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“How do you feel?” “I don’t know…”


“How do you feel?”
“I don’t know…”

I don’t think it’s unusual not know what we’re feeling. Nor even to be unable to feel.
What are you feeling now?
Are you feeling a mixture of feelings?
Are you feeling one shallowly?
Are you feeling one deeply?

If you aren’t sure, there are some almost universal triggers to make or help you feel.

I’m not at all a fan of the musical genres jazz, classical, or country. I can enjoy occasional hits from each, but rarely more than one or two at a time. Upon hearing of my disdain for classical, my sister challenged me.

I believe this 3.5 minute piece is one of the almost universal triggers that cannot be heard without a maelstrom of accompanying feelings (listen with space to move your arms through their full ranges, and fasten your headphones or earbuds securely, for your head will dance upon your neck, and, almost certainly, you’ll need to stand, and quite possibly dance):

If you are a classical music aficionado, don’t try to convert me, but please do share with me pieces like this one, which do not require an appreciation for the art form, and do not for the uninterested include wasteful bridges, interludes, and introductions. I wish to hear more brief pieces like this, in which every note has intrinsic value, even to the infidel.

Neil D. 2020-07-19


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My love letter to me


My love letter to me
…from my mom,
…from my soul,
…from me.

[6 minute read]

My rational mind loves theology, and I can wrap many of my beliefs into tidy packages to delight my reason. But that’s horribly dangerous, just like this theology: “The wages of sin is death, and you need a savior.”

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? Despite the crown of thorns, humiliation, false charges, excruciating death, do I threaten my wrath? ‘Forgive them, Abba…’ He was not begging on your behalf because you are unworthy of Our love. He was vocalizing what flows inseparably FROM Our love. Our sadness that you ‘know not what you do…’ To your Selves.

“Do you NOW see and feel, Neil? When I, your passionate and personal God, say that I love you unconditionally, that means no necessity of forgiveness. Our acts of love are not to show you how sinful you are. They are deeds to show you the purity of Our love for you. There’s no need at all for forgiveness when all is love….

“Love does not originate FROM or BY forgiveness. Love is no hostage, contingent on redemption by contrition and absolution. There is NO requirement that forgiveness PRECEDE My love. Neither offense nor guilt affect pure love. Nothing binds love. Forgiveness is a coincidence of true love, NOT a prelude…

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid. Look at my Son’s crucified, bloody face. Does He look angry?

“The sadness on his face is for you. His face is My face. I am not angry and demanding justice because you have hurt Me. I am the Lord your God, Who fears nothing. I do not fear being hurt. But I can and do feel hurt. I can and do feel sadness. They are part of love, and I AM love. So I am also Hurt. I am also Sadness. But hurt and sadness out of love, not out of fear. Fear is not part of love. Do not fear that you have hurt me, and need my forgiveness. For I love you already. Fearlessly, and fiercely.

“You only fear Me because you cannot feel and trust the fullness of pure love — yet. My Son’s passion is a show of love’s purity, not a message that you need to fear Us, nor that you needed His sacrifice…

“My Son’s passion is Our love story for you, Neil. Don’t corrupt it into a tragedy about sin and penalty and any sense of justice and consequences and conditions and laws and rules…

“His love is pure. My love is pure. Conditions and rules for gaining it are impurities.

“I am sad, because you hurt your self, child. I, the Lord Almighty, BEG and PLEAD with you, Neil… I do not COMMAND you by any other power or authority except love… Fearsomeness is false power, and I am not false. Love holds no space for fear. And I am love…

“Your very Creator is begging and pleading for you to feel Our love in the story of my Son’s life. We do not wish for you to see some sacrifice to atone for your shame and restore your worthiness. Our love is NOT affected by your sin. It doesn’t stop just because you sin. Don’t be so conceited to think you can diminish Our love! Let this love story fly past your ego and annihilate barriers of shame, to touch your tender soul, sweet boy…

“The story of Yeshua is about Our goodness and YOUR goodness… Our and your OUTRAGEOUS capacity for love. Be outraged about that! Stop – STOP – making it about your badness and failure to love. You are hurting and saddening Us and your eternal Self by your ego-centeredness. Center the story on your WHOLE Self, as I made you. Be Self-centered about THAT story.

