Reaching out while staying in balance
requires roots of great strength.
Requires a lifetime of layering oneself
to give strength to the arms which reach.
The roots must reach as well.
Our inner selves grow outward
with support of actions lived over and over.
The branches, our choices.
This morning I visited the church where I grew up with my mother. I demonstrated to her Sunday School class (only three in attendance beyond my mama) my tai chi form and discussed doing tai chi.
The room we were in used to be the pastor's office back when I was in the third grade and my mama was the church secretary. I would come to the church from school everyday. They were next door to each other. Galloping like a horse up and down in the sanctuary aisles helped me to belong to this place once upon a time. The room we were in today had wonderful interior decorating with a relaxing, but stimulating paint job. It had sofas, a TV and was very comfortable. Belonging to my own church for over 20 years', I knew this room was the product of layers and layers of money, of gifts, of many people throughout time. And it was but a small part of this now large church which was founded the year I was born. The ceiling had not changed, nor the door from which I exited the building.
This church educated me in religious thought, that which I did not get from my family. This is the church which attempted to teach me the bible and bring me to Christ. One teacher in Junior High School strove to bring us to our knees with our inner pain so that we might find Jesus over and over again. That felt like an emotional rape as I processed this evangelical teaching later in life. But for the most part I was raised to love because God is love and who knew why that book of revelations was tacked on to the end of the Bible and we sure weren't going to talk about those psychotic ramblings.
One class ,when I was eleven or so, talked about doing good works in Jesus' name. The good works needed no reward, we were to look for nothing but strive to be good because of Jesus. Little psychologist that I was, I demanded the class realize that if we did something good, we got something from it, we benefited from our good works, that there was no selflessness in this. But this Sunday teacher wasn't having that and now it sticks out in my memory as the day I began disagreeing with the church's message.
Today finds me not so far from the message of love Jesus taught. But I have to be such more inclusive than was allowed in the doctrine of those Sunday School classes. And I need women goddesses as models, to be graced with their wisdom, strength and fire. Once I opened the gates of women's spirituality, I was no longer desirous of staying within the Christian framework. The message of love is welcome in my world view, but I am not satisfied with only the traditional Christian message which had its origins with Roman rulers seeking to control the masses.
This week I dreamed I built a new house. The floors were all bamboo like my new floors at home. Soft and silky, but hard enough to shatter three bottles of Corona last night when the flimsy handle broke while in transport. But in the dream, the home we built was a circle. Circular, with beautiful bamboo floors.
My church does not have the layers of money, but it is beautiful. The building is over 100 years old and has a spectacular sanctuary. The rest of the church building is adequate, bug spare with much of our money going to social justice projects.
This is a sacred place for me and I realized it anew after visiting the church of my childhood. I studied the arched hardwood ceiling of the sanctuary, which is reminiscent of a boat bottom, grand and steep and beautiful. I noticed the light streaming through the stained glass windows.
This is a place I often reach deep within and bring out my gifts for others. The first thing I saw when I walked in was a logo I had just completed for the Mid-South District. I had not seen a print version and it was beautiful to me. My best friend for thirty years was there and her sister-in-law died yesterday after a tragic bout with cancer. My friend Elizabeth told me of how much joy her husband had received by a custom made bumper sticker I did for them. I talked to several people about the church's monthly newsletter that I am finishing up today. All three of my granddaughters were there as well as my oldest son and his wife. It was her birthday. At joys and concerns the three girls got up and wished their mama a happy birthday.
I began a tree yesterday of wire. It is what began this treatise on reaching out. The tree is teaching me; she has become a woman reaching.