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

Come home to your body.

The body conversation.

Self-acceptance or other-acceptance?

Self-acceptance is the one kind you don’t have to bargain for.

The body conversation which is asks, “Why do consumers only want *those* kinds of bodies? Why can’t they want my body too?” is a misguided conversation.

It doesn’t matter if “they” like or accept or love or want your body.

It only matters if you do.

The better conversation about bodies is the one where we address exactly who it is we imagine has to approve of, desire, view and dictate to us about our bodies. It’s the conversation about body consumption, not body image or appearance.

If you put your “real” woman’s body out on show, next to the “other” woman’s body, and argue about perfection, ideals and who is the real woman, you’ve taken the side of those who see bodies as a commodity. You’ve taken a side against other women and their bodies. You’ve become the viewer of your body, rather than the owner and inhabitant.

Don’t let the market and the marketeers dictate the body conversation.

We with women’s bodies dictate it.

You dictate that conversation.

Don’t take your beautiful, strong, fragile, perfect body out on the battleground or the marketplace and allow it to be hustled, argued over, scorned, or lauded as if it were you.

Your body is a temple. Make it a place of serenity, respect and contemplation. Make it a place of joy, not war.

Your body is a sacred space, a place of peace. It is not to be bought or sold. It is not for judging or fighting over. It’s the place on earth where the eternal makes its home.

Your body is not your brave, not your cause, not your weapon. It’s your safe place. Your home.

You don’t worship the temple. You worship in the temple.

Come home to your body. It waits for you to come home.

A Sombre Warning for Wild Women.

There are, when you look and even when you don’t, a great many people out there encouraging us to get free, be brave, go wild, live out our dreams and become our true selves.

Wild women everywhere, if they had their way, and rightly so, I think. I am one such encourager.

But what does it mean, this courage, braveness, wildness? Everyone is telling us we must do it, be it, but nobody is explaining what that looks like.

I am one who believes if a belief system has no practical application, it’s not useful to us. It’s one thing to have a philosophy, but if we don’t know how to bring that philosophy into the living out of our everyday lives, it’s just an escape, isn’t it?

This exhortation for us to be wild and free as women sounds like something so many of us want. But what does that mean? What does it look like?

Because if I encourage a woman to be brave and to step outside of the life that she feels ensnares her, into wildness and freedom, and that woman leaves her family or abandons her relationship, or throws her job away, or walks away from her life, then has she been helped to do anything perhaps other than self-sabotage?

For many women, courage absolutely means breaking ties with toxic people and making boundaries, it will mean leaving abusive relationships and codependent situations and oppressive regimes. For many of us, leaving a church or a marriage or a home town or a job that’s killing us will absolutely do us good, and open the door to greater freedoms and opportunities.

But for some, those actions will be in themselves a form of escape, a kind of relinquishing of responsibility, a way of leaving life, rather than coming home to it.

Bravery is not abandonment. Bravery is standing up in the life you chose, and choosing forwards toward healing, reconciliation and peace with self, with others, and with our God.

Courage is not cursing our circumstances and relinquishing responsibility for them. Courage means giving up resentment, blame, unforgiveness, victim thinking and inaction as ways of coping and escaping. Courage means plumbing our own deep wells of wisdom and knowledge and truth and choosing from those places, rather than ascribing responsibility for our thoughts, beliefs and conscience to others. Courage means looking in the mirror and asking the person we see there what is best for us, rather than allowing our power to be taken from us. And courage often means staying and dealing, not running and beginning the same mess over again.

Wildness is not permission to be unfettered, vulgar or rebellious. Wildness is not refusal to belong, to settle or to sit peacefully with others. It’s not wanton disagreement or arbitrary opposition to organisation or authority. Wildness is belonging to yourself first. It’s being able to sit for hours in your own company and not become angry, afraid or frustrated. Wildness is acknowledging you must, and can, nourish, feed, support and protect yourself. Wildness is choosing your own teacher, mentor, master and tribe. Wildness is pulling fear apart, yours and others, and examining it’s entrails, allowing them to speak to you about the past and the future. Wildness is sitting quietly when others try to lead you and teach you, knowing always they are human just like you, and God sees them as your equal in every way, and thus, so can you.

Wildness does not mean running away. It does not mean permission for violence, anger, retribution or abandonment. It does not mean you belong to no one. Wildness simply mean you do not call the institutions and the safe places others cling to your home. Wildness means you trust your own resources and skills and ability to learn, as well as your capacity to survive, thrive, teach and defend what you love.

