Our Deepest Fears

I was thinking a lot lately on how difficult it is to comprehend those deeper elements of our psych in times of serenity and calm. It seems that we only are able to confront them when in crisis mode. This came in startling relief recently for me as I dealt with the excruciating pain associated with acute pancreatitis. I had felt this pain before, back in 2003, when I had emergency surgery to remove my gall bladder. But this time I did not have the overarching pain of Fibromyalgia masking the severity.

As it dawned on me how much intense pain I have endured … for years … I was hit with such a wave of sorrow and compassion … for myself. So here I was … almost delirious from pain, weeping over how much pain I have endured in my life. It was a moment that sort of proves how much of “mad” mystic I am.

It was when I was laying in my hospital bed, trancing in and out of consciousness due to the morphine, that I was readily admitted into the recessed areas of my psyche. And what I found there was amazing, humbling and thrilling at all levels.

There was storehouse of images, symbols and “hidden” truths that I discovered but I will save those for another time. This long post is about what I uncovered about some of our deepest collective fears.

The Flood
One of the overarching fears worldwide is of being engulfed – flood waters, landslides, and collapsing structures along with the threatening tide of too much change, technology and information. We fortify ourselves with rationalizations about these fears --pretending as if each them are separate issues. But the reality is that this fear is universal and we project that fear onto world around us. We project it onto cancer and fear cancer patients. We project it onto those who migrate into our countries and forget that humanity itself is a migrating species. We resist even changes that benefit us like universal healthcare simply because it is new. We keep trying to close the door on a room without walls or place our fingers into a dam that has already been breeched – too little, too late.

It manifests itself in my psyche as flood waters slowly encompassing more and more of my life and removing my agency. So I fear that my life seems to be out of my direct control. So an illness can roll in like a tide, knocking me off my feet and sweep me out to sea – at the mercy of waves and storms.

But as I lay in my hospital bed, a new awareness sprouted -- one that sees this onslaught as impersonal and larger than I had imagined. And how it had nothing to do with me personally. It has a name, and it is called, Life. And just like standing on the beach, facing the oncoming tide does not have to mean being thrown over. I can brace myself and participate in the movement, allowing myself to be buffeted, changed and cleansed by embracing the very things that are challenging me. And yeah, sometimes I will be knocked off my feet. So what? It is the nature of Life and shit happens.

I am still challenged by Life, but I am learning not to fear its waves. Because, yeah, I may lose even more agency as I age – and it will suck big time. But Life is not out to get me – Life is the gift I get to participate within, that is fucking fabulous at all levels.

The Island
Another major fear is of being alone. Not just being physically alone, but being alone with our fears, hopes, and ideas along with our secret desires. We feel as if no one would truly understand us. We harbor deep-seated shame over things that when examined are actually not so bad. It is one of the tenets of the 12 Step movement - that when we actually do a fearless moral inventory, we find out that we are not as horrid or bad as we imagined. One of the benefits of the web is that so many of our imagined singularities can often find community.

But even if we have found the other 1000 people in the world who wished they were born with a tail, we can still act as if no one else lives in our bones and walks our path of pain or fear or grief or shame. And when we find a person who seems to get us as any level, it is such a relief, such a balm to our troubled soul.

My version of this fear is manifested in a sense of being different wherever I go. I am the only black bi-sexual, left wing, Wiccan, warrior, poet, techno-mage and mystic I know. Oh sure, there are probably others out there, but I haven’t met them. I could parse my self-definitions enough to fit in with several groups, and I do, but I always feel like an outsider. So when I find individuals or groups that seem to fit, it often feels like I have found my long lost home … that is until my essential uniqueness raises its head. And I am left feeling so adrift and ultimately … alone.

I usually blame the group or individual for not living up to my hopes and expectations. And then my practice of self-examination kicks in, and it all comes back to me and I feel the space surrounding me very keenly.

The reality of course is that we are all alone. That is what hit me in the hospital. I was alone with my pain along with hundreds of other people alone with their pain. And if I focused on the alone part, there was no way out of my essential dilemma. So I focused instead on the parts we shared, and instantly, I was no longer alone. I gave my religion as Wicca and boom … a fellow Wiccan sent me a lovely poem from the hospital. I shared my fears, and others shared theirs. I laughed and others laughed with me in spite of themselves.

We are all alone, and in that we are together whenever we choose to be.

It is a choice not a destiny. And so I choose community, friendship and intimacy. And when I need to, I also choose to be alone in my uniqueness. And that is the best choice of all.

The Smallest Pebble
The last fear I noticed was the fear of being insignificant – a small pebble amongst a pile of pebbles or worse boulders. The “No one will know that I was ever here”, fear is one of the ways it manifests. I have seen this fear beneath the surface of so many people over the years.

One of my roles as a mystic is to “imbue value by acknowledgement.” I say “thank you”, hold doors, look people in the eyes and smile, and just acknowledge a person’s existence … a lot. It is one of the easiest and most satisfying parts of my practice. But what I had not understood was how far down this fear resides in our collective psyche.

This fear lies beneath the “It doesn’t matter what I do”, “I am not important enough to make a fuss”, and the “I cannot make a difference.” It is the burden we carry that stops us from taking action in our own lives, or in the lives of our loved ones. It causes well-meaning engineers to give up on safety measures, medical personnel to have lapses in judgement concerning patient care and inspectors to ignore blatant violations.

