Intercession

Beautiful poem here by one person’s blog. I can relate to this.

Pretty Kool Dame Poetry

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I am only
a yearning one

Under desert sun,
I wait to hear

I wait, hands clasped
to feel you near

I have been told
you listen to the inner cry

of all the souls run dry
by hardships in life,

sorrows & strife,
you’re there, a presence,

divine luminescence,
collecting tears for rain,

naming each of my pains,
& banishing them away

every single day,
you cradle me

a wounded grown baby,
& I know you as Holy Mother

comforting me
& all the others

grieving heavy burdens tonight;
you’ll always keep holding the light

taking all I can’t bear,
& making it disappear

© Jennifer Patino (2018)

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Wings of Fire

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Wings of Fire:

 

My wings spread out glistening

In the aftermath of new birth

Here am I shivering as

Fear crawls down my frail

Body of colors, cares

Blood and tears

 

And now I can’t find my way

As I search the sky for help

And no help has come so I must

Spread my wings and leap

Off into this unknown

 

Into the Son I fly

Burning up all my pride

Of what was and what

I thought was to be

And now here I am spiraling

 

My wings aglow in the fire

Hurling towards the ocean’s depths

I close my eyes one last time

Before I feel my death

Come out in my final breath

 

Here I am in my

Frail body afloat

In a sea of regret and remorse

And yet I hope for one day

 

The light to come and say

You did the best you could son

Now come home with me

I will give you the wings

To fly away to paradise

 

Where all this pain is but

Ragged memory drawn out

In labored breaths

 

 

Let me spread my wings now

And be free

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Stop Running and Become The Warrior

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When pain and grief consume you, all you want to do is get away, escape the fire, in any way possible. For many of us, myself included, there are many unhealthy ways of doing this, which in the end leads you into further darkness and unresolved issues in life will continue to repeat their patterns and cycles. A gradual spiral down into an unfulfilled life ensues. Depression and anxiety have their way with you, and with each time we refuse to face our pain these emotional issues exacerbate, feeds upon, and devours your soul plunging you into further darkness. For me, I find myself wallowing in my own self-pity and as I lay in the mud, feeling sorry for myself, I know that there is this voice of strength inside, this grace if you will, that calls me to stand up. With stagnate mud dripping from my very soul I am called to step forth and be the man I am called to be. I am called to be a warrior, a warrior who can feel deeply, but has the fortitude and strength to walk through the darkness, through the mud, with my head held high. The self-pity, and the self-numbing must end.

Escaping and self-numbing can be done through countless ways. Everything from food, drugs, work, alcohol, codependence upon another, and the list is endless. I am running away and this is not the way of the warrior. Facing life, to stop running, and to turn about and face your own true self in the mirror is one of the hardest things you will ever do. To forgive yourself, to learn from all your mistakes, and to be merciful and loving towards yourself is not easy, especially when self-loathing has clung to you for so many years. I often write on being open and vulnerable, of being authentic, yet I find myself still closing my heart often, not really laying it all out there, to my close friends, or even to myself. To be authentic and vulnerable is to find your true self, the one who has no hidden agendas. It is often harder to be honest with ourselves than it is to be honest with others. To somehow see, to have this light shed upon your own deepest issues, to have your pain probed with light’s sharp scalpel (a pain that often resides deep in the unconscious mind) and with your conscious mind is like walking through the valley of the shadow of death with your eyes wide opened.

These dark times in life, that I am personally facing, and I know very well that others are walking through their own darkness, are really times of illumination if we can take the time to be still in the darkness and listen. There is this inner light that speaks to you. We all have it. That light that says, you are loved, but the direction you’re going in, the way you’re going about handling things right now, are going to stagnate you in this darkness you find yourself in. Here is how you get out of it, the light says, and you know, and you see the path before you. The thing is, that first step to vulnerability, to authenticity, is the hardest step we make in life. It also is not just a step you make one time, it’s a step you must intentionally choose to take with each passing day.

For me, owning up to my ways that are dark, and forgiving myself, and taking this path I see before me is one of the greatest adventures, challenges, and is a quest into the unknown that I have yet to face in my life. I will be honest, I am scared shitless. I no longer want to hide, to numb away my days, and to face this stuff head on, and let life work itself out as it will. To choose this inner path, to allow my own energy from my being to be released upon my life rather than the forces of my environment shaping me so much, is the way of strength. It is grace, that inner light, that will give us the strength to move ahead, to take those steps we need to take. For me, I humble myself before God, to the divine that resides within me, you can call it by whatever terminology fits you, but for me it is the very source, the very Love, from which my being springs forth from, and to this divine light within I cry out, “Lord have mercy on me”.

