All the True Vows, David Whyte

I am writing the LearnBook for the Plug In! course. (I’ve decided not to use the term workbook anymore because learning isn’t work, it’s joy. So from here on all my support materials are going to be called LearnBooks. Don’t you think that sounds much more fun than the heavy workbook?)

Plug In! is about how to step into The Intersection to access the kind of creativity, guidance and support that will take your writing or other creative endeavor to a whole new level.

One of the steps in The Intersection is to write your creative blessing and then speak it aloud every day. To support that idea, I am reading David Whyte’s “True Vows” to the class. Re-reading it today, I fell in love again with the profound ideas, and the elegant way David expresses them. Like a tumble of water, the words flow into your mind and heart and you cannot help but feel them in your bones. Speak this poem aloud slowly and ideally standing. Let these words flow through you. You will be changed.

All the True Vows

All the true vows
are secret vows
the ones we speak out loud
are the ones we break.

There is only one life
you can call your own
and a thousand others
you can call by any name you want.

Hold to the truth you make
every day with your own body,
don’t turn your face away.

Hold to your own truth
at the center of the image
you were born with.

Those who do not understand
their destiny will never understand
the friends they have made
nor the work they have chosen

nor the one life that waits
beyond all the others.

By the lake in the wood
in the shadows
you can
whisper that truth
to the quiet reflection
you see in the water.

Whatever you hear from
the water, remember,

it wants you to carry
the sound of its truth on your lips.

Remember,
in this place
no one can hear you

and out of the silence
you can make a promise
it will kill you to break,

that way you’ll find
what is real and what is not.

I know what I am saying.
Time almost forsook me
and I looked again.

Seeing my reflection
I broke a promise
and spoke
for the first time
after all these years

in my own voice,

before it was too late
to turn my face again.

David Whyte
The House of Belonging

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December Plan Day 21: Finally Forgive–the miracle prayer.

Today we wrap up our week of clearing our spaces–our heart spaces, our mind spaces, our soul spaces, and even our body spaces–of the silent (or not so silent) anger and resentment festering within. Is this necessary? Ask any therapist. Ask any spiritual counselor. Ask any metaphysician. Ask anyone. But really, there’s only one person’s opinion that matters. Ask yourself.

You know if you’ve got old crusty crud blocking your spiritual arteries. You know if you’re carrying a pocket of anger toward some jerk who done you wrong. You know if deep inside you still wish that something rotten would happen to someone. You know. And you know if this anger is getting in the way. You know if it’s gotten in the way all last year — or all last decade for that matter. And you know, somewhere deep you know, if it could get in the way of calling in your magical, glorious, joyous new year.

So once and for all, it’s time to let go. To move on. To release. To forgive. To finally, totally and completely forgive. Want to do that? Well, it’s your lucky day because it just so happens that I know how. No, wait, let me amend that. It isn’t that I “know” how to forgive. Not in the sense of having an intellectual understanding of what forgiveness is and how it happens. I’m not sure anyone, no matter how many books they’ve read or written, “knows” that.

But we who have had a profound experience of forgiveness, do know something special. We know that forgiveness is miraculous. We know that when we forgive — not in the mind or even the heart but at the deepest, let’s call it cellular or even soul level — something happens. Chains really do break. Spirits really are released. And not just the other guy’s. Both people are released. You and the person you are forgiving. You are both instantly and miraculously free.

So, do I “know” something about forgiveness? Can I explain why this particular prayer works? No. Not really. It’s a mystical experience. It’s a miracle. All I can tell you is that it works. This is the prayer that released me and my ex-husband. Within two hours of my writing this prayer, my ex-husband wrote a check for the first time during our divorce. A check for half our son’s last dental appointment. Doesn’t sound big? Not to you maybe, but for us it was nothing less than the parting of the Red Sea. And, more than that, it was a harbinger of the giant life insurance miracle to come. (If you don’t know the story, you can read it in this excerpt from Writing Down Your Soul.)

And this prayer, “Finally Forgive,” doesn’t just work for me. Every time I read it in public, I get phone calls. I don’t know why, but they always come on the third day. And they always start the same way, “You’re not going to believe what happened….” I always smile. Oh, yes, I am. Yes, I am. Yes, I am. I am absolutely, positively going to believe what happened. Because forgiveness works. Forgiveness works miracles. Forgiveness works miracles every time.

