Born 100 Years Too Late, Not

Once upon a time, a very very long time ago, in the era of my teen years, I had this unsettling feeling that I was out of time and out of place. I enjoyed living in the modern world, the modern era, the modern way of life, but I had this deep yearning from within for simplicity. This yearning for simplicity had its vision imprinted on me, and even though I could not see it, I felt it had to do with the earth and with animals. My natural inclination was to conceptualize and name this feeling. It was the word “FARM”. We need to give names and shapes to the vapors that are within us. Just like our Soul needs our body to navigate this world, so too with the Divine Whisperings in our Heart. These Divine Whisperings start at the ethers, and hopefully with our cooperation culminate by becoming form in the material world. These Divine Whisperings, when heeded take us through the syllabus of our life’s lesson plans, growth, and evolution.

Even though I had this feeling and this urge, I did nothing about it. It was a time in my life when I had deeply discounted my feelings and their relevance to the quality of my life. They were just there, but it was my mind that had ruled supremely and definitively. ‘Who needed feelings anyway?’, was how I lived my life. Oh my Word! How did I make it through that period my life? Very stubbornly! Today, I would honor that feeling and visit a farm, spend some time on a farm, and maybe even live on a farm. Nevertheless, I am quite certain now that somewhere from deep within me a radio feeling frequency signal was being emitted that said F •A •R •M. I should also point out that the first eight years of my life were spent on a farm. They were glorious years indeed. Eve though I did nothing about this                F •A •R •M desire, The Heavenly Realm was busy organizing and arranging my path toward F •A •R •M experiences. It was through the F •A •R •M experiences that I received joy, clarity, and eventual peace.

The first lesson on the F •A •R •M syllabus was a young gentleman whom I had met at a dance. He was an “aggie”, an undergrad student in the Faculty of Agriculture and was slated to take over his father’s farm, who had inherited it from his father. The farm was an entire section, or six hundred and forty acres.  It was both a cattle ranch and a harvesting farm.  That was a chunk of land and a chunk of responsibility.

I on the other hand was a business student who was going down the accounting path, because my mind told me that was the safe and logical way. People always needed and paid for accountants. Had I followed my Heart, I would have chosen a marketing major instead. I had also been drawn to psychology and considered it, but commerce had the strongest pull. Ironically, after I graduated and because of the economy, it took a while for me to find an apprenticeship  job in the accounting industry. Meanwhile, one summer break I had apprenticed as a marketing director with a restauranteur who had four Italian restaurants/lounges in the city. He was so pleased with the events and their success that I had planned and executed, that he had offered me a job once I graduated one year later. What did I say, “NO”. Why? Two very logical reasons: one, I wanted a professional accounting designation because I wanted the prestige of having “letters after my name”, and two, I was very rigid and had blinders on. As it turned out, a couple of years down the line, I had a falling out with the accounting path. Oh my Word! Lord have mercy on my stubbornness and please gently  remove my blinders. Amen and Thank You. Meanwhile, others had strongly urged me to go down the education path because of its stability and long summer vacations. That did sound appealing, but partly (well honestly, mostly) out of rebellion, i negated that path, because I wanted to choose and not be told which way to go! So there! There is that ego again. Another family member suggested I consider psychiatry, but the thought of being in school for years with all those science classes just did not sit well with me. In hindsight, all these paths and vocations amalgamated and have been developed, either in personal study, the situations I found myself in, or me eventually listening to my Heart and following my bliss.

Back to the aggie undergrad bachelor and the dance. We danced. We went out a few times. He was sweet, gentle, and kind. Then Easter break came along and he went back to his family and the farm which was a couple of hundred kilometers away.  But on Eater morning when I opened the front door I was de-lighted, surprised, and frightened. There was a box of chocolates, a stuffed bunny, and a sweet card with sweet words. He and everything was so sweet and gentle. Looking at these gifts, holding these gifts, feeling these gifts, eating the chocolates, and reading the words, did something to me. Even though I was not aware of this consciously, some deep part of me felt his intentions and his envisioning me as his his wife, co-cattle-rancher, and harvesting the land partner. It is like my deeper and subconscious self said, “we are taking over from here”, and I immediately shut down and distanced my self from him. It was not a conscious decision, it was me acquiescing to something greater than me and my logic. In hindsight my deep inside vision was not in alignment with his vision and our journey ended immediately. But I still was not at total peace on the inside that F •A •R •M was not the path for me. It was not yet a closed case nor a completed syllabus. Thus, I received another F •A •R •M Gift.

