The Rapturous March Of A Single Saint Thru The Mind Of Athena Grace

All the good seats are taken.  Flies are soaring gaily about, adding an air of third world grime to the dark ambiance of Gaylords Cafe.  The sky is neither committed to grey, nor blue.  I’m pressing right up against my resistance to settling into my linguistic flow.  My mind is a meaningless swirl of random thoughts, sorta like a “suicide” slurpy at seven eleven.  You know, all six hideous flavors mixed together to create a cup of sweet, frozen, black, sludgy death.  Given that, which of these individuated specimens of mind debris shall I harvest for you?


I want to tell you that my mom has been reading me a long, meandering and relevant bedtime story… Yep, for almost a month now.  Teeth brushed, I nestle into darkness and covers, call her, and she commences to crack open a thick, heavy, hard-bound book called “Saints Who Moved The World” and reads a few dense pages of the life of my favorite saint, Saint Theresa.  Her soothing, melodic voice is the most familiar thing in the world to me.  And I’m not being figurative just for sweet poeticism’s sake.  I mean think about it, that is the voice that sang to me as the cells of my body ecstatically divided, and divided and divided and became and became and became a cohesive body who has slogged across the frontiers of time and space, evolving as this current rendition of glorious human mash who is gracefully banging alphabet into subjective meaning for your psycho-spiritual edification RIGHT NOW.


I love her voice.  It fills me with such peace and comfort that many nights, as she reads, I accidentally drift into slumber as it sings spiritually substantial content into my voracious, truth-seeking mind.


In last night’s installment, Theresa, at age 43, finally left her earthy body vacant and motionless, and made a voyage straight into the epicenter of God’s eternal presence.  For those weighty instants, her human form was but a soft whisper from a far away and meaningless dream, as she encountered this potent Presence.  (This pivotal experience of the hallowed saint was portrayed by the author through the worlds most EPIC run-on sentence, for which my linguistically adept mother had very little tolerance.  She re-read it a few times… and with each expulsion, it became increasingly ridiculous, until we were both gone in splashy puddles of laughter.  I wish I could remember it.  In fact, I’d love to memorize it, like a poem.  And spontaneously recite it once and a while just for the slosh and giggle of it… Do you dare me?!  Wink…)


So there’s Theresa, naked and bathing in the ecstatic rays of Our Father Which Art In Heaven… and my mom’s like, “how does the author know so explicitly what it was like for Theresa to meet ‘The Lord’?” I was quick to respond, because I’d already been mulling a similar query.  What I came up with was that I really didn’t care how the author knew, or if it was totally accurate.  To me, her story might as well be a great myth.  This story, as all great mythologies, serves to illuminate aspects, archetypes, and unearthed longings of my own Inner Life.  I don’t know that it is even a pertinent endeavor to distill “fact” from “fiction” as we swim along in the riveting currents of daily existence.  What is real, anyway?  Mostly, it’s all a montage of belief and perception and projection, avoidance and hope, shrouding a Presence of unwavering, eternal Isness that we’ve come to define as Love.  Given that the world as we know it is but a glorious and tragic holographic dream scape, who cares whether the histories to which we subscribe are “accurate” or not?!  To me, what is more pertinent and valuable, is whether the story serves to illuminate something within me that awakens Love; the beautiful connection I share with all life, always, now.


I discovered Saint Theresa when I was seventeen and traveling through Italy with my high school art class.  My teacher took us to a small church, off the beaten path, where the magnificently skillful stone carver, Bernini, had immortalized her in a hunk of marble, so smooth and lifelike, I honestly felt like I met her that day in Rome, in nineteen ninety seven.   An angel stands over her, piercing her heart with a divine arrow, and the delicate saint rests, broken open in a state of perpetual ecstasy… or “painful rapture”, as the little hand-out I received at the church read.  For the sixteen years since our first acquaintance, I have kept this woman of God’s image close to my heart, and framed on my altar as well.


Why?  Something about the experience of being broken open in a consuming Sacred Presence, so intense it defies definition as “pleasure” or “pain”, speaks to my depths.  Sometimes I wish it didn’t.  Ya know, like in those moments when I break open and bleed with pure, unadulterated ache.  When the experience of aliveness becomes so intense it feels barely tolerable.  Yet my paltry human feelings are probably child’s play at best, compared to the celestial spheres of heavenly rapture that swallowed Theresa into the center of her eternal Sacred Self.


