The Process of Integration

Crisis cajoles us to move toward integration, to expand, to accept more. This process of acceptance is not incidental to a challenging time; it is one of its intended purposes. That is because, while our human nature prefers distinction, separation, and confusion, our spiritual nature seeks wholeness, inclusion, and union. Since we are ultimately spiritual in nature, life keeps pointing us in the direction of this growth. Like the kaleidoscope, it keeps offering us the pieces that we must put together.

Integration can arrive in an instant, when, through the free fall of surrender, you finally accept each one of the parts of your existence, even the ugly ones, even the irritating ones, even the ones you want to negate, destroy, and disown. Or it can come more slowly, as day by day, episode by episode, you gradually come to accept what has happened. When you do, you become whole. You become whole not because you have finally gotten rid of the painful or offensive item, not because you have escaped, but because you have embraced it. This is the process of integration in ourselves, in others, in the world. When we have achieved full integration, we know that there is only wholeness, which is enlightenment itself.

Moving toward integration, to the space in yourself where you can see the wholeness of life, gives you a sense of hope. It also brings great peace because you know that your life, even in this crisis, and your soul, for all eternity, are nestled in the blanket of wholeness where everything, even this very difficult time, has its perfect place.

— Daphne Rose Kingma, The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart, p. 138-139

Why Kids Read

Why do kids read? They read because they are made to, of course, but they also read — via media in a multitude of forms — because they want to find something out, or they want to join their imagination with somebody else’s. I will say it again: They read for the same reasons adults do.

— Roger Sutton, A Family of Readers, p. xviii

Whether to be Bitter

There is a time in our lives, usually in mid-life, when a woman has to make a decision — possibly the most important decision of her future life — and that is, whether to be bitter or not. Women often come to this in their late thirties or early forties. They are at the point where they are full up to their ears with everything and they’ve “had it” and “the last straw has broken the camel’s back” and they’re “pissed off and pooped out.” Their dreams of their twenties may be lying in a crumple. There may be broken hearts, broken marriages, broken promises.

A body who has lived a long time accumulates debris. It cannot be avoided. But if a woman will return to the instinctual nature instead of sinking into bitterness, she will be revivified, reborn. Wolf pups are born each year. Usually they are these little mewling, sleepy-eyed, dark-furred creatures covered in dirt and straw, but they are immediately awake, playful, and loving, wanting to be close and comforted. They want to play, want to grow. The woman who returns to the instinctual and creative nature will come back to life. She will want to play. She will still want to grow, both wide and deep. But first, there has to be a cleansing.

— Clarissa Pinkola Estes, PhD, Women Who Run With the Wolves, p. 394-395

Becoming Larger

Very often when we are in a panic about faith, it is because God is making us larger. We do not see how we are going to be able to make ends meet, and we doubt that God is going to do that for us or through us. We are afraid we are being made smaller, and yet for some of us the temptation to rush back to what once was a right size and is no longer is a very real temptation. “I’ll just cut my losses,” we decide, and then we set about trying to wedge ourselves back into a former definition of our self that no longer holds true. What happens? It doesn’t work very well. We cannot go back, but we do not see how we can go forward either. And the answer is that we cannot go forward of our own steam, left to our own devices. In order to go forward and become larger, we are going to need the grace of God.

— Julia Cameron, Faith and Will, p. 16-17

Spiraling into Letting Go

Shifting from a self-centered focus to a more God-centered focus is terribly hard. I think we’ve gone wrong by assuming that such a radical movement can be achieved simply by setting our jaw and saying one or two prayers of relinquishment.

Letting go isn’t one step but many. It’s a winding, spiraling process that happens on deep levels. And we must begin at the beginning: by confronting our ambivalence.

— Sue Monk Kidd, When the Heart Waits, p. 102

Reading Great Books With Our Children

When we read great books with our children, we teach them to turn to great books throughout their lives for comfort, humor, and for illumination of the human experience. The most influential leaders and thinkers in the world have consistently relied on literature for inspiration at their most difficult moments. Nelson Mandela turned to Steinbeck during his imprisonment and says it changed his life. Lincoln was criticized for reading novels in the middle of the Civil War; he defended himself by saying that it kept him sane.

Whether we are called upon to govern a nation or organize a birthday party for too many children, the key to both surviving our days and cultivating our next generation of leaders is many books, well chosen.

— Kyle Zimmer, Everything I Learned to Know I Learned from a Children’s Book, edited by Anita Silvey, p. 207

Being Happy

When you can recognize the feeling of happiness when it’s there, you will realize that this feeling is what you have been looking for all along. The feeling isn’t leading somewhere else — it’s the goal, not the means to a goal. If the bride-to-be understands that her happiness comes first from within, she can make the decision to marry or not to marry from a place of wisdom, not from a place of lack. If she is already happy, the marriage will also be happy. If the couple then decides to have children, the children will grow up in a happy environment without the pressure of being someone’s source of happiness. The same will be true throughout the life of any happy person. Happiness breeds a happy existence and a joyous way of looking at life….

Happiness is right now. Your life is not a dress rehearsal for some later date — it is right here, right now. The invisible quality of happiness we have all been looking for is right here in a feeling.

— Richard Carlson, PhD, You Can Be Happy No Matter What, p. 127, 129