the things winter teaches

Connecting to the earth in the winter is just as healthy as connecting in the summer.

By “connecting to the earth,” all I mean is allowing yourself to be swept up in its rhythms. I’ve talked about this before, so I’ll be brief. We humans like to think of ourselves as separate observers of nature, but we are just as rooted in that savage beauty as trees, spiders, birds, or horses. We’re part of it, it’s part of us. To neglect that connection is not only foolish, it’s harmful.

This year, I have been learning (very slowly) what it means to accept and live into that connection. I learned a lot when the weather was warm and I could go outside a lot. But then winter came and pushed me away.

I was working on a post a few weeks back about how hard it is to connect to nature when that nature is cold and dark, but since then, I think I’ve started to get it.

The problem wasn’t with the earth being too cold and dark; it was with me expecting that it is supposed to be accommodating and friendly all the time.

While winter has a lot of pleasant beauty, one of the most important things this season teaches is that nature doesn’t live to please you. You must learn how to experience and accept it, even when you don’t get your way.

I’ve only scratched the surface of all winter has to teach me, I’m sure. So, even though I’m cold and I wish the days were longer, I’m excited I still have a couple months to learn from it.

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God as Yin and Yang

The biggest problem in Christian theology is the question of suffering. If God is so merciful, why is the Bible full of stories of him destroying countless countries–including his own people–over and over again?

I’ve always seen God as the source of all things and a personification of the life force itself. But I’m only just now starting to understand what that actually means.

To quote a magnificent anime, “the world is beautiful and cruel.” Consequences are impassive and properly harsh, no matter who they happen to. That’s the definition of justice. God is justice. He’s the balance in nature and that balance can be extremely cruel if you’re on the wrong side of it.

But God isn’t only the personified impartial substance of the world. He’s also an entity himself with thoughts and feelings and a deep, pervasive, heart-aching love for other beings. He wants to bend the rules for his friends.

He wants to take care of the consequences himself and find another way to keep balance. He wants to give second, third, fourth, and fifth chances to those who are trying, even when they keep failing. Because he’s not only justice, he’s also love, and love overlooks mistakes.

I often find myself wishing that we could just have the loving part without the justice, but what kind of world would that be? We need both. We need balance in order to thrive. Reality works in yin and yang, and I believe God does too.

my elemental friend is back

I truly didn’t expect to hear from them ever again. But over the last month, we have spoken a little. I don’t know why that is, but I care less about the why and more about the fact that I don’t have to say goodbye just yet.

Maybe our relationship has finally fully changed and it took a summer to do so. Or maybe I’m spiritually lonely again since I’ve grown disheartened by the church I’ve been attending and am still searching for somewhere new.

Either way, I’m glad I get to chat and learn from them again. I’ll deal with the why later.

Attacked by Ghost Spiders

I spent Tuesday night waking up in a panic every half hour, thinking I was being attacked by bugs. Spiders on my pillow, on my blanket, on my floor, on my face, everywhere. I must have turned on the light and brushed off my sheets and checked my floor a dozen times.

The odd thing is, bugs don’t bother me. I actually wanted to be an entomologist at one point. The whole experience was probably a combination of stress plus knowledge of the spider I found in the bathroom that I decided to leave alone.

However, I can’t help wondering if there was a spiritual cause. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve woken up and felt like I was being attacked (ex. the time my sister’s spiritual guardian kept visiting me at night to make sure I wasn’t a threat). If it was spiritual, it probably wasn’t something very strong. Just a curious spirit passing through.

Was it stress and spider dreams or a wandering spirit? Probably a little of both.

goodbye to my elemental friend

I think my relationship with the elemental is officially over.

I went down to their forest today, as I have every few days since I’ve been home. I stood there, gazing into the quiet shaded green, trying to sense anything at all that would show that they weren’t gone. Even just for the sensation of being watched. But I felt nothing.

As I stood there, puzzled and missing them, I asked God why I couldn’t sense them anymore. “Because you have me in your heart, there is no room for anything else,” he answered.

That wasn’t the answer I wanted to hear and I fought him on it. Shouldn’t having him lodged in my heart allow me to have more room for others, not less?

He clarified that I didn’t have that aching hole in my heart anymore. I wasn’t reaching out to the elemental to satisfy my spiritual longing anymore. And then it struck me, like finally understanding a foreign language: he was the one who had brought the elemental to me in the first place.

At the time, I was lonely and not getting the companionship I craved. I was also spiritually starved, but my hatred of the church was keeping me from filling that need, too. I was stuck in limbo, and that spirit proved to be just the kind of friend I needed.