“Look at me, my son Neil. LOOK at me. Don’t be afraid.

“Let this story through your ego-self to your soul-Self. Begging… Pleading… In love… THAT is who We are.

“Know your shame, son. We do. Let it waft into your ego’s consciousness, and your whole Self can be compassionate with it, as We are. Your repression is keeping Our love from your soul. Even your ego, Neil, can love Us, and can love all of you, if your soul can embrace your whole Self tenderly, as We created it to do. You are made to love. Your soul can do its work, son.

“Imagine my Son’s face at the wedding in Cana, with a joyous smile crinkling his eyes. Imagine the fiery warmth of those eyes locked on the eyes of the woman to be stoned, ‘Nor do I condemn you…’ That is not a warmth that flows FROM forgiving; it is the fire of passionate love, from which forgiveness – like all things truly and purely good – cannot be separated.

“We hurt when those whom We love feel hurt. Just as you do. ‘I have become one of you.’ I have joined humanity because humanity is worthy. You are worthy of Our unconditional love because that love is Ours to give, NOT yours to earn. NO conditions. I am all-powerful. And I am in you. Our power is not rooted in meting out justice. Do not be afraid. Our power is love. I dwell in you: YOUR power is love.

“The moment I and your mother brought you to life, she held you in her arms, and adored you with unconditional love. You had done nothing to earn or deserve it. It was hers to give, not yours to earn. Your soul is no different from your mother’s. Your soul is no different from Me.

“You too have unbounded power to give love without conditions. Please, Neil, pour it out, unshackled by shame, with NO conditions. And, please, begin with pouring it onto my own infinitely lovable son, whom your mother named Neil…

Neil D. 2020-03-06

Related: My love letter to you, My love letter to you PS

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Advent Prequel to Footprints


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


“Come to me, all you who labor and are burdened…” (Mt 11:28)


Adeste fideles. (Come, faithful).


Advent Prequel To Footprints

(Neil Durso)

Energy, misbalanced.
Self-centered lifetime.
Other-centered lifetime.
Tiresome battles lost.

Shameful failure.
Wasted toils?
No. Delivery to the now.

A curled, sobbing heap,
Writhing on sands of self-desertion.
A finger trembling, raised to an eye…
Tap its pool of tears, running them thin,
Glimpse through the blur:

A shadow over tears on dead sand
Shades the relentless brightness of scorching shame,
Revealing a garment’s hem resting on sandaled toes.

Stretch out of despair a hand.
Touch a finger to the coarse fabric.

From that cloak, a hand extends,
Re-flavoring tears that flow still.
From a spring deep within, never fully felt.
Feel it now. Don’t wrestle floodgates inside.

Epic struggle.
Ordained end.
Rivulets of tears baptize anew.
Every ounce of unrequited effort poured out has prepared the way

Enormous fruitlessness was the way.
En route to the quenching fruit of energy exhausted.

The garment takes you up, in its arms
So gentle, their power feels misplaced.
You tremble at tenderness so unfamiliar.

From this bottom, from this birthplace,
In His wake are one set of footprints.

At cool evening’s arrival,
You’re lowered lovingly
To your own feet.
Refreshed.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
Then,
The silence drips into distant song
On fleeting breezes.

Whispering beneath the rising chorus,
“Whither, Yeshua?”
“The City of David.”

A bright star draws your gaze.
And He is gone.

Shepherds appear.
On pilgrimage.
To Light.

Above the sonorous din of lambs’ bleating,
Lyrics grow clearer…

Carried by the parade, your heart then
Your tongue join the hosts’ song.
Reborn of unshackled brokenness,
The beckoned joins the calling:

“O… O… come, all ye faithful…”
(song)


(Read the preface to this poem here.)


