What it looks like when you’re on a spiritual journey.

People on a spiritual journey are going somewhere. They grow. They shift. They change. They move. They may live physically in the same place their whole lives, but they will not stay the same person. They do not ever arrive. If you have disembarked at some fixed point in your pursuit of recovery, healing and wholeness, then it’s unlikely to be a spiritual journey you were on to begin with. It is fitting to be content with your looks, your home, your belongings, and your relationships, but spiritual self-satisfaction is something to be remedied rather than pursued.

Your Holy self is made to seek, not to cling. She does not live in your body any more than smoke could live in the fire. Your body is a temple to her, your heart, an altar for her. She owns no furniture, owes no mortgage, requires no chattels. She outlives the fleshy box you carry her around in, outlives it many times over. She dances always, arms outstretched, in the heavenly spaces between herself and God.

Spiritual sojourners transition, like seasons, like the earth, like the moon, like wind, like water, like a flame, like dust. They understand things of spirit are not static. They are ecstatic – extra-static. They appreciate there is a time for every season. They know when to hold on and when to let go. They know there is a time for birth, and a time for death. A time to sow and a time to reap. A time to dance, and a time for mourning.

Do not fear the sense we all have at times of being spiritually unsettled. Be wary only of spiritual colonialism. Of ownership, occupation and consumption which calls itself a spiritual enterprise. Of taking and not letting go, of gathering without attrition. Be wary of those who claim to be the God-people, who claim to be spiritual, but who do not exercise the principles of seasons, resisting the cycles of birth and death, accumulating, accruing and growing exponentially without allowing natural processes of detachment, death, loss and grief. There is a name for the living cell which forgets how to die in the appropriate season, and remembers only how to live, stay, grow, and consume and colonise. Those cells are called cancer.

Spiritual sojourners need not fear death of the body. We are not merely our physical selves, and to be awake to Spirit is to understand we can never truly die. The journey towards healing and wholeness will encompass many deaths, many lettings-go along the way. Attrition and rebirth are as familiar to the brave-becoming as our own hunger and thirst. Our pangs neither direct nor enslave us. We pay attention to them with friendliness and care, without allowing ourselves to be redirected from our purpose. Moving is our purpose. We are always walking forward on the path.

A brave-becomers work is not arriving, it is becoming.
………………….
From The Book Of The Brave
(c) Jo Hilder
Coming soon!

Image credit: bruniewska (stock image)

How To Love Your Darkness.

There is a time and season for negativity. I absolutely believe this. There’s a place for seeing things cynically and refusing to be cheered with platitudes and cliches. If you’re experiencing a period where your perspective is decidedly blunt and pessimistic, and you can’t see any good reason to change it, good for you. And I mean that.

Go with it. I often do. I especially found this empowering when I was recovering through cancer and treatment. Fuck all that positive thinking. Fuck all those sunshiney exhortations to just think positive. I didn’t want to be happy and just think positive. I needed to get down with my black thoughts and face off with it all. I didn’t want to make nice for others, or talk myself out of my fears. I needed to go with them down the rabbit hole and see where and what they led to.

It did me good. I’ve seen my dark side and my rock bottom. I hit it arse first and sat there with it, swearing and being a cynical shit and refusing to be cheered up or pulled out of it. I lived in a dark place for a long time, made friends with death and dying, became acquainted with worst possible case scenarios like you might a peculiar new neighbor, and learned they weren’t that scary or peculiar after all. I learned this about my worst case scenarios – sometimes they happen, and when they do, I can do them. I can go there. I am strong. I am smart. I’m also allowed to be scared, cry and fall apart. But I know what to do when they happen. Because I went there. Because I refused to talk myself happy or only think positive.

Truth is, we don’t always get the sunny outcome we are praying for. Positive thoughts have their time and place. But so does your melancholy. Just feel it all. Truly, that’s my advice to my friends who are going through cancer, or loving an addict, or being an addict, or breaking up a relationship, or watching someone slip away. Feel it all. Don’t be afraid. Love all the parts of you, even your cranky, negative, cynical side. It’s still you. However, be careful not to use your negativity to hurt others. Don’t become a bully, or a jerk, to your friends and community. Some won’t cope with your negativity, but lots of them will love it easily. Let them do it. Let them help you love the dark places in you. Love them into the light.

May you be loved into the light today, sweet friend.

The Essence Of Brave.

Understand then, my dear one, the very essence of brave is seeing and truly understanding there Printis no lack in you. You are abundant, you are good, and you are more than enough. You are not weak, you are not unknowing, and you are not powerless. All that stands between you moving forward and you standing still are the beliefs you hold about what you are and what you are not.

