Where the light gets in

I had a very profound thought during the night. I know I’ve read it somewhere but I can’t think where.

A couple of days ago I was telling someone how it went with my son on Thursday and I made the very sad but nonetheless true statement that ‘my heart will always be broken.’

Even as I said it, I sensed the truth; the immense power in those six words.

I was reflecting on this during the night and almost immediately another thought came to me, almost from outside myself, carrying the wisdom and grace of a deeper realisation:

‘This is where the light gets in.’

Suddenly the balance shifted from despondency to hope. I had a wonderful visual image of God’s divine grace surrounding the broken pieces of my heart like a pure golden light, filling in all the cracks and making it stronger and more beautiful than ever.

There is always a choice. Closing down to protect a broken heart seems the best option, but it leaves one cut off, alone and in darkness, where healing is impossible.

Jesus healed people. He restored them through their own faith. At least once he asked the person if they wanted to be healed. I don’t believe that he was suggesting they didn’t or stating the obvious; rather, he was inviting them to open their heart and accept what is possible through faith. Literal or metaphoric, the healing he brought upon others was only made possible through an open heart, which is the ultimate gift of love.

It’s all too easy to protect one’s heart from further pain and become hurt and bitter. This is the challenge of being human, especially in regard to deep traumas that laid the entire foundation of a life. Each of us has our own path to walk and obstacles to navigate, as well as the particular tools to help us through. Thankfully for us, there are so many teachers, past and present, who have pointed to the truth that we all carry within.

And what is this truth? In my experience, we exist in Divine love. We are eternal beings, filled with the grace of God/Spirit/The Divine, here living a very limited human life in all its glory and tragedy. The heart is the bridge between the two. When we keep it open, the love and light of God’s grace is always available to love and heal and restore us no matter how broken we feel.

Growing and transcending

I’m aware that each time I write a truly vulnerable account of how I’m feeling about my disabled son I probably lose a few readers – understandably so because not everyone wants to read about someone’s suffering, especially those seeking a more uplifting story – so I’m drawn to say thank you to those who are drawn to read my experiences and feelings, regardless of reason. Sometimes I feel very alone and it helps to write it down and know people are reading my words, even when I am going around in circles with the same feelings and issues, or at least seem to be. I really do appreciate it.

I know in my heart that each of us is on a spiritual journey to realising our true self – our Christ self, Divine indwelling, soul – whichever term you feel most comfortable with -and we can’t drop off the path no matter what we do or feel. Sometimes life can feel completely unbearable and I think it is important to be honest about the suffering because it is the freedom of speaking the truth that ultimately saves us. As Carl Jung (I think) said, ‘suffering can’t always be worked through, only transcended.’ I cannot escape my pain. It just is. It exists in a state of consciousness that is fully human and I love and respect it. It will never leave me for it is part of me. But it is not ALL of me. And therein lies the answer.

I think it was Mother Teresa who said ‘when you know better, do better.’ We experience life in accordance with our level of consciousness, so once we grow spiritually, we experience life, and God/the Divine, from a higher state of awareness. However, growth is not a linear process, as I know all too well. I have meditated and prayed for years and feel I have a healthy relationship with my spirituality and the Divine. I am always growing and evolving and increasing my capacity for unconditional love. The difficulty is when old wounds get activated, or, as Eckhart Tolle says, the pain body, and once again I am lost in the pain of wanting what can never be. The pain body is the emotional element of the conditioned self – who we believe ourselves to be in relation to the outer world. Some people call this the ego, and indeed I have done sometimes, but I dislike the term, maybe because it reduces it to an unpleasant sounding entity rather than being part of my being which evolved to try and help me live in this world, however misguided it has been. It also seems to suggest that my emotions are ‘wrong’ on some level. My emotions over my son and wishing things were different are not ‘wrong’; they simply are. I can’t imagine anyone in my situation not feeling this way; at least, not without a huge and permanent shift in consciousness to the extent that one’s personal history just doesn’t matter any more because one abides purely in a state of love. This ideal was perfectly executed in the story of Jesus.

