Still More Simple Gifts.

In the last blog, I spoke about the song Simple Gifts and the complex of simplicity.  There are two more alternate verses.

This alternate is my favorite of all versions.  It is lyric and hopeful.  It also acknowledges the earth as our home and how our actions will impact other people.

The Earth is our mother and the fullness thereof. Her streets, her slums, as well as stars above. Salvation is here, where we laugh and we cry.  Where we seek and love, where we live and die. 

When true Liberty is found, by fear and by hate we will no longer be bound.  In love and light we will find our new birth and in peace and in freedom redeem the earth.    

 The earth is our home in this lifetime.  We do have responsibility to care for it and what lives here.  Often,  religions seem to be more about dogma and judgement than a spiritual connection to each other and Deity.  There are people who reflect the positive values of the spiritual side of organized religion.  I chose a path of spirituality and acknowledgement of Deity, personal and spiritual growth, and respect.  I fall short of this at times.  For me, salvation is paths of spiritual growth, not an event.  We all are involved in salvation in some way, as we’re learning by experiencing this life.

  
The final version is an attitude towards thankfulness and being able to choose our own paths.  Although religious freedom is supposed to be a protected right, there is a strong movement to legislate religious values.  As a country, America needs to focus on how to respect individual freedom to choose our own paths.  

‘Tis the gift of be simple, ‘Tis the gift to be fair.  ‘Tis the gift to wake and breathe the morning air. And each day we walk in the path that we choose, ‘Tis a gift we pray we will never lose. 

Waking

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Waking up, I realize:

Life is about more than a career and material possessions.

People are different: that is out blessing, that each person is unique.

Listen to other people’s stories. There is wisdom in the journey of others.

Take time to do something you enjoy every day. Life is too short to be serious all the time.

Tell your loved ones how you feel. The words, “I love you” are priceless.

Seek to be at peace with others. If you harm them, make amends.

Connect with your spiritual beliefs.

Go outside. Notice the beauty of the world.

Eat well but do not over indulge. Take time to enjoy what you eat.

The Goddess is alive and magick is afoot. She is always with us.

Don’t fear death. It is a doorway into the next life. You will see loved ones who have gone before again.

Take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them.

Say “I’m sorry” when necessary.

Learn about other religious beliefs. It helps to understand others.

Stay true to your morals and beliefs but respect that others may not agree.

Everyone has the right to their own journey.

Walk “in perfect love and perfect trust.”

“Ever mind the Rule of Three….What you do comes back to thee.” We are held accountable. Learn from mistakes and grow.

“An it harm none, so mote it be!”

Seek the greatest good.

Accept what you cannot change. It allows you to focus on what you can.

You can do more than you ever imagined possible!

On Guilt

A few days ago, I discussed the emotion guilt with a friend.  In society, guilt is frequently seen as a “negative” emotion, including among mental health professionals.  This is a sad state of affairs, as guilt can have a life changing and growing effect on people.   The negative spin on guilt may be a result of not understanding its purpose or confusing it with shame.    Shame and guilt are often confused.

the fact or state of having committed an offense, crime, violation, or wrong, especially against moral or penal law; culpability.  2. a feeling of responsibility or remorse for some offense, crime, wrong, etc., whether real or imagined.

Shame, on the other hand is more visceral.  1. the painful feeling arising from the consciousness of something dishonorable, improper, ridiculous, etc., done by oneself or another;           2. susceptibility to this feeling; 3. disgrace; ignominy.; 4. a fact or circumstance bringing disgrace or regret.

Shame is much more powerful.  Perhaps shame grows from guilt.  At times, it may be an appropriate response if the action that causes it is particularly heinous, such as rape, murder, or theft of large sums of money.  However, other times, shame is a cancerous outgrowth of guilt and only serves to hold a person in place, judged and broken.

Guilt, on the other hand, deals with actions as well as emotions.  An individual either took action, or failed to take action, causing harm to another.  The harm can be emotional, physical, spiritual, or mental in nature.  The second definition holds the key to healthy, honest guilt, the words responsibility and regret.  In order to feel guilt, the person admits responsibility and regrets his/her actions.  This is a healthy sign of possessing a conscience and a connection to society.  How it becomes harmful, or unhealthy, is how an individual responds to guilt.

Guilt is healthy when the person is truly sorry for the harmful decision and is motivated to take accountability.  This decision should result in the desire to change future choices and not to repeat the same harmful behavior in the future.   What does it mean to be truly sorry?  It is regret for the harm caused by the action to another individual, society, etc.  It is not a self-directed concept, “I’m sorry I got caught and might be punished,” or even “I’m sorry I sinned.”  The latter is not a bad place to be, if your spirituality teaches the concept of sin and repentance.  But, feeling sorry for sin alone is not enough.  It is still only about that individual, not the harm that was caused to another.

Repentance is the action of turning away from sin and toward God, as defined by Christian teaching.  To me, it is more.  It is a turning away from harming self and/or others through actions, thoughts, and behaviors.  It is turning toward one’s higher self, and that connection to Deity,  in whatever form(s) the individual believes.  There is also a component of “balancing the scales” or “righting the wrong.”  The Wiccan Rede introduces the Three Fold Law, “Ever mind the Rule of Three.  What ye sends out comes back to thee.”   This is a serious concept.  It not only includes actions, but also emotions, thoughts, and energies.  In Wicca, actions have consequences.  At times, an individual may not recognize the Rule in action, but it still exists.  Guilt, for a spiritual person, is a call back to the higher concepts of spiritual living.  Balancing the scales can be done actively or passively.  Every action has a response.  Waiting for others, or the Universe, to respond to an action is being passive.  Most likely, the individual will continue to feel guilt, as he/she has not taken action to correct the situation.  Taking action allows the person to fully accept responsibility and bring some healing to the harm done.  For example, “Joe” steals $50 from a friend.  He later feels guilty.  Joe decides to return the money and apologize to his friend.  His friend is angry at Joe and tells him to leave.  In this example, Joe’s friendship was damaged by the theft.  However, the friend’s reaction is less important than Joe’s choice to return the money and apologize.  Although sorry, there is still a consequence to his prior action.  Hopefully, Joe learns that theft is not a healthy choice and makes a different decision in the future.  What makes accountability so hard in some situations is that piece of having to face consequences.  If the wrong was severe, they can be quite high.  But, one will not be free from guilt until admitting the wrong and taking responsibility.  It also leads to continued spiritual and personal growth, as one learns from mistakes and changes behavior.

