Saturday, March 14, 2015

Twigs And Thoughts: What A Life!

East Tennessee is still recovering and cleaning up after a horrendous two weeks of snow, ice, rain, more ice and high winds. I have cleaned up most of the downed tree limbs (only one entire tree, fortunately) and general mess on our property. Most limbs were about 15 to 20 feet long and about the size of my thigh where they broke off from the trunk.
First I dragged and pulled the stuff together in four area of our yard. Then I waited until more rain had come and gone. Then I was able to use my chain saw to cut the smaller limbs off and saw up the bigger stuff into fireplace-sized pieces. After stacking this up, I was left with all the twisted, interconnected, and intertwined smaller branches. Those have been awful to remove and grind up in my chipper. I’ll grab a branch and a pencil-lead-sized twig at the end of a 40-lb, branch will get entwined with anther similar twig from another set of branches. Those two little twigs will hang on to each other until I am trying to pull 150 lbs. of limbs while balancing on one foot and holding onto my chain saw and my nippers.
It’s amazing how resilient these cute, little twigs can be.
Once I just stopped and screamed. Once I simply laughed out loud at the ridiculousness of the whole situation. Most of the time I’d just smile as I took my nippers to one of these twigs, saying quietly, “Take that, you little shit.”
But these intertwined and interconnected limbs reminded me of my thought process. One thought gets introduced to another, which is tied to a third, and the next thing I know my mind is off in places so far removed from the task at hand, it’s amazing. “How did I end up thinking about this?” I’d wonder. I had started off thinking about the limbs, then moved on to politicians and their shifting political gamesmanship, and ended up standing there angry about biblical literalists as well as Islamic fundamentalists. How did that happen?
I realized that my thoughts were being driven by my emotions. One “frustration” emotion-thought will lead to another and then to a “resentful” emotion-thought, which will lead to another and on to an “exasperated” emotion and its related memories and thoughts. It reminded me of that adage, “Whenever you mentally take a trip down memory lane you’ll find yourself in dangerous territory.”
But – and this is the important observation I made – this is the ego mind I use to navigate my self through life! No wonder I can get myself into such a tizzy – especially over the little things – like twigs, not downed limbs. I’ve heard in AA meetings: It’s not the bears that will chase you out of the woods. It’s the mosquitoes.
From A Course In Miracles, Workbook for Students, Lesson 71.2,3: “The ego’s plan for salvation [finding happiness, being at peace, being centered, being fulfilled] centers around holding grievances [having upsets, frustrations, being angry, condemning, having judgments/opinions, relishing self-pity, having expectations, trying to be in control, fighting to be right]. It maintains that, if someone else spoke or acted differently, if some external circumstance or event were changed, you would be saved. Thus, the source of salvation is constantly perceived as outside yourself. Each grievance you hold is a declaration, an assertion in which you believe, that says, ‘If this were different, I would be saved.’ The change of mind necessary for salvation is thus demanded of everyone and everything except yourself.
“The role assigned to your own mind in this plan, then, is simply to determine what, other than itself, must change if you are to be saved [finding happiness, being at peace, being centered, being fulfilled]….This fruitless search will continue, for the illusion persists that, although this hope has failed before, there is still grounds for hope in other places and in other things. Another person [including an out-there-somewhere God] will yet serve better; another situation will yet offer success.”
How can I escape this? Let God’s plan for my salvation go to work for me. What is His plan for me? To be happy. To be joyous, To be free. To be forgiving. To allow my defects, guilt and fear to be removed so the light within me (which has always been there) can shine. The Holy Spirit will then use me to become the Light of the world.
How do I turn my life over? By being still. By training my mind to quiet itself and to learn to listen – not to the raucous voices of my twig-like ego – but to the whispers of the Holy Spirit. By asking God to reveal His plan for me – asking what He would have me do, where He would have me go, and what He would have me say and to whom. And then simply listen for His whispers. [Lesson 71.9]
Although these messages are mostly for me, thanks for listening. As always – feel free to forward this message to your friends, family, and those accompanying you on your spiritual journey.
#3 March 2015

Copyright 2015

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