Loving Life on Life’s Terms

Nov 29, 2019 | Blog, Featured Read

Several years ago, during this very same season of giving thanks, I went through a very difficult passage.

It was not long after my daughter Arayla (nine years old at the time), had endured a vicious health ordeal that landed her in the pediatric I.C.U. for one long, terrifying week.

There’s pretty much nothing like watching your child fight for their life.

Since her powerful recovery I had been troubled to notice that I was feeling more distraught—in fear, anger, and heartache—than purely relieved and grateful.

Here she was, miraculously improving before my very eyes, skipping vibrantly through the house, scattering her bright-eyed laughter, her clever bossiness, her gracious old-soul wisdom and elegance. Here she was, ALIVE. And so why was my heart feeling so broken?

I knew I had so very much to be grateful for. But in reality I was feeling perpetually triggered and defensive and guarded against life.

Life has shown me again and again that gratitude is one of the most powerful tools we have; a major key to freedom. If only I can connect with sincere gratitude for what’s here, for all the many ways I am blessed, for this simple honor of aliveness, then I can find peace.

Yet in this case my gratitude had become eclipsed by fear. For the life of me, I couldn’t shake the dark weight and depression her illness had inspired. In private corners of my day I would resort to self-scolding: She lived! She’s here! You got to KEEP her! What are you so sad about?

It became obvious to me that at some core level I was deeply angry with God. The trauma of my daughter’s illness had left me feeling disheartened and disillusioned about the unpredictable nature of life and love.

I found myself wrestling with the suffering that accompanies our vulnerable attachment to others.

How were we supposed to even enjoy love inside a field of imminent, uncontrollable loss? How were we supposed to feel even remotely safe in this equation? Were we supposed to just live with the fact that it is all hopelessly beyond our control?

Finally it became clear that I had a substantial bone to pick with God. It began with my hurting mama heart, and this immense vulnerability of attachment. But as I inquired deeper, I recognized that this bone I needed to pick with God was much bigger than my own little life.

It was about the greater suffering on the planet; the distressing darkness of the masses.

It was about the blind fear and short-sighted greed of corporate madness.

It was about the insanity that leads to children shooting other children.

It was about the countless, devastating effects of global warming—distressing our oceans, our forests, our communities; eliminating countless species, including possibly our own.

It was about the soil and the seeds and the bees.

It was about the entirely unnecessary prevalence of poverty.

It was about the tragedy of our collective misperception of separation—from the Great Mystery and from each other—fueling addiction, war and dis-ease across the globe.

I found myself feeling angry, really furious with God about all of this.

As I fumed in rage and grief, I recognized that I felt sincerely challenged to love a God, a Life, a Mystery that could be this horrifically messyincluding so much disaster and misery for so many.

With this recognition I could feel myself touching into the deepest source of my angst; my most turbulent inner conundrum: How to love this life with all it includes? How to be sincerely grateful for life as it is? 

I found myself courageously praying towards real resolution: how to discover authentic peace? How to stop the fight against God? How to just love life anyway—to somehow find true gratitude for this life in its ruthless inclusion of continuous loss, constant uncertainty, and zero control?

I sat at my altar and wept and burned in the fire of no control. I knew I had to find a way to open my heart to life on life’s terms. I knew my freedom and joy and the health of my relationships depended on it.

And so I burned and burned, and wept, and allowed all my grievances against life to be felt and named and known. I allowed my broken heart to simply be included in my love.

And in my willingness to open wider to everything that appeared to be in the way of true gratitude, I found my way humbly home to my own broken-open heart of authentic thanks and forgiveness.

I recognized that if our love for life remains conditional, based upon us getting our own way or life looking the way we want it to, we remain defended against the slap of life’s ruthless uncertainty. We remain fearful of life’s radical inclusivity.

The degree to which our hearts are guarded and armored against life’s horrors is the exact degree to which we are also closed to its brilliant love, beauty, and joy. There’s just no escaping that truth!

Today, if I were to name a spiritual practice, it is only found in this ongoing, moment-by-moment practice of opening wider to all this life includes.

It is the inherent way this silences my mind and liberates my heart. It is the simple way this grounds me in the precious truth of presence. It is the profound way my willingness to be with what is inspires my reverence for life itself.

In this present season of Giving Thanks, so many of us really do have so much to be grateful for.

This sacred breath, this moment of heart, these dear ones we adore, these birds outside in the trees, this precious water pouring from the skies, this food on our plates, this warmth in our home, this blessed chance to say thank you, once again.

But perhaps for some of us, in order to discover a deeper sincerity of thanks, we must first tell the truth about what’s in the way of that. About what’s burning raw in our hearts; what’s angry or disheartened; what’s aching within us, for good reason.

Perhaps you have your own bone to pick with God? Perhaps it’s time to tend the altar of your own trampled heart and broken faith. To clear the air of every grievance.

Maybe this is the moment to find your way home, my friend—once again—to a deeper honesty; and then to forgiveness; to loving life on life’s terms; to gratitude for it all just as it is.

Facebook Comments

More Blog Posts

Help Me to Stay in the Wonder

Help Me to Stay in the Wonder

My little boy only wants Sanskrit mantras sung to him as he falls asleep. “Please Mama, sing me the Sanskrit ones?” he says, as he scoots back his 7 year old body into my spooning embrace, finding his trustworthy bridge into  dream.

My little budding woman-child wants to talk and talk and talk, […]

Letting Love Have Its Way With Our Deepest Fears

Letting Love Have Its Way With Our Deepest Fears

​A couple of nights ago I woke in the middle of the night from a terrifying dream, with my heart pounding, my mouth still mouthing the emotional words I had been saying in my dream, stress hormones coursing through my body.