Spirituality and TBI

“Faith is not something to grasp, it is something to grow into.”  Gandhi

This quote is so profoundly true.  For years, I struggled to “have faith” or believe in God, Deity, Goddess, etc.  I was so worried about getting the “right” answer to the question of religion or faith.  Which is right?  I was not comfortable with many of the teachings and beliefs of Christianity, yet I was afraid to fully embrace another path.  If I was wrong, Hell is a hard price to pay.  I tried to grasp what comes gently.   In time, I gradually started to develop a spirituality rather than a religion.  Yet, it was a gradual process, fraught with questions and times of retreat.

The accident changed my life in many ways.  I do not have a clear memory of what happened.  The clearest memory I have is a sense of a Presence right before I lost conciousness.  I remember knowing that I was in serious trouble when I lost control of the car.  I had a flash of fear, followed by peace.  I felt protected.  I sensed the presence of my grandfather.  He is one of my guardian spirits.  He always shows up when I’m in some sort of danger or trouble.  But, I also felt a larger, grander Presence.  The next thing I remember is walking down the highway.  When I spoke to the trooper who responded to the accident, she indicated surprise that anyone walked away from that accident.  The car was badly damaged.  I do not doubt there is a Deity.  I do not doubt continued life after this physical plane. It is interesting that the only thing I remember clearly is my grandfather and the Presence.

What impact did the accident have on my soul?  Recently, I have been reading and exploring several different spiritual paths.  According to metaphysics, many of my lessons in life I chose before I incarnated.  Was this accident to teach lessons I needed to learn in this lifetime?  Was it part of my destiny?  I do not think the Goddess or Deity “caused” the accident.  Love does not being harm, even towards greater good.  Perhaps the accident could have been prevented by Deity, but She allowed free will to be exercised.  If not the accident, the lessons I need would have come another way.  Since the accident, my priorties have changed.  I am not so focused or driven on “succeeding” in my career or being the “best.”  This has allowed me more freedom to be myself as I need to recover.   Did my soul change with the TBI?  My personality is different.  How does personality and soul interact?  Our souls are always growing.  They gain knowlege throughout our lives.

I do not seek to grasp knowledge but to allow it to bloom, as a flower in the spring.

 

Identity Quest

What is the soul?  How is it impacted by Traumatic Brain Injury?  A few weeks ago, another survivor posed that question on a support group board online.  Depending on the location and severity of the injury, the personality, moods, and behaviors of the survivor can be seriously impacted.  Some extroverts become introverted.  Emotions can be easily aroused and impulse control can become difficult.  The individual before the injury may have been totally different.  How do our actions, post-injury, impact our soul?

Most people responded that our injury does not change the soul.  It remains pure, a reflection of Deity.  It seemed a solid answer to me at first but then I started to think.   Our actions do impact our spiritual connection with Deity.  In reading some about metaphysics, each incarnation is a chance to work on balancing karma from the past incarnations and move forward towards peace and true love.  It is similar in Wicca.  Our incarnations are lessons and our choices impact our next lives.  In Christianity, individuals are judged by their actions and sins must be confessed.  However, if someone’s mental faculties are compromised, can they sin?  How do their actions impact karmic debt?  Do karma or sin impact the status of the soul?  Do they change the soul?

I find my life is changing almost constantly, even while I struggle to keep it as calm and routine as possible.   My view of myself is different.  I know I am not the same person I was before the accident.  I truly feel that person “died” in the crash and my new post-concussive self was born.  That includes having to (re) discover some skills I lost and coming to terms with my identity.  I have to accept some losses of ability- and the loss of things important to me.  I will be medically discharged from the military.  I wasn’t ready to hang up my boots.  But, good can come from this, as I choose to embrace the good and work towards meaning.  There are parts of my new self I do not like.  However, there are parts of my life now that is better than before.  I have the opportunity (and need) to do life review and truly look at where I am spiritually, professionally, and personally.  It is hard work, recovery.  At the same time, I continue to work on developing my speech, working on memory and concentration, and dealing with the sensory overload.  No wonder I’m tired!

What impact does my injury have on me spiritually?  I am seeking a deeper connection and understanding of Deity.  It is not taking the form of truly ritualized and formal religious practices.  It is more in the quiet times at night when sleep escapes me or while walking (or running) in nature.  It is in writing this blog, exploring what I think is happening to me on the spiritual plane.

I do not think a Deity “made” my car crash.  There is a combination of destiny and free will in the world.  While the accident was a random event, how I react may be part of my destiny or, if you like, the lessons I chose to learn in this incarnation.   Was my soul injured in the crash as well as my physical body?  Perhaps.  Or perhaps it was awakened further to the possibilities of this life.  There is still a purpose for me to be present here.  I choose to try to use my experience, and TBI, to help others while continuing to heal myself.  I think this reflects my primary purpose in this life: to heal minds and souls.