When Spirit drops a calling card in front of us we have the option of picking it up and answering it, or leaving it and walking away. If we chose to answer we find ourselves invited into Spirit’s dwelling place — our hearts.
(To watch the scene click here)
There is a scene in Thor: Ragnarok when Thor knocks on Dr Strange’s door that beautifully illustrates this moment. As he knocks he stumbles through the door into Dr Strange’s dwelling. He is a little confused, looking around, taking in the room. He is holding his umbrella (his hammer in disguise) before him in a protective ready-for-danger kind of way.
Dr Strange says, “You can put down your umbrella.”
Invitation to drop our defenses:
Many times this is our first invitation form Spirit after our yes — the invitation to drop our defenses. We are human after all. It is natural for us to have our defenses up, our walls ready to protect us.
In order to truly be in dialogue with Spirit we must be willing to be fully vulnerable. It is this willingness to be fully vulnerable that drops us into our hearts. Walls and defenses separate us from our hearts, from Spirit.
There is one other thing that separates us from truly being able to co-create with Spirit.
Our hammer/umbrella really is our fixed perception.
When we set down to have our conversation with Spirit, to begin to manifest our dream together, we usually have a firm idea of what we want it to look like — an image, a thought, a detailed hope. This is our fixed perception: knowing what we want and how we want it, and holding onto that image/thought/vision no matter what. It become fixated in our mind’s eye. Many times it is what keeps us focused and working toward our goals. Other times we use it to discern how our progress is.
This is fine. However, when we co-create it usually does not go the way we want it to. Co-creating is an invitation to release our control regarding how to create this manifestation and what it will look like. Co-creating means that we invite Spirit to guide us.
We need to recognize that Spirit’s image of what we are working toward may be completely different that our imagined one. When it is, it is my experience that Spirit’s vision is actually more in alignment with my soul’s purpose, with the what I really desire the outcome of my creating to be.
If we can drop our fixed perceptions then we can truly co-create powerfully transformative manifestations in this world!
Many times our fixed perceptions are connected to our deepest fears. Our vision for what we are creating many times solves all, some or one of the problems/fears that we are experiencing.
What do I mean? Let’s take fear of financial failure as an example. When I was writing my business plan for Weaving Sacred Spaces (my image/vision), I wrote it in such a way as to be financially safe. I had three parts to the plan: (1) one to one clients; (2) retreats; (3) High Desert Essences. I was beginning with the one to one clients so that I would have a financial grounding to support the other work. I feared financial failure, so I created a plan that would help prevent it. However, this plan took me away from the original vision I received 15 years ago in the Lake District of England.
Spirit, however, held to that vision I was given all those years ago. Spirit brought me into a co-creating experience with flower spirits, animal spirits, and more, creating High Desert Essences as the first layer of my business. That is not something I would have chosen. However, it is exactly the medicine that I desire to offer in this world.
Now, Spirit is igniting within me my passion for retreats, teaching, mentoring. I have begun the work of creating weekend retreats.
And, to make me laugh and humble me, Spirit solved my financial fears by inviting me to be bi-vocational and be a part-time pastor.
I am indeed humbled. I am in awe at what is being co-created between us.
Once I dropped my fixed perception (my hammer/umbrella), I was able to flow fully in the co-creating experience with Spirit and things have happen I could never have imagined!
What are your fixed perceptions as you ponder our congregational growth? What fears is this image or picture covering up, solving?
Are you willing to face your fear and set it down so that Spirit can do amazing things with us?
This week I want to talk about the movement of Spirit. When we create, we are not creating on our own. We are co-creating with Spirit. Many times it is Spirit who initiates an invitation to co-create with us.
In the Christian tradition we use the word: call to talk about this movement. It is an invitation, a calling card handed to us, a knock at the door of our heart, a shout out that somehow catches our attention. This is the first movement of Spirit — the “Hello, I’m here. We need to talk.”
Sometimes that comes from us. Like when we are feeling frustrated in our lives and want to change/shift something. Or maybe there is a dream that is arising within us and we desire manifesting it. We call out saying, “Hey Spirit, we need to talk.”
Most of the time it is Spirit who invites. So it is important that we learn to recognize Spirit’s communication to invite us into co-creation. Many times, the invitation is gentle.
Often times it is not. Like when we are too busy to notice. Our lives are full of stuff we have to do. We are working hard at our jobs. Our families are taking all of our attention. We are focused elsewhere, running, doing, not stopping. Well, in those times Spirit might slam the breaks on us so that we are forced to look around and notice the request for conversation.
These moments may feel like Thor, in Thor:Ragnarok, when he watched Loki being sucked down into a golden portal, leaving him standing alone on the city sidewalk with nothing but a calling card with an address on it. Yep, that is not the way I like Spirit to get my attention. It has happened enough times that I have learned to shift my way of being, to slow down, to pay attention to all the signs that Spirit places in my path.
How do we notice?
