I have to set this up before I get into it.
I paid to attend a “communicate with your angels” workshop last Saturday, 4/5. A like-minded friend came along (I drove, she bought Starbucks and lunch — I definitely got the best end of the deal).
I had high hopes; that was my first mistake. We are all mortal. Even Archangels (which these event organizers don’t recognize, and had I known that at first [I should’ve asked, my second mistake] I likely wouldn’t have gone) were mortal first.
First, the logistical screw-ups regarding the entire experience:
- When we arrived at the sprawling suburban-D.C. church where the event was held, there were no signs indicating where the workshop was.
- There was no “room 32” as designated on the reminder flyer (that was emailed to me) as I desperately looked for on my smartphone after traversing the open and expansive main level. The online info in the link above doesn’t even mention a room. One of the main organizers of this event still wants to hang on to the notion that room 32 and 35 were the same room (details numerologists and kindergarteners would take serious issue with), despite the physical fact that I could not ever find the numeral 32 outside any door.
- When we arrived at “room 35” (we were the first to arrive) we weren’t sure it was where we were supposed to be because despite the fact that the people on the flyer and the website looked identical to the people in the room, they didn’t welcome us in, ever. They didn’t introduce themselves until the workshop began and that was a group welcome. In fact, our reception was quite frosty. My friend who is more sensitive than I am said she would’ve left the building if I weren’t with her. Let me clarify: I’m sensitive, I just wasn’t as easily intimidated in that situation.
- The organizers of the event never asked us our names, nor did they provide name tags (we were all openly referred to (and thus disregarded) as “her”, “not you, her” or “the woman in the pink sweater” or “you!” (this went on ALLLL six hours). Yecch.
- Registration included a 35-page workbook but apparently not the availability of a pen. Those of us who didn’t bring one, weren’t offered one. Ever. Yet, we were encouraged to write lots of things on the blank lines in the workbook as well as content shared on a chalkboard. I guess, we were supposed to use our finger styluses. My finger stylus works on my iPad but not actual paper. Luckily, I had a pen with me. And a notebook, into which I furiously wrote notes which were superfluous because the content I was scribbling was included in the workbook…. but no one told us that until about 90-minutes later. In retrospect, I’m glad I didn’t know, because had I not been taking notes, I’d have no proof of the reason why I am writing this post (later).
- One of the “angel guidance coaches” was purportedly clairaudient. We had to move from room to room twice (so three different rooms total). The first time happened because he couldn’t hear his guidance. Admittedly, there was a symphonic concert underway right above our room and the tune-ups reminded me of “Rear Window” scenes, but once they got going, it was quite pleasurable, but I’m not a clairaudient, clairvoyant or clarinet. The second move happened because we
weren’t granted permission to use that roomwere kicked out. The third room sucked. Just saying’… but I was out of gas by that point, really.
- We broke for lunch, that wasn’t mentioned on the flyer, nor were any places to eat in the vicinity; so if you were totally new to Bethesda, MD, you were hosed unless you asked around or had some form of smartphone genie to help you out.
- The event flyer states: 10-5pm. We folded at 4:15, but not before hearing about 20 minutes’ worth of content about other exciting ways to invest your money and
irretrievabletime in their … business and help to fund their recent trip to Puerto Rico.similar pursuits.
I think that’s it, from a logistical standpoint. I am certain that these issues can be overcome by the organizers for any events going forward and I am even more hopeful that people will be called by name and not be barked at.
Trifles make perfection, and perfection is no trifle.
I was literally running on fumes at 4:00. I couldn’t take anymore. From the transitions from room to room to room, to the continual stream of content from the more aggressive and assertive (my read: desperate) of personalities and the fact that my head needed to be put back on my neck, I was out.
Oh? You want to know about my head falling off? Ok. If you must…
It fell off somewhere around the first hour, when the following phrase by, an angel coach, to my astonishment was bespoken thus,
“When you pray for other people, you are building a bridge to their troubles.”
I have wrested with this concept for several days. It has brought me much consternation, regardless of the completely amateurish logistical treatment of this event. (You get what you pay for, I guess.)
That sentence has furrowed my brow, upset my stomach, distracted my mind, and had me questioning my faith. It had me floored.
Look, I think a lot. I know this about myself.
