Comforting Words: Wilderness Journal: Day 4

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wilderness Journal: Day 4

At the Center

Introduction
Day 1
Day 2
Day 3

Day 4 and I spent a very long time at the Center of the Medicine Wheel, the place of the Eternal Fire.

The previous afternoon into evening and well into the night was spent in complete silence. Only the sound of the ringing telephone jarred me out of the silence until I finally unplugged it. Much had come to me during the course of the day and I needed to immerse myself in the ‘flames’ so that only what was real would remain.

As I stood in the Center, in utter silence, I knew my direction was changing. There was a strong wind blowing and it was the wind of Peace and Acceptance and it was coming from the South. I struggled in this wind a bit because I did not feel completely ready to head that way – there were still issues plaguing me, conversations that stirred something deep in my soul and a longing to be free was contending with my desire to see justice done.

This book, The Flowering of the Soul: A Book of Prayers By Women, had come into my awareness at work earlier that day and I had brought it home with me. I reached from my seat on the floor – it was lying on the pillow next to mine – and started reading. It was approximately 3:00 a.m. and this prayer moved me gently into the Southerly wind.

Morning Prayer:

Faith and Trust

O God, who am I now?
Once, I was secure in familiar territory
In my sense of belonging
Unquestioning of
The norms of culture
The assumptions built into my language
The values shared by my society.
But now you have called me out and away from home
And I do not know where you are leading.
I am empty, unsure [and] uncomfortable.
I have only a beckoning star to follow.
Journeying God,
Pitch your tent with mine
So that I may not become deterred by hardships, strangeness, doubt.
Show me the movement I must take
Toward a wealth not dependent on possessions
Toward a wisdom not based on books
Toward a strength not bolstered by might
Toward a God not confined to heaven
But scandalously earthed, poor, unrecognized…
Help me to find myself
As I walk in others’ shoes.

I could not have said it any better than how Kate Compston did and I wondered what was happening in her life in the moment that she wrote that prayer. Not dwelling on that for long, however, I stepped into my process of acknowledgment.

Acknowledgement of Vulnerability

Whether it was the time spent in silence, shutting out the noise of the world or simply that I was ready, I acknowledge what remain ‘trouble spots’ for me:




  1. Sleep – I am still unable to get a full night sleep but for last night that was good as I was fully awake, holding the memories as they arose, kissed them and returned them to their trove. It was harder to do so with some more than others but I am working at it. Interestingly enough, there were some memories that came and stayed with me for the entire night – they were the ones that reminded me of my strength. Take this one for example, in the 1990’s we (you know who I mean – right?) were at a breaking point with Jamaica and with our various families and just wanted to get away from the closets that both created for many reasons. We made a very desperate attempt to migrate to England – one that failed and cost us every thing we had. We both had fairly good jobs that we had left to go off to explore the world freely and unencumbered by society or family demands but as it became clear that that plan had to be shelved so too had the fact that the Jamaican economy had sunk even further into depression. Swallowing my pride, I who had a secretary prior to this debacle became one through a temp agency to help put food on our table. I went into that office every day with my pride in my stomach, sharpened my neurotic boss’ twenty pencils until they had a just so perfect point and typed away. We (you know who and I ) would meet each evening after work and our prayer would be a deep look into each other’s eyes which would say, “It’s alright, we will be okay.” These prayers were soon answered as within a couple months, I was recruited to join an agency as Public Relations Director and she was on air again.

  2. Diet/Nutrition – Still doing the survival eating, although today I had a much bigger serving of the leftover Fried Rice that I have been eating for three days or so now. My stomach cried out, “What are you doing! We haven’t had that much in two weeks!” It is still crying so I guess that is it for the night.

  3. Finances - The attack that I experienced yesterday was driven largely by realizing that I am totally exposed. Sadly, the recent record has not been too impressive and that worried me. My concern that escalated into the attack had more to do though with recognizing my need to be free. I had been asked to make no contact, etc., and I was beginning to feel quite perplexed as a promised call to let me know about my medication had not come. All these things combined with my outrage at the half-truth told to my daughter and I just knew that I had to find a way to release you know who from any sense of obligation to me. For my part, the idea of having to take money or rely on the support of someone who told me that the smiles, laughter and even tears that they shared with me were false ones was repulsive. It cheapened my sensibilities and sense of self to think that my welfare was so dependent on someone who wanted nothing to do with me. So on this Day 4, as I stood in the fire, holding my financial situation and concerns up to the heavens I read this prayer written by Mother Teresa and printed in the book mentioned earlier:
Deliver me, O [God],
From the desire of being loved,
From the desire of being extolled,
From the desire of being praised,
From the desire of being preferred,
From the desire of being consulted,
From the desire of being approved,
From the desire of being popular,
From the fear of being humiliated,
From the fear of suffering rebukes,
From the fear of being calumniated,
From the fear of being forgotten,
From the fear of being wronged,
From the fear of being ridiculed,
From the fear of being suspected.