The next experience on the F •A •R •M course syllabus was something I never could have dreamed up of myself. I got a summer job at the Ukrainian Cultural Heritage Village in central Alberta whose website describes it as “an open-air museum where costumed role-players recreate the life of early Ukrainian pioneers that settled in east central Alberta from 1892-1930” (http://www.history.alberta.ca/ukrainianvillage/). Various original  buildings (farm houses, churches, stables, granaries, school houses, blacksmith shop, town shops) have been transported to and restored at the museum site. The role players represent the actual personages of the buildings. I was “randomly assigned” the role  Mrs. Anytsia Slemko, a woman married to a farmer by the name of Hrytz Slemko circa 1910. They had six children. They lived in a one room  wood and clay house with a thatched roof, a dirt floor, a clay oven, a wood burning stove, and a table like bed padded with a straw mattress upon which everyone slept together, all eight people. Great care was taken to recreate authenticity, and historical accuracy and integrity –  down to the black lace up ankle boots, long black wool skirt which showed just a little bit of the ankle, white plain bloomers, white button up blouse, and a head kerchief which all the married women wore.

For five to six days a week from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm I was a role playing married farm wife with six children – there was a role playing husband, but no children though – living in a clay house with no electricity, indoor plumbing, or a bathroom. We did have two real cows, several pigs and a small garden. We were literally transported back about one hundred years. Beyond amazing was this setup! I had a pretend husband. I hauled water in. I cooked on a wood burning oven. I made bread in the clay oven. And, once a week, on Saturday’s usually so that the house would be fresh and clean for the Lord’s Day, I made a manure mixture (cow manure mixed with water) in  a bucket and then spread the potion with a broom over the clay floor in the house. It kept the dust down and believe it or not, the flies out. I loved watching people’s faces, especially the children when they saw or heard of this ritual. Sometimes, I even asked the visitors if they would like to go with me to pick out the best cow manure pies! A common question that many visitors would ask with a wink was how we had the time and privacy to “make” six children if everyone slept together on the same bed in a one room house. We would pretend blush, be very shy about it, grin, and say something vague about meeting in the barn or that I would stay longer when I carried lunch and water out to Mr. Slemko on the field. Everyone would chuckle. It was clean and simple education and entertainment. Some would ask about my formal education, and I would reply back in very broken English that “Skul not for woman. Woman have house, children, husband, farm to take care of. No time for skul. Too much work learn to read. Husband read.”

Me as Mrs. Anytsia Slemko outside my/her one room for living clay house with a thatched roof. (Upon the entryway there was a cold room for food storage.)

Since the open air museum was about a half hour ride outside the city, the Alberta Government provided vans for group transportation. Our van had a Hawaiian Day theme. For the privacy of others, I covered people’s faces.

Even tough I had alternate husbands, there was one in particular who stands out in my memory and with whom I had “interesting” dynamics. He was an “authentic” Ukrainian, and not the second, third, or fourth generation watered down assimilated kind. He was a “real” Ukrainian. He was a veterinarian in Ukraine and had just emigrated to Canada. This was his first job and a way to acclimate before he took his Canadian veterinary certification exams. He was about ten years older than I and he teased me, a lot. He took the role playing to the extreme and would often say, “Wife make me some pyrohy. Wife, I want borscht for lunch. Woman, there is no water in the house. Go fetch me some water.” Or, “Woman sweep the house.” Oh & arrgh! This would send my blood curdling since I had been a flaming feminist at that time. So much so that when a gentleman/stranger opened the door for me, I would purposefully not go through that door, but open myself the other double door, go through it, and say to him, “This is the eighties/nineties, us women can do it ourselves.” Oh my! Lord have mercy, times three, on me and all those kind souls that I had been so cruel to.