Here’s the miracle prayer, “Finally Forgive.” I wrote it about my situation with my ex-husband. But it applies to everyone. Just change the sentence, “The truth is…” and fill in your own Truth about your own relationship with the person you are forgiving. Adjust this prayer any way you want for yourself.

  1. Listen to me say it first.
  2. Then make any changes you want to personalize the prayer for yourself.
  3. Then speak the prayer out loud. This is important. Say it standing up. Say it aloud. Say it slowly. With conviction. With meaning. With heart. Hold up your hands as you see the corners and make the choice. Because that’s really all you’re doing. You’re making a choice. THE choice. The most important choice you’ll ever make.

After you’ve said the prayer, be still. Let the words wash over you. Feel the fetters burst. Don’t be surprised if you’re a little woozy. If that happens, just sit. Be still. And whisper thank you. “Thank You, God for this gift of forgiveness. I am free. I am free. At last, I am free. Free to live the life I’m here to live. Free to come from love. Free to love my life, my soul, my purpose, and my gifts. Free at last. Free at last. Thank God almighty, I am free at last.”

Finally Forgive
a prayer of finally, really, truly, and completely choosing to forgive copyright 2009 Janet Conner

Part I   The Gap
There is a gap between you and me.

In the gap is pain and fear and anger.
In the gap is our history of ugly thoughts, ugly words, ugly actions.
In the gap are the sounds of screaming, crying and swearing.
That gap is killing us and hurting our child.

What good is there in that gap?
What good is there in refusing to cross it?
What good is there in staying angry?
What good is there in not forgiving?

Part II   One Love
If there really is only one love—God’s love—then:
How can I love my work,
if I don’t love you, in some way? Just a little.
How can I love our son with my whole heart,
if I don’t love you, in some way? Just a little.

How can I love my new relationship,
whomever that may be, whenever that may be,
if I don’t love you, won’t love you, can’t love you, in some way?
Just a little.

How can I love my home, my family, my friends?
How can I love my purpose, my reason for being,
if I don’t love you, in some way?

If I could love you, just a little
I could love my life all the more,
love my child all the more
love my work, my home, my friends, all the more.

Part III   The Choice
I have it in my power to hate you, to ignore you, to blame you.
I have it in my power to make your life difficult, set up little traps,
say small nasty things.
I have it in my power to paint you as the bad guy, the stupid one, the fool.
And, I have it in my power to forgive you, to love you, in some way. Just a little.

The truth is your presence in my life was a gift.
For now and for always, you gave me our precious child,
the sweetest gift on earth.
And you taught me, finally taught me, to say no.

Thanks to you, I learned, oh God, how I learned.
Thanks to you, I grew, till I became bigger, stronger, richer, fuller.
Thanks to you, I walked. I walked a long tough journey, but I walked
to this place, this moment, when I know who I am.

I know what I’m thinking. I know what I’m feeling.
And I see a clear choice:
I can hold you in this corner, where you are forever wrong.
Or, I can hold you in the light, where you are free to grow, and change, and be happy.

Dear God, I’m choosing.
I’m closing the gap,
filling it with forgiveness, plugging the holes, and posting a sign:
Only love is spoken here.

(Finally Forgive comes from Spiritual Geography, the soul-writing system that heals the broken heart. Click on the Country of Peace to learn more about forgiveness. If you’re interested in more information about Spiritual Geography please contact me at janet@writingdownyoursoul.com. I invite you to forward this and all the posts on forgiveness in the December Plan to friends. Encourage them to subscribe to this blog and to the Writing Down Your Soul newsletter.)


December Plan Day 18 part 2: The Enough Prayer

Ordinarily I write one post a day in the December Plan. But today’s post on who really needs forgiveness has caused many a tear. These are good tears. These tears are little messages bobbing up from your soul saying, “Yes, oh yes. Please forgive yourself. There is so much ahead of us, so much beauty, so much potential, so much joy, but as long as you have this gaping hole in your heart, you can’t see all that good. And because you can’t see it, you probably can’t have it. So, yes, darling one, please forgive yourself. Because the truth is you are so much more beautiful than you can ever know.”

