It is no wonder that you and I may be held in odd remembrances as we continue to see and feel our way through rugged territories of our new lives. What I have felt being revealed here, in this unusual time in history, as well as in our own evolution, is that you and I can release bitterness and retain anger.
“Accept your anger.”
Each of us begin our experiments in claiming with naïveté. You begin as an innocent. Inexperienced. Then you encounter people who have far more education and sophistication, who have greater prestige: legitimate power. When your more sensitive knowing is dismissed, you are hurt, then aggrieved. You might begin to shed your naïveté and grow to feel bitter about these circumstances. It may take a long while to admit to your resentment at the way others hold their intellectual knowing above your sensitive understanding. And you may, for a long while, disallow anger.
Yet accepting that we are angry is what releases our bitterness. “Bitterness is, to our hearts, what the ego is to our minds.” Anger has been denied. Denial releases nothing.
You might say bitterness is untended anger. Bitterness “retains” heartache and pain in a way that makes it piercing and unbearable. Then it can breed resentment and cynicism. Yet when you tend to the many causes of anger that were ignored, back peddled, hidden . . . you may remember your Self. Doing this tending creates a beguiling time, sweet and sharp.
You pause and then you begin again. The bitter winds flare up anew, harsh and piercing. The atmosphere feels wild, jagged, sharp, and dangerous. You retreat to any safe inlet of recovery.
But what do you feel?
Amidst a sorrow that is unthinkable, one that you can’t get your mind around, this unimaginable loss of strength ends with the moment in which you cannot breathe. The shock knocks the wind out of you. You are dismissed in such a way that you are annihilated by a noxious cloud of disbelief and self-doubt.
Now you mourn, and something in you may die if you do not lay claim to your right to be who you are. Suddenly, your inability to deny that you know in the way you do, brings the dawn of hope.
When you claim what you feel, you begin to notice the growth of hope.
“Bitterness and uncertainty are replaced by hope. Hope is the condition of the initiate, new to the realization of having a home within the embrace.”
With hope we sense a power made perfect through weakness. Can you imagine that now?
You cease to let a conspiracy of self-doubt contribute to your own undoing, even knowing that when you say, “Here I am,” those who would disabuse you of your worth will rise again. They remain to slay you, the dragon, with the sword of the hero.
We must move to metaphors that are big because the paper cuts of slights can seem insignificant against the fear that no matter how our own self-regard changes, an inner atmosphere of a used and abused person will be retained. You can ridicule yourself with the best of them. And you know that if you respond to the slights as the judgments they are—your self-defense will be deemed a fault. You fear your words will fail you.
There are so many calls to forgive without claiming the hurt of having your way of knowing dismissed. So many calls to be above it all. So many intimations of unhealthy anger or fear. So much is reduced with indignation: “My God, if you are not yet at peace!!! If you did not yet forgive and forget! If you are not yet perfect!”
In our dialogue, Mary supports us by saying, “You, and each one, are called to come back to love of self and confidence in your gifts. This is what disallows bitterness.” As love finds us, bitterness leaves, and confidence is not far behind.
You may discover as did I, that your former disregard for yourself has already become the radical self-regard called for, but without shielding you, as you thought it would, from the nay-sayers, especially those who are kind and “right” in their way. You still feel weak.
Is all of this happening by way of the manner of being made perfect through weakness? The idea of the virtue of weakness amid the power of God? What if it is perfect? Maybe, once, weakness was proper exclusively with God, for God alone to be the presence in which you tremble, the enveloping presence in which you quiver with the magnitude of being made perfect, for weakness being perfected in Love’s accepting sight.
But is God still alone if we are the manifestation of such Unity? Are our imperfections then . . . imperfections? Or are they calls to new creations, as who you and I truly are?
“Look deeply and you will see that what you would call your imperfections are as chosen and as dear to you as all the rest.”
Is it not only within the whole of who we are, that our calling finds us?
James Hillman said, “Recognize the call as a prime fact of human existence; (b) align life with it; (c) find the common sense to realize that accidents, including the heartache and the natural shocks the flesh is heir to, belong to the pattern of the image, are necessary to it, and help fulfill it. A calling may be postponed, avoided, intermittently missed. It may also possess you completely. Whatever; eventually it will out. It makes its claim.”
You have been claimed as beloved.
I have been claimed, and I have claimed my calling. And I will endeavor, along with all those who are claiming power in unity, to endlessly pursue our common, unfinished movement, even beyond time-bound evolution.
