Posted in grief, Raised Catholic

The Cyclical Nature of Grief

Yesterday, and old grief was triggered in me, along with all the symptoms that have come along with this grief – deep sorrow, rage, hatred, anxiety, panic, trembling, emotional and intellectual paralysis, nausea, upset stomach, etc.  When I found I could not even give words to what I was feeling, I turned to my blog archives and found exactly the words I needed to hear – the words that clearly articulated my grief and the loss surrounding this grief.  In this I have been reminded of how grief continues to come back around seeking another layer of healing.  Thank you those who shall remain nameless for inviting me into another layer of healing and to the gift of God’s healing presence. 

The Church That Turned Away from Me

(originally posted on Good Friday, 2015)

Copyright 2015  Lauri Ann Lumby

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For the past eight years, I have been fasting from the Eucharist.  To one on the outside looking in, I might be accused of turning away from my Church.  The opposite in fact is true.  It is the Church that turned away from me.

As a Vatican II Catholic, raised in a Vatican II Church, I have had a unique experience of Catholicism, markedly different from the generations that went before me.  I never experienced the Latin mass or was drilled on the Baltimore Catechism.  I attended Saturday evening folk mass accompanied by Kumbaya’s, Up, Up with People, and To Be Alive! Fish on Friday was reserved for Lent.  Ecumenical dialogue was encouraged and instead of Heaven being the privilege of Catholics only, the pearly gates stood open to all who lived in love. I was brought up with a rock n’ roll Jesus Christ Superstar who in his humanness pleaded to be released while weeping tears of blood at Gethsemane and to whom we desired to “see more clearly, love more dearly and follow more nearly,” as he danced around us in rainbow striped suspenders, sporting a Superman t-shirt.  Speaking out on matters of social injustice and working for peace; feeding the poor, clothing the naked and setting captives free was the understood responsibility of every person sitting in the pew.  Divine retribution and punishment had been left on the editing floor of the Holy See – along with indulgences; and even the unbaptized had a place in God’s loving kingdom. The only God I knew was the God of love. Jesus came to know this love and taught us how to love and was set up as the model and example of how every Christian was called to live.  We were called to be Jesus’ hands and heart through the unique charisms gifted to us by God’s Holy Spirit (sometimes even spoken of as a woman!).

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This is the Church I grew up in and the Church that I deeply loved.  Strengthening this bond was the mass that provided sanctuary and support for my inherently contemplative nature. Gothic arches, painted statues and stained glass windows serenaded by artistic soul.  And the stand up, kneel down, bow and sit of Catholic choreography nourished my need for a spirituality that was as much physical as it was emotional and intellectual. Devotion to Mary satisfied my need for a Divine Mother and the saints became my superheroes.

If I love my Church so much, you may be wondering why I have been fasting from the Eucharist?  What went wrong?  In short, it seems I took what I learned about God, Jesus and our Christian call too literally:

  • I believe in an unconditionally loving God, a Son that is both fully human and fully divine; the call to follow Jesus as an example of how to live my life and to be and do as he would in the world.
  • I love God above all else, my neighbor as myself and I consider ALL of humankind to be my neighbor.
  • I judge not (lest I be judged).
  • I pray for my enemies.
  • I try to forgive 70 times 7 times.
  • I pray without ceasing.
  • I feed the hungry.
  • I clothe the naked.
  • I give sight to the blind.
  • I set captives free.
  • And, I heal the sick.

Oshkosh WI 2/9/11: Photo by Jeannette Merten.

In the end, it was the last three actions that caused my Church to turn away from me.

After eight years in Catholic school and an equal number of years in academic and professional education and formation as a lay minister and spiritual director, I was guided by God to study hands-on-healing and Eastern Energy Medicine (Reiki). Out of this training and experience, God guided me further to develop a protocol through which people found healing from the spiritual wounds that separated them from God’s love, thereby healing them of their sin.  Right in line with Jesus’ teachings, right!? Apparently not, because the practices that I had learned and successfully applied were not “explicitly handed down by the Magesterium.”  I was challenged and confronted, hateful emails and letters were sent. I was accused of every nature of evil. Local bishops, fueled by the fear of the vocal minority, challenged my work and eventually handed down a prohibition calling it “witchcraft and sorcery,” in spite of my attempts to reason with and explain things to them.  Through this, I endured, but when I was attacked by a newly-appointed  pastor for a course in “Christian Zen” that I was sponsoring, who claimed it to be “outside Catholic teaching” and who identified Eastern practices as “dangerous,” I broke.  My heart was broken and my resolve with it.  The Church I had loved and out of whose embrace I had come to know God’s love – the Church who had called me to continue the work of Jesus – had betrayed me.  My gifts, my call, the unique way I had come to know God was no longer welcome. More than that, my ministry had been condemned as “dangerous,” “witchcraft and sorcery”….some even called it, “the work of the devil.”

ChristianZen.jpgOn that fateful autumn day, I listened beyond the voice of the fearful priest, the self-appointed inquisition, and even the Vatican II teachings that provided space for the ecumenical nature of the work I was doing and the unifying discussions that might arise out of this work.  I listened instead to the still, small voice of God within.  God’s voice was not small that day.  God spoke directly and loudly to my heart, “Lauri, you are my beloved daughter.  I have placed my word within your heart.  I have anointed you to be my servant.  Who will you obey?  Man or Me?”