Regardless of what I, or anyone else, think about the whole mystery of Jesus, whether he was real, a myth, whether he was the only ‘son of God’ or pointing to the potential that exists in all of us, it highlights that Jesus was both fully human AND fully Divine. He often referred to himself as the ‘Son of Man’ i.e son of humanity, rather than God! He fully embraced his emotions, his humanness, his fear, anger, reluctance, sense of abandonment etc. He befriended the hurting, lost and broken people. He must have felt terribly alone in a world that wasn’t ready for him and did not understand him. He suffered unimaginably horribly in the hands of others, feeling betrayed and alone, all the while trusting in God’s plan for his life.

The most important part of the entire story: Jesus was not left to die; he was resurrected into his Christ self which transcended all his pain and suffering and restored him to his Divine identity. His old self had to die for the new self to be born. Whatever one believes about this, there is a lesson in letting go and having faith, that our suffering does not have to define us, even if it is part of us for a time (even a long time; indeed, some of us live with deep hurts our entire lives and only find relief on physical death). The story of Jesus has always brought me comfort because this is a man who went through the worst torture that I imagine is possible to man, all the while feeling abandoned by God, yet loving and forgiving those who inflicted such suffering on him, who then transcended it all; a personal reminder of the renewal of all life and our own eternal nature.

When I feel crucified by my personal circumstances and unable to find relief in any of my life’s blessings due to feeling consumed by wishing things had turned out differently, I remember that fighting against my suffering will not work. My suffering results from a part of me who understandably feels devastated and angry and let down by life. I also know that I carry within me some part of the Christ mystery – my Divine spark – which both encompasses and transcends this human life. It is a daily juggle, holding those aspects of my being, but maybe knowing they are there and perfectly okay, is enough.

Between acceptance and resistance

Acceptance seems like the holy grail of spirituality and I understand why; it’s opposite is resistance, and as we all know, what is the point resisting something we can’t change? It’s only going to make us suffer.

I’m not even sure it has to be one or the other, black or white. Maybe there are shades of grey whereby I’m not accepting or resisting but stuck in some limbo state in between the two.

Only that, too, equals suffering.

Today I had to go down to the local government office to sort out a financial mess on my son’s behalf. I was told my son needed to accompany me so they could see him for themselves and verify that he lacks capacity to handle his own affairs. Due to his level of need, two male carers had to escort him, so we were quite a group heading into the building. I knew my son wouldn’t cope for very long and he didn’t; he became agitated and vocal, catching the attention of everyone else in the room, until the carers took him out for a walk while I spoke to a representative. I’m relieved that he at least didn’t lay on the floor which is what happened elsewhere in public last week, and he didn’t hit anyone, which is always a massive concern when he has a meltdown. No small blessings there.

The stress of the very short visit – in total, it probably took around half an hour, most of it on my own as my son had already been taken out by the carers – left me feeling so weighed down and hopeless. It reminds me of my desperation as a young mother trying to control my son who, as a six year old, ran riot around a restaurant gabbing food off people’s plates. Those times have gone. I don’t have to – and I simply couldn’t – manage him on my own anymore, but the same stress, the same heartbreak, remains.

I wonder if anyone who does not have a severely disabled son can even imagine what it is like. Children play up, especially when they’re young, but in time you can reason with them and loosen that all-consuming hold on them as they start to grow and value their independence. I have never lost that hold on my son. He is all consuming. He is unpredictable. He is terrifying. You never know what he is going to do. The only real way I have learnt to cope is detach myself. Not in the sense I won’t do all I can for him because I will always do that – but emotionally draw back, because otherwise the pain is too much to bear.

Maybe this is what I mean about being in limbo – not quite accepting, not quite resisting. This is my life and I cannot say I accept it. I often think about how it could have been. I grieve for the child I never had and never will have now. I grieve for the child – now adult – that I do have. I can’t imagine a day where that grief stops. I long for simple conversations with my son, Facebook comments, texts – the kind of stuff most parents take for granted. I long to see my son grow up and become independent – drive a car, go to university, get married. He will never do any of those things. He doesn’t have any concept of those things. I’m the one who wants them. I’m the one who feels the loss.