Closer to home, it causes me to purposely wander in the creative desert when faced with another rewrite for my book. And it cripples me in reaching out to my dear friends even in times of need. It also blinds me to the impacts of my decisions, actions and statements.

All in all, most of us feel pretty small compared to the world or to the universe. But the reality is that we are all small in comparison to all that out there! But so what -- we are small but we are not insignificant. Our Life matters to the world and to the universe … or we would not be here in the first place!

My job is not only to imbue other lives with meaning; I am the one that imbues my own Life with meaning! In other words, I realized that whatever meaning my Life holds comes from my own actions. Just like all those African-American college graduates who worked as janitors to make a living, whatever I do with my Life has value as long as I bring value to it.

And as I lay in that hospital bed, I thought of all the work I‘ve done these almost 55 years, and suddenly I did not feel so insignificant. I realized that whatever my faults, mistakes and challenges, I have done good in this world with my own hands … and if given half a chance, I will do it again and again.

Be Yourself
And lastly, just as my stay came to an end, I was reminded that all I had ever needed to do in this world was to be myself. And that was my deepest fear. I was afraid that at my core, I was insufficient. And here is where the outer world mirrored back me to me truth. “Yeah, you are insufficient to meet the demands of all that Life has to offer, but that is why there is community.” And as I looked at all the people who cared for me, who stood up for me and yes, even stood up to me – I let go of my need for control and replaced it with gratitude. And with that, I could finally be who and what I am, a person recovering from an illness and who is deeply loved.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Mon, 08/30/2010 - 4:08pm.

A Small Update

As some folks already know, I am home from a week in the hospital. I have had a good start on my journey of healing and recovering thanks in no small part to the ministrations and prayers of members of the Order, Reflections students, colleagues, friends and family.

I have a long list of people to thank, which I will post soon enough.

But right now, I am just so grateful.

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 08/17/2010 - 11:34am.

Time Passing

Where has the time gone …

I have been really busy these past few months. It is a different kind of busy. I have been busy focusing on the things that feed my soul, enliven my spirit, and nourish my physical body.

I have been firmly in the here and now in ways I had never imagined. And as a result, I am more at peace with the work that is actually in my hands.

And all of the above reveals almost nothing of my journey.

A work in progress …

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Fri, 07/30/2010 - 9:52am.

2010 Annual Goals

My long-term goals have not change much from last year. The only change has been in my perspective. I have changed and my view of my goals have as a result deepened and blossomed.

Deepen my spiritual journey

  • Study wisdom traditions
  • Deepen my spiritual practice
  • Build my tradition

My understanding of my spiritual journey has changed considerably. I initially thought my studying for example, would primarily shift to a more formal effort associated with the Assisi Institute. But what I had not imagined was how much my independent study would deepen in addition to the certification program’s requirements.

My spiritual practice went from my trying to dictate canonical periods of prayer and morphed into a continuous process of dream, trance, contact, reverie and prayer. The only goal that has stayed pretty much the same is building my tradition. We are hard at work on our bylaws and secular structure. At the same time, our ecclesiastical structure and vision has become clearer and more detailed.

Nurture the fabric my life

  • Build core strength
  • Open my heart
  • Care for my home

Nurturing the fabric of my life has similarly evolved as I have slowed down for various reasons this winter and spring. And for the first time in my life I am experiencing a slower pace, an open schedule and a calmer mind. At first I thought it was a result of the fogginess, but as I have revived with the help of vitamin D, I am noticing a lack of urgency in my gut. Part of it is a result of my practices of deep awareness and prayer, but it is also the result of the painful work of reclaiming my physical awareness from a lifetime of pain, rage and grief.

Whatever the cause, I feel stronger. I cannot bench press anywhere close to extremes of my youth, but I am stronger where it counts. And with this strength and calmness, my heart is opening in ways I had never imagined only a short time ago. And with this evolution, I am letting go of even my modest self-expectations in favor of an acceptance of what is real … in the here and now. And in the here and now, my home needs to be a place of peace, serenity and compassion – and not a place of sterile organization, overcompensation and fatigue inducing projects. So I let it all go … at least in the moment … and instead I focus on what is the work in my hands. And in my hands are simple things like clean dishes, delicious meals, clean laundry, empty trashcans, and paid bills. I do what I can and leave what I cannot handle … for now.

Share my message

  • Write and publish
  • Teach
  • Connect

And in sharing my message, I am slowly weaving my way out of my self imposed hesitancy and reticence. There is this great song that was taught to me by the mighty, mighty Madrone. “I am learning to breathe underwater, it’s so beautiful down here, I use to think that if I tried, I would drown. I’m learning to open my mouth and say what I want without fear, that I’ll chase away my future with a sound!”

It may have seemed that I was unafraid, but some fears are so deep down, you don’t even know you have them. And so I am learning to open my mouth … and say what I want … without fear. And what I am learning is that the one who needs to hear it the most … is me. And so as I open my heart, my mouth, my ears and my hands … I am becoming stronger, happier and more at peace.

So my goals for this year:

  • Incorporate our church
  • Register to perform marriages in DC
  • Develop weekly Reflections’ courses
  • Publish my book
  • Continue
    • Regular blog posts
    • Studying at the Assisi Institute
    • Teaching and priestessing
    • Offering spiritual counseling
    • Radical self-care

Posted in

Submitted by katrina on Tue, 05/25/2010 - 1:52pm.

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