There came a point on Theresa’s journey where she had to choose, God, or the world.  Now, I know all you tantrics are like, “God IS the world, silly!”… But listen, this is not about wagging flashy philosophies… or whipping out aggrandized religious riteousnesses.  No, this is more akin to Rumi’s field beyond right-doing and wrong-doing.  This is a parable of one who would settle for nothing less than DIRECT EXPERIENCE OF TRUTH (beyond finite, transitory form).  Come on y’all, it’s 2013 for goddess sake.  Let’s wrap religion in a burning flag and send it afloat down a river whose mouth opens to the Ocean with a capital O, and get on with it!  And to all you tantrics “out there” (myself included, naturally), I say YES, God absolutely IS the world… But that knowing is moot unless it is truly anchored into the deepest pulse of your being, such that your actions, thoughts and words are actually informed by direct and rarefied relationship to this realization.


What am I driving at here?  I see myself, tossed about in the frenetic waves of a meaningless world.  I seem to be so endlessly riveted and invested in hollow pursuits.  And I wonder for how much longer, will I insist on being shackled to this shiny pile of nothing… As for Saint Theresa, there comes a time on each of our journeys, when our number is up, and we are ready to give up every shred of investment in illusion, and offer ourselves entirely to that which always IS, that which we name, Love, God, Truth… yet which cannot truly be named.


Every morning I sit in meditation, and wait for Grace to show me this magnificent world.  Mostly half-heartedly.  Mostly still cherishing this shallow hallucination I call “me”, and only able to relinquish it for a single breath, if that .  But hey, I am doing the best that I can in each moment.  Will I have to suffer like Theresa, to be initiated into the spheres of rarefied self-realization?  Maybe… Maybe not…




All We Can Really Do Is Live It…

com·pel [kuhthinsp.pngthinsp.pngm-pel]

verb (used with object)


to force or drive, especially to a course of action: His disregard of the rules compels us to dismiss him.


to secure or bring about by force.


to force to submit; subdue.


to overpower.


Archaic. to drive together; unite by force; herd.

verb (used without object)


to use force.


to have a powerful and irresistible effect, influence, etc.


Just before I began this blog, I was compelled to pull up youtube and have a listen to Beck’s song, Loser.  That was random!  Haven’t heard that song since high school.  But the video showed the words on the screen, and I sang along all angsty and had a good laugh about it!  But that’s not really why I included the definition of compel here in Mrs. Graceland…


Listen, I have tons of really brambly, nutrient dense, karmic stew to digest here on the page… but first I’ve gotta get some cheap, silly shit off my chest.  Namely that in the bathtub this am, I realized how amazing it would be if somebody did a remake of the 80s movie, The Goonies… that was “The Ghetto Goonies”, or “Goonies in the Hood”… Right?!?!  I know this dates me, and if you’re all old and out of touch (wink), then you’ll just have to take my word for it… because I am the Goddess of Wisdom and Strategic War… and I know some shizz about some shizz… It would be a primarily black cast… and they’d say shit like…. Dang!  I forgot what I was hearing in my  head in the tub… and I just spent like an hour trying to figure out some hella clever line to remix, gansta style, but it didn’t come.  And it’s giving my brain a cramp and kinking my stream of conscious ness to try and whip one out.  But trust me when I say it’s a hands down brilliant idea.


And now back to the land of compulsion… I can’t remember exactly what I told you about the relational climate between Ed and I, in the previous installment of the Graceland Chronicles…  Oh yeah!  I gave him the ultimatum to GROW WITH ME or get lost, and he said he needed space to think about that.  And meanwhile he was slinging a bunch of blame my way for “cheating on him”!!!!  Hahahaha.  You might not think that’s funny… because you  might believe that being in a relationship where your married boyfriend is slinging blame at you is “unhealthy”… and heck, you might even be RIGHT about that!  But I think it’s funny, because it’s clearly not about ME at all.  The poor man is wrestling his own zillion-fanged, reptilian predator of a shadow!  I didn’t cheat or betray.  I’ve been honest all along.


