Saturday, March 20, 2010

A Very Long Goodbye

My dad passed away last week. He had been ill for a very long time with failure of most of his major organs. He also had suffered from severe alcoholism that made him a different person, not always easy to get along with. I remember Nancy Reagan expressing her ordeal with her husband's Alzheimer's as "a very long goodbye," and I think this has been a similar experience. It is the constant hope that the person you know is in there will emerge and be different. It is the delicate balance of not giving up faith, but also not being to consumed in hope. I think what helped me do that was changing my faith not to things getting better or going away, but to understanding that they were for a purpose, to teach things, or provide opportunities for growth. In that process, I learned to let go of hurt, to detach in a healthy way, and be grateful for the lessons learned from the experience.

I don't know if we ever totally outgrow the need for our parents' approval. As I sat at my dad's bedside in the hospital the day before he died, I took some time to think of funny stories and talk about better times that we had shared. I told him how much I loved him and thanked him for all that he had done for me or taught me, told him the things that I was proud of him for. And although I knew he had not been responsive for days, not truly coherent for months, or totally lucid for years, there was a part of me that hoped he would say it back or give some indication that he wanted to say it back. In spite of my growth and understanding that our approval comes from within, from seeking truth - in that moment, I wanted his approval.

When I think more deeply about this, I think it stems from our belief that we are not quite worthy of God's approval. We seek it from our earthly parents and others, in part, because we are longing for that unconditional love from God, doubting that it could be there for us always. We cling more easily to the things we have done wrong or our seeming imperfections, but not very easily to the things we have done right. We see ourselves as less than we truly are, as flawed and undeserving of God's rewards.

When I think of God in the metaphor of "Heavenly Father" that has been painted for us, I think of my own sons and how I want them to see and know the good in themselves. When I feel like they are down on themselves or feeling like they are unworthy, it breaks my heart. I know how wonderful they are and want them to always feel that and know it. There have been times over the years when I could not get through to them with this idea, as even kids can be very down on themselves sometimes, and the world around them not so gentle. It was a horrible feeling for me, as a mother, to think that they were hurting or that they did not see their own gifts or perfection. I can only assume that God gets the same feeling when we think less of ourselves than He knows He made us to be. It must be tough to watch over all of your children knowing that they cannot see their own talents, their own abilities, or that they go around feeling like they are less than worthy of all that you want to give them. If we want to serve God or serve the world, we should not burden Him by accepting any idea that we are less, but should see ourselves as he our glory.

Throughout this week, dealing with my father's passing, I have looked to my own sons for love, and they have been there. My house lifted when they came through the door after traveling all day to get here. It makes me think of how God not only welcomes us home at any time, but probalby misses us being there with him. We can go home to heaven whenever we want by laying down our fears or our feelings of unworthiness, lifting ourselves up instead of tearing ourselves down; but we resist, thinking that we have not yet earned it. And God waits, ready to give approval, waiting for us to see ourselves as He does, perhaps broken hearted that we cannot.

I did not get my dad's approval at his bedside, or at least not directly, due to his state of unconsciousness; but I asked that he give me signs after passing, to let me know he was ok. I have received those signs that he is not only ok, but that he is thriving and alive again. My dad has heaven again...if he had only known it was there all along.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

How Dreams Can Guide Us

“Dreams are illustrations... from the book your soul is writing about you.” (~Marsha Norman)

Our sleeping dreams can be great teachers and guides in our daily lives. Sometimes these confused dreams of nighttime are teaching us in a subconscious way even if we don't "get it" consciously. Recently, I had a dream that was so symbolic of things I was going through, telling me how to deal with them, trying to vividly alert me how to react or proceed. If you have followed this blog over the last few posts, you know that I have been engaging in some difficult, yet ultimately liberating, detachment from some almost lifelong family patterns and issues.

A couple of weeks ago, during the crux of this process, I had a dream that was unclear and troubling in the moment, but became crystal clear to me when I recalled it the next day. It was an eye-opening parallel. In my dream, I recall having a problem with water pipes being clogged, causing my water supply to be barely a trickle and drying up quickly. I discovered that the pipes were clogged with vines, so I set about cutting and pulling the vines in an attempt to clear the pipes and return to full water flow. I kept working at it, but the more I worked, the less it seemed to help, as the water flow continued to diminish. I was frustrated as I continued to cut and clear, but then heard a voice that said, "It won't do any good to keep cutting because they will just grow back as quickly as you cut them, and will grow bigger. You need to replace the entire pipeline in order to get water. If you do not, you will have no life source flowing."

Wow. That was a moment of truth. In the moment of the dream, it was all about pipes and vines, but the next day, I understood this symbolism perfectly because, metaphorically speaking, I had always tried to fix the existing "pipes" to return the flow of water by removing the "vines", even though they only kept growing bigger and more invasive over time, coming back repeatedly in increasingly damaging ways. I was gradually cutting off my ability to connect to source, because those continuously choking obstacles that I could not eliminate were blocking that connection. Water is a source of physical of life, just as God is the source of spiritual life. If we block or slow the source, we cannot thrive, we cannot be fully alive in our greatest capacity. I was already aware that the obstacles around me had been blocking my spiritual connection to some extent, but this dream made it clear that the two could not continue in this manner...the blockages were winning by disallowing the flow. As I have stayed committed to detachment, my connection to spirit and spiritual gifts has come back in full force, or possibly even stronger than ever.

Our dreams tell us significant things, particularly when we are seeking a greater connection to Spirit. If we seek answers and ask for them, they will be revealed to us in many ways, including through our dreams. And while we may not always understand or even remember the dreams, they are at work in reminding us where we need to be and what is in our way. If we are sincerely ready to follow, the path will be shown to us.

Some believe that the dream state is part of our connection to the Spirit dimension, and that it is actually more "real" than our waking state of human existence. I tend to agree with this idea, and believe that dreams can provide so many answers, as well as momentary relief from the things that trouble us in our 3-dimensional existence. I receive a lot of communication from angels in my dreams, particularly at key stages in my spiritual growth. Whenever I follow the advice from my dream state, I find that the communication and connection in the waking state gets stronger.

So if you are seeking a greater connection, start with your dreams. Prior to going to sleep, ask that your dreams be used to reveal things to you. They are probably already being used that way, but asking for it can make them more of a focus for angels or spirit to communicate with you. Try to write the dreams down to see if they will later have meaning or become clearer to you. We have often been told to "follow our dreams," but perhaps we should do this in more ways than one. Apply the advice and guidance that resonates from your dream state, and it may help lead you to your greatest waking dreams, and everything you desire in your life.