Of course I chose God.

With God and the echoing support of Peter and the Apostles who similarly responded to the Church who turned away from them, “We must obey God rather than man, (Act 5: 29)” I handed over my keys and walked away.  Buoyed by God’s eternal promise of freedom, I knew that I could more freely do the work God had called me to absent the on-going scrutiny of the Church and the fearful minority.

Some would suggest that in leaving the Church I have also left behind my faith.  The opposite, in fact is true.  My faith has remained intact, and in truth, has been fortified.  I start every morning in prayer and meditation over the daily scripture.  Jesus is my constant companion, teacher and guide. I discern daily the ways in which I am being called to continue Jesus’ work in the world. I have seen the clear evidence of God at work through me as I witness the profound healing experienced by those who have become part of my ministry, and I am continually amazed at how God works through me to bring people more and more deeply into love and more closely connected to their own gifts and vocational call in the world.  I see the power of faith at work as I witness the empowerment experienced by those who come to me for counsel, attend my classes, read my writing and partake in my weekly services; and with each passing day my faith is strengthened and affirmed.

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Regarding the Church, I wish I could say that like Lot, I never looked back.  I find, instead, that I am more like Lot’s wife, forever gazing back in profound longing – grieving the loss of my home, my sanctuary, my community, my Church.  Beyond my own grief, however, I weep for my Church.  I long for the Church that I had come to know – one that is firmly rooted in the truth of God’s unconditional love and acting as that love in the world.  I long for a Church that works for unity and empowerment of all humankind – regardless of their gender, beliefs, or sexual orientation.  I long for a Church that is willing to set down its wealth and its power and get in the trenches with those who need its help – the hungry, the poor, the imprisoned, the fearful, the wounded and the broken. I long for the Church that takes Jesus’ example seriously by being humble, giving the seats of honor to those without honor and washing the feet of strangers.  I yearn for a Church that supports people in becoming self-actualized, mature disciples – fostering the psycho-spiritual growth of men, women and children so that they can find the God they have forgotten in their hearts, discover their own unique giftedness and vocational call and become empowered in the fulfillment and use of these gifts in service to the betterment of the world.  I long for a Church that recognizes the earth as holy and sacred and works to be a steward for the gifts God gave us so that all of humanity may not only survive but thrive.  I cry out to the Church to work for justice – justice for all – not only for those who “are Catholic in good standing.”  My heart yearns for a Church that welcomes ALL people to its table – inviting all to know the unconditional and infinite love that is their truest nature. This is the Church that I once knew and I often wonder what happened to that Church – or if all along it had really just been a figment of my imagination.

 

 

Lauri Ann Lumby, MATP is a published author, ordained interfaith minister, spiritual director and teacher.  She ministers to a world-wide audience, most of whom were raised Catholic but who were also turned away by the Church.  Lauri lives in Oshkosh, Wisconsin.  You can learn more about Lauri and her ministry at www.authenticfreedomacademy.com.

Posted in grief

Education in Wisconsin – Budget Cuts, Grief and Anxiety

Today’s blog goes out to all those men and women who are educators in the state of Wisconsin, and specifically to all my friends who are on the faculty and staff at the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh and the Oshkosh Area School District. All of these talented and hard-working men and women are suffering under the effects of recent legislative decisions, including a $250 million cut to the UW system. (Read the details HERE: http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/answer-sheet/wp/2015/07/13/gov-scott-walker-savages-wisconsin-public-education-in-new-budget/). Many will lose their jobs. Those who are chosen to remain will still have a job, but likely with a lower rate of pay, significantly reduced benefits and an ever-increasing workload. Schools will have to do more with a LOT less and everyone is afraid.

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I’m writing on this topic because I have been a part of several major institutions that have experienced similar traumas and I have seen the effects these kinds of losses have on an institution, most importantly, on its employees. While the administration may be skilled at making the difficult decisions about which programs need to go, where expenses can be reduced and where benefits can be shaved, they typically have no experience in addressing the “soft” issues of grief, anxiety and fear. This was recently confirmed for me when I offered my services as a grief and transitions expert to a local institution and was told (in so many words), “Thanks, we got this!” Based on the conversations I have had with various faculty and staff who related to me the deep grief they are feeling, the chaos that is unfolding, and the fear and anxiety that have now become part of the academic culture; No, you don’t “got this.”  The administration does not “got this” because, as is common in our culture, they have no knowledge of, or experience in dealing with grief or anxiety. Instead, they take the typical attitude of “get over it and move on.” This is NOT a helpful response to grief and anxiety especially when you desire productivity and effectiveness in your employees.

