Love Wins~ A Rejection Story

Love Wins~ A Rejection Story

It was 8:10 am on Thursday morning, and I was literally on my way out the door taking the kids to school, when I got a text from my beloved editor, letting me know that our first choice publisher had declined on taking on my debut book, “Holy Messy Love.”

I stopped in my tracks, taking in this discouraging news, while my kids stood nearby, saying, “What is it, Mama? Who texted you?” My initial reaction was to burst into tears, feeling the letdown, the vulnerable crumbling of specific expectations. Through my tears I could see and feel my children’s deeply empathic concern. They both sighed sadly, “Oh, Mama…” aligned in my disappointment.

More than anyone else perhaps, my kids have watched me pour my heart and soul into the writing and editing of this book, and have been fully aware of the high hopes I’d held of being possibly embraced with gracious ease by this publisher.

Our four minute car ride to school was uncharacteristically quiet. My sadness was real and present, moving through me with breath and tears. At one point I glanced at Ezra (10) in my rear view mirror, and could tell by his expression that he was feeling worried for me. Arayla (13) sat beside me, immersed in her own internal churning. Before I dropped them off, I managed to wipe the tears from my face, clear my throat, and say: “My loves, don’t worry. It just wasn’t meant to be, I guess… It’s OK… Something else will reveal itself…. I love you! Have a beautiful day at school.” They got out of the car gently, tossing me tender, loving glances.

After I got home I let myself fully feel all that I needed to feel. Disappointment exposed a sense of immense defeat which then revealed layers of self-doubt, and I wept, letting my heart totally break about it. This went on for about 20 minutes.

Then I stopped. In the space that had been cleared by feeling these feelings, I opened my eyes and my mind wider to what IS, and I could feel my heart beckoning a deeper trust and surrender.

Suddenly there was an interesting sense of relief that came with this first publishers “decline”; an authentic feeling of—well of course they needed to say “No.” I recalled Elizabeth Gilbert writing in “Big Magic” about how many rejections she received on her way to becoming an internationally celebrated author. How perhaps it’s just an unavoidable part of this vulnerable initiation of putting our work out there.

I could feel it then, the sacred necessity of this “No”, working me in a uniquely beautiful way. I could feel how it was honing my right relationship with writing; fanning the fire of my humility; strengthening my resolve to write regardless of anyone ever seeing it or wanting it or liking it or buying it.

I splashed cold water on my face, burned some sweetgrass and cedar, and set to work on Plan B—sending off my book proposal to specific literary agents who specialize in presenting “prescriptive non-fiction” to larger publishers. This first publisher who had declined was a relatively small, spiritual, niche publisher. I breathed in deeply, considering: Perhaps “Holy Messy Love” actually craves a wider wingspan with which to soar into the world?

It was 10:20 when I heard my phone ding with a new text. This one was from my daughter.

The text read: “You are brave, strong and an amazing mama. There is a publisher out there who will love your book and want to publish it. Your book is a special gift from your heart to our world and nothing can get in the way of that. Trust. Believe in yourself like I believe in you. If this wasn’t the right one, there must be an even better one coming. I love you. Xo Arayla”

For the second time that morning, tears flooded my eyes after receiving a text. But this time my tears were made of astonished joy and pride. I reveled in the beauty of my 13 year old girl choosing to (illegally ;-)) text her mama from school with words of generous encouragement, loving praise, and grounded faith! What immensely good news this text was for my heart, and for our world. What a WIN!

I bowed again, as I bow again now towards the wild, mysterious, uncontrollable design of it all.

Who knows how it’s all meant to unfold? I surely don’t. But however it unfolds, one thing is for certain: LOVE WINS—in  all its humbling, holy, and messy glory—again and again and again.

 

 

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The kids shifted their spots in the hot tub. Ezra pushed himself out to cool off on the side, and Arayla swam over closer, snuggling into me in the tub.

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Ezra repeated, “Being your own Beloved.”

I nodded to him.

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I added, “It’s quite an amazing love-affair, you know, this whole self-love thing.”

Arayla squirmed a bit in my arms in the water.

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This made me chuckle with immense fondness.

Arayla sat up and looked at me shyly, nodding quietly in my direction.

