I've been in a bit of a spiritual lull, a sort of mild depression. I haven't been feeling well used, and the activities I am currently engaged in have been feeling more like a spiritual drain rather than an energizing filler-upper.
When I brought this to my care-and-accountability committee, there was a great deal of tenderness toward me. We reflected together on familiar experiences, concepts, and images related to emptying oneself, lying fallow, and floating along in the Stream.
One of the Friends on the committee then made an important observation. He mentioned ever so gently that he had recently heard me speak of feeling low in regards to nearly every aspect of my Quaker life: my activities within the monthly meeting; my current experience with some challenges facing the worship group; my choice not to travel to certain Quaker events because of the energy use and fuel involved.
At that moment, something clicked on within me, or maybe it was a remark that the Friend had made. Whatever it was, what stuck and what was illuminated all in the same moment was one word:
I was the common denominator and I was souring my own experiences.
And then, in what felt like the very next instant, I recognized that I come from a long line of "sour women" in my family. My grandmother, still alive at 102-and-a-half, has been the most sour person I think I've known, and I've been deliberate in recent years in approaching her from a loving, compassionate place when I speak with her on the phone--though the temptation is to avoid calling or visiting altogether.
My mother of course is the apple that didn't fall very far from the tree. To her credit, my mom has talked openly with me about her intention to respond to situations with less bitterness and to make very different choices from those my grandmother had made (and continues making).
Still, I've had decades of exposure to and modeling from these two matriarchs of the family. Some of the bitterness and sourness took root in my soul without my knowing it.
Now that I know it's there, I can do something about it.
I spoke with the committee about those Friends in my life who represent the love, warmth, and light that I need to absorb and soak up in order to counter, heal, and transform my own sourness. I could feel God's Love already working deeply in my soul, simply by having named the Adversary that had taken up residence in me in a sort of internal secret-even-to-me safe harbor.
When I got back home after the committee meeting, I took out two pieces of paper and a marker. On one sheet I wrote in very small, lowercase letters
s o u r .On the other I wrote in large, block, uppercase letters
SUNI've taped the two sheets of paper in the room where I spend a fair amount of leisure time. Their message has been working on me deeply. For example, I very easily become aware of when my mind and thoughts turn sour as I'm speaking or listening to someone, and I'm able to stop myself quickly and recall my intention to receive sun, light, and Love.
I am that seed, cracked open by the God's Love, and that has made all the difference.