One time this teasing “husband’s” comments sent me into such a huffy puffy inner dirt devil storm that I huffed, puffed, and stomped out of “our” little clay one room house with only two windows**. I fumed down the gravel road, raising the dust behind me and  not knowing where in particular I was going. Anywhere where he was not. Coincidentally enough, I found myself in one of the many churches that are on the grounds. I walked in and the church was empty. I had God and God’s Ear all to my self. I vented to God. I told God just how unreasonable, chauvinistically pretentious, and demanding my pretend husband was. After I calmed down, God said to “Go back. Your life lesson and semester are not over yet.” I listened to God. I obeyed God. I made peace with my pretend husband. I completed my role as Mrs. Anytsia Slemko to summer’s end.

I wanted the F •A •R •M life. I wanted life one hundred years back. I got what I wanted, and I realized didn’t like it. After the aggie gentleman encounter and the summer job as Mrs. Anytsia Slemko circa 1910, I was at peace on the inside that the Universe had indeed not made a mistake by letting me incarnate in the wrong era. Nothing was off course. Everything was on course. All was well. Now I could relax, be at peace, and fully embody my present place and state in life. How great and wonderful is that. It was a Gift beyond measure.

May you too find peace and joy in your journey of growth.                                          Abundant blessings,                                                                                                         Irena As I Am

 

**NOTE**                                                                                                                        The reason the house had only one window which faced west for sunlight and warmth was that in their former homeland of Rus, current day Ukraine and under the Austro-Hungarian Empire there was a tax on windows. The more widows a house had, the higher the taxes. The new immigrants, not yet fully knowing the British laws of Western Canada thought the same taxation rules applied and thus minimized the number of windows. Governments are so creative when it comes to taxation.

Transub-WHAT?-stantiation

“We don’t believe in transubstantiation. We only believe that the bread and grape juice are symbols of Jesus’ Body and Blood.”, said the former catholic young man turned Mormon, to me right before a Mormon Sunday worship service.

I can still picture him in my mind some nine years later. There I am in a Church of Latter Day Saints trying to look as inconspicuous as possible, trying to blend into the crowd and the back pew which was placed against the back wall. I chose the back pew against the back wall so that I could easily back out if I need to, inconspicuously. (In front of the back pew was the walkway to the formation of pews facing the altar.) But when one enters into a Mormon church one enters into a house of welcoming and curious hospitality. Blend in I did not, no matter how hard I had tried, and several people greeted and welcomed me as they walked past me to their pews. But this one particular young man, who I now see as a Divine Messenger, a prophet really, did more than just greet me, he asked questions and he engaged me in a conversation. He wanted to know my faith background. I on the other hand just wanted to be left alone so that I could observe, absorb, and experience. He was intruding on my solitude and contemplation.

Reluctantly, I gave him my faith elevator speech;

I grew up in the UGCC (Ukrainian Greco-Catholic Church). She is a national church whose origin is from Constantinople – “We no longer knew whether we were in heaven or on earth” is what the emissaries who went “shopping” for a religion reported to Prince Volodymyr The Great of Kyvian Rus (current day Ukraine) circa 987 AD. She is the orthodox faith with her own patriarch. And, she is in communion with Rome and the Bishop of Rome (the pope).

I also told him that I was done with religion, the church, the patriarchy, the rigid rules, the use of fear to control. I had stopped going to church. But, I told him that I was bored on Sunday mornings and wanted to go out and explore and see how other people saw, experienced and worshiped God. I was curious. And with those statements, I wanted to set a strong boundary and short circuit any potential recruitment into any church organization. I was just passing time and sampling God on a Sunday morning.