-Neil D. 2019-12-16
(revised from 2018-12-24)

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Green Shirt

The gently soft-spoken 20-something didn’t seem to ever stop talking except when he asked of me simple questions and waited for replies with earnestness that made me feel like my answer would be divine and resonate with profoundly undeniable truth and universal wisdom. He sat on a park bench with his beautiful, unthreatening, expectant, wide eyes open naturally enough to look up at me as I stood beside the bench on which he sat lower. His eyes weren’t bloodshot or distant, squinted or spookily wide. His pupils locked on my gaze, without blinking, without discomfort or shame. Without abiding by any conventions of time or rhythm familiar. Just natural, as anyone’s might be awaiting an answer, unconsciously exhaling the puff of smoke from a satisfying drag off the cigarette he just bummed off me…

He did that several times, awaiting several answers to several questions. Of me. Me. Me? Me!

Not hard answers to give. But not easy questions to ask. So, wait–maybe hard questions to answer, but not hard words to summon in answer: “Yeah.” “That’s true.” I know.” “I feel you.” “Right.” “Damn.” “I know.”

Know? Do I really *know* anything?

Now I know I do.

Green Shirt talked and asked about his joy and loss of waking next to her, whose name he didn’t remember. Of being anxious about how he would get eggs and bacon like yesterday. Would the nurses let him have the medicine he needed again?

He’s glad it’s warm today.

Hopes it will be tonight, wherever he winds up.

Wants to work on my car. She knows how to service bearings. He knows he has to clean up dog poop in the park before her company lets him collect cans. She’s not afraid to work hard. Why do they think their reality’s rules make more sense?

Yeah, I suppose Yeshua from Nazareth wore some shade of white fabric in the middle eastern form of that time. But I think, yesterday morning, He wore a green t-shirt.

If you see Green Shirt today, tell her I miss him. Tell him I said hello. Tell her I remember him. Say Hello to her for me. Thank him for talking to me about her own world. Tell her I love hymn… because he trusted me just to affirm her truth. And … loved ME too.

Neil D. 2019-07-25

Ok Drowning Eye-To-Eye


I wrote to my sons, “Sometimes Dad likes a little encouragement too,” as a preface to a longer message I shared from a friend, of which this is an excerpt:

“I’m certain you’ve had conversations like this with them throughout their lives. I can picture you getting on the floor, eye level with them as toddlers, explaining things to them, asking them questions like, “What do you think about that, Gabe?” and listening to their thoughts and answers and theories and stories and imaginations and questions.”

Our youngest responded:

“I did bring you three cookies the other day🤷‍♂️. Sorry we don’t give you much encouragement Dad. I am very thankful for you.”

I replied:

I think it was 2007 or ’08 that the livingroom carpet which creeped into the diningroom was torn up and replaced with hardwood. Probably long before that, I remember passing out exhausted, lying on that carpet, and awakening to a quiet toddler, rearranging Legos near my face. Or two superhero figures soaring over the back of my head as I lay with a corner of my lips curled toward my twinkling eye.

Maybe I talked myself to sleep, or maybe I watched one of them act out their answers to my soaring questions, as I sprawled out with the carpet, at their eye level. And years before that, a son or I opened eyes, level with the other, as he lay on my chest rising and falling with each life-giving breath—in a bed, on a sofa, or on that same carpet.

How can this friend, whom I did not meet until a decade later, picture these things, merely by seeing me talk to today’s young men—toddlers then?

Two decades earlier, I sat on the top step in an apartment swimming pool while a foot away Joseph frolicked in the water like only toddlers can, breathlessly, with excited abandon, to peril oblivious. Feeling safe, unconsciously, under the gaze of his Dad, who remembers what happened next in slow motion.

