Posts Tagged ‘Transition’


I have quipped on this current journey of my life that the mind palace had collapsed, in the rebuilding it needed to be of universal design so that it did not crumble so easily. As a new chapter opens upon my life, the epilogue of an old possibly. A transition that holds in the grief journey we enter into the concept of slave and promise. Heirs and slave. What do Hagar and Sarah hold for us? Is it a caste hierarchy, saying that only those who have monetary, material or health are those that matter? No, for Paul eloquently lays out the allegory. The ancient Indigenous and Eastern teaching of the internal struggle for truth and wholeness:

I mean that the heir, as long as he is a child, is no different from a slave,[a] though he is the owner of everything, but he is under guardians and managers until the date set by his father. In the same way we also, when we were children, were enslaved to the elementary principles[b] of the world. But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.

-Epistle of Galatians 4:1-7 (English Standard Version)

The Holy Breath of creation, some term the Holy Spirit, others the Divine. It is what has always been which we allow the shadows, gremlins, saboteurs, gunk of life to hide away. It is about the Cosmic Christ, that drive to be Christ-like/resonance living into the Love Commandment, that removes the veil of our souls. Truly knowing the moment when you are a child of the Holy Mystery, connected oneness. It is an ongoing transformational process. It is like the vocational journey, life brings you into it, transforms you through it. Move and change, adapt, learn and grow.

 Formerly, when you did not know God, you were enslaved to those that by nature are not gods. But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more? 10 You observe days and months and seasons and years! 11 I am afraid I may have labored over you in vain.

12 Brothers,[c] I entreat you, become as I am, for I also have become as you are. You did me no wrong. 13 You know it was because of a bodily ailment that I preached the gospel to you at first, 14 and though my condition was a trial to you, you did not scorn or despise me, but received me as an angel of God, as Christ Jesus. 15 What then has become of your blessedness? For I testify to you that, if possible, you would have gouged out your eyes and given them to me. 16 Have I then become your enemy by telling you the truth?[d] 17 They make much of you, but for no good purpose. They want to shut you out, that you may make much of them. 18 It is always good to be made much of for a good purpose, and not only when I am present with you, 19 my little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you! 20 I wish I could be present with you now and change my tone, for I am perplexed about you

-Epistle of Galatians 4:8-20 (English Standard Version)

What a challenge for inclusion? A challenge for love of neighbour? Paul relates his own challenge that the community embraced to aid him. He did not lose his humanity, his inherent worth due to it. Rather the community stepped up and discovered what he needed to live out his calling among them. The challenge being the back sliding for the social capital is harder to maintain that just breaking everything down to material wealth. It is akin to the idea of universal versus private health care. Why does universal exist? From an understanding that health care is not there for you when you are healthy, but when you are not… regardless of socio-economic status it is a society stating you have value and deserve treatment and support. While private dictates a system for the healthy, and aid only comes to those “financially deserving”.

This is akin to Paul’s challenge here to the community. You did this, I hope it wasn’t because you saw me as different or “worthy of”; it is the way you should be. That is due to one’s inherent being they deserve aid. Not only aid ala charity, but a society that discovers what it takes for everyone to be included and ensure it happens. For that is what it is to know the Holy Mystery, to affirm the divinity of each of us.

Tell me, you who desire to be under the law, do you not listen to the law? 22 For it is written that Abraham had two sons, one by a slave woman and one by a free woman. 23 But the son of the slave was born according to the flesh, while the son of the free woman was born through promise. 24 Now this may be interpreted allegorically: these women are two covenants. One is from Mount Sinai, bearing children for slavery; she is Hagar. 25 Now Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia;[e] she corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children. 26 But the Jerusalem above is free, and she is our mother. 27 For it is written,

“Rejoice, O barren one who does not bear;
    break forth and cry aloud, you who are not in labor!
For the children of the desolate one will be more
    than those of the one who has a husband.”

28 Now you,[f] brothers, like Isaac, are children of promise. 29 But just as at that time he who was born according to the flesh persecuted him who was born according to the Spirit, so also it is now. 30 But what does the Scripture say? “Cast out the slave woman and her son, for the son of the slave woman shall not inherit with the son of the free woman.” 31 So, brothers, we are not children of the slave but of the free woman.

-Epistle of Galatians 4:21-31 (English Standard Version)

Now, if you do not understand or have heard, because folks learn and get discipled differently Paul lays out an example from the Hebrew Bible. He was well versed due to his past as a Pharisee, and religious oppressor that came with that political-religious party. An ancient story, a foundational story of blessing. Paul brings it down to the personal. An ancient story of many spiritualities and religions of the interior struggle within. This is what Paul lays out with Sarah and Hagar. As Rev. Matthew Fox would phrase it, dancing Sarah’s circle wide. That is letting the promise be known is within us all, not exclusive or predestined to only a few. BUT FOR ALL.

It is the struggle within for the true self. The self we have used religion, medicine, naturopaths, psychologists, life coaches to discover and bring forth. It comes down to what we hold to be true about ourselves. Doing the soul work to purge what is untrue, and it can be simple as a smudge to as complex as re-wiring the brain through things such as shadow box therapies or EMDR. The outcome is the same, to let the promise live.

