This is the story of what happened a few months ago when I presented a "Listening to Your Calling" workshop.
This process was created by Focusing trainer Bruce Nayowith, MD and his wife Rosa Zubizarreta, MSW, MA, to help each of us delve deeply into what life is calling forth in us.
Although there are four different prompts, I encouraged participants to stay with a prompt just as long as there was more coming. Two of them were all I needed!
We did this one as a group. This
was simply about each of us choosing a practice that “called” to us
(“an activity that effortlessly draws you, that you effortlessly enjoy,
that you love to do").
The activity I chose to delve into was cooking.
I always tell my students that there’s nothing like Focusing to make you realize that 90% of the time, you have NO clue as to the true nature of what’s actually happening in your life!
And as usual, I was pretty sure I knew what my experience of cooking would be about – something about transformation, about the alchemy of preparing and cooking food. I would simply be delving more deeply into it.
Need I say more?
Of course I had no clue what would come for me about how life is calling me through my enjoyment of cooking.
involves spending some Focusing time with questions like: What about this
practice really calls to me? What am I connecting with in my being when I
am engaged in this practice?
So, coming into the here-and-now with this prompt, I noticed that what came pretty quickly was a memory of a time when my twin brother and I were, maybe, six years old.
My mother walks in the door one day with a paper bag that contains a brand-new food that none of us has ever had before: pizza! (My parents are from the deep South, part of the migration of southerners to California after World War II.)
I do not like the taste of the
pizza. But I somehow know that it's because the taste and texture is just too new, and that
next time I will like it. (Which is true!)
An image accompanies this memory. The image is different than what actually happened at the time.
So I know that through this image, my body is letting me know something about the deeper significance of this memory that it has brought to my awareness.
This is the image:
My mother is poised on the threshold of the door, holding a
huge silver platter that has decorative swirls worked into the
edges, on which the pizza is being presented.
This session is supposed to be about my love of cooking, right?
And yet my body is showing me a take-out pizza that my mother is offering to us.
So it seems this is not so much about what calls to me in the actual preparing of food...
I notice my mother’s expression in the image and describe it:
Loving eyes. Expectancy! She has something new to share with us that she hopes is an absolutely delightful experience! I am reminded of many other times that she was filled with eagerness for us to taste a new recipe she had made for us.
She overflows with the
pleasure of giving us this delightful new food! She is not simply
feeding us – she wants to delight us with something surprising and new!
Our bodies are being nourished, our tastebuds are being nourished, our hearts are being nourished with this love-offering.
In reality, of course, we were presented with a pizza in a cardboard box.
My body is showing me that in reality we were being offered an extraordinary gift - one worthy of a rich, finely wrought silver platter.
We were being given a specific taste of my mother's love - a love that delighted in us, that delighted in the opportunity to care for us, a love that wanted to delight us and surprise us with the richness that life has to offer.
A thought comes – when I feed myself, I am nourishing myself with this very same stream of love.
After more than 30 years of marriage, my husband
and I have been divorced. Although a mutual, amicable decision, it is
never easy separating after such a long marriage.
I’d been living in my apartment for over a year at the time of the “Callings” workshop.
For months, no matter how many times I say to myself,
“I’m going to start making a big pot of soup every weekend so I can have
soup for lunch at work every day” – I don’t.
Today, “I’m going to make a salad for myself each evening to take to work the next day.” And then I end up having to grab something I don't particularly care for at work.
“I’m going to get groceries in and make a good dinner for myself each night.” And then I buy some sort of take-out.
But suddenly, over the last few months, I’ve begun doing all of this. I make delicious pots of soup on the weekend. I create delicious salad recipes – no boring old lettuce and tomatoes for me! I pore over cooking blogs and my many cookbooks for new and intriguing recipes and look forward to cooking for myself each evening.
I realize: I’ve started nourishing myself from this stream of my mother's love! This gives me a warm glow inside.
only the last few months that this self-nourishing has been
happening. For well over a year, it did not happen. So what was that all about?
In a flash, my body brings me the memory of a popular little modern-day Christian parable I’d come across decades ago in a Reader’s Digest item – you probably know of it since it’s exactly the sort of friendly little inspirational piece that regularly makes its rounds on the Internet:
There lived a man who, every day, saw a set of footprints beside his own, no matter what he was doing. He came to realize that this was because God was always by his side.
As the years passed, he came on hard times.
To his surprise, the footprints vanished. After a while, things got better, and once again, he saw God’s footprints beside him.
But he remained troubled about this all his life long. And one day he died. When he got to the pearly gates, he asked God, “Lord, why did you abandon me when things got tough?”
God answered, “My dear child – I never left you. When you saw only one set of footprints, they were mine – because I was carrying you.”
tears begin pouring down my cheeks at this sentimental little parable. I
am weeping! “What the heck?” I think. What’s this all about?
I know what my body is showing me.
All those months after I’d left my marriage - knowing it was the right thing but nevertheless feeling a little empty, a little up-in-the-air with the passing of my old world, and my new world not yet formed -
I don't like it now - the taste and texture is just too new.
But all that time, before I'd found myself again, my mother’s love was carrying me.
Even as I sit here now writing this, I feel something in my chest, in my heart area. A swelling there, emotion rising. I become aware of my feet in contact with the floor. I feel my sit bones in contact with my chair. I feel my pelvis roll back, as if I'm settling back into myself.
It's like a settling
back into the support - into the love - that’s here for me.