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Soak in The Sun of Loneliness

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That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, where sadness and loneliness grips you tight, squeezing out the nectar of hope and faith. The days drag on, and you fight for each breath of motivation. Such it is these dark days. For so many it seems. Yet, can we take a moment and notice the flower by the old cracked sidewalk? Planted lonely in weed strewn soil, yet in full bloom, its beauty unknown till someone stops for a minute to draw their awareness upon it. It is then that beauty is shown in the still time of loneliness.

We need to be like the lone flower, sitting by ourselves, soaking in the sun, and allowing our self to bloom, even if no one else notices. Such is life. We are born, we bloom if we are fortunate, our beauty fades, and then we are gone. If we are a bit more fortunate, perhaps one will walk by and will notice your beauty, and you theirs.

Until then, be you, bloom, soak in the sun of loneliness, let sadness be your teacher, and let darkness be your comfort. Allow what and who you are to be, even if you may sit by that old cracked sidewalk as so many pass you by going about their own pressing business.

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Lessons I am Learning From my Failed Marriage

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I have recently separated from my wife of almost 18 years. This marriage, this separation, is teaching me lessons about life and revealing things about myself. Before I go into that, when we announced our separation many people, who did not really know us, were in shock. Is this not true for most of us? Who really knows what other people are going through in life? For my close friends, those I have entrusted my heart to, this was not a shock. One does not just one day wake up and walk away from an 18-year marriage. I try not to live with regrets about the past because it does no good. That said, my one regret is that I did not walk away sooner, like years sooner.

I view marriage as sacred and holy. I still do. The religious tradition I was in taught that divorce was sin, that it meant something was wrong with you, with both of you, if you divorced. However, does God really want you to live in an unhappy marriage that you have desperately tried to save with everything you have? People grow, sometimes in different directions. This was the case for us. To make any relationship work it takes both parties to be fully committed to one another, both committed to mercy, compassion, forgiveness, patience, and a willingness to communicate. Nevertheless, this is not a blog on marriage advice, nor is it a slam piece on my wife. What I am trying to convey, if you have done your best, and you are miserable, don’t stay. Life is too short to live in such a state.

I have come to some realizations about myself as I go through this separation. The person I was becoming was a person I did not like. I was angry, bitter, and not a happy person. That is not who I want to be. I have to say here that I take full responsibility for myself, my behavior, and my actions. One thing I have learned, if you blame everyone for your problems, you will always have “your” problems. They are “your” problems. If you are so attached to someone, so dependent upon someone, where that someone is always the reason for your pain or happiness, then you will live a life of emotional hell.

One revelation I have had about myself is my codependency, my desperation to find emotional fulfillment, and attention. Living alone now, I can see my starvation to be loved. That said, this is not a healthy way of being and living. Often, people who are codependent for another to meet their needs are those who grew up in families where these needs were never met. I grew up in a home where neither of my parents ever showed me psychical attention, never wrapped their arms around me, or were there to tell me they loved me, that they believed in me. I don’t write this to make you feel sorry for me, it’s just my realization. The thing is, to look to another, as an adult, to fulfill your needs is unhealthy. You have to come to love yourself, to find that center within, where you know you are the beloved of God, that you can accept yourself and not rely on others to fulfill you. If you have to live your life looking to others to fulfill your needs, whether emotionally, financially, sexually, and you can go one with the list, you will live in constant lack and frustration.

As with all areas of growth in our life, the first step is awareness of the issue in your life, to fully see where you were once blinded. Then comes the work. To notice your patterns of behavior, your patterns of neediness, and to resist acting on them. Taking time to yourself, to be with yourself, to be content with yourself is vital. Before you ever find another that you can have a healthy relationship with, you must find a healthy relationship with yourself first. Otherwise, you will repeat the dysfunction in every relationship you have, and the misery will continue.

Breaking deep rooted behavioral patterns is hard work. In order for there to be growth you must be willing to go through it. Events like divorce, death, and hardships in life will do one of two things, they will destroy you, burry you, or they will teach you and wake you up. Sometimes all of the above. I believe we have to be intentional to allow the events, circumstances, and people in our lives to teach us. We need to realize that with every death, there is a resurrection, and without a death, new life cannot come to be.

I am in that liminal space now, as some of you may be now. I am between death and life. I don’t know what my future holds, but I will do all I can to breath, forgive, let go, be myself, and allow this process to take its course. I pray for grace to show me the way, to reveal my areas of darkness, and that this grace will grant me to change and grow.

Thanks for reading my musings here. I write this, and throw this out there, because it helps me to process, and I pray it will help others to know they are not alone, and possibly it may help another in their processing too.

