Matrignosis: A Blog About Inner Wisdom

Think Pyschologically; Live Spiritually

Fear of Retribution December 6, 2011

The fear of God’s retribution has haunted me most of my life. I believe it arrived at the age of 11 when my father died of his third heart attack. Since he had divorced my mother three months earlier to marry another woman, I must have concluded that death was God’s punishment for betraying Mama and leaving us. Of course, I received a little help from my religious training on that assumption; after all, the Old Testament god was a punishing god.

Soon I began to ask the big questions about the meaning of life and gravitated toward religion which appeared to have some answers. By 17 I was hooked, and over the next ten years I read the New Testament of the Christian Bible three times. Its words were very comforting, and gradually my god-image of retribution morphed into one of love. Consciously, that is.

But here’s the thing: It’s not just about what you see; it’s also what you don’t see. My conscious belief that God was about love, not punishment, did not convince the wounded child whose fear of retribution never went away. In fact, the more I sided with a gentle, forgiving god-image and disowned its opposite, the more power my punishing, masculine god-image acquired until it became an overly scrupulous spiritual bully whose job was to criticize and repress me. And this hidden character in my inner cast of players began to influence me in equal measure to his opposite with one important difference: he did it without my awareness!

Psychological realities have energy. When we deny them honest expression they become like weeds that find their way out through cracks in the foundations of our personalities. My father’s death created a crack in my psyche and my bully took advantage of it. Instead of focusing on my good qualities and reminding me of my worth and lovableness, he’s the part of me that delights in emphasizing my mistakes and flaws.

He thinks he’s doing me a favor. After all, you know the saying, “Pride goeth before a fall.” He believes self-criticism is good for me and constant awareness of how “bad” I am will keep me humble! And therefore safe from God’s retribution.   But thinking we’re bad, hiding our light, and squelching our soul’s truths lest we attract God’s wrath or upset others are not good uses of our precious time on Earth. Might as well crawl into bed and pull the covers over our head.

Our soul’s reason for being is to live fully, love wastefully, and become all we have the potential to be.  That’s hard to do when we’re being pushed around by a spiritual bully. So how do we handle that negative inner voice? I choose to believe my Wisewoman, who, after 22 years of dreamwork, I can now hear in waking life. She’s the alpha mare who says to my spiritual bully stallion when he gets too inflated, “I hear you, buddy, but I’m not buying what you’re selling. I think it’s time you got a new job. How about helping me follow my bliss instead of criticizing me for being human?”

Taking our inner characters and disowned realities seriously is a choice to live our life fully instead of trying to kill it. What was Wisdom’s response when I finally saw my bully and started challenging his authority? Failure? A bolt of lightning? Loss of love? Abandonment? No. Actually, it was more like, “You go, girl!”


One More Thanksgiving Gift December 2, 2011

Before I leave Thanksgiving behind for the year and move on to Christmas—oh dear, I’m not sure I’m ready for that yet, although we did pick up a 7 foot tree at Costco last weekend—I have one more thing to share with you.

In the first five years after college I was a school teacher: I taught three years of third grade in a school that served a very rural, impoverished population, a year of pre-K at Florida State University’s parent cooperative nursery school while I got my master’s degree in early childhood education, and a year of fourth grade in a brand new pod-style school in Tallahassee’s first year of integration. Given my idealistic nature, introverted personality and esoteric interests, I found these jobs to be incredibly demanding, exhausting, and just plain hard.  How do teachers do it year after year? My admiration for them is boundless.

Anyway, my experiences during those years left an indelible impression about the crucial importance of a good education in the early years and the extreme difficulty of providing it. Ordinarily I’m a very tolerant person, but one thing I cannot tolerate is the ignorant attitudes of people—too often politicians, by the way—who cannot see beyond their narrow self-interests to face the reality that the future of our world rests on our success or failure to educate our children, all our children, as well as we possibly can.

Example: One of the first priorities of governor Rick Perry of Texas is education. He says the first thing he’d do as president is abolish the Department of Education because he thinks it’s redundant and he wants states to have block grants to use however they want. While this sounds good on the surface, reporter Joy Resmovits notes that in practice it means that without federal regulations, states would have fewer incentives to distribute federal dollars in ways that benefit children with special education needs, the poor, and minority students. These are the children I taught.  I know how desperately they and their families need all the help they can get, and I’m all too aware of the blinders worn by people who want to deny them this basic right. Overhaul the Department of Education? Sure! Abolish it? No way!

America is far behind China and other countries in student performance, yet as Resmovits notes, some people are so caught in the belief that federal government is evil that they want to cut its role in education regardless of the consequences. There are no simple answers to this problem, but really? Isn’t shutting down discourse at the federal level about education a bit extreme? Would it not be a step backwards into our cultural shadow of ignorance and prejudice? Is there no room for partnerships between federal and state governments? I’m not talking about partisan politics here. Many people in Perry’s own party disagree with him. I’m talking about setting aside our personal biases and agendas and instituting effective educational practices from the bottom up that will benefit all children and everyone’s future.

But enough about our shadows. What I really want to do with this post is look at the bright side of education. As I’ve noted before, my grandchildren are very fortunate to attend a truly excellent school that stresses the importance of diversity and puts its money where its values are in a variety of ways. The following video about a very special Thanksgiving celebration for the third-graders is one example. It features the people and customs of the Muscogee tribe of Native Americans. I hope you enjoy it. Oh, and thank you to all the teachers who show up every day and give so much of yourselves to our children. Your legacy will last long after most politicians are forgotten!



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