Don’t Take Your Mother for Granted

For thy sweet love remembered such wealth brings
       That then I scorn to change my state with kings. –Shakespeare, Sonnet 29

Here is what happens.

When a culture elevates one group or party above others, we have a tendency to want to become the “elevated ones.” That makes sense, doesn’t it? We look to them for how to be in the world. We want what they have, we want to act the way they act, we want to embody them, rather than embodying ourselves. We want to escape our own existence and get into the body and life of another.

This is a pretty common human experience. We come in contact with someone who takes our breath away and we say, Wow, I want to be him. Or, Wow, I want to be her. We associate love with wanting to be. Or maybe we associate it with actual being? I haven’t worked this piece out yet. Eh, I’m inclined to think we associate love with want.

But that’s not what love is, baby. Love is freedom. Love. Is. Freedom.

And freedom is all around you, in every breath, in every day. You just don’t know it. You just live in the fog of your mind that tells you you’re stuck, or the pain in your yoni that believes you’re stuck. But the Infinite gave you this most foundational, fundamental gift: you are free.

You just have to do a bit of work to uncover that truth.

The Great HeShe really wants you to know it. She’s trying to teach you all the time. You just don’t friggin’ listen. You don’t know how. Because this world teaches you all about how to get good grades in school and what to do to make your boss happy and how there are deadlines on your electric bill you need to pay and certain times when events start, so you have to arrive and plan your day accordingly.

Meanwhile the Great HeShe is like, knocking on all your walls and doors and saying, Hey, you’re free, you’re free, you’re free. 

And if you even once received that message, you’d probably squint your eyes and call her a liar and an old hag.

So be it.

Am I making sense? I don’t know. I don’t worry so much about that anymore? I just let shit flow?

So here is what I’m getting at.

We take the good things for granted in our lives, fairly often. We associate love with want, with drive, with “succeeding at a goal,” or something like that. We associate love with what is out of our hands, out of our reach. And that’s not love, baby, that’s desire. And desire isn’t the essence that makes up all things. I mean, it’s there. It exists. The way grass is on the ground. Grass is everywhere, in good times and bad, bright green or frayed in brown. But grass isn’t the essence. So don’t mistake something ubiquitous for the essence. It’s just the-thing-that-is-ubiquitous. It just is. Essence is through and in and around and under and above. Essence is ALIVE!

Love gives you freedom to choose. You always, fundamentally, have freedom to choose. You don’t feel like you do. You often feel pushed or pulled. You feel stuck in a situation or an obligation. You have a lot of emotions around the issue. But if you shift your framework a bit and recognize that perhaps there is some higher part of you choosing this experience, you begin to let in the freedom of your human life. You begin to recognize you were free all along. That a higher part of you, or a deeper part of you, or an inner part of you (and all three, too), was driven to make these choices in an effort to learn and grow.

Oh, I know, sorry, that “learning and growing” bullshit is so annoying. And yet.

And yet.

And yet.

Uncovering divine teachings and living into their truth means that we gain closer access to Higher Mind. And what we begin to recognize is that nothing we wanted was truly out of reach. We always had everything we ever wanted/needed in that particular moment and place. Always. We just didn’t know it. We were just in the midst of a fog that muddied our clarity.

The kingdom of heaven is not a physical space you get to for doing good works. It is just not. It is the consciousness one has when she begins to unfold, unpack, reveal, find root and depth. When she digs in the soil and sees what is really there. And she comes back up to the surface with new eyes, new heart, hands that are willing to give and receive. And she’s like, Oh, I had it all along. I had everything, I had abundance, I had joy, I had beauty, all along. And she is moved and humbled by this realization, and is finally able to live in truth.

Many people don’t know this shit until they die.

Jon Flobrant

The Circle and the Line

Within each of us is a masculine and feminine energy. The masculine is the assertive, do do do nature. The feminine is our openness, our ability to receive, to surrender, to let flow.

We need both of these energies in balance inside us if we are able to move effectively through this world. When I say “effective,” I am not talking about worldly visions of success. Too many of us have been ingrained with the do do do mentality, that we don’t simply know how to be. So we may have financial success and prestige, we may have numbers of followers in man-made platforms, but we don’t know how to receive love or listen deeply in the presence of another person, which is way more important on an energetic and eternal level. And if can’t be in presence, we are not “effectively” living. Maybe “effective” isn’t the right word either. Maybe the word I’m looking for is “impression.” I’m talking about taking part in the dance of life, in an exchange of energy that happens within each interaction, something that exists below the surface and which we’re not always aware of. I’m talking about how we, as humans, are a network of energy exchange similar to that of trees, our roots underground constantly talking to each other, constantly available to connect and blend and become whole.