Grace and peace to you all.

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Smoky Mountain Blues

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To find truth, one must travel a dense fog!” ~David Dweck

May 20, 2017, 7:30am

We were all arising early in a cabin located on a mountain side in Gatlinburg Tennessee. Four of my soul brothers and I were headed over to the Cherokee nation, on the other side of the great spine of the Smoky Mountains to experience a day long ritual by learning to build a Native American sweat lodge, with a sweat to follow that evening. Our Cherokee guide would be waiting for us at 8:30am in the Cherokee nation to guide us through our day long holy work. The route that we would take to Cherokee would lead us through a portion of U.S. Route 441.

The Great Smoky Mountains derives its name from the Cherokee name, Shaconage (Sha-Kon-O-Hey): land of the blue smoke. True to its name the vastly rich and diverse vegetation of these mountains release vapor whose molecules scatter blue light from the sky. Driving through this mountain range has become a holy pilgrimage for me over the years. Even though around 11 million tourists take this same voyage each year, it is always a sacred ride for me. Route U.S. 441 nearly runs along the old footpath called, Indian Gap Trail, that was used by Native Americans to hunt for food for hundreds of years. Artifacts have been found in this region suggesting that Natives lived in this area nearly eleven thousand years ago. When I enter into this enchanted land I can feel the ancients abiding in this place. With reverence I behold the sights of the scenic views that this drive has to offer.

Over the past few years I have had the privilege of navigating the twists and turns of Route U.S. 441 with its beautiful views. My favorite stopping point is Newfound Gap, which is the highest elevation that can be passed by road in the Smoky Mountains with an elevation of 5,049 ft., just under a mile. This is where the Tennessee and North Carolina border meet and a parking lot rests to its side where you can get out and behold magnificent breath taking views. Mountains stretch out and roll over the horizons below you on either side while blue haze and lazy clouds drift through the mountain passes with brilliant sunlight reflecting off of them or beaming through cloud gaps as angelic rays come down from the heavens. Blue serpentine rivers twist and turn away below you and all you can do is stand there in awe and wonder.

This morning I convinced my brothers to leave a little early so I could stop at Newfound Gap so that we would be able to have a small bit of time to soak in the early morning beauty before starting our daily journey through the sweat lodge rituals. They were happy to oblige me this request and so we wound our way slowly up into the mountains. As we rose in elevation thick fog began to roll in and when we reached Newfound Gap the visibility was next to none. All the vistas I had dreamed about lay shrouded in the fog. If one were to never have visited this place before, without the heavy fog to cloud their vision, they would never guess at the vast stretches of beauty that lay unseen right before them.

While my brothers were not too keen on getting out I still pulled into the parking lot. I wanted to get out and look, even though there was obviously nothing to look at. My brothers opted to stay in the car. I exited the vehicle and stood there gazing out into the fog where I knew the magical vistas hid and in my mind’s eye I imagined it as I had seen it before. I watched the fog roll in like great waves on an ocean shore and break and spill into the parking lot. I knew that if we sat for a bit the fog would pass. I have learned that this is how the weather works in these mountains, constantly changing moment by moment. If you but waited, the scenery would change like a great work of art that constantly shifted its beauty around. We did not have the time to wait today and with great reluctance I got back into the vehicle to leave for our destination. I looked out into the grayness, excepted my fate, and we moved on. Still, that image of the fog has spoken to me deeply in the days that have followed since this time.

I have battled depression my whole life, and as I get older the depression seems to seep deeper into my bones and being. Its weight bears down on me relentlessly at times. Depression is like the fog I saw that morning at Newfound Gap. It is a fog that rolls in and breaks upon my mind shrouding all the beauty that I know that is around me. Life becomes a ghostly realm where all is gray and the mist of the struggle drips from every fiber of my being. I can’t see where my next step will lead me and I am scared to even move for fear of what might be out there in the unknown. I have come to accept that this depression will never leave me in this life. What I have learned is that depression, like the fog, will eventually roll away, and all I have to do is sit with it until the sun comes along and burns it off once again. The light of a new day will chase away the depression like a wraith in the night.

While depression has plagued me, I have also tasted of light, love, beauty, awe, and wonder in life. I have watched the miraculous birth of my four children. I have gazed lovingly at the perfect symmetry of ancient trees. I have gazed up with wonder and awe at a star strewn sky thinking of the infinitude of the universe and marveling that I am here to bear witness to it. I have been raptured by the sight of brightly blooming flowers. I have sat quietly in the woods and watched a young Buck come up to me across the way and stare deeply into my soul with its black shiny orbs for eyes. I have tasted the goodness and kindness of human souls in my life. I have stood at Newfound Gap and I have seen the beauty that lay across the way when there was no fog to impede my vision.

