My Soul Doesn’t Fit Today

When I slipped into my soul today, I was shocked.  It didn’t fit.  Was it too big or had I shrunk?

This began a couple of weeks ago.

Cynthia - author, lecturer, hermit, scholar and priest.

A favourite source of spiritual speakers, Sounds True, presented one of my all time favourite teachers, Cynthia Bourgeault. For nearly an hour, I wallowed in the familiar voice, cadence, and wisdom of a beloved teacher.

Cynthia had come to Western Canada circuitously from the American Eastern Seaboard to become the teacher for a fledgling Contemplative movement.

Cynthia had my attention the moment I heard about her.  She scored high in my scale of “People Worth Knowing” for a few reasons.  She was an ordained Anglican priest who was female, a professor, and a Hermit.  She made no secret of having been in love with a Monk who was determined to stay true to his vows.  Cynthia’s book about this love describes how she became so frustrated with him at one point, she tried to beat him up.

She is a strong, independent, determinded and fiesty woman.  She was someone I could admire.

Having worked in an administrative capacity in our small Anglican Parish, exposure to the biases of maleness within the Anglican faith was enough to cause me to want to raise flags and create a new chant when Cynthia arrived.

To set the record straight, I am straight.  My comment is not laced with secrets, undercurrents or motives.  I am not anti-male.  What I am against is any form of domination – human over human, human over animals, human over life!  It’s even hard for me to accept animal domination over animal, but I respect that I am ignorant in the world of base survival.

Prior to Cynthia showing up, I had been privy to the pain of two women priests in our faith.  One priest was hired locally in a secondary role and the other had her own parish in the interior of our province.  As a business woman who had bucked many challenges due to simply wanting to fulfill a call to my career, my soul ached for both these women.   In the business world, one expects to meet some of the nastier aspects of life.  In the world of religion, every time I met situations that were anything but love-filled, my morale had to be trumped with some rather hefty inner work with my Creator.

In fairness, I experienced bruising and sorrows of a male Parish Priest, too.  In Northern Canada, I became a Parish Council member during which time  “investigation prior to contempt” slipped frequently from my lips.  The northern Bishop and the northern Priest battled more emphatically than two grizzlies during mating season.  Scathing letters exchanged between these two men contained concepts that I had never seen in twenty years of big business.

I did not like any of this behaviour – towards men or women.  Perhaps my heart is too tender to bear the bruising of expectations for people in the clergy.  Perhaps it was meant to speed up my spiritual maturation.  Whatever it was, I cannot appreciate or support male dominance in religion.

With Cynthia, none of this aspect of humanity, whether it affected her or not, tainted her quality, depth or breadth of tutelage.  She was my oasis.

What did Cynthia teach me as a Contemplative?   Vast amounts of invaluable insight, but here’s what I’ve been “wearing” the past week.  During the Sounds True interview, she said:

“If you protect your heart, you don’t live genuinely.  Jesus shows us his deep conviction that, lived experientially, love is greater than death.  He shows us it’s okay to live at that depth of vulnerability and passion and authenticity and sincerity and have your heart broken because it is not the end of the story.”

This week, my heart is being broken.  Once broken, it’s easy to have it broken even more.  I am contemplating this condition.

Cynthia said her teacher told her:

“You have to find that which is within you which already lives beyond death and start to live out of it NOW – because that’s the only way to live life on this earth.”

Then she added, “Personhood, truly realized, trumps death, trumps physical disillusion and decay.  Jesus is the master field of Love.”

Her timely words reshape my knowing, rekindle my willingness and re-size my being.

NOW.  Where’s the crack that leaked me out of my soul…

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48 thoughts on “My Soul Doesn’t Fit Today

  1. Sounds like a wonderful experience with a special person. I wonder if the day will come in my tradition…or should I say when. A woman priest in the Episcopalian community here in Reno was ordained a bishop a while back. Quite an uproar among the more traditionalists. :0)

  2. Hi Amy,
    Beautiful synchronicity that we both wrote posts about women called “Cynthia” this afternoon!

    I’m sorry to hear your heart’s broken. But it sounds as though Cynthia came when you needed help.
    I love the quote – “If you protect your heart, you don’t live genuinely.”

    and also- “You have to find that which is within you which already lives beyond death and start to live out of it NOW – because that’s the only way to live life on this earth.”