Are we willing to let the promise live in ourselves?

Are we willing to see the promise in another, even when they cannot?

 

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Much ink has been spilled, bad coffee drank and crusty pastries munched during hours of sessions on the fact that one needs “professional distance” from the client. In fact, when one passes there should be no repercussions as you are to “re-frame” and that “re-frame” is to understand a) suffering has ended, b) what they believe of the afterlife is there, c) you made there life better or d) any other lie one wishes upon themselves to avoid emotions; and in the case of males of a certain age and disposition the healing that comes from tears.

It is bupkus!

(I promise that is a highly technical psychological and theological word).

Grieving is normal. All species grieve in their own way. Rituals are designed (we see this not only in humans, but chimpanzees and elephants to name but a few) to honour those who have transitioned. I have had the privilege to be apart of transitions of individuals of many spiritualities; ideologies; and life philosophies…some that believed in an afterlife, many that did not, but what bonded them was in the moments leading up to transition it was me that got the call to be their chaplain or celebrate their life.

And yes I cried when alone, and the life was celebrated, the team members, community members and family were cared for and healthy beginning their own journey of grieving. Grieving/Grief. Beginning to understand life with the missing person shaped hole in it. Or to use the dinner table analogy, the now empty chair.

I also took offense when any employer or person would suggest that grieving is left to one alone to journey through or “Not our issue.” This is a collective and individual journey.  It is one of the messy conversations of life we need to have with one another, and within ourselves. What do we actually understand about end of life? What does the person we are journeying with understand?

What is their ethics/morals/religious-life philosophies? Those need to be supported and honoured throughout the journey without projecting out own.

BUT (and yes it is one of those big BUTS) we cannot use this to conceptualize professional distance. For within this journey we also have to wrestle through our own questions on the end of life and understanding of life for how do we honour those we journey with, if we do not understand ourselves. We must understand our own beliefs, so as not to impose them upon another. We must understand our own beliefs to be able to celebrate another’s.

Life is terminal as goes the old medical joke. Yes we all pass beyond this world, who knows what lies next (I have some beliefs, and ideas, but truly I will not know until I transition).

I spend quite a bit of time with staff who are new to my teams speaking about this. Some (okay most) are uncomfortable, and do not want to. Stating it is a private matter. Sadly the first journey of transition hits, and it becomes messy and the truth usually emerges: I never wanted to think about it, and now–they are trying to process a core value with the messiness of grieving.

That is why, like self-care, it is best done as part of on the job equipping. It is also something, like self-care, that can change and transform over one’s life span and through experiences. It is one of those check in moments to see what happens, and what changes to continue the journey of understanding you.

That is the key. It is why I speak of human services (from religious clerics to any other helping profession) like a trade, older/veteran staff (us grey hairs) need to function as journeymen/red seals and walk alongside new entries, and mid-career individuals as one would an apprentice. For what is learned/discovered in staying healthy is not always what one learns in their schooling, in-services, lunch and learns, or other learning opportunities.

It is the deep question conversations over lunch or that bad cup of coffee.

It is why those in human services need to understand it is not only our neighbour we serve and are apart of their circles of support (the professional, not the social). Yet we are the humans serving in human services and as such we need to be in the mess within ourselves, and supported by our own professional supports–those are co-workers, mentors, and other professionals we rely on to stay balanced (clergy, psychological, medical, spiritualist, or holistic practitioners).

This also means that the systems need to fully support the understanding of grieving for the community as a whole, and all the person (client/consumer whatever vernacular your field uses) intersected in that community. Supporting all their circles of support- professional and social as they walk the journey into the new. Into the new of seeing the chair that once was their community member, friend, family member.

As the practitioner/staff your responsibility is to know how you understand death and grieving and what you need.

Welcome to the beautiful mess of serving our neighbour and being true to ourselves.


Yes we are that stubborn family that still hold to children do not belong at funerals. Once they are 12 years old, then they may make the chocie whether or not they wish to attend the funeral for the loved on who transitioned. And yes even with a British heritage, I still do not get or bother attending viewings of those who have transitioned or the open casket phenomenon, like I want my last memory of my loved one to be them in a box about to be loaded in a Cadillac and driven to a hole to be covered with dirt. When it is the remains unseen then I know the true essence has transitioned to truly be one unimpeded with the unvierse and reborn as it is meant to be with the Holy Mystery.

In my pastoral life I have done life celebrations for many clients and residents. I have also celebrated the lives of my Great-Uncle Red; Grandma Ragan (Dad’s Mom); Nan (Mum’s Mum); and my Mum (kid’s Nana). In their short lives they have lost their fish She-Ra; their Dido (Wife’s Grandpa); Granny (My Nan); Nana (my Mum) and many chidlren from my Son’s school, most recently one of his best friend’s/little girlfriend from the past four years. My son is in the special needs school system with classmates with many complex health issues, so sadly his friends transitioning have become a way of life.