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The analogy I like to use when addressing budget cuts such as those currently facing Wisconsin schools is that these cuts are akin to receiving a cancer diagnosis. For those who will be impacted by these cuts (not likely to be the person in charge), the greatest and unspoken fear is that of death. In this case, that they will be without a job or that the salary for the job they retain will be greatly reduced forcing them into financial hardship. The second fear is that they will not be valued for the work they are doing. When professors have to fundraise for their own programs and research, or do the work of three professors, this greatly devalues their gifts, along with the experience and passion they once brought to the job. When these fears and their resulting grief are not acknowledged and tended to, the anxiety, fear and grief begin to come out sideways. Morale decreases. Apathy sets in. Productivity decreases and company loyalty is all-but eliminated. Soon the institution suffers a mass exodus of its greatest assets – its teaching staff.

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Perhaps this is what the academic institutions want – a mass exodus of their greatest assets so as to make their job easier. If people leave (in droves) of their own volition, the institution doesn’t have to make the difficult decisions of who or what to cut. I must believe, however, that this is not what our academic institutions want. I want to give educational institutions the benefit of the doubt in believing they do want to retain their quality staff and provide a supportive environment, in a difficult time, for those who choose to remain. If, this is true, then educational institutions need to be providing sound grief and transition support for their employees, faculty and staff; including training on how to manage the inherent anxiety of these kinds of transitions.

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Grief support provides effective tools for moving through the faces of grief including: denial, bargaining, depression/apathy, anger and sorrow and provides resources in helping the grieving manage their anxiety. Grief support gives individuals the tools for identifying grief when it shows up and effective means for dealing with that grief. Supporting the grieving process and giving people tools for managing anxiety clears the ground for the new life that is waiting to emerge on the other side of the loss. In the case of education the new life that will emerge will be more creative, efficient and cost-effective ways of providing a quality education for people of all ages. The question facing Wisconsin schools is, do they want to arrive at this new life the hard way by denying and ignoring the grief, anxiety and fear; or through the easier path by tending to their grief?  Only time will tell.

 

Posted in Authentic Freedom, Body/Mind/Spirit connection, Empowerment, grief, Spiritual Direction

Before Psychotherapy

Today’s blog explores the ancient mentoring practices that preceded modern-day psychotherapy, still exist today and in many ways are more effective than traditional therapy.

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Life before Freud

I know it is hard to believe, but psychology was not born with Sigmund Freud.  Neither did it only come to exist thanks in part to Greek philosophers.  I know this is what is what academia teaches as the roots of psychology, but there have been psychologists throughout human history – perhaps as far back as our human origins.  Before Freud, however, these remarkable women and men were not called psychologists, instead, they were called such things as spiritual director, teacher, abbott, abbess, priestess, priest, elder, medicine woman, medicine man, guru, oracle, and shaman.  Throughout human history there have been powerful women and men gifted and then trained to assist people in becoming their truest self and helping individuals to find healing and transformation from their inner ills.  Depression, anxiety, panic attacks, worry, grief, loss, vocational discernment, even physical maladies were tended to through these wise and gifted teachers.  These women and men held places of honor within their communities and their needs were provided for by the community in exchange for the generous sharing of their gifts.

What Happened?

In a person – Descartes.  With his masterful separation of God from reason and matter, mystery was divorced from science – so much so that anything of mystery came to be set aside or disregarded as something only for the ignorant and foolish.  With near surgical precision, the transcendent was excised from the treatment of the human person and in the Western world, the spiritual director, shaman, medicine woman and man lost their place and psychotherapy stepped in.

It All Comes Back Around

Not anymore.  People have grown frustrated with the limitations of traditional psychotherapy – and the medical model in general.  People are tired of being reduced to something that must be “scientifically verifiable.”  Women and men are looking for depth, meaning, fulfillment and wholeness and this can only be accomplished by reconnecting with mystery. While there is still an important place in our world for traditional psychotherapy, many are searching for more.

Authentic Freedom Mentoring

This is where Authentic Freedom mentoring comes in.  As a trained spiritual director and Reiki master, I have honed the necessary skills for leading people through the mystery and for empowering them to become self-actualized.  In doing this work, many of the everyday issues of anxiety, depression, panic attack, the effects of trauma and grief, are healed and released so that the individual is free to be their original self – the person God made them to be.  As there is no talk of God or mystery in traditional psychotherapy, this might not be the path for all – but it is an effective path for many – even those who consider themselves to be atheist – for even in atheism – the mystery remains.

Lauri Lumby is available for one-on-one mentoring over the phone, via Skype  and in person. To schedule a session call (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com. 

Click HERE to learn about being trained as an Authentic Freedom Facilitator or Mentor.

 

 

Posted in Being Human, Death, Forgiveness, grief

Permission NOT to be Enlightened when Grieving

Perfectionist and the quest for enlightenment

As a recovering perfectionist, the quest for “enlightenment” (ahem….perfection) has been high on my list of desired accomplishments. I’m nowhere near attaining that goal, but it is still on my wish list. Enlightened people are perfect you see….calm, cool, responsible, unflappable. Enlightened people have a high set of standards and they live by them.  Enlightened people are kind, thoughtful, forgiving, loving, generous, humble and patient.  All this is true of enlightened people…….except when they are grieving.  Here is how I learned this important truth.