    Thank you for Leonard Cohen.

    • I will get over to your Cynthia post, Rosie. My broken heart is about ego…about letting go and moving on. I’m getting the message in so many different ways that I feel inundated. Cynthia’s message is a reminder, that in spite of a broken heart, I am to love anyway. It’s about giving, not getting. It’s just hard sometimes to remember.

  3. How have I missed your linkups? Seriously. I miss your stories and advice. I’m glad you linked up today. I like this. I have my own religious struggles, and I like Cynthia’s answer to you too.

  4. “When I slipped into my soul today, I was shocked. It didn’t fit. Was it too big or had I shrunk?”

    I just had an aha! moment upon reading the above, Soul Dipper.

    I always thought it was just me who felt what I call spiritually unsynchronized at times. Although this doesnt happen very often (once or twice a year at most, with episodes lasting anything from a day to about a week)it does happen from time to time.

    The nearest I can describe the feeling is as follows. You know that weird sensation you get when you walk outside at night or in a unfamiliar place, and there is a step down you dont know about?, that split second when there is just air underfoot and your heart jumps up into youre throat?And then afterwards that slight light headedness from the spent adrenaline rush.

    Well i feel like that when I am ‘spiritually unsynchronized’.

    As for the rest of the post, I also feel very strongly about mans ‘mastery’ over what is deemed to be either beneath him, or lower down the foodchain.

    • Yes, SM, I do know that feeling. That’s a very good way to explain it! Once when an Anglican Priest asked me what I thought could be the worst possible situation – what would be the closest to hell that I could imagine. I told him – loss of my faith. Your description perfectly fits that shock of “free fall”. May we always find firm ground, SM.

  5. This post is incredibly meaningful to me today. It is one of your best. This week my heart was broken, too. I’m not going work hard to shore up the crack, yet; I’ll let some light seep through. Yes, it’s not the end of the story.

    • Aw, SDS, I am sending some good loving energy your way as well. It gets through those cracks just fine! You are wise to let time be your friend. It helps answers find us.

    • Hi Nancy! I can imagine the two of you sizzling life with conversation. She has the incredible gift of speaking what has been sitting under layers of dust and debris at the bottom of souls.

  6. Oh, I adore Leonard Cohan . . . Thank you! Hugs!

    The churches are really behind in the matter, which they’ve always been. No patience with it here. The is beautiful write-up, Amy, and I’m going to check out the interview on Sounds Ture (love them). I’ve not heard of Cynthia before . Thanks for the intro.

  7. I recently learned of Cynthia and this piqued my interest in Contemplative Prayer … I have been looking for a retreat locally … the type of retreat weekends she used to do … sounds just like something I envision myself participating in … so this is quite timely! 🙂

    I haven’t heard Leonard Cohen since I was in college … it was great to hear, and the perfect ending for your message. Thank you for sharing, Amy! Many blessings ~~

    • I have a couple of binders full of transcripts of her actual teachings from a book called “Living Presence” by Kamir Helminski. It’s about the mysticism of sufism. The material is full of the wisdom that feeds my soul. Keep envisioning! 🙂

  8. This week, my heart is being broken, too. At first, I resisted but I believe in unfolding, and resistance is futile, doesn’t remove the pain, almost adds to it. So, I began to embrace the broken pieces, let the tears fall and I realized this process is truly a gift..because my heart is being broken, barriers around it are cracked and released, and I am able to love more deeply, more richly when I choose..Thank you for the gift of Leonard Cohen..Much peace:)

    • I’m grateful you may have found some companionship in this post, Joy. In Cynthia’s words (in the interview linked in the Post), “The opposite of resistance is love.” Sounds like you are sailing in the right directions, Joy. Thanks for your visit and I am sending you healing energy. Hopefully it will be the wind that keeps the sails in full bloom.

