I’ve written a bit about repentance in my previous blogs, mentioning it here and there. Spiderman: Homecoming gives us a beautiful example of what repentance looks like.
The Oxford Dictionary defines repentance as:re·pent·ance
repentances (plural noun)
the action of repenting; sincere regret or remorse.
"each person who turns to God in genuine repentance and faith will be saved"
synonyms: remorse · contrition · contriteness · penitence · sorrow · sorrowfulness · regret · ruefulness · remorsefulness · pangs of conscience · prickings of conscience · shame · guilt · self-reproach · self-condemnation · compunction · conversion · rue · sorriness
Although repentance is a noun, it requires action. Theologically, our Sacred Scriptures tell us that repentance is a turning around, a move from wrongful action to right action, from facing away from the Sacred to walking toward the Sacred. This requires an inner and outward action on our part.
In the beginning of Spiderman: Homecoming
We watch Peter Parker in school after he returns from Avengers: Civil War. He considers himself an Avenger and Spiderman. Throughout the day, he continually checks the school clock, waiting for the moment he can leave and head out to be Spiderman. Peter begins to quit different school activities, such as band and academic decathlon. He sneaks out of his Aunt’s apartment to do Spiderman things.
Once he starts fighting the bad-guys who make dangerous alien-technology weapons, he begins to experience himself as above school. He skips out of classes, misses exams, etc.
This poor behavior does not serve him in the long run….
After Tony Stark confronts him:
However, after his run in with Tony Stark, when Tony tells him he wants the spider-suit back; after his moment of unconditional love and mercy from Aunt May, Peter changes his behavior 100%.
He accepts his detention, unhappily, but he accepts it and serves it.
Peter engages more fully in his classes, raising his hand to give correct answers instead of waiting to be called on.
By rejoining the academic decathlon, he begins to reengage in school activities.
Ned and Peter reconnect as friends once more, doing teenage boy things.
He apologizes honestly to Liz, his love interest, for skipping out on the decathlon in DC. Allowing himself to be vulnerable and expresses his feelings, his interest in her, winning himself a date to homecoming.
He asks Aunt May’s help in getting ready for dating a girl!
You can see a powerful transformation in him. Peter is now standing in his true self, integrating his Spiderman self. He is being more authentic, more responsible.
This prepares him for the moment he comes face-to-face with (spoiler alert) his arch-enemy, the Vulture, who happens to be unbeknownst to Peter, Liz’s dad.
Repentance is not an easy thing. It is not a “I’m sorry” and continue on with your current behavior. Repentance is a meaningful apology (a taking of personal responsibility) accompanied by action that creates a change in behavior, a 180, that sets you upon a more authentic, compassionate path.
The Oxford Dictionary’s synonyms for repentance offer us the emotions that are involved in the inner experience:
remorse · contrition · contriteness · penitence · sorrow · sorrowfulness · regret · remorsefulness · pangs of conscience · prickings of conscience · shame · guilt · self-reproach · self-condemnation sorriness
These emotions guide us inwardly to move toward an outward expression of authentic repentance, of transformational behavior, attitude, and self. Because of our inner remorse, we are determined to right the situation, to act better, to be more compassionate. The two go together, one can not be separated from the other.
Peter is able to fully change his behavior because his remorse, his regret, his shame, his self-reproach are met with Tony Stark’s tough love and Aunt May’s unconditional love, which ignites within him a desire and determination to be better. He does that. He becomes who he can fully become.
Repentance asks us to do just this. We will make errors in our lives. Sometimes, we will be less than compassionate. We will hurt others intentionally or unintentionally. This is part of being human.
The spiritual journey teaches us that when those moments arise, we can repent. We can feel those emotions and allow them to guide us to be better people, to change our behavior, to be more compassionate, to right the situation.
Trust that as you transform your behavior, you will find yourself walking toward the Sacred, walking toward Compassion, walking in Unconditional Love. You will experience yourself more fully aligned with the Sacred, with your True Self. You will be standing fully in your Power.
As I wrote about in the personal accountability series with Thor, Loki and Odin, personal accountability and integrity are key elements in our spiritual journey. If we do not hold ourselves accountable, Spirit will…
Spider-man saved the day in Washington, DC saving his friends. He rose to new heights in his school. Spider-man mania spread around, going to Peter’s head a bit.
So much so, that he decides he will skip his Spanish quiz because he needs to catch the bad guys. He goes against the advice of his friend, Ned, and attempts to skip out, getting caught by the Principle and sent to detection where he has to listen to a video by Captain America:
Captain America: So you got detention You screwed up. You know what you did was wrong. How are you going to make things right?….We all know what is right. We all know what is wrong.
Peter gets up and leaves detention, skipping out on his punishment. He decides to keep looking for the bad guys.
Once Peter is home and sure Aunt May is not around, he puts on his spider-mask to talk with Karen.
Spider-man: Hey Karen, what’s up?
Karen: Hey Peter, how was your Spanish quiz?
I love that the first question Karen (Suit Lady, the voice of Spider-man’s spider-suit) asks is about Peter’s Spanish quiz. It is a question to Peter about accountability. Is he really doing the right thing? Is he fulfilling the responsibilities in his life?
You may be thinking, of course he is. He is working on catching the bad guys. But the thing is, Tony Stark (IronMan) has already told Peter to drop this, that he will take care of it. Peter wants to prove himself as a super-hero, that is why he is pushing so hard to find the bad guys.