Divine Irony

God is funny…..or, as my daughter says, “He just thinks he is.”  Just days before my aunt was rushed to the hospital and eventually gave in to the complications of COPD, I had embraced a forgiveness practice.  With a combination of the Ho’oponopono prayer and my own method of “praying for and loving my enemies,”  I was intentionally searching my consciousness for people toward whom I was still harboring resentment for past hurts, and surrounding other people who annoyed me or tempted my ire with love.  I was doing a pretty good job maintaining my practice and I was feeling really good about the love it seemed I was cultivating.  Then my aunt died and all hell broke loose.  Pretty soon I was ranting and raving over past hurts and casting dispersions toward anyone who ticked me off.  I found myself frequently rattling off the curse I have in the past saved for only the worst of the worst….”f….those f’ing…..f’ers.” (Yes….those on the quest for enlightenment use the F-word.) 🙂

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Permission to be human

As I’ve been witnessing my own regression, there were a few moments in which I was tempted to judge my behavior as bad, corrupt, imperfect and punish myself through self-condemnation and self- loathing.  Instead, I decided that when we are grieving, we all get a “Get out of jail free” card.  When grieving, we are allowed to be as human as we need to be to process the grief.  If in the midst of grieving the loss of my aunt I need to hate a few people, then so be it.  If I need to go on a rant about everything or nothing in particular, that is ok.  If I need to crawl into a ball on the floor and suck my thumb or pull out a full-on 2-year old temper tantrum, then more power to me.  And…..more power to you when you need to do the same.  When we are grieving, we don’t need to be enlightened, or perfect, or patient, or pleasant, or accommodating, or anything we don’t want to be.  When we are grieving, we have permission to be human…..to be vulnerable, afraid, anxious, worried, sorrowful, hurting, damaged, wounded, depressed, angry, hateful, etc. etc. etc.  And….thank God/dess, because when we are busy trying to be perfect, it is awful hard for us to receive the help, and love, and support of those who are here to comfort us in our grief.  If it were not for our humanness, we would not be able to receive the loving care of another human being which is one of the primary needs in our process of healing. And those who want to help us heal would not be able to share their gift of loving compassion.  When grieving, perfection and enlightenment can wait, we have grieving to do so that we can find healing and the new life on the other side of the loss.  When we have found a little healing, then we can return to the quest for perfection…or enlightenment…or ascension…..or whatever you want to call it…..or we can just go on being human.

 

Posted in Death, grief

A Little Lesson About Grief

As some of you know, I am currently traveling to Minneapolis to be with my family as we celebrate the life and love of my beloved Aunt, Patricia Evans Borg, who recently died from complications of COPD.  As I grieve the loss of my aunt and accompany my family (parents, cousins, siblings, my own children, other aunts and uncles) in mourning her death while celebrating her life, I have had an opportunity to learn a few lessons about grief. I share these lessons with you so that we all may have better tools for managing the losses of life.

Patricia Evans Borg November 25, 1939 - August 19, 2014
Patricia Evans Borg
November 25, 1939 – August 19, 2014

Lesson ONE – Grief Unacknowledged Comes Out Sideways

The news of Patricia’s imminent death came Sunday morning in an email.  She had been admitted into the hospital after going into respiratory arrest and being resuscitated.  She was on a ventilator and the prognosis was grim.  We were in the wait and watch period.  Soon, I found myself overwhelmed with anxiety, obsessive thoughts and compulsive planning.  I also found myself irritable, impatient, intolerant and even a bit angry.  I lost my temper with my son, snapped at my daughter and suddenly found myself obsessively worrying about money (unnecessarily so).  I looked at my calendar and realized the Universe had given me a few days off in the following week and decided I needed to make arrangements to go home to see Pat and be with my family.  I then felt peace.  Then my son asked me for something I wasn’t ready to give him and I lost my temper.  After losing my temper, I realized, “I’m sad about Pat.”  Then I apologized to my kids, shed some tears and acknowledged that I was grieving. Until I acknowledged my grief, it came out sideways in impatience, intolerance, frustration, anger, anxiety and all my typical expressions of anxiety.

Lesson Two – Grief Has Its Way with You

On Tuesday morning, I received the phone call that Pat had died.  SCREECH…..everything came to a stand still as my body and my spirit went into shock.  I couldn’t think straight.  I knew it was too early in the morning to contact family and find out more.  I sat down and tried to work and found I could not.  I thought about yoga and my heart said, “meh!”  I cried for a little bit.  Then I took a nap.  I felt numb and in a haze.  A couple hours later I had energy to get some necessary work done.  Then I needed another nap.  I called my kids to tell them the news and I cried.  I tried to eat and couldn’t.  I tried to force myself to at least accomplish the pieces related to the Virtual Church service for this week and couldn’t.  I decided, as “Pastor and Spiritual Director,” I had the freedom to excuse myself from this task on account of death.  Then I watched What Dreams May Come, and cried and laughed, and mourned not only my aunt’s death, but that of Robin Williams.  In all of this – paralysis, sadness, exhaustion, shock, foggy haze, lack of motivation, and sudden spurts of productive energy, I was reminded that in grief….WE ARE NOT IN CHARGE!  Instead, it is grief that is driving the bus.  Grief has its way with us…in its own way…in its own time.