Am I resisting? If so, who wouldn’t? I don’t know, there are much better parents out there than me who devote their lives 24/7 to their disabled kids because they feel that depth of unconditional love and it’s second nature. I’ve never been that person. I’ve been ill all my adult life with chronic illnesses that nearly destroyed me. I simply never had the capacity to give my son that much of myself. I did the best I could. I still don’t know if it was enough but I know it was all I had.

I guess I’m only hurting myself by constantly thinking ‘what if’? But it’s impossible to stop. Maybe my acceptance lies there, in accepting this is where I am and how I feel and that life is so plain hard because I didn’t ask for this. I don’t have to be all saintly and spiritual about it if I don’t want to be. I don’t have to pretend. I can say to God that I wish things were different. I can feel God’s love for me and for my son and remember that Jesus was crucified in the flesh and in our own unique ways so are all of us in living a human life.

Anyone who copes with similar and has found a way to cherish their relationship with their child and their life as it is, I truly admire you. I journey on.

Hamster is sick

As well as everything involving my son lately, I’ve realised my poor hamster Pumpkin is sick. I’m taking him to the vet later but I’m not sure they will be able to do anything for him.

I’m starting to think I won’t get anymore animals as the pain they cause when they die is too much for me to bear.

My dog is 12 and a half and I truly dread the day she goes.

I know it’s the cycle of life and it’s never ending but the attachment one forms to these little creatures is enough to break your heart when you can’t see or hold them anymore.

And it never gets easier. It hurts just as much with one creature as any.

I entrust my beautiful hamster’s spirit back into the comforting arms of God if it is his time. And I entrust my grief as the outpouring of love gifted by his presence.

Witnessing a seagull’s near miss

This morning I witnessed a hit and run. The victim was a seagull, but that doesn’t make it any less upsetting for me.

Thankfully the seagull flew away, stunned but seemingly unharmed.

It had been among its flock which were picking at a large animal carcass in the middle of the road. One or two cars came by and slowed down and the seagulls mostly dispersed but one or two were too obsessed with the bone to worry about the cars.

As I was watching and waiting for a moment to go into the road and remove the bone, a car drove along with no intent to slow down and very deliberately drove at the flock; most got out of the way, one did not and hit the bumper with a thud. By some miracle it then flew off.

At this point I shot into the road and moved the carcass to a safer place while the seagulls watched, no doubt wondering what I was doing with their treasure.

The incident left me shaking and upset. Is a seagull’s life worth nothing to some people? Maybe the driver decided it was the seagulls ‘fault’ for being in the road in the first place. Would he say the same about a small child?

I find the lack of basic compassion really hard to deal with. I know that’s part n parcel of living in this world. I know many people don’t have empathy for birds, especially ones they deem a nuisance, such as seagulls. I’m not ignorant of those facts. I just find it really difficult to wrap my head around the intentional desire to hurt a living being and cause it suffering and pain. We live in a hurting world, I know. Hurt people hurt people (or animals. Or birds). It’s just…very painful to witness.

Patience and compassion are two wonderful virtues that are much needed in this world. No creature is less deserving than any other. No being deserves to suffer simply for going about its business finding food. I know some really ARE a nuisance and need to be killed for our own sake, but we can kill humanely. We do not have to inflict suffering. The intention to do so says nothing about the creature and everything about the person.

God bless every creature, including humans, who suffers and/or fallen victim to any one else’s suffering. Which, lets face it, is probably most.

Silver linings

It’s been a very painful few weeks but I am very grateful for the silver linings that have emerged as a result of my son’s hospitalisation. Whilst it’s been very far from ideal, my son has been calmer than he has in a while, a combination of the right medication plus 24/7 carers who he responds well to and a room and bathroom of his own (albeit off a busy ward). I am also grateful for all the professionals who have worked so hard to find a better solution for my lovely boy while not dehumanising him for the difficulties he has that led to being in hospital in the first place. He has a new placement in the autumn but it’s still a building site, so we have to wait. In the meantime he has a temporary arrangement in his previous home with the support of 24/7 carers. He should be discharged early next week.