But anyway, I am choosing not to make his acting out from insecurity and fear the most important thing.  (Hey wait!  I’ve gotta pause and celebrate, because from my towering third story window, I can see a shirtless man on a distant rooftop, sitting in a chair, reading a book!  Mostly I only see people on other roofs briefly appear to smoke a cigarette.  But he’s stone-cold chillin, sipping words and worlds, as he imbibes his daily dose of vitamin D.  Like.  And PS~ it’s eleven am, and the sun is just beginning to burn through the fog.  For the last few days, we have had Mists of Avalon mornings here in the Land of Oaks.  Thick, liquid cotton candy, swaddling the city in mystery… and every day I await the revelation of a hidden and enchanted land.  If not “outside”, certainly WITHIN… and now back to our previously scheduled program:)


So yeah, I’m not taking Ed’s shadow boxing match personally.  And it is never difficult to recognize his Great Ness.  Except when it is… but that’s an inevitability when loving any human being.  We see their best, their shimmering, show-stopping divine potential… and yet we love them for who they ARE, all warty and self-limiting.  Well… at least we have that option.  And in my thirty three trips (plus about a bajillion other incarnations) around our blazing gas ball, this is the best way I have found to love other human beings.


So there I was, burning in the threat of Ed’s sudden absence from my daily and hourly existence… praying to God non-stop for some sort of grace to make me strong enough to let go… and for a minute I thought I could do it.  But then I asked him to come over yesterday, to say mantra (something we do together regularly, before my altar, me, nestled in his lap, yab yum style…) hold each other and talk/listen.  Because GET REAL– even if we decide to stop seeing each other, it must come from a place of love and blessing, not from pain and disconnect.  No way!  I NEVER want to part ways with anyone in that fashion.  Then what happens if they DIE, or I die and we regret that we didn’t just love and forgive.


At first, he was hard and guarded.  But again, I didn’t take it personally.  I felt joy that he chose to step into me and connect!  And I let myself smile and love like my heart MUST.  Awe, I know, I know, cut to the chase, Athena.  This is a blog, not a million mile, medieval linguistic dead sea scroll…


I’m COMPELLED to say, that it felt SO GOOD to connect, hold each other, share, chant.  God that man turns me on on so many levels.  He had to leave before we were hella complete.  I didn’t want to let him go.  As soon as he walked out the door, I burst into tears in Venus’s arms.  I sobbed on and off for the rest of the afternoon… And I realized that I’M NOT READY TO LET GO OF HIM.


Fuck ultimatums and happily ever afters and perfect pictures.  The truth is, we’re probably NOT life partners.  The truth is, we do come from really different paradigms and subscribe to different world views.  The truth is that we love and know each other SO DEEPLY.  And I feel that we still have more to share.  At first I hated to admit that my truth is that regardless of the fact that he’s probably not ever gonna be my ONE, my husband, my baby daddy, my life-long partner, I don’t want to let go.  But after unsuccessfully trying to tame the snarling, fire-breathing beast of my desire, I found freedom in admitting what was true in my heart.  True, it didn’t measure up to the new-agey, holier than thou image I often delight in super-imposing myself into… But it was real.


And inside this COMPELLING desire to continue loving with Ed, I am asking myself questions like, AM I WILLING TO CHOOSE MONOGAMY with a married man?  God, I typed that sentence out and washed with sassy shame!  Shame at how it must sound from the outside.  Pathetic.  But I’ll tell you WHAT- suddenly all of the old Billie Holliday songs make tons of sense.  “My man he isn’t true, he beats me too… what can I do?  Cuz I love him…”  Hahaha.  You should hear me laughing out loud at myself.  Because I can hardly believe I’m saying this shit.  I know myself to be a Goddess.  And a strong-assed Wonder Woman type.  Well I’m here to tell you that life ain’t black and white.  Uh-uh.  It’s affinity shades of PINK!!!!!  Tee-hee!


God, I love myself for being so willing to be in the Game.  And continue to love myself as best I can, be raw and honest and laugh at all of it… when I’m not crying.  Although last night when my Friend (with a capital F), Basin kept capturing my tears in the little tear collection vial he wore around his neck, my sobs turned to unbridled peals of laughter on a very hot dime.   That’s what I call LIVING!  (Love you Basin!)