Wildness often means staying when it would be easier for everyone if you did not, simply because there is unfinished business, and only you have the courage to finish it.

Don’t blindly follow your attraction to rebels and outsiders, simply because you are hungry for change and power. To learn what you need to know, you seek teachers, mothers, sisters, not misfits and runaways who will one day need to return and rebuild their own bridges.

The braveness, courage and wilds you seek may not necessarily be found by breaking away from everything you have built, bred or belonged to, or reinventing yourself as someone those in your past life won’t recognise. If you are looking to become someone else, or like someone else, or trying to leave rather than come home to, be cautious. Anger is not courage. Bitterness is not bravery. The wasteland of desertion and self-imposed isolation is not the wilds you seek. All you have left, if you have ever left anything, is within you. The journey home is a path that leads closer to you and all you love, not away from them. Whilst you may need to take a physical journey to become more who you truly are, be careful you do not sabotage all God has given you to show you both who He is, and who you are, along the way.

Brave one, all you seek is within you. You need only have the courage to look there.

Love you,
Jo xx

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

Stop trying to fix people.

Stop trying to fix people.11220895_970766532969437_8425605342194546740_n

It’s enough for a great many of us to have gotten to the end of another day without hurting ourselves.

Enough.

When you’re tempted to suggest yet another self-improvement to your hurting friend, try celebrating the fact they’re still here and fighting their way through the day to be whole instead.

Do You Remember Your True Names?

If you’ve been a woman alive on this planet for more than a few years, then you have been exposed and subjected to shame. Since you were very small others helped you understand shame is simply what we do here.

And then there were the things others did to you, and you did to others; things that brought you a full, close and intimate understanding of the architecture of shame. You were abandoned, or you abandoned them. They commoditised and consumed you, or you them. They violated you, or you them. They used you, or you them. They desired you, or you them. They wronged you, or you them. You needed blessed relief from the burden of guilt for what was done, and what you did, when you were afraid, and bound in the dark, or taking flight in terror, or fighting to keep what you had.

They introduced you to Eve, your mother in sin, and explained your ruination was inevitable because your history, all your mythical past and all your moral present, are steeped in deceit and ambition and lies. If you lay down your power to this god and his representatives, you will receive rest and protection for yourselves and your children. So you gave away both your right to know any other myth, and to your power, and made a home in the grounds of the new masters household, bound to endlessly repeat genuflectures of obedience and submission and confession of the sin of being a woman, in return for respite from the battery of accusations and your own suspicion they could be right, and you would never, ever survive out there.

Yes, I am bad, and I am ashamed. Now please, just let me be.

We who believed we were naked, who have believed the story shame told us, that the things that hurt us were made of ourselves – we need healing, and we need help to become whole. And we must bring that healing and wholeness to ourselves.

The healing we bring will be made of ourselves; our true selves. The healing from shame we need will not come from some other place or some other person, other than from other fellow healing, and fellow healers. The shame we felt wasn’t made of us, not really. We once were tricked, fooled and held to ransom. But we are not fools, and we are not victims. Those are names given us to cripple us, to hold us down, and back, and out. To begin to walk toward wholeness and healing – which is all any of us can ever do, walk towards it – we must connect back in, back to our true names; the names of our beginnings, the names without end. Small and Pure. Good and Beautiful. Joyful, Powerful and True. Strong and Smart and Clever. Formidable. Free.

Do you remember your true names?

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.

You Belong In The Wilds.

This is what I know. Life in the wilds offers us not exposure, rejection and confusion, but confidence, self-direction, autonomy, and independence.

You are not going out – you are coming in.

You will not be alone. You’ll need to learn to become self-directed, but you will not be bereft of company, or support, or teachers.

This is no forlorn exodus. There are many of us on this journey towards wholeness and healing. It’s a homecoming. We are students of each other, and ourselves. We have all suffered loss and damage, and indeed, lost parts of ourselves. We have been broken, and we are scarred and tired. But we are survivors.

We learn to make fire, shelter and new friends. We have all left tribes, families and homes. But we discover how to feed and clothe ourselves – emotionally, spiritually, creatively. We make those social and psychological deserts and woods and coasts and forest our realm and our domain. We create new rituals, ceremonies and celebrations. We no longer need to seek approval, protection or wear others names for us.

Freedom to be who we are, and always were, is our birthright, our ceremony and our song. Come with me. Come with me.

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.