Lesson Three – the importance of storytelling

After I lost my sh.t on my kids (as the grief was still coming out sideways), and after I acknowledged my grief and shed a few tears, my children spontaneously joined me at the dining room table and started telling their stories about Auntie Pat.  “Mom, remember that hilarious and awesome outfit she wore for Halloween that one year?”  “Mom, I love the time when Pat … I love the story Pat told us about…Mom, what was Auntie Pat like when you were young?”  The stories went on and on as we shared the many loving memories we had of our Auntie Pat.  I was acutely aware as we were sharing our stories, the healing power of narrative.  In remembering Pat, we were remembering her love, and finding healing through these shared and sometimes new memories.

Lesson Four – New Grief Brings Up Old Grief

As I have been grieving Pat’s death, I found past situations of loss reappearing.  In particular, I found myself overcome with anger and resentment over past relationship in which I had experience hurt and subsequent loss.  I found myself ranting and raving about “so-and-so” who had hurt, slighted, or insulted me in some way.  In the middle of day three of ranting, I suddenly realized, “Oh yeah….I’m grieving….here is the anger stage of grief….but instead of being angry at Pat, or about Pat, it is showing up in other unhealed losses.”  When I shared this observation with my daughter, she said, “Well, that would explain when I was sad about ….., that angry thoughts of … showed up.”  Who knew???  New grief brings up old grief.  My guess would be that the purpose of this is that new layers of healing can now be accomplished related to both (or all) experiences of loss.  HMMMMM

In Conclusion

Grief is the amazing and miraculous way in which we process the inevitable losses of the human condition and through which we find healing from these losses.  Grief is not something to be suppressed or ignored, but something to embrace, especially if we want healing from the pain of loss.  In a culture that tells us to “get over it…and move on,” it is ever more important to RE-LEARN the lessons about grief that were known by our ancestors and somehow forgotten in our quest to be “intelligent and rational” beings.  Grief belongs to all of us and the more we try to resist or suppress it, the more it will hound us.  So instead of resisting or suppressing grief, my invitation to all of us is to risk being vulnerable enough to grieve….and when we grieve, to grieve big so that we can find the new life that is promised on the other side of the loss.

 

Posted in church, grief, Surrender

Emergent Church – The Call for Compassion and Surrender

Today’s blog continues the discussion about Emergent Church – inspired by Phyllis Tickle’s book The Great Emergence. In Tuesday’s blog, I spoke specifically about the role and challenge of the innovators/prophets who have been gifted with the vision and feeling of the new way of being Church that is trying to be born into our world, and who have been commissioned to carry and bring forth this vision.  Today, I want to offer a show of compassion for the traditionalists, or as Phyllis Tickle calls them, the “re-traditioners” who are frightened of and therefore resist to this change.

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Greater even than the fear of dying is the fear of change

The re-traditioners, as Phyllis Tickle calls them, are those who are happy, content and comfortable with the model of Church as it currently exists.  The re-traditioners are made up of people in the pew (because they are still going to church) and those in leadership – specifically deacons, brothers, priests, pastors, ministers, bishops, popes, and even some of the women religious. Often, re-traditioners are those who have benefitted from the current model of being Church and who might actually have something to lose should things change.  Some have simply never been called to question the current model of Church and would rather not rock the boat.  “Why fix what isn’t broke?” they might ask.  The problem is that the current model of Church is broke, and many, fearing what a change in the Church might mean for them, choose denial as a way of managing the grief that threatens to overwhelm them over the thought of change.  For you see, even greater than death, human beings fear change.

Holding out for more celibate priests

Here is a case in point.  I remember years ago, when I was asked to be our parish representative in local discussions on how to deal with the Catholic priest vocation crisis.  As a group, we were charged with the task of figuring out how to manage six Catholic parishes with only two priests, and eventually how to manage them with only one priest – as these were the priestly vocation projections for the next ten years.  As an innovator, the solution was obvious to me – close four parishes and eventually all but one and hire lay ministers to staff non-sacramental duties.  While participating in these meetings, I was flabbergasted by the power of denial as I listened to the response to our task by several of the parish representatives present, “We’re sure priestly vocations will turn around, and we won’t need to worry about closure.”  Instead of entering into a discussion about practical solutions based on the cold, hard facts of declining priestly vocations AND declining church attendance, they chose to bury their head in the sand.  My compassion understands that what was really at work here was not ignorance, but grief – these re-traditioners were afraid of the impending change that would dramatically alter the experience of Church through which they had found comfort, predictability and safety.  The world, as they had come to know it, was about to change – dramatically.

Confronting our fear of change

We are facing a similar experience today as we stand in the tension between the Church as it has been known and the new way of being Church that is trying to be born in our world.  The innovators can’t wait for the new Church to be born and the re-traditions are hanging on with all their might to what they have known.  What often happens in the face of this kind of tension is one side projecting their fear onto the other thereby creating enemies where enemies do not really exist. I know this has been done to me, and that I, in turn, have done this toward “the other.”  It doesn’t have to happen this way, however. In the face of this transition, we can turn it into a tug of war – each side battling for power as the Church and its people get torn to shreds (which I’ve seen happen WAY too many times) – or we can:

1) Acknowledge our fears

2) Do something about them

For the re-traditioners, this will be about naming and claiming their fear of change and communicating this fear to those around them, and then allowing themselves space to grieve this loss.  For the innovators, it is about naming our fear of not being heard and of things not changing quickly enough.  For both of us, it is about sitting around the table and being present to each other’s fears and holding each other in compassion and love while the Church changes before us.