In doing so, in pushing to prove himself, he is ignoring his responsibilities as a high school student. He skipped out on the Decathlon in Washington, DC. Peter is ignoring his school work, skipping school. He is not holding integrity and Karen is reminding him of that.
The Consequences for Not Standing in Integrity:
In a few scenes, Peter attempts to take on the bad guys. It is out of his league. At some level he knows it. At another level he wants to prove himself, prove that he can do what adults do. He ends up putting everyone at risk, nearly causing a catastrophic events on a ferry boat. Iron Man comes and saves the day.
This is a hard lesson for Peter to learn. He crushes his heart as he has to acknowledge what he has done. Tony Stark holds Peter accountable for his actions:
Tony: I told you to stay away. Instead, you hacked a multi-million dollar suit so you could sneak around behind my back doing the ONE thing I told you not to do.
Peter, struggling with his feelings, goes on a rant about Mr Stark not listening to him, about how he would have had to do what he did if only someone would listen.
Tony: I did listen. Who do you think called the FBI? I was the only one who believed in you… What if somebody had died tonight? Different story because that would have been on you. And if you died, I feel like that’s on me. I don’t need that on my conscience.
Peter: I’m sorry.
Tony: Sorry doesn’t cut it.
Peter: I understand. I just wanted to be like you.
Tony: And I wanted you to be better. Okay, I’m going to need the suit back.
Peter: For how long?
Peter: Please, you don’t understand. This is all I have. I’m nothing without this suit.
Tony: If you are nothing without this suit then you shouldn’t have it. Okay?
Spirit Calls us to Accountability:
When we are not in our integrity, when we do not hold ourselves accountable for our actions, Spirit calls us out.
It can feel harsh, sometimes as harsh as the conversation between Peter and Tony Stark.
Other times, it can be gentle, like the beginning of the conversation with Karen (Suit Lady) and her question about Peter’s Spanish test.
We like to ignore this aspect of God and move directly to the experience of mercy and grace. However, our sacred texts do not ignore the Tough-Love, Wrathful God.
“Theologian James Cone, writes, “Most theological treatments of God’s love fail to place the proper emphasis on God’s wrath, suggesting that love is completely self-giving without any demand for obedience. Bonhoeffer called this ‘cheap grace.’” God’s love demands righteousness, and breaches of God’s call to justice and love cause God grief…. God is not indifferent to human suffering, oppression, and injustice. Cone goes on: “The wrath of God is the love of God in regard to the forces opposed to liberation of the oppressed.” God’s judgment is a manifestation of relationship with a living God, a God of passion who deeply cares.” (http://www.workingpreacher.org/preaching.aspx?commentary_id=3700)
Tony Stark’s harsh disciplinary conversation with Peter shows that he cares and that he expects Peter to follow his mentoring/guidance.
Yes, there is an experience of grace found in Spirit’s love for us. But first, we need to have the harsh accountability conversation — the tough love moment that asks us to be better than what we just did. It does not feel good. But think about those times when you experienced that, did it not change you for the better? Did you not work hard to be a better person? Did you not do want you needed to regain the trust of whomever you harmed?
Because your behavior was called out, did you work hard not to repeat that same experience? Did you learn to gage your abilities and skills more aptly?
Jesus and Me
A few years ago, when I was in deep discernment about a specific question, I was struggling with what to do. I did a shamanic journey (very similar to Prayer of the Imagination) to Jesus, my Teacher. I journeyed to meet him. He was at a river bend on an expanse of grass.
Usually when we meet, we would embrace. I would feel this deep gentleness and fun adventurous energy emanating from him. This time, I arrived and knew there would be no embrace. There was this wall of anger emanating from him. He was not happy with me!
Jesus began. Usually I began by asking my question. But he was not in the mood to hear what I came for. He already knew. Jesus basically told me off that journey. I met the tough love, holding me accountable side of him I had not met before. He asked why I kept banging my head up against the same wall? Why would I not follow all the guidance he had given me before? Why keep repeating the same question? He told me I already knew what I needed to do, I was just not doing it. He was done with that question. When I was ready to face that, he would be here to guide me and help me heal.
It did not feel good. I stood there looking at him. Each sentence he spoke tore at my heart. Each word destroyed the wall I had put up around me so that I did not have to face my deepest fears. Although it did not feel good, there was never a moment when I questioned his love, grace, and mercy toward me. I knew they were there. I knew that was why he was being tough-love Jesus.
I think I cried the rest of that day. The tears washed away that wall he ripped down. When I woke the next day, I changed direction. I shifted by perspective and began the work I needed to do. When I stepped back into integrity, the answers I was seeking were already there. Jesus knew it. He called that out.
God knows and trusts that we will change our behavior. God knows and trusts that we will work hard to be trustworthy. Because God knows and trusts that, God offers us grace and mercy.
When we are not in our integrity, it is Spirit’s job to call us to accountability, and once we step back into alignment with Spirit’s heart, to offer us deep grace, mercy and unconditional Love.
As I wrote yesterday, God’s grace flows freely to us. God loves us unconditionally. Even in the midst of holding us accountable, even in the midst of the wrathful-oriented God, the God of tough love, grace and mercy and unconditional Love are always present. In Spider-man: Homecoming, it is Aunt May who offers it…
Aunt May opens the door for him. Tony Stark has just taken away the spider-suit and told him he can not be spider-man anymore. Peter had almost killed a ton of people and Tony Stark had to save the day.
