Tuesday, August 18, 2009

The Garden

I went running and then hopped in the shower since company was coming in a few hours. The late afternoon sun was slanting into the window above my shower in a way that lit everything up in an almost magical way. It felt....sacred there in my shower and a feeling of expectancy came over me, and I closed my eyes.
In my mind I saw myself handcuffed (the medieval chain-connected-to-the-wall kind) to the the walls, floor and ceiling. I knew right away that each of my limbs, my waist and my neck were chained to something religious, for lack of a better term. Right away someone entered the little area I was chained inside and indicated that s(he) wanted to undo the chain connected to my ankle. I physically lifted one foot up (not just in my head, but there in the shower) and almost felt a pressure around my calf from a hand that was releasing my ankle. The weight was gone and then the presence went on to my next ankle, wrists, waist and neck in the same manner. Then I was taken by the hand and turned around to face what I suddenly realized was a doorway (no door) which led into a brightly lit garden. Where I had been chained was not the shower-shaped prison cell I thought it was; it was actually a kind of alcove facing the garden wall from which I hadn't been able to see the garden. I'd been
chained to and facing a wall and now my breath was fairly taken away by what had been behind and around me all the time.
I was led by the hand and I went like a child, no worries or questions. Trees, flowers, a breeze and a sweet, heady scent were all around me. I was led to a garden bench in the center of the garden and I sat down next to what I knew was God.
Suddenly a knowing rushed in, but not in the frightening way Neo experienced as he was pulled into the Matrix. This was a waking up to understanding but for me it was gentle and peaceful.
I suddenly understood with this new knowing that that "cell" I'd been released from was my religion. I realized that the portion of the garden wall I'd been chained to/facing was STILL IN THE GARDEN. From that position I saw and experienced a part of the garden in a real way; I saw a corner of Truth there. But I was looking at a piece of wall, which technically was "real," but a distorted view of Truth since it was a Truth out of the context of...the real reality of the garden.
The chains holding me in place were beliefs/agreements that justified/explained my living life facing a tiny piece of wall. I was raised in those chains and to even ackowledge them as chains, admitting that that "itch" that made me feel like a bad believer or rebellious, kept me safe from the Nothingness I was led to believe I'd fall into without the reality of chains and wall. I was chained next to my family and friends, after all. In fact, for much of my life I was taught to pretend that the chains weren't in fact uncomfortable or limiting. I was taught that Truth and living in it meant loving the pain of those chains and even denying they were chains at all.
Now, released from the chains, I saw my religion for what it was; no need to weigh out what is "right" or "wrong" with my religion or my religion's explanation of God. I had indeed been seeing some true things about God/the garden/existence. I felt no compulsion to "figure out" my religious experience. Why spend time decoding an experience from the past when I could sit quietly in the garden, basking in the total love, acceptance and peace of the presence beside me on the bench? It would be as silly as sitting in the corner of a lovely hotel room, reading my diary from years ago, while my lover waits expectantly for me in bed! Silly.
Then I noticed lots of other people chained in the same way I had been, facing different spots on the wall of the garden. I immediately understood: these were different religions, different belief systems, different bodies of thought. But they all did exactly the same thing: kept people stuck looking at the same piece of wall, the same corner of truth and all out of fear of the unknown.
I also understood Eden in a flash of comprehension. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, whether I see it as literal or figurative was a stepping away from the garden bench on which I sat. It was a fear of what would come next and the "temptation" of the idea that there was something MORE. Choosing the mythical "more" started the very tragedy I'd been involved in my own life: a life defined by the chains of needing to have answers and to believe the chains are the only reality. We were born in these chains; the prospect of removing them when everyone in our system seems quite happy in them, is terrifying. Furthermore, we developed callouses that made the chains chaff our skin less. Soon we thought the callouses WERE our skin.
Since this experience I have found my reality has utterly changed. I run from places I've been conditioned to go, both situations, people and thoughts, but I have a destination: that bench in the garden. I can not describe the feeling I have when I sit there and lean against that loving presence, resting. But I can say I feel a peace, a rest, a relief and a feeling of being enjoyed.
I don't ever want to leave this bench. I don't want to limit my experience of the garden any longer. And since that "vision" or whatever you want to call it, I find it just as impossible to "un-see" as it was for Neo to "un-see" the matrix.
Even former "sticking points" feel different. What to do with Jesus, the Bible or the "real" experiences I've had inside of religion? But something wondrous has happened: where I used to experience those thoughts of "what about" as scary, accusing and guilt-inducing, I feel what I can only describe as....mirth. Weird, I know. What happens is I get briefly hung up on a "what if" (aka the fear I might have to put a handcuff back on) and then I feel the presence "calling" me to the bench in the garden. The presence is smiling...grinning, really...and says, "Don't worry! We'll talk about it!" and then fondly kisses my cheek. It's as if i'm being told what I tell my children when they begin worrying/obsessing about something that is out of their realm: "Mama will take care of it, Sweetie. You are not going to worry about this. I'm the Mama and I will take care of you." And I feel my body relax in just the way my children's do when an unnecessary burden is lifted from their shoulders by capable, trustworthy hands: Relief. Rest. Peace.


Old Pete said...

This is something special!
Our journeys have been so so different!
You have a gift for writing - I guess I have a gift for asking questions that encourage people to think about the foundations of life.

Extroverts and introverts have differing perspectives - but not only am I an introvert but I have lived with Aspergers Syndrome (or High Functioning Autism) all my life.

I sense that between us we have something to share with some of those people who are struggling in differing ways.

I would appreciate any thoughts you might have.

Anonymous said...

Cheryl - this rings absolutely true and parallels similar visions that I've had recently.
Being domesticated and raised by very domineering religious, political, and social systems has taken it's toll on humanity.
We are all of us truly unnecessarily but truly "chained at birth", as you described.

I liked this:

"From that position I saw and experienced a part of the garden in a real way; I saw a corner of Truth there. But I was looking at a piece of wall, which technically was "real," but a distorted view of Truth since it was a Truth out of the context of...the real reality of the garden.
The chains holding me in place were beliefs/agreements that justified/explained my living life facing a tiny piece of wall."

There's no room NOR need for justification in The Garden.
What INTENSE liberation to come to that realization!
No time to grieve the past when the present has become so Alive and Vibrant!
Thanks for sharing this, Cheryl!

Cheryl Ensom said...

Thanks, Tim. I now feel like that "other" in my vision was my "Real Self," rather than being "God." Perhaps those aren't really all that different from one another, you know? That "Real Self" is connected to truth, and as such connected to the truth in others. There is a web of connection that for me, is "God." At least today! I don't need that to be true. I am o.k. with having new understanding. So I probably WON'T believe exactly that tomorrow! But tonight that makes sense to me...inside.

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