When we slow down, we begin to notice that Spirit is constantly communicating with us, constantly inviting us into conversation. The signs are present all around:
The synchronisities: everything seems to be flowing well. As you walk your life path, it feels like when you see a bump, an obstacle, a hiccup, somehow it is cleared before you get there. You seem to be walking along, flowing. Spirit is co-creating with you well here.
Other times it feels like each turn you take runs you into a shut locked door. Are you co-creating with Spirit? or Are you creating on your own?
Maybe something keeps popping up in your life. For me, Cooper Hawk kept showing up everywhere: feathers dropped directly in front of me as I walked, hanging out in the tree outside my patio, swooping over my head at bizarre times, calling out to me. The other morning I heard a bird call, went to my window, looked outside and answered “I’m listening.” Copper Hawk took off from the tree carrying her freshly caught breakfast. As she flew by, I felt, “let me nourish you this day.” Ah, Spirit! Yes you may nourish me today.
Responding to the Invitation:
If we slow ourselves down, if we open our hearts, if we notice all that is in our lives, we will hear the call of Spirit, the invitation of Spirit, and know the presence of Spirit. We will be invited into a deeper conversation where we can share our hopes and dreams and receive the guidance and help we need to co-create.
All we have to do is say, “Yes.”
(Spiritual direction teaches you how to do just this. It is an experiential practice and discipline that teaches you how to notice the invitation, you to feel the knock at your heart’s door, as well as how to extend the invitation yourself. Through this powerful time of slowing down, you learn to align your heart with Spirit’s and enter into powerfully transformative co-creation. Contact me if you would like to learn more and experience this practice.)
This past week as I have been meditating on an affirmation that I would like to manifest in this world, the word adventurous kept popping up wanting to be included in the affirmation statement. I was not sure I wanted it included in this manifestation. I could feel a sense of excitement arising in my heart when the word was included. Yet I could also feel a sense of trepidation there just below the surface.
I shared these meditation experiences with a friend who suggested I look the word up in the dictionary. Sometimes the dictionary definition highlights something that we really need to know, shifting how we feel and experience the word.
I took her suggestion and looked it up.
The Webster Dictionary defines adventurous like this:
1 a : disposed to seek adventure or to cope with the new and unknown an adventurous explorer
b : innovative an adventurous artistic style
2 : characterized by unknown dangers and risks an adventurous journey
Other definitions from various dictionary webpages included:
My inner definition of adventurous feels like excitement, willingness to take risks, to try new unknown things.
Danger: It's affect on adventuring:
So, it was intriguing to me that many of the definitions included the word danger. My heart pushed back at that word. “Danger is not the key to adventure and being adventurous. Rather, being willing to take a risk and try something new and unknown is.”
So I sat with this word danger. For me, danger should not stop me from engaging in adventure. Adventure leads to remarkable life changing, awe-inspiring experiences. If I allowed danger to stop me, how would I walk the path of the new and unknown? What would I be giving up by staying safe?
Trust: It's freedom in adventuring
For me a key in adventure is Trust. I trust that Spirit is going to guide me on this new unknown path, protecting me from harm. Maybe not from danger, but definitely from harm. Confronting danger head on can teach me a great deal about who I am and how I am in the world. I believe that Spirit protects me, as She allows me the opportunity to learn deeply about myself.
Danger as a word brings up a whole bunch of other secondary emotions and thoughts. Caution arises. Be careful. Stop and run away. Stay safe. All these responses to danger keep us small, in our place, unable to grow and move forward.
Now I do realize that some danger does warrant running away and staying safe. This morning I am contemplating danger in a different viewpoint — danger as a way for our ego and shadow-side to keep us small, to prevent our growth.
Caution squashes adventure, especially in life and growth. Caution invites us to hold back a little, to engage in the experience with a tentative way. It wraps our heart in a thin film-like energy that prevents us from being fully open to the transformative moments that adventure can bring. We keep a distance, a safe space between us and the experience. Caution creates within us a desire to protect ourselves, even when it is not necessary or inhibiting to our growth.
Why be adventurous?
We need to try new things with an open heart; be willing to be transformed or wowed by the experience we are engaging in. That’s the point of being adventurous. Stepping out of our comfort zone, we come in contact with new experiences, new perspectives, new ideas, new connections/friends/people that will make our lives fuller.
If we are not willing to engage in life with an adventurous spirit, we miss the opportunity to grow. For it is our willingness to walk toward the unknown with an open heart, believing that the unknown will bring amazing things into our life (joy, hope, love, balance, justice, healing) that brings growth, that makes life worth living.
We can not grow without risks. To truly be open to what the risks have to offer, we must engage our work, our lives with an adventurous spirit.
So, I am going to add the word adventurous to my affirmation statement, trusting that the manifestation I am seeking will enhance my life.
What will you do?
Odin is the King of Asgard, the father of Thor, and the adopted father of Loki. Throughout the Thor films, he teaches Thor how to take personal responsibility. He challenges Thor to ‘think like a King.’ However, it is in Ragnarok that we learn Odin has been masking his own personal responsibility. He has been keeping a huge family secret that undermines his integrity.
