Spiritual freedom does not happen by accident. It comes from following the spiritual voice found inside. However this is no easy task for those born into evil or thrust into abuse. We hear a combination of our own condemning inner voice and the abusers threats. Upon spiritual examination we find the shadow of death in the mix. The clamoring voice that actively manipulates our inner messages.
Attempting to break free is trial and error. Prayer is used more as a test rather than true conviction, in the beginning. Pray, wait, ask for guidance and protection and then repeat. Through this, prayer by prayer, practice we learn to separate harmful critical thoughts and exaggerated emotions from God led inspiration and guidance.
” the spiritual voice inside us (that leads to freedom and life) speaks of care and love. It will never tell us to hurt others or ourselves. It is our Higher Power’s voice. It’s what Step Eleven (Big Book) calls “conscious contact.”
Sometimes the voice tells us to do things we’re afraid of. For example, if we’re lonely and the voice tells us to call someone on our phone list, we may make excuses to not do it. Again, the voice may say, “Just make the call, It will be okay.” of we follow this guiding voice we’ll find happiness.” (and Spiritual Freedom!)
excerpt from “Keep It Simple: Daily Meditations for Twelve Step Beginnings and Renewal (Hazelden Meditations) Paperback – October 1, 1989
Step out of your circumstances for a while. Observe others who seem to know how to live. Perhaps observe people who are not living in anger or endless drama. There are people around us in recovery that have unlocked the door and found a way out.
People watching can be a beginning, but they can not be of much assistance to a struggling soul until a process of surrender occurs within. The AA principles, for example, lay out perfectly the process from self-reliance and unmanageability to surrender and freedom.
Swirling obsessive thoughts and knee jerk reactions may not have been of own making, but rather modeled to us by caretakers, parents, or an abuser. Although they have proven time and time again to be harmful and faulty, as long as we believe they are valid and appropriate we will stubbornly stay unchanged.
If stepping out of victimization or personal addictive behaviors a lack of faith and trust is our dilemma. We could not trust the abuser or while in active addiction could not trust ourselves or our behaviors. But we have a Creator who is continually trying to reach us and is able to change our thinking and behaviors. There is restoring power beyond our imagining. A new outlook awaits.
The key to this door, that opens to a path into the beautiful new unknown, is surrender. That key is found when we can sit quietly and dare to think outside of what we believe is our reality. The key begins to turn. There may be clutter in front of the door, or the door may slam shut again and again. Then one day it stays open. We awake to new information, new possibilities. Needed resources and strength present themselves.
The most common version of the Grail myth takes place in a medieval kingdom. The King is tragically wounded, and the kingdom is in disrepair. Father Richard describes the situation:
Most versions of the Grail legend begin with a wasteland kingdom, ruled over by one called the Fisher King. Crops are dying, monasteries are empty, and the people have no hope. All the king can do, because his wound refuses to heal, is fish all day—that is why he is called the Fisher King. This name has Christ connotations, since Jesus too was the “fisher of people.”
Fishing is the appropriate symbol of dipping down into one’s own unconscious. The sea is the natural image of the vast unconscious. I think this is the reason we can sit by the ocean for hours and watch it with fascination—waiting for the gift from the sea, waiting for something to show itself.
For author and depth psychologist Carol Pearson, the Fisher King is an archetype connected to inner places of suffering and longing:
I am weary. I have been writing and revising my manuscript for four years now. In writing a memoir, there is the apparent need to go back through the trauma experienced. I have found continued healing while going through this process of writing. The positives are that this going back also reinforces the lessons, techniques and prayer practices that have brought me out of darkness into a world of recovery and true freedom.
For survivors of trauma and addiction, roadblocks were put in place before we realized it. We remain unaware that a roadblock exists, believing we are just like everyone else, until we try to expand ourselves into an adult individual. If we have successes great! But such is life, and there are challenges all along our way. There is illness, loss, death, lost jobs, financial uncertainties, or isolation from families.
An exploration of society’s slanderous misreading of one of Disney’s most iconic princesses of all time, and how this indicates a dangerous shift in our values as a culture.
It’s 1950. You’re Walt Disney.
It’s been two years since production was fast-tracked on one of your studio’s most risky ventures. Your last three animated films, made with love and care, flopped in the midst of the Second World War. You’re millions in debt, and you’ve just finished plunging yourself farther into the hole — all for another feature-length animated project, to be given the same love and care as your previous works.
Unbeknownst to you, this film will not only catapult your studio out of debt, but also become an enduring classic in American cinema.
In the city, we are often removed from the inherent beauty of creation. Looking down so as not to trip on uneven sidewalks can only provide a downcast focus of cigarette butts, weeds, dirt, spit, discarded food and wrappers, and flies. Yet our Creator calls us to look up-to look around -to seek His kingdom on earth. Where is this kingdom?
After what we have experienced in secret the idea of being exposed is quite painful. Had we not already had our bodies exposed to lustful eyes and hands? Yes! However the illumination I speak of has an opposite and profound effect on returning to our pre-abuse identity. Leading us out of a fear filled lonely place to a place of joy filled resilience and healing.
Find your healing space. Create your haven. When organizing a home for clients, where there was hoarding or just messy chaos, I would first carve out a place for the client. To be a refuge from their inner trauma or their addiction to hoarding. Maybe they needed a place to escape the chaos from a partner or child that was troubled with alcoholism, codependency, or other unhealthy tendencies.
Father Richard Shares……Today I share a contemplative poem from CAC friend and writer Felicia Murrell. Felicia’s words combine a deep awareness of God’s presence while clearly naming the collective trauma of police brutality and lynchings. It is worth remembering, as Black liberation theologian James Cone (1938–2018) points out, that the lynchings of African Americans and the crucifixion of Jesus share much in common: “Both the cross and the lynching tree were symbols of terror, instruments of torture and execution, reserved primarily for slaves, criminals, and insurrectionists—the lowest of the low in society.”  There is something about poetry that gives us permission to sit with the paradoxes of our pain, perhaps especially when addressing traumatic suffering. I invite you to read Felicia’s challenging words slowly, allowing your heart to break open to God’s love amidst the suffering of the world.