Becoming whole is not about the assumption that someone out there is going to complete you. Anthropos is the term Yeshua used. We’re talking about being fully human. We’re talking about being inordinately, inwardly strong.

In ancient traditions, women were known for their receptivity, their openness to download messages from Spirit and transmute them into the physical plane. This is how oral histories developed and continued. This is why we see hieroglyphics on cave walls that exist until this day. Women, and people like shamans or medicine men who had a natural receptivity, an embodied feminine energy, were able to receive and let flow through them messages, tales, healing remedies from the ancestors. This is how SexyJesus healed so many with the touch of his hands. He opened up, he received, he let flow.

In Navajo tradition, those called “two-spirit” were especially revered in the village. The ones who manifested beautifully and fully the masculine and feminine energy, who were born with one set of genitalia and yet embodied the other were deeply wise. Their specialness knew no bounds, in the way they could relate to both aspects of human existence, the way they could be open, take in, and also plant, root down, and exude out.

In Hindu scripture, we have the yoni and the lingam, the two parts that make up the whole, the shakti feminine energy and the lingam masculine energy.

We are called to move forward in this broken world by embodying both aspects of the divine within ourselves, and our healing and wholeness gets derailed when we repress either one. Currently, with the violence and harshness and disdain for nature that we see all around us in the US, we are experiencing (and have experienced) a repression of the feminine. Disdain is the right word. We think all must be outward, outward, outward, and reject the need to go in, go deep, receive, embrace, envelop. And this disdain is why we have no regard for nature. It is why women are raped and abused (and men, too, by the way). It is the reason so many women struggle with mental illness, or loathe their bodies, or are so overcome with anxiety they shut down. We have no idea, after thousands of years of patriarchy, how to reclaim our ability to open, surrender, and receive. We are out of balance and out of whack. And we are desperate for a change, but we have no idea how to get there, because much of the Mothers’ Wisdom has been lost. The Mothers’ Wisdom, passed orally through story and art and dance, through tincture and oil, has been shut off, suppressed, the words and practices buried and burned. Instead we have a society that kills and shoots to get what it wants. We have the lesson that violence and domination and yelling the loudest and making the most noise and buying the most objects and having the biggest structure on the block is what’s valuable, and that’s what we’re supposed to reach for. And even when we intellectually know these practices are wrong, we operate from our heads, from strategy, from planning, and not through the receptivity of the body that helps us be present and whole, a presence in the body whose strength is faith and openness to the power of Love that can come through and knock down walls and uproot fig trees and move mountains. That’s true power. Human power is pretty weak in comparison. But we don’t know that, because we’ve made the human mind the center of the world.

But the ancestors are trying to reach us.

The ancestors, part of the Great Spirit, are always speaking to us, always dancing around, celebrating our beings with joy, trying to teach, to deliver, to share. We are just too shut down, too stuck in our own egos, too caught up in spreadsheets or grocery lists and worries and our big plans to notice and hear.

They are teaching us how to heal.

They are teaching us a better way to move forward.

They are encouraging us to dance and sing and create art, to move Great Spirit’s energy through and out, to honor the living and the dead, to break bread before trees, to bow down under the stars, to sink our feet and hands into the earth and be healed, to listen to the birds call.

And oh my god, we are so closed up, thinking about fantasy football.

It is a terrible shame.

So.

Will you open?

Will you listen?

Will you let the divine feminine energy inside you flow through and help you receive?

Will you step away from thinking you are the center of the world, and recognize you are merely—and amazingly—a unique vessel flowing in the eternal river?

Can you handle that kind of powerful recognition?

Are you going to be brave?

Or are you already looking for the next thing to read?

 

“Antelope slot canyon” by RichardJackson is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

The Magic of Women

I want to tell you a story about the magic of women.

This is one story. One. There are so many others to tell.

Story One: Enter Elizabeth

My middle daughter is now 10, but after I gave birth to her, I experienced a kind of anxiety and fear I had never before known. Giving birth to her, under the care of an amazing midwife, was inordinately painful, and au naturale, and while it showed me something I didn’t know I had within me (the ability to give birth to a 9 lb. baby after 3 hours of pushing and a hell-lotta pitocin), I also felt somewhat angry with that baby. Why did she do that to me, split me in half? And why was she so big? And why couldn’t she just rest peacefully in her crib so I could sleep? And why did my breastmilk make her cry?

It took a couple of months to realize I had postpartum depression, something that had seemed so foreign to me, so impossible for me, this strong woman who thought she could handle anything.

