Living As Infinity: Reclaiming the Knowing of Our Grandmothers, Our Selves, and Beyond
I come from a wonderful family — an unconditionally loving, big, vast, international family that spans many parts of Asia, Europe, and the United States.
The other day, I was talking with one of my aunts who said something that struck me harder than I think she or I realized it would. She said, “I don’t know for sure, but I think that my mom (your grandma) could ‘see’ things the way you do.”
This sentence hit me to the core. I started crying.
What did this sentence mean to me? So many things…
About three years ago, I “came out” to friends, family, and the world with my “spiritual side,” the side of me that has been quite alive for the past twenty plus years, but that I did not share with almost anyone. This side of me felt contradictory to the rational, Ivy League caliber academic world I came from, the professional therapist role I had been playing for two decades, and the scientific and mathematical adeptness I have always had.
And yet, the spirit world (or the divine or some “higher” part of me) made it clear, in no uncertain terms, that it was no longer an option for me to hide that part of myself. And so a journey began of switching my life to suddenly living fully as all of who I am — the rational, the intuitive, the “clairvoyant,” the intellectual, the grounded, the ethereal, the compassionate, the social justice minded, and more.
And on this journey, my family has been incredibly supportive even though not many of them “see” things the way I do.
So when my aunt said that sentence about my grandmother, a whole litany of thoughts and feelings cascaded through me.
My grandmother was a “good, Christian, upstanding” Minnesota born housewife who was married and had four children in the 1940’s. She lived a typical, middle class to upper middle class, Caucasian life with a wonderful husband, four healthy children, all with solid ethics and values, all dedicated to helping the world and being the best people they could be.
In addition, my grandmother was very smart and valued education, so she stepped out into the world from her Midwestern farm upbringing and went to college in Iowa, then graduate school in Vermont to obtain her masters degree, and then even started a Ph.D. program. While she was in graduate school, she met my grandfather. They got married. My grandfather eventually finished his Ph.D., but my grandmother did not.
My grandfather went to serve in the Army in World War II and my grandmother stayed back on her family’s farm while she gave birth to their first of four children.
After the war, my grandmother was one of the millions of women who became perfect housewives in the baby boomer era. She attended church, raised her children, was active in her community, and was an all around genuinely good human being.
In the middle of all of this, though, according to my mother, my grandmother was often anxious, overwhelmed, and depressed. She never fulfilled her dreams for doing what she might have done outside of being a wife and mother. She died relatively young, three months before I was born, at age 64.
The sense I always grew up with was that my grandmother was a wonderful human, but that her life was somewhat stunted because she had had to suppress her own identity or her own needs due to the social pressures of her time.
So this sense has always been there.
However, when my aunt made the comment that she thought that my grandmother “saw” things the way that I do, my sense of sadness for what she might have been suppressing went several layers deeper.
And more importantly, it signified to me a bigger picture of what is going on on this planet, what has gone on for decades and centuries, and what it is I am being asked and called to do in the world.
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My grandmother was, as I said already, an upstanding midwestern housewife who grew up in the farmland of Minnesota.
However, her father had immigrated from Scotland as a small child. His mother’s family was from the Isle of Lismore off the coast of Scotland.
There is talk in the family lore that some of the women of my Scottish family had “second sight.” I have often wondered if some of my “abilities” and spiritual knowing have roots of some kind in my Scottish ancestry. My mother feels much of what I do spiritually and when we go to Scotland, in particular, the land is alive for us in a way that captivates each of us.
So the idea that my grandmother might also have carried this sight both surprised me and did not.
Part of the tears that I felt when my aunt said to me that she thought perhaps my grandmother had this sight is the grief I feel with regard to the suppression for all of us and for peoples all over the world of our indigenous, innate, natural awareness of the natural world and our “intuitive side.” In addition, it brought up for me the anger and sorrow I feel also knowing the suppression that occurred for my family of our Gaelic culture and language, but of course for most colonized cultures around the world of most indigenous cultures, languages, and ways of being.
My family, not very many generations back, was Gaelic speaking and neither my mother nor I knew this until just a few years ago. How could such a significant fact be lost? My mother’s grandmother was Gaelic speaking, so this was very quick forgetting of ancestral and familial history and lineage.
The answer, of course, is that throughout the world, including in the Gaelic portion of Scotland, countless indigenous cultures and languages and ways of knowing the world have been systematically stamped out by colonialist rulers, by “modernism,” by industrialization, and by a dominant cultural value set that places science, rational thinking, and “modern” industrial ways of doing things above intuition, emotion, nature, connection to the land, connection to our bodies, our inner knowing of ourselves, and so forth.