So am I willing to be “monogamous” with my married boyfriend?  The answer is yes, for now.  I am very satiated by all that we share… and am willing to hear more about what sort of boundaries he needs in order to feel safe to keep opening deeply with me (and as well share my needs and wants).  And then, we can try it out for say, a month.  Listen people, NOTHING in this life is as permanent as we WISH it was… So let’s just play and explore.  Make up new games and see what happens…


Anyway, that’s were I’m at.


And I feel so joyous to be engaged in the messy process of life without attachment to the FUTURE.  Process oriented living, man…  I’m tellin ya… it’s the new Beethoven.  Some day, maybe I’ll give myself over to the starchy, black and white heaven of ultimatums and happily ever afters.  Really.  And it could be as soon as this afternoon.  But for NOW, I am so happy to simply be me.  Unfiltered, imperfect, naked and exploratory.  What I DO know about myself, is that I learn from EVERYTHING I live.  I take it deep inside me and through the alchemical Grace of God, it becomes the coins and jewels of divine wisdom that I am able to generously sprinkle upon the differentiated sea of otherness; all who must navigate similar labyrinths of the heart and soul.  Life… I hear myself smilingly say, as I inhale deep and full… All we can do, really, is LIVE IT.




If Only I Could Be Other Than Me

My latest hobby has become avoiding writing.  I’m a natural, what can I say… But today, there is SO much inside me.  And I have been blogging in my head for hours now and saying all sortsa brilliant and embarrassing stuff.  Of course now that I’ve entered the pearly gates of Athena Graceland, I recall none of it…


But what I really feel like doing here on the page, is unapologetically unleashing the unsightly facets of my humanity.  Honestly… I’m sick of striving for such rigid strains of perfection and consciousness.  It makes my butt hole ache.  Wink.  I also want to give you a report on the amazing urban spring time music that is pouring through my wide open windows.  I have a low tolerance for “real” music these days.  Mostly, I find it overstimulating and agitating.  So I’ve taken to really listening to the music of the world.  It’s often brilliant, actually.  A cornucopia of various species of horny birds sprinkle the lucid, sunny evening with lyrical joy.  And a shhhhhushhh of traffic smooths the sonic space like a soft, frictional continuum.  Add in an occasional train whistle to penetrate all the passive feminine whisper tones.  The distant, imperceptible voice of a child inscribes the moment with innocence.  A car horn adds a jolting top note of sharp immediacy.  Sirens smear across the soundscapes like spicy finger paint.  All of this washes over me so subtly, I’d miss it if I didn’t listen.


Dan always preached that life is THIS MOMENT.  The moment is all that we truly have, all that is real.  I’m sitting indian style on my bed.  My back is slightly hunched.  The sun is waning and the tulips and daffodils in the vase at my bedside have become withered, but they still have charm.  In my heart, a dull ache croons.  Like a wide suck.  Like a painfully dense gravitational field.  I shared an intimate encounter with a man on saturday afternoon, and when I told Ed about it, he had a deep, intense reaction.  Ya know, hurt, fear… that stuff.  My commitment to myself has been to fully reveal myself every step of the way in our relationship, regardless of the impact.  Because what is the use of misrepresenting myself; acting like I’m someone I’m NOT, someone I imagine HE wants me to be… just so I can get his love.  The cost of that is self love and self respect.  Expensive…


I knew he would be upset.  And I was so tempted to contort the truth so that I would not face the fatal possibility of losing his love.  His love is a potent, life-vivifying, heart-amplifying drug.  I want to clutch it with knuckles whiter than snow or blow.  But that’s not the game  I really want to play, so I shared with him.  He sucked in on himself and burst into quiet flames of pain.


And just for the record, I want YOU to know that in MY world, even as I shared sweet, sensual, loving moments of life with this other guy, Ed was emblazoned in my heart and I conducted the encounter in a way that I felt honored what Ed and I share.  In MY world.  But not it Ed’s world.


