After the Storm, Lured into the Wilderness

Here’s to not burning people at the stake — ever again.

So what are angels? Perhaps the opposite side of demons. Instead of trying to keep you small, they tell you grow. And that is the soul’s journey, to grow and change.

I have been on blog hiatus for more than two months.

I meant to write blogs. I even started one or two. But I became consumed with directing Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues. It was a great experience for me. It turned out that the roles I assigned to the actresses were just the right one for each of them. They were roles that forced each of them to go deeper — to find the vulnerable place in themselves that matched the material.

Being vulnerable on stage is courageous, and what is most effective in telling the story.

My job was to provide a safe place for them as they discovered and uncovered this place, and then brought it to the character.

My morning pages during this time period were interesting as well. As I read back through them, I found that I had written on more than one occasion that I didn’t seem to be having any epiphanies — that I seemed to be writing about very mundane things. Maybe they were mundane.

They open on December 8 with this:

So George was cremated today, and I feel at sixes and sevens.

On December 31st I wrote:

The fire (of my rage) has burned itself out because I found what I wanted to be accepted for and then found those who accepted me.

On January 3:

Being fearless I think means confronting fear and leaving it behind. Like the statue of David, fear and courage come together. Courage has something to do with the heart, and the heart is what determines the temperature at which a body is cremated.

On February 2 (Groundhog day):

In the end, you just love the person. The flaw in the tapestry that lets life through.

My final entry on April 5 included this:

So my world has become big enough for me to be in it . . . I started these (the book of morning pages) the day that George was cremated, and they will end with my resurrection.

I think the fire of my rage used to be my homing beacon. It showed me the way home when the demons told me I was getting too big for my britches; those voices got put through the emotional food processor of my quest for acceptance, and turned out — well a processed message that said “There is no safety in vulnerability.”

What I discovered was that the only way to find safety is by bringing compassion, rather than judgement, to vulnerability. That’s when my angels’ voices kicked in. The ones that said “Pay attention to fear, it leads you to your courage. Courage is in your heart. And the heart determines the temperature of cremation — it is the most enduring part of the temporal world we live in.”

I don’t need those fires of rage to help me find my way home now. I stopped wrestling with the demons. Instead I set them free. I thanked them for protecting me in the best way they knew how; explained that I knew where home was now. I didn’t need to stray from it to find acceptance that was not mine to find.

As I worked with each actress on her monologue, I came to appreciate what Eve Ensler has done with The Vagina Monologues. An article about the upcoming performance unleashed a flurry of comments — mostly from women I suspect. One was particularly upset that middle aged and older women were involved — that it was somehow particularly offensive that these women were moaning on stage. Another claimed that the play turned women into vaginal objects — rather than celebrate our intellectual capacity. Others were upset by the horrific stories. Better left untold they thought.

To me, these commenters missed the point. To me, the play brings to light that fear of women’s sexuality has provoked responses that make us mute this very vital part of our humanity. The responses range from genital mutilation to domestic violence to women being considered the spoils of war to women being shamed for the vitality of their sexuality. For me the play allows women to reclaim something that is essential to the temporal world we inhabit.

The women I directed were courageous. Some had been victims of domestic violence; some had been raped or sexually molested; those who worked at a shelter heard horrific stories every day. Others had just simply learned to mute their vitality by lessons passed down through generations of women who had learned to seek safety by denying their most vital selves. To tell the stories contained in the monologues, they had to experience their own anger, fear, and shame, and then transcend it.

They told the stories so that we can start changing the story that normalizes abuse and violence.

I didn’t even remember that Easter was the day before when I wrote that my pages would end with my resurrection. The day before that passage I had drawn the deer card from the Animal Tarot Card. Its meaning is the lure of the pursuit. The accompanying book notes that in many myths and fairy tales, the hunter is drawn into the wilderness in his/her pursuit of the deer. It is in wilderness that the hunter learns a new consciousness.

On the very last page of my morning pages I wrote this:

So I think the deer leading us into the wilderness is the thing. It takes us to those wild places that endure long after civilizations rise and fall. It takes us to the natural world, where the laws of nature show us true love: Love of ourselves. Love of others. I’ve connected with others in a way I’ve wanted. People whose hearts are open and willing to look.

It’s interesting what you can do when you find your home in the wilderness.

All photos are by Paul Hara — simply the best.

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