What changed, sweetheart, do you think? What happened to make you believe you were the emptiness instead of the sweet wonder that fills it? What went wrong to move you from believing you mattered to believing you did not matter?

Perhaps the question I need to ask is, what is the matter? What is it, my dear heart, if it is not you?

You matter. You are matter. You are not the emptiness requiring to be filled. You are not lack. You are not a space waiting to be occupied by something or someone outside of you. You are the answer to empty space. You are art filling the paper, words filling a page. You are not the empty arms; you are the exuberant love that runs into them. You are the abundance of cycles of living and dying and seasons and weather and seeds and weeds and work and rest turning wastelands into gardens. You are not the void God spoke life into – you are life.

You do not lack anything you need, my love. It is all with you, now.

What would it take for you to dance into the room, jump into the puddle, paint the canvas, create the space, use your voice, take the ground, listen to your gut, be truly content? This is what brave is. It’s taking the empty space you believed was you, and filling it with you, in whatever sphere you find yourself in where you feel you are not enough, or are too much.

It’s coming to and into yourself fully as the answer to every question you believed you needed something or someone outside of you to solve.

It’s ceasing to ask, “What is the matter with me?” instead affirming, “I matter.” There can be no matter with you, if you are matter. If you are matter, all you need is with you. You need only breathe life into yourself, as God breathed life at the first, into the first. Breathe into yourself, my love.

Wake up.

What would it take to have a perfect love for you?

Perfect love casts out fear.12801271_1036674239711999_1550217587317067156_n

And it does, you know.

Do you know how something gets to be perfect? Of course you do. Practice.

Just as our fear was perfected in us through our practice of it, so will be our love.

Practice fear? Did I ever? Who, me?

Yes, love, you.

When you learned to worry about going new places, adopting the cautious apprehension of your caregivers who tried to stay close to home as possible and did not like to vacation or venture anywhere new or uncomfortable or different. When you began to hate change and avoid it at all costs, equating it with the beginning of the end of the world, it was then. That’s when you perfected your fear through practice.

When you convinced yourself familiarity was safer and better and worth more than peace and health and independence, if it meant being alone. When you compromised, settled. When you held on even when all indications were letting go would end your pain, end the lessening and oppression or your spirit, mind and soul. When you did it again, then again. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you learned to recognise all those who need be referred to as “others”, and those who ought to be considered one of “us”, adopting the exclusion and inclusion habits of your peers and the tribe. When you learned the names and the jeers and the labels, and you applied them to yourself as often as to others. When it became a habit to see the differences between people, rather than recognise all are connected. You did it. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you hoarded and collected and protected and defended and fortified and piled up and locked away and accumulated and called your own that which was not you, not part of you, and would not help, heal, save or redeem you. When you felt deeply you were defined by what you owned. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you believed God was going to get you in the end for the things only He knew you did in the dark, in secret. When you warned others of their similar fate and felt it was your duty to so do. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you heard the voice in your head demand to know “Just who do you think you are?” whenever you began some deeply spiritual or creative work, or even some frivolous fun thing that didn’t even matter, or perhaps whenever you suspected you held the key to your own healing, or felt you had a thing of significance to share with another. And you believed that cynical voice of resistance that interrupted every brave attempt at growth and change was you, and was from you, and could be trusted and believed. You perfected your fear through practice.

When you dropped the brush, put down the pen, took the key from the ignition, unpacked the bag, threw away the application, resigned from the course, told yourself “it’s too much money to spend on me”. When you mistook the inner critic for the voice of reason. You perfected your fear through practice.

Yes, my love, your fear is almost completely perfected. You’ve been at it for years.

But all is not lost.

Perfect love casts out all fear. Casts it out. Like old rubbish. Like too many sweaters from a crowded closet. Like too many cans from a cramped pantry. Like lies are thrown from the presence of truth. Like hecklers are thrown from a theatre. Out you go – you don’t belong here. Take your impolite, boring nonsense from the room. Fear bluffs it’s way in with weighty talk and scary threats which sound like authority and feel like truth. But fear did not pay its dues. Love bought a ticket. Love paid the price.

If only you would practice love until it was as perfect as your fear has become. What would it take, for you to practice love for your own behalf as relentlessly and faithfully as you’ve dedicated yourself to fear? What would it take, my darling? Would you try? Will you?

Perfect love casts out all fear. You can’t scare yourself out of being afraid, out of resistance. You have to love yourself out of it. Love yourself through it. This means rather than hating on your fear, hating yourself because you have it, gathering it up in your arms, laughing and tossing it in the air. It means knowing the voice of resistance is not your voice – rather, you are the one who witnesses resistance, who observes your fear. And if you are the witness, the observer of your fear and resistance, then it cannot be you who is afraid. You have fear, but it does not have you. And you can love the part of you that feels the fear, and reassure it, and have compassion on it. And you can support that part of you to keep on moving, towards healing and growing and changing, even with the fear, if you must. And as you perfect this love, the fear will be cast out, not like a demon, but like the annex, the accoutrement it is; a part of you who is afraid of change, who mocks to make itself feel bigger, who bluffs to convince you it has authority and weight. But who is a wisp of a thing in reality.

