My muse has forgiven me

My Muse has returned to me!

My Muse has returned to me!

I am sure my loyal followers must believe that I fell off the earth or that I had given up on writing completely.  Neither idea is completely true or completely false.  There has been a lot of changes to my life including another burned down house (I really have to stop doing that), several job changes and children who keep growing up and keep needing to be fed.  Can you believe those rugrats want to be fed EVERY DAY!?  All of that sturm and drang led to me neglecting my muse and she in her sorrow turned her face from me.

However, I have come to realize that I cannot live without my true love – writing.  So my glorious muse has forgiven me for neglecting her and she has once again inspired me.  I hope she will continue to give me her flashes of insight and wisdom.  If she does I will continue to pass them on to you, my gentle readers.

I will be posting a longer article soon.  Please read it and the rest that will follow.

All my love,
Grace Mary Kathryn.

Music, Harmony and Heaven

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Imagine how beautiful it will sound when we can all hear the music of the universe.

When I was in Catholic High School at Rosary, Sister Mary Paul laid out an idea that I found baffling.  It wasn’t that I disagreed with it.  I often disagreed with Sister Mary Paul.  I often agreed with her, too, but that’s another story.  This idea just confused me.  I couldn’t get my head around it.  The idea was this: People were the ones who would make “Thy Kingdom, come”.

It took me years, decades actually, to understand it.  Heaven isn’t a place where people get sent.  It’s something we make.  Living well isn’t something you do in order to get a prize at the end.  Living well helps turn the world into heaven.  That is our job as people and as a species.

I finally understood this idea when I finally made the connection between music and the universe.  Everything is in motion.  We know that.  The entire universe is in motion.  Motion creates vibration.  Vibration creates sound.  Therefore the entire universe is making noise.  We see the beauty of the motion of the stars, the changing of the seasons and other wonders of the natural world.  Therefore we imagine this noise to be in music, harmonious music.  We hear the phrase, “The music of the spheres.”

“If that is the case,” my reasoning went, “Then evil must be discord.”  Evil is evil because it throws the music of the universe into discord.  I immediately had an image of a cosmic guitar player tuning his instrument.  The image immediately inspired a vision of the Big Bang.  I saw this young male guitar player jumping up on the stage in his garage and strumming out a beautiful power cord while his band mates and their audience of parents and neighbor kids looked on.  {Yes, I imagined God to be a long haired, lead singer of a heavy metal garage band – you got a problem with that?}

So the universe is a beautiful guitar solo into which some disharmony has crept and God is surreptitiously tuning his guitar to bring it back into harmony.  We are part of that music and we honor God most when we are in harmony.  How do we know we are in harmony?  It has been my experience that if you let yourself come to a quiet place of stillness and you open yourself up with meditation/prayer, music, trance work and other methods of ‘zoning out’ you can hear the music of your Self and you can hear your own harmonies and disharmonies.  Then we can set about the business of ‘tuning ourselves’ by changing our live and our actions to bring ourselves more into

Today the part of God will be portrayed by a young James Hetfield.

Today the part of God will be portrayed by a young James Hetfield.

harmony.

So God is a heavy metal guitarist.  The universe is the music He plays.  Evil occurs when the guitar slips a little out of tune and God has to tune it.  Goodness is everything that brings the universe more into harmony.  Evil is that which further slips it out of harmony. When everything is in tune again, that will be heaven.  This metaphor makes so much sense to me, I am baffled why I didn’t think of it before.  It fits my Catholic faith like a glove and it fits my pagan beliefs the same way.  It is why “man is not saved by faith alone.”  And it is why recycling and trying to live in tune with Mother Earth is a sacred responsibility.

The reason we do this is because if all of human kind can come into harmony at the same time.  Even if it just for a nanosecond, we might be able to hear that which we have only heard the faintest of echoes of so far.  If we can create that harmony we might be able to hear, in all It’s Glory, the music of the Universe.  If we can do it, that nanosecond will be heaven and it will last an eternity.

*** The use of the male pronoun to describe God/dess does NOT indicate a belief on my part that God/dess is male or has any other human limitations.  It is merely the image that came with this metaphor.

What is Success?

The World from the Morgan-Greer deck

The World from the Morgan-Greer deck

What is the value of your life, Grace Mary?  You don’t have any money and you live just on the edge of poverty.  Without the help of your friends and family, you never would have survived.  So how can you say that you are successful?

The fact is that material possessions and social status and salary have never been my chosen measuring sticks for determining success.  I developed a different measuring stick at Rosary and Loyola.  I mention the names of my schools because I believe that those two institutions had a profound influence on the measuring stick I developed for my life.  My journey is not about acquiring stuff.   It is about self-actualization and trying to find Truth and understanding it and trying to serve the Good as best I can and trying to enjoy myself in a deep and meaningful way.

