The Box of Fear & Why I Believe We All Must Find Our Own “Religion”

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I  have recently received an email from a friend I met years ago at a metaphysical class. We were both searching and seeking a deeper understanding of life, like all who are drawn to unravel the mysteries. Now, she has turned to religion, following the urgings of a man she loves. I am not surprised, but there is a sadness to her desperation to be loved and accepted into a secure form of life.

In her email, my friend urged me, and the rest of the group of friends to which she sent the email, to follow her path as a born-again Christian so that our souls, like hers, could be saved. She has labeled us as “New Age,” a label I have never tried to own.

I don’t care for labels, and this one I find offensive and incorrect. Although I cannot speak for the others in the group, I consider myself a spiritual being who seeks, in each moment, to heed the inner voice of truth that aligns with the core Truths of being. I do not follow one guru, or worship within the confines of one sect. I simply try my best to live a life in alignment with love.

If that makes me a sinner in some eyes, so be it. Yet, it troubles me that is should be so. Perhaps, in some ways, I am fortunate to have not been raised in what feels like the confines of a particular set of beliefs. As the child of agnostic parents who leaned toward atheism, I had to find my own spirituality in my search for inner peace and wellbeing.

I can recall many sleepless nights lying in bed wondering if my last breath would lead to my oblivion. I would wonder if my life was meaningless as a mere conglomeration of cells adhered into a body with an intelligent brain that allowed me to think both rational and irrational thoughts.

It was only when I started to think beyond the confines of my brain, and stepped into the realm of the heart, that I found a home that stretched beyond walls into the vast expanse of being. My path has lead me to explore many teachings, which all possess the same core of truths. The yoga sutras, which predate all religions, echo the words of the oldest Egyptian texts. The furthest back you go, the more threads of common truths you find. This, to me, feels like home.

Yet, it is not my place to judge another’s beliefs, nor to where they feel most at home. We are, in essence, all searching for belonging. But, do we have a right to label others as incorrect and ask them to follow the way we have chosen? This troubles me. It reminds me that we are still fighting wars and killing each other because of our spiritual beliefs, the color of our skin, and the sexual physiology and orientation of our bodies. This is not okay.

The need to destroy and convert are premised upon fear, not love. At the core of all religions and spiritual teachings, from what I have found, is Love. That is all. Love. It is a calling to find home in the knowing that we are all born from and a part of Love, which unites all life. When I breath into the stillness of being that is what I find. It fills me with a connection not only to myself, but to all life. It reminds me that I am not above or below anyone else, I am simply a part of all life. That, to me, is enough. It is a coming home.

Three Weeks With Millie: A Lesson in Fear, Trust & Love

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Mille at nine weeks

We’ve had Millie now for three weeks and one day, to be precise. Millie came into our lives when she was just nine-weeks-old. It wasn’t a spontaneous decision. The four of us had been discussing what we would do once our terminally ill, 19-year-old feline companion Penny had passed. We knew our 11-year-old cat, Yoda, would miss his sister, but we also knew that the cats and the dogs in our house had chosen to live separately since we had welcomed our dog Daisy, and then two years later, Rosy, into our lives.

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Zelda & Millie after two weeks together

Three-and-a-half years ago, after our beloved Daisy passed, we adopted Zelda. We didn’t know how Zelda would respond to our two cats who had long ago established their separate space inside and outside the house. Being a rescued dog with an unknown past, Zelda soon decided she would stick by her new “mom” wherever I went, which included into the cats’ space. Often Yoda and Penny would scoot outside their cat door when they saw Zelda, but not always. Over time they learned to walk around together and mostly leave each other alone. If they felt threatened by Zelda’s presence they would give her a quick swat to the nose, hiss and run away. Rosy, rarely dared venture into their space.

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Zelda trying to figure out how to lick the plate around Millie

Adopting a nine-week-old kitten, though, felt like an offer of sacrifice. What was I thinking? I often asked myself over the course of the next two weeks. There were days when I felt like we had brought home a live meal for the dogs, and the stories well-intended friends were telling me about kittens murdered by their canine companions certainly were not helping to assuage my fears. I knew this would be a test in more ways than one. . .

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Our tiny and fearless Millie

And did I mention how tiny Millie was when we brought her home? About the size of a chipmunk, an animal that both Rosy and Zelda tried to chase and capture any chance they got. What were we thinking? What was I thinking? After all, I was the one who would be in charge of Millie’s care for the majority of the time.

