Thursday, October 11, 2007

Living, Breathing Walking the Labyrinth

I have always been a spiritual being for as long as I can remember - far back in my childhood years - always searching for the answers to life's (and death's) greatest mysteries, reading and learning about other religions and belief systems . . . always walking the spiritual Labyrinth - checking out the endless possibilities, sometimes getting lost or stranded along the way.
I wouldn't have done it any other way. I would have been bored stiff on the straight and narrow path . . . I would have been smothered on the well traveled roads. I loved the curves, the twists, the secret niches within the Labyrinth's ancient design. So many choices - all branching from and
to one singular point of origin.
But, wherever my curiosities, my hungers, my thirsts have taken me, and though I converted to Greek Orthodoxy years ago, a part of me always remained rooted in the soil of Catholicism. My mother planted that seed (more like a bulb) and nurtured it - so like a perennial flower, a rose, I kept coming back each year . . . and all the pruning back I did on myself - thinking I was cutting off old to start anew - aided in more and more roses budding and blooming the following spring.
I am still an open-hearted and thirsty spiritual soul . . . not as much of a devout religious woman as I was (while raising my children) nor am I a new ager . . . I am somewhere in between the two. I know what I know deep inside. I now know there are no right or wrong paths - no right or wrong religions or belief systems . . . and I know there is one and only one point of origin. One creator. One God . . . who goes by many different names; wears many different faces; speaks in many different tongues, and has a great sense of humor. There is no great race to reach the answers at the end. We can take as long as we want. We can take the most difficult of paths if we choose.
We can choose - and that's the most beautiful of our gifts.
But, getting back to my personal roots in Catholicism: I was named (my middle name) after Saint Therese of Lisieux - the "Little Flower." When I was a little girl, my mom gave me an icon of St. Therese; her image, superimposed on an old transverse piece of a tree trunk - the bark around it like a frame. I have had it with me through all of my moves and my travels. It is so very special to me not only because it is such an old family piece and it is the likeness of my Patron Saint . . . but also it once belonged to my mom.
Over the years I have had endless conversations with Saint Therese. We had shared many things in common - our youth (she died, a Carmelite Nun, at the young age of 24 so she will always be a "young" saint in the church), our religion, our love for Jesus, and writing (she was also a writer and poet).
I talk to her more like a sister, a friend, for I have never really felt I needed to "go through" another to talk to God. I talk to God directly. But, St. Therese gives me great advice and has helped me through much of the turmoil in my life.

The other night, I dreamed that a messenger came to tell me that a single rose had been delivered to me. This has great meaning to me, as St. Therese's 'signature' is the rose. She has said, "I will spend my heaven doing good on Earth. I will let fall a shower of roses."
I actually forgot about the dream until I was journaling before bed last night. Then the light bulb went on in my heart . . . things - more signs - became apparently clearer.
With the upheaval of my life that exploded in my face on (Monday) October 1 . . . it had slipped my conscious mind that October 1 is the Feast Day / Memorial of Saint Therese of Lisieux.
Her life is remembered and celebrated - my life was suddenly remembered . . . the life I had not been living.
I packed up my icon of St. Therese yesterday. I put it in a box labeled, "special." The icon now serves to remind me that I need to love mySelf, above all else. I need never put mySelf in a situation where love is absent or distorted. My icon now has a stain of wax across it - an accident, perhaps, when 'he' slammed my lit candle down to extinguish it in his 'not so gentle' ways. I left some of the wax alone - again, a reminder - and how appropriate that St. Therese will now and forever be the image of Self-love for me. October is the month she is remembered in more ways than one. October is the month I begin my new LIFE. And October is also the month for domestic violence awareness.

Potions, Lotions and Magic Charms: Standing meditation - some Tai Chi breathing exercises - stand with feet shoulder width apart - with knees slightly bent - spine straight (as if suspended from a string in the sky) - shoulders down and relaxed - relax into your feet (feeling 'rooted') - arms in front of thighs (out about an inch) - eyes focussed on an object straight ahead -
mouth slightly open - tongue pressed up against the roof of your mouth - focus energy on the area around the navel - find your balance using that point as your center - slowly and deeply breathe in through your nose - as you breath and fill the bottom of your lungs up to the top, allow your arms to be raised effortlessly until they are directly in front of you (shoulder height, perpendicular to your body) - hold for a moment or two (without actually 'holding' your breath) - exhale slowly and completely through your nose from the bottom of your lungs up - allowing your arms to be lowered back down to the position in front of your thighs (but not touching your legs) - let your wrists and elbows lead - let your finger tips be the last to rise and the last to fall as they follow your wrist. Do this three times - feeling grounded - 'rooted' - into your feet while feeling your spine is suspended by a string from the sky - center yourself over your navel area - your center - your dantien. Remain centered, rooted, up-right, relaxed, empty... smooth, flowing movements that become ONE movement rather than many movements. Relaxed awareness.

This is what I now know: Plant a seed too deeply in the ground and it will not be able to reference the sun for upward growth . . . In other words; when I go too deeply within myself, I get lost and can't always find my way out. Sometimes things are what they are. And sometimes trying too to hard to "self-reflect" in a well
that has run dry causes one to fall in . . . i.e. indulging oneself in the "what ifs" of the long ago, far away events of the past.

He said / She said:
The history of all times, and of today especially, teaches that ... women will be forgotten if they forget to think about themselves. Louise Otto

Note: The painting of the rose called: FAITH by artist: Linda Paul


Erik Donald France said...

Powerful post, Lindy.

The Shrine of the Little Flower is a beautiful place, got to be part of a ceremony there during conversion process.

Michelle's Spell said...

Great post! I also love St. Theresa and think of her often in various devotions and also a friend to talk to in crisis. Good quote at the end also.