Peter is distraught when he arrives home to an angry Aunt May. Aunt May is demanding that Peter tell her what happened. She has been worried all day.
Peter: I’m fine. I’m okay. Really, just relax I’m fine.
Aunt May: Cut the bull**it. I know you left detention. I know you left the hotel room in Washington DC. I know you sneak out of this house every night. That is not fine. Peter you have to tell me what’s going on. Just lay it out. Its me and you.
Peter (with tears in his eyes): I lost the Stark Internship (Spider-man)
Aunt May: What happened?
Peter: I worked really hard and he… he… but… he, you know…. I screwed it up.
Aunt May holds him and offers Peter grace, mercy, love.
Painting my way to Grace:
Not long after my tough-love encounter with Jesus, I headed off to New Mexico for a painting retreat. It was five days of intuitive painting. Intuitive painting allows me the space to engage my body and heart together in prayer and healing.
I began painting and rather quickly stumbled into rage. For years, I had been ‘controlling’ my temper. I laughingly told people I am like the Hulk — if you push the right buttons a green ugly monster of rage comes out of me. I had learned to be like Banner — to keep the other guy under control. The thing was, I was ignoring my anger and it was blocking my healing and my movement forward.
The facilitator encouraged me to release the anger through paint. What color is it? As I began the journey into my anger, I released it. It was not a pleasant experience for me. The anger and rage poured out of me onto the paper, out of me through sound, body movement, paint, tears, and more. By lunch I was spent…
After lunch I held the ball that my ‘painting’ had become as I released my anger. I sat in quiet meditation. My heart was calm, no longer blocked up by rage. What I realized was that the anger I had been pushing down all those years was covering up deep wounds that needed healing.
I turned my painting work toward healing, toward painting those places that had been hidden. For the next few days I dug deep, painted, cried, raged, painted and repeated the cycle.
Meeting the Sacred
On the next to last day, I headed up the mesa near where we were painting. Needing some time away, some time to breathe, I wandered and found myself near a rock and bush that the owner of the land joking called Moses and the Burning Bush. I heard my name called. Looking around I saw the facilitator at the bottom of the mesa waving at me. I headed down.
She was amazed she got my attention by waving. I told her it was her calling my name that got my attention. She did not call my name. I stood there in silence for a moment, then excused myself and told her I would be back.
I traced my steps back to the rock and bush and opened my heart to the Voice of the One who had called my name. There in the desert sand, on my knees, tears of Unconditional Love, Grace, Blessings and Healing ran down my face as Spirit met me face to face. I stayed, barefoot, on that Holy Ground soaking in the beauty of being in the presence of my Creator.
Grace as She held me and reminded me of how special I am. Healing as Her unconditional Love seeped deep into those wounded places that had been covered up by rage. Blessing as She showed me the way forward.
Grace of the Sacred:
When we are at our lowest the Sacred arrives to hold us, to remind us of how much we are loved and cherished. Spirit’s grace flows bringing us back to ourselves, aligning us once again with our Highest Self.
Sometimes, grace flows to us through the compassion of others, as it did for Peter, flowing through Aunt May. Other times it flows directly to us through the prayer-filled heart of God, as it did for me that day on the mesa.
Grace is always there to bring us back to hope, to raise us out of desolation and despair. It is free, yours for the experience. All you have to do is open your heart to the One, to the Sacred.
Can you hear your name beings called?
Do you feel yourself on Holy Ground?
Open your heart, listen and answer. Grace is waiting…
We like to think that we can stay on the mountaintop, on the spiritual high. We are not meant to. The mountaintop moments encourage us, instill hope back in us for when we are not on the mountain tops. The mountaintop moments give us the opportunity to feel success, to breathe in victor, to see the expanse of our life journey — where we have come from and where we are going. They are moments, breathes, glimpses that encourage and empower us along the way.
We must come off the mountain top moments, back into ordinary reality. Most of us prefer to walk down slowly on a nice gentle slope. But there are moments when we fall down, like Spider-man in Spiderman: Homecoming
Spider-man has just caught the elevator when it first begins to fall. He has braced himself by his legs on both sides of the elevator shaft. He is in awe and shock that he actually succeeded!
Spider-man: Oh, I did it!
He has a moment of victory and breathe before the elevator shaft gives way and sends him and the elevator tumbling toward the ground.
No worries, the elevator gets caught on its way down and Spider-man hits the floor of the elevator. He is able to use his web-shooter and hold the elevator where it is at. This time, he does not celebrate. He holds on, works to get the elevator to a floor, and struggles to hold it.
As I said above, we do not get to stay on the mountaintop experiences of life. They are moments that we use to empower us, to dig deep into our strength and courage, to remind us that we can do it! Spider-man uses his moment of success to truly succeed in saving the day on his second attempt.
How we deal with our departure from the mountaintop, whether it is intentionally hiking off the summit toward the next one or free-falling off, uncovers who we are at the core of our being.
Do we leave the summit kicking and screaming, wanting to go back, stay in that beautiful high? Do we depart on our own, curious about what lies ahead?
Is our departure intentional, wanting to continue to grow, heal, expand, explore? Or is it unintentional?
When we reach the low point between the two summits, do we look around curious as to what we can learn about ourselves? Are we open to confronting our fears, our wounds, our own humanity? Or do we stubbornly work to get back to where you were?