The other night, when I was dealing with this, I consulted my Archangel Oracle Cards (some people use tarot, I consult my faith’s Big Guns — they are comforting and lovely to look at), I pulled three cards: All is Well, Life Review and Creative Writing. I didn’t understand the second one so much until just now. I realize that I had looked into all this angel workshop stuff because I was sad about my mom’s death and was feeling lost without her and was also wondering how to move forward on a project. I figured why not try it? Angels are nice…
When my head fell off, I couldn’t speak or ask anything because my head didn’t bring my voice box with it; it was just my head. My ears couldn’t hear any further
bullshit content from the coaches because my ears were severed from my spinal cord. My brain could still process, but not send any sensations to my body.
In short, I was a mess.
I spoke to my friend, whom I brought to the event about her impressions. She was bothered by it as well.
I brought it up to the organizer of the event; she didn’t touch it. She did however, go back and forth with me, like a volley, about how I was supposedly offended by the near-constant references to and treatment of material I considered at times boastful, irrelevant and contradictory. To each her own. She understood and accepted my unsolicited litany of logistical concerns; I still can’t get over the names thing (more later). I didn’t bother mentioning the lack of writing utensils.
I don’t mean to poop on this event completely. There were some worthwhile and profound personal moments for me and I am grateful for them. That said, I won’t ever attend anything they do again. Its folksy tone and lack of warmth really got to me. After a while, it just felt like a string of buckshot appeals to “help [them] raise [their] income vibrational level.”
We all have them. In some esoteric and mystical religions, they are considered intimately tied to our essence, spirit or very existence on this planet. When we pray, we want to know the name, if possible, of the person we are praying for (bridge to their troubles or not).
About not bothering to ask names: the suburban mom in me says, “It was just an oversight. This event was planned months in advance; despite the fact they do this all the time, they just forgot the name tags…pass the salt, sweetie.”
The skeptical / conspiratorial writer in me says, “It was a clever way to create uniformity, to strip people down to a nameless / identity-less and hence, dilute-able existence to create need for attention and ‘face time’ in an effort to later control and influence them. Nothing starts a dominant / submissive relationship like ignoring people and diminishing them. It’s what all insecure leaders do who want to dominate their followers; just ask Bikram Choudoury.” That only the leaders went by their names and NOT ONCE was anyone publicly asked their name bugs the heck out of me. It reeeeeeally chaps my hide.
yoga teacher human being, the moment students anyone walks into my awareness, I greet them with a warm, sincere smile and say “Hello, ” followed by their name. If I don’t know their name, I introduce myself, that usually does the trick and starts what’s called a “conversation.”
Is all this cool and disconnection par for the course with these guys? Who knows. Do I care? Not at all. I’ll never go back.
Bridge to their troubles.
I … I am just utterly lost on this. Looking back on it, I laugh, out loud about it. I scoff it and I mock it. I pretend it’s a country song with my kids and I play my kazoo with it; I pretend it’s the title of a long-lost Clint Eastwood spy flick. As I said, I wrested with this for a few days.
The suburban mom in me says, “He didn’t mean it that way. He meant it as a way to be careful of confusing the energies, that certainly you can pray for someone, just be discerning about how much of your own energy you expend in it. Remember to include yourself in your efforts… wipe your face, dear.”
The skeptical / conspiratorial writer in me says, “Oh, screw that. He meant every syllable. It was meant as a way to be predatory. He’s looking to build a tribe. He was looking for, feeling out the group for the weak links. The ones who would wonder, or agree and ask later, ‘tell me more about that, how I should reserve my prayer and energy for myself, how I should mind my own business, get to know myself first and think of myself first, before I possibly waste my auric energy with the folly of benevolence, kindness, empathy and concern for others, you folksy, clever, wise, flip, charismatic and tall man…'” (bats eyelashes.)
After six days, I was still so vexed by this premise, the not praying / bridge thing, that I posted my concerns about it on my Facebook page. I asked about whether anyone had ever heard of the concept. I have atheist, agnostic, Jewish, Christian, devout, lapsed, faithful and still seeking, and faithful and rock solid friends.
Of those who replied, many joined me in my confusion. Many offered support for my challenge with it. Many likely recognized that I was caught in a not-so-little crisis. The overwhelming responses were that prayer for another is an act of the most pure detached love and encouragement one can offer another human being. We pray for people we don’t know. We pray for people we know well. We pray when there is nothing we can do about anything. When my mother died, I felt SUCH love and support, the power of the prayer was undeniable. What? When a public tragedy happens, do we just not pray for the people whose lives have been irreparably changed? Where is the love?! Where is the light?! Where is the “power of consciousness that made us all who we are as souls with bodies on this journey on earth” they endlessly spoke of? I sit befuddled.