In the dream I had just been diagnosed with Cancer, and I was surrounded by doctors as they explained to me where it was in my body, and what they planned to do to try and remove it.

In the dream I felt overcome with dread, panic, confusion and horror. Right […]

The Last Cut-Down Christmas Tree

The Last Cut-Down Christmas Tree

I’ll always remember the day my son Ezra Star renounced our well-loved tradition of cutting down a tree for Christmas time.It was last year, early December, Arayla was 9 at the time, and Ezra was newly 6. We arrived at our favorite, old-fashioned Christmas Tree Farm in Sebastopol, where you can go and wander around peacefully, weaving through all the trees, until you find and choose your perfect, special tree, and then watch them cut it down, carry it off, and wrap it up in rustic twine while you stand to the side, sipping freshly made hot […]

Too Much, Not Enough, & This Love That Bears It All

Too Much, Not Enough, & This Love That Bears It All

’ve been in a very deep inner dialogue with Life recently, soul-searching and heart-stretching, and while it’s difficult and vulnerable to put into words for you all, I’m still compelled to try.

Not long ago I noticed that I was walking around with what felt like a subtle wall in my own heart, like a self-imposed boundary or barricade against Life. I noticed this wall not only appearing in my relationships, but in a deeper and more general way, in my very relationship with Life itself.

An earnest curiosity arose within me as to what this subtle wall, this ever-present barricade was made of. So I carved out a night of prayer for myself, in which I could dive deliberately […]

Gods, Goddesses, & Starbeams of Love

Gods, Goddesses, & Starbeams of Love

Recently Arayla (10.5) and I went through her entire bedroom for the first time in years, clearing out clothes and de-cluttering toys and books that were no longer relevant for her rapidly transforming being. It was quite a task, and took over a week to complete. The final product was a truly different room~ clean, simple, mature, and current.

So it didn’t totally take me by surprise when Ezra (almost 7) announced to me several days ago: “Mom? You know my bedroom? It’s just not really feeling like ME these days.” Respectfully humored, I asked him: “Really? What do you think needs to change so it can feel more like YOU?”

Fully expecting him to come back with some pressing desire for new bedding, or a Star Wars poster, or something pertaining to skateboarding or martial arts, I was completely taken aback when he responded with utter certainty and serious […]

Terrible Beauty

Terrible Beauty

This morning, driving the children to school, the skies were gorgeously astounding to behold. Something about the way the clouds were patterned and scattered in patches; allowing the sun to shine and flow through in distinct rays; the pink and lavender hue… it took my breath away. I gushed to the kids: “Oh my god! Look at this beauty this morning! Look at those amazing pink rays, and how those unusual clouds are letting the light through… wow, it’s just spectacular.”

Ezra (6.5) in the back, looked eagerly out his window, and sighed sweetly “Ahhhhh” in vocal agreement. But Arayla, (10.5) sitting next to me in the front, checked out what I was so delighted by, and then said, soberly: “Unfortunately, […]

Giving Everything To Our Truest Desire

Giving Everything To Our Truest Desire

Recently I’ve been contemplating how and why it is that with all our spiritual maturity, self-awareness and earnest desire for true freedom, we might continue to betray ourselves for love, for money, for pleasure, for security, for image, for sex, for comfort, for success or for power?

Or why it is, if what we truly want is peace, we continue in an infatuation with drama, an attachment to there being something wrong, or a problem to fixate on? Or how it is we somehow remain subconsciously attached to being a victim of our circumstances; thus remaining powerless in our lives?

Is there any way you continually betray yourself?
Can you relate to this? Does it resonate?

And I’ve also […]

When Death Comes In Close

When Death Comes In Close

Death is always with us; an inescapable promise that goes hand-in-hand with life. And yet there are times when the undeniable presence of death comes in closer than usual, making its reality acutely known and felt.
Whether it’s a death from heart-wrenching suicide, or after a long-battled physical illness, or due to a tragic accident, or as a sudden, unexpected surprise—there is nothing like Death Medicine to bring us intimately close to the mysterious, precarious edge of our aliveness.

The Deepest Calling In Relationship

The Deepest Calling In Relationship

elationship, in all its many forms, is sacred, exquisite, essential, mysterious~ and oftentimes messy, troubled, loaded and charged. 

Whether we are married or single, wishing to be free of a partnership that has run its course, or actively calling a partnership in; whether we are delightfully dating, waiting for love, or exhausted by the search; whether we are monogamous or polyamorous, happily or unhappily sexually active, desperately wishing for sex, simply and honestly disinterested in sex, or deliberately celibate; whether our parents are still alive or have passed, […]

Lessons of Tantrums, Wise Sibling Instincts, & the Healing Power of Empathy

Lessons of Tantrums, Wise Sibling Instincts, & the Healing Power of Empathy

My son Ezra Star woke up sweetly today, pouncing on top of me in bed with all his 65 pounds of naked, sun-kissed, 6 year old love, panting loudly with morning breath into my still half-asleep ear: “Good morning my beautiful Mama Mama Mama!!!” I pulled him close, all of his squirmy, golden deliciousness, and inhaled adoringly his warmth and beauty. But within about 5 minutes, suddenly intensely triggered by remembering some of the routine plans in the field, seized by fierce resistance, aversion, and his own fiery temper, the emotional weather of my little love dramatically changed into a full-on, somewhat uncharacteristic, tantrumming storm.

He was inconsolable. I tried everything– all my loving-mama skills and therapeutic conscious communication skills. I tried listening, affirming his feelings and reflecting […]