November 2, 2012

The Courage to Choose

"To have courage for whatever comes in life
---everything lies in that."
St. Teresa of Avila

I was at Fort Pickens Gulf Islands National Seashore this summer and was amazed at the contradictory sight of present-day, undisturbed beach and an old U.S. military fort built in the early 1830s. It was originally built to defend Pensacola Bay and its navy yard, and is one of four forts built in the South that was never occupied by Confederate forces during the Civil War (1861-65). I did wonder who was held captive there, though, and discovered that Geronimo, a leader of the Bedonkohe Apache tribe (Native American group from the Southwest), was held at Fort Pickens as a prisoner of war in October of 1886 for seven months while his family was held in another location (Fort Marion, now renamed Castillo de San Marcos in St. Augustine, FL). The doors in the picture above are at Fort Pickens, and it is likely Geronimo was inside one of these, paying his price for the freedoms he sought, which took the form of fighting against Mexico and the U.S., who wanted to expand into Apache tribal lands.

I look at these doors and they seem so thick, heavy, impenatrable, and if I was inside by force, as a prisoner, I just might have the will to fight, the will to live, knocked right out of me. But when there is a greater force driving someone, such as Geronimo's fierce loyalty to his tribal culture, often a courageous and daring spirit emerges that is willing to go the distance, no matter the end result. It is noted in history that Geronimo did come to embrace Christianity in his later years while still honoring the spirituality of his culture. Somehow, through his struggles, honor code, pain, and fighting, he still was open to the Spirit speaking to him and not shutting off his divine connection just because life got challenging.

These doors of uncertainty loudly echo the words of St. Teresa of Avila to me, "To have courage for whatever comes in life---everything lies in that." So many times I am faced with either looking at doors, which represent choices not yet made, or I am stuck inside doors, which represent the choices I have made and wish to improve upon or even change entirely. It takes courage to find where the keys are within myself to unlock and enter or unlock and be free. Where does one get this guidance that can make or break one's life course, or relationships, or careers?

Below is a poem I wrote to help me through this process of tapping into inner knowing. I hope this blesses you in a way that leads you to trust when you receive guidance.

The Understanding

I understood
the truth of my soul,
the voice of my ever-patient angel.
I understood.
But I was faithless.

The signposts pointed to a direction
I did not want to go.
I felt the tap,
then the pull,
then the push.
I was faithless in the free-fall.
I was rebellious in the resistance.
I pretended to prefer soul dissonance.
But all along I understood.

The new direction before me glowed and pulsed.
It held both the flame of destruction
and the warmth of the womb, ready for rebirth.
This paradox made me
so I chose the familiar icy path instead.
I remained
for a long time.

But I knew I could not hang on to life

I understood.
But I was faithless.

Life repeated itself in weary patterns.
Reminders that I was still
feigning fulfillment.

My God, my angel,
how patiently they persisted:
opening doors of hope,
whispering words in my heart,
speaking through ancient earth formations,
guiding me through dream scenarios,
and connecting me with like-minded soul friends.

I understood
what was taking place
all along.
Finally, I got too tired
to resist.

 My free-fall became a welcome letting go.
And in the silence of the wind that cradled me
as I went down,
I began to loosen the tight grip on
my expectations
my desires
my fears.

As I descended I became lighter,
which surprised my faithless heart.
Feeling lighter,
faith then filled me.
Its weightless energy drew me up,
overpowering the force of my free choice,
which had allowed me to go down,
into the moment of my greatest
with myself
to let go
of it all.

I knew I was safe.
I felt my angel near.
I surrendered to the moment.
I surrendered the rest of what I held on to
that weighed me down.

And I understood.

I always had.

© 2011 by Jenna Love

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