Writing my current new book, Walking An Ancient Path: Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, required that I look back over years of happiness, sadness, revelation, success, disappointment and patterns. Two of those patterns was my relationship to surrender and my acquired belief in universal wisdom.
Frankly, early on, surrender was not a concept I easily related to or thought much about. Instead, like so many others in denial about their illusion of control or with a penchant for perfectionism, I believed I staved off chaos and fear with organization, attention to detail and lists. These tools help, of course, and lists made me feel safe. I have daily lists, weekly lists, monthly and annual lists. Nothing makes me feel better than an entire list with big fat red lines through all the things that have been completed. And throwing a list away, with everything finally complete, well, now, that’s almost orgasmic But sometimes the best planning does not guarantee the outcome is our perception of perfection, success or our vision of where we hoped things would lead.
Let me explain. Thoughts of surrender were the farthest thing from my mind many years ago as I departed for Ireland to meet Lady Olivia Robertson, one of the founders of the international Fellowship of Isis, in person, for the first time, to be ordained as clergy at Clonegal Castle. Before leaving the States, I’d meticulously taken care of all the preparations – not just for my sacred journey, but for a group pilgrimage I was arranging for others traveling to Egypt in a few months. Months and months of hard work. Imagine the number of lists that involved But while in Ireland, I heard the BBC telecast about the tourists in Egypt that had been gunned down. I knew cancellations would begin to flood in.
Demoralized and disappointed, I sat at the breakfast table of my B& B just outside Clonegal Castle, head in hands, and I cried. How could so much hard work and such good intentions, helping people make a sacred journey, be threatened in such a way? Not just for me but for those pilgrims? Then, like a fairy from the emerald meadows outside my window, Bridie the proprietress sat down next to me and began to talk. In a soothing voice, she gently talked and talked. She shared how business had been bad this year for her family and things looked really bleak. She revealed she was really scared and heartbroken, but she had faith things were going to turn around. She told me she just kept trying and wouldn’t give up. Bridie’s generosity of spirit, compassion and kindness touched me on many levels and my angst began to diminish. Before too long I gathered myself, made some calls to the States to keep the threads from unraveling further on my group going to Egypt and went on to Clonegal Castle for my ordination ceremony. I will remember that day as long as I live.
By the time I returned home from Ireland, things had settled down in Egypt and in the media. The group of pilgrims going to Egypt was very different than I originally visioned but they departed for Egypt and had a memorable journey. Disaster averted, I soon forgot about Bridie’s wise words in Ireland.
Time passed and as one might expect, life continued to deal out all sorts of challenges. Disillusionment and disappointment threatened to drive me from this path altogether. The shadows seemed a much more comfortable place to be, but just as Bridie had appeared during dark times in Ireland, help came in the guise of the lion-headed Egyptian Goddess, Sekhmet, whose essence and archetype brought lessons for passion, tenacity and strength.
Not right away, but in time, I began to realize the obstacles being presented to me were in fact important detours and guideposts, forcing me down new paths I might not have imagined were my life’s journey. People who made me crazy were simply pawns of the Universe providing the opportunity for lessons that needed to be learned in this life. Still with all life’s distractions, sometimes when the struggle or the angst is behind us, when we are feeling happy and fulfilled, we sometimes forget those lessons that things are often really beyond our control, that we cannot always see the good reasons behind pain and frustration, and that outcomes often are not in our hands. And most importantly, we are measured by how we react and respond to the challenges we’re faced with. How do we treat people? Do we appreciate what we have? Are we grateful for those in our lives that make our lives easier and happier? Do we see the glass as half full?
Fast forward. I received an email out of the blue. My publisher was gifting me with six-hundred fifty pounds of new books which needed to be accepted, signed for, unloaded and stored. So what do I do? I began making my lists, of course I made arrangements for labor to move the 22 cases of books and for UPS to deliver on a certain day. I even discovered the shipping labels on all 22 cases were wrong and fortunately caught the mistake before a mis-delivery. Surely now all I needed to do was clear some storage space and sit back and wait for the shipment. But guess what? Despite all the careful planning, I came home from a weekend trip to find those 22 cases of books had been delivered two days early and had been sitting unsecured in the hallway of my apartment building. But alas, it was all good. Not a case was tampered with. Sigh. Surrender. Relief. But it wasn’t over.
