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New Soul

New Soul

I’m a new soul
I came to this strange world
hoping I could learn a bit about how to give and take
But since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
finding myself making every possible mistake

la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

I’m a young soul in this very strange world
hoping I could learn a bit about what is true and fake
But why all this hate, try to communicate
finding trust and love is not always easy to make

la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

This is a happy end
’cause you don’t understand
everything you have done
why’s everything so wrong?
This is a happy end
come and give me your hand
I’ll take your far away

I’m a new soul
I came to this strange world
hoping I could learn a bit about how to give and take
but since I came here, felt the joy and the fear
finding myself making every possible mistake

la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la…

la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la….

It’s Done

(Originally written as an email to my wife on Sunday evening, Independence Day, 2004. We had just begun dating.)

Grace,
The church experience was like Jim and Tammy Fae meets the great Southern Baptist Revival. Wow. You know how I told you I had heard the service could last as long as three hours? Try three and a half. At first, I thought they were being hypnotized. I was watching for it, and indeed, I could see some techniques, but they had enough breaks that I don’t think that was the case. ;o]

First, everyone was very friendly and “God bless you” was the phrase of the day. I was an obvious stranger to their church for two reasons:

  1. I was white.
  2. I didn’t fall in line with the dress code of a dark suit (for the men. The women all wore white. I was glad I didn’t wear jeans. I kept thinking throughout the service, “What a beautiful group of people.”) The fact that I didn’t fall into this template gained me more attention, I think.

Everyone was very warm and welcoming, without being pushy. I didn’t see my friend at first, but I ran into one of her friends whom I see at her cube every now and again. We all mulled around outside the ‘auditorium’ (aside from the sign outside and some lettering over the theater doors, there was no way to tell this building was supposed to be a church.. no crosses anywhere) until they opened the doors (think Wharton Center.) I found a seat about midway down and Nateea saw me as she took her seat a few rows from the front. She motioned, asking if I wanted to come up there. I declined. She motioned again, asking me if I wanted her to come back there. I declined again. I’m glad I did. I think I might have slowed her down. Besides, my position made me more accessible for what was to come later.

The celebration started with singing. And swaying. That led to more singing. And clapping. And soon dancing in the aisles (their band was fantastic!) Then more singing. Then they paused to pass around communion, which they kindly asked that visitors or the non-saved not partake in (the Catholic church does the same thing.. it really bothers me.. I believe Christ intended his Body and Blood to be for everyone.. not a private club of initiated.) I was somewhat glad I got out of it, as the host was wrapped in cellophane packed on top of a little plastic shotglass of grape juice. Then they ate and drank and sang some more and had some folks be a-healed with the laying on of hands (this is where the gals usually swoon from the power of the Holy Spirit and their anointing.)

Finally, at some point (around Hour Two?), the pastor started to preach. His big message for today? “It’s done.” Whatever problems you’re facing, turn it over to the Lord, because it’s done. Impossible with men, but in the Lord, it’s already done. Funny. That’s been the message that’s been getting pounded into me for about a month now. Then the pastor asked for folks to come up front to get saved or receive a blessing. By now, I’m completely resigned to the idea that I’ll probably be up there, based on the message and the timing. Pastor spoke of acts of faith and stepping towards God. “For every one step towards God you take, He takes two,” Pastor Owens said.

If there was any doubt in my heart about going up there, some guy stepped up next to me and acted like, “Hey, how you been? Oh, wait, sorry–I thought I knew you from work. Say, you’re here today, would you like to go up and receive the pastor’s blessing?” (Real smooth.) “Sure,” I said. He didn’t have to ask, I was going up anyways, but I took this as an obvious sign. I was quickly passed up to the front where I met a young, sophisticated young man named Lacy, dressed in a Don Johnson suit. He reminded me of a thinner, African-American version of my Uncle Craig. Lacy asked me if I knew God and if I prayed and if I was saved. I said, yes, I try to know God and yes, I pray every day (twice a day these days) and when he asked me if knew God again, I finally said, “I’m Catholic.”

