Finding Home

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
It seems that we are always getting ready for something. Always preparing for the next step, even though the next step will come whether we prepare for it or not. We think we have control of our lives but we don’t. We pack and unpack our memories, accumulating more and more—until death arrives to show us how memories fall away as does the illusion of control. To move from one place to another is to experience a death of sorts and a loosening of control. Every ending is an opening to something greater.

When I moved to Florida from Massachusetts last month, I could feel my consciousness loosening and opening up as we drove south, state by state. By the time we reached Florida, I felt completely detached from any one place. It was almost as if my awareness was free-floating over the entire eastern seaboard, perhaps even beyond that. In moving, I had been letting go of former selves as well as physical objects and familiar places. Even time. As I traveled from New England through the southern states, time and place became almost meaningless. There was nothing but the present moment, in a very intense way. Nothing was familiar, everything new—something I’ve experienced in every major move I’ve made in my life. Yet, this time it’s a little different.

In this key transitional move, the letting go is deeper, the awareness more expansive. I am older than the 20-year-year-old self who left the Midwest to be a California flower child so many years ago. The past and the future seem equidistant in my mind. Soul guidance is at the forefront of my life now, and that shifts every perspective, inner and outer. Even that distinction loses its meaning because everything is within me. The external is just a reflection of my infinite soul’s progression through time and space.

My soul is non-localized: unattached to Massachusetts, Florida, Illinois, California, or any of the other places I’ve lived in or traveled through over the years. I am experiencing myself as Being, without location or identity. Almost as if I am a visitor from another planet or galaxy. Actually, aren’t we all that? Dropped down from some other dimension onto this blue planet floating in a sea of stars called the Milky Way. We are stardust ourselves, shining light on the world around us as we move through our lives. When we meet as our separate paths merge, there is recognition, an awakening realization that we are here together to embody connection and love, to transform our lives and everything around us with that love.

As I passed through Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, the Carolinas, Georgia, and finally reached Florida, I watched the skies themselves transform, the heavenly towering white clouds dramatically darkening with daily thunderstorms and lightning flashes in the humid heat. Palm trees lined the road; tropical bushes and flowers proliferated. Observing it all, I was neither here nor there, but everywhere. I was part of the eternal movement into the unknown. Yes, this is why I moved, not knowing anything except that I was to go. To let go and go. Spirit is moving me, all of us, on our soul journeys.

Spirit survives the packing and unpacking, living and dying. It is within us and all around us and has no beginning or end. It moves to its own cadence, beyond human events and activities. When we step into this perceptual field—this greater awareness of the source of all life—beginnings, endings, arrivals, and departures fall away, and we are Home. No need to hang on or resist; the entire journey exists in this very moment. Breathe deeply and see the far horizon that lives within you. This is infinity; this is God. This is who you are.

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Name Dropping

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
So many unexpected events and experiences have arisen in the process of moving from Massachusetts to Florida, everything from the sale of the house where we rented there to finding a condo here that far exceeds anything we could have imagined. Probably the most surprising pop-up occurrence was finding out that I had to have my name legally changed in order to obtain a Florida driver’s license. What?! Well, you see, my mother named me “Peggy,” but she used “Margaret” on my birth certificate because the former was traditionally considered a nickname for the latter and not the real name. Of course, today no one cares much about that tradition, and you can name your child “Redwood” if you so choose.

Anyway, I never used “Margaret” on anything throughout my life, including driver’s licenses, health insurance, Social Security, etc. “Peggy” was my name; only my birth certificate and passport showed “Margaret.” No one cared—until I went to the Florida Registry of Motor Vehicles to have my Massachusetts license changed to a Florida one. The fact that my license did not match my passport was not acceptable. The two had to match or I couldn’t have a license. Since 9/11, the federal laws about IDs matching have tightened up, and what was once not a problem is now definitely one. Having my name legally changed to “Peggy” was the simplest solution.