Dad, standing in waist-high water a distance from the bottom step, mesmerized by his son’s joyous curiosity, watched every small motion as Joseph descended the steps with his eyes wide open throughout it all, soon standing on the bottom of the pool, the water’s surface ascended a foot above his head. He never closed his eyes, even after Dad scooped him out, sat on the top step, propped his toddler onto a knee, and they gazed squarely eye to eye, question in both.

Then Joseph grinned.

Dad giggled.

Everything ok.

Yesteryear and today. Whence my friend’s pictured scene. That’s how we make things, my sons and I. Even near drowning.

Everything, ok.

“Sorry we don’t give you much encouragement Dad.”

Yeah.

Everything.

Not much.

Everything. Ok.


Neil D. 2020-01-14


Samson 45


Each time I stepped outside the lobby to smoke, he sauntered across the street from the park’s stone washroom building. I gladly gave him what I had. His face is beautiful, shaped such that a smile is its most natural posture. Eyes partly closed, but twinkling. His weathered complexion made it hard to guess his age. So I asked. 45. He doesn’t hear well, so would gently raise his hand to his ear if I didn’t shout loudly enough.

The shelter a few blocks over won’t admit him. “I’m not funded…”

“What brought you to Saskatoon?” His ex started sleeping around on their reservation. He traveled away: “I’m healing…,” he struck his breast tenderly. He’ll have to go back as the season turns. Too cold here, and he’s not funded.

I wondered if the fixed smile–as I perceived it–wasn’t also a wince from hurt carried constantly conscious. Inescapable. I don’t remember what I said that made him laugh and cough, but then I knew. It’s a smile. Surely it’s both. Pain and joy. Fear and freedom. Desperate, but content to be sharing a cigarette with a stranger. The stranger content to be too.

He raised his cap and massaged his brow, and I tucked my near-empty pack into his leather-skin coat pocket as I readied to depart, shouting, “For later…”

Negligent of my own soul this morning, I didn’t ask to be blessed. But I was.

One cheek rose higher toward a sparkling eye. “Oh…you’re an angel…” He high-fived me.

You are too, Samson 45.

.

Neil D. 2019-07-24

[Related: Green Shirt]


What kind of strength is weakness?


What kind of “strength” is the weakness that comes from suffering? The REAL kind of strength. It’s not a muscular or defensive (or even O-ffensive) kind of strength. It’s not from being a winner, of any game. It’s in a realm (“real”m) infinitely and eternally larger than infantile game-playing and falsely strong, winner, childish egos.

It’s the kind of fortitude and okayness that comes only from soaking up the outpouring from a ripped open heart.

From noticing with wisdom: You are still here. Your soul is a pool of strength that needs no sense of security or meaning from the small, imaginary world where the small, former you lived. But nothing about that smaller life was, or is, wasted. It is the birthing springboard of You being reborn into the fullness of who You was meant to be. Of You becoming more conscious of how enormous You is, and has been, all along. To have stood through all that, and still be standing.

You aren’t going anywhere, You. The weight of your suffering has planted You so firmly in existence and the real world that any forces which the old, small you feared will progressively evaporate as You grow in awareness that You ARE the unique You that creation has always needed for it to be whole and complete.

You do not belong to anyone. And you are realizing You do not even belong to your own self, even though you thought belonging to your self, and owning your shit, was a sign of strength. You belong to all of creation, just as it all belongs to You. You, still standing, belong here.

.

Neil D. 2020-01-06


New Year’s Ode To Mothers

Throughout 2020 I photographed from my back porch roses which bloomed from the same vine.
New Year’s morning 2021, I scrolled through these photos and the song “Lo How a Rose E’er Blooming” came to mind.

I searched for lyrics and discovered the origins of the song from ca. 1600 on Wikipedia.

Isn’t it true that in virtually every icon we have of Mary she stands serene with her arms at her sides, but palms subtly raised toward us, in case we are moved to fall into her loving arms? Contrary to gathering our attention, she stands placidly, without chasing or beckoning us, just waiting to be noticed, like a rose with beauty in and of itself, which we can behold when we are moved to notice.