And so I went on a drug, and I employed a therapist, and I finally started dealing with all the shit that had lived inside me that I had never had a moment, or a breath, to access. All the pain of being a female and birthing a female which I had stored up, the fear of doing everything wrong, the legacy of a matriarchal line that had to be tough and strong, the anxiety of those around me that had for decades seeped into my pores and build a little castle inside, a castle that was only now being revealed, and it was much larger once the clouds started parting from around its towers.

Depression was my teacher, you see. To go inward. To figure out how to live better. And my daughter was the catalyst to help me grow, so that I could be the kind of mother I wanted to be to her, so that I could show her another way of living, of caring for yourself, of respecting your body, of not letting wounds and pain store up until something inside you cries out desperately to be listened to.

I also started a blog.

That blog gave me so much hope and so much connection. I was isolated and alone, worried about the career hit I was taking in my time as a stay-at-home mother, and my blog helped me find like-minded women all over the world to relate to. We talked about marriage and running a house and careers and our dreams and our passions. A comment from one of the women I connected with, or a blog post from another about the struggles and fears she had about raising kids, or about an alcohol addiction, or about being a good, kind citizen of society, lifted me up from my depression and isolation and made me feel part of a community, a community I could not find near my home. This was a virtual community, but it was as real as any space in a building. Those women were my safe haven, my sweet place, my lifeline during a time of transition and fear and healing so that I could move through my postpartum depression out onto the other side. Which I did, and became stronger.

I don’t remember how I began interacting with Elizabeth. I just know that one day I saw her blog, and began visiting it, and she began visiting mine, and we commented back and forth. She was spicy (which I love!) and kind, and had so much energy. And soon we realized that we were both budding novelists. So at some point, I organized a call with her and another online friend, Amy (who has since gone on to be wildly independent and successful, a world traveler), to discuss our books. We created an online writing workshop. And in one of those first calls, Elizabeth started to share the hardship she had been going through. Her family was experiencing a lot of transitions that had to do with health and finances, and her marriage was being challenged in a whole host of ways, and yet she had such strength, such determination, such a positive attitude. She was scared, of course, but she had faith, and she was full of love. And I admired her faith. I always admire people’s faith. Faith and love are all bound up together, an emblem of sacred beauty.

Over time, our little writing workshop ended, and the blogging community dissipated, too. Many of us women kept in touch in various ways, but we also branched out to become immersed in other pieces of our lives. Jobs, additional children, moving to new locations. Through facebook, we kept tabs on each other.

My own life underwent a complete turnaround. There were job shifts for me and my husband, then a third baby, then a divorce. I had to find a new place to live, I had to find different work than I’d been used to, there was financial strain and a whole new kind of life-stress. There were health difficulties, too, and through all of this, children to raise. And when my head finally started to bob up from under the water, I came across Elizabeth again. Still a go-getter, still filled with positivity, still plugging away at trying to save the world. And now we both shared something new, an abiding faith, a shared love of SexyJesus, who had helped us get through so much shit it was impossible not to love and know he existed and was there, always finding new ways to save us and the world. So when I finally got Elizabeth on the phone, I learned that while I was in my underwater struggling phase, she was too. She had been through so, so much, I didn’t know how she was able to bear it. And her response, now that she was above water, was not, Sheesh, glad that’s over, now let’s close up shop and make a shit-ton of money. Her response was not People suck, life is too hard, fuck this shit!

Her response was, Now that I know how bad things can get, how can I help others?

Whose hand can I hold when they’re going through similar pain?

How can I be a resource when someone goes through a tragedy like I’ve been through? 

Who can I support because she feels isolated and alone?

And her depth and beauty and love and faith astounds me, and her generosity and her energy, and her willingness to wake up every day and try to do her part to fix this world despite all she has been through.

That chick seriously does a video to help other women every morning while the kids are asleep.

People, I know there are great men. I mean, the history books are full of them, aren’t they? There are all these monuments built. Men who fought in battles and shot people and won lands independence, or something. Men who did some sort of science research and got a wing in a hospital named after them. Men who founded a college, or a city. Men who have a lot of money and gave it all away to poor people—wait, no. That doesn’t happen.

What I want you to focus on right now are the women who are always doing kind, generous things, even when it’s behind the scenes and they’re not making money. Women who are holding up their families and the world. Women who are the foundation for everything we have, a foundation so strong and pure and vital we don’t even recognize it exists, because it’s like the house whose shrubs have covered up the stone, so we only see the stucco on top. Women who are giving birth and making love and microwaving chicken nuggets at the same time they’re getting on calls and organizing birthday parties and talking to doctors and taking care of aging parents.

We think power is in force and fireworks and a lot a lot of money. We think it’s in prestige and fame and loud, angry voices.

