Men + Myself + God

Month: April, 2012

Jesus = Homeboy: Surrender, Transformation, and Other Sh*t like that…

by Patia Braithwaite

[Happy Easter, ya'll. Although I don't identify as Christian anymore, I’m committed to taking my spiritual lessons where I find them. I have lots of reverence for Jesus and the spiritual lessons he imparts.]

So, I’ve REALLY been struggling with the concept of surrender. I know the dictionary definition (verb. yield – give in – submit – give up), but I’m not sure what surrender is supposed to look like.  The whole idea seems opposite of how I like to live (by controlling, managing, spinning, and intellectualizing).

When I imagine surrender, I think of someone just standing there: full of inner-peace, trusting in the universe. I see a naked superhuman hippie playing her guitar in the middle of a war. I think of ignorance and a lack of productivity. I know it’s wrong, but surrender seems like laziness, weakness and an acceptance of failure.That’s just not my style.

(I’m from NY…we like to think we get things done).

Anyway, I’d been struggling with this for weeks when, during Mastin Kipp’s Love Uni-versity seminar (which is awesome, FYI) he said, “No one surrenders completely. Even Jesus, on the cross, yelled out ‘why have you forsaken me.’”

With that tidbit in mind, suddenly surrender makes more sense. To surrender doesn’t require a superhuman sense of peace; it doesn’t mean that you are 150% A-OK w/ everything that’s happening; it doesn’t require a Zen mind, or a heart devoid of anger.  You can be pissed off; you can feel alone. You can be scared, insecure, and ambivalent in a moment of surrender. You can doubt your survival and you can even be angry at God, because surrender isn’t about being anything other than human. Surrender only requires that you admit: “I’m stuck. I have nowhere to go from here. I can’t get out of this on my own.”

Surrender is more about being honest than about “giving up.”

We (or at least I) resist surrendering because no one wants to be a sitting duck. This makes sense: sitting ducks get shot. The truth is, though, that life is one big firing squad. Whether we shake, move, or sit still… we’re all just “passing thru.” Each of us little duckies, one day, bites the dust. So if Easter can remind us of anything, it’s that nothing lasts forever; therefore, nothing can really hurt us in any lasting way. There’s nothing that we really have to “do.” Jesus was nailed to a cross and (according to my religion teachers), he rose again. Why would our path be any different? His story reminds us that pain, anguish, and isolation are passing illusions and transformation/resurrection/change is the only thing that is real. At the risk of repeating myself: Nothing hurts forever…

That much I know for sure.

So now I turn to you, my often-silent friends: What would you do differently if you knew you couldn’t be hurt? How would you surrender?  What is keeping you from transforming?

Happy Transformation Day, folks. (Save me a jelly bean or two.)

Quickie: Love After Love

by Patia Braithwaite

The time will come
when, with elation
you will greet yourself arriving
at your own door, in your own mirror
and each will smile at the other’s welcome,

and say, sit here. Eat.
You will love again the stranger who was your self.
Give wine. Give bread. Give back your heart
to itself, to the stranger who has loved you
all your life, whom you ignored
for another, who knows you by heart.
Take down the love letters from the bookshelf,

the photographs, the desperate notes,
peel your own image from the mirror.
Sit. Feast on your life.

Poem by Derek Walcott

The Cat Ate my Prayer Beads: A Lesson on Mindful Living

by Patia Braithwaite

So I’ve started meditating again, but my approach this time has been more compassionate. Rather than making it some chore that must be done under the perfect conditions, I now start by allowing myself to come to the practice as I am: stressed, irritable, angry, tired, PMS-ing…etc. This has helped me exponentially because now it is difficult to find reasons to NOT do it. It’s not about achieving some end — it’s more about giving myself some permission to just “be.”

Everyone deserves the right to just “be.”

Anyway, I was meditating yesterday with my prayer malas (think really big Buddhist rosary beads) and my roommate, the cat, attacked my beads. He would inch closer and closer until he was close enough to wrap his little claws around one of the beads and push them into his mouth. He did this several times, but each time (though I suppose he was “interrupting” my meditation) I smiled lovingly at him and pulled the beads out of his mouth. I cooed at him a few times, but I was generally unaffected.

By the end of my meditation, I thought: there’s a spiritual lesson here…I just don’t know what it is. And with that thought, of course, the universe organized itself to clue me in.I got up from my meditation and went about having one of the most stressful and anxiety-ridden days of my life.

Today (a new and better day) I think I get the lesson: anything (and I mean anything) that pulls us away from mindfulness (peace/inner joy) should be looked upon as a playful kitten who, though curious and maybe even annoying, is essentially harmless to your soul’s journey. If I can look at all potentially threatening things and people as sweet misguided kittens instead of entities to be feared….life might become one long meditative practice. I could react from a place of love instead of fear (i.e. restraining orders, police reports, weapons, anxiety attacks, outburts, etc.)

Thing about it: We could all just move through life fingering our prayer beads without getting caught up in ego-driven fear and drama. How awesome would that be?

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