“How transformative would it be if we could embrace the idea that unfinished is our natural and permanent state? Is it possible for us to accept that there is no seamless fix for what ails us individually or as a community? Our path, if we’re lucky is evolution without end.”
 A Course of Love, Dialogues, Day 3.1
 A Course of Love T3:8.3
 A Course of Love C:20.36
 Mirari: The Way of the Marys, p.215
 A Course of Love, C:20.41
 James Hillman, The Soul’s Code: In Search of Character and Calling
 Susanna Schrobsdorff, “Amanda Gorman and the Art of Being Unfinished and Imperfect,” Time (on-line)
Image copyright SWPA.Photography
I have been thinking of this comment since you wrote it. I went and looked for it on my latest blog and didn’t find it, and then wondered where it had gone. Today, I finally realized it might be on an earlier one.
The scene you painted and your honestly in sharing it meant so much to me. This is just what I feel we, as women, need to be sharing. And in the next book, there is a section on “Kindness.”
And you are so right, kindness to ourselves comes before our kindness to others. I am so, so blessed by this sharing.
Thank you, Mari, for speaking about anger. Two weeks ago I found myself in an outburst of anger that seemed way stronger than the circumstance called for.
I had shoveled snow from the driveway and was depleted when I came in. My husband suggested I lay out the ingredients we would need for dinner, so I went to the pantry to do so. First trip, no problem, but upon loading up with more cans I knocked a glass bottle of borscht out of the pantry which shattered with glass and purple juice all over the tile floor. The look on my husband’s face added to my explosion. First I complained: would you want me to treat you that way after you knocked something over? Then I began to yell: “Yes, it was all my fault and yes I will have to clean it up by myself!” Then I went to the sink and began to scream – a wail of sadness, anger, hurt, resentment, exhaustion and frustration.
It was not “outrageous”, however, as the outburst included all the feelings I was storing and not expressing. I had thought I was coping well with life until I experienced this!
Since I was reading Mirari and learning about grief, this made some sense. My husband apologized (not a typical response) and got a vacuum and rags and helped clean up (not typical either). We talked about making the choice of kindness, where possible. He said, you know however, you don’t have to get so upset. But here I stopped and said, oh yes I did – when it’s necessary. Not receiving kindness when we’re upset is not to be accepted or discounted.
I can see that his lack of kindness to me mirrored by lack of kindness to myself. So my commitment needs to not only be more kind to him, but also to myself.
I see I am becoming more real. Even an awful situation can generate better and deeper communication. I am hopeful that this is my opening to the “new” and love every aspect of this possibility!
Thank you for everything!
Oh Mari, Today I am feeling all you write of … all of it … so very deeply … heartfelt, raw, and excruciatingly painful…. surprisingly … even now! So much grief. You’ve expressed it all so well. And I will share an additional perspective I’ve experienced – that even with a modicum of the outwardly visible “education, sophistication … intellectual capacity” you write of, the tragedy is that my deeply felt sensitivities and feminine knowings have been discounted. And instead horribly destructive assumptions have been made that because I have the one, I could not possibly have the other. That I do not feel the pain, the grief, the endless tears which continue to arise. Not from bitterness so much, as from the deep sorrow and knowing that it need not be so. That it is possible to live and express in the world as BOTH the divinity of the feminine and the masculine. Wholeheartedly – heart and mind and body and soul as One. And that this is the fullness and wholeness of the embrace we are all called to – each in our own unique way. Supporting each other as we go … in the Way of the Marys … even as we walk the world … BOTH in our sacred BEIng … and in our sacred DOing. Blessing you, with so much love 🌺 … and now I’m going to submit this quick before I chicken out and delete it!
Dearest Christina, Thank you for sharing this other edge of the pain, one that I’m aware that I sometimes don’t see. Brilliance of mind can be so beautiful that it hides the equal luminosity of heart. You have walked the world with such dignity! I’m so glad you didn’t chicken out and hope any other women who feel the same will speak up. It is so important to come to voice now. I appreciate and love you very much.
An additional reference suggested is the book “The Return of the Prodigal” by Father Henri Nouwen, referencing the acknowledging and undoing of thehidden bitterness of “the good son” who stayed home
Thank you, Joe. I have that book somewhere and remember that it had a great impact on me when I first read it. I am glad you called my attention to it again.