My Phoenix Flames

Celebration in Florence City Center

A phoenix is a mythical bird with a tail of beautiful gold and red plumage. It has a 600-800 year life-cycle, near the end of which it builds itself a nest of cinnamon twigs that it then ignites; both nest and bird burn fiercely and are reduced to ashes, from which a new, young phoenix, reborn anew to live again. The bird was also said to regenerate when hurt or wounded by a foe, thus being almost immortal and invincible — it is also said that it can heal a person with a tear from its eyes and make them temporarily immune to death; It is a symbol of fire and divinity.

These past two years have been my time of the phoenix. It’s been a time when all I knew and all I was went up in flames. A time of seeing my life rise up in flames and swirl down into gray-white ashes, floating around me, with no chance of using them to rebuild anything. It seems like it’s been that kind of a year for many people. But there comes a time when you just have to decide to come out of those ashes reborn. I think the season of gratitude and kindness and unconditional love is just that time for each of us.

I’ve been thinking about the human tendency to get stuck in the past or to live in the future. We are the only animals that do this. Think of a lion on the hunt. If he missed his prey, does the Lion sit back, and think about what he should have done differently “Oh, man, I should have zigged when I zagged. Or I should have gone the other way. I’m a failure. I’ll never catch anything.” Does the Lion get caught up in the past, in the what ifs and never hunt again. Does the Lion bring on his own death with his paralyzing fear? No, the Lion gets right back on track and keeps going until he’s gotten his dinner. It’s important to be present. It’s important to be gentle with ourselves. It’s important to admit we don’t know it all, that none of us are all “right” and none of us are all “wrong”. Seems like sometimes we mortals get really obsessed with the rights and the wrongs of life.

There has been a lot thrown at me this year. Broken relationships, leaving the country, finding a new way to live my truth, a sister who almost died, a family that’s shattered a bit, a testimony that just won’t get back to where I thought I wanted it to be.  But, there is one thing that I’ve learned about myself in all this doubt and wonder, no matter what life serves up…I’ll keep rising.  It’s the phoenix inside of me.And there is one inside of each of you.

As I was pondering what to post on my last Thursday of each month slot, I couldn’t help but have something on my mind from Jessawhy’s latest post about her articles of faith. I was reading them, loving them, rejoicing in them, and also in the comments. Reading down, there was one comment that was a slap in the face to each of us who have broken out of some certain type of LDS person we may have been. The commenter bluntly told Jessawhy (and as I am in agreement with her, he was telling me and everyone else who got something from that post) to mail in a request to the church office buildings and have our names removed from the community because we obviously don’t belong. I don’t usually mention things like that again, I don’t think they are worth mentioning. But it’s been hanging around in these thoughts of mine. This idea of being “sheep” to a fault. This idea of harsh judgment from people who don’t think my ideas fit the mold of what they want to see in the church. My struggle to wonder if that’s the community I want to keep belonging to– one that seems unable to allow for doubt, that shuns individual revelation if it differs from the masses, that hesitates when someone finds their own real and personal truths, and that can’t allow deep evaluations and questions without returning with some sort of flippant remark.

I’ve had to come to a lot of decisions this year about a lot of things.
And I have decided that I’m letting go of the definitions that held me to me. I’m no longer defined by a religion. I’m no longer defined by my degrees or education. I’m no longer defined by the trips I’ve taken or the things I’ve seen. I’m no longer  defined by any of these things. For it is only when we stop placing ourselves in the boxes that have defined us that we realize we are free of confinements, and free to fly. Free to rise up like a phoenix out of the flames. Free to soar to heights and fall to depths that other people may be too afraid to reach. As Anias Nin once said, “Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”

Here’s to each of you who have the courage to be who you are. Here is to each person who is not afraid of reaching new heights and achieving new things. Here is to each of you who have helped me ask the questions I didn’t dare to ask before you gave me a place and a voice to do so. Here’s to the phoenix inside of each of you. May you be reborn and rejuvenated and keep on keepin’ on!

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9 Responses

  1. This is such a beautiful expression of spiritual freedom–it’s something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately as these two years have been very difficult for me as well. I feel like God exists in that spaciousness–that the moment we step out of those boxes that have so longed defined us is the moment that we really, truly touch divinity.

    On a side note–I love your thoughts and your writing d’arcy! I’ve been following you on this blog for some time. I’m good friends with kaRyn and Rebecca and they’ve both expressed a lot of admiration for you. And I can certainly see why!

  2. Caroline says:

    D’Arcy, What a beautiful symbol of regeneration you’ve highlighted here. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

    That quote by Anais Nin has made me think – how much do I live my life with courage? In what ways can I be more courageous and therefore expand my life?

    Good luck to you with all your new endeavors.

  3. Lacy says:

    This has been a rough but wonderful year for me, too. Both this and Jessawhy’s Articles of Faith post really resonated with me. Thank you for your courage!

  4. Flygirl says:

    I love this illustration of change and the whole idea of the phoenix. I’ve been so lucky to be a part of your journey, and to have you support me in mine. It has been so great to see the courage that you have shown in the last couple of years. It’s so interesting to me how its so easy to be afraid of change and fight or avoid it, but when you really do accept and embrace it, its amazing how it seems to turn out better and more beautiful than whatever it is you are holding onto in the first place.

  5. G says:

    brava D’Arcy. thank you.

  6. D'Arcy says:

    Krisanne, wow! Thank you so much for your beautiful words. I’ve heard a lot about you as well and feel very honored that you have taken the time to read my posts. I agree that the divinity in each of us is just waiting to be set free and our paths of reaching that don’t all have to be the same.

    Caroline, Thank you. I’ve seen so much courage in your life. From my point of view I have learned from you and admired you for a long time. I think that you are living authentically and I appreciate all you’ve added to my life this past year.

    Lacy, thank you for taking the time to comment. I wish you peace and blessings in the now and in the future.

    flygirl–you’re my favorite and you know it.

    G–you’ve added so much heat to fuel my flight this year. Your courage has built mine and I think that’s the amazing thing about growth and taking chances. Thank you!

  7. Kelly Ann says:

    Thank you D’Arcy. You have so eloquently written about your journey. I too find I am finally rising out of my flames but sometimes finding it hard to let go of the definitions. I am incredibly grateful to know people here are doing the same – that is keep on keepin’on no matter their circumstance.

  8. Jessawhy says:

    D’Arcy,
    I’m so glad that you feel a rising. It’s always better than the falling. I’m also happy that the articles of faith I wrote resonate with you.
    It’s important that we have direction for our spiritual selves.

    Best of luck to you in the next few months especially!

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