Do you trust Spirit to guide you toward the next mountaintop? Do you trust the strength of your footing, your intuition, your power to get you there? Or do you give into despair, sinking into stuckness?
Mt Washington and me:
My dad and I on one of our hikes, hiked up the basin of Mt Washington. It was a tremendously beautiful day. I was on a high. You can see for miles from up there.
On the way down, I was extremely confident and had a tremendous amount of energy. I decided to run down the trail. It was wide and nicely sloped. So I ran. It was going really really well until the moment when my foot landed on the moss-side of a rock instead of the dry-side. Yep, you guessed it!
I remember thinking, “Oh crap…” ('I'll admit, I used stronger words than that) as I flew into the air. I remember being airborne. The next moment I was on the ground, 10-15 feet from where I slipped. I had quite a bit of momentum happening.
I had landed in the only position that allowed me to be alive and well and walk off the mountain. My body had somehow landed between all the rocks on the trail. No broken bones. No head trauma. A bit of blood from a scrape on my elbow. A lot of shock!
My dad and a few other hikers helped patch me up and I walked slowly and sorely off the mountain.
But I knew in that moment that Spirit had protected me in my fall. I could have easily broken a bone — leg or arm — if I had landed 1/2 an inch differently. I may not have lived if my head had landed 1/2 an inch differently.
My reaction to that fall was one of gratitude. Yes, I was a bit embarrassed. But, wow I was grateful for the protection of my Helping Spirits.
I made a choice to experience this moment, this fall into the valley, as a gift, a blessing, a reminder that Spirit was there protecting me when things did not go the way I thought they would.
Departing from the Mountaintop:
We are given a choice in how we experience those low moments in our life. Like Spider-man, like myself, do you chose to see them as second chances, as moments to learn, as moments to be reminded that there is a force greater than you that love and protects you?
Psalm 23 reminds us:
Adonai, you are my shepherd --
I want nothing more.
You let me lie down in green meadows,
you lead me beside restful waters:
you refresh my soul
You guide me to lush pastures
for the same of your Name.
Even if I'm surrounded by shadows of Death,
I fear no danger,
for you are with me.
Your rod and your staff--
they give me courage.
You spread a table for me
in the presence of my enemies,
and you anoint my head with oil --
my cup overflows!
Only goodness and love will follow me
all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in your house, Adonai,
for days without end.
Spirit invites you to embrace the journey between mountaintops. What can you learn about yourself? How can you grow and deepen your connection with Spirit?
Trust that Spirit is with you.
Know that Spirit guides you.
Feel yourself wrapped in the protective, loving arms of Spirit.
The next mountaintop view will amaze you…
Our spiritual journey invites us to take risks. We can not always play it safe. There is no growth without risk, without adventure.
So when the time comes, Spirit will invite us to take a risk. Sometimes that risk feels huge…
Spider-man is at the top of the Washington Monument, attempting to break the southwest window so he can get in and save his friends…
A police helicopter arrives and tells him to get down. The police warn him that they will open fire if he does not descend.
Spider-man hesitates for a moment, pondering his course of action. He can play it safe and go down. But that would mean the death of his friends. No, he has to risk everything to save them.
So, instead of going down, Spider-man goes to the top of the tower and prepares for a jump that could kill him if he misses.
Spider-man: “Oh my God, I’m going to die!”
He jumps. He uses the gliders in his suit to sail over the helicopter. Then fires his web shooters at the base of the helicopter, using them to aim him toward the window. Sailing through the air he breaks the window as he hits it.
He arrives just in time. The elevator starts to fall. Using his web-shooters he grabs the elevator and stops it from falling. Spider-man, with his feet against the elevator shaft: Oh, I did it!! (expression of surprise and amazement)
We have two forces that are constantly active in our lives: the force that wants us to grow, and the force that wants to keep us safe, content. Balancing those forces in our lives is important. We need to grow, to risk, to change. Yet, we need those times when we feel safe, to ground, to recover, to reassess. Together, they are like the ying/yang of our spiritual life.
Personal and spiritual growth requires risk.Sometimes the risk may be small: A willingness to open your heart to love, to be vulnerable with another person.
Or the risk may require more, but feel calculated: A sabbatical, or an intentional stirring of your life’s pot to see what happens.
The risk may ask a great deal of you: Trusting Spirit in a career shift, such as giving your dream a shot!
Whatever the risk, it comes with a cost: requiring you to be willing to give something up, to make room for and to be open to healing, transformation, growth, expansion. Each risk changes you. It teaches you about your inner world: connecting you with your strengths, inviting you to come face-to-face with your Shadow. The risks push you to be a better person, and to align more fully with your life purpose, your soul purpose.
Taos, NM and me:
When I moved to Taos, NM to work on Weaving Sacred Spaces and prepare it for launching, it came with a cost. One cost was financial. That was calculated and I was intentionally willing to pay that cost.
The other was an inner cost, one I did not expect to face. The risk was an invitation to dive deep into my Shadow, to feel into the wounds, the pain, the ugliness that I hid away, that needed healing. The risk was a willingness to confront what I shoved away and ignored, and integrate that into the entirety of my being — no more Shadow vs Light, rather a fully experienced flow of ying/yang, shadow/light; a Oneness of being. The cost was huge pain, that at times felt like I was tearing in half, and struggle that brought about tremendous healing, growth, strength, courage and expansion.
I left Taos a completely different person than I arrived as, more aligned with my Higher Self, more aware of my soul’s purpose. My time in Taos placed me firmly and confidently on my life’s path.
