I’m tired of polite, weary of safe. I want to live dangerously—with a willingness to dig deep into the caverns of my life, mining the grief and greatness dwelling within my story and lived experience. I want to give my story a voice, allowing it to shape my present and future. I know that how I approach my story, or yours, is of utmost importance.
I find myself asking questions like these; maybe you do too:
- What does it mean to live with authenticity?
- Do my own limited versions of reality imprison possibility?
- What will help me taste and listen to my life, offering me the capacity to stand still without judgment, with compassionate attention?
- How do my intentions and decisions open doors to savor life?
While attending a writers retreat in Halibut Cove, Alaska, one afternoon offered me the leisure to simply be present. I nestled into a deck chair in seventy degree sunshine. Flower pots overflowing with vivid blooms attracted golden orange honey bees. A bee landed on my chest just above my heart, and the fuzzy tangerine and lemon body, inky black face, and spindly legs captured my attention. Not moving, I slowly took one deep breath, then another. I knew that if this bee were to sting me, I would become very sick for a few days, and potentially need a visit to the hospital emergency room. Still, I chose to pause, continue my breath pattern, determined to inspect the bee just inches from my face. I would not travel the familiar path of fear and protective action. Perhaps a minute passed, maybe two. I marveled as bee lifted front legs, then back, and with a sudden wiggle and buzz, departed.
A few hours later, our writing exercise was a quick series of responses to this question: “What are you most afraid to write about, to put onto paper?” I dug deep, and the nuggets I uncovered surprised me. With a willingness to go beyond polite, and risk truth-telling to myself, I listened to my body and spirit speak new revelations within me. Fear, insecurity, desire, lack of love, stubbornness, and an incredible inner strength to ask for what I need was revealed. The challenge: turn off my inner critic, listen compassionately, receive my truth, and learn.
I am convinced that when you or I choose to lovingly listen to our own story in all its beauty and squalor, we also grow in the capacity to be a compassionate listening presence for others. We create spaciousness for truth, healing, and authenticity to breathe. One way I find the courage to be a little less polite—thus more truthful—is when I am willing to entrust my story to paper, speak it aloud to my spiritual guide, or with a group of soul friends. A power exists when we are careful, not careless, choosing to listen to ourselves and each other with compassion that refuses to lock a person, thought, or action in time and space. Similar to my decision to continue breathing when bee landed on my chest, the eyes with which we gaze upon our life and what appears before us holds power, potential, and mystery.
Will you join me in being just a little less polite, and choose to traverse the dangerous territory of honest authenticity, tempered with forgiveness and loving compassion?
Originally published by Pegge Erkeneff [Bernecker] in Listen: A Seeker’s Resource for Spiritual Direction, Vol. 2, Issue 4, October 2008. http://www.sdiworld.org
Today I will savor in my heart ... I am willing to tell the truth.