and acceptance of that which is incomprehensible, and perhaps always will be. His quest ends with acceptance and a clearing in the darkness of the forest:  “So many people enter and leave your life! Hundreds of thousands of people! You have to keep the door open so they can come in! But it also means you have to let them go!”

So in the aftermath of the dark night in Denver, and the collective shock and sorrow; in the murky mists of our personal tragedies, all we can do is to minister to the minutiae of our daily lives, all we can hope to do is to accept the inexplicable, and live in “the now”. All we can do is believe that things are unfolding, exactly as they should, entwining fate, encoded in our DNA, in our birth charts, where there is “a perfect plan” with the choices we make in each moment. All we can do it to trust that there is a mysterious force that will guide us through the dark woods, if we pay attention to the symbols, the metaphors, and look beyond the mechanical Newtonian view of the universe… trust that we are in the perfect time, the perfect place for our soul’s contract. Our soul knows when it is done – our relationships, our work, and when our time has come to leave our body. And then, our clay feet will grow wings to fly above our limited human awareness, as our flawed human hearts stay open to love.

* Paul Saunders gives an intelligent astrological update on the aftermath of the dark night in Denver:

 

Loreena McKennitt

“When the dark wood fell before me
And all the paths were overgrown
When the priests of pride say there is no other way
I tilled the sorrows of stone

I did not believe because I could not see
Though you came to me in the night
When the dawn seemed forever lost
You showed me your love in the light of the stars…”

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Falling Slowly

Growing into wholeness can take many years, or it can happen in an instant. That Grace-filled moment when we can be alone with ourselves and truly like who we are. Often it is the spectre of fear that blocks the threshold to the brilliant blaze of full aliveness. We flounder as we grasp the elusive memory of wholeness, the melted butter richness of contentment, often so difficult to sustain in the context of our relationships, our working conditions, our financial worries. Reality congeals around us, enveloping the spark of hope; we are becalmed, stagnant, stuck.  We lose our way in the dark woods; confront the black wolf of our own shadow. Phantom-like we float through the motions of marginal living, unable to feel even our joy, as we sit, silent, inconsolable. Yet through the symptoms in our tired bodies, our souls scream out from the abyss of our own isolation. We know what we don’t want.  But do we have the clarity, in our sleep-deprived, crowded lives to glimpse the spark of  passion that gives meaning to our existence?  Do we know what we really love?

The lives we create with the thoughts we think, moment by moment, day by day, may obliterate that spark.  Like the little Match Girl in the Hans Christian Anderson adaptation of the fairy tale, we wander the icy streets, staring into windows at abundant tables, Christmas trees bedecked with baubles and gingerbread sticks, the cosy log fires of other peoples’ living rooms. We sit in the nook of our days, striking match after creative match, depleting our life force, snuffing out our passion… settling for the falling star of the job, the relationship. We believe the slippery lies that freeze us to death. Perhaps our biggest fear may be that if we free our minds of the thoughts that petrify us, open our hearts, we will make those big life changes that will crash through the flimsy structures of our lives. Our marriages will be torn asunder, we will resign from our jobs, alienate our friends.  Often that is exactly what does happen. And yet, if we stay with padlocked heart in the dark dungeon of routine chores or cup cake fixes – a new hair style, a pair of expensive shoes, a holiday, or interior design project to distract us – the price we pay for living in the safety zone will exhaust our spiritual bank account. We will project our dis-ease upon others in our homes and offices, we suffocate our souls with addictions, and we numb our bodies with medication. Eventually we must pay a price for a life unlived. “What is not brought to consciousness comes to us as Fate, ”  said Jung.

The way of the heart is the way of the “sacred warrior” said Chogyam Trungpa.  There is a danger in feeling our hunger, dismantling our defences. But what also happens is that when we free-fall and smash through our fear, the angels send us white feathers to guide us on our path. We may need to crash and burn. To rise, like the phoenix from the ashes of our lives, burnt black, transformed irrecoverably.

Changing base metal into gold is not done with bells and whistles, but in the darkness of the night. In our dreams, our daytime reveries, the sudden surge of recognition that feels strong and authentic in our bellies. Like goddess-saint Brigit of Kildare’s ever-burning flame, our light will not be extinguished unless we douse it ourselves. No man, woman, god out there can extinguish our own Divinity. It is there all the time if only we will turn towards the Light and warm ourselves at the fire. The spark we need might be a fragment of a conversation we overhear in the supermarket, the lyrics for a song; encouragement of a friend, a skilful therapist, to coax the green shoots of new growth. Sometimes we are required to dismantle the fortress of our hostility and our fear, granite stone by granite stone. To fall slowly into the ocean of our tears and swim to shore. We will always be required to work honestly, consistently to see through the smoke and mirrors that distort our truth. We will always be required to silence for ever the competing voices in our heads – our parents, our society, our siblings or friends – and recognise the sound of our own true voice. We will always be required to have a genuine desire to change our lives. To be vigilant that our journey towards self-awareness is not simply self-absorption or narcissism.   Only then can we fall slowly into the reality of our lives. To begin to live in conscious relationship by being truthful in our communications, realistic in our great expectations. To laugh more, guilt-trip less.  Only then can we savour the blissful beatitude of being in flow in our lives; in harmony with the whole cosmos. Healed, and whole.

For Ray. “Let yourself be silently drawn by the stronger pull of what you really love.” Rumi

Paula Mills. Feather art.   Glen Hansard Falling Slowly

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