Without that risk, I would not be who I am today. I am grateful that I took that risk, that I made that leap!
When Spirit invites you to risk, to take the leap, are you willing to jump?
It may be scary. It may come with great cost. But it will be worth it…
You will experience the fullness of redemption.
We all have fears. Some feel real, like for example, fear of spiders. Others we attach to life situations, creating the possibility of worse-case scenario, like fear of loss of job. What we learn as we go through life is that the spiritual journey, our life journey, requires courage. Spirit teaches us to face and overcome our fears with courage.
When we last left Spider-man, he was halfway up the Washington Monument on his way to save his classmates from mortal danger. The timeline for mortal danger had shifted from 10 minutes to 125 seconds. Spider-man was on his way to the southwest window.
Spiderman arrives and is freaked out. When he makes it to the top of the Washington Monument, he hesitates. His fear is palpable. He has never been this high before. Spider-man has to dig deep to find his courage.
He attempts to break the window is a weak kick.
Karen (the voice of his spider-suit) alerts him to that face that he will need more force to break the window as the glass is 4 inches thick. He takes deep breathes, uses his web-shooter to lean off the monument, jumps away from the monument and hits the window with more force. Spider-man continues jumping out and against the window attempting to break it.
The Spiritual Journey
Fear of Spider
When I was a kid, I was massively afraid of spiders. If there was a spider in the room. I left. It might take days before I went back into that room. When I did, I stayed away from where the spider was.
I used to shout for my dad to come help me whenever there was a spider on the ceiling. Many times he would stand there asking where it was. I would point to a tiny dot. He was like, “That’s a mark on the ceiling.” I knew better and would make him wait until the dot moved. Indeed it was a spider. He needed to remove it. The dot (spider) always moved to prove my point.
When I moved to Taos, NM for a nine month sabbath, Spider decided to teach me about courage. I was alone. There was no one to deal with spiders for me. So the first time a spider showed up, I had to deal with it.
I will admit, it was probably hilarious to watch that moment: Me, standing there, speaking out loud to that spider and explaining that it needed to leave right now! When it did not comply with my request, shaking from head to toe I dropped a plastic container over it, trapping it on the floor.
I spent the remainder of the day walking around that plastic container as Spider sat waiting patiently for me to deal with it. Stomping and killing the spider freaked me out more than sliding a paper underneath and dragging it to the door. So, I slipped paper underneath and dragged the spider to the door. I tipped the plastic container outward forcing the spider to leave the house.
Then I walked through the house explaining to any other spiders that they were not welcome in my house!
Well, Spirit was destined to teach me about courage. So, the next day guess what I awoke to? A spider at the foot of my bed. Again and again I was trapping and removing spiders from the house. My courage was building. I could get close enough to drop the plastic container over them without shaking.
"Yeah," said Spirit. My lesson in courage continued. Now Spider began to show up on the wall. I had to trap, slide the paper under it, and carry the spider outside. No longer could I drag the paper.
Fear to Curiosity
When I got used to that, a spider showed up in the window. I was semi-afraid of it. But something would not let me remove it. Something had me curious. I watched as day after day it created this amazing knoll and spiderweb. I let it live there.
One morning, I received an invitation to create a High Desert Essence of Spider. I took a bottle to that particular spider. Set the bottle nearby. Left it. I noticed that Spider incorporated the bottle into her web. The bottle stayed there until I noticed that Spider had left. The web was empty. The medicine, the essence was complete.
Am I not afraid of Spider anymore? No. I still have a slight tinge of fear when spider shows up on the floor or wall or wherever. But, I can stand in my power now. I can trap and remove the spider.
The gift of Courage
It was a process that taught me a great deal about the growth of my courage. Spirit guided me each step of the way, giving me opportunities to grow and become more courageous. When I found my courage, I experience curiosity instead of fear. That curiosity created an amazing blessing and gift.
Spider High Desert Essence:
“Enter into my hollow and learn to spin and weave the threads of your life into an intricate and magnificent tapestry (web). Your tapestry, your web, is your home, your hearth, your heart. Once we have woven it I will teach you the art, the practice, the skills of attracting, catching, repairing, nourishing and birthing; as well as, non-attachment — the inner knowing of when to tear it down and re-weave it (your hearth, your heart, your home).
The foundation of this work is the opening, enhancing and integration of your psychic senses: hearing, touching/feeling, smelling, seeing, tasting across the veil. As your psychic senses open and integrate you will spin vibrant color filled (golden and more) threads that weave a multi-dimensional cosmic tapestry.”
How is Spirit offering you the gift of courage today?
The spiritual journey is not a race. It is a journey that we walk our entire lives. Sometimes it is relaxing and we spend time slowly walking through our life enjoying and relishing the moments. Then there are those moments when it feels like and endurance race…
Having just arrived at the Washington Monument in a nick of time to save his friends (stuck dangling in an elevator at the top of the monument), Spider-man must scale the outside of the monument to save them. Karen (the voice of his spider-suite) gives him updates as he climbs:
Karen: Estimating 10 minutes before catastrophic failure….. Safety systems are completely failing…The occupants are in imminent mortal danger….
Spider-man: I’m going as fast as I can.
He keeps climbing as fast as he can. But because the security guards are attempting to get the class out of the elevator, Karen’s next update is extremely distressing for Spider-man.
