Thursday, November 28, 2013

Ego? or Essence?

“Ego remodels a house; Essence doesn’t.”

It was a small comment really, not meant to stir the dust or even invite days of contemplation, but it did.  And I must admit Ego spit and spat and fumed, because Ego loves “comparison”, “competition”, and “judgment”; i.e., if Ego remodels the house, I must be bad. No one said that, but that’s where unabated Ego goes, straight to comparison, competition and judgment.

Ego’s not bad, but left unchecked, Ego can take us into pride and argument.

But Essence, when allowed to surface will take us further and deeper into perhaps some dark, unexplored area of the soul.  And if left to simmer for a couple of days, some really juicy thoughts might begin to surface and hope might be the end result.

Only in a dualistic world are Ego and Essence different, one being bad, the other being good. In a non-dualistic world, they are the same – like two sides of a coin:

or two strands of DNA:

or threads woven together to make cloth: 

all of which, by the way, require 3rd Force to make the new thing: heads and tails make a coin, and polynucleotide weave together to make human cells, and strands of threads weave together in opposite directions make cloth. But I digress.

As I pondered Ego and Essence this morning, I came to the conclusion once again that they also are two woven together and by some lovely 3rd Force energy, they become “I Am”.

The two shall become one.

If I deny Essence, there can be no “I”.

If I deny Ego, there can be no “I”.

If I take away one, the whole is no longer a whole but now a part.

As long as I look at Ego and Essence as two and work to decide which part of me is doing/being, I remain divided.

Which sends me to the whole of second half of life stuff: individuation, differentiation, and integration.

Individuation: to form the individual, to make distinctions, to distinguish single from group.

There came a time when I had to realize that. Sounds kind of silly, but we do have to make that discovery at some time in our lives – hopefully before the age of 50, but that’s another story. I woke up one morning and it came to me that I was not my family of origin, neither was I an American or a white girl or a Baptist or a Catholic. I was an individual separate from any group I had ever been a part of. I was ME – individual. And I was two (or more): Ego and Essence.

Differentiation: the process by which cells or tissues change from relatively generalized to specialized, to mark differently, to distinguish.

Ahhh, now that I realized I was an individual, it was time for me to differentiate, to realize how I was different from the other, what makes me, Me? Thus began the process of listening to my own thoughts, to my own ideas and discovering how many of those thoughts and ideas really were mine and how many had been passed onto me by the groups I had been a part of. This is the part where I heard the Voice inside say, “It’s a dance Sheila. You can’t ask me to ‘make you’ anything anymore. YOU get to decide what/who you will be. You are co-creator with Me.” Which can be a fun and exciting thing, or very scary. This is when I realize I can no longer blame others for what I think. I can no longer pass the buck for how I act. Now I must grow up and accept responsibility for who I am, what I do, and what I say. I can’t even say, “God made me this way” anymore. It became time to recognize the different voices speaking into my life: Is it Ego? Or is it Essence?

Then there comes a time when Integration begins.

Integration: Combining into an integral whole; necessary to the completeness of the whole.

Here’s the twist now: to leave the dualistic world behind…to leave Ego and Essence behind and become “one”.

The two shall become one.

As long as I keep looking at Ego, I am divided.

As long as I keep looking at Essence, I am divided.

Beatrice Beautreau writes in her book, Radical Optimism: “…here is where nondualism comes in, because the last dualism to go is the dualism between subject and object.” She begins this wonderful little discussion of “backing into Jesus”. 

As long as we keep looking at Jesus, Jesus and I are separate, but if I turn around and back into him, we become one.

It’s the same with Ego and Essence. As long as I am regarding either Ego or Essence, there is subject and object, which deteriorates into comparison, competition, and judgment. Which one’s the right one? Which one’s the good one? Am I in my Ego? Or am I now in my Essence? I am still divided.

I’ve been pondering the “single eye” for a few weeks now.  One of the Psalms mentions us as the “apple of God’s eye”, and I’ve been pondering how when I look into the Other’s eye, I see my own reflection. As the Eye gazes into the I, the two become one. The Eye sees self reflected in the I. The Eye becomes single.

Meister Eckhart is quoted as saying, “The eye with which I see God is the eye with which God sees me.”

Ego = personality self; Essence = God-Self

The two become one. I am not Ego; I am not Essence; I am more than Ego and more than Essence. I am.

So, who’s remodeling the house? I am.

Which house am I remodeling? My physical house on the Creek? My physical body that houses “I”, or my spiritual house?

Yes, I am.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Grounded - A Poem About The Soul

by Sheila Conner

(For we here have no lasting city,
but we are looking for that city which is to come,
whose builder and maker is God.
The writer of The Letter to the Hebrews).

Daddy used to say,
“They’re just too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.”
I resented that phrase.
How can you be anything
But heavenly minded
when your heart has been fastened to only
one sky?

Spirit soars,
Looking, longing for that city.
This world is not our home.