Here’s the thing, as I stood at Newfound Gap that morning, with the fog dancing over the parking lot, and as my brothers waited patiently for me in the car, there was still a strange beauty to it all. I knew that the beautiful vistas were still out there. I knew because I have seen them before. I have tasted of their wonder enough that the residue of it still lingers within my soul. I could still see what lay beyond the fog in my mind’s eye. This is what faith is I believe. We get a glimpse of the beauty, and though the darkness and the ugliness of life can weigh us down, cloud our minds, and send our thoughts into dark twisted forms, that vision of the beauty can still sustain us. We know what lays behind the fog. I had faith that morning at Newfound gap, even though I could not catch a glimpse of the beauty. It is faith that sees us through when we cannot see. I have tasted the light, the love, and the joy of life. I have marveled at the mystery of the divine. Even though my awakenings are brief, they still imprint upon my soul both awe and wonder. And faith is born.

Depression helps me to walk by faith. It drives me to my knees in my need, and I cry out to the Lord, to that infinite mystery, to a love that I have tasted for myself. A love that has called me a beloved son. Powerless, all I can do is be still and wait. I know the fog will pass. I know that under all that fog lies a deep abiding beauty. The beauty has not left; I just cannot see it at the moment. Strangely, though the fog of my depression is a suffering that seems too heavy to bear at times, I still know there is a light and that beneath the fog is beauty. I have faith. Yes, I have faith. That word actually means something to me now, no longer just a religious cliché. I went to Newfound Gap that day expecting to behold the majestic. What I got instead was the gray dullness of fog. Yet, that was what I needed to see, and I have recognized the teacher that came to give me a great lesson that day. My depression is a gift, a way that leads me to humble myself, to seek out love, forgiveness, grace, and to see by faith. If I will but be still, the winds of the Spirit will eventually blow the fog away so that the Son may shine in the glory of his brightness once again.

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Working through the Holiday Blues

Dealing with anxiety and depression this time of the year? Yea, me too.

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The holiday season can be difficult for many people, for various reasons. Fond memories of holidays spent with loved ones who have now passed. We miss them. The reality of a broken family, a reality we suppress for most of the year, can become stark, vivid, and central this time of the year as we painfully mourn the hurt and bitterness that splits up so many families. It can be a lonely time for those with no family, friends, who will spend Christmas day alone, yearning for companionship. There are the poor, who, having been lead to believe by our American, capitalistic tradition, that is a day about giving lavish gifts to the children, and they have nothing to give to their own children. No, I am not against gift giving on Christmas. To each their own in this regard.

There is something about knowing that you are not alone in your struggles in life that helps lift the burdens even if it is so slight. Needless to say, my holiday seasons are never easy on me. Every year I am bombarded with anxiety, depression, and grief, and it seems like all my wounds rise up and reveal themselves.  I often find myself drinking too much, eating too much, and doing my best to numb the pain as best I can. My daily walks in the woods, meditations, my exercises in mindfulness, all go by the wayside as I am swept up in one violent maelstrom of emotions.

Holiday seasons are rough for many people, I know this. I also know that holiday seasons can be full of joy, laughter, times of light and reconciliation, a time to wind down from a busy year, and to see loved ones that you have not seen in a while. This blog post, however, is not about joy, it is about pain, and coming to terms with it. For those who are still with me, you know what I speak of.

Every Christmas season I reminisce about my childhood memories. I would say my childhood memories of Christmas are a few bright spots in an otherwise dark childhood. The two people who showed me love, gave me attention, and genuinely made a mark on my life are my two grandmothers. I remember going to their homes on Christmas Eve and Christmas day. One of my grandmothers always had a giant lit up star right at her front door, I can still see it clearly in my mind. As you walked into her foyer she had this small, green, clay Christmas tree with many colored lights adorning it. I remember the excitement of the season for me as a kid, and being there with my Grandmothers and other family members. Both my grandmothers have now passed on, one when I was 14, and the other just passed three years ago, right before Christmas. Every year, the grief of their passing rises to the surface for me, as I think back on those years of being with them, and all the light filled memories. I guess the grief never really leaves you when you lose a loved one, and I think allowing yourself the grief is a major part of the healing process. I know so many of you grieve for lost loved ones at this time of year too.