In the first film, Odin exiles Thor to teach him to take personal responsibility and mature in his understanding of leadership. In the second film, Dark World, Odin, inadvertently teaches Thor to take responsibility even if it requires dissent and disobedience of the powers that be (Odin).
However in Ragnarok, we learn that Odin has kept a huge secret. He has masked a dark time in the history of Asgard. At the end of his life, Odin must clear his consciousness and tell his sons about Hela his daughter, the Goddess of Death.
We learn from Odin what happens when our leaders mask or fake personal responsibility. It leads to destruction of everything that you created. Pure and simple.
Destruction of Asgard
With Odin’s death, Hela returns to Asgard. She is shocked that no one knows who she is. Odin has kept his secret well. As she walks into the thrown room, she notices that Odin has covered over her history. She removes the current ceiling to reveal a fresco celebrating her at Odin’s side.
As the Valkerie reminds Thor later in the film: “That’s what is wrong with Asgard: the thrown, the secrets, the whole golden sham.”
Hela destroys all that Odin has built and is hungry to destroy all Nine Realms.
Thor must allow Ragnarok (the destruction of Asgard) to happen in order to contain and stop Hela. Odin’s secret leads to the fulfillment of the prophesy — the destruction of all he worked to create.
Masking Personal Responsibility: a counter-protest
I recently attended a rally for #FamiliesBelongTogether. It was organized by one of the senators here in NM. It was a very good rally, with each politician speaking about the need for an end to family separation, as well as positive and just immigration reform.
What struck me most was two individuals who stood vigil with a sign painted on a sheet. It was calling out the fact that the senator accepted campaign dollars from the private prison industry making money from the White House’s unethical immigration policies. They did not shout or yell. They just stood holding their sign. They would turn every so often so that others could see it.
Some rally attenders engaged them. Some were curious about what the sign meant. Others were unhappy about a counter-protest. I watched.
Odin's lesson for us
As I think about Odin’s secrets that undermined his ability to be an effective leader, I think about our current government from the White House to the halls of Congress and Senate. There is a masking of personal responsibility across the board, regardless of political party. This masking of responsibility is creating a moral vacuum that is destroying that vision that created the United States of America.
These two young people had the courage to call for the senator to take personal responsibility. They were asking him to transparent as a leader. They were calling out the dissonance caused by accepting campaign contributions from a company that is participating in unethical behavior.
How long will we as citizens allow for our leaders to mask or fake their personal responsibility? Is it not time to call all our leadership to serve with greater integrity?
This for me is the lesson of Odin.
In order for what we create to not be destroyed, we must serve and lead with integrity.
Integrity demands authentic personal responsibility.
St Ignatius offers us a spiritual discipline through which we can step onto the path of personal responsibility — the Daily Examen. The Daily Examen offers us a prayer formula that invites us to become aware God’s presence and guidance in our daily life. For St Ignatius this was a prayer that was performed twice a day. St Ignatius spent much of his life creating his Spiritual Practices that he believed would connect people deeper into the movement and love of God.
The Daily Examen
The Daily Examen asks us to reflect upon our day, noticing where we felt aligned with Spirit and where we felt in dissonance with Spirit. It is a very simple prayer:
What I have learned and teach in terms of this formula is that when you review the day, allow your emotions (feelings) be your guide. Your feelings will bring forth an awareness about when you were aligned with Spirit and when you were in dissonance. They will highlight the moments when you were aware of Spirit’s presence/guidance/love and when you experienced an absence. Your emotions will aid you in noticing when you were reflecting the Sacred Light into the world and when you were not.
The Daily Examen as a prayer of personal responsibility.
Those moments when you feel in dissonance with Spirit; the times when you felts an absence of Spirit; situations when you did not feel you were reflecting the Sacred’s Light into the world; those are the ones to pray and reflect upon. Those are the moments to take personal responsibility for and transform.
When you choose a moment to reflect upon, it is not meant to create guilt or negative feelings about yourself. The purpose is not to put yourself down. The intention in praying a moment is to open yourself to understanding the why. What happened in that moment that I did not reflect fully compassion, Light, love, justice, mercy, etc? What beliefs were underlying my silence, my lack of action, my discompassionate response? What wound was I reacting out of?
This prayer’s intention is to offer you an opportunity to sit in compassionate safe silence with the Sacred and receive healing — healing that will allow you to be more compassionate the next time you find yourself in a similar situation. This prayer is about becoming aware of how you operate in the world, of what your buttons are so that you are able to chose how you want to react. The Daily Examen invites you to deepen your self-awareness so that you can fully live the way you want to live.
Stepping on the Path of Redemption
It is important to remember to close your prayer time with gratitude for what you experienced and learned. God’s grace shows up and is experienced in many ways. Whether you can notice it in the moment, it is present. By acknowledging with gratitude, that you are thankful for God’s presence and grace in your life, you turn and face God (repentance) and step onto the path of redemption.
I invite you to give this beautiful ancient prayer a go. It does not take long. The more you practice it, the stronger your sense of personal responsibility becomes. As your sense of personal responsibility grows, your power to create your positive desires increases.
