I haven't abandoned The Sacred Middle; I've only just been hiding away in a hospital for the past nine days. On December 22nd I had a car wreck, which led to a fractured rib, collapsed lung, and the discovery that I have a congenital lung disorder. I'm slowly healing (and ready to climb the walls), but practicing dancing through life, even if that means spending New Year's in a hospital bed. At least I'm here to celebrate!
I've given to KIVA and get joy from giving to those creating a better life for themselves and their families, but I can tell you there's no greater joy than giving to those standing right in front of you. My boyfriend and I were downtown a few nights ago looking at Christmas lights and a homeless man passed asking for a quarter. My bf didn't have any money on him and I only had a few pennies and dimes in my wallet, but I gave them to the homeless man and said I was sorry it was all I had. He smiled and said anything helps and we continued to talk about Christmas and his life. He said he didn't have any family left, but that he had just made two wonderful friends and he cupped my hand and smiled and was so grateful for the few pennies and conversation. My spirit lit up with joy and I realized that there truly is happiness in serving others. Not just by giving over the internet or to charities, but to reach out, for even a few moments, to lighten the burden of people we pass everyday. To touch their hands, to offer them encouragement, to speak to those shunned by society.
Recently, in so many words, my mom said I've changed, and she's right. Over the past three years I've gone deeper into my faith. My heart sees things it didn't see before. Thoughts that once seemed so important look foolish to me now. God continues to reveal truths to me, little by little, and I grow closer in spirit. I can tell you that before now, I would have never written such spiritual things. I would have never mentioned God because I was afraid of being looked down upon or cast out. Now I see that even if some people don't believe the same way I do, they can still love and respect me. And vice versa.
And so I find myself wanting to get past all the shallowness of religion and labels and go deep into the true work of God. There are so many decisions weighing heavy on me right now, so many people saying this is the right way, no this is the right way. But I don't want to do anything - I don't want to go this way or that way. I want to go somewhere quiet, be in stillness and solitude. A place with no Facebook, no internet, no books, no people. Just my spirit and God. I want to hear my own thoughts.
What I know for sure is that I am not meant to live a good, normal life. That is all I really hear from God these days. And I don't really hear it. I feel it. I quit my day job four months ago to become a freelance writer, and although it was the right step, it was only the next step. A step I'm not meant to stay on for too long. I feel the aching to do something bigger. My soul work. I know for sure that I am meant to live a great life and do even greater things than I can imagine right now.
I want to get rid of all of the worldly noise: the commercials, the enticing store displays, the constant chatter, the information overload, the stuff that grows and grows and even when you get rid of it, it somehow creeps its way back in. I just want to sit beneath a tree in a forest far away, feel moss beneath my feet, a thousand God whispers in the wind across my cheeks.
There's a reason I posted a picture of Aslan (of C.S. Lewis fame) at the top. In making a yearly mandala, Janet Conner invites us to choose a word and an image for the coming year. I chose Expand as my word and wrote it at the bottom of my mandala, but I wasn't sure about what image to paste in the middle to represent this word and my hopes for 2013. So I closed my eyes and asked God for guidance and a big lion face appeared in the dark of my mind. His eyes pierced me and I knew that's the symbol I wanted to use.
Afterward, I watched The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe because the image reminded me of Aslan, the great and powerful protector of Narnia. I always cry when he gets sacrificed for the children and comes back in all his great glory.
Listen more carefully
To what is inside of you right now."
"Perhaps each of us has a starved place, and each of us knows deep down what we need to fill that place. To find the courage to trust and honor the search, to follow the voice that tells us what we need to do, even when it doesn't seem to make sense, is a worthy pursuit."
Pinterest is a such a fantastical smorgasborg of never ending inspiration. I can play on there for hours, happily pin the fashion I wish I could afford, the makeup looks I want to try, the cozy photos of knit wool socks and drinking cinnamon coffee by the fire. All the pictures I pin make up the fantasy world I inhabit in my head. Oh yes, I can definitely imagine myself wearing sparkly pink chiffon skirts everyday, having an immaculate and eccentric abode, and baking all kinds of pastries and cakes in my replica Victorian kitchen. And don't forget weekend glamping trips in my hot pink camper.
It really is a beautiful dream and it's fun to pin things for sheer inspiration (especially when there's action behind the inspiration), but there's a downside to it too; we forget to look at the beautiful lives we're already living, the cute clothes already hanging in our closets, the amazing cupcakes we baked just yesterday.
So, one night after going on a pinning spree, I decided to create a new board: My Imperfectly Beautiful Life. Here's where I would pin pictures of my own life to remind myself how sparkly, if not somewhat imperfect, my story is.
I don't have to look very far to see evidence and I know there are tons of pictures left to be pinned.
Pinning my own life is like a gratitude list made up of photos, and it reminds me of the real life magic, the beauty I see everyday. In fact, just today I looked in the mirror and thought, I love this outfit! It is so me. It's in taking time to see what is already around us, what we're already wearing/baking/living in that we realize our stories are just as beautiful as the ones we make boards for.
Here's my homework for you:
Create your own Pinterest board that honors your life, your story, your beautiful and imperfect existence. Share the link in the comments below. I'd love to see the story you're creating!
Hello! I'm Cassandra, an American ex-pat living in the Philippines, writer, beach bum, and book nerd. I blog about happiness, self-love, and magical dream-life living.