Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, December 15, 2023
• Today’s questions: Are you allowing yourself to be loved? Are you allowing yourself to be the man or woman, the person who can feel the absolute vulnerability that is required to receive love? And if not, are you able to have compassion for your need for this tender and broken part of yourself? Because it is always you who needs to hold you, first.
• Today's suggested practice: Day 11 of this month's practice, to step into your polarity (see my "Short Practice,” below)
• My practice today: 5:30am: 60 minutes: yoga, mantra, Pranayama for the 5 Elements, Heart Hum Meditation
• My vulnerability practice: I am here. Wide f*cking open. Breathing...
★If you are a Premium or Premium+ subscriber I invite you to book a no-charge 45-minute session with me in the New Year (contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org before January 31, 2024 and I'll set that up with a special code for you).
★ I will resume these chapters after I take some time with my family over the next weeks. I wish you peace during this season.
For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth;
And though ...worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God.
Many of us are born into existing "wisdom traditions," as one of my teachers call them. We may not grant them much credit now, in our adult disdain for whatever superstitions our elders may have held dear. But they are there for us, if and when we need or want them.
My father wasn't born into a wisdom tradition. Or, perhaps he was: the legacy and wisdom of alcoholism, of war. Of the madness of fascism as his eldest brother and sister, conscripted into the boys' and girls' version of the Hitler Youth, adopted that particular school of anti-wisdom
I asked him once how he, of all of his siblings, managed to be just different enough that, as "f*cked up as you are," I said, still he was drawn to a deeper sense and expression of love.
My father gave credit to a family he met shortly after immigrating to Canada, Peter and Mary Friesen. If anyone writes the spiritual history of the family of colonizers of the Comox Valley, no doubt these names will become familiar. Their quiet influence was felt far beyond their own family, their own Black Creek Mennonite community. It lives now, in me and in my family.
I met with Mary a year or two before she died, not so long ago. She made coffee and offered me zweibach, a traditional Mennnite baked good she knew I loved. I hadn't seen her in many years, but she remembered. And she remembered my father, how he was as a young man, newly arrived. She showed me pictures of my father and his brothers. My father was still a teen. Shaped by his history, yes. But still somehow open to what he saw in Peter and Mary, in their family, their marriage.
I thanked Mary for this gift she'd given me. That in her example with Peter and with her children, and with my father, she had given him something to help him be a better father than his father. This was, in part, the legacy of that curious wisdom tradition that I know as part of my Black Creek upbringing, Russian-German Mennonitism.
In this way, Peter and Mary and this curious (and deeply hypocritcal, my father would loudly proclaim, from what I now understand as a deeply disappointed place in himself) Black Creek Mennonite community redeemed him. Or, gave him some tools, some wisdom, some words, some ways to find light and a way out of the darkness of his upbringing. With this help, he affected a limited self-redemption. For which I am grateful.
So this is my inherited wisdom tradition. That stories and rituals that shaped my young life. A tradition that has left an impression, even though I have since early adulthood had little interest in what feels like simplistic superstition. Still, there is this impression. A template. A set of fables that I may use —or not— to create structure and meaning in this life. Of course, I've not lived this life by the strictures of this tradition, my mother's mother's Mennonitism. If am connected to my grandmother's tradition, beyond the cultural imprint, it as a "Marginal Mennonite." Not unlike, but different again, from my own mother's "marginal Mennonitism."
So what is this legacy I carry and draw on? How do I feel it? How does it help me or show me a way —and especially, a way to love?
It is the deep and dark of the year. Here, I listen to music that I've been listening to —"religiously!"— very year, since that December of 1977. After hearing my former highschool choir sing the Hallelujah Chorus I bought the double LP of the Sir Colin Davis London Symphony Orchestra 1966 version, Handel’s Messiah remains my primary “seasonal playlist.” A few years ago Heather Harper’s “I know my redeemer liveth” (#45 on that album) began to resonate.
My body feels it. A yearning for redemption.
There is so much here —in this moment! With this breath!— for me. How is it possible to yearn for some kind redemption when I already experience a beautiful "heaven on Earth," now, in this flesh?
But I know, it is possible, to feel this yearning, and to allow it to deepen me and deepen my appreciation of this life I'm given.
I've spent so much of my life denying. Denying the beauty of life by pursuing and seeking and wanting something more, something other than what I already have in front of me.
I've spent so much of my life deaf and dumb and blind to what I'm given, but also to my own beauty, my own power and my own capacity to be the love that I've wanted from others.
I know that my redeemer liveth. I know that these women and men who offer me their hearts and their wisdom, I know them to be the ones who love me when I cannot or will not love myself.
And so they redeem me.
As I've wakened to myself these recent years, after being shaken out of a stupor by my beloved, I've come to know the ways and means of redeeming myself, and those who've sacrificed to love me.
I know my redeemer liveth.
And I am he. Softening into the man I am, the man I love.
🌀…recognize and embrace your genius, expect the resistance, and become that fluid illusory dancer able to sidestep the arrows of criticism and jealousy . . . then reveal your magic. (Guru Singh and Guruperkarma Kaur)
🌀 The beloveds of this world need the lovers of this world to soften, to be vulnerable. (My wise friend)
🌀 If you can touch her heart without touching her… (unknown via Joel Clemons)
🌀 I am always impressed by you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 11 of this month's practice, to step into your polarity:
Please read through first, then ...
- Today, set two alarms, one for the early part of your day, one for mid-late afternoon when you may be feeling low energy.
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take five minutes to do this short practice:
- First, ask yourself: Are you allowing yourself to be loved? Are you allowing yourself to be the man or woman, the person who can feel the absolute vulnerability that is required to receive love? And if not, are you able to have compassion for your need for this tender and broken part of yourself? Because it is always you who needs to hold you, first.
- Then, follow the short practice here:
- When you’re done, sit or stand for another minute or two, breathing gently, slowly filling and emptying your belly. Here, as you breathe into your fullness, ask yourself, Do I feel right? In alignment with the man or woman I am? Do I even have an inkling what that might feel like? Do I even have an inkling of what it feels like to be out of alignment with myself?
- Notice if your body-mind feels somehow changed. And whether you notice a change or not, be content with yourself, exactly as you are in this moment.
- Continue with your day until the next alarm sounds, and repeat.
★ Are you married? Are you preparing to marry? I'm preparing a panel of "Why Marriage?" for an upcoming Apprenticeship to Love Virtual Workshop. Free for Premium and Premium+ subscribers. LMK if you're interested in being part of the panel or in being a part of the workshop. Send an email to email@example.com