But what we actually have, when we strip away appearances and illusions that invade our day, is the women, who are undergirding all the livelihood that ever was, and who are often suffering and in pain because they’re trying to do so much, and they have been told they’re worth less for so long, and they’re struggling to understand who they are at the same time as take care of everyone else, and get so little respect or credit for all that they’ve done and will do.

It’s still a man’s world. But women are rising. We’re gonna make this place whole. We’re gonna clean up this mess.

And it starts with people like Elizabeth.

Hallelujah, Mother Mary, here we fuckin’ come.

 

(And check out the amazing things Elizabeth Rago is doing on Modern Domestic Woman.)

 

“circle” by matthewvenn is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Joy of Meaninglessness

Do you know how much love I feel?

Let me explain. I don’t even know where to start.

Within each person is an immense, immeasurable well of love. It is as though within our bodies is a bucket of love-water, and it runneth over time and time again. And that love-water we’re filled with is part of the love-water of the universe, the river that runs through everything, the essence of life, the source. It is always there, ever-present. We just tend to live our lives blind and deaf, unfeeling, numb. We place the emphasis of living in our heads, in our spiraling minds. The mind that tells stories. The mind that tries to interpret and understand. The mind that gravitates toward hierarchy, toward putting ourselves above others or below others, figuring out where we fit in.

And this is not the truth of the Spirit World. The Spirit World doesn’t run on hierarchy. As humans, we’ve developed a leveling system to function on the physical plane, but this holds no weight in the Land of Spirit, which is the eternal, which always exists and is ever bubbling and moving around us.

When something jarring happens in our lives, when something cracks us and opens us wide, that is the time for the Divine to weasel her way in and start going to work and showing us what’s real.

Confusion is a good thing. Not understanding is a good thing. You must experience moments of doubt and confusion if you’re ever going to grow. This is how you learn to move out of your thinking mind into your heart, into your body, into knowing. Knowing is not egotistical. Knowing doesn’t assume a hierarchy, doesn’t make up a story, doesn’t craft a tale that puts you at the center of the world, doesn’t strategize for your benefit. And knowing is not based on information, like remembering the answers to a test. Inner knowing, or wisdom, is formless, seamless, intuition that just is. Placing our faith in that truth allows us to let go, to surrender, to acknowledge that the universe is just dancing, and we’re part of the show, and it’s okay to move with it rather than punching back all the time.

This sounds frickin’ scary. But it is the truth that SexyJesus speaks of when he says that if you have enough faith, you can move a mountain.

The trick is that maybe the mountain doesn’t actually move. (Or maybe it does, I don’t know, I don’t have the level of faith Jesus had/has.) The trick is, that what happens is, you want to move the mountain to test your powers, but you just don’t really care if it actually moves. The trick is, whatever happens happens, and you’re okay with that. You’re just always okay.

That’s what an enlightened being is. It is not a person with superworldly powers. It is not a person who has enormous wealth and fame. It is simply a person who goes through life accepting what is, what is, what is, and she just keeps dancing to the beat, dancing along, dancing along, dancing along.

That’s the yogi, the adapter. That’s the Holy Spirit weaving her way, workin’ wit’ it.

So in saying that there is joy in meaninglessness, I mean that we search for meaning, and it’s good, and Truth supports us all the way. Truth shows us this and that. Look, there is meaning! And again! Here! And again! Meaning is always waving at you. Until you get to the point where you move beyond even the need for meaning into just Presence, into Sound, into Love, into Healing. And now you’re just in a space of Being, True Ever-Being. You learn, you grow, you adapt. You are, and you don’t rely on your head to tell you what’s what anymore, to formulate theories of truth and vision. You’re living in a deeper place, from Love. And that is not Love the way we’ve come to think of it, which is love for a paramour, because we’ve been conditioned to think that “love” is the needy brokenness with which we come to erotic encounters, looking for someone to fill up our holes and make our life complete. I’m talking about living in Love, Love as Root and Source, the gift of our lives, the whole reason we’re here. When you live in Love, you make love with and are in love with everyone you meet. And that’s not some goofy, gushy, swelling-swooning kind of love, that kind of love that wakes some people up to what’s true, but which is not often deep enough to last. This kind of Love is rooted, it’s pure, it’s the source and the all and the majesty of what is.

My favorite book of Scripture, I think, is Ecclesiastes. This Wisdom Teacher is so up front, and shehe tells it like it is. Shehe is like, Life is hard, motherfucker. I’ve searched and searched, and I haven’t come to any big conclusions, and I’m still poor. Really, we can’t know anything. So just go out and eat with people and enjoy life as much as possible, and accept all of who you are, because you never know when you’re going to die. This is the truth. Amen, goodbye.