My own mother, born in 1931, has lived to see 2021, and is 375 miles apart from me. Even at my age of 52, I cannot wait to fall into the comfort of her bosom which makes everything OK. Sometimes, when I’ve longed for that warmth but we have been apart, a thought of falling into the open arms of The Rose comforts me. My mom would never be jealous of that because she has always been ready in solemn patience for any child to fall into her arms, no matter how old or large—for my mom too is stand-alone beauty itself.

.

Neil D. 01-01-2021 (amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, grateful graduate of Notre Dame, “Our Mother,” regardless of today’s later gridiron outcome vs. #1 Alabama)


Searching for the word “compassion.” A two-person chat

Love is a mess of romance and compassion. Compassion can remain.

“Compassionate”… A word we struggle to apply to ourselves. Especially when involving romantic love and pain.

Romance can cloud our recognition of compassionate love within ourselves.



[December 26, 2020] {Nancy and Steve were at a support program with Gary. A few hours after, Nancy messaged Steve…}

Thank you Steve.

Thank you for what Nancy!??

🙂 For sharing your beauty, Steve, and just being with me today. I think you’re awesome, and I love you deeply, Steve.

Omg Nancy I felt like a train wreck today.
But thank you for accepting me.
Love you too, Nancy!!

So funny you sent that Nancy bc I am on the treadmill thinking about how I have nobody lol.
And then you remind me that’s just my head messing w me.

❤️
You are alone, Steve. Maybe you can let yourself feel it even more deeply. I think you’re onto something very enormous. And, I think, it’s… Steven.

I feel like Gary judges me, Nancy, and doesn’t understand.
So thank you Nancy.

You’re welcome Steve. You are welcome to all of me that I can give, Steve. And you deserve a lot of credit for helping me be able to give myself.

I’m not sure I fully get what I do for you Nancy but lol I am so glad I can help someone!!!!!!!

Nor can I myself put into words what you do for me. It’s too big, Steve. You are sinking into your beautiful soul of goodness. And it is too enormous to express in words, or to understand with the mind.

It makes me smile to see you struggle during meetings, Steve, unable to find words. I get some sense that this lonely, train-wrecked okay-ness you express is a consciousness awakening inside you, integrating the complex feelings you wrestle, into your “head messing with you,” and into the tender heart that binds you to the need for love that all the beautifully complicated people in your world demand.

To me it seems like the Steve who wants certainty re-meeting the Steven who can embrace uncertainty. That happens inside. Some people think it’s the ego surrendering to the soul. Maybe you are like Lizzie meeting Elizabeth— alone, which is why you wrestle between loneliness and the occasional feeling you tell us that you’ll never find someone or marry again. Maybe you are finding the more enormous you, and that has to come first, despite Gary’s judgemental impatience.

You and Gary have a very intriguing and long relationship that the rest of us can only sense from outside of it. He has a soul with its own deep and unique beauty, and sometimes he seems to be frustrated like you are moving too slowly and deliberately on your journey. That slowness doesn’t surprise me at all, given the sense I have of how vast the inner beauty is that you are discovering. Maybe I’m more patient because it sure feels like the unveiling to the world of the full Steven is worth ANY wait. It’s gonna be epic:)

Dear lord Nancy!!
I hope it’s epic!!!
I just feel the need to explain what I can’t. I don’t know why I am ok w what Jean did but I am.
I don’t know how the hell I am ok after anything I have experienced but I am!!!!

I believe in you, Steve, because I believe in God, and I sense God in your soul welcoming you home, back into your fullness, as you were made.

Most likely bc of people like yourself.
I am content in life for today. I have everything I need. Sure I’d like my house fixed up etc, but overall I have what most people never get and for that I am thankful.

And I think you and I have the same type of outlook on life.
Which makes us ok in a mess.

I wonder, Steve, if your OKness is authentic divine compassion pouring out of your soul. Maybe you understand how broken children of God like Jane and Jean can be, and I wonder if that is because you have sort of opened your eyes to your own brokenness.