So the very kind and sympathetic clerks at the registry explained the process to me: (1) Fill out a form for a legal name change (listing all the places I had lived since birth—for me it was 25) and (2) file it at the county clerk’s office along with a $400 fee. (3) Go to the police station to be fingerprinted, which is electronically sent to be part of the application. (4) Wait for a court date when (5) I go before a judge for a decision. My scheduled court date is August 21 at 1:30 p.m. I was assigned a 5-minute window.

Meanwhile, the underlying symbolism of this event has not escaped me, given that I have felt I was leaving behind all my past selves in this latest life move. What could be a more powerful letting go than dropping the name on your birth certificate?! True, it was never a name I identified with (or liked), but it was the one that my parents and the legal system handed me upon entry into this world. It defined my existence as a citizen of this country, at least in the eyes of the law. That aspect was not something that interested me as much as the idea of naming itself. I began to think about how language defines our lives in so many ways.

Humans have used words and language to organize, name, and often establish ownership over the world around them. Children are named to give them a lineage, a connection to the family they come from. Within the patriarchal system, names (particularly last names) establish ownership, father to child: “You belong to me. You are my offspring, not someone else’s.” Family pride leads to pride of nationality and eventually, often in this world, to conflict and war over whose nation or heritage is better or “right.” We have yet to evolve beyond these delineations and identifications.

Still, life itself tends to break down the differences and separations that language constructs. As we age, the need to establish and proclaim individuality or superiority has less significance. Over the years, experiences of great love or great loss can open our hearts and hasten the process of letting go of what in the end doesn’t serve our soul’s journey through life. Ultimately, we are born without a name, and when we die, we pass from this world into the nameless, formless beingness that is God. Names are transitory and limiting. Even trying to find words to describe God narrows its infinite unbounded nature. So if we too are God—spirit in transitory human form—then birth names can limit possibility and evolution in our lives.

Of course, names do serve a purpose as we relate to each other as fellow humans on the Earth, perhaps to eliminate confusion if nothing else. Still, to hold onto your name as who you really are is an illusion. We are more than words. We are more than our physical form. We are, as God is, infinite. Drop your name and the illusion falls away. All you see when you look in the mirror and at your neighbor is beingness in a temporary form for this lifetime.

So, as I contemplate dropping my birth name and continuing with the name I’ve used my entire life, I’m experiencing a lighter touch about the whole thing. “Margaret” falls away, “Peggy” stays‚ until she too falls away. This is human life on Earth. One transitory experience in the universe. And the more we let go, the more universally expansive and freeing it becomes. I am reminded of Kahlil Gibran’s wisdom in The Prophet:
“Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself….
What images drawn on the earth can hold you?”

Moving On and Letting Go of Everything Past

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
Last fall, the house where my partner Anne and I lived in Massachusetts went up for sale. We knew immediately that that For Sale sign was also a sign from God: Time to move on! A door was closing, but another was so clearly being opened. Fortunately, we had a lease that allowed us to remain in our apartment for several months after the house was sold. We had plenty of time to make decisions and then step through that open door into new possibilities. As events unfolded, we felt guided to move to Florida, where we had a number of friends, and the winters did not include snow, ice, and freezing temperatures. Also (and this was key), we discovered that buying a condo there was less expensive than the rent we were currently paying in Boston. Neon signs pointing south…

So we were excited about this brand new adventure. We flew to Florida for a visit, looked at potential places to live but didn’t find exactly what we wanted. After deciding to rent for a year and keep looking, we returned home. Then, out of the blue, our realtor called us with news that a condo we had looked at that was above our price range had come down in price and she thought we could get it for even less. Long story short: we made an offer, and it was accepted. For the first time in our lives, at retirement age, we found ourselves potential homeowners.

