Always enough

Whatever our uninvestigated false beliefs, they cause pain. And we often try to cope with that pain by dong things we don’t want, don’t understand and can’t control. These actions – these errors of innocence – may break every promise we’ve made to ourselves. Yet, bafflingly, we can’t stop. Welcome to the inferno!*
Martha Beck

Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain. Unless the Lord guards the city, the guard keeps watch in vain.**

Beneath the many structures we build over our lives, protecting what lies within from the scrutiny of others and painful self-probing, is the fear we may not be enough.

But we always have been enough and we always will be. We only need find out how. And when we do then we have come to a beginning:

The big question is whether you are going to be able to say a hearty yes to your next adventure.^

*From Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity;
Psalm 127:1;
^Joseph Campbell, quoted in Brené Brown’s Rising Strong.

Fear and adaptability

We’d probably be better off if we could simply say, “I’m afraid.” … The bravest leaders and contributors aren’t worried about appearing afraid. It allows them to see the world more clearly.*
Seth Godin

Adaptation is how we make the most of this life-in-all-its-fullness we’ve been handed.

Fear is what gets in the way.

We turn away towards our fear rather than away from it, we have begun to adapt: recreation follows.

*From Seth Godin’s blog: Afraid of afraid.

Preparing for surprise

I promised to give a sneaky look at one of the illustrations in Dancing in the Dark, from Annie Pirrie, Nini Fang and Elizabeth O’Brien.

I love how this little book for academics has made space for illustrations: may there be many more to follow.

The book isn’t widely stocked but copies may be obtained from the Golden Hare Bookshop, a smashing little independent in Edinburgh.

Dancing in the dark

Here’s a little book I recently illustrated and put together the cover for, from Annie Pirrie, Nini Fang and Elizabeth O’Brien.

Dancing in the Dark is meant for slipping in a pocket or bag, exploring how questions are the means of surviving knowingness.

The book isn’t widely stocked but copies may be obtained from the Golden Hare Bookshop, a smashing little independent in Edinburgh.

I’ll offer a sneaky preview of one of my illustrations tomorrow.

Dawdling, doodling and dreamwhispering

These have turned out to be my three great joys.  

I didn’t know this ten years ago.  They’re the further unfurling of a journey I’ve been on for some time now.

Dawdling, as in wandering, is about observing and appreciating more deeply a place or a thing or a person.

Doodling derives from dawdling, wandering with a line across a piece of paper is about listening, and when I add colour, is about relaxing.

Dreamwhispering is the name I give to listening to what our lives have to say about our values, talents and energies.

When we notice these, we’re able to imagine a different, deeper stories for our lives.

I’ve been bringing the three together in my Chaplaincy blog Slow Journeys in the Same Direction, which provides a thought, a doodle, and some exercises for a deeper journey into knowing ourselves and others.

Lately, I have found myself naming it a journey of mythological proportions as it takes to heart what mythologist Joseph Campbell spoke about how we need two myths for our lives in order to thrive: a personal myth and a social myth.  I wrap these as two questions:

Who is my true self?
What is my contribution?

Speaking in 1985, Campbell pointed to the problem of life changing so fast so that the old myths no longer served us, but neither were we able to find the time to create the new ones we need.  We are lost in ourselves and lost with others.

Campbell didn’t live to see the change that was about to be unleashed in the shape of the internet, a tool capable of accelerating change exponentially.

We’re now discovering or rediscovering numerous ways of bringing about a balance between our inner and outer worlds, finding a healthier rhythm for living, the way of integrity as Martha Beck names it:

To be in integrity is to be one thing, whole and undivided.*

I offer dawdling, doodling and dreamwhispering as an interruption to the speed and busyness.

We can take a familiar route on foot at half our normal pace and notice what we miss through speed.  The same effect will be had when we slow down and take a closer look at our lives.  Values begin to appear in greater detail; there’s more to our talents and abilities than we had thought, and we see how they connect with our energies – the ways our lives respond to the things we fill our days with.

Ursula Franklin may be borrowing words for democracy to describe technology, but they also work to describe the contents of our lives: 

I intend to look at technology the way [C. B.] Macpherson looked at democracy, as ideas and dreams, as practices and procedures, as hopes and myths.**

We are more than practices and procedures.  We not only express roles and responsibilities but also dreams and stories.

Here are some thing you can try: take a slow walk through a familiar place, noting through your senses what you normally miss; take a slow walk through your values with a journal, capturing the things that matter to you most; create a doodle to illustrate thisYou’re also welcome to visit Slow Journeys.

*From Martha Beck’s The Way of Integrity;
**From Ursula Franklin’s The Real World of Technology.

We awaken ourselves

In life one cannot awaken often enough the sense of a beginning within oneself. There is so little external change needed for that since we actually transform the world from within our hearts. If the heart longs for nothing but to be new and unlimited, the world is instantly the same as on the day of its creation and infinite.*
Rainer Maria Rilke

When one is home in oneself, one is integrated and enjoys a sense of balance and poise. In a sense that is exactly what spirituality is: the art of homecoming.**
John O’Donohue

Trauma is anything that separates us from our true self.

In this way we may all understand ourselves to be working through trauma.

Rather than avoiding our trauma, facing it brings the possibility of reuniting with our heart, out of which come new beginnings.

Yes, we will need guides, but within each of us is the truest guide: ourselves. We only need to hear this true self beneath he others.

*From Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters on Life;
**From John O’Donohue’s Benedictus.