Apprenticeship to Love: Meditations on this Path to Authentic Relationship, February 1, 2024
- Today's playlist: The throbbing hum of the machine that pumps concrete into the forms across the alley...
- Today’s questions: It's the transitional season, Imbolc. Can you feel the sometimes-confusion of winter-becoming-spring in your blood, your bones? And even if you can't, breathe into what is often a difficult time for the bodies around you, they who feel before you know.
- Today's suggested practice: Day 1 of this month's practice, a breath work for "balancing," to allow these thoughts and feelings to move through you, with less resistance (see my "Short Practice,” below)
- My practice today: 6am: 15 minutes: mantra meditation for Muladhara and the calling of Shakti
- My vulnerability practice: Feeling this confusion of energies... the confidence and the anxiety, hubris disassembling into humility...
★ My conversation, about matrimony and other things, with two of my heroes, Stephen Jenkinson & Kimberly Ann Johnson, is now posted here:
If you're a regular reader you'll know that the ideas that came from their first project, what became the Reckon book, continue to influence my thoughts on this apprenticeship I'm in. Their next project, Forgotten Pillars, begins later this February. I'm already signed up. Join me! And let's talk about it.
A FEW WORDS ABOUT IMBOLC
Well, that was something. It's more than 24 hours now since I got to —as I put it the other day— "interview two of my heroes."
Afterwards, she asked me, Are you still high? Given that these are my heroes, it's understandable that she'd think I was in purple cloud land afterwards.
But "high?" Is that what this is, I wondered. And now, writing this, I am reminded of something one of these heroes said in the Reckoning conversations that prompted me to begin to write this book. Stephen Jenkinson talked about the importance of diminishment. He sometimes makes the analogy to wine: we begin with a quantity of ordinary grape juice, and through a process of time and practice it is diminished in quantity, but so much deeper in character.
The wine has a "finer" quality than the juice it once was. Do I feel, today, a little "finer" than the man I brought to the conversation? Diminished, made deeper, a little richer?
Maybe. Maybe more like a school boy who wants to be the bright one, and who has a bit of a chip on his shoulder, being gently put in his place. Made to see there is more going on here than he thinks he knows.
I've been a terrible student to so many teachers. Smart enough to think I know it all. Sometimes smart enough to recognize when a teacher does what Stephen Jenkinson seemed to do during our conversation: say what needed to be said, without making a big deal of it. Several lessons for me rolled into that moment.
We are, in the seasonal calendar, in that in-between season, Imbolc. A time of confusion. Of wanting to be drawn into Spring's promise, yet still held by Winter's calm and quiet. It's a good time to feel confused, and to let myself feel confused.
It's a good time to feel the confusion I felt —the elation and honour of hosting my heroes mixed with their reality as people who've been thinking and living deeply on things I'm still learning.
Are you still high? She asked. And I am reminded of something Kimberly Ann said in the conversation. About how people make the assumption that "awakening" or "becoming aware" (my words, not hers) is somehow blissful, when in fact its just as easily profoundly disturbing. It's been years since I read Castenedas and his experiences with peyote. But I do remember these being anything but tales of bliss.
So maybe I am still high, but it's not bliss I feel. Rather, waking up to some things about myself I'd kept hidden (sort of) from myself.
The teaching continued.
At one point in the conversation I mentioned that we —my beloved and I— had seen Stephen in the Comox Valley when he last toured the Nights of Grief & Mystery. He immediately asked —and it was entirely appropriate, given our discussion of matrimony— Are you still together?
The short answer: Yes, but in the strangest of ways, a way that few might understand, given that we are a continent apart. He nodded. Made an aside to Kimberly Ann that I didn't hear. But what I did catch was my feeling vulnerable. A school boy with the master. Being tested. And wondering, How am I doing?
With Kimberly Ann, and despite her generous words and reaching out to me to host this conversation, I still felt a similar inconfidence in myself. So much to learn.
