On Being Zen and the Not-So-Thick Veil

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As I’ve been living my pagan/mundane life, walking my path in ‘this’ reality with most of my being, and walking in the magical realm with one foot, or, more often, just a few toes or a pinky finger trailing in the  mist, I’ve been at a bit of a loss for what gems of ideas to share on this blog.  I’ve had a few ideas here and there, but nothing really grabbed me, until today.  Part of the reason for my state of cat-caught-the-tongue is something that touched me deeply:  a friend of a nearly mutual faith has recently passed.  Before she passed, since her eyesight was failing, her daughter read my blogs (few as they are) to her.  I can’t help but be thankful that my last ‘gem’ revolved around the reassuring message from two faces of the goddess.  One of those faces was a Norn, the message from which hopefully brought a message of comfort to my friend in her last days of life here, because she is (was) Asatru:  a person who follows the ancient faith of Scandinavia.

The reason I’m writing today is just to share the lessons I’ve learned the last few months.  These lessons have been simple and profound for myself.  They may or may not have come from an ‘otherworldly’ source, but then again, I’m becoming more and more convinced that the blurry line between the worlds is a lot more blurry than we would like to believe.  Most people fear the world of the mystical, but I’m coming to believe that the mystical is really more homey and real than most want to believe.  Yes, the ‘veil’ is thinner around Samhain (Halloween), but in my opinion, the veil isn’t all that thick at all other times.  (Also, why would the ‘veil’ be thinner at Samhain for those who believe it so for that time of year, and be thinner for Chinese people at their New Year, which tends be around our Imbolc/Candlemass time around February 2nd? How can ‘the veil’ change in how thick or thin it is according to where and when you live in the world? Who decides how thin it is- do we and our cultural norms, or do forces beyond us? I digress.) So, lessons we learn may seem to be pretty mundane, when they may actually come from a source much deeper and divine.

Both lessons have roots in my new loving relationship.  This new loving experience I’m having is different than all the other ones I’ve had.  Of course, each one has been different from all others, but this one seems to be unique in that it is full of genuine love.  I’m realizing a few things about myself, that I need to keep in check or to improve on psychologically, in order to fully embrace this man and this relationship.  The first lesson is to be more zen and to trust, which is a recurring theme for me, as I tend to be a ‘worry wart’ and anxious about the silliest things.  However, I didn’t expect this lesson to surface from experiences in this relationship.  

The reason why I should be zen and to trust is because I am truly loved.  I can never really reach into someone else and pull out their innermost feelings and thoughts and examine them closely, so I need to trust that this is true.  I hadn’t realized this until recently, but in all my previous relationships, I assumed I wasn’t loved (I didn’t trust), and did everything I could so that I could be loved, or continue to be loved.  I just falsely knew without being aware of it, as much as I knew my own face, that I couldn’t just be simply loved for no explainable reason. Or, if I was loved, it wasn’t a true love that would last- it was a flimsy love that would easily disintegrate unless I did whatever I could to be some kind of super-pleaser.  I still had that attitude in this relationship and it was driving me nuts with anxiety, until I realized that he still loved me, with a simple, earthy grounded assurance.  

It’s quite a different experience to relax and enjoy a wonderful, simple gift that has been given, without any work to try to keep it in place, when I’m so used to all that work and stress.  It’s as if I am seeing a beautiful mountain range for the first time, and realizing that it’s not going to melt away the next day or the next; it’s still going to be there, just as strong as the days and years and millennia before.  And I don’t have to keep on painting it or molding the vista (or even assume I can) to make it real.  While I’ve come to an awareness about this lesson, I’m still learning it, and many times I’ve needed to tell myself to stop building whatever scaffolds and walls or worry about whether this is going to continue, because of silly little things, like wrinkles on my face I hadn’t noticed before – that he’ll notice them and suddenly not be into me anymore – or countless other little shallow things that can easily draw me into a place of worry.  

That place of worry and anxiety is the antithesis of living in power.  Being zen and trusting also comes from a state of letting go of things I really don’t have control over, but would like to have an effect on.  Once I can be in that state, I am calm, it is easier for me to live in a state of loving, and I feel more confident. I also love myself more.  The trick is staying in that state and not sliding back into worry again!  I’ll get there and stay up on that rocky ridge and not lose my footing, I hope!  Maybe sliding back is just a part of being human.

Another lesson that might not be quite as profound is that, while our faiths seem to be fundamentally opposites (he is Catholic and I’m rather obviously pagan), the faiths haven’t clashed, yet.  Yesterday, we decorated his Christmas tree (a pagan activity, though this wasn’t really labeled as such as we did it, and it was a bit Christianized with some of his ornaments being angels and a cross) and set up his nativity scene, a decidedly Christian activity.  If he had been the sort of Christian that would believe that because I am ‘pagan,’ that means I’m a devil-worshiper or demon possessed, he would have been surprised that I didn’t have had some kind of fit from The Exorcist as we put up his nativity scene, or hissed like a vampire as I touched the cross ornament!  Of course none of that happened and it was a happy and peaceful thing that we did together.  It’s just kind of a funny thought, and I’m glad he’s not the sort of person that would believe that kind of thing!

If this was about, oh, six or seven years ago, I would have felt internally conflicted at setting up a nativity scene, even if it was owned by someone else.  About ten to fifteen years ago, I was just starting on the pagan path, and shunning my past faith which was Christianity.  For several years, I was angry at the Judeo/Christian G-d (angry at both G-ds, from the Old and from the New Testament of the Bible- they do seem to have different personalities), because if he was as powerful and as loving as many parts of that book makes him seem to be, why did he allow horrible abuses to happen to his ‘children’?  Even as I turned away and believed he didn’t exist, I ironically was also angry at him.  So, I fed the fires of his existence with my anger at his existence, while believing he didn’t exist… ya dig?