It was my fever dreamy hope that sharing all of this with Ed would bring us closer.  Because we’d get to expose ourselves.  Our desires, fears, vulnerabilities.  And from there, fashion a stronger, deeper container for the sacredness we share. But alas, it seems to have set us further apart, placed a wedge between our hearts.  I know, I know, he’s MARRIED.  And even though we were both ACTING like we were in a Relationship… we are not.  We never made any commitments, boundaries, agreements or any such structures that would serve as a sacred container to grow our love.  How could we?  His life is an intricately tangled ball of yarn.  I guess in reality, all we really have are the moments we share.  And the moments we share are sublime.  But god, I wish I could order a deluxe subscription to Forever with him…


But maybe this expansive, educational and certainly salacious affair has run it’s course.  Frown.   Because he’s too jealous of my way of sharing myself with other men.  I can be quite flirtatious and sensual, melting open just by virtue of my nature.  And this causes him to feel like his guts are being ripped out.  I guess we’re not right for each other.


YES.  It’s true that I have been living in fantasy land.  Hoping that “some day” we would be together for real.  He’d come home from his late night shift on the police force (!!!!) and crawl into bed with ME, and spoon me to the end of love.  In the morning, he’d make me tea and kiss me all over and send me off into the subtle waves of self-disciplinary bliss that is my sadhana.  And blah blah blah insert every nuance of saccharine happily ever afterdom imaginable here: _____________________. (Be sure to include giving me a baby…)


Yes, I am so aware that all of this might sound like the words of a wounded, dysfunctional, fevered soldier.  Totally.  But fuck trying to present myself as all perfect and smoother than thou, like a porcelain collectable.  I’m a flawed and flailing specimen of a divine human being just like you.  Except I’m ME.  And now for the really sick and awesome part!!!


I told Ed that my bottom line was that if we’re gonna continue our devotional and profoundly intimate soul spelunking together, he would have to be willing to grow with me, and build a relationship founded in Love and abundance, rather than fear, scarcity, attachment to the past and socio-familial programming.  He said he wasn’t sure if he wanted that or not and he’d have to think about it.  He said he’d reach out to me when he had an answer.  Up until now, we haven’t gone more than three hours without talking… in many months.  Except when we’re sleeping.  When he told me this, MY guts ripped out.  My heart, my belly, my pussy.  Everything sucked out of me, in a reckless instant of invisibly gory death.  So I prayed.  All I can do is keep praying.  Because God knows best.  It’s just excruciating to lose my best friend and lover.  He was the centerpiece of my life.


In an ideal world, I’d have SOMETHING… Some compelling purpose… besides love and relationship… that occupied the limelight of my life.  I guess.  But the truth is, from inside out, I am most compelled by love, sex and intimacy.  Love me or leave me.


And the laughably sick part, is that I feel so disgustingly tempted to throw myself at his feet and through waves of sob and orgasmic gasp, promise that I will CHANGE.  Promise that I am only HIS, to possess and contain, forever and forever.  Yes, Ed, strangle me and suffocate me with your huge, fear-stained love!!!!!  Or maybe I’ll beg HIM to change!  Beg him to be who I want him to be.  Someone who is willing to kiss his security and comfort and socially acceptable image goodbye and dive with me into the deep and seductive waters of the Unknown and trust our amazing love to be strong enough to keep us together, so that we may dig a wishing well of devotion and intimacy SO DEEP that we reach china, and keep digging, far into the vast black expanse of the star-strewn and awe-drenched multiverse.  PLEASE CHANGE ED!!!! Please want to grow with me.


If only we fit the perfect shapes of each other’s expectations… Sigh… At the core, before conditioning and habits and belief systems, our souls fit together like Cinderella’s foot slid into the glass slipper at the hand of her dashing prince.  But then comes all of the dense, sedimentary layers of physical reality…  and the perfection is smashed like a crystal bird whose jagged shards flash and flutter about the expansive marble dance floor.


And really… I want to be someone who trusts and loves God more than any finite form.  I feel the cold, gnawing devastation of this perceived loss of Ed in my life… and I imagine myself being thrust into involuntary, premature sainthood.  Fuck the perpetual imperfection of loving men.  Take me straight to God, where I may rest and bless for all of infinity.  Show me the real world. Inside.


If only I could let go…


I don’t fucking want to let go.