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.

Small miracles

I went to see my son today, braced for another absolutely terrible time as that is how it’s been for the last few visits, but by the Grace of God or sheer luck, he was in an excellent mood – calm, relaxed and happy. I was able to enjoy my time with him and vice versa. He watched videos on his tablet and ate the chocolate I bought for him. There were no behavioural issues or stress. It was all exactly how it could have been if these issues weren’t even in the equation. For a short time I breathed easy and thanked God/the Universe for this unexpected miracle.

This is even more poignant since yesterday was a dreadful day. I spent hours on the phone trying to sort my son’s finances out only to be told he wasn’t entitled to anything (which isn’t true) and desperately trying to make sure the paperwork was being completed so that my son’s carers would be insured to drive a car to take him out. It’s all been frustratingly slow and horrendously stressful but will hopefully be sorted soon. At one point yesterday I was shaking and crying and livid with my son’s dad for the mess he has left in his absence and felt it was all simply too much for me. The last thing I felt like doing this morning was visiting my son and being punched in the arm (or worse). So to arrive and be greeted with a smiley, happy adult child, was like the greatest gift I could have been given.

I am so grateful for this and also for the care everyone is showing him. Despite his upcoming eviction notice, the professionals involved in my son’s care are pulling out all the stops to tackle his behaviour on all levels. I do feel a lot of it is being abandoned by his father who no longer visits him, as well as not being taken out in a car to a range of activities which is needed to keep him entertained and healthy. Due to his autism, my son can’t express his feelings in the way most people can. He can’t say he’s confused or sad or missing his dad. It’s got to come out in other ways and for him that’s destructive and violent behaviour. Knowing that doesn’t make it easier for the carers to deal with when they’ve got other residents to consider, but it’s certainly understandable.

Today’s miracle has given me hope. My son can still have happy, calm days. He may settle down yet and find his place in the world. Maybe everything the carers are doing will make a difference. And once he has access to his car again, he’ll be doing a lot more things that he loves. Maybe he’ll be okay. I’ll keep hoping and praying so. It’s a long hard road but today shows we may be heading in the right direction.

Keeping the faith

Not for the first time I feel like Job in the Bible asking ‘why’ in the midst of despair.

Some time ago I mentioned to a therapist that I often wondered ‘why me?’ during my painful struggles and she said that when she said the same many years ago people in her circle used to respond ‘why not you?’ There is a bitter truth in that. We cry out from the depths of our hearts. Our pain feels so deeply personal. So much so that God/the Universe must have done this to us. Like Job, we feel wronged. We know we’ve always tried our best, or even if we haven’t, we’ve made up for it somehow. So why did this terrible event/situation/tragedy occur? No one has or ever will have an answer to that beyond that suffering is a given and no one is spared. It’s just that some people seem destined to suffer much more or less and the only way forward is to somehow trust that it’s all unfolding how it’s meant to be because otherwise it would be different than it is.

Yesterday I heard that my son is being evicted from his residential home. I knew how much the staff were struggling with him but somehow I never thought this would actually be the outcome. I feel bone-crushingly sad. I have no idea where he will go now. It could have been such a lovely home for him. Those are the words I seem to constantly repeat in relation to my son: could have been. I pulled out all the stops to try and make things easier for him so that his behaviour may improve but it hasn’t worked. I know there is a lot of hurt in those words. I feel affronted that none of it made any difference. It’s a deep-seated wound that nothing I’ve done has made a difference to my son but I know that isn’t true. It springs from my sadness that I wish life had been different for both of us. And I know if I hadn’t become so sick/hospitalised and that if my ex wasn’t the way he is, things certainly would be very different now.