I think it’s divine compassion, because from it flows forgiveness, almost effortlessly. That kind of compassion and forgiveness don’t dismiss what has been done to you, but “understand” it in a way that only a heart — and not a mind or an ego — can grasp.

And from what I can tell, what flows after compassion and forgiveness is authentic gratitude… a sense which can’t be put in words, that you “have what most people never get.” By the compassionate loving you extend to those other broken children of God, you are giving them what most people never get.

Dear lord yes Nancy!!!
Maybe that’s it!!!
You should be my counselor!!!!!!
I’m not ok w being treated like shit but
I can’t explain lol.

Maybe that’s… Steven. In his enormous fullness.

Yes! Can’t I just be ok… or good…?? lol
And why are you the only person who understands this.
I can’t change people or make them love me.
I can only be the best person that I can be.

I think there is definitely a kind of “mess” that is all in our head. But as we battle that idea, and try to convince ourselves that it’s all in our head alone, I think we get mistaken that all sorts of “messes” are only in our head. The most enormous mess is the mess of being human. The messy mixture of what is in our head, and what is in our heart. I don’t think we have to — or are supposed to — give up the messiness that comes from interplay between our heart and mind. We were created human, and humanity is goodness.

And let me be clear.
I know I deserve better than what Jean did to me.
I know that with all my soul.
But I am not perfect.
Nor will I ever claim to be.
I just want to BE ME.
Whatever that mess is at that moment or in that hour or day.
It could be taken away tomorrow so I’m gonna enjoy what I have.

The problem with my forgiving heart is that people do take advantage of it at times.

Yes, that seems to be my experience too Steve.
So what?
What they are hurting is not our enormous soul; I think it’s what our ego/mind thinks is our soul. It’s our human sense of right and wrong — of judgment — that gets so deeply wounded by people who victimize us.
That suffering MUST be real.
If a spark of God lives within us — our soul — we “know” suffering is an inseparable part of acting with authentic lovingness. We can’t love any more deeply than we are willing to suffer. I think there’s a pretty good historical example of this. His birthday was yesterday.

And don’t be such a silly dumb ass! 🙂
Millions, if not billions, of other people understand all this. But there are many more who are not yet ready to hear it with open ears. Maybe you and I have been willing to hear it, but have not been ready to hear it. It’s a very big deal. You – YOU, Steve – are a child of GOD. Now, pause for 20 seconds, and think about how passionate you are about loving your own children. There is a part of you in them. Think about how desperately you want to help Kenny’s boys right now. And now, think about how infinitely passionate God is about loving each and every one of his children. It is not so much a duty that is given to you and me (to show them that love from anything we can give), but it is a gift for us to be able to do that. For God to have chosen Steve and Nancy to pour out divine love from inside of themselves onto other children of God who can be much more alive if they can be OK with their imperfections. And, by the way, this is not something you need to aspire to. Something you need to achieve. Some goal you have to chase. You, Steve, have been doing it most of your life. Others have benefited from it. Now it is time for you. Your time. Benefit from God’s love that lives inside of you. It makes you OK. And, enormous.

I absolutely LOVE your words above, Steve.
And now, it’s time for this old fart to take a nap 🙂
To curl up, alone, with the arms of my own soul embracing me in a warm love shown best to us by the child whose birthday we celebrated yesterday. Can dreams be any sweeter?

Sounds perfect!
You should be exhausted
Lol
Sleep well and thank you!



Neil D. 2020-12-26

Brown is beautiful – inspired by KC & JS

[5 minute read]


“We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.”
[T. S. Eliot’s Little Gidding]

Our soul is our home. And it has infinite possibilities in the color brown.
[below]

To help someone is not to do it for them. It is to amplify their effort—their way. Effective therapists, true friends, confidants, and authentic lovers do not tell us how to feel or think. They do not even tell us WHAT we feel and think. They assist our growing awareness of what we have already begun to feel and think—our way.

