My Phoenix Flames
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!