And therein lies my struggle. It drags me down like a lead weight until I feel I have no strength to fight. Giving in feels too much, too painful. So I frantically search for a way out, considering all the addictive tendencies I’ve had in the past as a way to escape unbearable feelings, but not able to bring myself to go there because I’m too aware, too conscious of my actions and their consequences now. I’m left with raw pain that isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. I can’t cry either so I’m just staring listlessly into space and waiting for someone to ring me – my son’s social worker, the home, a family member – so I don’t feel so desperately alone with it all. At the moment it seems the social worker will call tomorrow. I don’t yet know the way forward.

I’m remembering a scene from the movie ‘The Shack’ (wonderful movie, btw) where the guy is in a boat which is breaking up, a metaphor for his terrible pain and struggle over the abduction and murder of his young daughter, and Jesus walks up to the boat, on the water, telling him to ‘have faith’ and ‘look at me’ because each time the guy focused on his suffering, the boat broke apart more and water poured in. Eventually, the guy found his faith and climbed out of the boat onto the water with Jesus, finding himself able to walk back to the shore. This is a natural re-telling of the Bible story where Jesus told his disciples to have faith. I don’t believe the walking on water was literal, although who knows it may have been, but a metaphor for our ability to overcome our emotional pain when we keep the faith in something bigger than ourselves, whether that’s God, the Universe, or our own soul/higher/Christ self.

The Bible is all about faith in the midst of terrible suffering, as well as the human need to cry out and ask ‘why’ when we are hurting. Whilst there’s never any clear answers to why we suffer, what’s certain is no one is alone, and while life is desperately hard sometimes, with faith we find the strength to keep moving forward.

Acceptance in the midst of it all

I was talking to someone about acceptance. She asked how I was doing with accepting my son the way he is.

I replied that maybe I was a little further along, but that in all honesty, I wasn’t sure I’d ever stop wishing things were different.

This was the same day I found out that my son had punched a carer in the ribs, forcing her to go to A+E due to swelling.

On reflection, there are many layers of acceptance. If I can’t accept my son the way he is without sadness and longing for things to be different, THAT is where acceptance lies: in my longing, in my heartbreak, in the sitting with my son feeling helpless that there’s no way to reach him, in the knowing that even as his mother I am so very limited. Acceptance happens through each moment. It might look and feel different on any given day. It’s not somewhere in the illusionary future, but right here, in the midst of it all -the entire diabolical mess.

Reflections on childhood and God

Over this Easter I have been thinking a lot about my childhood and realising while it was painful in many ways (very dysfunctional, disjointed family and chronic bullying at school) I have a lot to be grateful for. I spent a lot of time in nature, whether it was picking blackberries down the field over the fence that backed onto the bottom of our council estate, or hiding in a makeshift ‘den’ which consisted of a tree stump surrounded by overhanging hedgerow over the fence that ran alongside our house. I spent a lot of time in nature and had freedom that many kids these days can’t even imagine.

Most of all, though, I found comfort in the Bible. I took my Good News Bible down to my den and read it there. No one forced me to read it; on the contrary, I grew interested in it myself being an avid reader of Enid Blyton books where, being the 1950’s, every child went to church and Sunday school. I decided I wanted to go and my mum, being drawn to religion herself, took me every week. It was there I bought my Bible, some workbooks, and several wonderful books by Patricia St John about children of my age who were troubled in some way before finding God and becoming Christian.

My view of God was very simple. I could talk to him daily and did through the Bible workbooks I completed in my den. He was all powerful but loving and good. I wanted to be good to please God. That was massively important to me, so much so that I completed many notebook entries simply asking God to help me to be good. My childhood inevitably tapped into this need to be good because I was the ‘good child’ for my mum whilst my sister had severe mental disturbances and caused my mum a lot of pain. I wasn’t told to be good, however, and I certainly wasn’t threatened with God’s wrath if I wasn’t. The desire to find God and do right by him belonged to me alone.

In some ways I miss the simplicity of those years. I had no doubt that God had my back. I saw him as a loving parent, someone who cared for me. Someone who was always THERE. My view of God is now much more complicated. When I pray, I no longer feel just as though I’m praying to someone outside of me, but affirming something inside. God isn’t a personal being sitting on a cloud, but an energy that exists in each one of us and the entire universe. This means the power lies within and always has done. My childhood dreams of God enabled me to tap into that power and transform myself through my faith.