Karen: You now have 125 seconds until catastrophic failure.
Spider-man: What? Why?
Karen answers him explaining that unexpected motion has changed the timeline.
Spider-man: How do I get in there?
Karen: Activating recognizance drone. (A small spider shaped drone comes off the spider-suit.)
Spider-man: Whoa. Has that been there this whole time? That’s awesome!
Karen locates the optimal entry point: Proceed to southwest window.
Spider-man: Karen, I’m on my way.
He continues to climb as fast as he can…
The Spiritual Journey
Let’s talk about those moments when our spiritual journey feels like an endurance race. We feel like there is a ticking clock that we must complete our task before the timer runs out. It feels overwhelming. Often we feel alone in these moments. We decide that we must accomplish this task on our own, overwhelming us even more. If we are not careful, we may find ourselves shutting down, giving up, stopping in despair.
This is not how Spirit invites us to engage in our spiritual path in these moments, when the challenge set before us seems so huge. Although to us, we perceive a set deadline by which we must accomplish our tasks, this is not the case for Spirit. We, in our humanity, in our finite understanding and experience of time, have defined the experience this way.
Somehow, no matter how much time we perceive, there is always more than enough time for us to succeed and accomplish our task. This, for me, is Spirit time. It is an experience of Spirit shifting time so that we can accomplish what we need to succeed. Most often it is an internal shift within us, like oh we don’t need to stress. There is plenty of time.
Driving a car, an example:
Have you ever noticed that when you are running late and stressed about it, it hit every red light. Anything that can slow you down happens and you end up later than you wanted to.
However, if you are running late and you decide to relax, like "Ok, so I will be late." There is an inner peace within you. You are not stressed about it. If you make it, you make it -- if you are late, you are late. Oh well.
In those moments, have you noticed that you seems to hit the green lights. Everything flows. A drive that should have taken 15 minutes takes 10 minutes and you arrive on time?
I decided one month to do an experiment and consciously be aware of my inner state when I was running late. If I was successful at the relaxed, oh well state of mind, I always arrived in plenty of time or exactly on time. When I was stressed, I consistently late, apologizing, feeling bad about myself.
This is Spirit time.
If we trust Spirit, release our own pre-determined, pre-oriented time expectations, somehow Spirit makes it work well.
This means that all we need to do in those times of our spiritual journey when we feel we are in an endurance race, is to step back. Reassess. Allow our perspective to shift enough so that we feel that inner-peace — that everything will be alright and work out in the end sense. When we connect into that, we will have the endurance and the ability to succeed at our task, to overcome whatever is in front of us, to walk our life path with confidence and vitality.
If we can connect into that inner-peace, even when our life path feels like a race, we are able to stop and smell the roses. We are able to notice the blessings along the way. The support that is around us, encouraging and cheering us on becomes more palpable. We never run out of breathe or energy. A confidence in our choices, in Spirit’s guidance, in our steps arises within us.
If we can connect into that inner-peace, that everything will be alright and work out in the end — we disconnect race from endurance. We allow ourselves to realize and believe that our spiritual journey is not a race. We recognize that we have the strength to endure all that comes onto our path because there is always enough time, enough energy, enough wisdom, enough vitality within and around us.
I invite you to once again reflect upon your spiritual journey, upon your life journey, and notice all the times where Spirit guided you, uplifted you, gave you the strength to endure.
How did Spirit boost your endurance?
The spiritual life has its ups and downs. We get the opportunity to spend time with the Sacred in a safe loving space, communing, resting, rejuvenating, healing. Other times, we are confronted with huge tasks that feel overwhelming. We may not feel adequately equipped for some of what Spirit calls us to do. In those times we dig deep and find our inner strength, just as Spider-man did in the Washington Monument scene of Spider-man: Homecoming…
Spider-man was locked in the Deep Storage Vault and got bored. He went looking for a way to break out. While he was searching for a way, he came across another ‘glowy thing’ (which he found earlier on from the bad guys). Karen alerts him to the fact that the ‘glowy thing’ is an alien bomb.
Spider-man freaks out and spends all night breaking through the door. He races back to Washington, DC trying to get to Ned (his friend that has the ‘glowy thing’). He does not make it. Ned placed his backpack with the ‘glowy thing’ on a security belt. The radiation from the machine set the alien bomb ticking. When all Spider-man’s classmates are almost to the top of the Washington Monument, the bomb goes off, cutting a whole in the top of the elevator and leaving the class dangling in great danger of falling to the ground.
Spider-man, arriving at the monument just as the bomb goes off: Karen, what’s going on up there?
Karen: The core has detonated and caused severe structural damage to the elevator.
Spider-man: Oh no…. (running toward the monument and looking up) Oh my God that’s tall!
He leaps onto the wall of the monument and starts his spider-crawl up the monument….
The Spiritual Journey
Spider-man has not yet faced a challenge like this. He has to dig deep within himself and find his inner strength. It is there. He just needs to connect with it and use it.
This is similar to us in our spiritual journeys. Life has its ups and downs. Sometime we flow along our life path with ease. Other times it takes all our inner strength to make it one day, one task. Each time we exercise our ‘inner strength’ muscle we grow, expand, evolve, and learn to stand more fully in our spiritual power.
What I have learned about my own inner strength is that it is wrapped up in Spirit’s strength. Somehow, if I trust in Spirit, in Spirit’s guidance, empowerment, encouragement, I always have enough strength to work through the challenge that has been placed in my path.