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The Revolutionary Choosing of Love

The Revolutionary Choosing of Love

These last couple of weeks, on more than one occasion, I’ve lost track of love.

The pain of collective trauma has ached in my chest. My hands have felt small and my voice weak as I’ve fumbled my way towards prayer. Perhaps “disheartened” would be the word.

As reports pour in of one family after another losing everything in these most recent California Fires, many of them dear people I know and love, my heart breaks in raw empathy. Simultaneously, my own family has been going through a ravaging fire of a different nature, one of the most harrowing passages of my womanhood, wracking my nerves and testing my faith on a daily basis.

In times like these it can feel like life is for the sole purpose of hobbling us.

And yet, a small miracle occurs every time I remember that regardless of my losing track of love, Love never loses track of me. In this sacred remembering, love is chosen once again, right now, right alongside everything else that is also present.

Our love need not replace our grief. The two can come together like two palms in a prayer.

It’s easy to choose love when our hearts feel wide open to life, when we are feeling relaxed and supported, buoyantly inspired, or poignantly connected to the pulse of existence, isn’t it? After beautiful lovemaking, or a delicious meal shared with dear friends, or a satisfying day of feeling useful in our endeavors, it’s effortless to align with love. When the children are easy and adorable, rosy-cheeked asleep in their beds; when everything seems to be in its right place, love is obvious. When we are reveling in the light of our own bounty, and in the incredible sweetness life includes, generosity of heart comes freely, doesn’t it?

But what about the moments when we feel utterly heartbroken by life’s relentless intensity; when all our survival issues are up, and it feels like we are meeting one closed door after another? When the unbelievable corruption and trauma playing out on our global stage gets the best of our centers, and we find ourselves writhing in a sense of powerlessness, then what about love? When we are personally feeling the toxic impact of natural and un-natural disaster, and can’t imagine how our children can grow up in a world like this, then what? When we are feeling painfully rejected, unchosen, or unloved by another, then where does love go? When we are feeling grief-stricken in faithless despair, completely betrayed or abandoned by God? I ask you—what happens then, to love?

There is a secret medicine in re-choosing love at the center of broken-hearted faithlessness. When our hearts feel demolished, and we have no clue as to how we will ever find our way back to some semblance of joy or trust, and still we align with love—what a powerful choosing this is. How revolutionary, really.

I’m not talking about being inauthentically loving, no. Not “putting on a happy face” or “keeping it positive.” Not a doing of “love” so as to appear more loveable. Please, please—no avoidance of what’s here in this moment in the name of “love.” I’m not talking about feeling love to the exclusion of feeling whatever else is genuinely present for us. I’m talking about finding it within ourselves to not let what’s devastating us distract us from the possibility of choosing love anyway—just as we are, and just as life is.

Life is inviting us to discover that resiliency has everything to do with realizing that we are LOVE, and that nothing is too much for love to bear. 

I love you. ~*~

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

Our World, Our Mirror~ Rupture, Projection, Responsibility & Repair

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It’s difficult to know what to say in these times, but I’ll give it a try. 

While this horrifying drama is playing out on the world stage, I’m finding it useful to notice how this translates in my own privileged life. For it to get this crazy on the outer stage of our consciousness, there must be some seriously unexamined shadow~ and not only out there, in them~ but in here, inside us, inside me.

Very recently, in perfect coinciding with all this political turmoil and devastating polarization of the human people, I experienced a painful and uncommon personal rupture inside a cherished part of my own life~ where my professional work as a healing facilitator overlapped with a beloved friendship~ in co-creative collaboration.

For this rupture to occur in such a painful way broke my heart and brought up so much for me to look at. Of course with retrospect I can see the dangerous vulnerability inherent in such a personal/professional overlap~ the ways in which our personal attachments can keep us from embodying a certain quality of vigilance and impeccability we might otherwise take for granted; the way personal entanglements allow us at times to sneakily sabotage our own integrity.

But hindsight is always only somewhat helpful, especially when the heart is broken. And so I’ve been processing the raw emotions of this,  forced to humbly examine my own blindspots and shadow that allowed such an oversight to occur. The deeper I go in my own inquiry, the more I’m guided towards a realization of compassion and forgiveness that is startlingly wide and inclusive. I’m drawn to deep contemplation on the notion of innocence~ where true innocence is to be found, beyond proving, inside us all?