Over the years, I’ve mellowed a lot about that Christian G-d (which I’m spelling that way to please those who believe in him).  I still believe that the G-d of the Old and the New Testaments wouldn’t be a god that I would follow or revere, but I now accept that loving, good people believe and worship that god.  I’ve let go of my anger concerning him, in coming to know other faces of the divine that I feel that I can follow and revere.  And in doing so, that part of me has relaxed, become more zen and trusting, and a stronger love for others, no matter what faith they have, has sprouted as a result.

I didn’t really see until I wrote this that the two lessons are connected, coming from the same root lesson.  Be zen, trust in love – both divine and mundane – and let go. Let go, of anger and the false assumption that you can control and have an influence over that beautiful love. Instead, embrace the existence of the solid rock of millennia, that simple, unconditional (in every sense of the word) love, and that it will continue to exist beyond time.

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About idunnasapple

I'm a: pagan, Teacher of the Deaf/Hard of Hearing (TODHH), educational sign language interpreter, arts n crafter, dork, and nature lover living in beautiful Colorado, USA. I love: being cozy, crafting by myself or with others, walking in nature, camping, sitting and thinking, writing funny poetry, watching movies and well-made TV shows, eating yummy food, ... and the list goes on!

8 responses »

  1. I really love your thinking around acceptance and trust… and even about religion. I feel that my coming to acceptance and trusting myself and the people around me is part of being older – a natural part of my growth experience. I know that each person is the best person they know how to be. I know that I learn something from every experience, but not because some all-knowing being put those experiences in my path on purpose – but because learning is what we do. I know finding good in experiences is a choice. I know who I am and I’m pretty happy with it – well, except for the hairs where I don’t want hairs and that neck thing 🙂 I know I’m so happy for your trusting love, though. So happy!

    • Thanks, Nancy! You seem like a very grounded and wise person, so I really respect what you think. I’m with ya on the hairs and neck thing! And I mostly like my silver hairs, but then I worry, ‘will he see the hair and think that he’s dating an old fogie?’ silly thoughts like that, that if they did come true, then the relationship wasn’t as solid as I’d really thought. I need a silly thought broom that just sweeps them all away before they even happen. And then I’d be back to liking my silver hairs. 🙂 Thanks for the happiness!

  2. This sparks two quite separate responses for me. First, although you don’t use the term, it sounds to me like you are talking about unconditional love. “Unconditional love” is a bit of a pet peeve for me. I’d like to unburden myself of this a bit. Please understand that my intention is not to cast aspersions or criticize in any way; just something I’d like to get off my chest. (“Down, boy! Easy, pet peeve – be a good boy.”)

    Unconditional love means that it is not contingent on behavior, appearance, or anything else. To use a reductio ad absurdum: even if the beloved betrays, imprisons and tortures the lover, the unconditional lover will continue to love. The lover may act as circumstances dictate – for example by escaping, reporting the beloved to the cops, or perhaps killing the belovedn – still these acts are done from a place of love. By definition, there is no behavior so heinous that it can not be encompassed by unconditional love.

    While I do believe this sort of relationship exists, it has very little to do with a working relationship. Though Goddess knows I am (sadly) no expert on healthy, working relationships, nonetheless I believe they are built on having realistic expectations, and at least generally meeting those expectations – expectations like basic civility, common decency and consideration for each other. The kind of love that happens in a working relationship is, I think, conditioned upon such things.

    This doesn’t mean I don’t believe in unconditional love; on the contrary, I think it is the essential relationship between every part of the universe and every other part. Unconditional love is, in my opinion, what physicists call “relativity”. It is real; the universe rests upon it; but its relevance to the day-to-day working of human relationships is somewhat less than, well … death, taxes, or the price of tea in China.

    • Hey Rain,
      I like your comments. I didn’t take it to as deep a level as you did. Wow, you blew my mind a little there. 🙂 You should read my blog from last July about our experience at Litha, if you haven’t yet!

      • Thanks Lena! Just read your Litha blog – great! So nice to be transported back to that in memory. Yes, Litha was beautiful – I’m so glad you were there. A propos of ideas above: I’m planning a Beltania workshop on Talking About Paganism With Christian/Jewish/Muslim parents. I was very encouraged by a lovely conversation I had with our Priestess’ father, who is Roman Catholic, at Winterval. It was both respectful and satisfying conversation, and I believe we both ended feeling honored and empowered – certainly I did. Love you, sister!

  3. Oh, yeah – the second thing! I like very much the mutual respect for each other’s religions that you and your beloved share. For me personally, there is (perhaps strangely) no conflict between monotheism and paganism. Just for fun, here’s my esoteric interpretation of the 10 Commandments.

    The 10 Commandments are commonly thought of as the 10 “Should’s” (or in some cases, “Shouldn’ts). At another level, they are the 10 “Can’ts” (no pun intended.) Consider the first. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength.” (This is Yeshua’s version of it.) My esoteric interpretation is: that which you do in fact love, is where you see God. Whatever you love, there God.

    Another example: “You shall not steal.” This means that anything you take, you will pay for, one way or another. This is also called “karma”.

    “You shall not commit adultery.” If you have sex with someone, whether or not you are legally married, you are in fact connected; joined, in a way that is deep and real…even if you never see them again.

    And so on ….

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