Doorway to the Divine

The whole universe and all events are sacred (doorways to the divine) for those who know how to see. In other words, everything that happens is potentially sacred if you allow it to be. ~Richard Rohr

I mentioned in my last post that one of the readers of my memoir, A Long Awakening to Grace, challenged me to dig deeper into my story. In the process of excavating, I invited my forty-four-year-old daughter to have a talk with me.

When I trained in Imago Relationship Therapy, we learned a valuable listening skill called “The Intentional Dialogue.” We were taught to leave our own world behind, our perceptions, thoughts, and feelings, in order to enter and be present to the world of another. Listening deeply in this way gives us an opportunity to understand the other person at the level of their soul. It can be quite revealing. I decided to use this skill during our talk, which proved to be a “doorway to the divine.”


After taking our places in my living room, I began, “I’d like you to tell me what it was like for you as a child having me for a mother.”

Being in my daughter’s world was heartbreaking as I listened to the depth of her anguish–sacred moments of truth telling. And then her magnanimous soul emerged. She gave me an unanticipated gift of grace–understanding and forgiveness.

Forgiveness does not change the past, but it does enlarge the future.     ~Paul Boese

My daughter received an empathetic response from me as I validated her reality. I received her understanding and forgiveness, thus allowing me to forgive myself. Our future is enlarged. If my memoir does nothing else, the writing has proved to be healing for both of us. And that is a lot! I am filled with awe and gratitude.

A Holy Pause

True personal growth is about transcending the part of you that is not okay and needs protection. ~Michael Singer

I set a goal at the beginning of 2015 to write one blog post a week. You have’t heard from me since April 21. In addition to moving my blog to my WordPress website, I’ve needed to take a “holy pause” to work on transcending a part of me that is not okay.


Shame Demon strikes again.

In June 2014, I wrote about my Shame Demon battering me with harsh judgments after feedback received about my character at a workshop. In May 2015, I began receiving feedback from those agreeing to read my manuscript to help me improve my writing. One of them challenged me to dig deeper into my story and especially into my feelings and motivations surrounding myself as a mother. Once again the feelings of being inadequate and unworthy surfaced. My Shame Demon attempted to kill the meaning, purpose, joy and healing writing my memoir has given me.

Michael Singer is one of my favorite spiritual teachers. In his book, The Untethered Soul: the journey beyond yourself, he speaks of the roommate in our head–the mental voice that creates problems, makes us miserable, and never shuts up. Mine resembles that Shame Demon.


Michael Singer

The Untethered Soul


While we would never listen to someone who says the bizarre things our “inner roommate” says, we allow this mental voice to ruin anything we’re doing in an instant. When caught in a shame spiral, our mental voice creates even more havoc than usual. Mine was running rampant. I considered letting go of moving forward with my memoir and further exposing my inadequacies. I thought about giving up on the idea of sharing my story with the world.

Just as I did in 2014, I withdrew into myself for a time, avoiding contact with others, the very action that feeds shame. And then a friend noticed. “You seem depressed,” she said.

I let her know a little of what “my roommate” was saying. She gave me a new perspective, a different voice to consider. Gradually, I opened up to more friends. Gentler perspectives than the harsh ones my “inner roommate”  offered came forth. Even on-line spiritual resources spoke to my situation.

This reminder of grace in the midst of our frailties:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  ~II Corinthians 9a

And days of wisdom from Richard Rohr’s Daily Meditations:


~ Richard Rohr ~ Franciscan Priest

“Salvation isn’t about replacing our human nature with a fully divine nature, but growing within our very earthiness and embodiedness to live more and more in the ways of love and grace, so that it comes ‘naturally’ to us and is our deepest nature. This does not mean we are humanly or perfectly whole or psychologically unwounded, but it has to do with an objective identity in God that we can always call upon and return to without fail. Some doctrine of divinization is the basis for all reliable hope and any continual growth.”

“There are two major approaches to spirituality and conversion. We try to exclude and triumph over the negative parts, the shadow parts, the ‘inferior parts’ (I Cor. 12:22), as Paul calls them. This leads us to a kind of heroic spirituality based on willpower and the achievement of some sort of supposed perfection. But if you are honest, what you are really doing is pretending–and excluding the dark side that you do not want to look at, or the people you do not want to deal with. The way of Francis included and integrated the negative–forgiving and accepting the imperfection and woundedness of life. He agreed with Paul that the supposed inferior or weakest are, in fact, ‘the most indispensable.’ 

