Monday, December 29, 2008

December 30-The Sixth Holy Night - The Need for Arousal

A calm soul seeks arousal. It wants to be awakened and turned on to life, to nature, to divinity, to others and to self.

Most of us read the word, arousal, and think of sexual arousal. Yes, arousal calls out for intimacy, for deep knowing and deep connection. Arousal is a heightened desire for fulfilling engagement of any kind - sexual, spiritual, intellectual, artistic, practical, playful. Sustained arousal supports commitment, loyalty, sacrifice and authenticity.

Arousal is the potential for being love. Physically arousal increases the beating of the the heart. Blood flows with more energy. Spiritually, a feeling of destiny appears. We feel embraced by the gods.

Arousal can seduce us if our soul is not calm. A calm soul experiences arousal consciously and harmoniously. Arousal awakens and directs your calm thinking, calm feeling and calm willing into the future. If you have a calm soul, you will be able to ask yourself, "Is my soul both calm and aroused?" Sadly, arousal can take over our consciousness and all self-questioning and objectivity disappear. Without calmness in the soul, arousal can become prejudice, addiction or fantasy.

Arousal births devotion in a calm soul. Arousal gives the calm soul such a vibrant, joyful sense of self-fulness that deeds become free of self-seeking and self-serving agendas. We are able to ask ourselves if truth, beauty and goodness are the cause and the result of the arousal.

In nature, arousal sensitizes us to the seed about germinate, the rain about to fall, the rabbit about to jump out from the bush. In divinity, arousal lets us see imaginations, hear inspirations, and act on intuitions. In a social context, arousal awakens us to the the heart of strangers and keeps us discovering new meanings in long-term relationships. In our own lives, arousal lets us see the paths we want to walk and the goals we want to achieve.

If arousal appears in an agitated soul, the impulses become selfish, obsessive, dangerous, even destructive. Arousal in an agitated soul is like an itch that cannot be soothed, an inflammation that can not be cooled or a thirst that cannot be quenched. It cannot be satisfied and come to an end. Remember the sounding of the word, calm, with the beginning, the middle and the ending.

The Hans Christian Anderson story, The Red Shoes, tells of a young girl who is deeply aroused by a pair of red shoes. She must wear them and in her vain need for the shoes, she neglects everything around her. The shoes are enchanted and will not stop dancing once they are on the girl’s feet nor can she remove them. After much suffering, she has the shoes and her feet chopped off and seeks the calm inner life she lacks. After much struggle, peace comes to her soul.

In my work as a counselor, I have listened to the despair of those whose souls can not be aroused. They do not feel alive. Their deeds are dutiful, but unfulfilling. Here, too, there is a need to calm the soul, first. Then, with patience and perseverance, a wisp of growing arousal can be found and warmed.

Tonight, look back over the year, or over your life, for the presence of arousal in your soul. What turns you on in ways that give you a strengthened sense of self? What new ideas, new feelings, new activities have you engaged in with enthusiasm? Seek the truth beauty and goodness living in each experience of arousal.

If you have feelings of arousal that cause you to lose your sense of self and lack real truth, beauty and goodness, why is your soul agitated? How can you calm your soul? The Holy Nights are a powerful time of year to ask that question. Just listen to your inner voice - not the screaming voice, the quiet one.

If arousal rarely appears and does not last, who can you ask to help you calm your soul and warm your interest?

Our calm souls require arousal. But arousal requires self-insight. When we can calm our souls and stimulate arousal consciously, we find true joy in our humanity.