I have gotten lost many times.  The times when I have been most deeply lost have been when I have misplaced my measuring stick.  Often I have accidentally picked up the measuring sticks of salary, material possessions and status.  I used to move from house to house (and I moved a lot – sometimes twice a year) carrying truckloads of boxes of stuff.  So many things I thought I would die without.  Souvenirs of my life.  Things that belonged to my mother.  I clung to her things as if they still held her scent and I would somehow keep her if I just kept her stuff close.  That, of course, was an illusion.  Mom’s presence in my life was not and is not contingent upon holding on to that green bowl with a pear on it that she bought when she and my step-father went to Texas that one time.  She is with me and I am with her.  She is alive inside me and her voice comes out of my mouth all the time.  With my voice she passes on her wisdom to my younger brothers and sisters and to my children.  This is good because we all still need her wisdom.

I carried boxes of souvenirs from my childhood.  Records I rarely listened to, books I enjoyed, but probably wouldn’t read again, knickknacks whose meaning I barely remembered.  Jewelry, make-up and elegant dresses which no longer fit me.  It was not just my body they didn’t fit anymore.  They didn’t fit me anymore.  They belonged to the teenaged Grace and the college girl Grace Mary.  They were not the dresses of Mom.  Nor were they dresses of Grace Mary Kathryn.  But I couldn’t let them go.  So I dragged them from place to place.  Until Oshun reminded me to not make promises and forget them.  She stripped me of most of my stuff and in doing so she showed me that I still had my mother, my family and my younger selves even without the tangible objects to which I had tried to anchor them.  I have collected another houseful of stuff, but I hold it more loosely now.  If all of it was taken from me tomorrow, I would not lose anything that matters.

I spent years ashamed of my failures.  Ashamed of my poverty especially since so many of my peers made more money, had more stability and had more of the souvenirs of status than I had.  I have yet to go to one of my class reunions even though I loved the women with whom I went to high school.  I have been afraid of the looks in their eyes when they see my old clothes and my beater car.  There are two problems with that.  First, my high school sisters would see the true me immediately because they always did see her even if they didn’t understand her very well.  I am, in fact, insulting my Rosary sisters, by believing them to be so shallow.  The second problem with those fears is that I am only a failure when I measured my life by those foreign measuring sticks.  In reality, I am as successful as any of them by my own standards.

Miserliness is always about fear.

Miserliness is always about fear.

The false measuring stick I pick up most frequently is the measuring stick of salary.  I carried this one for years after I had children.  I felt I had to focus on making X amount of money because I had kids to support.  So I focused on finding jobs that would pay me X amount of money, which gave paychecks every two weeks because kids need stability, which were reliable and practical.  The big joke, the cosmic joke, is that because I was pursuing the wrong kind of success those jobs never fit me and I never kept them.  So we never had the income or security that I was trying to provide.  I was so lost.  I say that with a rueful chuckle.  I was.  That time wasn’t completely wasted.  I learned a lot and tasted an array of flavors of life.  My children never starved and we usually had a roof over our heads.  Thanks in large part to the generosity of my friends and family and the tax payers of the state of Illinois.  However, I was lost and miserable and stressed and angry and my children felt those things and it hurt them.  They all bare the scars of those lost years.

It took me a long time to put down that false measuring stick.  A large reason it took so long to put it down was fear.  I was afraid that if I followed my own desires, that if I lived as I believed I should, that if I used my own measuring stick, my children would starve.  That I would fail and I would face the judgment of all the people disapprove of or don’t even see my measuring stick.  Some of these people where real people.  Many of them were just in my head.  The judge, jury and executioner named ‘What other people think.’  All my life I have denounced paying them any heed, but they are hard to exorcise from one’s own mind.  Finally, in the end, I realized I was too unhappy for words in my latest ‘sensible’ job.  I was angry, stressed and hateful both at work and at home.  It was making my family miserable and it was a terrible example for my children.

I woke up and realized how wrong I had been.  I realized that my failures were all coming from using these wrong measuring sticks and I realized that there would NEVER be any happiness for me working in the white collar sweatshop.  I quit my job with nothing else lined up.  I quit my job with only a vague promise of writing work from a friend.  I told my family and they were thrilled.  They knew we would be a lot poorer than we already were.  They knew we might get evicted and terrible hardships might come, but they wanted me to be happy and they wanted to be happy.  So all together we took this great leap out of this airplane of faux security hoping our parachutes would open.

Happily they have.  We are still crazy poor.   I make a hodge podge of a living as a freelance writer and massage therapist.  I have needed a lot of help from friends and family.  We are back in a communal living arrangement.  None of that matters.  We are all happy.  We are all

When a person finds balance, she really does have a chance to achieve the World.

When a person finds balance, she really does have a chance to achieve the World.

focusing on becoming our finest selves.  My work feeds my soul and my happiness makes my family happy.  Plus, I am a better mother.  I am no longer angry all the time.  I have the energy to help with lemonade stands and home work.  I can spend an hour discussing which character in The Lord of The Ring each of us would be.  I can watch Total Drama Action and care about whether Cody will win.  (He didn’t and I was seriously bummed.)

So to answer the question from the top, a question which no one but the ghosts in my head has ever asked me, ‘What value is my life?’  It is of tremendous value.  I live according to my principals the best I can.  I search for Truth and try to understand it.  I try to find Joy in life and drink deep from its cup.  I am working on becoming the truest Self I can be and I try to serve the Good and teach my children to do the same.  If, when I die, it can be said that I gave the world a little more Wisdom and I made the world a little Better, then I will count my Self successful.