My attitude, my tone, my demeanor, my energy projected: Done.Done.Done. I was now free to choose as I want. To live as I want. With no one to tell me nor judge me on what constitutes good behavior. I was untethered. I had flown the coop. I was cage free, but not yet free range. The last thing I needed and wanted was church membership.

Then he said something that was like a curve ball from the Universe,

“I am a former catholic. My wife and I are now Mormons. We also distribute and receive Communion, but we don’t believe in transubstantiation. We only believe that the bread and grape juice are symbols of Jesus’ Body and Blood.”

“What did you just say? What is transub-WHAT?-stantiation?”, I thought and said. I had never heard that term before.

I now see his words as prophetic. He was a prophet. God spoke to me through him. Those words changed the trajectory that I was on.

A this point I was only about two months into my free-wheelin’ religion-free lifestyle. I had kicked the habit. I was two months clean. This meant, no church on Sunday’s, no belonging to any organized religion. No religious and no patriarchal associations, affiliations, accreditations for me, thank you very much. Done.Done.Done with having them judge me and dictate to me how I was to live my life, which was in complete shambles, shrivels, and tatters because I had followed the protocol. Because I had followed the rules, the written, the spoken and the loudest and strongest of them all, the unspoken and unwritten rules, laws, duties, musts, and obligations. It was a heavy yoke which shut down any whisperings of The Holy Spirit. The rule of law superseded the Spirit of the Law of Love. I also visited the Unitarians, variety of New Age gatherings, SWIHA (Southwest Institute of Healing Arts), Lutherans, Baptists… other non-denominational Christian churches, Scientologists, private Light & Love worship gatherings, Shaman ceremonies, unofficial and self-proclaimed catholic services, and awareness centers. I was on a spiritual quest to sample the different flavors of God. I was tired of eating the same spiritual food. It had lost its flavor and sustenance.

He replied that, “Transsubstantiation means the belief that the bread and wine turn into the actual Body and Blood of Christ.”

“Oh.” was my highly intellectual response. And then I was saved from furthering the conversation by the beginning of the Sunday service.  Grace is so merciful at times.

But he got me thinking in ways I had never thought before. In all the years and decades of going to church and receiving Communion this was the common belief. It was just like common law: because everyone did it, everyone believed it, and everyone subscribed to it. This common belief had become an implied belief in me. But it was an unexamined belief. Did I believe it with the entirety of my mind, Heart, and Being? Or, did I believe it because I was programmed that way? Initially my response to my self was “I don’t know”, but I was open to discovering it for myself. I was open to taking the journey of examination of conscience and beliefs.

My answer soon came to me within a relatively short period of time. I found myself thinking very often about a nearby chapel in whose center was the Eucharist. I found myself DRAWN, like a magnet to this chapel. I found myself spending time in this Eucharistic Adoration chapel in the presence of the Eucharist. It was as though He was the moon and I was the tide. He beckoned. I responded, with all my cells.

Eventually my life would revolve around Him, The Eucharist. He became the Sun around which the orbit of my life revolved around. Prior to that, my life had revolved around people, customs, expectations, and pleasing them all. He had become the filter through which I would mold myself and my life. Or rather, He molded me in His image, and continues to do so. It is and will be a lifelong journey. Now my job had become to please him.

Eventually, I needed to spend time with Him every day and I needed His nourishment in my Soul and body every day. Eventually, I began attending daily Mass, more or less on a daily basis. But this time I attended because of the deep joy it gave me and not because of an obligation I was fulfilling. Eventually, He told me to “don’t throw out the baby with the dirty bath water or the dirty diaper” when I pointed out to Him all the hypocrisy I saw in the church. He said to instead focus on the good, focus on the Him, focus on the sacraments, focus on community,  focus on the love and healing, and He will take care of the hypocrisy. That was His job, not mine. He will do the pruning of the vine and I am to partake in the fruit of the vine.

See, no matter where you wander and where you go, Love & Grace are always with you in the Flow. Trust the journey. Trust the process.

Trust and respond to the promptings of the Holy Spirit in your Heart,                            Irena As I Am                                                                                                           01/30/2018