So this angst sat with me almost all morning.
Sometimes the Best Cathedral is No Cathedral.
Often I feel most centered and in tune with Nature and God when I’m outside. It was on my walk up to my youngest (10) son’s school where I volunteer weekly as a Socratic Seminar co-leader when the weight from this issue began to lighten. Just thinking about our project, it being the last day before spring break and the game I had in store for them all after the end of the project brought my mind to happier thoughts.
I am seldom disappointed by the energy and wisdom of these bright little beings who are so eager to try a new way to think of things. I looked at their sunny faces as they sat on the hill outside our school garden and listened to me talk about the second half of our class project, “Be Like Monet,” wherein we are proposing that the children design and draw their own plants, a bit of a play on the back story of Monet’s waterlilies series in Giverny. (For a long time, white was the only waterlily color; then a scientist made a frost-resistant version that had red, pink and white in it… hence the singular white lily and the grouping of colorful lilies in some of the paintings.) My co-leader and I were so inspired by that story, that we encouraged the children to “Be Like Monet.” The first week, they wrote down their plants’ qualities using only words. The second week, today, they had to draw those plants without words.
One of the kids wanted to know the Latin word for “healing.” I Googled it. “Sanitas” I told her. “Then that will be the name of my plant…” she said as she skipped back to her work.
“There is no such thing as a mistake! You are Mini Monets! Do this! You are geniuses!” I shouted and they were off. Then we worked with the Hoberman sphere I’m obsessed with in teaching children yoga, and then we played “Simon Says.” I was with children, the smartest and clearest souls on earth.
I walked around and looked at their work, encouraged them to take their papers to the asphalt walk to play with its texture and see how it created “pebbles” when they ran their crayons over it. Then we moved to some wooden benches, and the grain appeared. Then suddenly, the fog lifted. It was if my prayers were heard, or the appeals by my friends who opened themselves to the conversation and the real angels, the ones who use horns, the ones with huge wings, the ones I “met” when I went to Holy Angels Elementary School, heard me.
I thought, “Holy canoli. What he said was totally creeeepy and controlling! It felt eerily close to white-washing. If one of these little kiddies out here had troubles, heck yeah I’d pray! Think of myself first? Where’s the connection to spirit, to benevolence, to love?! What’s the point of not sharing a tear or a laugh or lightening a fear in order to *maybe* be of service to someone in need? Where is the HUMANITY? What’s with all the fear in this guy? Is his inadequacy so desperate that he has to spread fear instead of love??” He reminded me of Dick Cheney. Totally defensive. Building walls instead of bridges… These are the thoughts that came flooding at me. I felt renewed, grounded and sane again.
Methinks the man doth protest too much.
I realized, also, that if I followed this non-praying proposal, that I am following that man; that he becomes my spiritual leader and by virtue of doing such a silly thing, I am giving away my personal power. If I did what he said, I am letting him think for me. I am turning over all my basic knowledge, and the stuff I came into this world with (and according to him): divine light, love, energy and spirit, to HIM. I am basically surrendering my spiritual management to them. For this man, someone who openly rejected the concept of “religion” it all sounds a little too close to it.
A secure spiritualist will never tell what you Should or Shouldn’t do — in fact these people insist that your angels will never tell you what you should or shouldn’t do. But he’s going to go ahead and advocate against praying for other people lest you eventually sully yourself. I wish these people could hear themselves. It’s like an irony stew. (It all reminds me of that Brady Bunch when Bobby got sooty rescuing a cat from an abandoned house’s chimney and then he tried to wash his suit and the washing machine overloaded with suds… I digress.)
Clarity came to me like a sonic boom in my head. The (sonic) boomerang effect occurred. Not only did I stop feeling lost but I emerged stronger in my faith than ever. I was found.
I want to thank that man, his partner, and their twisted logic, cosmic buffoonery and doublespeak for returning me to myself, to my center, to my base and to my faith. I was hanging on one of Saturn’s icy rings until I decided to stop suffering internally and reach out for help. Thanks to them, my friend and I are closer than ever. We have to catch our breath now from the deep, gut-busting, tear-shedding laughter we share when talking about the event and the character-rich opportunities the workshop provided. As a writer, I am very grateful.
“You will get to know the real you…” they promised in their literature. I did, and I am unshaken.