Pieces to Peace: Redemption

free photo of desert

I have banished pieces of my soul
To distant places in the desert of my life,
Where no predator can sniff the scent of shame.
Parched, pale remnants of miscarried experiences,
Are separated, not cut away
As Tibetan Buddhists
Dismember their dead to honor life.
These are abandoned out of fear of life.

The Seer inside weeps for the missing pieces
Until the time for action replaces grief.
She lifts up her mighty frame, and swaying across the desert,
She swoops up the cast-off pieces
And with one sound kiss, redeems them
With her love.

What was separated is seamed.
Pieces to Peace.

c. rita h kowats 2013

Published in presence, An International Journal of Spiritual Direction: Vol. 20, NO.1. March 2014

Clarissa Pinkola Estes’ story about La Huesera, The Bone Woman, has walked with me in this meditation.  A Jungian psychotherapist and a keeper of the stories, Dr. Estes is a read you will not easily forget (http://www.clarissapinkolaestes.com/index.htm) .  The Bone Woman, as the legend goes, lives in our souls and does the work of collecting bones from the desert so that she can sing life back into them.

THE PIECES

Walk with me in meditation for a time.  What experiences have you hidden away out of shame or anger or disappointment or revenge?  If your experience could talk to you, what might it say?  What do you want to say to it?

SENDING FORTH

Look deeply into your soul.  What do you see?  Can you find the Bone Woman?  What form does she take in you?  What qualities does she have- courage? intuition?  “holy audacity?” forgiveness?  perseverance?  Do you have faith that she can redeem your lost pieces?  Is it time?  Which particular pieces can she bring back to you at this time?  Which ones need to stay in the desert until you are able to make a home for them?  Can you release Bone Woman to do her work?  Do you need help?  Who would you ask to help you?

HOMECOMING

How can you ritualize homecoming- a feast, with a friend, perhaps a reconciliation? (“For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.” Lk, 15:24.)  Make a welcome- home card and keep it in your journal.  Write a dialogue with your soul-piece, forgiving it and asking its forgiveness for abandoning it.  If you are a painter, paint the return!  Just do something to mark it.

PRAY

In the presence of the Holy, I shed the shroud of shame and fear.  I commit myself to live in one peace.  Amen.

God Is Not a “Magic Helper”

I pray God that he may quit me of god
Scripture abounds with crippling images of God as warrior, power-grabbing king, and patronizing parent who would not let anything bad happen to us. The God of Exodus 20.5 says, “I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations.” These images created by the authors of scripture, rob us of any personal authority we have as human beings and they have had such a hold on us, that we relinquish the freedom given to us by the real God who is beyond all images. No wonder Meister Eckhart pleads, “I pray God that he may quit me of god.”

Eric Fromm, the human potential psychologist, escaped the Holocaust and thereafter recognized the evils of manipulating God as a way to legitimate genocide. He chose atheism as his path. He has left us with a passionate analysis of the self-annihilation that results when we totally immerse ourselves in an image of God as a “magic helper.” Fromm reminds us t hat we lose ourselves in this image-making. Human beings “…project the best [they] have onto God, and thus impoverish themselves.” (Psychoanalysis and Religion pg. 49) Fromm’s atheism is different from Eckhart’s, which is a death to negative images, not to the God beyond the images; however, Fromm’s analysis wakes us up, and invites us to rid ourselves of debilitating images of God.

Fromm’s analysis and Eckhart’s plea came together for me as I watched a 60 Minutes presentation May 18, entitled, “Three Generations of Punishment.” It was about Shin Dong-Hyuk, who escaped from Camp 14 in North Korea, after 23 yrs. He was born in the prison. His parents were imprisoned because their parents had advocated against the government. The guards behave like gods; warlike and vengeful on one hand, and patronizing “magic helpers” on the other hand. Until he befriended a new prisoner, Shin dong-Hyuk had no knowledge of the outside world. He thought that the rules of the camp were right and he was happy to obey, to the point of turning in his parents for disobeying, and feeling no remorse at their execution. His experience was very much like the experiences of those suffering from Stockholm Syndrome. A survivor of the TWA Flight 847 terrorist hijacking said of her captors, “They weren’t bad people; they let me eat, they let me sleep, they gave me my life.”

I believe that many of us today suffer from a kind of spiritual Stockholm Syndrome, constructed with the false god-images we have made and worshipped. We stay safe within these images rather than accept the freedom and responsibility of living as fully human persons. I pray for myself and all of us each day, that we may have the courage to let God be God in and through us. I pray that we may rid ourselves of god.