Salvation is not a divine transaction that takes place because you are morally perfect, but much more is an organic unfolding, a becoming who you already are, an inborn sympathy with and capacity for the very One who created you.”

“The whole universe and all events are sacred (doorways to the divine) for those who know how to see. In other words, everything that happens is potentially sacred if you allow it to be.” ~Richard Rohr

And so once more, I was given an opportunity to grow my shame resilience. I began accepting my weaknesses, looking for the doorway to the divine, and reminding myself of divine grace in the midst of all my life experiences. I moved forward.


My Intention: Wholehearted Engagement

…we must dare to show up and let ourselves be seen. This is vulnerability. This is daring greatly.
Brené Brown
I place a star next to the paragraph I just highlighted in my copy of Brené Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, where she writes about the vulnerability of putting our writing out into the world with no assurance of acceptance or appreciation. She says sharing something we’ve created is a vulnerable but essential part of engaged and Wholehearted living. It’s the epitome of daring greatly, especially for those who approach the world through shame. Shame resilience is called for when we believe that our self-worth is dependent upon getting a positive response.
As a memoirist writing as honestly as possible about shameful aspects of myself and my life, I dare greatly. For the past two years, I’ve been sharing my story with my writing partner. In addition to a recent manuscript review and Master Class at Mad Anthony Writer’s Workshop, I’ve been giving chapters to four readers for critique. The ultimate dare will be publishing. 
Nancy Pinard
The Master Class is facilitated by Nancy Pinard, a Dayton author and former short story teacher at Sinclair Community College and the University of Dayton Life Long Learning Institute. Out of the huge number of mature learners who responded to her class at UDLLI, a group of writers created a support group that continues to meet monthly. Those who were fortunate to be in her class, consider her to be the “Wannabee’s mother.”
For the Master Class at Mad Anthony, four of us submit 15-page manuscripts to Nancy who distributes them to us for critique. I am the only memoir writer. During class each writer remains silent as our work is critiqued. In addition to her appraisal, Nancy gives helpful technical suggestions and examples specific to our genre related to the craft of writing. After hearing everyone’s comments, we are permitted to ask questions or make comments.
My lip quivers as my turn to receive feedback approaches. I’ve already received a manuscript review the day before and have an inkling of what is coming. My character is about to be evaluated along with my writing. My reviewers do not like my mothering, a primary shame trigger for women.
While I am uncomfortable hearing their impressions of me, it is valuable in three ways. First, Nancy noted that I’m not beginning my story in the right place. Additional backstory (background information to more fully understand my character) was needed. Now I have written new chapters for the beginning and moved the chapter under review to ninth place.
Second, despite my discomfort, I am able for the first time to take in positive comments about my skill as a writer and my compelling story. Their interest is piqued in knowing what led to my disliked behavior and how the story turns out. For a writer, that is a good sign.
Third, as one who has struggled with shame for most of my life, this experience gives me an opportunity to see how far I’ve come in developing the shame resilience Brené Brown recommends. For a week, I withdraw and enter a period of self-examination. Were they right about me? Was I a terrible mother?
Wayne Tully Fantasy Art through
My shame demon attempts to batter me with harsh judgments, stop me from exposing my shameful behavior, kill the joy and healing writing my memoir is giving me. Toward the end of the week, I begin sharing what I’m going through with trusted friends. In my experience, talking about shame renders it impotent. By the beginning of the next week, my shame attack has subsided. In the past, it would have taken months or years. I owe a debt of gratitude to Nancy Pinard and my Master Class-mates for giving me an opportunity to see the progress I’ve made. I owe a debt of gratitude to my friends who hold me up when my shame demon tries to sink me.
The middle of July, I’ll be daring greatly again at the Antioch Writer’s Workshop, submitting Chapter 2 for a Seminar dealing with manuscripts as well as another one-on-one critique.
I find a needed bit of wisdom in a quote by Adam Appleson, “Share whatever it is you’re ashamed about. You may think you can hide your shame by not talking about it, but in reality, it’s your shame that’s hiding you.”
My shame has been hiding me for far too long. I’m not writing about the shameful aspects of my life to attract attention. I’m writing to come out of hiding…to join the journey from “What will people think?” to “I am enough”…to engage in Wholehearted living. Along the way, I hope my story will inspire others to do the same. And that means being vulnerable and daring greatly. And so it is.