I’ve struggled mightily with this idea of not being enough. And for a very long time. I wrote this prayer, “Enough,” back in the early nineties, well before my divorce. The words still resonate today. To me, they sound like long slow deep vibrations from a bell that has been ringing for a very very long time. I am ready to stop clanging the bell of “not enough.” I’m going to say this prayer one more time today. Out loud. With vigor. I’m going to feel it in my bones and know that it is true. From this day forward, I am enough. I am more than enough.

Here. I think this prayer is for you, too.

Enough
A Prayer of Abundance (copyright Janet Conner 2009)

Dear God of the universe,
creator of all life, hear me.
This one prays.

In the mirror.
In the reflection that bounces from me to the world and back again,
there is a circle, a circle of sadness.

I am not enough.
They see “not enough.”
Therefore, I am not enough,

not good enough
not enough of something
not strong enough, perhaps

not smart enough, for sure
not handsome enough
not pretty enough

not wealthy enough, never wealthy enough
not fast enough
not clever enough

not tough enough,
but too tough sometimes and that makes me
not kind enough

something not enough
many things not enough.

Perhaps it doesn’t matter what.
The specific fault is irrelevant.
I don’t have to name it.
It’s enough just to know that I’m not enough
of whatever it is I’m not enough of.

Do You understand this, God?
Seems a bit convoluted, I know.
But circles are circles.
And everywhere I turn,
there are more of them.

If I look at my work – I’m not good enough
and, of course, they see I’m not good enough.
Therefore, I’m not.
Good enough.
And doesn’t my “success” just prove it.

If I look at my family – I’m not loving enough.
They know I could love them more.
Just look at our tensions
and You’ll see that I’m right:
I’m not loving enough.

If I look in the mirror – I’m not pretty enough.
There it is for the world to see:
blemishes, imperfections, crooked teeth, blotchy skin, ridiculous hair, flaccid muscles.
I think I’ll stop now.
But You see. Well, I see.
I’m not pretty enough.

If I look in my checkbook – I’m not rich enough.
Doesn’t take a banker to see I don’t earn enough.
Perhaps if I worked harder, smarter, faster, better…something,
I’d be better off.
But there it is: I’m not rich enough.

I could continue, but I need to move on.
There are things to do, people to see, problems to solve.
And I’m not organized enough to get it all done.

So I have to get going.
But first, I need to ask You this question. It’s important.
Why did You put me here if I’m not enough?

Why didn’t You make me pretty enough, smart enough, rich enough?
You could have, You know.
Even now, You could do it in a single breath:

Ask and poof, I am beautiful
Ask and poof, I am wealthy
Ask and I’m smart

Ask and I’m wanted
Ask and I’m wise
Ask and I’m…

What?
What do I want?
What do I really want?

Want beyond wanting?
Need beyond needing?
What is the hole that must be filled?

Love…I guess. Yes, Love. That’s it, isn’t it?
If I had Love – enough Love – I would be blessed.
If I had Love – the right Love – I would be joyous.
If I had perfect Love, pure Love – Your Love – I would be healed.

That’s what I ask for, dear God.
That’s what I want.
Love is what I need.
Starting here. With me. Just me.

Fill me with the Love of the angels.
Build a bridge of Love across my doubts and fears.
Pour Love all around me
in my eyes, my mouth, my heart and my mind.

It feels good, this Love,
warm and calm and easy.
It has no ambition, but it won’t stay still.
It needs nothing, yet it sets my heart in motion.

This Love is peaceful, yet yearns to spread.
It oozes out of me and fills the room.
It swims out of the room and fills the house.
It radiates out of the house and seeks the world.

I guess it is enough, isn’t it!
Enough for me.
Enough for now.
Enough for always and ever.

Enough.

Amen.

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Cancer, words, and healing

The power of wordsI received an email this morning from JoAnne Grabinske who took a Writing Down Your Soul teleclass this summer. Her email was brief: “Thought of you when I read this,” followed by a link to a New York Times article about what happened when cancer patients began to write.

When I speak I love to share the extensive research Dr James Pennebaker has done at the University of Texas on the physical and mental benefits of expressive writing. People’s eyes always get a little wide, but the real stunner is that writing increases t-lymphocytes in the body. What are t-lymphocytes? The agents in your body that kill cancer.

I see now why Conari Press has placed Writing Down Your Soul in hospital giftshops.
The power of words for cancer patients