Self Reflection

This lockdown was so different from the one last year. I just fell into it in relief. I let go of all the lists, goals, must-haves, shoulds, deadlines, took a break from social media and spent a lot of time in self-reflection.

It was almost like I had gone into winter when nature withdraws from the business of growing and expanding and settles into rest and replenishment. The silent darkness is full of restoration.

I found that on the other side of surrender lies joy. On the other side of letting go of outcomes lies lightness and peace. Detaching from the narrative connects you with your deeper, authentic self.

HAPPY 2018

I watched the movie ‘The Danish Girl’ the other day and afterwards I was thinking about the difficulties a transgender person goes through even to this day. How frustrating it must be to identify oneself as some one else whilst being trapped in an increasingly alien body. How disorienting to lose connection with one’s identity and not being able to take on another. How painful to suppress this burgeoning identity and try to live a life of conformity.

When it occurred to me that that’s what we all do. R. Buckminister Fuller said, “All children are born geniuses, and we spend the first six years of their lives degeniusing them.”

Google says, the word ‘genius’ has its roots in the late Middle English word gignere ‘beget’: from Latin, ‘attendant spirit present from one’s birth, innate ability or inclination’.

We have genius in us from birth, but very soon society gets about stamping it out trying to turn us into socially conforming people. And we spend the rest of our lives frustrated and despairing, seeking something we have lost connection with, not knowing what, sedating ourselves with possessions, experiences, validation. And tragically, most of us dying with our songs unsung, with our genius buried deep inside.

So, this New Year, I wish for everyone to reconnect with our attendant spirit, our daemon, our innate genius, and let it out to stretch its wings and soar.



Suffering is the new joy

By Bonnie Rose

“Can you walk, sweetheart?”

I say these words to our dog Stella who is dying.   It’s time for breakfast and if she walks from our bed to the kitchen, maybe that will be a sign.  Maybe she will be alright. So I ask her again, “Can you walk?”

As I ask, I remember eleven years of sleeping twisted like a pretzel so the dog could get a good night’s sleep.   I remember mornings, how she rose at dawn and stomped her Pointer’s feet on the mattress to get me up, to flush me out of the brush of sleep as she would a wild quail. Now it’s nine a.m. and she sighs at the foot of the bed, eyes alert and breathing rapidly.

I get a piece of hamburger and hold it under her nose. I lure her off the bed and down the hall to the kitchen where I encourage her to eat the white rice and ground beef I cooked for her, Stella’s last supper.   I watch her as she sniffs, eats a few bites, then stares at the kitchen door contemplating the effort required to go outside and pee.

“Can you walk?”

I ask it loudly, sweetly and sincerely and I don’t care who hears me. Hugh, private in his grief, staring at his computer, concerned about me.   Will he try and fix it if he hears?   And the neighbors next door who once yelled at Stella for barking. They will know. They will know she is weak now. They will know I’m not that smart-ass who yelled back, and how I’m about to be hurt. I don’t care. I don’t care who knows how much I love and how much this love will cost me. I am bold in my devotion, steadfast in my vulnerability.

“Can you walk?”

I know the answer but I ask anyway.   I ask to affirm my willingness. I will do whatever it takes to keep Stella comfortable. I will be beside her no matter what. I am ready to love her completely, her failing body and undying heart.

“Can you walk?”

Mom, graduation

When my mother was dying, I didn’t ask that question. I didn’t ask any question. I didn’t want to know the answer because the answer would change everything. We didn’t talk about the cancer – how it was devouring my mother’s bones and internal organs, how it was planning to steal my favorite person.   We didn’t talk about love and loss, or her longing to see me find a life that would blossom.   We didn’t mention how death would assassinate that joy for her or how death would rob me of the pleasure of coming home from college for Thanksgiving break and seeing her face at the kitchen window, eager to hear every detail of my life.   Death would kill that. So we didn’t talk about it.

I was immobilized. Together in our once safe home in Briarcliff that last morning my mother couldn’t speak. She wanted something from me. She wanted my help. I was seventeen and I didn’t know what to do.   Something bad was in the room. I was too scared to show my fear. I wanted to fix it. I didn’t know what to do.