You will cast out fear like a an artist casts out a brush without suppleness. As a writer casts aside a pen that no longer writes. With thanks, for the service it provided thus far. Thank you fear, for the safety and security you gave me. Thank you for helping me in your own way. But you no longer serve me as I need you to. I am not attached to fear, any more than I’m attached to the plate I ate my last meal from, or the flowers than grew in my garden last year. That time has passed. It’s time to go forward now. Love your fear, be grateful for it. Love it, and love it perfectly. Perfect love does not hold on to its object. Perfect love lets go.

Love your fear, with compassion, as a witness, and not as its owner, master, servant or slave. Love your fear, and don’t despise it as a combatant, or opponent would. Love your fear, laugh at it, with it, like that heckler in the theatre, and let it go, show it the door. Perhaps it served you once, but it can no longer. It did, you know, for a time, keep you company like a friend. But it’s time for it to go.

Practice love as devotedly as you did your fear, my dear. Practice love like a beloved nocturne, like a favourite verse of a special song, like one foot in front of the other at the same time every day, until the walk becomes a mile, becomes a day and another day, and before you know it, love is just what you do, the way fear used to be. But you don’t do that anymore. You do this now. Perfect love. Practice makes perfect.

Perfect love casts out all fear.

What would it take for you to have a perfect love, for you? Practice, my love. It’s time to begin.

Love, Jo xxxx

Me, God, and the Moon.

“At night, I open the window and ask the moon to come and press its face against mine. Breathe into me. Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.” – Rumi

When I was four, I would sit in my bed and gaze up at the moon and feel God see me.

It is said the sun sees our body, but the moon sees our soul. When I was that very small girl, the light of the moon woke me up to the fact I had a soul, and it could be seen and known, by me, and by God.

And it, and I, and God, were good.

All my life, my spirituality has had its source in the silent, joyous conversations I had with God as a tiny child under the light of the full moon. I never doubted the conversations were real, nor doubted God was. I did not grow up in a believing or church-going family. I was not churched, nor did I know how to pray. But I knew how to believe, and so I did. Believing God was, and that I was loved and seen, right through to my little white bones was as natural as breathing.

Spiritual searching and yearnings of my heart and a need to belong led me in search of God-people. I had many years, most very happy, amongst those tribes. But then, to my surprise, I was led behind the safety and security of the tribes into the wilds, a place I’d never know, a place I feared God would not follow me.

But the moon, ever my brother, mother and teacher, taught me a precious truth. Just as the constant moon in the night sky can be found ever at my shoulder, no matter where I turn, so is my God in my sojourn through with wilds.

And just as I do not despair on moonless nights, so I don’t despair in seemingly Godless ones. For like the moon, God never truly disappears or leaves us. God is simply out of our sight for a time. If we are patient, and prepared to sit with a little darkness, God appears to us once more, and ever after.

No one can make me believe there is no God. Don’t try. I was convinced of God before I knew the earth was round, that I needed oxygen to live, before I could read, and way before I knew there was such a thing as the Bible or shame or heaven or hell.

God saw me when I was but a few days along the road in my spiritual journey, and said, little Small and Pure, you are Very Good.

I am, still. Always was. Always will be. So are you. We are born good, and God always sees us this way.

When I see the full moon, it reminds me the spiritual journey is all about believing that with all of our heart again.

Selah, my friends.
Jo xxx

The Price of Peace.

Things are tense.

People are tense.

Hadn’t noticed?

Been sleeping in a cave?

Sorry, that was a tension loaded comment.

Things are tense.

We have been slowly awakening to the reality of what it will mean for human beings to be alive in this age.

And for many of us, it isn’t measuring up to the brochure.

This isn’t the world we hoped to leave for our children.

For a great many human beings, this world isn’t promising peace, abundance, safety, shelter, blessing, or even life.

The borders are being checked, tested, even closed. To keep us in. To keep “them” out.

We can’t even tell who “they” are any more.

The lines between tribes and tongues and territories were blurred and broken down, sometimes in the name of love, sometimes of God, sometimes of war.

And we don’t know who to fear any more.

Things are tense.

Dear friends, I know you’re feeling it. Even in the relative safety of our peaceful countries, we sense the deep collective outcry of suffering and pain and distress – of fear – is being felt across the earth. We all feel it.