Almost all of us come from or are parts of groups of people who both have been “oppressors” and “the oppressed.” That certainly is true for me. So I have no interest in blaming anyone or anything for the situation in which we find ourselves.
However, what I do feel passion and determination for is that we have a choice. We always have had a choice. However, in this moment and each and every moment, we truly have a choice — a choice to continue to suppress major aspects of our being and who we are or to remember all of who we are, all of what we are as beings of the Earth, of the cosmos, of our minds, of our hearts, of intuition, of various ways of “seeing” things, of the divine, and even more.
What happens when we remember?
What happens when we re-embody all of the aspects of ourselves that perhaps have not been encouraged or supported or even noticed in our lives up until now?
How would my grandmother’s life have been different if her family, she herself, and even her world could have known and remembered all of the richness and fullness of who they truly were and all of the gifts they brought into the world?
I have some thoughts, but I would love some of yours.
What are the ways in which you “know” things through your mind, your heart, your body, your soul, your spirit, and beyond?
How is your whole way of knowing nurtured, encouraged, valued, celebrated, or not?
How has your life shifted as you have honored these ways of knowing in yourself more or less over your life?
I would love to hear.
Here is some of what I have observed. When I/we live into ourselves as wise beings of the divine:
- We remember a wisdom of the stars, of our instincts, of ourselves as spirits, as one as the divine. We access wisdom that our brains, our minds are not designed to comprehend. We then bring this “knowing,” and this wisdom into our lives and our world and the possibilities for change, for innovation, for doing things differently in our world suddenly open up. Our world desperately needs fresh ideas. Our world needs new ways of structuring our approach to so many issues. Perhaps some of the new ways will come from the divine — through us — and not just through our cognitive willing of the new ideas through our minds.
- We remember our value as ALL of who we are — not just as minds, not just as intellect, not just as physical beauty or whatever the world currently rewards. Our whole being is valued and needed and we know this. This knowing of our value shifts the entire way we engage with the world.
- We know that we are not alone. We know that we can never be alone. The spirit world is infinite and is always here. When we think only with our rational mind, loneliness is an ever present looming likelihood. The rational mind says that sentience is limited and isolated and therefore we are often alone. The knowing of the divine reminds us that we are never alone and never possibly could be. The experience of being “by ourselves” therefore takes on a very different meaning — one from isolation to one of perhaps alignment with our own connection to the divine and infinite, ever present, inevitable connection to all things at the same time.
- Similar to remembering our innate, infinite value, we also remember our innate, divine perfection and wholeness. Just as we can never be alone, we can never be anything but perfect and whole. We are literal creations, masterpieces of the divine, and so we are, in the ultimate sense, as perfect as a snowflake, as exquisite as a robin’s feather or a sea anemone. We are a miracle in action, a dance of the particles of existence, something to behold and cherish in every single moment. The “negative self talk” of the human mind and heart becomes sad and silly in the face of this divine reality and we perhaps realize we can simply let those words go…
- We remember the ultimate “womb” and home of the divine. We remember that we are always home. Similar to the notion of never being alone, we remember that we can never be adrift, we can never be without a place of comfort or care or nurturing. We are always in the arms of the divine, in the care of Source, in the home that is ourselves and all of existence at the same time.
- Healing takes on a whole new meaning. As we remember and release back into the arms of the divine, the knowing of existence, the infinity of the divine itself, healing is possible on levels far beyond what “modern medicine” can know. It lives in our cells. We remember that we are a mirror of the cosmos, the ultimate state of balance and wholeness, the ultimate state of healing that has never been anything other than healed. Our innate wisdom knows a healing and even miracles that our rational minds can know to a certain extent, but that our beings remember as we remember far beyond our minds.
And the list goes on.
This is a beginning of a dialogue — a dialogue of me with me, a dialogue of me with you, perhaps a dialogue of all of us across space and time, a coming together throughout dimensions, through ultimate love.
Our world is suffering. We have suffered so much.
And so what do we have to lose to consider this?
Perhaps there is a way in which just a simple shifting awareness of who we actually are could make a profound difference in how we live our lives, how we experience our lives, and how the world opens up and changes as we become who we have always been all along.
I wish I could have heard my grandmother’s full wisdom.
I would love to hear yours and so would our world.
Please share. I am listening. So are our grandmothers and our grandfathers. So are our grandchildren. And so is infinity.
Much love to you always. Thank you for listening.