Mindfulness

Self- Awareness: Locating Oneself

“Where are you today?”

I was still very much on my knees at the ‘entrance’ to a dark forest at the start of the day, in imagery and in actuality. In fact, I spent most of the morning on my knees before the altar in my bedroom. As I rose off them several hours later, I knew what had to be done. From hereon, this day unfolded differently and so too will this post.

Surrender

As I flipped through this Book of Prayer for Women, I came to Chapter 19 and immediately I recognized it as the place I needed to be.

Dealing with surrendering to Divine Will, it was here I truly located myself as being in the first stage of prayer where one contemplates “What ‘Your will be done’ means in our lives.” (291) All through the previous evening into night that was what I was intentionally doing. Actually, that was what this Wilderness Journal was all about – chronicling my personal struggle dealing with the abrupt end of my relationship, revealing the moments from extremely deep despair which was highlighted by my attempted suicide.

This was my way of working through the grief process (denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance) after experiencing a real and serious trauma. Some people never do this, some do it privately but I chose to do it publicly as that is my way – it has been since 2005 with the start of this blog. Yes, there was some bitterness and great amount of anger but there was always truth. Nothing written here over the past two weeks, in fact the almost two years of Comforting Words, was a lie to my knowledge.

On Day 4, kneeling before my altar, I was fully ready to say “Your will be done.” I realized that I was moving into the place of acceptance, surrender and hopefully peace will soon come.

I really like these words from the book: “When we say ‘Your will be done’ we have to have in mind ‘all possible misfortunes added together,” for God’s will is not necessarily ours.”

Oh so true. If it were my will, October 8 (the day she told me she resented me and wanted out) would never have happened. If it were my will, October 18 (the day I tried to kill myself out of shame and despair) would never have happened. If it were my will, my life would not have changed in the way it did. If it were my will, the woman who I to this minute still consider my soul mate would be watching television with me now. If it were my will, we would be on a plane to Montreal next year as planned and I would have asked her to make it official.

But it is not my will. And so I said this prayer, from the same book and written by Marguerite Porete, asking God to let Her will be done:

“Divine Mother, I hereby surrender my will and my love; you have brought them to the point of surrender. I had thought that my calling was always to live in love through the promptings of my will. But now both love and will – which brought me out of my spiritual childhood – are dead to me, and in this death I find my freedom.”

Tears streaming down my cheek, I rose to my feet, blew out the candles and went to start making space.

Making Space

The second stage of surrender is when we Make Space “for God’s life, spirit, and intention – and not ours.” It is when we empty ourselves or put to death “our needs, fears, desires, anxieties, expectations of outcomes and wants." I had started that process on Day 3, however, I was still hanging on to some expectations, desires and fears (expressing as anger and in other ways).

They would not go automatically simply because I said so, but there were things that I could do to help the process along, namely face my fear(s) by looking to my source of strength as evidenced by the memory I shared earlier. It was also important to me to start releasing expectations – my own and those that others had of me. I was expecting you know who to do the right thing(s) by me, be compassionate toward me and assure me that I was safe. She could not for her own reasons and I needed to be completely okay with that. I also needed to release other people’s expectations of me to be the strong one, or to stop crying or to stop saying that I still and will always love you know who because it did not make sense to them.

The only thing required of me was to be empty. These words from Porete nudged me along the way:

“Those who want only God’s will want nothing for themselves, except to carry out God’s will for themselves and for others. But those who operate through their own will leave no space for God.”

With that I moved to the third stage of surrender.

Abandonment

In this stage, one learns to welcome all experiences, good or bad, as gifts from the Divine. I have been doing that partially throughout the previous days, as I tried to see the gift in everything that happened. It was extremely hard and I was not successful in every instant but I am also human.