It does not always feel that way. There are moments when I just want to quit, when I am so tired and exhausted I can not take even one more step. Yet, I do not know how I do it, I take that one more step. I feel like in those moments it is Spirit who is feeding me strength for that next step.
Hiking Franconia Notch
My dad and I used to go on an annual hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. My dad’s goal is to climb all the 4000 footers in NH. Mine was to walk as much of the Appalachian Trail as I can in my lifetime. So we began in NH.
The first hike my dad wanted to do was to hike from Franconia Notch to Crawford Notch across 5 or 6 4,000 plus foot mountains over three days. That seemed reasonable.
I worked hard getting in shape: running up and down flights and flights of stairs with a 30 pound backpack on; working out on the stair-master. I was ready!
Well, I was so not. The first mountain was great. We enjoyed the hike up to the peak. We stayed just below the peak and watched the sunset.
The next morning we were ridge running as my dad put it. In my mind that meant we summated and then walked a gentle ridge down and then back up to the next peak. Not so. It was 7 miles (if you were a bird flying). What we hiked was 7 miles either up or down. Between each peak (we had two to summit) there were 5-6 mini-peaks. That was not ridge running in my mind.
Well, needless to say, it took every ounce of my physical and spiritual strength to hike that day. I remember getting to a place where each step was a prayer, a prayer that I could take the next step.
Finding my strength
When I thought it could not get any more challenging, I found myself facing a 6 foot wall followed by 50 feet of 70 degree angled rock slab. Now, you should know I have height issues. My dad hoped up the wall and walked up the rock slab. I stood there staring, unable to breathe. Somehow I made it up the 6 foot wall, got to a seated position at the top and was frozen with fear. I looked up the slope and knew I had to move. Breathing deeply 5-7 times, I got on my knees. More deep breathes allowed me to stand. I prayed and stepped and prayed and stepped until I was up.
Because I had to dig deep that day, I learned I had a greater amount of inner strength than I could ever have imagined. That day taught me who I am, what I can do. It taught me that nothing, no obstacle, to challenge is too much if I am connected into Spirit, into the heart of the Sacred. If I align myself, pray, and take each step together, I will always have the strength I need to accomplish whatever task lies before me on my life path.
Spirit's strength is our strength
Our inner strength is Spirit’s strength. If we can believe that, then no matter what lies ahead of us on our life path, we can accomplish it. We can overcome any obstacle, and bring any co-creation we desire into this world.
Today, I invite you to ponder a time when you felt overwhelmed, when you had to dig deep to find your inner strength to accomplish whatever it was. Spend time in prayer, in the presence of Spirit, remembering, awakening your awareness of your strength and Spirit’s strength. How did Spirit empower, encourage you? How did Spirit increase your strength?
With gratitude in your heart, allow that awareness to integrate into all aspects of yourself. Know that when you feel overwhelmed, you are not alone. Spirit is there sharing strength with you.
One of the benefits of connecting deeply with Spirit is that you always have someone to talk to (prayer). There is always a presence that is listening deeply to your heart and soul, even when you are not intentionally sharing. Spirit’s presence, Spirit’s friendship, Spirit’s Love, Spirit’s Wisdom is ours if we want to connect in.
Spider-man remains stuck in the deep storage vault. He is now laying on the top of a storage container dressed in his Decathlon school uniform, and talking to Karen (formerly known as Suit Lady).
Spider-man: Should I tell Liz I’m Spider-man?
Karen: Who’s Liz?
Spider-man: Who’s Liz? She’s the best. She’s awesome. She’s a girl that goes to my school. I really want to tell her, but it’s kind of weird, you know. It’s like, ‘Hey I’m Spider-man.’
Karen: What’s weird about that?
Spider-man: What if she is expecting someone like Tony Stark (Ironman, his mentor). Imagine how disappointed she would be when she sees me?
Karen: Well, if I were her, I would not be disappointed at all.
Spider-man: Thanks Karen. Its really nice to have somebody to talk to…
I love this short scene. It is so true to the human experience. We go about our lives feeling as if we can not share our deepest heart’s desires. For some reason we fear being judged, shut down, dismissed or rejected when it comes to our deepest desires. This is usually because they involve relating to another human in all that person’s humanness. So we let our fear block us from taking the risks that may change our lives, as well as other’s for the better.
We need someone to talk to. That someone is Spirit. When we are talking with Spirit, we are being held in the safest most secure place (sacred space). The safety of Spirit’s sacred space allows us to drop all of our walls and barriers, to become fully vulnerable and share openly our struggles, our desires, our fears, our hopes. As we share them, Spirit listens, holds, and responds offering us an experience of unconditional love and deep peace.
This is awesome!
For many of us, we turn to prayer when we need something: healing for someone who is sick, safety in travel, Light around those grieving. We have a list of needs and we pray those needs. This is what church taught us. Prayers are either liturgical (written and spoken) or about what we need God to pay attention to.
Rarely do we stop and commune with Spirit as Spider-man does with Karen (Suit Lady). Rarely do we allow ourselves to share our deepest desires and await Spirit’s answer. Many times we do not know how to begin doing that. We have not been taught. It feels weird to just sit down and speak to an empty room and then expect a voice to speak from no-where.
Prayer is more than just our list of needs and written liturgical words we say each worship experience. It is simply our willingness to open a line of communication with the Sacred. A line of communication includes the Intention to listen as much as speak. It is about being in the presence of the Sacred and trusting that what needs to be communicated between both of you is, whether words are shared or images or silence.