  9. This is, by far, my most favorite post of yours, Amy. You have touched on everyone’s soul and brought spirituallity to the foreground within it. It is not so much about the maleness or femaleness within us or other things that identify us as individuals but the finding of our soul as we grow through all adversity in a lifetime, here. To know that the adversities we face are there for us to learn more and experience more of the wholeness of our choices and the whole package, from within, that leads us out of darkness and into the light is the path we are all on. That sadness visits one of us and joy another is all a part of the make up of this grand plan so we can learn to accept our fellow travelers and ourselves. All of this capped with beautiful music. Thank you. You refresh me.

    • Thank you, Leslie. Your comments are such a testament to your soul and the seasoning of your seeking. I hope you keep copies of some of these beautiful comments you leave throughout the ‘net’. I can envision you putting some of your wise insights with your incredible paintings. I know artists like to give the viewer the freedom to see their own interpretations, but if I saw you paintings and your words, I’d have two sources of contemplation! Your presence is such a bonus, my friend.

  10. I haven’t heard of that lady Cynthia, but I agree with you and with her. No one should dominate over anything, anyone. Being strongly independent and free person what I despise the most is someone to control me. My parents never controlled me, in a way that I will feel weak and less person, so therefore I believe no one else should do the same. Alas, there are individuals trying to do so … the good part is, I’ve learned how not to let them. About not fitting in your soul, that’s so very familiar, it happens for different reasons and it’s frustrating until you find how to fix things ..

    • I love your comment, Blaga – your independent spirit shines through beautifully in your writing. And our souls – yes we certainly do have experiences that affect the conditions of our souls. But imagine if life didn’t hand us doses of challenges. We’d be a pretty boring lot! Though, there are times that it would be good to have a little boredom for a rest! 😀 Hope your writing project is going well.

  11. SoulDipper………….this is a very good post. I can’t say everything that I want to say about it because my wife is waiting for me. I’ll be back. Thank you very much for sharing that. It was really special.

  12. Oh Amy. These words were perfect “Perhaps my heart is too tender to bear the bruising of expectations for people in the clergy. Perhaps it was meant to speed up my spiritual maturation. ” I too have experienced this and it’s really painful. I haven’t been open enough to consider it needed for spiritual maturation but perhaps that’s what I need to do. And fabulous to end with Leonard Cohen. That’s how the light gets in.

    • When I let humanity take away from my Source of faith, I have to remember that I am endowing man with a power that is reserved only for the Divine. Since “hell” is, for me, a loss of faith, I am given courage to deal with humanity. The change has to come from me, but I pray at least one negative force might be brought to self-questioning before another soul is chinked.

  13. Ah….therein was a timely and well received message for me. It’s ALWAYS about mememe dontchaknow. LOL

    Perhaps multi-tasking through this and my ‘loss of routine’ was exactly what I needed to be open to the message, eh?

    No. I cannot guard my heart. I know it’s a lie when I tell myself I can–it’s just not possible.
    Guessin’ that means I can quit already?

    That’d be good!

    Love as I’ve always wanted TO love.

    <– excusing myself to go do that!

    Thanks for Leonard–I'll be back to give a listen or two! 🙂

  14. Amy, what a beautifully exquisite posting. I am so sorry about your saddened heart, but it is part of our plight as humans, to be hurt by others. Hopefully though we are not one to be doing the hurting. Always remember that Jesus loves us and remember that he did not have it easy by any means. You are stronger than you think, you will be fine as your life moves forward.

  15. I am ever and always finding little tidbits of Leonard wherever I go. Today I went through old magazines – still in redecorating mode and trying to clear things out to make room – and I found a copy of Shambala Sun from November 2007. It has a lovely piece on him in it. Then I was on Facebook and went to Luke’s site and there he has this wonderful Cohen quote: “There is a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.”

    Just paging through your blog now to see if I missed anything.

    Happy days, Amy.

    • Thank goodness I never met Leonard Cohen during my younger life. I am nervous I would have made a fool of myself! However that may be a poor attitude. Perhaps I need to hope I would have done just that! 😀

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