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Mille atop the stairs to the healing space where I assist others in letting go of their fears

The first two weeks seemed to test every fear my cells were holding onto. I feared for Millie’s life like a mother fears for her child’s. What will I do if they kill her? This thought filled my mind more times than I cared to count. I was, I realized, living my days on the edge of fear. Until I began to let go…

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Mille the ever-curious kitten

The first time Zelda lunged at Millie, I thought she was trying to eat her. The second time it happened, I thought maybe she was jealous. The third time she tried to intercede, I thought maybe she wanted to play. By the forth time I realized the miracle for what it was. Instead of trying to protect me, or something worse, Zelda was trying to protect her Millie.

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Zelda and her Millie

I’m not going to tell you the fear has entirely disappeared now that Millie’s been here for just over three weeks, has grown to the size of a small squirrel, and now snuggles up next to her dog sister Zelda on the couch when she wants to nap, and bites her ankles when she wants to play. I still don’t leave the dogs and the kitten alone together for more than a couple of minutes at a time, but I am learning to trust in what feels like a miracle to me. That one tiny cat named Millie, so filled with love and trust, can bring a harmony to our house that I never knew would be possible.

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Sisters 

As I write this, I can hear Zelda snoring on the couch in the other room beside Millie. Rosy isn’t too far away, but for now Zelda has decided that Rosy isn’t quite ready to be beside Mille, and Rosy doesn’t seem to care all that much. A sense of peace has settled into my body, reaching its hands into the corners that once held fear. Anything seems more possible now. Outside the sun shines through autumn leaves and in this ever-turning cycle of life and death that we are all a part of I feel the deeper harmony of balance beneath the outer fears we are collectively holding onto. If this little world inside my house filled with different species with different backgrounds can coexist in a harmonious state premised upon love and trust, maybe, just maybe, we can find that place in the larger world around all of us and realize that core that binds us all together. That core we call Love.

What lies beyond fear

Two nights ago, I dreamed about disappearing. I was focused only upon point eight on a triangle, and each time I stepped on it, I would disappear. Over and over again, I stepped and disappeared, as the night progressed. Where I went, I cannot tell you, only that it was not of this world. Of this I was sure. Point eight was a portal. A seemingly impossible point on a three-sided triangle that opened the gateway to another realm. It was only when I woke, and the rational mind took over, that I questioned my journey.

A triangle has three points, and not eight.

Or is that the point? Can it be a coincidence that I was sure I was on point eight each time I woke? That each time I was pulled back, the number of infinity lingered inside of my mind, as well as the brilliant white light of the point on the triangle?

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Image courtesy of Pixabay

Last night, or rather this morning, I dreamt of waves. I stood before an ocean of water, which grew with each pulse. I stood with fear.

Come and get me, I told it. I am not afraid of you. 

Over and over again the water threatened to over-take me.

Go ahead, I told it, I am not afraid.

The final surge of blue loomed above me and lingered as though daring me to observe its power. Asking me to look at the full force of what I had dared the water to bring to me. So I looked. With my eyes I travel the mountain of liquid blue until it crested into a wave several feet above my head. Here I looked into the center, which swirled into an eye. There’s the portal, I realized. Go ahead, take me inside.

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Image Courtesy of Pixaby

 

The Raven Spirit

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

Since my visit to the Nest, I have felt haunted. There is a restlessness inside of me; one which my rational mind has tried to reason with. If you were meant to be there, you’d be there. You have work to do here, it tells me. The work often seems illusive as I try to focus past the longing and stay in the moment of present time and space. The tears of frustration, I allow to escape when I am alone. I tell myself I am content to stay in a place that has never felt like home, but it comes with the condition of  purpose. I have learned a lot about myself in these three weeks. For one thing, I quite like the idea of having a clearly defined purpose. A purpose that I can act upon at any moment, unwavering and steadfast. Being idle and directionless does not appeal to me, and so I am in the midst of a great test.

The raven, though, is ever-present. This guide who has come into my life, and who has perhaps been there much longer than I have noticed. When the mind becomes quiet, though, the raven appears. It tells me, Open your eyes. Remember. The land is alive everywhere. The only division is inside of the mind. There is magic everywhere. Find it!

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Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

The curved black beak of the raven opens to eat doubt and fear. Its head turns to look, making sure I see how the flesh is stripped from the bones of the dead until only the core remains. It is ruthless in its devouring. The raven holds no mercy for the weak and wavering. Death, to the raven, is a necessary passage to Life.

Don’t be ridiculous, it tells me. Of course you know why you are here. You’ve always known. 

And so I relent. Allowing its fierce beak to devour the skin of the old self, while my cells stir into rebirth. Death is rarely a pleasant event, but the more one relinquishes the hold on the old, the easier it is to endure.