So I held her hand, tears without sobs pouring down my cheeks, bewildered in the face of unspeakable death. She looked at me and said “Thank you.” Thirty-six hours later, she died. Those were the last words she ever said to me.

“Can you walk?”

Somehow, through the years of living, ministry, dying loved ones, lost pets and lost loves, I’m learning to ask “Can you walk?” I’m learning to ask the other hard questions and be still and present with the answers.   I am learning how to suffer.

I took my first cautious steps toward suffering in Shadowlands, the Broadway production where by fluke and connections, I was cast as an understudy for eight weeks. The play is about C.S. Lewis’s transition from intellect to experience. When Lewis was a child, his mother died. He never cried, never allowed himself to feel the loss.   Late in life, when Lewis was a crusty bachelor professor, he met his true love Joy Gresham. Shortly after they met and married she got cancer and died.   When Joy died, he allowed the devastation to overtake him.

He said, The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering.” (Shadowlands).

Eight shows a week, sitting backstage listening to the monitors, I hear those words: The boy chose safety, the man chooses suffering.

And now, every day, I make the choice between safety and suffering. Will I have the courage to face what happens and keep my heart in the room?

Because I don’t know if I can walk. I don’t know if I can stand. There are days I stagger about this stage called earth, confronted with the sorrows of being human – the loss, the death, the indignity of perpetual change.

And there’s the infernal, internal drama. There is so much I want to do with my life, so many dreams I want to accomplish. I yearn for the bold person I hope to be.   But I am afraid to suffer the risk of trying. I want to hide under our rusty wheelbarrow and suffocate my hope. So I choose safety, turning to tasks and television, an epic to-do list of mundane activities and a stream of Orange is the New Black. There I remain safe in a women’s prison, mired in other people’s problems, hypnotized by girl-on-girl sex and two dimensional living, a flat screen for a flat existence.   I dare not suffer the scandal of boldness, the audacity of showing up in all my flaws and wonder.

But sometimes suffering is not suffering…

Those last days with Stella, I would gladly suffer again.   It was an honor to hold herstick-7 014 (3) as she let go. It was a joy to put her needs first. It was a joy to ask, “Can you walk?” and be in love with whatever was true.   It was joy to cherish her, to understand that love is love and it doesn’t matter if she’s just a dog, and that death can never kill a love like that. Suffering is not suffering. Suffering is the new joy.

Yes. Stella’s journey will become a touchstone for the days when I’m suffering from uncertainty, mediocrity or doubt, when I think I can’t walk, when I’m paralyzed with the anxiety of transitions, when it feels like trying to be present costs too much.

“Can you walk, sweetheart?” I will ask myself.

Somehow, through this inquiry, somehow I will get a glimpse of what it would be like to fall in love completely; to delight in my abilities and inabilities; to bless life’s strengths and frailties as part of the crazy-quilt of Existence.   Somehow, through one slow question at a time, I will arrive at an instant destination where I welcome all living and dying. Here I find that not only can I walk; I can fall – fall in love with a foreign homeland, where I am held as tenderly as a mother, a dog, or a beloved friend.


Reblogged from her blog

How to be soulful


“You have the need and the right to spend part of your life caring for your soul. It is not easy. You have to resist the demands of the work-oriented, often defensive, element in your psyche that measures life only in terms of output — how much you produce — not in terms of the quality of your life experiences. To be a soulful person means to go against all the pervasive, prove-yourself values of our culture and instead treasure what is unique and internal and valuable in yourself and your own personal evolution.”

– Jean Shinoda Bolen

This being human

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honorably.

He may be cleaning you out
For some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from the beyond.

~ Rumi


TOTALITY : “Every moment there is a possibility to be total. Whatsoever you are doing, be absorbed in it so utterly that the mind thinks nothing, is just there, is just a presence. And more and more totality will be coming. And the taste of totality will make you more and more capable of being total. And try to see when you are not total. Those are the moments which have to be dropped slowly, slowly. When you are not total, whenever you are in the head–thinking, brooding, calculating, cunning, clever–you are not total. Slowly, slowly slip out of those moments. It is just an old habit. Habits die hard. But they die certainly–if one persists, they die.”