awe and ecstasy and boundaries


Oh, these vast, calm, measureless mountain days, days in whose light everything seems equally divine, opening a thousand windows to show us God.

John Muir

There is an abundance of reasons to feel awe each day – the sun rising and the birds singing and the clouds that dot the sky and our very own breath are all reasons to find ourselves in awe. This profusion of awe-inspiring moments held within a day has never been much of a deterrent for the fear and darkness that has found a home with my spirit.

I look around me and I see a million small things that need to be done, things that should have been done yesterday or the day before or a week ago; I see the chaos within my mind reflected in my surroundings. I feel the dark waters rising around my ankles, my calves, my thighs – I feel the weight of taking care of three children and an adult recovering from surgery baring down on my shoulders. Boundaries and limits and ‘wait a minutes’ have never come easily for me – my entire life, I have aimed to please everyone around me. No is a word I find difficult to say. I want to indulge every little whim of those around me, because I want their approval and I want to make them happy.

As a mother, I have learned to say no, though it goes against my very core to say it. As a woman, I have had the word thrown back in my face, ignored, and laughed at. I have been made to feel guilty for attempting to put boundaries in place. I have been taken advantage of, emotionally and physically and monetarily. I have given myself to others completely, and have been thrown away when I am no longer useful, when I make a mistake, or when I finally stand up for myself.

The sheer volume of my duties increases the level of those dark waters, threatening to rise and drown me in the cold and impenetrable blackness. How did I ever believe that I would be able to keep up with everything, be able to take care of four additional people when I could barely take care of three, let alone myself?

My seeming inability to erect useful limits and boundaries is not specific to other people – I have struggled with setting them for myself as well. I sit down for a few moments, to breathe or to rest my feet or my back, and hours later I find that the day has gotten away from me. I struggle with an eating disorder, and without proper medication, I find that I mentally cannot force myself to refrain from binge-eating. If I schedule things too tightly, I have a panic attack – if I live life moment to moment, I find that I am often bored or things do not get done. I have not found a happy medium where the limits and boundaries I know that I need, for myself, work in tandem with my desire for freedom.

I know where the lines need to be drawn in order for me to be able to spread my wings and experience ecstasy in this world. However, just because I know what and where things need to be done, does not mean I know how to do them. I am working on it, though it will take time and effort on my part, and an understanding support network, to succeed.

Every day there are lessons to learn – the Universe is an invaluable teacher if we sit still for a moment and listen. In our world of instant gratification and high-energy situations, few people are capable of sitting still and just listening. Whether we are alone or with people, there is always a need to fill the silence – with talking, with music, with television. Something must always be making noise, usually by electronic means.

“Ancient people saw and heard oracles everywhere because they lived in an ensouled world. The phrase ‘ensouled world’ may inspire us today, but perceiving everything around us as truly alive, brimming with consciousness, intensely present, and gazing back at us is an experience of a different order. Few adults living in modern culture are able to sustain an ensouled relationship with creation for more than a few moments at a time…” 

–Dianne Skafte

Silence used to be an integral part of life – to walk silently meant that we could be successful during a hunt, to sit in silence meant that we could hear the world around us and know what was there, to listen to others speak without feeling the need to respond in some way meant that we could learn and it also meant that we did not miss anything that was said.

I have been challenging myself for years to take a moment of silence during my days to listen to the Universe. Sometimes I use divination tools to bring forward messages, other times I listen to the wind and the birds and the distant sounds of civilisation. I do not always succeed in taking those few moments, but when I do I learn something valuable, regardless of how insignificant it may seem at the time.


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