Other relatives sadly chose not to visit, which meant me going every other day to do his washing and bring him food (he was not eating any of the hospital food). I wish others had shown their presence to my son, but I am grateful for the opportunity to really be a mother to him for the first time in many years, probably since my health forced me to give him to his father full time. My visits were positive. We bonded for the first time in a few years. He was pleased to see me and at one point lay his legs across my lap. I can’t put in words how much this all means. It has helped heal my fragile heart from all the pain of parenting, the loss and struggle of bringing him up, the feelings of disconnection that arose from only seeing him once a week and having to get past the obstacles of his dad and grandmother who often made it hard for me to visit. Moreover, it was a relief after the pain of visiting him in the assisted living accommodation where he wanted me to leave as soon as I arrived. Now I know this wasn’t personal but a reaction to his frustration and pain at living in an environment which felt out of control and that he couldn’t cope with.

I am so grateful to God/the Divine for all these silver linings in such an awful situation. I just hope and pray that my son’s discharge goes well and he thrives during the temporary placement and when he goes to the new one in the autumn.

Sacred beauty of Oludeniz, Turkey

In the midst of everything recently I managed to get away to Turkey for a few days. It was the first trip abroad in 8 years and I found myself awed by the beauty of the landscape. It really was stunning. And hot! Most days were over 30 degrees, with the exception of the final day which was 29. I spent most of my days reading on the beach and by the hotel pool.. I also found joy in exploring the local shops which were full of quirky handmade gifts, many from the Hindu tradition. The art and culture reflected the sacred beauty in everything around me and reminded me that it does not matter what name we give God or which tradition we follow – the Divine is life itself in all its creative forms.

My suffering and the story of Jesus

The story of Jesus reminds me that suffering doesn’t have to separate us from God or mean that we have failed, it brings God to us, right here, right now, suffering with us and for us and AS us.

I haven’t posted for some weeks because I’ve had so much going on, some good, some bad, mainly bad. I went abroad for a few days to Turkey, something I’d wanted to do in many years but been too unwell. It wasn’t easy but with special assistance booked and a mobility scooter hired I managed it and feel very happy that I did.

Unfortunately, I knew in advance it was a risky time to go away with everything going on with my son but it was booked ages ago and the only time my friend and her family could make it, so I took the chance. The last night there I heard that my son had been hospitalised due to unmanageable behaviour and his grandmother was no longer capable of having him. The previous assisted living staff did all they could but are no longer involved. My son remains in hospital. There is now a new care agency supporting him there, but no accommodation for him to be moved into. There is no medical need for him to be in hospital and no clinical need for mental health sectioning. Whilst the professionals involved are trying hard to find accommodation, there is nothing.

I can’t put into words the pain of thinking of my son in hospital and exactly what happened when he got there. Sometimes pain is beyond anything I could say. All I can do is have faith that something will work out for him. He DOES have a placement to go to in the autumn but it’s currently a building site and won’t be ready until September at least. This is something to be thankful for despite the wait. The problem is finding somewhere for him in the meantime.

For a lot of my life I’ve believed that suffering separates us from God/The Divine – that if I’m experiencing ‘negative’ emotions, something is wrong and I’m not feeling God’s peace. It is true that when we become still, we feel the peace that passes understanding – that goes beyond the mind. We leave behind our troublesome thoughts and experience what is always present. But God is there in the suffering too. Regardless of what one believes about the story of Jesus – fact, fiction or myth – its point is that God isn’t apart from this world, he entered into it willingly, showing us that through his creation we are all part of him and never alone.

The symbolism of the cross and the entire crucifixion is the state of being crucified between Heaven and Earth – not fully human or Divine, but a bit of both – and existing in that space, neither here nor there. It’s a tough place to be once one fully realises it. I feel lost in this world, devastated by my suffering, my son’s suffering – neither of us belonging here or anywhere; myself longing for my spiritual home to the point nothing motivates me here but the need to become fully immersed in God. This is why the religion of my childhood – Christianity – draws me in – its a faith of love and suffering and promise of resurrection – what some may call a new state of consciousness, a living with Christ, in whatever form that takes.