What has this meant for my kids is at a young age living through grief, but also being open to the spirit world. When their Granny passed my daughter came home from Kindergarten to come home and tell us that Granny flew down in an airplane to visit her and tell her not to be sad, for she was on her way to a tea party with Jesus & Granddad and all her loved ones who transitioned before.

It is times of full moon and high spiritual times of the year when my son awakes at 2 a.m. to play and read as his ancestors visit with him, sharing his heritage, joys and fun. Yes these are even grandparents he never met like my Grandpa Joe and Granddad. Yes I know these are happening as the household energy shifts, but also the things he comes out of these times knowing are not things he has ever had shared with him.

So yes my kids experience sadness at the loss of the physical life here. Yes they are open to embracing the new life of their loved ones and the return visits. No, they will not be coming to the hospitals during the end times of the funerals for they still need to see the joy of the person’s life.

Being a parent has been the hardest vocation of my life, especially with the loss my little ones have faced in their short lives, especially as we enter the years when the last 3 in our family of the Greatest/Builder Generation will pass. But the truth of love in this time, is once these three have transitioned, I know the them unencumbered by physical, mental and cerebral earthly realities will come back and visit, and share a new adventure.

So what have I learned from my children during times of loss…it is not the end of the book, just the closing of a chapter, so a new one can unfold.


 

The Transition of James Saturn, the Ionic Knight

                The Void was finalized when Camelot fell by his hand. Excalibur met the mystical centre of the Round Table and caused an implosion of black hole proportions. Yet he lived, and well he did not. Now simply floating in the void waiting whatever comes next. Arthur, Merlin, Gerklyn, Morgan, Mordred have all vanished, as well as the Lady of the Lake (that lived in the centre of the table.

James watches his silver armour float before him, the mystical energy that remains holding it together. It is the soul presence of the Ionic Knight, the other voice in his crowded head. What had Merlin said before his twin had lashed out, both of them had not meant to be. It was mystical coercion that created the twins that would go on to survive the massacre.

James reaches out with his hand to touch the armour. The final light snuffed out as the blackness envelopes the armour and the Ionic Knight vanishes into the ether.

* * * *

Rick scratched his goatee as he stared out the poly plastic over space that had once been John MacCurtis’ mayoral office. John looked at his old friend. “So you drove your sword…”

“Into the Round Table, next thing I know I am standing in my back yard and Susan’s there, and my armour is no longer shimmering gold, but back to the retro look of grey.” John nods at his friend’s account. “And Excalibur did not make the journey; as far as I can tell neither did my brother.”

It always struck John as weird that Rick still used the family euphemism for James, since the massacre when they were both pre-schoolers they had not been raised together or lived together, yet he still felt kinship to his twin. “And in Camelot Merlin basically stated James was not supposed to exist to begin with?”

“One of us wasn’t.” Rick sips his coffee. There was quite a bit of water under the bridge if you will between John and Rick, but also with his brother James in the cat and mouse game of super heroics. That was before James returned on the scene executing Calgary’s temperamental killing hero, PenDragon, and triggering Rick’s return to being the Bionic Knight and gathering together other heroes of his era to regroup as the Great Crime Fighters.

“So no more Bionic Archer for you?” Rick asks.

John smirks. “Nope, I went out the window with the explosion and did the Bionics On bit only to have my latent Supra gene kick in and go back to being PinBall. It was a blast, forgot what it was like to just bounce and feel the energy surge.” Rick nods; it had been a long time since he felt that. John moves towards the file cabinet in his office and opens it, pulls out a sword.  “Guess this is yours then.”

Rick takes the sword and it shimmers away. Chivalry, his brother’s blade now part of his armour when he uses what little magic is left.

“It is weird though John, to know that my twin has transitioned, and yet I don’t feel any emptier. Yet for home many years did those sorcerers’ convince us that we both needed to exist.”

John nods, and pours himself a new cup of coffee. “At least you still have a secret identity in all this mess, I kind of made prime time with my bouncing around.” He should say something to his friend about his loss, but in all honesty all the mayor could think of was that this villain was finally gone. It made the world safer, and by making the world safer, it made life simpler and better.

* * * * *

The darkness surrounded James’. Was this what Heaven was like? Or was he in Hell? Being in what had been pictured as pits of eternal torment and burning, but truly was just nothing. What was this a C.S. Lewis version of the end? Simply ceasing to exist?

But a small spark of light. A light in the darkness, creative spark that draws James forward, as he feels his mind open up. A revelation, no more than that, the opportunity being laid before him, not to reside in a hellfire and brimstone torment, or live in a heaven with an anthropomorphic God, a veritable old man in the sky, but rather a union with a Divine Creative Force.

A union that makes the Void vanish.

James smiles as enlightenment shines his soul a new.

* * * *

Night has fallen on Calgary. Rick removes the Bionic Knight helmet as he lands on the top of the Calgary Tower.

Chivalry in its scabbard, he scans the city scape. A star to the north bursts a little brighter.

Rick smiles.

“Rest well James.”

His soul is filled with the knowledge of his brother’s transition. Finally at peace with himself, and knowing that he could not be used as a pawn for evil anymore.

Rick puts his helmet back on and launches into the night.