The Daily Examen is a foundational spiritual practice that aligns you with your personal responsibility and creating power and abilities.
May the Sacred guide you on your path from personal responsibility to redemption.
If you grew up in a liturgical church, you know the Prayer of Confession. It is a prayer said near the beginning of worship, that invites the congregation to confess their sins, re-align themselves with Spirit’s heart, and thereby receive forgiveness and grace.
I did not grow up in such a church tradition. It was not until after seminary that I came across the Prayer of Confession in worship. I struggled with it. Why are we putting attention on our guilt in the middle of worship? I was experiencing this prayer as inviting me to feel bad, negative about myself. With this understanding of the prayer, I did not like it. Because I feel that worship needs to renew hope in us, I did not like writing them. I did not like having them in the worship service.
Then, I began to dive into the spiritual practice of personal responsibility. The more I acknowledged my responsibility for what is happening in my life, the more I began to see the importance of the Prayer of Confession.
Prayer of Confession as an act of communal responsibility
The Prayer of Confession offers us an opportunity to take responsibility for cooperative actions in the world. It invites us the remember that we have responsibility for the injustices in the world. Somehow, our actions or inactions are contributing to the injustices that we see, from racism and homophobia to poverty to immigrant injustices.
It reminds us that we have the power and responsibility to transform these injustices. As Micah 6:8 states, “God has told you what is good. What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, to love kindness and to walk humbly with our God.” (NRSV) As citizens of this world, we must step up and do the work to create God’s Realm of Compassion here on Earth. Sitting back quietly and allowing others to do the work, is abdicating responsiblity. We can no longer put the blame for the lack of justice out there on someone else.
We have a voice and a vote. Therefore, we have a responsibility to create for the greater good of our neighbors, the world, and the Earth.
Experiencing the Prayer of Confession
I am currently embarrassed to be an American citizen. Each morning I awaken to greater and greater injustices. It would be easy for me to say, “Well it is not my fault. It is the fault of those who did not vote. Or it is the fault of those who votes for Trump.” I could create numerous excuses to put the responsibility of what is happening in our country out there, pushing it away from me.
Personal responsibility and the Prayer of Confession asks me not to. They are inviting me to acknowledge that I am part of these injustices if I am not working to bring an end to them. Transformational Prayers of Confession invite the spiritual community to acknowledge their part in the injustice, while at the same time, step into the hope that through partnership with Spirit we can and will transform injustice into a Just Compassionate World.
Where do we find hope in the Prayer of Confession? Assurance of Grace always follows the Prayer of Confession, reminding us of God's transforming Love. Sure we missed the mark this week. Maybe we did not raise up our voices as we could have. We have remained silent in the face of that specific injustice. However, because of God’s transforming merciful Heart we are forgiven and invited to recommit ourselves to the work of justice, grace, mercy, compassion.
It is a powerful moment in which we are invited to experience the unconditional Love and Power of a Just God.
How and why take personal responsibility when the situation we are in is out of our hands? There are forces out there that are causing the challenge, the trauma, or the situation. It is being done to and upon us. Should not the responsibility lie outside ourselves on the entities, power and people who are causing the situation we can not control?
Yes, those causing the situation do need to take responsibility. The responsibility we take is that of healing ourselves, forgiving ourselves, creating a response that reinstates with us the freedom to stand in our Power and continue toward our life goals. If we do not do our work to understand the choices we made to end up in a situation out of our control, then we are giving up our Power.
As I have been writing the blogs for this week I have been wondering: how do Thor and Loki grow up in the same household and yet end up so different?
It is all about how we chose to perceive our life experiences. That is a difficult statement to hear, especially when it relates to situations out of our control.
"I made this choice..."
And yet, healing begins when we are able to say, “I made this choice….that led to….” It is not an easy thing to do. Many times it is gutt-wrenchingly painful. This statement does not take away from the reality of the situation, from its pain, from the responsibility of the outside parties. When we acknowledge our choice, we are energetically placed you back upon your feet, at the helm of your driver’s wheel. It does energetically give you back control of your choices in your life. You can not control forces outside yourself (abusers, violence, war). You can only control your reaction to the situations you are placed in. You can only control the choices you make.
Each choice we make creates. Sometimes we can see fully what we are creating. Other times we make a choice and have no idea where it will lead. Each choice we make in life, begins a creation. This is important to understand and accept.
When we find ourselves in situations that feel out of our control, we made a choice that began a creation that took us here. Other forces played a part in it. Yes. However, we created the path that led us into play with those other forces. This is the hard part of personal responsibility. This is the transformational and healing gift of personal responsibility.
Thor: Ragnarok: a case study
Thor Ragnarok is all about what happens when you are able to say, “I made this choice that led to…” In Ragnarok, Thor has to deal with situations that are heaped upon him — out of his control.
Thor could easily blame the situation upon others:
Thor to Loki: What would you like me to say. You faked your own death. You stole the thrown, stripped Odin of his power, stranded him on Earth to die, releasing the Goddess of Death. Have I said enough?