Grace, you should have seen it; it was a real conversation-stopper. Apparently, the Catholics are the Green Berets of the religious world, because at that point, he stopped trying to save me. Lacy gave me a hug, stood in back of me with his hands on my shoulders and faced me towards the preacher (who was still fervently preaching) as a couple gals were brought alongside. Lacy kept praying as the preacher’s helpers determined there were four of us to deal with: three sobbing, repentant women and me (the Catholic,) who was just grinning and standing stiff as a board the whole time. Starting with the gal on the far end, the pastor began anointing us with oil, complete with laying on of hands.

Interesting thing happened here. He got to the one pretty young gal standing next to me and took his time on her (she was really a wreck, but quietly so.. I could actually feel her pain radiating off her.) The pastor was going on about letting go of her unfortunate past, releasing the devil, releasing demons and then–this was weird–at the same time he said, “Oh, there he went!”, I thought I smelled something. There was a waft of something slightly rotten and sulfuric, then it was gone.

When he finished up with her, I was next. Got the dab of oil on the forehead, a prayer I become closer to God, then we knelt (‘cept for demon girl, who wasn’t responding much at this point.. they would give her a “You’re SAVED!” starter-kit of some kind after we went back to our seats.) Pastor then led us through a public confession (repeat-after-me style.. ..you just asked me yesterday when the last time was that I went to confession.)

After we were free to go, I turned and found myself heading down a line of guys who each came up and gave me a hug. Once I was all the way through, Lacy led me back to my original seat. He wondered why I had gone up. I used the pastor’s words: “Renewal” and “It’s done.” Satisfied, he smiled and thanked me for visiting.

We had a little multimedia presentation on the big screens, pastor blew a horn into the microphone and everyone clapped as the July birthdays in the congregation were called out to gospel music. [Insert random singing and dancing here.] Met up with Nateea, we picked up her kids from “Kids’ Church” (in one of the rooms down the hall from the auditorium) and she drove me to my car while I chatted with the kids about what they learned at church.

I thought about what your reaction to the whole thing would have been and I decided I was glad you weren’t there. You most likely would have pulled me into the aisles to dance along with most everyone else. I think you would have enjoyed it immensely.

Oh, and my odometer as I pulled up into the parking lot read 59695. Yeah. No kidding.

*whew!* After this, I went to hang out with the family, ate dinner, skipped rocks on my folks’ pond while the other two guys fished (had to say “No, I don’t want to fish” three times,) played with my nephew, watched movies (I had forgotten how wonderful “Gladiator” was,) then drove home and am now writing you. Full day.

[…]

Sleep tight, hon. Sweet dreams.
M

Ho’oponopono versus The Secret on the Rocks

Yesterday was my birthday. I am now 37 years old. I looked at myself in the mirror yesterday morning and saw man in a gray, pinstriped three-piece suit and an unshaven face looking back at me. My heart was breaking a little at the time and I asked myself if this is what a mid-life crisis feels like.

There is a part of me that is still getting comfortable with the label of ‘man’ as opposed to ‘young man’ or ‘boy’. There was an older gentleman with whom I shared an elevator for a few moments as I was leaving the hospital earlier in the week. He wore a long black coat, buttoned, a red scarf, white hair and glasses. I was in his presence for less than a ten seconds but it was enough time for me to feel a difference between us. To me, he felt established in his career, established in his life, affluent and possibly influential. I considered my own sense of self in that moment and noticed I felt considerably less so.

Yesterday, when I looked in the mirror and saw the businessman looking back at me, I felt the label of ‘man’ and considered how alien it felt. For the past decade plus, I’ve felt as if I was in my early 20′s (and I certainly was not a man during my early 20′s!) I saw a man yesterday and marveled at him briefly. Then, to help convince myself of this mirage, I considered a number of things:

  • I’m 37 years old. Yes, I know that’s young. Yes, I slowed my physical aging a couple years ago (I think I’ll live until I’m 189 or so. I think one of my cats is doing the same thing.)
  • I am a married father with four kids under the age of 5.
  • I have owned and operated a web design business for years now. I’ve been working with web pages for over 16 years.

Obviously, none of these items make a man a man, but these are the things that came to mind as my reflection stared back at me.

