Not only do we live in a living universe, but the living universe lives within us.
— Duane Elgin
Photo by Margit Bantowsky
My graduate dissertation topic was self-trust and was aimed to explore what inside ourselves is trustworthy given that our inner experience can be filled with many contradictory "voices." The self-negating impacts of trauma and conditioning can create a lot of inner chaos, and make it quite difficult to sense, know, and trust our experience, let alone use it to navigate life.
I'm currently in the process of letting go of some major structures in my life involving leadership and organizational roles I've had for nearly nine years, in order to make room for something new that's wanting to be birthed through me. The new work involves writing and art and a much deeper synthesis of my passions including ecology, psychology, spirituality, creativity, social justice, and collective transformation. What shape it will take is completely unknown to me right now.
This morning I awoke feeling terrified and lost. A very young part of me is deeply afraid of making a mistake, of being stupid. She believes everything she does is wrong and that her impulses and ideas are highly suspect. She's just waiting to be shamed and scolded and told she's an unbelievably selfish idiot. She doesn't know how to act or choose, and is utterly unable to trust herself.
Of course, I took her into my heart and let her show me how she's feeling. Let her show me how unbearable it was to be so little and so frozen in fear and confusion. Things softened, she shifted. The wave was integrated. Note: the process I use to integrate activated energies like this is called Inner Relationship Focusing, as created by Ann Weiser Cornell.
Below is my subsequent journal entry, Grace & Chaos, that emerged through a potent writing process called Create! developed by my dear friend and colleague, Joanne Lee.
May it serve us all in this time of global chaos. May we trust that chaos' necessity will be revealed in retrospect.
Grace is everywhere. Grace. Is. Everywhere. Can't you see it? Can't you smell it? Can't you taste it? Can't you feel it? Can't you hear it?
Photo by Margit Bantowsky
Bigleaf Maple inflorescence (Acer Macrophyllum)
A traditional metaphor used to describe transition is a flying trapeze artist suspended in mid-air between two trapeze bars - one that was just released, and another that will soon be grabbed. The idea is this: the transition space, while uncomfortable, is just temporary as the old recedes and the new starts to emerge...something solid you can grab onto again.
The transition I believe we are on the edge of is more like a flying trapeze artist that is launched from the old trapeze into a free-fall that becomes a completely new way of being. Instead of anchoring ourselves onto another lofty fixation, we fall... fully naked... into the River of Life, where we learn to participate in the flow without holding onto anything anymore.
As some of you may know, (I believe) I'm in the process of writing a book about Awakened Activism. After an invigorating flush of recent inspiration, I've begun to struggle with creating just the right structure to birth this book. Fears about not finishing it push me to work harder than my soft animal body is willing, resulting in a push-crash-push-resist dynamic.
I decided to dialog with The Goddess (my moniker for Universe, Source, Life, God, Higher Self, etc.) and see what She had to say about all this.
Curious? I've posted my entire journal entry for you, below....
Me: I don't know how to do this, this new way, this birthing. I keep trying to create structures, goals, discipline...and they just don't work anymore.
Photo by Margit Bantowsky
3" Venus of Willendorf figure; Skokomish River, WA
Us Westerners tend to pray at the altar of Reason and Control, believing in deliverance from the messiness and unfairness of life. We grasp desperately onto ideas of how things should and should not be, and try to force our will onto the world.
Unfortunately (or fortunately!), life refuses to confine itself to any should or shouldn't that we come up with, no matter how brilliant it may be. Life's complexity is an infinitely receding horizon that bends away from us at the same rate as we attempt to approach it.
One thing COVID-19 might be inviting us to take in on a deeper level is how vulnerable we really are to life's demands and unpredictability.
Now, I'm not suggesting we therefore give up in despair or disengage with a kind of cavalier surrender. I believe we're called to continue participating in life as fully, creatively, and responsibly as we can!
What I am suggesting, however, is it might be time to find a new orientation to life besides Reason and Control and the delusion of mastery. One rooted in encountering and loving Life on its own terms.
Below is one of my recent journal entries which seems to speak to this new orientation.
We could call this new frame something like "Dancing within Mystery." Perhaps some important lessons are happening through the COVID pandemic we wouldn't have learned otherwise. Perhaps it is stripping away old structures that no longer work, and illuminating new necessities and directions. Perhaps it is an invitation for creatively engaged, loving surrender instead of rigidity, fear, force, and coercion...
Note 1: "The Goddess" is my moniker for Universe, Source, Life, Life-Force, God, Higher Self, Mystery, etc.
Note 2: This writing emerged from a depth journaling process called Create!, developed by my friend and colleague, Joanne Lee.
The Goddess is a River
Margit Bantowksy, MA, is an artist, coach, teacher and facilitator.