He could also blame his father, Odin for the situation he is in. It is Odin who concealed the existence of the Goddess of Death from his sons, creating a situation where Loki unwittingly unleashed her.
Valkerie: That’s what is wrong with Asgard. The thrown, the secrets, the whole golden sham.
Thor: I agree. That’s why I turned down the thrown. This isn’t about the crown. This is about the people…
He could allow himself to fall into deep despair, but he doesn’t:
Thor: I’m not sad. I’m pissed off! Angry. I lost my father. I lost my hammer….
And yet, even amongst all his loss, he continues his journey toward his goal.
What is it that gives him the strength to continue in the midst of such challenging circumstances, against all odds?
For me, it begins with the moment he recognizes and acknowledges his role in getting to this place. When Thor made that choice, it was a choice meant to for the greater good — for himself and for Asgard. He gave up the thrown at the end of Dark World:
Odin: What can Asgard offer his new King in return?
Thor: My life. Father, I can not be King of Asgard. I will protect Asgard and all the Realms with the last and every breath, but I can not do so from that chair….. The brutality. The sacrifice. It changes you. I would rather be a good man than a great king.
He acknowledges that choice on Earth, when he goes to bring his father back from Exile. Dr Strange has opened a portal to Norway where Odin currently is and says, “He’s (Odin) is waiting for you.”
But in that alright is a deep sigh and awareness of what he is going to do. There is a heaviness about it, a preparation for coming face to face with his responsibility for what happened to his father.
When he meets his father, Thor says: “I know we failed you but we can make this right.”
This recognition of the choice he made that began the path that led Thor to where is he throughout Ragnarok. This is what frees Thor from despair, from blame, from giving-up.
Freedom: the gift of personal responsibility
The gift of acknowledging and owning our personal responsibility is freedom — freedom from guilt, despair, blame, apathy and more. It is freedom to adjust our creating so that we are in greater alignment with Spirit and the greater good. This freedom is steeped in self-forgiveness and a re-valuing of oneself, finding that sense of worthiness that empowers you to continue toward your goal.
We can chose to allow life’s circumstances to hold us captive
Or we can chose to remain at the helm, steering our life toward healing, greater compassion, balance and harmony, and wholeness.
Thor has had a rough few days:
Thor Confronts the Valkerie
With the Hulk’s help, he is able to steal a control for the device on his neck from a fellow Asgardian warrior (the Valkerie) hiding on the planet as he confronts her:
Thor: I’m putting together a team. Its me, you and the big guy (Hulk)
Valkerie: I think it’s only you.
Thor: The Valkerie are legends, elite warriors of Asgard sworn to defend the thrown.
Valkerie: Look I already faced her once and it cost me everything…That’s what wrong with Asgard, with the thrown…..
Thor: I agree….This is not about the thrown. This is about the people and they are dying…Their your people too.
Valkerie: Forget it. I have…
Thor: Fine. Go ahead and stay here and enslave people for that lunatic. Keep drinking. Keep hiding. But me. I chose to run toward my problems and not away from them. Because that’s what heroes do.”
Personal responsibility invites us to run toward our problems, to face them with courage, authenticity and integrity. As we acknowledge our responsibility and uncover that which inhibits us (our limiting beliefs), our consciousness is freed. We are able to make the choice we desire, as opposed to the choice our limiting beliefs programmed into us. This is how we reunite with our Power. We free ourselves from automatic, pre-programmed responses that keep us safe. When we run toward our problems, we are leaving that programming to remain safe behind us, freeing ourselves to change, shift, transform, grow and evolve.
Loki challenges Thor
Earlier in Thor: Ragnarok, Loki ‘visits’ Thor through astro-projection and attempts to sort of help Thor. He suggests that Thor give up on trying to get back to Asgard to save the planet.
Loki: You are not seriously considering going back (to Asgard). Our sister destroyed your hammer like a piece of glass. She is stronger than you. She is stronger than both of us. You don’t stand a chance. Do you understand what I’m saying to you?
Thor’s response is one of personal responsibility. After challenging Loki to acknowledge how Loki’s actions have brought them here, he throws a bottle through Loki at the wall. He is set upon getting back to Asgard and facing his problems, even if they were triggered by other’s actions.
When Loki abdicates responsibility, he gives his power away. Loki is unable to feel for anyone but himself, unable to see outside his own selfish needs. Thor, as he took responsibility for where he is in the present moment, stepped more fully and authentically into his power. Thor, through personal responsibility, can connect into a reason why he should face his problems. His heart is feeling the pain of his people, their cries for help, for justice, for protection.
Personal Responsibility invites us to think beyond ourselves.
As I wrote about earlier this week, it is challenging to take responsibility for the things that seem to happen to us. It is a natural human response to place the responsibility on the one or ones who caused the situation, abdicating our role in getting there (whether it was through action or inaction). When we do this, we become the victim in the situation/experience.
