One Apple A Day #832 – Spirituality

Day two of this journey into these strengths cards, and it’s already a tough one. At least it is for me.

I had a very religious upbringing that played a big part in making me who I am today. Until my late twenties, I’ve been very active in my parish. I lovely memories of those years; a lot of fun and a great sense of belonging. 

Then something broke within me. I began to perceive the forms of which I was part, as empty shells. That sense of emptiness became so strong that I had to walk away.

For many years, I did my best to stay away from the word “spirituality”. As if it was tainted somehow. It took me a decade to release the beliefs and conditionings that come with that word. Only then, I was able to begin a new journey of rediscovery to bring back that part of me in my life. And almost another decade to become comfortable in using this word again.

Now I see spirituality as the ability to perceive the essence beyond the form. And it’s an ability that I practice every day.

I haven’t written much, but as I said, this is not an easy word to write about. So, I’d like to share two writings that I love on the subject.

The Mystical Core of Organized Religion” by Br. David Steindl-Rast is an excellent article about the relationship between organised religions and mysticism. The image of the volcano is so powerful, and it perfectly describes how I felt when I stepped away from religion.

The Egg” by Andy Weir is a magical story that resonates with me on so many levels and can give you an idea of where I am today.

One Apple A Day #733 – you are me

“Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.” – Matthew 25:40

I went to bed yesterday evening with this sentence in my head. 

A reminiscence from my childhood, maybe.

When I woke up, it was still there.

So, I checked it out, and it’s a small bit from a quite judgemental parable from Jesus. One in which he spoke about judgement day and the division between the righteous ones going to heaven and the not so righteous going to hell.

I’d like to stand clear of the judgement part, as I believe everyone carries both sides. At least, I do.

But that sentence wants to tell me something.

On the surface, I may read it as a piece of advice; be good and kind with others if you want to be welcome to heaven.

But to me, it says something more. It reminds me that the divine is within each one of us. That we are all made of the same substance. Even more, that we are one.

And that means that “every time I hurt someone, I am hurting myself. Every act of kindness I do, I’m doing it to yourself. Every happy and sad moment ever experienced by any human is, was, and will be, experienced by me.

Just think about how the world would change if we all live with this awareness. If we all act from this place of oneness.

Me, I’m not there yet. Quite far to be honest. But I can feel the power and peace that comes from just reflecting on this.

It is a journey.

One that I’m willing to walk.

If you have some time, read this today.

One Apple A Day #705 – broken mirror

There is no one to fix.

I attended a powerful online gathering with Nick Askew yesterday evening (check out his fantastic work). He shared those words while opening the space, and I had to write them down. They sounded and still sound so pure, powerful, and liberating to me. 

The gathering went on. There were many faces on my screen. Each one with a story. Some were shared, others just imagined.

And while I was observing this big portrait of humanity, a few other words came out of my pen.

There is no one to fix, yet we are all broken.

A paradox, yet it felt, and it feels so true. 

How is it possible?

Then I remembered a poem by Rumi.

“The truth was a mirror in the hands of God. It fell, and broke into pieces. Everybody took a piece of it, and they looked at it and thought they had the truth.”

We are all pieces of the same shattered mirror. Each fragment is a mirror in itself, but not the whole. Complete and incomplete, broken and perfect at the same time. 

We don’t need to be fixed. Yet, we all are aware, at some level, that we are fragments of the same broken mirror, and we long to feel whole again. 

One Apple A Day #694 – the crazy fly

Sometimes my mind is like a fly trapped in a room. Buzzing around frantically, hitting all surfaces with the hope to find a way out.

Why don’t you just stop and look around? The window’s half-open. If you stop and observe for a second, you would see the way out immediately.

This morning is one of those times. My mind is flying everywhere, relentless bouncing on old and new thoughts. 

Then I picked a card saying “engaging and freeing all the energy“. There’s the drawing of a cage with the door open and a bird flying out.

Again. The same card as yesterday morning.

What does all this mean? 

Where am I trapped? 

What is my cage? 

How do I get out?

Ah, the crazy fly is back again. 

Wait a moment. 

What about that zen story that a friend told me yesterday?

A senior and a junior monk were travelling together. On their journey, they came to a river with a strong current. They were preparing to cross it when they noticed a young and beautiful woman. She too wanted to cross the river, so she asked if they could help her get to the other side.

The two monks glanced at one another. They had taken vows not to touch a woman, how can they help?

Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, and carrying her on his shoulders, he crossed the river. He placed her gently on the other side and then proceed on his journey. All without talking.

The younger monk was upset. He couldn’t believe what had just happened. He was speechless, and for the following hours, they didn’t share a word.

After three hours, the younger monk could contain his anger anymore and lashed out. “You know that we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”

The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”

One Apple A Day #686 – my sanctuary

Sanctuary.

This word keeps coming back in my thoughts.

According to the dictionary, it is a “protection or a safe place, especially for someone or something being chased or hunted.”

This word also brings back memories of holy buildings, monasteries or churches where we used to go in symbolic pilgrimage when I was a kid.

My sanctuary is the place where I can detach from the mundane life and connect with my higher self. When I can listen to the universe – god, the field, the soul or however you call it – whispering. When I can ask the questions that have no answers.

In many fables, the sages live on top of a mountain. The medicine men use to go to the sacred mountain seeking answers. And religious people go to their temples.

What about now? Now that we are all locked within the wall of our houses. We can’t climb any mountains, we can’t sit in our temples. We can’t even walk out in nature. 

Yet, to me, having a sanctuary is vital. 

The environment is undoubtedly essential. Nothing opens up my mind as being in nature, being it the shore with the waves before me or the top of a mountain closer to the sky. But my sanctuary is most of all an inner state. So, I try to create my personal sanctuary every day.

I do it early in the morning, where everything is silent. I have a ritual, a sequence of steps I do every morning to get me to that place of full presence. 

My sanctuary.

Going there every morning, even if only for a few minutes, keeps me grounded.