Thus began an intense month of letting go of everything past in our lives. It was like jumping off a cliff into the unknown. Anne had lived in Boston her entire life, and although I had moved back and forth coast to coast many times, I had been in the Boston area for more than 30 years years. Time to move on. We felt some apprehension, but mostly we were excited. We felt supported by old and new friends alike in our decision. It was both energizing and at times overwhelming, but synchronicities and good fortune kept leading us forward. There was never any doubt for either of us that this was the right path.

As the date of the condo closing drew nearer, we organized a yard sale and called local groups to donate to, clearing out piles of old books, clothing, etc. Then it got down to the hard stuff—the really old memorabilia that we still had in drawers and boxes (and we are not really savers). I had one drawer and one box that condensed many years of my life. One Saturday, I spent several hours throwing out booklets, programs, articles, letters, etc. from my 20s and 30s, all of it awash with memories of a past self that was distantly familiar but not really part of my present life.

Then I opened the box that held childhood photos, report cards, high school yearbooks, and letters from my mom and dad and many dear old friends. I pitched almost everything, except a few of my parents’ letters. I probably would never look at or read all these things again, so why keep them? It was like holding onto a memory of my former self. The love in those relationships was within me. Time to let go of the external.

Just as I was tearing up the last set of letters, it hit me—a dull pain in my left side. It remained for a while and then eased. At 2 a.m., however, extreme pain and nausea woke me from a sound sleep, and Anne drove me to the ER. Hours of tests and strong pain medication, and the diagnosis was a kidney stone that should pass in 48 hours. It did not.

For a week, I juggled pain and medication, trying to continue to function as we prepared for the closing. And, in the midst of it all, it suddenly dawned on me that the stone could be seen as a physical manifestation of everything past in my life that I was letting go. That insight did little to alleviate the pain I was feeling, though, or the fear that the stone would never pass. Then, after 8 days, the pain stopped. The past passed through me the day before the condo closing—perfect timing.

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger

Sometimes life is literal and sometimes it’s symbolic and sometimes it’s both. We come to this Earth for life experiences, soul growth, and shared evolution, and boy are we getting them! There is no one among us that is immune to the jolts and jumps that this particular time span on the planet is rich with. We are all being jettisoned into a new future, which is actually the Present in disguise. We are being asked to leave behind the memory of our selves in favor of a present-moment awareness that includes all time and timelessness.

When Anne and I stepped out of our past—through the looking glass—the entire world around us accelerated and renewed itself in magical ways. It’s still happening. We have no idea what’s coming next, but that’s part of the magic. When you let go of everything past, you are carried forward by life force, by spirit, to a destiny that only your soul and God understand fully. That is life’s greatest mystery—and sweetest grace.

In the Details

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
“God is in the details,” some wise individual once said. Different people interpret that sentence differently, but for me it means the Divine lives in every seemingly insignificant detail in the world. God does not show up solely for fiery sunsets, mountain panoramas, and sacred ceremonies. God is also in the tiny ant crawling across the picnic table and the voice of a neighbor singing off-key at 6 a.m. God exists beyond judgment and circumstance. God is everywhere.

My own experience of God over the years has frequently been rich with color, light, and sound, as well as tears of gratitude and awe. Sunlight on a flower at dawn or Andrea Bocelli singing Italian love songs both make me cry, as does the exquisite imagery of a poet like Mary Oliver or the inspiring words of a spiritual master. Yet, I am finding as my life journey continues that perhaps the most profound connection with God is in the finely drawn details of daily life. Seeing God in subtlety is perhaps the greatest blessing of all.

To gaze at a luminous bird of paradise or a faded handmade quilt with equal reverence. To recognize spirit in every living being. I saw God, as well as many lifetimes shared, in my father’s eyes as he neared the end of his life. I also saw God in the eyes of a black-and-white pit bull who turned to look intently at me as he passed by with his human companion. Each of these experiences moved me profoundly. There was no doubt in my mind that I was in the presence of divine spirit (only the form differed), and grace had allowed me to see it.

