Deep Winter

Learning to embrace the season that we are in is a perpetual challenge, there's always the wooing of some hypothetical pain-free future that would call us out of being present in the moment.  But, 'challenge' need not be seen as a negative thing; challenge is an invitation into the discovery of the dormant potential inside of us!

As Ben and I press into embracing the seasons metaphorically, we decided to press into winter literally (instead of running away from it!) and took a trip to the mountains of beautiful Quebec, with the children.

We decided to explore winter more deeply, and actually take to the outdoors as if we meant it.  Toboggan, ski, hike, watch our breath release in chilled puffs as we soak in the outdoor hot tub, then run and roll in the snow in our bathing suits. (Okay, I confess, I could only sit in the snow, not roll in my bathing suit - these crazy kids though!)

Last night, as I lay awake for hours on the couch in our beautiful rented chalet, with a baby who wouldn't sleep, I watched the clock ticking.  And ticking. And ticking.  (An adventure like this is so special but is physically exhausting on it's own...  the logistics involved in helping 13 people launch from home base are spectacular!)

I took a 'step back' from the frustrating reality of me feeling utterly exhausted, and observed: I am having an experience.

That was it.

It's like I could see myself from a short distance away and recognize what was happening, but not need to infuse it with emotion.  I could just let the moment be what it was.

After observing my situation with as much neutrality as
I could muster, I was able to release the tension building up in my flesh and flip the emotional balance, and tickle my baby as we snuggled on the couch. The night was awash in his soft husky giggle.  The struggle was over: I surrendered to a potentially completely sleepless night, and in the end I found some rest. We stared into each other's eyes.  The tranquil silence of the snow blanketing the night through the window mirrored the scene in my heart.  We have the opportunity to live from perpetual rest, even if we don't actually sleep.

More and more, I am convinced that this is what it means to live by faith: rest with gratitude in the moment, trusting that what you need will come.  And what you need might not always be what your mind has fixated on; sometimes you need a sleepless night to wake up.

Quiver

Yesterday, I had the honour of attending a remarkable unmedicated home birth.  This first-time mama walked the gritty line of power and vulnerability with a heroic heart.

I watched in awe as her body quivered under the pressure of forging the passage to the outside world, as the tremors of Heaven ran through her bones, delivering a new and perfect son.

To observe the deliverer in her process of undoing and unmooring from all known ports, and yet being born herself as a mother, is a profound and spiritual encounter.  I beheld the birth of a mother and father yesterday, a family conceived in love and born in the raw wilds of surrender.

This is what changes the world: courage to blaze into the unknown, persist through the pressure, and find there a goodness and wholeness never before imagined, unhindered by the pain of the process.

They say, Every Birth is a Lesson.

Yesterday, I encountered the sheer saintliness that radiates from an exhausted and worn mama as she descends into her own depths and finds there a reserve of power she didn't know she possessed.  I learned that sometimes Heaven looks radiant and ebullient, and other times it looks fierce and wild.

And this is where we so often find ourselves: straddled between the impact of the moment and the promise of a new day, these persistent realities ever colliding within us.

As we follow the map home, we find the sacred space where God resides, ever breathing new life into our pain, calling us into a higher experience of our own potential and beauty.

Home begins to look a lot like a garden we never left.

Vasectomy Pain

I am fascinated by the reproductive system, this miraculous collaborative anatomy that sparks eternal Life when a male and female make Love.  I am also intrigued by the emotional, psychological and spiritual features of this most wondrous system.

Why do we make the choices we do around reproduction?  What perspectives are born of our own traumas, fears, and needs for control, and what alternatives are there?

In a culture obsessed with controlling birth - essentially violating the natural physiology and impulse of the body's created order - what do we stand to lose?

These are questions I rarely see raised in a culture that promotes birth control options that often end up inducing further, unanticipated bodily harm.  I have a lot speculative reasons why this is, maybe I'll talk about it one day.

This book Vasectomy: The Cruelest Cut of All by Dr. Brad Bowens is one example of an excellent book that likely remains largely unread; in an age of so much common sense why do research?  When deep emotion and trauma are involved, this response is understandable. My concern, however, is what further trauma does vasectomy unwittingly induce?

Heaping trauma on trauma does not deliver us from our fears.

I just spent the last hour reading about the incredible anatomy of the male reproductive system.  It explodes the mind to examine the perfection of this one small system; it is so pristine and generous in its labour.  Like The Little Engine that Could, sperm continue to produce, never quitting, because... LIFE!!!!!

Regardless of where cutting off the Life Force leaves us emotionally, psychologically or spiritually, we must examine why we live in a medical culture that affirms vasectomy as a safe option for birth control, when it is questionable at best.  When the negative effects of vasectomy often only begin to be experienced 5-7 years after the procedure, we may miss the association.  What is vasectomy doing to our men, their virility, their power, their own innate life force?

"Vasectomy is a "safe and simple procedure" according to many in the medical profession.  While the simple part might be accurate, the safe part is definitely not.  The cruelest cut of all frequently produces lifelong pain, often worsened by sexual activity, arising months or year after the procedure.  Too ashamed to speak up many men suffer in silence unless the pain is severe...  With vasectomy labeled as a "safe and simple procedure" by the medical community, men and their spouses are being grossly misled.