In the end, if we’re truly honest with ourselves, we do not know God’s will. We can come up with ideas and doctrines and theologies that suggest we know God’s will, and we can read Scripture and interpret it in a particular way that suggests we know, or position ourselves as authorities because of our discipline or status or the tasks we’ve performed. Many of us are constantly formulating a resume in our minds, rationalizing why we should get the job as “good person,” as “worthy,” so that we can live our lives with greater ease and not have to die. But if a gift came up the pike that fulfilled every fantasy, we wouldn’t even recognize it. We’d turn away. Because so much about the way we operate and the practices we adopt comes from what we believe, and what we believe does not exist in our heads, but in our bones, in the roots of our bodies.

This is all to say, love freely and wildly, without shame, without fear. Love is not clinging. Love is not need. It is more akin to radical acceptance, of yourself and others.

And so a simple, wholesome meal with anyone, anyone, is the key to the deepest, truest happiness on earth.

Happy Thanksgiving. This is my favorite holyday.

 

 

“Dining Series: Dutch Still Life” by Ela Walkowiak is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 4.0

A New Gender Dynamic

For a long time, I thought I was inferior to men.

Wait, that’s not true. I didn’t think I was inferior. I believed it. What I thought was that I was angry about that belief, a belief that went so deep I didn’t know how to access it to turn it over and find out where it came from so I could remove it. This belief was something in my body that went beyond words.

It’s a belief most of us have. Women and men.

It’s a belief that’s weaved into the fabric of our culture, into the underpinnings of the way the current culture was made.

It’s a belief that is so ingrained that when I say something like this in the company of men, or express any frustration about women not being taken seriously, or being held back by certain assumptions, many men get really, really annoyed, because they feel as though I’m attacking them personally. Which I’m not. But the sighs and the looks and the body movements indicate frustration. Why can’t I just be pretty and shut up about this already?

When I was in Dublin once, I came across a group of men standing at a table with interfaith messages about God, what they were calling prophecies. A woman was engaging with them (because this is what people do in Dublin, it’s awesome!), and she was getting so heated in her conversation I had to stop and listen. The man behind the table had an air of calm, and he began speaking of some theory he had about different kinds of angels, or something. So I gave him a little attention, trying to discern if he was actually speaking wisdom or if it was complete nonsense. When he finished his speal, I realized it was nonsense, and I posed a question to him:

Can a woman be a prophet?

He immediately shook his head. Women were meant to have babies and take care of domestic things, he said. In no way, in no world, could a woman be a prophet.

So then I called him a liar. Because the thing I despise most is a liar. And I told him my name. And I spelled it. J-A-N-A. And I said, Remember my name. 

And the woman next to me turned to me and said, That’s my name, too.”

(Although I think she had an extra “n” or something.)

So.

Most of us who consider ourselves progressive have fully embraced the problems in economics, the problems in race, the problems in religion, the problems in our political system, and we are conceptual when it comes to problems in gender. But we still hold on to this very deep, very powerfully problematic belief that women are inferior in particular ways, because we act according to stereotypes and have a very difficult time moving beyond them in practice. We have attitudes about women and men that are extremely detrimental to crafting a new way forward, a vision of our future that is healing and whole and embodied, something to lessen the atrocities that have bombarded us for the past few thousand years.

Problematic Belief #1

Women are unreasonable. We think that we cannot talk rationally to a woman, or engage with her about logistics and smart-thinking, because she is going to become overly emotional and freak out.

And guess what? There are times when freaking out might be totally necessary. I freaked out recently at someone who really needed to hear it, because that’s the only way certain people get the message. (Similarly to kids. Like, when I say, Don’t do that, you’re going to get hurt. Don’t do that, don’t do that. And then I lose my shit because if I don’t lost my shit someone loses a fucking arm.)

And we have a tendency to think men are more reasonable, and less emotional. Which is so not true. They just may carry it in different ways, or feel less comfortable expressing it because of societal norms.

But I, a woman, am one of the most reasonable people you’ll ever meet. I respect hearing people’s points of view. I respect that people have inherent wisdom, and I give them space while also sharing my point of view. I don’t elevate myself above other people. What pisses me off is when I see someone doing that to me, on account of I’mma woman so I must not know.

Problematic Belief #2

We think that women are further from God, with less access to the divine. We think, as that man in Dublin thought, that women cannot teach us something holy. Something is inherently dirty and tempting about these evil woman-folk.