What I’m missing is that certainty, that focus, that point of power. I’ve lost that innocence and now my mind questions and critics everything. It’s no longer straightforward. I have purchased a few of the Patricia St John books that I used to read to help me tap into that energy again and the part of me that knew the truth no matter what form it took. I didn’t even consider any other forms. I didn’t question it. It just was. I’m finding my way back there through meditation and – yes- prayer, but I need to be mindful that I don’t get side-tracked by critical thoughts such as ‘but God doesn’t exist outside of you.’ Says who? God is everywhere, inside and out. It doesn’t matter what term we give it – God, Divine, Energy, Source – we are all part of it. But the point of power has always been within. The difference between the child and the adult is that the former didn’t know this, but the latter does.

A dream of numbers, speech therapy and Buddhism

Numbers were the main theme of last night’s dream and hugely symbolic. I dreamed that I visited a speech therapist at a place many miles from here. It was such a long way that I’d gone on the sleeper train but I was completely drawn to seeing this speech therapist. She recommended that I see her every week and drew up a price plan. Each week would cost £100 with the total amount I’d have to spend being £969. As I looked at these figures my heart sank. I realised that the cost – combined with the time and energy spent travelling up on the sleeper train each time – would be massive and I wasn’t sure I could commit. By the same token, I felt the speech therapist could really help. The dream ended before a decision was made one way or the other.

This dream relates strongly to a book I was reading yesterday by a spiritual teacher called Adyashanti on the subject of thoughts/ thinking and how our minds create suffering. The mind is a tool, to be used lightly in the dance of life, not something to get attached to or identify with or else suffering ensures. I was thinking (ironically) about this a lot yesterday and can understand the truth in it, but I also think it’s necessary to develop a healthy ego before it’s possible to understand and utilise this spiritual truth. In this way I totally agree with Carl Jung who stated: “The first half of life is devoted to forming a healthy ego, the second half is going inward and letting go of it.” If one has not developed a healthy ego, such as in the case of trauma, it’s probably not going to be possible to let go of identification with the mind or else risk major disintegration and psychosis. We are Divine AND human. We need to tell our stories until we don’t need them anymore. Until they are no longer freeing us but entrapping us. Forming a healthy ego is all part of the journey. I don’t see the ego is a bad thing – albeit it has its shadow side, like most things- but an inevitable part of the human experience until we wake from the dream. But as Adyashanti says, it’s all thoughts and opinions and these are mine.

Last night’s dream was, therefore, a representation of all those thoughts. I believe the number 100 is symbolic of the individual self within the whole/Oneness – not rejecting the healthy ego but embracing it as part of everything. I arrived on the sleeper train, meaning that until seeing the therapist I had been asleep, lost in ego. The number 969 is very interesting. I didn’t realise this until I looked it up but it represents the three virtues of the Buddha, with the first 9 symbolising the Buddha himself, the 6 represents his teachings, and the 9 represents the Sangha, or community. It’s actually called the 969 Movement (found on wikipedia). The speech therapist probably symbolises the expression of mind as n awakened tool – how do I communicate with myself and others? How do I use my mind in the right way? In Buddhist terms this is right speech/right action which points to the state of peace where we no longer attach to our thoughts but live more fully in the present moment. It means our suffering is minimalised as we are no longer investing in a sense of a personal ‘me’ which is separated from life, or focusing on what happened in the past or what will happen in the future. Instead, we live a more peaceful, embodied, simple, awakened existence.

My dream is really highlighting the difficulty of this choice. Do I want to truly awaken or stay asleep? Can I maintain this level of awareness without being sucked into identification with my mind? How much should I invest in the personal me? Maybe none of these questions really matter. What matters is being aware moment by moment of my thoughts and feelings and knowing the point of power is always now.