Tag Archive | human spirit

A Shamed Life? (Reposted from 2012 April)

shame

 

~SHAME~

What does that word do to you may I ask?

Does it conjure up thoughts and then feelings about a time or event in your life that at some point even now causes a shame response?

I know that shame is not necessarily a bad thing. Shame, or the knowledge of the consequence of it can serve its purpose I suppose when one is weighing whether or not their actions could be shameful in someone’s eyes? But whose eyes count? Is it something that we carry with us in adulthood from events that happened while still maturing? I have no real answers to any these questions for anyone but myself. Especially I would never condone that what I am feeling or writing about how I feel or think is the best for anyone else. I don’t. I don’t because I come from a different history, I have different beliefs and thoughts on things than anyone else. Just as you do. We may be like-minded in many ways BUT WE STILL ARE Individuals with individual outlooks.

Shame is something that will cause us to have to pay for the excess baggage. Its expensive. It’s a cost that is likely to cause extreme hardship if allowed to continue to fester. Shame comes in many forms, comes from many things, and is insidious if left alone. Especially the shame that you have had no say in. Shame that was being played out like a maestro orchestrating an orchestra.

I know shame well. And shame knows me well. I am going to add a frame of reference to this post that is rarely my custom. Referencing my past, or my childhood; I’ve spoken about it in simplistic good terms before; the good out of the bad because 99.9% of my time that is just how I see my childhood. There were both. Just as there is in every one of us. For the purpose of this post and for my own journey I hope that you’ll indulge me and maybe even relate.

THE REASON FOR THE SEASON OF LENT

This quote from the Preface of Lent may seem surprising to those people who are accustomed to thinking of Lent solely as a time of penance: “Each year we are given this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed”.

Lent is certainly a period marked by somber seriousness, but contrary to certain stereotypes it is also a time of joy

We become aware of our sinfulness and our shames, however not by remaining fixated on ourselves, but by contemplating the love of Spirit. The readings for Mass during Lent certainly denounce sin, but at the same time Mass proclaims the divine mercy which is about forgiveness, 

For those who do not know I am a recovering Irish Catholic. I mean no disrespect or offense to those who are practicing Catholics, it is my personal spiritual choice based on personal history that made no sense to me to continue being under the direction of The Church that protects physical and sexual abusers. Priests who have obviously disobeyed their vows and promise to God. My abuse albeit not by a man of the clergy but was inflicted by one who should have been an even more trusted member of my family-the paternal grandfather. I was barely 8 yrs old.

Suffice it to say that I find no purpose in regurgitating up the details to be read here. I shall take no part in allowing anyone to “Float their boat” by reading a post here that is intended to help, not hurt. The only thing needed to be known is this was my start to shame. Something that I did not have control over, yet all the same I wore the shame of it like a red scarlet letter.

Growing up, and then growing out of an alcoholic home where parents had their heads in some other game than parenting, seeing violence, arguments were the norm and drunk parents at any time was my fear. I could not and would not let my friends see it. I would try to protect them from it just as hard as I tried to protect my baby brother of 4 years from it. But I could not. This was beyond my control and led me to believe that this was also my shame. I vowed to never as an adult allow events and other people to have power over my life again. The shame of others would never be mine again. I could master my culpability in life, but own no one else’s.

It’s taken me 50 plus years to realize that shame causes guilt of the hidden kind  and that I don’t have control and never will. As long as I let whatever happens around me to engulf me spiritually I would continue to try to make it my own. AS long as I allowed my own children who are adults now to accept their shame and guilt I am keeping them from owning what they need to heal.

Spending time on Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent reading and praying I asked Spirit to help me quiet the chatter in my mind, and to still my heart so that I may get closer to letting go of what does not serve me. What can I do to bring my mind more open to Spirit? What can I do to lend my heart to letting go of all old pains? What is keeping me from that complete openness that I will no longer need childish things? Letting go of guilt and shame whether I own it or whether it belongs to someone else will help guide my quest.

I need to let them all go and take down the screen that has helped me keep a guard up around my heart. Hanging on to shame is hanging to resentments, it’s akin to hanging on to an old lover who abuses your right to be happy. I can see ever so clearly now that what I held onto as baggage  was a way for me to remain a victim. To hang on to events that are past whether years ago, or yesterday, they only keep a screen of falseness up between myself and the spirit of contentment in my life.

Taking responsibility for events not in my power were bricks that through the years the mortar began to crumble. I had no idea why only that I knew there was this hole in my heart where I placed all shame. Shame has been keeping me from a lot of things for a long time. I did not feel worthy despite all the teachings I was forgiven. I had no idea I also had to forgive myself.

I need to let it all go. I’ve hung on too much too long, so long that I feared the idea of being without this coat of hidden shame. This is what happens when you own something too long that never belonged to you in the first place. Yet I stumble, I look over my shoulder, I run the other way and shame wants to follow. I will have to master this letting go.

