Showing posts with label carmel heart media. Show all posts
Showing posts with label carmel heart media. Show all posts

6 Jul 2013

The Creativeness of Death

I rarely dream, but last night I dreamt that I was worried that a room in a house might be on fire. The room belonged to someone I worried about a lot, who had been perplexing me. I was worried he would burn the whole house down. Instead, someone showed me what was really going on inside. There was a large cylinder filled with liquid. Sparks were coming out of it, like electricity, which had only looked like fire. Inside, there was an animated skeleton at a workbench building other skeletons out of bones.

Usually in dreams, it helps to look at a "first feeling" and a "first association" in order to find out how the dream may speak to us. My first feeling was awe and happy surprise in the cleverness and originality. Also, relief that the "fire" was contained and no danger. My first association was of the "culture of death." Seems such a paradox- creative activity as the dead create more dead. Yet, this is what goes on in the majority of society today. That's what's happening in the "mass mind" of American culture.

It was not a "black and white" image, but animated with many facets of human experience. Unlike what Jesus said, "Let the dead bury the dead," the dead are creating the dead- They are using their creative power, the power of life, to create more death. The sad thing is how very few people see what's really going on.

For those of us on the outside, our first reaction is often alarm. We genuinely fear for the well-being of people because of the self-destructiveness that often results from "life" in the culture of death. We don't want to lose our friends and family members. The truth is that if we can be mindful of the emotion of fear and detach from it, it is possible to see how people are creating beauty from the "bare bones" of life.  Just because someone is a part of the "culture of death" does not mean they don't also have those amazing sparks of life in them. It's on a continuum, not a case of "us and them."

When I wrote Borderline and Beyond, I had the same emotions as the ones I had in the dream. Basically, I backed up from the train wreck of my life and saw the beauty in the worst of circumstances. My ability to write and produce art slowly helped me find my way out of the darkness that threatened to destroy me. We need to hold on to and nurture those strengths. If we are to help those who are struggling and lost, we should show them the light and not only disparage the darkness we see.

I can't forget how intimately I know the culture of death. For those of you who don't know what that means- The culture of death is about despair, self-absorption, apathy and poverty. Some say it is about abortion, the death penalty, euthanasia, suicide and so on. I say that that despair and self-absorption often lead to these things, but the "culture of death" is a much wider concept. It permeates our media. And yet, in those creative sparks, so much hope abounds!

I loved the movie, "The Nightmare Before Christmas." I have found joy in the Mexican celebration of the "Day of the Dead." As in Ezekiel,  "Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord!  This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life." (Ezekiel 37:4-5)

12 Apr 2013

I Don't Know How To Stop

I feel whiny today. Yesterday, I cried.
Why, oh why, do I have to slow down?
I hate it. I want to stay busy.

Everyone who cares about me annoys me by trying to get me to stop. I want them to go away, since I'm too busy for them anyway.

My therapist said I need more breaks in my day to take care of myself.

My spiritual director said I need to keep doing Eucharistic Adoration for the next three months and then we'll re-evaluate whether I need to continue. I don't have to obey what he says, but I'm not seeking direction because I'm a genius at how to grow spiritually. My talents lie more in the realm of driving myself to the edge of psychosis and back. So, I agreed and I do what I agree to do. I realize that what I want isn't always what I need.

I don't want to slow down. It's almost as if I feel the world will come to an end if I do.

I used to play computer games non-stop at night, five and six hours at a time, to de-stress. But, that just charges adrenalin and provides escape. Plus, annoyingly, none of my advisers think this is healthy anymore or want me to continue. In fact, I have yet to find anyone in their right mind that thinks I should continue. Wow, I'd love to find one!

So, I have to do other things, like turn to God more. 

I'm pushing myself really hard. I've spoken before small audiences four times this week- four. And it terrifies me to do that. I'm also making a special effort to be more present and responsive to my boyfriend. I emotionally neglect him and autism is a reason. Especially when I'm overloaded, I want and actually need to shut down and go inside myself to hibernate from everything. However, it is but not an excuse to ignore him completely and in general, act like a jerk. I can't stop doing my best to give my best. He's sick this week too, so he needs more care.

Also, there is my overwhelmingly difficult Quickbooks class and the fact that I am preparing three books for printing and none of that is going as smoothly as I think it should. But mainly, the problem is that I don't want to let go of my control and give that over to God. I just don't.

I tell every autistic I know not to make big changes in their lives all at once or they will set themselves up for meltdown. Yet, I refuse to listen to what I know is true.

Why?

I SAY that I want to do the right thing, with all my heart, more than anything else. And my heart breaks that it's never enough. Yet, even though I feel that's true. I'm lying to myself. I don't know what the right thing is. I just want to push myself to feel important, valued, and redeemed. It's really all about me.

After receiving communion yesterday, I just prayed, and I said, "Jesus, I don't know how to stop. I don't know how to put limits on anything." I felt His presence clearly and a soft voice spoke in my heart, "My love needs no limits."

The infinite love God offers us doesn't push us to the brink of insanity. That sort of thing is MY forte, not His!

I need to go do my Eucharistic Adoration in about an hour. For my non-Catholic friends, it's basically spending an hour with God in a chapel. Tomorrow, at the end of my monthly day at the Carmelite Monastery, I meet before a council of officers and our spiritual adviser, to see if I will be permitted to enter formation. What do I need to do more than focus on de-stressing and making room for that unlimited love in my heart? Only my pride wants to save the world. Enough.