There’s so much rampant rage and blame and fault-finding happening in our world right now, alongside dangerous denial and complacency and attached sleepiness; so many outrageous transgressions on human souls, which then inflame and encourage a volatile response from other human souls.

Man against woman and woman against man, liberals against conservatives and vice versa. Leaders, leading from sociopathic delusion~ marginalizing, excluding, projecting onto that which they are afraid of and seek to control. The righteous, hateful, venemous blame this naturally invokes in return.

And there is so much true need for voicing and taking a stand for what’s right and just and true in these times. As well as a need for prayer and powerful self-examination. Our world is our mirror. So what is our part in this? And what can we do~ in our daily lives, aside from align and realign with what our lives stand for?

I don’t know about you, but I’m praying~ deeply, seriously, fiercely. Praying as I write, as I mother my children, as I cook, as I drive, as I meet with people, as I attend to all that begs attending in this full life I lead.

And I’m examining myself~ my whole self, every side of myself~ not just that which is beautifully clear-eyed, courageously leading from healing intent for our world, but this within me that has been hiding in subtle forms of self-betrayal~ masked as attachment, or denial, or postponement, or spiritual pride.

I’m examining that within me which appears to deny all responsibility like a fool, pointing my finger out there; as well as that which tends to assume all responsibility like a martyr; overwhelmed and collapsed in guilt. I’m looking at my part of the drama and mess, and the fear and distrust and shame that has sourced it.

I remember about a year after I got divorced from my children’s father, there was a pivotal point of healing for me around a toxic dynamic in which we both were suffering. I had to finally see a painful way in which I was actually attached to him being wrong, attached to judging him as the one to blame, attached to him appearing as the “lesser parent.” A way that I had projected my own dark masculine onto him, for him to carry~ which in many ways he continuously embodied and confirmed, justifying the projection in my mind. This projection secured my own identification with righteous innocence, light and goodness.

When I finally saw what was happening, what my part was in this dynamic that was harming my precious family, I had to take it all back, meet and claim the projection inside myself. All the ways I subtly and at times blatantly judged him and blamed him; the darkness, the laziness, the brokenness, his  refusal to heal, his resistance to love. I had to find all those same qualities and tendencies in myself. What a relief for him, when I finally took that back. I could immediately see and feel a freedom come over him, and our co-parenting relationship lightened in the absence of this toxic load of my blame and projection.

If we can really look at the darkest parts that we have projected outside ourselves, asking others in our life, or public figures to hold on our behalf; if we can turn and meet inside our very own hearts the ego of fierce self-defense, the heartbroken lost one, the wounded longing that sources terror and greed, then maybe the dichotomization that is being so dangerously enacted out in our world won’t need to manifest so powerfully. Can I find that darkness inside my own self, and bring it deeper home to love? 

I’m looking at my own innocence, at the heart of it all, at the heart of every single human being of our world~ the innocence that is unblemished~ holy and whole. 

Deeper than all the splits I have embodied~ the good and bad, awake and sleeping, the sacred and profane, the blamer and the blamed~ I’m humbled by the simple heart of my own true love.
I’m discovering a deeper place of humility and human compassion and the living prayer that blossoms from the core of this. True compassion~ what a healing wonder this is~ how it rectifies all the splits that source the wars~ within us and without.

I’m seeing that life’s invitation to us at this time is to wake up deeper, to stay present, to be still in the face of our own tendencies to react or collapse, while daring us to take a stand for truth and right action however we are called ~ be that in the deepest meditation, or in raising our children to be compassionately engaged self-loving citizens of Planet Earth,  or by making calls, donating money, writing letters, and marching the streets with our signs voicing our hearts.

I’m looking at how my spiritual identification with being “free of drama” has actually just been a subtle avoidance of being awake inside the drama that life IS, that human relationship IS.

I’m seeing that being fully alive is not about rising above the drama that’s here, in some kind of inflated spiritual posture of untouchable invulnerability, but rather about staying awake and clear and present, at the heart of all the drama that continuously swirls around us, touching us deeply and impacting our tenderly alive hearts.