Therapy is a tunnel that leads you from one cavern of perception to a new one. And when you do not feel at home in that cavern, you look for another tunnel to a different cavern. Successful therapy leads you through this maze of tunnels and caverns to a final destination. And that is in fact the very cavern in which you started: “… the end of all our exploring Will be to arrive where we started…”

This is what non-dualism and mystics mean by having all that you need already. You have always had all that you need. But the human love of mystery and exploration drives us with a motor that can be summed up in “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” For, “We shall not cease from exploration…”

As we have visited these different caverns, we have discovered that the grass there is also brown. Not green. And when we return to our own cavern, and realize that grass only looks green from some other side, brown becomes beautiful. We can rest from the quest for illusory green. “And know the place for the first time.” We can’t “know” that brown patch if our eyes are restlessly aimed elsewhere.

Perhaps you have always felt like the loser in some relationship. The other always had to have the last word. The other got angrier and pounded their fists louder, and so you acquiesced. In addition to “loser” and “winner,” we use words like “strong” and “weak” in that context. And so perhaps you were the weak one. Perhaps the therapeutic tunnel you followed was to improve your self-esteem, to speak your truth, to “use your voice,” to stand up for yourself.

I suspect once you travel those tunnels and visit those caverns, and then you return home to your own brown space, you have grown in awareness that you were a loving person in your losing relationship. You acted with love by withdrawing from the dance that led repeatedly to unhappiness for both partners.

One partner must step out of the dance, or both partners get nowhere. Both believe their grass is greener, even though they know it’s brown. Even though they know? Yes, we know it in a way that we don’t admit to ourselves or to our partner, because in that dance, winning is valued, and losing is weak.

Apply those ideas to Jesus Christ. He was such a loser he never judged the people with whom he interacted. He was such a loser and so weak, they made him carry his own cross to his own death, and he did it willingly. What a weakling. What a loser. Why didn’t he stand up for himself and use his voice? Why didn’t he have more self-esteem? Because. Because ego is much less important than we initially believe it to be.

Ego is only a small part of our nature—but an important part, which tells us we are separate individuals from others. It’s an important piece of knowledge to have — that we are not identical with others — but we don’t *live* from that place of knowledge. Separateness is not life-giving by itself. It is not a large part of our nature.

The largest part of our nature is living from a place of love. Loving. Life-giving. Judgmentalism and ‘being right’ do not satisfy our full nature. Perhaps they are tools that keep directing us back to fuller awareness of our brown patch. Our very own home. The home of our very own soul:

It is judgmentalism that leads us into those tunnels in caverns, and so it serves us well by letting us explore to discover that we are most fully home in our full self:

Our soul is our home. And it has infinite possibilities in the color brown.

We value ego, and we also value being right, too much. But the worst of all illusory values is to believe that hurt and pain and suffering are things to be avoided. These are feelings from which we learn that brown is beautiful. We cannot know deep and authentic love without knowing pain, hurt, and suffering. This was the example of Jesus Christ. Awareness of suffering deepens awareness of loving.

Christmas celebrates the Incarnation—the start of the example of God’s becoming man. God suffers. And God suffers so deeply that we often say, God is Love. The example of Jesus Christ is an example that deep suffering always accompanies deep love. That pure love is always accompanied by pure suffering. There are long-standing wise traditions that speak about the suffering of God. In your own suffering, in your own soul, and your own piece of God, in your own “divine spark,” that same truth is what emerges from knowing and loving the color brown for the first time. From exploring all those other tunnels and caverns.

By surrendering to your suffering, you are following the example of the incarnation. And from that come the fruits of perfect love. Learn to be aware of how deep your suffering is, and you will also become aware of how deep you are as a font of love.

You were not weak. You did not lack self-esteem. You were, and are, a mysteriously wonderful example of love accompanied by suffering. The more you try to avoid future suffering because it hurt so badly in the past, the more you will avoid deeper love, and being a source of deeper love. Including for your own self.

.

Neil D. 2020-12-25