My life has changed radically in the last decade, in ways I could not have predicted. In a mid-life career change, I went to university and did a degree in Mathematics and became a Maths teacher and then Head of Year in a busy school. Then I burned out and was unwell, confined to bed for months.
Raging in my journal about how I was “supposed” to be a teacher, the words “yes, but not a teacher of Mathematics, a teacher of God” led me to a Google search, to the discovery of The Teachers of God Foundation and to my current role as Evolve Community Manager and Awareness Podcast Host. Along the way, I also became an ordained interfaith minister and spiritual midwife!
Along the way I kicked and struggled and raged at the injustice of “my life” falling apart. In my constant journaling, looking for answers, certain words kept appearing again and again and again:
There is nothing wrong.
Relax and enjoy!
Are you kidding me?
It felt as though I had lost everything. My health, my job, my status, my income, my raison d’être.
How could I relax and enjoy this?
I thought I was losing my mind as well as everything else. I kept on journaling, increasingly writing about myself in the 3rd person, as if I was observing someone else’s life:
“She believed the lie she had been told for most of her life. Be a good girl, work hard, put others first, do your best. Her whole life was built around this lie. She had tried hard to secure her place in the world, to secure their love.
She hid her sadness, her aloneness, her sense of being different and tried to fit in. She presented her happy, helpful, perfectly made-up face to the world as she had been taught to do.
But, one day, a cold wind of change blew through and uprooted her carefully constructed life.
She raged against this injustice “Why me?” she cried. “I don’t deserve this!”, “I always tried so hard”.
Day after day, she tried to rebuild her life. She had all the tools: yoga, meditation, counsellors, therapists and advisors, the latest spiritual books. Her constant mantra: “I must try harder”.
But try as she might, she could not go on. Every time she smiled and said, “I am fine, thanks” was another lie. Every downward dog she pushed herself into was another affront to her fragile soul.
On the very day she gave up striving, she thought she heard a song. At first, she caught only the softest grace note, but as she began to slow down and listen, she heard the tantalising snippets of an ancient, long-forgotten melody.
“You are loved, just as you are.”
“Nothing to do, nothing to strive for.”
And finally, the one that made the ears of her soul prick up:
“Relax and enjoy”.
She took to her bed, unwilling to get up until she had understood. She thought she was going mad, hearing voices in the wind. She decided even madness would be preferable to the constant striving. She wanted to know the truth.
She noticed the light streaming through her bedroom window, the breeze causing the branches on the trees to dance. She saw the birds gliding effortlessly through the sky, the buds on the cherry blossom tree that always appears at Easter. She watched it happening, without effort.
She breathed in and out, and as tears poured down her cheeks, she realised she was being breathed. Each breath was a gift she did nothing to earn. She saw that she is just like the trees, the birds.
For the first time, in a lifetime spent trying to achieve, she noticed it is enough to lie on her back and watch herself being breathed, watch the trees being blown, the birds being flown, the buds being born.
It is all there is.
It is enough.”
Looking back on these words, written more than 5 years ago, all I see is Grace. Who knows why things happen as they do, both personally and collectively? I have found it so challenging to give up the desire to know, to understand, to make meaning out of everything.
In 2018, I decided to do the workbook lessons of A Course in Miracles every day and do exactly what it says and by Day 2 it had already taught me “I have given everything all the meaning it has for me”! My conditioning to try hard and do well (even at the expense of my own health) had superimposed a meaning on my life that I made up and had believed all my life!
Here, I hear my good friend, Diederik Wolsak’s voice:
“Oh honey, thank God you made it up, it is not true, you can let it go.”
Stop for a moment and ponder what you are making up, about yourself, about the world, about other people. What meaning do you give things? Especially those things you might label “bad” or “difficult.” When insight comes, like a flash of Grace, meaning drops and we return to the truth and the peace of not knowing.
Shortly after the recognition that I was being breathed, I started to write poetry or rather poetry started to appear in my journal!
This was one of the first:
Can you see it, my love?
You are beginning to wake up.
Can you see what we have done together?
You are ready to trust.
Can you see the perfection
of all the things you fought so hard against?
The pain of losing it all, the loneliness of chronic illness,
the stripping away of all you thought defined you.
You are beyond definitions.
The joy when the mind agreed that it was right,
the pain of thinking everything gone wrong.
There is nothing wrong.
Nothing can ever go wrong in this perfection.
You are standing, now, on the threshold,
knowing your arrival here is inevitable.
In the quietness of your mind,
in this vast still place where you belong,
from which you came
and to which you return,
you know the truth.
There is nothing wrong.
I will whisper it, in songs of love.
I will shout it, through screams of pain
There is nothing wrong.
The heart slows, the mind stills, the eyes open,
blinking in this new reality, as old as time.
Trust all that comes,
love everything that arises as though you chose it.
Because you did.
Oh my sweet girl, there is nothing wrong.
You are free.
The wisdom in those words is still revealing itself to me years later as I learn to integrate and embody my awakening. And even those words jar in my ears now, because the recognition is that I, Susan don’t do any of it. I never did. It has all been (IS) the dance of divine energy playing through this Susan character.
THAT is what it means to relax and enjoy. Waking up every morning in joy and celebration not knowing what is going to happen today, every day an adventure, even when as this past Saturday, that adventure ended in hospital with a torn ligament in my ankle!
Knowing EVERYTHING is a call from my Beloved as Rumi says in this wonderful poem:
“Last night I learned how to be a lover of God,
To live in this world and call nothing my own.
I looked inward
And the beauty of my own emptiness
filled me till dawn.
It enveloped me like a mine of rubies.
Its hue clothed me in red silk.
Within the cavern of my soul
I heard the voice of a lover crying,
“Drink now! Drink now!”—
I took a sip and saw the vast ocean—
Wave upon wave caressed my soul.
The lovers of God dance around
And the circle of their steps
becomes a ring of fire round my neck.
Heaven calls me with its rain and thunder—
a hundred thousand cries
yet I cannot hear.....
All I hear is the call of my Beloved.”
Everything happening in your life now, in the world now is a call of the Beloved, whether it manifests as “songs of love” or “screams of pain”.
Take some time after reading this, to listen, to journal, to ask
“what do you want to show me?”
Listen again to Rumi