Putting it into practice:
My mentor taught me a simple prayer that I have used over my many years:
“Holy Love, Sacred Light, Blessed Life,
Fill me with Your Presence until I am empty of all but You.”
This simple prayer changed how I related with Spirit.
My first experience using it, I spoke the words in my heart and sat there like, “what now?” I sat. Nothing happened. I was bummed.
But I kept saying those two lines daily for a while. Over time, I began to notice that something was happening in my heart. A space that I never realized was there was being carved out. One day I imagined myself walking into that space I felt appearing. I allowed my imagination to explore the space, clean the space, prepare the space and finally sit in meditation in that space. Then something happened. Another presence arrived and we sat together. Nothing was said. We just sat in each other’s presence. I awoke from that prayer feeling deeply Loved.
I continued on, returning to this space, saying these two lines. Over time, I began to hear the presence of Spirit. Sometimes words arrived in my heart. Other times, I received a vision, a journey and spent time journalling about the metaphorical vision I received. With each experience, I was filled with joy, love, peace, laughter, compassion.
I no longer say those two lines. Instead I enter the space of my heart and allow the muscle memory I created all those years ago to kick in. Someone (an angel, Spirit, one of my helping spirits, Ascended Master) shows up, and we spend time together. I awaken from that meditation and prayer thinking
“Thanks….. It’s really nice to have somebody to talk to…”
(Spiritual direction is a beautiful spiritual practice where your spiritual director mentors and guides you into the space within your heart, teaching you how to commune, listen, be in the presence of the Sacred. If you would like to explore spiritual direction, click here to set an appointment. I offer direction in-person and on-line via Zoom.)
To connect into the Sacred, we need to know who/what we are relating to. For us, humans, it usually helps to name it. Having a name, creates a bond and opens us to establishing a relationship.
Spider-man is stuck in the deep storage vault until morning (most likely). He creates a hammock out of his web-shooters and is hanging in the hammock.
Spider-man: Hey Suit Lady, I kind of feel bad calling you Suit Lady. You know. I think I should probably give you a name.
Like, Liz? No, no, no, that’s weird. (Liz is the name of the girl at school he likes.)
What about Karen?
Suit Lady: You can call me Karen if you would like.
Hagar Names God:
In Genesis 16, we meet up with Hagar. She is distraught. Hagar has run away from the abuse of Sarai (because of her jealousy of Hagar’s heir Ishmael). God comes to Hagar. In this interchange, Hagar names God. She is the only person in the Hebrew Bible and Christian Scriptures to name God. This is a powerful and amazing passage, as well as troubling in some senses. Today we will look at the naming part, not the sending back into slavery part.:
The angel of the Lord found her by a spring of water in the wilderness, the spring on the way to Shur. And he said, “Hagar, slave-girl of Sarai, where have you come from and where are you going?” She said, “I am running away from my mistress Sarai.” The angel of the Lord said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit to her.” The angel of the Lord also said to her, “I will so greatly multiply your offspring that they cannot be counted for multitude.” And the angel of the Lord said to her,
“Now you have conceived and shall bear a son;
you shall call him Ishmael,
for the Lord has given heed to your affliction.
He shall be a wild ass of a man,
with his hand against everyone,
and everyone’s hand against him
and he shall live at odds with all his kin.”
So she named the Lord who spoke to her, “You are El-roi”; for she said, “Have I really seen God and remained alive after seeing him?”
Hagar came into contact with the Sacred and named God. This is a unique moment in our sacred scriptures. God is not named by anyone else. However, Hagar connects with God, recognizes the establishment of a covenant, and names the other party to this agreement. This, theologically, is a way to hold God responsible for God’s promises. Hagar stands in her power, as herself, in the presence of the Sacred, and says Yes to God’s request and covenant. She establishes a relationship with God.
Spider-man is seeking to establish a relationship with Suit Lady. He feels bad no knowing what to call her. She is a computer, so she most likely does not have a name. Spider-man begins to think about names and offers up Karen. The name makes the connection more real. There is a familiarity that comes with knowing someone’s name. Talking and relating to a person with a name is way easier to do that one without a name.
Names of the Sacred
This is how it is with the Sacred. We all have our way of relating to God. We use various names, various images.
Traditionally in sacred scriptures: God, Jehovah, Yahweh, Sophia, Spirit, Allah…to name a few
Non-traditional: Goddess, Sacred Energy, Universe, Light, One
The importance of a name
The name, the words, the way in which we call upon this powerfully transformative healing force in our world is important to us. It helps us establish a relationship that we trust and know we can rely on. It is the precursor to communing, being, talking with the Sacred.
For spider-man, it shifts how he relates to Suit Lady. He begins to ask her questions. He learns from her. Karen (Suit Lady) become his mentor in a sense, teaching him all about the spider suit and its capabilities, listening and giving him advice in his personal life, and more. The name unlocks a deeper level of connecting.
Naming the Sacred , whether it is a traditional name, a phrase, a sense, a feeling, an image, unlocks a whole different level of relating. We find when we know how to address the Sacred that communication begin to happen both directions, we want to share our deepest desires and secrets, we rely more and more on the Sacred for guidance.
What is your name for this Sacred Force in the Universe that guides, heals, creates justice, deepens Love, offers hope and mercy and grace? How do you call on him/her/them?
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.