Many years ago, someone read my poetry and said, “I love to read poetry! I really wish the poet would share the back story that prompted the various poems… I’d like to know what was happening in their lives at just that moment.”
Writing poetry was the furthest thing from my mind. I don’t sit down intending to write anything. It’s not something that comes “from” me, it comes “through” me. I consider it a gift that is the result of prayer and pondering. It’s like personal messages that come into my mind and wakes me up in the early hours of the morning. I have the feeling to go to my computer and just begin typing. As I do, words start coming into my mind and I proceed to type them out. As I type, I know what I’m receiving is an answer to my often-unspoken prayers because I have a desire to know the road forward in my personal journey. I’m willing to do whatever my Heavenly Father asks because I have always believed “I am going Home” and I know He knows the way.
I’ve learned that there are various levels of awareness.
- First level: “I don’t know what I don’t know.”
- Second: “I know what I don’t know.”
- Third: “I know what I know.”
- Fourth: “I AM what I know.”
During my developmental learning, there has been a common thread running through the events of my life: the desire for learning and knowledge that can lead me to self-mastery. In my misguided assumptions, I thought the best approach was to unleash my innate “over achiever/perfectionist” genes. This approach took me in a completely different direction from what I had intended, leading me right to the top of my personal Rameumptom where I could be the sole member of the “First Self-Righteous Church.” What I’ve learned is this: the fundamental step into self-mastery comes only after we come to peace with the person we BE.
The following poetry chronicles much of my journey from Level One: “I don’t know what I don’t know.” Occasionally I get a glimpse of Level Four and strive every day to not only “know” what I know, but to BE what I know.
Comes the dawn, night is past. Time to bid my spirit return to the mortal stage of my lessons.
Each journey finds me more disinclined to cross the abyss from reality to dream.
Surely my Savior is the reason I continue to return.
His lessons of love fill me in a way I can only vaguely recall.
This love drama is an obscure portrait. A beautiful cobweb of remembrance
from the place where I belong.
With total release of my will I awaken to the dream of mortality.
Just before fear engulfs me again, the love in His eyes, His sensitive smile
the gentle invitation of His embrace remind me…I am safe.
Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins
September 26, 1989
It is amazing to me that those words were the comfort that came to me almost 30 years ago, giving me the will to go on. As I look back over the years, I am more aware of why this laboratory of learning is so important. Every day is filled with lessons we can learn. For those who resist the lessons, there will be LOTS of additional lessons.
One of the gifts I was blessed with is a mind that sees everything in metaphor. Symbolism isn’t something that I was intentionally taught, so I can only attribute it to the fact that it is a gift Heavenly Father knew I would need. I don’t remember when I became connected to the symbolism of the ocean, lighthouses, and the rhythms of the waves and the gifts from the sea. Building sandcastles and watching the waves smooth out the work of my hands has been a fascination as long as I can remember. Time goes away when I’m playing in the sand. I love the contrast of listening to the power of the crashing waves and then the quiet whisper as their energy is spent against the sand. I love the huge rock formations that have been pounded through the generations until there is a archway where you can walk right through the rock. It’s like a portal — a passageway from where you were to where you are in able to go forward.
The rhythmic lapping of the waves gently lulls me into a quiet solitude.
Always moving, always changing. Each new tide brings with it a washing…
a cleansing of life that teams just beneath the surface of awareness.
Like clockwork, oblivious to external influences
Since the beginning of time: The tide comes in. It turns.
The tide goes out. It turns…The tide comes in…
The turning of the tide teaches a lesson to those
seeking to learn, grow, transform.
The only constant condition…is change…
* * * * *
How do you detect the presence of pain when pain is all you’ve ever known?
With pain as your constant companion you never consider ‘how you feel’.
You naturally assume it is the manner in which all feel. Everything around you is filtered through this veil and you adjust to the condition. It is ‘normal’ for you.
Within each of us is a clock some mysterious something that knows
when we are ready for change. Some power from within which turns the tide.
One day, almost imperceptibly, something deep within begins to stir.
You have stepped across the threshold of your willingness to tolerate the pain.
There is no monument that marks this passageway and
once you have stepped through
the Portal you will never be the same.
You have begun to heal.
Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins
As I began learning about the concept that I am the “chooser” in my life, I was able to begin to let go of the anger I felt about the toxic family culture into which I was born. I began to understand it was my responsibility to figure out what works and what doesn’t with regard to how my mortal journey will turn out. I think that awareness began when I watched My Turn On Earth and listened to that great song “My Story.”