To add to these memories of the past and the tumultuous emotions flooding my mind, the current rifts in my family unveil themselves and put on quite a show each year. For one, my relationship with my dad has been one of great pain. He lives 10 minutes from my house, literally, and I think I have not seen him for two years now? I have made every effort on my end to reconcile with him. I have forgiven him many times over, and I honestly hold no animosity towards him anymore, though I did for years. The men’s work I have been involved in (with Illuman) these past few years has really helped me to work through my anger and rage towards my dad. That said, it still hurts not having a dad in my life, and I am coming to grips with the fact that this father wound will always be a part of my life. Needless to say, my efforts of seeing my dad this past Christmas fell short once again, same old story, and I don’t know why I keep hoping for something different each year?

Next on the dysfunctional family list is the rift between my mother and brother. I myself am not on the greatest terms with my mother, and I feel bad for that, yet, I don’t know how to heal that wound. I have tried, quite a few times. I keep telling myself, to let all this go, focus on the moment, on your children, and live your life. Yet again, there is the brokenness of my family unit staring me right in the face. So much pain, and for those who are not willing to do any inner work, the pain will always be there. This pain will continue to feed upon itself, and when it seems like it has faded away it will just manifest in a different form somewhere down the road.

This is true for all the unresolved matters in our lives. Holding onto resentments and bitterness and never really facing it means there will always be strife and a continual wounding in life. We wound ourselves, and then we transfer this pain to others. Hence, all the suffering you see in this world today. There will be separations and bitter arguments, and the sad thing is that so many families will never reconcile. People carry these unresolved issues to their graves all too often. Perhaps, if they’re lucky, while on their death bed their hearts may open up, soften up, enough for them to reconcile and make amends, but this does not always happen. I think of this when I hear teachers talk about how the key to life is to die before you die. In other words, allow your heart to open up now. Sometimes we don’t have the luxury to know that our life is coming to an end soon and that now is the time to get all of our affairs in order. Do it now, why wait? This is a grace if you can  get hold of this while you still have breath, strength, and time. It is a very hard work, a humbling work, and those who you attempt to make amends with will not always reciprocate. Remember, you are doing this for your own heart, you’re not responsible for the state of another’s heart.

Seeing all this in my family creates so much anxiety and hurt for me. My nature is to play the savior and come in and fix it all, to play the mediator, and try to work out the reconciliation myself. The thing is, I can’t do that, and it is yet another thing I have to let go of. Easier said than done and easier to write this than to live this.

All I can do, all we can do, is to open our own hearts, do our own inner work, and endeavor to live a life of love, and sometimes the door may open up to where you can speak words of reconciliation into another’s life, but in the end, you are not responsible for anyone’s salvation. You are only tasked with doing your best to guard your own heart from bitterness, to seek forgiveness, to forgive, and to work out your “own” salvation and healing. Work on you, do your inner work, and I truly believe that your own transformation is one of the greatest catalysts for change in the lives of others.

I believe we are all connected. I think some of us feel more deeply than others, and sometimes, during seasons like this, you are not only feeling your own griefs, anxieties, and depression, but you are also picking up on other’s emotions. I have noticed that when I can sense another’s state of mind, whether it be a joyful state, or an anxious state, that I often feel as they do. When we raise our level of consciousness and awareness, I believe we lay the groundwork for others to take these same paths. We become trail blazers. So, know this, you are not alone, do your inner work, and seek peace with all. Endeavor to live a with an opened heart, rather than with a constricted heart, bound in fear and suspicion. The wounds, they can heal, they will over time, though the process can seem slow. You can become whole, and you become who you truly are, who you already are.

In speaking with some brothers of mine on these issues, they they have offered me some advice on the anxiety and depression I deal with this time of the year. They encouraged me to make a list, to be conscious of all that I am thankful for. Yes, the pain and griefs are real, but the joy and the light is just as real. For me, it is the beauty of my children that gives me life and hope, and the faithfulness of my wife and her long suffering towards me, which gives me strength. It’s being with the ones that do care, the ones that I can share this life with that gets me through another day. It’s all my brothers that I have met during my time doing work with Illuman that I am so thankful for. I am still breathing, and hope and love still abound in my heart, and I can still see that light inside, so while the darkness is there, so is the light. Do not forget about the light.

It could be, that right now, you don’t see any light, and I have been there all too often. So, my last words of advice, for what they are worth, is find a friend you can talk to about your struggles. If not a friend, find a therapist, a spiritual director, anyone really. We can’t do this alone. For so long I tried to do it all alone. Those are some of the darkest years I have yet to know. When I received the advice to find someone to talk to, my thought was who? I set my intention to finding friends, community, and professional help. Over time, it came to me. You have to be intentional about this work, and you will find that doors will open, and people will come into your life. You are not meant to be an island unto yourself. Dare to open your heart so that that light can flood in.

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