Or we try not to.

Fear doesn’t want to be found going about its business in your head. So it will disguise itself as other things to go undetected.

It knows you’d be repulsed to realize you were inhabited by raw, visceral fear, would see it as a weakness, and would attempt to evict it immediately.

So it disguises itself.

And it’s veiled presence causes your vision and perception to be distorted. It adds it’s toxic energy to your thoughts, feelings and perceptions, and what is suddenly becomes something other.

Your grace becomes intolerance.

Your smile becomes a smirk.

Your non-reactive presence becomes restlessness, opposition, even open hostility.

Your skin crawls with criticism just trying to work its way out of you any way it can.

And while your attention is directed towards managing the unpleasant feelings fear gives you, you don’t see the mindless actions you direct towards those around you.

You can’t hear the poison in your words.

Worse, you don’t even notice your indifference towards the pain and suffering of others.

This is how terrorism works. Those violent, random attacks push us into “fight or flight”, shove us blind and stumbling into panic and self-preservation, so that even if a few days ago we were accommodating and at peace, today, we would trample someone who stood between us and the way out if this horrible, chaotic fear.

Stop, my friend.

Yes, I know there are feelings.

And our culture has done a terrible job of teaching us to manage our fear, loss, suffering, even death.

We may have not learned how to feel the feelings that come with the threat of losing all we’ve feel we’ve become entitled to.

And yet, here the feelings come, whether we are ready for them, or not.

Breathe, dear one.

Things are tense.

Want to rail and scream and pick everything apart? Want to smash something? Someone?

Fear brings its own terrible, destructive energy with it.

It’s your task to direct that energy where it can do least harm to you or to others.

Things are tense. Are you tense?

Do things seem different to you the last few days?

Don’t allow the fear to turn from a veil to scales.

Those bastards are far more difficult to remove.

The merchants of fear are awake and moving. So you must move away from the marketplace, my friends.

Out onto the path with you. Out, into the wilderness of awareness, awakeness. The path we all are on that leads back to God, to source, to ourselves.

One step in front of the other.

Things are tense, but you are not of the stuff of those things.

Peace be with you, and between us, here and elsewhere.

Selah, my friends.
Jo

What Happens When The Broken Become Wild.

Sometimes, when people have had to become very wise very early in life, when they’ve had to grow up quickly, or make themselves into a partner or a parent when they were not quite finished being childish or gotten to spend much time alone, they might go a little off the rails later on.

When you make vows and promises and covenants and pacts in your youth, you often have to break them again sooner than you thought you might. It’s not a thing to feel ashamed of. It is what it is when you can’t stop a thing from falling apart, when you realize love really isn’t all you need. It simply is what it is.

But when it happens, the person who is breaking it, or who gets broken away from, might scatter for a little while, then do this other thing where they seem to run in five directions at once, all of them terrifying and dangerous and risky and apparently self-destructive.

When this happens, we might be tempted to rush in and save them from themselves. We see the wild abandon and the tightrope walking and we cry out, stop! It isn’t safe! You’re vulnerable right now! Come back, come back! Be small for a while! Let us protect you from yourself!

Grief is a peculiar animal. It has this way of making us long to force the unfinished parts of us into process. It drives us towards dangerous people and dangerous places, because we long to feel something other than numbness and loss. We want to feel like conquerors, instead of conquered. Grief makes us feel around for the young, vulnerable, untested aspects of our psyche and grasp them to us tightly, kissing them tenderly on the forehead, before we drag them out on the town to get tattoos and meet dangerous strangers wherever they can be found.

Breaking a promise you made in your youth is often a kind of death to hope. But it is also often the rebirth of the self that stopped exploring the wild, wide world when that premature promise was sealed.

If you do not finish your exploration of the wilds when you are young, the wilds wait until you are free again. Then, if you allow them, they come back to claim you.

You will heal all your grief with process, my friend. And the school of process is out here, in the wild.

Trust You. God Does.

Why don’t you listen to your own good heart?

Why don’t you wrap your arms around yourself and soothe your troubled soul?

Why don’t you give your power to yourself, and not to others?

Why don’t you acknowledge those feelings as visitors, as mirrors, as signs of life?

Why don’t you treasure your intuition? Why don’t you trust you?

God does.

The Place Where You Buried Your Truth.

You know who you are. You know the truth. You know.

You know the steps. You know the notes. You know the way it felt to colour and fill the page with your marks. You know your brilliance. You know your truth. You know where it is. You know where you lay it down, and you know why.

A time is coming, and is now here, when your feet will dance, your voice will sing, your art will make hearts break and weep, and your truth will break heaven open and cause chains to fall away.

Will you go? To that place where you buried your truth? Will you go?

Do you dare not to?