When I finally realized that I was full of anger — which was a bit of a surprise to me, since I tended to think of myself as happy, funny, and creative — I finally was able to see the humor and creativity as being a deceptive mask for the poison dart in my interactions…. Hence the following poem that came through my fingertips:
What do you do with unexpressed anger?
You can’t paint it. You can’t wash it. You can’t put it on a diet.
You can’t reason with it. You can’t threaten it. You can’t spank it
So, what can you do with unexpressed anger?
You can give it a job where you work. You can take it on vacation.
You can invite it to your bed. It hangs heavy in your heart.
You can pass it on to your children. You can drag it around like a security blanket.
You can weave it into the fabric of your life.
It’s a time bomb waiting to explode.
You can lock it up inside. You can use it as a wedge between you and anyone else.
You can use it to justify loneliness and inadequacy.
It supports any lie, which serves you.
After you’ve explored all the possibilities…
What can you do with unexpressed anger?
Recognize it. Own it. Express it. Then…
Let it go!
Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins
September 24, 1991
Recognizing, owning, expressing, and finally letting go of the anger has not been a quick or easy effort… Yet.
I recall a time when I thought, “I’m the product of the dysfunctional behaviors of my family. If I’d been creating my own life I could have done a much better job. At least if I’m the one making mistakes, I can figure out how to correct them.” In that moment, the realization came pouring in: I AM responsible for my own life. I know agency is given to each person. Choosing to give up that agency and allow someone else to direct your life is still your choice! Choosing to abdicate responsibility for my own life is eternally crippling. Owning the power to direct my own life and correct my own mistakes allows me to “act” instead of being “acted upon.”
We really do write our own story and we are able to rewrite the parts that don’t take us where we want to go. I once read a child’s parable, “The Little Soul and the Sun,” that helped me consider the possibility that some of our very best friends agreed to audition for the toughest parts in our story because they loved us enough to help us experience ourselves as forgiving.
There was a time in my life when I enjoyed acting in music theater. That experience led to this insight:
STEP INTO THE LIGHT
I am the playwright; the script is mine. I tell the story so I’m the hero.
Cherished friends audition for supporting and adversarial roles,
playing their roles so convincingly
I believe the illusion is real.
I direct each scene with precision and skill.
I am the master of comedy and tragedy.
I build the stage setting. I supply the props.
I know how to bring the crowd along.
I am the lighting technician. I aim the spotlight.
I know when to fade to black.
I am the music that touches their hearts.
I am the tear brimming in their eyes.
I resolve to a minor chord.
Rehearsals are over. Makeup is in place.
Each costume is a perfect fit.
I sell the tickets and usher in the crowd.
House lights dim. Music swells. Curtain up…
* * * *
So stuck in the drama, so absorbed with the pain of the lesson being enacted, so caught in the illusion I created for my learning…
Sometimes I forget I have the power to simply step off the stage…
Into the Light
Sonja Lorrigan Hopkins
(I stepped into the light in October of 1994 when I was finally willing to humble myself and admit that I wasn’t very good at picking a worthy mate…)
This next poem was written just six months before I met my sweet eternal mate. I think I was finally able to “let go and let God.” I have come to believe that when it is time and you are ready, the blessing of worthy companionship is granted. Then the Lord takes you into deeper water — ready to learn how to “become as one.”
Was it a click I heard? Something inside me turned like the tumblers in a lock.
Suddenly I am in a different place.
Like Alice in Wonderland, I stepped through a door into a season I had not known before.
It wasn’t a large step. I barely even noticed it.
If I had turned to retrace my steps I would have run into a wall.
A moment before, I had no idea the world I knew would forever slip away…
fading into a distant memory.
I feel no fear in this unfamiliar place. It is filled with love and peace,
a gentle calm…
Anticipation fills my soul.
I sense I have been prepared to be in this transitional space.
I exercise self-mastery.
I wait for the next click…
April 27, 1994
…that next “click” happened just 6 months later as I stepped into the endowment room of the Portland Temple. I tangibly felt the Spirit reveal to me my eternal mate was in that room! But that is a story for another blog.
Sonja lives with her husband, Dale, on Anderson Island, Washington. She and her husband are Church Service Missionaries serving in the Addiction Recovery Program, focusing on pornography and sex addiction. She is also a certified life coach and teaches "Life Skills for Emotional Self-Mastery" in her stake twice a month. She does not teach you only to process something traumatic done to you in the past; rather, she helps you learn to feel it, heal it, and LET GO of whatever you still do to yourself and to others in order to cope with what was done to you in the past.