Feeling Good is the title of a song from the musical comedy Roar of the Greasepaint, Smell of the Crowd by Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. Having been very drawn to the lyric, I've been singing it for years and subsequently recorded it on a CD. Jon Werking, my wonderful musical director for this project, introduces the piece perfectly with a glissando of notes that sound like shimmering sunlight. The lyrics align us with nature:
Bird flying high, you know how I feel
The bridge of the song speaks of "dragonflies out in the sun and butterflies all having fun and sleeping in peace when day is done" -- all lovely, delicious images of Feeling Good.
I don't know about you but when I was growing up feeling good -- really yummy, exuberant, joyful -- was suspect. Though I could never say that we didn't have a lot of fun, the context of life was somehow quite serious and joy was not a biggie.
I was raised Roman Catholic and was very much "in the fold" through my entire pre-adult life. Now when I think of some of the prayers we used to say constantly, I'm amazed at how inappropriate they are from my current perspective. For example, in the Hail Holy Queen prayer that is always said at the end of the rosary, we address Mary as our Mother of Mercy and we cry out to her as "poor banished children of Eve," and "we set up our sighs mourning and weeping in this valley of tears." It's all about begging Mary for her loving intercession to free us from this relentless travail. Starting as a little child, saying this prayer year after year, I can't believe that these words wouldn't have a deleterious effect on one's psyche.
The emphasis is definitely on sin and guilt and the ever-suffering, wretched, banished creatures that we are. I've come to feel very strongly that this is an extremely counterproductive indoctrination for a life of radiant health and well- being, which I consider our birthright.
How can we put our best foot forward in the world, and feel good about ourselves and the unique contribution to life on this planet we've come to make, when we're beating our breasts and holding ourselves as hopeless sinners who are continually reaching out for someone, something, anything to save us?
Feeling good. It seems to me so important to cultivate the habit of feeling good (gratitude is a great start), and to say an emphatic "no" to anything that dis-empowers us. We are here to do great things -- on a small or large scale -- whatever is appropriate for our life's journey.
I feel we need to stop choosing to "go there." And we are at choice every second. I'm reminded of the wisdom in the title of Peter McWilliams book, You Can't Afford The Luxury Of A Negative Thought.
Which brings me to my thoughts and feelings regarding Mel Gibson's The Passion. First of all let me say that I'm not a critic and this is not a review. I haven't seen the film. I choose to not subject my consciousness to that kind of violence. I have seen clips of it and read countless reviews and articles about the movie, and what kept coming up for me was that this sounds like a horrifically gory guilt trip to make us feel bad yet again for being such a sorry lot.
In Stephen Simon's stunningly eloquent and inspired review of this movie, http://www.mysticalmovies.com/alert022504.html, he warns: "The violence is as gruesomely depicted as you have heard, perhaps more so, and is simply unrelenting in its vivid and graphic detail. It is shocking to me that the film is rated 'R,' rather than 'NC-17' which I think it should be. To allow -- let alone bring -- children of any age into this film could be considered a form of child abuse and even attempted brainwashing."
He refers to its being "an endless ode to suffering." As to the film's being either anti-Semitic or anti-Italian (Roman), Stephen says it "feels simply anti-human." He goes on to say that though the film may be considered "religious," to him it is clearly not "spiritual" -- and "those two words are not synonymous." And to that I say Amen!
One of Hilda Charlton's (my glorious spiritual teacher) favorite topics was "Take Jesus off the cross." She insisted that He didn't want the emphasis there with all the suffering and shame that elicits, but on His beautiful message of love and respect and forgiveness. Do let us finally take Jesus off the cross. Let us be the beauty of His message and embody that love and power. "Amen, amen I say to you, he that believeth in me, the works that I do, he also shall do; and greater than these shall he do." John Chapter 14. That's the mantle He gave us. And though it's a big responsibility, it's time we get on with it.
I feel that the crises all over the Earth today are shouting to us, "Now's the time! Right now!" It's a critical moment for our world and for the very life of our planet. We all have a lot to do and be. Let us not be fearful or shameful or unworthy, but wholeheartedly and courageously own who we really are. Be still and know. Breathe, relax, chill out, smile, feel the breeze, marvel at the Spring, share your unique gifts, bring your happiest, most joyful and enthusiastic self to the "party." That's what brings healing to our world. And that's the mission right now. Feel Good. It feels really good to Feel Good.
Links to previous "Come Home to Your Heart" columns: