‘Tis a gift to be simple and free …

Music travels with me … arising spontaneously as if in answer to questions of my mind and prayers of my heart. I remember my absolute amazement the first time I heard Bette Midler on my car radio singing ‘God is watching us, from a distance’ … because I pulled over to the curb immediately focused my attention to be sure of what I was hearing. Afterward I drove to the nearest Blockbuster and (uncharacteristically) purchased the CD on the spur of the moment because I needed to hear it again and again.

Although born to parents of the Dutch Reformed faith and raised in that church until the age of 12, I feel most at home when or wherever I attend a Methodist service where I spent my teen-aged and young to mid-adult years … before becoming a student of A Course in Miracles in my mid 40s. Somehow the atmosphere and messages there seem universally inclusive and consistently welcoming to me. Hymns from both religious traditions inform my life even now. The music feels mystical and transcends the memories and messages of each denomination, however other songs from childhood pop into mind frequently as well. Lately the Hokey Pokey has taken on new meaning I may write at greater length about another time, but the idea of ‘putting parts of ourselves in and out, turning and shaking them all about’ seems both funny and wise indeed … but I digress.

Several friends who refer to themselves as ‘lapsed Catholics’ tell me they’ve never heard the Quaker song below … yet as I’ve leaned into (rather than away from) confusion these past weeks to learn what I can, it’s this melody and lyric that arises most often:

‘Tis a gift to be simple, ’tis a gift to be free
‘Tis a gift to come down where you ought to be
… and when you find yourself in the place just right,
’twill be in the valley of love and delight.

When true simplicity is gained,
to bow and to bend we shant be ashamed
to turn, turn will be our delight
’til by turning, turning, we come round right.”

Upon awakening with this song in my mind, I felt drawn to address simplicity and freedom this morning on my blog. I’ve opted to use my laptop rather than put pen to paper as I usually do because I have limited time to scan, copy, upload, record a labyrinth piece and add the AudioAcrobat button due to scheduled activities and it’s been too long since my last post. However, all too often when my fingers touch the keyboard, my inner editor interrupts my thoughts by ‘filtering & fixing’ words, sentences, and paragraphs compulsively.

Today is no exception. I’m doing my best to graciously thank, dismiss and ignore her presence … though not with much success. I create a labyrinth piece in 10-15 minutes on average, but it’s taken me more than 30 minutes to get this far and there’s no telling how confusing this piece will be to readers because my mind is a strangely wild and creatively imaginative place and it’s easy to lose track of my intentions.

I’m sorely tempted to close the laptop … pick up pen & paper to let the thoughts flow freely … but I suspect if I do so I’ll not publish anything yet again because that’s what’s happened for weeks! So here I sit, continuing as best I can to return to the topic at hand … simplicity and freedom.

For those who know temperament types, I’m an INFP (introverted, intuitive, feeling, perceiver) and ‘decision-making’ is not a strong suit to say the least. My busy mind constantly entertains complexities, examines issues from multiple perspectives and delights in playing with possibilities. I’m a recovering perfectionist and procrastinator so I’m doing what I can to stay present & focused on small, simple specific next steps. In addition to experimenting with EFT and ‘Tapping’ … I’ve been practicing a technique that Carol Look calls ‘the next yes’. Simplicity, clarity, and freedom emerge as I limit options and focus on the present moment asking: Do I want eggs or oatmeal for breakfast? Shall I use the laptop or pen and paper to create this piece? Publish now or later?

I’m reminded of a story Susan Piver shares in ‘how not to be afraid of your life’ concerning the Dalai Lama astonishment to learn (through Sharon Salzburg’s question about how to help people who feel unworthy) that there were people who experience self-hatred and unworthiness. Apparently there is no word for this in the Tibetan language because in that culture everyone assumes ‘the Buddha nature’ exists in everyone.

I experienced similar surprise in multiple settings these past few weeks as beliefs I’ve long held as givens (or gospel) have dissolved into new awareness in simple freeing ways. I’ll write more about this later, but (alas) time’s up for now. I must either publish or save for later. I choose to publish as is even if it’s incomplete and/or imperfect … just because.

On this Valentine’s Day I encourage you to feel and share LOVE wherever you go with whomever you encounter in whatever ways seem appropriate … a thoughtful gift, kind gesture, a simple smile, et cetera(Closing aside: I’m laughing to myself as I type the term which always brings to mind Yul Brynner and Deborah Kerr in The King and I and never fails to make me smile).

Thought for Today
“Without love, what are we worth? Eighty-nine cents! Eighty-nine cents worth of chemicals walking around lonely.” ~M*A*S*H, Hawkeye

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