I’m holding onto that faith. Right now it’s all I can do.

Last night’s dream: A UFO, rainbow colours, water pipes and a lake

Last night’s dream was the most fascinating in quite a while. I was in some sort of building looking out of the window at a wood. Somehow I knew there was a lake beyond but I was scared of it. There was a room to my right containing a large amount of water pipes. I was absolutely terrified of these pipes and didn’t want the door open at all. I asked someone if the pipes would open out into the lake. I was told they probably would. Then it started to rain heavily and I knew the rain and the lake were the same. It was extremely dark. The ceiling began to leak and I looked for a cup to catch the water before realising I’d need something bigger. Then water began to pour down the walls. I looked out of the window only to see a beautiful rainbow. It got closer and I realised it was the shape of a saucer…it was a UFO! I whipped out my phone and started to video it. My mother (I think) walked towards it and I was scared she would be abducted, but soon after she came back and the UFO started to retreat. I videoed the beautiful rainbow moving further away. Then I saw the spirit of a white dog. After this I woke up.

The feelings that overrode this dream were the polar opposites: fear and love. I was scared of the lake and, most of all, the pipes. I do have a fear of water pipes in IRL but nothing like as exaggerated as it was in the dream. I think my fear here works on two levels; psychological and spiritual. I’m feeling emotional overwhelm due to the situation with my son, represented by the water pouring through the ceiling and walls and the sinister pipes, but I’m also scared of my spiritual power and the incredible energy being channelled through me which is represented by the pipes and the lake of my subconscious mind. The rain is deeply cleansing on all levels and as the source of life represents eternity itself.

I’ve been doing a lot of contemplative meditation lately and am aware that the Divine is only found in the moment, in the midst of suffering, not in some far away land when suffering is no more (as much as I wish for that). In meditation, I am often aware of a lot of energy. I can’t explain or label it but it’s there nonetheless. It’s a comforting feeling but also very powerful and disconcerting. I know I can tap into it and the effects would be massive, as indeed it has been in the past after a lot of meditation. I think the pipes behind the door are all the energy I’m keeping in view but scared to fully look at due to what they may unleash from my subconscious. I’m scared of my own power which is always available to me through my connection with the Divine in the moment. The dog may represent the underworld, reinforcing this primal connection to All That Is.

The UFO is even more interesting. Carl Jung believed it was a religious symbol, indicating attainment. Other interpretations suggest a symbol of the universe or the higher self. All of these ideas could be applied here and the beautiful colours suggest spiritual energy is surrounding me and available to me to tap into. And of course all the symbolism of a rainbow can come into play here – hope, transformation, God’s promise after the flood. It’s funny how I videoed it on my phone – I didn’t stay fully present to it, but wanted to hold onto it, place technology between myself and it. That shows some resistance as much as longing, which is part of the theme of being afraid of the power available to me. And of course my mother – or my higher self – wasn’t ‘abducted’ by the UFO; there was a short visit and the UFO went away. I won’t take on more than I am ready to.

I woke up feeling happy and awed. It’s a dream that was full of atmosphere and will stay with me as a comfort as I plough through these tough times.

The peace that passes all understanding

If ‘God’ doesn’t feel a good fit it can be omitted or replaced with ‘the Divine’ or ‘Spirit’ or ‘meditation’ or even ‘Self’ because the word doesn’t really matter, it’s only semantics; what matters is the state of peace that the words are pointing towards. It’s a experience of peace so profound and pure that no life circumstance, situation or event can pull you from it. There’s only pure eternal Being.

For someone like me who thinks too much, I easily lose myself in mind. I want to work it all out. I want to figure out what I’m going to do, how I’m going to do it, and when. That’s all useful….up to a point. I also need to let things go and rest in the peace of the moment where my thoughts cannot reside. I need to surrender to and rest in God who is beyond mind. In doing so, I can allow my thoughts to calm and my natural inner beauty to shine like a flower in perfect harmony with all that is.