Sunday, September 23, 2012

Oh! Flower Man! The Truths You Metaphor!

I was listening to a song entitled Flower Man by the group Tonic this morning. This is a song I have listened to on and off for many years and today, a metaphor for the lyrics slammed into me. From my perspective the song speaks of the journey from Seeker to Clergy or leader on this pagan path and of the troubles we sometimes find in the changes we make.

Flower man, flower man
When are you gonna grow
When are you gonna lay down
Everything you know

This first first part, above, is a literal asking when we are going to begin to change. We have to de-program and reprogram ourselves from life long concepts.  In a predominantly Christian country, we are taught from a young age that things like sex are bad. We are taught body shame, that nudity is horrible, and I could go on and on about this.  As children and teens we are taught what society deems to be right and good and true. Pagan study teaches us to think for ourselves, listen to our instincts, and find the truth which resonates deeply within us, not to simply go with what everyone else believes.

As we lay down old concepts, behaviors, and patterns, our lives begin to change, sometimes subtly, sometimes drastically.  One day, we look up and realize the changes we have made and we look back and see this new person we have become.

Flower man, flower man
How are you gonna sleep
With all these people
Cutting down your feet

This second part of the verse speaks of those who could be stumbling blocks. When any of us experience growth, there are naysayers. There are those who would try to cut us down simply because of the changes we are making.  While these things certainly hurt us, we have to remember or remind ourselves that control is an illusion and those who would seek to control us can not see past that.

When the illusion of control has a hole punched through it, our perspective changes completely and in that perspective change, our ego lets go. This letting go may only be a little, but we begin to see our world more clearly and we begin to see how and why others may hold so tightly to that illusion.  Even more interesting, we begin to see just how these negative people no longer serve a purpose in our life.

They can't or won't change, so therefore, we shouldn't either.  They prefer their lives to be imbalanced and stagnant because it's comfortable.  At one point or another, aren't we all like that, though?

Flower man, flower man
Your head's above the rest
If you're gonna trust them
They gotta pass the test

In any context, spiritual or mundane, leaders always rise above.  Those who lead because they seek personal gain are much, much different than those who lead simply because they are called.  Both types of leaders are who this verse speaks of.

Leaders rise to the top.  They work harder, more diligently than those who simply wish to follow.  However, to be an effective leader, one must pass a test, of sorts.  This test is different for every individual and it's different for every individual they meet, simply because we all have different circumstances which give us different perspectives.  However, the one thing I have witnessed with leaders and clergy within my own community is that leading by example is much more effective than sitting in your ivory tower and shouting orders.

If you want to inspire people to help you build something, they must see that you are willing to get right in the midst of the vision and you must be willing to do the work no one else wants to do.  Clergy end up doing a lot of the shit-work.  They have to get their hands dirty in order to achieve their dream.  They go to their students and ask them to help and those students who will one day be clergy get out there shoulder-to-shoulder with their leaders ankle deep in shit.  They don't whine and they don't question.  They see that the work needs to be done and they do it because that's what clergy does and that's what leaders do.

Flower man, flower man
You've living in the sun
Shattered and hollow
You shine for everyone

This verse, from my perspective, is the turning point.  It's the turning point from maybe I'd like to be clergy one day to, "I accept what my Gods are calling me to do and I will do it to the best of my ability."  Or, in my case, "Really?!?  Um, do I have to?" *sigh* "Well, if my choices are only the easy road or the hard road, I'll accept your plan and take the easy road and try not to kick and scream too much."

Those who are leaders and clergy have to learn to live in a fishbowl.  Every move is scrutinized.  Every motive is questioned.  Those who are out there wishing they could lead by example, or maybe feigning it, have an opinion (usually negative).  People talk and, clergy has to do their work without worrying about what anyone else is or isn't saying.  It's similar to the fine line between genius and madness.  It's simply acting, not reacting.

Taken enough to hurt you
And all the things they say
So you put on your armor
And stand in the way
You're wearing the target
That took so long to earn
And you start looking sideways
With every turn
And you start looking sideways
With every turn

Then end of the song is about being full blown clergy, one who walks their talk.  In any religion there are those who think they are right and everyone else is wrong.  It's no different in paganism and wicca.  True clergy stands dead center of all of the controversy and mud-slinging and lets the hurtful words and actions flow through them.  That is the true armor, knowing ones self so well as to be able to divorce ones emotions from the actions of others and not taking things personally.

Of course, being clergy or a leader automatically puts a target on your back, too.  How many years of training did it take for you to earn that?  Rev. Terry Riley, in his workshops on being pagan clergy, says (quite emphatically), "I didn't sign up for this shit!!"  He knows, probably better than most, the difficulties of being pagan and clergy.  Yet, he does it and he does it with joy in his heart and a smile on his face.  No one wants a target on their chest, but pagan clergy gets it.  They get it not just from people in their own community, but from members of other religions.

So, the next time you look at a member of the clergy, remember that they are wearing a great big target that they choose to wear.  It is their choice to wear the cloth of their tradition and it is their choice how and what they do with it.  Whether it's a calling or for personal gain is of no consequence.  The true leaders are known by their hard work and their community building efforts.  They set the example and inspire.  How will you live your life?  Will you choose to inspire or will you choose to knock down those who do inspire others?