Love’s Alchemy

The Four Stages of the Alchemical Process by Milius, 1622“I feel bad driving over your knitting…”
“It’s okay, people do it all the time.”
“You must have callouses on your fingers by now from all that knitting!”
Exchange with two guys in a Snelson truck loaded with flexible orange tubes.

Cool breeze off the water.  I let my breath breathe me, deep gusts of fresh morning air flooding into my chest area felt expansive today.

A construction worker unfolded a tripod stand, then opened up an orange sign that read ROAD WORK AHEAD.  I could hear the beep, beep, beep of the front loader as it backed up looking like a giant yellow cricket.

I’ve spent the last couple of days with my inner critic, berating myself for being anxious of late, for taking out my insecurity on people around me by being controlling and fault-finding.  Then I wallow in shame, self-loathing and hopelessness.  It’s a cycle that has become terribly familiar.  Feeling stuck, I question, why even bother?  Maybe I’m just a flunky at relationships…So, I started reading a book called The Mindful Path to Self-Compassion: Freeing Yourself from Destructive Thoughts and Emotions.  I would like to think that it’s going to solve all my problems and that I’ll lead a serene, happy life from this point forward.  It won’t because it’s not about escape–but it’s given me some tools that already are helping.  For example, I have had chronic insomnia every Wednesday and Friday night for the last 4 months or so, a pattern that has become dreary in its repetitiveness to say the least…Last night, I decided to try a new tool–acceptance.  I set up a bedside table with some books and a rosary on it and told myself that when I woke up at 3:30 am, I would simply think about God and read.  Instead, I got a full night’s rest and awoke around 6 am feeling invigorated.

When I was at the monastery, we did group therapy with a man who told us that we didn’t need to repress powerful emotions like rage or sorrow, what we needed was a container large enough to hold them.  He asked us to picture ourselves as a flask full of molten liquid, held over a fire, and to decide when to put the cork in, and when to release it, when to sit with our feelings and when to talk about them.  I think mindfulness is the container and the awareness to apply and release the stopper.  Mindfulness cultivates the necessary indifference to pain and pleasure–just observing without judging–that allows one to experience the intensity of life without becoming overwhelmed by fear or clinging.  I’ve realized that I cannot be a compassionate presence to anyone, much less myself, without a certain measure of this indifference or detachment.  I see mindful compassion as one way of accepting and activating the power of grace–Saving Love–in my life.  On a head level, I believe that I am loved exactly the way I am, but in practice, I shred myself when I fail to live up to my impossible ideals.  Love always enfolds me, but I block the awareness by being hard on myself.  Where does that leave me?  I’m sure I can find a way to be hard on myself for being hard on myself!

My mind wanders and then returns to my knit, the breeze flicks my long skirt, joggers come and go up and down the hill.  Peppa passes on a leash this time.  “She only gets to carry her own leash on the way back.”  Later I see her, confidently walking herself, her mistress trailing behind.  I must try to get a picture.

Friends, I am taking a mini vacation before classes start in just over a week.  Thank you for all the nice comments on my blog.  I hope to return on Monday.



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