I take refuge in a Truth that is large enough to include every side of what I have wanted to deny within myself, and what we as a culture have wanted to shamefully shove under the rug of our own human consciousness~ yours and mine and theirs. A truth that is wide enough to include the ugliest, scariest, most shameful dramas of our world, and the ways these perfectly mirror the hidden wars happening inside us and our tender human lives. A truth that celebrates a oneness of humanity, that annihilates all false division. A truth that includes and reveals an exquisite purity of silence which none of this ever touches.

Do we dare come to peace, to compassionate action, right here, right now, inside our own little life? Do we dare to actively mend the gaps in our own heart~ between our love and what we deem unloveable?

I take refuge in the simple heart of my own true love; an innocence that is deeper than any dichotomy of blame and defense; a trust that doesn’t require life or other people or our world to be  trustworthy, a forgiveness that includes the unforgiveable; a compassion for the innocent wound at the heart of every sin.

I take refuge in you, in your earnest self-inquiry, in your tender vulnerability, in your courageous honesty and bold commitment to love.

Thank you. I love you. xo Jesua


Help Me to Stay in the Wonder

Help Me to Stay in the Wonder

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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, cozied in close together under her covers in the dark of her room, telling me everything she feels and fears and longs for. She hands me all of her burdens, sometimes tearfully, and all of her hopes, and I open the palms of my heart as wide as I can to receive them all.

And then, alone in the night of my home, I wash the dishes again.
I work my way through the stack of bills.

I light a candle, sit down before the altar, and dive into the heart of flame~ noticing with awe how it rises with such bold elegance to fill its own light; noticing how sweetly eager it is to shine.

Exhausted, I slip under the luscious sheets of my own bed, softly pressing my curves into the waiting arms of quiet.

Oh these precious times. Dear God help me to treasure them. Help me to stay awake enough to keep opening to this pulse of Grace inside it all. Help me to cherish even the loneliness that surfaces here, the resistance to mundane tedium, the agitation and throb of wanting more.

Dearest Holy One, help me to stay in the wonder.

Help me to stay in the wonder while navigating the throes of density and traffic, the tight squeeze of time, the heat of hormones and the noise of squabbling siblings. Help me to stay in the wonder within this furrowed brow of fried nerves and tired bones.

Help me, please, to stay in the wonder.

Thank you Life.
Thank you for this exquisite moment, never before breathed. Thank you for this chance to love these young ones, and revel in the humbling complexity of human relating.

Thank you for the small moments, Life.

The unspeakable sensation of my son’s soft, cool cheek as I kiss him goodbye at school. That vast sky of unfathomable love between his plump cheek and my devoted lips. That adorable way he tosses with confidence “See ya!” into the space as he takes off, like a rocket, towards his own becoming.

Thank you for that mastered toss of my daughter’s long, magenta-streaked hair over her shoulder; that sharp, perfectly dismissive look in her eye, like a slap to my heart, as she begins to push me away in moments, needing to discover her own distinct creation. Thank you for this scary ache of loss and faithful deepening of love we discover as we transition into a brand new way together.

Thank you so much, Beloved One, for that moment when the hot water in the shower touches the waiting skin of my chest, my throat, the crown of my curly head. My loving hands to my momentary face~ so tender, this gesture.

And the moment~ oh!~ when I see this tiny, blue-feathered hummingbird land~ just for a heartbeat~ in the tree outside my window. Thank you for the creatures of the earth~ what bright joy they bring to our weariness.

And thank you Rain, for the precious gift of Green~ returning once again to my beloved California hillsides. Thank you for filling the wells; for feeding the hungry riverbeds and thirsty soil.

Thank you for this first morning sip of hot, creamy tea~ what a pleasure this gives me.

And how I love the old, white-bearded Irishman I had never seen before, who boldly lifted my chin tenderly in the café this morning to meet his eyes, saying “don’t you lose that smile, dear~ it’s beautiful!” Thank you for the intimate realness and casual sacredness that passes between humans in moments; the simple way this tends to our faith.

Thank you God, for the sweetness of pure stillness, of wantless wholeness, the unquestionable home of Truth that celebrates itself in the bottomless depths of my own heart.

