I love being a witness. I’ve always enjoyed watching people and in my later life watching myself, often without agenda and with a sense of delight in what it brings.
Rev. Michael Beckwith, whom I often quote, talked about being in public places and having the realization of our Oneness with God, saying that he felt connected to all those people and delighted in it. I remember being in the Oakland airport some years ago and having that same sensation, it affirmed what he had said, I loved it.
Last Sunday evening, Sherry Vierra, a Practitioner and member of our Sunday Evening Explorations team, facilitated a conversation about the stories that we have and held on to, about our lives, about others and the world. I know I have carefully crafted a few of those stories in my day. Of course I am exaggerating when I say a few.
I recently watched “The Secret Life of Bees”. It was full of stories of pain and struggle along with an overwhelming display of the power of goodness, faith, love, transformation and redemption.
In the movie, a white teenage girl runs away from her abusive father and taking along her black housekeeper, who had just been beaten up by an apparent racist.
They travel some distance and find a house that is occupied by a family of black women, who are sisters, who take them in, give them food and shelter, along with jobs for them to do and a sense of belonging. As time goes by, the stories of these characters come to the fore and in particular, the teenage girl known as Lili.
Lili accidentally shot her mother when she was 4 years old and the story, that was generated by her abusive father, was that her Mother didn’t love her. Not only was Lili carrying a massive amount of guilt and shame around the accident, she was convinced that she was not loved or lovable. I won’t share the reveal, I invite you to watch the movie.
As I watched this story unfold, I cried, which is common for me, as there was heartbreak here. I remembered all the past stories I have had about not being loved or lovable. My decades of guilt and shame around my son Rob’s accident. In the midst of the remembrance, in the midst of witnessing the pain in the lives of these characters, I realized that my tears were not about identifying these stories in me now, it was about my empathy for all those who are locked in their stories of not being loved, not being worthy of love, not being lovable. The many people who are carrying crippling guilt and shame from their past.
As I witnessed my feelings, I noticed something different going on inside my mind, a feeling in my awareness. I realized I was no longer dredging up my old wounds, not identifying with the women on the screen. I was realizing that those old stories didn’t apply to me anymore, they had no power. From time to time, I’ve had thoughts and memories that take me back and yet, the power of the old story does not bring me to the painful experience again, it no longer brings me to my knees, it has stopped imprisoning me. It brings me to the present, where the power, that the story used to have on and over me, is absent. Glory be to God.
I used to ask myself, how much evidence do I need to show me that I am free, that I’m loved, that I’ve been forgiven. As I now find myself basking in this experience from time to time, I also continue to welcome and receive tons of evidence of all this right here, right now, My new story is that my liberation has always been available, I had to release the story. Choice is a wonderful thing, I invite you to exercise it in your own life.
Invitation: I invite you to entertain the possibility that the liberation of your heart, mind, body and soul is available to you here and now. My experience is that it is a process. Trust me, it’s worth it.
“As we come to surrender all littleness, and all fear and doubt, the great river of life flowing from the Mind of God will renew our vigor, remake our strength, ennoble our being, heal our bodies, and bring peace to our hearts.” Ernest Holmes
“Every human has four endowments – self awareness, conscience, independent will and creative imagination. These give us the ultimate human freedom… The power to choose, to respond, to change.”