For me there are practical steps that I had to take to even have a chance to fully enter this stage. So by 9:00 a.m., I sent the emails that needed to go out and made the necessary phone calls. I went to work feeling much lighter and after doing some of the more pressing things, I placed the next necessary call. I called you know who to let her know that:




  1. I will be filing personal bankruptcy – as I cannot afford to meet our debt that has been accumulated in my name. However, more important, doing this would give both of us ‘full’ freedom from each other – she would not have to be obliged to pay half of our bills and I would not have to be obliged to accept charity. The first telephone call of the morning was to a debt/financial consultant with whom I have an appointment this Friday to start the process.

  2. I will be withdrawing from my current programme, as I have not been able to do any assignments for the last two or so weeks and really do not think that I will be able to keep up.

  3. I will be leaving Canada as soon as the bankruptcy papers are filed (in two months). My friend in the United States will send me the ticket and I will go there to for a while until I make another decision.

  4. She will have to assume responsibility for my dog, Angello, who she gifted to me six years ago in celebration of my return home (Jamaica) to her after working overseas for two years.

What was her response? I do not know and I cannot afford to care.

The next call I made was to my daughter to tell her the news. She did not take it well but tried to remain stoic (she learnt well from her Aunty you know who). We will be meeting for dinner this Sunday as she is trying to wrap her head around it and have so many questions. My prayer and hope is that she will learn the power of forgiveness and honesty, or the lack thereof, through this experience.

These were hard decisions for me to make but they are the best ones for me at this time.

Whether you agree or understand my decision really does not matter to me. Whether you can appreciate the depth of my love for this woman and the depth of the commitment and recommitment I made to her year, after year, after year I do not care. I have been asked how can I love someone who has behaved in such a fashion – my response, as Anita Baker sings, “Just Because.”

And so, I cannot stay in Edmonton breathing the same air with her. I need distance; I need some space so that her breath does not come back around to me so quickly. I also need to be free – fully free and I cannot be that if I remain here, expecting her to pay my bills or expecting assistance from others – grateful as I am for the offers.

Furthermore, this should not be the case. We have been struggling and doing triple shifts to get to a place where our income would increase. Finally we were getting that much closer, life was getting easier and then this.

Practically, I cannot pay my own way, pay the debt and continue with my education. If I am to be honest, this is one of the places where I need most prayer work as I am still very bitter about this.

We came to Canada understanding that I was going back to school to get the training that would set me on my life’s path. It was delayed somewhat as my partner wanted to go back to school too after she became frustrated with what she had. In addition, my completion was delayed as an opportunity to deepen my training arose, one that had the added benefit of a stipend that would help our cash flow. Now, she has completed her training, fully employed with benefits that I desperately need and it was to be my turn to finish my training – at least that was what we spoke about in August. Now, not only can I not finish any of my programmes, I will be in debt to the government for a degree that I have not completed. I am bitter about that – that’s the truth.

As for staying in Canada – I have to go away and think about that and that is why I am so grateful for my friend’s offer of the ticket. I just need to go get a visa! Contrary to what “the family” believes I was not the one who wanted to come to Canada. I remember being asked where am I taking her now and responding that this time I was following her. My role, my job was to make it happen. I did my job and that’s the way I am trying to look at this – I delivered my daughter (who is now settled with her boyfriend, please hold them in your prayers) and you know who (who so desperately wanted to run away from all there was).

My mission is accomplished and so it is time for me to bow out. Maybe, just maybe someone will tell me thanks. It does matter now if that day never comes though.


Final Words

Where will I go and for how long? I do not know. All I know is that I cannot stay here.

I have and I am emptying myself of the plans we made, emptying myself of the dreams of the house we would one day purchase on the South side, emptying myself of the drop-in center we were going to open in Edmonton for women and LGBTQ people in need. I was to be the caregiver and she the chef. I guess that was a pretense also – my dream that she bought into.

And so my friends, this will be my last post for a while, as I sort through my papers to meet the consultant, sort through our memories to pass on to my daughter and pack my bags to head South literally. From there, East maybe – that would be the full circle. On the Medicine Wheel, the East is represented by the colour Red and there resides Success and Triumph.

I thank you all for your patience, your support but more so for your Love. I will take you all in my heart on the continuing Wilderness Journey.

Until such time,

Claudette

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