We Are Not in Charge

Here then is the trickiest part of emerging Church – WE ARE NOT IN CHARGE!  It is GOD who is calling forth this change – not us.  And this is a difficult pill to swallow for re-traditioners AND innovators alike – because ultimately, as human beings, we all want to be in charge and in control.  Instead, we are ALL invited to get out of the way so that the Church God wants to be born can be brought forth into the world – not according to our personal agenda’s, but according to God’s will.  And in this, our prayer is the very same prayer that Jesus prayed in the face of his own death, “Not my will, but Thy will be done.”

Posted in grief, Midlife Journey

Revisiting Old Wounds

As we enter into the holiday season, it is important to be mindful that while this is a time of celebration, for many, holidays stir up old sorrow, old wounds and feelings of loneliness. This is also true of the midlife journey.  As our Soul tries to be awakened and birthed through us, it brings to the surface old wounds in search of another layer of healing.  Today’s blog presents a strategy for dealing with these old wounds when they come to call.

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Resurfacing

Last night, after a beautiful afternoon and evening of celebrating Thanksgiving with family and friends, I suddenly found myself feeling sad.  Then, as I slept, I found my dreams troubled by stories of frustration, heartache and sorrow.  Upon risinng, I realized the source of this sorrow and the troubling dreams.  A deep, and apparently as yet unhealed wound/loss had come to pay me a visit.  The resurfacing of this wound, I realized, was so that another layer of healing could take place.  My job, was to allow myself to acknowledge the wound and then to make time in which I could grieve another layer of this loss.

Midlife and Holidays

We have been speaking much about the midlife journey – the process through which our Soul seeks to be born and through which we have an opportunity to discovery the uniquely creative way in which we have been gifted to realize peace, love, joy and fulfillment in our lives and through which we are empowered to contribute to the betterment of the world. During the midlife transition, it is common for old wounds, hurts, losses, disappointments, betrayals, perceived failures to resurface.  The intention of this resurfacing is so that we can find another layer of healing and release from the pain that might otherwise hold us back from the birth of our greatest potential.  This resurfacing is especially acute during the holiday season and is not limited to those in midlife.  Again, this resurfacing is not there to harm us, but to give us another opportunity for deeper healing.  Our job is to allow the healing to take place.

Strategies for Dealing with Holiday and Midlife Pain

In a word:  GRIEVE.  When old pains, ancient losses, past betrayals resurface and we experience the memories and emotions related to these situations, we need to grieve.  And the healthiest and most effective ways we can move through this grief is to provide a space in our lives in which we can grieve, and then we must grieve.  These old wounds are here because they are ready for another layer of healing and the best way we can heal these losses is to be present to them and accept whatever face of grief shows up in the face of these losses:  sadness, depression, anger, maybe even denial and bargaining.  The greatest thing we can do for ourselves is recognize that we have been hurt, that we are grieving and then allow ourselves to stay in bed for a day, find a healthy way to channel or express our anger, or maybe even spending part of a day obsessing about the past hurt and working out plans for how is wouldda couldda shouldda been different.  Then, once we have engaged in all the external symptoms of grief, we need to make room for the real emotion of loss – sadness and we need to cry, or at the very least, allow ourselves to feel and be present to our sadness.  In this way, we are taking care of ourselves.  We are honoring our loss and we are allowing ourselves to heal.  And, if the pain becomes too great, seek outside help and support in the form of a good friend, loved one, counselor, spiritual director or Anam Cara (soul friend.).  The most important thing to know is that you do not need to bear this pain alone.  And if you are a person of prayer, always remember to turn to the God of your understanding for help and support in times of grief.

Lauri Lumby provides support for men and women moving through the midlife journey and moving through the pain of loss.  To set up a one-on-one session, call Lauri at (920) 230-1313 or email lauri@yourspiritualtruth.com.

Posted in detachment, grief, Lessons, Surrender

Election Results

Made you look!  Today’s blog only has a little bit to do with the results of the presidential election and much more to do with how to maintain peace in the midst of what we might not want.

Obama Wins

As a bleeding-heart, liberal, democrat, I am pleased with the results of yesterday’s presidential election.  At least 40% of the US population and over 50% of the House of Representatives are not, however,  happy with these results.  With the make-up of Democrats vs. Republicans in the House and the Senate, President Obama will once again have his work cut out for him.  Posing an even bigger challenge will be the fact that many of our political leaders are no longer working with the best interests of the collective in mind, but instead work for the special interest groups and lobbyists that pad their pockets and fund their elections.  While Barack Obama has succeeded in winning this race, he might once again face a losing battle in accomplishing anything of meaning or value to the American people as policy change gets thwarted by bi-partisan politics.  Regardless of what may or may not happen in the forty-eight months ahead, today, there are many people who will be disappointed, frustrated and angry over the results of yesterday’s elections and even more who will be frustrated, angry and disappointed over the inability of our current form of government to affect positive change that is truly for the good of the people.  But, as I suggested in my August 12th blog, Elections and a Disturbance in the Force, the results of yesterday’s elections has nothing to bear on our ability to move forward with our lives enjoying peace, contentment, love and joy.

