Little Camino, Day 33: Acceptance Reimagined.

Keeping my pledge to write thirty four weekly posts on how the Camino continues to impact my life, the same as the number of days that I walked this pilgrimage.

I’m posting this late on Monday; I’ve re-written the post three times. It still doesn’t say all I want it to or as clearly as I wished. But it is time to let it go and let it be. I know I have much more to explore about this movement within me. Here is my first pass at it.

When I was a young girl, I was curled up in a ball on the stairs of my home, sobbing. I’d just been told my two-year-old brother was going to die. My mother came to sit beside me and held my hands in hers. She didn’t say anything and listened while I asked how could this happen, why did this happen and where was God in all of this? Then she leaned in and whispered, “Some things you just have to accept.” Accept? That was it? What did that even mean? I didn’t think how hard this was for my mother–that she must have been asking the same questions I was. And this was the answer that she was holding onto to steel herself for the days ahead.

I did trust my mother, and I could tell she was speaking from her heart to me. But the questions remained. I felt helpless and useless against this news. What good would just accepting do? As I grew in years, the questions came again and again as I faced challenges. It seemed naive and foolish to just accept what was happening. There was all this talk about surrendering to God–was that accepting? But as a young woman I wasn’t sure I wanted to give up my hard-won personal power to an image of a male authoritarian God which still prevailed within me. Accepting had shades of giving up.

It is only more recently that I’ve come to understand acceptance in a radically different way. In fact it feels like a whole paradigm shift for how I view life. It was this question that shook me. “What if you just accepted your experience without judging it? Neither rejecting it but also not approving of it?” It seemed so simple. What if I leave out any judgment of what is happening in my life? Just stay with the fact that what is happening is happening? This is reality. Why fight to change it or fight to keep it the way I want it?

Here’s an excerpt about this process of accepting from Soul Without Shame (pg. 96.) “You don’t have to like your experience; you simply don’t resist it. Resisting your experience is the same as not trusting the movement of true nature–believing you must control things to ensure movement because you do not experience the larger flow of reality. By not resisting, you don’t get stuck or fixed on a particular feeling or concern, so our experience is able to now flow and transform more easily and naturally.”

To return to the news of my brother dying, this is a stance not really available to a child. It is a realization of an evolving spiritual journey. I’m almost 72 and just now it makes so much sense to me, but not before. And yet I want to write about it as it feels like the next step on my pilgrimage. So from this place, if I was to receive the news that my brother was going to die, I would still have the deep sadness of loss that comes with loving another who is leaving. I wouldn’t like it. But I wouldn’t resist this news either. Because it is the truth of what it happening. I believe this is what my mother was pointing to. The ego and the inner judge want to be control and to protect and keep life between the lines. But the true self takes a step within, and is simply present with what is. In this way I can be helpless and give up the ego–which is fact, not wise at all. Again, my mother’s repeated saying throughout her life was, “It is what it is.” I used to be annoyed with that saying–like it was a cop out. But now I understand.

Fifteen years ago, my wanting to be wise like this was put to the test as I walked the Camino. My ego and the judge ran the show, even when I wanted to just let things unfold. But I was aware of my resistances and fears. And that awareness is where it started. Just being aware. There’s no trying in this shifting. It’s allowing and accepting the change that is occurring. Maybe that’s another definition of grace.

I have a new image of God that is far different from the one of my nine-year-old self. It is one that is with me and not separate from me. As Paul writes in I Corinthians, as a child I reasoned like a child: (I might insert, I only knew myself as my ego), but as an adult I put an end to childish ways. As an adult, I am able to live with mystery. I am humble enough to know I only see through the mirror dimly now. There is Being, the Reality that I will see face to face. But for now, I accept what is happening. Or as Jesus taught us to pray–“Thy will be done.” My ongoing Camino.

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