This is how Loki sees and experiences himself (“I guess I’ll just have to go it alone, like I’ve always done.”). Loki feels like he has no choice — he needs to remain on the good side of the ego-maniac who runs the planet they are stuck on. This is loss of power, victim-mindset. That sense that you have to play the system, go it alone, wait for the one in power to make a mistake so you can take charge. It is a way of being that encourages subjugation, apathy, silence; which in turn creates more and more power loss. When you abdicate personal responsibility, you end up in a downward me-centered spiral toward powerlessness.
Thor choses responsibility. We must face the challenges of our life. When we acknowledge our role (responsibility) in getting to where we are, we tap into our personal power and are able to overcome the challenges life gives us. Why? Because we feel. When you are willing to feel, you desire to create justice, compassion, and harmony.
When you are in that victim-mindset, it points you toward apathy, a numbing of your feelings. Feeling hurt. You feel stuck, unable to make a change, unable to see from a different viewpoint/perspective. You are unable to take action to create what you want. The despair inhibits your ability to create.
When you are in your Power, your feelings, no matter how painful, guide you toward a solution. We, as humans, want to move toward healing, toward compassion, toward harmony, toward justice. When we are in our Power and not in those feeling, we take action to create the experience we want.
You are able to step back, reassess, look at the situation/challenge differently, reach out for the help and resources you need. When you are in your Power, you can assess the skills you have and seek out help with any additional skill you need to address the challenge/problem.
Personal Responsibility is contagious
Remember Marianne Williamson’s quote: “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us…. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
This is what Thor is doing. It does not feel that way. However, in each of the above conversations, Thor’s reflection of personal responsibility and his willingness to risk his life for others invites Loki and the Valkerie to reconsider their abdication of responsibility. He shows them the way.
For Thor can only defeat Hela because all three come together and work together to create the solution to their mutual problem.
Thor can only defeat Hela because he has taken responsibility and action, found the help he needed, and is willing to lose his fixed perspective to gain what he desires. It all begins with his choice to run toward his problems….
What choice are you making?
Personal responsibility is the plumb-line that aids us in keeping integrity, authenticity and respect. How? When we feel into our personal responsibility, we are invited to feel how our actions affect others, as well as the natural world. Is that feeling building compassion, hope, love? Or is it hurting, harming, destroying, corrupting? When we abdicate personal responsibility, we are shutting down our hearts, unwilling to feel how our actions affect others. We are stating that we not willing to work to create the Field of Compassion — create for the highest good of all those around. Instead we are creating solely for our own good, no matter the harm it causes in the world.
The Blame Game
Loki, from the world of Thor, is an excellent example of what happens to us and those around if we consistently abdicate personal responsibility and play the ‘blame game.’ What do I mean by the blame game as a way to abdicate responsibility? It means that we are placing the responsibility for our actions outside ourselves on someone or something else. What is happening in my life, in this world, in our community has nothing to do with my actions, it is your fault…
When we play the blame game, we harden our hearts, as Pharoah’s heart is hardened in the Exodus story. We may not even notice it happening. But each time we abdicate responsibility, we build a wall around our hearts. Over time, we become so disconnected from our hearts, from our feeling, that we no longer care about how our actions affect those around us, affect the world. We no longer seek to better ourselves, to serve our community, to work toward justice. We focus solely on our own agenda, whatever the cost to the greater good.
Here are some of Loki’s experiences, examples:
Thor: You wounded me therefore my actions are your fault…
In the first Thor movie, Loki comes across a deep secret that Odin has kept from him — that he is adopted, one of the frost giants. King Odin saved him in hopes of creating an alliance one day, in hopes of Loki being the key to peace. This pain-filled wounding conversation leads to Odin’s collapse and Loki’s temporary rise to the thrown. Loki, determined to prove to his father that he will be a great ruler, does many unethical things and puts all the people of Asgard in danger. In the end, after Thor has saved the people, Loki abdicates any responsibility for his actions by placing them on Odin and Odin’s secret.
Because of this deep wound, this secret that Odin has kept, Loki shuts down his heart. He no longer wants to feel. He let’s go and falls into the abbess. When we meet him later, in Avengers, he is raging and pretty close to pure evil. Abdicating responsibility has allowed his full shadow to come forth.
Avengers: Thor offers a path to redemption
Loki has come to Earth to rule Earth as a benevolent God. He has unleashed evil aliens who are bent on conquering Earth. Thor and Loki are battling as Thor attempts to shut the wormhole Loki opened, allowing the aliens in. Thor asks Loki to stop it. Loki responds that there is no way to stop it. There is only the war. They fight. When Thor gains control he says
Thor: Look at this! Look around you! You think this madness will end with your rule?
Loki: (flash of consciousness, a moment which has you wondering will he take responsibility? then): It’s too late. It is too late to stop it.
Thor: No. (offering Loki the path to redemption) We can together.
Loki responds by stabbing Thor: Sentiment…
Loki's heart is so hardened with rage that any sense of personal responsibility has become sentimentality, weakness. Caring for humanity is beneath him.
Dark World: I really don’t understand what all the fuss is about…
At the beginning of the movie, Loki is brought before his father to be held responsible for his actions on Earth. Odin challenges Loki to take responsibility. Loki responds: “It is not that I don’t love our talks, it’ that I don’t love them.”
l was only doing what I was taught to do…
While Loki is in his cell, his mother Frigga visits. In their conversation Frigga challenges Loki, offering him once again the path to redemption:
Frigga; You know full well it was your actions that brought you here.
