The Universe is me

[Read volumes of self-help pop-psychology, 12 Step literature, therapy, groups,… Have known my institutionalized religion deeply for a long time. But was still, for half a century, a child who had to experience the wisdom shared earlier by elders before I could internalize it: I had to be, as my father put it, “reamed by the rigid rod of reality.” Now, much of what I learned with my head has seeped finally into my mind and heart. I didn’t like those other sources, so have figured it out from within. Here are some restructured excerpts by a favorite author and speaker who explains the same, eloquently (full article). Even when I know the last sentence is coming each time I reread this article, I still haven’t suppressed a chest-shrinking sob every time…]

[Some times of life are] an unraveling. You can’t cure it with control. The universe gently places her hands upon your shoulders, pulls you close, and whispers in your ear: ‘I’m not screwing around. All of this pretending and performing – these coping mechanisms that you’ve developed to protect yourself from feeling inadequate and getting hurt – has to go. I understand that you needed these protections when you were small… but you’re still searching and you’re more lost than ever… It’s time to show up and be seen…

Once the shock of the universe’s visit wears off – there are several ways to respond. Embrace her wisdom, growth, and calmly walk into the unraveling. Or deny that any of this ever happened; but – it is the universe talking here. Pretending it is not happening requires active denial, like putting your fingers in your ears…

When the universe came to me, I listened. And when she was done whispering, I looked into her eyes, and spit in her face… I had earned every bit of my disdain… She simply stood in front of me, wiping the spit off of her cheek.

I said, “I’m not afraid of you. I’ve spent my entire life building these walls… – do you really think a little whisper is going to intimidate me?” …The fact that the almighty universe had descended and asked me to turn myself over to her custody didn’t mean a damn thing to me…

She was quiet.

I said, “I’ve spent a decade researching shame and vulnerability and all of the hard shit that you throw around to scare people.”

She looked back at me with loving eyes, then said, “I’m sorry it has to be this way, but clearly this is how you want to do it. You leave me no choice.”

Her calmness was unsettling. I was afraid. She wasn’t backing down. I did the only thing I knew how to do when confronted with fear – I bullied her. I gave her a small shove and said, “Then bring it!”

Her loving eyes didn’t change one bit. She just looked at me and said, “I will.”

I put up the fight of my life, but the universe knew exactly how to use vulnerability and uncertainty…: unexpected failures, devastating humiliations, a showdown with God, broken connections with family, anxiety…, fear, and the thing that pissed me off the most – grace. No matter how hard or far I fell, grace was there to pick me up, and shove me back in for more.

I got my ass kicked by pain and loss. I discovered the real me – messy, imperfect, brave, scared, creative, loving, compassionate, wholehearted.

As far as my relationship with the universe . . . well, we’ve actually become very good friends. I even came to love and trust her when, in a quiet moment, I looked deeply into her eyes and realized that she, was me.

Excerpts from: The Midlife Unraveling (Brené Brown)


“Oh Holy Night, the stars are brightly shining. It is the night of the dear savior’s birth. Long lay the world in sin and error, pining, til He appeared and the soul felt its worth. A thrill of hope, the weary world rejoices. For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.”

I’ve grown weary trying to make my soul worthy, but I cannot. I rejoice that I don’t have to. I am already all that’s needed. He doesn’t appear when I make myself worthy. He appears because my soul is already. All which falls on me is to feel that; then He, always there, appears to my eyes.

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.
At His side.
He at yours.
Two sets of feet imprint the sands.

Onward in silence.
For a time.
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…”

(Read the preface to this poem here.)

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