Post-Vasectomy Pain Syndrome (PVPS) truly represents the tip of the proverbial iceberg, and the concern of physicians and researchers as to why this supposedly rare complication occurs is incredibly misdirected, because the theoretical and practical foundation supporting vasectomy is hopelessly flawed.  Take a pump and a balloon.  As the balloon fills you reduce the pumping pressure and then stop.  Now pump up another balloon and do not stop.  A young child will predict what will happen - pressure will build and the balloon will burst."- Vasectomy: The Cruelest Cut of All

What are the consequences for cauterizing our flesh, or short-circuiting systems that are not extraneous or optional but are fundamentally integrated with the wellness and wholeness and purpose of our being?

I am thinking about these things on a quiet winter afternoon, tucked in by the fireside, surrounded by my tribe of boys and men and wondering about a world that would seek to separate them from their own virility.

I share these reflections not as an platform for judgment, but as an opportunity for reflection.  We have all made mistakes; we are all growing; and I believe healing is available for every trauma ever experienced.  Yet, unless we are willing to stare down some of our most basic cultural assumptions and narratives regarding reproduction, how can we begin to elevate beyond the patterns and dysfunctions of our current time?

The words of Mark Twain come to mind:

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to reform (or pause and reflect)."

Clarity

New Year's day enveloped me in a euphoria that was energizing and slow to dissipate.  (I'm going to consider it my new normal and roll with it!)

I had realized a couple of days before that I needed to unclog my mind and my body and so was excited and ready to dump my social media (perhaps for a while, perhaps for forever) and eat clean.

For the first time a concerted season of eating clean was not a knee jerk response to a bodily condition I was aiming to remedy or a physical vanity project I was desiring to engage, but an all out desire to gain clarity in my heart and mind.  Which, interestingly, has made my cleanse and clean eating very emotionally simple!

I'd gotten so used to the fog of little treats here and there, and social media dopamine hits - this pestilent cocktail that seems so innocuous in the moment, but slays you in the end - that I'd forgotten what clarity and focus are.

And now I'm feeling it.  Like a rush: there's so much discovery going on my mind can hardly keep up with itself! I'm energized and awake and alive... and life is showing up in colour, because the deeper things are revealing themselves at a rapid pace.

Clarity, as a goal, is a new concept for me and I am eager to continue to see where this takes me!

Death by a 1,000 Cuts

You are not here to slowly fade into some fog of dense flesh inevitably expanding into compounding disease, as though to live were to bide the time.

Is this a way to live: to sooth the pain of fear and isolation by numbing feelings and ignoring the persistent daily invitations to shake out of this grey haze?  If we lose sight of the magnificence of our being, life quickly becomes a sort of mental cacophony of persistent interruptions, petty chaoses, charged emotional exchanges, religious busyness, and entertaining diversions.

Not you!  You were made to press in, to find God's expression inside of you and unleash that passion out into the world every day, for as long as you breath.

Do your daily routines - those tired old grooves from bygone eras mixed with the incessant 'pings' of this current era - give you life?

Are you searching for the more by traveling, and owning, and reading, and reaching endlessly? Do you writhe in your restlessness like a little boat on the sea?   Are you at war with yourself?  Are you always making a strategy to get out of your current predicament, or to avoid future problems?

Do you feel alive when you are wrestling, when you are fighting the 'bad', when you are trouble-shooting?  You will feel more alive when you move past energizing your 'pain body' with it's 'common sense' and focus on everything that is wrong, and begin to feel the freshness of life lived from joy, expectation and risk.

The peace won't be found until you still yourself, for a very good long time.  Learn to distinguish signal from noise.  Get out of step with the blare of our time and just feel the feeling of being alive.  Remember the dreams you had when you were young?  Stop planning all the ways to win the 'game of life' and instead open yourself up to the risks that your heart is calling you to take; start playing with actually being alive!

Risk it.  Take the plunge.  Live your story with effervescent boldness!  Laugh at the days to come.  Get big and joyful and expectant about the life that is ahead of you.

It's the faith of leaping that will save you.

The rest of this consumptive, hustle, pain-numbing life is like a thousand little cuts that slowly bleed you out.

Yet, so often we hardly notice because the internet still works, and that's pretty fun too.

Feeling

Instead of asking yourself what you want to do or accomplish this new year, try asking instead, "How do you want to feel?"

How do you want to feel in 2019?

Imagine you were doing and experiencing your dreams this year.  Really take some time to create some pictures in your mind about what that would look like and then play with what would it feel like if they were already happening now.

The trick is to live out your feeling of freedom, joy, gratitude, adventure, provision, and health (or whatever) as though you already possess these things now.  As you practice rolling these feelings through your heart your surroundings line up with the frequency of faith that you are emanating and the world begins to fall in place around you, your mountain moves and the water firms up under your feet.

When we live from our centre - from the truth of our being - knowing we have all things as children of God, literally everything becomes possible.

However, if we allow our feelings to constantly brood, complain, judge, waver, doubt and despair then we set a frequency that simply introduces more things brood over.

Like magnets, our hearts attract the feelings that they meditate on.

Meditation is simply invitation.  Whatever feelings your heart marinates in will deliver more of the same.

What will you feast on in the coming year?  What miracles are waiting for you to change the dial and set a new frequency of hope and delight?

Check the dial of your heart, try changing the channel and find a surprising new world awaiting you just around the corner!

Happy New Year!