I lived in the same house from age 3 until I was 16; across the road from tall pine trees buffeting Ithaca’s reservoir, where my dad and I and my two sibs hiked frequently. We also played in the fields behind our house. I easily fall into the scene where dad built a small waterwheel, spinning in the grassy stream feeding a small pond, where I collected black caps big as my thumb, with which my mom would bake blackberry pie. Yum!
Moving from that ‘home’ is one of the rare moments I remember crying. At my house. I cried on several occasions however when in the ‘house of the lord’, especially when the invitation to accept Jesus as your lord and savior or to dedicate your life to christ was given. The minister of the Bethel Grove Bible church would hold his bible high in the air – emphasizing to us the great sinners we were. I can hear Just as I am being played on the piano or organ – see my tears falling, as did I, into the grasp of a dogma that filled me with self-doubt and eventually led me to a deep inner knowing: this religion can’t be true.
It wasn’t until 1984, (like being an adult in Huxley’s Brave New World) that I had the courage to embrace my childhood inner knowing; to fully trust my feelings and not my parent’s religion. Many many tears escaped as I clutched onto my truer JUST AS I AM: trusting the innocent child, who is born in the spirit of LOVE, with staring wide open eyes of no fear. How hard it is as a child to embrace that divinity, when the need for parental approval is overwhelming as an ocean tide!
My mother was strict: no going to the theater, movies, dancing or swimming on Sundays. I memorized thousands of bible verses in order to attend a free week of Miracle Camp for several summers, where boys and girls were not permitted to swim together. Leaving my church community was painful because of their rejection. Yet, I was rewarded with the freedom of no longer being damned to the eternal lake of fire.
As I delved into my sorrow and sadness and soul – I soared into the dancer JUST AS I AM. Still, the guilt lingered until sobbing one day in a psychotherapy session, I connected to a past life as a professional ballerina in Paris in the 1800s. My guilt melted faster than a child’s snowman in springtime. Ever since, I’ve continued to dance 3-4 nights per week.
Presently, I am helping my friend Karen unload the 37′x 20′ ballroom in her 200 year old Federal house where 20 plus years of accumulated unused furniture, odds and ends, and clothes have resided. It’s the only room that has not been renovated. I feel excited each week to clean up and out a carload of stuff driven to the Salvation Army, Significant Elements (recycling of old things) and to Mimi’s Attic (consignment selling). It’s like returning life to someone through CPR (Clearly Property Restoration).
Karen has agreed to help actualize my dream of using this ballroom for my 2016 birthday celebration after insulating, dry walling, wallpapering and sanding has been accomplished. As of January 2016, just the two of us have emptied 3/4 of the ballroom and have until August to revitalize (with the help of two men) this beautifully high arched room of an ancestral house – revitalized JUST AS I AM. I’m remembering now how when I asked my mother who was gravely disappointed when I left the ‘house of the lord’, what she thought was my most positive attribute, she said: “your vitality.”