Letting go of shame may sound difficult, it may not even be what is thought of as the typical fasting for Lent. Yet it feels so right in my heart, and my mind knows how much I need to let it all go.

This Reason For The Season of Lent I am giving up my shame. Letting it all go  and turning it over to something far more powerful than myself. I will cleanse all my resentments away, all the shame will leave my heart. Not just f several weeks until Easter Sunday, but for always. My heart will no longer be abuzz with painful shame, and my mind’s self chatter of times gone will be free to be open to just today. Just this moment. Living in splendor with a whole heart, with a mind that can relish the now, and a spirituality that is quiet, true and free.

Goodbye Old Shame, it’s been real.

 

©tjhelser2012

 

 

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Fall Brings An Easter Blessing

18 October 2013

 
Seeing a plant in stages of its growth is not at all unusual if you garden. And I do. 
I think of gardening as a blessing, I love to grow things wild and unruly. I love to get my fingers into the dirt in the ground, I love to make mud pies.  
I have an unusual event happening in my garden this Fall.
Every year since my two daughters were infants I received an Easter Lily from them & their father to help set the environment of spirituality for the season of Lent & Easter in our home. We are not an overly religious family, but we are deeply spiritual and Easter & the spring equinox are significant, with the traditional & symbolic gift given of an Easter Lily. 
 

An Easter Lily  (Lilium longiflorum is actually a native of the southern islands of Japan. A World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, is credited with starting U.S. Easter Lily production when he brought a suitcase full of lily bulbs with him to the southern coast of Oregon in 1919. He gave them away to friends and when the supply of bulbs from Japan was cut off as a result of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the rising price of the bulbs suddenly made the lily business a viable industry for these hobby growers and earned the bulbs the nickname “White Gold”. Today over 95% of all bulbs grown for the potted Easter Lily market are produced by just ten farms in a narrow coastal region straddling the California-Oregon border, from Smith River, California up to Brookings, Oregon.

For almost 40 years every May I would replant said lily’s outside in my gardens and flower beds. Different gardens throughout those years, and for 10 years while living in a downtown Seattle high rise I planted the plants in the apartment buildings gardens since I had none of my own. 
I could grow really healthy beautiful plants, but to get them to re-bloom again in their natural environment was something I was never successful with. They make gorgeous foliage with shiny green pointed leaves, adding much texture and different heights to my flower beds. But to bloom again in the early summer months of June as Mother Nature intended the following years never happened.
 I was okay with that,  I knew from research that to get a plant to re-bloom after being forced to bloom unnaturally is not an easy feat.  
 
This past March 2013 on Easter I was in a very different space than I had ever been; not only had I become a newly single woman at the start of 2013 I also gifted myself for the first time ever an Easter Lily. It had been 3 years since my youngest daughter survived emergency brain surgery and woke from coma on Easter Sunday 2010.
As I said my Easter 2013 was very different than it ever had been, my first alone, and my daughter was winning the fight to save her life a second time.
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After taking great care to keep my lily alive after its blooms were spent I planted it in June outside in my tiny flower bed I had created at my new little apartment. 
It was a late planting this year even for the high desert because we had a later than usual beginning to our spring with freezing night-time temperatures prevailing through May, making it impossible to start gardening like the rest of our state did in March.
So my lily finally went into the ground and I nurtured it along, making sure through that during our warm summer days it was thriving and growing strong. 
 

Last month I noticed a bizarre thing. Growing out of the original plant were two new offshoots. Two new stalks, the Easter lily plant had propagated itself. In the fall. That in itself was different from any other time I had witnessed before. Typically the lily goes dormant after its blooms have faded and dies back into itself until spring the following year. 

“Well,” I thought, “that’s kind of cool.”
 
Then… it started happening.. First one bud appeared, then another, and then both stalks created 5 to 6 buds each. 
I could watch almost daily out my window the buds turning into blooms. 
 
My Easter lily is blooming!!
In the Fall!
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By rights This lily should not be blooming! Unless my past history with Easter lily’s( that were hot-house forced to bloom in the spring) is odd. 
But even the irony of MY lily blooming is enough that I think it is very cool.  
But that it is also fully blooming in October, in the high desert of central Oregon… well .. that is such an incredible thing I am in awe with this lily.  I associate my youngest daughter’s recovery from emergency brain surgery on Easter Sunday morning of 2010 as a miracle, along with that 3 years later the reinvention of my life and my maiden Easter purchase of this now blooming lily as my Fall Easter blessing 
And I am amazed.
 
It is why I wrote about it, so I will never forget the miracle of Mother Nature’s strength and resilience. 
I think our own human spirit mirrors that strength & resilience.