A lump rose in my throat and tears came to my eyes. I still miss my friend, but I am more grateful than ever for the time we had together. Wherever they are now and whatever they’re up to, I wish them nothing but the deepest blessings. And while I don’t know if we’ll ever meet again, I’ll keep an eye open, just in case.

Planning Your Way to Enlightenment

I’ve been trying to manage God.

I want enlightenment so badly. I want to merge and disappear into the Holy Spirit so much it’s almost a physical ache. So I had been trying to plan out how to achieve that, keeping a strict eye on the horizon to make sure that I’m staying on course and that I’m progressing fast enough. As though developing a relationship was as simple and linear as reading a book. But it isn’t.

The only way to achieve intimacy and enlightenment is to do as that old Christian song says and let Jesus/the Holy Spirit drive the car.

The only way to take the next step is to let go. We are finite and we don’t know the path to enlightenment. God does, and he wants us to reach it even more than we want to reach it ourselves.

So do what you know is good for you (ex. pray, meditate, learn, practice), but do it without keeping an eye on your progress.

Trust that if you go where God leads, he will lead you where you are meant to go.

Your Body Knows

Last night I had a chocolatey treat that I haven’t had for almost half a year: a single-serving brownie in a cup with melted chocolate chips.

I used to eat these almost every day, but when I went to Japan, the supplies for them were either extremely expensive or nonexistent, so I stopped.

Now, having it again, it’s too much for me. Like, WAY too much for me. Too much chocolate, too much sugar, too large a serving. I started to feel bloated and headachy and in the end, I wasn’t able to finish it.

As I washed out my brownie mug, I realized that I used to feel this way more often than I do now. I just never registered that maybe it wasn’t a natural way to feel.

Our bodies know instinctively what is good for them and what isn’t. But sometimes their sensors get warped from being flooded with toxins (too much of a good thing is bad, but too much of a bad thing is worse). More often, we hear the alarm but we just don’t listen to it.

I believe our spirits have the same alarm system. We just have to know what to listen for.

 

 

Brief but Meaningful

The elemental in the far woods (see this post) has not spoken to me since I’ve been back home.

I’ve visited their forest several times, listening for them, but I don’t even feel them anymore. And I don’t know enough about spirits to know why, or what might be going on.

Did they leave? Have they gone dormant for a bit? Has something changed in our relationship that makes them not want to reach out to me? Or has something changed in me that is preventing me from sensing them?

It’s frustrating and a little sad, but I’ve decided not to dwell on it.

For all I know, maybe our relationship wasn’t supposed to last forever. Maybe they had some knowledge to impart to me and now that I have received it, they have moved on to do something else, somewhere else.

I hope they come back, of course, but only if it is what is best. Sometimes things are only meant to last for a short time.

Religion vs. Spirituality

It seems to me that, while religion and spirituality go hand in hand, they are not the same thing.

Spirituality, in the broadest term, is the conscious recognition that things exist in this world. Whether you believe in a spiritual realm or whether you believe that the physical is all that exists, everyone has their own spirituality. Everyone understands that the world has many facets and that these facets work in a specific way.

Religion, then, is the practical application of this understanding. What do we do with this knowledge? What is the healthiest way to live, taking all of reality into consideration? What is the balance of discipline and relaxation that best allows a person to live to the fullest?

That is the real question. There are probably a few objectively right answers in there, but not nearly as many as people think.

Guardians and the Unguarded

We have guests staying in our house and at the same time, my sister is on a long weekend trip to the beach. Because of this, I get to sleep alone in her room for a few nights.

My sister is a very spiritually sensitive, spiritually active person. She has worked with guardian spirits in the past and even had one standing guard in her doorway for a while.

There were a few nights when I think it came into my room to investigate me. I had odd, disturbing dreams, and for a few nights in a row, I was woken up by the distinct feeling that something was charging at me, rushing at my face. However, eventually it decided I wasn’t a threat, calmed down, and left me alone.

But I haven’t been home for several months. I didn’t know if it was still around, if it had followed my sister to the beach, if it had stayed behind to guard her room, or if it even remembered me. I was concerned that it might see me as an intruder in her space.

Last night was my first night alone in her room, and I made a point to make peace with the guardian, on the off chance that it was still in her room.

I reintroduced myself, let it know what was going on, and told it that my sister had given me permission to stay in her room. I welcomed it to reach out to me if it needed further clarification or inspection, but asked it to be civil about it, since I didn’t have any intention of causing harm. I asked God to protect me as well.

As I was going to sleep, something thumped hard on the computer desk by my head. But nothing else happened. Not even nightmares.

I’m not sure if it’s even still in the room. Nonetheless, I feel better and I don’t anticipate any scary encounters tonight.