Later, as I struggled to untangle these threads of thoughts and feelings that are tied to ways I've nurtured this whole life, I tried to answer her question. I didn't feel high. But I certainly felt disturbed. Not in a "bad" way. But in a deep way.
I let that sink in. And then her voice, her radiance —I could feel it with me. And I knew: I was high, opened up, vulnerable, and susceptible to feeling things profoundly between us. Waves of love took my words, almost my breath.
I could feel her tenderness and her trust and her offering. And, choosing to soften into that —did I have a choice, after the intoxication of this conversation with heroes and teachers that had opened me up?— I began to feel so much more.
Years before, when we weren't a continent apart, her father had asked whether my intention was to marry his daughter. Yes, I said. But really, looking back on that, WTF did I know what he was asking, or what I thought I was saying yes to?
Sure. Getting married was something I wanted and something we talked about. But I had very little real understanding of what it was I was wanting. I didn't understand that I needed so much diminishment before I was worthy of his daughter. Before she could know me as trustworthy.
I am a wedding celebrant. By virtue of my "reverend papers" I am licensed to legally marry couples in this province.
But it hasn't happened. Yet.
Some of that is due to my reluctance play any part in the unseriousness of the wedding business. When I listened to Stephen Jenkinson talk, on another podcast, about his own resistance to marrying folks, I liked what he said. His words were true for me too. That was confirmed when we spoke the other day. He had the audacity (my word) to believe that this ritual would "change the world," as he put it. And he was tired of being the only one. As he said this I realized, I too have this audacity (or naïvete): to believe that this ritual will transform, not just the couple, but the community witnessing.
I feel that potential when I'm in a wedding. I feel the desire in at least some of those gathered, to step into another way of being alive to each other, to themselves. It's what I want. Now. But I didn't know that then, when we were a little younger and little (geographically) closer.
Strange. I feel in a more intimate place with my beloved now, though she is across the country. Our conversations recently, among the most intimate experiences I've had. Am I, finally, worthy of the transformation —the world-changing experience of marriage?
Am I still high? Indeed. I am, still high. Vulnerable. Susceptible. Able to feel and say things unimaginable a few days ago. The confusion of the moment and the season has slipped away. For a moment.
🌀The village, or what’s left of it, deserves a rite of recognition of the seismic change in their lives that matrimony would make, given half a chance. Matrimony doesn’t belong to the betrothed. It belongs to the communities that live out and enforce and endure the changes in life that matrimony is supposed to bring.
There is a real, palpable consequence to turning away from public ceremony– and not just for the public. (Stephen Jenkinson, in Matrimony, forthcoming)
🌀The Conscious Warrior practices the cultivation of wonder and awe. (John Wineland, Precept 7)
🌀 It’s the emptiness of Shiva that ‘holds’ space for the creation that happens through the power of Shakti. The word Shiva, besides meaning ‘The Auspicious One’ also translates into ‘that which is not’. (Kundalini Yoga School, Shakti sadhana, Day 23)
🌀We are manifested through the vehicle of the mother. The entire Universe is manifest or given birth through the vehicle of Mother. The Mother is the instrument for converting spirit into matter. To understand that all form is spirit made matter is to see that at the source within the world of matter lies the Mother. (Ram Dass)
🌀I appreciate you. (My beloved, my Oracle & Siren)
TODAY'S SUGGESTED SHORT PRACTICE
Day 1 of this month's practice, to let these thoughts and feelings move through you, with less resistance:
Please read through first, then ...
- Set an alarm, for a time of the day when you have a few minutes to become conscious of who and how you are in this day
- When the alarm sounds, wherever and however you are, take a few minutes and:
- Ask yourself: In this transitional season, Imbolc, can I feel the sometimes-confusion of winter-becoming-spring in my blood, my bones? And even if I can't, can I breathe into what is often a difficult time for the bodies around you, they who feel before I know, and have compassion for them?
- 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.
★ The January Apprenticeship to Love virtual workshop is now available on video to Premium, Premium+, and Premium EXTRA subscribers. Please ask me for the link if you haven't already received it.