As for the sense of overwhelming confusion and aimlessness that has me wondering if I’m experiencing a “mid-life crisis”, I’ve been dealing with that now for the last month and a half and figured it was on its way out until it crept back in yesterday. For my birthday, my wife purchased us a visit to a massage therapist and after my time on the table (it was the first massage that made me understand why people get massages) I was feeling much better. By the evening, I felt as if I was in a healing hangover of sorts, even ending my workout after five minutes when I discovered how out-of-step and uncoordinated I was. Yesterday morning, I awoke with a short fuse and decided I would not attend my usual Tuesday networking group, choosing to stay home and work on paperwork until my next meeting later that morning. Sensing my intolerance and abruptness, my wife approached me gently as I sat at my desk and by the end of that short conversation I had broken down and cried.

I guess you could say I’m frustrated. My patience with my web work is waning and turning into avoidance and resentment, even in the face of increasing volume. In contrast, I found myself looking forward to a speaking engagement that was scheduled for next month. When I received the news on Sunday this opportunity had fallen through, I think I was disappointed–not because I felt I missed a good marketing opportunity–but because I felt it was practice for the day when I would be out there speaking about matters of the spirit and really helping people. (This is a revelation as I write this.)

So yesterday morning, I found myself at my desk feeling listless and lost, not knowing which direction to move in to begin on the path to realizing my Perfect Day. I have a ton of web work to do, I feel, and have been feeling overwhelmed at the growing list of to-do’s. I’m feeling a little better now, but suffice it to say I know I’m going through something. My wife says I’m in a transformation and going through growing pains. Maybe. Maybe I’m just wigging myself out too. Maybe it’s the alignment of the planets. Maybe it’s male PMS. Maybe I’m just plain tired. I don’t know, but whatever it is, I want my clarity back. I used to have a vision for myself and my web work. Now, when I picture my Perfect Day, I don’t even see my web work. This is one of my points of consternation, I think.  I’ve been so sure on my direction, for so long, to now not see where I’m going is making my current efforts feel empty and meaningless. Before, it was always moving from one site to the next, one customer to the next, knowing that I was building something and helping people. Now? Now, I feel like things are taking too long to move. I’m feeling like I’ve been working for too hard, for too long, and I desperately want to relax and to know at the end of the day, I don’t have to do the next project or the next thing. I’ve come to a place where my work is now more ‘have to’ and less ‘want to’, it seems.

So, how do I get back to ‘want to’, then? And when I get back to ‘want to’, what will it be that I want, if not the web work that has occupied my dreams for the past decade and a half? I’ve asked the question, but apparently I’ve been too dense lately to hear the answer because it’s not being read through my fog of un-clarity. So I’ll tap on it, clean on it, write about it, pray about it and maybe–just maybe–it will come to me.

Ho’oponopono (the abridged version here) says to let go, let God and clean, clean, clean, using a number of mantra-esque prayers and tools. The practice of setting your intent says to focus on what you want, feel good in that and remove your focus from that which you don’t want. Is there a balance to be stricken between the two? Do we let go and give it all to Divinity to direct, essentially giving up creative license (and therefore responsibility?) for our own lives? Were we not given the ability to create so we could join God in the process of co-creation? Or do we move in a direction, based on desires–worldly or inspired–and intentionally (or accidentally) manifest along the way? I’ve seen both work, but when coming from a place of confusion (as I’m apparently choosing in this moment,) would it not make sense to give it up to God until I find my desire again? Actually, yes, maybe that’s what I need to do. Maybe I just need to sit in the confusion for a bit and find peace with it. Let go of the anxious feeling of being unmotivated and derailed, and simply be okay with treading water for a bit. A mentor suggested this to me yesterday and I feel she may be right.

I guess that’s what I’ll do. I’ll return to patience with the process and take time to breathe for now. I’ll place this post before it goes another day and I’ll do my best to relax. I have so many great things going on in my life right now, I’ve got plenty I can focus on until I find my direction again.

Amen.

p.s.- Interestingly, an opportunity to speak at a local church presented itself yesterday; two days after the previous opportunity blew up. Obviously, this will be a different talk; less web-centric and more “spiritual journey“.

About Matt

Marketing ideas, marketing book author, marketing ebook author, Matt Schoenherr

Matt Schoenherr is a husband, father of four, business owner of Dreamscape Multimedia, and marketing consultant. As a syndicated author of a marketing and public relations column, Matt writes for a national online news magazine. Matt has over 17 years of national community outreach experience. His blog at www.mattschoenherr.com analyzes marketing concepts, delivers marketing ideas and occasionally explores the more magical side of life.