Timely Wisdom

I found confirmation of this truth while enjoying my morning meditation.  As usual, I begin by reading the daily scripture readings, then continue by listening to and sometimes singing sacred chant, ending in silence with maybe a little journaling to round things off.  In the first scripture reading, Paul had this to say to the Philippians:

Do everything without grumbling or questioning, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation.

Philippians 2

These words certainly apply to our response to yesterday’s election results – if we are not happy about the results, let’s not grumble about it, complain, throw stones, cast dispersions…instead….let’s move on and look toward how we can make the best of the situation.  For those happy with the results and who will become later frustrated by that battles that are sure to continue between parties and interest groups, again, let us not grumble, complain, throw stones, cast dispersions…instead….let’s move on and make the best of the situation.

Applying this to our everyday lives

The results of yesterday’s elections and the path ahead are but a drop of water in the pond of challenges that we face in our everyday lives.  What happens in Washington truly has little to bear on the day-to-day struggles that we face – death, job loss, illness, aging, unemployment, underemployment, divorce, heartbreak, children growing up and moving away, business failure, unfulfilling jobs and relationships, injuries, physical, emotional, mental, verbal and sexual abuse, assault, natural disasters, crop failures, etc. etc. etc.  No matter what happens in Washington, we will still face these challenges.  People we love will die.  We will find ourselves in unfulfilling and seemingly meaningless jobs.  We will age and experience illness.  Our businesses will fail.  Our hearts will be broken.  While it is appropriate and important to grieve these losses and disappointments, it is equally important to remember that the end result of healthy grief is ACCEPTANCE. It is in grieving the loss and finding acceptance that we once again know peace.  This peace is what Paul is inviting us to enjoy in the reading above.  Political races are lost. We don’t always get what we want.  We become frustrated when our efforts fall short.  Bad things happen to good people.  And…..in the midst of all of this is the promise of peace. As Paul says, this peace is found not in the grumbling, complaining or questioning, but is instead found in acceptance of what is and in trusting that this too is in the highest good, no matter what it might look like right now.

Lauri Lumby

http://yourspiritualtruth.com

Posted in Death, grief

Eulogy for Obi Wan

Today’s blog is about death. 

The Passing of a Friend

On Monday morning, a dear friend of mine died.  At 44 years young, he was too young to die.  And yet, in his 44 years, he touched the lives and hearts of countless people, not the least of which are the hearts and lives of his wife and children, brothers and sisters, mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, in-laws, etc. etc. etc. There are no words that can give expression to or adequately honor the untimely death of a great man.  There are no words that can give reason or explanation to a tragedy such as this.  The sad thing is that quite simply….life….and death….happen.  It was surely NOT “his time.”  Neither could it possibly be God’s will to take such an amazing man from this world…or worse…to deprive his family of his presence and his love.  My God is not that cruel.  There are no words that can comfort his family at this time of devastating loss.  They will miss him and there will always be a hole in their hearts where he dwelt.  And time does not heal all wounds.   I cannot wrap my brain (or my heart) around this death, I can’t imagine the expanse around which the family will have to wrap their minds and their hearts. But the one thing I hold on to during times such as these is the idea of a God who loves and who always holds us in God’s loving embrace and that even in the most ridiculous of deaths…there is the promise of new life.  We don’t know the new life yet….but as we allow ourselves to be present to our grief….as we allow ourselves to mourn, to wail, to keen, to get really angry at an unfair Universe and perhaps even at an unfair God…..as we allow ourselves to grieve, new life will be revealed.

Eulogy for Obi Wan

I had the fantastic fortune of meeting this great man through a business networking group and in becoming a client, I discovered in him a man of remarkable integrity, honesty, generosity, compassion and humor.  He was passionate about many things and we discovered through our professional relationship, a shared passion for all things GEEK – Science Fiction, Fantasy, Renaissance Festivals and most importantly – STAR WARS.  Because he bore a remarkable resemblance to Ewan McGregor as the young Obi Wan Kenobi, I affectionately called him  “Obi-Wan” and he frequently received from me email, text and phone messages relating to his area of expertise which read “Help us Obi-Wan, you are our only hope!”  As I pen this in honor of my friend, I am still in shock…surely the rumors of his death must be greatly exaggerated.  But sadly, he has indeed passed beyond this world and I know that he is now fully reunited with “The Force” (another word for God)….as the Force was always strong in that one.   While we may no longer experience the physical presence of our friend and while it may seem as if he has retreated to a Galaxy Far Far Away…his Spirit will always be with us and it is our job to look for him…to look for him in the smile of a stranger, to remember him in the generosity of a friend, to know him in the encouraging words of an acquaintance, to look for him in those strange coincidences and synchronicities that let us know that he is right here, walking beside us.  So as we bid adieu to our dear friend, and embrace each other in our grief, let us also remember that Obi-Wan is as near to us as our very breath because in the Love of God, we are never separate…we are always one.  He has not left us, he has simply taken another form….a form that in many ways, is more intimate than life itself.