I took a deep breath and tore into the closest case to look at a long awaited copy of this new book, Walking An Ancient Path. Within a few minutes I felt that all too familiar snake-like creep of panic and anxiety inching up my spine. Not only were there blank pages in the new book, but after all the extra time double checking, triple checking, list making, and email exchanges with the publisher, the final edits didn’t make it into this printing. Damn Imagine the embarrassment and frustration
But then, much more quickly than ever before – not in days or months, but within minutes, the upset began to dissipate and remembering kicked in. It was as if a light came on in my mind. The lessons of Ireland and Bridie, of Sekhmet’s lessons of tenacity, of the book delivery, of other times of dark clouds with silver linings, all came rushing back to me in a wave and I actually began to laugh out loud. Like a lightening bolt I heard a voice in my head…
“You cannot control everything. You can only do the best that you can do then you have to surrender to what is to come. Have you not learned this lesson yet, Karen? Have you not truly benefited from life’s hardships, curves and challenges? You must put away fear of criticism, fear of failure, fear of imperfection. I don’t ask that you be the smartest or the best. I only ask that you do your best and allow this faith to make you fearless.”
So what did I do? What any woman does, of course I called one of my sisters about the revelation. I started telling Lora about Bridie in Ireland, Sekhmet, the 22 cases of books and about the botched printing of a few copies of this newest book We laugh together at this concept of the liberation of learning surrender We realize it’s learning to trust in the wisdom of the Universe – or Goddess. Then Lora shared the email from her Messenger’s Circle that arrived that morning
“On this day of your life, dear friend, I believe God/ess wants you to know…..that perfectionism is the enemy of creation. Nothing stops the forward march of any creative endeavor like the need to do it absolutely perfectly. And who is to judge what is “perfect” anyway? What I have judged full of flaws so many others have called terrific. Maybe the definition of Perfection is something that actually gets done.”
It felt like another validating voice from heaven and laughingly we swore to make this our mantra and tape it to our computer desks. We contemplated bumper stickers
But I hindsight, I feel what was also important besides our personal epiphanies was I had to lay my soul bare, risk my soft under-belly, and share this with everyone, because we all have so much we can do and there is so little time. So many of us have much we want to share – no matter our calling – but something hinders us and holds us back. We are afraid of not doing it perfectly or that others can do it better. Or we are waiting for someone else to step up. I’m suggesting you must be fearless and just do it Not one of us can afford to hide our light under a bushel because of the fear of success or failure. We cannot be paralyzed by things that may happen beyond our control, or fear of our imperfections or the criticism people might and will heap upon us. We must just do our best. We must strive to liberate ourselves and surrender to the certainty we are playing our part in this macrocosm. We must honor and trust in the wisdom of the Universe to provide exactly what it is we need. We must remember we are each powerful players in the dance of creation and in these moments of angst, there is a gift- we just have to look for it.
So, I am sharing my hard learned lesson with all of you. Learn to be pro-active and look for the gifts in life’s challenges. See Goddess when she shines her light down a different path. Appreciate life and don’t let fear create your reality. Just go out into the world and be the best you can be. Go out into the world and do
About the Author:
Karen Tate is an independent scholar of the Sacred Feminine, speaker, published author, ordained minister and radio show host. Her first book, Sacred Places of Goddess: 108 Destinations, garnered prestigious endorsements. Her second book, Walking An Ancient Path; Rebirthing Goddess on Planet Earth, a spiritual, socio-political look at how to mainstream the emerging revolution of thought – the Feminine Consciousness, was a finalist in the USA National Best Books of 2008 Awards, in the spirituality category. Her weekly radio show, Voices of the Sacred Feminine, on Blog Talk Radio, is considered a treasure trove of wisdom and insight. For more information, go to www.karentate.com
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