Loki: My actions? I was merely giving truth to the lie I have been fed my entire life — I was born to be a King.
Frigga: A King? I true King admits his faults….
At the end of this conversation, something Frigga says begins to create a crack in Loki's armor. He does not let it in, but you can sense and feel its presence -- regret -- regret at what he says to Frigga, not what he has done to land him in his cell. He is so angry about his circumstance that he continues to strike out -- telling the monster Curse "You might want to take the stairs to the left;" leading Curse to his mother and her death.
You are the one who put me there…
Thor helps Loki escape from his imprisonment in return for Loki’s help in getting off Asgard. Upon arrival on the Dark World, in his grief over his mother's death, Loki picks a fight with Thor around whose fault it was. (We all know it is Loki’s.)
Loki: (in a mocking voice) Son of Odin.
Thor: Not just of Odin. You think you alone loved Mother. You had her tricks but I had her trust.
Loki: Trust? Was that her last expression? Trust? When you let her die!
Thor: What help were you in your cell?
Loki: Who put me there? (in rage at Thor) Who put me there?!
Thor: You know who…. (anger in his voice ready for a fight) You know who…. (backing away) She wouldn’t want us to fight.
Loki: (shifting his expression back into trickster-like way of being) Well she wouldn’t exactly be shocked…
To understand how much in this moment Loki abdicates responsibility: It is not just about Loki’s unwillingness to take responsibility for how he got in that cell, but also his responsibility for guiding Curse (the one who kills his mother) on the path to killing his mother. Loki is much more responsible for his mother’s death than Thor. That pain breaks him...
Cost of abdicating responsibility:
Here is the thing with abdicating personal responsibility: It cuts you off from your heart, from your feelings, creating a selfishness and entitlement that is dangerous to the greater good. This in turn blocks your ability to experience the field of Compassion — the one thing you need to experience redemption. Compassion, in the form of forgiveness, must be present for transformational redemption to be experienced: compassion and forgiveness for yourself, as well as, compassion and forgiveness for others. Without it, transformational redemption can not be experienced fully.
So far in Loki’s life he has consistently abdicated personal responsibility. Each time, right before he does so, there is a moment when you think, 'maybe this time Loki will chose the path of redemption.' You see the pain rise within him — the pain he is running from, pushing deep into his shadow — the pain that hardens his heart. There is a conscious awareness right before Loki's choice to abdicate responsibility. Tom Hiddleston (actor playing Loki) conveys that powerfully and subtly with his eyes, his facial expressions, and silence.
Each time he abdicates responsibility, he steps deeper into darkness, further from Light. Loki does so in an attempt to increase his power, but ends up giving it away. Power is reclaimed through personal responsibility. Abdicating, gives power away, creating a victim-mindset that spirals one downward until you lose yourself, hit rock bottom. Loki experienced this moment in his cell, after his mother's death.
Abdicating responsibility in your life not only harms others, but it harms you most of all. Numbing oneself from the truth and hiding takes away that which makes you You. It disconnects you from your soul and spirit. It distances you from the real truth: that you are a child of God, a spark of Light in this world, that you contain within yourself the power to heal yourself, as well as offer healing to those around you.
The Way to Redemption
The only way back toward justice is the path of personal responsibility, repentance, atonement, and redemption.
Loki attempts to reach redemption. (I’ll write more about that later.) Yet, he is unable to truly experience it because he is not willing to step onto the path of personal responsibility. He is not willing to do the work required to experience redemption. He wants it free of responsibility. He wants redemption, but he does not want to change his ways. He wants what he wants with no cost to himself. That is not redemption.
Will Loki take the path of personal responsibility to redemption? Will his heart be cracked open enough so that he feels his actions? Is Loki willing to repent and change his ways?
No one but Loki can decide that for himself. No one but the person who is abdicating responsibility can make that decision for him/herself.
All we can do is hope and continue to offer those abdicating responsibility the opportunity to step onto the path of redemption, while we, ourselves, continue to deepen our own expression of personal responsibility — setting an example, lighting the way!
If we want to experience the Field of Compassion here on Earth, we must create it together through the path of personal responsibility toward redemption and justice.
Sometimes it helps to have a guide when you step onto the path of personal responsibility. As a spiritual director, I work one and one with people seeking to deepen their connection with Spirit and move into a more authentic expression of themselves. I do this in person, as well as distance through Zoom. Contact me if you would like support as you seek to move into a place of healing and wholeness.
Personal responsibility offers us a path to redemption.
Thor offers us a fabulous example of the path to redemption. His is a story of personal responsibility and repentance that leads to redemption. By taking personal responsibility, Thor matures and reclaims of his own strength, power and wisdom. This story continues to deepen, like peeling layers of onion, in each film as Thor continues to mature, transform, and embody his power and authority fully.