Obi-wan, we will miss you….I will miss you….and my heart goes out to those you have left behind…especially your wife and children who are also too young to be losing their husband and father.  And my prayer for them is that they know the comfort of family and friends, find consolation in their prayer and that they experience your loving presence in the silent places of their hearts where your love still dwells.

Obi-Wan, as the Force is with you….may it also be with them.

Lauri

Posted in Being Human, Enneagram, grief, Inspiration

Seeking the Inner Gem – from Perfectionist to the Muse

Practically Perfect in Every Way!

For the first 45 years of my life, I tried to be perfect.  Apparently the next 45 are about learning to be human.  My innate, inner perfectionist offers a sigh of resignation and frustration over this awareness.  SIGH.  While a student in the Commissioned Lay Ministry program I was introduced to a profound spiritual tool called The Enneagram.  Through the assessment and careful discernment with our program director, it was determined that I am a Type 1 on the Enneagram – the Perfectionist.  This fit in perfectly with the attitude I had embraced for my entire life up to that point – I had to be perfect.  As Mary Poppins (still my all-time favorite Disney movie!) would say, “Practically perfect in every way.”  This perfectionist manifested in every situation in my life, most especially in the world of emotions – as a perfectionist, emotions were not allowed – with one exception.

Resentment and Anger

While still living as a perfectionist, I only knew only two emotions – resentment and anger.  These were the only tools I had to deal with issues of loss, disappointment, rejection, transition and change.  When things didn’t go my way – rage.  When I felt rejected or undervalued – resentment.  When I experienced a loss – anger.  While these emotions in and of themselves are not bad, for a perfectionist who can only be perfect, these emotions presented an additional challenge – GUILT, SELF-LOATHING and SHAME.  One who is angry, resentful, rage-filled is not in any way perfect.  So, wags the finger of the inner critic shaming and blaming me for not being perfect.  ARGH!  It is a vicious cycle to be sure.  One thing I learned about the Type 1 on the Enneagram is that rage and anger become our ego-fixation.  Harboring, cultivating, nurturing resentment and anger creates a vicious downward spiral of separation (from self and others) and self-loathing.  BLECH

Waking up?

Somewhere along the line, I woke up.  Rather, the Universe woke me up in the form of a significant loss that happened in close proximity to a trauma and post-partum.  Suddenly, my anger and rage became the paralysis of depression.  I sought help through a therapist and my Spiritual Director and it became apparent that I had a lifetime of grief that needed to be processed, released and healed and that in order to process this grief, I would need to be present to my true feelings.  Suddenly, the Talbot’s attired, tied up tight, in control, master of my destiny Lauri toppled to the ground and a new Lauri had to be born…one that could be vulnerable, have feelings, experience pain, loss, disappointment.  Once this was identified, the dam burst and I was flooded with real life.  YIKES!

The Martyr and the Muse

In using the Enneagram as a tool for spiritual transformation, we learn about our Point of Disintegration and The Inner Gem.  Ironically, they are one and the same.  When the Perfectionist is deeply imbedded in our compulsion, we gravitate toward our point of disintegration – Type 4 on the Enneagram, here referred to as The Martyr.  The Martyr is the suffering, woeful, hopeless romantic.  “Oh woe is me, I am doomed, no one understands me and no one will ever love me.”  Over the course of my life as a perfectionist, I have become well acquainted with the Martyr.  The martyr feels EVERYTHING in spades – every slight, every criticism, every sideways glance, every perceived rejection as daggers to the heart.  We are mortally wounded (or so we think) by the slings and arrows of life.  Everything feels like an attack against us and our gifts.  What we don’t yet know, however, is that hidden within our Inner Moaning Myrtle, is the MUSE and that this is the Inner Gem we are invited to seek, discover, cultivate and embrace.  The Muse is he or she who FEELS the ups and downs of life, who experiences the fullness of emotions and who gives creative expression to these emotional life experiences so that others may be inspired, comforted, healed, challenged, empowered.  The difference between the Martyr and the Muse is that the Martyr is overcome by the emotions that they feel, the Muse is present to their essential quality of Equanimity  – able to journey through the peaks and valleys of the human experience gracefully and no worse for wear.

Still Learning

I am acutely aware of this dance between the martyr and the muse as I process a recent and significant loss.  On one hand, bombarded by the chaotic and unpredictable journey of grief, I feel compelled to crawl into a corner of victimhood – O Woe is Me….nobody loves me.  On the other hand, I am inspired to see what it looks like to allow myself to feel – to be present to the grief and to employ the gifts of my inner muse to give creative expression to that journey – perhaps with the intent of inspiring and supporting others one day.  At any rate, I still feel as if I am learning….trying to silence the inner voices of rejection and shame and simply be present to the loss.  To cry.  To rage.  To bargain.  To deny.  And to write to it all.  I’m hoping that in doing this, my Moaning Myrtle becomes magnificent, beautiful and inspiring like one of my favorite Type 4’s – Sarah McLachlan.  And as her songs have brought healing to my broken heart, maybe one day my poems will do the same for another.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9dADn6KDS-s&feature=related