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Friday September 10 2004: Personal: On the Eve of 9-11

          It's almost that time of year again, and I've been reading a number of blogs concerning the anniversary of 9-11.  There's still a need to examine how the events touched us back then, how it changed our lives. People poke at the wounds to see if it still hurts as much. 

           My oldest was in his second year at the Naval Academy in 2001, and the future of the midshipmen suddenly took on a new seriousness.  The USNA-Parent's net-site created an even tighter web of emotional support for family members. We shared stories over the Internet of strangers going out of their way to show support for a mid in uniform, and we let the tears run down our faces.

           Commissioning Week was supposed to be a grand celebration in 2004, but by then the U.S. was in Afghanistan and Iraq, and many of the newly commissioned ensigns were scheduled to leave for the Middle East shortly after graduation. I remember the main speaker for graduation spoke of sacrifice, and I felt a painful mixture of emotions.  My son was relatively safe in his choice of service. I could feel great pride in his graduation, and yet it was a pride tinged with pain -- bits of relief and guilt, concern for friends' sons and daughters who were going off to Baghdad.

             My son is an ensign now, down at Little Creek, Virginia. There are rumors he'll be shipping out soon, though it may be a short run that stays close to home. Having a son in the military certainly pulls a mother's heart in multiple directions.
           I could always do the detached routine and just 'trust in God,' but I've become convinced that attitude doesn't really help me in the spiritual long-run.  In fact, the more I've work at removing blocks and inner fears that stand in the way of my spiritual development, the more convince I am that we allow negative feelings to hold us hostage. 
            We're afraid to feel fear or sorrow because we think to really embrace a negative emotion might overwhelm us; might pull us down into some hellish bog of eternal suffering.  The truth is that negative emotions are very weak when faced head-on.  It's the fear of feeling fear that creates an unending cycle of anxiety and suffering. Denial or repression of negative emotions blocks the compassion and inner peace that exist beyond the shadows. That's the irony -- by fighting our fears, we give them incredible power over our lives.

           In my detached, mystical period of life (years ago), emotions were never a problem; I was always calm and serene.  Now, I get teary-eyed with an ease that is somewhat embarrassing. Tears come when someone tells me about the rough time they're going through; tears well-up at stories in the news; I've even been known to get teary-eyed at commercials. My kids have gotten over their astonishment (you're crying over this?) and simply hand me a box of Kleenex. They now preview movies and warn me which ones not to see in the theater (ones they know would require half a box of Kleenex).
             I don't see this emotional response as a step backward on the spiritual path.  I know that deep inside me there remains a peace, clarity, and openness, despite the outer tears. I think that to become hardened or acclimated to the news of today's world, to become detached in an effort to rise about human emotions -- that would be the real disaster. It may be a strange-sounding choice for a mystic, but I do not choose to be 'in this world but not of it.'  This is the life I was given to live.  I want to embrace this life and learn from its reality.
            "Good grief," I imagine people saying, "Can you honestly choose the suffering of this world over the peacefulness of higher worlds?"
             I know I could become detached and send spiritual love to all, seeing all as equal droplets in a great cosmic sea.  It would not matter if someone entered or left my life.  It would not matter if someone praised or insulted me. The love would remain evenly dispersed and I would reside in spiritual peace.  Oh yes, I've been there before and I know the benefits: from a state of spiritual detachment, one never feels betrayal or rejection, anger or insult, frustration or irritation; one feels compassion and not grief at the loss of a loved one; one understands and does not fret about life's frustrations and troubles. 
              I remain stubborn.  I keep thinking that -- to trust the divine -- I must trust that humans were given emotions for a reason. To be emotionally detached from daily life may sound safe in the post 9-11 world, but I would give up the chance to feel comforted or supported; I would give up the chance to be inspired or empowered. Complete within myself and within divine love, there would be no need to let another person touch the inner depths of my soul, no reason to let another person change the way I experience the world. 

           I cannot embrace the traditional role of mystic. I'd rather take the world just the way I find it. At the bottom of all human emotions and experiences, I believe a different center of peace exists.  The depth of that truth is not going to be found by mystics who ardently try to rise and float above the very things that make us human.  

           I will remember 9-11, and the USS Cole, and the embassy bombings.  I will follow the news of terrorist's activities and our own military operations, and I will keep my heart open. For better or worse, that's the way I've decided to honor those who have died, those who will die, and those who remain behind.

Posted on Friday, September 10, 2004 at 08:01PM by Registered CommenterThe Skeptical Mystic | CommentsPost a Comment

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