Thor: Confronted with Personal Responsibility:
In the first Thor movie, we meet Thor as an arrogant young man who thinks he knows all. He disobeys his father, King Odin, misjudges his power, and has to be saved by Odin. Odin then strips Thor of his power and banishes him to Earth because his actions. On Earth he continues his arrogant ways. It is Jane, an astrophysicist who takes him in and confronts him, who unknowingly guides him to the path of redemption.
It is not until he comes face to face with the true loss of his power that he is confronted with personal responsibility. He learns that his hammer, Mjölnir, (the source of his power) has landed close by. He fights his way through S.H.I.E.L.D. (FBI-like superhero organization here on Earth) to his hammer, but can not lift it. He is no longer worthy to wield its power. Thor kneels in defeat and despair. It is palpable. This experience of unworthiness cracks open his arrogant (hardened) heart so that he feels what he has done.
Feeling into Personal Responsibility
Feeling begins the process of personal responsibility. That is the moment when Thor has to accept responsibility for his own actions.
The next scene we see Thor with S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Colson. He is being questioned. Thor does not speak. You can see and feel his despair, his inner struggle, his beginning to acknowledge his responsibility as a leader, as a future king.
Then Loki (Thor’s adopted brother and trickster) arrives and convinces Thor Odin has died because of his actions. Thor is now exiled forever. As a tear forms in Thor’s eyes, he states his sorrow, his acceptance of personal responsibility. He says to Loki, “No. It is my fault. I am sorry…” Thor steps fully onto his path to redemption. He takes responsibility for what he has done. “I had it all backward. I had it all wrong.”
Repentance: the Second Movement Toward Redemption
These moments lead Thor from personal responsibility into Repentance, the second movement toward redemption. This is not an “I’m sorry” and continue doing what you were doing apology thing. Repentance, as described within our sacred texts, requires a complete turn around. It is an acknowledgement of our non-alignment with Spirit (our wrong-doing) and a turning fully back toward Spirit. It is an “I’m sorry for my actions” followed by a change in our behavior/actions to undo/heal the harm we have done.
The second part of repentance is extremely important. If we only say 'I’m sorry' without changing our actions we are not truly authentically sorry. Repentance is a spiritual journey toward aligning our hearts, souls and action fully with the Sacred. It requires that we do the challenging work of healing ourselves, changing our behavior, and transforming challenging situations to hope, love, and mercy.
Thor begins his walk of repentance, atoning for his wrong-doings, as he changes his behavior toward Jane and her team of scientists. He begins to shift from arrogance to humility, from hero who fights for recognition to hero who save and protects. He begins to understand what a servant-leadership truly is.
The next morning, Thor serves breakfast to Jane’s team. He is listening to Jane, caring about her, helping her understand that she is right about her research. He opens his heart and begins to Love.
From Repentance to Redemption
When Loki decides to make sure that Thor can not return to Asgard by sending the Destroyer to kill him, Thor steps fully into redemption. Having done the work of atonement for his actions, his heart has opened. He truly cares about the lives of those around him.
Thor knows as a mortal he can not fight the destroyer. He can get the people of the town to safety, while his Asgardian friends fight the Destoyer. When his friend’s lives are in danger, Thor steps in to protect even them. He choses to sacrifice himself for the safety of everyone. Thor walks, unprotected, fully vulnerable toward the Destoyer speaking to Loki (who is listening from Asgard): “Brother, whatever I have done to wrong you, whatever I have done to lead you to do this, I am truly sorry. These people are innocent. Taking their lives will gain you nothing. Take mine and end this.”
Personal responsibility, followed by repentance and atonement, leads to redemption. As Thor sacrifices himself for everyone he becomes worthy once again of his hammer and his immortality. He now understands what it means to be a King — to lead and protect his people. He regains his power and strength because he takes responsibility for his actions.
It takes tremendous courage and vulnerability to acknowledge our wrong-doings, to acknowledge how our life choices affect others True authentic repentance is one of the most courageous, transformative and healing actions we can take and give. In doing so, we learn that our strength is found in our willingness to be vulnerable and compassionate. Respect is earned through authentic compassionate action. And all of it begins the moment we chose personal responsibility!
It is not an easy path. To step onto the path of personal responsibility and redemption we must be willing to open our hearts and feel. Feel everything: woundedness, hurt (of others as well as ourselves), despair, anger, love, mercy, compassion, hope. Through feeling we will begin to feel a path towards redemption that leads to the experience of Spirit’s Realm of Compassion here on Earth.
Are you willing to feel? To truly open your heart, be vulnerable, and feel onto the path of redemption?
There is deep treasure found there…
(As a spiritual director, I work help people step onto the path of personal responsibility to redemption by guiding you into conversation with your innermost being with Spirit. I do this in person, as well as distance through Zoom. Contact me if you would like support as you seek to be a Light Bearer in this challenging time.
Pastor Jocelyn Emerson weaves together her training as a Light and Energy worker, Reiki master, spiritual director, and Pastor with her life experience as a mystic and contemplative to offer a space of trust, safety, and honesty to support you on your life's journey.