Presently, I am in the midst of an intense disorientation as I transition from serving abroad as a mission volunteer to creating a new life, a life that more authentically reflects my true essence. So, I do apologize for the tardiness of these posts, which evidences that while disorientation can be exciting and invigorating, it can also be very unsettling and uncomfortable. It will disrupt your sense of balance and require you to let go of some ways of being, of thinking, of relating that may be getting in the way of your reorientation. That is quite an undertaking in a culture where conformity, peer pressure, fitting in, and keeping up with the Joneses are accepted norms, because it may require you to release some people whose opinions, actions, and projections are unequivocal NO’s to who you be, to what you need, and to how you have been uniquely gifted. Therefore, during this Lenten Safari we are tasked with identifying where and how we are investing our time and energy in other people’s NO’s so that we can let go of what hinders and be reoriented to what heals!
While disorientation takes many shapes and forms, it always presents an opportunity for reflection, for letting go, and for redirection. Disorientation will enter our lives through a variety of pathways that we often experience as NO’s, but the challenge is how we process the NO’s, heal from the NO’s, and let go of the NO’s. In whatever manner the NO comes, however–whether it be rejection, abandonment, abuse, neglect, legalism, judgment, any form of violence or loss, etc.–it hurts and damages us at the level of our souls. We begin to heal by giving our pain to God like David does throughout the Psalms with his myriad of questions and his forthright expression of his deepest and darkest emotions. We begin to heal by looking for where God is present with us, and by seeking what lesson can be learned. Then there is the letting go of what was, what could have been, what we hoped might be. There is the letting go of judgment, of grudges, of unforgiveness, of ill-will, of self-righteousness, of ego. I do not mean to suggest by any means that these are easy things to do, and I do not mean to minimize the pain of anyone’s experience. Soul work is extremely hard work, because culturally we have not been equipped to do it, but it is necessary for real healing and liberation.
Disorientation presents an opportunity for us to view things from a different vantage point. It creates space for us to see and acknowledge how oftentimes we invest our time and energy in the very things that hinder us. This gives us a chance to make some critical choices about what we must let go, because what we invest our time and energy in, is where our heart is and where our life follows. Life has taught me that time is the one resource that we all get allotted equally–24 hours in each day, and we make choices not only about how we spend our time, but how we invest our energy. We either choose to use our energy to acknowledge or to avoid, to heal or to harbor, to let go or to languish.
Throughout life, I have had to let go of some relationships, some workplaces, some settings that were saying NO to my humanity, to my creativity, to my authenticity, to my essence. In letting go, I had to not only acknowledge my pain, but also contextually recognize the limitations of others. My pain tended to show up as anger, and culturally anger was unbecoming of a woman, a societal projection that I have since let go of as I have sought constructive ways to express my anger and harness it for good. So, I had to discover ways to engage in the healing process of giving my pain to God sometimes through movement, walks in nature, centering prayer, silence, writing poetry, venting to a trusted friend, etc. By the grace and mercy of God, I’ve become better at empathizing with and forgiving others over the years, because I have come to realize that sometimes I was the other to others and the other–even to myself.
Father Keating puts it this way “…at the very heart of life is the challenge of sacrifice; of dying to our present condition in order to move to a higher level of life. This can only happen by letting go of the false self. Suffering and death are not enemies, but doors leading to new levels of knowledge and of love. Unless we are willing to sacrifice what we have now, we cannot grow.” This is counter-cultural, but it is in the letting go that we grow and find peace as we recognize another vantage point from which to see during our disorientation–a vantage point that helps us relinquish the illusion of control and release that which hinders our reorientation.
Tara LaShawn Seabrook is a self-proclaimed “free spirit,” a public, practical, and prophetic theologian; a spiritual and social justice activist; a creative and cultural artist; and a prolific teacher, speaker, and writer. Currently, she resides in Guatemala where she is finishing up a 2-year volunteer in mission commitment with a non-governmental organization before returning to her native Charleston, SC in the spring of 2017. Her book based on her original poem, “I Am She: The Anthology” will be released later this year.