Women used to be respected as healers, as seers who were in tune with the earth. Midwives used to be sought after for their knowledge of the human body, of how to give birth to and keep a new life healthy. (Which is pretty important!) But a new wave started ushering itself in, a wave of technology and extreme rationality, an agenda that discounted and discredited the way women healers operated and managed their lives for centuries. And we’re in the throes of those consequences today. Don’t even get me started on childbirth in this country, in the focus on cutting women open so they never know the power of their own bodies.

Christianity was not the first to undermine women, but Christo-centric culture does it well. Jesus was a man, rigid people say. And Paul made some comment about women not being priests in the church. And women have that powerful sexuality and beauty you have to be wary of. And so we’re allowed to be nice to women, the way we’re nice to our animals. We tell them they can contribute. We tell them they matter. But it’s just better all around to keep them on a leash and go watch a lot of porn to get our rocks off.

And baby, that Holy Mother? She is no kind of woman to be kept on a leash. She is so fucking ready to break free and show some leg and some shoulder and bang out a funky dance. You just watch.

Problematic Belief #3

The old guard has this idea that men’s success in life is in making money and gaining prestige, and women’s success is in lunching and communing and raising children, keeping a house in order. And so the two sexes form a perfect pair, a perfect whole.

But this is not the way things operate anymore. First, we are starting to recognize that gender is not so stuck or rigid. We can all (and should all!) embody both masculine and feminine qualities within us. Next, if women can make just as much money as men, we don’t need to rely on men to make all the money. Heck, everyone wants someone to make all the money! Making money carries a lot of pressure! But if women are showing themselves to be capable of operating in this other milieu, we need to see men similarly adapt in alternate environments. It is time to move forward from a place of new understanding, a new dynamic for us all to uncover and live into.

So there is a new version of “success” developing in our culture, and we all need to spend some time learning about it, observing it, and learning. Women are leading the way, because it’s just time, and that’s just how it’s happening, and you can’t ignore the nature of reality.

But this doesn’t mean we need assholes of any gender taking charge. There are plenty of women assholes.  Assholery goes beyond gender. What we need are kind, strong, good-hearted warrior people persevering and guiding us forward.

And they will. And they are.

Hallelujah.

 

“Yin Yang” by Sapperlott is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

King of Pleasure

The unfortunate thing about TiredChristianity is that it has failed to acknowledge one of the most riveting, interesting things about SexyJesus—his acceptance and celebration of pleasure.

If we look closely, we see that SexyJesus was a man every woman wanted. The women who were drawn to him and who followed him did it because he was a leader and a model for others. He was gentle and kind, but also strong. (We don’t often realize these things can go together.) He kept to his word. He spoke truth, and he wasn’t worried about status quo, or pleasing people in power. And most of all, he stuck up for women. He supported them, over and over again, when they were being criticized or condemned by narrow-minded men. That’s why women were so devoted to him.

And I mean, there is some intense PDAs happening here in the SexyJesus world. That’s why it’s so strange that 2000 years later, we think that being a follower means we need to button ourselves up and repress all our emotions and desires, cut our hair short and wear turtlenecks and all that stuff.

A lot of people don’t know how to experience pleasure. We think it’s dirty and wrong. We’ve been taught through repressed sexuality that feeling good is kind of a bad thing, and then it’s only through feeling bad that we can get turned on.

(This is so effed up.)

But SexyJesus is like, Nah, it’s fine, bring it on, I’m worthy. You can watch.

Such a badass.

When one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. 

(Reclined, people. Reclined!)

A woman in that town who had lived a sinful life learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house so she came there with an alabaster jar of perfume. As she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them. 

The Pharisee is one of those uptight guys whose butt is always clenched. He probably drinks his tea with his pinky sticking out. So he starts to judge SexyJesus and the woman, because thinks the woman is dirty, because that level of devotion and adoration is gross, not something to be done in public. This is a guy whose sex life is likely very miserable.

SexyJesus reads his mind and starts a conversation about love and money and forgiveness and all that good stuff. But the point is really to show the Pharisee that he’s a withholding son of a bitch. SexyJesus says:

Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss….

But this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—as her great love has shown. But whoever has been forgiven little loves little.

All the people at the dinner party are like, What. is. going. on? What. is. happening? They’re drinking their wine with their eyeballs popping out.

Jesus said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”

Wink, wink. Hint: Maybe I’ll see you later.

I mean, we don’t know all the specifics, and so much of reading these Scripture passages is conjecture, but SexyJesus, over and over again, seems to be totally into physical affection and public displays of love. This guy eats and drinks and shoots the shit with anyone who will listen. He sticks up for those less fortunate. He lets women kiss him and anoint him and pour expensive perfume all over his head. He lets women pay for his spiritual movement, because the women are so grateful for the reiki healing he’s done for them that they want to pay it forward:

The Twelve were with him,, and also some women who had been cured of evil spirits and diseases: Mary (called Magdalene) from whom seven demons had come out; Joanna the wife of Chuza, the manager of Herod’s household; Susanna; and many others. These women were helping to support them out of their own means. 