30 Mar 2013

How To Always Be Successful

"We are not called to be successful. We are called to be faithful." -Mother Teresa of Calcutta

Lately, I ponder this quote and its meaning on a daily basis. In my mind, I am never successful enough. I never get enough done in a day. The work I actually do is not productive enough. No matter how much I do, it does not make enough impact on society.

And, you know what? It won't. Ever.

I can't do anything without God. I can't blog. I can't brainstorm. I can't even breathe. Without God, not only is doing anything at all impossible, but everything I do becomes meaningless and pointless.

Our new pope said something today which rang true for me. He said, ""...self-help courses can be useful in life, but to live by going from one course to another, from one method to another, leads us to become pelagians and to minimize the power of grace, which comes alive and flourishes to the extent that we, in faith, go out and give ourselves and the Gospel to others, giving what little ointment we have to those who have nothing, nothing at all."

Before becoming Christian, that's what I did. I hopped from course to course, method to method, believing I would eventually get somewhere. I had gurus and teachers who told me there was nowhere to arrive at and that I was perfect as I was but those same teachers would sell me the very courses and methods that propagated the illusion. 

Amazing thing, grace. It's not just a "feel good" song. It's the truth. 

Grace gives us reason for living and the power to do it. Grace makes it okay to be human, because we let go and let God do what we alone cannot do. He becomes the fiber of our being, the blood in our cells.

So, what is being faithful? Being faithful is remembering just that. Believing and trusting in the power of grace. 

That's all God expects from us.  

Yet, just remembering the truth isn't really faithfulness. God expects us to embody and practice that faithfulness, through demonstrating our faith in all we do.  

But, when we let Christ live in us, everything we do is enough, no matter what our neighbors think, the government thinks, the media thinks, or anyone else for that matter.

Jesus expected the disciples to stay awake for an hour while he prayed. He expected them to be loyal and faithful. They all failed Him. Yet, was Jesus a failure? 

Jesus was the greatest success in history. We will always be a failure without Him.
 


22 Mar 2013

Why Religious People Are Healthier Than the "Spiritual, Not Religious"

Almost everyone I know these days is "spiritual, not religious." I spent over forty years of my life that way. I thought it was the only "sane" way to be. Yet, I just read about a recent study that showed those who identify as "spiritual, not religious" are more prone to mental illness and drug abuse.

For most of my life, I've heard about how religion is bad for our mental health. I believed nearly everything I heard, too.

Here are just a few of the reasons why people say that religion is not good for psychological health:

(1) Religion is "fear-based."

 Rebuttal: The reasoning behind the accusation that religion is "fear based" is that people do not want to be "bullied" into believing things. People want to make up their own minds and not be threatened with hellfire for questioning religion. Well, that is certainly fair and surely God understands and wants us to think through things for ourselves. After all, He gave us free will, and it is so important to him for us to have free will that he allows evil to happen. God doesn't want to force us to do anything because then people would be robots or puppets and not people who choose to love Him, on our own volition. So, why do churches say things that scare people sometimes? I think it's out of protectiveness and caring. There are too many things to count out in the world today that can erode and destroy our souls. If we work to turn off "fear," so we can be "free," then how free might we be when we end up enslaved to addictions, harmful relationships, deception and exploitation? I think some types of fear are actually pretty healthy, for that reason.

(2) Religion produces unnecessary guilt.

Rebuttal: Religion is the best way to learn to live a life that produces less guilt. When we're focused on being loving and giving, we're more prone to feel good about ourselves. Sure, it's a drag to be told over-indulgence in pleasure is a sin. Truly, it will wreck your fun. But, life is more meaningful when we learn to give more than we take.  By working hard to turn off "guilt" because we believe it is toxic, we often end up shutting down our conscience, also. Instead of repressing guilt, it is a good idea to express those feelings and work through them in a way that leads to more loving and productive action.

(3) Religion causes sexual repression, which in turn creates a whole host of psychological problems.

Rebuttal:  Both Christianity and Buddhism are spiritual paths that require self-renunciation and self-denial. The most seriously religious of both faiths willingly submit to chastity as a discipline. When people are more in control of themselves and their instincts, they are not only far less likely to have unplanned pregnancy but they are also less likely to over-indulge in alcohol and drugs, to exploit other people or to have moody or violent outbursts. In other words, people who have greater self-control are more mentally healthy. Since the "sexual revolution," each generation has a higher rate of mental illness than the one before. I'm not so sure it's working out for us! 

Sexual repression might be unhealthy, but Catholic practice has been to sublimate sexual instincts rather than repress them. Saints often "fall in love" with God for that reason. When saints do that, the world tends to be a better, healthier place, don't you think?


Here are some ways religion can HELP mental health:

(1) Religion helps us understand how to cope with suffering.
(2) Religion helps us learn to comfort ourselves during hard times.
(3) Religion helps us think beyond ourselves about others and the community as a whole, which can pull us out of self-pity, which can lead to depression.

Maybe being "spiritual" also helps many people do these things, but I've been feeling much healthier since I embraced religion. I think there are many good reasons why that is true.

Here's a link to the study:
http://www.pewforum.org/Press-Room/Pew-Forum-in-the-News/The-spiritual-but-not-religious-likely-to-face-mental-health-issues-drug-use-study-says.aspx

(from Laura Paxton, http://carmelheart.blogspot.com/)








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