Thank you for “thank you;” for the wisdom of knowing that suffering finds no room inside a breath of gratitude.

Thank you for the wonder, Life.
I receive you; I bow.
I vow to keep finding my deeper yes to you.
I truly love you.
I truly love.

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. When death comes in close we notice our own precious, mortal breath pressed up against the holy, vast unknown. Death sends ripples out into the communities it impacts, making waves—through the hearts of loved ones, and then to everyone those lives touch. In this way, death boldly illuminates and accentuates the ever-changing web and field of life we blessedly share.

When death comes for someone we personally cherish, we are thrust into the incomparable life experience of grieving. In our grief, it is natural to fluctuate rapidly between extremely diverse perspectives. In one moment, we might revel in celebration of our beloved’s beauty, feeling nothing but humbled gratitude to have known such a miraculous love. And then in the next moment, we might get lost for a time in rage or sorrow—searching our soul for a way to reckon with a loss that feels wholly unacceptable. Sometimes we experience a bittersweet joy and relief upon the passing, knowing that the suffering their life may have included has been released. We are grateful to sense their human pain transmuted and transcended now; we imagine them flying free. At other times we would give anything just to have one more moment with the form of this one we so desperately miss.

When death comes close but not that close, we watch respectfully from the periphery those closest in to the loss. We let our hands rest upon our compassionate beating hearts—empathizing, bowing, sending love, sending prayers. We pray only that their tender, grieving hearts might just keep breaking open even wider into the love that holds it all.

When death comes in close enough not to devastate us, but still to touch us deeply, we think of everyone we love so dearly. We remember, at least for a moment, that all form is temporary and fleeting. We remember that along with the rest of life, we are present here, embodied like this in our world, only for the briefest of moments. We count our blessings, we give thanks for the aliveness of those closest to us, while soberly knowing it is truly only a matter of time before the circle of life returns us to whatever  lies beyond this lifetime.

We look down at our own slowly aging hands, our own ever-changing bodies, still breathing, full of life for now. We pull our beloved children in close to us and breathe their scent deeply in, making a memory through active cherishing. We behold our lovers, our parents, our furry creatures, our dearest friends, and even those we do not know, and we see them through fresh eyes, taking in their light, their warmth, their utterly unique beauty.

With Death Medicine comes an awake and refined sense of presence in life. We remember to notice what it feels like as the soles of our feet touch the earth. As the sun kindly lifts our face to kiss us, we notice the sweet smell of flowers on the wind. When we’re dancing, we notice how much gravity loves us to lean in and taste it. We delight in each sunset, crescent moon, and starshine. We notice the hummingbird, resting for just a heartbeat, on the tiniest thread of branch. We wonder at the mysterious animating force that enlivens these bodies, arousing these senses, only for a time.

If we are lucky, we suddenly become present to the most essential questions:

What in this moment of my life, if anything, remains unlived?

What remains unspoken, unforgiven, unthanked, unsung, unloved?

What of my assignments remain incomplete?

We notice what we’ve been postponing, and we feel the sacred urge to leap. Upon deeper inquiry, perhaps we notice we are actually afraid of living and loving our lives the way we yearn to. And then, perhaps, we notice an even deeper fear: We fear missing out on our own lives; we fear dying an unlived life. What did we come to say, to give, to live, to serve? And what on earth are we waiting for?

When death comes in close, we notice that WE ARE ALIVE, and that we are literally surrounded by all of it: by the living and the dying and the dead. We cannot help but feel the sacred continuum in which we are a tiny yet essential link. We feel the poignancy of being led simultaneously by the light of our ancestors and the dreams of our unborn great-grandchildren.

When death comes in close, we notice that we truly love to live; to take our humble place in the great circle of life. And we confess quietly to our own hearts how vulnerable we feel in this love and this aliveness.

We pray for right relationship with all of life. We pray for clarity, humility, maturity, patience, discipline, dignity, and integrity. We pray for wisdom, empathy, truth, kindness, and compassion.

And then we bow to one another and to ourselves. We bow to this Death Medicine that never fails to shake our hearts wider open to life. We stand at the threshold of inevitable death, and we say to life: “Thank you, thank you, thank you.”