SexyJesus didn’t have a sugar daddy to help him spread his message, he had wealthy, independent women.

Mm-hmm.

So how, from all of this, do we get a Christian church that teaches people to repress sex, that your body is wrong, that the only way to know you’re “good” is if you carry shame? Oh my God, puh-lease, let’s finally move on from this bullshit and get in touch with reality.

There is nothing wrong with pleasure if you don’t become addicted to it. That’s the kicker. SexyJesus knew this. He could engage in wild nights because he didn’t need them. He wasn’t aimlessly searching in the dark, grasping for something to fill his holes, using people for his own ends. He knew truth and light and love, and the way he taught was to sit at tables and talk to people, so he necessarily drank the same wine they drank and ate the same food they ate. And we don’t know what his sex life was like, but you can be sure that if he had one (which he must have, at some point, in some manner!), his use of physical expression was a deep and abiding love people knew and felt and were filled with in his presence. Not many people can offer this kind of love, and not many people know how to receive it, either. Because the way most people operate when it comes to sex is as though it’s a materialistic transaction—I get this, you get that. We’re even. Or it’s domination, one person asserting his or her power over another so he or she can experience ego-fulfillment, or a story to tell friends. (This is why I can’t even watch Sex and the City; all of those sexual interactions are empty and superficial and usually mean.) Or it’s fast and quiet, something to get done, like going to the bathroom, and we don’t talk about it later.

And of course, pleasure is not limited to sex. Pleasure is walking in bare feet. It’s drinking your coffee and watching the birds. It’s rubbing a loved one’s back, or playing with your daughter’s hair. It’s opening a bottle and smelling lavender shampoo, or rubbing your arms with shea butter soap and letting the steam of the shower rise around you. It’s sitting in the peace and quiet of meditation. It’s dancing to one of your favorite songs.

This world is beautiful, and engaging with it, being present in it, often lends itself to the erotic, to the experience of pleasure. But because we’re so lost in egoic minds, because we don’t know how to be present, and because we’ve been taught that our bodies are shameful and wrong, we think that a good life is one where we’re suffering and planning ahead and getting all our ducks in a row. We think a good life is knowing what’s to come, having clear expectations, making plans and having things to look forward to (even though we may not live long enough to experience the thing we’re looking forward to). And so we end up with lifestyles where we mostly feel numb, and the only way out of that numbness is to look for a jolt of pleasurable satisfaction, an addictive behavior, some activity (like porn) we can control rather than knowing how to envelop ourselves in the pleasure of the moment,  in seeing what’s actually here.

In walks MotherJana, the prophet in cowgirl boots and a red scarf.

I have a lot of thoughts. I have a lot of plans. I have a lot of divinely inspired leadings in this regard.

Stay tuned.

 

“Dinner table set for dinner party” by Toby Simkin is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

FirstDaySermon: Oh My God, Sex

For many months, I have been tackling the questions surrounding God, sex, and money. As you probably know, these are pretty tough. These are places “spiritual” people tend not to go.

So I can find a shitload of stuff in the Bible about God and money—give to Cesar’s what is Cesar’s, you cannot worship God and money, give up your financial wealth if you are going to follow the spiritual path—but shit, there is just nothing from SexyJesus about sex.

Like, nothing.

Isn’t this a little weird? This kind of absence? It is kind of like the absence of women’s voices in the New Testament and other parts of the Bible. The kind of absence that makes you start to wonder who was in charge and who was putting this publication together. I worked in a publication once. I saw the kind of shit that went on behind the scenes. It wasn’t pretty. And the biases of the people in charge had a lot to do with the kind of messages that went out into the world.

So, the conclusions I’ve come to based on other sorts of readings and mystical interpretations is the possibility that SexyJesus was a tantric master, a sexual powerhouse. The kind of guy who, when you’re in his presence, you feel a jolt of aliveness energy run up your spine, from your sexual organs to your head. You’re turned on in some way, and it doesn’t matter if you’re a woman or a man. And you’re turned on in such a way that you are reminded of sex, but you don’t think of it as the sort of thing that’s a simple means to an end. Instead, this tantric master puts you in a steady alive state where your whole body is turned on and you just want to bask in his presence. Like the water, he says, which he’ll give you and which will make you never thirst again.