“Sheila, I’m going to plant your feet
back into the Earth.
Lilies needs to be rooted and grounded in dirt.”

A chink in the armor cracks;
the soul peeps through
and delights in time and place.

Spirit soars.
Soul grounds.
Both are necessary.

(The soul is a place
and love must find its way there.
Linda Gregg, God’s Places)

Soul’s places: gardens, mountains, river, ponds,
lakes, fields, grasses.

Soul finds its home in Butchart’s Sunken Gardens’ low spaces
with its expansive rock quarry  walls,
splendid pinks, flowering trees,
deep purples, and shocks of yellow tulips

and the Voice that whispers,
“I know your love for color. Let me color your life.”

Deep calls to deep
just outside Sedona –
an ancient small tree’s roots
grab hold of the side of the cliff.
We commune. She comes home with me;
I stay there with her.

Swallows soar into the heavens
weaving their great dance.
Soul lifts and pirouettes with them
until they disappear to the next dimension.
The dance continues inside of me.

Soul is home in red dirt,
White Sands, the cat’s meow,
the majestic blue heron’s winter visit.

Spirit calls me up, up and away.
Soul binds me with love and attention
here in this time
Sunday morning, 5:06 a.m.
this space
on our Creek
holding dear
Love’s face in his,
our purring cats,
memories of Miss Millie’s House of Pleasure.

There is a city waiting for me. 
There is also home today
here and now in this time and space.

Spirit lifts my heart to that city.
Soul grounds me here and brings me home.

St. Timothy’s Episcopal
Poetry as Prayer Retreat
“The First Sky Is Within You”
Surfside Beach, Texas
November 3, 2013

Monday, November 4, 2013

Rainstick's Bidding

Richard took us to our senses Saturday morning: seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, feeling - the importance of rooting our poetry is the here and now. We were to choose five nouns, close our ears, and listen to the sounds of two different rainsticks being passed around the room. As we listened, I simply jotted down what I heard and what I sensed in the hearing, then rooted those sounds to my five nouns: seed, house, mountain, sky, roots.

Rainstick’s Bidding
by Sheila Conner

In night’s darkness
The seed gestates in silent stillness

Ground ruptures
Shaking house and rattling bones

Teeth chatter

Sky loosens and energy rushes
Opening and closing

Space inside

Deepest valley
Highest mountain

Dry riverbed rushes
With overflow

Roots drive down
Buds erupt

Vibration’s voice animates life

Awake! Pay attention!


Sunday, November 3, 2013

Whose Poem Is It Anyway

Our fifth annual Poetry-as-Prayer weekend got underway with Friday evening, complete with blue skies, and a relatively calm sea.  It wasn't long before the words began to flow.  Our fearless leader was Richard Osler from beautiful Canada; he comes south with the geese each year just to spend time with us. Thank you Richard!

Richard had given us a pre-retreat assignment, to answer the following 10 questions.
  1. Provide an image or a line from a favorite poem.
  2. Draw a small portrait of your first pet.
  3. Name two objects colored in your mother’s favorite colour.
  4. The scent/smell that best evokes your sense of Christmas.
  5. What is your favorite three-word sentence.
  6. Explain how you got a scar on your body.
  7. Provide an indisputable scientific fact.
  8. Give three rules from a favorite hobby/pastime.
  9. What is an imaginary definition of your last name?
  10. Pick a favorite line from the Psalms.
Then he tricked us all, made us pass our answer to the right, and proceed to create poetry. Of course, he thought that was really funny!

I was privileged to receive Susan's answers; she's a long-time friend and soul traveler. The rules were that we had to use only the words we found in what we had been given, to make a counterclaim, to describe the drawing in one sentence, and to use the favorite 3-word sentence twice. So, this is my first attempt:

A Poem by Susan
By Sheila Conner

Just 13
You traveled
by a dwelling place for people
who live in peace and love
You had to go by two roads
It made no difference at all,
taking the road less traveled.

with spotted belly and round ears
smelled the pine-fresh shard
and tried to catch the tree,
as glass shattered.
Let it be

As the earth rotates around the sun
Let it be
You don’t have to finish the book
Be still and know the sky and the ocean
Don’t feel guilty
Catch it! Allow it!
Teach me.

On my own early Saturday morning, I gave it a second try:

Another Poem by Susan
Written by Sheila Conner

Tippy took the less-traveled road,
and I, the one that made all the difference.

Round face with eyes grinning back
I was a dwelling place of love and peace,
dropped, shattered, stitched
The scar does not feel guilty

You don't have to finish washing the dishes
Allow the book to cut the smell of the fresh tree
The earth doesn't rotate around the sun
Let it be

Be still and know
   the rules are shattered
Let it be.

It was an interesting and fun experience putting words together in a crazy new way, and I was pleased with my poems.  Better still, Susan seemed pleased too.

I'll post more later. Off to the last session I go!