Although my experiences of God are at times powerful, at other times they are less dramatic, such as a synchronicity or sign that redirects my path in a small but significant way. God’s presence is not always obvious, as when rays of golden light illuminate the landscape in magical and breathtaking ways. It is in the quiet, simple moments as well—waking to a new day with fresh energy and enthusiasm, feeling the gentle touch of a loved one’s hand, hearing a mockingbird’s song late on a summer evening.

God is also in the seeming catastrophes of life when things fall away or apart, and we feel lost and helpless. Invariably on the other side of those experiences is a wider horizon, a new vista, and the opportunity to expand even further on our life’s journey. Everything holds within it possibility and the full spectrum of life’s experiences. The recent appearance of a For Sale sign in front of the house where my partner and I have rented an apartment for ten years opened the door to an exciting new adventure for us in a completely different part of the country.

So, as I go through my day, I am grateful when I notice and appreciate the myriad details that surround me. For therein is a connection to spirit that does not rely on visual or audial drama and fanfare. Life just is—and every part of it is a miracle. Ultimately, the truth is that each one of us is God seeing God everywhere. There just is nothing else.

 

Life Is Complicated, Life Is Simple

Photograph © 2018 Peggy Kornegger
We humans like to think life can be reduced to a list of tips or suggestions that will keep everything controllable and running smoothly. Social media and marketing promote this illusion with articles and ads that proclaim the “top ten” ways to health, wealth, love, or eternal youth. The truth is that life is not manageable. Relationships can be challenging, checkbooks may not balance, and the most carefully thought-out plans fall through. Is this the end of the world, reason for despair? Absolutely not. If life were predictable and reducible to easy steps for across-the-board success, it would be boring, and we would not grow and evolve.

Which is not to say that we shouldn’t be open to wisdom that can come from many sources, including others who have walked a path of challenge before us. Still, to believe that we can completely control outcomes is a trap that keeps us caught in trying and aspiring to something just out of reach. If we let go and allow life to unfold naturally, just surrender to being itself (as God and our souls intended), we relax into possibility and relinquish predictability. The divine plan for our lives and life itself is so much more expansive than anything our minds could conceive of. To experience the wonder of that is such a blessing.

I admit that I’ve written to-do lists for much of my adult life. Many years ago my massage therapist had me stop writing them as a way to relax at a deeper level. It was a challenge, but she was right. When you only see life through the filter of tasks to be completed, you miss so much. You miss the bends in the road and the side-paths that may take you to unforeseen miracles. You miss everything that can’t be written down or spelled out. And honestly, God will always find a way to tear up your to-do lists and send you tumbling into the unknown. Better to surrender the human need to control ahead of time and trust that something greater, beyond words, will support you on life’s journey.

Doors will magically open ahead of you and experiences will flow when you just allow them to. Don’t let fear stop you. It is only the mind’s defense against loss of control. On the other side of fear is infinite possibility—an entire cosmos waiting for your open-hearted participation. Yes, I still scribble down passing thoughts or ideas on pieces of paper or in my journal. As a writer, I feel I am often a conduit for my soul’s voice, and I don’t want to let that pass unnoted. But I am no longer ruled by a numbered list of tasks. My life unfolds more organically and spontaneously. In the deepest part of my heart and soul, I acknowledge God/dess as the source of all, not my own mental constructs. There is freedom in that. In letting go, I am open to so much more.

So don’t be fooled by the voices that tell you that one short list will solve all your problems. The key is not to see life as a problem at all. It is complicated and messy at times, but it is not really a problem to be solved. Everything becomes simpler if we open ourselves to a cosmic design beyond our comprehension and just allow it to transpire in its own intricate and unpredictable way. Then we tap into life’s greatest wisdom: Miracles can’t be listed or self-generated. When you surrender completely to a greater intelligence in the universe, or whatever your own view of God is, your life begins to soar into experiences your wildest imagination couldn’t foresee. And then there is only one word written on your heart: Gratitude.