Ick, and then we had that guy Paul, who was so confused and always pulling out his hair and always writing letters upon letters in a manic state and got so wounded by a woman (or multiple women who didn’t want him) that he started telling people Don’t have sex! You can’t be a spiritual leader and a sexual person! Let’s start a church where leaders deny they are sexual people!

And that went really, horribly wrong, and has not worked for 2000 years.

This post could be a fucking book, so how am I going to get to any sort of point?

The point is I have no answers yet on this question. I have some experiences, which I’ll share. I have some theories.

The main problem we’re dealing with now is shame surrounding our bodies and sex, the message we’ve been taught and which is getting taught over and over and over again that our bodies are bad, that we’re bad in some way. This is from the Catholic church and lots of other Christian churches, and it’s in the ether of a country that was built on Puritan beliefs, and it comes from our parents’ inability to talk about sex in any healthy way, and it comes from pretty much every mixed message we get in the media—television shows, lots of online porn, glossy photos of women in magazines in supermarkets, stuff like that.

The problem is that we are sexual beings, because we came into the world as mammals who are capable of reproducing, but we are much more comfortable with the story that we are violent beings who want to blow people’s heads off rather than admit we’d like to orgasm frequently, that an orgasm is actually good for the soul.

The problem is that we think a good person cannot also be a sexual or sensual person.

The problem is that we have all these mythologies and ideas and fantasies and assumptions around sex, but we don’t know how to talk about them in a healthy way that doesn’t make us burn in shame.

The problem is that women have been fucking raped and harassed and beaten up and assaulted and treated like shit for a really really long time, and now women and men don’t know what the fuck to do when it comes to dealing with sex. So most of them close their eyes and hope everything will be okay, until it’s not. (If you’re gay or bisexual and open to discussing any differences about this, I’d love to interview you.)

Again, I can’t speak for everyone, but I can speak for myself. The messages I received from an early age—and remember that messages do not have to be spoken out loud—were these:

Your body is a sexual object and men think they own it, so you have to protect yourself. 

Your body is made for a man to enjoy. It is not really yours. (This is kind of the same as the one above but it bears repeating.)

Pleasure is not for you. That’s for men.

Don’t touch yourself. Ick! That thing down there is bad!

Good girls don’t have sex or like sex; they just do it to please their partner. And you’re a good girl, aren’t you?

Don’t be independent or go out alone or do fun things, cause you’re gonna get raped. 

Also,

Be careful what you say. You’re gonna get raped.

And then there’s the one that says sex should only be saved for marriage, but who ever took that one seriously? Except the people who did and big-time regretted it later, and sort of daydream all the time about what it would be like to have other sexual experiences.

(Also, the implicit message about mothers and sex is that these two things are like oil and water, and once you have kids you are now owned by your children and your man, and that double-time means you’re a vessel through which other people experience pleasure and nurturing and you can’t have any of it for yourself. Yeesh. No wonder women take a lot of pills and drink a lot of wine.)

All this is to say that, this situation is really a mess. And we need teachers. We need people to help. Because sexual connection is such a natural part of a fulfilling life, and yet when we have all these mindbenders about it, all these stories and assumptions and fears, we have no idea what to do, and so we shove all our desires down and repress ourselves, and then issues arise in us that materialize in another sort of way (like sickness), and we’re right back to where we started. Oh God, I feel for you, if this is your case.

So I am not saying a person should go having sex with everyone he or she meets. That’s self-destruction. But I also don’t think you have to save a loving connection for the marriage bed, because seriously, it may not make sense to get married. (I just saw Marriage Story. Holy shit.) What turns you on sexually does not have to be forbidden or bad. There can be goodness and love and a kind of wholesomeness and good sex. And sex can be fun, something that’s a load off, something that doesn’t make you go crazy, if the people involved have a healthy approach, which not many people do.

In the meantime, while I’m sorting all of this stuff out, I’m encouraging every woman I know to get the jade yoni egg and devote substantial time to working on her own sexuality so she can feel good and confident in her own body, and heal a ton of the world’s sins through her own pleasure so she doesn’t think her whole existence was made for somebody else. (And by the way, I know plenty of men feel that their existence was made for someone else, too. It sucks for all of us.)

And for men? You are awesome. You are, most of you, really kind and thoughtful and considerate, and also confused, with good reason. I’m sorry a bunch of assholes took away your good name. I’m sorry you have to do extra work now to make it up. The only advice I can give you is to treat women with respect, ask them questions, be a gentleman, don’t give up. Don’t use anybody for your own ends. Be honest and upfront. And if you’re fortunate enough to be with a woman who you’re hoping to see naked, be patient, loving, and kind. And communicate. Just fucking communicate. This dating app culture means everybody just goes silent and disappears when something isn’t instantly gratifying. It’s so stupid.